The forecast didnt look promising yesterday morning when I met with John at Alnmouth Cricket Club. It was calm and cold but heavily overcast. Drizzle was just trying to get through.
We had decided to check out the Coquet Estuary as we hadn't been for ages and there had been a lot of gulls in the mornings this week, as I was passing on my way to work. You would think they knew. This morning at the weir, it was high tide so the actual weir was totally submerged and there was only a lone Black headed Gull on the shore. One. On Friday there were 300 or more assorted gulls but not today. Highlight were two Foxes chasing each other on the far bank , 6 Roe Deer, 1 Little Grebe, 15 Mallard, 2 Goldeneye and 3 Herons. A Song Thrush was in full song, my first of the year and a portent of things to come.
We moved along to the Marina. Here we fared a little better with 94+ Curlew, 36 Knot, 14 Wigeon, 4 Teal, 2 Shelduck and a Snipe.
At Amble Harbour the slow theme continued. Even the local Med Gull wasn't on its usual rock. We did have 1 Purple Sandpiper, 8 Red throated Divers, 1 fem Red breasted Merganser, 18 Eider and 10+ Turnstone though.
After a stop for some snacks in Warkworth we headed up to Birling Carrs ( you might remember the posts on here about the Arctic Redpoll a few years ago? There.) The redpoll field had been ploughed recently so there was nothing here either. Then the rain started.
We decided to check the sea, getting wet in the process... viewing was good but we didn't do better than 15 Red throated Divers and 2 male Red breasted Mergansers,
Back at the car we noticed that the field to the north was stubble with some rape plants and Groundsel growing through. A few Reed Buntings were active along the track so we decided that we couldn't get more wet and to give it a blast.
As we wandered the stubble hoping for a Lap Bunting, we had a good flock of 40 - 50 Reed Buntings, 40 Meadow Pipits, 38+ Skylarks ( with one smaller one with them that we followed around but couldn't make it into anything other than a wet Skylark.)
As I climbed over the hill I flushed a single goose that flew towards me very closely. Head on it had an orange and black bill. I shouted to John that it could be Bean Goose and we watched as it circled giving us enough on it to confirm indeed a Tundra Bean! The upperside was generally dark brown with a grey wash on the primary coverts but no pale grey forewing shown by Pink footed. The bill was longer and the bird seemed a bit larger. It began to call as it circled. I had no idea what Bean Goose called like, but noted that it was a deep nasal double or single 'ang-ang' and 'ack'. Not Pinkfoot either. As it left, John checked the call on his phone from Xeno-canto and sure enough the voices matched. A bona fide Tundra Bean Goose at close of play. A good record here.
Near by 4 Whooper Swans and 3 Bar-headed Geese just brightened things a bit more before it was time for home...