Large parts of last month felt like a bit of a damp squib which is disappointing as October really shouldn't feel like that. The last few days have been providing ample compensation with a raft of decent birds although without a raft of decent images to highlight them.
Wednesday afternoon saw me scratching around the seaweed at Beacon Point trying in vain to find a pipit amongst the eight Rock Pipits that might vaguely resemble something of greater interest. A single Grey Plover amongst the Goldies stood out.
Thursday saw me and the weekend's hero head hopefully for Holy Island. Without turning up anything spectacular we had a steady stream of worthy birds including 3 Lapland Buntings, a Short-eared Owl, ringtail Hen Harrier, 3 Blackcaps and a Goldcrest. A short hop around to Goswick added Great Northern Diver, Long-tailed Duck, 3-4 Velvet Scoters and a nice Peregrine on a beach post.
I counted six Common Buzzards between the Lindisfarne garage and Morpeth, how times have changed.
Friday and I needed to do some Christmas shopping, though I did manage to 'twitch' the Prestwick Carr Great Grey Shrike, another Peregrine and 14 Bullfinch including one large-looking male. A detour back through Whitley Bay resulted in some gull action on the fields behind The Foxhunters where an adult Mediterranean Gull was the only real bit of quality unless you like Herring Gulls (which I do).
Work Saturday was a busy affair, the teeth marks in the desk telling all that needs to be told of the bird of the day. I relaxed at Bothal Pond as the sun went down, oblivious to the second coming further north but charmed by the pair of Goosander showing exceptionally well at the south end.
And so to today, a pre-arranged engagement with 'Urban Birder' David Lindo to explore some of Newcastle's urban edge nature reserves was hijacked by the continued presence of a couple of waders up at Hauxley. We took advantage of the clear roads and not so clear hide to ensure we both had a tick from the morning before feasting on the delights of Prestwick Carr, Killingworth Lake, Big Waters NR, Marden Quarry and Gosforth Park NR. Willow Tits, a Bittern, the pronounced genuine so it must be, Lesser Scaup and some woodland gems such as Nuthatch and Treecreeper kept the conversation flowing.
It will be 'Great' if David can add some much-needed 'Legs' and national weight to the campaign against housing in the areas surrounding Gosforth Park.
I can't end without offering this, I hope that when I'm as old as the finder of yon yellow-legged beauty I still get as excited and breathless as he was when he rang, because if I do it means I'll still be enjoying finding amazingly good birds as much as he obviously does and that is priceless.