Sunday, January 17, 2010

Shorelarks!

After the bleak weather over recent weeks, today was a real springer. Fine and sunny, calm and quite mild with a light frost in places of shade.

When my neighbour, Julie, asked if I would take over her WeBs counts on the shore near here for a couple of months I thought I would blend it in, seamlessly, with the 'On foot from home' listing.

The count is from Boulmer pub, north to the Howick Burn. Although out of my usual on foot range, both Boulmer and Howick are my patches so I thought what the hell. The furthest point away is about 3 miles making it a 6 mile round trip not including detours to coves and bays during the count.

The tide was well out making the waterbirds distant or invisible so there wasn't really a great deal of counting but I did add six species to my list, and there was some real quality in there too. First up was a group of 8 Goldeneye off Howdiemont sands, then a lone Shelduck flew over. In a muddy corner of cattle feed a small flock contained 14 Linnets, 6 Skylarks a few Goldfinches and 3 Twite.

From here it was down to Longhoughton Steel. I was scanning the rocky foreshore when an unusual call behind me attracted my attention. I turned and found two birds about ten feet over head calling ' peeeuuu', abit like both snow bunting and skylark though not quite. Arousing suspicion a saw them land distantly out on the rocky skeers. They were tricky to get onto with the scope on this big featureless area but I soon found them - 2 Shorelarks! Fantastic. After missing one here found by Ipin Robson a few years back I was well chuffed to pull this back. A rare bird up here, I've only seen about ten or a dozen in my life so it was great find them myself.



Above - Into the notebook, please excuse the writing errors...

Their yellow and black faces showed well against the dark rocks even though too far for a photo. I knew they wouldn't stay out there for long so I thought I would stalk them for a record shot ( ie a crap shake induced blurred image) but once down on the rocks I lost my bearings only seeing the birds as they flew low to the stream outlet, stopping briefly before heading up to the cattle corner. A Kingfisher was out on the rocks fishing the pools.

After putting the news out I continued the survey. A female Sparrowhawk hunting the shoreline and only 2 Dunlin with Turnstones were the last of the new birds. Still no Greenfinch...

Back home the Ravens flew over being mobbed by crows. they didn't seem too bothered...

A great day, January is turning out to be a good month locally...

OFFH List - 86

8 comments:

Tim Sexton said...

Result! That would have me buzzing like a fridge.

Warren Baker said...

Nice one Stewart, bet you well happy with that on the foot list!

Emma Anderson said...

Beautiful drawings, Stewart and a great bird to see.

Ipin said...

nice one stewart! that shorelark was the last one I saw in the County!

Dean said...

Writing errors excused, Stewart. Excellent sketch of an excellent record. Well done.

abbey meadows said...

Nice find Stew.

Northumbrian Birding said...

Yes nice find ,an ambition of mine ,always had a soft spot for these my first rare birds of years ago , as pointed out by Eric Meek !!!
Brian

Stewart said...

Cheers all, you know I think theyll be around there somewhere still now that the Sunday walkers have gone...