11th Jan. I entered the outside world this morning to find that for the first time this winter I really felt the cold and as Carmel, Sam and I approached Budle Bay we found that some of the side roads in places were frosty and icy. So icy on one particular corner near Budle Bay that it appeared that one car had left the road and driven into the hedge. This seemed to be confirmed on our return when we found that the fence and hedge had been smashed.
We’d sighted Common Buzzard on our journey north and a covey of twelve plus Grey Partridges as we entered the quieter roads. A journey undertaken under clear blue skies and sunshine which ensured Northumberland was seen at its best and certainly that the view across Budle Bay was clear and picturesque. We found Pink-footed and Greylag Geese in the far distance distance (some flew in the area), large flocks of Lapwing and a few Dunlin in the mid distance and closer to us numbers of Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Shelduck, Redshank and Curlew.
Ross Bank Sands
After Budle Bay we lost our way a little, but were soon making the walk from the hamlet of Ross, through the dunes and onwards to the sea. I was still feeling cold, but the walk soon warmed me through. The area was far drier than I expected and certainly drier than on my previous visit when we had to divert to miss flooded areas. This has got to be one of the best beach and dune areas in England with views of Bamburgh Castle to the south and Lindisfarne to the north, and with the Farne Islands visible to the east and the Cheviots to the west. All seen today under clear skies. If anything the sun was too bright and certainly made for difficult viewing of the flocks of passerines flying around the wooded areas. We later found most of them to be Chaffinches and Goldfinch along with the occasional Wren, Linnet and tit. A sizable flock of Curlew were active on and over the fields.
Ross Bank Sands
We split up for a time as Carmel took a walk along the beach, Sam got on with landscape photography and I simply watched the sea. I have to say sea-watching was frustratingly difficult today as the waves constantly hid birds that disappeared just as quickly as they were found. We soon found Long-tailed Ducks and Red-throated Divers were everywhere. Sam is pretty sure he picked up a Great Northern Diver in flight (unmistakeable feet) and I found Black-throated Diver. Unfortunately neither of us was able to say we had seen all three divers that were present. Also seen on or over the sea were Shag, Cormorant, Eider, Common Scoter, Wigeon and auk species. We took a break for lunch as we walked back through the dunes.
We didn’t have too much time on our hands today so we reluctantly left the area. We did have time for a short stop at Stag Rock. Thirty plus Purple Sandpipers rested on the rocks out of the wind and gave excellent sightings and Sam managed to take an even better image of one of them on the tide line which I suspect may find its way onto an Under the Hood calendar in a future year. I have to say it was an image worked hard for. More Red-throated Divers and Long-tailed Ducks were seen along with a few Common Scoter and Goldeneye. A sizeable flock of Wigeon flew across the sea before landing and Oystercatcher, Turnstone and Sanderling were seen near the tide line.