Sunday, 30 January 2011

North Northumberland Winter Birding

There's not much better than early morning birding in north Northumberland for a bit of atmosphere. I had arranged another trip out The Farnes with Andrew Douglas at Serenity Tours but as we weren't due to head out until 10:30 so I headed up early and used the time to do some birding around Lindisfarne NNR and Budle Bay.

With the tide just dropping the NNR was full of birds, I'll just concentrate on what was new for the year for me, a covey of 15 or so Grey Partridge fed on saltmarsh above the tideline and my main quarry the Lindisfarne Pale-bellied Brent Geese were present in good numbers with occasional small group flybys providing excellent close views.
I moved south to Budle Bay where five Shoveler were amongst the host of other wildfowl in the bay. I spent much of the time here focussed on Teal searching for something rarer but without success. Seahouses harbour quickly added Rock Pipit to the tally, though the small groups of displaying Common Eider are always attention grabbing if you have a camera. I've played about with the sea tones in the shot below.

Never having 'done' The Farnes in January I didn't expect too much, Guillemot numbers were in the tens of thousand and as ever an awesome spectacle, we managed to find a single Razorbill tucked away on a ledge and two Peregrines perched on man-made structures on different islands. A count of over 50 Purple Sandpipers was half decent.
The constant movement of Guillemots to and from the islands offered the opportunity of flight shots and the combination of the calm seas and the steadiness of Serenity's twin hulls was a great base to shoot from.

The Shags look superb in their full breeding plumage and a few were obviously paired off with a bit of display and one carrying nesting material.

This trip probably provided the best views of the largest number of Grey Seals I've ever had out here with seemingly every patch of ground covered in various shades of seal. The journey back added a small pod of Harbour Porpoise as an extra bonus.

I stopped in at one of the large less watched sandy bays further south as I drove home and picked up four Great Crested Grebe together close in and 11 Red-throated Divers most further out on calm seas.


The Wessex Reiver said...

Great posting, loved the guillemot shots and the atmospheric one of the island too. Farnes in January must have been superb in those conditions.

Great raven photos to on a posting a few days ago. Nice one.

Johnnykinson said...

Nice. Those Shags are stunners. Not too sure about the Eiders water though.