Sunday, 20 July 2008

Northumberland weekend

I spent the weekend in Northumberland. The main reason was for Angela to run the Northumberland Coastal Run, from Beadnell to Alnmouth. We stayed in Seahouses from where we intended to head over to The Farne Islands.

Saturday 19 Jul 08
Still being the official breeding season, the first boats don't go over to The Farnes until midday, so we booked ourselves on the last boat of the day (2pm) and spent the Saturday morning on Holy Island. Not much birdwise and as the day progressed the weather got increasingly wet and windy. My fears were realised when we turned up at Seahouses harbour at 2pm only to find out all the boats were cancelled. I spent the evening birding between Alnmouth and Budle Bay. Alnmouth was great with a big tern flock loafing on the south side of the river mouth. In the flock there was at least 6 adult Roseate Terns which flew around calling quite a lot.
At Budle Bay the tide was out, but there were plenty of birds on the mudflats, which included plenty of Redshanks, a couple of Common Sandpipers, Dunlin and a single Greenshank.
As the evening wore on I turned my attention to the gathering gulls to find a very pale looking large gull with no obvious signs of and solid dark markings. I moved round the bay to get a closer look and risked the quicksand by walking out onto the mud to get a better look at the gull.
My first impression was that it was a 2nd-summer Iceland Gull, but on closer inspection I'm not sure if I can rule out leucistic Herring Gull. Some photos and a short video is below.

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4

Sunday 20 Jul 08
The good news of the day was that Angela finished her 14 mile beach run in well under 2 hrs. Unfortunately, that was the only good news as a quick phone call to Seahouses revealed that the northerly wind and the subsequent large swell had cancelled all the sailings to The Farnes.
Oh well - there's always next year!

Sunday, 13 July 2008

North Norfolk Coast

Headed off to Titchwell again this morning, then tried to take in a few raptors on the way home.
The number of birds to have dropped at Titchwell, most notable by its' absence was Little Gull. The 40+ birds that were present a 2 weeks ago have now dropped to just a couple of birds. The numbers of Ruff have increased to about 15 birds (all males) and there were plenty of adult Black-tailed Godwits. The best bird was a summer-plumaged Red-necked Grebe on the sea. An Arctic Skua was also offshore.

On the way home I stopped off at the Montague's Harrier site where I had 1 male and 2 females. They were showing every 15-20 minutes or so. A female sat up on a distant fence post (see video below) and a male circled over my head.

Male Montague's Harrier

Female Montague's Harrier video

Finally, I stopped off at Gt. Ryburgh raptor watchpoint, but the Honey Buzzards weren't putting on a show. Plenty of Hobbies though, with about 5 at a time hawking over the hidden pools between the watchpoint and the woods. 3 Common Crossbills were an unexpected bonus as they flew by and spent a minute at the top of one of the pines.