After the last few days I stepped gingerly outside today into the fresh cold morning and took a deep breath, probably the first one that hasn't had the faint whiff of child vomit this week.
Up the A1 and overnight Northumberland has been carved in two, west of the A1 it's as if someone has taken a large paintbrush and a tin of white paint. every field and hill dusted with snow, an inch or so by the time I got up higher toward Swarland and Newton on the Moor.
To the East as soon as you drop to the coast it could be Spring in the sunshine.
I changed my usual delivery route today to go and sniff around the beach at Boulmer, an absence of seal carcasses left me less worried that one of those gulls would be enticed as my back was turned.
High tide and a joy to catch up with a kerfuffle of waders milling around the few exposed rocks opposite the lifeboat house. Twenty or so Bar-Tailed Godwit were resplendent in the sun, small groups parading up and down in the air. Oystercatchers wandered hither and thither, a few Grey Plover amongst small numbers of winter plumage Knot.
image courtesy & copyright MarjK
Along the tide line Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Dunlin mingled interwoven, the occasional bird lifting noisily in the air. The odd Redshank patrolled a solitary inspection further up the beach.
A female Stonechat flicked from seaweed to sand snapping at unseen prey. A Pied Wagtail rocked along in it's own world.
The sea was fairly calm with little about except a few gulls and several Common Eider until I caught sight of three chunky black ducks with bold white wing panels powering north about 50m out, my first decent seabird of the year, Velvet Scoter.
image courtesy& copyright Lawrie Phipps.
Proper seabirds always give me a lift, so before heading back to work I took a quick look at the mouth of the Aln just in case there was a stray diver or auk (ever hopeful), the best I could muster here were four Common Scoter riding the waves.