Saturday morning off to Gosforth Nature Reserve, still not sunrise but was hoping to catch sight of a fox or the deer. First birds I saw were a couple of Goldfinch which flew straight across the road away from the reserve. Into the reserve and there was still a bit of snow although the pouring rain seemed to be finishing it off and small lakes appearing. First bird I saw on the reserve was a wren it sat for a while but was still a bit dull so couldnt see it properly. I was distracted by the movement about 30m in front of me and saw a couple of Roe Deer scarpering away at a fast rate of knots, good sign I thought but unfortunately it was my first and only sight of them during the day. Well inside the reserve now, the rain not as bad due to the trees so headed for the Feeding Station. Not much food out so put a bit out and soon the tits, robins, chaffinches etc came in. Couldnt get any decent pics due to the rain getting heavier but I rather liked the following effort.
Wandered round on the North side of the reserve trying to follow the paths but losing them in the last bit of snow and growing mass of water and mud but eventually got all the way round, saw plenty of Wood Pigeons, lots of Corvids and heard a few geese going over but never managed to see them. My left foot had been gradually getting colder when I realised it was actually soaking wet (it had taken time to get through the 3 pairs of socks) as I had been plodging through a lot of water so I headed home (back before 12, the wife nearly fainted).
Next morning up for a walk round the public end of Big Waters but as I didnt fancy suicide by ice I hopped back into the car and headed for Prestwick Carrs but stopped for a quick chat to Graeme who was returning from his WEBS count at the hide, must have took him all of 2mins but as were standing gassing unlucky 13 Lapwing (3 times I have seen 13 Lapwing land on he lake in the past couple of weeks) circled and circled and eventually landed (think that brought his species up to 6 :( ). Got to Prestwick and not a soul in sight although there were quite a few Field Fares and Thrushes on top of the trees although any closer than 50m and they were away. The corner fields were full of Gulls and a few Blackbirds didnt see any raptors though. 10am and headed for the shop to change my wellies, little bit of hassle but had only had them since 6 Dec so they gave a full refund but had no decent ones left so bought a pair for a tenner which to be perfectly honest were a better fit than the others. Off back to Big Waters and bumped into Segedunum Warbler. There seemed to be more birds around along the boardwalk as we walked to the Hide until Mrs Sparrowhawk passed within a few feet of us then utter silence. No one at the hid but several others arrived within a short time and a good chat was had especially when Alan went to replenish the feeders wearing a pair of waders that leaked (LOL). Sympathy poured from the hide! (Had to admit though none of us would have gone out there specially me as the only method I would have had of cracking the ice was to push it with my waist line). Once again the Robin was in the feeding cage as Alan was putting the feed down. When things settled down lots of birds including Siskin, Yellowhammer and a 2nd fleeting visit by the Sparrowhak put that to a stop for a while. A Buzzard showed well (to those who had spent a small fortune on their optical equipment) and a Fox galloped across the North Field but left the couple of Greylags alone that were on there. Several Mallards also arrived along with the first Mute Swan since the resident family had left.
After about an hour Segedunum Warbler and myself went to St Marys. Went to the Viewing Post for the Wetland and was told there was a Pintail although we couldnt see it then. Went for a walk round and spotted several Rock Pipits, Turnstones, Ringed Plover not much around though apart from lots of people and dogs. Had a good walk round meeting lots of birders every time we lingered and from the various viewing points saw Male Shovellers, Teal, Mallards, Widgeon, lots of Redshank and eventually the Pintail although it lay there snoozing with its head tucked down for nearly an hour until something put up every bird in the Wetlands and it shot off but never managed to get a look at it in flight. The only birds not to move were the bloody normally skittish Redshank who just stood there and never batted an eyelid (bloody amazing).
Well time for home after a good day with good company. Pity we didnt find out about the Brents at Newsham till just after 4.