A stroke of pure luck today scored me a new bird for the patch - HONEY BUZZARD!
Here's the tale...
I was at work and had to drive from Alnwick via Amble to Longhirst - virtually passing my patch at lunchtime, too rare an opportunity to miss, so loaded up with a 'Country Barn' pasty and one of their fab Mars Bar Crispy Cakes and headed to the patch.
With limited time and no wellies, a scan from the dune seemed the best approach. After about 10 minutes, a big flock of canada geese flew up and moved south, I scanned them and picked up a raptor which at first seemed to flying with them, then it became apparent it was actually behind them, it looked big and was flying purposefully south.
The geese turned, giving me better views of the raptor which was now being mobbed by a carrion crow. It was a buzzard-sized raptor but it immediately struck me as different. Firstly, the way it was flying, moving strongly south, secondly it had a flap, flap glide flight and didn't show the classic raised wings of a common buzzard. I was excited!
As I studied the bird which was now flying strongly south other features were apparent, long necked appearance with a small head, it also appeared long tailed - the tail wasn't fanned at all, it was closed and look pointed from some angles. But it was the jizz of the bird that had me convinced.
I didn't get much on colour at all as it was in poor light or obscured by geese. The head looked paler than upperparts. I didn't get a good view of the underparts as it was flying about level with me, but there was some barring visible as the bird turned slightly as the crow mobbed it.
It wasn't a juvenile, but I wasn't able to sex it.
Honey Buzzard has alluded me on the patch and in Northumberland for a long time now, I didn't expect to turn one up today!. Everyone and their dog saw one during the influx of September 2008 except me. I'll hopefully be seeing hundreds of them when I am in Tarifa in two weeks time.
So Honey Buzzard is my second new patch bird for the year taking the patch list to 227. It is a shame that HB in Northumberland has such a stigma associated with it, because of the actions of one or two individuals. As a result I expect some flack about this record...all light-hearted I'm sure. Dave Elliott joined me shortly after the bird had gone out of view, he had seen the geese from the hide but hadn't look up at them which is such a shame.
A look offshore at high-tide yesterday afternoon, which was a big tide, saw me add turnstone to the year list as five flew north and a greenshank on the beach was new for the year.
Sadly, three yellow wagtails calling overhead were also a year-tick - no breeding birds this year.
133 Yellow wagtail
134 HONEY BUZZARD