AFTER THE RAIN - 25 April 2015

The forecast was dreadful. We were enjoying warm and sunny weather all week, but the forecasters seemed to relish saying that the weekend would be wet. Saturday was due to be a deluge. Each night I watched the TV forecast and worried. Would I have to cancel the planned Holy Island tour and disappoint the 6 people who had booked to come? I take such decisions with reluctance, but even more so this time when I knew that a couple from Essex were up on holiday in order to join the tour. Come Thursday and the forecast was still grim. I emailed everyone to warn them to expect cancellation. However, I explained the final decision would be made as late as possible - on the morning of the day itself.

Saturday came and I got up early. It started raining right on cue, but the forecast that morning tantalised with a glimmer of hope. According to the BBC forecast for Berwick, it would be sunny by mid afternoon. I rang round and offered a half day event. "Turn up at 2 if you are interested".

I left home at lunchtime. Patches of blue sky began appearing as I drove north. Allelulia! Four of the original group were waiting at the rendez vous and we drove onto Holy Island together. Chare Ends was our first stop where we saw a single Whitethroat and Redstart. Evidence of spring migration - birds perhaps brought down by the rain and restarting their journeys as they flitted through from bush to bush. We walked towards Emmanuel Head and spotted a Mealy Redpoll, an adult male with a gorgeous deep pink breast. Another migrant, possibly heading to Scandinavia and quite a 'find'. Then to the headland where we stopped for several minutes to watch the birds flying close-by past the point. Lines of Gannet going north and single birds flying south. Plus Sandwich tern, Guillemot, Fulmar, Kittiwake, Cormorant and Shag... we did well for seabirds. The sun shone, the wind dropped and it felt warm. What a great afternoon after the rain. But the best was yet to come. A final stop at the freshwater pool by the harbour and there was a drake Garganey preening himself. A beautiful bird, a rare find and a new tick for Birdwatch Northumbria. Species number 185 was a "belter"!

Mark Winter

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