I peered bleary eyed out the bedroom blinds to a grey morning that was less than inspiring. After tiptoeing about trying not to wake any kids I snuck out just before seven.
In two minds, should I head to Newbiggin and look on the sea or try my luck inland at Beacon Hill for Jay and Green Woodpecker. I decided to go inland, my anonymous comment about Beacon Hill's demise giving me cause for thought.
First decent bird was a Barn Owl hunting the rough edge of Longhirst Golf Course. No pictures today as I decided not to bother with a camera due to the poor light and likely drizzle.
I stopped on the way up the long hill to Beacon Hill Wood, more to stop scaring the Roe Deer that couldn't find a gap and was charging up the road ahead of me. I had a quick look along some of the tree lines for Little Owl but just ended up bothering the local Great Tit who scolded me.
I parked a little past the wood and again looked along the northern edge for anything moving in the field or the fence line, a Song Thrush and a Robin were singing in unison as I walked back down to the wood.
Beacon Hill Wood is a small wood 500m x 100m with a single track road running through it. One side is dominated by Oak & Beech the other a mix of Alder, Birch, Oak and more scrubby. In Spring it has the full range of woodland species including Pied Flycatcher & Wood Warbler, because it is small it's also not too difficult to work.
I wandered along the fairly quiet road and to be honest there was little in the way of avian activity, a burst of drumming from a nearby Great Spotted Woodpecker an occasional Tit or Chaffinch. At the far end I walked along the North West edge looking for Woodcock but another Song Thrush and a Skylark singing in the next field were all I could muster. Another three Roe Deer bolted for safety at the sight of me.
Walking back through the south side was not much better, I picked up two calling GSW and a single Treecreeper but not much else. I wondered whether the harder winter had driven birds to lower altitude and they were just not back yet. One or two large Beech have come down in the wind and are in the process of being cut up, hopefully the owners will leave some of the fallen branches to rot.
After leaving I did a circle around North then West then South toward Stanton, two Red-legged Patridge in with the sheep were probably releases, bonny though.
A quick detour down the large hill toWhinney Hill where there's a small fishing lake and some mixed woodland produced a single Tree Sparrow and four more Roe Deer that I watched grazing for a few minutes before they were spooked by the sound of a shotgun.On the road out another attempted suicide this time a Hare.
Back down the hill past Stanton Hall, I stopped to check the river at Wood House for Kingfisher & Grey Wagtail but again drew a blank other than a male Bullfinch in the nearby hedge.
A mixed couple of hours with little that I went looking for but the Roe Deer offered better views than they often do as the ones at Whinney Hill were less skittish probably because I remained unseen.
Tonight delivering to Acklington I ended my birding day as it had started with a male Barn Owl at Morwick Mill.