FRIDAY 14 MAY
We picked Mike Robinson up in North Lancashire just before midnight before continuing up the M6 towards Carlisle. The weather had taken a serious turn for the worse and was torrential rain. I decided to take another diversion to Lothian, where a summer-plumaged Spotted Sandpiper had shown up until dusk at North Berwick. It took me about three hours to arrive on site but the rain just did not stop. In fact, at dawn it was still pretty much torrential…..
NORTH BERWICK (LOTHIAN)
After snatching just over an hour’s sleep, I ventured out in the conditions at dawn in an attempt to locate the vagrant. The others at this time chose to stay dry and sheltered in the van. I did a sweep of the rocky harbour but failed to find anything. The rain refused to stop but I was soon joined by the other four and frustratingly, as we walked out to the old coastguards, I inadvertently flushed the Spotted Sandpiper out from the rocks and it flew away calling. This was at 0500 hours and in such poor light conditions and driving rain, I was just not able to latch on to the bird.
An exhaustive search was made of the entire harbour but other than 4 PURPLE SANDPIPERS, a number of Oystercatchers and Turnstones and Common Eiders, nothing more was seen or heard. Offshore were both Fulmar and Gannet.
PORT SETON, EDINBURGH (LOTHIAN)
Our next dip was to be the adult drake Surf Scoter at Port Seton. Despite locating over 500 Common Scoters offshore on the near flat calm sea, the Surfie could not be found, although 50+ VELVET SCOTERS were noteworthy, as well as an adult drake LONG-TAILED DUCK and 3 Red-breasted Mergansers. A couple of Common Terns flew by, as did 8 Barn Swallows.
Driving west along the M8 and continuing north up towards Stirling Services, we eventually joined up with Mike and Chris – both newcomers to LGRE tours. We had planned to meet them at 4am but because of the last minute diversions, it ended up being four hours later. Several Common Swifts were seen as we drove along the motorway.