I've squeezed the most out of the past five days, it is Autumn after all. Thursday morning I abandoned the kids into child care and drove straight to the coast to meet a warm September morning. At the tree enclosed enclave of Newbiggin's Mound top I was greeted by four Speckled Wood tumbling above the Field Maple and a Spotted Flycatcher nipped between leafy branches. Two more Spotted Flycatchers darted back and forth from the highest tree tops on the east side.
The Ash Lagoon banks contained a further three Spotted Flycatchers and two 1st-winter Pied Flycatchers, Garden Warbler and Willow Warblers were also obvious. A single Redstart remained in the burnt gorse.
Back at the mound I moved off piste into the trees and another Pied Flycatcher flicked onto a dappled perch to check me out. As it moved back into the greeny shades of the Sycamore I noticed another smaller, greenish bird flit across the leaves, forty minutes later I had had one clear view and a couple of dozen snatched movements from a Greenish Warbler presumably the one JGS found the day previously.
Thursday night NTBC had an excellent talk delivered by Alan Davies & Ruth Miller from The Biggest Twitch, about their world record setting exploits during 2008. I had invited Alan & Ruth out the following day to do some birding whilst in the North East so I joined themn for breakfast around 06:30 on Friday (I offered them the option of a lie in but they declined preferring to make the most of the time to go birding).
First stop was East Chevington NWT, which was poor, a couple of Great Crested Grebes probably the pick of the birds here. Next up was Newton Scrapes as Tim Dean had been 'biggin them up' the night before, again much to our frustration we managed to pick probably the only morning in god knows how long that there hasn't been any waders. AD picked out a couple of overflying Ruff as we left.
Ruth picked out a Pied Flycatcher in the sycamores at Chare End, the Straight Lonnen held others as well as further numbers of Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart, Chiffchaff, and Garden Warbler. A Barn Owl moved off towards the Crooked Lonnen just yards away.
A passing birder had indicated a secondhand report of Firecrest in the Willows at the end of the Straight Lonnen, but several Redstart later a flushed Lapland Bunting was the best we could manage. More Redstart and Whitethroat occasionally appeared from isolated Hawthorns as we passed the Kilns back to the car.
A short look at the waders picked out good numbers of Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit, single Knot and an AD found adult Mediterranean Gull.
I worked Friday and Saturday in the thick of Autumn reporting, envious of the newly found Isabelline Shrike of the 'Daurian' race L i isabellinus in Hampshire and happy we got it out as a possible ahead of confirmation after pictures, rather than the slightly more cynical alternative of Red-backed Shrike that the competition ran with without any evidence.