Monday, 30 April 2012

'Black Caps', a First Foot and a Wellington to Boot!

28th April.  Plans for Sunday were put on the back burner as three was down to two.  Sam and I decided to walk the Holywell route on Saturday.

The pond and feeding stations were very quiet, although the public hide had attracted quite a crowd.  Swallows, Sand Martins and House Martins flew over the pond, the later being the first of the year for me.  Sam got his eye on a Great Spotted Woodpecker and I found a Little Grebe on the water.  Reed Bunting was found in the reed-bed and Chiffchaffs were calling.  We moved on towards the dene quite quickly having found no sign of Common Whitethroats up beside East Pool.  Our first Willow Warbler of the day was heard as we walked down The Avenue.

A pair of Blackcap greeted us as we turned into the dene.  This was the first of quite a number to be seen today.  I reckon we counted at least five pairs in the dene alone.  I don’t remember seeing so many Blackcaps on previous occasions as I have this year.  Maybe getting to grips with the song helps.  Three Common Whitethroats were seen on the edge of the woodland, at least two more Willow Warblers and countless Chiffchaff were noted.  After the rains of late the dene had changed quite dramatically since our last visit.  The brown tinted burn was running fast and deeply, in stark contrast to the low waters previously seen.  The Dippers favoured stone is submerged.  Having also seen the burn at Howick flooded recently, it’s hard to believe we have a drought in England!  Only one Dipper was recorded and I seem to think that the nest of the Grey Wagtail watched on a previous visit has been abandoned and I suspect other birds nests have been swamped.  One Grey Wagtail was seen further down the burn.  Treecreeper and a pair of Stock Doves were seen briefly.

The dene often looks at its best as water pours into it on both bank sides and today was no exception.  The flora was showing well too with the predominant flower being Bluebells.  Violet species, Greater Stitchwort, Red Campion, Cowslip and Lesser Celandine were amongst other plants seen.  A few Ladybirds caught the eye too.
Violet species
After a stop for lunch in the sun we headed along a sodden pathway towards Seaton Sluice.  Sam decided to almost do a ‘Vicar of Dibley’ as one of his legs disappeared in a puddle come duck pond.  He carried on with great valour, with one dry foot and one very wet foot!  As we reached Seaton Sluice he asked if we could visit the hide.  I think he saw his chance to dry out a little and I promised him that his right foot would be the first to ever appear on my blog.  He was ‘first footing’ in 2012 so to speak.  Apart from a large foot there wasn’t too much else to report from the hide apart from Eider Ducks, Oystercatchers, Turnstones and Kittiwakes.  Nice to see the hide has some new windows.  The central heating and carpets aren’t in yet however.

First Foot
As if to prove there is more to life than bird watching we came across a group of guys flying model aeroplanes.  Now I knew we wouldn’t pass these without, Sam especially, showing some real interest as he’s a great knowledge of aviation matters.  I found them interesting myself as they were manoeuvred in the wind.  This is where the ‘Wellington’ comes in.  It was on the ground and looking to me far too big to take off.  However it did eventually and provided a good photographic opportunity.  I seem to remember the owner saying that it was the only one of its type in Britain!
From the internet ‘The Vickers Wellington was a British twin-engine, long range medium bomber designed in the mid-1930s at Brooklands in Weybridge, Surrey, by Vickers-Armstrongs' Chief Designer, R. K. Pierson. It was widely used as a night bomber in the early years of the Second World War, before being displaced as a bomber by the larger four-engine "heavies" such as the Avro Lancaster. The Wellington continued to serve throughout the war in other duties, particularly as an anti-submarine aircraft. It was the only British bomber to be produced for the entire duration of the war. The Wellington was popularly known as the Wimpy by service personnel, after J. Wellington Wimpy from the Popeye cartoons and a Wellington "B for Bertie" had a starring role in the 1942 Oscar-nominated Powell and Pressburger film One of Our Aircraft Is Missing. The Wellington was one of two bombers named after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, the other being the Vickers Wellesley.

Leaving the Wellington behind we found Fulmars putting on just as impressive flying display and the cameras were out again.  Yes, I keep practising.  Also seen on the walk were Shelduck, Rock Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Skylark and Linnet.  The wetland was a desert!

We ended the day at Northumberland Park where we found more Blackcap!  There was a good deal of bird song.  No sign of the Nuthatch at or near its nest, but we watched a pair of Coal Tits that appear to have a nest in the stone wall.  It was a nice way to end the day.  By the time we reached home territory we had a day list of sixty-one species and low and behold it was starting to rain!

29th  I was out on patch quite early this morning and bumped into Sam again.:-)  We had a little search, but not for birds this time.  I’d lost my wallet again!  After numerous telephone calls, including to the bank, all has ended happily as someone has returned it.  Long story, but just to say it is gratifying to know that on the whole people are honest.  Thanks to all who helped.  Never much cash in my wallet, but a few other things of even greater importance.  Anyway we had at least three Swifts over and near to the lake this morning (the first of the year for me, although I believe Sam had spotted them last night), along with 12+ Sand Martins, Swallows and House Martins.  The Whooper Swan remains, as does one lone Goosander that seems to have a problem with a wing.  There’s a goose which looks in everyway a Greylag apart from its very small size.  A very cold and later wet day, so perhaps not so bad that we had to cancel our previous plans.

I may have said this before but having hesitated for a considerable time over the issue of bird photography, I am really finding it helpful in making me concentrate on birds and their behaviour.  Made me slow down and concentrate more, so it’s had the reverse effect from what thought it might, if you get my meaning.  I’m really enjoying it.  Even beginning to think I need to expand my equipment.  Now that’s not good, as I always get a sweat on when spending money!:-)

Friday, 27 April 2012

Howick Hall and Haven

26th April.  I can recommend a very good venue for lunch when it is raining heavily.  Howick Hall has without doubt great charm when you’re practically the only visitor.  My plans for lunch with a friend of mine weren’t going to be cancelled because of a little light dizzle, and having the café of the hall to ourselves made me feel as though I was born for this kind of lifestyle.  The tulips in the grounds are very nice at this time of year although perhaps a few more are still to bloom.  I’ve never visited the grounds before although I did sit outside of the main entrance and eat my sandwiches on a walk a few years ago.  I had been tempted to enter and use the pic-nic tables, but felt that might have been seen as a bit of a cheek.

The birding interest began as we had our soup with numbers of birds visiting the feeders outside of the window.  Siskin and Nuthatch being the highlights.  We felt obliged to move eventually and decided to take the longest walk through the grounds and down to the sea at Howick Haven.  The rain stopped for a while and despite the alien species growing in the grounds we found some very good birding habitat as we plodged through some areas.  The burn was in flood.

A quick look at the small lake brought us Mute Swan on nest, Grey Herons, Mallard and Tufted Duck.

Soon into the walk through the woodland a Sparrowhawk flew overhead.  There was a good deal of birdsong predominately Chaffinch, Wren and Chiffchaff.  Other birds seen included Great, Coal, Blue and Long-tailed Tit, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Treecreeper, Blackbird, Wren, Robin and a pair of Blackcap.  Song Thrush was briefly heard as was Nuthatch.  The spell during which the rain stopped seemed to encourage song and appearances of the birds.

We had chosen to do the longer walk and once out of the final gate we had no option but to carry on as it is a one way only system.  I understand one couple had on a previous occasion run into problems when a guy walked on and his partner decided she didn’t want to.  I don’t know how that was resolved or if they remain in partnership!  He may have been a nimble climber.

I eventually heard the sea and it is a wonderful sight walking out of the woodland as you approach the sea.  It was quite breezy here and unfortunately the rain began again at this point.  I’ve since being reading that Howick Haven was the site of a Mesolithic community.  I should have known that, in fact I think I did but had forgotten.  Bird highlight over the sea was three Arctic Terns fishing close to shore, displaying that stepped dive.  Waders seen were Oystercatcher, Turnstone and Redshank.  We took the walk at a fairly quick pace along the sometimes tricky and wet pathway so we may have missed things.  Other birds I recall are Fulmar, Cormorant, Shelduck, Eider Duck, Herring Gull, Great Black Backed Gull, Skylark, Rock Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting and corvids.  Rain or no rain, it was good to be out and about.

On the return walk I recalled having seen Stock Doves in this area before and there they were amongst the Wood and Feral Pigeons.  The day ended back in what now felt like ‘our’ cafe, as there was no one else about.  A cup of Earl Grey tea and a large slice of coffee and walnut cake ended the day along with a male Sparrowhawk just feet away from us on top of the bird feeders.  I suspect it had perfected a drop from the thick growth of plants on the wall, in order to catch numerous feeding birds.  On this occasion there were no birds about, only the Sparrowhawk itself.

I understand that there had only been eight people in the café all day and as we had been in twice you can make that six.  Waving goodbye to the man at the entrance we left the car-park empty.  I definitely recommend a visit to Howick Hall on a wet day.  I can’t understand why more people don’t do it.  The visit for lunch brought a day list of birds totaling forty-nine species.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Cute, the Bad and the Ugly.

23rd April.  The sun was shinning late afternoon so I paid a short visit to the lake to note down how the pairs of birds were doing.  When I sat at the side of the lake I was soon joined by a male Mute Swan whose mate seemed to be working on the nest by way of ‘sideways-throwing’.  Fortunately I had some seed left from the walk on Saturday so the male was more than satisfied and after having his fill he lay at my feet.

The Cute……..The pair of Coots I’ve being watching for sometime produced five chicks in recent days and the small birds are now becoming more explorative and venturing a little further form the nest to be fed by the adults.

The Bad…….The only thing spoiling this wonderfully sunlit corner of the lake was the amount of rubbish about once again.  No doubt much of it blown into the lake, but it has to be dropped unthinkingly at some point.  It was difficult to take photos without including some of this debris.  One of the Coots seemed to balance on plastic rubbish for a time.

The Ugly…….No this wasn’t me!  A small group of colourful Mallard Drakes flew in and the peace of this little corner was soon broken.  They swam into the reeds and a female Mallard was flushed out.  The female was soon under the water with each of the drakes seeming to take it in turn to mate with her.  So there was much frenetic splashing of water, thrashing of wings and fighting going on with even the Coots seeming to be attempting to join in or perhaps they were just trying to protect their territory.  The female was often lost under the pile of drakes.  It calmed down eventually but two of the drakes followed the female onto the grassed area and would not let go until they too had mated.  Ok its nature, but not pleasant to watch.  I know female mallards can sometimes be drowned and killed in such situations.

Just as I was about to leave I heard the unmistakeable call of a Common Tern as it flew overhead and over the lake.  Is the first one I have seen here.  Checking back on my notes from 2011 I found that my first recorded Common Tern at the lake was also on 23rd April.   The Great Crested Grebes continue to make progress.  Swallows flew over the larger lake although I didn’t walk this lake today.
24th April.  Sam and I had agreed to a photography session down at Tynemouth this afternoon.  Dressed for winter I found it was a wonderfully sunny late afternoon and early evening down there, although with rain clouds to the west.  With little to no wind, to the west was where the cloud remained.

A Kestrel perched on bushes as we passed on the way to the pier.  I noticed waders on the rocks and on getting down onto the beach we found that they were Purple Sandpipers and both of us managed decent shots of them.  Then I got some practice in at taking shots of birds in flight, the Fulmars and Kittiwakes were ideal objects to focus upon.  Not as easy as it looks if you want to do it reasonably well.   Two or three Sandwich Terns were fishing and diving close to the shore in the bay and provided a bit more practice.  The flocks of Turnstones eventually settled on the pier ledges.  I was really enjoying the evening.

Sam and I decided to walk to North Shields and visit Northumberland Park again stopping for an ice cream on the way.  Eider Ducks were seen as were many Cormorants.  Sunlight was reflected by the waters at the mouth of the Tyne.

The park was quite lively.  A Blackcap sung as we entered and we soon found the pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers.  There was no show from the Nuthatch, but Sam found a Goldcrest and there were plenty more parkland birds.  We didn’t find our hoped for target bird.  So with the sun still shining, we eventually made off for home.  As we approached home we found we were under the darkening cloud.
25th April.  Off to hear about and look at Amphibians tonight!  Judging by the amount of rain falling I suspect we may need to be Amphibious ourselves.  Where’s me flippers?...................................................Flippers not required as the walk was called off, but a very good talk from Steve Lowe.  I now know my frogs from my toads even if the elbow is still a bit confusing!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Northumberland Park and Tynemouth RSPB Walk

21st April.  Perhaps the poor weather forecast had kept numbers of participants down, but in the event the fourteen who did turn up were treated to a wonderful bright morning with sun and only a very short shower.  Fourteen is a nice number to lead.

We began at the entrance of Northumberland Park, Sam having scattered some seed in the park beforehand.  We were met by Michael C who has a long association to the park and he shared some of its secrets with us including the position of nest and roosting sites.  My thanks go to Michael for giving the time.  Sam too, reminded us that the park is well known for the high number of Blackbirds it holds.  We spent almost an hour considering some of the history and wildlife within the park.  Birds seen included Nuthatch at nest, Treecreeper, Stock Doves, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and numbers of other parkland species.  Chiffchaffs called throughout our stay.  Having said goodbye to Michael we wandered down Tanners Bank towards the quay, finding on the way another Great Spotted Woodpecker.

The tide was out, the cloud had broken and the sun shone most of the time as we walked towards Tynemouth picking up waders, Eider Duck, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, gulls and Cormorants along the way.  The terns were my first of the year as trips to the coast have been few.  The odd Swallow was also seen.  We headed for the pier.

Fulmars and Kittiwakes were watched as they flew close by their nest sites and the Rock Pipits that Sam had guaranteed me were found.  I think you will find some really good shots of Fulmar and Kittiwake on Sam’s blog later.  Purple Sandpiper was found on the rocks by the tide line and other waders seen were Oystercatcher, Turnstone and Redshank.  I could have stayed here in the sun for much longer had I not had to keep to timings.  It was good to be out on such a fine day after all the rain we have had of late, which seems to be going to continue for the foreseeable future.

On our return we watched displaying Sparrowhawks which circled high in the sky before dropping peregrine fashion and disappearing into the trees.  A singing Blackcap was found on the fringes of Priors Park and Linnet were seen on the return walk.  The walk had brought us a list of forty-six species and everyone seemed satisfied.  The six of us who headed for the fish and chip restraunt were even more satisfied once we had finished the meal.

Sam Mark and I later returned to check out roosting sites and found the Nuthatch still poking its head out of the nest hole every now and again.  Herring Gulls were feeding on the pond and it was interesting to watch their style.  The rain came quite heavily so we headed off, Sam and I back to Killingworth.  As the rain had stopped as we reached Killy Lake we had a wander around to see how pairs of birds were doing.

The Whooper Swan remains.  There were a few Swallows and the odd Sand Martin flying over the lake.  Reed Bunting was seen in the reeds of the smaller lake.

It was raining quite heavily by now and the cloud was getting darker.  It was about 3:30 pm so we decided to head for home.  As it happens by the time I got home the rain had eased off!  It had been a very enjoyable day and those Magpies keep winning!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Tales From the Riverbank...Part Two...Dippers, Wagtails et al

16th April. Target number one for the day was the Dippers. One of my favourite bird species and one that encouraged me to take up bird watching even before I had actually seen one in the field. Having just a passing interest in wildlife at that time, the experience taught me just how important it is to make others with passing interests fully aware of what is out there and try to ensure that they at least take a look. That is the only way we will ever ensure an interest in conservation. No doubt I have said that before, but I make no apology as I’ll no doubt say it many times again. It wasn’t long until we had found them, and Sam and I began and ended the day with two lengthy watches of the pair. This pair appears to still be nest building, putting them some way behind other pairs we have seen recently. We managed to gain a good understanding of the territory, flight patterns being covered and of the bird’s behaviour. I believe we heard them singing for a short period which I understand isn’t uncommon during nest building. We found the nest site, but obviously kept a discreet distance from it. As with another site we have visited, Grey Wagtails appear to be nesting or preparing to nest nearby.

Bird song is building up now and the notable song of the Blackcap was heard along with the inevitable Chiffchaffs and other woodland species. The song of the Song Thrush was once again well represented. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard, but never seen. Jays were heard then eventually seen as we walked up river. Seed had been put out in places and this attracted Nuthatches, one of which had a clearly deformed curved bill, Treecreeper, tits and finches.

Flora seen along the way included Common Comfrey, Violet species, Forgetmenot species, Bluebell, Wild Garlic, Red Campion and the most prolific, Wood Anemone.

Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa (The pure white being far more abundant than the purple).

The bird species which took our attention, almost as much as the Dippers, were the Grey Wagtails once again, with a pair showing really well. Lack of activity seemed to me to suggest that these birds have not yet nested, but I may have that wrong. We watched a lone male bird at length up river before finding the pair later in the day. I can’t be sure if the lone male bird was or was not one of this pair found later.

Our day ended with a Dipper watch. Sam managed to capture very well the bird’s image in flight. It certainly is not an easy bird to photograph in flight and it took time to get to know its flight lines and behaviour. I captured it too, but afraid I have to practice somewhat to match his standards.:-) I think we may be back up here soon and hopefully, may find the Kingfisher the next time. We were given some advice on that subject from the friendly angler that we spoke to who has in past years found the Kingfishers nesting site during his expeditions on the river. This showing how valuable the experience is of someone who really knows the patch. All in all, it had been a very nice and relaxing day that I thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks Sam.

17th April. Today I’ve been on patch. It didn’t rain as forecast. Some interesting developments with the Great Crested Grebes. At least two Blackcaps, two Willow Warblers and numbers of Chiffchaff sang south of the village.

A recent political newsletter seems to suggest we can forget about any work being done on the floating reed-bed. The non-reedbed’s sad looking photo appears in the newsletter. It seems that even the new sports centre is threatened! That is according to the Conservatives and of course, and as far as they are concerned, it’s all the fault of the Labour Party. Oh, I see the local elections are coming up soon. Surprise, Surprise! The Labour Party newsletter has now arrived and low and behold I now see it is all the fault of the Conservatives! I best just go birding on 3rd May

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Tales From the Riverbank...Part One...Reflections

16th April. Sam and I made for Plessey Woods today. We had a few targets in mind and whilst expecting to cover quite a bit of ground around the country park, as it turned out we spent all of the time on the banks of the River Blyth. It was a peaceful morning when we arrived and the sun shone brightly, especially from mid morning until early afternoon. This provided us with some very nice reflections on the river.

We sat by the bank for some lengthy periods, initially with only Dippers and insect for company. One of the latter has given me a rather nasty bite! When did stroll along the pathways and into the Blagdon Estate area, but there was little in the way of wildlife along there today so we soon retraced our steps, preferring to remain by the river rather than climbing up to the meadowland areas.

Thankfully it remained peaceful throughout our stay, although we did get chatting to a few folk along the way. The most interesting being an elderly angler who had obviously fished this and the surrounding areas for many, many years. So there was a little more reflection from him, as well as from the river, as he told us some tales from the past and mentioned some of the local characters he knows.

I’ll put up a few more photos and mention the bird life anon.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Blanchland and Derwent Reservoir

14th April. I attended the RSPB trip today with Sam and his dad Malcolm. I hadn’t expected it to be quite so cold. I should have known better. The day began with a few Common Buzzards. We soon had a chance to look on the river. Sam quickly found a Dipper’s nest, although we saw no Dipper at this point in time. We also missed the Kingfisher by seconds. We did find a Siskin at bird feeders giving a far better sighting than those later found high in the trees.

We walked up onto the moorland with the sound of Willow Warblers in our ears and an occasional call from Chiffchaff. I found what I believe to be Common Dog Violet Viola riviniana but I’m happy to be corrected on that one. I had been hoping for Wheatears, but we found none. There were plenty of Red Grouse and you can find good photos of a few of them on Sam’s blog. There was little other birdlife up there apart from the Curlew, Golden Plover and Meadow Pipits. When we walked down off the moor my muscles told me that we had been quite high up.

Common Dog Violet Viola riviniana

Best part of the day for me was down by the river and I would have liked to have spent more time there and explored further along the river banks where I know from a previous visit that there is quite a lot of bird life. Anyway, over lunch we did see, very, briefly a Dipper fly along the river. I’d promised Malcolm a Dipper today so I was hoping for better. Later we were to find a pair of Dippers in the area of the nest that Sam had found earlier. From their actions I think the birds were incubating rather than feeding young at this stage, although I couldn’t rule out the latter. The female went into the nest and didn’t come back out. The male went in with food and then flew off to search for more. It was a nice to watch this at an appropriate distance. Again, Sam has on his blog a very interesting photo of the male Dipper’s reactions at a car mirror!

A pair of Yellow Wagtails was also found and several Pied Wagtails performed for us along the river bank. Swallows were seen at some point during the day. When we returned to the village in preparation for the final part of the day which was to be at the hide at Derwent Reservoir, we were caught in a very heavy hailstone downpour. I had thought I was cold but when I had hailstones going down my neck and back I realised what cold really meant!

Grey Wagtail

Pied Wagtail

The water was really low in the reservoir and therefore the waders that were around were somewhat distant. My telescope had been abandoned today as I had chosen the camera instead, so my wader watching was limited although I did confirm Ruff were present when I had a quick look through another member’s scope. Oystercatchers and Curlew were easily seen and I believe others spotted Redshank and Ringed Plover. I spent as much time here watching the black Pheasants as watching waders. I’ve had check on the internet and there seems to be some mixed, but limited information about these birds. The most reliable seems to suggest that their origin came about by hybridisation between Common Pheasant and some other introduced pheasant. Other information suggests mutation and melanism. I don’t know that much about pheasants and to be honest I’m confused and need to do a bit more research. I’d welcome any information. What ever the explanation they are certainly stunning birds and do look black at a distance or at certain angles.

Black??? Pheasant

So we’d had a good day and Sam had got some good photos of Red Grouse which had been a target for the day. I’d thought the birding had been quiet until I looked at the group list on the coach whilst returning home and quite a lot had been seen by members.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Spurn Return with the All Weather Birders!

12th April. Yes, the all weather birders have made the promised return. Up at some unearthly hour with only the Blackbirds singing in the darkness and into Doncaster before 7:00am, I met up with Tom and we were quickly on our way in the direction of Spurn. Not without ominous cloud to the west of us and the need to negotiate thick fog in places.

First stop was Easington village and the nearby Gas Works where we knew there was a good area attractive to migrant birds. We soon had Blackcaps and Wheatears on our list along with a very early and newly arrived female Whinchat found on the scrub near to the beach so probably having just arrived. Sand Martins were flying over the shore area. Skylarks song filled the air and was to stay with us throughout most of the day, as were the Meadow Pipits. I began to feel that our last visit had been only recent and not as far back as October. It was milder and less windy today.

Willow Warblers were around in large numbers today and a few Chiffchaffs also. Every so often I see a bird in a new light. Today it was the Blackcap. Incidentally all of the Blackcaps seen were males. One especially showed extremely well in wonderful light. We also heard an early arriving Sedge Warbler during the day, but failed to see this one. Without doubt the earliest Sedge Warbler I personally have ever heard.

Both Tom and I were sure we were in for a soaking at some point as dark grey clouds built up in the west, where there were clearly some storms. We made the most of the dry period we thought we had left. More Willow Warblers and Blackcaps were found and a few Swallows, but rather fewer than we had anticipated

A hide with a view. We never did get wet!

Initially the tide was at its highest so there were few waders around, but we picked up Oystercatchers, Knot, Dunlin, Curlew and Redshank. Numbers of dark bellied Brent Geese were on the water and in flight and Shelduck were present. We later picked up a couple of Ringed Plover at the lagoon, which also held three Wigeon, and later in the day added Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwit to the list.

Our seawatch list was a short one and included the one Gannet flying north, one Kittiwake and a few Herring Gulls or ‘sea gulls’ as I referred to them. Cormorant was seen and on our return a Lesser Black Backed Gull was seen in Hull.

We walked in various areas and picked up the likes of Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Tree Sparrow, thrushes, tits and finches. A White Wagtail was also found and seen very well.

Miraculously the dark cloud and rains it was carrying missed us and gradually dispersed leaving us with clear skies and sun. It was a true spring day and I found my first Speckled Wood Butterfly of the year. White species and Small Tortoiseshell were also seen.

Dark clouds dispersed.

Speckled Wood Butterfly

We missed a flyover Osprey by only a few minutes. We weren’t the only ones to do so. However the day ended on a real high note. As we counted the Wheatears, eleven seen together in one small area at one point and at least one just arriving off the sea it appeared, Tom got his eye on a male Yellow Wagtail. We eventually found a female Yellow Wagtail close by and the birds joined one another eventually. This was bird of the day for both Tom and I. I found our second White Wagtail of the day in the same small area. It seemed to fly in courtship display with a Pied Wagtail. A guy who was out with his family joined us and we were pleased to be able to show him his first ever Yellow Wagtail through the telescope. A real pleasure for him and us!

It had been a great day with RAF Tornados adding some excitement throughout the day as they turned in the skies above us. We ended the day overlooking a sunlit sea and with a day list of sixty-four species. The list reached sixty-five when Tom opened the car window on the way home and we heard a Pheasant calling.

So the All Weather Birders have made a return! :-) My thanks go to Tom for researching the day and doing the driving. It was a quality day. We’ll be back!

It wasn't easy to leave!