Saturday, 21 January 2023

The Durham Run - Redcar King Eider

I kicked off this year's out of county birding rather gently with a run back up to Durham to take Daughter #1 back up there where she is currently finishing off her PhD. As usual I had a good look around to see what might be on offer in the North East whilst I was up there but there was nothing to tempt me apart from the long staying 2nd winter King Eider at Redcar. So rather than busting a gut to get up there early doors, instead we had a more leisurely departure from Oxford at sometime after 10 am, arriving after 2pm where after lunch we went for a walk along the River Wear to look for Dippers. Unfortunately the river was too flooded and their favoured area was too fast and deep. There were a few Goosander on the river and the moonrise over the river was rather spectaclular.

Moorise over the River Wear

The next day I was up and out of the house by 8am and a little before 9am I was pulling up along the Redcar seafront. Unfortunately the weather was blowing a gale and lashing down with rain - not exactly ideal! I made an attempt to scope from the roadside and managed to locate the Eider flock at least but the flock was so far away and the scope shaking wind made it difficult to make anything out. PC, whom I knew from the internet to be one of the top listers in the country, turned up and I filled him in on my findings. I decided to go down onto the shoreline to try to get closer, at the expense of the elevation of course. It was still pretty hopeless. 

The view of the sea from Redcar sea front

PC came over to say that he'd managed to see the bird and to check if I'd seen it - that was considerate of him! In the end I retired to the car where I realised that I could set up my scope and have a clear line of sight to the Eider flock. Sheltered from the wind and rain finally I started to get views good enough to make out the birds though this was at 60x magnification and even then they were tiny specks. Eventually I picked out the bird and had clear enough views to be positive about what I was looking at. Result!


By far the best photo of the bird I've seen, taken by Damian Money (c) (@damian_money on Twitter)

This was my third King Eider: my first was the long staying individual at the Ythan estuary up in Scotland and my second was a distant bird in Cornwall that I really had to work for. 


A reminder of the Ythan bird that I managed to see at my second attempt

This had taken me until midday so now it was time to pack up, and head off home. I stopped en route to buy a sandwich and to eat it in the carpark and with a friend's podcast to listen to on the way back I arrived back in Oxford sometime after 4pm for a celebratory cup of tea. It had been a low key but satisfactory start to the new birding year.




1 comment:

Dave said...

How confiding is the Eider, perfect opportunity for THAT photo
Great work