The gentle red glow of dawn against the azure blue sky persuaded me it must be Spring today. I was conned. Taking advantage of the early light I kitted up at six and headed to Newbiggin intent on my first full tour since I did the same thing at roughly the same time last year.
Sometimes I think I enjoy the anticipation of Newbiggin more than actually been there, especially on days like today when all the best birds seem to be in my head rather than on the ground.
By the time I'd arrived my imaginary list was busting at the seams with Black Redstart, Northern Wheatear, and Sand Martins amidst clouds of Mipits overhead as I watched the Hoopoe come in off.
The reality in a strong cool West breeze was a smattering of Mipit and the odd frisky Skylark.
I reached Beacon Point about the same time as the golf course Greenkeepers with their annoyingly loud grass cutter. Offshore 18 Common Scoter plunged and strained North in a close knit raft.
Down the side of the Ash Lagoons Dunnocks flicked wings at each other and a few Linnets tinkled overhead. A Pair of Common Stonechat fed fly catching from the wire fence, the male seeming to guard the female closely.
If I was going to do semi-urban, fly tipped birding then next on my list was Cambois, or the land to the North of the former Blyth Power Station site. Scrubbed over old railway track and bramble filled allotments can hold all sorts of interesting challenges for the migrant hunter at the right time of year. Often there can be Butterflies at this site too. Today birds were conspicuous by their absence and I had time to check out the graffiti art under the old rail bridge.
I thought I'd spend the last hour looking at gulls so I nipped back up to Linton Roundabout, sure enough a small roost around the flash pool perhaps between 2-300 gulls. They spook easy so I took my time getting out the car slowly, making sure of no loud noises, no silhouette. Tripod all set up scope mounted I started scanning as they all lifted in perfect noisy timing. "It couldn't have been me" I thought I'm rusty but... at that point I caught sight of the spook a female or immature Peregrine half a stoop toward the gulls but the element of surprise lost it tore off south west toward the tip.
As did most of the gulls, so I wandered over there for a short while too. The powers that be have fenced off the railway line so I had to walk through the field and up onto the line further down. The tip is almost closed, not accepting waste they are gradually covering and landscaping, what are we all going to do for gulls when this goes?
I spent a jolly half hour with a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a partial albino or leucistic argenteus Herring Gull the best I could muster.
One last stop before home Bothal Pond, perhaps a Sand Martin? And yes I ended the day with a year tick a Martin and an uncommon one at that, so my Homo sapiens 2009 list now includes Martin Anderson, whose Eighties Yellow browed Warbler at Newbiggin Golf Course provide me with all the evidence I needed that Newbiggin could be a top place for birds twenty one years back and despite what I said earlier why it has special resonance for me that I can find birds even amidst the worst that we can do to the land.