Monday, 25 February 2008


Was at Dru this morning, it was blimmin freezin (and I have man-flu!) with a bitingly cold SW wind, 80 goldfinch on my oats but no skylark..not much else, did some coppicing around the net rides with Janet and Kevin from the National Trust so hopefully our hard work will pay dividends with a mega or two later in the year. I didn't take any pics because we had to carry all the chainsaw kit in, but I will get some on a brighter day. The forecast is for more severe winds over the next day or so...bugger!

Got some news back on my colour ringed black-headed gull from Amble, it's been there before, virtually an annual (must be the chips form the harbour chippy!!). here is the data:

White ring with black J72J Ringing Centre Stavanger Ringnumber 6142906 Ringer Kjetil A. Solbakken
Species Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus) Sex X Age 3cy+ Date 05.04.2005
Place Nidarø, Trondheim, Sør-Trøndelag, NORWAY Coordinates 63.26 N - 10.24 E
Date Locality Coordinates Finder No of days Remarks
03.01.2006 Amble, , Northumberland, ENGLAND 55.51 N - 01.30 W Neil Renwick 273 Harbour
13.02.2006 Amble, , Northumberland, ENGLAND 55.51 N - 01.30 W Ian Davidson 314 Harbour

Nothing on the herring gull yet.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

More signs of Spring

Had a hour or so at dru this afternoon, after doing some tree surgery in a mates garden all morning, it was bright, but breezy and quite mild. Still eight skylarks on my oats. A quick seawatch produced two year ticks, gannet (75) and lesser black-backed gull (76), not really two species I would've struggled with, but they all count! There was some mental bloke swimming in the sea..mad!

Kes in silhouette

Some more signs of spring today, alder catkins and a hawthorn in leaf in the wood..Not much else to report, the pair of kestrels are still hanging about and the National Trust volunteers have done a block of coppicing by the path to the Oddie hide which looks very good, we plan to go and do some more with them tomorrow to improve our chances of catching more birds this autumn!

Nice Work...Coppiced alder and willow by the path to the hide

Thursday, 21 February 2008


Jees, it's Windy tonight...I called at Dru on my way home, but it was too windy to do any birding so just hoyed some oats out and went home, there were 650 woodpigs on the rape field though...

I had lunch at Amble Harbour today, no meds or glaucs, did have two colour ringed birds through a BHG, with a metal ring and white ring with black letterin 'J72J' and a herring gull with a dark blue ring with white lettering 'J3LJ'. I checked the colour ringing website but no projects match - any ideas?

Sunday, 17 February 2008


Janet and I did the second winter visit for our atlas tetrads in the Harthope Valley today, it was a cracking day, bright and sunny but cold, with a cold northerly increasing during the day. We did the Langleeford Hope tetrad first, it was very quiet, no sign of returning mippits or skylark yet, we did have a few siskin (nowhere near as many as last time) and reed bunting and marsh tit which we didn't get last time. Two raven were frustratingly between tetrads (roving record though!). In the second tetrad we had two yaffling green woodpecker and mixed flocks of goldfinch, siskin and crossbill near Langleeford, a pair of stonechat in the Hawsen and goldcrest and 2 treecreeper with a mixed flock near the Hawsen Bridge. We also counted in excess of 40 red grouse. The valley was busy with cars when we got back, but the Cheviots have this amazing ability to swallow up walkers so you rarely see them on the hills.

Harthope Valley from above Langleeford Hope

Called at Dru on the way home, now this was busy, people everywhere! It's amazing how a sunny day brings them out....there were even some kids setting up tents in the dunes when I left..must be mentalists, it's forecast to be -4 deg C tonight!!

Nothing on my oats, guess the hordes of folk scared the birds away, did get a patch tick year tick though (74) with 5 stock dove feeding on the cow grazing bits with about 200 rook. There were 18 RTD offshore, 3 merganinsers and 109 sanderling on the beach.

Sunset over Druridge Pool

My spellchecker isn't working on blogger so apologies for any typo's.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Ear feeding magpie

Another cold but stunning day on the Northumberland Coast, but I had to work, but it was only taking our Young Rangers group to RAF Boulmer for the day. Had some crossbills in the car park, not sure how many as I didn't take my bins (on purpose - they might have thought I was a spy and had me shot!).

RAF Boulmer

Called at Dru on the way home, my oats have now attracted 16 skylark, 20 goldfinch, a linnet and a pied wag......still no snow bunts though. Brian Bulloughs gave me a near heart-attack saying he had heard there was drake smew reported from the pools (later found out it was at DBCP), that would have been MEGA, it's donkeys since I saw a drake smew in Northumberland.

Not much else to report, still plenty of RTDs offshore...I did have the druridge version of oxpecker though, this magpie was eating from the ears of this cow for at least 5 minutes, the cow didn't seem to mind...odd!

Thursday, 14 February 2008

just a quickie...

Had a quick visit to Dru this morning on the way to work, mainly to check my oats and spread some more!! it was a cold but stunningly bright morning, really nice to be out before the grimness of County Hall....

On the way, this reed bunt was feeding on the track, I couldn't resist...I love reed bunts!
Only 8 or so skylark attracted down to my oats, but it's a start, I'll try and check again before the weekend. Otherwise Dru was very quiet...

Sunday, 10 February 2008

it feels like spring.....

It certainly felt like spring this weekend, had my first butterfly of the year yesterday, flying in front of the 'away end' at Villa Park, It and I were there watching the Toon gettin thwapped again , I wonder if it flew by laughing at us all? I think it was a small tortoisehell but it was on the touchline and I was in row L. It was 16 deg. C in Birmingham!

Today was a stunning day too! I headed down to Dru mid-morning to do the WeBS count, it fealt more like summer than spring. The first of the spring flowers was flowering, coltsfoot - which is always first at Dru, other than gorse which seems to flower all year.

Coltsfoot on the bund

Only three species of duck on the wet meadows, teal (128), wigeon (24) and shoveler (15). The pool was v.quiet.

Kestrel on a post though the heat-haze (heat-haze in February!!!)

The sea was like a mill pond, which makes judging size really weird, unless there are boats n stuff around, the sea kinda merges with the sky....odd! Anyhoo there were at least 22 red-throats, 20 shag, razorbill, guillie, 4 merganisers and 13 shelduck. About 33 sanderling were on the shore amongst the more numerous fisherman, I think it was the Newbiggin open or something...?

two of the RTD's (top) and a string of shelduck

I've changed my snow bunt luring plans, on friday I scattered some pinhead oats around were the cattle graze to the north of the patch. No snow bunts but 12 skylark and mippit were there today.

meadow pipit 71
guilliemot 72
razorbill 73

There has been some stunning sunrises and sunsets, even the hell-hole that is County Hall looks nice in this shot!

County Hall and the sunset from the car park on Thursday night, it looks nice but believe me, you wouldn't want to work there!

Friday, 8 February 2008

Quick Visit

Been chopping trees down at Hauxley this afternoon, so called in at Dru on the way home. Even tho it was nearly dark when i got there and i was only there for an hour, I got three year ticks, shelduck (8 of them), shoveler (10 of them) and a single canada goose - that takes me to 70 for the year, still behind BB. Other than about 150 teal, 1 red-breasted merg and a goldeneye, things were otherwise quiet.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

I hate February

February is the worst month for birders I reckon, you've seen most of the tasty winter stuff by now, it's still another month and a half before the first of the spring arrivals, the weather is awful and the patch list will only creep along.

At Druridge this afternoon, I was pondering this, whilst watching the sleet blasting down onto the deserted lake....I reckon the answer might have to be to get away from the patch a bit more, I've got the second winter visit to do for the atlas before the end of the month, so that will get me out to the Cheviots at least. I might also get about the coast a bit, go inland, maybe Kielder and look for gos (feb is a good month for them), I might even leave the County if I am very brave.....

Of course I won't desert Dru, how could I? Well today it was pretty grim down there, a freezin cold SW wind made it feel like -7, it was bright at first then started to sleet - nice! What few birds were about looked cold, especially this kes.

Cold kestrel

The goldfinch flock numbered about 120 with 10 greenies, there were about 200 golden plover and 300 lapwing on the fields, they were being spooked, but I couldn't spot any raptors....

Oh and NWT have been working on the little hide..

A new floor going into the little hide...will it be ready for spring?

Check out this new blog, dedicated to the whole birding scene in the region it looks really good and I am sure it will be popular and if you can't be arsed to create your own blog, you could always post something on this one...

I'm off to find "where to watch birds in Spain....."