Trip Report – Hartlepool Headland 14/1/24

The Heugh Gun Battery car park was where 22 birders met on a cold January morning. The down-side was that the gentle breeze in the lee of the Battery Wall turned into a strong lazy wind once out of its shelter (one of those winds which can’t be bothered to go round you, they go straight through you instead), but the up-side was a sun-blue sky.

The Headland was once famous for housing thirty-seven millionaires from the shipping trade and local industries, but the geology of a magnesium limestone peninsular, leading to rock pools and golden beaches, has long outlived the millionaires, and provided a habitat for birds and inshore sea creatures.

The birding commenced with a short sea watch, but there was no need for large telescopes to spot twelve Common Scoter not far out from the sea wall, with Oystercatcher and Redshank foraging among the rocks, and the uncommon Common Gull also in sight. Much further out were what looked like members of the diver family doing flypasts, but not clearly identified.

The group then headed past the War Memorial Gardens and onto South Crescent to overlook Block Sands, and then moved on along to the end of the Town Wall path, which gave sightings of Purple Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Eider Duck (both male and female), Turnstone, and Grey Heron on the beach and rocks, and Red-throated Diver, Red-breasted Merganser and Common Scoter out on the water.

Retracing their steps some of the group came across a young Grey Seal, on the beach by the harbour wall.  Although concerned it may be dying, the members were informed by a bystander that it was approximately 3 months old, and was sleeping after a good feed.

Should anyone see a seal lying on a beach and is unsure of what to do, please see separate News item.

Words and Images by Elaine