Time to get started so decided to give the Gateshead side of the river a good go.
Started on Broom Lane in Whickham and down through a small wood which had two roe deer which watched me from 40 metres until I left. I was heading for Watergate park. A small spinney that always seemed to hold a roost of yellowhammer 10 years ago seems to have made way for a bigger field. Pity as the stubble in the middle would have been good feeding.
In planning this year Watergate Park was going to be a jewel in an urban landscape. It holds one of only three large ponds in the 10km square.
I have not been here for may years and it seems like all the dogs in Gateshead take their owners here for a poo. It was so bad I felt I had made a real mistake in taking on the NZ26 challenge. I felt a bit better on finding both a dipper and grey wagtail on the outflow waterfall.
From here I went down Lobley Hill across the A1 to the river Team. I walked up stream and the singing Blue Tits went silent as a male sparrowhawk flew through. I always think this is a bird people new to birding want to see, but I always find this fleeting shadow is always a difficult bird to show.
There was not enough edge to the stream get a green sand but this was more than made up for by watching a fishing kingfisher. This was really why I am doing this. Finding birds in urban areas.
Up to Saltwell Park and I was pleased with a nuthatch and a few redwing.
From here I went to the river at Dunston Staith and still could not refind the YLGull from 27th December, but curlew redshank and shelduck do bring a sound of wilderness to the city. Another grey wagtail and a cyclist who stopped to tell me of his first seal in the Tyne made me feel that at least some people are interested in wildlife.
Hearing House Sparrows in Dunston reminded me that these were the first of the day. It is going to be interesting to plot their whereabouts during the year.
Walking up Dunston Hill past the pool reminded me I need to get fitter so it was convenient to stop at a beautiful sweet chestnut tree half way up the hill. Another nuthatch by Dunston Hill Hospital, redwings in Chase Park and a few more house sparrows were the last treats.
50 species for this 4 hour walk and I learnt three things for the day.
1. Gateshead has a lot more dog poo than I thought.
2. By the end of this year I will be fitter -where did all these hills come from?
3. There are some good birds out there when you go to look.