Sunday, 16 November 2014

All Weather Birders up with the Larks

15th Nov.  I was down at St Mary’s Island accompanied by fellow all weather birders Sam and Tom before sunrise.  We were there in the hope of catching a sighting of the Great Reed Warbler that had been reported the day before.  On arrival we were greeted by a fly past of Common Scoters and we soon had a really good sighting of a Sparrowhawk as it flew low over the grassland near the mounds.  We saw no sign of the Great Reed Warbler.  A number of other birders gradually appeared at intervals looking for that same bird.

The sea looked uninviting on what was a grey, rather misty morning.  The temperatures remain surprisingly mild for the time of year.  Two Red-throated Divers and Eider Ducks were seen.  Watching the waders filled quite a bit of time.  The flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover were the most obvious and I’m sure that there larger numbers of Golden Plover than is usual and many were in the air for most of the duration of our stay.  There were at least fifteen Purple Sandpipers on the rocks close to shore.  Other waders seen were Oystercatcher, Knot, Sanderling, Turnstone, Dunlin, Redshank and Curlew.

One gent suggested that we would soon be on our way to the fish and chip shop at Seaton Sluice.  He was correct and I’m pleased to see that he reads my blog.  He was never the less incorrect about us walking on to Holywell, as although that had been the plan we were diverted by reports of a Pallas’s Warbler near to Whitley Bay Crematorium.  Meanwhile we met with the suggestion from some wag with an accent, lets say of south of Watford type, that we were waiting to photograph a page three girl.  I knew it was mild, but I wouldn’t have thought it that mild.  It did remind me of the time that a model was being photographed at the back of the gent’s toilets at Aberlady.  It was a cold winter’s day and I think photographers and model were using the gents toilet wall as shelter from the cold wind that came off the sea.  I noted that several of the guys in the RSPB group suddenly appeared to have the urge to pass water and visited the toilets several times.  That must have been caused by the cold too!  Stonechat, Reed Bunting, Rock Pipit and Meadow Pipit were some of the birds seen before we tucked into lunch.  Nice sightings of Goldcrests had been had in the willows.

Stonechat courtesy of Tom Middleton
Anyway, to cut a long story short we failed to find the Pallas’s Warbler too.  Rather like the economy, we double dipped.  Serves me right for diverting.  Never mind we did have a fly over of two hundred and fifty plus Pink-footed Geese and a female Sparrowhawk to keep us interested, along with numerous tit parties and Tree Sparrows visiting the gardens.  Grey Wagtail and Great Spotted Woodpecker were also seen briefly.

The gloom of early morning never really disappeared, although for a short time the sun did almost break through the clouds.  When Sam and I left for home it looked as though a storm was brewing, such was the leaden feel of the clouds.