31st Oct. Tom had giving me a good idea for a title for the blog today, along the lines of Ghostly Birding. Halloween you see. However that would maybe depend on few birds being seen, and that wasn’t to be the case, so I came up with an alternative. Any threat of mist and drizzle seemed pie in the sky as we headed for Holywell Village under clear skies. (Apologies to Holywell Birding. I’m not attempting to take over your patch Cain. Just like the walk, so keeping it warm whilst you’re awayJ) Tom had amassed a decent list even before we met up, but I’m pleased to say I didn’t miss out on any of these as the day progressed. Nowt I hate more than missing something seen by someone with me, even though he wasn’t at the time, if you follow me! The frequency of Magpies should have indicated something as going to happen in ‘toon’ today!
We soon found that the female Long Tailed Duck, Scaup and Goldeneyes were still on the pond, and a fair number of birds had been listed as we had walked from the village. I was surprised to find no Teal or Wigeon visible on the pond. There was the odd Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Mute Swan (no Whoopers today) Mallard, Tufted Duck, Moorhen and Coots. Black Headed, Common, Herring and Great Black Backed Gulls were in the centre of the pond too. A small flock of Lapwing flew around the area and I’m sure the skein of geese to the north was Pink-Footed Geese. I noticed that there was nothing on the board in the hide and it’s not because there hasn’t been some fairly decent birds about the area. So we put some on there. Birding from hides is not in truth my favourite pastime, but I always enjoy being in that members hide at Holywell, especially early morning and evening. The feeders had been taken over by a growing number of Greenfinches. A flock of circa ten Common Snipe flew across the pond landing down by the public hide where we later had sightings of two or three. If we hadn’t seen them fly in I reckon we would have missed them completely.
The fields were checked out closely and a number of Skylark and Linnet found as well as four wet feet. As we entered the dene there was much activity as birds were flying to and fro across the burn. Great and Blue Tits in the main, but one Nuthatch was found amongst them, a welcome sight as this species has been a rarity in the dene of late. We noticed in contrast to last week Robins were once again in abundance. A flock of Long Tailed Tits were found feeding as we neared the end of the dene and a pair of Grey Wagtails had been a welcome sight. The fall of leaves is certainly gaining pace now.
Still key-less (that’s key-less, not clueless) Tom and I headed to the point at Seaton Sluice for a bit of a sea watch. Yes, we both knew that conditions were not right for such a task, but at least it was warm and the telescope could be held still today. Well I say it was warm and it was when we started but it didn’t last and we soon had the gloves out. There was no one there to let us into the hide this week. Initially there was little about but Common Scaup in some number, Eider and an immature Gannet, but then we soon had a good sighting of a Red Throated Diver then some excitement when three Velvet Scoter flew in from out at sea giving us an excellent sighting and both a year tick and our bird of the day. I’d been commenting on the fact that the only time I had seen a Kingfisher in Holywell Dene was when Tom had first accompanied me in the rain. I was surprised to look downwards and see the flash of blue of a Kingfisher flying close to the cliff and disappearing around the corner, presumably then flying into the mouth of the burn. That was certainly an unexpected bird on our sea watch. Tom then had information from Flamburgh Head. In four hours a single Pomarine Skua had been seen. Well, if we were gonna wait until it reached us then I was gonna be very cold. The Purple Sandpipers were showing well below us as they did last week and a growing number of waders were gathering as the tide began to recede. We eventually moved on, once again not only key-less but ‘aukless.’
Waders seen today were Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Turnstone, Purple Sandpiper, Redshank, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit and Common Snipe. Despite a good search we didn’t find any Dunlin at all and I suspect the birds had flocked together somewhere at the back of the lighthouse. I have still to seen any Knot at St Mary’s island this year. We did see a sizable flock of Pink-footed Geese eventually fly south.
Drizzle had been forecast by 3.00pm but it didn’t arrive although looking southwards the sea sea and sky were becoming greyer by the minute and the light was disappearing quickly. We had failed to equal the number of species from last week by one species and were stuck on sixty-four. As we left for a quick look in the crematorium grounds we had a fleeting glimpse of a Peregrine Falcon (my glimpse very fleeting indeed) as it flew in from the shore, quickly disappearing across the fields as if by magic. We were once again on sixty-five species. Anyone scrutinising my blog will see that last week I mentioned sixty-three. Well, I had forgotten Grey Partridge and Common Gull! We found nothing in the crematorium grounds and we ended what had been another excellent days birding at this point, or we thought we had until a skein of Greylag Geese flew in off the sea putting us on sixty-six species. Another great day had ended!...................No not quite. Tom found the derby result and Newcastle were beating Sunderland 4-0………….no 5-0………..no 5-1. Well we had to allow them a consolation goal didn’t we? Yes a great day indeed!