Sunday, 20 September 2009

Waders, a Painted Lady and a Naked Man!

Seaton Sluice
St Mary's Island

17th Sept. A busy time birding has left little time to write up the blog hence this is rather late. Today I was keeping a long held engagement with some friends in the group. We were to visit St Mary’s Island and Cresswell. After some dismal days, today (Thur) was bright and still, with sun and clear skies so the stock of winter clothing I took with me was not required. The change in weather meant many of the seabirds reported in previous days were not about, but there was still plenty to satisfy us and I was pleased to be out on such a day.

St Mary’s Island was accessible when we arrived, although the tide was on the way in which meant with time it brought us some good sightings of waders, which were really the target birds for the day. These included Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Turnstone, Dunlin, Redshank and Curlew. As we watched a small flock of Golden Plover land on the shore one of my female friends noticed that the man we had seen enjoying the sun from the rocky shoreline was now naked! So shocked was she by this finding that she had to take several looks through my telescope on full magnification before she could believe her eyes! I was simply grateful that he did not block the view of the Golden Plover! I reflected upon the fact that I had started the day with my fleece hat on and here he was with nothing on! As there were numerous people around with binoculars and telescopes I kind of wondered whether this gentleman thought he was the star attraction. I have to say he wasn’t, as the Great Northern Diver which appeared off shore was the star for me. There were numbers of Gannet diving into the sea and also quits large numbers of Guillemot in small rafts. The heat haze made it difficult to focus on anything which was far out at sea, but I did spot a skua species which may or may not have been an Arctic Skua, so I didn’t list it. The only terns I saw were a few Common Terns. A Great Crested Grebe was spotted on the sea as were Eider Duck and Fulmar. I didn’t bother with the wetland area although did notice my only Greenfinch of the day in that direction. Six Pink-Footed Geese flew overhead.

We stopped at Seaton Sluice for lunch and from the headland found three Common Scoter and more waders on the rocky shore.

The tide was almost as high as it gets when we arrived at Cresswell so after a very short look over the sea we made for the pond. There was a large coach parked there so I initially thought that there would be little chance of getting comfortably into the hide. The coach blocked the access road, but fortunately the large group were in fact leaving as we arrived. It looked like it was some kind of college fieldtrip. Everyone on the coach seemed to find something very amusing. I hope it wasn’t my hat!

From the hide we were pointed in the right direction of both Reed and Sedge Warbler which I was quite surprised to find at this time. We managed to add Knot, Greenshank and numbers of Snipe to the wader list but not the hoped for Curlew Sandpiper or Ruff. It was good to see the water levels were about right and that the mud bank was attracting numbers of waders. Birds on the water included a good number of Canada Geese, Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveller, Wigeon, Teal and Tufted Duck.

As we made off for East Chevington I was mindful that numbers of Swallow and House Martin were now well down from my recent visit. I still managed to find a Painted Lady Butterfly and on the pathway from the hide I think I caught sight very briefly of a Marsh Tit, but I couldn’t be certain. I hadn’t been to East Chevington for sometime and I noticed that the road to the ponds and dunes is in a shocking state of repair with great potholes everywhere.

The North Pond held large numbers of Greylag Geese which took off and then settled on a few occasions, and a few Canada Geese. We saw our first Little Grebe, Grey Herons and Gadwall of the day here. Three Sandwich Terns were also seen. The other waterfowl were the same species as seen at Cresswell and there were large numbers of gulls, many of them Greater Black Backed and Cormorants. A Kestrel was seen hunting and at some point a Mistle Thrush flew overhead.
The day had been a wonderful sunny and autumnal so we ended it with a walk down to the dunes with the sound of the sea in our ears. Bloody Cranesbill Geranium sanguineum. the county flower of Northumberland, and Sea Campion Silene uniflora were both found, but sadly I had left my camera in my coat pocket and that was in the car. On my return I caught site of a Brown Hare and large flock of Goldfinch. I was pleased with the 61 species seen today which had included few passerines. I left for home remembering that I need to be careful where I point the telescope when next visiting St Mary’s Island!

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