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.