Sunday 27 November 2011

WeBS...week late

Wind, dark days, conferences, football, hangovers, new chainsaw.....

All added up to me doing my WeBS count a week later than when it should have been done. The wind has died down by early afternoon which made birding a bit more pleasant.

Not much wildfowl about, only a handful of ducks on the Budge fields. This is due to the amount of thick rush around the edge of the scrapes and vegetation in them. Horses and sheep are OK at grazing grassy swards, but they are selective grazers, nibbling away at the tasty soft-stuff and leaving the rest.

NWT really need to get in and control the rushes, they have done some cutting but only a drop-in-the-ocean. The ground is still dry, they could get a tractor-mounted flail in there if they are quick. Ideally some highland cattle should then be brought in to munch any re-growth.

The water levels on the big pool are the lowest they have been all year, which shows how dry this autumn has been. There's lots of 'edge', ideal for any greater yellowlegs that are passing over (hint). Highlight of the WeBS count was a water rail, poking about on the edge of the reedbed. Water rail is often heard at Druridge but rarely seen, so it was nice to watch this one. Also of note was a shelduck, a very rare bird in winter at Druridge.

Not sure when I'll be back on the patch. It'll be March before I can do any pre or post-work birding again.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Druridge...where's that?

It's so long since I was last on my patch I might not remember where it is next time I get a chance to go.

Last weekend was taken up with a trip to see the Toon end their unbeaten run at Manchester City followed by the Northern England Raptor Conference in Durham on Sunday (followed by the Lumiere least some of it).

I had a chance to twitch the eastern black redstart on Holy Island this morning. As regular readers of the twaddle will know, I rarely twitch, even in Northumberland, but this bird looked a cracker. I only had an hour and a bit on the Island before the causeway closed, it pissed it down the whole time I was there. It cleared quickly as soon as I was off the island and there was blue sky before I finished my work on the mainland.

No news either way on RBA of the bird today, so looks like I've dipped again.

Hopefully I'll do a belated WeBS count at Druridge before work tomorrow.

Sunday 13 November 2011


I've not spent much time at Druridge this weekend....

On Friday morning, I had a couple of hours pre-work birding. It was a pretty miserable morning and there were few birds about. I tramped the beach and other likely snow bunting habitat with no success.

On Saturday it was too windy to put the nets up,  we were just about to head to Druridge when the RBA Mega alert went's bound to be in Cornwall we thought... Probable GreaterYellowlegs, East Chevington... quickly followed by a call from Blakey to confirm it. When we got there it had just flown onto south pool, with no visible edge. It was spotted flying back onto the north pool and we were soon enjoying great views of it on the edge of the pool. Superb!

A County and Western Pally tick for me.

Whilst we were watching the yellowlegs, I got a message from Choppington's finest wildlife guide, to tell me he had just seen a nuthatch at Druridge...GRIPPED! Nuthatch would be a patch-tick for me. MSK wasn't as keen to gloat when I told him what we were watching!

Would I swap a greater yellowlegs at East Chev for a nuthatch at Druridge? Probably not.....

To wet to ring today and probably just as well, as one of the ringing team had too much to drink the previous night and for once, it wasn't me!!! We had a wander around Lynemouth Sewage Works in the mizzle. We need to find a way to catch pied wags, there were 18-20 on the filter beds (nice!). As we checked out potential net rides, a few blackbirds and robins moved through as well as a blackcap. Lynemouth is really hard to bird as the willow is so dense, I think ringing will be the only way to reveal what is really lurking in there.

Hopefully, if the weather behaves, we'll be ringing there tomorrow morning.

Sunday 6 November 2011


Ringing didn't happen this morning....I'm blaming the 12.45 kick off for yesterdays match.

I did make it to Druridge eventually though. I wasn't too bladdered to look through the RBA reports for yesterday, snow buntings appeared to be everywhere, so that was my challenge today - find snow buntings at Druridge. I've not seen snow bunting on the patch since 2007.

Despite checking all of the potential snow bunting habitat, nothing. The glorious autumnal sunshine had brought every dog owner this side of the Cheviots down to Druridge to empty their pooches, so any snow bunts on the beach will have been well gone by the time I crawled down there.

There were some other white birds on the beach though, a small group of sanderling seemed nonplussed by the dogs and their owners and allowed me to get quite close.

Sanderling on the beach at Druridge

They spent most of their time asleep - probably worn out after the 100th dog of the day had chased them

Caught one awake
I love the way they do little jumps when they run!

Friday 4 November 2011


A day offuv work today, the weather forecasts earlier in the week looked promising for some migrant action on the North-East Coast, but it turned into a bit of a damp squib...literally!

I trudged around the patch in the drizzle anyway. Last weekend's bullfinch has been joined by another male, they looked well chunky, but not 'northerns'. Bully is still a very scarce bird at Druridge, a species not logged every year!

A flock of about 18 long-tailed tits moved through the bushes, and, despite ringing 37 in the last 15 days or so, not one of this lot sported any jewellery! I reckon flocks are just moving down the coast, not stopping in the same area for long. If we hadn't ringed any of these birds, one would have assumed that, on consecutive visits,  the lotti flock was the same group of birds - not so!

Two chiffchaffs (both sporting jewellery) were the only other highlight. There was no sign of the mixed siskin/redpoll flock.

An early start (9.30 bus!) for the footie tomorrow - so that's Saturday written off, hopefully we'll be ringing on Sunday.