Monday 28 April 2008

It's a purple patch

There's been a bit of an influx at Dru, 9 year ticks in two days, 8 of em today!
Went down last nite, got soaked, but there appeared to have been a mini-fall of wheatears, we counted a minimum of 15 in two small areas, mainly greenland leucorhoa race birds, sadly no pics...too wet. There were at least 12 blackwits on the budge fields and a first summer little gull on the pool. Perhaps the most amazing site was the number of sand martins over the pool, there were at least 250, some of them were perching on the remains of the islands vegetation.

Some of the 250+ sand martin on the island

Back to Dru before work this morning, most of the wheatears had gone but 3-4 were still present along the roadside, sedgies were singing and a whitethroat was on the fence in front of the wood - not a bad start, a bash of the woodlands produced a lesser-whitethroat. Tim Dean was spotted along the track, he had seen an iceland gull by the haul road from Chev! When we walked to the top end to look for it, we had a party of ten swifts, obviously just arrived, over the dunes/pool. The iceland gull (1st summer) was very obligingly perched on the fence, though by the time we got close to enough to digi-scope, it was flushed by the custodians of the countryside in their 4X4. got a long range record shot though. The blackwits were now 20.

Gleaming! crappy record shot of the iceland gull

It's been heavy showers all day, but couldn't resist calling in after work, at least 12 blackwits on the fields with two whimbrel and three yellow wagtails perched on the fence. A few wheatears were on the grass and still c200 sand martins over the pool.

Rainbow...Pot of gold? - my arse! goldfinch maybe...with linnets

Then got a call offuv the Boulmer Birder to say there was an unringed white stork at nearby Bockenfield airstrip, so it would be rude not to go and see it, a county-tick after all. Unfortunately Stew's eyesight aint what it used to be, as later IF picked up a small close-type ring with his mega-lens camera - back off the list...It was a nice bird though.

Spot the ring? No neither did I

Spent Saturday ringing dipper pulli with John Richardson, Neil Anderson and Janet in Upper Coquetdale and the North Tyne, we did three broods of the ugly blighters, nice to get inland for a change.

A very small dipper

A big dipper

Dipper nest - nice job!

101 black-tailed godwit
102 whitethroat
103 sedge warbler
104 lesser-whitethroat
105 house martin
106 swift
107 iceland gull
108 yellow wagtail
109 whimbrel

Wednesday 23 April 2008

....and about time too...Ton Up!

Woohoo! finally managed to nail green-winged teal and barn owl on the patch. I've tried for GWT loads of times, but it always seems to bugger off to Hauxley when I'm about, and as for barnies, I haven't really tried for them, just never connected. So two good year ticks, and about all I saw tonight of note, other than a handful of swallows.

The barn owl was hunting the side of the pool and then the dunes, grabbed a few pics through the misty haze that hasn't really lifted all day.

The top three images were digi-scoped, the bottom one was taken with the Lumix. The second shot was of it leaving the post after a vole or other tasty morsel, it returned to sit on the dropper in the third image.

Crappy record shot of green-winged teal

Sunset over the pool

99 barn owl

100 green-winged teal

Tuesday 22 April 2008


I wasn't go to go to Dru tonight, thought I'd do some gardenin and watch the footie, got in from the garden at 7.30 to see texts telling me there was a long-eared owl at dru, so guess what.........I was off!

A quick call to IF to confirm the details, last seen flushed from the path towards the woods. I couldn't decide on the best approach, so went to the little hide where you can see most of the patch, after a while of seeing nowt, I bumped into Dave Dack and we decided to have a walk through the woods, good plan! We flushed the bird between the path and the Budge screen, getting great views as it glided and hunted over the reed canary grass eventually heading for the middle willows were we left it. LEO's regularly breed on the bay, in the shelterbelts etc, but it's a while since I've had one on the patch. There was supposed to be a green sand about too, but I didn't see that.

No pics from Dru tonight, but took these in Scotch Gill Woods at lunchtime, also had kingfisher and dipper.

A carpet of wood anenome's

Peacock - one of three together. This is uncropped - I do like my new toy!

98 long-eared owl

Monday 21 April 2008

Still a bit chilly

Had an evening visit to Dru tonight, 1900-2030. Nothing much to report, it was bright, but still a freezin cold easterly.

Two welcome year-ticks, common buzzard which I picked up being mobbed by crows over the farm, it then headed south into the wood at Warkworth Lane, followed by the pursuing crows the whole way. The second was a long-awaited fulmar offshore.The highlight of the evening was a fox strolling about the Budge fields, other than that , little of note really.

More weird Dru behaviour to report, I disturbed 'a middle-aged couple' 'up to no good' in the Oddie hide - they looked a bit flustered when I walked in............grim!

Had lunch at Stag Rocks, Bamburgh, there were still 40+ purple sandpiper son the rocks and lots of sarnie terns about.

96 common buzzard
97 fulmar

Saturday 19 April 2008

Windy - bit like me!

Cold and strong easterly wind, highlight at Dru was 2nd summer moulting to adult little gull on the budge fields. No new migrants and still no fulmar, though sewatchin was tricky with sand blowing into my eyes.

Went to Chev to see the sumplum slav grebe, nice! Then Linton, no white-wingers.

Friday 18 April 2008

Short but Sweet - bit like me!

A very short visit to the pools this afternoon, but it was nice, but bloody caad! Highlight was a pair of pintail from the Budge screen picked up by JF, though they were asleep for the entire time we were there, so hence no pics.

Nowt on the main pool, though this cracking kessie was devouring some tasty morsel or other on the fence.

95 Pintail

Thursday 17 April 2008

all might not be lost

This post could also be entitled 'clutching at straws'

This is from the colour ringing bird site: - see Stewart, the ruskies do ring geese, see note 1:

01690 - Red-breasted Goose - Branta ruficollis

Rings (on leg) with code (3 letters).
White ring with black code (A01-A13) (on right tarsus) and metal ring (on left tarsus).

Bird Ringing Centre of Russia, att. Sergei Kharitonov, 117312, Moscow, Russia.
note 1: used colours for coded rings are yellow and black.
note 2: this project concerns 200 birds ringed at the Taymyr Delta, Pura River during 1996 by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the International Artic Expedition IEE (Russian Academy of Science).
note 3 : white rings are put during summer 2007 at the Agapa River, Taimyr Peninsula,

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrreen winged teal

This is the sketch:

I go to Dru, the GWT goes to Hauxley, I go home, the GWT goes to Dru, I go back to Dru, the GWT goes back to Hauxley, I go to County Hell, the GWT goes back to Dru....and so on.....for ever and ever amen.

Wednesday 16 April 2008

Red-Breasted Goose - OFF the patch (list)

It's plastic......there's no doubt now, its got a coloured ring on its leg...bugger, it has to come offuv the list, oh well, some you win...................

(Seemingly it was seen well at Linton pond this afternoon sporting a nice bit of Darvik - probably coming to a loaf of sunblest)

Called at Dru tonight, nothing much to report, there was a dodgy diving duck on the Budge Fields, turned up whilst I was there, spent most of the time diving in two foot of water, it was a female pochard, some something wasn't right about it...the bill looked too large and the head too dark, maybe it was just the light? Anyways it's a year tick, so back on 94.

I spent some time playing with the new camera, got some nice heron shots...

94 Pochard

Monday 14 April 2008

Red-breasted goose - ON THE PATCH!!!!

Red-breasted goose - on (or should I say over) the patch..... is it tickable, well it's on my list until I am told to take it off - Here's the story.....

Got a call offuv AG whilst in the office to say there were two avocets on the Budge fields, couldn't get away and also had to call at Morrisons to buy food, so by 1720 am driving north to Dru, Boulmer Birder phones to say they have been flushed by a kite (not a red one neither, some wazzack on the beach with a giant purple one), just before this there is a message from the pager people to say that there is a red-breasted goose at Chev, BB confirms that it is there, plans diverted.
So off I go to Chev, a few folk are gathered by the back of the hide that nobody uses, watching the goose behind a hawthorn hedge (with greylags and pinkies). Every so often you we would get 'crippling views' as the r-b goose would pass a narrow gap in the hedge, or would gain a bit of height so you could see the top of its head (to calls of "it's showing well there now"), but there was no mistaking it's identity.
"It's showing well there now"
Enough of this, I'm off to Dru to see if the Avocets had returned ....and indeed they had.

So me 'n' MJC and some others are watchin the avocets, when I spot a small skeen of geese coming over - with a small one amongst them, bins up - red-breasted goose on the patch! Get In! We watched as they eventually wiffled down to the fields behind Bell's ponds.

R-b goose is a new bird for me, so to get it on the patch is fantastic. As with any wildfowl, especially something that knocks about with a gang of greylags, it is automatically assumed to be out of a cage, especially by those who haven't seen it (You know who you are - JF!). The avocets could also be out of a cage - who knows? Anyhoo, it's on my list until it is proved that it is not wild, it looked wild to me as it flew over, it had that look in its eye!
So that's the patch list onto 212.

It's on the pager tonight that (presumably) the Hauxley drake GW teal was at Dru tonight, guess where I am going before work......
93 Avocet
94 Red-breasted goose

Sunday 13 April 2008

A bit more like summer

It was a bit more like summer today, though the light northerly wind still had a bite in it. Had two brief visits to the patch today, either side of a work appointment in Alnmouth. This morning, the highlight was willow warbler, one singing by the entrance to the Oddie hide - first of the year for me. Other migrants included a female wheatear by the Dru bushes and sand martins. On the main pool, two otters were on the far side, the big dog and another.
Offshore there was a summer plumage red-throated diver and a handful of razorbill, on the horizon a string of at least 80 gannets headed north - still no fulmar!
On the way home we had the hooded crow in the NT paddock, south of the plantation.
Nothing much added this afternoon, there were at least 3 willow warblers and two chiffies in the bushes and the wheatear (or another) was by the top blockhouse. A dunlin was on the Budge fields.

Nice reed bunt feeding in the willows - good chance to play with my new camera

Oh and the indicator of summer - the first ned visitor - this chap had some kind of petrol go-cart, fashioned from an old ride-on mower or similar..the sun always fetches out the neds.

92 willow warbler

Friday 11 April 2008

Canny Morning

A Canny morning (as BB would say)...
A hooded crow had been reported on the pagers from hemscothill links, to the south of Dru this morning, I soon found it, but it was flushed by what appeared to be young offenders clearing litter form the dunes, it crossed the road into the fields so no picture. This is the first hoodie i've had on the patch for years, a welcome year tick...would my luck continue?

From the Budge screen, there was little of note on meadows, 6 wigeon, 4 shoveler, 40 teal and 4 gadwall were on the water. A couple of swallows over officially signalled the start of had it only been one....

Nice male chaffy with a ring on its leg - wonder if it's one of ours? I can make out 675...

The first bird I saw from the half-built little was a drake garganey - GET IN! I've been predicting one here all week, no sooner was my scope set up, the mrs garganey appears too - him'n'her - champion! A white wag pottered about the edge and a few house martins flew over. Because the hide is only half-built I could see some of the pool, an odd looking gull turned out to be a first-winter little gull (moulting into first summer type), it was really close to the hide, so a good chance to try out me new camera. Also on the pool was great-crested grebe and little grebe.

Crappy shots - cracking bird!

Good chance to play around with new camera - the bird was so obliging, looks like it is moulting its tail into adult plumage? Check out the black 'armpit' in the last shot.

No migrants about really, just swallow, sand martin and a chiffy, offshore there was sarnie tern - 5th year tick of the day. I

87 hooded crow
88 swallow
89 garganey
90 little gull
91 sandwich tern

Wednesday 9 April 2008


Had a quick visit to Dru before work this morning in hope of garganey or better. No such luck, this nice wheatear was by the road though. The Kestrels appear have paired up, there are also at least two magpie nests under construction.

There was report of a great-grey shrike at East Chev this morning, that'd be nice. I've only ever seen one at Dru, found by the Boulmer Birder when Druridge was his patch - it was present from the 8th -10th October 2002, favouring the north end bushes.

Tuesday 8 April 2008

Belated WeBS

A nice bit of sunshine today, shame I was either in meetings or travelling between them all day, when I was finally free, I got within 4 miles of the Pools and it started to rain - it hasn't stopped since. Still - bit of rain - never hurt anyone, so I did my WeBS count as I turtly forgot about it on Sunday.

The Budge fields have been inundated with gulls over the last few days, 95% black headed with the occasional herring and common - nothing tasty among them yet, but I could fancy a ring-billed! Why though? Why turn up now and in such numbers?
Gulls through the rain...where's the ring-billed?
Trev Blake told me this morning that he had added himself to the list of millions that have seen SE Owl at Dru this month - that'll be the list that I am not on...grrrr. No sign of any tonight , but seen as it was raining I shouldn't really have expected much else, no sign of the firecrest for the last couple of days either, two or three chiffies about tho. A female chaffinch with a ring on it's leg was outside the Oddie hide - wonder if it was one of ours?


BHG 134
common gull 8
lapwing (displaying now) 5
redshank 2
coot 2
teal 30 (well down)
moorhen 5
goldeneye 1
grey heron 1
mute 2
shelduck 5
tufted duck (still no pochard) 16
mallard 7.

I noted in the last issue of the NWT propaganda 'Roebuck' they are still talking about the creation of wader scrapes at Druridge Pools - there's no need there's plenty of mud there at the moment. All they need to do is play with water levels and graze the site from July onwards with hods of animals...IT DOESN'T NEED A JCB!!

That's my monthly NWT rant over with (oh...except it would be nice if the little hide was finished before the breeding season to minimise disturbance)...

Supposed to be bright first thing tomorrow, so might drop by the pools on my way to Coonty Hall - see what's doing.

Sunday 6 April 2008

It's Blimmin Winter

BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR It's blimmin caad! and proper snow too! I hardly made out of the car at the Pools today, my original plan this weekend was to bash the patch....bugger that!

Managed to get out to the Budge screen, but the edge of the wood was a wind tunnel, so didn't spend to much time lookin for the firecrest, no sign whilst I was there, there was chiffy though, first of the year at Dru for me. ST turned up and gave me some camera advice, also reckons I should get a 1.7 tele-converter...could be useful for China methinks....then it started to snow... so not much chance to play with my new toy, the forecast looks awful for the week ahead, snow turning to rain, but still cold.

I didn't really leave the car after that, there was a smart male wheatear at the north end, managed only a very poor record shot, which is even too embarrassing for me to put on here! Nowt else of note.
NWT seemed to have completed the work to put an access into their meadows from the National Trust land, one less excuse for no grazing next July. I've got to admit, the pools are the best I have seen them since grazing stopped five years ago, the few cows that are on have done a canny job, but it still needs a good blitzing next July. I must phone them and recommend Camargue horses.

Well i'm off to ebay tele-converter shopping.....
84. chifchaff
85. wheatear
86. gadwall

Thursday 3 April 2008

New Toy

Since I dropped my Kodak 'digi-scoping' camera in Spain, I was convinced by the boys at Stevie Taylor's do the other night that I should buy a Lumix I did! A Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 to be precise. It's kinda nice'n'easy to use and has loads things on it that I still haven't a scooby about, but I thought I would take it out for a bit of a play today.

I was trapped in County Hall, so couldn't get to the pools, so I went to one of my favorite sites in the whole county, Scotch Gill Woods LNR in Morpeth, down by the River Wansbeck. If you haven't been there check it out, good place for woodland birds and especially flowers, the site is on a line of springs, so you get nice wet flushes throughout the wood. I am a bit biased as I used to help look after it in my last job.
Anyhoo, plenty of chiffies singing (10+) at lunch time, also dipper and grey wag on the river and marsh tit and at least 6 nuthatches in the wood, also a comma butterfly, my first of the year. The woodland floor was a carpet of wood anenome's (wind flowers) in places, with a nice show of marsh marigolds in one of the flushes and butterbur ( a much under-rated flower I reckon) in flower.

I got some shots, but really just playing with it at the moment - but am impressed so far. The zoom can be extended to 28X if you go down to 3 mega-pixel and the macro seems quite good too, sure I will need to get to grips with it before we go to China.

Tuesday 1 April 2008

undipped - firecrest.... and what a little stunner!

Called at a very windy Dru on my way home from work this evening with little hope of seeing the firecrest, but as I arrived at the Budge Screen, a couple of local birders were watching it in the willows....and what a little stunner, really bright in a nice light, despite the wind. Since my camera is busted I couldn't get any pics but here are a couple of Alan Gilbertsons (thanks Alan!!!) Alan wasn't happy with the middle shot, but it shows the crown off fantastically.

I watched it for twenty minutes as it a mini-circle around the bushes with 2-3 goldcrests. The funny thing was though, as I left, it was by the screen, I walked, without stopping to the gateway, when I got there, it was by the side of the path...odd. Either it flew straight though the wood after me, which it had never done whilst I was watching it....or there are two of them!! which I guess is possible given there were nine at Spurn today!

Lots of gulls on the meadows, mainly black-headed but nothing unusual. Also ten sand martins (year tick), six grey herons and an assortment of ducks and waders, again, nothing out of the ordinary.

Looks like the wind will drop in the next day or two before a howling northerly comes in over the weekend, that will send a few migrants back south again!

firecrest 82
sand martin 83
Check out Brian's blog for more firecrest shots and great short-eared owl from Dru..