Sunday 29 July 2018

Start of migration

For normal people, this is summer and will be until at least the August Bank Holiday. For Birdwatchers - it's Autumn.

Migration has begun...

Waders are on the move, at Druridge this was evident by large numbers (up to 76) dunlin on the beach midweek as well as the first returning sanderling. On the Budge fields this weekend there has been up to two green sandpiper, three wood sandpipers and five common sandpipers. Pectoral and curlew sandpipers have also been reported but not seen by yours truly.

Elsewhere, migrants like pied flycatchers and black restarts have been seen at coastal places.

Tonight, as I was watching the sandpipers on the Budge field, as well as a water rail out in the open, a great egret appeared on the fields, scattering the waders on it's arrival. 

Great Egret feeding on the Budge fields
and in flight

Short video of Great Egret - click to enlarge.

Once a mega rarity for the patch, the first being recorded in April 2010 (read about it here), great egret has been recorded in our four out of the last five years on the patch, which mirrors the northern expansion in the species' range.

I left the egret feeding on the Budle fields, but as I walked back to my car, it flew south overhead and continued to circle about before heading back over the Budge hide. 

Circling above the Budge hide
Since my last post, I've been away to Dumfries and Galloway for a long weekend of birds, butterflies, bikers and lighthouses. 

One of many Tysties nesting in the harbour wall at Poertpatrick - our base for two nights.
I've also done a couple of short seawatches, the highlight of which was a single sooty shearwater south on Thursday evening. Janet and I had a quick look around the patch on Friday evening and were amazed by the number of feral greylags - Druridge Pools had become like Hauxley, or a goose farm. The numbers of these and feral canada geese breeding in the area must be having some ecological impact on native species. 

Greylag Goose
Lots of Greylag Geese
It was nice to see great-crested grebes with young on the big pool as well as the increasingly scarce pochard. 

One of the remaining adult Great-crested Grebes 

Sunday 15 July 2018


Yesterday morning I had a plan. That plan was to go to Cresswell and try some rockpool photography with the new macro lens. I' writing a beach guide for work and I'm short of a few rockpool photos so I thought I'd give it a go, but I'd have a quick look in at the patch first.

My first stop was the dunes for a look on the sea, as I scanned the foreshore I noticed lots of gulls and terns feeding in a pool on the edge of the tideline and it reminded me of photographing terns in a small pool back in 2013. I had to investigate...

Two hours and one and a half 16GB CF cards later, I headed home.

The pool had attracted over 200 black-headed gulls and hundred or so terns of three, maybe four, species (I didn't get any arctic tern photos). Here are the results...

This sandwich tern was colour ringed. It's a green ring with either EJO or EJD on it. I've not looked it up yet.
Sandwich tern in 'angel pose'

Mid-air acrobatics - I think this Sandwich tern was having a shake after an unsuccessful dive 
I've always wanted to photograph a tern just before it goes into the water...
Lift-off from an unsuccessful dive  - I love the energy in this shot
Common tern in angle pose

Common terns with  fish
Stunning bird! Roseate tern
Profile view  - Roseate tern

And not to forget the gulls in this tern-fest...

Adult Herring gull
Black-headed gull

There's hundreds more photos...

I eventually got down to Cresswell this morning to photograph the rockpools with mixed results which I'll try and put on here later in the week. This excursion meant I was doing my WeBS count at 8.30pm tonight, The Pectoral sandpiper is still on the Budge fields, with two greenshank, two ruff and a handful of snipe and redshank (someone had a wood sandpiper later which I didn't see). On the big pool, teal and wigeon are returning and two molting pochards were a rare sight. Two adult Med gulls were on the beach.

Monday 9 July 2018

More Macro

It's usually the case at this time of year - the thoughts of bored birders, waiting for autumn migration to start, turn to butterflies, dragonflies, moths and bugs.

The local Whatsapp grapevine provides more information on banded demoiselles, fritillaries and moths than it does birds. But I'm not complaining, especially now I have the new Macro lens.

I've not strayed far from Druridge with it yet, other than a work trip to Bamburgh dunes where I photographed this Pirri Pirri flower - thankfully there's no sign of Pirri Pirri at Druridge, but I am sure it will be just a matter of time.

Pirri Pirri in Bamburgh Dunes
Back to Druridge, I was down there at before 5am for ringing session on Saturday but was packed up by 11. I was on my own so only had four nest up and caught 17 new birds - which isn't bad for a bright July morning. I'm starting to catch a few juvenile warblers now - blackcaps, sedge and willow. I've caught very few whitethroats this year, there seemed to be a lot singing when they first came in and they're usually the most abundant warbler at Druridge but not this year.

A long-eared owl was hunting through the bushes and barn owl in the dunes when I arrived. Gaps between checking the nets were taken up with more macro photography.

Silver Y moth

Dark Green Fritillary - There seems to be a lot of these at Druridge this year

Bonking Beetles - Common Red Soldier Beetle. There were thousands of these in the dunes at the weekend.
On Sunday I spent much of my two visits to the patch staring, willfully out to sea, with the slimmest of slim hopes that the Sooty tern that roosted on the Farne Islands might just pass by. After all, the bridled tern which was the Farnes almost five years to the day did pass by and Dave Elliott saw it.

On the Budge fields, there was a peak of over 100 black-tailed godwits over the weekend and the smart pectoral sandpiper was present throughout, joined briefly by a wood sandpiper.

Autumn migration has begun and thoughts of bugs and butterflies will be banished in favour of birds again.

Sunday 1 July 2018

New Macro Lens

I've splashed out on a new macro lens - the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG to be precise. So after a quick play around in the garden yesterday I thought I test it for real at Druridge this morning. As a result very little birding was done in the limited time I had!

It's taking a bit a of getting used to, the depth of field is tiny, even at higher F stops. You only have to move a tiny bit and the subject is out of focus... I do like it though and I'm impressed by the results so far... The only problem now is identifying some of these critters!

Here are today's efforts - click to enlarge.

Not from Druridge but in my garden - Common green bottle fly Lucilia sericata
Marbled Bell moth Eucosma campoliliana - I think it should be called bird shit moth as that what it looks like at first glance - great camouflage 
Bloody cranesbill Geranium sanguineum

Common blue butterfly Polyommatus icarus
Seed head of one of the hawkbit/hawkweed type things - I though it looked nice!
Blue-tailed damselfly Iscnura elegans

Common blue damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum - male
Narrow-bordered five spot burnet moths Zygaena lonicerae emerging from their chrysalis 
Narrow-bordered five spot burnet moth Zygaena lonicerae

Common Restharrow Ononis repens
Cinnabar moth caterpillars 

Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

Black and red froghopper Cercopis vulnerata - this species seems to be colonising the north-east of England

Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus
Dark green fritillary Argynnis aglaja - there were at least two on the wing today at Druridge