Monday 31 March 2014

Black Redstart

After being away watching the toon in Southampton at the weekend, it was nice to get down to the patch this evening and catch up with the black redstart that was first seen yesterday.

It was along the track a bit when we first picked it up, but made its way back to favoured area where the cows are just beyond the 'Druridge Bushes'. The last black redstart I saw in those exact same bushes on 12th April 2011, the previous one was pre-2008. So not a common bird on the patch by any means.

I had a good look on the Budge fields for garganey without luck after I heard that Tom Cadwallender had found one on a puddle near Alnmouth earlier today. There were still nine blackwits and a good count of 35 shoveler on the Budge.

94 black redstart

PWC Score 117

Sunday 23 March 2014

No more migrants

I was hoping to catch up with some more migrants today, but it wasn't to be.

Whilst chatting to ADMc, a great-spotted woodpecker flew north over the bushes. Great-spots are scarce in spring (although I did see one last February and in April 2012), so this will probably go down as bird of the day!

On the Budge fields, there are now ten black-tailed godwits, there has also been an invasion of snipe in the last few days, they were all over the Budge fields today. Duck numbers continue to decrease generally and there was no sign of any pintail today.

As I wandered through the bushes, I came across this on a decaying alder stump.It looked a bit like a blob of that expanding foam used for filling gaps.

slime mould?

I think it is a slime mould of some sort - anyone care to guess at it?

I thought I would check the dunes north of the burn for wheatears, but there were none yet. There was a big flock of mixed finches with about 20 reed bunting amongst them.

I stretched my photography skills by trying to snap a skylark as it ascended.

Happy skylark

93 great-spotted woodpecker

PWC score 115

Tuesday 18 March 2014


There was a decent gull roost on the beach at dusk tonight, mostly common gulls and a few black-headed. The light was canny when I got down there, so I had a scan through. I had just got onto to a nice adult Med gull in breeding nick when two fitness freaks ran onto the beach, through the gulls and back into the dunes (they appeared later trying to drag wights on ropes along the beach). Off course the gulls flew up and, most irritatingly settled further down the beach.

I would struggle to pick up a ring-billed at that distance, but I persevered with them until the light faded, finding nothing more of note.

92 Mediterranean gull

PWC Score: 114

Sunday 16 March 2014

First proper migrants

Today was WeBS count day, but I didn't manage a particularly early start on the patch.

There was plenty to count on the Budge fields despite wildfowl numbers starting to drop off (teal 106, wigeon 116). Of note were a drake pintail, 13 grey heron, 64 curlew, 23 shoveler and five black-tailed godwits, which have been around for a while now, could they prospect this year? 

This snipe was nearly missed, camo that beats that of your 'average wildlife photographer'

can you see me?
As I walked to the big pool, I picked up my first proper migrants of the year when two lesser black-backed gulls flew over together and chiffchaff flitted along the embankment on the path to the hides.

The strong westerly wind had whipped up some impressive waves on the big pool. Dodging them was splendid summer plumaged great-crested grebe and a red-breasted merganser.

From the little hide, two oystercatchers were displaying and a male pied wag pottered about. I should be seeing white wagtails any day now.

displaying oycs
pied wag
89 lesser black-backed gull
90 chiffchaff
91 little grebe

PWC Score 112

Saturday 8 March 2014

Still like winter

Despite the news claiming that temperatures would hit 15 degrees today, it still felt very much like winter at Druridge this morning. 

Ornithologically, it still felt like winter too, other than for a singing skylark. Still pink-footed geese in the fields, big flocks of goldfinches in the dunes and good numbers of curlew about.

So no 'real' spring migrants on the patch yet. My earliest ever wheatear at Druridge was on March 10th (2010), so it's not too early for something to turn up.

As well as a good walk about today, I also called in after work yesterday. Ian Fisher had tipped me off about a pale-bellied brent goose in with the pinks in the front field and it was till there yesterday.

I had a look on the sea, there were 100's of black-headed and common gulls, but I couldn't pick anything unusual out amongst them, as I walked back along the beach, five snow buntings flew over, calling. It was gone five o'clock but still plenty of light, they flew north and kept going.

Today, I had a good trudge around. The pale-bellied brent was still in with the pinks. On the Budge fields, there are still lots of wigeon and teal and the grey herons are looking very smart and are building their nests.The highlight here was five black-tailed godwits.

I had a wander onto the Haul Road. The flash pools here are looking good, but I don't think they'll hold water much longer at this rate. There were seven ringed plover and a couple of redshank today.

85 brent goose
86 snow bunting
87 ringed plover

PWC score 106

Wednesday 5 March 2014

Nice ringing recovery

Here's some news of a nice ringing recovery on the patch of a snow bunting. Thanks to Alan Gilbertson for the story and the photos as I've not even seen snow buntings this year, let alone this ringed individual.

Alan reported a colour ringed snow bunting to me on Monday, the bird in question has a white darvik with a black 'M7'. A quick look at Dirk's colour ringing site found details of the ringer, who was in France.

'M7' snow bunting at Druridge Photo: Alan Gilbertson
Alan emailed the chap and a very quick response:

The bird was one of 117 colour-ringed this year. It was ringed at Calais by Quentin Dupriez on 15th December 2013 and it's the furthest recovery to date.

This really shows the value of colour ringing schemes, so make sure you look at the legs of snow buntings you see in the next dew weeks!

The bird is still in the Bay today, but at Chibburn Mouth. 

Same bird at Chibburn Mouth photo: Alan Gilbertson