8th Aug. Tom, Cain and I set off for Holywell Pond shortly after 4.00pm, Tom and I having very briefly spotted a Little Gull flying over Killingworth Lake. We were hoping for lots of waders at Holywell, but in the event it was a very different atmosphere than from a couple of days before. The heavy rains of the weekend had been and gone and it was a pleasant evening. There is definitely something that appeals in summer evening birding and I enjoy it greatly, and even better when in good company.
The gull flocks were checked out thoroughly without throwing up anything to excite. Unfortunately neither the mud area on the pond or East Pool held any waders. Even Lapwings were noticeable by their absence. We did have good views of two Black-necked Grebes. Other birds of note were a party of eleven Gadwall, the still lone Wigeon, a Sparrowhawk flying across the lake carrying its prey, and seven Golden Plover in flight.
We eventually made off towards Seaton Sluice via Earsdon and stopped at the Bee-hive flash were we found the Spotted Redshank immediately. This bird has been flying to and fro between Holywell Pond and the flash. It gave an excellent sighting.
Once at Seaton Sluice we had to say aurevoir to Cain who has a trip to Switzerland to plan for. Tom and I headed for the tower hide and the area around it for a short seawatch. Not really expecting too much we soon had very close in dark phase Arctic Skua in our sights. This entertained us for a time as it attempted to parasitize the Kittiwakes. We ended up with three sightings of Arctic Skua during our short watch, but we believe that we saw only two separate birds. All the sightings were close in. Tom found a single Manx Shearwater heading north and we were also entertained by a large number of Gannets feeding not far from land. Other sea birds included Eider Duck, Common Scoter, Guillemot and Razorbill.
Our aim was to reach St Mary’s Island as the tide neared its height in the hope that Roseate Terns would be seen on the rocks south of the island. On the walk we had large numbers of waders in Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover (some still in almost full summer plumage), Dunlin, Sanderling (now in winter plumage), Turnstone, Knot (still showing summer plumage), Redshank and Curlew.
At one point whilst looking for terns the air was full of the smell of burning rubber as the moronic boy racers sped dangerously around the main car-park no doubt showing off their (self) perceived skills to equally moronic girlfriends they had in tow. Sad that these attention seekers have nothing better to do with their time. Not only do they have time to spare, but they also appear to have wealth, such were their souped up cars. Wealth, but little brain I suspect, as there were families with kids down there, whilst these lunatics drove around as though they were at Brands Hatch. I’m pleased that the police eventually arrived, no doubt to have a little chat with them.
There were lots of gulls loafing on the rocks but few terns. We did find the odd Common Tern and several Sandwich Terns. We also found a Black Tern in flight its colouring and head markings very noticeable. A new one for my year list. Unfortunately it didn’t land. A Grey Heron that had been standing in one of the rock pools decide to do a flyover and all life on the rocks took off not to return. It had turned very cold by now and Tom and I decided that we had had enough for the evening and so made off towards home. It had been a great evening despite the lack of terns in number. The light had been very good and the waders in particular had been shown to their best. We had ended up with a good list of gulls too, Black Headed, Common, Herring, Lesser Black Backed, Great Black Backed, Little, Kittiwake and I’m thinking we also got a quick sighting of Mediterranean Gull although I remain unsure about that one.