Saturday saw myself CS, JB, DMcG and TM take part in the Northumberland winter bird race for the first time. With a route in mind we started off at Fenham-le-moor at first light. Not much in the way of wildfowl compared to the sites usual standards but a few species ticked off with the highlights being a Peregrine flying north along the shoreline and a Long Tailed Duck south, although we missed the family party of Whooper Swans in a field nearby.
Little Egret and Greenshank were surprise additions in Budle Bay and we got most of our seabird targets from Stag Rocks. The highlights there were a Great Northern Diver, 6 Slavonian Grebes and a surprise Little Auk floating on the sea alongside a Guillemot!
After an hours detour inland we picked up a few more common birds before arriving at East Chevington. A Slavonian Grebe was diving on the north pool and whilst we watched, 8 Crossbill flew south. The Twite flock was in flight at Hemscotthill Links as were 6 Grey Partridge. The Greenland White Fronted goose at Woodhorn was viewable
Our next main stop was Horton Burn. No sign of the Dipper but eventually we located one of the Kingfishers. Whilst checking the boggy field on Pipe Lane near the old fire station we managed to flush 3 Jack Snipe along with 2 Common Snipe. All birds got up in separate parts of the field so three different ones were definitely seen.
We spent the rest of the afternoon fighting against the fading light and failing to locate any owl species at all despite searching numerous sights in north Tyneside.
We finished in last place on 98, which was quite good considering we missed some obvious species such as GS Woodpecker and Treecreeper. It was an enjoyable experience and showed another side to birding. Its just a shame that nobody else was around to see some of the species we saw as I am sure a few eyebrows were raised with reports of Little Auk and 3 Jack Snipe.