Sunday 26 January 2014

That's dedication!

Despite having only been back in the country for less than three hours, despite having been travelling for over 30 hours with virtually no sleep and despite the sleet, icy winds and a temperature of only 3 degrees centigrade I still went down to the patch this afternoon to look for a reported green-winged teal. How's that for dedication?

The Yankee teal wasn't at Druridge, seemingly it was on Chevington's south pool.

The cold conditions of Druridge came as a bit of a shock having just spent the last two weeks on a birding trip to Sri Lanka, with an average daytime of temperature of around 30 degrees.

Singing Indian pitta in Kitugula Forest
We had an excellent trip, seeing all of the 33 endemic species of bird and most of the sought-after near endemics as well as good selection of mammals including several Asian leopard.

I've got the long dark nights of February to play around with photos and I will, eventually, post a full report and photos on my birding trips blog.

In the meantime, I'll be checking the Budge fields for the green-winged teal. No new species were seen today, but the drake pintail were showing well in front of the hide. My camera was still packed.....

Saturday 11 January 2014

A bit of a wander roond the patch

I had a bit of a wander to the far flung ends of the patch today.

After seeing twite and pied wag on the dunes to the south, my route took me firstly to the Oddie hide, but not before I had stopped to look at a lone whooper swan on the Budge fields. Initially the big pool looked empty (for some reason when the pool is full (the outflow is blocked with flotsam and jetsam) there are never any birds on it - an edge thing?) other than a handful of tufted duck and teal, then a long-tailed duck popped up in the middle of the pool. Then, when I scanned the seaward side, a red-throated diver had appeared. It didn't hang around long before it flew off towards the south.

red-throated diver. A rare visitor to the big pool
My route then took me to the preceptory, which was owl-free, and then down to High Chibburn Farm where a flock of 200 or so golden plover lifted off the fields. At the farm  house sparrow, collared dove and dunnock were added to the year list. At the cottages, tree sparrows and a great tit were coming to the feeders.
Low Chibburn Preceptory

In front of the cottages, a skein of over 2000 pink-footed geese dropped in. I scanned them later in the scope, they were all pink-feets.

Pink-footed geese settled for a graze
Four pintail were on the Budge fields and two black-tailed godwits with the usual teal, wigeon and shoveler.

Offshore there were at least 77 red-throated divers in the bay, among them was a red-necked grebe, a good patch bird. Also on the sea were at least 25 guillemots and a couple of razorbills, mergansers and shags. A single sanderling was on the beach.

40 chaffinch
41 twite
42 pied wagtail
43 rook
44 gadwall
45 grey heron
46 jackdaw
47 golden plover
48 dunnock
49 house sparrow
50 woodpigeon
51 tree sparrow
52 great tit
53 collared dove
54 pintail
55 red-necked grebe
56 shag
57 cormorant
58 razorbill
59 red-breasted merganser
60 sanderling
61 eider
62 whooper swan

PWC score 74

Sunday 5 January 2014

More coppicing

We were doing more coppicing at Druridge this morning so had very little time for any birding.

What we actually do is a cross between coppicing and pollarding, leaving a higher stump than traditional coppicing. This creates nesting habitat off the ground as well as giving the 'coppice stool' more chance of surviving amongst the deep grasses that might out-compete it early in the spring.

This is important work. Firstly it keeps the height of the belt of trees down, decreasing the edge effect on the adjacent wet meadows (and pool) which is better for breeding waders. It also creates much better habitat for warblers, my territory mapping exercise that I did a few years showed that warbler territories were a greater density in recently coppiced areas. It is also beneficial for our ringing activities, keeping more of the trees below net height.

Once the work was done, I did manage a brief wander around the patch. A long-tailed duck was on the big pool, but then flew off, maybe the noise from the chainsaw disturbed it? Other than that, only common species were added to the list.

32 long tailed duck
33 robin
34 blue tit
35 coot
36 tufted duck
37 stonechat
38 pheasant
39 feral pigeon

PWC Score: 45

Thursday 2 January 2014

Some good birds for January

Well my 2014 patch list got to off to a a start today with some good species for January amongst the common stuff.

We did some coppicing, which was going well until the chainsaw died (old fuel we think). I had to resort to more traditional methods to finish the job and then got half an hours birding in.

hard work after the festivities
The first species on the list was predictably magpie. There was lots of waders and ducks on the Budge fields including 4 black-tailed godwits. Blackwits are normally very rare here in winter, there were two on my December WeBS count, so this winter is proving to be exceptional for this species.

later this afternoon, I had a look on the sea. Not arriving until half-three, dusk was setting in but the light was nice. Scanning the sea, I picked up a black-throated diver, presumably the same bird as last week. Near it and close in was a slavonian grebe. Also of note offshore were two gannets heading north and a couple of fulmars, both good species for January.

So the 2014 patch list stands at 31 earning me 36 points in the 2014 Patch Work Challenge.

1 magpie
2 goldfinch
3 linnet
4 wren
5 carrion crow
6 starling
7 lapwing
8 curlew
9 black-tailed godwit
10 redshank
11 wigeon
12 teal
13 shoveler
14 mallard
15 black-headed gull
16 red-throated diver
17 goldeneye
18 black-throated diver
19 common gull
20 common scoter
21 gannet
22 slavonian grebe
23 fulmar
24 herring gull
25 great black-backed gull
26 oystercatcher
27 kestrel
28 pink-footed goose
29 barn owl
30 blackbird
31 Guillemot

PWC 36 points