Tuesday, 6 November 2012

No Fireworks -5 November

Tempted as I was by the Nanny Dowitcher, I decided to give it a miss as I wasn't in the mood for a crowd this morning. With the kids back at school I needed some space and this morning's combination of frost underfoot and an autumn blue sky put in me mind of some empty beaches.

Last year the dunes and salt marsh on the south side of the Aln turned up trumps for ADMc and I with a Shorelark. There was to be no repeat this morning, Stonechats were ten a penny though. At least three were around Church Hill (the one with the cross) and a further three were around 1.5km further south in bracken behind Birling Carrs.

The beach was pleasantly devoid of people, and offshore there was a not so pleasing lack of activity too, six Red-throated Divers counted between the estuary mouth and Birling Carrs and a couple of Shags were all I could locate on a fairly flat sea. Four Pied Wagtails on the beach and a flushed Meadow Pipit in the dunes before we happened on a sizeable finch flock, mostly Linnets with a few Greenfinches and the odd Reed Bunting for a bit of variation. As I returned north a flock of 220 Pink-feet flew noisily overhead.

Next stop Boulmer and a walk north to Longhoughton Steel. I spent a half hour chasing after a calling pipit on the tide-line that flew ahead of me,  convinced the call was that of Water Pipit. I lost it amongst rocks and despite searching could only find Rock Pipits, at least one of which was one of those pale, less streaked, yellow-billed autumn littoralis that we can't identify. On the north side of the point four Twite were on wires before dropping to feed then flying north towards Sugar Sands.

After a refuelling stop at local moth hotspot Longhoughton Spar we (the dog and I) headed back south. I spent the last hour with the wind farm gull flock again that were close to the road at a small pool at the east end of the main turbine field this afternoon. A 2nd-winter Mediterranean Gull and the Herring Gull pictured below were the only points of interest. The HG appears to me to be a 3rd-winter with retarded (and hence bleached) plumage, the combination of lemon iris, sub-adult-like bill and pale plumage producing a striking look on a bird plumaged thus.. Alternatively it's a pale 2nd-winter with advanced bill and eye, have it whichever way you like really.


Pete Woodruff said...

I'm particularly interested in your finding at least 6 Stonechat - local birds/migrants? - virtually wiped out in my area/s since the past two harsh winters, I'm waiting for a comeback....your record made my day.

Two excellent photographs by the way, especially the top one.

Alan Tilmouth said...

Reckon they're local breeders Pete, we lost a lot of breeding birds too over those winters but this Autumn numbers seem to have recovered some ground.