Sunday 28 October 2007

Bashed the patch

Bright and sunny with strong westerlies - not ideal October birding weather, so I decided to give the patch a right good thrashing. Budge fields were desolate, just the cows not eating anything (more fantastic reserve management on the Bay from NWT). did the pool next, as I arrived this almighty fight broke out between two redshank, not kidding they were at it for at least 5 minutes.

The fight breaks out

Peace resumed

The Otters were about too and a few wigeon and gadwall and a greenshank. Sam joined me and we walked to the ruined preceptory at Chibburn, no birds of note here, 3 yellowhammers in the hedge along the track were nice though.

Chibburn Preceptory

Arty-type photo

At Scott's Farm, there were a handful of chaffies and a tree sparrow. We walked back along the road to the hamlet and back along the road to the cars, nowt of any note.

A quick look on the sea, 66 common scoter, 11 RTDs, 2 merganisers, and very late adult puffin. Then walked thro the dunes to the Druridge Bushes, a flock of 20 goldfinch was all of interest, no birds at the bushes but the white rabbits are still abundant.

Was at work (well if making damper and cooking sausages and jew's ear fungus on a campfire is work.....) yesterday, had a coastal raven at Glororum, I've seen raven north of Berwick on the coast but not down here...oh for one at Dru......Called in at the Boulmer Birders on the way home for a cup of tea and a craic. I can confirm the description of Bunty being a terrier x crocodile cross is pretty much bang on! She is a cutie though - when she's not biting!

Friday 26 October 2007

Ringin at Dru

A flexi day off, so was ringing with Janet at Dru, it was quiet tho, we did re-trap a goldfinch that had been caught here as a juv in 2004 which was nice. Also greenfinch, redwing (2), wrens, blackbirds, blue tit, more goldfinch, goldcrest etc. The wind came round out the west so we packed in by 1pm.

3 year old goldfinch

Nice greeny

Janet was ringing yesterday, I called by briefly on my way to work (grrr, damn you budget meeting!). After I left she caught this mizla, a patch ringing tick!

Sunday 21 October 2007

Gutted - Quite literally!!!

Well, I am totally gutted, but not as gutted as the Leach's Petrel that was seen off Dru this morning, being killed by gulls then eaten by a cormorant. All while I was on the patch taking nets down or ringing or summick. This bloke wanders up to me and says " have you seen the otters?" then "oh and some bloke in the hide has seen a leach's petrel gettin killed offshore". I'm like "what, here? - when" "SHIT!!". Not only would Leach's have been a patch tick, but a British tick! Bugger!

Even though there was absolutely no point in going to look on the sea, I couldn't even tick the remains as the cormorant had gobbled them up, I went anyway. I called the Boulmer Birder to see if it was on his pager, which he confirmed and went onto to remind me that ringing puts an end to proper birding. grrr. Richard Dunn joined me, we had about 12 RTD offshore and a velvet scoter and two common terns going south. 29 sanderling were on the beach and a couple of fieldfares came in off the sea into the dunes.

Before all of this kerfuffle, Janet and I had been ringing and butterfly spotting on the sunny side of the wood (4+ red admiral, 1 small copper and a comma). Ringing totals were:

blackbird 2

blackcap 1 fem

goldfinch 1

redwing 1

goldcrest 1 (retrap)

wren 2 (1 retrap)

great tit 1

coal tit 1

robin 2

flocks of long-tailed tit (8) and siskin (8) were flying about but we didn't catch them, still plenty skylark passing over too.

Saturday 20 October 2007

Great Spot! - him'n'her

An overcast morning with no wind at all, the cloud burned off by 09:30ish, but we still caught some nice birds, most of which we reckon were new arrivals. Best of the bunch for me were two Geat Spots, both juvs, one of each sex. Despite them drawing blood from both me and Janet, they are stunning birds.

We also caught a handful of blackbirds and wrens and a couple of dunnocks, goldcrests and a single redwing, I do like redwings they are just nice! skylarks were passing overhead still this morning and there were still thrushes coming in off the sea.

Mega rare fro Dru, my second and third records, were two comma butterflies, there were many red admirals too as well as common darter and a hawker species of dragonfly. The beeb forecasts fog tomorrow morning and a very southerly....we will see.

Monday 15 October 2007

Windy, from the west

A strong south-westerly at Dru this morning, things didn't look promising. Checked the sea first, it was still there, oh and there was a drake scaup on it with some scoter and rtd's. A harbour porpoise was in it too. Then to the pools, a quick scan - it looked quiet, but everything comes to he who waits. First to appear was a greenshank, then 4 goldeneye, then two otters, then the kingfisher and I even managed to grab a photo of it.

Kingfisher - a mega rarity for the pools!

Despite the strong SW wind, I decided to check the bushes, there were a few redwings and blackbirds kicking about in the whitebeams and a few wrens and dunnock, little else of note. 69 greylag and 16 pink-foots flew south and 2 skylark appeared to come in off the sea. Off to pray for an easterly for the weekend.

Wednesday 10 October 2007

A Sorte North of the Border

I walked from Berwick-upon-Tweed to St Abbs in Scotland, 14 miles or so, all in the name of work. Leaving Berwick at 10am, there were redwing and fieldfare all along the route til at least mid afternoon, either freshly arrived or coming in off the sea in small groups. Many fieldfare were lifted of the path whilst the redwing were gulping down berries in the bushes, there also appeared to be a lot of newly arrived starlings and the occasional blackbird, with skylarks passing overhead. At least two redwing had fallen victim to birds of prey, their freshly plucked remains on the path.

Snow Bunting

Also of note, in England, was a snow bunting just north of Berwick at Magdalene Fields. A short-eared owl attempted to come in off the sea here too, pushed backed on two occasions by jackdaws and carrion crows, we left it there. It was interesting to note the numbers of stonechat along the route, I wished I had counted them, but reckon on about 20 individuals along the 14 mile. A nice close raven honked at us near Eyemouth and the seals (fed on chips) in the harbour were the fattest I've ever seen!

Welcome to Scotland! Check out the flag nailed to the post

The scenery aint so bad though

I'm off to soak my feet!

Monday 8 October 2007

Yellow Brow

A day off! Fantastic, but a huge post-football hangover meant I didn't get down to Dru as early as I would've hoped, did the WeBS count first, only a kingfisher of note. The dog otter was about too, but too distant for piccies.

Close up cormorant

I decided to check the bushes at the northern end of the patch. Were the band of trees narrows, there was a tit flock moving through and pishing it produced some coal, blue and great tits, a couple of cresties and a wren and then a yellow-browed warbler comes right to the front of the whitebeam - fantastic! It was only there briefly, but showed well (I saw it again later). I reckon that's my third for the patch, so a nice bird indeed. TAC came down to twitch it for his year-list which needed a boost after spending most of the year abroad! I checked the plantation and the entrance willows next, there were a few robins, wrens and cresties, a great-spot and a couple of blackcaps - not the firescrest I was hoping for though. It would have been a perfect day for ringing and we would've a good chance of catching the browed one, but JF has gone back to work - Sods Law!
On the sea, the RTD's now numbered 19! A couple of stonechats were in the bushes in the dunes and 3 mistle thrushes came in off the sea.

Ask any birder who gets down to the pools regularly and they will have a tale or two about some strange behaviour they have witnessed there (most of which will be distasteful, if not illegal!!) the place is like a magnet for freaks and weirdo's. Today's odd activity was a first for me though, - two women on the beach burning a wedding dress on a concrete tank block whilst drinking cider. This is a patch tick on my 'odd druridge behaviour' list.

On a positive note, there are more cows, still not enough and only on the southern field, but still, an improvement. It would take fifty cows, not 7, to make a mark on this veg. If the veg is high, which it has been since FMD year cos NWT haven't grazed the site, the waders don't breed in anywhere like the numbers they used to.

I was ringing with JF yesterday (Sunday) but rain stopped play. we caught a few birds though, including half of the goldfinch flock, nothing unusual though. We also had a greenshank on the budge and the kingfisher on the pool.

Saturday 6 October 2007

The Future's Orange!

I've been on the patch in the last few days, but haven't been able to update me blog because of drink related activity and work! Anyhoo, Thursday morning was ringing with JF before work, but by 1030 it was very bright and very breezy (from the west which is hopeless for ringing at Dru) and we had only caught about 8 birds (robins, wren, goldfinch, goldcrest, blue tit (evil little bastards), great tit) I love goldcrests, they are just soooo nice, this male had a proper punk do - check out how orange the crown is, you don't appreciate this seeing birds in the field.

Punk Goldcrest - check out the orange in the crown - mega!

A quick visit on Friday evening, nowt on the pools or the meadows of note but there were 16 red-throated divers offshore - a good count for dru.

Was working today in Seahouses, then called by to see TAC who was also at work doing a drop-in birdwatching session at Budle Bay, good chance to catch up with some folks, but little of interest ornithological. Called at Dru on the way home, JF was there, measuring up two new nets to catch tons of birds in tomorrow! yeahh....right!

We had a greenshank on the budge fields, nowt of note on the pools or the sea. I have been wonderin about the Ross's goose though, it's kinda hoverin in the edge of my list at the moment, why shouldn't it be a real bird? The bird at Hauxley four years ago still hasn't been assessed by the BOURC (and what about the hooded merganser at Woodhorn?) , if any of these are wild that one was. Why should we automatically assume wildfowl is escaped, most species of bird are kept in captivity by someone somewhere in the UK. I'll have a 'SOD IT' moment and it will go on the list I am sure.

Wednesday 3 October 2007


A brief ringing session with JF before work 0750-0930. A handful of robins, goldfinch, wren, chiffchaff (was singing then flew straight into the net) and a controlled blackcap. Maybe tomorrow we'll get a brown flycatcher?