So, this morning I headed 'off patch' and up the coast (yes, for a change...).
At Seahouses, 70+ Pale bellied Brent Geese flew south over the harbour, but there were very few gulls let alone a white winger. Nowadays most boats from here are pot fishing so there is little to discard to attract the gulls. The days of Ivory Gull here are behind us I think.
Onwards then to Stag Rocks, Bamburgh.
I arrived here at about 9.30am. The weather was very dull and overcast but calm and the sea was flat with a high tide, just right to look for the seafowl that winter off here. I was so engrossed that I stayed for 2 hours, and did very well. Some species only coming into view after an hour and a half showing what I would have missed on a hit and run visit.
Lindisfarne Castle from Stag Rocks
In the 2 hours viewing from the car while drinking tea ( and eating mince pies) I had -
Common Scoter 56+
Velvet Scoter 5 males together.
Long tailed Duck 4 inc 2 males.
Red throated Diver 9+
Great Northern Diver 1
Slavonian Grebe 8+
Black necked Grebe 1 rare here in winter these days but nice to compare with the other grebes nearby.
Red necked Grebe 1
Purple Sandpiper 99 roosting on shore with
The grebes especially were a highlight with some quite close in allowing good views.
2 Porpoises and a bull Grey Seal added to the variety too.
Grebe notes done on the spot without reference. They are not to scale. The Black necked was much smaller and dumpier than the Slav and Red neck...The Black necked seemed too light to get any depth under water. It was like sinking a bottle cork, whereas the other two had no such problems.
From here I popped down to Budle Bay where there were thousands of birds but the high tide was making them very distant. A Greenshank close in was nice and as a wildfowl sample I counted the Mallard at identifiable range - 220+. There were even more wigeon and shelduck and waders including Grey Plover, Bar tailed Godwits and Dunlins but too far out. Still, a nice morning, just the job to round off a great 12 months...