Saturday 7 October 2017

A great morning's birding

More apologies for the lack of activity on the blog, but I have been down to Tarifa for the Raptor Migration, that's my excuse.

I arrived on the patch this morning with the intention of walking the whole place, not expecting to see much after a run of westerlies. I parked at the entrance and  had a quick look in the plantation which was quiet - a few crests. Then I went back to the bushes by the entrance, the elders there are hanging with elderberries and I fancied that they might pull something in.

A few blackbirds, songers and robins and then I got onto a sylvia warbler, well, bits of one as moved low through the elder - I was 'lumbering' about and I fancied it was barred warbler but I needed better views.... Then a message came through about a white-billed diver passed Whitburn and a unidentified diver passed Newbiggin.

I legged it up to the dunes, as I clambered onto the dune ridge a bird flew of the wrack on the beach, calling - snow bunting,  a male, flew straight over my head - nice.

Three red-throats came through together, then a minute or two later a larger diver. It was a canny way out and silhouetted against the rising sun -  I had no chance. Shape-wise it was either a great-northern or a white-billed - I couldn't do any better with those views so back to the elder bush.

I got quickly on to the warbler, it was plucking elderberries from the front edge of the bush- a juvenile barred warbler. Typically bulky with well-marked 'panels' in the flight feathers, darker undertail and greyish upper and with that typical pose with it's tail held high. My first patch barred warbler since 2010 when I had two in the same autumn. 

As I was watching it, a bird heading toward me from the north caught my eye. It was big and had an undulating flight, closing it's wings between flaps...woodpecker...but not a great-spot. It flew between me and the bushes I had been watching,  GREEN WOODPECKER! It flew on towards the plantation and swerved into the trees, showing the lovely lemon-yellow rump as it went. I followed it in there but I couldn't find it again. A full-fat patch tick.

Martin Kitching had mentioned that he had seen a green woodpecker at Druridge earlier in the week, so surely the same bird? It makes up for missing the one that was on the feeders at the cottages a few years ago.

The barred was still there when I returned, I went to the car to grab the camera. As always happens with my camera, it disappeared for ages, before showing very briefly a couple of times, deeper in the bushes (a few folk had turned up by this point). I'd seen another sylvia warbler, whilst I was watching the barred which turned out to be a garden warbler, an increasingly scarce species at Druridge and my first on the patch since 2013. Jonathon Farooqi got a couple of shots of the barred warbler. 

Since I got back from Spain the other highlight was a yellow-browed warbler on Saturday and Monday behind the Budge screen.

Green Woodpecker is my 245th species for the patch and my fifth new species this year.

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