11th Nov. The weekend started with frustration as I made Pestwick Carr just before darkness set in. I was told on arrival that the Great Grey Shrike had not been seen since morning and had been chased off by two Magpies. I’ll have to try again I thought. It wasn’t a completely wasted short visit as it gave me one of the Short Eared Owls sat on the post. However I have my own in Killy!:-) Thanks to the guy who put me straight on it. Flocks of both Redwing and Fieldfare lifted from the hedges as I walked the long bumpy road. My brother had given me a lift up there and he didn’t even bother to get out of the car. Can you believe that?
12th Nov. This was to be a very different type day as I had a talk to give and walk to lead at St Marys Island. I was very pleased with the turn out which attracted thirty-three participants. One of them was a very enthusiastic UndertheHood Sam. It was great to have you along there Sam and I hope to get you closer to the birds the next time! Your photos are good anyway.
I was down to the island early so as to suss out what might be about later. I was rewarded with Woodcock which flew in off the sea and over the rocks and beach just north of the lighthouse. Come on get your bearings correct, it was actually just south of the lighthouse! It was also seen by at least one member of staff at the lighthouse. A great start for me and a year tick. I’m wondering if I should begin an off the sea list!
The presentation seemed to go down well, although I always feel it is difficult to judge when you’re the one doing the talking. I don’t set off with any thoughts off attempting to give minute identification details, but more a general feel of the waders to be seen in the area, along with some more less common ones that I especially like, and I like to throw in some information such as the naming of birds. I reckon after owls, waders and geese give me the most satisfaction. I like to try and get that feeling of excitement and exhilaration over to people who are usually lesser experienced but genuinely interested. Waders seen yesterday were Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Dunlin, Sanderling, Turnstone, Purple Sandpiper, Knot, Redshank, Curlew and of course my very own Woodcock. The Golden Plovers put on an excellent show right at the end of the walk and at about the same time a Sparrowhawk flew overhead. Here’s a fascinating fact I picked up from a talk earlier in the week from Tom Cadwallender. A cubic foot of UK estuarine silt contains more biomass than a cubic foot of Amazon Rainforest ground!
After the Walk and Talk I headed for the wagon-ways in Killingworth hoping for Short Eared Owls. I met up with the enthusiastic Sam again, and on this occasion also his dad. I’d found a distant flying Short Eared Owl just before their arrival. It was Sam’s sharp eyes that picked up another two birds in the fields nearer by. Sightings were not as close as they are on some occasions, but never the less very good ones. Sam’s first sighting of Short Eared Owls I believe. Great stuff, and good to share the sheer enthusiasm. It made me remember why I watch birds!
13th Nov. Txt from Cain (Holywellbirding). ‘Have you been up to see the Greater Yellowlegs’. Reply ‘No, are you going up’. From Cain ‘Yes in fifteen minutes if you want to come’. Reply, after giving it half a seconds thought. ‘Yes can I have thirty minutes?’ From Cain ‘OK.’ From Cain again. ‘I’ll be there at 11:30.’ A quick bit of mental arithmetic made that twenty minutes rather than thirty, so I guessed he was eager to get away and thought I was dragging my feet. I hope he didn’t think I was still in bed! I was ready in ten minutes as it happens, so I guess I was eager too. The result was an excellent sighting of Greater Yellowlegs with the added bonus of a Grey Phalarope right next to it. Both UK ticks for me and I believe the Greater Yellowlegs is a first for Northumberland. It was a WOW moment for me. Would have, and I see has made a great photo. The poor Snow Bunting on the other side of the pond was almost forgotten in the excitement. Thanks a lot Cain. Much appreciated.:-)
So all in all, a good weekend. I’m looking forward to some more great birding this week. I wonder if I can catch that Great Grey Shrike!