Tuesday 31 August 2010

Frustrating Morning

Got up at five-thirty am to ring four birds (2 robins, 1 dunnock and a blackcap)

Had a phylosc calling like a greenish, saw its head and mantle (which looked good) above the canopy before it did off, never to be seen again.

Had a very pale, well marked buzzard over the dunes, no camera, not sure.......probably just a pale, well marked common buzzzard...it's too late for HB's now anyhoo.....isn't it?

I might take up golf........I'd probably be shit at that too!

one plus point was a fly-over calling greenshank

140 greenshank

Monday 30 August 2010

late seawatch

Birding yesterday was rained, or more like, winded off! A strong NW for much of the day meant ringing was not an option.

Today was better, the wind moving to the NE and I managed to get two visits in to Druridge. This morning for an hour or so, I bashed through the bushes, lots of willowchiffs about and a few blackcaps, nothing startling.

This evening, after a chores, I wend seatwatching from 4.15 til nearly 8pm, when the light finally went. It stated slowly, for the first hour or so everything was distant, I even contemplated packing it in until a nice close bonxie flew through, shortly after that a message from RBA to say that two adult long-tailed skuas had gone past Newbiggin.....I never saw them, but had some good birds after that. Another close-ish bonxie followed by three arctic skuas (which may have been the same three that are currently loafing around the bay - but they did go north) then, star bird at 18:30 - an adult pomarine skua which flew N then lingered for a bit, having a go at kittiwake before continuing north.

After this, a distant sooty shearwater went north and the manx shearwater count began to creep up, there had been hardly any, mostly singles until 18:30. Another nice find was a drake and a female/juvenile type velvet scoter together just offshore. As the evening drew in, birds got a lot closer, especially good numbers of kitti's. The light beat me by 8pm, off home for tea!

Totals 16:15 - 1955

cormorant 6
shag 2
common scoter 35
bonxie 4
red-throated diver 17 (12 lingering in bay)
oystercathcer 26
arctic skua 8
manx shearwater 94
fulmar 35
red-breasted merganser  9
pomarine skua 1
sooty shearwater 1
velvet scoter 2 (idrk, 1 fem/juv)
bar-tailed godwit 1

Hopefully ringing tomorrow before work, also, RBA reported a red-necked grebe on the big pool at 3.30 today - hope it's still there!

138 pomarine skua
139 velvet scoter

Tuesday 24 August 2010


It felt very much like Autumn this evening at Druridge, not just the weather but the birding. Post or pre work autumn birding at Druridge usually consists of me checking the 'easy-to-work' bushes by the entrance and in the plantation, the bushes by the Budge screen, the recently coppiced by the path to the Oddie hide and if I make it to the end, the blackthorn and whitebeam scrub at the north end. The rest is too dense to work.

I spent the first hour and half in the bushes, there has certainly been an influx of migrants during or after yesterdays torrential rain, lots of willowchiffs were calling and flitting through the willows and alders and sedge warblers and whitethroat were in the recently coppiced bits.

I couldn't find an icterine warbler among them though.

On the Budge field, whilst I was on the phone, credit card in hand renewing my RBA subscription, a juvvy marsh harrier was hunting over the rushes before dropping into cover - it went straight onto the RBA pagers before my transaction was done, how's that for efficiency?

Bugger all of note on the sea.......

Monday 23 August 2010

Wet, Wet, Wet

Got back from the birdfair late last night, another successful and enjoyable weekend despite camping in the rain.

It was good to catch up with folks, especially the people I only see once a year. I made the acquaintance of Skev for the first time and also caught up with fellow bloggers James Lidster and Alan Tilmouth. Quite a few readers of this nonsense called by to say hello to. Oh, and Bo the Fat Birder promised the virus thing in the Fatbirder counter doobie is now fixed.

I managed to avoid spending too much dough, bargain of the weekend was a wide-brimmed Gore-tex hat for £5, I look like idiot in it but it'll be just he job for Kenya.
Busy Bird Fair - Marquee 2

Johnny Kingdom visits the Northumberland Stand - John and Tom don't look impressed

Birdfair Food Court - If you want to spend hundreds of pounds but don't need new optics, just eat here
Back to reality today, back to Druridge, I just got there (about 11ish) and it started to rain and it's pissed it down since.

The glum expression on this heron's face sums up my feelings - it should migrate, I wish I could!

Why does it always rain on me?

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Birdfair Bound

A flying visit to Druridge tonight produced nothing of note, hopefully the situation will remain so until I get back on Monday.

We're off to the British Birdfair this weekend, if you happen to be going, come and say hello. I'll be in Marquee No 1, stands 53-54 on the 'Birdwatching Northumberland' stand for most of the weekend.

It'll be hard work no doubt and the socialising in the evening will take its toll, but I do enjoy my annual trip to the Birdfair.

I led a guided walk from Seahouses to Belford and counted 92 pied wags on Belford golf driving range - not a bad count! Obviously there was nobody actually driving any golfs!

Sunday 15 August 2010


We were down at Druridge at 5.30 this morning to put up our nets,  our hopes were filled with east coast-coast migrants reported elsewhere....

would we catch a sprosser, icterine warbler...hell, a red-backed shrike would do. Well, we didn't catch any of those and had to make do with a garden warbler.

garden warbler
garden warblers are always nice to catch at Druridge, they are certainly migrants as they don't breed here, this one was certainly on the move and had a good supply of fat on board to help it along the way (6 fat for any ringers reading this).

Ringing was slow this morning though, we only caught 12 birds for our efforts. totals were:

blackcap 3
willow warbler 3
wren 1
dunnock 1
robin 1
blackbird 1
great tit1
garden warbler 1

juvenile blackcap - you can see he's going to be a boy from the black feathers coming in on the 
smart juvenile robin, nearing the end of its post juvenile moult.
The rare bird of the day came in two miles further north. After ringing I decided to do some concreting, just clearing up, still caked in the stuff I get call from the Newton Stringer......you might want to get to Hadston Links, Martin Kerby has found either a booted or sykes warbler....sykes...........YKES! more like, in a shaggy from Scooby-do styleeee.

There was a good few folks already there when I arrived, in the bushes on the dunes behind the Country Park - known as the frog pond when I worked there (for ADMc and SS - the frurg purnd!).

The warbler was well ensconced in a thick goat willow but did come out to show itself a couple of times allowing good views. I'm not commenting at all on it's ID, I'll  leave that to others far more experienced than me. It looked as though it had gone to roost when I left, I hope it is still there tomorrow for others to see and hopefully get those clinching photo's. If it crosses the road into the Country Park, it may as well vanish into thin air!

Finally, does anyone know what this strange beast is? Nice one for Dean or Skev!

Saturday 14 August 2010

late seawatch adds nicely to year list

This post could equally have been called 'Balearic beauty'

I've been seawatching, I left it a bit late, not arriving at at Druridge til 1730 and judging by the totals on RBA I missed the best of the days action. I did 2 1/2 hours through til 8pm when, to be honest, it was getting tricky to pick up manxies out by the pot flags.

Bird of the evening was a relatively close (for Druridge) Balearic shearwater, virtually the first bird decent bird I saw, going north at 1735, this is my third for Druridge and all of them have been at similar distance.

I didn't bother counting kittiwakes (or the terns) , by far the most numerous birds, with long 'strings' and groups going through most of the evening. I collected a few year ticks including; sooty shearwater, only 1 though, bar-tailed godwit, knot and grey plover (summer plumage  - nice)

Totals were (1730-2000):

Balearic shearwater 1
cormorant 4
manx shearwater 47
sooty shearwater 1
fulmar 48
gannet 358
sandwich tern - gave up counting
common tern  - ditto
arctic tern  - ditto
great black-backed gull 9
bar-tailed godwit 1
teal 18
lesser black-backed gull 6+
kittiwake 1000+
red-throated diver 7
common scoter 26
roseate tern 5
arctic skua 3
bonxie 3
tufted duck 4
guillemot 5
red-breasted merganser 5
dunlin 1
oystercatcher 1
knot 1
eider 4
grey plover 1
ringed plover 5

Yesterday, I walked from Berwick to Coldingham along the Berwickshire Coast path with work with TAC and others, there wasn't much time for birding, but an adult peregrine feeding fledged young at Marshall Meadows was nice,  in Scotland we had more pergrines including an adult and juvenile whilst we were having lunch at Burnmouth, also nice to see were coastal ravens.

Just south of Coldingham in a scrubby dene, TAC  and I picked out a calling warbler which was different, but something we had both heard before, a disyllabic call, we only got the briefest of views, it was certainly a phylloscopus warbler, but it didn't show much. In flight it was green-grey, when it flitted through the bushes I could see it was white below, but that is all we saw, we had to catch up with the others in order to catch our bus back to Berwick, when it flew further up the dene, we had to leave it, but we are pretty much certain it was greenish warbler.

133 balearic shearwater
134 sooty shearwater
135 knot
136 bar-tailed godwit
137 grey plover

Monday 9 August 2010

It's Autumn - Official

One swallow doesn't make a summer - so goes the old proverb.

A handful of passage waders doesn't maketh the Autumn (Ipin, 2010)

and neither does the fact that breeding swifts have departed my street to return to Africa

but, a wheatear back at Druridge, that's it, it's definitely Autumn, no doubt whatsoever!

wheatear at Druridge - autumn is here
It felt like Autumn last night at Druridge too, cold and damp by dusk when I arrived at Druridge to look through the gull roost on the beach which is now building up nicely at low tide. Out in front of Druridge there were about 1500 gulls, 75% of these were common and the other 25% black-headed's with a few lesser-black-backed and herring about and a single med gull.

Also on the beach were 30 common tern, 8 arctic, 2 roseate and 12 sandwich. 8 curlew and 2 whimbrel.

Just north of the patch, at Chibburn mouth there were another 2000+ gulls at dusk. tonight they were mainly concentrated just north of the burn at Hemscotthill.

When I left Druridge last night, I drove to the north end to turn around and check for owls and bumped into Tom Tams and Tim Sexton, setting up for a mothing session. So i stayed to watch - great fun, we caught 45ish species in two hours. The most numerous were shaded broad-bar, white-line dart, six-striped rustic ans smoky wainscot. there were quite a few drinkers about too, but my favourite was just about last moth of the night - pebble hook tip.

The rest of the weekend was spent preparing our new ringing site at Ellington - Don't worry! we're not giving up on Druridge, this is a reserve site for when:

a) There are too many charvas at Druridge, camping, burning our poles or crapping in the rides.
b) The wind is out the West - impossible to ring at Druridge in westerlies
c) The winter - no birds at Druridge in winter whereas this site could hold thrushes and finches I reckon.

Ride 1 - for 100ft of net alongside an old hawthorn hedge
the other bonus is it is at the end of my street, it is a former bit of colliery spoil, reclaimed and planted with trees, there are a few old oaks and ash in one corner. This splendid speckled wood was there on Sunday.

Saturday 7 August 2010


Showers dominated this morning, so all of the outdoors chores like concreting and weeding were on hold, as was any chance of ringing. So instead we went to Belsay Hall for Extraordinary Measures   - my culture fix for the year!

We got down to Druridge for a bit when it cleared up - bugger all on the fields, the 14 cows were chomping away, 114 cows might have an impact.

Not much on the big pool either, two common sands were of note and a great-crested grebe, isn't it getting on for spotted crake time?

An hours seawatch produced (highlights):

3 arctic skua
8 red-throated diver
1 slavonian grebe (a moulting adult ('ears' still visible) swimming slowly north)
1 med gull on the beach
1 roseate tern

No sign of the black-throated diver reported on RBA

132 slavonian grebe

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Dead... in suspicious circumstances

Tonight was pleasant 20 deg C, dropping to 15 with a warm westerly wind. I headed for the Oddie first of all, an older couple on their way out informed me there was little to see other than some coots and grebes and pipit, which they hadn't seen before - a meadow pipit...bless

I opened the shutters and the first thing I saw was a dead common tern right in front of the hide - the seniors didn't mention this!
dead juvenile common tern
On further investigation I found more suspicious corpses, a freshly dead juvenile black-headed gull and another that had been dead for some time. There was no sign of pellet wounds (shooting was my first suspicion), but these could be hidden.

This black-headed gull had been dead a while

freshly dead juvenile black-headed gull
All very odd, I'll let NWT  know about this tomorrow.

Birds of note that were still alive were five....yes five pochard! A good August record, also some coots and grebes (thanks dudes!) and this rather nice juvvy dunlin

and this smart male linnet.

 About 500 common gulls were on the beach at dusk with 22 sanderling.

Sunday 1 August 2010

very little to report

My weekend was dominated by concreting my yard (why didn't I just get ready-mix?),  well Saturday was, today was mainly spent recovering with sore everything! It would'be been worse without the loan of JWR's mixer.

So, only three short visits to Druridge over the weekend, but nothing much to report. The little egret is still hanging about and there was a couple of common sandpipers on the edge of the big pool on Saturday evening.

A late walk along the beach this evening produced 18 sanderling flying north.