Sunday 28 April 2013

More New Birds

A few species added to the Druridge patch list tonight.

I've been working all weekend so a late afternoon visit today was all I could manage. First bird of the visit was a swift flying north over the dunes.

The Budge fields are looking great for both passage and breeding waders at the moment. 13 black-tailed godwits were there this afternoon and there are at least 10 'sitting' lapwings - the best it's been for them for some years.

Blackcap, sedge warbler and water rail were also added to the patch list today, bringing the total species to 110 and the Patchwork challenge points total to 129.

106 swift
107 water rail
108 blackcap
109 sedge warbler
110 black-tailed godwit

Sunday 21 April 2013


I've been thoroughly gripped-off  today, not just once, but twice. Talk about salt in the wounds.

This morning I had to go car shopping, which I hate, but needs must. I got a call from Dave Elliott to say he'd been watching a kingfisher on the Budge fields - but, and here's the crippler, he watched it fly off over the dunes. It's probably six or seven years since my last patch kingfisher.

This evening I had wander around the patch, making the most of the best of the day. I was investigating a strange call I couldn't identify near the reedbed end of the big pool when I got a cryptic tweet from Alan Tilmouth:

grip mate, take it well, no dummies ;)

Was he referring to the kingfisher? Bit late in the day for that so I phoned him. NO, not the kingfisher, even worse.

Seemingly, a 'photographer from Morpeth' had photographed a crake on Friday at Druridge, hadn't identified so sent it to the County recorder, who did...SPOTTED CRAKE!

Bugger it!

Spotted crake isn't a new bird for the patch, but I've only ever seen two and they were eons ago.

To be honest, I'm getting a bit fed-up with photographers who can't identify birds in the field, so rely on their photos to identify the species later at home.

My ruined night was made a little better as I watched a short-eared owl hunting through the dunes and saw common tern and fulmar offshore as well as a harbour porpoise.

I still have no idea what was calling near the path. It wasn't a spotted crake.

101 lesser black-bagged gull
102 common tern
103 fulmar

Friday 19 April 2013

Six for the ton!

Ton up at Druridge.

Six new species today brings the Druridge year-list up to 100. Not bad considering I only managed a brief pre-work visit and an hour-or-so after work.

This morning I racked up three new species in a minute - as I got out of the car a swallow flew overhead calling, then a willow warbler sang from the wood and a grasshopper warbler reeled briefly before disappearing. A good start I thought to myself.

Within another two minutes I had a drake garganey flying around the Budge fields before coming into land - satisfied with my lot I headed for work.

This evening, one of the first birds I saw as I headed for the Haul Road Flash was a male wheatear perched on mound of shit - nice! The flash is starting to dry up, I hope it pulls in a decent bird before it does, it looks good for something to drop in. This evening there 51 dunlin,13 ringed plover and a white wagtail there.

The cold SSE wind was staring to bite, so I only managed a quick look offshore, enough to see my first sandwich terns of the year.

So that brings the Patchwatch competition total to 116. This weekend can only bring more migrants, though car shopping might get in my way.

95 swallow
96 willow warbler
97 grasshopper warbler
98 garganey
99 wheatear
100 sandwich tern

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Long distance blue tit and goldfinch

We've had some ringing recoveries back from the BTO this week which included two well-traveled individuals.

Blue Tit

We've had a few recoveries of blue tits ringed at Druridge and we've caught birds that have been ringed elsewhere. The furthest they've ever gone or come from is Hauxley. So, we were pleased to hear about an individual that we ringed as juvenile bird on 11th September 2011. It was re-caught at Howick on 24th November 2012  - a whole 23km and 433 days later. 23km is pretty good going for a blue tit.

View Blue Tit in a larger map


Even more impressive was a goldfinch that we ringed on 23 September 2012 at Druridge as juvenile. It was re-caught in Old Weston in Cambridgeshire on 8th December 2012 an amazing 328 km away. The only other recoveries of goldfinch we've had from Druridge have both been in Swarland.

View goldfinch in a larger map

Saturday 13 April 2013

Two Martins

First off - I twitched the littoralis rock pipit on Thursday, it's been on the 'haul-road flash' for the last couple of days. Seemingly there were two, found by ADMc. There is still one there today. Also on the flash were nine ringed plovers. The flash is looking good and is worth checking, I quite fancy a killdeer on there later this week.

I saw both of the common martins at Druridge today. First was sand martin heading south by the cottages and later, the house martin, over the Budge fields.

I did the WeBS count today, because there is a rather important football match that I need to go to tomorrow. The count was interrupted, in a nice way, when a male marsh harrier came over the Budge fields sending the curlews, lapwing and some of the teal into the air.

Teal and wigeon numbers are predictably down (39 and 23 respectively) but a gathering of 22 curlew was good for mid-April.

92 rock pipit
93 sand martin
94 house martin

Saturday 6 April 2013

Aerial display team

It felt a little bit more like Spring today. There was some warmth in the sun, if you were out of the cool wind coming off the sea and the temperature reached a balmy eight degrees.

The warmth and sunshine was enough to encourage the lapwings on the Budge fields to start displaying again. They were displaying in early March, but the cold spell put thoughts of breeding on hold I think. Today, though, display was in full swing and I spent a nice hour just watching them.

Lapwing acrobatics

And the crow got some stick (deservedly so!)
Elsewhere on the patch, there was a complete lack of new migrants arriving. My 'hoped for' species not made it this far yet. There has been a decrease in the number of winter visitors though, with both teal and wigeon numbers much reduced and only three curlew.

At the 'haul-road flash' there were dozen ringed plovers and redshank and a single dunlin - probably all passage birds. On the beach there were 21 sanderling dodging the crowds of human visitors.

Sanderling - one of 21

A long-tailed duck was on the big pool.

So no new additions to the patch year-list, but a quality days birding nonetheless. 

Monday 1 April 2013

Some signs of spring

At last, some signs of spring at Druridge.

First and most important - my first 'proper' migrant - a chiffchaff. It wasn't chiffing or chaffing, just 'wheeting' in the bushes at the far end of the big pool.

Some other signs of spring:

Willow catkins

Coltsfoot in flower

As well as the chiffchaff, I also added yellowhammer and blue tit to the year-list on my tour of the patch which included a visit to Chibburn Preceptory and High Chibburn Farm.

89 chiffchaff
90 blue tit
91 yellowhammer