Wednesday 23 September 2015

Ringing on Saturday

The weather forecast for last weekend went a bit wrong, Sunday was forecast to be quite windy from the west  whilst Saturday was due to be calm, but bright.

Saturday was calm and bright. Sunday started very calm and was overcast but the wind picked up later.

On Friday we worked to clear some vegetation from our net rides and it was obvious then that there were very few birds around, other than a large number of goldfinches. Migrants were particularly thin on the ground with a only a few 'wheeting' phyloscs and one or two goldcrests, but quite a few robins.

 So on Saturday we decided to try a ringing session despite the forecasted sunshine and the lack of any migrants (the clear, calm night with light westerlies would not drop anything new in). As predicted we didnt catch many birds, only 20 in fact. We caught a few robins, goldcrests, goldfinches and a nice juvenile siskin. This whitethroat was our only warbler, it was carrying a lot of fat so was obviously on the move.

migrant whitethroat caught and ringed
There was some vizmig going on, with a few skylarks headed north, a grey wagtail over (always a autumn bird at Druridge) and a few siskins and lesser redpolls moving through or joining the goldfinch flocks.

Car problems have prevented any further visits to the patch.

Friday 11 September 2015

Back to the patch

Back to the patch (proper) this evening after a trip down to Tarifa for migration. I say 'proper' because I did run briefly onto the patch on Wednesday evening to tick the red-footed falcon.

After watching tens of thousands birds migrate through the Straits of Gibraltar and then coming home to a red-footed falcon on the patch, the patch was going to have to conjure up something spectacular not to disappoint - it didn't

Adult male honey buzzard roosting in gale-force winds in La Janda near Tarifa
There was a few good birds reported from Holy Island and the Farnes today, so it was always going to be worth a look through the bushes. All I found was a few willow warblers and blackcap, it was getting on for dusk and quite breezy.

There was a migrant hawker flying around the bushes, it didn't land, but this common darter did.

Male common darter
So no scarcities at Druridge tonight but the forecast for the weekend through to Monday looks a bit tasty and will hopefully drop some birds in.

Wednesday 9 September 2015


Red-footed Falcon on the patch today is a FULL, FAT, PATCH TICK!

As I turned up with no scope or camera, I've nicked this from Tom Cadwallender (cheers Tom)
I was in Warkworth this afternoon watching the Tour of Britain cycle race come through the Northumberland Coast AONB, as I was leaving I got a phone call from Frank Golding who said "I think I might have had a red-footed falcon over Hemscotthill Farm"  - Frank had also been watching the TofB but had put his camera away when the bird cam by and he hadn't seen where it went.

I had some more work to do, but I drove by that way on my home, checking fence-posts and overhead wires as I went, not seeing anything.

An hour or so later, I got a phone call from Dave Elliott to say he was watching a male red-footed falcon just north of Bell's Farm. I was soon on the scene (without a scope or camera, luckily I had my bins) to watch a fantastic male red-footed falcon sitting on some straw bales by the side of a field that was being sown, eating a worm.

Not technically on the patch, but the rules of PWC are that if it is seen from the patch - it counts. So off I ran, up the road, with Janet's scope, to watch it from my patch boundary.

We watched it for a half an hour or so, getting good views as it flew from the straw bales to the fence and back. There were two generations of feathers in the wing and it was in active moult, showing it to be a second-calender-year male. - A stunning bird!

A good handful of county-listers came for it, but a lot hadn't arrived when the red-foot was flushed up by a passing marsh harrier. It flew off, north... right over the patch (so it is a proper patch-bird now) and just kept going. It was last seen heading over the plantation towards Low Chibburn and Red Row.

The addition of red-footed falcon to my patch list takes it to 237. I did wonder whether I would see any new birds on the patch this year after an incredible five new species last year.

R-FF was also a new bird for Northumberland and Britain for me.

Big thanks to Frank and Dave!