The day started out quietly, another sea-watch session but a rising sun and lack of cloud made for difficult viewing. Sooty Shearwater and a couple of Arctic Skuas were all the first hour offered. By the time JGS arrived I was ready to stretch me legs so we headed around to the golf course. A couple of hours later the only decent birds of the day had been seen by ADMc (flyover Yellow Wags) and I decided to head home. As we chatted at the cars a Wheatear rose up over the willows and went straight over the estate.
In the car a quick check of the phone (whilst stationary guv) showed Birdguides messages about Greenish Warblers at St. Mary's and Tynemouth. Not trying hard enough I thought. I had to meet with a bird club member who was having key issues with the club's sea-watching hide at Seaton Sluice at 14:00 so I decided to head down and give the birds at Tynemouth a go figuring the site had less cover and would probably be the less popular of the two.
After three circuits of Tynemouth looking for parking it dawned on me that it was a Bank Holiday Weekend, add to that the Great North Cycle Ride Finish Line was about 300m from the location of the Greenish and you can imagine the scene. Luckily the pier was shut which seemed to be discouraging many people from walking the 300m stretch where presumably the Greenish had been early morning.
However I quickly seemed to become part of the Bank Holiday entertainment. First up a flame-haired lady of a certain age who was desperate for me to help identify the red-legged birds she saw regularly whilst on a lonely-looking-out-to-sea in a single lady kind of way vigil (Redshanks). Next up Chinese/Korean tourists who needed a picture taken with Tynemouth lighthouse in the background and appeared a little bemused that I was looking for leaf warblers, maybe it got lost in translation my Mandarin is a little rusty. Finally I hadn't been leaning on the fence for long when the two healthy looking lycra-clad twenty-somethings who had been further along the grassy knoll on all fours doing leg thrusts, did their level best to attract my attention by running up and down in front of me. Eventually after I stubbornly ignored them they came over to introduce themselves. Of course they disguised their interest by making a fuss of the dog but I've been around long enough to get the hint. Still got it....
Sadly despite all the comings and goings the one thing that never came and was most likely gone was the Greenish. I hung on but activity levels (birds) were low and when the sound of the Steel Drum band began meandering down from the Priory I decided it was time to leave.
Enough time for an hour at St. Mary's as a back-up so I headed slowly north. As expected this one, found by Jack Bucknall, was more popular and there was still a few of the great unwashed wandering the willows when I pitched up. Typically though not a sniff until an hour after I left; a Willow Warbler showed well not displaying any ill feeling about its apparent inclusion on one or two lists under a different name. C'est la vie!
Key problem resolved, the couple in question even had the decency to have a Wheatear nailed down on the cliffs for me so that I was at least able to raise my bins at something.