Divers Down!

White-billed Diver, juvenile, River Witham. Lincs.
 

Well here it is! my first post of 2017. I hope you like it.
After beating my target of 300 species in the UK for 2016 I decided that I am not listing competitively for 2017 but just going to see what I want without worrying about dipping. New species are to be a priority but not the only targets.
The beginning of the year was spend at Titchwell trying to come to grips with the exceptional numbers of Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter and Long-tailed Duck and seeing number's of other species not normally associated with the sea such as Northern Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Egyptian Geese. The drake Ferruginous Duck at Holme was a welcome New Year Tick.
Malcolm and I have spent a couple of days outside Norfolk with good results. Seeing the sleepy, drake Ring-necked Duck at Kirkby-on-Bain was my first for a few years. A week later we were at Dunnington scrapping for views of a very fine but elusive and distant Pine Bunting. Lots of smiling faces amongst that crowd. From the Bunting we went South to Woodhall Spa and walked along the Witham to see the awesome, juvenile, White-billed Diver. It was not afraid of us and came quite close at times.



 
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White-billed Diver, River Witham, Lincs.
We finished the day off with another look at the Ring-necked Duck and also a 1st winter Glaucous Gull at the same site. I had to stop myself from racing off to Northumberland for their fine collection of ducks and divers.

1st winter Glaucous Gull, Kirkby-on-Bain
 I decided to rectify the deficit on my Northumbrian Bird List by spending 27th-29th Jan up there and hopefully collecting some goodies along the way. So lunch time on Friday 27th saw me rock up at Skinningrove, Cleveland for the Eastern Black Redstart. What an amazing bird. I know it's been there a while now but...wow!





 
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Eastern Black Redstart, Skinningrove, Cleveland
 
My last stop before getting to Blyth was the fish quay at North Shields to see if the white-winged gulls were present. Lots to see...Turnstones feeding amongst the nets, hundreds of mixed gulls, Guillemot, Shag and Eider. Finally a smart juvenile Iceland Gull was feeding alongside the fishing boats closely followed by two juvenile Glaucous Gulls.
Glaucous Gull, 1st winter, North Shields


Iceland Gull, 1st winter, North Shields
 
After a good meal and a good nights rest I was up and out. First stop was Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Country Park for a certain Diver. After fighting my way through flocks of Tree Sparrows and Siskins  my target was finally nailed down in the North-east corner of the lake. Pacific Diver! The bird seemed to tolerate birders, runners and dogs alike and it came quite close.




 
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Pacific Diver, juvenile, Ladyburn Lake, Druridge CP. Northumberland.
Once back at the car I decided to come back to see the Shorelarks and drove 30+ miles North to a place I've not visited for a few years, Goswick Sands. North of Holy Island but still part of the Lindisfarne Nature Reserve.
Once on the dunes it was plain to see that the tide was well and truly out. There were big numbers of birds to be seen , such as Gannet, Red-necked Grebe, Auks, Long-tailed Duck, Common & Velvet Scoter and Red-throated and Great Northern Divers. No sign of any Scoter with a large Jaffa Orange stuck to its bill.
Dipped.
I decided to head for Stag Rock. There were a few Slavonian Grebes and Purple Sandpipers there, when the pager came up with Black Scoter at my last site. A quick "U-ey" and I arrived there 20 minutes later and finally saw my second Northumbrian Black Scoter...complete with Jaffa Orange on head.
Undipped (?)
I headed home via East Chevington and had a large flock of Pink-footed Geese with approx. 30 Russian White-fronted Geese also there and a fly past, female type, Hen Harrier.
On Sunday I paid a quick, early, visit to the fish quay. The Iceland and Glaucous Gulls were there again and also a BEAST! of a falcon. With transmitter and jesses it was an obvious escape. Probably a mix of Gyr & Saker. Even the Greater Black-backs flew off when they saw it.
 


Escaped Falcon, North Shields Fish Quay

Iceland Gull, 1st winter, North Shield Fish Quay.
 
That's the day almost done. Headed back to Blyth for a fantastic Sunday Lunch and then headed South to King's Lynn via the adult Iceland Gull at Swallow Pond and the Shorelark at Hartlepool, plus yet another Glaucous Gull.

 Shorelark, nr. Jewish Cemetery, Hartlepool









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