BLACK SCOTER & PACIFIC LOON IN NORTHUMBERLAND

Pacific Loon, East Chevington, Northumberland

A DAY OUT ON THE NORTHUMBERLAND COAST with Mark Varley resulted in another UK lifer, the long overdue Black Scoter off the dunes at Cheswick Shiel. It took over 5.5 hours to find it in tricky conditions at times but mostly because it was probably not where we were looking at the time. We checked hundreds of Common Scoter bills until Mark eventually picked it out more or less right in front of us. Its bill like an yellow-orange light bulb. I'd been saving this one until later and I guess now it's later. There were plenty of other birds along Cheswick Sands today, including: Great Northern (two), Black-throated (one) and Red-throated (c.20) Divers; Slavonian Grebe (one); Long-tailed Duck (c.30); Common Eider; Red-breasted Merganser; Northern Fulmar (one); Razorbills and Common Guillemots; European Shags and a female Merlin, which bombed down the beach with a crow in hot pursuit. The scoter flocks were being harassed constantly by large gulls and moved around quite a lot. The day started off bright and sunny but we got rained on about half way through before the Black Scoter materialised, which did not leave much time for the Pacific Loon at East Chevington. It was surprisingly elusive, diving frequently but it did give us one nice fly past. That's all five loon species in a couple of weeks. Not such an incredible record bearing in mind we passed the site of the first one near Knaresborough on the way there and back. I wonder how many other records are lurking in the photo archives waiting to be identified? Also here of note were: kingfisher and Pink-footed Geese.

Black Scoter, Cheswick Sands

Now then! I'm supposed to find the birds! A great bit of spotting by Mark Varley saved the day.