Eye of the storm; Druridge Bay 13/05/2014

by on May.17, 2014, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland

The deep ominous rumble of thunder was all around us now.  There was a light at the end of the tunnel though, but could we make the most of it?

I’d collected Stephen from home in North Shields and we headed up the coast for an afternoon and evening birdwatching around Druridge Bay.  The early part of the trip was in fine weather and we watched Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers singing from the bushes, Wheatears flitting from ground to fencepost and back and House Martins andSwallows twisting and turning in pursuit of the bountiful harvest brought about by warm damp conditions.  Part way through the afternoon things began to change; away to the north the sky was darkening and we could hear the deep rumble of distant thunder.  Another storm was looming to the southwest, and gradually we were encircled by a menacing gloom.  The rain began hammering against the car, but there was one ray of hope.  At the centre of the storm was a break in the clouds; blue sky and sunshine of sorts.  I could see which way it was heading and knew that we had one excellent option.

Down the coast to a Barn Owl breeding site, with the rain relentlessly challenging the efficiency of the windscreen wipers on the car, we positioned ourselves so the owl’s regular hunting area was in view.  I was fairly sure that the break in the weather would be over us in about ten minutes, and that we’d have a window of opportunity for about another ten minutes prior to the next downpour.  As the rain eased to just a few drops, we concentrated our attention on the dunes and, within a couple of minutes of the rain stopping, the Barn Owl appeared.  Quartering , hovering, diving out of sight into the grass before lifting again, carrying a vole back to the nest then resuming the hunt only to abandon as the next edge of the storm hit with a vengeance and we headed off with flashes of lightning illuminating the darkened landscape.

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