Trip reports

Holy Island and Budle Bay

Holy Island and Budle Bay
Snow bunting (Phil Sharp)

Saturday, 6 October 2018

In the main car park, we met up with another 11 members who had travelled by car from a variety of starting points. We decided to start our exploration of the island with the view from the village towards St. Cuthbert's Island. The shoreline was covered in roosting bar-tailed godwits, oystercatchers and redshanks, with several knot in amongst them. A few cormorants and shags perched on rocks, while eider, red-breasted mergansers and a distant guillemot bobbed on the sea. Slightly further offshore a number of gannets, mostly juveniles, were plunging into the water for fish. A group of six barnacle geese flew past. The incoming tide had covered the sand banks where grey seals congregate, but several were swimming in the same area.

On the pools east of the coach park we found several dunlin in addition to the usual teal and redshank, before heading towards the Straight Lonnen. The hawthorns by the farm were packed with house sparrows. Those in the Lonnen were endowed with a profusion of red berries, but there were only blackbirds there to enjoy them. Migrants were in short supply generally, with just singles of goldcrest, chiffchaff and blackcap. Where the hedge peters out, open vistas revealed several roe deer in their regular field, stonechat, meadow pipit and reed bunting perching on walls and bushes and several skylark passing overhead. A kestrel flew past carrying prey, then perched on a fence post to consume the unlucky vole.

Grass of Parnassus was easy to find as we followed the path through the dunes to Castlehead Rocks. It was very windy here, but we decided to make this our lunch stop in the hope of seeing something interesting offshore. Apart from a single Arctic tern passing close by, the bulk of passage seemed to be gannets rather than the divers and ducks we had anticipated. Some compensation was provided by the three purple sandpipers scuttling discretely over the seaweed covered rocks below us and a small flock of sanderling that flew past at close range.

Although most of the sandy beach was under the sea, sufficient stranded kelp was exposed to attract several rock pipits and a small group of ringed plovers gathered on the edge of the waves. We had a little more luck at Emmanuel Point, with a few common scoter going north and some distant kittiwakes.

The hide at the Lough always provides a rest stop at a convenient point and has provided some excellent birds on occasion. This time, some of the party were lucky enough to see water rail, but the more common species here such as wigeon, mallard, shoveler, tufted duck, little grebe and moorhen also added to our list.

The island's best bird that day was saved for last. We returned to the village via the Crooked Lonnen, where we enjoyed excellent views of a very confiding snow bunting around the half-way point. This individual had been present for several days and appeared to have no fear of humans, which was a treat for all and a superb photographic opportunity.

With the tide now on its way out, we were able to leave the island. Some of the party decided to head straight home, but a few of us decided to call in at Budle Bay. A good range of wildfowl and waders awaited us on the mudflats, including hordes of shelduck, another two greenshanks and at least three grey plovers. Long-tailed tits in the roadside trees gave us the final species of the day. The weather conditions hadn't provided many migrants for us, but the conditions were pleasant. We enjoyed the walk around the island and finished with a respectable trip list of 72.

Julie Hogg

Trip List

1. Mute Swan
2. Whooper Swan
3. Greylag Goose
4. Barnacle Goose
5. Brent Goose
6. Shelduck
7. Wigeon
8. Teal
9. Mallard
10. Shoveler
11. Tufted Duck
12. Eider
13. Common Scoter
14. Red-breasted Merganser
15. Pheasant
16. Gannet
17. Cormorant
18. Shag
19. Little Egret
20. Grey Heron
21. Little Grebe
22. Common Buzzard
23. Water Rail
24. Moorhen
25. Oystercatcher
26. Golden Plover
27. Grey Plover
28. Lapwing
29. Ringed Plover
30. Curlew
31. Bar-tailed Godwit
32. Turnstone
33. Knot
34. Sanderling
35. Dunlin
36. Purple Sandpiper
37. Greenshank
38. Redshank
39. Guillemot
40. Arctic Tern
41. Kittiwake
42. Black-headed Gull
43. Common Gull
44. Herring Gull
45. Great Black-backed Gull
46. Woodpigeon
47. Collared Dove
48. Kestrel
49. Merlin
50. Magpie
51. Jackdaw
52. Carrion Crow
53. Goldcrest
54. Blue Tit
55. Skylark
56. Long-tailed Tit
57. Blackcap
58. Starling
59. Blackbird
60. Redwing
61. Robin
62. Stonechat
63. Dunnock
64. House Sparrow
65. Pied Wagtail
66. Meadow Pipit
67. Rock Pipit
68. Chaffinch
69. Linnet
70. Goldfinch
71. Snow Bunting
72. Reed Bunting