Thursday, 23 July 2009

last visit for a bit

A very quick visit Druridge tonight could be my last for while, in between showers I had a quick scan of the sea, 1 red throated diver, 3 roseys and 60 common scoter were all of note.

On todays walk, between Seahouses and Belford, the highlight was a quail singing at New Shorstone (and excellent goosberries in the hedge!). There were plenty of yellowhammers singing including three on Bamburgh Golf Course.

I'm off to Spain on Saturday so that's me for a bit!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Two year ticks

An evening visit to Druridge for an hour produced two long-awaited year ticks, both from a short seawatch.

The first was a single turnstone flying south, still in its summer garb, I didn't see turnstone on the patch in 2008 so I was happy with this one!

The second was knot, two moulting birds also flying south. Offshore there were also at least three roseys, probably more and 50 common scoter.

My year list on the blog is way out, I have updated my spreadsheet which says these are 126 and 127 for the year, this time last year I was on 133 so a bit of catching up to do.

Back to the burnet moth saga, a 'phone call from the Boulmer Birder today, after I commented on his blog about my five spot burnets at Druridge. He had gone away and read up on this on NE moths, which says that narrow-bordered five-spot burnet (I got the name wrong too) does not occur north of Druridge Bay (ie not in vice county 68).

Before Stewart called, Chuck (the NT warden) and I had seen at least two narrow-bordered five spots at Football Hole near Newton on today's coast path walk, I didn't photograph them sadly. Tomorrows walk is from Seahouses to Belford, so I shall be looking for them along the way.

narrow-bordered five-spot burnet moths

126 turnstone
127 knot

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Up the Coast

No visit to Druridge today.

I was leading a guided walk along the Northumberland Coast Path for work from Warkworth to Craster, deep in to Boulmer Birder territory. The day started out nice, sunny with little wind. By lunchtime (took sheltered in the safety of Boulmer church), it was lashing down and was still lashing down when I left Craster at 7pm following an evening meeting.

Highlights of the walk were two common sands at Warkworth, lots of reed buntings throughout including family parties at Warkworth, Buston and Boulmer. family parties of stonechat at Warkworth and Buston and a singing gropper at Buston too.

Lots of gulls and waders including some stunning summer plumaged turnstone at Boulmer.

Butterflies included lots of painted ladies, the whites, meadow and wall browns, small skipper, small tortoiseshell, ringlet and red admiral. Silver Y and lots of six spot burnet moths, as opposed to all five spots at Druridge and Amble yesterday.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Sunday Evening

Sunday first visit to Druridge this weekend, bad form!

Friday was too wet and I was too busy on Saturday so we had to go tonight. The incredible amount of rain that fell on Friday has filled all the pools up, even the bare earth in front of the little brought it waders.
A rapid transformation on the budge fields

When we arrived there were four greenshanks on the Budge fields, which were soon put up by something.

From the little hide there were 7 snipe and a greenshank. The resident lapwings had there chicks out on the fresh muddy edges.

The big pools was full too, the rocks and promontories under water, but there waders here too, three common sands and a greenshank.
common sandpiper from the Oddie hide

We then had a look on the sea, none of the bonxies reported over the weekend. Lots of tern activity though including at least five roseys and three little terns. An adult little gull flew south too.

Now I have an admission to make, this post showed pictures of what I thought were six spot burnet moths, I was wrong, they are actually five spot burnet moths. Six spots show two very obvious red blotches at the end of the wings whereas five spots have one big blotch, sometimes with an obvious vein through it. So the majority, if not all, on the dunes at the moment are five spot burnets.
five spot burnet moth on ragwort

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Druridge....2 minutes of fame

After receiving email from 'concerned' members of the public about dead puffins on the beach, BBC contacted me yesterday to do an interview about them. So, having been up since dawn, ringing reedy stuff with Ian at E. Chev, I headed down to Druridge to meet the man from the Beeb.....chief reporter no less!

We were down on the beach a good while the cameraman got his shots, which gave me time to scan the sea - six red-breasted mergansers have appeared since last night.

You can watch my efforts at

whizz forward to 06:25 to get to the story

We talked about bycatch and driftnet fishing a lot, but sadly none of that made it onto the final cut, I guess there isn't much of a story, puffins die as result of completely legal fishing which isn't affecting the population....

MSK and ADMc had both told me recently that they had seen little owl on Druridge Lane, just outside the patch, well, today I saw one at last. Sadly though, not as I would have wished, it was squashed, on the road..

It was certainly worth the early morning, Ian and I caught over 30 birds at E. Chev, mostly juvenile reed and sedge warblers as well as this nice juvvy reed bunting

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Short Seawatch

I called in at Druridge briefly tonight after a session ringing barn owls pullis with Hugh in the Doddington area.

A short seawatch was the game, there were lots of terns fishing offshore, mainly 'commics' with a lot of sandwich and at least five rosey's. The great northern diver (reported earlier today offuv E. Chev) was now off Druridge and an adult little gull flew S as did two manxies.

A group of 19, presumably returning, summerish plumaged sanderling pitched onto the beach with a couple of ringed plover - soon scared off south by dog walkers with out-of-control hounds!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Grim Bycatch

July heralds the arrival of drift netting boats being seen in Druridge Bay....and the arrival of dead puffins on the beach.

Drift netters fish from cobles, usualy seen at dawn, they use nets that aren't attached to the boats, they are 'set' then left to drift and collected back in later with their catch of salmon, sea trout........and puffins.

Unfortunatly puffins are a bycatch of this type of fishiong, the birds, diving for sand eels, become trapped in the nets and drown. The young that they are feeding on nearby Coquet are also likely to die of starvation if one of the parents die. I counted 13 dead puffins on 1km of beach dead, all fresh corpses.

Every July and August for as long as I can remember I have seen dead puffins on the beach at this time of year, previously healthy birds, an unfortunate bycatch of this type of fishing.

There are few drift netters still operating on the North East coast, many licences have been bought up or the fisherman encouraged to cease (for the sake of the salmonids, not the puffins!), but a few still operate and every July and August, early in the morning, you will see the tradional cobles out in Druridge Bay drift-netting.

A few hours later the first corpses arrive on the beach. If you do come across any whilst out walking, turn them over to check if they ringed.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

busy, busy week

It's been an incredibly busy week since my last post, I've been to Ireland with work which included a trip to the Causeway Coast and Binevenagh AONB in North Antrim, very nice bit of coastline it is too..
Causeway Coast near Giant's Causeway

When I got back we did a farm survey over at Carraw Farm on Hadrian's Wall, on Saturday afternoon I went ringing mute swan cygnets with the Hanmer family, very entertaining.
Him and his younguns, waiting to be ringed at Lee Moor Farm
Is that a swan sticking out of your arse or are you just pleased to see me?
flat-packed swan, Ikea bags make handy swan weighing devices.
And when the pacific golden plover was flying around East Chev, very nearly on my patch I was on my way to theatre in Sunderland. Add to this making jam and cakes, going to a two year olds birthday party, identifying that I have 'onion white-rot' and there is no cure, it didn't leave much time to go to Druridge.

On the short visits to Druridge there wasn't much to report, I spent all of Friday's visit strimming the net rides...

Yesterday we had a dark green fritillary butterfly on the track to the Oddie Hide (still there tonight), this is the first DGF I have seen at Druridge for a few years.

We also saw a barred straw moth by the Budge screen.
In the dunes there are hundreds of six-spot burnett months this year and lots of caterpillars too, there were 8 on this one thistle flower.

To make up for not seeing the pacific golden plover at Chev, I did get two year-ticks today at Druridge, firstly this afternoon, a fly-by little tern offshore.

I went back down to Druridge tonight to finish strimming in front of the hides, so the otter-spotters can see out.

As I had scared everything of the pools, I went to look offshore, scanning a small gull roost on the beach, I picked up a colour-ringed second summer med gull, the cr was red with white text, I thought I could make out a 'P' on it, which would make it polish, sadly I couldn't read the rest.

So, if anyone reading this is an NTBC member waiting for their monthly bulletin, that'll be my fault as my section is still not finished, there's simply not enough hours in the day!

120 little tern
121 Mediterranean gull

Sunday, 5 July 2009

The weekend

I've not really been down to Druridge much over the weekend, we had a quick visit on Friday night, again there wasn't much new about, but the sunset was nice.

Saturday was spent ringing, firstly with Ian at East Chevington, which was quite disappointing as we expected a good catch, but actually caught very few. This juvvy reed warbler was nice though (Pic by Ian)

We packed in at 0920 and I went north to meet the Hanmers to ring some barn owls in the Alnmouth to Rennington areas. We ringed young out of three boxes, with the other not quite big enough.
On the Howick Estate as we were leaving one of the boxes, Hugh got his eye on a long-winged raptor ahead, we bundled out of the car to see a red kite. We watched as it picked up height, at the same time I was on the phone to the Boulmer Birder as it was nearly over his house, sadly mobile reception in this area is not good and BB did not get onto the bird.
The bird was untagged, but was probably from the release scheme, a few birds are starting to drift north now, how long until I get one at Druridge?
A brief visit to Druridge this evening, dodging showers. The Silage field next to the Budge field has been cut and as I predicted has attracted birds, tonight there were about 50 rooks and jackdaw, 34 curlew, 28 lapwing, 5 whimbrel, 3 golden plover and an oyc. Not bad!

The three lapwing chicks we ringed last week are still alive an pottering around the fields and the stonechat pair in the dunes have fledged another brood of three younguns (making it six this year).
There were a few damselfys on the track to the oddie hide, a painted lady and several meadow browns, there were also these two strange beasts 'on the job' - no idea what they are - any thoughts?

This latticed heath moth was on the track too.

greylag family
I am off to Ireland for a few days with work, let's hope Druridge stays quiet until I get back!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

nowt doing

It's that dead time at the end spring when nothings on the move at all, I've been to Druridge four times in the last three days and everythings the same. On the sea tonight there were two arctic skua's, 2 rosey's and a handful of manxies.

Nothing of note on the pools, they were cutting the grass on the silage fields behind the reserve tonight, so that might bring something in?