Tuesday, 30 September 2008
check out this report from Malta from the leicester llama or go straight here to see the video - sickening!
Also check this out on You Tube
Join BirdLife Malta here
Monday, 29 September 2008
Saturday was quite still, but sunny and in hindsight, we should've had the nets up. It was pretty quiet but a great-spotted woodpecker by the plantation was a year-tick. There seems to be two goldfinch flocks, one by the entrance willows and another by the Druridge bushes, numbering about 40 each, with a linnet flock in the dunes numbering about 40 too. Offshore 12 geese moved north which looked like brent, but they were miles out and the heat-haze was strong, there were 12 RTDs and 17 tufted duck moved north.
On Sunday I resisted the temptation to twitch the stilt sand in Cumbria in favour of Dru...it was a cold start but warmed up to 18 deg C by lunchtime. JF and I were ringing and had a canny morning, nowt startling but steady:
reed bunting 3
robin 2 + 2 retraps
goldcrest 6 + 2 retraps
coal tit 2
blue tit 1
sparrowhawk retrapped male from last visit - nice!
There has been an influx of blue and coal tits since I came back from Tenerife. All the time we were ringing pink-footed geese seemed to be moving south above us, we counted at least 400, but many more would have gone over uncounted whilst we were ringing or checking the nets. A few mippits and skylarks were on the move too.
Oh..and there appear to be more cows on the Budge fields, I counted 11 on Sunday, a case of too little, too late! Maybe next year eh?
147 great-spotted woodpecker
Friday, 26 September 2008
Lots of wrens, robins, dunnocks and goldcrests in the woods as well as the increasing goldfinch flock, nowt of else of note. I am revising my next patch tick prediction to pallas's warbler.
Thursday, 25 September 2008
Canary Islands chiffchaff
We had to travel for the more specialised birds, the two endemic pigeons were our next targets, we headed to the neighbouring island of La Gomera for these. Bolle's and laurel pigeons inhabit the laurel forests which cover the north of La Gomera and some bits of Tenerife between 500 and 1000 metres. A bit of a wait at a recommended view point produced good views of both species, you never see them perch out though, just flying by. Nice birds!
We also saw our first Canaries on La Gomera, though we saw 10o's more throughout the trip. The boat trip to and from La Gomera is suppose to be good for seabirds, the outbound trip was quiet, we returned to Tenerife in the late afternoon and this was more productive, but only for cory's shearwaters with at least 150 seen from the ferry.
Next job was to ascend to the pine forests which are between 1200 and 2000 metres, to look for blue chaffinch which is only found in the pines. We camped at what is regarded as the best site for them with the hope of seeing them early in the morning, maybe we were too early as we saw none. The night skies more than made up for it though, I've seen some amazing night skies in the Gambia and India, but this topped them both, no wonder the astrologers regard Tenerife as one of the best places for star-gazing. We saw lots of blue chaffinches further down the road at Chio as well as great-spotted woodpecker (ssp canariensis), the chaffinches are amazingly tame and we approached them to 3-4m at a drinking pipe. So that was the endemics in the bag!
Blue chaffinch - very approachable, we got within feet of this female
great-spottted woodpecker - canariensis subspecies
Tajinaste rojo plant in stunning geology
Other notable birds were macronesian shearwater (used to be little), sub-alpine warbler and the endemic or near endemic sub species of yellow-legged gull, sparrowhawk, common buzzard, kestrel, long-eared owl, lesser short-toed lark, grey wagtail, blackbird, spectacled warbler, sardinian warbler, blue tit, southern grey shrike and chaffinch.
southern grey shrike - koenigi subspecies
blue tit - teneriffae subspecies - very different to ours!
We also found time for lots of good food and wine, exploring the geology, visiting a 1000 year old dragon tree and chillin on the beach (or roasting on the beach....), all in all a very good trip. A trip report might follow if I can be arsed. Now back to Druridge!
A test for Boulmer Birder!
Sunday, 14 September 2008
As for the birds, well the highlight of the day, surpassing yesterdays rb shrike and for me equally as thrilling as last weeks greenish was a wryneck ITN (in the net). We found it on the third net round, in the most northerly net.....geddin. Wrynecks are just fantastic birds in the hand, I've seen them before in Malta in the hand but never in Britain and as JF had already done them, I got to ring it too!
Wryneck's not a patch tick, BB found one a few years ago in the entrance willows, I think it was the last year of the patch comp. Check out this vid of it wrynecking.
Dru was very busy today, at 10ish, some people turned up in a 4X4 with the worlds biggest BBQ, Blakey managed to get this pic. Unlike last weeks quad-bikers, the BBQ pushers failed to get there kit through the gap in the fence, so left in stranded with one of those cheap'n'nasty gazebo's over it - classy! Whoever they were, they were popular, there were at least 40-50 cars there...maybe it was Mike Ashley? Anyhoo it created parking chaos, along with most of the county's birders and photographers turning up at some time to see yesterdays shrike, all of who no doubt got better piccies than me.
T'ra for now!
willow warbler 5
song thrush 2
blue tit 2
Saturday, 13 September 2008
The dead and dying....
144 red-necked grebe
145 red-backed shrike
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
Although a lot of the weekends 'fall' birds have cleared out, there are still a good few around. I went to Druridge before work this morning, just for an hour and a bit, only birding the entrance willows, the next clump of bushes and around the Budge screen. Still got 6 redstarts, 5 pied fly, 3 spotfly and several willow warblers and blackcaps....still no wryneck
Two pairs of yellow wag flew south calling within minutes of each other, three whimbrel flew south and the juvenile marsh harrier was perched on the fence across the Budge fields for the whole time I was there.
It looks as though there maybe easterlies forecast for Saturday and Sunday - fingers crossed!
Monday, 8 September 2008
Sunday, 7 September 2008
Naturally I headed for Dru, via Widdrington as some wazzack had abandoned his VW Passat in the middle of the flood, blocking the road. The wind wasn't as strong as forecast, so JF decided to put the nets up - however we were thwarted..the track to the Budge screen was at welly height, so we got that one up, and the top end was OK but the rest were just too deep. Basically the pool was now in the wood. There were hods of birds about though and if we had had've had more nets up we would've done well.
Scary...where is the bridge?
Redstarts were everywhere, we caught 3 but there were counted at least 29 more, spotflys and pied flys were also everywhere, the highlights though were firstly barred warbler, a first year bird going through the bushes where we were parked and a greenish warbler, which I first picked up by the track to the hides (impassable) with about 20 willow warblers, which we lost, after a net round we heard it calling then saw it again, briefly, shortly later walloping a green caterpillar off a twig. There may well have been two greenish, as the earlier bird was a bit distant from the second??
The wood and fields were lifting birds with birds til mid-afternoon with at least 60 wheatear on the roadside and field. Considering most of the woods were inaccessible and we were ringing which slowed down birding, most of our numbers could easily be trebled. Looking at RBA tonight most places got wryneck but we didn't..hopefully the waters will subside overnight giving us access to the other net rides tomorrow.
Still - a fantastic day...greenish and barred were both patch ticks and a handful of year ticks - hopefully some of these birds might hang arond til tomorrow?Key Totals
redstart 32 (3 caught and ringed)
pied flycatcher 10 (1 caught and ringed)
spotted flycatcher 10
willow warbler 31 (2 caught and ringed)
garden warbler 4
barred warbler 1
greenish warbler 1
lastly, i went to the Chute (ta BB) to get my veg...
"canny marra yungun"
139 pied flycatcher
140 garden warbler
141 barred warbler (215)
142 greenish warbler (216)
Saturday, 6 September 2008
Trev and Martin - part of the BioBlitz team
We were rewarded with some good sightings, and 80+ biological records for Dru...highlights were a juvenile marsh harrier on both days, bullfinch (year tick)and otter. I like the idea of a Bioblitz - anything that sparks interest biodiversity in the County has to be a good thing.
marsh harrier over Dru
Let's hope the waters subside and I can get to Dru tomorrow morning...there's iccies, wrynecks and flycatchers all over the coast (I was damned certain I had an iccie on the track to the hides this morning - it was calling, but I lost it in the torrential rain)...A conundrum though - got to Tynemouth for red-throated pipit - a British tick (tho I've seen hods of em Europe) or got to Dru and bash the patch......I guess there is only one winner!Talking of winners - I had to vacate my post at Dru this morning to get my vegetables to the Ellington Miners Welfare Centre, Horticultural Society Show - or the Shur as it is known in these parts. I called by there tonight to see how I had done and have a pint....1st prize for my vegetable marrow (marra) and 1st for my summer turnip....Pics to follow tomorrow (alongside all of the rares from Dru!!)
Monday, 1 September 2008
Tonight I checked the sea where there were 10+ RTD's mostly in something resembling summer plumage and not much else of note. Inland there were 65 lapwings on the silage fields, I know cos I counted them and felt rightly chuffed cos when they were flying I guessed 65....not very often I'm right!
Nowt on the fields or big pool, well saying that, a heard of zebra and some giraffe may well have been on the fields but the grass is so high you wouldn't see them...oh no, I feel another rant to NWT coming on...I'm off to take the medicine. Enjoy the mute swan pics.
Oh and as I left I noticed the HRF have multiplied with another caravan appearing today, they had three full pick-up loads of hedge tree clippings parked up, no doubt off to a fully licenced waste disposal site tomorrow morning where the HRF will pay the tipping fees gladly, rather then dumping them in the nearest lay by or at the end of the road.....
And another thing, check out this weather site http://www.xcweather.co.uk/?Loc=GB looks like strong north easterlies on Saturday, might be some seawatching on the cards?
Let's hope it improves for next weekend, I am doing a 'big sit' on the big dune for the bioblitz event at druridge. A Bioblitz is a race against time to count as many species of plant and animal as possible at a particular site in a 24 hour period. it's been organised by the Druridge Bay partnership and will be based around the Country Park VC from lunchtime Friday to Lunchtime Saturday, there's loads going on, check it out at http://www.northumberlandbiodiversity.org.uk/ You can download a full programme.
If any local birders are around and want to join me for an hour or two please do, the more the merrier (It would be useful to show punters what is going on on the land and the sea) . I will be on top of the big dune at Dru from 1400 Friday til dusk and 8am til lunchtime Saturday.