On our way to Holy Island, Alison and I passed by the field near Doddington where thirteen Whooper Swans (including two immature birds) have taken up residence. A walk along the cycle path on the far side of Doddington Bridge took us past some little flocks of buntings, predominantly Reed Buntings and Yellowhammers, towards the unmistakable sound of the Pink-footed Geese. What a spectacle, what a sound, as more and more whiffle down from the sky to join the others, massed in their thousands at their traditional wintering grounds in Glendale.
Holy Island, with its promise of an ‘elusive’ Cattle Egret, lived up to that promise- i.e. it eluded us on arrival and departure, having also managed to elude several other hopeful birders we met on our visit. There are plenty of hiding places in the ditch and other ‘blind’ areas for this unmistakable beauty to disappear around its temporary home along the Crooked Lonnen. Luckily there were plenty other birds to lighten up our day, including four Slavonian Grebes, a couple of Red-throated Divers, and a Short-eared Owl hunting along the sheltered southern side of the Heugh, trying like us to avoid the bitter northerly wind. Twenty-one Pale-bellied Brent Geese were gathered together in a tidal pool east of the Castle, and Lapwings, Curlews and Teal were showing to advantage in the Rocket Pool, catching the winter sunshine. Two more Short-eared Owls were encountered on our drive back from the village, and a close view of a Long-tailed Duck in the Causeway Channel was a final bonus.