Tuesday, 30 December 2008
End of the year
Yesterday we did my Atlas squares in the Cheviots, the first tetrad took in Threestoneburn and the second took in the flank of Hedgehope down to Langleeford. The trudge up to the crags from the Hawsen Burn had me jiggered, too much food and booze over the festive period...the diet starts in January! In both tetrads we had only 11 species, though it looks good for the summer....highlights were the number of red grouse we saw, a woodcock feeding on grit, two stonechats and a treecreeper.
Anyhoo, back to Druridge...
Well the year list ended on 161...not bad but not outstanding, 165+ is a good year. I had 4 patch ticks this year taking my patch list to 217, they were: marsh warbler, barred warbler, greenish warbler and treecreeper. Other patch highlights this year were green-winged teal, iceland gull, temmincks stint, the huge fall of wheatears, redstarts and others during the 'Morpeth' flood weekend, catching and ringing a wryneck a week later and red-backed shrike on the gypsy's pile o shite - as predicted.
Obvious omissions from the year list in 2008 were the lack of seabirds with sooty shear, pom or long-tailed skua. Among the wildfowl there were no scaup, smew, ruddies or white-fronted geese. Also missing was green sandpiper, turnstone, LRP, black redstart, yellow-browed warbler, black tern, brambling, snow bunting and kingfisher.
The biggest disappointments of the year included being stuck in China when lesser-yellowlegs turned up (and the number of text messages I received to tell me about it), the red-breasted goose turning out to be plastic, the lack of seawatching, not catching the marsh warbler and the barred warbler (and having it rejected by the CRC) and not catching any twite at our feeding site.
Also disappointing was NWT not delivering on promises in 08, although looking forward to 2009, the over-wintering cows are doing a canny job, NWT have put the site into stewardship which will mean they have to manage appropriately and a management plan has been written for the site.
So what will 2009 bring, hopefully I will get a copy of the management plan...also lots of cows in July, lots of breeding waders, good spring and autumn passage when we're ringing and plenty of patch ticks.....BRING IT ON!!!!
To my fellow bloggers and regular readers I hope you have a happy, healthy, prosperous 2009 with plenty of good birds!
Wednesday, 24 December 2008
Tis the season to be merry
Anyhoo the holidays started today, there's still lots of partying to be done between now and the 5th and plenty of football, but I should manage a few days out 'in the field'.
I went to Dru this afternoon, the resident cows on the Budge fileds are finaly having an impact on the vegetation and thus the duck numbers have begun to rise - on the Budge fields today were:
tufted duck 1
mallard 29...and a snipe and grey heron
It just needs the cows to stay on over the winter and the juncus to be flailed and we might get some decent breeding wader numbers next year. Other than more ducks, not much to report, a merlin came through and perched at the back of the fields, there were 9 red throats offshore with 1 merganiser and a few shag.
I'll be down at Dru tomorrow morning (last year we had a good views of otter and a water rail eating a dead black-headed gull) but in the meantime...
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
We did see some birds, lots of ring-necked and monk parakeets, a flock of black redstarts and some crag martins around the castle and yellow-legged gulls at the port.
Monk Parakeet at Parc Guell
Back to Druridge briefly this morning to hoy some food down for the non-existent twite - not even any golfinches there this morning....grim!
Sunday, 7 December 2008
Sunday, 30 November 2008
Just in time for them to come of the islands for winter...
Jack's been out
Sunday, 23 November 2008
At Druridge this morning there was even more snow but it was nice and bright. We did the WeBS count and just wandered around the patch. There were geese and swans on the move, mainly south, but the whoopers seemed to be all over the place, making then difficult to count, there were at least 30 though, I managed to catch this lot going north by Chibburn Farm.
On the pools, the wigeon and teal numbers were up a bit with 50ish of each. When we arrived at Dru I predicted that today looked like a good day to finally nail peregine for the year and I was right. As we wandered towards the haul road, the waders, gulls and starlings on the fields to north all went up in a chaotic swirl - it had to be a peregrine, it was! In the sunshine it looked incredibly bright,an adult male judging by its size chasing golden plovers, it failed and went to sit in the middle of the fields, too far away to photograph. I've been waiting for one of these all autumn having failed to see one in the spring (when they are trickier), I thought I would dip, only to see one on in the first January visit.
As we walked towards Chibburn Farm, it came back over the fields containing some of the 250-300 golden plover, 200 Lapwing and 200 black-headed gulls along with starlings, corvids and other random gulls.
In the bushes there were quite a few thrushes, dunnocks, robins and wrens, nothing out of the ordinary. We called it a day at half one and retreated to the tearoom at Widdrington Village for lunch......
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
A good weekend
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
Not quite true, there 50+ goldfinches at the twite food with 4 chaffinches, 3 blackbirds, 2 magpies, 1 linnet, 1 great tit and 1 crow. BUT NO BLIMMIN TWITE!
No birding and no blog activity for a day or two now cossov work stuff and them am off to the Scottish Ringers conference in Braemar. Our former County recorder tells me he has a bit of reputation at these do's, must take the camera and catch him in action...watch this space!
As for me I won't be touchin a drop!
Monday, 10 November 2008
Will hopefully be checking Dru out before work tomorrow.
Twitching (Patchworker shirks his duties)
Saturday, 8 November 2008
A bit Sad
.....well that might not be quite true, the area we have been baiting up for twite had attracted the goldfinch flock in, which is the plan, hopefully once the twite see the goldfinch, they will come in too. We will try to catch the goldfinches too - good practice with the woosh net before the twite arrive.
We did have some time for birding today, a late start again...you guessed it...another hangover after watching Motorhead at the academy, I am deaf too, they were bloody loud. Anyhoo, the birding started canny with song thrush, 10 blackbird, 5 wrens and 2 woodcock in the small willow block, but that wasn't replicated further on. We did have another couple of woodcock in the bushes and the first siskins of the autumn. Blackbird were very obvious though with a few robins, wrens and dunnocks.
I had intended to twitch the red-flanked bluetail on Holy Island if it was still there this morning, I haven't seen rf bluetail in Britain so it would've been nice to get on in the county. Years ago the Boulmer Birder and I were birding the entrance willows at Dru, about this time of year, and I was sure I had a small bird with red-flanks fly though - we never found it, but I am positive that's what it was, especially after seeing them in China this spring...oh well...
Thursday, 6 November 2008
As we couldn't ring we birded the whole patch, I flushed a woodcock out of the trees which was the first of the Autumn, there were lots of thrushes, dunnocks and wrens in the bushes.
We walked through the south paddock NT have put in where we are baiting for twite along to the new NWT access, checking the willows. There was a work team in from NWT, the chap in charge (maybe the new head of PR) told us we couldn't walk through there as it was " a demarcated area for the bay...the coonty cooncil are ganna plant trees in there". Hmmmm
What was also disappointing was the amount of firework debris left behind after bonfire night last night. I can understand people wanting to go to coast, nice and dark and no pets to disturb, but they could clear away after them, they even left all of the packaging and their McDonalds wrappers -scum!
By midday we were totally soaked so packed in and headed home.....it's still raining now! I'll go down again at first light tomorrow and check the patch before work.
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
Sunday, 2 November 2008
We took the opportunity to do some sea watching between the net rounds and I went back later and did another hour between 3 and 4pm. It was canny, loads of kitti's moving north and lots of gannets too, I got three year-ticks for my troubles, velvet scoter, brent goose and black-throated diver. No little auks, white-billed divers, long-tailed ducks or grey phals here! (I was trapped at work at Alnmouth on Friday went he white-billed records were coming through, I had to lead a walk along the coast in the afternoon, I had me bins, but saw nowt).
I have actually seen black-throated diver at Dru this year, but it didn't make it onto the list, to read the sorry tale of why click here
seawatching totals (brackets pm session)
wigeon 75 (4)
velvet scoter 5 - 4 drakes together and a single
common scoter 78 (75)
brent geese 3
eider 33 (19)
arctic skua 1
teal 18 (9)
black-throated diver (1)
Also of note was a water rail by the bridge at the Budge Screen.
A brief visit on Wednesday morning brought my first fieldfares of the Autumn at Dru, with 4 coming in of the sea. There was also 60 whooper swans in the fields north of the haul road.
Some positive news on the management front, NWT have put Druridge pools , along with other reserves into Higher Level Stewardship, this is basically agricultural support for farmers to manage their land in a sympathetic, wildlife friendly way. The agreement is with Natural England who look after the scheme, NWT have committed to manage the grazing and water levels for the benefit of breeding waders. So to get their cash they have to get the sward length down to 5-15cm across the majority of the site, they also have report back to NE the success or not of the scheme by providing them with breeding wader data. NWT have also prepared a site management plan for the Pools, which I am looking forward to seeing.
So we should see some major improvements over the coming 9 months - watch this space!
156 brent goose
157 velvet scoter
158 black throated diver
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
dawn and dusk
No photo's as I had no camera :-(
As the partridge had eaten all of the seed, I went back this morning to bait up, it was blimmin cold again but bright. The crows were having a go at something beyond the wood - then a merlin flew out and headed off towards Chev, with the corbies in hot pursuit. A mixed flock of all sorts was moving through the bushes.
I called in tonight on the way home from work, it was nearly dark and the car said it was 0.5 deg C! bloody bitter! I was only there 10 minutes or so and had two year ticks! The first was a short-eared owl, there might have been two....I had one flying from the roadside over the wood then over the pool, which then went back over the Budge fields. Later the crows and magpies were mobbing on by the Budge screen, not sure were it went, but soon after there was it or another high over the deep pool. The second year-tick was a water-rail, which was poking about in the lake outflow channel by the bridge. 250 golden plover came offuv the fields between Dru and Chev and flew over the north end, not sure what put them up, maybe it was a peregrine...if only!
The pink beast (aka my RED VW Bora), will no longer be seen at the pools, I've bought a new car - pictures will follow....
154 short-eared owl
155 water rail
Sunday, 26 October 2008
A walk around the patch
153 great northern diver
Sunday, 19 October 2008
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
Sunday, 12 October 2008
treecreeper - patch bird No 217
It was a good mornings ringing, we caught 44 new birds, 13 different species, 3 retraps and a control. The control was great tit, it was an adult but had been ringed as a pullus, probably from a nestbox, we know this because it had been ringed with a 'B' size ring, which are only used on great tits when they are pullus, A's are used on fledged birds. So we will have to wait to see where it has come from..
Controlled great tit
There was a flock of 13 long-tailed tits moving through, we manages to catch nine of them, they are very funny birds, the four we didn't catch 'hung-around' in the trees next to the car while we ringed their mates, calling to the birds in the bird-bags - which were calling back, very sociable birds lotti's. We also caught 5 greenfinches which is quite unusual for Dru, they must be on the move.
top greenfinch, above long-tailed tit
Also on the move were skylarks, moving south early on, we heard at least 12 going over and some geese, 3 skeins of 60-70 pink-foots south and 47 greylag north and a grey wag and 5 swallows going south together....Offshore there 26 divers in the bay - all of them red-throats in a wide range of plumage's, a great-crested grebe was among them.
reed bunting 1
great tit 1 + control
long-tailed tit 9
coal tit 1
wren 2 + 1 retrap
robin 1 + 1 retrap
blue tit 1 retrap
PATCH TICK 217 treecreeper
150 long-tailed tit
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
Not much doin
I took this shot of one of the mad sheep that have been grazing the National Trust bit around the entrance willows - and doing a good job!
148 grey wagtail
Thursday, 2 October 2008
As with any organisation it always falls to a small minority to do all of the work, the NTBC is no different. There are about 20 people out of a membership of about 250 who work really hard to keep the club going. So if there are any NTBC members reading this, there are two spaces on the committee after Thursday's AGM, why not give it a go....it's your club too!
If you are interested contact the chairman, Paul Stewart, details on the website.
Wednesday, 1 October 2008
Winter's here - official
I had lunch on Wooler common today and had 15-20 redwings in large flock of 40-50 mistle thrush - I reckon that's the biggest mistle thrush flock I've seen in the County. Hopefully we'll be catching a few nice thrushes next time we are ringing at Dru.....
Mistlers in a hawthorn at Wooler Common
The pressure charts show a huge airflow from the north with strong northerlies on friday...could be good for seawatching?
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
quiet end to the month...but not on Malta
check out this report from Malta from the leicester llama or go straight here to see the video - sickening!
Also check this out on You Tube
Join BirdLife Malta here
Monday, 29 September 2008
Saturday was quite still, but sunny and in hindsight, we should've had the nets up. It was pretty quiet but a great-spotted woodpecker by the plantation was a year-tick. There seems to be two goldfinch flocks, one by the entrance willows and another by the Druridge bushes, numbering about 40 each, with a linnet flock in the dunes numbering about 40 too. Offshore 12 geese moved north which looked like brent, but they were miles out and the heat-haze was strong, there were 12 RTDs and 17 tufted duck moved north.
On Sunday I resisted the temptation to twitch the stilt sand in Cumbria in favour of Dru...it was a cold start but warmed up to 18 deg C by lunchtime. JF and I were ringing and had a canny morning, nowt startling but steady:
reed bunting 3
robin 2 + 2 retraps
goldcrest 6 + 2 retraps
coal tit 2
blue tit 1
sparrowhawk retrapped male from last visit - nice!
There has been an influx of blue and coal tits since I came back from Tenerife. All the time we were ringing pink-footed geese seemed to be moving south above us, we counted at least 400, but many more would have gone over uncounted whilst we were ringing or checking the nets. A few mippits and skylarks were on the move too.
Oh..and there appear to be more cows on the Budge fields, I counted 11 on Sunday, a case of too little, too late! Maybe next year eh?
147 great-spotted woodpecker
Friday, 26 September 2008
Back to reality
Lots of wrens, robins, dunnocks and goldcrests in the woods as well as the increasing goldfinch flock, nowt of else of note. I am revising my next patch tick prediction to pallas's warbler.
Thursday, 25 September 2008
Tenerife and La Gomera
Canary Islands chiffchaff
We had to travel for the more specialised birds, the two endemic pigeons were our next targets, we headed to the neighbouring island of La Gomera for these. Bolle's and laurel pigeons inhabit the laurel forests which cover the north of La Gomera and some bits of Tenerife between 500 and 1000 metres. A bit of a wait at a recommended view point produced good views of both species, you never see them perch out though, just flying by. Nice birds!
We also saw our first Canaries on La Gomera, though we saw 10o's more throughout the trip. The boat trip to and from La Gomera is suppose to be good for seabirds, the outbound trip was quiet, we returned to Tenerife in the late afternoon and this was more productive, but only for cory's shearwaters with at least 150 seen from the ferry.
Next job was to ascend to the pine forests which are between 1200 and 2000 metres, to look for blue chaffinch which is only found in the pines. We camped at what is regarded as the best site for them with the hope of seeing them early in the morning, maybe we were too early as we saw none. The night skies more than made up for it though, I've seen some amazing night skies in the Gambia and India, but this topped them both, no wonder the astrologers regard Tenerife as one of the best places for star-gazing. We saw lots of blue chaffinches further down the road at Chio as well as great-spotted woodpecker (ssp canariensis), the chaffinches are amazingly tame and we approached them to 3-4m at a drinking pipe. So that was the endemics in the bag!
Blue chaffinch - very approachable, we got within feet of this female
great-spottted woodpecker - canariensis subspecies
Tajinaste rojo plant in stunning geology
Other notable birds were macronesian shearwater (used to be little), sub-alpine warbler and the endemic or near endemic sub species of yellow-legged gull, sparrowhawk, common buzzard, kestrel, long-eared owl, lesser short-toed lark, grey wagtail, blackbird, spectacled warbler, sardinian warbler, blue tit, southern grey shrike and chaffinch.
southern grey shrike - koenigi subspecies
blue tit - teneriffae subspecies - very different to ours!
We also found time for lots of good food and wine, exploring the geology, visiting a 1000 year old dragon tree and chillin on the beach (or roasting on the beach....), all in all a very good trip. A trip report might follow if I can be arsed. Now back to Druridge!
A test for Boulmer Birder!