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Seawatching in Northumberland

There are any number of seawatching sites in Northumberland; the two sites I have covered most are Annstead Point at Seahouses and Church Point at Newbiggin-by-the-sea. In Northumberland seawatching generally means sitting in onshore winds and looking for tubenoses and skuas - rather than the seasonal migration of waterbirds which is more common in Scandanavia.

A few of the "epic" seawatches I have experienced are listed below.

Annstead
, Seahouses
The shelter here is maintained by the North Northumberland Bird Club. Manx Shearwater are very regular, but for good numbers onshore or north westerly winds are required. In the abscence of onshore winds this species is often still present but one often has to be there very early in the morning. Huge numbers of auks, terns, Northern Gannets and Fulmars are seen regularly. During the breeding season uncountable numbers of Atlantic Puffins fly to and fro from their breeding colonies on the Farne Islands.

Lookout at Annstead Point The North Sunderland Buoy
Annstead point seawatching hide The North Sunderland buoy - a useful reference point




Sooty Shearwater are a regular feature of seawatches from late July into September - again north westwerly winds (a lot more common than true onshore winds from the east or north east) are a good bet for this species.

Here are few examples of good days:

10 September 1989
0800-1100 & 1745-1845 (total of four hours)
NE wind

Red throated diver 1 S
Great Northern Diver 1 N
Red-necked Grebe 1 N
Fulmar 6900 N
Sooty Shearwater 43 N
Manx Shearwater 158 N
Little Shearwater 1 N
Gannet N 3200
Eurasian Wigeon 52 N
Eurasian Teal 75 N
Northern Pintail 1 N
Pochard 1 N
Common Scoter 8 N
Velvet Scoter 1 N, 1 S
Pomarine Skua 10 N
Arctic Skua 15 S, 1 N
Great Skua 22 N
Little Gull 2 N
Black-legged Kittiwake > 1000 N
Guillemot > 1000N
Atlantic Puffin 100+



Church Point, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea
There is no real shelter at Church Point, other than a small brick structure that is just large enough to sit inside. All manner of seabirds have been recorded here over the years. One of the best birds I have recorded here was a surprise summer plumaged Ross's Gull.

Church point, Newbiggin-by-the-sea

A selection of some of my best days here is given below
:

10 October 1992 (08:20-09:45)
NE wind

Heading north

Red-throated Diver 20+
Red-necked Grebe 1
Northern Gannet 100++
Sooty Shearwater 4
Manx Shearweater 2
Velvet Scoter 10
Pomarine Skua 54
Arctic Skua 2
Great Skua 2
Guillemot 1000's
13 September 1993 (09:00 -1430 - although not seawatching constantly during this time - a number of pauses)
Easterly Gale

All birds heading north

Great Skua 186
Arctic Skua 110
Pomarine Skua 9
Sooty Shearwater 18
Manx Shearwater 23
Little Gull 18
Brent Goose 288
Roseate Tern 1
Black Tern 2
Northern Pintail 5
Eurasian Wigeon 192
Common Scoter 346+
Northern Gannet 400 per hour
Northern Fulmar (Blue phase) 2
Greater Scaup 1















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