Thursday, 23 January 2014

Putting a gloss on a damp day

A belated report from Saturday 18th January.

I decided to do a twitch - in the pouring rain and mist - in spite of a long history of mainly unsuccessful twitching.

Besides the chance of a Grey Phalarope, I had been told that the large number of Scoters at Bamburgh contained a few Velvets. I saw a single Velvet Scoter in Sweden in the 1970's but, in spite of seeing many large flocks of Scoters over the years, I have never seen a UK Velvet.

I arrived at 10:15 and it rained hard until about 11:45. I sat in the car scanning the sea, with all of the interesting stuff requiring me to try a search directly towards the driving rain. Anyone seen windscreen wipers for binoculars?

As the rain abated a flock of over 200 Scoters flew past - not a patch of white in sight! No sign of a Phalarope either. I had quite a few fleeting views of unidentifiable little waders that looked grey, but then most things looked grey in the mist and rain.

Although my twitch failed (no surprise there then), there were at least ten Long Tailed Ducks, with six splendid male birds that made the trip very worthwhile. A single Great Northern Diver proved very adept at sitting obediently on the surface when I looked through my binoculars and diving out of view as soon as I raised my scope.

Several Gannets were present and small numbers of Red Throated Divers and apair of Mergansers were just visible among the waves. Both Shags and Cormorants were quite close in as the tide rose and there was a single Great Crested Grebe. On the rocks a good mixture of waders included a few Purple Sandpipers.

It was good to see a hand full of Kittiwakes accompanying Black Headed, Common, Herring and Great Black Backed Gulls. A single Fulmar was also present.

By midday it was still quite dark so I headed south to call by Cresswell and Lynemouth on the way home.

The new lake to the west of Widdrington held a single Great Crested Grebe and a pair of Mergansers.

The north field at Cresswell held over 50 Curlews, 20 Redshanks and 30 Dunlins. A hundred or so Lapwings flew in from the north and circled around for some time before settling on the spit. At least 500 Wigeons flew back and forth between the north field and the pond. A single Whooper slept on the pond. The hide was not visited, but I could see a good mix of Mallards, Teals, Goldeneyes and Tufties.

As I approached the flash at Lynemouth I could see some scopes trained on the field before the flash. Among a large group of Jackdaws a single Glossy Ibis probed busily. It seemed to be finding plenty of worms. Every so often the Jackdaws launched in an excitable frenzy. Upon these events the Glossy would raise its head as if to say "What's all the fuss" and then return to probing unconcerned.

Following the excellent views of Glossy that visited Druridge a couple of years or so ago it was good to be reacquainted with a bird that I and it seems many others suspect will become ever more present in this country. Yet another candidate for breeding on the Somerset Levels?

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