11th Sept. I’d come back from the shopping centre thinking how cold it had become so had ensure I had some of my all weather gear available before going on a short sea watch with all weather birder Tom. Yes, this adopted Geordie from Yorkshire is back in the area! Cold it may have been, but the sun was shining, so with Tom in shorts and sun glasses and me wrapped up like a Christmas parcel, we may have looked a little odd.:-) Anyway watch out for his flat cap over the coming months as I’m sure he’ll be out and about.
We headed for the Tower Hide at Seaton Sluice checking a rather over full Bee Hive Flash where we found nothing of interest. We did however find Marsh Harrier and Common Buzzard at Hartley which give us a good start.
Once in the hide things seemed to slow down somewhat. However it’s surprising just what did appear in quite a short space of time. There were a few highlights. The first being a White-beaked Dolphin going north. I was told later that there had been a number of them in the bay recently. A Wheatear perched on the wall directly in front of the hide only feet away from us. A Manx Shearwater flew north and a dark phase Arctic Skua flew south. Perhaps the most exciting sighting of the day was the Peregrine Falcon which chased a wader over the sea and seemed to get easily out maneuvered, before flying directly towards the hide and veering off just before it arrived. It looked directly at us and I kid you not, Tom dooked his head as it certainly did appear to be coming straight at us. This sighting alone would have made the visit worthwhile. This has perhaps got to be my best sighting ever of a Peregrine Falcon as we came eyeball to eyeball with it. I didn’t have my camera equipment today and in any even it all happened very quickly. It would have been an exciting image however, but never mind.
Other birds seen from the hide were a single Red-throated Diver going south, one or two Fulmar, lots of Gannets, Cormorants, Mute Swan, Eider, Kestrel, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, flock of Golden Plover, Lapwing, six Knot, Sanderling, Turnstone, flocks of Dunlin, Redshank, Curlew, three or four Sandwich Terns, one Puffin, one Razorbill and many Guillemots. Lots of gulls and hirundines of course.
So all in all a good sea watch.
We stopped off at Holywell on the return journey. By now even Tom was encouraged to add the bottoms to his trousers such was the cold air. I’m thinking even this all weather birder had wished he had also added some other layers once we were out in the open fields and in the cold wind. How it had changed from the balmy evenings of the previous weekend! Tree Sparrows were seen at the feeding station as was the almost resident Great Spotted Woodpecker. The pond was been blown about and there was little on the water until the mixed flock of gulls flew in. I think most of the Little Grebes were taking shelter although we saw two or three along with the likes of Tufted Duck and a juvenile Grey Heron. A small number of Sand Martins were seen with the Swallows.