Sunday, 7 February 2010

Stonkin' Weekend

Me and my Chief Spotter went up north for the weekend, a slightly premature anniversary stop over at Doxford Hall, after five hours around Holy Island.  We arrived just after 11 am, to be met by a zillion Brent Geese, as well as the usual wader species.  I have been using my BlackBerry to access Birdguides via the net and this proved useful on Saturday as in my haste to get there and parked I missed the Little Egret, and also the two Black-tailed Godwits on the Rocket Field, both of which were reported whilst Mrs M and I were still there,  More later.

Anyway, checked out The Heugh first.  Plenty of Slavs, one RTD, a pair of RB Mergansers amongst others.  The harbour had year ticks for Rock Pipit and Bar-tailed Godwit.  The sea on the island's east coast was an Eider fest, but nothing of what I really wanted, GND, BTD or a RN Grebe.  As we neared The Lough, a pair of well-laden (kit, not girth!) birders were leaving and mentioned a male LT Duck.  In we went as Mrs M had never seen one and I had not on fresh water and in close view.  The light was superb, the bird perfect, but as usual, the cameraman was poor.

Next was trek to Emmanuel Head, with a few waders on't beach but little else.  Next stop, via The Somme, was a walk back via Straight Lonnen, and off to the right, a session of 'Two Crows vs Small Brown Bird' wing-to-wing combat, the out-numbered party off from its tree to sit on a nearby stone wall.  Eh voila, female Merlin! 

Rescanning the Rocket Field picked out the Black-tailed Godwits, who, after about five minutes, took to the skies with most of the other birds.  I could not see why, but my Spotter asked, 'What's that flapping around up there?'  Answer?  A male Peregrine (we're on a roll (and before we even got to the hotel!)). 

After a swift one in a local hostelry, and a sandwich or two, it was off to the causeway's west end, and the south side, for the Little Egret, again ably located by Herself.

After and evening's indulgence at the Hall (the food was 10/10), today broke with GSW in the trees outside our suite's window, and a Red Squirrel for good measure.  A good 90 minutes exploring added Nuthatch and Treecreeper, and on the lake at the back, Little Grebe.  And a family of Mute Swans followed us as we navigated the lake's muddy perimeter path.

Next, off the East Chev. on the way home, with little to see (except my first ever 'Stoat in ermine' - stunning!!), and then, after another BlackBerry consultation, The Pools for the four Smew.  Fortuitously, as we drove through the tight S bend, a couple of birders were watching the huge flock of geese to the west and my question from the car of 'Anything out of the ordinary?' was met with the reply, 'Two Bean Geese.'  Music to my ears - so a quick stop 'ticked' them.  Never had as good a view before.  Crackin'!

The Smew were still there, looking good, with many Tufties for company.

Home for 3 pm, and time for a wee sit before domesticity returns!

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