Looking for something good for this my 250th post after a meeting at Blyth I decided to take the afternoon off. First checked out the quay where a good looking Eider was down below with his mate and two hopefull Mute Swans. Further out a Harbour Porpoise was patroling up and down mid stream.
Heading north out of Blyth I stopped of at Ashington Hospital to try and find the White fronted Geese reported yesterday. The weather was turning even and with rain starting I scanned through the numerous Greylag, two Canada Geese and eight Coots feeding in the field but couldn't make out any Whitefronts in the encroaching gloom. Didn't really try that hard but needed somewhere slightly warmer to continue my jolly.
Heading up to Cresswell Pond I made straight for the hide joining a young lady who was also hiding from the elements. Scanned the pond seeing lots of Wigeon, Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin, Oystercatcher and lesser numbers of Lapwing, Mallard, Teal and Knot. Checking the sightings board I remarked it was a while since a Bittern had been reported and almost upon ending that statement my fellow birdwatcher remarked look it's over there by the reeds and so it was walking down toward the outfall in full view. Ask and ye shall be rewarded.
The lady felt that the best had now been achieved and left leaving me to scan the waders for rings and watching the antics of the Wigeon, Curlew and Redhank as they grazed the field to the west occassionally dashing back to the pond when anything threatened. No Peregrine was in sight though.
I got my eye on a darker bird sleeeping in amonst the Dunlin. Definately more defined streaking on upper breast and shorter legged. I suspected Purple Sandpiper but the bird wouldn't raise its head so I waited for one of the Knot or Redshank to make it move.
As I waited the rain had stopped and a ghostly shape drifted past me almost close enough to touch and I got a great view of a Barn Owl as it flew in front of the hide then started hunting up the roadside. It concentrated on the boundary wall making two or three runs the full length occassionally hovering before disappering from sight then re-appearing to continue. It even flew over two birders heads who appeared not to notice as they scanned the pond with their telescopes! Eventually after perching for a while it disappeared and the rain started again.
Back to the wading hoard I found bird and confimed Purple Sandpiper now preening with the Dunlin. It's in there somewhere, honest.