Tuesday 30 December 2008

End of the year

Well, I'll not get down to Druridge again this year, so it's time to look back on the year. I haven't been down there since Christmas Day due to football and social events and I've got to go a mate's wedding tomorrow.

Yesterday we did my Atlas squares in the Cheviots, the first tetrad took in Threestoneburn and the second took in the flank of Hedgehope down to Langleeford. The trudge up to the crags from the Hawsen Burn had me jiggered, too much food and booze over the festive period...the diet starts in January! In both tetrads we had only 11 species, though it looks good for the summer....highlights were the number of red grouse we saw, a woodcock feeding on grit, two stonechats and a treecreeper.

Anyhoo, back to Druridge...

Well the year list ended on 161...not bad but not outstanding, 165+ is a good year. I had 4 patch ticks this year taking my patch list to 217, they were: marsh warbler, barred warbler, greenish warbler and treecreeper. Other patch highlights this year were green-winged teal, iceland gull, temmincks stint, the huge fall of wheatears, redstarts and others during the 'Morpeth' flood weekend, catching and ringing a wryneck a week later and red-backed shrike on the gypsy's pile o shite - as predicted.

Obvious omissions from the year list in 2008 were the lack of seabirds with sooty shear, pom or long-tailed skua. Among the wildfowl there were no scaup, smew, ruddies or white-fronted geese. Also missing was green sandpiper, turnstone, LRP, black redstart, yellow-browed warbler, black tern, brambling, snow bunting and kingfisher.

The biggest disappointments of the year included being stuck in China when lesser-yellowlegs turned up (and the number of text messages I received to tell me about it), the red-breasted goose turning out to be plastic, the lack of seawatching, not catching the marsh warbler and the barred warbler (and having it rejected by the CRC) and not catching any twite at our feeding site.

Also disappointing was NWT not delivering on promises in 08, although looking forward to 2009, the over-wintering cows are doing a canny job, NWT have put the site into stewardship which will mean they have to manage appropriately and a management plan has been written for the site.

So what will 2009 bring, hopefully I will get a copy of the management plan...also lots of cows in July, lots of breeding waders, good spring and autumn passage when we're ringing and plenty of patch ticks.....BRING IT ON!!!!

To my fellow bloggers and regular readers I hope you have a happy, healthy, prosperous 2009 with plenty of good birds!

Wednesday 24 December 2008

Tis the season to be merry

I have been getting merry quite a bit lately, the social calendar has been burstin at the seams and what with football and work, I've struggled to get down to Dru or update the blog..

Anyhoo the holidays started today, there's still lots of partying to be done between now and the 5th and plenty of football, but I should manage a few days out 'in the field'.

I went to Dru this afternoon, the resident cows on the Budge fileds are finaly having an impact on the vegetation and thus the duck numbers have begun to rise - on the Budge fields today were:

teal 136
gadwall 10
shoveler 2
tufted duck 1
wigeon 87
mallard 29...and a snipe and grey heron

It just needs the cows to stay on over the winter and the juncus to be flailed and we might get some decent breeding wader numbers next year. Other than more ducks, not much to report, a merlin came through and perched at the back of the fields, there were 9 red throats offshore with 1 merganiser and a few shag.

I'll be down at Dru tomorrow morning (last year we had a good views of otter and a water rail eating a dead black-headed gull) but in the meantime...

*Including those I may have offended this year such as NWT, The County Records Committee and the wazack who keeps putting common birds on the pager from Holywell Pond

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Away Days

It's a bugger trying to maintain a blog during the winter with these awful short days...sorry for the lack of blog-action!

As well as work and winter, I've been away for a long-weekend in Barcelona. Not a birding trip at all - the bins were left at home! It was a city trip, seeing the sights, eatin the food and drinkin anything they served us.
Barca is an amazing city with lots to see, some nice parks, lots of public art and some great bars and restaurants. We saw the amazing La segrada familla - a huge temple, still under construction, we went to the Picasso museum, Camp Nou (not for El Clasico though), Las Ramblas....I could go on.

We did see some birds, lots of ring-necked and monk parakeets, a flock of black redstarts and some crag martins around the castle and yellow-legged gulls at the port.

Monk Parakeet at Parc Guell
Back to Druridge briefly this morning to hoy some food down for the non-existent twite - not even any golfinches there this morning....grim!

Sunday 7 December 2008


It was a lazy wind at Druridge today, the type of wind that is too lazy to go around you, so it just goes straight through you....nithering! It was overcast by the time my hangover eased, one of those damp, cold days.

Janet and I were testing the big whoosh net, it worked OK but we didn't catch any of the goldfinch that were there, we need to get some more practice, but on a warmer day, our fingers were frozen by the time we dismantled it.
Druridge was pretty bleak, though I did get a year tick long-tailed duck on the sea, it was actually quite close in but the sea wasn't and I couldn't be arsed to walk down and try to photograph it. I did manage to photograph this little grebe though. Other than a woodcock and 4 tufties there was little else of note.
More crap pager messages over the weekend....if you put these on, OWN UP!!
Bramblings in Cramlington and Wallsend and 120 pink-footed geese at Holywell Pond - there are 4000 pink feets flying back and forward over my house every day, I don't phone RBA and stick them on!
161 long-tailed duck