Friday, 10 April 2009

Thick & Fast

I find that often in Spring new birds for the year arrive in spurts, often with a pair of unrelated species arriving together say Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat for example. Earlier in the week it was Garganey and Black-tailed Godwit at Druridge that presented themselves together.

Today a busy working day if the weather stayed fair meant I had next to no birding time so my expectations were low, yet I've added two new birds for 2009 to my County Year List. After a seven thirty start I pulled into Bothal Pond for a five minute scan, car laden with provisions with which to stock the shop. I was hoping that I might jam a passing Black-necked Grebe but all the Grebes were Little (four), at the North end though were a pair of Ruddy Duck, the first I've seen this year. I think numbers are lower these days as a result of the ongoing cull. I like Ruddy's, brassy arrogant ducks with the cartoon coloured blue beaks. I remember my excitement almost twenty years ago on finding my first, four males at Arcot Pond early one morning and waking up Graham Bowman & Les Robson at some ungodly hour to get them to 'twitch' them. At that time they had perhaps not bred in Northumberland and were one of the strangest looking ducks I had come across.

The cull has always left me split between head and heart. My head recognises the threat they potentially pose to White-headed Duck but my heart wants them to escape the guns.

Tonight after a long day selling Ice Cream I drove slowly home in the remnants of the Bank Holiday traffic, a high tide pushed up the Coquet and as it had just rained I kept a close eye just in case an early Black Tern had moved into the river as they often do during and following rain.
Mentally noting Black Headed Gull, Black Headed Gull, Black Headed Gull, Black etc until finally two smaller, slimmer, TERNS, and my second tick in my eight minutes birding was Sandwich Tern, about time too, ten days into April.

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