Out the house by 8.15am, I felt like Nelson Mandela it's been that long since I did any birding, well except there weren't any cameras or crowds and my house is probably a tad nicer than his prison was.
I had planned to go straight to Bothal as there is a good flock of Common Gull that I had noticed one morning a few days previously. There were about 15 that had beat me to it when I arrived but over the next forty minutes the flock built up to about 400 with approx 100 Black-headed Gulls keeping them company. They are feeding in earthworm rich, sheep filled fields to the east and west of the pond, alternating between feeding and bathing at about 20-30 minute cycles.
They arrived in groups of 50-60 from the south east, perhaps having roosted at the mouth of the Wansbeck.
Also here were two Gadwall, two Goldeneye and sixteen Pochard.
I headed a little north past Longhirst Flash which was quiet toward Linton, I thought I would check if there were any geese toward Linton roundabout first and sure enough c300 Pink-footed Geese fed in the stubble on the south side of the road, a bonus was five Waxwing in a small tree halfway along the hedge which I thought were a nice find till I logged in and found out SS had been crawling all over them with his lens yesterday.
I parked near the railway line and headed along the old line toward the tip where a couple of thousand gulls were present, although I couldn't find anything unusual amongst the Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gulls and Black Headed Gulls.
A change of tack saw me wander through Ashington Community Woodland, an almost bird-less sterile environment. I did manage seven Lesser Redpoll and single Siskin and male Bullfinch so It wasn't a complete waste.
Running out of time I headed to the Spital Burn end of Newbiggin for a quick scan on the sea, fifteen female Common Scoter bobbed in the swell with a couple of Eiders and three Red Breasted Merganser nearby. A short scan to the North revealed two Med Gull in the centre of the beach at Newbiggin.