Sunday 25 October 2015


A combination of man-flu and work meant no patch birding for Ipin this weekend :-(

And now the clocks have changed, my patch efforts will be confined to weekends until March...

Sunday 11 October 2015

Goldcrests and spiders

I was contemplating catching up with some chores around the house late morning when reports came in of birds arriving at coastal spots -firecrests, ring ouzels, Lapland buntings and more yellow-browed warblers... The chores could wait.

Arriving at 1145, I checked the plantation, plenty of goldcrests but little else and then wandered up through the bushes. There were small parties of goldcrests everywhere, some mixed in with a tit flock, some on their own. I checked them all for firecrests, yellow-brows or even an early Pallas's warbler but to no avail.

My highlight was a single female brambling by the Budge screen.

There are a lot of spiders this year, maybe the mild autumn has helped them? Several webs had been strung across my path by garden spiders. I came across one, setting to work on a newly caught bluebottle and documented (mostly poorly as I had the 100-400mm lens on the camera) the battle that commenced.

A second spider arrives at the battle commences

The two spiders do battle, forgetting about the fly

Losing height, they fall to the ground
Meanwhile the poor fly is left dangling
The victor climbs back up the web to deal with his prize
starting to wrap the fly
The fly puts a brave fight 
Which pays off as it manages to struggle free and fly off, leaving the garden spider with nothing

 Such is life...

Another garden spider which caught my eye
148 Brambling

Saturday 10 October 2015


The weather forecast predicted light winds this morning, but it didn't mention thick fog, which Druridge Bay was cloaked in for most of the day.

Luckily,  it was the 'dry' type of fog, not a wetting fog which makes ringing impossible as the nets and therefore the birds, get wet.

So, dry fog and no wind, meant good ringing conditions.

As I was putting the last of the three nets up that we were going to sue, I flushed a long-eared owl for the nearby bushes, it flew off, silently...

Our first net-round only yielded a couple of birds, both retraps, until we checked the last net. The long-eared owl had obviously returned to its roosting spot and was now in the net, quickly extracted, we returned to the car to ring it.
Long-eared Owl

Fantastic eyes! - click for bigger image

Long-eared owls can be sexed quite easily, this was a female, told by having less white about the face and the 'ground' colour of the underparts being more buff than white. This bird was in active moult, growing a new fourth primary feather on both wings, making it at least a 2nd calender year bird.

This is the third long-eared owl we have caught over the years at Druridge, the last one was last year, a breeding female, which was sadly found dead by a member of the public only 12 days later.

After the excitement of the long-eared owl, we continued to catch steadily throughout the morning until the fog lifted and wind picked up in the early afternoon.

It was obvious that the last two dry and sunny days had encouraged the migrants that had arrived on Tuesday and Wednesday, particularly the thrushes, to move on. We caught 40 birds in total, the only warblers were blackcaps of which there four, three juveniles and a retrapped resident female that we ringed with a brood-patch in August.

 This is a male Blackcap, told by the black crown, but you can still see some of the brown juvenile feathering in the crown.
Three goldcrests and a song thrush were 'passage' birds. We also caught 12 of the huge goldfinch flock that is hanging around Druridge, making the most of the bumper thistle crop, there are a few lesser redpolls in the finch flock and we caught two of them.

Whilst putting up the nets first-thing, a yellow-browed warbler was calling but was not relocated and later a couple of great-spotted woodpeckers put in an appearance by the car.

Throughout the morning, at least until 11am, there was a virtually constant sound of pink-footed geese flying over. Mostly, they appeared to be going south, but we couldn't see them for the fog, some of the groups sounded quite numerous.

Sunday 4 October 2015

Ringing session

I've got lots of things going on at the minute so I am finding difficult too get our birding never mind finding time to update my blog. This lack of time means that I still haven't seen yellow-browed warbler on the patch this autumn, there's been plenty of them!

I did find the time for a ringing session today. The weather has been great for ringing the whole week and it has been really frustrating not being able to get out, so it was good to get a session in today.

It was calm and cloudy this morning with no fog or heavy dew like previous mornings, it was nice not have to wear waterproof trousers all day. The wind has been out of the east, but the calm, dry conditions hasn't dropped any migrants onto the east coast, other than the yellow-browed warblers.

goldcrest (male)
We caught a few migrants including song thrushes, robins, chiffchaffs, a blackcap and a few goldcrests. We caught some of the huge goldfinch flock that is moving around Druridge at the moment (which also contains greenfiches, siskins, redpolls and linnets) and a tit flock.

A first autumn male reed bunting with a ring on it was interesting as it wasn't one of our rings, a quick check with Ian Fisher confirmed that he had ringed as a juvenile at East Chevington back in August.

Reed bunting from East Chevington
Whilst ringing there was a few small skeins of pink-footed geese, mostly headed south and group of five barnacle geese headed north. A couple of vocal mistle thrushes were noted, a proper autumn bird on the patch.

At least two different yellow-browed warblers had been seen, one by a visiting birder just off the track to the Oddie hide and Jonathon Farooqi had found on in the plantation.

The forecast for the week ahead is interesting with some rain and south-easterly winds and then the tail end of hurricane Joaquin may or may not come our way.