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Report on Druridge Bay Area, 13 April 2019

Our day started at our meeting point with a short brief sea watch in the car park at Snab Point south of Cresswell village. We were not disappointed. Close up Fulmars put on a show while offshore we saw several Sandwich Tern, Kittiwake and a single Gannet heading south. Eider, Red-throated Diver and Guillemot bobbed on the surface and dived under the waves of a choppy sea. Directly below us there were waders on the rocks - Oystercatcher, Turnstone and Redshank. However, we soon tired of the cold onshore wind so we moved onto Cresswell Pond which weather wise was a different world. Immediately  we spotted a wandering Grey Partridge and a smart male Stonechat, even before we headed to the hide, on the way enjoying excellent views of Stock Dove, Tree Sparrow and a displaying Dunnock. A Wren sang from deep cover, but did not give itself away. From the hide itself there were an array of waders including plenty of Curlew and Lapwing, 4 Avocet and one Snipe which hunkered down at the pond edge by the reeds. It proved to be a good raptor day with two Buzzards in view soaring almost as soon as we had opened the shutters. Plus we saw several House Martin - our first hirundines on a day we would eventually see 3 species. Morning coffee then beckoned at the Drift Café before driving the short distance north to the Budge Hide at Druridge Pool. It wasn't long before we picked up a distant immature male Marsh Harrier. Much to our delight it came closer and we were treated to brilliant views of this stunning raptor, joined twenty minutes later by a full adult male. Both birds spooked the various duck and waders on the pool - Shoveler, Teal, Curlew, Snipe and Black-tailed Godwit - which repeatedly rose and scattered in flight before resettling after the harriers had passed. Then it was our turn to move - onto our final stop of the day at East Chevington ponds. We began by scanning the north pool and soon added Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe, Pink-footed and Greylag Goose, as well as both species of Black-backed Gull. We walked over and circuited the south pool where the bushes proved especially productive with our first Willow Warblers of the year as well as Reed Buntings and Stonechat. A quick look at the beach to see a distant flock of Sanderling before returning for a final session back at the north pool. A single Water Rail tantalized us with its call, but it didn't show.

Overall, our total was 67 species, not bad for a day when the strong onshore wind kept some small birds hunkered down and hidden from view. We came away once again being reminded just how good Druridge Bay can be for watching birds at any time of year. Don’t worry if you missed out as we will be running the trip again in the autumn.

Andrew Kinghorn & Mark Winter