A Rosy outlook

by on May.24, 2010, under Birdwatching, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast

Saturday saw a change in our normal Safari routine, and an early afternoon start.  I collected Gareth and Ruth from the Red Lion at Alnmouth and we drove south.  The hot, sunny weather had brought out hundreds of people to Plessey Woods but we still found a peaceful, undisturbed glade where we could listen to the birds singing and we watched a female Great Spotted Woodpecker; at least we were able to watch her until she realised that we were!  Cresswell Pond produced a real avian soap opera as a Mute Swan defended his pond against two interlopers, racing across the pond like the Spanish Armada.  A Little Gull was as cute and dimunitive as ever, alongside Black-headed, Common and Herring Gulls.  Druridge Pools was hosting some obviously confused geese; amongst the expected flock of Greylags there were single Pink-footed and Barnacle Geese as well.  A late finish concluded with a beautiful, ghostly Barn Owl and at least 3 different species of bat along the River Coquet at dusk.

Sunday was a day for doing whatever we felt like.  With temperatures still soaring, a day inland, doing survey work for the BTO Bird Atlas, was considered then rejected in favour of a visit to the coast.

Sarah had the excellent idea of taking a boat trip around Coquet Island, which I was really enthusiastic about.  When myself and Tom Cadwallender from the Northumberland Coast AONB were designing the backdrop for this year’s Birdwatching Northumberland stand at the Bird Fair we chose eight species that we felt symbolised Northumberland birding; Curlew, Eider, Pale-bellied Brent Goose, Golden Plover, Black Grouse, Roseate Tern, Dipper and Puffin.  A mix of everything that’s good about birdwatching in Northumberland; inland, coastal, summer and winter.  I had images of seven of those species, but the Roseate Tern is the one that I haven’t photographed during the digital age.  Hence, my enthusiasm for a trip around Coquet Island; with 35-40 Rosies already back at their Northumberland colony I was hopeful that photo opportunities would arise.  As we sailed across to the island onboard Shokwave, there was a strengthening NNE breeze and the temperature began to decrease rapidly.  Once Dennis manouvered the boat into the jetty, we could see Roseates sitting on their nest boxes.  They were a bit distant for photography so I waited patiently until I heard the distinctive ‘choo-it’ call and a bird flew by the boat.

Britain's rarest breeding seabird

Grey Seals popped their heads above the water to look at the boat, Puffins whizzed past at breakneck speed and more Roseates were busy displaying around the boxes.

Roseate Tern

After a pleasant Sunday morning cruise it was time to return home. En route, we stopped off to check a Little Owl nest site and one of the adult birds sat staring at us from the roof of a derelict building.  Finalising the paperwork for a forthcoming project was followed by a wonderful evening sitting on our patio, drinking wine and working on part of our bonsai collection as Blackbirds were singing from our trees and Coal Tits collected food to take to the noisy, and hungry, nestlings that we could hear.  Now, that’s my idea of heaven 🙂

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