30th July. The temperatures at Seaton Sluice suggested that it wasn’t summer, but at least the rain had stopped and a Kestrel hunted over the dunes. Early morning seems to have provided a good seabird passage, but as we weren’t in position until late morning all of that was history. We did however manage to list four Arctic Skuas, two Manx Shearwaters, Common Scoter into double figures amongst the Eiders and close to shore, Gannets by the bucket load and feeding off shore, a handful of Guillemot, a single Puffin and of course numerous gulls, terns and Fulmars. Numbers of Great Black-backed Gulls were high today. We also had Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Dunlin, Curlew and Redshank fly past. I wasn’t dressed for the cold, well it was mid day in mid summer, so I wimped out of a longer watch and we headed for the fish and chip café to warm up. A Common Whitethroat was seen close to the road as we headed for our much needed lunch.
The walk through Holywell Dene didn’t bring too much in the way of birds. One species we did note which was much in evidence was Greenfinch and as numbers seem to me to have declined so much of late, at least that was a good sign. Many of the birds seen were this years output. Temperatures began to rise and we stopped in one or two areas to soak up the sun which allowed us to get our eye on Common Darters and butterflies in the shape of Large White, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown. Willow Warbler was seen and Blackcap alarm call heard.
Sam and I were hoping for a wader or two when we reached Holywell Pond, but it was not to be. A lady visiting the pond did put a smile on our faces when she got ever so slightly excited by the sight of seven Grey Herons in a line. Apparently she had never seen so many Grey Herons together. I’m not suggesting that there is anything at all odd about getting excited about birds and I remember a time I would have been equally excited by so many Grey Herons. In fact wouldn’t the world be a much better place if more people got excited by nature rather than ignoring it, or worse? A Common Buzzard, perhaps two, flew in the area and Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard. Other birds seen included several Little Grebes, Mute Swan, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Mallard, Gadwall, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Coot and Lesser Black-backed Gull. Water Rail was heard. We found none of the hoped for waders and I commented that it has been a while since we had any exciting finds at Holywell. Not long after this remark we spotted an Otter!
Having sighted the Otter, we quickly realised that there were two Otters at the east end of the pond. We ended our birding day watching the two Otters for forty-five minutes. The waterfowl appeared totally unfazed, but a Grey Heron didn’t seem too happy and dive bombed one of the Otters. It was a nice way to end the day which had provided a bird list of sixty four species.
Having taken an interest in media tales of ‘evil seagulls’ I had pondered the idea of wearing a steel helmet today. I can happily report that neither Sam nor I were attacked by these reportedly ‘evil beasts’ and in fact never have been (I don’t think Sam walking through a gull colony counts really). Having said that neither of us ever stands in the street eating pork pies or littering the streets with waste. I’m sure we’ll hear our esteemed political leaders discussing the problems of gulls in the future which will help take our minds off all the other crap happening in this country and around the world (that I'm sure they'll like to avert our attention from) I suppose!
I went home and had me tea and put my feet up and the mobile went off 6.35pm. It was Sam. ‘There’s a presentation at the Hancock at 7.00pm, you fancy going’ he asked. It was Martin Kitching’s presentation on seabirds and cetaceans which I had wanted to hear, but had forgotten about. Well, we reached the Hancock at 6.58! It wakened me up and was an interesting presentation with some excellent images and included some images from what Martin said was his best ever evening watching cetaceans of the north east coast. Thanks for reminding me that I’d missed that particular evening boat trip because of illness Martin. :-)