Wednesday 29 April 2009

After the rain

After last nights heavy rain, I thought something might have dropped into Druridge, so I headed down there before work, nowt startling to be honest though I did get four year-ticks. Best of the bunch was single swift over (north), short-eared owl lifting from reed canary grass and my first common whitethroat of the year. Other notable birds were three lesser whitethroats, one house martin and five groppers

94 common whitethroat
95 swift
96 house martin
97 short-eared owl

Sunday 26 April 2009

The story of ALL870

I'll come onto the story of ALL870 in a bit. JF and I were ringing at Druridge this morning, setting the nets up from 0530. The first bird we saw on arriving was a barn owl hunting the dune backs and the first bird we heard was a gropper reeling - both year ticks (there were at least 5 groppers reeling at Druridge this morning).
On the first net round we extracted a willow warbler, nothing unusual about that. But this particular bird (ALL870) was no stranger to has been to Druridge before:

22nd May 2004 - ringed as an adult male at Druridge
4th June 2005 retrapped at Druridge
18th June 2006 retrapped at Druridge
18th May 2008 retrapped at Druridge
26th April 2009 retrapped at Druridge
So, this tiny little bird weighing only 9.2 grammes, has been to sub-Saharan Africa and back at least six times. I've always been fascinated by migration, but to think that this little bird has done this at least six times and has been caught in the same little strip of bushes in five of the last six years is truly mind-blowing!
We caught another willow warbler today ringed as an adult by Janet in June 2006.
We caught 18 birds in the nets this morning, 10 new ones and seven retraps and one control, a nice male sparrowhawk, which we have no photo's of cos some idiot trainee let it go (me!).
We caught this blackbird, which had an odd shaped bill. It wasn't suffering any harm from it as he was a little fatty, with a long wing (139mm) for blackbird, probably making him a bird from the continent, as our blackbirds wings are shorter than this.
Ringing totals
willow warbler 2 new, 2 retraps
reed bunting 1 new
blackbird 1 new
lesser whitethroat 1 new
robin 1 new
dunnock 3 new
wren 1 new, 3 retraps
chaffinch 2 retraps
sparrowhawk 1 control
female reed bunting
Remember the stonechats feeding their young mentioned? We found the nest today, containing 3 biggish young (and two cold eggs) so we ringed them too.

Stonechat chick

Other than what I've already mentioned, a whimbrel on the Budge fields and 4 wheatears were all of note.
90 barn owl
91 grasshopper warbler
92 lesser whitethroat

Saturday 25 April 2009

Pleasant evening

It was nice at Druridge tonight, a hazy end to a sunny day, I popped down after work for a bit.

Lapwing on the Budge fields
Ian Fisher had texted me about ruff and dunlins on the Budge fields earlier in the day as well as three snow geese he had flying north, I always regard snow geese as being a bit dubious so I am not too concerned about missing these.

The single reeve and six sumplum dunlins were still there though and were both year ticks. Another year tick was heard singing from the Oddie hide then seen perched up by the edge of the pool, my first sedge warbler of the year.
A pair of gadwall on the big pool
On the way to look on the sea, we bumped into a chap from Cramlington who told us he had seen a short-eared owl perched on a fencepost on his way to the preceptory, will be keeping an eye open for that one!
Also on the way to the sea, we came across this wheatear perched in a bush, which was joined by a stonechat, showing well in the warm evening sunlight.
On the sea, a common tern flying north was my first of the year and 15 red-throated divers was a good count.
All going to plan we should be ringing this space!
86 Ruff
87 Dunlin
88 Sedge Warbler
89 Common Tern

Thursday 23 April 2009


There's three avocets at Cresswell (I know cos I saw them) and there's been three at East Chev, why don't they drop into Druridge?

I did see the Mallard brood tonight, seven of them and one of the pairs of stonechat are feeding young.

Hopefully we'l l start ringing on Sunday

Monday 20 April 2009

Druridge tonight

Back from Dublin after seeing the mighty AC/DC, I'm in one piece but my wallet's not - jeees it's expensive over there, €6 for a bottle of lager in the venue and €6 a pint elsewhere!

AC/DC were worth every penny though

It was a nice bright night at Duridge tonight, a cold south-easterly reminding me it was still April though. Chatting to IF at the entrance, we saw at least four wheatears on the short grass, with another further along. Last weeks little egret was still on the Budge Fields, it's never easy to see, preferring to skulk in the rushes at the back, my first whimbrel of the year called as it flew south, two more were calling later. IF had seen a mallard accompanied by a gaggle of very small ducklings, but I didn't see them.
Stonechat on the fence enjoying a caterpillar

Offshore, more year-ticks were to be had, several puffins flew back and forth, 13 common scoter flew north (it's incredible that these are the first common scoter I have seen on the patch this year) and a pair of red-breasted mergansers were floating about on the sea. Sandwich tern numbers have really picked up this week and there are still at least 11 red-throated divers offshore.
snipe on the Budge fields

82 whimbrel
83 puffin
84 common scoter
85 red-breasted merganser

Friday 17 April 2009

Back in black

Black in black?

There'll no doubt be a black redstart at Druridge this weekend cos I'm off to Dublin to see the mighty AC/DC............FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK.........

Thursday 16 April 2009

midweek visits

I've managed a couple of quick visits to Druridge in the last couple of of days, hoping that fog and easterlies may have dropped something interesting in. These conditions have made it feel very cold, the thermometer reads 9.5 degrees C, but it felt more like 2 or 3 deg C tonight in the murk.

It's pretty much the same as the weekend at Druridge, four shoveler have appeared today, and a few more swallow caught insects over the Budge fields, but no other migrants.
meadow pipit - not the world's most exciting bird?

Like reed buntings, stonechats appear to be doing well again this year at Druridge. There seems to be three pairs in the 1km stretch of dunes between the plantation and the burn. Mike Henry used to cycle the length of Druridge Bay counting the stonechats as he went, I shall have to quiz him to see if this trend is replicated along the bay.
stonechat on the fence at Druridge tonight

hare today........
Gone tomorrow......
(or in five seconds), but what is the bird in the top left hand corner it is heading for?

Monday 13 April 2009

Reed Bunts

Reed Bunts - there seems to be a lot of them about at the moment, certainly more than last year, has anyone else noticed this?

There are at least 5-7 pairs at Druridge Pools and everywhere I have been in the last month or so I am seeing them. There were four at Ellington Pond today, we did a farm survey at Carraw Farm on Saturday and saw about five and the same number at Chibburn Mouth/ southern E. Chev on Friday and even on the flank of Hedgehope on my atlas tetrad.
Reed Bunts collecting nesting material at Druridge

I remember counting good numbers at E. Chev last year so it will be interesting to see how they compare this year. I hope they do well cos I really like reed bunts!

It was really foggy this morning, so we went to Druridge early to see if the fog had dropped anything in, it hadn't.
The pair of garganey and the little egret were still on the Budge fields. New patch ticks today were blackcap (male singing my Budge screen) and our second visit to the Budge screen, once the gloom had cleared a bit revealed an LRP, feeding on the nearside mud.
80 blackcap
81 little ringed plover

Sunday 12 April 2009

Eggcellent Sunday Morning

Pardon the pun, I was slipping into 'local rag' mode there! it was a beautiful sunny morning at Druridge this morning, a breezy SE wind kept it cool though.

If somebody had plonked me down at Druridge today, from a spacecraft, not knowing what date it was, I could've named it as Easter bank holiday. Druridge somehow attracts all manner of plebs on bank holidays weekends and today was no different.

Fires were still burning from trees hacked down during the night, mini-motorbikes with charvas on board sped along the length of the reserve and muppets in corsas played rave music at full howk. I had 'wurds' with some geezer who allowed his dogs to shit on the grass by the road, remote controlled cars were on the beach and microlights were overhead. Hurrah!

Now, as regular readers of this blog know, I'm keen on people enjoying the countryside in all manner of ways, as long they respect it, but your average bank holiday visitors have no respect at all - Rant over.

On the positive side, the garganeys and the little egret were still on the Budge fields and a great-crested grebe on the main pool was a bonus as was sandwich tern offshore.
On the non-bird front, I recorded my first two butterflies of the year, a small tortoiseshell and this scabby-looking peacock, highlight of the day however was four bottlenosed dolphins in the bay, two of which were really close in, about offuv east chev when first picked up, just beyond the breakers. Both 'twos' were moving north - NICE!
Also on the migrant front, swallow was seen again heading south, there were two wheatears on the haul road, willow warblers seemed to be singing everywhere and sand martins were now common.
News from ADMc and TB - Two avocets flew from E. Chev and landed briefly at Cresswell Pond before flying off south...and they didn't have the decency to pop in to Druridge!
78 great-crested grebe
79 sandwich tern

Friday 10 April 2009

Bloody Good Friday

We took last night's NTBC speaker and all-round decent chap, Mark Grantham, birding for a couple of hours this morning. we could've gone anywhere in the County, but where else is better than Druridge?

We started at the Budge screen, the garganey pair and little egret were still there and a willow warbler was singing nearby, another year-tick. We had a walk through the wood and a quick look on the big pool, with nothing of note other than 14 oystercatchers getting a bit agitated.

We then walked along the haul-road to Chev and back, just as we were leaving the patch to the north, I spotted a male wheatear on the ground, outside the patch, luckily for me it flew south to perch on the patch boundary - get in!

Mark seemed to enjoy his visit to Druridge, on the way to the train station, we called at Lynemouth to look for the water pipit, MSK told us that it had flow off just before we arrived, whilst we were talking a nice 3rd cy iceland gull circled over the flash, before heading off towards the sea. A good end to the mornings birding, despite not seeing the water pipit.

76 willow warbler
77 wheatear

Thursday 9 April 2009

Day Off

I decided to stretch my Easter hollibobs by taking an extra day offuv work, so I could've decorated the house, worked in the garden or gone birding...guess what?

I went to Druridge

The little egret and garganey were both still on the Budge fields and looking stunning!

These two also attracted a min-twitch, obviously there's nowt about in the County, I've not seen as many birders at Druridge in yonks, I got more 'birder' year-ticks than I did 'bird' year-ticks.
Of the bird year-ticks, I finaly added sand martin to my year-list, first picked up by Tim Cleeves, many more were seen later in the day. Whilst admiring the garganeys, a swallow flew south over the Budge Screen too and chiffchaffs were calling in the wood. On the Budge fields, there were at least three lapwings sitting tight and few snipe and redshank loitering about too.
I walked through the dunes a bit, looking for wheatears but didn't see any, however there were loads of linnets and mippits in the dunes and six twite were on the fence, moulting into summer plumage - nice! At the north end, a white wagtail was looking smart in the field.
A quick look on the sea produced very little, 100's of gannets were moving in the ditance and there were more kitti's about, no terns or puffins yet though.
I called at Lynemouth (Bewick Drift) flash to see the water pipit that's been there a few days - what a belter!
73 sand martin
74 swallow
75 chiffchaff

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Garganey on cue

I've been up the coast for work today, had three swallows flying north at Spittal and a single at Bamburgh - so that's it, Summer is here! Also 3 sandwich terns at Bamburgh.

Anyhoo, I called at Druridge briefly on my way home, thinking "maybe a garganey has dropped in", I get to the Budge screen and what's the first bird I see - drake garganey, closely followed by a female. Just the ticket, and feeling all smug cos I thought I might of been the first to see them, but it appears not, Adrian Allen arrived and told me they had been on 'Birdguides'.

The godwit was still there, but no sign of the egret - though it had been seen earlier by Trevor and Brian Bulloughs - who also had an LRP at Dru...BUGGER...I missed LRP last year at Dru, hope that's not the first and last one!
72 Garganey

Monday 6 April 2009

Sunday 5 April 2009

A few year ticks

We were doing some net-ride clearance at Druridge this afternoon, the chainsaw helping to clear my monstrous hangover, when we spotted a chap legging it towards the Budge screen, we thought 'that's odd!' - there must be something about. So I got permission offuv the Project Manager (Fairclough) to investigate. The chap said there had been a little egret reported on Birdguides and he was running cos he'd left his dog in his car. Anyhoo, it wasn't there when I gave the Budge fields a brief scan and the running chap was off, without seeing the egret, to return to his dog. No sooner had he disappeared then it came out in front of the little hide - year tick No. 1.

After we finished the net-rides, we had time for some proper birding, there was still no migrant passerines to be had, still no sand martins or chiffchaffs.. the Budge fields are looking good for breeding stuff though, so hopefully the lapwings and snipe will have a good year and it should attract some passage waders too.

A quick look on the sea produced a flurry of year ticks, well, four..I got my first guillie's, gannet, kittiwake and fulmar of 2009, also of note was 5 red-throats.

On the way back to the car, I called in to see if the egret was photographable from the Budge screen, it was there but distant, but a further quick scan added black-tailed godwit to the year list with one feeding on the Budge fields.

65 little egret
66 fulmar
67 kittiwake
68 gannet
69 guilliemot
70 black-tailed godwit

Interestingly, this time last year I was 83 for the year and had just added firecrest to the year list...

Wednesday 1 April 2009

Still no summer visitors (2)

I've still not seen any summer visitors at Druridge, chiffchaffs are singing all over the place and people are reporting sand martins and swallows, but they've all alluded me at druridge.

I did get a year tick during my post-work visit this evening, sparrowhawk, flying over the budge fields, scattering the snipe. There's a still a good number of teal about, a good scan through them for garganey was unproductive. There were a few tufties and gadwall on the big pool, whilst I was scanning I spotted an otter swimming across the pool, when it reached the fallen willow on the east bank, there was scerfuffle as it greeted another two otters laid up in the tree.
The three of them then played in and around the tree for 30 minutes or so.

All three of them were about the same size, so I reckon that they are three siblings by the way they were playing together, certainly none of them were the big dog that I have seen lately.

Other highlights tonight included six whoopers swans and 89 pink-footed geese flying south and a pair of stonechat in the dunes.

64 sparrowhawk