Sunday, 20 July 2014

Waders

If I was a migrant wader, I would like the look of the Budge fields at the moment, the vegetation is a bit high, but they'll do.

They were certainly popular with lapwings this morning, there was at least 300 of them. There was also about eight dunlin, one common sandpiper, two ringed plover, one little ringed plover and at least 30 snipe.

On the big pool, there were snipe, three common sandpipers and three whimbrel in front of the hide. Also on the big pool, a pair of great-crested grebes have set up nest, it seems very late, maybe they have failed elsewhere. There were also four pochard, my first of the year.

whimbrel
common sandpipers
snipe
 I caught up with Paul Stewart on the big dune, we saw three little egrets on the Budge fields and very little offshore, an Arctic skua being all of note. Whilst we were chatting, I got a call to say that Bob Dack was watching a curlew sandpiper from the Budge screen. We headed down there and were soon watching a spanking curlew sandpiper, moulting out of summer plumage, still showing plenty of red on the underside.

weird fog this weekend at Druridge
I had a quick look offshore this evening but the light wasn't good as a light fog came and went. The sunset was nice though.

nice sunset over the Cheviot Hills
140 pochard
141 curlew sandpiper

PWC score 185


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Evening birding

I love this time of year, when it is light enough to go out birding for a few hours after work. I got to Druridge at 7pm and left at 9.20pm and there was still plenty of light, by December it will have been dark for five hours at 9.20pm, now there's a sobering thought.

Anyhoo, birding was good tonight. I started with a look on the sea as the tide was high. A scan of the 500 or so scoters produced no oddities, a couple of roseate terns fed close in and on the sea were great-crested grebes, red-breasted mergansers and red-throated divers. Ringed plovers, dunlin and a handful of manx shearwaters were also on the move.

On the Budge fields, it started quiet, with two little egrets roosting on the edge of the shelterbelt,  a third flew in onto the fields and the two roosters joined it, soon to disappear amongst the rush. Soon after, three spoonbills came in from somewhere and settled down to feed. Waders came and went through the rushes including about 12 dunlin, a male ruff in moult, a black-tailed godwit and a handful of snipe.

A barn owl was hunting and then settled on a fencepost in front of the shelterbelt to rip apart a vole and a female marsh harrier flew north.

A very pleasant evening indeed!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Ringing, WeBS and Scoters

I've been away with work, neglecting the patch somewhat.

When I have been to Druridge, I've been keeping any eye on the scoter flock that is loitering in the Bay. My theory is that there is a regular turn-over of birds, last weeks c450 birds might not be there today amongst the 600+. The presence/absence of velvet scoters shows this. There were two flocks tonight, about 450-500 off the patch and about another 200 well north off the T junction at Hadston.

The scoter flock today
linnet
I had a little seawatch on Thursday evening as the northerly wind felt good. About 40 manx shearwaters moved through, two arctic skuas, three roseate terns and an adult med gull where the highlights. Three spoonbill and a little egret were still on the Budge fields.

On Saturday I was ringing. It was quiet, I only caught 16 new birds and five retraps, mostly juveniles.

Ringing totals were (retraps in brackets)

wren 1 (3)
blackcap 5 (1)
willow warbler 1
dunnock 1
magpie 1 (juvenile)
great tit 1
blue tit 1 (1)
chiffchaff 1
reed warbler 1
coal tit 2
chaffinch 1

A single spoonbill loitered on the Budge fields and a family of stonechats were in the bushes in the dunes. A quick evening visit produced a little ringed plover on the Budge fields with two ringed plover, three whimbrel and a single spoonbill.

One of three juvenile stonechat in the dunes
Today was WeBS count day. It's difficult to count birds on the Budge fields when the rush and grass cover is so high, but I did my best. There were very few waders compared to recent days - a single common sandpiper on the big pool was all of note. What was interesting was two female/juvenile goldeneye, I've been through my records and I've never had a July (or August for that matter) goldeneye at Druridge. A great-crested grebe was also of note.

great crested grebe in silvery light
common tern on the big pool

Offshore, there was a single velvet scoter with the scoter flock and at least three roseate terns.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Juvvies

We had a ringing session this morning. It felt quiet all day but we managed to catch 23 new birds and retrap another four. 

The majority of the birds we caught were juveniles, including six wrens, three blackcaps and great tits and a stonechat, our second of the year. 

Two of the retraps were warblers that we first caught last year, a blackcap and a willow warbler. It is always amazing to think that a willow warbler, which weighs about the same as five ripe blackcurrants, has flown over 6000 miles since I handled it last. Migration is a awesome thing! 

This morning brought another sign that autumn is here with a fly-through great-spotted woodpecker. 

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Waders

Autumn is here, at least in the ornithological calender, as return wader passage has begun. The mud on the Budge fields is looking really good, although frustratingly obscured by tall vegetation,  it is attracting birds.

Over the least three days there has been up to three wood sandpipers, three little ringed  plovers, 35 black-tailed godwits, 33 snipe, three ringed plovers, 15 dunlin, eight redshank and two common sandpipers. It will certainly be worth checking over the next few weeks.

Two spoonbills and a little egret continue to hang around on the Budge fields.
Hare on the Budge fields
Elsewhere on the patch, swallows are fledging from the hides and concrete blockhouses and second brood are underway. Stonechats have fledged second broods of young, they will probably triple-brood this year if the weather holds.
Stonechats - having a good year!
Heavy rain for much of last night and this morning must have kept one of the local barn owls indoors overnight, so it was making up for lost time, hunting the dunes at lunchtime today.

Barn owl hunting at 1.30pm

Offshore, the scoter flock remains at about 700. A pair of velvet scoter was with them on Thursday, but they are frustratingly far-out at the moment to pick anything else out.

Lots of butterflies are on the wing now including small skipper, ringlet, dark green fritillary, meadow browns and small tortoiseshells.

Tatty ringlet
Dark green fritillary

small tortoiseshell
Burnet moths are also abundant in the dunes with about five to each thistle head.
narrow-bordered five-spot burnet moths

138 little ringed plover
139 common sandpiper

PWC score 182

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Broken Windows

First, an apology for the lack of blog activity. I decided, as Microsoft had stopped supporting Windows XP, that I should upgrade to Windows 7. Can't be that tricky can it?

It was.

I am back online now and my data has been restored, I hope....

So, since my last post, I have managed to ringing sessions. There aren't many photos I'm afraid as i was ringing on my own.

On Sunday 22nd I had a good session and caught 35 birds, 30 of them were new and the rest re-traps and a controlled reed bunting. It was nice to finally catch some juvenile warblers (blackcaps, willow warbler and whitethroat). I caught eight willow warblers, three of them were juveniles, the rest adults, which makes me think there has been second wave of arrivals. An adult swallow was something we don't catch at often at Druridge.

There were six spoonbills on the Budge fields on Sunday morning, which was amazing to see and certainly my site record count.

During the last week, other highlights have been the steady build up of the scoter flock offshore, which now numbers circa 500 birds. On Tuesday night there was at least one drake velvet scoter among them. Another amazing sight was on Thursday evening when a flock of over 7000 starlings were feeding around the Budge field and the adjacent recently cut silage field - there's gotta be a pink one among them, surely?

A funny moment was when a roe deer walked across the field and lifted a group of 500 or so starling, it got such a shock, making it jump backwards, it then looked up and watched the birds fly off before proceeding, with caution.

I had another ringing session on Friday morning, catching 34 birds. Another swallow, this time a juvenile, was different. Strangely, I caught three juvenile coal tits, which is odd because I've not seen any adult coal tits at Druridge this year and these were very recently fledged. All I can assume is that they have come from the shelterbelt where the herons live?

juvenile coal tit  - but where has it come from?
Today's highlights were four spoonbill, 18+ black-tailed godwits and ten snipe on the Budge mud and a distant female marsh harrier. 

I tried a seawatch this evening, I only gave it an hour or so because it was really cold in a force 4-5 northerly. About 19 manx shearwaters went north and there were either three or five arctic skuas (two might have doubled back and been counted twice). It was good for close gulls again...

black headed gull
herring gull
There were two juvenile reed buntings on the boardwalk tonight.


juvenile reed buntings
I'll end with this little sequence from Seahouses harbour on Wednesday, when I watched a cormorant wrestle with and eventually swallow a large flatfish.










136 bonxie
137 coal tit

PWC Score 180


Monday, 16 June 2014

Gulls

The tides at the moment are big springs, the biggest of the summer at 5.2m. High tide this evening was at about 18.30 and it was so high up the beach, loafing gulls were being moved on regularly and were flying along the dune tops. The light was really nice so I had a play about with my camera and I have to say, I do like it.




black headed gulls


common gulls
I also did a 3/4 hour seawatch, highlights were an fab pale phase arctic skua after the terns, three manx shearwater and a rosey as well as the regular terns, gulls and auks.