Sunday 29 June 2014

Broken Windows

First, an apology for the lack of blog activity. I decided, as Microsoft had stopped supporting Windows XP, that I should upgrade to Windows 7. Can't be that tricky can it?

It was.

I am back online now and my data has been restored, I hope....

So, since my last post, I have managed to ringing sessions. There aren't many photos I'm afraid as i was ringing on my own.

On Sunday 22nd I had a good session and caught 35 birds, 30 of them were new and the rest re-traps and a controlled reed bunting. It was nice to finally catch some juvenile warblers (blackcaps, willow warbler and whitethroat). I caught eight willow warblers, three of them were juveniles, the rest adults, which makes me think there has been second wave of arrivals. An adult swallow was something we don't catch at often at Druridge.

There were six spoonbills on the Budge fields on Sunday morning, which was amazing to see and certainly my site record count.

During the last week, other highlights have been the steady build up of the scoter flock offshore, which now numbers circa 500 birds. On Tuesday night there was at least one drake velvet scoter among them. Another amazing sight was on Thursday evening when a flock of over 7000 starlings were feeding around the Budge field and the adjacent recently cut silage field - there's gotta be a pink one among them, surely?

A funny moment was when a roe deer walked across the field and lifted a group of 500 or so starling, it got such a shock, making it jump backwards, it then looked up and watched the birds fly off before proceeding, with caution.

I had another ringing session on Friday morning, catching 34 birds. Another swallow, this time a juvenile, was different. Strangely, I caught three juvenile coal tits, which is odd because I've not seen any adult coal tits at Druridge this year and these were very recently fledged. All I can assume is that they have come from the shelterbelt where the herons live?

juvenile coal tit  - but where has it come from?
Today's highlights were four spoonbill, 18+ black-tailed godwits and ten snipe on the Budge mud and a distant female marsh harrier. 

I tried a seawatch this evening, I only gave it an hour or so because it was really cold in a force 4-5 northerly. About 19 manx shearwaters went north and there were either three or five arctic skuas (two might have doubled back and been counted twice). It was good for close gulls again...

black headed gull
herring gull
There were two juvenile reed buntings on the boardwalk tonight.

juvenile reed buntings
I'll end with this little sequence from Seahouses harbour on Wednesday, when I watched a cormorant wrestle with and eventually swallow a large flatfish.

136 bonxie
137 coal tit

PWC Score 180

Monday 16 June 2014


The tides at the moment are big springs, the biggest of the summer at 5.2m. High tide this evening was at about 18.30 and it was so high up the beach, loafing gulls were being moved on regularly and were flying along the dune tops. The light was really nice so I had a play about with my camera and I have to say, I do like it.

black headed gulls

common gulls
I also did a 3/4 hour seawatch, highlights were an fab pale phase arctic skua after the terns, three manx shearwater and a rosey as well as the regular terns, gulls and auks.

Sunday 15 June 2014

Damp Start

The weather forecast for yesterday (Saturday) wasn't conclusive as to what it would actually do, so we took the decision to try and ring today rather than yesterday. 

So, I gave the England game a dodge and got up at 4.30am to light 'mizzle', I went back to bed with the alarm set for five. It was much brighter at 5am so I set off to put some nets up. No sooner where the first two nets up when the mizzly, drizzly, rain set in again.

Nets furled, we headed to the Budge screen and met up with James 'Tintin' Common who had walked down to ring with us. A single immature spoonbill mostly slept on the Budge fields was all of note. We headed up to the Oddie hide and ringed a brood of two swallows.

It brightened up by 8am so we un-furled the nets and put some more up. We didn't ring a lot of birds, but were kept going, catching 12 new birds, six retraps and the 'control' dunnock we have caught in previous weeks.

reed warbler
This reed warbler was probably today's highlight. We re-trapped another willow warbler that was ringed as fledgling last July, re-trapping warblers is always good. Four new sedge warblers was notable, it is a good year for this species at Druridge

Ringing totals (re-traps in brackets) were:

swallow 2 pullus
robin 3 (all fledglings)
sedge warbler 4 (2)
chaffinch 3
reed warbler 1
dunnock 1 (1 control)
willow warbler (1)
wren (1)
reed bunting (1)

After we packed up the ringing site, I had a half-hour seawatch, but recorded little of note. On Saturday afternoon I had half-an-hour seawatching and saw my first arctic skua and roseate terns of the year.

Butterflies today and yesterday included painted lady, speckled wood, large slipper, small tortoiseshell and wall.

large skipper on vipers bugloss

This interesting spider was my car wheel this morning

interesting spider
134 arctic skua
135 roseate tern

Sunday 8 June 2014

Dawn to dusk (nearly)

I had an early start at Druridge today, followed by a late(ish) visit tonight.

We decided to put some nets up today and put them up early as showers and strengthening winds were forecast for afternoon,  so I was down on the patch for before 5am.

Ringing was slow, which is typical for this time of year. As expected we caught a few recent fledglings, but no warbler juvs yet - chaffinches, robins, dunnocks and to our surprise this stonechat.

recently fledged stonechat

This shot shows the lovely rufous rump
Despite stonechat being a breeding resident, with two to three pairs annually, they tend to stay in the dunes, rarely venturing into the bushes, so we don't get the chance to ring them, other than pullus in the nest.

We had some interesting warbler retraps including a willow warbler ringed as an adult last year and a returning sedge warbler ringed as a fledgling last July.

Ringing total were as follows (retraps in brackets)

chiffchaff 2
robin 2
chaffinch 2
stonechat 1
blackbird 1
dunnock 1 (1) and a re-trapped control
willow warbler (2)
sedge warbler (2)

I've had to buy a new (to me) camera because my old camera died. I decided to go for a Canon 7D, though I had little time to play around with it today.

I took this with my 50mm lens, is it a sawfly?


This evening I had a quick look on the sea and added a single manx shearwater to the year list. A single red-throated diver in non-breeding garb loitered in the bay and a few fulmars, terns and auks moved back and forth. The rest of the evening was spent scanning from the big dune.

Three spoonbills circled and landed behind the rushes, one was an immature bird, I couldn't age the others. Also of note were two little egrets, garganey and hunting barn owls.

133 manx shearwater

PWC Score 174

Wednesday 4 June 2014

An inspirational day

Yesterday was a truly inspirational day. I spent the day walking from Hull to Hornsea accompanying a friend and colleague of Janet's, Roy Taylor, on the last leg of his amazing journey.

The end of the journey at Hornsea
I'd not met Roy before, but had heard a lot about him from Janet. Roy was recently diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease, a terrible, debilitating, terminal illness. He has already lost most of the use of his legs and now needs a wheelchair to get about. Once in his chair, Roy found it very frustrating not being able to visit the countryside he loved to visit as an able-bodied person, never mind the more formal nature-reserves.

So Roy undertook a challenge, to travel coast-to-coast, 215 miles along the Trans Pennine-Trail, in his 4x4 wheelchair. Yesterday we joined him on the final leg of this amazing journey, a truly inspirational but humbling day. All of the money raised will be spent on improving access at RSPB reserves so that people can like Roy can still enjoy getting out into the countryside and be able to see wildlife.

You can read the whole amazing story on Roy's blog

If you can afford it, please consider supporting Roy's cause here

I got home in time to spend an hour at Druridge. Highlights were a drake garganey and an immature spoonbill on the Budge fields and a male marsh harrier headed north.

On Monday evening I managed a visit to the patch after work and added to new species to the year-list - little egret (thanks to ADMc for the tip-off) and greenfinch.

131 little egret
132 greenfinch

PWC Score 172

Sunday 1 June 2014

Too busy to blog

I've been really busy lately, leaving little time to blog.

Barn owls have kept me busy, checking boxes and ringing pullus. It's been a good year for owls, with broods of four the norm. I've ringed 34 owlets in a week.

There's been a lot of barn owl activity at Druridge too, with the resident pair hunting in the mornings and in the evenings in broad daylight. My camera is totally dead, so will need to buy another one, so I couldn't photograph one of the owls hunting in front of the Budge screen this morning.

Other highlights since my last post:

Sun 25th - wood sand and garganey on the Budge fields

Mon 26th - Red-legged partridge!! A unexpected addition to the year-list of  a species only previously seen during hard winters of 2010 and 2011.

Thurs 29th - Away from the patch at work, saw a hobby at Wooden Farm near Alnmouth

Friday 30th  -Ringing at Druridge - Caught 21 birds. 7 sedge warblers including a retrap first ringed as a fledgling last June, 4 juvenile chaffinches and two willow warblers. Also noted were reeling grasshopper warbler and 'chipping' snipe.

Today I had an early start. The wandering Egyptian goose was back on the Budge fields, other than that, it was just the usual.

Now, here's a thing. In East Yorks, Lincolnshire, Durham and Teesside there were some good birds today (according to Birdguides) including, Blyth's reed warbler, woodchat and red-backed shrikes, golden orioles, icterine warbler, corncrake etc...... What could Northumberland muster? A wood sandpiper at Hoppen Kiln Ponds!

Now, is this because there are no scarce birds in Northumberland or because there is nobody out looking for them?

Answers on a postcard.

128 wood sandpiper
129 arctic tern
130 red-legged partridge

PWC Score 169

I'm off to look at second-hand Canon 7D's