Ages ago we booked a 10-day trip to Andalucía, with a few days around Tarifa followed by a trip out the wonderful Doñana National Park, staying at El Rocío - a place I've not been to since 2004.
As the news about Coronavirus began to unfold from Spain on Thursday our trip was still on but looking doubtful, by yesterday afternoon it was looking dicey and by 8pm last night we decided to cancel as Spain declared a state of emergency and it looked likely that the whole country would soon be in lock-down. We did the right thing as Jet2 flights bound for Spain turned around mid-air this morning and headed back to the UK.
I was really looking forward to this trip. I've got two weeks (valuable) annual leave, which I have to take this month - wasted!
So this morning, instead of being on a plane headed for Malaga - guess what? I was at Druridge in the gloomy grey and cold dampness, counting ducks.
I missed the WeBS count last week, so caught up with that. There was a lot to count with many of the wintering species still present in good numbers including 196 wigeon and 84 each of curlew and redshank. Predictably lapwing numbers have decreased but birds are displaying now.
A good smattering of waders including the first two avocet of the year, four ruff, eight dunlin, two black-tailed godwits and a single snipe.
Teal numbers have decreased to 41 but the shoveler count remains high at 31. A pair of pintail were still present. A flock of 35 whooper swans flew north overhead, bound for Iceland - Coronavirus doesn't stop them from flying.
On the big pool, tufted ducks numbered 26 and a couple of cormorants fed. A single great-crested grebe is holding territory but no sign of a mate yet.
|This hybrid/domestic/mallard thing has been hanging around for a couple of years, this drake mallard seemed particularly attracted to it...|
Offshore there was plenty of red-breasted mergansers, red-throated divers and a flock of about 35 common scoter. My first lesser-black backed gull of the year flew south and a couple of gannets passed by.
We've booked a few days away in Scotland so not all my annual leave will be wasted but I fear that it won't be long until the UK is in 'lockdown' to use tabloid language. Will that stop me going to Druridge?