Off the duck!

Today we drove back (are still driving back as I write this!) from Scotland to Wells-next-the-Sea. The weather was not promising in terms of either pleasant driving or wildlife walks!

However we set off down the road with the aim (if it wasn’t still pouring with rain when we got there) of visiting the RSPB reserve of Loch of Kinnordy – somewhere we had never been.

ice at Loch of Kinnordy

One of the lovely things for me about birdwatching (and wildlife watching in general) is that you never know what you might see: From looking at the RSPB website about Loch of Kinnordy I was fairly certain of a handful of waterbird species, but not a lot else. It’s wonderful when one is completely wrong!

So the weather cleared up reasonably well and we found ourselves, late morning, at the small reserve. Someone – I guess the warden – had just refilled some bird feeders a hundred yards or so from the car park, and so we were immediately treated to a wealth of small songbirds; about 5 or 6 robins, several blackbirds, a dozen or so tree sparrows, chaffinchs, and a variety of tits.

robin (photo taken May 2013)

A little further along the track we came to the East hide, from which were to be seen a small number of ducks and some mute swans: However the ducks included 3 goldeneye and one of my all time favourite ducks, a male pintail.

We were both amazed by the number of small birds in this marshy habitat, alongside cultivated fields: Probably an ideal winter area for them with open water, food supplies and shelter. A group of at least 10 reed buntings was great to see, along with a couple of yellowhammers – a bird which has been in serious decline for many years. I also heard, and then saw, a flock of 20 or so siskins.

yellowhammer (photo taken January 2015)

Finally Brenda got the “spot of the day” award when she caught movement low down in the marshy fringes – and there was a water rail! This is the sort of bird that is easy to miss for a whole year, as they’re pretty skulking most of the time, so this was a perfect find, and made our day.

And Brenda is off the duck with her first flowering wildflower species. She writes: “There are some species that, given mild enough weather, will flower all year round, but with the recent cold snap and us being in Scotland none of these were likely today. But there are some winter flowering species – many people have winter jasmine in their gardens. My first species of the year was common gorse (also known as furze), in flower along the edges of the road as we drove south. Common gorse flowers from about January to July, and later in the year I might see western gorse or dwarf gorse in flower, as their flowering season is about July to November.”

A couple of other bird species, such as starling, pheasant and grey heron, were seen from the car during our journey south, and a final addition for the day was made in darkness in the car park of Ikea in Gateshead, as we stopped for a touch of retail therapy and to charge the car!

….and a final note about yesterday: We decided to disallow the hooded crow we’d seen as we reckoned it was a bit too much of a hybrid to count. Hopefully later in the year we’ll catch up with a pure-blood rather than a mud-blood!!

New species for January 3rd:
Birds: reed bunting, yellowhammer, goldeneye, pintail, teal, wigeon, mallard, greylag goose, mute swan, grey heron, black-headed gull, pheasant, water rail, siskin, starling, great spotted woodpecker
Flowers: common gorse

Birds = 38
Moths = 0
Wildflowers = 1