As expected, I pointed the car south today, picking up Mark prior to a quick stop-off at Cousin Robs' former patch to see the four little egret that had arrived earlier in the week.
Part of a mini-invasion to the region these four represent the first record for Shibton Pond and birds 2 - 5 for the Gateshead area (a colour ringed bird on the River Derwent has also been recorded recently - it was a juv from Norfolk that had been recorded at Bishop Middleham previously).
So a good start, albeit if the birds were un co-operative photograph wise, choosing to roost on the island throughout our visit. A lone barnacle goose looked thoroughly out of place with the canada goose flock.
Teesside was the next destination, and in true form I've continued my inability to photograph whiskered tern in the UK... This was my 4th encounter but my first juvenile, having seen adults at Pennington Flash (Greater Manchester), Lound (Notts) and three at Swillington Ings (Dipping collared pratincole, North Yorks).
Got out the car at the reclaimation pond, climbed the bank and promptly had the bird fly low over our heads off to to Saltholme. At Saltholme the bird was roosting distantly on the west pond, so we took opportunity for a cooked breakfast at the visitor centre.
Upon our return we discovered that the tern was back on the reclaimation pool, so that's where we headed. Good but distant views continued as the tern fed over the water (in company with a 1s little gull), and eventually the bird came in close - one unsatisfactory soft focus shot on approach (above) then I was completely unable to achieve focus lock on the camera as it drifted slowly over our heads again.... grrr!!!, much cursing followed.
The tern then settled distantly onto Dormans Pool - and with that we moved on - this was not going to be a good day for rarity images!
Saltholme was quiet - one little egret, a few black-tailed godwit, a yellow wagatil and not much else of note. Greatham Creek was both spotted redshank and avocetless... and with that we headed back to Northumberland.