Sunday, 1 May 2022

End of April update...

Two and a half months since my last post, mostly because with the longer daylight hours, I'm trying to bird when I can.

Instead of going through everything, I'll pick out the highlights:


During awful conditions on 08 Mar on a post-work seawatch, a brute of a 1w Glauc flew N, a patch tick at the time and a real reward for heading out in the conditions.

A sense of the conditions from the pic quality

Fast-forward to Sunday 24 Apr where I had most of the day to spend on the patch. Tonnes of Gulls of all sizes were moving N, in tricky backlit conditions. I picked up a really pale immature Glauc coming N off Seaton Point before it settled on the sea to my N in-line with the sun. I had to head off, and was soon gripped by Mark who ended up having 2 different Glaucs N and an 2cy Iceland milling around. 

Glauc #1 for the day

I headed back in the afternoon, and with the tide out found it tricky to grill the northbound gulls in the haze, but did pickup a dark, heavily moulted 2cy Glauc sat on Longhoughton Steel, which promptly flew N - another new bird! I returned late evening and incredibly found 2 immature Icelands and another Glauc, this a much darker 2cy without the heavy moult.

Glauc #2...

...notice the extensive moult

Distant Iceland Gull #2, the smaller one

Pretty unprecidented stuff, and not reflected anywhere else to the north or south! Overall me and Mark think there were at least 4 Glaucs (probably 5) and 3 Icelands seen after comparing notes and pictures.

Ring Ouzel

The Boulmer area is great, but something it doesn't have a lot of is decent cover, so the chances of passerines dropping in and sticking are slim: this was demonstrated perfectly by the stunning male Ring Ouzel I had on 16 Apr. I'd done one round of Seaton Pt with nothing but a few Wheatears and Chiffs to show, and was heading back towards the carpark when a distinctive call alerted me to a Ring Ouzel dropping onto the top of the seaside hedge just north of the 'point'. I was straight away hounded by a couple of Mipits, and readjusted itself closer to me, allowing for some nice views, before shooting low across the field inland onto another hedge, before the same happened and it disappeared westwards.

Male Ring Ouzel...

...and gone

In total, this patch tick was present for no longer than a couple of minutes, so it definately shows how much must head straight inland for more cover and is missed.

Slav Grebe

I'd never seen a summer plumaged Slavonian Grebe before, and it wasn't really on my radar on the afternoon of 19 Mar: I picked up a grebe close in, and on initial views I thought Black-necked, but as it came closer I changed my mind. A nice bird to get, especially in full summer plumage, and it came on a day with my first Velvet Scoter, GN Diver and Chiffchaffs. 

Great Northern Diver

Distant Velvet speeding north

Ropey phonescope but you get the idea

Other bits and pieces (in no order):

  • Snow Bunting - several singles seen over the past couple of months, possibly all the same bird and never stopping long enough to see on the deck.

Different days, the same bird?
  • Avocet - again several records, with a pair even dropping onto the village mere before it dried up.
  • Black Redstart - I'd put plenty of miles into looking for one of these during a national influx, all for a 10 second view of a female on top of one of the cottages that I never saw again. Worth it.
Female-type Black Redstart

  • Egyptian Goose - Spending a few hours around the Aln looking for Herons and Crakes, I picked up an Egyptian Goose flying north one evening, dropping down around Foxton Bends. A real hard one to get this far north.
They all count.
  • Blue-Headed Wagtail - a bit of a letdown of a vismig on 20 Apr (given what Ross had at Budle) was highlighted by a superb male Blue-headed Wagtail south, picked up in the scope low of oil seed rape.
  • Hooded Crow - One high N on the morning of 30 Apr was nice to get out of the way.
Pretty distant, and tricky to pickup in the scope nevermind the camera
  • 'Limosa' Black-tailed Godwit? - Three Godwits on the pool by the cricket pitch on the Aln contained one much bigger, striking bird. I took some pics and sent it to some experts, but unfortunately despite looking the part grey females are just too tricky without a summer feather to be sure.

  • Owls - Thanks to some gen, I'm now just left needing Long-eared, which I'll have a search for around June.

A fly through Short-eared Owl on the Aln got lots of attention

There's been loads of other good stuff that I've either forgotten to put here or would just make the post too long. As of 30 Apr I sit on 157 for the 5km radius '#LocalBigYear' list, which is pretty good going I reckon, currently topping the Northumberland charts, though I'm sure I'll slip back as rarities get found at other sites. 

The area, vast majority of time spent around Boulmer

It's been great fun, and adding in the Aln Estuary area has opened lots of windows for species I would otherwise struggle with. Given I got to 197 in 2020 in 8 months just at Boulmer, I'm optimistly now changing my target to 215 for the 5km radius.

Here's all the extra pics I like:

White Wag

The semi-resident PB Brent Goose


Some of over 1300 Common Gulls N one evening

Whimbrel, Redshank and Greenshank in the Aln

A fairly late Fieldfare enjoying the Sun

1 comment:

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