Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Spring. Its all a myth....

Its easy to get disillusioned with a local patch when you see reports going    on all around you of spring migrants teaming through. From our place, I see tales of waders, passerines and raptors popping up in all manner of parks, reservoirs and suchlike so when I step out into a stiff icy cold Northerly with no birds I am reminded that 'spring' on the          Northumberland coast is almost a myth. Its like those Christmas Cards of  Dickensian scenes when we look out on Christmas day to 10 degrees and    rain...

 But, there are some things that the weather cant hold up forever. Birds   that  winter in Africa and breed in the northern hemisphere will eventually battle through regardless, its just that Northumberland is one of the final places to see any.

On Sunday we headed out hoping that today would see some arrivals, and for once we were lucky. 

The route was from Cullernose Point to Craster in the hope of a Ring Ouzel or at least a Wheatear.

The view south along the coast from Cullernose.

As it happens, the first of 5 new patch birds for the year came before I had left the car park. A Willow Tit buzzed briefly from the blackthorn scrub then promptly vanished.

We moved one vehicle along to Craster then the other back to Cullernose for the walk north. At Craster a pair of House Martins were new and were looking a potential breeding site in the waterworks. 

In these cliff hugging gorse bushes, above, is a short but sheltered farm access track that sometimes holds a few new arrivals. As we ventured in, a small bird flicked up off the grass -  a belter of a male Redstart! This is spring tame fare along the south coast but here it was my first spring Redstart in 14 years. Result. Further along a pair of Wheatears bobbed around on a pile of sand in the field, patch tick 4 in the first half an hour. Nearby a female Shelduck emerged from an open hay barn to meet her mate. No doubt she will have a nest behind the bales.


The rest of the way to Craster held no more surprises, but the cover held good numebrs of Chiffchaffs, a few Willow Warblers and Blackcaps . The scrub here looks excellent and rarely sees a birder, including me, so I must make more of an effort.

This is the view just to the left of the top image. Dunstan to the left and Craster Heughs to the top right.

We walked around by the harbour and up into the Heughs where a rattling Lesser Whitethroat was the final addition to the year list. Roe Deer flushed and a Sparrowhawk flew overhead. All along, there was asteady but light northerly passage of mostly Swallows with an odd Sand Martin with them. 

As we drank tea and ate biscuits at the car, a report came through of a Crane flying N at Tynemouth and Whitley Bay. In the unlikely hope it might track another 30 miles we headed off back to Cullernose to wait it out. As expected, there were no further reports..

At midday, it was time for home, its seems spring has finally sprung after all... 

Eristalis intricaria Hoverfly on Blackthorn.

Razorbills loafing on Cullernose.

Roe Doe



The Wessex Reiver said...

It's not just Northumberland. I'm still to see a swallow or house martin down here in Somerset. Saw some in Nottinghamshire on Sunday, but not here. It's sad with the martins, this area used to have nest on every house, last year only one on the house opposite. My forlorn nest in the eaves hasn't had a house martin for 4 years now. Though I'm poised for the swifts which nest in the roof. Nice to see the Kipper country.

derek said...

Where's the grey headed lapwing post!! Surely a garden tick. 😂😂