Tuesday 26 July 2011


The east coast stormie fest continued yesterday whilst I was at work/pub quiz. How long would it last?

I wasn't going to go to Druridge this morning, I thought I would go for an evening seawatch instead.

A text from Dave Elliott at 8am changed that plan "still stormies in the bay".....I had to go. The first 20 minutes nothing, then the first storm petrel, then another. Three in ten minutes, a full on PATCH TICK, my second of the year following hot on the heals of the white stork back in May.

So I went to work a very happy boy. I returned to Druridge this evening, at about 6pm, for my planned evening seawatch and it was very quiet, other than a south-bound bonxie - nothing, nada, zilch. The visibility gone by 7.30pm as a light mizzle set in.

If Dave hadn't texted or I had ignored it and gone straight to work, it would have been a very different story.

140 STORM PETREL (No. 224 for the patch)
141 Bonxie


Storm petrel finally on the Druridge list. More on this story later!

Monday 25 July 2011

My best chance?

Today was probably my best chance of adding storm petrel to the Druridge List. An overnight northerly had pushed them into the north sea and this morning they were being noted from coastal watch points in BIG numbers.

I spent most of the morning in bed, I've just returned from the Netherlands on a work trip, with little sleep in the last 3 days so I took the choice of a lie-in.

I eventually made it down to Druridge by 12.30, staying til 14.00. The light was crap, I did see a handful of manx shearwaters and 4 velvet scoters. I also had another try this evening for an hour and a half before dusk, again with no success. Druridge is never going to the seabirds that are seen at Newbiggin or even Snab point, a few miles south and visible from Druridge. I think today, if I had been down there early enough, I might have mailed a stormie?

139 velvet scoter

Monday 11 July 2011

Cuckoo confusion

Apologies for the lack of blog-action over the last couple of weeks, work and other commitments has meant little time to visit Druridge and even less time for blogging and it isn't going to get any better over the next two weeks.

To make up for long-days, I took a half-day today to get the nets up at Druridge. Ringing was slow, catching ten or so warblers, sedge, willow, whitethroat and blackcap. We bumped into Mike Hodgson, he spotted a cuckoo flying over the road, first at Duridge this year, I remarked "hope it's flown into out net" - well it did.

Ageing and sexing it has proved somewhat tricky however. We are sure it isn't a juvenile or an adult male. Which leaves the female, which in cuckoo comes in two morphs - grey, very much like the male, and brown or rufous.

Our bird showed some of the characteristics of a brown morph female but not all, more like something in between. A trawl of internet images hasn't helped much, other than apparently ruling out a juvenile due to the lack of white fringing on the upperparts. Looking at Collins, the brown morph is barred dark/rufous brown and the upper tail/rump are also rufous brown, our bird had a grey/brown uppertail and rump.

This bird http://www.pbase.com/charlie_fleming/image/113357739/large has a grey/brown uppertail. This one closely resembles our bird and has been labelled 'hepatic morph female' http://www.flickr.com/photos/nigelblake/3118599073/.

Seemingly there is much variation - Any thoughts?

This is the second cuckoo caught and ringed at Druridge, Janet caught an adult may here in July 2007. This one was a ringing-tick for me.

Here are a couple of other photos from today's ringing.

juvenile robin

Fresh juvenile sedge warbler

juvenile blackcap
Other highlights today, Janet saw an adult hobby at close quarters, before it headed towards the dunes then south. I was checking the nets at the north end... There was also an adult merlin hanging about -  I always think that mid July is a good time for merlins on the coast.

Last night, about 8.30pm, the sea was like a millpond, with a light pink sky as the sun started to set. I was watching a 'gang' of arctic skuas harassing the terns on their way north to Coquet Island - I counted at least six by the end of the night. The highlight was mammalian, rather than avian - a pod of white-beaked dolphins about half-way out, visible with the naked eye because the sea was so flat. At first they were in a tight group, with much activity, before spreading out over 300-400 metres. Amazing!

yesterday I had both green and wood sandpipers on the big pool and on Saturday evening I watched a little egret going into roost in the heronry  -amazingly, my first of the year!

133 garden warbler
134 great-spotted woodpecker
135 little egret
136 green sandpiper
137 merlin
138 cuckoo

Sunday 3 July 2011

Busy times

I've been rushed off my feet of late, so both Druridge and my blog have suffered as a result. I did a territory mapping session last Thursday and had a quick visit on Friday morning. Then it was back to Scotland, Dunbar this time to ring kittiwakes. Today was an atlas work, the last atlas work until the next atlas. I was in the Goldscleugh Valley in the Cheviots.

Tonight I had an hour or so at Druridge, the highlight was ten or so white-beaked dolphins offshore. Hopefully I'll catch up the blog with some pictures and a better update before I head off to Cornwall on Tuesday for three days. Hectic times!