Oct. My recent trip to the coast didn’t coincide with a migratory fall, but it was no less enjoyable despite the soaking I received and I did on this occasion manage to find a Yellow browed Warbler.
The rain that was falling as I left home was a predictor of what was to come and the bright sky that greeted me on arrival at St Mary’s Island was simply an interval to make the most of while allowed. The walk began at the Crematorium grounds, the hedges to the east of there and the area around the old railway bridge, where I found the Yellow-browed Warbler. There was no sign of Goldcrests, seen in such numbers on my previous visit. I later spoke to a birder who had counted one Goldcrest at the wetland near St Mary’s Island. That was one more than I saw today. Birders were almost as rare!
Oh, it'll just be a shower!
After the deluge! Storm now over Blyth
Having watched Stock Doves in the fields, a small flock of Golden Plovers and other waders I prepared for a soaking. The rain clouds were approaching from the south-east off the sea and any thought of this been a quickly passing shower soon evaporated as the greyness surrounded me. To cut a long story short, I can report the rain stopped as soon as I entered the fish and chip restraunt at Seaton Sluice. Pools of water gathered on the floor around me as I placed my order. The only bright spot between St Marys Island and Seaton Sluice had been the fleeting rainbow which appeared stretching from the island to Blyth, or so it appeared. It was an ephemeral sighting during which the colour showed only faintly, so faintly I didn’t even bother to reach for the camera. I did catch some images later however, as by then the skies had brightened. It’s amazing what a difference this wide angle lens makes to your view of things!
The wide angle gives throws a very different perspective onto Seaton Sluice Harbour
7th Nov. Winter had now replaced autumn and Sam and I were soaked in a blizzard as we approached the headland at Seaton Sluice. We faced rain, sleet and worst of all wind blown hailstones that felt like someone was firing grit into our faces. All that for not a lot found during a short sea-watch. I missed the only Little Auk that passed, although the Kingfisher on the cliff edge made up for that. Otherwise it was the usual Gannets, auks, Red-throated Divers, Eiders et al. Visibility varied, very poor at times as rain and mist dropped, then quite good as the cloud lifted and moved on for short periods.
Through the dene
After a lunch a walk through a pleasant dene still with a good showing of colour on the trees offered little in the way of birds, although Redwing and Grey Wagtail were amongst birds which were seen. The burn was running fast and being fed by small tributaries bringing water down from the farmland. The rain eased for much of the walk, but come back in torrents by the time we were in the public hide at Holywell Pond. There was a bit of colour here too with a Mandarin Drake showing very nicely in front of the hide near the island and another rainbow appearing as the rain eased. Perhaps the very same Mandarin that was here last year. The pond also held Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Goldeneye, with the likes of Grey Heron and Moorhen also making an appearance. The rain eventually forced us to the back of the hide in order to avoid a further drenching, although perhaps by now it didn’t really matter. Little was seen from the private hide, but for a few minutes the light across the pond and adjoining area was wonderful. This area and the coastline offer wonderful weather watching opportunities especially if you’re prepared to be out in it. I’m always mindful at these times of the lengths that the artist J M W Turner went to in foul weather to secure stunning artistic masterpieces. On one occasion at sea tying himself to a ship's mast during a violent storm. He would have felt at home with Sam and me.
A hide with a view and on this occasion an en-suite shower too if close to the window!
Time to go home.