With four county year ticks on offer, five if you include the Holy Island Bearded Tit, concentrated in the area around Budle Bay and Stag Rocks there was only one choice of destination this morning.
Nothing notable on the journey up, Common Buzzard on a haystack and several large areas of standing water including what seemed like whole fields in places suggested very heavy localised rainfall.
I breezed into Budle Bay at low tide just after 09:30 and quickly picked out the first of the target birds adult white morph Snow Goose chilling with the Pink-footed Geese along the northern edge. Three Pale-bellied Brent Goose were a little further east and the main body of Barnacle Geese arrived whilst I was there, I counted over 160 but I've seen bigger numbers published elsewhere so either I missed a few in the channel or there were some elsewhere.
Pushing on to Stag Rocks it was cold but dry. First birds up were a couple of Long-tailed Duck with at least seven counted as the morning went on, one or two just beyond the breaking waves showing well. Several Red-throated Diver lounged around again beyond the breaking waves and further out. Two Slavonian Grebe provided the second year tick of the morning showing intermittently between dives about 100m south of the rocks.
With no sign of either of the winter plumage Black Guillemot, (apparently there have been two different birds, one adult, one 1st-winter) I headed to the lighthouse and took a look north. Another birder/walker joined me and it was he who picked out three Velvet Scoter flying toward Holy island at some distance. Most of the Long-tailed Duck were over this side with a single group of five, three male two female, counted.
A magnificent almost fully summer plumage Great Northern Diver sat almost due east and washed and preened for several minutes showing very well about 250m off the rocks. Small numbers of Purple Sandpiper moved along the rocks and a skein of 30 Pink-footed Goose headed south.
Back to the car and another hour searching for something Tystie but without reward. Perhaps another day although three out of four ain't bad to misquote Meat Loaf.