Saturday, 15 January 2011


Journeyed south - and not for the first time - in search of a Ring-necked Duck.  Arrived at Cowpen Bewley CP as dawn broke and with a spring in my step sallied forth to the main lake.  For the first 15 or so minutes, the enthusiasm was increasingly sapped as every Tuftie was, well, a Tuftie.  And then, over to the left, behind the island, there it was - 600 miles worth of driving, over three or more years, and what a corker!  The feeders were busy with Tree Sparrow, tits, Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting.

Spoke to another birder there and spookily he was awaiting some colleagues including Birding Sometimes, all four having some form of annual reunion.  Now that's spooky!  Drive 50 miles and meet a birder who lives less than a mile from me.

Next stop Greatham Creek and a B-n Grebe.  Howling gale, horizontal-ish rain, wet spectacles, bins and scope and cloth in the car!  What an amateur!  The hide was a welcome respite.  And scanning the creek and Seal Sands for an hour failed to locate it.  R-b Mergansers, Shelducks a plenty, Black-tailed Godwit and others tho'.

Off to Saltholme for a spot of LEO action (and I don't mean Sayer; that would be just wrong!).  Our survey said......

Trust me to pick the first day of the until that point unannounced new arrangements.  The 11/2pm window to be pointed at the elusive owls was now a 1pm only opportunity!  Too late was the cry, did not have my pass-out signed for that long. 

Still, Pintail added to the year list, but not much else.  No time to really get acquainted with the place so after an hour, off to Ward Jackson Park for a R-n Parakeet.  Another dipper!

So on to Cramlington, and The Burton House Pub for a couple; Waxwings that is.  Back on good form, there they were, half a dozen dining on apples.

And finally, Bramblings in a garden on the Beaconhill estate.  Nice end to a generally productive day.


  1. So what are the new arrangements at Saltholme? I was thinking of having a trip down there on Monday. But if 1PM is the earliest you can see the Owls, it's a none starter.

  2. Sorry! just read about it on BF.

  3. Good to put a face to a blog. We spoke on the path at Cowpen then in the hide at Seal Sands. Birding Sometimes mentioned who you were.

  4. James - what a small world it is! You just cannot escape and hide away, even 50 miles from home!

    Gaz - it would have been a good idea if the change had been announced before it happened. They will still point you to where the LEOs are but if you go early you will have to seek them out yourself (not that that would be hard for the winner of the Great 2010 Bird Race!).