Friday 27 April 2012


With reports of wrynecks, ring ouzels and black redstarts from elsewhere on the coast yesterday, I decided to head to Druridge for a quick pre-work wander.

My first bird was a migrant and a year-tick but not a exciting as it could have been, a wheatear on the wall near the cottages which I was checking for black redstarts. I have seen more black redstarts on the walls by the cottages than anywhere else at Druridge. After the wheatear, migrants were thin on the ground.

I was a bit depressed by the lack of birds by the time I reached the north-end of the patch until I scanned the fields beyond the haul road and spotted this...

Some of the 75 blackwits
This tiny pool had attracted at least 75 black-tailed godwits, vying for space with the black-headed gulls. I only had my bins, but they all looked like islandica race to me.

Not much else of note. I checked RBA at lunchtime, someone had reported a garganey at 'Druridge'...I am presuming it was at the pools, there was no sign of it at 6.30am.

Sunday 22 April 2012

Sunday afternoon

I had high hopes of a patch-tick this afternoon.

After spending this morning sorting out mist-net rides at Lynemouth sewage works, I headed up to Bamburgh to help move some unused barn owl boxes. Just behind Bamburgh village we found a ring ouzel, a nice find, it's ages since I've seen a coastal ring ouzel.

As well as this one at Bamburgh, there has been a few coastal records reported on RBA, enough to spur me on to go and find myself a Druridge ring ouzel - which would be a patch-first for me.

My positive thinking soon dwindled as I scoured likely habitat on the patch without any luck...maybe I should have checked around the hamlet........ or the Druridge bushes.....or.....

So no patch-tick, but a couple of welcome year-birds, at least three singing willow warblers and a little egret on the Budge fields. The short-eared owl that's been around for months is still on the patch.

Short-eared owl

Sunday 15 April 2012


I managed to catch up with a little ringed plover on Saturday, my first patch LRP since 2009. Thanks must go to Alan Tillmouth, who despite gripping me with photos of the bird on his phone at Thursdays NTBC meeting, taken in front of the Oddie Hide, did me a favour and let me know it was still there on Saturday morning.

I wasn't so lucky to see it front of the hide though. It spent its time on the rocky island at the western end of the pool before being pushed off by a carrion crow. So no photo's I'm afraid.

There was lots of courtship and some copulation going on with lapwings, redshanks, shoveler and meadow pipits all 'at it'.

There was very little else of note on Saturday with no new migrants added to the year list. It was very cold in the strong NE wind and it wasn't long before I headed home.

Sundays visits to the patch were all 'drive-bys' and nothing interesting was noted.

Monday 9 April 2012

Druridge Foam Party

The title of this post might increase my stats?

The strong easterlies over the last few days combined with a huge tide on Saturday created an influx of foam onto the beach at Druridge. The high tide pushed the foam into where the Dunbar Burn runs out, creating this strange lava-flow like mass of foam.

No influx of migrants though. I am still waiting eagerly for a puffin, willow warbler or wheatear. Saturday brought little else of note, the short-eared owl was still patrolling the Budge fields and there were at least ten sandwich terns fishing in the bay.

Today was WeBS count day. Household chores meant an afternoon count. Highlights included a pair of pintail still, 13 shoveler and 15 gadwall. Teal are still present in reasonable numbers, 69, but the wigeon have gone bar a single bird. There is quite a bit of mud on the Budge fields, hopefully it might pull some good waders in over the next few weeks.

Just off the patch, a male marsh harrier was near East Chevington.

Thursday 5 April 2012

More migrants, oddities and owls

I took the afternoon off work today and headed for the patch. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon but the westerly wind was biting cold.

A couple more migrants were added to the list. Firstly sand martin, six days after the first (and only) swallow, I noted at least three sand martins over the dunes. I also saw a white wagtail on the Budge fields, another first for the year. The white wag was too distant for a photo, but this female pied wagtail wasn't.
pied wagtail

A great-spotted woodpecker flushed from the bushes by the little hide was an oddity and presumed coasting migrant? Great-spots are usually an autumn bird at Druridge, being seen from August onwards with occasional influx of 'big fellas' from the continent. A spring record is very rare.

Other things of note included a monster count of gadwall - 25 of them! Most of them were grazing the adjacent pasture like wigeon. There were two pairs of pintail on the Budge fields. There's also been an influx of linnets and reed buntings this week. A few chiffchaffs are singing now but no willow warblers yet.

male reed bunting at the 'Druridge bushes'

Highlight of the afternoon though went to a very obliging short-eared owl. There's still one or two hanging around the patch and they're a real treat to watch. I picked this one up in the dunes first.
Short-eared owl - hunting in the dunes
It caught a big vole and sat on this post for a while before sitting in cover devouring its prize.
Short-eared owl with a chunky vole

 It then moved off a short way and sat on this nearby post, right next to the road, presumably digesting the vole, most of which was gulped down in one go. The wrens, robins and blue tits fussing around didn't seem to faze it.

Add caption

93 sand martin
94 great-spotted woodpecker

Monday 2 April 2012


A rare thing these days, two visits to Druridge over the weekend. Friday evening was my first post-work birding of the year.

It's still quiet on the migrant front, two sandwich terns were in the Bay on Friday evening and a single swallow moved north on Saturday, quite early for Druridge. I don't think I have ever recorded swallow before sand martin before - where are the sand martins?

No garganey yet, but the pair of pintail are still loitering on the Budge fields. At least two pairs of stonechat have taken up residence in the dunes. It's difficult to keep track of territories at the moment, I think I've got two singing males and there appears to be a sub-adult male with one of the pairs.

Snow is forecast for tomorrow which might give that early swallow a bit of a shock. Hopefully I'll get a morning visit in at the patch before Easter weekend.