On Sunday I got my lazy arse out of bed early as I wanted to find out how long it takes to get to Shibdon Pond, a site I very rarely visit except for Migrant Hawker time in early autumn, otherwise I'm usually on the way somewhere else when I pop in.
It was always a bus-ride from my previous residence in Rowlands Gill and it's one of those sites in which the anticipation of a random visit always seems to exceed the reality, so unless I'm going for something specifically, I haven't usually bothered.
The reedbeds at Shibdon are visible from our upstairs back windows though the pond itself isn't, so I'm a bit disappointed the starling roost didn't materialise this winter, it would have been great watching the murmuration every evening, but there's always next year (fingers crossed).
But back to Sunday, my route took me along the fellside path to Whickham bank where the Waxwings were the other week, down the bank through Swalwell to the old bridge over the river, where a dipper, grey wagtail, pair of little grebes and mute swans entertained me for five minutes, before I carried on along to Shibdon Pond. A total of 25 minutes had elapsed including the stop at the bridge so about a 20 minute walk from home, shorter than I expected, so that's great to know.
Once in the hide though the realisation dawned that as usual there wasn't much of any great interest. Only three species of gull present, and the wader count totalled 2 redshank and 6 lapwing. Despite this I stayed for best part of an hour and things didn't improve much, a scrap between two moorhen being the highlight.
|Two of three shovelers on show, all distant|
|mean looking mallard|
|a gathering of BH gulls with teal|
|The 2 redshank|
|some herring gulls|
|just caught the end of the moorhen scrap|
|mute swan take-off|
Eventually I decided to have a look along by the duck feeding area to see if there were any Nordic jackdaws kicking around, but my luck was out here too, as not even a British jackdaw made an appearance.
Off home I went, passing Axwell Park I binned the pond to see four cracking male Goosanders, no females about though. Then walked upriver to cross by the cricket pitch bridge, where an obliging Dipper posed for photos.
|Dipper on the Derwent, always a treat to see|
|A closer view of this penguin-wanabee|
A good colony of House Sparrows back up Whickham Bank was nice to see by the old farm buildings, but that was as good as the journey home got.
So only 20 mins away from Shibdon, no excuse not to visit more regularly, roll on spring when it might actually be worth the effort :-)