Sure enough when we got to the pond it was frozen but there was a little bit being kept ice free as you can see. There was an outstanding Male Shoveller there but not close enough for nice pics.
At the pond we bumped into a Robin which just hung around with us and came unbelievably close, especially when I dropped a bit of feed for him. He was so close I had to back off to fit him in the lens, only took 5 pics though which was good for me when a Robin is around.
After a brief chat (and I use the word Brief quite loosely) with a local birder we shot off down to Newburn Bridge in pursuit of a Black Redstart. Walking along the prom the first thing we clapped our eyes on was yet another friendly Robin who hopped from rock to rock to get closer to pose for the lens. Once again I resisted (but not as strongly) and took about 15 pics. As he was posing for us, the king of all posers, the Stonechat arrived and proceeded to do exactly the same.
A little further on and a bit of movement was seen closer to the sand so we stopped to watch and eventually the movement turned into not 1 Black Redstart but 2. They moved rapidly back and forward and only stopped for a second or so at a time when they came within piccie range, one of them vanished as quickly as it came although the second one hung around for a while but not quite in range although quite a good look through the bins was had.
Wandered along the promenade to the small bay at the end and saw a few waders including, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Oystercatcher and another ? Stonechat flying in and out of the rocks and up popped the Robin again. Another watcher said we had just missed the Black Redstart a few mins previously!
A jaunt along to Jacksons Landing and we caught glimpse of the Great Northern Diver, although once again from a distance. Had a cuppa in the Earl of Zetland and watched the Diver through the portholes. It was being forced around the marina by this chap in a speedboat (cooling his engines down we were informed) belting up one side at full tilt then going across then belting down the other side. As he had been nowhere (this was obvious by the amount of snow on the boat) why did he have to cool the engines down so much (went round about 6 times). Anyway this resulted in the Diver pissing off round the other side of the marina.
Decided to return to the car and on our way back we spotted our mate the Robin again, 2 more Stonechats but no Black Redstart unfortunately. By this time there were quite a few birders around obviously looking for the Black Redstart also although we did meet one who had seen 2 which was confirmation for me (No 1 qualified bird observer LOL) of my sighting of 2. Mind you this was upset by a couple of chaps obviously more experienced than John and myself
as they had super duper bins, one with a nice scope and one with a big lens, when I sidled up to them and said "Just confirming they are Purple Sandpipers aren't they?". They looked down at me and said no they are Common Sandpipers, so I wandered back to John and told him what they had said and as I said this a nice couple standing further along said "Yes, they are Purple Sandpiper" and a little chat ensued giving me a bit more info about them (Moral of the story is
dont trust everything anyone tells you (especially if its me)).
Also seen were a beautiful bunch of Ringed Plovers
quite a few Oystercatchers and Knot,
and a superb flying display put on by the Knot when a big bloody unexpected wave came pounding over their perching place.
Another view of a Purple Sandpiper with a lovely view of the surf foam in the background.
As we were talking to the "nice couple" they said "I suppose you have come to see the Med Gull". She pointed it out and yet another bit of info was imparted so now I think that I will be able to distinguish between them and Black Headed Gulls.
We stopped off for a quick look at the Teesmouth Reserve and one of the laybys outside Saltholme but unfortunately it was now getting dark but saw enough to tempt us to return yet again. We even stopped off at Cowpen Bewley on the way back and again the trees were still full of birds. Once again a super day with great company.