Thursday 30 September 2010

You're Barred!

After yesterdays fall of birds, I was itching to get back down to Druridge, so at first light I was on the patch, only for a couple of hours though - I had to be in Bamburgh for 10am.

I started at the north end, after checking the bushes and 'mugwort valley of death' I worked the whitebeam/blackthorn scrub. There were still an awful lot of birds about, in the narrow strip there were robins, dunnocks, song thrushes, blackbirds, chiffchaffs and a few reed buntings. As I worked my way along, I got onto a barred warbler moving through the low whitebeams, a first year bird,  I got good views, but no photos, wading through waist high, soaking wet,  reed canary grass had fogged up my camera lens.

Once the barred warbler disappeared into the thicker hawthorn and I had put it out on RBA, I headed south, picking up more redstarts and a couple of spotted flycatchers with more thrushes, a roving tit flock (without my predicted yellow-browed warbler in it) and good numbers of robins, wrens and dunnocks.

Last birds before heading to work were four wheatears in the southern paddock.

Not a bad morning, if I could've had another three or fours hours, there would of been more birds to find. This work nonsense doesn't half get in the way of birding, but I suppose I have to pay Kenya off somehow.

149 barred warbler

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Back to reality.....NOT!

I finally managed to pick up my bins and get back to Druridge tonight, three days after arriving back from a fantastic trip to Kenya. After a foreign birding trip, especially to sunnier climes, I struggle to find the motivation to get back down to the patch to look at wrens and dunnocks in the pouring rain and lashing winds.

Tonight though, a flyer from work and it was great to be back on the patch, cos it was alive with birds! A mini-fall no-less.

I thought it might have been better, when I first arrived, there were two redstarts and three spotted flycatchers on the plantation fence - canny start, I thought to myself, this bodes well!

More redstarts and spotflys in the plantation, I was joined by Dave Elliott, we got caught in a torrential downpour near the entrance, once it passed we worked the bushes, heading north. A couple more redstarts and some chiffchaffs as well as redwings and song thrushes before the bird of the afternoon came through.

A small group of swallows flew south alarm calling, we looked up to see a juvenile hobby after them, superb! It banked around a bit then flew off towards the hamlet, tailing the swallows. My first patch hobby for about 5 years, discounting my 'probable' four weeks ago. It's very late for hobby, I thought the one I had four weeks ago was late!

We continued up to north end, seeing not much more as birds started to roost, four bramblings and a few more thrushes in the whitebeams behind the pond. A 'different' warbler gave brief views of bits of it, before disappearing into the bushes for good - time to head back.

Back at the car, getting me wellies off, just about dark, about 1000 pink-footed geese flew north, my first of the autumn.

Not exactly Kenya standards of birding and no megas, but the hobby and witnessing migration was good enough for me, it was good to be back on the patch.

Here's a few photo's of Kenya....

Missus Lion

Top Mammal - Porcupine

Not all Mammals - check out the oxpecker!
Rosy-patched Bush-Shrike

Secretary Bird

Birds of the trip - Sokoke Scops Owl

Thursday 9 September 2010

Great Talk

Just been to see a great talk at the NTBC, the Biggest Twitch by Alan Davies and Ruth Miller....Inspirational Stuff check out their website

I'm deeply envious and would love to the same thing, maybe I won't come back from Kenya, just keep travelling?

See you all in a fortnight

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Dawn Raid

I was at Druridge at first light this morning, it was murky with intermittent showers and force 4 SE wind. I bashed the bushes for a couple of hours before work but it appeared that few, if any birds had arrived overnight and some had cleared off, it was very gloomy though and many birds may still have been in the bushes.

I had no flycatchers or redstarts this morning, there were still two whinchats on the dune fence and plenty of blackcaps and willow warblers and a couple of reed and sedge warblers but nothing new.

Highlight of the morning though was a marsh harrier quartering the Budge fields, it was either a female or juvenile, tricky to tell as it was barely visible, sillhouetted through the gloom.

There seems to be a few birds around elsewhere though so I'll probably be back down there before work tomorrow, could well be my last chance before I go to Kenya.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Not quite as good as it could have been

When the rain and very strong SE winds that lashed the Northumberland Coast overnight suddenly abated at lunch time and the sun came out, an impromptu half-day flexi-leave was taken.

With hope in my heart that the weather would have dropped a rare or two into Druridge, I set about working through the bushes at 12.55. It was soon obvious that the weather had indeed dropped some birds in, four redstarts, three blackcaps and a graden warbler were in the plantation - canny start!

In the willows by the entrance there were more blackcaps, another redstart and some willowchiffs. On the fence along the dunes there were four whinchats and three wheatears. After checking the area by the Budge screen, I steadily worked the sunny, sheltered edge and found a handful of both spotted and flycatchers.

willow warbler
willow warbler

spotted flycatcher

spotted flycatcher

The mix of species was very similar to the haul that came from the weather that caused the Morpeth floods two years ago, we had wryneck, barred warbler and greenish warbler at Druridge during that week. See this post for a memory jogger from that time.

At the small reedbed on the big pool there were both reed and sedge warblers, as I walked away from the reeds, I heard the birds in it alarm calling, I caught sight of small falcon disappearing over the trees, not enough to nail it but it looked good for a hobby, albeit a late one!

Other than the un-nailed falcon there were no rares or even scarcities today, but it certainly had potential and I was pleased that I took the time off work. It's raining again as I type this and the wind is still in the SE. Guess I'll be going to Druridge before work tomorrow!

Totals of key migrants 12:55 - 18:55

redstart 6
dunnock 8
blackcap 10
garden warbler 5
wheatear 4
whinchat 7
chiffchaff 2
willow warbler 11
pied flycatcher 6
whitethroat 1
spotted flycatcher 5
sedge warbler 2
reed warbler 2

142 redstart
143 spotted flycatcher
144 pied flycatcher 

Monday 6 September 2010

Bob Scott Memorial Quiz

The Bob Scott Appeal goes on until 25th March 2011 but Quiz ends end of September.  Please spread the word as there are some super prizes and people still have a chance to enter and win.  Go to 

Sunday 5 September 2010

Vegetables take over life

This weekend has been taken up with showing my vegetables.... in public.... again.....the legendary 'Tute Show'. We did OK, two firsts and a few runners up prizes for veg and home produce. Stewart will be gutted to hear we only got second for our marmalade!

So, only one visit to the patch all weekend, this afternoon from 4.15, until I had to get back to the Tute.  I concentrated on checking the bushes and open areas, hoping or a shrike or some Lapland buntings. It was very windy, gusting from the SE, making working the bushes difficult, I moved on to the north end.

A welcome year-tick in the form of a whinchat was perched on the fence beyond the Dunbar burn, a species I failed to see in 2009, a juvenile stonechat and flock of linnets were also up that way.

On my way to the 'Druridge Bushes' over an open area of dune-back, I flushed a snipe sp, it called once, flew straight out, no zig-zagging and off, strongly north in the strong SE wind, by the time I gained height, it had gone, somewhere into the dunebacks between my patch and Chibburn Mouth. I got nowt on it to be honest, there was white on it as it flew off, but I couldn't say for sure on which feather tract.....interestingly, a great snipe was reported from E. Yorks this morning. I've never, ever, flushed a snipe from the dunes at Druridge before.

It could have gone anywhere into 30+ hectares of duneback grassland, it would've taken ten or people to flush it out again, sod that,  I thought, it's outside the patch now anyway!

141 whinchat

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Looking out to Sea

Looking out to sea at Druridge tonight, a fresh easterly blowing, nothing was moving.

But, there were loafing birds in the bay and the highlight was watching four arctic skuas in pursuit of a single sandwich tern, needless to say the harried creature dropped whatever it was carrying for the parasites to claim. The funniest part was, after this excellent teamwork, the first skua to the prize was then chased by two of its former team-mates who wanted the fish!

There were at least six arctic skuas hanging about in the bay, other highlights were:

49 red-throated divers!
1 great-northern diver
9 red-breasted merganser
62 common scoter
28 sanderling one the beach
and two harbour porpoise.

It's about time for another surf scoter at Druridge I reckon!