One of the pioneers of seawatching at Newbiggin used to call it 'The Golden Hour' - an hour late afternoon that was the most promising of the latter part of the day for rare and scarce seabirds.
Having discharged my responsibilities as a parent doing the end of term performance, leaver's assembly and barbecue complete with a barbaric parents v kids netball game (I chickened out), I acted on the lunchtime weather forecast showing light winds but at least with arrows in the right direction.
The sea was too calm for seawatching to be serious and a small trickle of Manx Shearwaters over the next 20 minutes reinforced the point. Then about 800m out moving north just beyond the flag line another shearwater lacking the obvious white underparts of the previous eight, staying low, hugging the waves and dispensing with the showy shears my first Balearic Shearwater of the year moved north.
A few minutes later the only Great Skua of the session muscled through at 600-700m range followed ten minutes later by a single pale morph Arctic Skua that skimmed the rocks as it went by before joining two more in the north bay; the three patrolled extracting fish with menaces as far down as the Wansbeck Estuary