The last few weeks have been manic; jam-packed with university assignments and other, more menial, tasks. All of which, combined, have greatly impacted upon my ability to get outside and enjoy the sort of things I usually do at this time of year. It has all been rather frustrating in truth, and may well have proved somewhat depressing had it not been for a spontaneous outing this weekend past. A scarce free morning finding myself and the significant other darting off to Druridge Bay for a morning of wild respite.
The morning started well, the sounds of Spring filling our ears as we wandered aimlessly about the woodland that fringes Ladyburn lake; robin, great tit, greenfinch and goldfinch in full song from their respective, denuded perches. The experience here amplified by the sharp, chortling, call of a nearby willow tit and, better still, the sight of two kingfisher perched in close proximity amid the branches of a haggard waterside alder. Sapphire tones alive in the late Winter sun and content to watch as we ambled by. A good start.
Moving on to the lake itself and the usual suspects – tufted duck, coot and goldeneye – were starkly apparent; the sight of a small group of pochard amid the flotilla uplifting given their rapid and glaring decline in the county. The red-headed ones taking a backseat, on this occasion, however, as a familiar figure surfaced amid their ranks: the pacific diver. Not the target of todays venture following numerous visits over the past month but nice to see regardless. The close views obtained more than sufficient to highlight the various ID features of the rather delightful bird; one which we enjoyed in solitude for twenty minutes before it flew off South. Only to emerge moments later on East Chevington.
The feeders at the visitor centre were typically busy; with eight tree sparrows the highlight here amid the assembled ranks of the local tits and finches. Our pitstop proceeded by a leisurely stroll to Chevington where a small flock of scaup amused on the North pool. Further scanning later revealing a slavonian grebe – always a pleasure – as well as a further eight pochard. The seasonal feel continuing here too; with eighteen black-tailed godwit passing speedily overhead (on route to their breeding grounds, perhaps) and the near constant passage of pink-footed geese; all heading North with some haste. Our time here accompanied the whole time by the sound of singing reed bunting which, in the weeks to come, will surely be joined by grasshopper warblers, sedgies and cuckoo fresh from Africa. I cannot wait.
Heading home; the beach at the burn mouth thronged with Twite – 95 to be precise – each making use of the grain supplied by some kindly local birders. The shorelarks were present too, albeit a little further out, and a total of eight skylarks ascended from the sand dunes to sing their merry tune above our heads. A sound which evokes warmer days, blooming wildflowers and emergent insects, and one that I hold incredibly close to heart.
Excluding a rather painful (and comical) encounter with some brambles towards the end of our trip, we enjoyed a nice day at Druridge. Now back to those pesky assignments…