Owls, Rails and Snipe

14 Jan

A most enjoyable morning in the crisp January sunshine, I ventured out shortly before nine for a quick tour of druridge bay.

My first sighting of any note was a stunning short-eared owl perched on a fencepost at Cresswell – totally unconcerned by my presence I rolled the car to a halt next to the owl and exchanged stares for a few moments before it headed off into the dunes.

Heron

I parked up adjacent to the stream that leads out to the beach which was largely frozen and the only brid on view was a solitary redshank poking around the thawed section. On the beach lots of gulls floating around beyond the breakers and a dozen or so sanderling providing some entertainment.

Sanderling

Further along the road at Druridge pools and greeted by a smart looking male Stonechat perched prominently in the sun. at the Budge hide all was quiet with the pond frozen over so no ducks to be seen, however there was a single lonely and fed up looking snipe sat at the edge of the ice. As I headed back toward the car I heard a rustling in the undergrowth in the small stream that runs between the hide and the road – I stopped still for a moment and checked the stream and there was the back end of a water rail scurrying along the ice before disappearing from view into undergrowth.

Onwards again to East Chevington and the sky was full of huge skeins of geese but again the ground was fairly quiet. A pair of pheasants were rooting round in the fields but the hedges were fairly quiet and there was little to be seen on the open water. I stopped briefly at the L-shaped hide on the east shore and immediately had my second short-eared owl of the morning, hunting right in front of the hide.

Shortie

After watching him hunt for a while I decided to proceed on to Druridge Bay Country Park for a circuit of the lake and immediately had a smart pair of red-breasted mergansers preening in the sun.

Mergansers

The usual suspects were around by way of ducks – goldeneye, tufties, gadwall and pochard with the mallards, and snipe skulking at the waters edge, along with my first grey wagtail of the year providing some colour.

Circuit completed and heading back along the path to East chevington a pair of short-eared owls were quartering the fields just behind the assorted watchers scanning the south pool.

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