Past Hemscott Hill a truckload of Pink-footed Geese were in the grass fields close to the road including a neck-collared individual and this one below that had me looking twice for a short while due to the bill pattern variation.
Druridge Pool from the Budge hide was quiet. I headed back south towards Newbiggin as whilst still cold the early mist had lifted. Three minutes from Woodhorn I get a text from Uncle Jim "Winter, 6 degrees and Sand Martin on the Flash" sure enough three minutes later and a single Sand Martin freezing its arse off and obviously wondering why the hell it hadn't booked France for a second week. A Reed Bunting singing was the first of the year in song.
After a further bit unrewarding wander another text this time from Uncle Steve who was doing littoralis at the Beacon with a rather unstreaked individual. I arrived with Uncle Jim not far behind and we spent the next half hour grilling the pipits, I was happy with at least four as littoralis but Steve's bird had gone into hiding. Goldfinch was a patch year tick on the journey back.
Post-lunch I took the twins out to 'feed the ducks' at Druridge Country Park. On the way a Buzzard flew low west over the car north of Longhirst, then another soaring over Red Row. Watching this one and one of the twins pipes up "look dad more" and starts counting, 1..2...3..4..5 and sure enough a little east of my bird three more Buzzards and a smaller raptor that turned out to be a Peregrine. Two Smew still hanging on at DBCP though no sign of the reported second drake.
We headed home via Cresswell, taking in the Hooded Crow atop the dead sheep as it had been earlier when Andy Mclevy had first reported it. This only my second county Hoodie. The year ticks kept rolling in as we jammed into 24 Waxwings on the northern edge of Ashington opposite Wansbeck Business Park where 18 were reported yesterday.
As I pulled on the drive and emptied the kids out, the phone pinged again, Alan Gilbertson with a Snow Bunting up with the littoralis Rock Pipits at Newbiggin. Given the