Saturday, 30 April 2011

Yesterday's Spectacle

Like many thousands of others I was up early yesterday. The camping chair was out as I found myself a prime position to sit and watch from as they passed by. I knew it was to be a long day so I even packed an extra cushion and some food. The weather was good and I was soon enjoying the spectacle of those on the move in smart black and white livery. It wasn't too long before I was joined by another observer keen to make the most of the day and avoid all things wedding.

With a brisk east breeze Newbiggin (where else?) was an obvious destination to check on any sea passage; good numbers of auks including a high percentage of Razorbills moved through (c.20 in 10 minutes); ADMc picked up our first Manx Shearwater of the year and a small movement of Red-throated Divers north punctuated the morning.

Castle Island up next and a drake Shoveler on the river, whilst four Common Swifts were my first this year, hawking for insects above the south bank trees with all three hirundine species present as well.

I headed south to Cambois, quiet for birds with two non-singing  Grasshopper Warblers and a Common Whitethroat the only notable sightings. Walking back along the old railway line I did however note some moths on the wing. Last year I 'found' a small colony of Lesser Treble Bar at this site. Struck me yesterday that it was still April (oh I'm bright) and to be honest I wasn't sure if the other (Treble Bar) didn't also occur here,so I texted TT the county moth recorder. Eventually after a few texts I went back to the car and trapped one, it's in the fridge pending pictures and proper identification. Either way it's the first April record in the county for either species and if it is Lesser Treble Bar as I suspect it's a good two weeks earlier than previous earliest.

I headed up the coast in the afternoon, the adult Black-tailed Godwit still on Cresswell Pond though I spent more time searching through the hirundines for non-existent Red-rumped Swallows. A couple of birders at the entrance to Druridge turned out to be watching a spanking male Black Redstart. Sadly I didn't take the camera with me as it was raining when I went back out so I had to improvise with a bit of Iphone-scoping.

After a quick look from the Budge screen, 2 Pintails still and a small number of Wigeon, I moved on to East Chevington chasing the earlier shower and that Red-rumped Swallow or perhaps a Black Tern. In the event I settled for some outstanding views of a flock of 15 Whimbrel feeding in a field south of the north pool. Parking in a gateway, using the car as a hide and simultaneously holding scope and phone produced perhaps the best result I've ever had digiscoping as they fed close to the gate until flushed by a calling Crow.


Skev said...

You can separate male Treble-bar and Lesser Treble-bar by the abdomen/claspers when viewed from the underside - long narrow and pointed in Treble-bar, short and curved inwards in Lesser. Forewing characteristics are not totally reliable, and both feed on St John's-worts. Of course it helps to have a picture or something to compare - see:

Vanellus said...

Oh well! Mobile phone and telescope and you still get a stonking picture of the Whimbrel. So much for my complaining that my poor shots were due to the rain.

alan tilmouth said...

Thanks Mark, the new Northumberland Moths site has an excellent comparison shot as well but I couldn't get an internet connection in the field! I'm 100% they're LTB now after looking more closely.

Fluke Andrew trust me!

Shields birder said...

Cracking shot of a Whimbrel scope and phone wise!..
Tried this out with a falcon...pants results.