Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Journey to the Frozen North (well Teesside)
We had a wedding party to attend on Saturday night on Teesside, and decided to have a few days up there visiting friends of mine and sightseeing, with a spot of birding also. On a bright, but typically breezy Sunday morning, we visited my former local patch of South Gare, and immediately found about 12 Turnstones and 5 Purple Sandpipers. Rock Pipits were present, and when we reached the end of the breakwater, a Guillimot was bobbing about. A juv Red Throated Diver was feeding quite close in and a female Common Scoter flew past. All these were typical sightings for the time of year. However, a small bird bobbing and diving close in was a surprise. It was my second Little Auk, 8 years almost to the day since my previous one, which had been only about 200 yards west of where we saw this one. A flock of 43 Red Legged Partridges were seen a couple of miles inland, very impressive. On a very windy Tuesday, we headed into the northern Pennines to look for Black Grouse. Sadly, none were found at any of their favoured sites between Middleton and Alston or St Johns Chapel. Last time I was there (June 2002), I found 22 males in one field! 2 Red Grouse showed well next to the road at one point.