Friday, 26 September 2014

Tuesday 23rd November .Barnacles Galore!

This was my first trip to Holy Island for some weeks,and after the recent East winds and haar ,we felt we may be in for some exciting spots.
The Causeway is currently under repair with considerable delays,so ,when we had finally parked, we headed off towards the Straight Lonnen which was unproductive apart from a pair of Goldcrest.
The Crooked Lonnen was more interesting  with a female Redstart,and a surprisingly large flock of young Reed Buntings.Goldfinches were in evidence everywhere.
Off to the Lough,where we spotted a Wheatear, while on the pond itself were  four pairs of Gadwall and a Little Grebe amongst the Teal ,Moorhen ,Coot and solitary Grey Heron.
Time and tide waits for no man or woman and it seemed we had scarcely arrived before it was time to face an even longer queue through the roadworks back to Beal.
On the causeway we pulled in to have a closer look at three Little Egrets.Spotting our scope,we were approached by a visitor from Birmingham on his first visit to the area.Please could he have a look at the Egrets?No problem!He then asked if I had noticed the hundreds of Oyster Catchers to the North.Turning the scope we found the Oyster Catchers were in fact Barnacle Geese -about three and a half thousand in fact and with them ,a pure white Goose!A Snow Goose!(later confirmed by the Natural England Senior Ranger Andrew Craggs who happened to be passing!)
We had planned to finish the afternoon at the Fenham le Moor hide but Andrew asked if we could stay and note where the Barnacle Geese headed when  the tide came in.
The flock of 3-4 thousand geese who were just off Beal Point were gradually joined by more and more newcomers ,all paddling and swimming  in the incoming tide.Another huge flock arrived and we thought the original number had probably doubled to about 6 or 7 thousand.Periodically they took off and noisily circled before returning to the water.
During this time small groups of Brents headed North flying low above the water  while high above us skeins of Pink Feet flew in.
Finally as the tide rose,so did the Barnacle Geese and the sky above us suddenly darkened as we were treated to a fantastic,noisy,awe inspiring flyover of 7 thousand or so in full voice!An unforgettable few minutes!
After noisily circling a few times they settled in an adjacent stubble field and after another five or so minutes,all was quiet!
What an experience!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Pinkfeet fly over

There's nothing quite so evocative of September as the calls of the geese as they fly in from the North in their thousands. This morning the sky was full of skeins of 'Pinkfeet'- hundreds of birds in long straggling V-formations high in the sky coming in from the coast over Glendale, calling excitedly to each other. There's always a little thrill whenever you re-connect with that magical sound! True, the the swallows are still busy flying around the house feeding up for their long migration south, but the arrival of the geese suggests we're only days away from the departure of the hirundines.
               Earlier in the week, it was the Barnacle Geese which were moving through, briefly stopping over in their thousands near Lindisfarne en route to the Solway.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Holy Island 21st september

Having been on Holy Island 3 times in the last week and being gluttons for punishment we decided to go back again today. The numbers were well down on our last visit, no Red Backed Shrike, Yellow-browed Warblers or Greenish Warbler this time, but we were still treated to an elusive Firecrest in Alders beside the Lough along with a much more obvious Siberian Stonechat on a fence nearby.
The willows at the end of the Straight Lonnen held a Common Redstart and a Lesser Whitethroat, an Arctic Skua menaced Gannets off Emmanuel Head and in the Vicar's garden Spotted Flycatchers were joined by a gorgeous Wood Warbler.
Our day was made complete with a first for our garden in the form of yet another Lesser Whitethroat.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Fenham Flats again

Fenham Flats again
The year moves on and WeBS for September was today, the sky was clear and there was a warmth to the air. As happened last month the first birds picked out were a small group of 3 Little Egrets and as I moved out to the point more birds made their presence known, including a single Greenshank as it "chew,chew,chew'd" overhead. More unusual for the site was a single Green Sandpiper in the dunes, when I reached the point I was greeted with the sight of a huge flock of 770 Oystercatchers on the sand, on the island just offshore were gathered a mixed flock of 354 Bar-tailed Godwits and 222 Redshank along with smaller numbers of Knot,Eiders and yet more Oystercatchers. A noisy interlude was provided by 21 Arctic Terns and a small group of 5 Little Terns. As I headed back I could hear an unmistakable sound which heralds the  autumn as a flock of 340 Pale-bellied Brent Geese landed on the flats, this autumnal feel was reinforced by the sight of 940 Wigeon on the water near Elwick hide, what other time of year could you get Arctic Terns and Brent Geese on the same walk.