Sunday 27 July 2014

Summer birding

Summer birding can be at a bit slow at Druridge, both in terms of birds and birders, with most of the 'regulars' off hunting butterflies or dragonflies at ne'er previously encountered ponds.

The mud on the Budge fields is keeping me interested, it hasn't turned up anything unusual this week but looks as though it could. Ruff was the best of the bunch mid-week when I also saw my first peregrine of the year, turning up bang on-cue with the returning lapwings. There has been good counts of yellow wagtails this week too.

The swallows in the hides seem to be doing well this year, with broods of three, one and five all fledged another four nearly ready to go. I've managed to ring them all.

The great-crested grebe pair are still persevering on their very late nest.

Stonechats are also doing well. This pair look like they are going to triple-brood
I had a ringing session yesterday but only caught 11 new birds and two retraps. I was very bright with a strengthening easterly wind, so not ideal conditions. There seems to be some drift migration going on as I caught four willow warblers which I don't think were locally bred. I also saw a juvenile yellowhammer by the Dunbar burn, yellowhammer don't breed at Druridge so that one was definitely doing some post-fledging dispersal.

The strangest sight yesterday was an off-white, tinged yellowish, small finch. I didn't have my bins on me, but it stood out like a sore thumb. It was either a escaped canary or an albino goldfinch (seemingly there has been a canary seen recently at Hauxley and Cresswell??). Either way it will soon be sparrowhawk food I fear.

common blue in the dunes

142 peregrine
143 yellowhammer

PWC score 188

Sunday 20 July 2014


If I was a migrant wader, I would like the look of the Budge fields at the moment, the vegetation is a bit high, but they'll do.

They were certainly popular with lapwings this morning, there was at least 300 of them. There was also about eight dunlin, one common sandpiper, two ringed plover, one little ringed plover and at least 30 snipe.

On the big pool, there were snipe, three common sandpipers and three whimbrel in front of the hide. Also on the big pool, a pair of great-crested grebes have set up nest, it seems very late, maybe they have failed elsewhere. There were also four pochard, my first of the year.

common sandpipers
 I caught up with Paul Stewart on the big dune, we saw three little egrets on the Budge fields and very little offshore, an Arctic skua being all of note. Whilst we were chatting, I got a call to say that Bob Dack was watching a curlew sandpiper from the Budge screen. We headed down there and were soon watching a spanking curlew sandpiper, moulting out of summer plumage, still showing plenty of red on the underside.

weird fog this weekend at Druridge
I had a quick look offshore this evening but the light wasn't good as a light fog came and went. The sunset was nice though.

nice sunset over the Cheviot Hills
140 pochard
141 curlew sandpiper

PWC score 185

Thursday 17 July 2014

Evening birding

I love this time of year, when it is light enough to go out birding for a few hours after work. I got to Druridge at 7pm and left at 9.20pm and there was still plenty of light, by December it will have been dark for five hours at 9.20pm, now there's a sobering thought.

Anyhoo, birding was good tonight. I started with a look on the sea as the tide was high. A scan of the 500 or so scoters produced no oddities, a couple of roseate terns fed close in and on the sea were great-crested grebes, red-breasted mergansers and red-throated divers. Ringed plovers, dunlin and a handful of manx shearwaters were also on the move.

On the Budge fields, it started quiet, with two little egrets roosting on the edge of the shelterbelt,  a third flew in onto the fields and the two roosters joined it, soon to disappear amongst the rush. Soon after, three spoonbills came in from somewhere and settled down to feed. Waders came and went through the rushes including about 12 dunlin, a male ruff in moult, a black-tailed godwit and a handful of snipe.

A barn owl was hunting and then settled on a fencepost in front of the shelterbelt to rip apart a vole and a female marsh harrier flew north.

A very pleasant evening indeed!

Monday 14 July 2014

Ringing, WeBS and Scoters

I've been away with work, neglecting the patch somewhat.

When I have been to Druridge, I've been keeping any eye on the scoter flock that is loitering in the Bay. My theory is that there is a regular turn-over of birds, last weeks c450 birds might not be there today amongst the 600+. The presence/absence of velvet scoters shows this. There were two flocks tonight, about 450-500 off the patch and about another 200 well north off the T junction at Hadston.

The scoter flock today
I had a little seawatch on Thursday evening as the northerly wind felt good. About 40 manx shearwaters moved through, two arctic skuas, three roseate terns and an adult med gull where the highlights. Three spoonbill and a little egret were still on the Budge fields.

On Saturday I was ringing. It was quiet, I only caught 16 new birds and five retraps, mostly juveniles.

Ringing totals were (retraps in brackets)

wren 1 (3)
blackcap 5 (1)
willow warbler 1
dunnock 1
magpie 1 (juvenile)
great tit 1
blue tit 1 (1)
chiffchaff 1
reed warbler 1
coal tit 2
chaffinch 1

A single spoonbill loitered on the Budge fields and a family of stonechats were in the bushes in the dunes. A quick evening visit produced a little ringed plover on the Budge fields with two ringed plover, three whimbrel and a single spoonbill.

One of three juvenile stonechat in the dunes
Today was WeBS count day. It's difficult to count birds on the Budge fields when the rush and grass cover is so high, but I did my best. There were very few waders compared to recent days - a single common sandpiper on the big pool was all of note. What was interesting was two female/juvenile goldeneye, I've been through my records and I've never had a July (or August for that matter) goldeneye at Druridge. A great-crested grebe was also of note.

great crested grebe in silvery light
common tern on the big pool

Offshore, there was a single velvet scoter with the scoter flock and at least three roseate terns.

Sunday 6 July 2014


We had a ringing session this morning. It felt quiet all day but we managed to catch 23 new birds and retrap another four. 

The majority of the birds we caught were juveniles, including six wrens, three blackcaps and great tits and a stonechat, our second of the year. 

Two of the retraps were warblers that we first caught last year, a blackcap and a willow warbler. It is always amazing to think that a willow warbler, which weighs about the same as five ripe blackcurrants, has flown over 6000 miles since I handled it last. Migration is a awesome thing! 

This morning brought another sign that autumn is here with a fly-through great-spotted woodpecker. 

Saturday 5 July 2014


Autumn is here, at least in the ornithological calender, as return wader passage has begun. The mud on the Budge fields is looking really good, although frustratingly obscured by tall vegetation,  it is attracting birds.

Over the least three days there has been up to three wood sandpipers, three little ringed  plovers, 35 black-tailed godwits, 33 snipe, three ringed plovers, 15 dunlin, eight redshank and two common sandpipers. It will certainly be worth checking over the next few weeks.

Two spoonbills and a little egret continue to hang around on the Budge fields.
Hare on the Budge fields
Elsewhere on the patch, swallows are fledging from the hides and concrete blockhouses and second brood are underway. Stonechats have fledged second broods of young, they will probably triple-brood this year if the weather holds.
Stonechats - having a good year!
Heavy rain for much of last night and this morning must have kept one of the local barn owls indoors overnight, so it was making up for lost time, hunting the dunes at lunchtime today.

Barn owl hunting at 1.30pm

Offshore, the scoter flock remains at about 700. A pair of velvet scoter was with them on Thursday, but they are frustratingly far-out at the moment to pick anything else out.

Lots of butterflies are on the wing now including small skipper, ringlet, dark green fritillary, meadow browns and small tortoiseshells.

Tatty ringlet
Dark green fritillary

small tortoiseshell
Burnet moths are also abundant in the dunes with about five to each thistle head.
narrow-bordered five-spot burnet moths

138 little ringed plover
139 common sandpiper

PWC score 182