Monday, April 09, 2007
A quiet Bank Holiday.
Above - Another busy Bank Holiday in the Cheviots...
Sunday was cool but dry and sunny with a moderate SW5.
I had a dawn start at Boulmer today, arriving at 6am just at first light. At the north seat, 4 Blackbirds on the verge were residents but they were accompanied by a Fieldfare, my first of the year. 2 Purple Sandpipers were on the beach and 2 Golden Plovers were on the sheep grazing near Longhoughton Steel. Despite gazing seaward for a while, there were still no Sandwich Terns.
All areas were given a glance, but no more migrants were found. 5 Roe Deer were in the stubble field.
A quick visit to Foxton Bends, near Alnmouth had my first Sand Martins of the year with 3 birds hawking above the river. A Chiffchaff sang nearby and 2 drake Goosanders were together on the river.
I picked up JWR from home at 8 and we headed up towards Branton and Hedgely Gravel Pits. This is a new complex created by gravel extraction from the river bed and have yet to reach potential. This may never happen however as a chat with a local confirmed the suspicion that these would go the way of many other sites and be turned into put and take trout fisheries. This has already happened at Caistron near Rothbury and the constant disturbance to the water has disrupted the local wildlife.
Quite a lot of bird activity in the area mainly caused by a colony of Black headed Gulls on the island, but a closer look around revealed 3 Barnacle Geese with the Canadas and Greylags, 3 Can-lags ( hybrids between the two) 10+ Sand Martins, 1 Dipper, 2 Ringed Plover, 3 Redshank and 3 Lapwings incubating eggs. 2 Little Grebes and 24 Tufted Duck were on the pools.
From here we detoured via Threestoneburn and on to the Harthope Valley. Here the wind was cold and birds were keeping low. Nothing much to note except 2 female Goosanders at nestholes, 1 Buzzard, 2 Dippers and 2 Grey Wagtails. Ring Ouzels etc will have to wait until the weather is better.
The valleys were sporadically dotted with alpha male, Ray Mears wannabees who normally spend the day on the settee watching the footie before popping to the bookies or the pub or both, and their families. We saw three good family parties, the first had a fire going and a months shopping from Asda strewn around them, then came two blokes in camo gear up a tree, while girlfriends watched impressed, then came the family man complete with Rambo survival knife showing his kids how to survive Easter Sunday in the Cheviots, while his missus sheltered between a striped windbreak and an Isuzu Trooper. Oh how we laughed...