Sunday 30 July 2023

And it was all yellow...

Hot on the heals of last month's patch tick (Night Heron), along came another on Saturday evening. Yellow-legged Gull - a spanking adult on the beach at where the Dunbar Burn runs out. 

This is a first for me at Druridge and a first for the patch as far as I am aware.

Stands out a bit

I first got onto the bird from some distance away, it was at the end of the burn and I was in the dunes opposite the path to the hides. It was a 'Herring-type' large gull but the darker shade of the mantle rather than leg colour that alerted me to something different. The birds looked settled and there was nobody to disturb them, other than a couple with a dog at heal. Nothing is that straightforward, by the time I got there, the bloke had decided that the pool between the two spits that gulls were roosting on, would be the ideal place for a swim. 

The birds hadn't moved far, just a little way up the beach. I got onto the bird, my suspicion was correct, yellow-legged gull. The bird gradually made it it's way back to the end of the burn, where I managed to get some photos.

Some of the hundred-plus gulls. Can't spot anything odd here, but the bird in the middle looks a bit odd. 

I've seen thousands of yellow-legged gulls on my travels, but this was only my third in Northumberland, the last was a East Chevington in July 2006 and the first at Bamburgh in 2000. This takes my patch list to 256 and the overall patch list to 276. 

I was back on the patch just after 6am this morning. There was still a small rave going on! The drum'n'base didn't bother this female barn owl.

The Barn Owl was mobbed by five yellow wagtails as it hunted, when they settled, one of the adults looked to be 'flava' race or maybe 'channel'. I'd seen two yellow wags on the beach earlier, which I assumed were different birds. 

Yellow wagtail

Meadow pipit about to feed it's young

Another yellow wagtail

Wednesday 28 June 2023

Another good tern

The white-winged black tern found at East Chevington yesterday evening finally made its way down to Druridge Pools this afternoon. 

An adult white-winged black tern - what's not to like?

Despite the grey and drizzly conditions, the light wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. The tern had a route around the pool, starting in the NW corner, flying south then into the little bays, before flying east past the hide, into the SE corner and flying back up the northern edge to start again. Like clockwork, for half an hour when it went to the Budge fields. Amazingly, for that half hour, Janet and I were the only ones in the hide. That's Northumberland for you!

This is my second patch white-winger, the first was on July 1st 2017 - again another adult summer plumage bird.

This cormorant entertained us briefly, wrestling with an eel.

Cormorant with Eel

Somewhere around the Little Hide, there is a pied wagtail feeding chicks.

Thursday 22 June 2023

Midsummer Night (Heron)

Midsummer night, the summer solstice, everything must've been aligned and luck was on my side.

A beautiful evening, the wind had dropped, the sky, and the sea, were pink  and I just watched a minke whale making its way south and had watched a merlin through hunting through the dunes and I was still birding at nearly 10pm. I headed to my car a happy patch watcher.

I was just about to leave when a couple came along the road, headed for the path to the hides - Richard Hopwood and his partner Sharon. They proceeded to tell me they were trying to get hold of Alan Tilmouth as they were sure they'd just seen a night heron flying over the Budge fields. Their description sounded good, Sharon thought it might have landed in the corner of the budge fields so we headed that way. Nothing from the Little Hide, so I suggested we go along the path to the corner of the Big Pool as that was more likely habitat. We heard it calling before we got there.

We were no sooner scanning the big pool when both Richard and I found our bird - perched on a tree stem just above the water in the north west corner of the pool. We got the scope on it, confirmed ID and put the news out. It was 9.53pm!

Black-crowned Night Heron  - in fine breeding plumage, lovely long white plumes from the crown, the red eye just visible in the fading light. What a bird! It continued to call, every 10-20 seconds or so.

Here is a sound recording

best effort of a digi-scope shot in fading light. 

I took a short video

We watched the bird for 20 minutes or so, it didn't move far from the branch and then, it took flight, calling as it flew, away to the southeast. We lost it from sight, but the calls seemed to move more to the north east, then silence. We assumed it had gone. 

A great end to the evening for the three of us.

Part of a mini-influx of this species, probably due to habitat loss on the continent due to drought. The way the bird was constantly calling, I thought it could be a male looking for a mate. 

A new bird for the patch, taking my patch list to 255 and the overall patch list to 275. I've only seen one night heron in Northumberland before this, a juvenile which was at Cresswell Pond for a few days in the autumn of 1997.

I had another first for the patch last week - a new hoverfly. A Parhelophilus species, sadly it can't be got to species from the photos, but certainly a new hover for the patch.

Parhelophilus sp on Water Hemlock Dropwort