Wednesday 24 August 2011

A tern up for the books

Once the rain cleared this evening, I popped down to Druridge, my first  visit since Birdfair. (Actually, not strictly true, I called in on my way home from work but it was hoying it down with rain, so I went home for tea).

It was too late to check the bushes for passerines, so I had a look through the gull roost on the beach, again 90% common gull, not so many as last week, maybe 1400 at Druridge with another 2000 or so off Chev. 

In among them was a juvenile black tern, there was only seven or so terns in the whole roost, so for one of them to be a black tern was a really good find. I've had a couple of black terns before in the gull roost in Autumn  always juveniles, but this is my first since 2007.

Also on the beach, three whimbrel and 11 sanderling were noteworthy.

Black tern puts me on 150 for the year, which is excellent for Autumn, given that i have finished on 158 or 157 for the last three tears. I am still missing some nailed-on passage and wintering species so this could be a very good year!

150 black tern

Whilst I was at Birdfair, Dave Elliott was good enough to let me know that he was watching a cracking wood warbler at Druridge. Wood warbler would have been a patch tick for me.....humph....

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Coitus interruptus

I am not sure who got the biggest shock, but I know who was the most embarrassed!

I called at Druridge tonight on my way home from work, first stop was the Oddie hide to check for waders. As I approached the hide I thought I heard a noise, stopped, nothing, so went straight in.... discover a young couple in, shall we say, a compromising position, . It was very amusing as I said "Oops, sorry, did I disturb you? Will you be long?". The poor girl was left to respond, as the chap was lurking behind the boards. "2 minutes she replied sheepishly".

I beat a retreat to the little hide, to allow them time to 'gather their things'. They had obviously come prepared, complete with a blanket on the floor. Even with a blanket on the floor, the Oddie hide isn't the most romantic of spots, it stinks of piss for a start. Maybe they wanted to get caught? It wasn't like it was late at night, it had just gone 6pm! Not the strangest thing I've seen at Druridge over the years, but amusing nonetheless.

They soon fled, leaving the hide smelling of sweat and perfume. Shutters quickly opened to reveal a common sandpiper on the bank, the only wader to be seen.  Also noteworthy was the gathering of little grebes, at least 12.

On the Budge fields, a creamy-crowned marsh harrier was hunting. There must be life on there somewhere, damned if I can see it.

Offshore, the red-throated diver count was up to 19 and there were four Arctic skuas.four ringed plover were on the beach.

I'm off to the British Birdfair for the weekend, If you are heading to the fair, pop along to the Birdwatching Northumberland stand (Marquee 1, 53 & 54)and say hello.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Hobby again

We had trip to Lynemouth Sewage Works tonight to check out hirundine activity, of which there was very little. So we headed up to Druridge and much the same as the previous two nights 2500+ martins and swallows over the pool between 8.30 and 9pm. They were all into roost by 9.10 tonight and we had a hobby through the flock again at about 8.50 pm.

So if any Northumbrian birders still need hobby for their year lists, get down to Druridge for about 8.15 pm tomorrow night, get up onto the dunes and watch the flock, it's an amazing sight. And if you get bored of small birds, turn around and scan through 4000 gulls on the beach (so long as there aren't too many dog-emptiers).

If anyone is down at Birdfair this weekend, pop by and say hi. I'll be on the Birdwatching Northumberland Stand, Marquee 1 stands 53 and 54 for the whole weekend.

Monday 15 August 2011

More big roosts

Still no internet connection, still waiting for BT, so another post from my phone.

Two huge roosts at druridge tonight again. On the beach well over 2000 common gulls came into roost with a handful of black-headed and large gulls. Too much disturbance on the beach within the patch, so the biggest gathering were to the north at Chibburn Mouth and to the south.

Also at dusk, circa 2500 hirrundines came into roost again in the small reedbed. I would guess about 60-65% sand martins. Quite a sight against a red sky. No hobby tonight, just an idiot in a landrover driving through the dunes!

Sunday 14 August 2011

Amazing spectacle

The internet is down at home, so this is coming from my mobile, so will be brief. There was an amazing spectacle at druridge tonight, at least 2000 hirrundines roosted in the little reedbed tonight. Before they roosted, they flew over the pool, they were rattled by a hobby which seemed to be enjoying itself.

There was also a single swift in with the flock. On the pool this afternoon, there was 2 common and 1 green sandpiper, not spotshanks though. We ringed on friday before it rained, we only caught 5 birds, hardly worth the effort.

Tuesday 9 August 2011


An evening visit to Druridge tonight started with a bit of a seawatch. It didn't look promising as I drove towards the patch, there was a fine mist coming of the surf and I feared poor visibility, but on closer inspection it was OK, if you looked straight out to sea. Much to the north and south was obscured.

Three very close manx shearwaters made up my mind that it was worth it. Shortly after that, two bonxies powered north in quick succession and then a few more manxies supported by one or two fulmars and roseate terns. 

Then, about half way out, low over the water, came a skua - different flight this time, deep wingbeats and looking purposeful, it had very pale underparts, almost white. It looked good for a pom. It frustratingly disappeared into the deep troughs, but when it re-emerged level with me it showed really well... Pom, in the bag.

After an hour or so, the visibility worsened considerably and I had only added a few more manxies, 70 odd oystercatchers and a roseate tern or two, so I packed up and headed for the Oddie hide.

Still lots of wagtails around the edge and in the reedbed including at least 20 yellow wags, mostly juveniles. There was also reed bunting, meadow pipits, reed, sedge, willow and grasshopper warbler around the edge of the pool. 

No sign of the oft reported spotshank again, only a single dunlin, 2 ruff and a greenshank on the wader list. It's spotted crake time of year so the edge is certainly worth checking.

Closer to home, I have heard a quail calling in the fields nest to my house since Thursday - I'm glad I live in the sticks sometimes, I might not have a bus service after 7pm but I've got quails and there's no hoodie-clad chavas nicking x-boxes!

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Home to roost

A late evening visit to Druridge today, in fact it was nearly dark when I left but still 17 degrees C! It was muggy and misty and visibility was poor, meaning the gull roost couldn't be grilled.

I did see another roost though and it was way more spectacular. It started on the big pool, where I saw many wagtails around the edge of the pool, mostly pied juveniles but also a few yellow wags, including some adults.

As I watched them, I noticed some heading for the reedbed. I say reedbed, this is a small patch of Phragmites in the corner of the pool, maybe only 40m square. Many more wagtails were dancing about over the reed before going to roost, joined by the others from around the pool. I estimated that at least 60, quite possibly many more, went into roost. The yellow wagtail count was at least 20, maybe 25. This is remarkable for Druridge!

After they roosted I went up to the dune to check what I could of the gull roost, however, a big flock of agitated hirundines took my attention. They weren't agitated like they are when there is a hobby about, just 'busy'. I watched them fly around for a bit, estimating there to be about 600, mainly swallows, before they too flew down into the tiny patch of reeds to roost. Amazing!

I've seen smaller flocks roost in this reedbed, but never this many. I'll be checking it out again tomorrow. Tomorrow, I am walking deep into the 'Boulmer Birders' patch, as I am leading a guided walk from Warkworth to Craster, hope I find something tasty along the way!

Monday 1 August 2011

Weekend Catch-up

These long, light, evenings are making it impossible to catch on paperwork and blog writing, shouldn't grumble though, I'd much rather be out birding than writing about it.

So, back to Friday, a northerly continued all day, so I though an hours seawatching before tea would be worthwhile, it wasn't. The best bird was yellow wagtail over. I guess Fridays northerly was quite localised.

After tea, we had an aborted attempt to catch storm petrels. Aborted due to a technology failure, we need to find a louder recording to use as a lure..oh well, at least everything else worked. There was a BIG gull roost on the beach at dusk and a barn owl hunted through the dunes.

A lie-in on Saturday then a good wander around the patch, it was very quiet, especially for passerines in the bushes. On the main pool there was a gang of juvvy pied wagtails and a stock dove with plenty of hirundines feeding over the water.

A quick look offshore produced a close great-crested grebe and a few red-throated divers but nothing was moving, until, I was just about to pack up when a sooty shearwater went north, really close in. So I though I give it a bit longer, 40 minutes longer and only a handful of manxies and 3 roseate terns to show for it.

On Saturday evening we ringed at Ellington Pond and on Sunday I was ringing at Gosforth Park.

On Sunday afternoon, a strong SE had picked up so I thought I would have look on the sea again at high tide. Again, little was moving, though there was a movement from oystercatcher with about 70 going south in small groups, 3 turnstone also flew south, my first of the autumn and first of the year at Druridge.

Late evening I returned to check out the gull roost, gulls arrived steadily as dusk approached and were still arriving when I packed up at half-nine. The majority were common gull, I estimated 1800 (and this was only the birds in the patch, not the birds roosting at Chibburn Mouth), there were also 450 black-headed and smattering of large gulls. Two Mediterranean gulls were my first of the year and whimbrel flew south.

142 sooty shearwater
143 turnstone
144 mediterranean gull