Sunday 1 December 2019

First day of winter

Today was the (meteorological) first day of winter and it felt like it. Mind, I think it's felt like winter for weeks.

A cold and frosty start, even when I got down to the patch at 11 o'clock, the grass was white. It was pleasant in the sunshine but a light NW wind gave it an edge. Autumn is over and hopefully we've seen the back of the rain that has dominated things recently.

I had a wander through the dunes to the north of the turning circle. Beyond the haul road in the recently-sown field, a peregrine sat, perched on a divot, probably full up with lapwing or some other unfortunate wader.

The dunes were alive with a feeding flock of mixed finches. They wouldn't settle and swirled back and forth behind the dune ridge, making counting them very tricky. I finally guessed at 250 Goldfinch, 50 linnet, 30 twite and a handful of chaffinch and reed buntings. No tree sparrows though - a much scarcer bird now the feeding has stopped in the bushes. Four grey partridge flushed - I wonder if the nearby release of red-legs will do for them, I hope not.

Some of the twite flock
Reed Bunting in the weeds
On to the Budge fields. From the midget-screen (being vertically challenged myself I can say that) not much could be seen on the fields. In the willows along the path a very late (or wintering maybe) chiffchaff flitted about, calling as it went. A very vocal water rail was in the bushes at the other side of the path but it didn't show itself.

Blue tit feeding on Alder cones
Down to the Budge hide. The fields were mostly frozen with a little bit of open water concentrating the fowl. Waders -  lapwings and curlews stood on the still-white ridges until they were flushed by a huge female sparrowhawk. She put up a snipe and an aerial battle commenced, the snipe was the victor as the large sprawk flew off to the fence without its prey.

Passing Mute Swan
I've been checking the fields for the Cresswell dowitcher. As it hasn't been seen at Cresswell for a couple of days I had high hopes... The last long-staying Long-billed Dowitcher stayed at Cresswell until New Years Eve when it relocated to Druridge so I could get it on two year-lists. Maybe history will repeat itself.

From the dune, the spring tides of the new moon meant that the sea was on the horizon. A flock of 120 wigeon and some scoters all of note.

Female stonechat in the dunes

Full list here

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