Sunday 27 January 2008

A Bit Blowey

Its been bit windy up here over the last few days, I took friday off work with the thought of a bit of birding, instead I stayed in and watched my greenhouse blow away......what a piece of crap!

Flat-packed greenhouse

It calmed a bit yesterday, but the ringing group had a work party (these two words should never appear in the same sentence in my opinion!) day at Hauxley ringing station, so I spent the day felling trees. It was windy again today, but calmed down a bit over lunchtime and got out to be a really nice day. I met Janet and Kevin from the National Trust down at Dru to look at how the Trust coppicing in the woodland can benefit our ringing activities, we also had a good wander about the patch. The recent hurricanes have left some nice sand-sculptures on the beach and have also blown all of my pin-head oats away...

Had a nice Merlin (67) at the north end, about 60 goldfinch and 6 redwing in the bushes. Offshore were 5-6 red-throated divers and lots of gulls. From the budge screen, the wet meadows are now very wet indeed, with a lot of teal and 4 curlew also had the merlin flying north.

Wednesday 23 January 2008

Site Meeting

Yesterday, I had a site meeting at the Pools with Chief Exec. of NWT, very useful indeed, so hopefully we'll see some improved management over the next few years, most importantly, proper grazing of the wet meadows and loads of breeding and passage waders.
Anyhoo, this gave the opportunity to wander aboot the patch, firstly I checked the mouth of the Dunbar Burn, which was flowing at full pelt for the first time in ages, I have put some pin-head oats out down here to try and attract snow bunts.

Dunbar Burn at full howk

Did the pine plantation next, there was a covey of 10 grey partridge (year tick No. 66) in the field and a flock of 70 twite, which landed in the lone sycamore by the fence, also 3 song thrush. A flock of about 60 goldfinches and 20 greenfinch were also briefly in the entrance willows.

Twite flock in the siccie

The ponds are all brim full and the path to the hides were too flooded to get along, so nothing to report from the pool.

I'm off on Friday so will check the burn mouth again.

Monday 21 January 2008

Advice needed!

Ok, what am I doing wrong? Why don't my pics open to the full size? The only one that does is the the one on my 'just dreaming' post, I did nothing differently (other than add a cattle egret to the original) confused. BB suggested re-sizing them all to 800 or 600 wide, which i have and still they don't open, maybe I will have to add a cattle egret to all of my pics?

Then again, maybe not......any help appreciated.

Sunday 20 January 2008

out and about

I've been out and about on the coast this week doing risk audits with RNLI and generally freezin to death/gettin soaked/blown away or mostly all three at once. Not much to report bird-wise other than a kingfisher flying along Warkworth Beach, managed to get some nice shots of Beadnell on Wednesday afternoon though.

Beadnell at Sunset

Spent yesterday at SJP worshipping the returning messiah, even Jesus didn't come back twice! Seemingly Keegan wants to bring some new faces to St James', Peter Beardsley has asked for one of them! haha

Today was spent ringing with JF at the Feeding Station at Druridge Bay Country Park, as expected we caught a lot of tits, and my fingers are sufferin for that, but we also got a good number of siskin, a few chaffinch and a robin, but star bird was this treecreeper, a ringing tick for me! It would also be patch-tick for the pools if we'd been there :-(( We caught over 60 birds so good experience for me, when we were setting up the second net, a male sparrowhawk 'bounced out' of the first net - oh well, can't win them all.... We had a few 'controls' too, some ringed on the left, so should be interesting to see where they have come from.

Called at Dru on the way home, but it was late and cold and just had the feeling that there would be no birds, did get two year ticks though, tufted duck (64) and goldeneye (65). This dead (common??) shrew was on the boardwalk, I have seen water shrew here in the past, this was a bit scabby but wasn't dark enough for water shrew.

Sunday 13 January 2008

WeBS weekend

I was working on Saturday in Seahouses, so called by Newton to see if the Newton Stringer was about, not much doing bird wise, Gary had 2 velvets offshore tho. The light was fantastic, I caught this linnet by the flood (which is now most of the field).

The good light was fading so I hot-footed it to Dru to get a visit in before dusk, The wet meadows were completely frozen, there was 80+ golden plover in the fields with 30 lapwing and 2 slavonian grebe's offshore with 4 redthroats. To the north a flock of about 80-90 goldfinch were flying around the Druridge bushes. This nice kestrel was on the fence at dusk.

Once my hangover subsided (went to the pub to watch the toon getting drubbed 6-0 offuv Man U.) I went down to Dru (12ish - hangovers take more shifting once you're over thirty) to do the WeBS count.
Teal now numbered 129 and wigeon only 40, the wigeon had all gone yesterday due to the ice, I guess they must go to Cresswell or Chev when Dru is frozen? There were 14 Whoopers with the Mutes in the field. Just outside the patch a flock of about 1000 pink-footed geese were in the fields to the south, I had a scan through but couldn't spot anything different. A flock of 30 fieldfare flew over the oddie hide as I was leaving. I then walked through the tress to the bushes to look through the finch flock, kicking up 2 woodcock. I reckon the flock must be over 200 birds, about 160 goldfinch, 30 greenfinch and a few linnets, it would be nice to trap them. A male sprawk then went through the dunes sending them off.

Weekend year-ticks: golden plover, oystercatcher, greenfinch, snipe, moorhen, slavonian grebe, pink footed goose, linnet. That takes me to 63.

Tuesday 8 January 2008

Its defo winter

I've been out'n'about with work this week, had some Irish and yorkshire folks on a visit. We went to Bamburgh yesterday, possibly the coldest I've been on the coast in years, it must have been -5 or -6 at least, they nearly froze to death! We went to Stag rocks to see the new panels, illustrated by John Steele - go check them out if you haven't seen them, they show the winter and summer wildlife of the Stag rocks, John has done a wonderful job! There was about 50 purple sands clinging to the rocks there too. Got a pub tick last night too - the Free Trade in Berwick, mid darts match with pots of steeming stovies - a proper spit'n'sawdust place, if there had of been music, it would have stopped when we walked in!

Today we were in Bamburgh again where it would seem even more blackies have arrived, there were at least 13 in the grove alone, with more in the hedges near Shoreston (no corn bunting though - mythical beast!). Then it started to rain (so we went to the ship at Newton for lunch)and didn't stop til dark, now its extremely windy, so much so, that I daren't look out into the garden for fear my greenhouse (the world's worst, with plastic panels) may be pinned against next-door's fence.

Off to Boulmer Birders patch tomorrow, so it would be nice to turn something up there and then Seahouses on Thursday and Saturday....busy week!

Oh...and I might revise my next patch-tick prediction to cattle egret, I can just picture one now, this saturday, wandering around behind one of the beast on the Budge fields - I hope I find it first....

Sunday 6 January 2008

The patch year list gets off to a good start

Well, after only managing a measly 99 yesterday, all day, all over the County, I managed to get the Druridge Pools patch list off to flying start. 1010 to 1345 today I saw 54 species, despite there being no diving ducks on the pool and no auks out to sea.

I started doing the pools, which were quiet (no snipe) then did the sea which was also dead. So I headed off through the woods flushing three woodcock (a bird I saw on the birdrace, but none of the rest of the team did), then went up the haul road and down to Scott's farm, back along the road past the hamlet, into the plantation, then back to the Budge screen and back through the trees flushing another 3 woodcock. Other highlights were 5 redthroats and a kitti (going south) offshore, a flock of 33 twite north, 20 fieldfare near the hamlet with redwings and 5 mistle thrush and a sparrowhawk with prey near the farm.

The beast were doing what they should be and NWT have opened the gate into the north side, so one of them had made into there!

The new arrival

Get munching!!

here's the list (in no order):

carrion crow
great tit
greylag (38 south)
grey heron
reed bunting (dipped these on birdrace)
mute swan
red-throated diver
common scoter
herring gull
common gull
black-headed gull
great black-backed gull
red-breasted merganser
kittiwake (dipped these on birdrace)
coal tit
woodcock (6)
siskin (20ish)
mistle thrush
fieldfare (dipped these on birdrace)
blue tit
skemmie pigeon
pied wagtail (dipped these on birdrace)
house sparrow
song thrush
whooper swan

add yesterdays dunlin takes me to 55 for the year - c'mon Stewart, do try an keep up!

Bird Racing

Saturday 5th January

Yesterday was winter birdrace day, five teams set out to see as many species as they could in a single day within the confines of the County. I like a winter birdrace, they aren't as knackering as the 24h hour may birdrace and because everybody goes out on the same day (except the Stewarts team who went out today - cowards) the craic is good as teams meet up during the day and when everybody meets at the pub to declare their scores.

So our team, 3 blokes and a bird, (The Kitchens, Trev Blake and Me) set out from Ellington, in the rain, at 0630. Now obviously I can't tell you where we went for fear other teams might use or gen, but I can say that we didn't do well.....We only saw 99 species, the first time we haven't broken the 100 mark for a few years. The weather wasn't good, with a bitingly cold SW picking up throughout the day and our timings went a bit wrong so it was nearly dark when we arrived on Druridge Bay. We did see some excellent birds including merlin, peregrine, hooded crow (first one of these in the County for yonks), lap bunting, greenshank, blackwit, glaucous and little gull, kingfisher (the only team to get these cos the rivers were like the chocolate one offuv charlie and the chocolate factory - ours was at a lake at Howick).

The losing team

We dipped on some easy stuff though, including reed bunting, yellowhammer, fieldfare, pied wagtail and grey partridge.

The final standings, I think, were:

Maurice, Bob, Stef and Tim - 111 or 112 (or more if Mo has had a recount)

Knocker and Mark 105 (two-man team)

The duffers (Muriel and Tom, Neil and John) 105

Holliday, Graeme, Les and Dee 105

and us 99 (booo)

The Stewarts, cass and Crilley are out today taking advantage of longer daylight and much better weather so they might be in with a chance, but it doesn't count so who cares!!

Thanks to Newton Stringer and the Boulmer Birder for good gen, good to see bloggers sticking together!! The day ended even better with a fantastic meal with the opposition (the old duffers team) at Neil and Andrea's - Thanks to them too for great night!

Stunning drake eider and glaucous gull at Seahouses Harbour

Thursday 3 January 2008


Bloody hell - winter's here!

Proper snow fell for most of the day at County Hall, only an inch or so on the roads though, but enough to close the A1 and A697. It's amazin, the smallest amount of snow in this country brings the whole place to sandstill, the Scandinavians must be most amused. Still no birding in 2008, back to work today, spent all day yesterday suffering with a hangover then endured more god-awful football at St James' Park...

Interesting to see there is no bird news coming out of Northumberland....oh, that'll be cos this weekend is birdrace weekend and everybody is suppressing stuff....

If anyone is out and about birding before saturday and does see anything remotely scarce please let me know...I promise I won't tell anybody least til Sunday.