Saturday 31 July 2010


We had a pre-work ringing session this morning, a 4.30 start for seven birds.....time well spent?

Well it was to a see a truck turn up and unload 14 cows and calves onto the wet meadows, at last, some positive management, it might be too late for wader migration and certainly too late for breeding waders, but it's progress! The beast weren't the sturdy highlanders from last year, more a meek looking crowd of continental beef breed, a bit thin in the skin, this might be a good thing though, there's plenty of feeding for 'em!

The new cooos, looking a bit lost - well they would, wouldn't you?
That includes a re-trap and a bird we had to let go. The rules of ringing state that you have to be sure of the species before you ring the bird.

This morning, we caught a willow warbler, an adult, undergoing it's main moult. It looked like a willow warbler, it had willow warbler legs and face. But, it was moulting its primaries and the sixth primary was still 'in pin' on both wings.

Now, with willow warblers and chiffchaffs, the only 100% method of identifying the species is whether the sixth primary is emarginated or not (chiffchaffs it is , willow warblers it isn't). So what to do, well the only thing we could do was let it go.....

We also caught...

this adult male blackcap - looking rather tatty

tatty male blackcap
and this nice, fresh, juvenile willow warbler.

nice... juvenile willow warbler
There were plenty of birds in the bushes, but few of them landed in our nets, some of these birds were certainly migrants, we saw a garden warbler, which certainly didn't breed at Druridge this year.

offshore, at least 150 gannets were plunge-diving no more than 25 metres from the shore, obviously a shoal of  mackerel or sprat had been caught by the outgoing tide.

Dark-green fritillary
131 garden warbler

Ringing totals

wren 1
robin 1 (retrap)
chaffinch 1
willow warbler 2
blackcap 1
(willow/chiff 1)

Thursday 29 July 2010

Diver Way

Tonight, on the mill-pool-like North Sea offuv Druridge there were 39 red-throated, 1 black-throated and 1 great northern diver....diver-way!

Also, of note, two arctic skuas, 1 bonxie, 2 roseate terns and 10 manx shearwater, 130 common scoter and 7 red-breasted mergansers

Wednesday 28 July 2010

It got out nice

After a day of sun and showers, it got out quite nice this evening, a bit of warm sunshine and a force 2 NW, after spending the day walking along the bay from Cresswell to Warkworth, I still hadn't had enough so popped into the patch for an evening visit between 7 and 9pm.

The first bird I saw was a nice juvenile cuckoo, perched on the fence at the back of the dunes, being scolded by a meadow pipit and mobbed by swallows. This was my first cuckoo of the year on the patch. Sod's law no camera!

The sea was flat-calm, good conditions for watching cetaceans, a harbour porpoise out to the north was the only sea mammal I saw. One of the great-northern divers was really close in, close enough to photograph, if I'd taken my digi-scoping camera.....

Also on the sea were 26 red-throated divers (!!), an arctic skua and 2 common scoter.

The little egret is still hanging about, it flew up over the trees as I was leaving.

130 cuckoo

PS I just tried to get onto my blog and got this message:

Warning: Visiting this site may harm your computer!
The website at contains elements from the, which appears to host malware – software that can hurt your computer or otherwise operate without your consent. Just visiting a site that contains malware can infect your computer.
For detailed information about the problems with these elements, visit the Google Safe Browsing diagnostic page for

Also, I tried to get onto the fatbirder website to email Bo Beolens and it was also flagged up by google as being dodgy - anyone else had any bother?

I've deleted the html code from fatbirder top 500 to be safe...

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Reflecting on a nice morning

This common tern was reflecting on how nice a morning it was at Druridge this morning

common tern

I caught the best bit of the day before it clouded over after 7am. A perfect picture of serenity, drift-netting boats out in search of salmon and the occasional puffin.
Bird highlights of the morning were six red-throated divers offshore, family parties of reed bunting and sedge warbler, 12 little grebes on the big pool and this little egret, which landed briefly on the old island before being chased off, into the trees, by an angry young heron.

little egret
You can now access the hides without wading through thigh-high grass, NWT have at last strimmed the paths, shame they didn't strim the grass in front of the hides whilst they were on with it......
View from the hide

Monday 26 July 2010

Boring weather

I've just checked my fave weather sites and it all looks pretty boring for the week ahead, continuous westerly winds, bit of cloud, bit of sun...

Still, I'm too busy to get out and do any birding anyhoo......bloody house!

I am walking 'The Bay' on Wednesday as part of my annual guided walk series along the Coast Path - Wednesday is stage 1 from Cresswell to Warkworth, 10 miles, mainly on the beach.

If anyone fancies joining me check it out at and give me a call.

Saturday 24 July 2010



Stef McElwee called me today to say he had not one, but two black-throated divers offuv Druridge, black-throated is a scarcity in these parts so I was keen to see them and would have normally dashed down there, but they would have to wait. Important tasks took precedence, I had JWR over re-pointing the gaping cracks in the brickwork in my house, to make it water-tight (hopefully) for the winter.

After completing all of my chores, I made it down to Druridge just after 7pm, after scanning the sea, picking up five or so summer-plumaged red-throated divers I picked up a single black-throated, right on the northern edge of the patch, so far north it may well have been technically over the patch boundary, in probably was.

But, as I had toiled all day, it was going on the list! Thanks for the call, Stef!

Also of note were 5 whimbrel (two south, three on beach), 1 arctic skua, c270 common scoters, 2 manx shearwaters and some gypsies with a massive yarkin geet fire.

129 black-throated diver

Sunday 18 July 2010

Ringing and stuff

Three visits to the patch over the weekend...


I did my WeBS count on Saturday morning because I was expecting to be ringing somewhere this morning. Three common sandpipers where a highlight and a year tick and two drake scaups were nice too. Despite there being very little to see, it was standing room only in the Oddie hide, even some visiting birders from Norfolk. Christ knows what they must've thought of Druridge given the quality of reserve management they are used to down there.

common sandpiper - welcome year-tick
two drake scaup
On the silage field, two whimbrel were amongst the curlews and a look offshore produced sod all.

Later in the day we returned to do some net-ride maintenance, the coppiced alders can be watched visibly growing at this time of year, some morons were setting up camp at the north end, we didn't take much notice of them....
me...hard at work
This morning, despite a strongish SW wind, we decided to ring at Druridge, we've not had much of chance lately so it would be good to try and catch some juvenile birds - which we did - not many though....

juvenile willow warbler
juvenile blue tit - evilness must be with them from hatching
This juvenile blue tit had deformed lower-mandible - one of two.
juvenile robin
We caught 15 birds in total, not much for our efforts, but we were a few nets short, remember the camping morons.... when Janet went to put up the top nets she couldn't find the poles so they didn't go up and the campers were still hanging about, later investigation, after the they had packed up one tent and left the other behind revealed the truth - the bastards had burnt four of our bamboo poles, about £20-£30 worth. It's a shame the smoke wasn't highly poisonous.

The scruffy shit-heads left behind all of their crap when they went too. Impalement on a sharpened bamboo pole is too good for these idiots!
the remains of four bamboo canes
more crap
There were good numbers of butterflies about today, mostly browns and small skippers with a few blues and my best ever count of dark-green fritillarys  - 3!

dark-green fritillary - record shot
meadow brown
swallowtail moth
128 common sandpiper

Ringing totals:

dunnock 3
blackcap 4
robin 2
great tit 2
willow warbler 1
blackbird 1
blue tit 2

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Silage Time

The farmers from High Chibburn were getting the silage in today, making the most of it before the rain set in this evening no doubt. When I was a nipper, I used to enjoy silage time, spending hours in my mate's dad's tractor leading the freshly cut grass back to the silage clamp - great fun!

There were about 70 curlew in amongst the rows of cut grass before the tractors turned up, they'll be back tomorrow along with lots of gulls, corvids and hopefully other waders.

One thing is for sure, they're won't be any waders on the Budge fields and if there are, you won't see 'em! It is like the plains of the Serengeti again - herds of wildebeest could be lurking in there... Back in May I told NWT that cows were needed quickly at Druridge, to benefit any juvenile lapwings at the time, the lapwings have gone or more likely been predated.  I've asked them since...still no cows.

I was so optimistic over the winter and early spring, the grazing was working and the site was looking in reasonable fettle for the first time in years. Now I am falling back into a state of despair, I should've known it wouldn't last. They can't even send someone out with a strimmer to cut the grass on the paths and in front of the hides, what hope of a sensible grazing regime?

The whole site has a feeling of neglect.....

On a brighter note, two adult common terns feeding a large young kept me amused for a while

Common terns - adult and juvenile
As did this black-headed gull

juvenile black-headed gull
And this lapwing


Monday 12 July 2010


I went to Druridge tonight with the intention of having a nosey about the patch, instead I did a two hour seawatch. There was a slight NE wind and the sea was calm and by 8pm had a oily sheen to the surface - good for seawatching. And as the first thing I saw was a group of 26 manx shearwaters going north, I gave it a punt.

Totals were (19.15-21.15)

manx shearwater 429 N
bonxie 1 N
red-throated diver 6
roseate tern 7
guilliemot 60+
puffin 50+
kittiwake 32
gannet 70+
cormorant 2
shag 1
fulmar 2
oystercatcher 5S, 1N.
dunlin 1N
grey heron 1
harbour porpoise 1 N
Lots of Common, arctic and sandwich terns

I was hoping for a storm petrel, I've watched the sea for years at Druridge and never seen one yet, we might try and catch some later this month.

Sunday 11 July 2010

Back from Bulgaria

Sorry for the lack of updates from Druridge lately, we've been on hollibobs for a week in Bulgaria, A cheap-as-chips package deal, but we hired car and managed to do quite a bit of birding as well as sight-seeing and getting hammered!

Bulgaria is great, nothing much new for me, only Dalmatian pelican and sombre tit, both of which we managed to see, pygmy cormorant was a western-pally tick.

Highlights were though:

1) Family Parties of pied wheatears at Kaliakra Point

male pied wheatear
2) golden oriole chasing a roller from it's patch - there is no more a colourful spectacle in Europe, even the Dutch in tonight's world cup final.

3) an eagle owl perched in a tree in Rusenski Lom National Park

Eagle Owl in Rusenski Lom National Park
Other superb birds included: Lots of family parties of red-backed, woodchat and southern grey shrike, black-headed buntings, rose-coloured starling, olive-tree warblers, great reed and savi's warblers, white-tailed eagle and stacks of beeaters...... All in all, a good trip!

male red-backed shrike
I called in at Druridge last night for a bit, nothing much doing, though I did confirm that reed warbler are breeding for the first time at Druridge in the phragmites at the eastern end f the big pool, the first confirmed breeding of reed warbler at Druridge as far as I know. The phragimites had started to colonise the SE corner of the pool quite well.

offshore, 32 manx shearwater moved north in ten minutes, a mass of horrid black flies prevented any further seawatching.