30th Jan. An unexpected invite by AS brought me an unexpected Cattle Egret today. Only the second one I have seen in the UK. The first being on Islay. The unexpected is always the best and it was all done in peace and quite with only a handful of birders about on what seemed an otherwise deserted island. We crossed to causeway at 8:00am and it was minutes after our arrival at the given area that the Cattle Egret showed very well. I believe I have heard mention somewhere that this is only the second record for Northumberland. I can’t remember where I read that.:-)
Cropped Cattle Egret
I had initially thought the wind wasn’t too fierce at all, but it wasn’t until we passed the flock of Fieldfare and a lone Meadow Pipit and walked on passed the castle and towards the harbour that the full force was felt. It was difficult to stand upright at times and so the rest of the day’s birding was hard work, but nevertheless rewarding. The wind ensured that many birds were staying down and hidden, but other highlights on the island were several flocks of Brent Geese, numbers of Bar-tailed Godwit and a couple of Red-throated Divers on the otherwise bird quiet but rather turbulent sea. Wigeon, Teal, Lapwing and Curlew were on the Rocket Field. Numbers of Grey Seal were seen in the distance and one rather closer, which seemed to be struggling to swim against a rough tide.
After leaving a sunlit island our next stop was Budle Bay. Large numbers of Shelduck, Grey Plover and Common Buzzard were added to the day list before we moved onto Stag Rock.
Initially I thought we were going to be disappointed here, but patience and an ability to stand up to the cold wind paid off. It wasn’t too long before we had counted thirty plus Purple Sandpiper, Shag, Common Scoters, a pair of Red-breasted Merganser, close in Long-tailed Ducks, a couple more Red-throated Divers and a difficult to follow and identify Red-necked Grebe. Rock Pipit was also seen here.
The pools at East Chevington were wind blown and quiet. Numbers of Goldeneye were found however, along with my first Gadwalls of the year. Little Grebe were counted amongst other birds. Large flocks of Pink-footed Geese could be seen in the distance south of the pools. By now I had given up any hope of a reprieve from the wind. I thought as were returned to South East Northumberland it would have eased, but instead it seemed to pick up even more strength and by the time we reached Cresswell bird watching was near by impossible. With wind blowing into our faces causing tears to come from the eyes and rocking telescope and binoculars we didn’t give up before checking out the flocks of waders huddled together north of the causeway. These included Lapwing, Curlew, Dunlin and Oystercatchers. Three more Red-breasted Mergansers braved the sea like pond. We’d passed more Pink-footed Geese on the journey from East Chevington.