Saturday, 30 May 2015

Twitching and patch oddities.

The undoubted ornithological highlight this week, possibly the year, was off-patch. A black-winged pratincole was found yesterday afternoon by Dave and Bob Dack at Bothal Pond.
black-winged pratincole at Bothal Pond
A new bird for me, anywhere in the world, it showed terrifically well, flying regularly back and forth over the pond. It didn't come too close to the southern shore so this is the best photo I managed. A cracking bird though, so cracking I spent over two hours watching it.

Back on the patch, on Wednesday morning two mandarin ducks and a barnacle goose were reported on the Budge fields. I had to drive past Druridge, so took my lunch-break on the patch, catching up with both species. Since my first patch mandarin in June 2012, I've recorded the species in three out four years. Odd timing for a barnacle goose, maybe it had decided not to make the trip back north?

There was also two garganey and a little ringed plover of note.

On Thursday a male ruff was present and it was joined by a second today along with a black-tailed godwit and the two drake mandarins.


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

A quick summary of a long weekend

Friday 22nd

Finally caught up with the very mobile spoonbill (118) which was fast asleep on the Budge fields also managed to nail for certain, Arctic tern - previous likely terns have gone down as 'commics', though no sign of the reported great northern diver offshore. Also of note - two whimbrel north.

Saturday 23rd

Ringing from 0445. Caught three whitethroats and re-trapped a willow warble that we ringed as an adult last May, a greenfinch was an unusual species to catch in May - brought in by the addition of feeders to the patch. Definitely two, maybe three barn owls hunting first thing. Year-ticked collared dove at the farm (120).

Monday 25th

An early start (for a Bank Holiday) to be on the patch and away again before the masses arrive. There appears to be four active swallow nests in the Oddie hide now, twice as many as last year.

In full song outside the little hide
The mute swan family were asleep outside the Oddie hide, with all six cygnets hiding under the female when I arrived.

This photo amused me, it looks like a two-headed swan! A first for science at Druridge Pools.
'In tow' the female followed by her 'otter food'
Showing off! "I can break a man's arm you know"
A little grebe was, incredibly, my first of the year - what had happened to them this year, is it just Druridge?
My first speckled wood of the year in the bushes (iPhone shot)
With reports of little gulls at both Chevington and Cresswell Pond, I returned for an evening visit to try and catch up with this species. When I arrived, there were over 150 black-headed gulls hawking St. Mark's flies over the bushes. I plonked myself on top of the big dune to find the little gulls among them. I only found one, a first summer bird (122).

I am slowly making up lost ground in the Patchwork Challenge, with the latest additions giving me 155 points. I am going to have find some serious rares to top last year.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Stints in a storm

I called in to Druridge after work this evening to give the Budge fields a quick check. A black-tailed godwit was out front, as I scanned the mud a single little ringed plover dropped in, but it didn't stay long.

I got onto two small waders way out in an area of shallow water and plants. They were stints, distant and up to their bellies in water. My first thought was to go with the most likely - little stints as they had been seen recently, but I couldn't rule out Temmincks.  I called Dave Elliot to let him know.

I continued to watch them and as the light improved my suspicions grew. Dave arrived but the birds had moved, we soon picked them up on some mud and could get more on the 'jizz'...but now there were four of them.

We watched them for ages, the upperparts were greyish, with little rufous and no sign of any pale 'braces', we couldn't do anything with leg colour at this distance, but they appeared at times,  to have the creeping gait that Temmincks have.

The birds were flushed and flew, showing white a white outer-tail - things were looking good for Temmincks. After flying for a while, the birds settled nearer the little hide, we headed for that hoping for a better view, which we got. The light was still awful as a storm brewed to the north, but against a darker background we saw the leg colour was greenish, not dark. We were both happy they were Temmincks stints.

16 Black-tailed godwits arrived and so did Trevor Blake (wearing a T Shirt!) as the rain began to fall and the thunder and lightening started. By the time Andy Cowell arrived the rain and turned to hail. An almighty storm passed through with massive hailstones and virtually constant rattles of thunder. I wished I had brought my SLR camera to capture it well. We were joined in the hide by some swallows seeking shelter.

I saw something I have never seen before. At the height of the storm, two black-headed and a common gull dropped in, onto the pool in front of the hide. As soon as the landed, all three tipped their heads backwards and pointed their bills directly upwards into the air. They stayed like that until the hail ceased, a few geese and ducks were doing the same. We presumed they were doing this to protect their skulls from the large hailstones?

Jonathon Farooqi and his father arrive, crunching through the hail
Looking a lot like Christmas!
iPhone shots - I wished I'd taken the SLR!
I called briefly at Druridge this morning on my way to work, after DE had reported a spoonbill, no sign of it, but an avocet was on there.

Later in the day 'lucky' Andy McLevy had an Osprey at Druridge. I've only ever had one 'patch' osprey, a spring bird, back in the late nineties. I'm long overdue another one!

117 Temmincks Stint

PWC Score 147 (self found bonus points for Temmincks)

Monday, 18 May 2015

Back for a stint

There has been no blog updates for a while as I have been in Spain for a week. We started in Valencia and headed down in to Castilla-La Mancha to the La Mancha wetlands where we saw lots of these:

Flamingoes at Laguna Larga
Next we headed to Sierra de Andujar in search of lynx, it was unseasonably hot which meant we didn't see lynx or many birds. We did see lots of these:

Azure-winged magpie at Sierra de Andujar
We finished the trip checking out saline lagoons and salt pans on the Murcia/Alicante coasts. it was interesting to see the breeding little terns there, making their scrapes on the banks between the salt pans.

Little tern at Las Salina de San Pedro del Pinatar, Murcia
It was also interesting to see some passage waders coming through including a lot of curlew sandpipers, little stints and even turnstone.

It wasn't long until I would see little stint again..

Back to reality on Sunday morning, back to Druridge to the WeBS count in the freezing wind. There was crowd of folk in the Budge screen when I got there, I thought it was a twitch! A drake garganey and two wood sandpipers were soon pointed out and four little egrets were out on the fields - canny start to the count!

Soon after ADMc had left to look for a little stint at Cresswell, Bob Biggs picked up three small waders in flight, over the fields, which appeared to head off over the big pool. They hadn't, as I soon picked them up on the mud, two dunlin and a little stint. Little stint is a bit of rarity at Druridge, I've only seen them in three of the last eight years.

I had a quick visit to the Budge fields tonight. One of the wood sandpipers was still there and a little ringed plover was out on the mud.

115 little stint
116 little ringed plover

PWC Score 141

Friday, 1 May 2015

Waders, wagtails, wheatears and a weasel

A quick visit to the patch last night to check the Budge fields for waders and garganey with no luck on the latter.

There were a few waders on the mud. There were either four or five ruff, including a new orangey-brown individual (which was on the fields to the south this morning), two dunlin and black-tailed godwit. A whimbrel flew in as I was leaving, but seemingly over 100 whimbrels dropped in after 8pm.

Also of note were four pintail, two drakes and ducks, a pair of little egrets and white wagtail.

Another quick visit this morning produced my first yellow wagtail of the year, a nice bright male which was at on a fence only three posts from a kestrel. On the dunes, there were a few wheatears and this cheeky chap popped his head up before scampering off.

Willow warbler by the Budge screen
110 Yellow wagtail