Having seen the forecast last night and a car available to me i set the alarm for 6.45 this morning. I wasn't disappointed as the dawn broke and the light looked superb. I popped outdoors 3 times in the first couple of hours and feeling the temperature, or lack of it, kept finding "little jobs" to be getting on with delaying my departure.
O.K. It was freezing outside, the words, monkeys, balls and brass came to mind, but not necessarily in that order and i didn't actually leave 'till gone 11.
I hadn't been up to Prestwick Carr for a while so decided that was the place and would call past Killingworth Lake for a quickie on the way. You can get some nice waterfowl on the water in winter ( WELL THAT'S HOW IT FELT ) but not today. There were numerous birds about but only the usual suspects, the highlight being 3 cormorants. Oh yes, and it was bitter in the biting wind which scythed across the larger lake.
Off to Prestwick within 20 minutes and on arrival, as i organised myself and changed footwear, 3 Common Buzzards drifted gently over the wooded area in the "military zone". I had 2 species in mind. I had hoped for a possible Short-eared Owl and i ALWAYS see a budgerigar err Yellowhammer.
Set off up the track to the sentry box and a battle ensued. A battle between the wind and the sun. The sun was winning the fight on my right hand side but was getting slaughtered on the left.
Not much on the way up to the gate by the box. No sign of any Swallows and only a Robin and some Blue Tits (no jokes please ) to keep out the chill. There was however a bit more activity in the area close to the derelict building. A scan in the area where the Tawny Owl had been resident earlier in the year produced nothing but all around were the sounds of Blue and Great Tits, Wrens, another Robin, at least a couple of Blackbirds and a lone Goldfinch! I eventually located most of the birds but never reached into my bag for my camera until i caught sight of a Willow Tit. Lush. Didn't want to spook it so i just watched it through the bins for 2 or 3 minutes then slowly sidled into my bag and got the camera out. While i was doing this it called and an immediate reply came back and i could see a second bird a couple of trees further along the track. I tracked the first bird with the camera for a further minute or so but never got a shot off and it eventually disappeared in the foliage never to be seen by myself again. Totally gutted as the light was still superb but i did get great views for 5 minutes so can't complain. Back to the car, a coffee and off along the bumpy road but no owls and only Bicycle Bill worth mentioning...........and NO BUDGIES EITHER!!!