I got up this morning, dropped Rachel off at work, and got to Marine Drive for just after half seven. I was meeting up with Stuart and we were planning to walk around the headland to see if the south-easterlies had brought anything in.
First port of call was behind Marine Drive wall, which is where a few migrants can turn up, usually Wheatears and Black Redstarts. This morning, however, the most exciting bird was a Cormorant flying north. We then walked up the north side of the headland, and then around the south side. This revealed a grand total of two Redwings, about sixty Blackbirds and a Pheasant (a castle list first, if I kept such a thing) perched on the castle wall. Disappointed in our lot, we decided to walk around the harbour, where we saw the regular compliment of gulls, a single Turnstone and a Curlew flying north.
Feeling a little despondent, we thought that we may as well walk back round Marine Drive to our cars and set off home. Hearing this, the birds decided to get their acts together, and we were rewarded with two Red-Throated Divers in the sea just over the wall, and another flying south. Only a few metres further down Stuart made probably our best sighting of the morning, and exhausted Short-Eared Owl sat on the sea defence rocks. Unfortunately it saw us only moments after we first saw it, and it flew round the headland into North Bay out of sight.
As we got back to the cars, I heard a Peregrine calling from the side of the cliff. A quick scan with binoculars revealed both birds sat near each other in their usual spot. As most of the activity had been over the sea, I asked Stuart if he fancied an hour of seawatching (long time readers will know that this isn’t a particular strong point of mine) and so we journeyed to the Marine Drive shelter.
Stuart spotted the first birds of any interest, ten Wigeon flying north, which spurred me to have a quick study of the collins to try and get duck wing patterns branded on my memory. I spotted the next bird, a female Goosander flying north, which was followed shortly by two juvenile Gannets. Another Red-Throated Diver flew north, as did three other unidentified ducks, which were either Goosander or Red-Breasted Merganser but I couldn’t get the scope on them quickly enough. Stuart had to leave at eleven, but I hung around for the best part of another hour, seeing a flock of 23 Common Scoter heading south, two male Eider heading north, a Guillemot swimming south, and a Grey Seal swimming north.
So, not so bad really. Owls, funky ducks and huge mammals always cheer proceedings up.