Sunday, 9 July 2017

Good Re-Tern

Yes, I’ve returned.  I never meant to be away but Lazarus AKA as my PC had used up his/its nine lives and refused to rise as I was about to prepare my report of 2016, hence I’ve been without internet access since last December and managed to survive.  I’ve not been inactive however and quite recently returned from a tour of Sweden.  More of that in the future once I have come to grips with my new system and its use of images.  My break from the keyboard has allowed much catch up on reading, which is no bad thing, and one of my latest reads was a birthday present, The Return of the Osprey by Philip Brown and George Waterston (a man largely responsible for the success of the Osprey project at the time) with some of the photographs provided by Eric Hosking.  Issued in 1962, good grief some of you weren’t born then and the Beatles Love Me Do was scrapping into the charts, it gives an interesting account of the return of the Osprey to Loch Garten.  Also addressed is the return of the Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit.  An interesting comment at the end of the book is made as to the very unlikely return to the UK of the White -tailed Sea Eagle.  If they only knew!  Now, onto some highlights of a trip down the coastline made by Sam and I last week.

5th July.  For various reasons, we knocked on the head the idea of a trip to the Farne Islands and decided to work down the coast from Budle Bay.  It turned out to be a rewarding 10-hour stint of birding.  The tide was on the turn, the previous days of rain had ceased and the light was good as we arrived at Budle Bay.  The star bird here was a Spotted Redshank.  A stunning bird when in summer plumage and it showed well, often among numerous Redshanks.  It took us a while to be certain that we were also watching a Whimbrel as it was feeding at some distance, but eventually we confirmed the species as it approached closer to us.  The now customary Little Egret was also nice to see.  Kestrel and Common Buzzard were seen and I mustn't forget the drake Scaup showing well..  We spent a good bit of time in the bay before making off towards Seahouses for lunch.  We stopped at Monkhouse pool and found both Arctic and Common Terns and a nicely plumaged Black-tailed Godwit.  I decided that I must get hold of a copy of the book about Monkhouse Bird Observatory.

We watched the crowded boats and the queues of people at Seahouses and expressed pleasure that we weren’t among them as we tucked into our fish and chips.  Bird of the day was to come at Low Newton scrape in the form of White-winged Black Tern.  We watched this bird for about twenty minutes before it flew off in the direction of the sea, sadly for a few folk who arrived to see it.  This is truly a top bird and I shall continue to call it White-winged Black Tern as I believe that describes the bird well.  Although later in the day I caused some amusement when tiredness was creeping in as I called it Black-winged White Tern.  I must have been so busy concentrating on the tern that I missed the Peregrine Falcon briefly seen by Sam.  Next stop was to be Long Nanny for Little Tern.
We walked from the carpark to the bridge and then doubled back.  Just as well because this give us our best sighting of Little Tern hovering in an angel like flight over the burn.  It also allowed me to pick out the White-winged Black Tern on the sands amongst Arctic Terns and gulls.  It hadn’t been visible from the watch point so was missed by the rangers there.  I believe the bird is known to roost here.  We met up with a friend of Sam’s who is working here.  Sandwich Tern was heard and seen making it five terns for the day list.  As we left a young Wheatear was found in the dunes as were numbers of Common Blue Butterflies. Other butterflies seen today were Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Red Admiral.  I’ve found it a very poor year for butterflies. Little Terns were seen on the nest and one of many pairs of Stonechat seen today.

We followed the coastal route down to Hauxley where we were keen to see the new centre.  In fact, we didn’t see it as we arrived on the dot of 5pm to find the gates being locked.  We were allowed to turn around in the carpark and we headed for Druridge Pools. 
No one was able to locate the Pectoral Sandpiper whilst we were around Druridge Pools but apparently it had been seen at 4:30pm.  We made do with 3 Wood Sandpipers (I note 4 had been seen together at one point), Ruff and some stunningly plumaged Black-tailed Godwits.  Little Owl was seen at distance.  We looked at the larger pool where I see little these days and found a Great Crested Grebe.  What has happened to the muddy scrape that used to attract birds here?  I know the heavy rain doesn’t help, but I can’t remember this area been very good for ages.  We took another look for the Pectoral Sandpiper with no more luck.

Barn Owl was seen over the dunes north of Bell’s Pond as we travelled to Cresswell Pond.  The water was very high here and I suspect the Avocet chicks reported would not have survived.  Avocets were seen along with Little Egret and we watched Reed Warbler feeding young in front of the hide.  A second Barn Owl was seen perched on the fence as we left hoping for a closer look at Little Owl.  In the event the Little Owl showed perfectly and provided great images.  Sadly, no images with this report until I get my head around my new system.

We ended the marathon at Linton Pond as the sun shone down on us.  We failed to locate the Slavonian Grebe but I’m not complaining.  We’d had a great day with some very special sightings.  The White -winged Black Tern must be the star bird, but that Little Owl sighting was a close second.  Seventy-five bird species in total.  Who was it said that July and August is a poor time for birding?