I've been waiting for news of the Avocets returning at Cresswell Pond having only been twice previously in the last 6 weeks since the work on the culvert between Cresswell and Druridge Pools caused the road to be closed. Early morning starts are now on the agenda which meant that although i had to get the car back by 11 on Monday i could still get out for a few hours. The weather was awful with leaden skies and steady drizzle unrelenting in all the time i was out so i knew i wouldn't venture far from the hide at Cresswell, my planned destination having found out the Avocets had indeed returned the previous day. I had the Long-billed Dowitcher almost immediately directly in front of the hide and as close as you could expect to see it but it was partially hidden by reeds. Very frustrating. Around 800 Black-headed Gulls lifting en mass from the surrounding fields, dropping in on the pond and returning was quite a spectacle. 5 Red-breasted Mergansers which didn't hang around too long and a nice drake Pintail kept the spirits up, despite the drizzle soaking my gear on the shelf in the hide blown in on a steady cold, cold northerly. After an hour or so 3 Avocets were suddenly on the western spit, great to see them back. There is something about there grace and beauty, coupled with their feisty disposition, which captures my imagination. The line that Chris Packham came out with a while back that they were the Audrey Hepburns of the bird world rang true immediately with me. There was plenty going on around the pond, all common species and there was some good craic with the few birders present. I thought i would call in at Newbiggin for a short visit on the way home but as the Avocets had disappeared that i would quickly pop along to the northern end of the pond to see if any of them were hidden from view so i could capture my first image of the year. One of the birds was there but at the back of the pond but unbelievably the Dowitcher was feeding, sewing machine like, on one of the small flashes in the field by the footpath that leads to the causeway. I took a few quick shots in case the bird flew off but it was feeding so intently i don't think it was aware i was there initially. I crept slowly forward resting on the slightly wobbly perimeter fence posts. I got within 4 metres of the bird eventually before leaving it and a Dunlin to continue probing in the water.
I found out later that having uploaded the image to Iris on Birdguides that they were using it on their Review of the Week 9th-15th March. which you can read HERE