Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Weekend camp

A quick catch up report on the last two weeks

I took a day off on Friday 24th June and we set camp at Dunstan Hill.

Friday was mostly rather damp, but the evening saw some sunshine and we walked up the beach from the car park above High Newton to Long Nanny tern colony.

Whilst Long Nanny cannot come anywhere near to rivaling the Farnes for views of terns, it is non the less a very rewarding place to visit. We saw masses of Arctic Terns but picked out no Little Terns. There were lots of young terns and a considerable age range. Some young were at the juvenile stage and actively flying after their parents, begging for food. At the other end of the scale, small chicks, like pom poms from a child's hat, sat open beaked in expectation that their parents will pick them out from the crowd. There was a constant stream of terns flying out to sea for food and the same applied to those returning with food, that mainly looked like sand eels. It was interesting to note that outgoing birds flew low, with the food carriers coming back at a higher altitude. Air traffic control is not a human phenomenon!

None of the Arctic Terns took a fancy to my bald pate, but one or two seemed to be sizing me up for a peck at one stage. For those not familiar with the colony, there is a warden's hut and a boundary fence. The hut can be visited for good views of the colony.

We also saw two Ringed Plover families, the young also like pom poms, but on long legs. Back towards Newton a few more Ringed Plovers, including a well grown juvenile.

A Saturday walk south along the edge of Embleton golf course to Dunstanburgh Castle brought us to the cliffs below the castle and excellent views of Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Common Guillemots and Shags. It was noticeable that the Kittiwakes on the better ledges had larger chicks. We presumed that those on less favoured nesting sites had started later, having lost out on the best sites.

The dominance of Razorbills over Guillemots indicates the competition for suitable open ledges from Kittiwakes and the Razorbills' ability/preference for nooks and crannies.

On Sunday, our trip home was a meander down the coast calling at East Chevington; good views of the female Harrier and a brief glimpse of the male, plus three Spotted Redshanks and a good mixture of terns.

The final stop was at Cresswell Pond. Six Little Gulls, including one with a nearly complete black cap. The Avocets were hiding and uncharacteristically quiet.

The weekend just past was spent on a trip to Cardiff for a relative's Golden Wedding, so no more than a Buzzard count - 9 travelling south and four on the return journey.

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