Monday, 15 September 2014

In the bushes

I called in at the patch before and after work today. Yesterday's red-breasted flycatcher was still in the plantation this morning joined by a pied flycatcher. 

It had been seen on and off all day and some photographers got some good shots this evening. 

I walked the length of the bushes tonight. There were plenty of robins and wrens, but the only warbler activity was with a tit flock by the feeders at the Budge screen and a couple of chiffs by the 'Mike Carr Path' (as it is now known). Otherwise the bushes were quiet. 

I probably won't have time to get down there tomorrow, which is a pity, as there must be a yellow-brow somewhere. 

Sunday, 14 September 2014


I found a patch mega this afternoon - red-breasted flycatcher.

I found it late afternoon in the plantation, a first year bird by the look of it, no orange on the throat, just a buffy wash on the throat, upper-breast and flanks. When I fist got onto it, it was flitting around in the pines, perching occasionally, flicking its wings, often obscured. When it did perch out, my crap ability with my camera let me down again as I couldn't get the auto-focus to find it amongst the background pine twigs.

For a flycatcher, it was very illusive, disappearing at times completely, relocated by its rattling call. 

Cracking bird.

This was my second RBF at Druridge, the first one was back in September 2007 when Janet caught one in her nets

I had originally intended to put a high-tide seawatch in this afternoon, until texts from my friend Steely on the Farne Islands with tales of migrants arriving convinced me the bushes were a better option.

We were ringing this morning. It was quite quiet in the bushes, with a lot of birds seemingly moved out overnight. The highlight was catching some meadow pipits, nine in all, in one of our more open nets.

meadow pipit
We caught our first song thrush on the autumn but only one warbler, a chiffchaff.

156 red-breasted flycatcher

PWC Score 225

Saturday, 13 September 2014

More birding, more ringing

The wind is still in the east so I took another Friday off work and put some nets up at Druridge. It was much quieter than last week but we caught 24 birds so it was worth while. 

It was definitely a day for goldcrests, robins and chiffchaffs with a few wrens for good-measure. We caught this pied flycatcher on the last net-round as we were packing up.

Pied flycatcher
Away from the ringing, meadow pipits and skylarks could be heard going over all morning and there was a steady passage of south-bound swallows. A great-spotted woodpecker was headed the other way, towards East Chevington.

I gave the bushes a good thrashing this morning. There were still plenty of chiffchaffs, goldcrests and the odd willow warbler, whitethroat and robin. Meadow pipits and skylarks were still going over, but not as many as yesterday.

Blue tit on one of the numerous feeders that have appeared at Druridge. You can see this is a first-year bird, there is still some juvenile feathers on the head.
Despite wall-to wall easterlies (and for the foreseeable future), the conditions aren't right to drop migrants in, if they are coming over the north sea, they must be going straight inland. Monday night/Tuesday morning could bring an interesting band of rain. A single ruff was on the Budge fields and a male sparrowhawk was about.

Northumberland County Council (Mike Carr) have been in this week and resurfaced the path to the Oddie Hide (a public right of way). They've done a great job, constructing a path that should be accessible to all, drain freely and last a few years and visiting birders will be able to find the hides now.

The new path
Janet turned up on a white horse.

Janet, on a white horse.

155 Pied flycatcher

PWC Score 219

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Bit of ringing, bit of birding

Friday off work meant a long weekend for me, I put my day off to good use and put some nets up.

It was really calm and a thick sea-fret was in, although it was a 'hanging' fret rather than a 'wetting' one, which was good for ringing.

I only had three nets up and caught and 45 birds, seven of which were retraps. We caught a few passage migrant warblers, mostly chiffchaffs and blackcaps with lesser whitethroat, sedge warbler and willow warbler adding to the diversity. We also caught seven goldcrests, the first of the autumn.

Meadow pipit passage was evident on Friday and for the rest of the weekend along with a few skylarks. A great-spotted woodpecker was noted flying through as were a whimbrel and 4 ruff with some lapwings.

The weather forecasts for Friday night to Saturday morning were all over the place. They all predicted rain, but differed in how long it would last. It was clear by dawn, so I was out looking for migrants. I started in the plantation, with a spotted flycatcher and a 'hippo' type warbler, which I had the briefest of views of and was never seen again despite and hour and a half spent in the pines searching for it. It appeared to be a compact warbler, slightly larger than willowchiff, warm buffy brown above and on the flanks, off-white-grey on the underside. That is all I got on it.

I gave up on it and went to check the bushes elsewhere. Lots of goldcrests, robins, chiffchaffs and whitethroats were flitting about. On the fence by the entrance there were two wheatears, they were later joined by a whinchat, which was my second of the morning. I was beginning to think I might miss whinchat this year then two come along at once (I saw two more at Snab Point later in the day).

wheatears on return passage
Skylarks and meadow pipits were going south all morning.

This morning, I went to ring a brood of barn owls. This is a second brood from a pair that has already fledged a brood of four. There were five of them, with quite a size difference, this one being the largest.

young female barn owl (you can see how spotty she is), the biggest of five from a second brood.

Today was also WeBS count day. Highlights were a good count of moorhen (17) and little grebe (16). This evening there were 16 red-throated divers in the bay, many in breeding plumage still. there are still red admiral and lots of speckled wood butterflies on the wing, the latter being the commonest butterfly at Druridge which was not even noted here until 2006. Migrant hawkers and common darters were about too.

red admiral
common darter on a bramble leaf
153 spotted flycatcher
154 whinchat

PWC Score 217

Sunday, 31 August 2014

End of summer?

I do like my notebooks and there is always something nice about finishing and old book and starting a new one.

The first two birds written into the old book were pied thrush and Kashmir flycatcher, in Sri Lanka - that will take some beating. The first bird in the new book was a blue tit, in the bushes by the entrance at Druridge. I wonder how long it will be before the notebook is replaced by an app that sends the records straight to the cloud? The technology is here now.

Yesterday there were a lot of warblers, mostly juveniles, in the bushes. Between the entrance bushes and the Budge screen I counted 9 whitethroats, 10 willow warblers, 4 chiffchaffs and a sedge warbler. A goldcrest called by the Budge screen.
willow warbler
There were also a lot of hirrundines moving south. At first they mainly appeared to be swallows, but soon house martin took over as the most numerous.

On the pools, 13 ruff dropped in with two smaller waders (later tracked down by Dave as an LRP and a dunlin).  And that was it, I had limited time as I was off to the match

Due to a massive hangover, it was after 4pm when I got down to the patch today. Yesterday's ruff were still on the Budge fields with at least nine snipe and a redshank. A dunlin was out in front of the Oddie hide.

little grebe enjoying the sun
In the Oddie hide, there was a swallow mystery. The two chicks were still some way of fledging when I checked them on Wednesday, with perhaps another six to eight days to go. Today, there was no sign of them, nest empty and deserted. It is feasible, as they were on a ledge, that a rodent or mustelid got them.

There were still some butterflies on the wing including red admiral, wall and this speckled wood.

speckled wood

So the dunes. This arctic skua was harassing terns just offshore, most of my photos of it were out of focus, these two weren't bad.

arctic skua

common gull

There were 21 sanderling, one dunlin and one ringed plover on the beach.

Juvenile dunlin
Add caption
So, today is officially the end of summer, it's felt autumnal since the first week of August I reckon. There might be some easterlies this week, with a potential low pressure moving in towards Friday....

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

A couple of ringing sessions and a seawatch

A couple of days of work as given rise to the opportunity to do some ringing at Druridge.

On Sunday the wind was in the west, so I decided to postpone a planned ringing session until Monday, when the wind was forecast to be out of the east. Bad move.....

There were a lot of warblers around the bushes on Sunday, but on a clear night, they all left, leaving the bushes very quiet indeed on Monday morning. We only ringed 15 birds and the only warblers were three blackcaps.

Yesterday,  I tried a bit of viz-migging from the big dune, but there wasn't much of migging going on. Of note were at least eight ruff on the silage fields and 13 black-tailed godwit that lifted off the Budge fields and flew north. House martins and sand martins are few now, but there are still plenty of swallows.

I had a similarly unspectacular seawatch yesterday evening seeing only one Manx shearwater and one Arctic skua of note in an hour.

Today's ringing session was a little more worthwhile, but given the time of year, the bushes were still very quiet, any migrants must have overshot Druridge on a clear and calm night.

James Common (aka Tintin) joined me and we caught 20 new birds. On the warbler front were six blackcaps, one wood warbler (new for the patch), one chiffchaff and one lesser whitethroat.

Lesser whitethroat
Wood Warbler. Very unexpected. Not the best photo - taken with the iPhone.
The swallow chicks have departed the little hide. There are two chicks left in the last nest in the Oddie hide, they should fledge in nine days or so for a later trip down to Africa.

150 spotted redshank
151 wood warbler
152 lesser whitethroat

Patch List 235

PWC Competition - 215

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Dodging showers

The weather today has been very odd for the time of year. It felt almost winter-like at times, then in a sheltered, sunny spot, more like how August should feel. And then there were the showers... torrential.

I visited the patch quite early this morning and headed for the hides. The four swallow chicks in the little hide have fledged, but are returning to the to be fed by the adults. They are so used to people in the hide, they didn't move, even when the hide was full.

Still at home - hanging around waiting to be fed. I ringed these birds on nine days ago
I wonder if all four of them will squeeze back in here tonight?
 The only wader activity was a few snipe and a single common sandpiper in front of the Oddie hide. There were a few warblers along the track, willow warbler, blackcap, whitethroat and chiffchaff were noted.

willow warbler
spot the imposter
Offshore, a lone arctic skua sat on the sea.

I popped back to the patch this evening and had a look out from the Budge screen. There were at least five, maybe six ruff, a green sandpiper, three greenshank, one redshank, a few snipe and 14 curlew on the adjacent fields. Three or four late swifts moved through in a generally southerly direction.

There were a lot of hirrundines over the pools and later, at dusk, lots of swallows were around the concrete block house - I wonder if they roost in there?

swallows at dusk by the blockhouse

Apocalyptic skies over Widdrington
We went for lunch in Amble today, so called in to see the Caspian gull as Janet needed for her Northumberland list.
iPhone-scoped shot of the Casp