Monday 30 June 2008

quick visit

A quick visit to Dru tonite one the way home from work, very bright and very breezy, not much to report tho. 1 little egret is still on the Budge fields, but no sign of wood sand reported birdguides this afternoon. Also single greenshank over, calling and two or three rosy's offshore. Spent the remainder of the evening glazing my new greenhouse (after spending most of the weekend building the base and the frame)...piccies to follow.

Sunday 29 June 2008


An early start at Dru this morning, bright and breezy, so no good for ringing. I arrived at 0630 to find about 40 cars at the north end...odd for a sunday...but it's the summer - rave season. I guess there was about 100 people there, the music was still playing, I had a quick look on the sea (rosy - year tick!!), there were a few worse-for-wear types on the beach. By the time I left taxis had begun to arrive to take away some of the ravers. Check out the vid on youtube

Rave on

I don't really mind raves on the beach as long as they clear away their shit after them, and to be fair, there were some guys with bin liners picking stuff up. I reckon the countryside is there for us all to enjoy, some people enjoy it differently to others, so let them be, as long as they don't spoil it for others who follow them.

Anyhoo, bird wise it was v.quiet, although I did flush a pair of grey partridge and six small young, only just big enough to fly....they were in the dunes. A little egret was still on the budge fields....

Common spotted orchid

130 roseate tern

Friday 27 June 2008

New Google Earth

I just downloaded the new Google Earth, and our area is vastly improved, check out the patch!! Will annotate and add to blog when I have more news from Dru..

Tuesday 24 June 2008

A bit of this and a bit of that

Firstly, my suspicions that the garganey have bred at Druridge Pools has been confirmed, Trevor Blake called me at the weekend to say he had seen two garganey ducklings on the Budge Fields - Fantastic! This is a really good record, I will pass on the news to NWT and remind them that 40+ cows will be required at the end of July...

When I got the call from Trev, I was in Scotland, Aviemore to be precise, on my way back from a fantastic break in northern Scotland. Did the north coast first, camping at the magnificent Sandwood Bay then a trip to the SWT reserve of Handa Island. I can thoroughly reccomend Handa to those that have not been. It is truly a spectacle, it is an island close to the mainland reached by a small boat, a bit like an over sized miners tin bath with an engine. The island is flat at one side rising to spectacular seabird cliffs, the biggest draw for us Northumbrians is the breeding skua's, which nest on the open moor in the middle of the island, there are about 16 pairs of arctic skua and 240+ pairs of bonxies. The arctic skuas have a bit of a divebomb like terns do, but the bonxies don't, thankfully - cos they would kill you!

Sandwood Bay - our campsite

View north from Handa Island


Arctic Skua

Bonxies - top - causing havoc at the seabird cliffs, middle - in flight, bottom - a bonxie bath!

After Handa stopped in Durness but it rained and rained and rained so on Sunday headed south for Speyside, staying at the Lazy Duck near Nethy Bridge - a fine Hostel if you're by that way . Visited RSPB Osprey World at Garten (you've got to really...) then had a look up glen feshie, it was a bit showery though, so didn't see much.

The flow country...Fantastic!

TB had a little egret at Dru on Sunday when he called me about the garganeys, there were two there today, so after work and after ringing barn owls around Amble, I called in. They weren't there, but soon arrived, flying in from the south. They had a bit of chase about - nice!

mute swan and cygnets - last week at dru

129 little egret

Tuesday 17 June 2008

Bits and bobs

Had three visits to Dru since my last post, been very busy, so have been a little tardy updating the old blog, technical problems (you know who you are!!) means there will be no photo's this week, but will make up for that later.

Saturday - was supposed to be ringing with JF, but it was too bright/breezy so we did some management works on the net rides, this showery weather doesn't half make the veg grow!

The (potential) highlight was the (potential) confirmed breeding of garganey. We only had bins, but saw the drake garg looking a bit drab, going into eclipse? and the back of a female type small duck (presumably the female garg, but really crap views through deepening veg) and two tiny ducklings for seconds.....and no further sign since. But there are two broods of mallard (8 and 10) and one brood of 8 gadwall and I haven't seen them again much either, the veg is so deep stuff disappears. So here's a plea to all those who get down to the pools - keep your eyes pealed for juv garganey -it would be great to get breeding confirmed...and don't forget to put a roving record into the atlas!

Other than that, a first winter little gull was all of note and handful of manxies offshore.

Visited both last night (7-9pm) and tonight (after ringing barn owls) for 30 minutes. Highlights yesterday were LRP (year tick) and drake pintail on the Budge fields, ringed plover and sanderling on the beach and a brood of 5 mute swan (pics to follow) on the pool, and lots of swifts about. A barn owl was at cresswell on the way home.

Tonight there was greenshank on the budge fields.

128 little ringed plover

Wednesday 11 June 2008

All at Sea

Five year ticks tonight at Druridge and they were all at sea, I only decided to look on the sea as I was heading home, just before the rain started. First birds seen, through the bins, were 12 manx shearwaters feeding close in, next was a bonxie sat on the sea, then both arctic and common tern, then more, then more....last was an arctic skua - doing what arctics do best - chasing terns. Also on the sea were two RTD's, one in spanking breeding plumage, the other a rather tired looking non-breeder, a female common scoter, fulmar and many gannets, terns, gulls and auks. On the cetacean front, there was a single harbour porpoise.

2 whimbrel flew north up, low, up the beach, joined by a third offuv the beach. 4 sanderlings were on the waters edge, one in top breeding nick. Sanderlings are a fantastic looking bird when seen in this plumage.

Elsewhere on the patch, starling numbers have increased, but no pink-jobs! One of the three stonechat pairs in the dunes had two young fledged and there were also fledgling blackbirds, chaffinches, carrion crow, magpie and linnet. There were three mistle thrush, not sure if this is a family party as I didn't see them well, I expect it is as one of the adults has been seen on my last few visits, so I expect they are local breeders.

meadow pipit

Saw my first brood of gadwall chicks this evening too, not an exact count as they scooted across the water between the rushes, but there were at least 8, probably 2 or 3 more. Finally as I was leaving, the long eared owl was hunting along the back of the woods. All in all a pleasant evening....until the rain stopped play.

I took some flower shots at the weekend and have just found time to post them, they were all taken on the path to the Oddie Hide, the top one is northern marsh orchid, then a partly opened common spotted orchid and finally vipers buglos, which is now suffering from being star-struck (it is also on boulmer birder and abbey meadows)

123 manx shearwater

124 bonxie

125 common tern

126 arctic tern

127 arctic skua

Tuesday 10 June 2008

Ringing....but not at Dru

I haven't had the chance to get down to Dru much lately, been ringing birds elsewhere. Saturday, I was down in the North Tyne Valley with John ringing tits in nestboxes. I thought I had been to most of Northumberland, but Sidwood and Comb were new one's to me. A really enjoyable afternoon apart from the midges.

Tonight I have been out with the Hanmer's, ringing barn owls. We caught four adults, but no pulli. I did get to ring some jackdaw pulli though. I've not really done much ringing of larger birds so this was good experience, hopefully will be able to go out again. Phil was saying that the barn owls are nesting very late this year, some aren't even on eggs yet.

Hopefully will get down to Dru tomorrow after work.............

Friday 6 June 2008


An early ringing session with JF on Thursday, before work. hardly any wind and a bit of fog which lifted and the wind picked up to NE2. Ringing was v.quiet, the highlight was a meadow pipit! The long-eared owl was hunting again and there was a temminck's stint on the Budge fields.

Later in the day reported a little stint so before any cries 'mis-identification!!!' Our bird was defo temminck's (and was reported later as temminck's too) so I am going for the two bird sign of either since which is a shame.

There has been spoonbills reported from Hauxley and Cresswell, so hopefully on might get down to Dru at the weekend, hopefully ringing again on Sunday.

a happy family- the first shelduck young - brood of 10

A turd (toad for those not from Ashington or Stobswood)

Wednesday 4 June 2008


Quick visit to Dru this morning, but very little to report, long-eared owl was hunting along the pool edge...

Still flat calm, overcast and with overnight rain....would've been great for ringing, sadly JF is working away.

No sign of the great snipe on Holy Island, it's either gone or commited suicide...sick of it's life by now no doubt's.

Tuesday 3 June 2008

High Speed Twitch

At my desk this lunchtime, pondering whether to eat my prawn sandwich or wait til 1230 when the mobile goes, it's the Boulmer Birder - panicked (a regular occurrence - so nothing to be concerned about I thought...) Lesser grey Shrike at the Nanny, first in twenty years - you wanna see this 'un...tell the Coonty Haall mob....

So all thoughts of lunch abandoned, Tom was on his way to County Hell, which was lucky cos I still have no windscreen wipers, Mike Carr couldn't wait and was off, no sign of Biggsy. It was 1210 and Tom and I had to be back at CH for a 2 o'clock meeting - it was going to be VERY tight, but we had to go for it! A quick zoom up the A1, catching an anxious Mike Carr at Rennington and off to Link House Car Park (several birders, including BB, scrabbling for coins for the car park machine). TAC and I legged it along the dunes, Newton Stringer (who found the bird) had a scope on it when we arrived, a quick look (but good views) - bird ticked, a quick banter and we were off, back to Morpeth, making it to County Hell for 1357 (few....)

Congratulations to Newton Stringer for finding such a cracking bird and thanks to SS for the call and TAC for driving. Second British tick in three days - off to Dru first thing tomorrow to see if owts dropped in there.

Monday 2 June 2008

Nowt doin....

Still migrants about on the coast, rb shrike at Woodhorn and Farnes, bluethroat on the farnes etc but nowt at Dru, everything had moved off. No sign of marsh warbler tonight, even with a tape going and no other migrants of note.

Found a sedgies nest with one egg in, so will keep an eye on that and the only other highlights were 2 whimbrel on the beach and year-ticking Tim Cleeves on the patch.

Reports from Dru today on birdguides and from the Newton Stringer included marsh harrier, garganey and LRP - no sign of any tonight - even the sedgies were quiet.

I have so far not been tempted to go and join the masses kicking the great snipe from arsehole to breakfast time on Holy Island...seemingly the twitch on Sunday was well behaved, I just hope it's the same today for the birds' sake, but I fear the worst...... maybe I am taking unnecessary high ground, maybe because I haven't seen it...whatever...I don't like the concept of repeated organised bootings of rare birds. Rant over!

Sunday 1 June 2008

Marsh Warbler- patch tick

In my desperateness to get to the pub (actually the Hirst Central Club in Ashington to be precise) on Friday night, I forgot to mention a bird we heard but didn't see on Friday morning. I actually heard it briefly on Thursday evening's visit in the hawthorn's at the entrance to the Budge screen - marsh warbler...I thought, but not being familiar with them, i would check my CD's.

On Friday morning, when Janet and I were putting up the nets, the bird was again singing in the same place, we were both sure it was marsh warbler, so I phoned the only person who be out and about at this ungodly hour - Dave Elliott - who had already done a lap of Chev. By the time DE had arrived and we got back down there it had shut up - maybe we had disturbed it? We hoped we might catch it, but didn't.

So a text from DE on my mobile which I left in the car and only rediscovered at lunchtime today reads...marsh warbler singing in same place you had it (Saturday evening)...So, in a car with buggered windscreen wipers, I heads down there, Neil Osbourne had been there 40 minutes without luck, he and Tony went, I gave it another 20 minutes or so, then went back towards the road were JF and I had first heard it, shortly after I heard it, once the several sedgies had piped down, singing from the alders and hawthorns near the small pond (yes Stewart...the one were the travellers shit...). Get in! I would never offuv ticked it on song alone, so it was great to see it and nail it. First patch tick of 2008

Recent year ticks

117 spotted flycatcher
118 blackcap
119 little tern
120 ruff
121 redstart

One of Thursday's spotfly's

Friday's Ringing

chaffinch (2 ringed, 1 retrap)
dunnock 1
redstart 2 (m, f)
common whitethroat 1f
reed bunting 1f
sedge warbler 1

Friday's reed bunting