Saturday, 21 April 2012


Maybe it's an age thing, maybe it's just sheer laziness but I seem to have fallen into a pattern when visiting Newbiggin of needing to spend the first hour sea-watching. It certainly has nothing to do with insight into optimum weather conditions, I'm equally as likely to park myself at Church Point in a north-easterly as I am in a light west wind. The latter of course flies in the face of conventional east coast sea-watching wisdom and the very occasional nugget of quality that this has unearthed over the years is hardly likely to change that. That leaves me happy enough in the quiet of the morning, safe in the knowledge that I'm only going to get crowded out about four days a year.
So without any real expectation other than perhaps a new tern or a year tick Manxie I did what I do, again this morning. For the best part of an hour it was what it was, a few Sandwich Terns, a steady trickle of Fulmars, a few Shags and some common wildfowl. Circumstances collided with expectations when two Arctic Terns moved south before I swung my scope a little south and caught sight of a grebe just as it dived. A minute or so later and said grebe turned into that occasional nugget of quality when it reappeared as an 18 carat summer plumaged Slavonian Grebe. Despite being relatively common in winter just 40 miles further up the coast Slavs have been surprisingly elusive at Newbiggin, and are far from guaranteed annually.
The golf course next, produced next to nothing, Chiffchaff on the Ash Lagoons and Wheatear on the practice area (only my second of the year) and some company from JGS. The new plantations held singing Willow Warbler and a Blackcap sang from brambles on the Mound.

With a four year old waiting expectantly for the taxi to dancing class I just had time to nip up the coast to Druridge Pools to look for Garganey, again with the same results as the last few days, nada, though at least on this occasion there was something new to look at in the form of an islandica Black-tailed Godwit. Not popular with some of the local Lapwings it was getting a bit of a chasing every now and again but did give me an excuse to crank up the new Iphone4 for some 'slightly less than before' dodgyscoping.

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