The 27th June was a very damp and grey day - not ideal for an intense day of birding. Way back at the start of the year I'd agreed to be part of a team of birders doing a big day - the original date in May was post poned twice through illness and injury, so the next available day was yesterday - possibly the worst weekend of the year - most birds have stopped singing, migrant numbers will have slowed up and I'll have been on nightshift, so my body clock is somewhat messed up.
Two members of the team were not strictly local - John B was part of my childhood birding crew and now resides in Yorkshire, while Iain lives and works in Norfolk, an old pal of Johns' from his RSPB wardening days at Minsmere.
Needless to say, John B and Iain were the keenest members of the team, and when Mark and I met them in a wet and misty Harthope Valley at 11:00, they had already been birding for just over 6 hours! They had already had 60+ species including black grouse in the South-west of the county, kingfisher and green woodpecker - alas their trip to Kielder was unsuccessful osprey-wise as the mist was too thick to see the nest which is rather distant from the viewpoint (~ 2 miles or so!!)
Harthope produced cuckoo, lesser redpoll, siskin, dipper, spotted flycatcher and redstart, but pied flycatcher and whinchat evaded us. Budle Bay held two little egret, pintail and wigeon while Stag Rocks offered or first puffin, common scoter, fulmar etc.
Fish and chips were nice at Seahouses and soon after we were enjoying little tern feeding at Beadnell along with common, sandwich and arctic tern. Mark was staying in the north of the county this weekend, so with large cucumber* in hand, he headed back to his digs. (*alleged purchase for evening meal)
Amble was med gull-less and the view to Coquet Island produced roseate tern. Hauxley NR added grey-lag goose and tree sparrow to the list and at East Chevington we were treated to a smashing summer plumaged spotted redshank on the south pool. One 1s little gull was on the north pool and an otter appeared briefly. Off the dunes at Druridge a single arctic skua harassed the terns and when we arrived at Cresswell at 18:00 it was found to be spoonbill-less.
Cresswell was my point of departure from John and Iain, I headed home for Glastonbury festival highlights on TV (lets' rock!) while they headed inland to try for nightingale.
So, despite the weather and the late date we had a smashing day - John and Iain ended up with respectable 112 species, although nightingale evaded them.