Yesterday ( 7th ) was a complete write off with high winds and rain. It provided a good opportunity to catch up with a load of admin work and have a good read!
This morning saw an early departure with the first port of call being Musselburgh on the southern side of the Firth of Forth. The intention at hand was to try and see the Surf Scoter which has been in the area, and last year too, but encountering two birders prior to 0800 hours already leaving the site amidst mutterings of things being hopeless in this wind didn't augur well. In addition to this the tide was well out. Yep, you have it, the Surf Scoter wasn't in evidence, although scoters could be seen offshore but at distance. A nice selection of duck fed at the mouth of the river, a few waders were around and a Skylark sang so there was plenty to enjoy.
Moving off southwards a breakfast stop had singing Song Thrush, Robin, Great Tit and Dunnock alongside the car which, at the end of winter, is always uplifting. Less so was to see several dead Badgers alongside the A1 out to Berwick on Tweed. Moving on I decided to see if it was feasible to pay a quick visit on to Holy Island. Sadly there was only an hour before it was advised a crossing of the causeway was inadvisable, so the idea had to be shelved.
A few waders were around ( Oystercatcher, Curlew and Redshank ) and a group of 26/27 Whooper Swans rested close to the onshore boundary with the mainland. I parked up for a period but didn't add anything to what I'd seen previously, the expanse of habitat surrounding the island being quiet.
I moved on to Budle Bay where Mallard , Teal and Shelduck fed and numbers of gulls rested, including two LBBG. My journey then took me through one of Northumberland's finest towns, Warkworth. As you cross the River Coquet in the valley bottom and then drive upwards through the streets of Warkworth, witnessing both impressive historical architecture and the sheer atmosphere, you then reach the castle, located within the loop of the river and presiding over the old, original part of town. The first documented records for Warkworth Castle are in 1157 so there is much to explore and enjoy including mediaeval weekends or similar.
And so onwards to Amble. The Sunday Market near the harbour was in full swing, the harbour itself full of Eider, but try as I might I couldn't find a favoured fish and chip shop!! And then, slightly further into town, I discovered Harbour Fish and Chips, whose product now figure within the top three ever sampled!!! Tremendous. I even found the carpark further down the coast where, after savouring my late lunch, I could then walk over the coastal dunes and view Coquet Island offshore.
Unfortunately a party of people was ashore but few birds were around anyway. Later the area will be a hive of activity as auks and terns ply incessantly to and fro their feeding areas, including small numbes of the rare Roseate Tern. Landing on the island is not allowed during the breeding season but trips around the island can be arranged from Amble. The sea today was somewhat tranquil in marked contrast to the "voyage" Matthew and I had a couple of years ago ( best to have your fish and chips on your return! ). A nice consolation was a party of four Sanderling on the beach nearby.
Continuing on I then visited Hauxley Reserve but found it both busy and on the point of closing for a year for renovation, the building of a new centre following the previous one being gutted by fire and the incorporation of upgraded trails. The intended opening is in April 2016.
With the day moving on I took the decision to seek out the reported large flock of Pink-footed Geese near Widdrington that contained a Ross's Goose. The reported number had been 3000 but I could only find around 800 which sadly didn't include the vagrant! Still, it was enjoyable going through them........ And that was it with only a journey left to Washington Services to overnight!