Monday 29 June 2009


How depressing is this? Sat in my office in Morpeth all day, watching the glorious sunshine out of the window, leave Morpeth after work, still a lovely summers day, get home and it's dull and overcast. Worse still, get to Druridge and it's thick fog and can't see a blimmin thing!

We only get four days of summer in North East England in an average year, but on the North Sea coast three of the four days are blighted by bloody sea frets.

So no seawatching (couldn't see the sea!), no waders (there might have been a spotted sandpiper on the far bank but I wouldn't be able to see it for the fog), nowt really..

Oh.......the mute swans have hatched five young...........happy days!

Sunday 28 June 2009

No Birds!

Well, hardly any birds....Today first visit was mostly spent looking at anything other than birds.
We started at the Budge screen this morning, where this mole entertained us for about 20 minutes, even scurrying under the floor of the hide, some video will be posted tomorrow night.

We then went to the other hides, stopping at the huge viper's bugloss on the way which was alive with bees, moths, butterfly's and various other random insects - here are a few:
large skipper butterfly
silver Y moth
painted lady butterfly
common blue butterfly

(later on we bumped into Frank who had seen a hummingbird hawkmoth on the same plant - grrr)
Further up the track was this common blue damselfy

From the Oddie hide the three otter cubs where playing along the back of the big pool and from the little hide we saw that the lapwing pair had hatched three young.
So when the clouds rolled in of the North Sea and it got a bit misty, we went back to Druridge to catch and ring the chicks, they were tiny but it wasn't an easy job. Lapwing chicks crouch down when approached, they are incredibly well camouflaged, so much, you can't even see them at your feet!
Using stealth tactics of me in the hide keeping an eye on them, Janet went off to catch them. We managed to catch and ring all three, hopefully they will make it to adulthood unlike Thursday's sparrowhawk victim.
tiny lapwing chick - sporting it's new ring
and then legging it away at high speed to join it's siblings

Saturday 27 June 2009

Slug sees very little at Druridge

This slug saw very little of interest from the Oddie tonight

It did see a brood of four new gadwall chicks, it also this saw this yellow shell moth on the track

It noticed that the lapwing that has been sitting on eggs in front of the little hide has now hatched them and there is at least one chick scampering about (there may have been more but it only saw one at any one time!).

It had a look offshore but there wasn't anything new to see.

I didn't bother checking the patch tonight as the slug told me all I needed to know.

Thursday afternoon - velvet scoter

I squeezed a very quick visit in to Druridge on Thursday afternoon, between leaving work and going to see Blur at the Academy, I went through the scoter flock and there was a drake velvet right at the front of the flock - cool eh?

Oh, and good news from Roger Foster on the partridge nest front! He reckons all is well, the eggs have hatched naturally, he could see were the egg tooth had broken through and the mother would have moved them quickly out of the nest in search of insects. I'll keep an eye out for them.

119 velvet scoter

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Quick Change

There was an incredibly quick change in the weather tonight, it had been hot and sunny with a light easterly, all day and still was when I arrived at Druridge at 6pm. I went for a look on the sea and could see a bank of cloud offshore, within 20 minutes it came over Druridge and then you could see the front edge moving inland, by the time I left at 8.20pm the sky was completely clouded over as far west as I could see.

The sunshine rapidly disappearing -spot the marsh harrier?

A couple of disappointments tonight, firstly, I checked the grey partridge nest (remember the one with 12 eggs?), well they were all broken, there is no way they could have hatched and left the nest, so I am assuming predation. I am no eggspert (groan) but the don't look like they've hatched naturally, more like they've been broken by something, any thoughts?

The second disappointment was a female sparrowhawk nabbing one of the lapwing chicks. I was alerted to this by all of the lapwings up in the air after something, then spotted the sprawk making off a with yougun. pursued to the wood by at least 12 lapwings, all calling.
The semi-colonial nesting of lapwings is a defence against predators, but not this one. I later saw both male and female sprawks out by the pool.
Offshore there was a harbour porpoise and 2 roseys.

Tuesday 23 June 2009

luvverly morning

I managed a quick visit to Druridge this morning, it was a gloriously sunny morning, a real pleasure to be out. There was one highlight, a long-eared owl on the edge of the patch. LEO's occur most summers somewhere on the bay, favouring the coniferous shelter belts, even nesting at the Country Park some years, amongst the picnickers and tourists.

Druridge - who needs tropical beaches?
Bloody Cranesbill

No opportunity to visit Druridge this evening as I had to work..... It's a tough life having work all day and put an evening shift in!

I had to take our Young Rangers group out to the Farne Islands, told you it was tough!
There was patchy sea mist on the way out, which came and went throughout the evening, which made for interesting light. Now if I had a fancy expensive camera, I am sure I could have done something arty, but I haven't so this is it:
118 long-eared owl

Monday 22 June 2009

Autumn's here!

Even though it was quite warm at Druridge tonight, sunny, with a light easterly moving to s'easterly wind, Autumn is upon us, I had 5 pale-bellied brent geese flying north offshore tonight!

Even though this heralds the beginning of Autumn, they were a welcome year tick as was arctic skua, two of them loitering in the bay. The Scoter flocks sum is now approaching 300.

116 brent goose
117 arctic skua

Sunday 21 June 2009

Ringing and stuff....

21st of June...the longest day, it bloody felt like it too when I left Druridge at 9pm tonight and having been there at 4.30 this morning!

JF and I were ringing this morning, it was steady (for June), ringing 18 new birds and 3 retraps. It was all 'bread n butter' local breeding stuff, mainly juveniles, but worth it nonetheless.

Ringing Totals:

great tit 2juv
robin 4 juv
chaffinch 2ad 1 juv
blackbird 1 ad
coal tit 1 juv
wren 4 juv 2 retraps (both adults)
dunnock 2 ad 1 juv
willow warbler 1 adult retrap

There are less sedge warblers at Druridge this year than normal, with only 4-5 singing males on territory, last year there was double this number, is this replicated at other sites in the County, blackcaps are thin on the ground (1 singing male), but there are plenty of common whitethroats.

There were still plenty of manxies moving north offshore this morning, in 10 minutes between net rounds we counted 63, a greenshank called overhead and one was on the Budge fields. ADMc told us he had seen a cuckoo there too, but we missed it.

So I headed back to Druridge tonight for a couple of hours between 7pm and 9pm. I caught up with ADMc's cuckoo, in the same place he had seen it, still getting harangued by the same meadow pipits no doubt. The other highlight tonight was marsh harrier, what appeared to be a sub-adult male hunting over the fields to the north of the big pool.

Offshore there was about 140 common scoter in two flocks, another large flock was off Hadston Carrs, a roseate tern was fishing and 28 manxies moved north.

When we were ringing, there were hundred's of the insects, I've no idea what they are, they flew in a strange 'floaty' up and down way, in herds....

Any ideas what they are?

A bloke riding his bike through Druridge wearing only a 'Borat' style mankini was added to the 'Bizarre behaviour at Druridge List'

114 cuckoo
115 marsh harrier

Martin Kitchen has put this otter video from Druridge on YouTube, the best bit is the last 3 seconds!!!!

Saturday 20 June 2009

Hods 'o' manxies

We had a look on the sea tonight, it was mirror calm, there had been a great northern diver reported offuv of East Chev, no sign of it tonight. In about 15 minutes though, we had at least 73 manxies going north, with some stopping to feed half way up the bay, about 20 of these were still sat on the sea when we left 15 minutes later. Nothing much else to report.

Hopefully ringing tomorrow morning all being well

Wednesday 17 June 2009

It turned out nice!

It was a pleasant, though cold evening at Druridge tonight, after todays heavy rain. The sunshine after the showers brought the swifts to Druridge. It was really quite strange, we were sat in the little hide and at first I counted 42 swifts over the fields, then scanned the pools, when i turned my head back to the skies, there were many more swifts, at least 152 to be precise! All moving in a generally westerly direction, many stayed over the woods but most of them continued to move inland....

Not much else to report other than that.


No vists to Druridge today, instead I was out with Phil and Hugh ringing barn owls in the Howick/Craster areas. We ringed the first young birds of the year, controlled the third bird that I ringed last year and discovered young, too young to ring, in other boxes.

Here are the pics:

The first three young ringed this year, near Howick.
A very pale male

And a nice, spotty, female

We also spotted these pied wagtail young, peering out from their nest, safely inside a slatted barn wall.

Monday 15 June 2009

Scoters on the move

A band of very heavy, thundery, rain moved through SE Northumberland this afternoon, so once it cleared, by about 8pm, I thought I would check to see if anything had dropped into Druridge, the only obvious new arrivals on the pools were 9 teal and a yellow wagtail.

Offshore the common scoter flocked that appeared in the bay at the weekend has increased to about 95 (from 60 odd yesterday) and another 34 flew N. This can be a good time of year for Surf Scoters turning up in Northumberland so I shall be scanning the flock frequently.

Can you see me?

On the way home, a barn owl was hunting over Cresswell Pond.

Sunday 14 June 2009

Rave On II

When were leaving Druridge last night, there were few yoofs turning up in knackered old cars, we had our suspicions......

Rave on...5am this morning at Druridge

They were proved right, when we arrived at Druridge at 4.30 this morning (it was nice to be up, but there is something wrong with being out at this time in the morning), there was a rave in full swing.

There were probably about 150 or so still there at 6ish, we saw ST leaving, he reckoned he'd been to work, but we reckon he'd been raving! Like I've said before, I've no problem with raves at Druridge as long as they clear away their shit after them. When we went back to Druridge tonight, there was a huge pile of bin liners, so somebody has cleared up.
Anyhoo, due to the rave at the north end, we only put the bottom five nets up and to be honest it was quiet. Highlights were catching an entire family party of great tits, the adult (a male, which was first ringed in 2004) and his NINE offspring.

One of the nine great tit younguns

Both Janet and I managed to ring a new species today too, for me it was a woodpigeon (big buggers) and for Janet it was magpie, I've not ringed magpie either, but the trainee always plays second fiddle!

Young magpie - great fun!

Between net rounds, we checked out the sea (and the rave), on the sea we had four manxies going north (first of the year) and some naked ravers!
It was also WeBS count day, not much of note, we had missed a wood sandpiper which ADMc picked up later.

We went back to Druridge tonight, where peace and calm had once more returned. There were 68 common scoter on the sea and four red-throats and nothing much to report from the reserve.

113 manx shearwater

Saturday 13 June 2009


I've been BIOBLITZING! this weekend, this involved counting as many species of wildlife in 24 hours, plants, mammals, birds, name it, it got counted....even lichens!

I was tasked with doing a 'big sit' on the Heugh, counting as many species as I could see from there. To be honest it was mainly birds as others were doing the whin grassland plants up there.
There are worse places to spend the weekend
Now as many of you will know June is not the best time to be birding on Holy Island, so the collective species count was only 70 with nothing startling, a few little terns and a fly-over greenshank were noteworthy.
What was interesting was the huge moulting flock of drake eiders out on Guile Point, I estimated 480, though there have been more, it was a bit like the boys club, you could imagine them talking bollocks, maybe boasting about which duck they'd shagged that year and football and stuff.
The moth-ers did better than the birders, counting about 100 species all in all. I have to admit, I've never really gotten into moths, but I think I could. It was just my type of mothing though, sat on the lawn, nice glass of cabernet-sauvignon in hand, watching bright and colourful moths landing on the white sheet, attracted by the bright light bulb....nee bother, I could manage that.
Here are some of the more interesting ones caught.
The 'interesting moth' collection

mother shipton moth - seemingly because of the witch-like image on the wing
yellow shell moth

garden tiger moth - I've seen these at Druridge, my kinda moth

elephant hawkmoth - nice! We caught at least ten of the small elephant hawkmoth too.
drinker moth
buff tip - looks like a birch twig
We had a quick visit to Druridge tonight, there were lots of juvs about - two types, firstly birds including mistle thrush, great tit, linnet, stonechat, magpie and carrion crow, and the second type, kids off to party on the beach - I suspect there may be a rave tonight, judging by the number of kids arriving in clamped-out motors...more on that tomorrow!

Thursday 11 June 2009

Late visit

A quick to Druridge tonight and a late, it was nearly 9pm when I got there. Not much to report on the bird front, snipe drumming overhead was the highlight.

Another entry on to the odd behaviour at druridge list though, this time it was a nerdy-type guy, by the sea, with a remote controlled surfboard (about a foot long), nothing unusual there....only it had a blonde 'pamela anderson' type doll attached to it, riding it like a surfer.
It must of broke though cos the nerdy chap had is screwdriver to it later then disappeared with the thing under his arm. If you desire such a thing I have found them for sale here:

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Barn owls and Bioblitz

No visits to Druridge tonight, instead I was on the Boulmer Birders new patch ringing barn owls with Phil and Hugh. I ringed three adults and we controlled two more, interestingly, two of the three that I ringed last year!

We also got three young jackdaws form barn owl boxes.

No piccies unfortunately, I did take the camera but forgot to take any pics.

This Friday and Saturday, I will be at he Bioblitz on Holy Island, read all about Bioblitz at

Why not come and join me, I will be sat on the Heugh for the best part of 24 hours, doing a big sit, so I'll need some company and someone to take my place when nature calls etc..

I'll be on the Heugh from 1pm Friday through til 8ish then from early Saturday morning though til 1pm.

Monday 8 June 2009

Corn Bunting!

Corn Bunting!

Unfortunatly not at druridge, not in in Northumberland, not even in Britain....

I've been staying at a friends place in the mountains above Malaga in Andalucia for the last week, no serious birding, though I was out every day, just chilling out really. Corn buntings were everywhere around the house, woodchat shrikes, crested larks and serin were also common with lots of other nice Andalucian specialities too. I might put some pics on Ipins Birding Trips blog if I ever get the India stuff finished!

Anyhoo, back to reality, back to Druridge....

A quick visit last night, we checked our nest boxes, the brood of blue tits have hatched before we could ring them (Janet forgot last weekend!), not much to report elsewhere, the mud in front of the little hide has all but dried up, a single lapwing chick was on it though.

Another visit tonight, but little birding was done. I had the strimmer and set about clearing the net rides, with little ringing activity and optimum growing conditions, the vegetation was waist deep!

This was the view from the Oddie hide on Sunday evening

The other hides were the same, not much use to anyone.

So, being the nice chap that I am, I volunteered to strim the front of the hides whilst I was there. I was going to take 'before and after' shots, but I left my camera behind, maybe tomorrow?

Birds of note tonight, not much really, I found a grey partridge nest with 12 eggs in it and a little egret was on the big pool and there were 4 ringed plover on the beach.

I did have my camera on Sunday and took the 'annual viper's bugloss photograph'