Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Catching up.

I still haven't found away to add a picture to the header above. It looks like its because this template may not be recognised so its time for a change in look but I'm nervous the whole lot will go awry... 

Whats been happening lately? The Albatross is still there. It went missing on Friday and Saturday again after about a week of daily presence. I wish it would just go, because I just don't have time to lay a full day aside to go for it.

The mini warm, dry spell is continuing and, though a little cooler, we've not had any rain. We've had to resort to getting the hose onto the garden plants every other night, until there is a ban that is. On 17th the temp was 29.5 degrees, probably the warmest day since we've lived here. The conditions, as mentioned in my last post, have been great for moth trapping. So much so that I've had to take a break for a few nights to get away from processing catches and photographs. Its been taking up quite a bit of time, so I'll leave it til Wednesday. The moths will have a rest too.

There is little happening on the bird front at the minute. A couple of good garden records were had last week with Dunlin calling over in the dark and both Arctic and Sandwich Terns taking inland flights over the village on a few days.

At the weekend we returned home from shopping to be met by a Water Shrew having a right old rummage around the drive. It showed well for a few minutes, constantly active as it made its way along the wall and into a neighbour's old lean-to. There are a few records here now over recent years with this being the 5th individual seen but they are always pleasing to actually see in the open and alive ( two have been casualties).


 Finally, on Sunday the morning began with a seawatch from Cullernose Point. Despite a calm sea and a very light N breeze we put in an hour with 3 Bonxie, 10 Roseate Terns, 2 Manx Shearwaters, 65 Common Scoter, 13 Teal, 1 Red breasted Merganser, a Whimbrel and a 1st winter Mediterranean Gull all N. Not bad considering.

From there, next stop was Boulmer via Seaton Point where it was very quiet. 4 Bar tailed Godwits included a full summer male, 1 summer plum Grey Plover, a few Roseate Terns in with hundreds of other terns offshore, 1 Little Tern flew S and 2 Manx Shearwaters moved N. Small waders were almost totally absent except for a lone Sanderling. Not one Dunlin was very odd, with none even heard.

Already outside there is a sense that seasons are on the change ...


       

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Busy Moth Trapping.

This current warm spell, I'm reluctant to call it a heatwave unless its been on until about September, has been great for garden mothing. On Friday night there were 494 moths of 95 sp and on Saturday night 719 moths of 119 sp. I was running two traps for the first time this year so these totals kept me busy all Saturday and Sunday mornings. A few good moths for here included -

This Celypha rufana is well out of range but is the 2nd Northumberland record after one in 2016. A RDB species scarce in the UK found mainly in Wales and Cumbria. 


My first Lyme Grass in 6yrs. The 4th for the garden.


Clockwise from top left - Coronet a new garden moth, Sallow Kitten, Straw Underwing and Blackneck all good for this area.

Diamond back, Dicrorampha sp, Bird Cherry Ermine and Eudonia lacustrata.

Latticed Heath, Mompha propinquella, Crambus perlella and Pammene aurana.

 Due to the heat on Friday I left some sugar water soaked kitchen roll in each trap for them to drink until dusk, but on Saturday I released them all in thick cover straight away in the morning. Some night species will feed during the day if its warm so I gave them a chance to do that.

Friday, July 16, 2021

G...Utted.

 Day 6 since our dismally failing albatross twitch to Bempton. 

I can easily get over missing out on such a great bird, so that's not the issue. 

What wakes me up in the morning is that it is still there and has been present for the full 6 days since!  Due to other commitments, work, builders etc I am too tied up to set aside a whole day for a return visit. I just wish it would leave now so I can get on....

To take my mind off it, I'm trying to focus on the small things locally when on dog walks etc. A nice Merlin dashed along the coast road the other day and an adult moulting Mediterranean Gull flew south across the coast fields. There are flocks of warblers around the village early in the morning now, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs with a Sedge Warbler today. 

Autumn approaches...

Only my 3rd Southern Wainscot after two together in 2020.

Volucella bombylans a bee mimic hoverfly in the moth trap this week. 


Sunday, July 11, 2021

Its been a long, long day...

 Do you keep a bird list? If you do, what does it really mean to you? Is it an integral, important part of your birding? I think most of us who are observers of natural history keep lists in one form or another, from the rabid down-tools-and-go-for everything twitcher to the garden moth trapper we all like a new list addition. For those who say, 'I don't', 'Lists are a trivial waste of time, you should be doing something more important and stern like survey work, ringing, constant effort monitoring, local patching' etc  what do you do?

I keep several lists. For birds, I have UK, County, Local Patch. For Moths I have UK and Garden, same for Butterflies. I have a dragonfly list, a wild flower list and a fish list. I do like them and enjoy adding to them but if there was a Top 10 of my lists, the long staying number one, the equivalent to a Bryan Adams single would be my Northumberland Bird list.  The County List. 

Periodically though my UK list becomes an itch that needs to be scratched. I am fickle in this regard. For example, a Moltoni's Warbler would not get me out of the county. It doesn't even have  a piece in my 1972 Heinzel, Fitter and Parslow. The same goes for a lot of these new 'splits'. They just don't have the background of birding history and lore that say, the Anglesey Black Lark, the Aberdeen Belted Kingfisher or even the StAbbs Marmora's Warbler had.  I like my travelled for birds to come with some provenance, like a fine antique.

In the 80's a Black browed Albatross lived every summer on the northern most tip of the northern most island in the UK, Unst. This is way beyond my travelling distance even if I had known about it in the dark ages before WhatsApp, but tales of travelers intrepid enough to go to extremes to see this bird were gripping. 

In recent years, there have been tantalising temptations of Albatrosses in the UK, even in my own county, but none really getable for the likes of me. That is not until two weeks ago when the Bempton Cliffs bird of last years brief stay returned. In previous summers it has stayed across the North sea, but now it seems to enjoy the company of Gannets on the great white cape of Yorkshires East Riding, having spent a fitful two weeks on site giving views down to knock- your-cap-off range.

Tied at home due to work and builders in my loft, we were late to the party. On top of that, we also have a guilt trip where the Twittersphere is quick to vilify anyone who travels anywhere other than by bike. Its ok for Richard Branson to go to the moon or for 30,000 fans to drive to a football match every weekend but if you dare twitch a bird, on your head be it. You alone have destroyed this planet with your petty trivialities.

How would I react to that? I have no kids, so I am not instantly doubling up or more on resource use , I have not eaten any meat for 30+ years, I have only flown on a handful of occasions in my life, my partner Jane has never flown, so I think, if I want to drive all day occasionally in my diesel motor I will!

I transgress. On Monday John  and myself made plans to go for the Albatross on Friday, our earliest possible free day. As it happened, no sooner were plans made, the Mollymawk buggered off, we thought for good, so that was that. Friday came, I was finishing up on chores after the builders and didnt see my phone until later. The Albatross had only returned to the cliffs hadn't it, but I was too late to go on the day so, Saturday was selected for the trip.  

We left Alnwick at 5.30am arriving at Bempton 3 hours later to news that the bird was last seen heading towards the horizon at 7am. Looked like we would have to wait. And wait. And wait.

11 hours later, the site and sounds and smells of a magnificent seabird colony were beginning to wane. At 7pm with no sign of the bird, we called it a day. Albatross 1 Northern Albatross Twitchers 0. I can almost hear the laughs from the enlightened few saying 'You get what you deserve you destroyer of worlds'. At one time a full day dip would have left me gutted, but now, not so much. Disappointed yes, but no more than that. There are more important things after all. I would like to see it tracked up the coast from Whitburn one day, now that would be special.

24 hours later, this afternoon, I was looking at some photos I took of the Gannets when word comes out, the Black browed Albatross was back on its favoured cliff ledge at Bempton. You know, I think it knew we had been watching and waited for us to leave...here's to 2022...

Bempton Big Cliffs

The number of birds on show is dizzying.




Gannets

Click here to see layers of albatross dippers.


  

 


Monday, July 05, 2021

Fog and Sun...

 An early start yesterday and keen to get out was soon dampened by thick sea fret reducing visibility to a couple of hundred metres. 


I met John at Boulmer, as our default setting when the weather isnt too good. A walk along to the north end at Longhoughton Steel was slow going. The Minke Whale is still on the shore, now becoming particularly flavoursome and we commented on how someone's terrier would get inside it... We listed for waders but all we had were 2 Golden Plover and 2 Redshank while a Whimbrel flew North with a dozen Curlew.

At the car park the first fledged Swallows sat out on the wooden bin store while the adults mobbed seven shades out of the local Barn Owl.


 The only other thing into the book were the Wormwood Artimesia absinthium plants along to the north of the village. Its quite a scarce plant up here and I always forget its name.


After the walk, back at the car park, it was filling up rapidly and one oik in particular helped us decide to move location.

Alnmouth South Dunes was our destination all of about 2 miles away. Now the bumpy track is closed to traffic it is quite a walk down but at least it reduces visitor numbers to the dunes which cant be bad.

It was still warm and for a short while the sun came out to make a nice window of summer weather to look for plants and insects.

Sedge Warblers and Reed Buntings seemed to be all over carrying food for young while a single singing Reed Warbler hid in the depths of his reed bed. A Whimbrel was roosting on the salt marsh and a nice juvenile Cuckoo gave us a close fly by while being beaten up by Meadow Pipits. Its ironic really as it probably thinks they're its parents...




 We wandered around some nice dune slacks that were emblazoned with colourful flowers and their attendees, the bees, moths and butterflies.

Narrow bordered 5 spot Burnets were just emerging and gave shocks of crimson as they buzzed around everywhere. Butterflies were counted for John's spreadsheet to send in at the year end to Butterfly Conservation. We had 5 Small Tortoiseshell, 10 Ringlet, 9 Common Blue, 2 Large Skipper, 10 Small Heath, 5 Meadow Brown but no whites at all.

From top left, Common Centaury, Hemlock, Musk Mallow and Pyramidal Orchid.

From top left - Biting Stonecrop, Wild Thyme and Ladies Bedstraw all over the place with one of the Burnets in the foreground, Stork's Bill and Sea Purslane.

Pyrausta despicata day flying.

What began as a very drab day turned out to be bright and colourful after all...

Friday, July 02, 2021

Gannin' soft...

 Back in September 1993 the late Andy Booth found Northumberland's first Gadfly Petrel off Hauxley. In 1996 it was accepted by BBRC as a Soft-plumaged Petrel of the race 'feae' or Fea's Petrel. Back then this was a mythical sighting, a once in a lifetime event never to be repeated. If we fast forward to the present day, how things have changed.

It is usually understood that these Fea's or to give them a proper term Fea's/Zino's/Destertas Petrels are actually rare but annual visitors to UK waters. The difficulty in identifying them at a seawatch has resulted in a lot of controversy over what can and what can't be ticked by birders so they are usually referred to as Fea's Petrels and are, quite rightly, very much sought after. To see one, you must either do a lot of hours seawatching or have some excellent communications in place so when one is reported coming your way along the coast you can get out to head it off.

Yesterday a Fea's type Petrel flew north at Flamborough Head around 9.30am. When it was seen along the coast at Long Nab, birders to the north mustered themselves, made plans to leave work early, put off pre organised plans and headed for the nearest headland.

This particular petrel was due to arrive in Northumberland at around 5pm so, having only ever seen one back in 2014  I fancied having a go for a local patch bird and was out at Cullernose Point at 5.30pm. Shortly after sitting down reports came through that it had gone past Newbiggin, 24 miles to the south and was on its way.

By now, a crowd of 7 of us had gathered expectantly on the cliff. The atmosphere was tense as we all screwed eyes into scopes and waited. A distant oil tanker was to be our spotting sight should one of us pick it up, to get others a bearing.

At 6.15pm Mark Eaton gave the 'Thar she blows' ( not literally) and there was the typical panicking until we got on it. Distant and way to the SE at first, I saw it then lost it just as quickly. The sea was flat calm so I just kept breathing and scanning and in a minute it was back on show. It came to a very reasonable 800mtrs - 1km off and we all had it in view until around 6.23pm, a duration of 7 or 8 minutes before it was lost to view.

Celebrations were made as Northumberland's 15th Gadfly was added to the record and more to the point, added to my patch list.

A short while later, back home, a scan of social media found a Tweet by Paul French of BBRC who had seen some photos taken at Newbiggin of our bird. Did it really show a breast band? 

Yes it really did? When we watched it, Mark Eaton I think, commented on it. I also commented on the fully dark underwings that my last Feas did not have, it had white axilliary spikes up to the leading edge. Still, we never suspected a thing.

Then experts began saying this bird was actually a Soft Plumaged Petrel Pterodroma mollis and not Fea's at all. This was a different prospect. Soft plumaged Petrel would be a first for Britain and only the 3rd for the Western Palearctic. 

So now there has been much discussion, the bird looks fine for Soft plumaged and even world experts agree on it, all from images taken by a few birders at Newbiggin. Well done lads. What a bird for the patch after July 2019's Giant Petrel and July 2020's Sooty Tern. It seems Northumberland is the place to be for a summer southern oceans seabird...






Thursday, July 01, 2021

Greenfinches and Seawatching...




 Yesterday, whilst everyone was having to duck when an albatross flew by in Yorkshire, I was stuck in my cell, working, while builders were doing their best to push me over the edge as they dismantled our loft. Our old house doesn't meet the EPC standards of efficiency so roof work is being done. This means I am confined to the house as the dog cant be left while they are working. Highlight from here today was a calling Whimbrel. 

Still, it leaves hope that the albatross will give us a show during a seawatch later in the month. I have a dream...

In reality, after work I was keen to get some air. The sun was shining after a dull morning on the coast but there was a light Northerly blowing on  a rising tide so it was off to Boulmer to meet John. After a catch up over tea and mini rolls, we set up camp on the seat north of the village that is conveniently facing south east and thanks to coastal erosion it is right on the sandy cliff edge. 

We gave it an hour. There were lots of birds were moving. Thousands of them, but they were the local island breeders, auks, kittiwakes, gannets, fulmars etc  so we sat and gazed through them. 3 adult summer plumaged Little Gulls were nice as they passed close in, in a tight group. They were followed by 4 Goldeneye, what they were doing in June, I cant say, but its very unusual, 4 Common Scoter, 2 first summer Arctic Terns and 3 Manx Shearwaters. Puffins were into high double figures too.

Less pelagic were 5 Greenfinches, this area's new Corn Bunting, with 3 males and 2 females. One male was in full song and display mode from a shed roof. It shows how infrequently they make this blog, this is the first time that Greenfinch has hit the index. 2 Sanderling, 2 Dunlin, 10 Ringed Plover, 2 Turnstone and 9 Curlew were on the shore and 4 Goosanders were fishing in the haven.



Back home, a new plant for me in our small village hall pond, Great Spearwort Ranunculus lingua had about 10 plants growing. I've not noticed it before so may have come from some weed I brought in from another pond locally at Little Mill in the spring..

Great Spearwort

 

 


Monday, June 28, 2021

Contrasts.

 Thursday was our warmest day of the year so far at 25 degrees, not bad for Northumberland. Then on Friday it had dropped by 14 degrees to 11 with a northerly wind and rain. Saturday was pretty much the same. Grim. Then yesterday was meant to be cloudy but fair so we headed to Boulmer as there would probably be not much invert activity inland. How wrong could we be? It was another warm and sunny day as if the previous two had never happened.

Boulmer was 'June quiet' except for visitors. There was a 100km challenge 'Race to the Castle' from Whitley Bay to Seahouses taking place over three days. This provided a constant trail of able and not so able participants along our route. There was one unusual thing we noted. Out of hundreds of people seen and heard in the morning, only 6 others apart from ourselves had county accents. By sound alone we could easily have been on holiday.

Birds were less noticeable - Common Scoter 20 N , Manx Shearwater 10 N, Puffin 20+N, Turnstone 30+, Dunlin,, 10+, Ringed Plover 10+ and the first 2 returning Redshank after a few blank weeks for them. On the rocks were 5 Golden Plover, 33 Curlew and 4 Bar tailed Godwit, 1 in full summer plumage flew N. 4 fw Goosanders were in the haven.

At a loose end, we milled around the car park and beach. The car park Stonechats had brood 2 on the wing. A few day trippers stopped to look at what all the 'tacking' was about as they passed the breeding site to the beach. Flowers were quite interesting too - 


Henbane, a scarce plant in the county that I have only seen once before, on Holy Island.


Dwarf Mallow, a new species for me and it too seems scarce this far north?

A nice orange form of Birds Foot Trefoil really stood out.

Hedgerow Cranesbill

Sea Rocket



Friday, June 25, 2021

Jarring.

 If you read this blog regularly you will see that John and me spend a bit of time birding and looking for inverts on what we call our 'inland patch'. This is a loose definition of the upland moor areas west and north west of Alnwick. 

We tend to prefer nice summer days in these places for dragonflies, butterflies, plants etc, but over the years we have enjoyed some interesting finds away from sites that are more popular. Things like Green Hairstreak, Emperor Moth, Adders, Broad bodied Chaser, Goshawk, Orange Underwing, Birds Nest Orchid, Ring Ouzels, Large Heath, Gold ringed Dragonfly etc have all brightened a 'quiet' Sunday morning.


But what of the times of day when we don't usually visit? Late evening and dusk in particular. We have often mooted checking places out for Nightjars and have never really gotten around to it. Keen for a change, this was to be 'the year'. 

Over the dry spell recently we have made a couple of crepuscular trips out to see what we could find and have not been disappointed. On this occasion I won't be giving out locations as there are already known sites where all of these upland species can easily be added to the year list, so forgive me for keeping 'our' birds to ourselves. 


Its quite a walk to get to the main spot but we arrived in time to hear the first birds begin 'churring' at 10pm. At first distant, but after a few minutes some sounded closer and there were a few 'goowick' calls too. These birds are so mysterious in looks and lifestyle, they are a highlight in any birding calendar so to have birds flying around our heads all to ourselves was truly life affirming!

A white splashed male came down this ride and circled me at about 20 feet radius. Wing claps and 'g'wick' calls looked either inquisitive or warning me. Then we had three together chasing around like outsized swifts, not at all bothered by our presence. One male landed giving great views on a fallen branch while a female landed nearby and began catching moths in the manner of a giant Spotted Flycatcher. She would drop off her perch low to the deck, swish around and then back to the same vantage point. All no more than 20 yards away for around 10 minutes.

In this game you are totally against the clock. Birds began showing at 10.10pm but by 10.35pm its getting too dark to pick them out except as silhouettes, but that 25 minutes is fantastic!

The next time we are out looking for insects in warm sunshine we will be thinking that out there, hunkered down in the bark are these animated leaf birds sitting maybe watching us through a squinted eye...





I was lucky enough to catch this female just right when she landed right beside us on the fence. Photoshop is responsible for removing the eye glare but thats all. 



I rarely make a presence on here but this shows the lengths gone to to avoid midgies. A palmful of repellent around the head worked quite well too..


Its not all Nightjars either, this scarce Ash-black Slug Limax cinereoniger, the largest of the UK slugs attracted attention while waiting for the birds to show, plus Cuckoo, Snipe, Redpolls galore almost in the dark, 2 Sand Martins low through the trees, again in near darkness were very odd. A barking Roe buck added to the ambience.   



Monday, June 14, 2021

Pacific Heights.

 


For some reason I couldn't sleep on Saturday so got up early to do the moth trap. Numbers still aren't up to usual standards but 97 moths of 36 species is enough to keep the interest going. After the catch was processed and photographs taken, it was time to up date our local moth page on FB.

It was while sat at the desk editing images that the Northumberland WhatsApp Rare Birds group came to life. A photo was uploaded, taken by Dave Elliott showing the departure of a Swift with a white rump low over water at East Chevington reserve. Even the rear-on image looked to me that it was not an abberant Common Swift. The bird was banking over showing a very slim pointed wing vertical to the water. Knowing the extreme transient nature of 'Apus' the image was taken at 7.30am and there was no further news by 9am. As the day warms, insects would rise on thermals and so will the swifts. It was currently cool and cloudy.

Then at around 9.30 information was released saying that the bird was still present, with no identification as yet.

With fixed plans for the afternoon, if I was going to have a look I better go now, so thats what happened. Arriving at a queue of cars parked along the lane side at Chev, the news was that it had not been seen for 20 minutes, however when I saw Tom Cadwallender he told me the bird was still here but away up at the far north of the reserve near Druridge Bay Country Park.

The car was given a 10 point turn and I headed up to the park, parking the car right beside the north entrance to the reserve coast track. As I made my way south, three birders were stopped on the track around 100 mtrs away looking towards the lake. I assumed they were watching the bird, but no sooner had I built my hopes up, they all just carried on wandering down to the west facing hide.

By now I was almost at their spot. Looking toward the hide, a birder was watching through his bins but he was facing directly north, an area above some trees to my right, so I stopped and scanned. With the naked eye, nothing. The bird could be more distant so a scan with the bins was similarly empty, then all of a sudden one bird came into my field of view and it had a huge wrap around white rump! It came very close giving excellent views against the trees. Immediately it could be seen not to be a Common Swift, its shape was all wrong with a narrow waist and slim more pointed wings it scythed around with Common Swifts  and to me, was all day long a Pacific Swift!

After a couple of minutes it flew back down to the water so I headed to the hide where around 20 birders stood around outside. Someone asked 'Well, what is it?'  'Its a Pacific isnt it!' was my excited response only to be doused by a 'Is it though?' by very experienced birders. White-rumped Swift was not eliminated. This was a bird I have no experience of but I have seen Pacific Swift in China. If only we had a field guide because given these brilliant views, there isn't really a danger of confusion. We commented on the slimmer structural build, the pale scalloped under parts and the size. Some felt it should be bigger than Common Swift, but guide measurements show them to be the same.

By now it was a big twitch with lots of people taking photographs so no doubt its identification would be confirmed soon.

I left after an hour, not believing what had just happened. After last weeks stint, now this! Northumberland is getting some great birds again this year.

By the time I was home, the information services were posting images of the now identified Pacific Swift and everyone was getting good views. I could get on with today's plans quite happy...

Northumberland List 356  British List 423


Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Red necked Stint.

 Its taken a little while to get over the excitement of this weekend's birding up here. What a spell Northumberland is having this past week, with good birds galore descending on the county like flies on the proverbial.

On Friday there were 2 Rose-coloured Starlings, one at 25 miles either side of me that I didn't go for as I'm sticking it out for one locally. My fat ball feeders are well stocked and waiting... also Mike Carr was working at the burn mouth near our village when he had a Bee-eater fly over north. Unfortunately it didn't stop for breath and bypassed me at home. Its another one to watch out for.

Down the coast at East Chev, Dave Elliott had two good mornings, on the first he found a female Woodchat at Hadston Dunes, then next day a singing Great Reed Warbler at Chev south pool reedbeds. The shrike was only present until 9am then vanished as silently as it arrived, though the warbler is still present. Interestingly another, this time male, Woodchat was found yesterday up the coast from us at Goswick golf course. Two in a year in Northumberland is unprecedented.

However great these bird are both in looks and to find, the grand finale was down to Alan Curry on the less than salubrious River Blyth Estuary. 

On Saturday evening around 8.30pm just as most birders are cracking open a bottle or tinnie, Alan was grilling the handful of Ringed Plovers on the mud when, alongside a Little Stint for field guide comparison he found the UK's 8th recorded, 7th alive, Red-necked Stint

For us old timers, we were lucky enough to see the Wansbeck bird of 95 and we never thought there would be a second chance at one in the county. We are now the only UK county to have more than one record of this cracking little peep with both sightings only 3 miles apart.

Like the Aug 95 bird, this one was in full summer plumage  and as there have been no British records for a decade it was going to attract some attention. One birder on Twitter, tweeted by 9pm, 'I'm on my way, from Somerset!' Being cool after one sighting 26 years ago and seeing hundreds in China, I kept my powder dry until Sunday morning before following the masses.

I met up with John at Boulmer at 6am, sifted through 70 or so Starlings on the shore looking for a whole lotta Rosie, without luck, then we headed down the A189 to Blyth. A moderate number of travellers were on site from dawn and the bird was showing out on the flats albeit quite distantly, but giving decent scope views.


The twitch is on..

We left the site happy with our views, totally unaware of how things would pan out later as the tide rose...

Our next stop was up at Chev for the Great Reed Warbler, on the way back home. Several people had difficulty with this bird, waiting hours for only a song, but we were there 10 minutes and out he popped, right on top of the phragmites, chugging, croaking and swaying at the same time, bending reeds double with his song thrush sized mega warbler bulk. Like the stint, this is only my second in Northumberland, though there have been a few other occurrences I didn't bother going for. Because I'm not a twitcher.

Then it was back up to civilisation at Boulmer, motivated by the success of others we cast around hoping for our own rarity but it was not to be. You can't have everything so it was time to call it a day and head home for lunch. A good day.

Red-necked Stint, River Blyth.

Great Reed Warbler, East Chevington.

Back home I caught up with some sketches from memory and some dodgy phone scoped reference material when the Twittersphere started showing more stint images as the twitch increased apace. There are photos and there are photos but eventually some of the shots were practically unbelievable. The tide had pushed the bird onto a spit on the opposite shore. Birders, seeing an opportunity made the half hour jaunt across to the far side and were treated to spectacular views down to 20 feet!

Of the best images, Tom Tams, Alan Curry, Josh Jones all stand out but there were others too that made me feel quite jealous that I didn't linger. We all knew better views would be possible as the tide came in...

It seems most of the country made the pilgrimage north for this Siberian stint but as I write this today, it has flown off on its globe trotting travels to where, who knows....

What a bird...

Tom Tams kindly let me use one of his amazing images of the Red necked Stint at point blank range.