Tag: Whiskered Tern

White is the new Black

by on Sep.17, 2010, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Lindisfarne, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast, Southeast Northumberland

We had back-to back birdwatching trips earlier this week, covering two of our favourite areas.

On Tuesday afternoon I collected Keith and Jen from home in Monkseaton and we headed northwards up the Northumberland coast.  Our destination was the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, one of the birding hot-spots of the entire country.  The strong winds were the only downside to the afternoon, but the birdwatching was good.  After checking out a large group of Grey Seals we covered the area around the harbour and the Rocket Field.  Bar-tailed Godwits, Common Redshank and lots of Ringed Plover were along the shoreline and a delightful charm of Goldfinches were around the Heugh.  A distant group of Lapwings, Starlings and Golden Plover took to the air and the cause of their alarm was glimpsed briefly, although too briefly and too distant to make a positive ID.  Holy Island birdwatching stalwart Ian Kerr put us on to a Little Stint and, as we headed back through the village, groups of Golden Plover passed overhead.  Re-tracing our route back down the coast and checking the Budle Bay on the rising tide, we were just discussing the indications of the presence of predators when a huge number of birds lifted from the mud.  As well as the gulls and waders, Jackdaws, Rooks and Woodpigeons joined the throng as they came out of adjacent fields and trees.  This time the culprit was seen and identified; a Peregrine, that most majestic of raptors and one of the highlights of any birdwatching day on the Northumberland coast in the autumn and winter.  A quick seawatch produced Sandwich Terns feeding, and Gannets soaring effortlessly on the breeze.

Wednesday was a full day out around Druridge Bay and Southeast Northumberland.  I collected Jayne and Andrew from Seahouses, and then Hilary and John from Alnmouth, before beginning our tour of some of the best birdwatching spots in our local area.  While we were watching Lapwings, Redshanks, Greenshanks, Ruff, Herons and Cormorants on the River Wansbeck I could hear a rough ‘sreee’ call from high overhead.  The strong breeze meant that it wasn’t straightforward to locate the bird, but eventually I picked it out.  It was an unfamiliar call, but a familiar species; a juvenile Common Cuckoo.  The walk back along the river produced a nice flock of Long-tailed Tits.  After lunch we stopped off at Cresswell Pond.  Hilary and John mentioned that they’d visited Cresswell once before – when they noticed a large group of birders and stopped, managing to see a Buff-breasted Sandpiper.

Northumberland birdwatching following the floods of September 2008

Buff-breasted Sandpiper and Ruff, Cresswell Pond, Northumberland 12/09/2008

With luck like that, we joked about what this visit could produce...

When we arrived at the hide, Jaybee mentioned that he’d had a juvenile Sandwich Tern.  I scanned the pond but couldn’t see the tern anywhere and we settled to enjoying the quite remarkable views of Common Snipe that were available.  After checking through the assembled ducks, gulls and waders I scanned across the pond again and spotted a tern dip-feeding near the causeway.  The bird’s behaviour, combined with it’s very dark back, white rump and silver-grey wings caused me to get rather excited.  White-winged Black Tern is a very special bird, and a personal highlight as it’s the third Chlidonias tern that I’ve found in Northumberland.  Whiskered Tern is very rare and Black Tern is always a nice bird to see but White-winged Black Tern is such a beautiful species.  Jaybee kindly sent me some images to use 🙂

White-winged Black Tern, a Northumberland birdwatching highlight 15/09/2010

White-winged Black Tern, Cresswell Pond, Northumberland 15/09/2010

Highlight of a day birdwatching on the Northumberland coast 15/09/2010

White-winged Black Tern, Cresswell Pond, Northumberland 15/09/2010

White-winged Black Tern, Northumberland, Birdwatching

White-winged Black Tern, Cresswell Pond, Northumberland 15/09/2010

As other birders began to arrive to enjoy the fruit of our good fortune we continued up the coast.  Eiders and a Goosander, as well as some very obliging Grey Herons, were seen as we stopped by the River Coquet.  A superb couple of day’s birdwatching, a beautiful rarity and clients who were excellent company.

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