This weekend has mostly been taken up with Jubilation… some time back I was persuaded by the good lady wife to apply for tickets for the Diamond Jubilee Concert… and then subsequently I was surprised to find I’d been one of the lucky 5,000 out 1.5m that got the tickets.
Even more surprising given that I have “previous” within the walls of Buckingham Palace – luckily I seem not to be on a blacklist.
Anyway.. birding opportunities were limited to gross generalisations :
- Buzzards are on the increase massively. I’ve never seen buzzards close to London but I had4 sightings within the M25 circle this weekend
- Ring-necked parakeets are also on the march. My kind host for the weekend lives in Surrey (Ewell) and had previously had regular visits from parakeets however in his new home he’d not had any sightings on 12 months. I managed three sightings from his kitchen in two mornings.
Other good birds this weekend emerged as we drove to pick up the little un who had spent the weekend with the grandparents and managed an osprey near Scaling Dam (host to a single male for most of last summer) followed by a merlin on the moors.
Minimal time to watch birds but an interesting weekend all the same.
I had a quick run out this morning, as much as the biting December wind would allow a man who accidentally left his coat at home!
Having heard of european white fronted geese at Woodhorn flash I stopped off in the layby before Woodhorn and checked out the large group of grey geese grazing in the field. They were not too distant but the light wasn’t great and the wind made it hard to get a steady view and pretty much all I could make out were greylags and a few mute swans. One goose at the very back of the group looked a little different and after some time waiting for something other than its back to become visible I was able to get a view of a white flash on its face. I took a couple of shots just so I could blow them up and take a look at home and sure enough the white face and barred chest were quite visible if a little blurry.
I then drove up along the coast and parked at snab point and had a scan of the sea – nothing much offshore other than a handful of eider and a great black backed gull. The sun was out though and the beach was quiet so I headed down onto the sand and walked along to where a couple of groups of waders were enjoying the temporary absence of dog walkers.
First up was a group of Oystercatchers stood with their backs to the incoming tide making a comical sight as every now and then a surge would sent them sprinting in a line for relative safety.
Further down a small group of redshank and a pair of dunlin were trying to get some shut-eye.
Having a kip
At the end of the beach amongst the seaweed that was being washed by the rising tide 20 or so turnstones were rooting around along with more dunlin, a couple of knot and a pair of purple sandpipers.
Three for the price of one
Nothing much stirring further away from the encroaching tide – just a pair of pied wagtails.
At Cresswell teal and wigeon were in abundance either side of the causeway, and a small group of dunlin were investigating the shallows. A stunning male stonechat was very visible taking up prominent perches around the car park.
Further up the coast at Amble the biting wind was almost enough to send me back to the comfort of the car but I wanted to have a quick circuit of the piers and the beach to see if there were any mediterranean gulls hanging around (there weren’t!). Just a handful of turstones picking around in the seaweed and eider and black headed gulls floating on the calm sea. A solitary great-black backed gull eyed me suspiciously from his perch on the beach near the end of the pier.
By that point though I was ready for some warmth and a cuppa so it was back to the car and heading for home. I did have a common buzzard just outside of Amble and a heron perched by the roadside that made an ungainly vertical takeoff and flop over the hedge into a field as I approached.