Andrew commented that he saw the East Chevington flock of Goldfinch at around 80 strong. Whilst I was there birds were arriving and leaving all the time so the numbers must have fluctuated during the day. Sometimes they were down on the roadside eating grit or drinking from puddles.
Flocks are sometimes difficult to count and I estimated 200 or so. What a pessimist!
I printed this shot of the flock in flight and counted the dots not being too pedantic about double dots or large smudges and came to 467!
Seventy or so in this shot of them feeding on the teasels.
Having paid a Swift visit to Druridge Pools where none was to be seen I ventured up the road to investigate a large flock of birds near where the Subalpine Warbler had been a few weeks ago. The flock were about 200 Goldfinch which along with 4 Stonechat and a Sparrowhawk were the only birds of note on the path to East Chevington. After a brief look on the north pool where 18 Coot and a calling Water Rail hardly made the walk worthwhile it was back via the beach to Druridge. With only shirt and jumper it was so warm I was getting a sweat on as I headed back toward the dunes so was not expecting snow. Three Pied Wagtails played in front of me and then two very pale birds were found among them. As I lifted the camera they flew and were joined by another but only ventured 20 yards or so. A bit of stalking and bingo Snow Buntings.
They watched me cautiously for a moment then decided I was of little merit and started feeding. There were quite a few people and dogs on the beach so they seemed to care little about human presence which is always helpful for the amateur snapper.
With my Sunday already planned around the Bookfair at Tynemouth and lunch at the folks it was up at first early and out at first light to see whether the Shrike had stayed the night. I really don't know why I bothered because my previous experience of this species tells me it's not an early riser.
As the sun broke through just before 8.00am the bird appeared and was instantly set upon by two Magpies. This also tallies with the previous visit where they followed the Shrike around no doubt raiding its larder. This time however I can forgive them as they drove the bird toward me. Half a dozen shots in poor light through a hedge isn't exactly perfect but probably more fortunate than the many who visited today most of whom got a decent view but nearly always distant.
I then had a free run of all the books at Tynemouth because STH was watching the Shrike!
Yesterday morning saw me doing my web count postponed from last week due to tide time and weather then back to the patch for a quick wander before heading off to family duties. Nothing special about, or so I thought. Nice flock of Siskin and a small flock of Redpoll but couldn't get close enough for a Mealy ID. I returned late afternoon to find Bill, Graeme and Les scoping intently and was advised of the Great Grey Shrike found by RN earlier. Nice bird and a pleasant lift for a quiet October to date.
Is it the same bird as wintered two years ago November 9th 2011 to March 2012 one wonders. These birds are known to return to wintering locations and it seemed to know the area around Pringles pond picking out some good vantage points. Only time will tell for if it is still here in a months time then I would assume it is likely to be the same individual.
And so the year turns. The darkness encroaches with cold and tempest not helped by another Dinnington power cut last night. A sign of things to come. Please don't jump up and put the kettle on after Corrie. Better still get a life (hark who's talking!) and don't watch it in the first place. Loads of work and no photo opportunities means trawling back through the years store of images. Not much to Crow about though.
Patch quiet other than a five second view of an SEO hassled by Magpies last evening. Last week had some time to spare after a meeting so a trip round the top end of Fontburn Reservoir found some nice big fungi
sad old loner totally p****d off with life, work and modern society hence the propensity to head off into the wilds to escape.
Photos taken with Canon 500D and (from 14.06.13) Tamron 70-300 zoom following the demise of my Canon zoom.