Postcard from Northumberland

Greetings from Alnmouth,enjoying some class walking,sightseeing and a spot of birding in this fair County.Abundant wildfowl all around,geese,ducks and swans.A herd of 30 odd Whoopers are viewable from our digs.

A walk from Crastor,taking in the superb Dunstanburgh castle took us North towards Low Newton by the sea,where our pace quickened as we approached the Ship Inn.Quite frankley the best pub on the planet,complete with its own micro-brewery.You can even birdwatch from the window.Spent a while there.

Purple sandpipers were found in several places,they are common up here and fairly approachable.However,the best experience of the day (better than the pub even) came on the return route.A real right place right time moment.A female Merlin flew very low above the sea before landing on a small offshore island.She sat there awhile,looking round before suddenly rising to chase a Rock pipit.An entertaining chase ensued,the pipit twisting and turning,ducking and diving,but it couldn’t shake off its persistent attacker.By now the two birds were directly over our heads just a few metres away,bins not needed.Alas the pipit was mercilessly clawed and carried off,a small cloud of feathers fluttered gently down to the sand.The Merlin flew back to the island with her quarry,but now she was pursued by a hungry,squawking Herring gull.She was too fast for the gull,though.Jaw-dropping action.Nature,Eh?

Next day we explored Holy Island which was very quiet bird-wise but 3 Long-tailed ducks were fairly close in on the North side.Pale-bellied brents were grazing. Other Seaduck on view were Eiders,R B Mergansers and Goldeneyes.Found the washed up remains of a colour-ringed swan,I’m awaiting info of its history from the BTO.

Thursday we attempted a moorland walk but turned back as foul weather was closing in.While seawatching later from the beach at Alnmouth the best bird was a drake Velvet scoter offshore.