Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Birdwatching from the car

An attack of shingles has laid me low for a week, so yesterday I decided to get some fresh air and test the extent of my recovery.

Not being able to stagger very far, I drove to Snab Point car park, sat on a camping chair and sea watched for two hours.

In spite of the forecast being showers and a howling gale, the sun shone throughout the day and the wind from the west dropped occasionally to make use of my scope just possible.

The tide was coming in and a large number of gulls rested on the water just off the rocks. Mostly Black Headed, but a few Herring, LBB and Common. A lot of juveniles. Waders flitted around, disturbed by the occasional dog walker and spooked by a passing Kestrel. No sign of Purple Sandpipers, but good views of Ringed Plovers, Dunlins, Redshanks, Turnstones, Oystercatchers, Sanderlings and Curlews.

Out to sea a few Kittiwakes danced like marionettes above the waves. Two juvenile Gannets hunted back and forth, occasionally making a shallow dive. Lots more gulls were active, with the wind making them bank and dip Shearwater like. Beyond certain identification range a small number of probable Manx Shearwaters passed by.

Although the wind was in the wrong direction for pushing birds towards land from the east, I still hoped for a few Skuas and Shearwaters. I see from Bird Forum that Pomarine Skuas were seen in Northumberland yesterday, but they eluded me. Only a single Red Throated Diver, but in near breeding plumage, so an attractive addition to the day’s list. I also saw only one Common Scoter; female. A handful of Eiders passed by, their usual rather heavy flight assisted by a following wind.

I then drove up to sea watch for a while at Hadston Carrs (or Scaurs as the boating club calls the area). More BH Gulls but otherwise quiet. Robins and Wrens ticked and squabbled in the bushes.

A quick trip up the lane to East Chevington produced more birdwatchers than birds. On the return leg I viewed around seventy Curlews around Hemscott Hill. A scan of Creswell Pond from the road produced Teals and Mallards; the water level is still high and likely to remain so until a JCB visits. Lapwings are present in good numbers all along the coast.

A further half hour stint at Snab Point, this time from the car, armed with a very useful window bracket for my scope, produced around sixty Geese coming from far out to sea and heading south. From their size and bulk I would guess Pinkfeet. By now the tide was in and turning, so very few waders present.

On the way home, a flock of around sixty Golden Plovers flew over the fields just inland from Newbiggin.  


  1. Shingles is a particularly nasty condition Andrew so hope you are fully recovered.
    I was at Snab Point the week before in howling E/ NEasterlies and could barely open the car door.
    Nice account and hope you can get out more.

  2. Hi Johnny, thanks for the sympathy. I am taking longer to recover than I hoped. The day out was supposed to be a prelude to returning to work, but it looks as though it will take a few more days.