Tuesday 31 May 2011

Quite quiet

Not much doing at Druridge this evening.

The spoonbills have gone, but I have found out about the colour ringed bird thanks to sleuth work by Mike Hodgson. Have a look at the NTBC website for piccies and details http://www.ntbc.org.uk/2011%20spoonbill.html

I had a look from the dunes to see if there was any sort of gull and tern roost on the shore, only a handful of sarnies and some big gulls. There are still two red-throated divers in breeding plumage loitering offshore and a single manx shearwater heading north was a year tick.

A yellow wagtail was out in front of the Oddie hide (just visible through the grass - NWT have strimmed in front of two hides but not the third?) but a dead camera battery means no photo's.

125 manx shearwater

Sunday 29 May 2011

Colour-ringed Spoonbill

Two very brief visits to Druridge all weekend, and not because of the drink either!

Other things have prevented me getting down to the patch. These include twitching (terek sandpiper), ringing (Ellington Pond), farm surveying and gardening, and tomorrow I'm at the County Show with work all day....

I caught the last hour of daylight at Druridge this evening, the three spoonbills were still on the Budge field, in front of the little hide and .......they weren't asleep.....not at all.....any of them! They even flew a short way and one appeared to be colour ringed, Brian Bullough's blog confirms my brief sighting. Brian's photo's aren't enough to get a sure result and the cr birding website isn't much help without more detail.

So, has anyone out there seen more on these colour rings? I would love to find out where it has come from.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Sharp Start

A nice, early, 5.30 start at Druridge for a territory mapping visit before work. Nice to see the back of the awful wind for a while, still quite cool for late May though

A single spoonbill still present on the Budge fields (seemingly two were there later). A Reed warbler (which bred at Druridge for the first time last year) was back and singing on territory, was the other highlight. Also nice to see was at least two out of the three stonechats we ringed as pullus, fully fledged and moved away from the nest site, independent of their parents.

You can't see it, but it has got a ring on it. Juvenile stonechat
There was still only one singing wren recorded this morning, but dunnock appear to be back in small numbers now. On the warbler front, there are still several sedge warblers, blackcaps and whitethroats singing, but the willow warblers have quietened down now.
sedge warbler

Other birds of note were a juvenile goosander on the big pool and a two fledged pied wag young.

juvenile goosander

'All mouth'  - juvenile pied wagtail

124 reed warbler

Tuesday 24 May 2011


I thought I was going to add Spoonbill to the lengthening list of birds that have been seen at Druridge this year - just not by me (which includes avocet, little ringed plover, hooded crow, spotted redshank, med gull and more), but thankfully it's on my list.

It wasn't this morning though, I've been to Manchester over the weekend, then to the match on Sunday and Monday was just too damned windy for any birding.

Four spoonbills were reported at 6am this morning but there was no sign of them when I got there at 8.40. So, a post-work visit was in order, no sign of them from the Budge screen, the wind was still quite strong but they are big birds, surely they couldn't be hiding? A walk around tot he little proved that one, and only one, was hiding.

Where have the other three gone...who knows?

Four black-tailed godwits flew in whilst the spooner slept (why are they always asleep?), they couldn't find anywhere to land because of the dense vegetation at Druridge and continued north. Two male yellow wagtails having a bit of  a tussle was also nice to see.

Territory mapping tomorrow  - 5am start!

122 spoonbill
123 black-tailed godwit

Thursday 19 May 2011

Fresh Meat

At last some fresh meat at Druridge.

Four new cows have arrived on the Budge Fields, just in the nick of time. They have joined the ponies who haven't left for East Chev yet, so between them they should make an impact, but there's plenty to go at and they'll need to be joined by more of their friends in July.

Keep on grazing, there's plenty to go at
I did an evening territory mapping visit tonight, only because I am too busy to get a morning visit in.

It was funny seeing red-legged partridges at High Chibburn Farm, a year tick, but already dull after the excitement of last years 'Patch ticks'. Lots of birds were carrying food, I wish I had more time to spend to watching them and do some more nest finding.

Offshore a single roseate tern was year-tick, a nice close bird too. One the beach were 3 dunlin and 6 sanderling, all in stunning summer plumage. We were watching sanderling and dunlin last week in Spain so there is still more to come!

120 red-legged partridge
121 roseate tern

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Woodchat Shrike

Woodchat Shrike

A woodchat shrike!

Not at Druridge sadly. This explains the lack of blogging over the last week or so, I've given Druridge a dodge in favour of Spain. At appears that nothing monstrously rare had turned up whilst I've been away, my mobile has broken so wouldn't have got any text messages in any case.

I was back on the patch briefly on Sunday morning for the WeBS count, a few new brood of mallards and coot and a lapwing chick were pottering around after their parents. We didn't have any 'D' rings with us so the lapwing went un-ringed.

Should be back on the patch tomorrow evening all being well.

Friday 6 May 2011

The smell of rain and herons

At last, some rain. You'll not hear me saying that very often but I think we are all glad there has finally been some. I love the smell of rain when it falls after a period of dry weather. I bumped into ST, we had to cower in the hides dodging the showers. We were rewarded with three wood sandpipers on the Budge fields, another wader remains unidentified but was probably a ruff.

Once the rain eased,  the temperature rose to 18 degrees C, I had a wander around the bushes in the hope of migrant or two. Nothing in the bushes, but seven wheatears and two white wagtails looked newly arrived.

I got wet again this evening. We had another go at ringing the herons in the colony. Eight nests this year (ten in 2010), with three looking to have failed.
Smelly! grey heron young being ringed
We ringed three out of four in one nest (the runt was too small) and a single big juvenile in another. In nest number three, four young were still too small and nest number five, they were too big, legging it out across the branches, this lot will be fledged soon. The smell of herons is quite distinctive and hangs on you for ages in contrast to the sweet smell of the rain this morning.

There'll be no posts for a week or so now, all will be revealed.....

Thursday 5 May 2011


The first swift of the year is a notable date in any patch-workers notebook, as the last of the migrant breeders to arrive it marks a bit of a milestone in the ornitholigcal year. I saw my first swift of the year today and it was at Druridge.

It's arrival was overshadowed by another migrant this morning, a much scarcer spring bird on the coast - whinchat.
whinchat - record shot
Whinchats are hard to come by in the spring on the coast, much more obvious in the autumn, so this one was nice to see. In 2009, I failed to see whinchat at all at Druridge. A single white wag was the other notable passage visitor.

Two male blackcaps were vying for territory by the Budge screen and whitethroats were still singing strongly. I recorded 48 species at Druridge in three hours this morning, without a seawatch. I reckon with a seawatch I could have easily seen 55 species, over a third of the average yearly total!

The warmer conditions this morning may have been responsible for a hatch of cinnabar moths - they were everywhere!
Cinnabar moths - at it!
On the big pool, these two were making a racket.

little grebe
redshank in summer plumage
117 whinchat
118 swift

Tuesday 3 May 2011

To Mull and Back

Since my last post I have been to Mull and back.

I've also been Druridge.

Mull was great, a lads weekend away, plenty of eagles and beer but no otters. Good to catch up with Bryan too.

Back on the patch for a wander about proved profitable on Bank Hallada Monday (A bit of Ashington-speak slipping in there, sorry). After we checked some meadow pipits nests, we headed for the Budge Screen, wood sandpiper and spotted redshank had been reported whilst I was away on Mull.

A wood sandpiper showed briefly, but no spotshanks remained. A fly-through house martin picked up by ADMc was also a year-tick and two yellow wagtails were by the little hide. On the main pool the highlight was a pair of great-crested grebes. Once a regular at Druridge these birds are becoming really scarce in these parts now. Also of note was fly-though greenshank and a drake pochard.

rusty returns - Swallows on the gutters at Druridge

drake shoveler, shoveling, on the big pool
 Today was 'Visit E' of my territory mapping thingy, so an early(ish) start. Again, many species are getting into the serious business of breeding, so not as many singing birds, the newly arrived whitethroats were blasting out their scratchy song and there was at least five of them. Three grasshopper warblers were also reeling, they'll quieten down soon too.

It was nice to see at least one of the stonechats pullis we ringed last week have now fledged, there were probably more in the grass still being fed. I think this events deserves more stonechat pictures.

Stonechat juvenile complete with shiny new ring

And a couple of pictures of the proud father!

This evening a quick look out to sea produced my first common tern and just as the sun was setting a whimbrel flew north, calling.

112 wood sandpiper

113 house martin
114 great-crested grebe
115 common tern
116 whimbrel