Sunday 20 September 2009

Avast ye Landlubbers there be whales about these shores

Yarrrrrrrr, today had been International 'talk like a pirate day' and I been celebratin it in true pirate style yarrrr.

We had a good ol' beach clean up 'n' survey this mornin for the MCS Big beachwatch weekend at Seahouses 'n' on me way back I called in to see Marta and the other scurvy sea dogs o'board the good ship Glad Tidins (I, II, III etc) n they be tellin me that the humpty-backed whale that was scarin the Pirates near the Farne Islands last weekend ad bin seen again bout Newton Point Yarrrrrrr. The good ship Glad Tidins V wi Captn John aboard ad gone off in search o' the scary beast.

So a whale twitchin I did go, the wretched creature 'o' the deep were nowhere to be seen tho, some landlubber might 'o' been seein seals 'n' should be keelhauled at dawn from the back 'o' Glad tidins if he be mistakin arrrrr

So to Druridge I did sail for there was litter to be counted there too, and as me 'n' me pirate wench av adopted that there beach we 'ad work to do.

The pirate fun didn't stop there though, no mistakin, when the sun set across the western skies, the salty sea dogs ventured inland to Morpeth Town where many flaggons 'o' ale n rum were downed along wi th best catch 'o' the day arrrr there were some mighty fine pirates aboard and some pretty pirate wenches. There'll be pictures 'o' the swashbucklin on ye olde facebook pages no doubtin'.

A mighty fine 'talk like a pirate day' be had by all. ARRRRRRR

Wednesday 16 September 2009

To the bushes

I dodged seawatching tonight and headed for the bushes and to be honest it was very, very quiet. It was also the wrong end of the day but beggars can't be choosers!

There wasn't really a peep as I wandered through, the odd resident blue tit, great tit and wren and that was, not even the robins we ringed at the weekend. However, as I walked into a bit of open ground I saw a ghostly white figure in the distance....

A male barn owl sat out on a branch fast asleep, the photos aren't the best, it was dark in there, he sat asleep for ages then when I moved to retreat woke up and flew only 10m or so to another branch, I left him there. The only other highlight was a year tick, a male bullfinch by the Budge Screen, calling as it flew it overhead.

30 or so pink footed geese flew south as I was leaving, autumn is most certainly here!

There might be a bit of murk around in the morning so I shall give the patch another going over before work I think.

138 bullfinch

Tuesday 15 September 2009

two short seawatches

I did two short seawatches today, 45 minutes of my lunch hour between 1330 and 1415 and from 1740-1910 this evening.

At lunch there was lots of gannets and kittiwakes moving but little else, highlights were 1 sooty shearwater and two harbour porpoise, to be honest the light wasn't good.

This evening there were even more kitti's and gannets moving north, the kitti's especially were moving in large groups, occasionally stopping to feed, where they were harassed by two arctic skuas that were hanging about. The numbers were so high I gave up trying to count them. There were hardly any shearwaters this evening, only 6 manx and 1 sooty though at 1815, I had a large shearwater way out on the horizon, which will remain unidentified, I never saw the whole bird, it was low rto the surface, disappearing behind the swell, it was very long winged, but I didn't get much more on it. Highlights this eveing were 1 red-necked grebe on the sea with red-throated divers, 1 pomarine skua and a female scaup.

Totals (lunchtime in brackets)

Gannet - lots (203)
kittiwake - lots (371)
sandwich tern 23 ( 1)
guilliemot 3 (12)
common scoter 75 (9)
fulmar 5 (2)
manx shearwater 6
scaup 1
arctic skua 5
red-throated diver 4
bonxie 1
red-necked grebe 1
pomarine skua 1
auk sp 20 (11)
cormorant 4 (3)
arctic tern 1
goosander 2
sooty shearwater 1 (1)
eider 2
razorbill (2)
harbour porpoise 2

136 scaup
137 red-necked grebe

Monday 14 September 2009


Making up for yesterday, I got a flyer from work and went to Druridge to do some seawatching, there was cold NE blowing as I sheltered my deckchair behind the marram grass and got myself comfy for a long sit.

I seawatched from 1645-1915 when the light went. Passage was steady, one of the first birds I saw was a pomarine skua, a pale bird with no spoons N about a third of the way out, in front of the pot flags, at 1720 I was sure I had a juvenile sabines gull going N but it was way, way distant, so it didn't make the notebook.

The highlight of the evening came at 1750, I got my eye on a pale phase arctic skua, it was in pursuit of a bird, when it turned and banked to try and dodge the skua it was only a sabines gull, no doubting this one, and adult, it was only about a third of the way out, slightly south of my viewing spot, the skua chased it closer in then it went back out again, eventually the skua gave in and the gull seemed to drop onto the sea and I didn't see it again. This is my second sabines gull at Druridge my first was in 2007.

I phoned the boys at Church Point in Newbiggin (after the traditional 'dissing' of any druridge single observer seabirds, in fact any of my Druridge records....) and they said they had had a couple of sab's through (and later had a couple more!). I only had two sooty shearwaters, my first of 2009.

Other totals:

gannet 347 (undercount, couldn't count them all)
gulliemot 17
pomarine skua 1
kittiwake 298 (undercount, ditto)
arctic skua 6
fulmar 2
shag 4
manx shearwater 98
bonxie 4
cormorant 7
razorbill 3
auks sp 12
sandwich tern 18
common scoter 11
'commic' tern 2
sabines gull 1
red throated diver 6
sooty shearwater 2
arctic tern 1
wigeon 73
teal 10

I am now torn. I have to go to a meeting in Newbiggin tomorrow morning at 0930 do I:

a) Go to Druridge before work and look for migrants in the bushes
b) Go to Newbiggin and do some seawatching there

Answers in the comments box please.

133 pomarine skua
134 sabines gull
135 sooty shearwater

Sunday 13 September 2009

In the way of birding?

When I first started to train as a ringer, somebody said to me "You'll get a lot out of it, but it gets in the way of your birding"

I was kinda thinking that today when we were catching not very much (eight birds between 6 am and noon) and messages were coming in form RBA with tales of good seawatching. Thoughts of sitting in my deck chair on the dune at Druridge or even better at Church Point, Newbiggin had to be forgotten about, there was work to be done.

So still no sooty shearwater on my year list, no balearics or sabine's gull. We did catch a nice reed warbler though...

Saturday 12 September 2009

One up, One Down

I managed to catch up with a species I missed today at Druridge, Ian fisher had seen Curlew Sand on Wednesday in front of the Oddie Hide, today there was one on the far bank with a greenshank - ONE UP!

I did go one down though, Janet was ringing yesterday whilst i had to slave over a computer in my office all day and she caught a spotted flycatcher which would have been a year tick for me - ONE DOWN!

Spotted flycatcher caught and photographed by Janet Fairclough

I had two visits to Druridge today, the first visit was this morning, well it was nearer lunchtime once the hangover had disappeared a bit. There has been a sudden increase in the number of red-throated divers offshore, there were at least 16 in the bay, also 4 goosanders.

As well as the curlew sandpiper on the big pool there was a greenshank and a juvenile little grebe which I am not sure if they have bred at Druridge or it has come in from elsewhere.

This evening we went for a walk on the beach, there were at least 25 dunlin and the same number of sanderling, making the most of the chance to feed now that the plebs enjoying the autumn sunshine on the beach had gone home. Some scoters had also appeared which will need to be checked tomorrow.

Hopefully if th ewind doesn't pick up we will be ringing in the morning, you never know I might even get spotted fly back?

132 curlew sandpiper

Thursday 10 September 2009

Today at Druridge

Today at Druridge there were lots of these...

Painted ladies

and these (Silver Y moths)

and a few of these (common darters)

one of these (greenshank)

and two of these (migrant hawkers)

and one of these (small copper)

but there wasn't one of these (curlew sandpiper taken by Ian Fisher yesterday)

There was also a juvenile marsh harrier, a common sandpiper and five red-throated divers and an arctic skua offshore

In my moth trap last night there was one of these very strange beetles, i haven't got a clue what it is - any ideas?

Also, are any other bloggers having trouble moving photos around? I used to be able to drag and drop them, now I can't and now text appears randomly??

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Not Glad Tidings

There was a 'tidings' of magpies at Druridge this morning, squabbling over a feast of last night's road kill.

Seemingly a group of magpies can also be called a 'murder' or a 'gulp'. There are a few people out there who gladly murder a few magpies! I quite like magpies, I know that they have a tendency to eat baby birds but they are really intelligent birds, they kept me amused for 10 minutes this morning.

I visited Druridge tonight too, a quick look offshore produced a year tick - goosander - nice one!

Also 4 summer plumaged or moulting out red-throated divers and hundreds of terns all moving north with a few kittiwakes amongst them.

Still plenty of hirrundines on the move too.

131 goosander

Monday 7 September 2009

I'm not dead or emigrated

Just a quick note to say I am still here, just been too busy to get down to Druridge this weekend. It was the village show so I spent the weekend buffing my marrow and polishing carrots, not to mention putting tape around the tops of shallots and putting them in trays full of sand.....
I got firsts for my carrots (both classes) and we did OK with the cakes too.

Tute Show
Winning Carrots

I had JWR round here this evening putting in the hearth for my new fireplace. The process was not helped by some idiot who measured it wrong and bought a hearth too big for the slot........
I'll get me coat!