After a disappointing visit to Newbiggin last night that resulted in wet feet and a couple of Garden Warbler along the Ash Lagoon Banks I must have been mad to get up at five this morning and head out to do it all again, after all it wasn't going to improve much was it?
The early morning mist gave me some hope that there could be more migrants; hope often the only thing that keeps the birder going again and again to try and find creatures at best that tolerate your presence with indifference and at worst move as far as possible away from you immediately they become aware of you.
I headed to Castle Island first, primarily to have a quick look for Black Terns. Two Blackcap and a Lesser Whitethroat sang in the narrow woodland aside Nursery Park as I headed down. 80+ Common Gull, almost all second calendar year birds were in very shallow water at the west end and six adult Lesser Black-backed Gull were spread about. A single Common Sandpiper moved further along the North shore disturbed by me. Apart from 21 Tufted Duck many of which will breed the only other noteworthy birds were a pair of Wigeon this is late for Wigeon here and I must check back and see if it is a record late date.
Two broods of Canada Goose totalling 13 young and a brood of seven Gadwall were in evidence.
On to Newbiggin where once again I stuck to the Ash Lagoon banks in an attempt to stay dry. Fat chance. A singing Sedge Warbler in the south ditch and two Garden Warbler were again the best I could muster before heading home and on to work.
I was home less than forty minutes when the text arrived "Firecrest on the Mound!" Too late to head back I headed off to work, I called my tormentor who answered in an uncharacteristic low whisper " Got to go... (silence) ...we think we've got an Iccy singing."
I was overjoyed for the rest of the journey.
A quiet morning due to the mist by the time my staff arrived I'd made the decision and granted myself an extra half day "to deal with some difficult ICT stuff" i think I said. No lies there then.
Homeward bound a Homo Sapien year tick in the form of a Black & White Striped Iain Robson at a Widdrington bus stop was just the start of a rollercoaster afternoon.
Back at Newbiggin and alone on the Mound an area that locals appear intent on twinning with Bangladesh. If there were a Eurovision for fly-tipping the Mound would be a three times winner. Normal fieldcraft rules need amending, not enough to take care not to step on twigs it's the broken glass you need to become accustomed to treading over silently.
After fifteen minutes and a brief snatch of Icterine Warbler I got short views of a bright warbler with a nice supercilium but more of that in a moment. Out from the woods came my first tick of the day Cramlington pensioner Steve Holliday a first sighting for several years. Steve's mere presence soon had the Iccy singing it's head off even if it remained difficult to get decent views. A female Pied Flycatcher livened up proceedings briefly, providing my second year tick. Then out from the woods behind us birders began to appear from the gloom, green clad modern day equivalents of Robin Hood and his band of outlaws. A lifer in the shape of Brian Bullough from Northumbrian Birding looking every inch a gunslinger with his lens at his side. A year tick in the noticeably more rotund Friar Tuck like Stef Mcelwee,in the company of Robin himself (JGS).
More singing Icterine was followed by the very welcome appearance of a Wood Warbler that provided me with both year and Newbiggin ticks in one fell swoop. It posed and postured in the canopy as the big lens zoomed.
The crack was good, the birds were better, the fly tipping gets worse but at least the chicken shit seems to have been consigned to memory.