Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Northumberland long weekend Day 2

Our final day in Northumberland, and the weather remained unchanged, grey and chilly. As is normal when we go to this region we decided to go to Seahouses. Last time here we had plenty of turnstones and eiders. The difference being that we were later in the year, and that it wasn't horizontal rain this time.
As we were driving along the coast road, I was disappointed to see that the tide was out, and so I imagine that the turnstones would be out as well. As I arrived in the harbour I looked over the sea wall to see if my suspicions were correct. They were to some degree, but one turnstone had hung around nearish the wall. It was about half way between the sea wall and the sea, although my photo was pretty poor.

This turnstone was unfazed by my being there. It started having a wash in a rock pool, between two gulls.
I walked down the pier/breakwater to see what there was. I spotted at the end a bird in the water, so I went up to see if it was a diver or rare sea duck, or an eider. However I was pleasantly surprise to see that it was a shag when I arrived. If I recall, this is my first this year, which is quite late all things considered.

Moving back up up the pier I looked at the gulls along the side, for potential iceland or glaucus gull. However the most unusual that I managed to find was a greater black backed gull.

-Greater Black backed Gull
On the other, harbour pier I was delighted to finally find some eiders, a handsome flock with a nice mixture of males and females. I got a great view of the eiders, and they even approached me despite being a few meters above them. Then I saw that the eiders moved away from me, towards a young family feeding them on the slipway opposite. They then started feeding them bread, so I decided to go over there, to be at eye level with them. I did and enjoyed listening to them "Awooo" comically, and also take some great photos of them. Unfortunately they all started moving away as soon as they realised I had no bread.
After about 15mins of doing my best to entertain the eiders, I decided to try and find my family to get some real bread. After about 15mins looking for them in seahouses I eventually managed it and got hold of some bread, AKA my lunch. I returned to the eiders and again enjoyed photographing them and feeding them, great views of such great birds. Here is a compilation of the eider photos I took.

I returned to my family and walked around the harbour with them to see what was around. At the turnstone area, I spotted a herring gull flying with some seaweed dangling out of its mouth, then, as it landed nearby, it became clear that it was not a piece of seaweed, it was a giant butterfish. It started bashing it against the sea wall, but was rudely interrupted by a mob of black headed gulls. I only managed one photo, sadly though it has it back to me.

-Herring Gull
Moving on, We walked onto an area of mud and beach on the southern side of the harbour which was far more natural. There were plenty of birds around here, oystercatchers, redshanks, grey heron and a handful of ringed plovers on the harbour mud which was nice, the first I've seen this holiday.

-Ringed Plover
We moved back to the car for lunch, and moved it from its current parking spot into an area where we had a great view of the harbour and the sea. As we were eating lunch we attracted a great deal of attention from a variety of gulls, herring and black-headed, who feasted on the scraps that I threw for them.

-Black Headed gull
the gulls left for a few mins to feed on somebody Else's lunch, and in that time, a very handsome winter plumage starling turned up and started picking up the scraps. The gulls started drifting back, but seemed reluctant to start feeding again. It was odd to see the gulls being reluctant to feed on some food being fed on by a starling.

-Starling, seemingly hording the food
After lunch we headed down towards Newcastle to see some family Friends, but first we would be going to big waters to see if there were any birds or otters. When we arrived we spotted a marsh harrier soaring above us. Besides that there were a few things to see, but they were all distance, there were shoveler, teal, whooper swans and cormorants.

-Marsh Harrier

so ends our long weekend on the Northumberland coast.