29th Sept. I was at the lake before sun rise, but Sam had beaten me there. I was in time to watch the sun rise over the smaller lake before counting one hundred and thirty-six Mute Swans on the larger lake. It was a nice sight and it was far better to watch them in the morning light than it is listening to people complain that there are too many of them! The family of four Great Crested Grebes remain as does the lone male Goosander and family of Greylag Geese, the latter been almost lost amongst the Canada Geese. Two Grey Wagtails called and flew along the side of the lake before landing. I returned home for a coffee and rest before later heading to St Mary’s Island with Sam. We were timing things to meet the incoming tide in the hope of seeing plenty of waders, but I hoped that a few of this weeks ‘fall’ would remain in the wetland area.
Do You Rember
How we danced the night away
Two lovers playing scenes
From some romantic play
Still makes me feel that way
It proved to be a good hour or two for watching and photographing the waders. There were lots of photographers out today. The Golden Plovers looked at their best in the sun as they were brought further and further to the shore by the tide. Other waders seen were Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Turnstone, Dunlin, Redshank and Curlew.
Golden Plovers, Lapwing and Oystercatchers being brought in by the tide
Our days often take in passing aircraft too, of which Sam has an outstanding knowledge and so is able to keep me informed.
Not so many birder out as during the peak of this weeks fall of migrants, but still quite a few and as we approached the Willows we were told that the Yellow Browed Warbler was showing. We saw it quite well. A Lesser Whitethroat showed well in the same area. When we crossed to the wetland we were rewarded with sightings of Spotted Flycatcher and two Goldcrest which Sam had initially heard. I’m pleased to say my ears still pick up the calls too. These birds came almost within touching distance from us. Two Redwings were seen flying over the area. It was proving to be a successful morning with only the wind a little of a problem. Despite the wind it was remarkably warm. It was good to see at least another two young lads out with cameras searching for birds.
Lunch was taken on a seat over looking the waders and the sea. Even the Starlings were performing well. Rock Pipits had been heard and seen in the North Bay. Eider Ducks were clambering onto the rocks.
We decided to walk onwards towards Seaton Sluice and then onto Holywell so as to perhaps time the end of the walk for a showing of Short-eared Owls. Not many birds caught the eye on the walk to Seaton Sluice but we did have a chat with a friend along the way and took the chance to look at the inquisitive Alpacas.
'Never mind laughing at my hair cut, have ya seen the state of yours?'
No birds of note were found on land at Seaton Sluice but we did find a couple of Red Throated Divers slowly moving north and watched them at length. They were close to land and one of them was showing much summer plumage and the red throat could be clearly seen in the sunlight. A nice sighting and a lifer for Sam. Very rewarding for me to see someone so keen finding new birds (ones often taken for granted), and I think Sam may be sensing that sea watching might not be as boring as it sounds at times! Never the less it can be tricky and a possible Little Auk turned into a piece of garbage and was swallowed by a Herring Gull! There were several Guillemots in the area. I visited the Tower Hide and used some of the time to clear some images from the card as it had filled up. Steps into the hide are looking none too safe and I have reported this to NTBC.
Once on the path towards the dene we found the Seaton Burn really high and quite dangerous in a couple of places. I certainly would not have liked to have fallen in there today! We found a dead Pygmy Shrew on the path way. The walk through the dene was as enjoyable as ever, but didn’t provide much in the way of birds although a Sparrowhawk was seen winding its way through the trees and Long Tailed Tits appeared at some point. I was beginning to feel more than a bit tired. The path out of the dene is my Mount Everest after a busy and long day.
When we arrived at the open area and looked across the fields there was little action so we took a look at the pond which was quiet also, with a few Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck and the odd Little Grebe being the highlight. We didn’t stay her long, but instead moved back to the fields. As we approached a Short-eared Owl was seen hunting. We took up our place in the hedge and watched two pairs of Kestrel hovering in the distance whilst we waited to see if more Short-eared Owls would appear. A Common Buzzard was being mobbed by a flock of corvids as it flew over by the obelisk. It wasn’t long before we had four active Short-eared Owls. Two of them were flying close together at times and another was being harassed by a corvid. We enjoyed some close up sightings before the birds disappeared from sight again. By now the pale moon in the east was beginning to appear more brightly and I half expected an appearance from the Barn Owl, but that was not to be. Another birder out looking for owls got chatting to us about birds in the area and as we were doing so a Peregrine Falcon flew low over the field we were in, giving yet another excellent sighting. Sam watched it soon afterwards fly across the pond.
Some of the Short-eared Owl action
We decide to make for home as the sun dropped below the horizon. It had been a long day of dawn to dusk birding, with only a short break during the morning. As we approached the pond we saw two of the Short Eared Owls hunting in the field adjoined to the pond. They flew eastwards as we passed by. Taking a quick look from the public hide we saw that a Grey Heron had appeared and a Pheasant was perched on top of the fence. A skein of twenty-three Pink-footed Geese flew north. I was beginning to feel the cold now, but it was still a pleasant evening. Further on and close by the feeding station we found a large pile of feathers from a pigeon/dove. These were no doubt from quite a fresh kill. Perhaps by the Peregrine Falcon or a Sparrowhawk. As we stood in the village a Great Spotted Woodpecker was added to the day list as it flew from one tree to another.
One of 'those special days' ending
If I had a day that I could give you
I'd give to you a day just like today
If I had a song that I could sing for you
I'd sing a song to make you feel this way