• Andrew Kinghorn

The The Three B's trip on 05 February 2022

This has become a very popular tour over the years, sadly due to the pandemic it didn't run in either 2020 or 2021, but it was back this year. We started off as is tradition at Beadnell bay, the blustery conditions seemingly working in the groups favour with Mediterranean Gull foraging on the surf and Velvet Scoters close inshore. It was good for the group to be able to see the different in plumage and structure between the Velvet and Common Scoters, of course the always handsome Eider were also in attendance. At the far end of the bay the Twite but on a good show, albeit briefer than hoped for. Flyover Curlews were vocal and point blank views of Teal were appreciated as were the brief flyover Pintail that sadly couldn't be relocated.

Our next stop was Stag Rocks, a very popular location in British birding. Our main target species was located fairly quickly, with a stunning flock of at least 6 Long-tailed Ducks just offshore, including both drakes and ducks. A northbound flock of Pink-footed Geese could easily have been northbound migrants from further south in England, a reminder that whilst winter is still here spring is just round the corner. One of the group skilfully picked out a close in Red-breasted Merganser and not far away a Shag was coming into its lovely 'bottle green' plumage. Waders put on a fantastic show, with Purple Sandpiper and Grey Plover the obvious highlights, the Grey Plover playing a game of hide and seek with us!

Final stop of the day was Budle Bay, not long after arrival we enjoyed distant views of the long staying Glaucous Gull. This particular individual has been in the area for a few months, it is seemingly feeding on Barnacle Geese that have succumb to the latest outbreak of avian flu. Excellent views were had of Dunlin and Wigeon, whilst distant Barnacle Geese were landing to forage on sheep pasture. We moved onto Harpers Heugh viewpoint where we had some superb views of Curlew, close range views of a small party of Pink-footed Geese, and the spectacle of Barnacle Geese that seemed to have been flushed by a Common Buzzard.

We ended the day by taking another look at the Glaucous Gull, allowing guests to see the size and plumage differences alongside Herring Gulls.

Final today for the day was 51 species of bird, with Long-tailed Duck being guests star bird of the day. As has become a somewhat comical tradition for this tour, no Blackbird!

Glaucous Gull - © Andrew Kinghorn - Hartlepool (2016), juvenile.

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