Sunday, 30 September 2007

Ringing.......and stuff

Ringing with Janet this morning again, a steady morning, nothing as exciting as an rb fly, but some nice birds including balckcap, siskins, gt spotted woodpecker, goldcrests and song thrush as well as the regulars.

Quite a few skeens of pink-footers going over.
On the way home, I couldn't resist twitching a very obliging grey phal at Cressswell Pond, the bird was only 3m from the road, I took this wothout the scope, again the guys with the flash cameras must have got some stunners.

A quick dodge down to Dru late afternoon, I met Brian Bulloughs, who pointed me in the direction of a migrant hawker dragonfly, I am just getting into dragonflies so this was nice to see on the patch. The black tern, pec sand, ruff and kingfisher were all still there, and the ross's goose, of unknown origin, which has been hanging around E. Chev flew over with a skeen of pink-footers. There was 6+ red-throated divers offshore and a harbour porpoise.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

A patch tick!

I started the day with a seawatch down at Newbiggin, it was quieter than yesterday though, with only a couple of sooties, manxies and arctic skuas of note and the 'star' bird - a cracking blue fulmar about half way out, its a couple of years since I last saw one of these - I think they're great! Stef went off to look for passerines with Jimmy, predicting arctic warbler and a blyth's reed. At about 0920, I was packing up to go and see JF who I knew was ringing at Druridge when she called to say she had a red-breasted fly in the nets. I was off, made it to Dru in about 8 minutes, even though I knew Janet wouldn't release it til I got there. A cracking 1st winter, we checked the uppertail coverts to make sure it wasn't a 'taiga' (ta for the gen Tim!) but it wasn't. Still, a stunning patch tick, SS thought it may be the first record for Dru.

We also ringed coal tit, robin, blackbird, dunnock, goldcrest (4) and chaffinch (2). It was quieter than we expected and once the sun came out it died off so we packed up by 1300. Off to catch the second half of the Newcastle game (less said......) Still in the boozer, I get a text to say there's a Blyths reed warbler in THE HEDGE at Woodhorn, the magical Stef's early morning prediction was bang on. A large twitch had assembled when I got there, with most of the county listers in evidence. The bird showed incredibly well, for blyth's reed, I have twitched at least four of these and failed to connect with any, even travelling to darkest Whitley Bay twice! It showed well I even managed a record shot, the guys with the flash camera kit must have got some stunning shots as the bird perched out in the afternoon sunshine.

I headed back to the patch for a quick look on the sea, there was a large scoter flock in amongst the breakers, which included at least five velvets, a couple of bonxies (1 very close in), an arctic skua and 7 little gulls (3 adults, four juv all together) was all else of note. There was nothing on the beach as there wasn't one.
The ruff and juv black tern were still on the big pool. A long, but very satisfying day in the field.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Seawatchin at Newbiggin

Had to work this morning, for free mind you as I had already maxed my flexi-time grrrrrr! Had lunch at Stag Rocks, there were thousands of Gannets tonking by and as TB had nothing to report from Holy Island I fled south to newbiggin for an afternoon's seawatching. Good morning passage, including six Sabine's gulls and a handful of grey phals had attracted a crowd.

Things were quieter this afternoon but a nice juvenile Sabs close in and very close, if brief, grey phal were very nice. My totals for 1440-1745:

Red-throated diver 8

manx 7

med gull 5

rb merg 3

arctic skua 8

bonxie 7

sooty shear 6

pom skua 1

little gull 16

grey phal 1

teal 24+

velvet scoter 5

sabine's gull 1juv

wigeon 26

A Brambling on the point was welcome year-tick. I spotted this on the way down to newbiggin, an outstanding animal-print fleece, there is another lady hidden who also had one, bu a yellow version. I had to do a U turn, grab my camera and drive slowly by them to catch this shot. Seemingly for those that are interested, they can be bought at Ashington Market. Stunning!!

Should be back on the patch tommorrow all being well.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Pec on the patch

A Pec on the patch, fantastic! Not a patch patch tick but a cracking bird for the pools. Found by Tim and Janet Dean (ta for the call!). Was right in front of the hide when I arrived (complete with massive hangover!), but due to the huge twitch (10 people) I couldn't digi-scope it, but got this on 10X optical.

Not a bad start, add to that an Otter feeding in front of the hide, a kingfisher, 2 ruff, a spoonbill on the budge fields and 6 red-throated divers offshore, not a bad haul. I haven't seen kingfisher on the patch in at least three year so that was nice, pec's are as common!

Some nice shots of a teal and a peacock too.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

A strange day!

I've been at work all weekend, co-ordinating our beachwatch effort. Today I was at Alnmouth in the morning and Bamburgh (with the WI - scary lot!)in the afternoon.

At Alnmouth I get a call off've the Boulmer Birder with news of a British first a mile from my house - White-rumped Swift! which was last seen heading for Warkworth Lane, even closer to my house. But as a true professional, I was at work, so no thoughts of hot-footing it back to Dru even entered my mind! A pec had been reported at Newton (on my way) so thought I would call by (rude not too)..... flushed by a yarkin big black cow minutes earlier - bugger!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was there later but when I went past Newton it was pissing it down, but by the time I got to 'the Widd' it was clear and sunny and Dru was beckoning. Nowt on the sea apart from six loiterin red-throats. But I did get the QEII on the patch list as she was sailin into the Tyne - Get In!

Nothing on the main pool or budge fields either but got some canny shots of snipe and ruff.


Well I've got to admit, my visit back to the pools (1640-1810)after the Portugal stag weekend was lookin a bit boring. nowt on the sea except 5 red-throats (reports of MORE great shears further south) the budge fields have dried up and there was nothing on the main pool of note. A cracking male kestrel was all of note. There were some people tho (rare for dru) and one couple had spotted an Otter, then another. I got on to them, but failed miserably to photograph them, for about 20 minutes, what I presumed was the Dog, as it was geet big like, was feeding in the water about 30 metres from the hide, tricky to get a shot of these chaps, unless they are on a bank I reckon!

Only other thing of note was single juv ruff, which I managed to photograph (without the scope) just as it flew off.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Still not back

OMG I have still not have made it back to the pools, but have managed a pint or two, so things are lookin promising.....honestly. I even made it Newbiggin for a hour or so on Tuesday, but I am still a sufferin.

Anyhoo,,for those amongst you who have other interests other than your lists, and who enjoy music, check out this link to Fionn Regan's Myspace site, he was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize this year but the Klaxons won (how??). anyhoo, check it out. I will check DP tomorrow...honest!

This post was brought to you with 'Carling' lager and 'Gordons' Gin...remember DRINK SENSIBLY

Tuesday, 11 September 2007


Trapped....trapped in a meeting I couldn't escape from (thankfully TAC was trapped there too!) until 1740, whilst both of our phones were pinging messages about dozens (no exaggeration) of great shearwaters whizzing north up the north-sea coastline. Eventually made it Newbiggin by 1800 to be told by the hordes of massed sea-watchers (there was at least a dozen of them too!) that there had been 15 greats through, but not since 1630, sod it, missed 'em!

But, hold on......pagers started beeping, a fea's petrel had flown north past Whitburn at 1750, ETA Newbiggin c 1850...or never? More seawatchers arrived, but guess what, like last weeks Whitburn little shearwater, neither did the fea's. I wonder what happens to these birds, is there something coming out the mouth of the Tyne?

Not been to the patch for over a week, just back from a MONSTER stag weekend in Portugal and to be honest, I'm still recovering.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Super Seawatching - Sabs and Shears

To make up for the lack of effort over the weekend (football, vegetable show - I got 1st prize for my onions! Then the mother of all hangovers on Sunday) I made up for it by going to the pools twice today.

7am - 8.15am

It was a cracking morning, bright but cold with a slight north-easterly. The spooners were on the Budge fields again and a whinchat was perched up. Nothing of note of note on the big pool, about 240 greylag flew north though. A quick look on the sea, six red-breasted merganser were close in and just as I was packing up to leave a cracking pale phase pomarine skua flew south, quite close in my Druridge standards, certainly closer than the farthest pot flags. A quick scope along the inland horizon produced a bird with a familiar dipping flight, it was a good distance away but was a definite great-spotted woodpecker.

6.05pm had me driving to Cresswell and I recieved a call from MSK who was seawatching at Newbiggin, they had had a balearic shearwater close in, the dilemma! Should I go straight to DP and risk missing the bird, head for Snab - I could miss the bird driving south while it flies north or go to the nearest bit of sea - Cresswell Ices - I chose the latter. My choice paid off, by 18.15 the balearic came past close in (if the tide had been out it would have been level with the Carr Rocks). 5 pale-bellied brents and three sooties also past in 10 minutes - Canny!

6.20pm - 7.45pm - cold north-easterly, but bright.

I headed for the Druridge, with the slim hope I might re-connect with the balearic from the patch. Again it paid off, I was watching a group of feeding terns, a few sooties were going through too, but something was amongst the terns, at first I wasn't sure what it was, but it flew a bit. It then preceded to feed with the terns for 10 minutes or so. It was weird though, it would kinda scamper across the sea, then sit or dip, other times it flew a short distance, then kinda belly-flop on the sea. I tried getting TB or NA on their mobiles but no luck, eventually I got Dave Elliott, but by the time he and Andy Cowell got there the terns had dispersed, I was sure the shearwater was still on the sea but we couldn't relocate it. Andy Cowell and I had a dark-phase Pom (no spoons) which appeared to come out of the bay to fly north-east. Just as I was considering packing up (cos I was freezin and the light was going) I picked up a sabine's gull, quite distant, flying north. I knew immediately what it was, as SS would say, you jurst knaaaa! It was a juv/1st winter and was flying with a juv kitti for great comparison, I watched it fly north until it was opposite the County Park - Fantastic! This is my first ever for DP with my only previous Northumberland sightings coming from Newbiggin, including four in one day in September 2005. I plan to desert the patch tomorrow morning for a couple of hours at Newbiggin before work - will I regret it?

So my first patch tick of 2007, with a few year ticks to boot - canny day!

Next patch-tick prediction - red kite!

Seawatching totals (evening)

Sooty Shearwater - 18

Manx Shearwater - 11

Balearic Shearwater -1

Pomarine Skua -1

Arctic Skua -2

Brent Geese - 8

Sabine's Gull - 1