Sunday 29 September 2019

A weekend of two halves

Weather wise, it has definitely been a weekend of two halves. yesterday, if you were in the sun and out of the strong breeze, was very pleasant indeed. Today was cold, wet and windy feeling more like winter than autumn.

Yesterday morning, Janet and I had a nice walk around the patch in the morning sunshine. Butterflies and dragonflies were more prominent than birds however. We started around the plantation where David Elliott put us on to a redstart in the pines, there were a couple of goldcrests and chiffchaffs there too and we also saw the first of many migrant hawkers and speckled wood butterflies.

Migrant Hawker
We headed north along the road as far as the turning circle. Several chiffchaffs were calling and we were being buzzed by more migrant hawkers. I tried to photograph them but failed miserably. On the way back to the car, we called in at the Budge screen. By the path we found this 'white' caterpillar. Neither of us had seen anything like it before so I took some phone-shots. Whilst I was doing so I heard a sharp piercing call overhead and then saw flash of iridescent blue as a kingfisher shot overhead.

white caterpillar
I posted the caterpillar photo on Facebook and it seems to be a parasitic entomogenous or entomopathogenic fungi which thrives in damp conditions and takes over its host. A comma butterfly (rare for Druridge) sat out in the sun as did several red admirals and speckled woods.

Red admiral on brambles 

Full bird list here

Today was a cold and wet. A northerly wind strengthened throughout the day. I had been house-bound until 4pm when I had to decide - birds or football. Would I go to the local and watch leicester vs Newcastle game or would I try a seawatch. I opted for the latter - thank God - the Toon got beat 5-0.

Seawatching wasn't great either mind, very quiet. A long-tailed skua had been reported from Newbiggin but I didn't pick it out if it came past Druridge. A bonxie (north) and a black-throated diver (south) were the highlights. There were still a few terns, I counted 14 common and seven sandwich.

I gave up after just over an hour to check the bushes. My full list is here

At the start of the path to the Oddie hide a tit flock came through. My first long-tailed tits of the autumn, about 22 of them, were with blue, coal and great tits and a single willow tit. Willow tit is a really rare patch bird nowadays, we used to catch them most autumns but not since 2006.

A yellow-browed warbler and several chiffs were associating with the flock.

On the Budge fields 37 curlew and single snipe and redshank were the only waders and about 80 lapwing were on the tilled field to the west and as I left about 45 barnacle geese flew north.

Full list 

Monday 23 September 2019

Autumn is here

Today was officially the first day of autumn and what's the perfect bird to herald it - yellow-browed warbler. 

Despite scouring the bushes this morning I had to twitch one that Mark Whittingham had found by the path to the Oddie Hide (Mark also had willow tit and cetti's warbler - both much more scarce than YBW). It was nice to watch it, flitting around in the alders. The highlight of my morning was a garden warbler in the elderberry bush by the entrance and a few migrant hawkers.

Migrant hawker dragonfly in the plantation
I've been so busy since returning from my near-annual pilgrimage to Tarifa for the raptor migration.

Honey Buzzard

Short-toed Snake Eagle

I've got hundreds of shots to sort out still and I had to prepare a talk, about my obsession with my local patch,  for the North Northumberland Bird Club on Friday evening - had a great turn out of 74 people and the talk went down well. And I did predict that there would be a yellow-browed warbler on the patch this weekend.

I've managed a  coupe of visits to the patch since I got back. A decent evening seawatch on Tuesday evening for an hour produced a couple of adult pomarine skuas (there were probably three - I took my eye off them) and a couple of Arctics.

Pink-footed geese are back with a couple of skeins over last weekend and most evenings from home.

Hopefully things might get a bit quieter so I can get some birding done and keep this blog updated through the autumn.