22nd Sept. After a rather restless night with thoughts turning to rough seas, I was soon off in the morning with Tom and Cain as we travelled towards the River Tyne to join the pelagic arranged by http://www.northernexperiencewildlifetours.co.uk/
This was to be my third pelagic withy N E W T and each has been an enjoyable experience.
As the boat began to sail we saw Great Spotted Woodpecker in the distance and a lone Guillemot in the marina. Was this to be a good sign? We were soon passing the north and south piers and hitting a bit of a swell. Although cold, the sun was shining and the skies were clear and this remained the case throughout the eight hours of the trip giving a fantastic atmosphere to the day. As the swell dropped off it was at times like being out on the Mediterranean Sea. A large skein of Pink-footed Geese flew south as we left the River Tyne and entered the sea. A few Teal were also seen.
It wasn’t long before we were ticking of numbers of Sooty Shearwaters (7+) and Great Skua (4+). Afterwards some discussion took place as to the chances of one of these skuas having been a Long-tailed Skua, but that was not going to be confirmed sadly. The Sooty Shearwaters were seen especially well and two of them were seen on the water with gulls near one of the fishing boats.
We did go through a lengthy period of seeing little, but numbers of auks, Fulmars and Gannets, but such was the day and the perfect light I’m sure no one was perturbed by that at all. The quiet period ended dramatically as two small birds flew close to the boat and landed on the sea. These turned out to be two Grey Phalarope and photos can be seen on Cain’s HolywellBirding Blog. These were without doubt the birds of the day and caused no little excitement. When the organiser gets excited you do know you have found ‘good birds.’ The Grey Phalaropes took off, but returned and were even closer to the boat giving excellent sightings. I understand that these are only the second and third of this species to be seen on N E W T pelagics.
Sea watching from land can be a good experience but nothing beats being out at sea with the birds and they were being seen at their best today.
Other birds of note included several skeins of pale bellied Brent Geese (fifty in total) flying north, at least five Red-throated Divers (four of them flying together), a single Manx Shearwater, Wigeon, Eider, two small flocks of Common Scoter, Puffin, Guillemots and Razorbills. Cain got his eye on a distant skua which turned out to be a lifer for me in the form of Pomarine Skua. So the day was going a treat. Tom spotted a small flock of Ringed Plover in flight and more waders were seen as we returned to the River Tyne. Adding to the list all of the gull species seen, it came to quite a number.