Saturday, 8 August 2009


That's me the blogging equivalent of Goldilocks. You go for a day out with the kids and make passing reference to a muddy puddle in an otherwise decent park and suddenly the person whose patch it is is bending your ear via email.

Mike Coates tells me I was suffering from displacement as 'Northumberland Park is in North Shields not Tynemouth' Apparently the Terrapin I saw was a Red Eared Slider Terrapin and there are two present. MC kindly sent me the image below 'for my album'.

Mike took exception to me describing the dilapidated, litter strewn lake as an 'awful little pond' citing records of Little Egret, Scaup and regular visits by Kingfishers & Grey Heron going as far as suggesting 'perhaps they don't think it is awful'.

Mike gave me some history, about how Mike Hodgson and he trained for Ringing permits at the site in the sixties. Back then they hadn't invented the lager can or the takeaway pizza box and the pond may well have had some native inhabitants.
I count Newbiggin amongst my local patches, I have crept through heaps of discarded chicken shit seeking prized rarities and had to use fieldcraft to walk silently across the broken glass. I bird the Wansbeck estuary where supermarket trolleys are a handy staging post for terns and waders, I even twitched that Franklin's Gull at Reclamation Pond, Teeside years back and came back wondering just how bad it was before it was reclaimed. I understand that nearly fifty years of looking at a brown debris filled puddle that for most of the year holds four Mallard and a Moorhen leaves a deep scar in a birder's mind. Coping with trauma such as this one goes through stages, denial, deep depression and hopefully, finally acceptance of the truth. I have the utmost respect for a birder that can stay with a patch that long but surely this can only be done by accepting how bad it is (as a habitat, the pond not the park) and moving on.

Mike has recorded 111 species of bird and 18 species of Butterfly in the park an admirable achievement in a difficult setting. I think at least 12 of the bird species were represented in two 'Mallard-type' ducks on the pond the other day. If you haven't been go take a look, the pond may be awful (it is) but marvel at the passion and dedication that can keep a birder going back there for fifty years. A plaque is the least he deserves.

1 comment:

Thing said...

Thats the nature of patch birding, you just can't help but get a bit precious about the place...