East Coast – Hartlepool 6th Nov

With the Met Office forecasting gale force winds and heavy rain on the Yorkshire coast, the club’s east coast trip headed for Hartlepool where it was predicted to be relatively calmer. The eleven of us reconvened at the Headland for a spell of seawatching in the hope that there would be a passage of Little Auk, given the wind direction. Unfortunately that was not to be, though three of the group did have a fleeting view of one bird later on. Highlights of the session included the occasional group of Great Skua passing close by, including six and nine or ten together, possibly up to 25 birds in total. There was also a pale-phase Arctic Skua harrying a small gull, many Kittiwakes, Common Scoter and a few other duck, as well as a stream of immature Gannets mainly heading north and some Red-throated Divers.

After a while, we went looking for the Eastern Black Redstart that had been showing well on the previous two days. After some searching around the houses to the south of the lighthouse, it was located on the rocks near the large breakwater. It showed well for a while, giving an opportunity for photography for some. It was the star bird of the day.

Another brief spell of seawatching took us up to lunch when we relocated to the old harbour area via a brief stop at the marina. This was an area not known to many on the trip and we had some waders here to add to the Purple Sandpipers and Turnstones that we had seen at the Headland. These included a huddle of some 23 Sanderlings presumably using each other as shelter from the wind as they couldn’t hide in the lee of the breakwaters owing to a couple of bait diggers. Some of us stayed here for their sandwiches while a few others visited Ward Jackson Park for Ring-necked Parakeets before meeting up again further south at North Gare. The wind didn’t help there and the only birds of note were a Merlin flashing low over the road on the way in with some Curlew and Wigeon on the pools. The weather had deteriorated by now, forcing a retreat to shelter in cars before we spent time admiring the sea, including the very large waves near the Headland where we had been earlier.

We ended up at Greatham Creek as the light was fading, to be treated by a large flock of Lapwing, single Grey and Golden Plover as well as a lone Brent Goose. Flocks of Starlings were heading in the Saltholme direction to roost and the Lapwings were put up by a Peregrine before we called it a day.