So I've done it! I've finally landed a job with an iota of relevance to my chosen professional. For the next three months I will be working as a ecological field assistant in Angus, conducting bird and butterfly surveys in the Scottish uplands. It is most certainly a start! Though I am over the moon with this opportunity it does however mean that I will have to depart the patch for the foreseeable future and as such the last week has been filled with as much avian cramming as humanly possible. Trips to Stobswood, Druridge and Cresswell have all been characteristically rewarding though the real jewel in the crown was a pilgrimage to Inner Farne a few days past.
Yes, Wednesday found me making my yearly pilgrimage to the Farne Islands to catch up with the interesting assortment of seabirds that call the islands their home. Waiting for our boat in Seahouses I managed to catch up with the famed chip munching Eiders in the Harbour though on this occasion they seemed more interested in donuts that chips. It was fantastic to get so close to these iconic Northumbrian seaducks and half an hour well spent in my books, more so given the pleasant sunshine. A brief gander around the Harbor turned up 25 Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin and 4 Turnstone whilst a Kestrel put in a brief appearance overhead and yet more Eiders loafed around on the sea. True to form I managed to indulge my inner child and spent a good while rummaging around in the exposed rock pools, rewarded with nice views of a host of tidal critters including a rather nifty Brittle Star. Before long however it was time to depart for the islands where the crossing provided nice views of some passing Gannets as well as both Grey and Common Seals, the former not budging as the boat crept to within a few meters of where they snoozed on the rocks. Great beasts!
|Whose a pretty boy then|
|Look at that eye!|
|Arctic Tern choosing its next victim|
|The clown of the bird world|
Back on dry land a few visits to some favored local sites yielded a decent variety of bird life. A few trips to Druridge Pools failed to turn up any of the reported Temmicks Stints though the drake Garganey showed well and provided a suitable compromise. Alongside this eye catching migrant duck a decent array of common wildfowl with Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall and Shelduck all noted in force. Wader wise the floods here proved mildly disappointing with only a few Lapwing and Redshank noted though a drumming Snipe was a pleasure to behold. The shelter belt held a few smart Whitethroat, all of which were in full song whilst further exploration threw up both Willow and Sedge Warbler as well as a male Greenfinch and at least five Tree Sparrows. A distant Barn Owl was an added bonus though this turned out to be the first of four birds noted that morning with distant birds at Widdrington Station and Widdrington Moor and a much more showy specimen at Cresswell Pond though this was about all of note visible at Cresswell. Perhaps with the exception of 6 Avocets dosing on the sand bank alongside a scattering of Oystercatcher and Dunlin and a brief Little Egret. Further pottering along the coast turned up a Yellow Wagtail at Hemscott Hill, a large number of Hirundines and Swifts and a pleasant scattering of Stonechat, Linnet and Tree Sparrows though before long it was time to return home and give the patch a scouring before I am forced to abandon it for the summer..
|Barn Owl at Cresswell Pond|
|A very pleasant Swallow at Druridge Pools|
Back on the home front the unequivocal highlight of the trip came in the form of a singing Garden Warbler at Stobswood, species number 118 for this years Patchwork Challenge. Surely tomorrows trip has the potential to take me to 120 before I depart for foreign climes? Anyways, alongside said little brown warbler a nice array of summer migrants sung around Stobswood with Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler present in double digits and Whitethroat and Blackcap noted on multiple occasions. The woody areas held a handsome Marsh Tit and a few more regular patch residents whilst a gander around the Alder Carr provided a few radiant Yellowhammer, Grey Partridge, Buzzard and a brief views of a petite male Sparrowhawk as it tried its best to apprehend one of the local Goldfinches. Onto Stobswood Pools and a female Goosander on the large pool was a tad unseasonal. Whimbrel continue to trickle through the patch with 8-10 birds noted on this occasion alongside a good number of Curlew and of course the sites resident Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Redshank and Oystercatcher. A female Stonechat nearby marked only my third patch record of this species whilst other bits and pieces of note include a Tree Sparrow in the hedges surrounding Middle Stobswood Farm, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Kestrel and a pair of rather late Wigeon. And there you have it, quite a bit of bird based waffling this week though I fear I am compensating for a few weeks of silence as I acclimatize to life in Scotland. I am slightly nervous at the prospects of turning my hobbies into a paid job but I am sure all will be right in the end. Who knows, maybe this could be the start of a long and prosperous career in ecology? I can only wish..