Not being a great lover of the seawatch on the basis that getting cold and wet for a craptastic view of a bird that may or may not be the one in a thousand passing that is of twitchable status is no attraction, recent bloggings and reports on Birdguides tempted me down to St Marys' Island yesterday afternoon. Having done my webs count at lunchtime as today I will be at Tynemouth Station Book Fair, hunting out some rare tome on avian life, I first checked the Cemetery for the Wryneck I missed last year but to no avail. I did find a quid under one of the seats but felt guilty removing cash from a graveside so placed it in a donation box.
I moaned as I entered the car park for it was full of happy / unhappy families, geriatric couples and bikers. The smell of burgers hung in the air and the light was distinctly hazy but the number of birds on the rocks was good and a couple of scopes plus Canon lens man were already scanning the area. I got down to the promenade and taking angles from the photographer instantly picked up an adult Roseate Tern amongst the large number of Kittiwakes that were present. (bottom pic). My first of the year and my reason for this visit having failed to find any at East Chevington thus far. I looked away for a moment and then back to find the bird had flown to settle down behind a rock out of view. After a few minutes the bird re-appeared and the spectacularly duff photo was taken but it does pick up the ring on either leg which I believe identifies a Coquet Island bird.
Other birds present were a hundred or so Golden Plover, one Black tailed Godwit, one Knot, Redshank aplenty, Oystercatcher, Cormorant, Common and Sandwich Terns plus many gulls of which I had already had my fill of counting. Out to sea Gannets were visible and an Artic Skua made a brief landing on a rock 100m or so out before heading off north.
Other birders were now turning up including Northumbrian Birding. He had found a colour ringed Sandwich Tern and then he found a juvenile Roseate, again double ringed (top 2 crap pics). We waited for the tide to drive the bird closer but a family rockpooling and deceasing light put the kybosh on that as a shout went up a Merlin had landed on the rocks near the island. Not finding said raptor we headed up to join the assemble throng in the lee of the toilet block.
Spent forty five minutes doing what I earlier said I disliked but the weather was good and the company amusing so we ticked off a tolerable few Manx Shearwater, Common Scoter, Eider, more Artic Skuas and a large number of Common Tern heading to roost before I returned to the car. Having actually paid for a parking ticket I was reflecting on having ticked off Roseate Tern when stopped on my way by two seperate individuals asking what we were all looking at. Both seemed slightly disappointed when I explained to them that the gathering was due to the weather and the passage of many birds including some rare out near that yellow buoy you can see in the distance. I needed a big arrow to point it out to them just like the one needed for these photos I've just posted.