13th Oct. Sam and I had once again timed our arrival at St Mary’s Island so as to hit the tide as it brought the waders close to shore. The first thing that hit us was the fact that in the sunshine it was warm on the
Colours on the Lapwings showing well today.
I was hoping the Golden Plovers would take to flight.
We were dropped of at the cemetery and as we walked down towards the lighthouse we watched Lapwings, Redshanks and Curlew feeding in the fields to the left of us. As expected we also watched the flocks of Golden Plover and Redshank as they were brought in by the tide with lesser numbers of Oystercatcher and Turnstone. We spent most of our time with the Sanderling in the North Bay and managed some quite decent photographs. The occasional Eider Duck swam close to shore. The area was quite busy with a number of photographers taking photos of the lighthouse as the causeway gradually covered by the incoming tide. There was the usual group who had left the return to the mainland too late and had to get their feet wet! I’m undecided as to whether such people like to get their feet wet or just like the attention! Rock Pipits were around in their favoured area and it was better to watch them.
The Sanderlings were the entertainers today.
As we walked up to the willows Redwing were seen as were a number of birders. I guessed there was some rarity about. We chatted a while to some friends, one who asked if we where heading to Holywell. We must be getting too predictable! As it happens we weren’t going that way today, but instead heading back to patch via Seaton Sluice. So we didn’t spend long at the mini twitch, and we didn’t therefore struggle to tell whether the bird (unseen by us) was from Blyth or a Paddyfield or both! A Common Snipe flew overhead before we moved on. We did have a quiet lunch accompanied by a hovering Kestrel and Skylarks.
More Sanderling as the tide comes in.
Earlier in the day Sam had said his two target birds for the winter were Brent Goose and Waxwing. He didn’t have long to wait for the Brent Goose as we found one on the water in Colywell Bay. It lifted and circled right past us giving Sam his goose on a plate, so to speak. Once at Seaton Sluice we found a nice pair of Stonechats on the bank of the harbour after which we headed for Killy passing a flooded Backworth Pond which we aim to check out during the winter months.
Once back on patch we headed for the wagon-ways with the intention of checking to see if any Short-eared Owls had arrived. I think neither of us thought we would find any and we were correct. Initially the area seemed really deserted of bird life, although I mentioned that I’d be surprised if we didn’t see a Kestrel. One of the first birds of note was a female Sparrowhawk flying high above the hedges and obviously checking them out.
We then came across a flock of about twenty Lesser Redpolls which were very active. We did manage to get quite close to them, but the light was against us as they flew from the hedge-way and across the fields. There does appear to be large numbers of Redpoll about this autumn. This is actually a patch tick for both Sam and I.
The walk was a circular route and we did eventually come across one of the Kestrels perched on the wires. This sighting was followed by a small flock of maybe eight Mistle Thrushes with the odd Redwing and Fieldfare included. Two Grey Herons stood motionless in the fields. Nearby, but on the opposite side of the pathway we disturbed three Grey Partridges which we watched as they travelled across the field and disappeared into a hedge. A Pheasant called from the other side of the path and was eventually seen.
Then as we walked up the pathway Sam got his eye on some action in the hedge-way. He called Red Kite! Sam got a short but decent view of it as it seemed to be disturbed by a Common Buzzard and Carrion Crows. It flew off to the west. We were unable to follow the flight of the Red Kite as it was hidden by the hedge. We hurried up the pathway to find an opening, but by then the Red Kite was out of sight. I don’t think it had time to fly out of sight and so I think it may have landed again in one of the more distant fields. We weren’t able to relocate it. My sighting was brief indeed, but never the less it was another patch tick for both Sam and I. I had been made aware that a Red Kite had been seen in this same area a few months ago, but I hadn’t located it, but the finder had felt it had flown off. We were able to watch the Common Buzzard as it flew quite closely by us for a short time, during which most of the time it was being mobbed by Carrion Crows.
A small number of Linnets perched on the wires and a party of tits including Great, Blue and Long Tailed moved through the hedge. Two Reed Buntings were in another hedge to the right of us.
There was the usual high number of Wood Pigeons and Magpies. A few Feral Pigeons and at least one Stock Dove were found amongst them. Just to underline that there are numbers of raptors around we found a plucking post and the fresh remains of a Wood Pigeon. The way the feathers were distributed suggested that at least two or three kills had recently been taken here.
Some of the evidence!
As we made off towards home flocks of Black Headed and Herring Gulls seemed to build up in the fields and a sizable flock of Starlings were occasionally in the air. The skies which had clouded over at the start of our walk were again quite clear and there were some wonderful cloud formations to the north and west. The rain which had threatened earlier never did arrive. The temperature had been amazingly mild until the later part of the walk when temperatures seemed to begin to drop.
So another very good day during which we both added two new birds to our patch list and Sam had a lifer with the Brent Goose. I have to say the time on patch was both rewarding and exciting and I’m really pleased we stuck to our plans today. It was the first time for some while that either of us had visited the wagon-ways. I think the coming months will see us returning a few times.