Sunday 22 November 2020

Winter birding

The last of the Blackbirds from the huge invasion earlier in the month are hanging on, making their way through the remaining Hawthorn berries are the last remnant of Autumn. Otherwise it feels like winter. 

Wintering duck numbers have started to build up on the Budge fields, with Wigeon numbering about 160 but there's fewer Teal. The big pools is virtually bereft of life, I've not seen one, but I fancy there's an Otter about which will deter wildfowl from settling.

Elsewhere on the patch the 'front field' at Druridge Farm is attracting big flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover with a maximum of 560 and 320 respectively this week. Scanning through plover flocks - proper winter birding. 

Some of the Golden Plover flock this morning

I took Thursday off work on the strength of a strengthening northerly wind which ended up as a bit of a damp squib - it came from the right place, just not for long enough. Me decision paid-off though as my flexi-day-off meant I could go to Amble to see the (American) Buff-bellied Pipit that was found the previous day. Janet and I joined a few hardy-souls at first light and after an hour or so of searching, the bird was re-found on the beach giving the assembled (socially-distant) twitchers good views. A new bird for Northumberland and the Western Palearctic for me.

Heavily-cropped shot of the Buff-bellied Pipit
Female-type Stonechat at Amble
Rock Pipit

I did go seawatching in the afternoon from 1pm to dusk. A Black-throated Diver headed north was new for the year (176), other highlights were two Velvet Scoter north and a lovely Sooty Shearwater, really close in nice light, through the breakers, before heading off north. There was decent auk passage, a few Gannets and Kittiwakes including a single flock of 37 of the latter. Full list here.

Seawatching was quiet so I was distracted by these horses

Janet and I walked the length of the patch and back on both Saturday and Sunday morning. Highlights include a Snow Bunting over, 110 Twite in the dunes (they were on the beach on Friday when it was quieter), Great-spotted Woodpecker and a late Chiffchaff which was calling like mad in the bushes - a nice reminder of Autumn.

Black-headed Gull on the sea today
Guillemot on the sea
Red-throated Loon on the sea

I'm changing my work regime from tomorrow to make better us of the daylight hours so my weekday patch visits will be at lunchtime until February. 

Some more winter birds from this week...

male Stonechat


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