Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Days Off...


Coquet Island from Seaton Point

I like to keep a few days leave back for autumn just in case we get some 'weather' but this year its all staying pretty much 'as you were' . At least this allows me to just take some odd random days to see what is happening. This week my days off were Thursday and Friday making a nice long weekend. 

Before we get on to that, however, the early part of the week turned up some bits and pieces too.

Monday was a bit interesting despite there being a mild southerly breeze. First thing when I took Peggy for her morning walk, our village was ringing to the sound of Redwing calls for the first time this autumn. Several small flocks of up to a dozen birds left garden cover and moved west.

Later on more seemed to arrive. We did another coast path walk in the afternoon where we soon counted 150 Redwings and a few Blackbirds in-off. One tired individual barely made it, dropping into the long grass of the Bathing House only a few yards from the waves. As we approached the sycamores near the road a small bird scuffling along the track side caught Peggy's attention. A smart male Brambling, again looking knackered after its crossing. Back home another Brambling looked similar on our drive and another dozen Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were in the wood. How many of these birds are lost to the sea isnt known but it will be a big toll I'm sure.

On Tuesday morning, the coast path Brambling was now along the main road verge, looking no better. A few more were picked up on call as they flew west overhead. One Starling, like yesterdays Blackbird struggled in from low over the sea, alone, but it didn't stop, it just steadily kept on course, low west.  

By Wednesday the immigrant passage had dried up, leaving two groups of Whooper Swans, 20 and 25 birds, to keep me looking up. 

There was a nice moth surprise on Wedesday night, again on a Peggy walk. I routinely shone my headlamp along some flowing Ivy beside our lane to see if any moths were present. The first thing I saw was only my 3rd ever Pearly Underwing, fresh conditioned individual alongside 6 Angle Shades and a couple of Silver Ys.

Pearly Underwing, a rare migrant here.

With the working week now done, the wind began to increase from a North westerly direction and with it so did my hopes of some seabird action.

I was in position on Cullernose by 8.15 eagerly awaiting birds to pass. To cut a long story short, by 10.15 a few birds were in the notebook but not enough to merit sitting it out. I decided to cut my losses and try again later on.

Birds seen included 5 Red throated Divers, 48 Wigeon, 3 Common Scoter, 600+ Pinkfeet, 20 Barnacle Geese, 2 Pale bellied Brents and 1 Arctic Skua. Best of all were 2 each of Twite and Snow Bunting south over head.

I gave it another two hours from 2pm, this time at Seaton Point, Boulmer. There were masses of birds feeding along the very high tide line with thousands of Black headed Gulls, Wildfowl and Waders including 17 Grey Plover, 74 Curlew, 35 Bar tailed Godwit, 4 Purple Sandpipers 1 Goosander 56 Mallard and 8 Wigeon. Another 2 Pale bellied Brents flew N and a Swallow over the caravans was my first for 2 weeks. It could well be my last until April. 

Masses of birds along the shore.

Pale bellied Brent Geese

Ever present Eiders

Juvenile Grey Plover

Pinks South

There were hundred of Turnstones with odd Purps.


On Friday we had a nice walk around Longhoughton Steel to Sugar Sands. There had been a Shorelark around but we didnt see it. A bit of viz mig was evident though with 1 Snow Bunting, 5 Whooper Swans, 15 Siskins, 1 Grey Wagtail, 75 Pinkfeet south and 2 Red throated Divers North

We narrowly averted disaster when a freak wave rushed up previously dry shore ( the tide was going out too) and caught us unaware. Jane and myself ended up nearly knee deep in water while Peggy floated around us! Luckily we kept our footing and made it up to dry ground with nothing worse to endure than a slosh back to the car with boots full of briny.

A postcard from Northumberland.

On Sunday, for a change John and myself headed to our inland areas for a change from the sea. Despite the forecast, the sun shone and it was quite pleasant. A great contrast from the coast in only a short drive.

Not expecting many birds, I only took my macro lens to look for fungi and other small stuff. As it happened, we didn't find many fungi but we did get some good birds. 

Highlight was a cracking male Goshawk sparring with a Raven. What a size they are and even the Raven made sure it stayed higher up than the Gos. In flight Gos have a much longer wing than the much smaller Sparrowhawk, to my mind, giving more of a ring tailed Harrier impression. They immediately look different. The two put on a great show for about 15 minutes with one taking advantage of the other in turns, the Raven uttering a short 'gruk' of panic when Gos flipped over to retaliate. Lovely. The things you see when you don't have your gun....

We also had a nice female Merlin low overhead, another Raven, 1 male Crossbill song flighting and another 7 over, 4+ Brambling, 7+ Jays, 1 female Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 1 Buzzard, 10+ Meadow Pipits and a Stonechat. A nice suite of upland birds for the time of year.

The only fungi we had were - 

Dusky Puffball Lycoperdon nigrescens

Raspberry Slime Mould Tubulifera arachnoidea


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