Monday, December 04, 2023

Blue ( with the cold) Velvet...

The Old Rectory in our village...

Since last weeks post, the weather changed considerably, for the worse. The snow became 'real' and the temperature dropped to -4 degrees freezing anything already wet into a solid lump of ice. Often, hard weather spells like this can produce a movement of birds such as Skylarks or Woodcocks on the patch but as in all weather patterns there are some subtleties to watch out for. In this case we didnt get any hard weather movement as the main cold was confined to the east coast, leaving birds already in further west non the wiser.

Still, in local patch terms, it is always a bit interesting in some form.

On Peggy's walk on 1st, we wandered around the field beside the coast path. All was quiet, Peggy occupied by the enhanced snowy sniffing opportunities when a roar of wind over head caused us to pause and look up. Here we found a big adult Peregine scything through a flock of 30 off Golden Plover dividing the numbers in half. The rush of the wings was amazing, with Go Plo's parting like the Red Sea. The executioner unfortunately left without breakfast.

Later, a single Waxwing was still hunkered down in the pink rowan along the main road and a cracker of a Tawny Owl sat out in the pink light of a snowy dusk, giving great views on a fence post along our lane.

Phone shot. By the time I got it out of my pocket the Peregrine was on its way...

The Pond Field

Yesterday we were to do a Guided Walk for Alnwick Wildlife Group from Dunstan Steads to Low Newton and back. This wasn't until 10am so we met at 8 and had a short wander around our village first. Wednesday's Tawny Owl was sat out again in the same place before flying past us into some ivy covered trees to roost while a Treecreeper hopped up a telegraph pole nearby. More interesting were two calling Chiffchaffs, one by the pond field in the wet wood, the other along the lane beside the village wood. It feasibly could have been one bird moving around but I dont think so? 

After not a bad start it was off, all of 3 miles along to Dunstan Steads. The roads were a bit tricky along here most not having seen a gritter so we didnt expect a big turn out. We were right. The group consisted of 6 hardy members but the weather was calm freezing and bright, ideal for a coast walk. And, even better, the golf course was closed so there were very few people around too!

We walked along the shore with snow down to the high tide line seeing a few bits and pieces. Best of all was a close in female Velvet Scoter eating shore crabs. On the flat sea she gave some great views.

Velvet Scoter dismembering a shore crab...

A bit further on were a few waders and more wildfowl forced onto the sea as the pond and scrapes were frozen solid.

We had 1 juv Brent Goose on the beach, 40+ Wigeon, a few Mallard and with them an ocean going Gadwall, 3 Common Scoter, 3 Red breasted Merganser, 2 Purple Sandpiper, 2 Bar tailed Godwits and 2 Grey Plover. Passerines were in short supply with only Stonechats, Skylark, Greenfinch and a few Blackbirds, Song and Mistle Thrushes in the dune bushes.

Not a great deal to write home about but it was a very nice walk out with enough to keep us interested.

Embleton Beach

No comments: