Lesser Scaup, Dark Bellied Brent and raining snails!

22 Oct

Up early this morning and made a trip down the coast to Whitley Bay to see if the Lesser Scaup was still in residence at Marden Quarry and ended up extending my trip to St Mary’s Island as it was such a nice morning and the rest of the household were still in bed!

The sun was coming up over St Mary’s Lighthouse as I drove down so I had to stop to admire the view for a while.

Sunup over St Mary's

Then on to Marden Quarry (my first visit) and had a walk around the pound looking for the Scaup with no success at first – plenty of tufties, gadwall and a solitary pochard amongst the mallards, domesticated ducks, geese and swans. As I neared the end of my circle I found my quarry (so to speak) – the Lesser scaup was minding his own business on his own away from the other ducks and keeping well away from the edge, diving regularly and keeping an eye on me. The lake was however small enough for me to grab a few record shots.

Lesser Scaup

After watching the Lesser Scaup for a while I was treated by a fly past of the 1st Mute Swan squadron before they splashed down scattering the flotilla of ducks.

On to St Mary’s Island and my first sight was a flock of around 500 golden plovers wheeling and screaming in the air above the car park – an impressive sight. Among the rocks with the plovers were plenty of lapwings, turnstones, oystercatchers and a couple of rock pipits, however on the north side of the causeway I did a double take as there was a single dark-bellied brent goose with a pair of eider.



I’ve only ever seen pale-bellied brents in this region but this was definitely of the dark variety – I watched it for a while and got a few poor shots before it flew off inland.


A pair of bar tailed godwits and a curlew were wandering along the sand and in the edge of the water along with a handful of dunlin and turnstones.


A circuit of the wetland didn’t reveal a lot – a few gadwall and teal amongst the coots and swans on the water was pretty much it.

Walking along the promenade back towards the lighthouse I heard a loud crack – looking down I saw a crow trying to crack open a snail by dropping it on a rock. A second later another crack and a snail landed a few feet from me on the path – another crow was using the path as his anvil. I watched for a while as they continued with their bomb drops before heading back for breakfast.


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