After seeing a report of a large movement of little auks north past the Farnes on Monday, Simon, Chris and I met up early on Tuesday morning on a mission to see one before work.
The morning started well with a lapland bunting along the beach calling but other than that the sea was fairly quiet. A couple of red necked grebes were still about and the odd little gull and kittiwake were following the trawlers. I then picked up a small auk flying away and right, either a puffin or little auk, but i couldn't get anything on it.
We then picked up a distant peregrine with a kill being mobbed by some gulls. The prey was small, dark and still flapping, most probably a little auk!! The falcon dropped most of the kill into the sea but did come into the beach and feed on a small piece it had left.
There is not much time for birding before work and we soon had to leave without seeing any auks.
As we did, Chris picked up the peregrine again and this time is spent at least 5mins chasing a redshank. Completely out of the blue, a male hen harrier appeared and even joined in the chase for a time!!
Fast forward to this morning and I had a tweet showing a photo of a little auk sitting on the beach. We were working on the fresh marsh so unfortunately couldn't go down and see it straight away. The bird was reported to be ok and eventually flew south towards the saltmarsh. After about an hour we had a radio message to say the bird had been relocated on a saltmarsh pool so we headed up to see it.
When we arrived the bird was actually in the saltmarsh vegetation and not on a pool and was also not in view. As we were waiting for it to show I jammed in on a Richards pipit flying east along the dunes calling!
After a few minutes I picked up the auk flapping and trying to get out of one of the small creeks in the area. I decided that as the bird couldn't get out of the vegetation I would catch it and put it across the path onto the tidal pool.
With an audience I managed to not fall in the mud and quickly caught the bird. It was in good condition, very strong and had a good amount of pectoral muscle. The visitors got a few quick snaps before I released the bird.
The bird spent the rest of the day on the pool and was seen diving for food. Hopefully it will be gone tomorrow
It was a new bird for Dan, Cara and Chris so everyone was happy.
If you didn't get the blog title, it was a subtle (or not) Lord of the Rings reference after the Auks. I was watching the films again last week :-)
Pic 1-3 little auk
Pic 4-7 habitat management work on the fresh marsh