With one eye on the Biscay trip in a couple of weeks I had four shifts in this week as well as spending Friday working on entries for Essential NewcastleGateshead and Friday night out and about in Newcastle taking photographs, stone cold sober whilst all were falling about around me.So my only chance of squeezing in some proper birds was to drag myself from the bed early this morning and snatch an hour sea-watching.
The Black-necked Grebe that has been playing hide & seek with me at Bothal Pond was caught out by my 06:52 appearance and looked suitably surprised as the car slowed and I peered out of the window.
With the sea very calm and some people falling over cetaceans, I thought that even if birds were scarce I might catch up with the odd fin, though this was not to be. Light was great with a nice dark sea and low heat haze, birds were plentiful.
A single Sooty Shearwater was a new self-found year tick, earlier a single Red-throated Diver moved north. Two Roseate Terns, adult and juvenile came by close as they moved south, an adult Little Gull moving north was further out. Skua activity was prominent with Arctic Skua 2S and 1N, Great Skua 3S and 1N. 58 Manx Shearwater were a steady flow north between 06:00-07:15, though at one point 23 were on the sea together in a raft about 500m out where there was obviously a fish shoal as several Terns were also in a fishing loop in the same area.
In fact the morning was so pleasant even a text 30 minutes into work from Durham's county recorder about an adult Sabine's Gull on the sea at Whitburn 08:00 couldn't break the good mood.