Back at home this weekend, something which is becoming more regular.
I went up north early yesterday with S.H with Stag Rocks our intended destination. We had a quick and optimistic check of Hulne Park for Hawfinch on the way up but we were soon told to leave as a hunt was taking place at the park.
Before going to Stag we checked Budle Bay where the tide was out. A flock of Pink Footed Geese flew over but no Snow Goose amongst them or in the bay but plenty of Barnacle Geese. A single Goldeneye was swimming in the channel and Dunlin and Golden Plover were amongst the groups of Lapwing.
We checked the sea at Stag Rocks from the lower car park first. 30+ Purple Sandpipers were on the beach 13 Shag were on the rocks. A pair of Slavonian Grebes were very close in and gave excellent views as they dived together.
Although we were seeing some good stuff there was no sign of the Black Guillemot as we scanned every bird on the water between the shore and the Farnes. Bob Dack , also in search of the BG soon arrived and it wasn’t long until Steve found the Guillemot almost as close in as the Slavs.
It was an almost white first winter bird which preened itself and flapped its wings before fishing in front of us. It was so near that we went onto the beach so that Steve could get some record shots. The Purple Sands were also nearly at touching distance as we moved across the rocks. The Black Guillemot was soon joined by the two Slave grebes which made for an impressive sight. I’m glad I got such views of a good county tick, it saves going on a November pelagic to the Farnes one year.
We then moved to the top of the bank next to the golf club and scanned the sea from there. 9 Red Throated Diver were on the sea along with a huge number of Cormorants. A line of 10 Long Tailed Duck were doing some nice synchronized diving but I was surprised to see no Scoter or any Gulls.
After looking in the area around the Red throats BD soon found a Black Throated Diver- Lifer, which I just saw in time as it dived and exposed its large white thigh patch. When it resurfaced it was joined by another Black throat and the pair dived along side each other. A Great Northern Diver was soon spotted near them and I could see the size difference and features between the three species of Diver.
Our luck ran out after leaving Stag Rocks as a check of Monks House Pool provided nothing and there were no Corn Buntings at East Fleetham, which was not surprising.
There was nothing of note at either Arcot or West Hartford but I did get my first look at a Sinensis Cormorant during a Cormorant count at Blyth Harbour.