I opened my eyes one minute before the 06:30 alarm, peered out of the window onto a grey inauspicious start to September, switched the alarm off and lay back down on the pillow. Uninspired by the lack of sunshine or overnight rain I did the 'should I, shouldn't I?' debate in my head for several minutes.
Eventually I remembered it was September and given the various non-birding commitments involving weddings etc coming late in the month I decided to go for it.
First stop for some unknown reason was the car park at QE2, I'm not sure what the hell I thought I was going to find and after a quick tot up of the car park Pied Wags (19) I moved on to Woodhorn. Remnants of last night's warbler frenzy clung on if a little sluggishly with the temperature at 10c, 3 Whitethroat, 3 Blackcap and a Chiffchaff. I'd had a brief chat with Uncle Jim last night whilst I was out and he had suggested that the Ash Lagoon banks were always a good bet in the morning, not that I really needed anything to add to the huge sense of hope that always builds up whenever I pick my way through the recently dumped children's toys/hoovers/carpets/mattresses (delete as applicable) that greet the casual visitor east of Newbiggin Mound as you access the Golf Course.
By the time I'd left the first bank-side scrub with the dizzy heights of Meadow Pipit and five Linnets the sum total of 15 minutes staring at the bushes, the hope was beginning to dissipate. I rounded the first gorse patch and flushed two Common Whitethroat from the recently burnt branches around the bend.
The first ten minutes were bird free and my thoughts drifted to the sea, I could see a procession of close in Gannets passing a short distance away over the golf course. I turned back to see a Whitethroat, a second and then a third began to zip around the bramble, before long I'd counted six. With a little action my focus was back on the scrub and a movement had me looking at this..
Pale grey and obviously chunkier than the Whitethroat, pinky base to the bill, it kept itself to itself and remained stubbornly difficult to get good clear views of, at least for half an hour. It did eventually reveal itself completely, though the views in the first three or four minutes were enough to pin it down as a juvenile Barred Warbler, a rather nice addition to my Self-Found List and a fine bird to get September started.
News out promptly to give others the opportunity, I had what I thought was an acrocephalus shoot across from behind me into the scrub. Tail in the air revealing streaked undertail left me puzzled for a short while, it popped back out again (see below) to reveal itself as a Grasshopper Warbler.
Out of time I had a cursory glance at the mound, a couple of Common Darter and two Speckled Wood were sunning themselves in the shady glades. A Chiffchaff through the garden as I cooked tea tonight rounded the day off nicely.