Friday, 30 October 2009

Sab a tour

Started work early and had my major project for the day delivered by 9.30 so when my text message alerted me of a Pectoral Sandpiper at the Beehive flash, off I went. The bird was easily located on the far side of the flash with MH and Dusty Bins already set up for the shot but the the little wader was staying put and after a few minutes taking in the glories of this birds plumage in good light, I headed off to see what else could be added to the list.

Decided to try again for the Sabines gull at North Shields which I had seen at a distance on Monday but two later attempts had failed as the bird seems to move away from the fish quay after its early morning feed. Started at the fish quay and initially no sign so contented myself with shots of a male Eider in the harbour. As I walked back along the quay a bird caught my eye coming out of the sun about 20m away and flying the clear black primary wing markings stood out splendidly. I waited for the bird to return but no luck so, after checking the ice maker where it had been yesterday, I headed to the foreshore where I was soon joined by one, then another, then a further three birders all on the same quest. Stories of hope and missed opportunities were shared probably made more annoying by me having seen the bird fleetingly earlier.
We were joined by a man from the RNLI Station who was also hoping to see the bird but had been told by a colleague working on the south lighthouse that there were eight Dolphins in the mouth of the Tyne. Bins and scopes were trained and shortly the animals could be seen as the school surfaced between a dredger and the south pier. Nice opportunity so I headed to the headland above the Black Middens for a better view.
The dredger had gone out to sea and presumably the Dolphins with it so headed toward the pier on the off chance and met two birders coming in the opposite direction who had seen the Sabines Gull and said it was now on the rocks below the headland. I re-traced my steps and whist checking the rocks the gull flew around the headland and managed to snap the beauty.

The bird settled on the rocks just 30m from the shore with Black headed gulls and started preening. Settled down to a nice little twitch joined by two from the foreshore, two from the pier, a bloke from Carlisle who I had met twice earlier this week and a good few curious bystanders. With my smaller lens the images were not so good but views through the scope were splendid and eventually it had a quick kip allowing me to get a larger lens but the light was poor and only got a couple of shots before the incoming tide moved it away back upstream to the fish quay. Lunchtime already and felt like I'd done two days work!

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