Sunday 26 February 2012

Patch tick conundrum

I saw a Ross's Goose on the patch today. Can I add it to my Druridge patch list?

The goose in question was first picked up lifting off from near East Chevington by Alan Gilbertson and myself as a white goose amongst about 1000 pinkfeets. From a long-way off, it looked like quite big and we guessed it was a snow goose. A better view was required, the geese had landed one field north of the patch boundary, how frustrating.

Alan left and Janet arrived, we went for a better look. Closer inspection proved it to be an adult Ross's goose, but it was still outside the patch.

We spent the rest of the afternoon chainsawing, reducing the height of some alders and ash trees around our net-rides and doing some much-needed coppicing. As we worked, the geese flock got up a again and circled over the northern edge of the patch. The 'white one' was easily picked out.

Now the conundrum. Ross's goose still isn't on the official British list, residing in category D. Identification isn't in question, it's the origin of these birds that hasn't been confirmed. There have been a few Ross's in the UK over the past decade that look for genuine vagrants (timing and arrival with possible carrier species). Alongside this, the world population of Ross's has massively increased from an estimated 3000 individuals in the 1930's to 188,000 in the 1980's making genuine vagrancy more likely.

So what do I do?

Add Ross's Goose to the Druridge List? (I see from BUBO Listing that some Northumbrian birders have added the 2004 Hauxley Ross's goose to their county lists)

Create a 'pending' category and add it as an 'armchair' tick when the BOURC add it to the British list?


Forget all about it

Time to ponder. Despite spending the whole afternoon chainsawing, as well as Ross's Geese I managed to add oystercatcher and whooper swan to the year-list and watch two fantastic short-eared owls in the dunes.

79 oystercatcher
80 whooper swan
81 Ross's goose??? (Pending)

Sunday 19 February 2012

Owls and Raptors

An abandoned point-to-point meeting at Alnwick meant that I got to spend the afternoon at Druridge rather than spending my money with the bookies!

I was treated to a fantastic short-eared owl display. At least three SEO's were in the vicinity of Druridge this afternoon. It was great to watch, especially when two of them came across one another...they would have a bit of a set-to before heading off to hunt. This happened a few times over the Budge fields.There seems to be a lot of SEO's wintering in Northumberland this year, I hope a few stay to breed. It must be ten years since I saw them in the Cheviots.

various short-eared owl views

Whilst I was watching owl-fest,  I also saw a merlin flying over the big pool and Budge Fields and later, a peregrine, which was high at first, over the farm. It then headed north towards Hemscotthill scattering various flocks of waders, corvids and starlings as it went.

Offshore, I saw my first gannets of the year, four of them on the horizon, flying north. There was also a harbour porpoise in the Bay among the red-throated divers, mergansers and shags.There was also a red-breasted merganser on the Budge fields briefly.
red-breasted merganser on the Budge field pools

and it was gone.....

I walked through the dunes for a while. I came across at least six 'thrushes anvils'  - this was the most impressive.
'thrushes anvil' in the dunes at Druridge
On Friday night, I drove home via the patch and scored a barn owl at High Chibburn Farm.

74 barn owl
76 merlin
77 gannet
78 peregrine

Sunday 12 February 2012

No Pecker

Well, since hearing about the Druridge green woodpecker ( a patch mega) from Dave Elliott, I have put in about 7 hours in search of the illusive creature to no avail. I've tried staking out the feeders at the cottages and the Budge Screen where Dave heard it calling and saw it flying south with no success.

I wonder if it's moved on?

I have managed a few year-ticks in my woodpecker search though. A male bullfinch at the feeders was nice and a flock of siskin moving through the alders was new for the year. A male goldcrest, sporting a metal ring (one of ours?) was interesting. I don't normally see winter/spring goldcrests at Druridge, they normally get added to the year-list in the autumn.

On Friday, the national influx of woodcock was mirrored at Druridge with five lifting out of the bushes as I walked through. I wonder what they would've thought today when we started the chainsaw to do some net-ride maintenance and coppicing?

Today was also WeBS day. I did my count before we started the chainsaw work for obvious reasons. duck numbers weren't high with only 133 teal and 75 wigeon. three drake pintail on the Budge fields were the highlight. 53 curlew on the field next to the big pool was a good count for that species.

drake goldeneye, one of two on the WeBS count
 Whilst we were working on the rides, a short-eared owl was quartering the Budge fields, it, or another, had moved on to the dunes by the time we were packing up. I headed up there for a better view and was very impressed by the way the sun made the sea silvery, turning pinker as it set.

Pink, silvery sea at Druridge tonight

I've a busy week ahead so little chance of getting down to the patch before Sunday.....bring on March for some  after work birding!

71 bullfinch
72 goldcrest
73 siskin
74 woodcock