November 2022

November rocked. That’s it, that’s the vibe.

Sixteen days in the field helped ward off those early winter blues, some interesting weather ensured that there was always something to lift the spirits locally.

As I walked along the narrow grass strip between the horse paddocks and ash lagoon fence on 1st almost the first bird I had was a Woodcock hurtling inland at head height. Small parties of Redwing, Fieldfare and Blackbird arrived throughout the morning, most either pitching into the scrub or over into the ash lagoons. It felt like there should be more but adult Med Gull and Siskin were the only other ‘unusuals’ that morning. Later at Spital Point adult and 1st-winter Little Gulls moved south as I counted a straight 50 Med Gulls in the low tide roost there.

On 3rd four Little Gulls, 19 Med Gulls and 10 Skylarks moved past Newbiggin though a head-lifting distant large diver with an obvious pale bill (albeit in bright sun) frustratingly eluded specific identifiction. A Treecreeper was at Woodhorn Church and the Linton Hooded Crow said hello as I passed by heading home.

Duck counts at Bothal on the afternoon of 4th yielded 185 Teal and 121 Wigeon, nearby 10 Meadow PIpits, four Kestrels and a Jay were in the Longhirst Flash area. Late afernoon on 6th I wandered north to Tritlington and stumbled on a Jackdaw roost of c 800 individuals.

The sea-watch highlight on 8th came in the form of an adult Glaucous Gull heading out to sea off Newbiggin. The same individual was seen again the following morning on the same track south-east. I chanced a Barn Owl along the Morpeth Northern Bypass later that evening.

In unseasonably mild conditions on 9th the Little Egret was again feeding in shore pools at Beacon Point and four Snow Buntings were on the rocks there. It was almost spring-like with 8 Pied Wagtails and 4 Rock Pipits feeding on a late sandfly (?) hatching. The Little Egret was again present during a quiet seawatch on 10th. A visit later that day to my parents in Blyth produced an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull on the shed roof at the South Harbour and another two adults at Blagdon Lane Pools on the journey home.

Saturday 12th I headed up to Widdrington Moor Lake and had decent albeit distant scope views of one of the ringtail Hen Harriers that were hanging about mid-month as well as a Marsh Harrier and a brilliant pre-roost of over 1,000 Common Gulls. It’s such a shame that this increasingly good site is to become a holiday/caravan park, It’ll be ‘interesting’ to see how that development impacts though I’m guessing that there won’t be much to positively write about.

Back to Newbiggin on 14th, seawatching produced a single Little Auk and five Little Gulls but the highlight was a juvenile Peregrine drifting in from Church Point and dropping onto the rocks at Newbiggin Point briefly and causing a fair bit of panic in the process. Another Little Auk, a single Little Gull and four unseasonal Puffins came from a seawatch on the 16th but I was over the moon later that day to find my first Caspian Gull at Castle Island. A really smart looking colour-ringed 1st-winter of German Baltic Sea origin.

Newbiggin again on 19th and the Little Auks kept coming with three that morning, the other highlight being two Dark-bellied Brent Geese moving south. Heading home I chanced upon some of the Ellington Landfill gull posse trying to shelter from the chilly easterly in one of the wind farm fields. Parked up by the side of the road using the car as a hide I picked out two Caspian Gulls another 1st-winter and an adult. Three in week here is just incredible, 2022 has been a great year for the species in Northumberland with observers like Daniel Langston and Alan Curry turning up mulitiple birds at coastal locations that are really rewriting the species status here.

Noting that Eric B had found a Pallas’s Warbler at the Mound I headed back to Newbiggin and after a fair old wander about managed to relocate it on the edge of one of the southerly plantations where it showed well albeit briefly.

Seven Little Auks on the seawatch on 21st along with two Long-tailed Ducks and 27 Red-throated Divers made for an interesting couple of hours. I sopped at Linton Lane NR on the way home and picked up the adult Red-throated Diver that had been found over the weekend and also a Willow Tit. Seawatching with company the following morning produced 11 Little Auks though none offered views like the one Andy McLevy and I stumbled upon at Castle Island later that morning.

The end of the month was fairly quiet, the Hooded Crow picked up again along the Potland Burn on 28th though it did produce a patch tick in the form of an Egyptian Goose flying north over Newbiggin. Found the previous day I wasn’t quick enough off the mark and it had flown from the field north of Woodhorn before I arrived, a forlorn search of the various pools to the south turned up a blank. The following morning I was heading back to the car from the Mound when a goose came north over East Lea, I lifted my bins to two big white wing fore-wing patches and managed to completely fluff the camera in a mad rush to try and grab a record shot (see below).

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