Saturday 30 October 2010

Ringing Recovery

We've just had word of another ringing recovery from Druridge. We don't get many recoveries, so it's quite exciting when we do - even if they've not gone very far.

This one didn't get very far...

It was a goldfinch, ringed by me on 31st October 2009, it was caught on 29th June 2010 at Swarland, having travelled all of 13km!

View Goldfinch X370587 in a larger map

I was ringing at Cherryburn today, we didn't catch much, two redwings were the highlight. I won't get to Druridge tomorrow either as there is a rather important football match to attend....everything is crossed!

Sunday 24 October 2010

Mermaids Tears

Finally back on the patch after too-long an absence. It was bright and breezy, with the odd icy  shower thrown in, a brisk northerly keeping the temps well down. The weather wasn't conducive to finding passerines and as a result the list of species recorded in the notebook was poor for October.

A walk along the track first, checking the Budge fields and big pool from the hide then a walk back along the beach, with nothing really noteworthy seen along the way. A covey of twenty one grey partridges in the dunes was impressive, so was the sea, boiling after the recent northerlies.

We were saddened to find a lot of mermaids tears along the strandline.

Mermaids Tears
The technical name for these 'mermaids tears' is nurdles. Nurdles are small plastic pellets and this is the form in which plastic as a raw material is transported around the world. Nurdles get into the sea directly from plastic factories via the the drainage and river systems, they also leak from containers and ships. 

Nurdles can now be found on virtually any beach in the world. Mermaids tears are ingested by sea creatures, including birds, which are both poisonous themselves and attract other toxins in the water, poisoning the creatures that swallow them.

The recent storms have changed the beach profile dramatically, taking the dune fronts back a foot or two. I have never seen the second row of tank blocks exposed this much in all the years I have been going to Druridge.

Second row of tank blocks well exposed
tank blocks

There was nice light this afternoon

Druridge Beach looking south

I was also disappointed to see the appearance of second Dalek by the entrance to Druridge.

Not one, but two pointless bins

When will people learn that bins in rural, coastal locations don't work? Not only do bins and other bits of pointless clutter ruin the countryside, they actually cause more litter than they solve. People who get as far as these bins have already made the decision to take their litter with them. Moron's who drop litter will drop it no matter how many bins there are. All that will happen now is that they will fill with picnic waste and chip wrappers, people will dump stuff by them and the gulls, crows, foxes and badgers will tear the lot to shreds and scatter for it miles.

I despair, when are people going to be made to be responsible for their own actions, if you take stuff out into the countryside, take the rubbish home with you!!

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Not so Sloe

I had a day offuv work today, I had two chores to do at Druridge, moving some poles around our ringing site and picking some sloes for the sloe gin. I had also had to do the WeBS count.

A great-crested grebe was the only interesting bird on the pool, the Budge fields still being thigh high vegetation.

A lot of birds have moved out since the weekend, but there are still birds arriving. I saw a few small groups of thrushes coming in over the dunes.

Skylarks were moving, mainly south, all morning. Impossible to count, maybe a hundred in a couple of hours, including one flock of 25. There are still good numbers of migrants in the bushes though, robins and goldcrests being the most obvious.

Last year we hardly saw a goldcrest on the coast so it is nice to see these cheerful little chappies flitting through the bushes.

A few blackcaps and chiffchaffs went onto the list as did a single garden warbler.

The most important thing though, I got the Sloes picked and they are now happily soaking in some gin, the book reckons you should keep it for 18 months. Two chances of that!

Monday 11 October 2010

Worth a punt?

Looking at RBA tonight, there's still good birds about so I've taken tomorrow off work to do some household chores that didn't get done at the weekend.

We need some sloes to make sloe gin, so I'll have to pop down to Druridge to  get some, not sure I'll get time to do any birding though......

Yeah, right!

Sunday 10 October 2010


Another long day at Druridge and I am now totally zonked!

We were ringing from 6.45am until 5.30pm, we caught 116 birds including 4 retraps  - not bad at all!

We caught a gint of goldcrests and a hod of robins too, we caught nothing unusual or even scarce and we were so busy ringing I didn't even have time for any birding between net-rounds. Best birds of the day were pied flycatcher, garden warbler, meadow pipit and two blackcaps.
nice bright male siskin

meadow pipit

pied flycatcher

We failed to catch yesterdays barred warbler or 'dark phyllosc'

Between net rounds, a skein of c800 pink-foooted geese flew south at dawn and for the first three hours there was a steady stream, of skylarks moving through, maybe 30-40 per hour. A nice male brambling was on the short grass near the dunes and a kestrel, mobbed by ten pipits and wagtails was hunting in the dunes.

Ringing Totals:

robin 28 + 2 retraps
blackbird 3 + 1 retrap
goldcrest 43
blue tit 9
meadow pipit 1
siskin 9
blackcap 2
chiffchaff 3
long-tailed tit 5
garden warbler 1
song thrush 3
goldfinch 1
pied flycatcher 1
wren 3 + retrap

A year to the day, Tom Cadwallender, Neil Anderson and myself caught this little beauty at Druridge...

Radde's warbler

Saturday 9 October 2010

Blue Tits not Bluetails

Eleven and a half hours! That's how long I spent at Druridge today - unhealthy obsession? - probably!

No bluetails for us, we had a few blue tits though, still we're not complaining, our ringing session netted us 62 birds - not bad considering we only had four nets up.

The morning started quite damp, with a ESE wind, we were at Druridge before first light (not bad considering we were at chez Biggs til midnight - there were redwings going overhead then!), being so damp we only put the most northerly nets up which are the best for catching stuff after a fall.

We caught nothing amazingly rare, not even scarce, just good numbers of some common migrants. Robins were by far and away the most numerous. goldfinches, long-tailed tits, blackbirds, song thrushes and goldcrests also featured heavily.

We also controlled a blue tit, a first calendar year bird, sporting a newish looking ring, so it's probably just come from Hauxley.

Not many pictures of ringed birds - it was a bit gloomy, but here is a nice chiffy and a rather drab looking siskin, but it was our first of the year.

drab siskin

nice chiffy
We packed in ringing around half past two, when the wind picked up. Time for some real birding!

As we had been ringing at the north end, I checked the bushes and plantation by the entrance (whilst Janet got me a tremendous bacon, potato and onion pasty from the Widdrington Farm Shop), then the Budge Screen before walking along the Channel to the path. Picking up blackcap, redstart, pied flycatcher and whinchat along the way, with lots more robins, song thrushes, blackbirds, chaffinches and goldcrests.

In one tiny alder, all out on it's own by the edge of the pool, I had three chiffchaffs and a garden warbler, then this other warbler flew in, chiffchaff sized, but very dark, then it promptly flew out again, back into the thick bushes.....gone!

Back in the bushes I got onto my second barred warbler of the year, this one was lumbering about in the alders.

barred warbler

Other highlights of the day included  a water rail flying out from under my feet, two lapland buntings over, south, c10 swallows and 50 redwings (how come we didn't catch any?)

We'll be back ringing again in the morning and will be putting a net up where the 'dark phyllosc' disappeared to.

Ringing totals for today:

robin 18
goldfinch 7
dunnock 2 + 1 retrap
coal tit 1 + 1 retrap
blue tit 2 + 1 control
long-tailed tit 6
chiffchaff 3
blackbird 6
song thrush 5
chaffinch 2
goldcrest 4
siskin 1
reed bunting 2

150 Siskin

Thursday 7 October 2010

A Pile O' Shite

A very large pile of shite has appeared on the patch

A large pile of shite
Closer inspection revealed it not to be shite but a pile of the compost the Council produce from garden waste, still, it might bring a few birds in. The farmer used to leave piles of chicken muck lying around and it was good for all sorts of birds.

Anyhoo, there were no birds on it tonight, and not many elsewhere on the patch, the bushes were pretty quiet. I checked out the beach for snow buntings, there weren't any, but a wheatear and a rock pipit were nice finds. 

There was also this dead seal pup, not very old (less than four weeks?) It looked a little different and I was thinking it might be too early for grey seal pups, especially this far from the Farnes, unless they are pupping on Coquet Island this year. Might it be a common (harbour) seal pup? They are tricky and head shape and nostril pattern are good indicators - I didn't photograph the nostrils but the head/nose area was pretty mangled anyhoo. Maybe Steely offuv the Farnes can help?

Dead Seal Pup - common or grey?

Its heed
To be honest, when I first saw it, I thought it was a small white dog.

This spotted flycatcher was on the fence at dusk, it looked really orangey at time sin the setting sun.

Spotted Flycatcher
small flocks of birds flew in, or over, at dusk, including a small group of redpoll and some linnets.

And a nice sunset to round of the evening.

Sunset through the dunes
The wind will be coming out of the east over the weekend, SE to begin with, then swinging more northerly, with good, clear conditions on the other side. All we need is some murk and mizzle to drop birds in, but it is looking unlikely, though XCweather is predicting some mist tomorrow evening. We'll have the nets up whatever.

Sunday 3 October 2010

Nets up, Nets down

We were down at Druridge before dawn this morning, but a soon as the nets were up they had to come back down as the rain set in and it looks as though it is here for the day. We caught one bird - robin.

Yesterday was a different matter however, many birds were still at Druridge after the midweek fall so we caught a good few birds, well, Janet did, I had to leave at 9.15 to go to work. Both at Druridge and at Seahouses, there was a continual movement of skylarks overhead.

The good fall of song thrushes was evident, this was the first of eight.
song thrush
Dunnocks and robins were still about and a few warblers were moving through the bushes but we didn't catch many, this blackcap and chiffchaff along with a reed warbler were the only ones caught. The last image is a goldcrest, we only caught one which is one more than we caught last year.

This great tit (or should be grey tit) was an interesting one, a partial leucistic bird, which had a generally greyer appearance with virtually a white tail and a light grey rump - very odd.
leucistic great tit
No sign of last weeks barred warbler now, this rain may drop coasting birds in,  so it will defo be worth a look down at Druridge on Monday, meanwhile I'm off to the pub to watch the footie.

Ringing totals:

song thrush 8
robin 4 (and one today)
blue tit 3 (+1 retrap)
goldcrest 1
dunnock 3
chaffinch 3
blackcap 1
blackbird 2 (+1 retrap)
great tit 1
wren 1
reed warbler 1
chiffchaff 1
coal tit 1