Saturday, 9 July 2011

Marsden Moods

Marsden's changing moods.
Whilst digesting my tea and sheltering from the thunderstorm.

9th July. An early ferry from North to South Shields this morning brought me Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, and a flock of eleven Curlew flying up river. The north quay roof was covered in Great Black Backed Gulls and a few Cormorants were about the place as were the first Kittiwakes of the day.

The skies suggested possible showers, but by the time of arrival at Marsden Grotto it was still warm and dry, but it was clearly raining heavily along the coast to the north. It wasn’t long until it was raining heavily upon me! Happily the showers didn’t last very long and it had dried up again before I was anywhere near reaching Souter Lighthouse. I was surprised to see so many Razorbills on the cliffs and on the sea. Does this suggest a growing colony of Razorbill at Marsden in the longer term? Gannets were numerous and several were diving close to the shore. There were a few Guillemots and I found a Red Throated Diver flying south. Of course there were the expected Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Herring Gulls and Cormorants. A Kestrel was seen flying along the cliff edge. Two Rock Pipits were seen and heard. No Shags seen and few butterflies about apart from Meadow Browns.

I had a walk to lead today so eventually made back for Marsden Grotto determined to spend more time in the future exploring the area south of the lighthouse. I wasn’t expecting too many on the walk today and I was proved correct. However we managed to reach double figures, ten that is, and I guess it is quality that counts. We set off for the bay taking in the Sand Martin colony as the heavens’ opened on us, which all added to the mood and atmosphere, as did the thunder and lighting as we walked along the foot of the limestone cliffs. Everyone enjoyed looking at the Kittiwakes and their youngsters which were at various stages of development. Some, already efficient in flight. Another Red Throated Diver was seen flying south and Sandwich, Common and at least one Arctic Tern flew and dived close to shore. The Razorbills just kept coming. Gannets continued to dive close to shore and a few Guillemots were still appearing. The Kestrel re appeared on a few occasions. We made for the steps at the grotto and returned to the cliff top.

By now it was sunny and hot although storm clouds were never far away and rain could be seen falling over parts of the sea. We took a walk towards Souter Lighthouse. Unlike the rest of the Leas which is cut in lawn style and as a result is very boring, this area has been left to grow and has much more to offer botanically, including Pyramidal Orchids today. There were still few butterflies about but the odd Burnet Moth was found. Fulmars were watched as they flew close to the cliff edge. Ten had by now become seven. Was it something that I had said? :-) Weather wise this was certainly the best part of the day as the sun was out and it was hot! It had been good to spend the day in such a pleasant area and share its changing moods. Everyone went home with the sound of Kittiwake calls in their ears and in th most part, dry!

I ended up at North Shields fish quay for tea after which I had to take shelter from heavy rains and thunder and lighting. Roads in the area were flooded. I eventually arrived back at Killingworth to find that there had been little in the way of rainfall. Arctic Tern was a new one for the year list. The day list won’t be a large one but it had been a good day. I still have the scent of guano in my nostrils. As someone commented today, ‘it smelt better than the food cooking at Marsden Grotto’. No offence to the chef of course. I’m told the food there is good.


  1. Marsden is a beautiful place, very atmospheric

  2. It was certainly atmospheric when the thunder and lightening began Cain. The few people who were about were leaving the bay as the dark cloud cover came over, and we were the only ones heading for the beach! Not so sure if all of the group appreciated the atmosphere and the soaking, but I enjoyed it.:-)