Monday, October 30, 2023

A Storm is a Threatenin'

 For a nice change, the wind for the last couple of weeks has been usually from the eastern half, with quite a bit of rain too, so we have had a few interesting things to see on patch. Nothing to set the grapevines alight but enough to keep me occupied.

Before I get on the that we had a short fine interlude on the 14th where we had a good influx of butterflies into the village. The short Ivy hedge near the village hall had 105+ Red Admirals one lunchtime with 3 Comma and a Painted Lady. Each time a car passed they would lift up like the autumn leaves in a wind. In the village wood some Striated Earthstars were a new fungi for me.

Striated Earthstar like a little spaceship.

The very next day, it was cold, down to 2 degrees with a mod NW4 blowing so we spent the morning seawatching. The sun was bright so we were often blinded but a change of angle helped a bit.

From 07.15 - 11.30 we had - 

Sooty Shearwater 1, Red throated Diver 4N 6S, Great Northern Diver in summer plumage very close in N, Arctic Skua 1N, Skua sp 2N, Pink footed Geese 90, 30, 70 S, Barnacle Goose 50 N, Purple Sandpiper 2, Shelduck 3 S, Common Scoter 4N, Red breasted Merganser 1N, Long tailed Duck 1male and 1 female N, Sabines Gull 1 juv S, loitering for a short while offshore to dip feed before drifting out of sight, Arctic Tern 1ad 2 juv N and finally 2 Twite S calling.

17th Oct, 4 late Swallows, I'd not seen any for weeks, were in the village at dusk.

On Thursday 19th we were treated to a 3 day Storm Barbet with its ESE8 Gale and heavy rain.

One of the Swallows above was so tired it flew into our shed and settled on the bench just to rest.

A few Redwings and Fieldfares arrived over the garden first thing, with 3 Brambling but it was a cracking male Firecrest that graced our compost heaps for a few minutes that made the day. Still a scarce bird up here, this is a garden first, and it started quite an influx of them all along our coastline. Also around the garden were 3 Blackcap, 3 Goldcrest, 1 Chiffchaff and a Raven overhead. A Woodcock flushed from the village hall pond mid morning.

Rough field notes.....Firecrest in the garden.

On the Friday, Babet was cranking it up with 50 mph E winds causing massive seas and sea foam feet deep across the coast road and paths.

I was at work so popped down to Newbiggin where a lot of birds sheltered in the bay inc - Grey Phalarope 8  ( 6 in one scope view!), this number increased to 12 over the weekend, 60+ Little Gulls, 1 ad Mediterranean Gull, 2 Bonxie and 1 Pomarine Skua, 4 Brents N 3 Shoveler N in an hour. The Little Gulls were knackered being blown around the beach.

Outside Newbiggin Bay.

Exhausted Little Gulls, Newbiggin

Saturday 21st and Babet still raged with ENE gales, rain and huge seas, too rough to watch. At home I short watch from the car only had 5 Little Gulls and 15 Common Scoter N. A few more birds were in the village, with a beautiful tortoiseshell patterned flock of 60+ Bramblings swirling around the back field. Two came to our feeders for a while. 115+ Redwings flew W with 3 Fieldfares and 3 Blackcaps fed on apples in our garden.

When a small 'brown' shrike was reported a couple of miles along the road, at Sugar Sands, I dashed along, but the bird couldnt be relocated. The views had been frustratingly brief of a Red backed type of Shrike. Of note here were 3 Grey Phalaropes, 4 Little Gulls and a few Twite.

Sunday 22nd saw the back of Storm Babet being a fine, calm, cold, frosty morning, a total contrast to the mayhem of the previous few days. Wanting a Phalarope for the patch I wandered along to the Rumbling Kern where 2 Grey Phalaropes fed close in with Black headed Gulls, only my 2nd patch record. An adult Mediterranean Gull, 6 Purple Sandpipers, 3 Red throated Divers were also present.

Howick Haven and Grey Phalaropes

After this I took the short drive to Alnmouth for a walk with John where the highlight here were viz mig Snow Bunting, Crossbill and several Siskins.

Back home for lunch and I was surprised to find a very late Hummingbird Hawk-moth on our second flowering Red Valerian, despite the white frost earlier. Seems an odd combination seeing the hummer, Grey Phals and Snow Bunts on the same day...

No comments: