It seems like an age since my last post even though it was just Saturday. With the bright light of change arriving almost on cue on 1st March we've packed a great deal in the last three days. Sunday morning saw me out birding rather than trying to take photographs. I spent the first hour at Hulne Park looking for the elusive Hawfinch that has appeared on at least three occasions now high in the tallest trees at the end of the avenue but without success. Calling Nuthatch, Common Buzzard & Great Spotted Woodpecker were scant compensation.
I moved further north to Stag Rocks which, with the sea still heavy, was fairly quiet, a single diver too distant to put to species, two Slavonian Grebe further in close to the breaking waves and 15 Long-tailed Duck not far offshore including a couple of males giving heavy chase to a female providing some nice scoped flight views. A few small parties of adult Northern Gannet moved north, my first this year.
A few stops later including the conveniently placed farm shop at Widdrington for Sunday's lunch and I was at Druridge to have another attempt at picking up Paul Massey's Green-winged Teal. Now I don't want to devalue PM's excellent find but Green-winged Teal aren't the most exciting rare, a bit of a change of cream line angle and after that it's all a little too close to Common Teal. This one is obviously of US origin though, the essential jizz gives it away (warning: gross generalisation and stereotyping about to arrive). For about the first ten minutes I was there all it did was lie around sleeping, this guy was obviously fresh from the local trailer park pond. It wasn't until a fine example of Brit raptor in the form of a Sparrowhawk came tearing through that our GWT got it's arse into gear and showed itself a little, even managing to swim about 10m before falling back to sleep.
Lack of movement reminds me of my other find on Saturday which due to my inability to identify it has had to wait in the wings until my advisory panel of fish experts delivered their verdict. Whilst crawling about the seaweed chasing after Snow Bunting on Saturday I came across an unusual dead fish, this one -
The considered verdict of my advisory panel (thanks to Stewart, Alan, Mark & Mike) is that it is a female Lumpsucker which is apparently quite common in deep pools close inshore. Those lips have something strangely human about them or as Mike put it "Its damned ugly".
The increase in temperature has brought about a huge increase in numbers of Common Frog in the garden pond. Over the weekend I counted 50 heads at one point, the pond is only 2x2m. I'm beginning to wonder if its healthy for them to be all crammed in the same place and whether some translocation into nearby ponds might be worthwhile. The sunshine this afternoon brought quite a few out again and they began to get a little vocal as well, the gentle croaking audible as I lay on the lawn to get some pictures.
Yesterday, I took the kids for our first walk in nearby Scotch Gill Woods this year. What a difference a year makes, last year they would walk as far as the seat, about 250m before collapsing in tears needing a chocolate fix before going any further. This year not only did they walk twice that distance, they then spent a good 10-15 minutes occupied by sticks, stones, molehills and adventure whilst I wandered about looking for anything interesting. Knowing their stamina has improved gives me all sorts of possiblities for Spring walks that I wouldn't have considered last year.
This is just one of several species all around what must have been a large old Beech that fell some years back and has been sawn up and left to be colonised.
A timely reminder that I must look for a guide to Tree Fungi.
Any recomendations gratefully received.
Today whilst we did little courtesy of a chipped tooth (not mine) that needed repairing I've managed a productive day with lots of catch up on blogs, emails etc and a big dismantling job half done that is going to see me add a small raised hide above the feeding area beside the house I started working on at the beginning of the winter. Those green shoots are spring up everywhere, literally!