Wednesday, 7 August 2013

All Weather Birders Go on a Seawatch

6th Aug.  Tom and I decided to put in a little sea watching from the Tower Hide at Seaton Sluice.  I have to say that ‘sea’ watching was what we did much of the time we were there!  It was a nice evening however and not totally without reward as very soon after arriving we found a very distant Sooty Shearwater flying south.  My thoughts that this was setting us up nicely for some exciting sea watching were some what dashed by the time we left at 8:30pm.

As it was quiet we decided to go for our tea and return later.  At this point having spent some time attempting to lock the hide door and eventually being successful we bumped into BB also sea watching from the headland.  This was quite fortunate because after chatting for a short time we had our best sighting of the evening when a dark phase Arctic Skua appeared and harassed the terns.  It gave us a very close sighting at one point.  Tom had initially picked it up on the sea.

We returned to find that BB had recorded Manx Shearwaters and Velvet Scoter.  Afraid we saw neither species all the time we watched.  Commoner birds seen included some variable sized flocks of Common Scoter both on the sea and in flight.  I’d estimate the largest flock contained about fifty birds.  Gannet is one of my favourite sea species and we watched them on the water and flying north and south in some numbers during our watch.  Both Guillemots and Razorbills were seen with young.  Fulmars were quite numerous as were Kittiwakes.  Common Terns out numbered Sandwich Terns this evening.  A few Teal were seen and a single Shelduck and the Eider Ducks of course.

Waders seen included Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Knot in summer plumage, Golden Plover, Redshank and Curlew.

So a quiet evening but a pleasant one never the less with the rocks and waders been lit by the sun at one point, Blyth looking almost picturesque in the pastel colouring, Seaton Sluice Beach just begging to be photographed in stunning light (I didn’t have the gear tonight) and St Mary’s Island and lighthouse being lit by the sun as it dropped in the west.

Photo courtesy of Tom M.
We noticed lots of standing water on our journey.  Backworth Pond overflowing almost to the road and the Bee Hive Flash full, as were other temporary flashes along the Beehive road.  Someone had recently told me that the Beehive Flash and been drained and was no more.  Well it was certainly extant last night!  I do know the plan is for drainage of this flash eventually.  Sooty Shearwater is an addition to my year list.  I did feel a bit of a chill during the evening, perhaps for the first time in some weeks.

7th June.  I was pleased to look out to day and see so many butterflies on the garden ‘butterfly bush’.  These included numbers of White species, Peacocks (which I haven’t seen at all for a while) and Small Tortoiseshells.  The bush is part of my offering a ‘home for nature’ as per the RSPB campaign.  It’s a bit difficult to offer a home for nature around here with all of the killer cats around, but it won’t stop me trying.  I intend to put up some homes for bees ready for next year.  Can you imagine what a difference this would make to nature if everyone in the UK actually took some interest and did their bit for wildlife?  Sadly this won’t happen as there are just too many folk who don’t understand and worse than that, simply don’t care.  Thankfully some of us do.


  1. I was down at St. Marys at 5.45 this morning Brian and had my fleece on. It did the trick as there was a distinct nip in the air. I even though that I might have benefitted from a pair of gloves !!! (Owld aaage) By 8.30 up at Holywell the fleece was around the waste.
    I noticed all the watery bits along the Beehive Road but no birds making use of it. Nice Greenshank at H. Pond the highlight. Oh, and nice numbers of Golden Plover building at the lighthouse in all shades.

  2. Aye John, quite a temperature drop last night, but to be honest after all of the humidity of late I found it quite welcome. Certainly warmed up again today.
    Certainly a nice time of year for the waders. I'm planning on getting back down to Holywell as soon as pos' as it's looking good for passage waders. Cheers.

  3. Anyone spot the deliberate error? :-) Sooty Tern!!! I wish. Now corrected to Sooty Shearwater.