Monday, 8 February 2010

Destined to remain a MYSTERY

A brief walk to Churchpoint at Newbiggin on Saturday resulted in me acting like a total nutter whilst trying to identify a group of birds. I immediately spotted a group of Oystercatchers and while watching these lovely birds I spotted something odd amongst the small gathering and immediately went into stealth mode and crept forward hiding amongst the rocks. Mike just shook his head in despair at my efforts at being a wildlife photographer. There was a small group of Turnstones and Redshanks amongst the group and I could see these small grey/white birds running to and fro. I got into a good spot, got out my bird book and tried to get a photo...I got what I thought was a cracker but once home I realised the little blighters had ducked between the rocks and I was left with 2 Redshank. Nice but no good to ID my mystery birds. In my not so scientific deduction I think they may of been Dunlin as they had a white belly and grey upper parts but despite my deductions I am probably wrong as in my book it stresses they are waders and these were amongst the rocks acting a bit like Turnstones. So the Mystery is destined to stay a mystery.

Other sightings were Heron, Gulls, Cormorant and some cracking male Eider Ducks. I was amazed to get a good shot of 2 different birds one the first one I think is a first winter male as the colours are not quite as sharp and it is a sooty colour, I first thought the bird was an eclipse male but then noticed the white chest and ruled it out. The second one is what I think is a winter male, it is much more brightly coloured with the white head but the green on the head is still a bit shabby looking. I may be totally wrong about most things related to birding but one thing I do know is that it is awfully good fun. Off to the Lake District at the weekend for a few days holiday with some birding and photography thrown in for good measure.
The birds I can ID now are still a challenge as I am wanting to learn more such as - are they 1st winter, mature or eclipse. Fascinating stuff.


  1. From your description of the waders, 'running to and fro' they may well have been Sanderling, although there are Dunlin along the beach down there too. Don't get too caught up on the term 'waders' they do wade but you can encounter Dunlin up on the golf course at high tide, on the edge of a pond or on high moorland where they breed.

  2. Michelle I believe you are right in your deduction. They will most likely have been Dunlins scuttling between rocks. They can be found in sandy, muddy or rocky areas, though mud is preferred. You get mixed wader flocks at Newbiggin so look for Oysters, Redshanks, Knot, Dunlin, Purple Sandpipers, Grey Plover, Turnstone and maybe Sanderling ( though these stick to sand).

    As for the Eiders, you are doing well with all this eclipse, FW stuff! Ducks go into eclipse in late summer and come out into proper plumage in late autumn. Your Eiders are males. The top is a first winter, but the bottom is slightly more confusing. It could be a first summer ( plumage after first winter) or possibly a second winter. Its probably best with larger birds to stick with immature males then you are saying they are 'not adults' which is right!

    Keep up the good work. Birds will remain a challenge for a long time yet. We dont live long enough to get them all sorted! Its what keeps us going...

  3. Hi Alan / Stewart
    Thanks for the comments, I will definately stick to the Adult / Mature / Immature descriptions. Eiders are great and like most of the birds I can ID, are one of my favourites. It was good to get out and about I am really looking forwrad to the lakes at the weekend. Love reading your blogs and thanks again for all your advice and encouragement

  4. "Sanderling ( though these stick to sand)" Thanks for posting I didn't know that, I never thought anything of it but now you mention it there was a give away in the name lol. I have much to learn. :)

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