Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Mag-Lime & Muscovy Ducks at Marden Quarry

My Traineeship with Durham Wildlife Trust is rapidly reaching its climax and my ejection into an unknown realm will soon be upon me. I'm constantly scouring the internet and speaking to local contacts for work.
As you can imagine it fills me with dread not knowing which way my career will go from here, I'm optimistic I will remain in the conservation sector but your guess is as good as mine.
It is a tad exciting though.........the uncertainty, what is actually the next step?

Anyway on with the show, work was entirely classroom based on Friday and I used the opportunity of an early finish to have a look around a local urban green space 5 minutes from my front door, Marden Quarry in Whitley Bay.  The daft thing is I've never actually been before despite its close proximity to my dwelling.

It turned out to be an interesting urban sanctuary to say the least, the quarry is one of the very few areas of exposed Magnesium Limestone North of the Tyne. County Durham is a completely different story, it has an amazing amount of Magnesium Limestone landscapes. The quarry now consists of a large pond with a few wooded islands and a large area of mixed scrub on the western edge, consisting of primarily Elder, old knarly and twisted mature Elder, it looked like a passerine's dream.

The pond itself held a few Mute Swans, Canada Geese, Greylag Geese, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen and multiple types of duck hybrid. There was a young shoveler feedingby a wooded island and a pair of Muscovy kept watch from the side of the pond. Like two old men keeping an eye on the state of things.
I mentioned how old and knarly the Elder were, well I think these Muscovy Duck can take the crown for that. They're about as primitive as a duck can look, disregarding the saw billed ducks of course, they look like the unfortunate result of a ducks drunken one night stand with a Turkey!!
The bare red skin around the face and the thick, stocky body of the bird make it quite an imposing character when compared to the dainty Tufted Ducks.

Amongst the mixed scrub were the usual suspects, Robin, Magpie, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit and Greenfinch were all in attendance.
When I say there was Woodpigeon there, I mean there was a hell of a lot of Woodpigeon! I quite like these birds in all fairness, I'm not anti Woodpigeon by any means, but they have that seriously annoying character trait of making as much noise as possible when they fly off!! Much like Pheasants!
Nothing breaks the still of silence better than a startled Woodpigeon or an overly nervous Pheasant!

I've heard rumour that Marden Quarry has been a good place to spot passing rarities, I think I'll make a point to check the quarry out on regular occasions now and see if anything does turn up.
Afterall, I have no excuse, its only five minutes from home.