If, like me, you define yourself as a dedicated patch watcher you will no doubt know that even something rather mundane can cause excitement when it turns up on your turf. This was certainly the case a few days past when a run of the mill walk along the River Blyth came up trumps with a delightful Pied Flycatcher. The individual in question was located in the vicinity of the sewage treatment facility toward the eastern boundary of the patch and put on a mighty fine show for a good fifteen minutes, snagging insects in typical elegant Flycatcher fashion. This species marked a first for my humble Blyth patch and comprised the unparalleled highlight of what was, in retrospect, a rather pleasant evening. An account of which can be found below..
Truth be told, I had expected to find at least one interesting migrant on the patch on Monday evening. Rarities galore had dropped in elsewhere on the Northumberland coast and in all honesty my expectations were rather high. Barred Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Red-Backed Shrike, what would I find? Well, nothing. Alas dreamt up rarities never materialised and migrant passerines were in fact few and far between. The aforementioned Pied Fly the only bird of note. Elsewhere the sewage works held only a few "hweeting" Chiffchaff and a young Willow Warbler. Indeed even resident song birds proved scarce with Robin, Goldfinch, Pied Wagtail and Chaffinch the only species noted. As is usually the case in these situations my attentions soon began to wander and soon enough I turned my attention to the harbour where pickings we're marginally less slim. 22 Goosander were the highlight here, loafing around just off shore in the company of a few Shelduck and Mallard. Cormorant too were numerous here and 4 Grey Herons loitered nearby looking typically menacing. Aside from these however only a few Sandwich Terns and the odd Swallow were of note and with this in mind I opted for a scan of the mudflats spanning the nearby estuary.
Walking a little further upstream things improved markedly with 10 superb Knot the first birds noted. Knot are a species I am not too familiar with and it was nothing short of a delight to get up close and personal with this miniature flock. Said birds showed impeccably for a good ten minutes giving me more than enough time to scrutinise their plumage which varied in hue from full summer rouge to dowdy winter grey. Knots aside the estuary held a splendid array of waders and further exploration revealed c130 Redshank, 25 Curlew, 80 Dunlin, 40 Ringed Plover and the odd Turnstone and Oystercatcher. Better still was the addition of 4 Common Sandpiper, all of which looked a little out of place on the flats alongside the larger, coastal waders. Finally, 4 Black-Tailed Godwit and 8 Whimbrel were added to the days tally, the latter heard on numerous occasions before one of the birds finally gave itself up and showed well amid a small flock of Curlew, it's sooty supercillium setting it apart from its larger and somewhat duller cousins. Not that I dislike Curlew..
Moving further up River and a shimmering flash of blue heralded the arrival of a Kingfisher though my initial joy was rather short lived as the sapphire beauty continued up steam and soon passed out of sight. A Little Egret was also picked up here though this concluded the days avian offerings. Turning my attentions to the sites Lepidoptera a quick butterfly survey revealed a host of goodies including Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Green-Veined White and perhaps best of all, a few Painted Lady. A species that until now has been rather sparse this year. Heading home a Fox was also noted all be it rather briefly. A fitting way to conclude yet another enjoyable evening on the patch.