Sunday, 31 January 2016

Another good day...

Spent most of the day ticking off some birds I still needed for Patchwork Challenge, with Chevington being particularly productive...

A look on the north pool gave the Black-necked Grebe right alongside the Slavonian Grebe providing a great comparison, a pair of Scaup, a female Common Scoter (second of the winter on the pool) and at least 77 Goldeneye.

A flock of Greylag Geese dropped onto the south pool which also held a Pink-footed Goose and 2 European White-fronted Geese, and a Black-tailed Godwit flew over heading north-east.

We walked down to the burn mouth where my dad picked up a female Velvet Scoter with a small and relatively close flock of Common Scoter. 2 Barn Owl were also sat on the fence and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore.

Next to Druridge Pools where 3 Pintail were on the Budge Fields along with a Black-tailed Godwit and a Ruff. Around 10 Barnacle Geese flew over with the thousands of Pink-feet and a single Red-breasted Merganser was on the north pool.

Just as we were leaving we heard of 2 Waxwings on wires between Druridge Pools and Widdrington village. Sure enough when we got there they were sat on the wires, so we rushed back to Druridge to try and get them on the patch list, but by the time we got there they had disappeared. Perhaps they were just passing through as we don't know of any berry bushes in the area...

PWC 2016
Species: 104
Points: 127 

European White-fronted Geese
Black-necked Grebe - record shot!

Saturday, 23 January 2016

More White-fronts...

Had another good trip to the bay today, with the highlight being even more White-fronted Geese...

First at Chevington, three flocks of Pink-footed Geese flew over, with the third also holding 11 adult White-fronted Geese. Unfortunately after we first picked them up flying straight towards us, they headed off south east over the sea so we were unable to say whether there were any first-winters in the flock.

The Slavonian Grebe, Marsh Harrier and pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were still around Chevington.

The Budge Fields held a single drake Pintail and 3 more White-fronted Geese were in the field just to the west with 5 Barnacle Geese and c. 150 Pink-feet. We were able to identify these White-fronts as Europeans before the flock flew south. 6 Red-breasted Mergansers were on the north pool here.

At Cresswell Pond the first-winter Long-billed Dowitcher was once again on the west shore, with the pond also playing host to 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Turnstones and another Red-breasted Merganser.

2 more European White-fronted Geese with c. 500 Pink-feet south-west of the Drift Cafe at Cresswell brought the day's total to 16.

One of the Druridge Pools European White-fronted Geese.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Carduelis conundrums...

Up to Birling Carrs this morning for a look at the redpoll which has been tantalizing birders over the past week. Sure enough we found the bird in a flock of Lesser Redpolls, we managed some good views and I digiscoped some record shots. Here's a few of my observations of the bird:

  • The bird was larger than the Lesser Redpolls.
  • It was also much paler being whitish-grey overall.
  • The bird's rump was a very striking completely unmarked white and allowed us to easily pick the bird up in the flock in flight several hundred metres away.
  • The flanks were mostly lightly streaked but did show a few darker lines.
  • The undertail coverts had a single large dark streak.
  • The bill looked slightly larger than that of a typical Arctic but not as big as on the Mealy Redpolls I have seen.
  • My photos also appear to show the slightest buffy wash to the head (?)

With my photos and views in the field I am starting to slightly lean towards Coue's Arctic Redpoll, though I may well be proved wrong if better photos are obtained. Whatever the ID a big well done to SS and JWR for finding it.

 Afterwards we stopped at Chevington where a nice flock of 6 Scaup were on the north pool along with the lingering Slavonian Grebe and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers. 54 Goldeneye were also on the north pool and the Marsh Harrier was over the south pool.

Druridge Pools once again held a great selection of birds. A Short-eared Owl flew through the dunes and on the north pool were 3 Pintail and a smart drake Tufted Duck x Pochard hybrid. The Canada Goose flock in the field just north of the pool held 4 Barnacle Geese and a Greenland White-fronted Goose with 2 European White-fronted Geese. Not completely sure about the race of the geese though!

Next to Cresswell Pond. A look at the goose flock from the car park produced 2 more Greenland White-fronted Geese and a Barnacle Goose. A Barn Owl was in the usual area and from the hide the first-winter Long-billed Dowitcher was again on the west shore. A Water Rail provided some nice views in front of the reeds. Perhaps there's been a small influx of White-fronts with at least 11 in the bay this afternoon..?

The redpoll - comments very welcome!

 Mealy Redpoll to compare taken at Hartlepool in October 2013
Two of the White-fonts at Druridge Pools
Tufted Duck x Pochard hybrid

Sunday, 10 January 2016

A productive patch...

Yet another windy day at Druridge yielded some good birds in the end starting at Druridge Pools...

The Budge Fields held lots of common birds but not much else, so we decided to have a look at the sea from the top of the big dune. Two Great Northern Divers which flew south quite close in shore were the highlight with a few other common birds added to the patch year list. Perhaps the most unusual record of the day was 10 Dark-bellied Brent Geese which I spotted in the flooded field just north of the turning circle. The first time I've seen Brent Geese on the ground in Druridge Bay! We could also see the female Marsh Harrier over East Chevington from here.

At Druridge Bay Country Park there was a steady stream of gulls dropping onto the lake in front of the boat ramp. The first interesting bird was an adult Little Gull, which was followed shortly after by the first-winter (?) Iceland Gull. An adult Mediterranean Gull circled the lake before flying off. 3 drake and a female Red-breasted Merganser were also at DBCP.

A smart drake Common Scoter was on the north pool at East Chevington along with 3 Scaup, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and the Slavonian Grebe still.

A look at Hemscott Hill was very productive with an adult Mediterranean Gull and lots of waders...

1 Long-billed Dowitcher - very pleased to get it on the PWC 2016 list!
1 Ruff
2 Black-tailed Godwit
5 Bar-tailed Godwit
1 Knot
Golden Plover

PWC 2016
Species: 89
Points: 106

Iceland Gull
Hemscott Hill

Monday, 4 January 2016

Iceland Gull, QEII

Iceland Gull 
Also, an adult Kittiwake was by the boat ramp at Druridge Bay Country Park along with 7 Red-breasted Mergansers...


Saturday, 2 January 2016


We saw this bird at QEII a couple of weeks ago, here's a map of it's previous sightings...

Friday, 1 January 2016

A new year on the patch...

Yet another enjoyable morning on the patch resulted in 72 different species being seen starting at Hadston Carrs...

Several common species of waders were on the beach including Bar-tailed Godwit, a species which I struggled to see on the patch last year. Unfortunately the sea was too rough to pick up many seabirds.

Druridge Pools was again the pick of the sites with at least 2 Water Pipits again being very mobile in front of the Budge Screen sometimes landing very close by and giving great views. There were slightly fewer ducks present today including 4 Pintail.

We walked around to the north facing hide where the moulting drake Scaup was on the pool along with 2 female Red-breasted Mergansers. A Short-eared Owl hunted the fields to the north and a Peregrine gave an extremely close flypast. Back on the Budge Fields a Black-tailed Godwit was asleep in the grass and was joined by another when they flew off. 4 Whooper Swans also flew over heading north east.

East Chevington was quieter, but the Marsh Harrier and Slavonian Grebe were still present and 3 Twite flew south along the beach.

Water Pipit
Slavonian Grebe
Scaup record shot
Black-tailed Godwit asleep