Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Tick and Run

Much to my own disgust - I ticked and ran today...

John Todd found a White-rumped Sandpiper on the Budge fields mid-morning, I was at work but between meetings and I knew that I would be working through my lunchbreak anyway, so I was sharp on the scene. Toddy had reported it from the Little hide so I went there first, it had flown with the Dunlin towards the Budge Hide, so I headed for it and was soon watching it, a nicely marked individual, among the Dunlin. I couldn't give it long though as I had to be back home for another 'virtual' meeting. I was doing the right thing really, to enable social distancing and more people to see the bird. A great find by Toddy and my third for the patch. Previous birds have all been in early August - 12th in 2017 and 11th in 2018.

Janet and I went back this evening for a better look. 

I was on the patch this morning for a walk this morning, I did see the Dunlin flock but only had my bins so wouldn't have picked out the White-rumped if it was there. . The last two mornings have been a bit 'soft' little wind, overcast with a dampness about them.
'Soft' morning
Soft Morning

Warblers were evident again today with Willow Warbler being far and away the most numerous. There were four or five singing birds and lots of adults and juveniles feeding on the edge of the bushes.

One of many Willow Warblers

Two Little Egrets flew south but little else of note. 

Reed Bunting in Fat Hen

Fly-by Lesser Black-backed Gull


Mushrooms - yet to be identified

Monday, 3 August 2020

Meadow Pipit has been fishin'

Meadow Pipits don't eat fish - right? yes this is right


I was out for a walk at Druridge this morning and by the bridge over the Dunbar Burn I snapped away at Meadow Pipit on a post. I noticed two things - the bird looked wet, I presumed from being in the wet grass and it was carrying a big bit of food. It wasn't until I got home and looked at the photos on the camera and zoomed in that I realised the food item was a small fish and the bird was very wet because it had been fishing, presumably in the shallow bit of the Dunbar Burn.

Meadow Pipit with a fish!
A look through BWP and HBW showed no mention of Meadow Pipits taking fish - their are a few records of them wading though water to take larvae and other aquatic invertebrates but not fish. I am only presuming that the bird went on to eat the fish of course. The fish looks like a Stickleback.

Here is a heavily cropped shot

This shot shows how wet the bird was
I feel a note to BB coming on...

Or maybe not - an update.

Stewart Sexton has re-identified the fish as a moth. A moth masquerading as a fish. It is now my life's mission to find a meadow pipit catching fish. 

Other than fish moth-eating Meadow Pipits other highlights from this morning included a good number of Swifts still,  decent southerly Sand Martin passage, a juvenile Whinchat (first for two years on the patch) and a lot of warblers. I presumed the warblers were mostly locally reared birds as some, like these Whitethroats and Willow Warblers were still being fed by adults but the number and reports from other birders suggest this might have been more of a broad-front movement.

One of about 20 swifts feeding over the bushes
Juvenile Whitethroat waiting for its next feed
Willow Warbler
male Linnet
The Budge fields are drying out quickly and the Avocet family have relocated to the northern side of the fields to find water and the mud held only a flock of Dunlin.

Visits at the weekend were confined to early morning or late evening to avoid the crowds. On Sunday morning, Swallow passage was evident with about 60 birds south in 40 minutes. A Wood Sandpiper and juvenile Ruff were noteworthy on the Budge fields. A bird club trip led by Tim Dean were loitering in the dunes.
On Saturday evening, I had been trying to pin down the tails of a colour-ringed Common Gull in the roost without success, the light was going when I made my way back over the dunes to see a flock of least 20 Little Egrets coming into roost in the Willows at the western end of the big pool. It was like being in La Janda in southern Spain apart from I wearing a thick coat and was still cold!

Monday, 27 July 2020

No-mig, the Post and the Pec

I've been away gallivanting inland again this weekend with a trip to Holystone on Sunday so have neglected the patch again.

I was there first thing on Sunday morning. I started with a bit of viz-mig and a look on the sea - all quiet, the bushes were very quite too, almost everything other than the wrens and the odd Chiffhcaff singing. Reed Buntings sang in the dunes and Grasshopper Warbler was reeling, which is quite late for them. A couple of Little Egrets went north  - all of a sudden there seems to be lots of Little Egrets on the coast, where have they all come from? Other than the resident Redshanks and Avocets still nurturing their young, the only wader was a single Black-tailed Godwit but the mud looked very dry.

On Saturday lunchtime I returned to 'The Post' and a look for some hovers. At the post I had a leafcutter bee coming and going with bits of leaf, never stopping longing to photograph and the Fork-tailed Flower Bees were going about their business. The wasp which I think is Ancistrocerus scoticus showed briefly, enough for a photo or two and intriguingly the ruby-tailed wasp I saw last week was back and I got a very poor record shot. Two species of Chrysis ruby-tailed wasps are known to be a kleptoparisite of this species - I need better photos of them both.

Ancistrocerus scoticus?
Record shot of Chrysis species of ruby-tailed wasp

Another wasp species headed for the post
I had a look for hovers and found some wasps, all of which I need to identify if possible, but I think they might be tricky. No new hovers but these were interesting:

Eupeodes corollae (m)
Cheilosia illustrata (f)
I found this Four-banded Longhorn Beetle Leptura quadrifasciata which is new for the patch for me.

Four-banded Longhorn Beetle Leptura quadrifasciata
My first Small Copper of the year rested briefly for a record shot and this Drinker moth was in the dunes. I always think drinker moths are more like a small bat than a moth.

Small Copper butterfly
Drinker moth
 These fine beasts all need ID...

Possibly Turnip Sawfly - Athalia rosae

Possibly Dusona sp?
I think that this is the female digger wasp that i have seen before?
Ichneumonid of some species? 
This morning a Pectoral Sandpiper was reported on the Budge fields. As I had to work and it was chucking it down with rain at lunchtime, I waited until this evening and the rain to stop to go and have a look. When I arrived another birder pointed it on the mud amongst the Dunlin. 'Pecs' are near annual at Druridge these days. The resident Avocet adult wouldn't let the Dunlin flock settle, chasing them as soon as they came near her so it was difficult to keep track of the Pec. She was even chasing the Pied Wagtails of which there were at least 30.

As I headed for home, I got a call from Ian Fisher to say that the Cattle Egret that had been at Cresswell Pond for a couple of days head just landed on the Budge fields. I had seen an egret flying north as I passed Hemscotthill. I should stopped for a closer look. I went back but couldn't see the egret, so headed home to make tea. Seemingly it was seen later roosting in the bushes.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Lunchtime look

No updates from the patch over the weekend - I actually headed inland, which is a rare thing. Janet and I visited Kimmer Lough on Saturday - no photos from that day as I forgot to put a card in the camera and had to lug it all the way round our walk and take no photos. That'll teach me!

I din't make the same mistake on Sunday when we headed to Kielder via Harbottle Woods,  upper Coquetdale, the Otterburn Ranges and the forest Drive. We spent an hour or so at Harbottle, along the forest track, looking for hovers and other insects.

I popped down to the patch in my lunch-break yesterday for an hour, to have a look at 'The Post' and for hovers. I bumped into a local bee expert and we saw the flower bees coming and going and a very brief glimpse of one of the Megachille leafcutters carrying a large piece of leaf into the post. I got one chance of a photo just when the wind blew a stem of grass into the way.

Megachille sp obsured by grass
There were a few interesting hovers along the track

Eristalis tenax (f)
Eupeodes corrolae (m)
Syritta pipiens
I also found this Colletes bee - likely to be Davie's Collete (Colletes daviesanus) but not sure... and some other bits and bobs

Colletes bee - Colletes daviesanus?
Blue-tailed Damsels in 'mating wheel'
Arty shot of 7-spot ladybird
Potato Mirid again - Closterotomus norwegicus
Noon Fly - Mesembrina meridiana - my first of the year

A look offshore for an hour last night produced nine manx shearwaters north and a single arctic skua, on the beach roost there was single Mediterranean Gull, but it was early and the roost was only starting to build.  Tonight, a bit later, I counted at least 12 Med gulls! But nothing else of note.

Friday, 17 July 2020

The post that doesn't stop giving

Thought I would mix things up on Thursday evening.

I started at 'The Post'  - and had frustratingly brief views of both Coelioxys elongata and Megachile versicolor but not long enough to photograph them, the latter is going into the back of the post and there is a collection of 'leaf bits' to signify this.

I also had a new wasp on the same post which I think is Ancistrocerus scoticus, intriguingly I also had a ruby-tailed wasp species on the same post which I also failed to capture. The ruby-tailed wasp species Chrysis ignita parasitises on A. scoticus - the plot deepens!. The Fork-tailed Flower Bees were still going about their business. The post that never stops giving.

Ancistrocerus scoticus?
I had a wander up the path to the hides and found some hoverflies and an interesting cranefly, spider and ladybird.

Syrphus ribesii (female)
Platycheirus albimanus (female)
Melanostoma mellinum (male)
Melanostoma mellinum (male)

Spotted Cranefly Nephrotoma appendiculata -  I think
Spider - ID tbc
14-Spot Ladybird  - Propylea quatuordecimpunctata
I had a wander through the bushes and disturbed a family of roe deer. The 'youths' were funny - making a sneezing, yet squeaky noise to the female who was close by, I made some squeaking noses back and one of the youngsters came a bit closer before scampering off. I also disturbed a roosting Asio owl species, presumably on of the short-eared owls that have been seen regularly recently?

Young Roe deer
The clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped so I dropped the macro lens -  for the 400mm and scope and headed for the dunes (still fantasising about that albatross) . Offshore there were a few hundred common scoter - they seemed disturbed and were constantly on the move, a single drake velvet was among them. I was just about to go home for tea when the clouds parted and the light was superb. Terns were feeding close to the shore so I went for a closer look...

Sandwich  tern
Arctic Tern
Arctic Tern
Common Tern 
Passing eiders
Sanderling - still showing some breeding plumage
Thousands of jellyfish on the beach