Saturday, 30 April 2011

Harrier up 'arry

This time yesterday, I was trapped in my house as Royal Wedding fever gripped the neighbours, leading to my drive being fenced off as the street party commenced. Sitting grumpily in the garden, unwilling to join in and unable to turn on any form of media in case - just like the Likely Lads - I found out the result, I promised myself a better day today.

So on another glorious day, a trip to Druridge Bay beckons. It truly is a beautiful day, clear blue skies, quite warm and the only thing of surprise is a stiff onshore wind forming some real noisy breakers offshore. East Chevington is the destination, where we decide on a wander around Chibburn. Its a great day with a few notable highlights, the first of which was watching a male smooth newt courting a shy female in the small lagoons. Nearby the water is black with a tadpole tide, inky black fluttering - literally thousands of frog tadpoles. Nearby, linnets and sky lark greet the sky with playful song, while sedge warblers vocalise stridently from cover, occasionally revealing themselves with a brief leap into the sky, before parachuting into hiding. At least 8 territories in a small area, with a couple of grasshopper warblers also calling from even deeper cover. Pausing to watch a couple of heavily laden sandwich terns flying overhead, we get the first view of marsh harrier, cruising along the dune edge and heading north. A few minutes later we note a second bird, this time over the lake, this one harrasing a persistant crow that is obviously getting too close for comfort.

We spend a pleasant half hour watching the sedge warblers, also picking up grey partridge and a lush pair of shoveller before deciding to wander off. Climbing a stile, I note a large white bird dropping onto the water just out of view. Tom picks it up again and we are able to tick Great White Egret, very flighty but clearly visble for a few minutes before it relocates into the reeds.

The Bay is busy today, such a lovely day seems to have brought out a variety of people. None are more curious than the  "meerkats" on the dunes, a group of eight men, in various states of undress bobbing up and down at intervals throughout our visit. What a lot of "cocks".

Having watched Sandwich Terns regularly drifting overhead, we were really pleased to note 33 on the main lake at East Chev, mostly bathing but occasionally fishing in the shallows. For me, these birds were the best of the day as their presence shows just how much more integral the site is becoming in respects of a working ecosystem, connecting with the breeding sites offshore. Despite the many criticisms I hear about the site (justified in terms of hides maybe), the wildlife here seems unconcerned, going about its business without worry.

To top off the visit, we have another good view of the GW Egret on Chibburn, feeding majestically along the pond edge. As it flew from view, three birders show up. Greeting them with a cheerful "hello", we must have been made of glass as they looked straight through us. It was therefore strangely rewarding to inform them of their near miss. Say hello next time - just because you have swarovski's doesn't excuse politeness.

Monday, 18 April 2011

It's back...............

Forgive me - I never seem to have the time - but's its back by popular demand!
Cracking day out spent on the fisheries patrol vessel, chugging around between the Tyne and Craster today, in search of cetaceans. With a sea like a millpond, it was perfect conditions for spotting anything and sure enough we did - but far less than we hoped. 4 Harbour Porpoise heading south were the only cetaceans but the birds made up for it with a nice manx shearwater and later a pomerine skua, the highlights. There were loads of puffins, guillemots, razor bills and gannets, with a small number of fulmar skimming the waves so effortlessly (how do they DO that!). Oddly, two rock pipits turned up chasing each other around the boat about 1.5 miles offshore! One or two common terns about and two terns sitting on a bit of flotsam off Coquet Island fooled me in thinking they were Roseates (but its way too early) so not sure what they actually were.

A grand day, in good company and many thanks to the crew for being so hospitable.