Saturday 19 April 2014


A quick update from the patch.

There have been up to five yellow wagtails on the Budge fields, none today, though evenings seem better.

I did the WeBS count today, a drake garganey was a highlight along with a nice red black-tailed godwit. Whilst counting the ducks, a chap called Andy said that he thought he had a hooded crow flying west, he was right, it was! It seemed to come from the sea/dunes and was flying to the north of the Budge fields, headed west, We watched it as it disappeared from view towards Widdrington Village. My first patch hoodie since 2008 when one loitered from the 11th to 13th April.

From the Oddie hide, a male marsh harrier flew south, mobbed by a sparrowhawk. In the bushes, singing sedge warbler and whitethroat are new in and there are lots more willow warblers singing.

109 yellow wagtail
110 garganey
111 hooded crow
112 sparrowhawk
113 sedge warbler
114 whitethroat

Saturday 12 April 2014

Wheatears and willow warblers

There appeared to be a 'mini-fall' of wheatears this morning at Druridge, I counted at least seven along about 200m of the dune fence, pushed this way and that by the hordes of dog walkers.
Smart male wheatear. One of at least seven this morning

Across the road, in the small clump of bushes by the entrance, a willow warbler flitted about, feeding. Further north, one was signing by the Budge screen. So two migrants on the patch, follow hot on the heals of sandwich tern and blackcap mid-week.

But, there weren't many birds by any stretch. The bushes still remain decidedly quiet. This chiffchaff was one of the few passerines I saw.


Also noteworthy were a pair of pintail on the Budge fields and three black-tailed godwit which flew in from the north. 

I tried a quick look on the sea this evening when the light was better, but the wind had really picked up, so I didn't give it long. There are now dozens of sandwich terns feeding in the bay, but I couldn't find any of their smaller cousins.

Red kites have been seen fairly close-by this week. Janet saw one over the road near New Moor Tip on Thursday and two were reported at Alnmouth today. Surely this species is a strong contender to get onto the patch list in 2014?

105 sandwich tern
106 blackcap
107 wheatear
108 willow warbler

PWC Score 133

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Early visit

I managed a quick pre-work visit to the patch this morning.

It was cold, quite bright though, but the westerly wind picked up before I left. I spent half-an-hour scouring the northern dunes, where the beast are, looking for wheatears, without success. I did see two white wagtails, my first of the spring, but no other migrants. A fly-through stock dove was a year-tick.

Next I tried viz-migging from the big dune, the cold wind made my eyes water, not much fun. I did scan the Budge fields from there for garganey, again, no luck. Yesterday's gypo goose was on the fields to the north of the big pool, I let Tom C know so that he could twitch it, which he did.

Before Tom arrived, I had a look through the dunes for nests, none found, but stonechats, linnets and reed bunting all looking promising. As I walked back to the big dune to catch up with Tom, a swallow flew north overhead.

104 stock dove

PWC Score 128

Monday 7 April 2014

New species for the patch

A patch tick for me, not the most exciting, granted, but a good addition to my patch list.

Egyptian Goose!

Not a new patch, Stewart Sexton allegedly had a fly-through Gypo goose in the final year of the old patch competition. I can remember giving him dogs abuse for ticking it at the time, but all is now forgiven!

Thanks again to Dave Elliott for the news, which I received whilst still at my desk, but I was soon scarpering from the office and on my way to the patch. The goose was in the fields to the west of the Budge fields, associating (and I hate to admit this) with a greylag. It wasn't long before it parted company though, to take up its own place in the field, adding to its 'fully wild' credentials.

This wasn't only a patch tick, but a new County bird for me (and a few others according to Twitter).

I also year-ticked song thrush tonight, which may well have been part of a bigger movement of thrushes as we moved on about 15 redwings from the bushes. I wonder if they'll be off to Scandinavia tonight ahead of the better weather? I'll have a look tomorrow morning.

103 song thrush

PWC Score: 127

Sunday 6 April 2014

flurry of migrants

At last a flurry of migrants.

I was demolishing the last of my breakfast kipper when Dave Elliott tweeted to say he was watching was avocet and ruff on the Budge fields. My morning cuppa was soon glugged and I soon joined Dave at the Budge screen, watching both birds.

Pied wagtail
Ruff, once a prospecting breeder at Druridge, is now scarce on passage, I dipped them for the last two years. Avocet is another great patch bird, the morning had gotten off to a good start. A pair of pintail were also on the Budge fields, but no garganey yet. A drake red-breasted merganser was on the big pool and the female common scoter is still hanging around.

drake wigeon on the big pool
Walking through the bushes, a redwing lifted and move along in front of me. Redwings at this time of year are in 'breeding nick' and look very smart. An unusual spring record.

A trudge around the northern dunes produced nothing, it was very windy, but a scan along the beach finally added sand martin to the year-list. Alan Gilbertson had let me know about a dead white-beaked dolphin on the beach near the Dunbar Burn, so I went for a look.

the dead white-beaked dolphin looked quite odd as a silhouette on the beach

close-up of the deceased dolphin. It looked quite small, so I guess it wasn't an adult?
A heavy rain shower made its way up the bay from the south, so I scarpered back to the car, but not before I clocked two swallows dropped down by the impending rain. A quick check of the plantation on the way home turned up nothing.

A photo of one of last week's black redstarts in the gloom

97 avocet
98 ruff
99 redwing
100 sand martin
101 swallow

PWC score 125

Wednesday 2 April 2014


I managed two visits to the patch today - I love April when the days get longer.This morning I had quick wander through the dunes, looking for migrants and then a look on the Budge fields for garganey, I saw neither.

This evening, I had a walk along the haul road and bumped into ADMc. We saw both of the black redstarts well, one appears to be somewhat paler (a female) and the other a little darker but not dark enough to be an adult male (first winter male?).

After Andy had headed off through the gloom on his bike, I had a short look on the big pool from the bushes. A small bird in the willows gave a short, metallic, high-pitched call and then flitted off, my thoughts turned to firecrest as there are a few around at the moment, but were soon dashed - goldcrest! Still, spring goldcrests are rare at Druridge, they are normally an autumn species.

From the edge of the little reedbed, a water rail called then was seen heading for cover. I've still not seen sand martin at Druridge yet, but had six at Lesbury today.

95 goldcrest
96 water rail

PWC Score 119