Saturday 30 August 2008

Tour of the patch

SE 5 , overcast, mild

It looked good for ringing at Dru this morning, but JF had gone to spurn to ring mega's so I had a tour of the patch instead and to be honest, felt a bit guilty, it was the first time I had been as far as Low Chibburn since the spring. I was rewarded with a year tick......tree sparrow! there were three in the hedge between the preciptory and farm. Not much else to report, on the beach was little gathering of arctic and sandwich terns with a rosy amongst them, also 16 sanderling and 5 dunlin. Offshore there was 8 red throats, 60+ common scoter and lots of gannet fishing with more great-black-backs around a boat. A cracking bonxie moved north as did a single manxie and arctic skua.

137 tree sparrow

Thursday 28 August 2008

gulls, lots of em

Squeezed a late visit to Dru in tonight, from 7pm til 8.30pm. It was nice night with a pinky sky at dusk, though spoiled a little by a blusterly westerly. There were lots of hindurines, mainly swallows, about. It was tricky to tell if they were moving through or hanging around and feeding, anyhoo at times there were a couple of hundred in the sky looking west from the dunes. I picked a swift in amongst them too, nice late record. It looked really good for a hobby.......a peregrine would have done, but I had to settle for a kestrel.

Pink skies and golden dunes...... You might be able to spot a 1000ish commun gulls on the beach

On the beach there were two gulls roosts offuv the patch and another larger roost further north offuv East Chevington. I counted about 1650 commun gulls (give or take a hundred or three) and I bet there were another 2000+ offuv Chev. Other gulls were few and there were only 10 or so arctic tern and a few sandwich terns. I was quite enjoying going through the gulls and terns until some bloke and his fat wife decided to run through them with their dog, clapping...grrr. Very little offshore....It's forecast to be good weather at the weekend, so the gull-scaring plebs will be out in force no doubt, oh and the honest romany folk are still camping to add to the joys of birding Dru.

Went ringing stormies with Ian Fisher last night, we caught 7, 6 newuns and a control, so defo worth going out.


Tuesday 26 August 2008


I am still recovering from a VERY muddy weekend at the Leeds Festival so have not been to Dru, might get down tommorrow after work

top: deep mud on Thursday night before most people had even turned up!

More mud!

The girlies in their fancy dress

Incapable of drinkin my own beer!

Wednesday 20 August 2008

Tonight at Dru

Had to go to Dru this afternoon to meet Alex from NWT to chat about COWS! and....there seemed to be lots of mig's about. From the trackt to the hides, there were at least six willy wobs. From the Budge Screen we had a female marsh harrier flying south towards to Cresswell and lots of phyloscs calling from the bushes.

After the meeting and we saw a reed warbler lumbering through the umbelifers, spotfly in the bushes and lots more willy wobs. IF turned up and had a little egretr on the Budge Fields. It had a good feeling that 'something' would be about, shame I am Leeds Festival for the next few doubt JF will get the nets up and catch a mega in my absence

136 reed warbler

Monday 18 August 2008

Honest Romany Folk

Honest Romany Folk set up camp

Back to Dru tonight after a weekend at the birdfair to find the honest romany folk have set up camp after a long absence. It really is great to see them back, they have used their wit and genius to fill in the anti-traveller ditches to set up their pretty little campiste by the dunes.

It's really re-assuring to know that, now they are back, it is once more safe to leave your vehicle, knowing that it will not be harmed whilst you go birdwatching. No doubt our travelling friends will do their utmost to make sure they do not cause any damage to the flora and fauna around their camp and will no doubt carry out valuable conservation work such as controlled burning and scarifying (using their various quad bikes) of dune grassland to improve diversity and halt the spread of invasive species. They will go out of their way to fertilise the trees in the woods with their own excrement, promoting growth and keeping out unwanted vandals and bird ringers. The women will adorn the trees with used sanitary products as part of a traditional tree dressing ceremony that dates back lierally months.

And when they finaly leave us, they will no doubt donate to the National Trust literally tonnes of free tree clippings, hedges and shrubs they have carefully removed from gardens as well as lots of plastic fascia boards, tyres and tarmac they have gathered up as as they go about their honest toil. It really lifted my heart to see them as I drove onto the site this afternoon, it's good to see them back!

So if you are down at Dru, why not call by and see them I am sure they would be over the moon to welcome you into their caravan for a nice cuppa!

Birdwise, Dru was adult med gull (year tick) was on beach in a small gathering of gulls and terns, a young merlin flew south past the Budge Screen and 7 arctic skua's and a roseate tern were offshore.

On my way to Dru I spotted Tim Cleaves and Trev Blake at Cresswell Pond, so stopped by, and was pleased that I did. the little stint was showing well on the north side of the causeway, there were also 10 know, 2 ruff, 1 whimbrel, 5 greenshank, 36 dunlin, 2 blackwits, 2 barwits, 2 juv garganey, 3 little gull, 1 little tern and an adult rosy.....not bad eh?

The Birdfair was good, but very tiring. I was working on the Birdwatching Northumberland stand - a consortium of the public and private sector. As usual I spent too much cash on books and drooled longingly at the artwork in the art marquee, the new optics and the numerous destinations touting their wares. A good few northumbrian birders stopped by for a chat which was nice.

Martin and Sarah on the Northumberland Stand

Star-spotting David Attenborough in our marquee with Tim Appleton

Poor old Simon King can't even queue for a dump without being accosted

135 Mediterranean gull

Monday 11 August 2008


I went to durham to look for the black stork that I didn't get to see yesterday cos I was caked in soot. Just before lunchtime, it moved from Northumberland to Durham (Clara Vale to be precise) so I shot down there, only to be told it had flown off south. with no other plan I headed for Newburn where it has been hanging about, no sign of it there either, so I gave up and went back to County Hell. seemingly it was in Crawcrook this evening before flying of east after 8pm.

Maybe it might fly to Druridge? Maybe pigs might fly to Druridge?

Sooty...but not shearwater

This is what I looked like on both Saturday and Sunday evenings after we spent most of the weekend ripping out my fireplaces....only dirtier. First to go was the sitting room one, easy...smashed up the concrete and took out the bricks.

Sitting room fireplace - easy peasy

Next to go was the kitchen, now this one had plastered over then wallpapered, so when I discovered the original stone lintels, i decided to open it right out and put a wood stove in there. Well we did the impossible, we emptied out three times as much brick, stone, dust, soot and plaster as there was possibly room for. We managed to fill a skip, a hole in the ground and have enough spare bricks to rebuild the house.....then there was the dust, it was everywhere, not only on everything in the kitchen but also on and in bogies was just the start!!!

Kitchen fireplace, complete with tools for the job - hoover, brush and shovel, bucket and STELLA!

So, as you can imagine, I didn't get much birding done, though I did sneak down to Dru on Sunday to clear my lungs. It was very bright and very breezy, so no good for ringing (and Saturday was write-off due to rain. Not much to report either...very quiet.
This ship has been lurking in the bay for a week or so, I thought it might be surveying for windfarms. She is called Tridens 1, so I googled her and found this amazing website which shows all of the ships moving around the coast zoom in on the northeast to see what's about. Tridens 1 is a fisheries research vessel from the Netherlands:

Name: Tridens 1
MMSI: 245245000 [NL]
IMO: 6812833
Callsign: PIAO
Speed/Dir: 3.6 kts / 328° NNW
Status: Underway
Dest: Blyth
ETA: Aug20 08:00
Type: Dredger/Underwater Ops. (33)
Details: Fisheries Research Vessel
Size: 61m x 10m x 4.4m
Tonnage: 934gt
Built: 1967
Received: 22:15:07 11 Aug 08 BST

Amazing eh?

maybe it's looking for my killer whale and dolphins which have now all gone, there were 2 harbour porpoise on Sunday though.

Here are some pics from Friday morning:

reed bunting

lesser whitethroat

meadow brown

small skipper I think...though am happy to be corrected......

Saturday 9 August 2008

Migration....not really

Well, I went down to Dru yesterday morning and there was some migration going on, there were plenty willy wobblers and chiffs in the bushes, as well as a lesser whitethroat, tho little else of note.

A very quick ringing sesh with JF in the quick we only caught two birds!!! A willow warb and a blue tit, hmph.

The weather has changed now and it looks bright and breezy tomorrow so will have to rip out fireplaces instead.....ho hum.

Thursday 7 August 2008

Another rainy autumn day

It's even more rainy and more autumnal tonight with a howling northerly making it distinctly cold, meaning our strom petrel ringing session was off.

Still it might not be an ill-wind at Dru tomorrow....Seawatching might be on the cards, as might ringing tommorrow evening if JF gets over to the coast, imagine a two-barred crossbill on the pools list (there's three on the Northern Isles today), I might even get to ring it cos JF has already done one???

Whatever, I will try and at least have a wander about before work tomorrow and to be honest a rb shrike would do this space.

I just added a new link to BirdLife Malta's Youtube channel - check it out

Wednesday 6 August 2008

Rainy Autumn Day

A rainy day today, walking from Craster to Seahouses for work today, saw little of note bird-wise tho it was a nice walk...

At Dru tonight I did a bit of a seawatch looking for more cetaceans, but the dolphins must've moved on, there was only a single harbour porpoise. On the bird front there are now 9 red-throated divers in various states of moult and three arctic skuas were hassling terns, I was there until 8.30pm hoping to see storm petrel on the oily-smooth sea, but no luck.

It felt a bit autumnal tonight, a flock of 38 golden plover moved south and 3 whimbrel went north, then the mist descended. A flock of about 1500 starling moved north, presumably going to roost in the East chev reedbeds.

Tuesday 5 August 2008

sleep deprivation

Since my last post I have been off to a ringing course at Catterick Garrison, a fantastic weekend, but hardly any sleep. The course was run at three different sites with a great variety of species, if Carslberg did ringing huts, the centre at the Foxglove Covert LNR would be it.

The whole show is organised by the formiddable (but likeable) Major (retired) Tony Crease with miltary precision. Yhere were miles of nets up, so we caught lots of birds for the trainees to have a go at, I got to ring some great birds but highlights were kingfisher, sparrowhawk and marsh tit. We also had a canon netting session at Teesmouth which was hampered by the weather but we did manage to catch 6 redshank and a dunlin.

I got a butterfly tick too, with this white-letter hairstreak at Ripon.

So after about 15 hours sleep in four days, I decided to go out ringing stormies with Ian at Hauxley last night, Trev Blake was along too and we caught 7 new birds and a control, so defo worth goin out, but another night of little sleep.

I had a work meeting at Druridge this afternoon (handy), so spent my lunch break (3 o'clock!) on the dunes looking on the sea, which was as flat as a witches. I was hoping for scoters but there was only a small grop way down towards cresswell. As I was scanning, I picked up a whale breaking the surface, the beast was moving very slowly north, only seldom breaching the surface and not by much, the dorsal fin was big, extending to a point in the middle of the back. Further south there was also a pod of 6-8 white-beaked dolphins and a couple of close harbour porpoise. I phones MSK to tell him, he said he would have a look. I then picked up a small pod of bottlenosed dolphin further south towards Cresswell.

MSK called me back " F#%&*g Hell - it's like the bay of biscay out here......." Martin had seen pretty much what I had, with a few more porpoise, he had picked up a minke whale between Dru and Coquet Point. I have since read some literature and I am convinced that the whale I saw wasn't a minke (I have seen minke before so already had my doubts), the dorsal fin was way to big and upright so i think this had to be a killer whale, probably a female as the fin did taper. It certainly wasn't a minke and no other whale has a dorsal so big in proportion. Unfortunately I didn't see the body as the thing only just breached the surface, so a bit frustrating really.

Birdwise my short seawatch produced four redthroats, a bar-tailed godwit flying south (year tick) and a group of ringed plover also flying south.

So it's now 0035 and I am ringing with IF at Chevington at 5am - no sleep again.....and the bloggers not workin so the pics will follow later...

134 bar-tailed godwit