Friday, 12 June 2009


After a morning in the loft getting to grips with MDF I slipped away to Castle Island on the Wansbeck around lunchtime. Castle Island is a unique habitat in Northumberland albeit a man made one. The introduction of a weir about 500m upstream from the estuary mouth that allows high tides to occasionally deposit some salt water back into the upstream river has created a sort of river lagoon that is sometimes brackish.
The Island about another 500m inland is a salt marsh remnant that becomes larger as more mud is exposed during the summer months. It provides a feeding and safe roosting area for Gulls, Waders & the occasional Tern and breeding for Ducks & Geese.
The water level was low today and there is evidence of a patchy algae bloom on the river. It has become a regular summer destination for non breeding Mute Swan some 96 were present today. Canada Goose breeds in small numbers but the Bothal flock was on the water as well, I counted 141 of the varmints including young.
Four Grey Heron hunted the south shore, I think that Castle Island may still hold the record for the largest post breeding flock in Northumberland at 68. When I birded there regularly in 89-91 numbers would build from June to a peak in early September, getting toward dusk individuals would arrive from all directions and jostle to find a spot on the bank. During the day smaller numbers would roost in the trees behind the Island and on the Island itself.
Shelduck numbers were high today with 28 adults and at least three broods (13,6,2).
I called back tonight at dusk to see if anymore Grey Heron were there, no birds were present. I did however find a super drake Common Goldeneye, in breeding plumage,with the Tufted Duck about halfway between Island & Weir. I wonder if it's summering, there was a first year male who summered in 90 or 91.
Over 100 Common Swift hawked in two groups, one at the weir the other above the trees adjacent to the Island.
Tomorrow will probably involve another combination of Boards & Birds.

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