Sketching Shibdon Pond & Meadows – Blaydon

My visit in early January 2019.

I had recently read on my Twitter feed that Durham Wildlife Trust had completed some landscaping on the Blaydon, Shibdon Pond Meadows area, so I was keen to see what had been done. It’s in an unlikely location tucked away behind a filling station and hotel on one side with the A1 motorway and factories on the other. I have visited it from time to time over the years, as a field that retained water and so was popular with Grey Heron, Lapwing and Curlew.

There has indeed been a lot of muck shifting carried out to create more distinct water retaining scrapes and higher adjacent drier areas. I don’t know if the work has been done to target specific species but I’m sure the current avian visitors will benefit as soon as the scrapes start weeding up and the grasses and plants starts to cover the currently bare surrounding areas

Whilst I was there, a couple of Grey Heron were perched on adjacent fence posts and half a dozen Curlew were roosting on one of the mounds.

I am interested to see how this meadow site develops as time goes by. Could be good for Dragonfly and Butterfly once plants become established

When possible, I like to try to create a couple of sketches while I’m out and about by doing the pencil work on site and then sometimes times adding watercolour later. These images have helped me create a visual record of my past encounters throughout the year.

I then made my way around to Shibdon Pond, and first stop, the hide. Water levels are currently high so there was no exposed mud. Large numbers of Black headed Gull were present with one having a fully developed black head. I have never quite understood how there can be such a big variation in plumage change across one species.

Plenty of Teal and Shovelers and a single female Goosander were busy feeding and I managed to get a few pencil sketch outlines done before wandering to the west end. Unusually I was unable to spot a Snipe.

As usual plenty of Canada geese on the grassy area

A short wander into the area north of the pond provided sightings of Bullfinch and GS Woodpecker. A lot of work has been carried out in the pasture area by clearing scrub which will now let light into otherwise shaded area. This pasture has always been of interest to me with a large variety of butterfly, dragonfly and plants

I intend to continue visiting this site over the coming year, and using sketches and just a few words record what I see.

Dick Gilhespy

@citybirding1

@durhamwildlife

Shibdon Meadow Nature Reserve

Shibdon Pond Nature Reserve