Tag: Black Scoter
The last 2 days were spent running 2 Prestige Tours for Peter and Alison, and the Northumberland coast delivered plenty of birdwatching gems.
On Wednesday we were covering Holy Island and the Northumberland coast, and planned to spend the morning on Holy Island and then come off at lunchtime just before the tide covered the causeway (remember – the crossing times are published for a reason, don’t drive into the North Sea, it won’t end well!). A thorough check around the village, and the Heugh, produced 2 Black Redstarts, Blackcaps, lots of Blackbirds, Fieldfares, Redwings and an intriguing Chiffchaff (almost sandy brown above, very unlike our breeding birds). Grey Seals and Pale-bellied Brent Geese were out on the mud, Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Wigeon and Teal were roosting on the Rocket Field and a Woodcock was flying circuits of the village. As well as an almost continuous wave of thrushes leaving the island, the distinctive flight calls of Skylarks and Lesser Redpolls could be picked out.
Once we were off the island, I’d decided to head north to Goswick. Another Black Redstart and a Yellow-browed Warbler were around Coastgurad Cottage, and we made our way through the dunes. The adult drake Black Scoter was still present, although less than easy to see with a line of rolling surf impeding the view. As the tide rose, flocks of Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Dunlin and Grey Plover rose from the exposed sandbar, shuffling along to the next ‘dry’ spot. A Short-eared Owl was seen coming in-off, harrassed by Herring Gulls before finally finding sanctuary on the Snook, and then the bird of the day (well, I think so anyway) appeared just behind us. Tracking south along the coast a juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard was given a bit of a going over by the local corvids.
Heading back towards Seahouses we stopped off at Harkess Rocks, where Purple Sandpipers, Turnstones, Redshank and Oystercatchers were all flitting from rock to rock and Eider were bobbing about just offshore as daylight faded and it was time to return Peter and Alison to their holiday accommodation.
I collected Alan, Carole and Mitzi from Seahouses for their Holy Island mini-safari in the sweltering heat. Through the haze over the mudfalts, we could hear the eerie calls of Curlew and then a flock flew by. Amongst them we could hear the tittering whistle of a Whimbrel, and picked the bird out amongst it’s larger cousins. Golden Plover were back on the coast already as well; the moorland breeding season is a short one. After a tour of the sites along the North Northumberland coast, we had our final stop, at Harkess Rocks. As we scanned the raft of Eider and Common Scoter in the shadow of Bamburgh Castle one bird stood out from all the rest; the Black Scoter, first found in April, and still lingering off our coast. What I wouldn’t give for a nice Surf Scoter or King Eider as well:-)
Well, a day and a half really…
On Sunday I collected Helen from her parent’s house in Swarland and we crossed the causeway onto Holy Island. A good walk around the island provided excellent views of Wheatears, displaying Lapwings, a cacophony of Grey Seals and a very inquisitive Stoat. Helen spotted it and, once it ducked out of sight, I enticed it back out by pishing. Thrift and Bladder Campion were both in bloom and, once we were back on the mainland, we enjoyed a Whitethroat as it song-flighted from tree to tree.
Our final port of call was Stag Rocks. A scan seemed to reveal little other than a raft of Eiders but there, amongst the black-and-white ‘Cuddy Ducks’ was a smaller dark bird; the vagrant Black Scoter, still there and still applying his transatlantic affections to a female Common Scoter.
Tuesday’s wildlife walk was slightly different. I met up with Jude and her parents at the Beal Road end car park and we drove across the causeway. 48 hours after our previous Lindisfarne trip, and the Wheatears had moved on. A recent arrival though, was a Sedge Warbler. Skylarks provided a continuous backdrop to our walk and a pair of Roe Deer were bounding through the fields, leaping fences and apparently keeping an eye on us. 4 hours passed quickly and it was time to head home…and get ready for Wednesday’s Kielder Safari.
Sunday and Monday illustrated the range of things that NEWT do on a regular basis.
Sunday saw me leaving the office at 03:30 and driving to Alnwick. Highlight of the drive was a Barn Owl, hunting alongside the A1 near Eshott. After collecting Helen and Steve, two of our returning clients, we headed to Bamburgh, and a rendezvous with the sunrise. Landscape photography tuition was first on the menu, followed by some macro photography around the rock pools at low tide. All the while, the crowds were building further along the beach in the shadow of Bamburgh Castle, enjoying views of the Black Scoter just offshore. Once the sun was well above the horizon, and the shadows were getting too harsh, it was time to drive back to Alnwick.
A walk around Choppington Woods in the afternoon produced plenty of butterflies, Small White, Large White, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Comma, and the unexpected patch tick of Hooded Crow. We weren’t finished yet though, and an evening excursion in southeast Northumberland produced excellent views of 2 of our favourites; Tawny Owl and Badger.
Yesterday morning, the day dawned overcast and calm; ideal for our latest Northeast Cetacean Project Transect Survey. I met up with Maeve, Claire, Rachael and Steve at Royal Quays and we set out on just about the flattest sea I’ve ever seen. Even 4 miles offshore it was glassy calm. Cetacean sightings were down compared to the February/March surveys, with a pod of 4 Harbour Porpoises being the only sighting of the day. Avian highlights were our first Manx Shearwater and Pomarine Skua for the year, and lots of Puffins throughout the day.
Now it’s Tuesday morning and I’m getting ready for 9 tours with clients in the next 11 days. Hopefully I’ll find time to blog…