18 Dec

I’ve been suffering with a torn shoulder muscle for the last week and I’ve been itching to get out and about and try out my new 1.4x teleconverter, and after 4 days of resting my shoulder to stop tearing it any further I thought I’d go out for a slide on the ice and to see what I could see.

I drove up to Cresswell and took a walk along the beach – it was an hour after high tide but still early in the day and for the first time I can recall I was able to walk along the sands without leaving any footprints due to the frozen ground. The waves were pretty serious and I couldn’t see much at see other than large gulls, but on the beach there was the usual array of small waders – knot, turnstone, dunlin and redshank, alongside a handful of oystercatcher and black-headed and common gulls.


I decided to make a change from my normal routine and headed to the QEII Country Park at Ashington to see what was stirring. Last time I had a proper walk around the lake I ended up knee deep in boggy muddy grass – the revent cold snap meant this time around I was able to crunch my way around on ice bound together with grass making a fairly good walking surface.

Jackdaw enjoying the sunshine

At the car park the usual collection of mute swans, canada geese and gulls were joined by a bewildering array of “mucky mallards” looking like a fancy dress parade with their radical and diverse plumages. The cormorants were also out in force trying to get some warmth into their wings.


The lake was frozen around the edges and a dusting of hail overnight left a peculiar polka-dot pattern on the ice. Patrolling a little way offshore a couple of goldeneye and pochard joined the throng of assorted geese, swans, mallards and coots.

Heading round the eastern end into the woods had an abundance of tits – coal tits chasing each other through densely knit branches and great and blue tits putting in an appearance with the obligatory winter postcard robin.

Further along the path a striking male bullfinch caught my eye and was swiftly joined by a female. While watching him I noticed movement in another tree – a lovely red squirrel (only about my third northumberland red that wasn’t roadkill).


Stood watching him for a while and then noticed the myriad little helicopters floating to earth all around – the seeds from his wasteful foraging!

On for a complete circuit and the rest of the lake held an assortment of pochards, tufties, goldeneyes, a few gadwall and plenty of gulls with the swans, and a single drake goosander.

One grey heron spooked just as I returned to the car park end of the lake and magpies, crows, rooks and jackdaws were in abundance – very little in the way of woodpigeons or doves which was a bit of a surprise.

Still – a pleasant walk (except for 100 yards or so of arctic wind screaming across the lake reminding me that its winter and maybe I should have some gloves!).


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