I've had a week off work but have been to busy to update the blog. I've had two friends from Malta, Ian and Edward, visiting on a birdwatching trip. They came with a list of target species, which we managed to see most of. They also came with beer...
|Cisk - the national drink of Malta|
I've really enjoyed it, it got me out some places I don't normally get to, even Durham! I'm not keen on crossing the Tyne.
Before they arrived on Tuesday night however, I managed some time on the patch. On Monday, I spent the morning at Druridge, highlights were an increase in the number of sedge warblers, a male sparrowhawk and a stock dove. Prompted by reports of Manx shearwaters
elsewhere, I had a look on the sea and in 50 minutes had 122 manxies go north, including a flock of about 70 birds, not strung out like manxies usually are, these were in a tight flock.
When I got home and checked my email, someone had reported, via my blog, that they had seen and heard a marsh warbler singing in the bushes by the entrance. I headed back to check it out, when I got there, a warbler was singing at the back of the bushes, it wasn't sedge and there was some mimicry, but it was muffled. A few folk stopped by and as the bird made its way forward and the song become more audible, we all agreed it was just a reed warbler - in marsh warbler habitat. Worth checking out though.
The two drake mandarin
were still on the Budge fields as was a pair of yellow wagtails.
On Tuesday, I put some nets up and ringed some birds. The increase in sedge warblers was evidenced further as I caught five of them. Worryingly, I only caught four juvenile birds, two tree sparrows and two chaffinches. I think the harsh weather of late did for the breeding attempts of many small birds. There were 24 black-tailed godwit
on the Budge fields.
On Wednesday we went to the Farne Islands, it goes without saying how much two birders from Malta would enjoy the Farnes experience. Roseate tern was top of the wish list, we saw four near the jetty.
|Ian gets the traditional Farnes welcome|
|Obviously these fellas were popular|
|Not a black and white photo, black and white birds on white rocks|
|Room for a small one?|
|You can't see me? Puffin hiding from black-headed gull trying to steal its catch|
We rounded the day off with a visit to the Long Nanny and Low Newton scrapes.
|Arctic tern at the Long Nanny|
On Thursday, Janet was in charge and we went down to the North Pennines. Red and black grouse were the targets here and we weren't disappointed. We finished the day at RSPB Salthome, the first time I have been since RSPB tarted it up.
On Friday we walked up to East Chevington from Druridge, grasshopper warbler was our target species. We were checking the bridge area out when Dave called to say he had one reeling to the north, we were off and the Maltese boys were soon enjoying great views of a singing gropper. Edward had all five of his targets in the bag.
|Whitethroat at East Chevington|
Back to the patch, there were 33 islandica
black-tailed godwits on the Budge fields. There were also two curlew chicks,
which is very significant. I have never recorded curlew as breeding on the site, I am waiting to hear if it is a new record for the site.
|One of the curlew chicks, heavily cropped|
|One of the proud parents|
After breakfast we headed out a 'Puffin Cruise' from Amble to see more roseys.
|Roseate terns 'urn the jurb|
We sauntered back down the coast via Warkworth, East Chev, Cresswell and finished at Snab Point with red-throated diver, manx shearwaters, harbour porpoise and an arctic skua.
Saturday morning took us back to Druridge where we had a cuckoo
, which was a welcome year-tick for me. We then went to Warkworth lane for yellowhammer and on to the airport via Bothal and Scotch Gill Woods, dipping marsh tit. Both Ian and Edward had a great time, Edward got all five of his targets and Ian saw 19 new species. We saw 117 species in three and a half days, all but four of them in Northumberland.
It's hard work guiding people, I was exhausted on Saturday night, but had thoroughly enjoyed the three days. I had a quick look at the patch this morning, once the rain had stopped. No new migrants had dropped in (it's a bit late now...) but Saturdays cuckoo was still present.
126 Manx Shearwater
Fox moved through back of the Budge Field early yesterday (Sun) morning. Both Curlew adults & many Lapwing were on its case and the Curlew chicks moved out of the vicinty to what looked to be safety.
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