March has been a quiet month. I have not made it out birding as much as I should but I decided try for something before I left Sheffield for Easter. My options were limited but there were a few pieces in the NE around Saltholme so I decided to head up there for GW teal, bean goose and the probably feral snow goose.
I made my way up and arrived on site for 9.00, just as it started to rain. I knew it was supposed to be light rain, but this was not light rain by anyone's definition. The issue was compounded by some mug who sped through a puddle right next to me... not how I had hoped to start the da.
I walked along the road past the fields where the geese were meant to be. About half way down I did pick up the geese, and there was a clear white bird in them and I could not get enough on it to be sure that this was the Snow Goose. As sods law dictates, all the geese then proceeded to fly off, probably because I had no cover being a pedestrian.
Now with no geese and dripping wet I carried on to Saltholme to Dormans pool for the GW teal. As I passed the RSPB reserve I had a scan through the fields and spotted a white goose. After a while of thinking I had refound the Snow goose I finally got a good enough view to confirm that this was just a feral goose. On the plus side I did year-tick Little Egret.
As I arrived at Dormans Pools the day took another turn for the worse as news came in that the Bean Goose was in the fields, where I had been. Fancy that! However, already on site I began trying to find 'the top carpark' from where the teal was visable. After getting lost round the pond I did finally find the car park but there was no teal, only a tonne load of coots. I decided to set up and wait but after an hour there was no sign of it, and things were not looking good. I did however yeartick Pintail, including a number of drake's which I have not seen for a long time, and Kittiwake, with one on the pond with the larger gulls.
Thats when my luck turned. Another birder, Tim from Bedfordshire, turned up in his car to look for the teal. After 15mins we decided that this was futile but he then offered me a lift back to the geese, as he had already been and confirmed both species were there. He drove me back and I finally got to get my scope on the flock. The Snow Goose was there and it stood out a mile. And despite having being hidden for most of the morning according to Tim the Bean Goose raised its head and then went for a walk, so I finally got to tick that.
I was impressed with how striking the bill was one the Taiga Bean Goose, and how big it was compared to the pink-feet. It was distant but through the scope the views were exceptional. It was a really smart bird to see and great to finally connect with one. Sadly it was a little distant and I could not get any great photos, only record shots. The Snow Goose was even further away but since its probably feral that's less of an issue.
-Taiga Bean Goose
Finally having got something to put me in a good mood, Tim then said he was driving up to Seaton Common for the Glaucous Gulls there and said he would take me. Having been in that area before and knew my way round I said that would be great and so we headed off to find the gulls.
The gulls were in the fields and on the tip, flying between. We had a scan but could not pick out either of the 2 glaucs that were meant to be there. However, as I raised my bins I saw a large pale gull flying towards the tip but by the time I got Tim on it the bird was out of sight.
I set up the scope and began to sift through the gulls on the tip and it was not long before I had picked out the prize. There it was, a beast of a glauc, patrolling the tip, looking for rubbish to massacre. Its only my second time seeing the species and was an excellent bonus for the day. After watching it at a distance for some time I tried to get some record shots but failed badly. Fortunately it decided to fly back to the gulls in the field and though it took a while it did finally sit out in a position where I would get some record shots. The conditions were not great again, but the bird was super as it attacked a plant. Also year-ticked Whimbrel while we were there with a bird that was actually pretty close.
Tim picked out the second glauc too, though we never saw them together, which would have been a sight to behold. I was well pleased with my record shots, for all they were, just a pity the bird did not come closer. Either way, I was so pleased to have seen a real bonus species for the day. Thanks again to Tim from Bedfordshire, you made my day a whole lot better!
The gulls all went up as a Helicopter came over and put them all back onto the tip. Tim left to go try for the shore lark at Hartlepool. I decided to go to the beach and wander up to the train station. Along the beach I failed to find anything major, but did get a nice Red-Throated Diver and a large flock of Wigeon on the sea which I though was very odd. There were not many waders, Only Oystercatchers and there were no seaducks at all.
After that I made it to the train, spent another 2 hours in Darlington station and then made it home for 11. The only other bird of note was as I left the dunes back to Seaton Carew I heard a parakeet flying overhead and picket it out in the sky. Sadly though it was blue so an obvious escape whatever the species.
Saltholme RSPB: Little Egret, Canada Goose, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Cormorant, Herring Gull, Great Black-Backed Gull, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Black-Headed Gull, Graylag Goose, Mallard, Song Thrush, Lapwing, Redshank,
Dormans Pool: Pintail, Kittiwake, Robin, Dunnock, Coot, Teal, Great-Crested Grebe, Mallard, Gadwall, Graylag Goose, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Greater Black-Backed Gull, Redshank, Linnet, Meadow Pipit,
Cowpen Bewley: Bean Goose, Pink-Footed Goose, Canada Goose, Graylag Goose, Snow Goose, Blackbird, Song Thrush,
Seaton Common: Glaucous Gull, Whimbrel, Little Egret, Common Snipe, Red-Throated Diver, Wigeon, Teal, Herring Gull, Kittiwake, Common Gull, Black-Headed Gull, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Great Black-Backed Gull, Meadow Pipit, Linnet