Wednesday 29 October 2008

dawn and dusk

We've started baiting an area up to try and catch twite at Dru, so have been down at dawn and dusk the last couple of days checking that. Tuesday morning was cold with the first frost on the car, as I approached the baiting area I had 19 grey partridge fly off in a group of 9 then 10, that might be my largest dru count for them, I also had a deranged whooper swan, which was on the track at the north end looking at me through the gate, when I approached it made a half-arsed effort to fly into the field and went and stood, facing into the corner, like a naughty schoolboy. Maybe it had just arrived and was suffering from a lack of blood-sugar causing it to be dopey - a bit like me in the office by 2pm if there is no cake!

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

I took a walk around the patch on Friday morning, it was a nice, crisp, autumnal morning, westerlies have predominated the last two weeks, so I knew there would be nothing startling on the patch, but still, I wasn't in the office.

I did see a good number of species including a patchyear-tick, great northern diver just offshore, but too far to photograph. I also saw at least 36 long-tailed tits, some of the ones we ringed and whole lot more and a female bullfinch, which are rare at Dru...but I still came away feeling very frustrated and somewhat depressed - why?

Well on the bits managed by NWT (budge fields and pool) I saw:
mallard (3)
teal (8)
mute swan (6 been there all year)
moorhen (6)
carrion crow (1)

...and a fly-over grey heron

All very nice but the list should read more like teal (250 and a green winged), wigeon (300), Lapwing (200) etc etc. The Budge fields and the deep pool are deserted of wildlife, there is nothing there.

I was at the second half of the NTBC 50th anniversary conference last night (after going to the stadium of plight to watch the scum turn us over) and the desperate state of Druridge Pools and the other Druridge reserves was a hot topic of conversation, the Pools even got a mention in the last lecture for their lack of birds!! People were telling me they don't even bother to go to Druridge Pools now, they drive straight past, if local birders aren't even going, what are visiting birders going to make of it all?

Here is the picture 15 years ago (1993):

teal 260
wigeon 250
shoveler 16
tufted duck 70

even ten years ago (1998):

teal 258-273 (and green winged teal)
wigeon 140
Mallard 283
Pintail 1-5
Pochard 15-16

These are all peak 4th quarter counts.

That says it all I'm afraid..........I feel there is nothing more I can do, I despair!

Sorry for the rant, I'll leave this post with some arty shots of sanderling on the beach. I'm off to bait-up our twite ringing site.

153 great northern diver

Sunday 19 October 2008

Big Chopper

A huge hangover and very strong westerly winds ruled out ringing today and to be honest, if it hadn't of been WeBS day, the severity of the hangover would have ruled out birding of any kind. In fact it's now after 9pm and i am still suffering!

Anyhoo, I went to Dru to do the count this afternoon, on the way, there was bit of a to do, a car had left the road at the double bends near Scott's farm and appeared to have taken out the electric pole. There was two plod cars as well as three electric board vans and lots of activity as we drove by. We had just finished counting the ducks on the Budge fields when the Police helicopter arrived overhead, they flew about for some time, low at times, seemingly looking for something or someone? Maybe the chap who drove into the pole had absconded? The police dog van was there too...

Anyhoo, the helicopter managed to flush up 16 snipe and 19 dunlin and a load more teal making the count more accurate - see the police can be useful! It's just as well there was some commotion, cos birdwise, druridge was dead...there was 9 goldeneye on the lake, my first of the winter at Dru. Still no more cows on the fields, despite the assurances from NWT.

Tuesday 14 October 2008

Ringing again

I took the morning off work today to go ringing with JF this morning. We had a steady morning catching 34 new birds and 3 retraps, nothing startling among the 12 different species. The long-tailed tit flock has increased in size since Sunday, to about 20 birds, we caught another 6 of them today and 11 more of the goldfinch flock.

There were a few birds on the move this morning, including two year ticks! A spotshank flew over heading SW calling and a single (lesser) redpoll flew south, taking the year list to 152. Also over were five....yes FIVE grey wags, 2 whooper swans, 41 pink feet, 21 greylag, 4 siskin and 9 skylark.

The National Trust vols were burning the shit left behind by the gypo's.

Ringing totals
goldcrest 5 + 1 retrap
chaffinch 1
chiffchaff 2
goldfinch 11 + 1 retrap
greenfinch 1
robin 1
blue tit 1
great tit 1
coal tit 2
song thrush 2
wren 1
long-tailed tit 6 + 1 retrap
151 spotted redshank
152 lesser redpoll

Sunday 12 October 2008

Awright Treec?

We were ringing at Dru this morning and only went and caught a PATCH TICK! nothing rare (except at Dru like) but a patch tick nonetheless.......Treecreeper! Bit of a tart's tick I know, they are bound to move through every autumn/winter with roving tit flocks etc, but I've no seen one so I'm chuffed! That'll be 217 in my tiny little patch.

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.

Ringing totals

goldfinch 13
treecreeper 1
goldcrest 7
dunnock 2
reed bunting 1
blackbird 1
great tit 1 + control
long-tailed tit 9
coal tit 1
wren 2 + 1 retrap
greenfinch 5
robin 1 + 1 retrap
blue tit 1 retrap

PATCH TICK 217 treecreeper

149 treecreeper
150 long-tailed tit

Tuesday 7 October 2008

Not much doin

Not much doing at Dru tonight, I called in for an hour or so after work and ended getting absolutely soaked. I did get a year tick though, two grey wags flying south whilst I was chatting to another year tick - Duncan from NWT who was feeding the cows!

After checking the pools and bushes, which a held a scattering of thrushes including a redwing, I walked back along the beach to see if there were any seabirds washed up after the oil slick (see ) - not a one, maybe someone has been and gathered them up already? It was when I was at the top of the beach, furthest away from the car, that the heavens opened - it create this spooky sky though, it got weirder but camera was already soaked.

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

Last Stand

Tonight was my last ever committee meeting of the Northumberland and Tyneside Bird Club (NTBC), I've been on the committee for about six years and it's time to stand down and make way for new blood.

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'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

The geese have arrived, but I saw a true sign that winter's here today - my firsts redwings of the winter.

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?