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Post Info TOPIC: Northumberland


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Northumberland


Sounds great Nick. I'm now wavering between a return to Norfolk in September with my wife or paying a visit to Northumberland instead - somewhere my wife hasn't visited before.

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UK Life List 314 at 9th Dec 2014


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Just back from a short family break in Bamburgh. Managed to get a good bit of birding in too.

Couldn't have hoped for better accommodation really as our cottage was literally a hundred yards from Stag Rock which is one of the best sea watching spots on this coastline. In fact, the whole coast around here was alive with birds.

The drive up was fairly uneventful with only the odd Buzzard on show but just after Newcastle I spotted a large raptor soaring near to the roadside above some trees. As I got closer I noticed it was displaying and going through roller coaster style swoops. Now alongside it was obvious it was a Goshawk and I slowed down to get probably the best views I've had yet of this bird.

The excitement didn't end there either as when I pulled up at the cottage there was a nice mixed flock of Twite and Linnet on the telephone wires behind our cottage. Not a bad start with two good birds already ticked.

The next morning I got up early to take advantage of the peace and quiet and have a mooch to see what was on show. The dunes were alive with singing
Stonechat and Linnet. On the sea there were plenty of small flocks of Eider. A few rafts of Common Scoter were also present along with the occasional fly past Shag. The rocks had the usual gatherings of Oystercatcher, Turnstone and the odd Redshank but the best here were the twenty or so Purple Sandpiper that seemed to populate this bit of shoreline.

Further along the shore I was treated to extremely close views of Fulmar as they zipped past my head whilst prospecting a distant cliff face.

The next day produced much the same as above but with the extra delights of two Slavonian Grebes just off shore and also seventeen White Fronted Geese flying over the sea. One or two Red Throated Diver also put in an appearance
along with good numbers of Kittiwake passing through.

A visit to Holy Island later in the day produced good views of dark bellied Brent Geese and also Rock Pipits around the castle.

This morning I went on a small wild goose chase to hunt for the previous days sighting of a Ross's Goose just up the road. Unfortunately the bird had gone but I did locate good numbers of White Fronted, Greylag and Barnacle Geese in the fields nearby.

In a nutshell this is one of my favourite birding areas and having been up here twice before it has never failed to throw up good birds. Previous visits have given me Long Tailed Duck, Black Throated Diver and even a Little Auk that I rescued on the beach after a big storm. Can't wait to go back again.

Total for the trip was 65 species. I've posted a few photos on my flickr page if anyone's interested too.

-- Edited by Nick Isherwood on Monday 12th of March 2012 09:50:49 PM

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Some of my photos. www.flickr.com/photos/nickish77


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Family trip to Lindisfarne today but managed a bit of birding! Highlights:

Rock Pipit at the castle
Merlin on the saltmarsh at the causeway
60+ Paled Bellied and at least 1 Dark Bellied Brents on the island
8+ Short Eared Owls over the pasture and dunes at the north end

Will have to go back for a proper days birding sometime - looks brilliant :)

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wow! I've never even heard of a crossbilled duck!!!

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Only just thought to mention this on here but finally broke my Crossbills duck a couple of weeks ago. After several unsuccessful visits to Binn Green/Dovestone, I got great views of a flock of ~10 birds during a weekend away close to Kielder Water. Hurrah!

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John Baber and I finally found the time today to get ourselves up to the North East to Hauxley Nature Reserve to have a look at the long staying Greater Yellowlegs.

Leaving home at 05.30 we arrived at around 09.00 when we heard that the bird was showing from the Tern hide where, shortly after arrival we had close range views for about an hour. (see National Mega sightings thread).

We had heard that a Little Auk had been seen earlier so we headed for the sea-watching hide in an attempt to add a new bird to John's list. No joy on that one but we did have good views of Eider and Gannet on a now raging sea and a nice little flock of Tree Sparrows on the feeders. The wind by now was really blowing a hooley so we started thinking about heading away.

We called in at Druridge Bay Country Park where we ate our lunch and watched Scaup, and Red-breasted Merganser on the pool.

Arrived home at 16.30 after a long but satisfying day despite the eventual appalling weather.






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Another week of holidays (12th to 19th Nov) staying again near Budle Bay and wandering just in the local area for the odd bit of bird watching. I mentioned in my post last year the variety and numbers of birds that can be seen in the area - for example a notice board at Budle Bay displayed selected peak bird counts for October 2011 for Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve of :- Red Throated Diver 12, Little Egret 6, Light-bellied Brent Goose 3400, Dark-bellied Brent Goose 112, Slavonian Grebe 2, Wigeon 13000, Pink-footed Goose 4491, Barnacle Goose 3200, Pintail 110, Eider 323, Mute Swan 48, Whooper Swan 38, Red Breasted Merganser 25, Oystercatcher 1253, Golden Plover 4000, Lapwing 929, Bar-tailed Godwit 1498, Knot 1200, Dunlin 2500, Sanderling 385 and Curlew 692.

My own highlights this week were "discovering" the area around Low Newton-by-the-Sea and Newton Pool. Approx grid ref of NU242242. A lovely area in itself but with plenty of interest to suit all types of birdwatchers from beginners to experts. Around Newton Pool on 16th, in and around the flock of Greylag Geese, which got up to c300 birds on occasions, there were 3 Eurasian White-fronted Geese (with over 30 reported in the area on some days apparently) and also 4 Tundra Bean Geese (many thanks to the 2 local helpful and friendly birders) for pointing these out to me. Amongst the Greylag Geese were 6 birds which remained together (possibly a family unit?) with neck collars/rings. The rings were blue with white lettering and the letters NG, NC, NA and NL were read. Chatting to one of the local birders he thought that someone had already reported these particular ringed birds and he had been told that they were thought to have originated from Sweden. I'll try and find out a bit more. Also on the pool a family party of 4 Whooper Swans, up to 200 Teal on occasions and small numbers of Wigeon and Shoveler. By the way there are two hides from which to watch. On fields nearby 13 Grey Partridge on 16th and 4 on 17th. A pair of Stonechat was in the dunes on 16th. The seaweed at the northern end of the bay (Newton Haven) was an attraction for commoner birds with a squabbling pack of c400 Starling, c55 Oystercatcher, c50 Redshank, c30 Turnstone and 3 Purple Sandpiper on various dates. c120 Knot were in the area on 16th and I spent a really enjoyable 20 minutes watching a hyperactive loose flock of c90 Sanderlings, feeding frenziedly on a rising tide late in the day, on 17th. Perhaps the most unusual sighting here was of a Swallow hawking low over the beach on 16th!!

Also spent a bit of time around Harkess Rocks, Bamburgh (known locally as Stag Rocks, I think?) at NU178358. I was told this was good spot from which to see divers although I didnt see any. Had terrific views through the scope though of a loose flock of c45 Purple Sandpipers on seaweed covered rocks just short of high tide 16th. Foraging, bathing and chasing each other about - a brilliant spectacle. A superb male Long-tailed Duck gave great views just offshore here on 18th. A big flock of c200 Linnet were feeding on a large field of weeds just inland of here (Bamburgh Moor) on both 16th and 18th. A pair of Stonechats was near Bamburgh Castle on 15th.

I was on Lindisfarne on 17th, one of the days an Eastern Black Redstart was present. I didn't join the throng who were chasing the poor thing along the beach. Although a photographer did kindly show me some excellent photos of the said bird on his digital camera, so I'm sure that counts as me having seen it...........doesn't it?

Cheers,

Bill.


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An early 4.30am start from home with Jason Atkinson took us to Hauxley Nature Reserve for the reported Greater Yellowlegs.

On arrival, shortly after dawn, we were told that the bird had been seen a few minutes earlier, but no sign since.

After a search of the general area from the Wader Hide with other birders, suddenly news came through that the bird had been relocated at nearby Druridge Bay Country Park.

After a quick dash, we arrived at Druridge Bay where the bird was soon located and gave us fabulous views, even coming onto the lakeside grass on a couple of occasions giving us a good chance to study the main ID features of this rare wader. A lifer for both of us!

Also of note were Scaup, Red-breasted Merganser and a flock of Eurasian White-fronted Geese.

Next stop was Holy Island where we arrived an hour or so later and had fantastic views of the male Eastern Black Redstart on the beach to the North of the island. The bird was pretty flighty but still treated those present to cracking views as it made it's way up and down the beach landing on the rocks and vegetation.

A great day out and Jason managed to get some great photos of both birds too, which no doubt he will put on his website.






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Just enjoyed a week's family holiday in the area, staying near Bamburgh and Seahouses. We visit here usually twice a year, and I would recommend this area to anyone looking for good birding, but also lots of interesting places to visit and great scenery. The birdlife is abundant, with most species being observed not in one's and two's, but usually in flocks of tens and hundreds. I clocked up 75 different species over the week without really trying too hard, this being a 'family' holiday I was limited to the odd hour's birding in between visits to the shops, cafes and days out looking at castles.

The stubble fields surrounding our holiday cottage hosted hundreds of Pinkfoots. Every morning I watched them swarm in from their roost at Budle Bay to spend the day feeding. Undoubtably the highlight of the week was finding a pair of Snow Geese amongst them, sticking close to half a dozen Barnacles. When they flew, their black primary wing feathers clearly confirming their identity to avoid any confusion with any dodgy farmyard types. A self-found lifer.

On Friday we visited Holy Island and managed a slight detour to Goswick for a quick search for the reported Black Scoter. But the sea was a long way off due to the tide, and I couldn't locate it. Noticed it's been reported again today on RBA.

Cheers,

Steve.

-- Edited by Stephen Fuentes on Saturday 29th of October 2011 09:56:45 PM

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A leucistic female House Sparrow was amongst House Sparrows on grass approaching the priory on Holy Island yesterday.

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A long day with John Barber starting from home at 05.30 took us to the North East specifically the Druridge Bay area where we visited Cresswell Pond and adjacent beach, East Chevington and Hauxley reserves and finally, the main reason for the visit - the boat trip to Coquet Island.

Of note we found:-

Cresswell Pond area, from the beach - big numbers of Puffins and Terns (Arctic, Common and Sandwich) as well as Gannet, Guillemot and a Sedge Warbler singing his head off in the bushes.

East Chevington - Little Gull, Spotted Redshank, Marsh Harriers, Terns (Arctic, Common and Sandwich again).

Hauxley - not much bird activity apart from numerous Canada Geese and Curlew but two young Stoats playing on a path for three photographers was nice to see

Amble Harbour and Coquet Island - whilst waiting for the boat to take us to the island we watched a creche of Eider chicks with two attentive females. On the journey out to the island there were several more female Eiders but only a couple of males. The most amazing thing about the journey was the number of Puffins that were present - we were told that there are an estimated 20,000 + birds in burrows on the island. We also observed the Kittiwake colony as well as several Fulmar. Then there was the Tern colony in which were present Common, Arctic, Sandwich and of course the main attraction the Roseates. The boat moored about 50m away from the colony and we had good views of several birds, a couple clearly showing their pink flushed chests/underparts - one particular bird flew close to the boat giving a great display.

Apparently all breeding visitors to the island are there in increased numbers this year a fact attributed to a reported increased food supply particularly of Sand Eels - good news.

Came home on the scenic route over the A686 to Penrith - and spotted two Little Owls on the road near Whitworth.

Arrived home at 19.30 a little tired but with a smashing birding day to reflect on.


-- Edited by sid ashton on Tuesday 28th of June 2011 03:16:36 PM

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Unfortunately not a first for England Mike, not that it detracts from an excellent and educational bird

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Ian McKerchar (forum administrator and owner)


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Thanks for this Mike.
In many years of visits to Llanfairfechan in search of the Black Scoter I never managed a good enough view to be sure I was looking at the bird so I'm rather tempted by this one!
Henry.

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Friday, April 15th

The drake Black Scoter was showing well when we arrived this morning, in company with a raft of about 140 Common Scoter, some 600 yds offshore, thankfully in flat calm conditions. (None of us were quite sure as to whether or not this is a "first" for England, though it was for the 3 of us).
It is easy to assume that Manchester birders will all have seen the long staying N. Wales bird, however in case anyone is interested, just head north for Bamburgh.

Leaving the village north, and hugging the castle walls via a right turn into the Wynding (the name of a street), then after 1 kilometre, park in the layby on the coast side with excellent views seaward. With the castle filling the view to the south and Stag Rocks several hundred yards north, look out towards the obvious island and the Scoter pack is generally between you and the island.
There are of course drake Common Scoters in the pack and when facing directly at you they do show relatively speaking quite a lot of yellow on the upper mandible, but when you pick up the Black Scoter it has more extensive "egg yolk" yellow on the more swollen upper mandible, and is best appreciated on a "side on " view.

-Good Luck to whoever makes the trip.

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Why not?



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Spent the weekend with the folks in Morpeth and got some good birding in.

Friday - St Mary's Island:
Purple Sandpiper
Golden Plover
Knot
Sanderling
Redshank
Oystercatcher
Dunlin
Lapwing
Curlew
Merlin
Eider
Teal
Wigeon
Gadwall
Turnstone - these actually came up off the shore and were feeding in the grass around the car park and actually on the car park itself.

Satuday - trip to the Saltholme area - sightings added to the relevant thread

Sunday - Cresswell Pond
Golden Plover
Ruff
Redshank
Dunlin
Curlew
Cormorant
Wigeon
Teal
Shelduck
Common Gull
BH Gull
Grey Partridge
Stonechat
Barn Owl
Pink Feet flying over
Moorhen
Coot
We just missed seeing the bittern by about 5 minutes!


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I've just returned from a week's holiday in Northumberland. Lovely autumn weather in a beautiful, relatively unspoilt and under-visited part of the country. Of course when holidaying with others one can't be too selfish and I most generously made sure that not all of the time was spent bird watching. A full 2 minutes and 25 seconds were spent ogling some castle, a whirlwind tour of some stately home was conducted at breakneck speed, a sustained sprint around the grounds of Alnwick Castle and Gardens quickly took in all it had to offer and with a trolley dash around the local Spar I'm sure that this will have been more than enough to keep those with sightseeing and shopaholic tendencies happy! laughing.gif

I know there is another excellent thread on this forum about the rarities in this general area but I enjoyed spending time watching some of the commoner species that either I never get to see in GM or watching species that I can sometimes see in GM but with far greater numbers here. My accommodation was less than 1 mile from Budle Bay which is on the south-eastern edge of Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve (NNR). What a really brilliant location this is to watch birds from. I spent many hours here watching and enjoying the activities of the 1000's of birds, on either rising or falling tides. For those visiting, at the south-eastern end of the bay near Waren Mill the road runs alongside the bay and there is an extensive area for cars to pull into and to be able to watch from and get really good views of birds close at hand there. A notice board here detailing selected peak bird counts for September for Lindisfarne NNR showed Light-bellied Brent Geese 2,200; Pink-footed Goose 1,194; Shelduck 880; Wigeon 6,200; Eider 697; Oystercatcher 1,132; Knot 4,330; Dunlin 3,840 and Curlew 1,025. Read 'em and weep! Spend a bit of time here and it makes you realise the skills required and how demanding a challenge it is to be a WeBS bird counter here!

On all visits last week (16/10 - 22/10) there were 100's if not occasionally 1000's of some species - namely Wigeon, Teal, Lapwing, Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin, Shelduck, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull. Other isolated counts included a flock of c700 Common Gull descending onto the mudflats on a receding tide on 17th and c1200 airborne Golden Plover on 22nd. Small numbers of Red-breasted Merganser and Eider were present in the water channels on most visits. Brilliant close up views in exceptionally good light of Bar-tailed Godwit (not really counted by me properly but probably into 3 figures) and Grey Plover biggrin.gif (usually best seen at lower tide levels) seen everyday but with max of 3 on 22nd. 1 Greenshank on 20th and with 2 present on 21st. A Little Egret on most days and 4 Whooper Swans (2 adults and 2 juveniles) on 21st. Very small numbers of Pink-footed Goose and Brent Goose were around Budle Bay itself. Although there were 1000's of Brent Geese on the tidal flats near Holy Island and skeins of pink-feet were a fairly regular flyover sighting. Peregrine and Sparrowhawk were regularly seen throughout the area during the week, including over Budle Bay itself - given the numbers, possibly a mix of resident and migrant birds? Peregrine over the mudflats was a daily sight - when over the bay it was a real spectacle to watch many of the other birds in the air. Buzzard and Kestrel were also seen.

Incidentally, a book that I found really useful in the field this week whilst watching birds in flight was "Flight Identification of European Seabirds" by Blomdahl, Breife and Holmstrom. Some excellent photo shots of how we might see birds in the field, includes many groups of species (but not waders unfortunately!) of seabirds and is accompanied by well set out short, succinct and readable paragraphs on what to look out for. Possibly not everyones "cup of tea" this book but one I really like and I'm pleased to say I have now "christened" my copy, which is now well-fingered, with a water stained front cover and grains of sand in-between some of the pages. Well, isn't that what all field guides should end up like!

2 Sanderling were on a sandy beach between Bamburgh and Seahouses on 19th. Rock Pipits were seen in most suitable locations. A pair of Stonechats were near Bamburgh Castle on 17th. Also spent a bit of time around Beadnell, which is on the same stretch of coastland several miles south-east of Budle Bay. At high tide roost here on 20th on a rocky outcrop behind the art deco type house on the seafront in the middle of the village held 9 Turnstone, 8 Purple Sandpiper, 3 Knot and 2 Redshank. A follow up visit to the same location on 22nd found the high tide roost to be even larger and more varied with 1 Curlew, 17 Purple Sandpiper, 57 Turnstone, 38 Oystercatcher, 6 Knot, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Redshank and 2 Dunlin. On this date a flock of c40 Lapwings appeared to fly in off the sea and 2 immediately landed on the rocky spit and appeared to be, rather dangerously, looking for food on the edge of the swirling tidal splash zone. Very hungry migrants? Also on this latter date spent a cracking hour and a half watching, in good light and fairly close at hand, a good sized flock of c120 Eider foraging for food in Beadnell Bay. Amongst the flock there were also 3 Shags, 4 Long-tailed Ducks, biggrin.gif1 female Common Scoter, 5+ Red-breasted Mergansers and 4 Goldeneye. This loose flock was accompanied by a small number of Black-headed Gulls resting on the water, which appeared to be trying to steal food off the Goldeneyes but they didn't seem to try it on with any of the other species! Male Eiders - what can you say - surely the most beautiful bird in Britain? nod.gif I could (and did!) watch them for hours.

Certainly would recommend this general area for all birders, as it has something of interest for all different levels of experience.


Cheers,


Bill.


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Spent a few days up on the lovely northumberland coast with my Uncle and was lucky enough to check out a few of the coastal birding spots. Long Nanny near Beadnell has an impressive tern colony and was our first stop. From only 2 pairs of Little Terns in the late 70's they now have 20+ pairs and from 6 pairs of Arctics they now have 700+! A fantastic job from the National Trust here. Other stuff seen here included Gannets (offshore), 1 Whimbrel, Mistle Thrush, Skylarks, Linnets, Mipits, Sand Martins, 1 Reed Bunting.

St Mary's island was a bit quiet but there's some great potential for scarcer birds to turn up with marshland on the coastal strip and a few clumps of shrubby vegetation for pulling in passerines. Just the resident breeders present on my visit with Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, hirundines, Reed Buntings, Skylarks, Yellowhammers, and a smattering of ducks and waders.

From here it was on to Druridge Bay, the scene of much work to help habitat creation along the whole bay. Following on from historical opencast coal mining the Northumberland Wildlife Trust took over many of the quarried sites and have transformed the whole feel of the area from a former industrial center, to a stretch of coastal habitat of large proportion. The birds have followed quickly, notably with Marsh Harriers resident during the summer. Also seen were Garganey, Common Gull, Sand Martins, Tufted Ducks and Willow Warblers at Druridge Pools, Marsh Harrier, Shoveler, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Lapwings, Oystercatcher and assorted gulls at East Chevington, Wigeons, Greylag Geese, Common+Sandwich Terns, Grey Heron, Sand Martins, Long-tailed Tits, Eiders and Gannets (offshore) and similar waders at Hauxley NR, then finally Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Barn Owl, Shelducks, Teal, Common Gulls (over-summering), Linnets and more Sedge Warblers at Cresswell Pond. All of these sites could be described as fairly quiet on my visit and are home to many species during the course of a year.

To finish the trip we hopped on board another boat and headed over to Coquet Island this time, home to 98% of Britain's Roseate Terns. They put on a great show, even though landing on the island is forbidden understandably. Frequently the terns would take flight and swoop away from the island altogether in an impressive display bringing a few of the Roseates within meters of the boat for a brief moment. It is hoped the island will break the 100 pairs mark with Roseates this year and there were certainly plenty present but the official count hasn't been done yet. This hour long boat trip from Amble harbour provides sightings of many of the species possible on the Farnes even without stepping onto the island itself, well worth it for the Roseates alone! A hint of the rosy hue on their breasts was discernable from a distance and was showed off to the max during the courtship and display between two birds. Quality birds indeed.

Thanks.
Henry.

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Two hours spent at Cresswell Pond yesterday afternoon got me 4 (poss 5) new ticks (proving that there was a good side to me having to drive all night to pick my parents up after they finally managed to get a flight back from Spain).

6 yellow wagtail
1 "Channel" wagtail
2 white wagtail
2 sandwich tern
1 jack snipe (even managed to get photos too!!!)

Plus:
Shelduck
1 Wigeon
F red breated merganser
Tufties
Curlew
Redshank
Meadow Pipt
Reed bunting
1m 2f goldeneye
3 herons chasing each other
Approx 10 pairs gadwall



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A couple of days spent staying with the parents in Morpeth resulted in some good sightings.
Saturday - Bakethin Nature Reserve at Kielder
Crossbill
Tufted duck
Teal
Goldeneye
Cormorant
Mallard
Little Grebe
Redwing
Chaffinch
Robin
Greenfinch
Coal Tit
Nuthatch
GS Woodpecker

Sunday - Cresswell Pond & Druridge Pools
Cresswell:
Red Throated Diver biggrin.gif
Tufties
Wigeon
Teal
Red Breasted Merganer
Cormarant
Lapwing
Redshank
Bar Tailed Godwit
Curlew
Kestrel

Druridge:
Glossy Ibis biggrin.gif
Redshank
Greenshank
Moorhen
Couldn't see much else here as the hide was packed. Missed the Radde's Warbler too - by the time I was there, there was just a group of birders looking hopefully into some foliage no.gif!

Still, not a bad trip - 3 new ticks for me with the RT Diver, Glossy Ibis and Crossbills


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