Back on the patch again this week and daily visits to my local woodland as part of my volunteer work with RSNE have allowed for a rather good rummage around. Today especially, the treetops teemed with life, the best of which consisted of a flock of 11+ Siskin, by far the biggest gathering I’ve ever seen here. With these, a similar number of Goldfinch, a few Chaffinch and a pair of Bullfinch. The feeding station, continuously stocked by an unknown local continues to draw in all sorts, today’s visit finding a small troop of Long-Tailed Tit and three Nuthatch in attendance alongside the regular Coal, Blue and Great Tits. Moving further off the beaten track, two Jay were located though these proved typically weary. Nearby, three Treecreeper scampered too and through up the trunk of a large Turkey Oak while elsewhere the best of the rest comprised a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Dipper on the river and a singing Goldcrest. A jolly good haul of atypical woodland goodies though the hoped for Marsh/Willow Tit has failed to materialize again after a brief glimpse prior to the New Year.
Onwards to the estuary and the short walk between the two sites threw up a nice selection of common species. An un-seasonal Chiffchaff moving through amid a mixed tit flock a very welcome surprise (and a new species for this years Patchwork Challenge tally). Redwing remain in evidence here, foraging in the nearby paddocks while a total of six sing Song Thrush were noted in the vicinity. A little further along the bridleway a Kestrel sat idle on a fence post and two Buzzards circled with an escort of vexed Jackdaws though aside from these, the paddocks and hedges remained quiet. A brief look at the river here provided a Little Egret fishing in the shallows beneath the railway bridge while both Grey Wagtail and Little Grebe were also seen. Not bad, but nothing in comparison to the wealth of birds now residing further downstream at the estuary itself.
With a number of visits to Blyth this week I thought it best to only include peak (and rather rough) counts in this part. The last week has proven rather good for waders, the best of which being a single Knot – a welcome year tick and another new PWC species. Alongside this, some 300 Dunlin fed on the flats, by far the most numerous species at Blyth in winter. Picking through these proved worth while, 12 Ringed Plover and a lone Grey Plover standing out like a sore thumb while elsewhere the best of the other leggy offerings consisted of; 60 Lapwing, 13 Golden Plover, 110 Redshank, 65 Curlew, 14 Turnstone, 40 Oystercatcher and 10 Bar-Tailed Godwit. The latter joined on Monday by two Black-Tailed Godwit. One waits with baited breath to see what new wader species will be added during migration..
Moving on to wildfowl and things remained largely the same this week, a pair of Goosander and 8 Red-Breasted Merganser the highlights of a familiar bunch. Five Goldeneye remain, down from double digits the previous week while the three Wigeon were once again located in their favoured spot. Aside from these, 90 Teal, 12 Eider, 6 Gadwall, 22 Shelduck and 17 Mallard were also noted. Saturday’s visit found Pink-Footed Geese passing overhead in good numbers while a gaggle of Greylag Geese heading north were also new for the year.
Elsewhere here things remain largely quiet, a scan of the surrounding scrub producing a handful of Linnet and Greenfinch but little else, at least until a familiar call alerted me to the presence of a lone Tree Sparrow in the vicinity of the bus depot. My first on this site in ten years and, you guested it, another Patchwork tick. Aside from this however only the large gull roost at the sewage works provided anything in the way of entertainment. A good half hour’s scrutiny revealing; 300+ Black-Headed Gull, 12 Common Gull, 46 Herring Gull, 18 Great Black-Backed Gull and, more interestingly, 3 Lesser Black-Backs, a species I expect to surge in the coming weeks. Still no Med Gulls here but they will come in time I am sure.
Red Squirrel photographed at the site a year back – Hope they return soon!