Sunday 17 February 2019

Yankee teal

There's been good numbers of teal at Druridge since I got back from Taiwan and I've been scanning through them for green-winged teal.

I was working at home on Tuesday when a message came through to say that Andy McLevy had found a green-winger on the Budge fields - A lunchtime twitch was in order and I saw the bird.

It was still there today, making it onto my WeBS list - but we only saw it briefly from the south facing hide and too far for photos and then it disappeared into the flock of 406 regular Eurasian teals.

As well as a good teal count there were over 260 wigeon, 130 curlew and 15 grey heron and a single black-tailed godwit. A pair of oystercatchers were new for the year.

Green-winged teal occur, on average evry three years or so at Druridge. Some of them stay for a long time whlist others are day-birds and they're off. At the minute, the American  green-winged teal Anas carolinensis is considered as seperate species to 'our' teal by the IOC but not by eBird who mainly follow Clements taxonomy. So it could easily get 'lumped' again...

In the meantime it's on my list

This will probably be the highest duck count of the year as numbers will start to decrease soon as birds begin to head north.

Sunday 10 February 2019

Signs of spring

In stark contrast to the cold and snow of last weekend it was quite pleasant out and about this morning, mind it was a bit blowy yesterday.

Yesterday we braved the winds later in the afternoon and walked up through the dunes and back along the beach. In the dunes we flushed up a covey of 12 grey partridges, my first of the year here and since the cattle returned. There were up to 2000 pink-footed geese on the fields beyond the haul road - some of them got up and flew over the dunes.

Pink-footed geese over the dunes
Despite being sandblasted, we had fun watching the sanderling being blown sideways along the beach, they were feeding in the sunshine were it came through a gap in the dunes - the same gap the wind came through. A small flock of eight curlew flew over from the sea.


Two of the Curlew flock
Today we headed inland, first to the Oddie hide were there was little to be seen other than a huge flock of noisy Canada geese.
Canada geese
We continued towards the preceptory where we saw a single yellowhammer on the hedge (there are over 50 in a cover crop only two-fields away). Yellowhammers are hard to come-by these days and are a species that i didn't see last year on the patch. On towards the haul road our souls were lifted by the first singing skylarks of the spring, obviously enjoying the sunshine. There were at least six in the fields either side of the road.  Beyond these fields at least 30 whooper swan and handful of mute swans were grazing, it was impossible to get an accurate count though as some were in a hollow.

I ventured off the patch (I know, it's not like me and I thought I was going to have a nosebleed) for a wander to Chibburn mouth to check the beach levels where we put the fence up for shorebirds in the summer. I didn't hang about though and headed back down the beach and back onto the patch.

Passing Herring Gull

Sunday 3 February 2019

Snow days

It's been a bit wintery this week.

I managed a midweek excursion to the patch on Wednesday (one benefit of working at home), frosty ground made it an ideal day to walk through the fields towards the Preceptory and back via High Chibburn and Druridge Farm.

A song thrush was on the path towards the hides and the usual selection of duck were on the big pool which remained unfrozen. Towards the Preceptory a handful of lapwing and golden plover were feeding in the pasture field - they sat tight as a peregrine passed over heading north, it was high so they probably did the right thing.

Down to the farm and a large flock of about 25 chaffinches where in the small copse with three coal tits - it's so unusual to see coal tits at this time of year at Druridge, they are normally just an autumn bird.
One of the coal tits at the farm
House sparrows and skemmie pigeons were numerous around the farm buildings but I was hoping for yellowhammers - I was out of luck there. Stock doves were notable in the fields as I returned along the road to Druridge and a large female sparrowhawk flew past me and landed on the fence.

In the hawthorns a robin sat out - my first of the year.

Robin in the hawthorns
On Saturday Janet joined me and we walked the same route - only this time there was snow underfoot and all around us - the song thrushes on the track had multiplied to four.

Snowy track to the hides where song thrushes flew
The field that held the goldies now had over 70 curlew feeding with a few lapwing, goldies and black-headed gulls for company, with a couple of hundred starling.

As we walked to the farm, two skylark flew up calling, 'the cold weather has brought them in' I said to Janet.

snowy track

frozen fields with a flock of pink-feet flying over
Ten tree sparrows were flitting about the farm with the chaffinches and house sparrows and as we approached the cottages two fieldfare flew over the fields - another bird of hard weather.

In front of Druridge Farm at least 800 pink-footed geese grazed, a single greylag was the only exception. We cut through to the beach hoping for snow buntings which we didn't see but we did see five meadow pipits in the dunes - another species brought in by the cold.

With no home-working this week, it will be the weekend before I am back.. but the evenings are getting lighter now and some post-work birding isn't far off.