A double shift over at 15:30 on Thursday and within five minutes ADMc and I were aquaplaning north on news the WrP was present but not the KP. Arriving at the causeway we found one Northumberland birder looking like an extra from Glastonbury weekend, cold, wet and bedraggled. Within 30 minutes ADMC had picked out both star turns amongst the hundreds of Ringed Plovers, Dunlin and Sanderling. The Kentish Plover was a breath of fresh air, an immaculately plumaged male it brought a splash of the Med to a rather grey and overcast afternoon.
Woken by a text from Stewart who was 'smelling rares' this morning, we (that's ADMC and I) were soon back on the road with a rough plan of working down through Druridge Bay to Newbiggin. Starting out at Hauxley we worked through the village to the Ponteland Hide, a singing Lesser Whitethroat met us at the hide. A male Reed Warbler sang right of the hide then flew across the scrub on the south side where a couple of Wheatears stood forlornly in the rain. In the field behind two Whooper Swans and a single Pink-footed Goose. A quick stop at the Tern Hide produced a flyover Dark-bellied Brent adding to the winter revisited theme.
Further south East Chevington added a further four Reed Warblers and a food pass from the Marsh Harriers. An immature drake Goldeneye another leftover from winter. A single Short-eared Owl broke cover briefly. Seven Wheatears at Cresswell fuelled thoughts of migrants.
We tried a short seawatch at Newbiggin but a lone Manx Shearwater was scant reward though another 2 Wheatears here motivated us to try the golf course for the last half hour or so we had available. A few more Wheatears later we headed back to the car, a fortuitous move onto the dry track along the fence and after a few yards a bird flicked across in front of us. Expecting the ubiquitous Whitethroat we lifted bins to a pleasant surprise as a male Red-backed Shrike topped the fence. With precious little time available and a distinctly mobile bird I managed little more than a poor record shot and the thought that we are so much poorer not having this species as a more widespread breeder here in Britain.