Sunday, 18 February 2018

Long-tailed Duck...

Another bird at the National Water Sports center at Holme Pierrepont was this first-winter male Long-tailed Duck...

And three Canada x Greylag Goose hybrids...

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Spotted Sandpiper in Notts...

On Sunday, me and my dad left home towards Norfolk where we planned to have a couple of days birding and hopefully pick up a couple of new birds for me. On the way down however, we stopped at Holme Pierrepont in Nottinghamshire where a Spotted Sandpiper had been showing recently. It took four hours but eventually it did arrive at its favored white water rafting course and showed really well. I took plenty of photos, with mixed results, but the best are shown below.

There was also a very confiding Long-tailed Duck there but I have not had time to go through my photos of this yet so these will be in another post...

Spotted Sandpiper - the wing bar was a little bit bigger than we were expecting, but importantly, it does not reach the body as on Common Sandpiper.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

A day of twos...

This morning we had another decent day in the bay, there's always just enough to keep us going back. And, for some reason, there seemed to be two of all the highlights today...

Our first stop this morning was Chevington, which was very quiet for us, with the only bird of note being the long-staying Long-tailed Duck. We decided not to bother with the south pool today, and headed south towards Druridge Pools, via Widdrington Moor Lake.

At the latter, one of the Great Northern Divers was still diving in the south-west corner and the many gulls included 2 smart Mediterranean Gulls - a first-winter and a second-winter and our first of the year. 

On arrival at the Budge Screen it was initially quite quiet, but a scan of the ducks revealed the hybrid American x Eurasian Wigeon feeding on the far bank, as well as 4 Black-tailed Godwits. All of a sudden 2 Water Pipits took flight and flew off west, and we thought that would be the last we'd see of them, but it was nice when they both returned, and one even showed really well.

We moved on but not very far as it seemed as though the fields around Hemscott Hill were full of Pink-footed Geese; in fact we estimated over 4000. Pulling over to scan them, the first birds I got onto, and in the closest group were 2 nice adult Greenland White-fronted Geese. A short while later I picked up 2 Eurasian White-fronts in another field, and it was good to be able to compare these.


Water Pipit
And our final paired highlight were these 2 Tawny Owls, my first proper views on the ground...

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Sticking to the patch...

We were once again at the patch this morning, with a juvenile Glaucous Gull at Chevington being new for the year. Other additions were Kingfisher, Bar-tailed Godwit and Skylark.

Druridge Pools was busy with ducks again, and the recent hybrid wigeon was showing well. A smart bird. There were also quite a few waders today including 12 Black-tailed Godwits and 30+ Dunlin

On the way back we stopped at Woodhorn where 7 Eurasian White-fronted Geese with the Greylags included the bird with the black neck ring '1V9'. I've attached its history below from

Eurasian White-fronted Geese - including its ringing history
Glaucous Gull

Eurasian x American Wigeon hybrid

Thursday, 11 January 2018

2017 - An exciting year at Druridge Bay North...

So, here's my post looking back on what was a great year of Patchwork Challenge at my Druridge Bay North patch...

The good birds started straight away on our first visit on the 2nd of January. Sightings that day included the flock of 7 Shore Larks at Chevington burn mouth, Bittern, Hen Harrier and Glaucous Gull. Not a bad start! On the 21st we were at Chevington for first light to see by far the rarest bird of the year - the juvenile Pacific Diver...

Eurasian White-fronted Geese were very easy to see on the patch during January and our peak count was 33 flying over Druridge Pools on the morning of the 29th.

On the 18th of March the first Sand Martins returned, while Scaup were around in good numbers. A Snow Bunting and Slavonian Grebe were at Chevington. A week later an extremely smart drake Ring-necked Duck turned up on the north pool there.

The following day (26th) Druridge Pools played host to the first Great White Egret of the year as well as a great count of 5 Water Pipits.

Thankfully we didn't miss anything on our holiday to Mallorca, but on our return a Hooded Crow was at Druridge Pools. On the 21st a summer plumage Black Tern arrived at Chevington. A Green-winged Teal was at Druridge Pools for the last week of April.

In early May a Channel Wagtail and Jack Snipe showed well at Druridge...

A first-summer Little Gull also performed well there on the the 20th, a species which was surprisingly scarce throughout the year.

The 20th also produced a female Blue-headed Wagtail...

Spoonbills featured quite a lot during the summer following on from our first sighting on 27th...

Wader passage through the summer was also good with a Pectoral Sandpiper, at least 7 Wood Sandpipers (on the same day) and a Spotted Redshank being highlights. On the 1st of July a Red Kite came in off the sea and a stunning adult White-winged Black Tern was at Druridge.

On the 11th of August an adult White-rumped Sandpiper relocated to Druridge Pools after being at Cresswell for a few days...

Overnight ringing on the 12th produced a couple of Storm Petrels. The 21st produced the next good bird with an attractive Spotted Crake, also at Druridge Pools...

On the 30th of August I found a pair of juvenile Pectoral Sandpipers there...

A Red-necked Grebe was just offshore a couple of days later. One of the highlights of the year came on the 24th when we very unexpectedly flushed a Quail twice from the dunes at Hadston. This was a lifer for both of us after so many fruitless attempts for them in the past.

Other autumn birds included a Black-necked Grebe at Chevington and 2 Whinchats at Druridge. On the 7th of October one elder bush there held three species of sylvia: a Blackcap, Garden Warbler and a Barred Warbler.

Three days later a smart juvenile Red-necked Phalarope turned up at Druridge Pools...

The best moment of the year came when we found a couple of Bee-eaters flying low over Chevington. What was almost certainly one of the same birds lingered at Druridge Pools the following week.

A Shore Lark returned to Chevington on the 27th and was joined by two Snow Buntings. This was our last notable sighting of the year.

The scores:

 Total species: 186
 Total points: 280

Finally, here's a condensed list of the best birds...

8 Shore Larks
Hen Harrier
Pacific Diver
Ring-necked Duck
3 Great White Egrets
5 Water Pipits
Green-winged Teal
Blue-headed Wagtail
4 Spoonbills
Red Kite
White-winged Black Tern
3 Pectoral Sandpipers
White-rumped Sandpiper
Spotted Crake
Barred Warbler
Red-necked Phalarope
2 Bee-eaters

What a year!

Monday, 8 January 2018

The good run continues...

We were expecting a slightly quieter look at the patch on Saturday morning. However, once again the birding was better than expected...

With a bit of a north-easterly we decided to do a bit of seawatching from Hadston Carrs. We stayed about an hour but it proved very quiet. Moving south, Chevington was similar, although the Long-tailed Duck remained on the north pool. It had been joined by 7 Red-breasted Mergansers and another 5 Mergansers were on Ladyburn Lake. A short while later we had just been checking the geese when word came through of a White-billed Diver passing Whitburn.

With another sighting coming from Tynemouth shortly after, we rushed back to Hadston. When we arrived word had just come through of it passing Newbiggin and it had taken just 25 minutes to get between the two sites. So, when forty minutes went by and we still hadn't seen the bird, we thought we had missed out. However, we were really pleased when at 11:58 the White-billed Diver flew past nice and close inshore. A nice patch tick and our first Patchwork rarity of the year.

Other birds past Hadston on our second visit included 3 Velvet Scoters and 2 Ruff which were a bit unexpected. At Druridge, the number of Black-tailed Godwits had increased to 15, and a Water Pipit was giving good views even if it was a bit distant.

We finished the day at North Blyth, where 2 first-winter Iceland Gulls and a first-winter Glaucous Gull were showing across the river.

Iceland Gull

Thursday, 4 January 2018

2018 underway...

We're four days into 2018 and me and my dad have already spent a couple of days out on the coast. On the first we spent the day on the patch, managing to see 77 species. The main highlight was a Waxwing which flew south past us in the dunes before spending a bit of time around the burn mouth. Other sightings included a Long-tailed Duck, Merlin and 31 Whooper Swans.

This morning we fancied a bit of a change so headed north towards Bamburgh. When we arrived at Stag Rocks the sea conditions looked perfect - flat light and flat water. The birds were very visible including:

1 Red-necked Grebe
7 Slavonian Grebe
79 Long-tailed Duck
3 Great Northern Diver 
3 Red-throated Diver 
c. 30 Common Scoter

108 Purple Sandpipers were also on the rocks. The usual Spotted Redshank was also in Budle Bay. At Fenham Flats the usual great numbers were out on the mudflats, and 215 Pintail was our highest ever count. A pale redpoll outside the hide with 3 Lessers eventually turned out to be a Mealy Redpoll.


Mealy Redpoll