I skirted around a few sites in my 10km loop to the east and north on 4th. Bothal Pond held a single 1st-winter Greater Scaup and 77 Pink-feet flew south. The ringed adult Hooded Crow was around Ellington Wind Farm again whilst 200 Pink-feet were in fields at North Linton Farm. One of the adult Red-necked Grebes was visible on Widdrington Moor Lake as was a Slavonian Grebe; three Marsh Harriers were in attendance and a decent count of 144 Great Black-backed Gulls noted. Druridge Pools was quiet, just 33 Curlews of note, further south two Avocet at Cresswell Pond may have been my last of 2022.
Another Marsh Harrier was at Linton Lane on 7th along with 36 Gadwall and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls. At Newbiggin I was watching a drake Greater Scaup on the sea off Beacon Point when a Snow Bunting appeared feeding on the path a few metres away. Another visit to Linton Lane on 10th produced 127 Eurasian Teal and 470 Pink-feet either over or dropping into nearby fields.
I searched unsuccessfully for the Wansbeck Great Egret on 11th, 10 Little Egrets were all I could find though the big beast may have been hiding on the north shore as I passed nearby. I ventured on to Spital Point and re-found the drake Greater Scaup consorting with Eiders on the sea below the cliffs. Two Chiffchaffs were all i could pish out the car park.
On 14th S and I decided to walk from Howick to Craster and have some lunch overlooking the sea. We had an adult Mediterranean Gull fly over the coast path just beyond the bathing hoose and S spotted a Brambling by the gate just south of Craster. Inflation has hit the Crab sandwich in a big way (a tenner!) but it’s the food of kings and a rare treat, especially when you can’t get any cake from Howick.
Kid-free later that evening I slipped across the Moor to check out Alan Priest’s Grey Phalarope larking about in the coal dust-filled surf at Beacon Point. Probably the best views I’ve had of the species since one at Big Waters way back in the mists of time.
Twenty five Med Gulls flying inland and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull as well as a Brambling were the highlights of a short viz-mig session from the Church stile at Woodhorn on 17th. Later in the day it was obvious there was some inland Stonechat movement as seven were found at Longhirst Flash.
Thirty three southbound Whooper Swans and an adult Yellow-legged Gull on the Beacon were the rewards for three hours around the Moor on 18th. Two Willow Tits on the ash lagoon bank and the Little Egret fishing the rock pools got the runners-up prize on the day.
Nearly three hours seawatching from Beacon Point on 19th was productive, two Pomarine Skuas and two Arctic Skuas, seven Velvet Scoter and a single Sooty Shearwater as well as a handful of Little Gulls kept me occupied. The Grey Phalarope had slipped into the south bay and was hanging out with Redshanks: 15 Purple Sandpipers roosted on the breakwater nearby. Out on the Moor a Short-eared Owl fresh in was being hassled by Crows as it twisted west.
Another 90 mins this time from the church bench on 20th produced a smashing intermediate morph juvenile Long-tailed Skua that came straight in towards me before veering north. 14 Little Gulls, another Velvet Scoter, the Little Egret flew north and two Little Auks smashed past close in.
21st and a change of scenery as I nipped up to embleton to hob-nob it with Stringer. Of course he managed to grip me by finding a Woodlark on Newton Pool which flew off (after he got pics) never to be seen again. In patches of heavy rain we dug out a Spotted Flycatcher from the garden, a Ruddy Shelduck across the fields with the goose flock and when he nipped home to make lunch for his Mrs I snuck down the tin church track and tumbled a Red-breasted Flycatcher out the willows. It was an uncooperative little fecker, hence the ‘record shot’ image (who am I kidding).
A female-type Long-tailed Duck in the gloom of the south bay on the evening of 27th along with a calling Water Rail at Woodhorn Flash were destined to be the low key end to October until Clive Saunders found two Swift sp at Amble on the morning of 30th. With a national influx of Pallid Swifts ongoing I took the 10 mile drive up for what would be a long overdue county tick. Ipin and Janet beat me there and were watching the swifts over the town, already happy one was a nailed-on Pallid. I wandered into the estate streets they were feeding over to get better views and over the next hour had them pinging about overhead almost constantly. Images and views from several observers onsite solidified the ID for me, much to my delight.