The Birds

Roost, foraging ground and stop-over

St. Mary’s Island is an important roost and foraging ground for a diverse range of waders and seabirds as well as wintering and passing migrants. The island and surrounding area is known by birders and bird enthusiasts as one of the best bird-watching sites regionally and nationally. The author of Best Birdwatching Sites North-East England, Brian Unwin, values St Mary’s as “A prime bird watching site”.

Over 19 observation days St Mary’s Seal Watch carried out a peak count of birds utilising the island over each high tide.

Due to unacceptably high anthropogenic disturbance levels on this well-designated site these birds are usually flushed from this location when the tide recedes and the causeway uncovers. On occasions when the rocky area surrounding the lighthouse remain free from disturbance many of these birds can be seen throughout the tide cycle.

For this very important site to ever thrive disturbance levels must be reduced.

Regular Birds

Spring and Summer Target birds

Eider
Gannet
Sandwich tern
Kittiwake
Fulmar
Wheatear
Whinchat
Sand martin
Sedge warbler
Lesser black backed gull
Great Black backed gull
Swift
Swallow
Common scoter
Greenshank
Spotted Redshank

Curlew. Photograph taken from within the lighthouse perimeter wall.

Autumn

Grey Heron
Wigeon
Sheklduck
Long tailed duck
Dunlin Curlew
Bar tailed godwit
Red breased merganser
American golden plover
Woodcock
Whimbrel
Ruff
Snipe
Artic Skua
Guillemott
Razorbill
Manx Shearwater
Roseate Tern
Redstart
Spotted flycatcher
Pied flycatcher
Gannet
Yellow wagtail

Bar-tailed godwit. Photograph taken from within the lighthouse perimeter wall.

Winter

Golden Plover
Red throated diver
Ringed plover
Knot
Rock pipit
Brent goose
Scaup
Peregrine
Merlin

Autumn winter

Purple sandpiper
Goldcrest
Chiffchaff
Willow warbler
Blackcap
Song thrush
Fieldfare
Redwing
Robin
Brambling
Siskin
Twite
Short eared owl
Little Auk

Cormorant. Photograph taken from within the lighthouse perimeter wall.

All year

Teal
Mallard
Shag
Cormorant
Oystercatcher
Dunlin
Curlew
Redshank
Turnstone
Crow
Jackdaw
Skylark
Wren
Stonechat
Pied wagtail
Meadow pipit
Linnet
Goldfinch
Greenfinch
Reed bunting
Lapwing
Sanderling
Grey partridge
Collared dove
Black headed gull
Common gull
Mediterrean gull
Starling

Scarce and rarities

Mandarin
Blue winged teal
Lapland buntings
Pallas warbler
Yellow browed warbler
Nightjar
Wryneck
Red backed Shrike
Great Grey shrike
Greenish Warbler
Dusky warbler
Barred warbler
Blyths Warbler
Marsh warbler
White spotted bluethroat
Red breasted flycatcher
Olive backed Pipit
Red throated pipits
Ortolan bunting
Red flanked bluetail
Iceland gull
Glaucous gull
Little bittern (2000)
Tawny pipit (1997)

Fly-bys

Pink footed goose
Barnacle goose

Less often fly-bys

Cory shearwater
Sooty shearwater
Balearic shearwater
Pomarine Skua
Long tailed skua

Rarer fly-bys

Gull billed tern
White winged tern
Zinos/Feas petrel
Storm petrel

And the odd… Kingfisher