Another walking/birding morning out was in poor light. Parking up at Druridge Pools Bigfoot of Blyth and my good self headed towards the Budge Hide. A sighting of 16 adult Whooper Swans was a very nice start. Through the gloom they appeared like beacons. Harder to pick out were the other birds on the water which included large numbers of Teal and Widgeon alongside a sprinkling of Shoveler. I'm always saddened when i view this area as it has slowly turned into another pool whereas a couple of years ago it was a cracking place to pick up some nice waders with lots of mud glorious mud. Water levels must have been managed then and i remember also the majestic Highland Cattle that grazed here with nesting Lapwings running around under their hooves. I can remember where i saw my first of any species and it was here i saw my first Wood Sandpiper. What chance now?
On to the Oddie Hide admiring the coppicing work on the way only to find very little of note there.
Two brace of Grey Partridge (RED) lifted and whirred for a short time in the fields on our left as we headed for East Chevington. A falconer could be seen roaming the dunes to our right with the jingling of bells attached to the birds bewits ringing out from time to time as he allowed the poor creature to fly. Further on we had eight Skylarks (RED) rising from the vegetation and displaying at different times as we approached the reed beds at the outskirts of Chev. The Skylark displays stopped giving way to the sound of occasional Reed Buntings. A pair of Stonechats were next observed. The female atop of a hawthorn with the male showing off, as usual, on and around the fence posts close by and on the fencing wire. I didn't hear it tapping stones together sadly. On our way to the first of the two hides we visited Lewis spotted something crossing the path in front of us. It landed on a fence post and there sat a Barn Owl. We rushed to try to get to cover so as not to spook the spectre and the hide wasn't too far away but as we did the bird lifted again passing behind the hide and dropping to the ground. It lifted for a short while before disappearing out of sight again this time we thought for good. Despite our disappointment mixed with euphoria we scanned the reeds for a possible Bittern. No luck so hide number two and coffee and bait was in order. The view from this hide not restricted by the reeds, a view over the water could be had. Plenty birds again but nothing exceptional, a large flock of over 400 Lapwings the highlight. The Barn Owl we had seen earlier suddenly reappeared just about in the area we had last seen it. We were treated with another ten minutes or so of low slow flight, hovering occasionally, dropping down and landing on posts. Lewis snapped away while i chose to just sit and marvel. It must have been after 9 by now and the reason the bird was about so late must have been the fact that it had been raining from 4.30a.m. when i had gotten up and had continued drizzling up until after 8.
We headed back to Druridge taking in the dunes for part of the way but while back on the main track came across more Skylarks singing and displaying. On two occasions we enjoyed the sight of groups of between four and seven birds engaging in aerial dogfights chasing each other around vigorously.
Cresswell was visited on our way home. Got the Tree Sparrows (RED) but no Greenfinches, that i always look forward to seeing these days around the end farm building on the way to the hide. A couple of guys were already seated in the hide and mentioned that a Bar-headed Goose had been seen but it had disappeared behind a hedge, it never showed. Also a Ruff (RED) had been on the sandbar, it reappeared a few minutes later in amongst the Lapwing already there. As we left a female Peregrine (RED) was spotted sitting on a post to the side of the hide. Time pressing there was no chance for us to wait for it to lift.
Oh, i nearly forgot. Another first for me, this sighting at East Chevington also..........
The RED thing? birds on the RED SPECIES LIST explained here http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/redliststory.aspx