Firstly, apologies for the lack of blog updates. There just aren't enough hours in the day and when it is still light in the evenings I would rather be out birding than sorting photos or writing blog posts, especially as most of my time these days is spent in front of the computer in my office.
Since my last post we had a holiday to Wales - a week in the Llyn AONB with an excursion to Anglesey for the Elegant Tern at Cemlyn Bay and two new damselflies. All in all, a great trip!
Back to Druridge, I've managed a few visits before and after work and the patch year-list is now on 146, a couple of decent seawatches and a few early migrants, like Cuckoo and Green Sandpiper, have pushed it up in July.
|Common Tern feeding offshore in 'Golden Hour' light in July
|Barn Owl - un-ringed second year female
Back to the here and now, on Friday I took a day off work and spent the morning on the patch. I did a bit of viz-migging from the high dune, it was reasonably quiet but I did scope the Little Owl at the preceptory. I had a wander down to the hides with the macro camera to look for bugs and beasts, where, bizarrely, I bumped into a chap from Oxford whom I'd met at Icklesham back in 2011, where I'd spent a week ringing with him as a trainee. As we were chatting a small falcon flew fast, over the bund, spooked by seeing us, it banked around over the Budge fields and headed off in the direction from which it had come - Hobby! An adult. My first on the patch since 2015.
I scrambled up the bank to look out over the big pool but I had gone. Shortly after I was sat in the little hide with a chap called Harry and we saw the same bird come back over the Budge fields before again heading our over the big pool. I think it must've been hunting hunting dragonflies. Both views were brief but the grey upperparts, lighter plain tail, paler underparts and heavily streaked under-carriage with reddish buff 'trousers' all visible, but it was it's jizz that made us all call hobby before detail as noted.
|Common Field Grasshopper - pink form
|New for the patch - Denticulate Leatherbug (Coriomeris denticulatus)
|Comma Butterfly - not common on the patch
|Roe Buck headed south across the Budge Fields
Yesterday, on arriving at the patch, just before 8am, I saw a few Swifts overhead, Janet sent me a message to say she had seen Swifts moving over the marina in Amble. Another viz-mig session I thought... The wind was stronger from west, which is good for viz-mig at Druridge as birds are 'pinched-in' to the middle of the bay, but also tough-going so I chose a lower spot, rather than the big dune.
Swift passage continued and by 9am I'd counted 109 going south with strong passage of hirrundines, mostly House Martins. This continued until after 10 am when it seemed to ease, in total I counted 245 Swifts south in two and a half hours.
|One of over 245 Swifts that went south
A Hobby, presumably yesterday's bird, soared high on two occasions, between Druridge and East Chev and over towards Low Chibburn before drifting south. Scope-views was I all I had, but they were prolonged as it soared on the thermals. Two Merlins and two Sparrowhawks came through as did a juvenile Marsh Harrier - it was almost like being in Tarifa (maybe not). Green Sandpiper (with a Snipe), Little Egret, four Black-tailed Godwits and 17 Meadow Pipits went south.
|One of two Sparrowhawks
|And it was gone... one of two Merlins
I went looking for Harebell Bee in the dunes afterwards with no joy but did see some other interesting critters.
|Dune Robberfly (Philonicus albiceps)
|Small Copper Butterfly in the Dunes
|Hoverfly Scaeva pyrastri