Sunday 14 October 2018

Long day on the patch

Last night, the forecast for today was rain - all day.

So this morning, we didn't set an alarm, when we got up it wasn't raining and it was calm. The forecast still predicted showers, but we headed down to Druridge and put some nets up, you've got to make the most of any chance in the autumn. Whilst we sorting the nets, the sky was full of pink-footed geese - easily 6000 passed over. A small flock of about eight brambling flew south and a yellow-browed warbler called form the bushes by the car

There were a few showers, but they didn't really come to much, we furled a couple of nets early on but continued ringing with three nets up for the whole day. It was worth the effort, as we caught 60 birds in total of 14 different species.

Of note was a flock of lesser redpolls - we caught 10 in total, all within an hour, I think they were just passing through.

Lesser redpoll - a nice pink male
We caught a very late willow warbler (rare beyond September at Druridge), two chiffchaffs and five blackcaps. One of the blackcaps was female that we first caught in the spring as breeding female, she must've nee ready for the off as she had built up a large amount of fat (migratory birds build up fat ahead of migration).

Late willow warbler
male blackcap
female blackcap
Despite the huge arrival of thrushes yesterday, they must've all gone straight inland as we only caught two song thrush and redwing today - one of the song thrushes was a retrap, Tom Cadwallender and I caught it in October last year as first-year bird. I wonder where it's been since?

Also of note was a magpie - Not everyone's favourite species and some it will probably end up in the farmers larsen trap. It was a first-year bird and only the second we've ever caught at Druridge. Despite they're reputation amongst 'country folk' they are incredibly intelligent and very beautiful birds.

Magpie - only the second one we've caught at Druridge
Bizarrely, we also caught our first wren of the year today. Last year we caught more wrens than any other species, but the 'beast from the east' wiped them out and there were no breeding bird at Druridge this year. The five we caught today will be post-breeding dispersers from elsewhere.

wren - first of the year!
Today was also WeBS count day. As the Budge fields are still pretty-much dry it didn't take too long and there wasn't much of note.

As I was packing up the nets at about 4pm, the skies cleared and the sun came out. I stopped by the plantation and birded until nearly 6pm. Most of that time was spent trying to get detail on a grey-looking phylosc in the sycamores. It was really tricky to get decent views, but it was a chiffchaff, very grey/off-white below and grey above apart from green in the wings - it looked like a Siberian chiff,  it eventually called and gave its ID away as just that. I only managed a very poor, arse-end photo.

Monday 8 October 2018

Two walks

The weather wasn't suitable for ringing at the weekend, which is probably just as well as the bushes seemed to be devoid of birds. It looks as though there might be a hint of an easterly wind by Sunday.

So on both Saturday and Sunday I walked the full length of the patch.

On Saturday there were some signs of autum. Skylarks were almost constantly overhead and when I checked the plantation I found coal tits and goldcrests - both autumn species on the patch and in the dunes to the north there were five or six dunnocks with at least ten reed buntings feeding in the weedy patches.
Coal Tit
Coal Tit
 A single whooper swan flew north as I headed for  the beach and my return to the car. Offshore,  a black-throated diver flew north, quite close in, close enough for photos. There were a few red-breasted merganser close in shore and this guillemot was very close, even for a photo. I think this is the first guillie I've photographed on the patch.

On Sunday I did the same route but in the afternoon, once the rain had cleared, and as a result it felt quieter than Saturday. As I walked north I heard the 'yick-yick' of a great-spotted woodpecker, it was flying over the dunes from the sea as soon as it cleared the dunes, it dived straight into the nearest bushes out of sight and probably to rest, as it is highly likely it had just crossed the North Sea from Scandinavia.

On reaching the dunes at the north of the patch, where the reed buntings were still feeding in the weedy bits, I headed for the beach, which was empty  - of birds and people until I got to the southern end where this common gull was on it's own and a single carrion crow was mooching about.

Common Gull

Carrion Crow
Offshore,  I got onto a raptor high and quite far out, maybe 300 meters or more, it was a peregine and was just circling - someone suggested it could have chased a bird out to sea and it was waiting to pounce when the bird returned to land.

Magpie - Another species I don't often photograph