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!

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