Notice Board: the Honey-buzzard Season in Northumberland 2014 as it happened – Nick Rossiter

Notice Board: the Honey-buzzard Season in Northumberland 2014 as it happened – Nick Rossiter

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Significant events in the Honey-buzzard season as it unfolds in Northumberland are given here. Seeing Honey-buzzard in their breeding areas is facilitated by reading about their jizz, knowing their calls and digesting the three recent BB papers updating Honey-buzzard identification (bottom of page). Listen to these wise words from a former prophet: “to try and identify them from plumage I think is a loser to begin with … you’ve got to identify Honey Buzzards from their shape and structure”. The Honey-buzzard is rapidly increasing as a migrant in Britain with particularly major movements in 2000 and 2008. The analysis cited indicates that a continental origin for the migrants is very unlikely, with various studies on the continent all indicating that the Honey-buzzard is not susceptible to drift while on migration. Focus is now on the significance of orographic lift in the choice of migration routes for birds from more northerly areas where thermals are weaker. The breeding status of the Honey-buzzard in Britain is surely less controversial than it was. Migration totals in the UK have soared in the past decade and attempts to attribute these movements to a Scandinavian origin are in conflict with both 1) the underlying physics of broad-winged raptor migration, and 2) the actual details of the movements. The status of Honey-buzzard in the UK has been highly politicised, as in the climate change debate. A close examination of the Honey-buzzard review performed by the Northumberland County Records Committee is in progress: start with part 1 and follow the links through to later pages. Fear is the path to the dark side; fear of not being able to identify Honey-buzzard leads to anger; anger leads to hate of those that can; hate leads to suffering in the UK birding community (with apologies to Star Wars!). For full details of the 2012 season see the study area Report 2012 with hyperlinked Appendix containing all field observations.

This Notice Board in now closed: click here for the 2015 Notice Board.

April 4th 2015: Table 21 shows the migration picture for Honey-buzzard in 2014. It was a record year with detailed analysis and commentary in the last 2 rows. On home page added update: final totals produced for migrating Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland for 2014 (Population of the Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland). Am going to add the annual migration totals to the overview Table 1 on the population page with details of each migrant from 1993-2006 in a new table as in Table 21 below (maybe Table 22 in a file of its own!); these migrants from the earlier years of the colonisation are not documented on my web pages but are included in doc files on an external drive. Made C4c4l where could admire the sights, including the mmo and the rfbo, and catch up with the FT: it’s quite bearish on US!! Made Letah Wood for walk: it was very bonny with the wild daffodils coming out! Had a pair of Common Buzzard nest building, with much soft calling, and a Red Kite up on the hillside towards Houtley: the kite bred here last year and this is the 2nd time a bird has been seen there this year. Weather was cool and dry. Also in total of 21 species had 10 Common Gull (all adult, 6 with migration calls), 1 alarm-calling Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Dipper (in territory on Letah Burn). Moths included Agonopterix heracliana (1 around dead trunk), Stigmella aurella (7, galleries on bramble, vacated), Emmetia marginea (4 probable, cones on bramble, vacated), Phyllonorycter maestingella (2, blisters, on beech, occupied), some blisters on oak (collected for rearing). Arranging 4-day trip to Devon. 2moro might be start of training routine (or something like that!). Haven’t bought any ag this week: bit careless: have concert on the coming Wednesday for a change!! lok2t lovelies!!!!

Date Time Locality Age/Sex Count Direction Movement
-April 21 16:51:00 Ordley (NY95 P) Adult female 1 1 W At 16:51 a female Honey-buzzard floated W over Ordley, peering around, clearly homing-in on its site, on northern edge of North Pennines. Saw it from my field: fortunately had camera with me; here’s 2 short clips. It had been a sunny day after misty start, fairly cool but dry on light E breeze.
-May 4 17:20-17:40 Broomleyfell Plantation (NZ05 E) Adult female 1 1 rest migrant female Honey-buzzard on the Broomleyfell heath from 17:20-17:40 causing mayhem among the local Crow
-May 6 14:40-15:09 Newton (NZ06 H) Adult male 2

Adult female 3

5 5 NE From 14:40-14:45 had strong NE movement. Noticed a Honey-buzzard female soaring low-down near Newton at 14:40, a long way (2km!) from the long-established site at Bywell Cottagebank. She was soon joined by another female and they soared higher on what must have been very good lift on the SW breeze hitting the south-facing slopes of the Tyne. As they climbed towards the base of the clouds, another 2 birds, judged to be male and female, on size, were seen to follow them, a little way behind. By 14:45 all 4 birds were disappearing from sight, way up in the cloud base. Once away from the slopes of the Tyne, they would power-glide with the wind behind, losing height until further soaring opportunities emerged. Would judge this as mainly orographic lift rather than thermal lift, though must be a bit of latter. At 15:09 another bird, a male, was seen taking the same line, high-up in the clouds.
-May 17 16:50:00 Hexham Widehaugh (NY96 S) Adult male 1 1 W evocative day with the Honey-buzzard. Up came another lonely Honey-buzzard, a female, hanging high over a wooded hill from 15:50-16:04, keeping a vigil for her mate, with frequent hovering (or stationary flapping if you don’t think Honey-buzzard hover!). Well no sign of him then. But I was keeping an eye open for migrants all afternoon, after quite an influx further south over the last 2 days. So not too surprised when a male appeared at moderate height, power-gliding W, about 2 km to the E of the site at 16:50. What followed though was electrifying: the female had clearly spotted him miles off, came quickly out of the wood, rapidly gaining height in broad spirals, and the male went into at least 2 butterfly display flights, with a series of plunges, rearing up and flapping at the top. The female by now was up with him and they went very high in close mutual circling, disappearing into the haze. So they are very pleased to see each other for the new breeding season!!
-August 5 12:30-12:40 Bywell Cottagebank (NZ06 L) Adult male 1 1 SW At 12:30 after almost one hour had not picked up any raptors but then noticed a male Honey-buzzard at moderate height over Bywell Cottagebank; he slowly soared to an enormous height, then floated off to SW, crossing the valley, still gaining height from the ridge lift due to the SW wind bouncing off the N side of the valley; he disappeared from sight, he was so high, by time he reached the S side of the valley at 12:40. He was heading for the W side of the Pennines where orographic lift makes progress effortless on westerly winds. So that’s the 1st migrant, not the local bird (seen later) and perhaps a Scottish bird leaving now the Games are over, or a failed breeder!
-August 22 12:35-13:33 Warden (NY96 D) Adult male 3 3 3 SE Three migrating Honey-buzzard were seen, all males; at 12:35 2 came from the NW arriving at fairly low altitude, looking as if they were in the early stages of their movement, perhaps from further W in the lower South Tyne Valley; they soared very high, drifting SE and were lost to sight; the local male was up to greet them maybe in defence of the site; at 13:33 the local male Honey-buzzard also departed SE, obviously satisfied with the progress of his family.
-September 6 16:25 Wylam E (NZ16 H) Adult male 1 1 S No sign of the male here so looks as if he’d left. Indeed at 16:25 did have a male arrive high over the site on the N side of the valley, so high that he’d only been picked up hanging above another raptor that was looking at. He moved steadily S keeping the height but probably looking for somewhere to roost: definitely a migrant. However the female at the site responded by making a very vigorous flap-flap-glide from the E to her site at low altitude, presumably to discourage him from camping there.
-September 14 15:15:00 Greenhead E (NY66 S) Adult male 1 1 SW During this display, the adult male was seen high above them at 15:15 floating ever higher on orographic lift as the NE breeze struck the S side of the valley. There was no interaction at any stage with the female or juvenile and thought he was a Scottish migrant, who had B&Bd and in the clearing weather had decided to go a little way further S with maybe 2 hours of flying time, covering c100 km. He did manage some interaction with a juvenile female Hobby: very good work!
-September 20 12:30:00 Whittle Dene Wood (NZ06 S) Adult male 1 1 SE In general no signs of a rapid exit though did get a male Honey-buzzard up at the start (12:30) lifting off Whittle Burn and doing a flap-flap-glide right across the Tyne SE towards Mickley; this mode of flight is the fastest at about 60 km/hour but uses a lot of energy so cannot be sustained for long; whatever he just wanted to be the hell out of here after 5-6 days presumably of being stranded.
-September 21 11:48:00 Kiln Pit Hill (NZ05 H) Adult male

Adult female

2 2 S Migration occurred at 11:48 when a great commotion was noted to N with 25 Jackdaw and a few Rook heavily mobbing a female and a male Honey-buzzard. The female rode through all the trouble and carried on S; the male got into aggro with a number of corvids and an adult Common Buzzard from the site to N, before finally deciding migration was the priority and climbing decisively higher above the mobbing birds. Both birds continued due S over the wind-farm. So that’s 1st female recorded on migration; suspect these late males are Scottish (aggro!), this one and the one yesterday were certainly pretty fired up, frustrated with delays perhaps!
-September 21 13:20 Dipton Wood S (NY95 U) Adult female 1 1 S Then passing Slaley at 13:20 noted to N a high-flying female Honey-buzzard, mobbed by 1 Jackdaw, steadily moving S from edge of Dipton Wood. So females are starting to move out! They are more likely to be confused with Common Buzzard by observers, particularly away from coastal areas, as they are heavier than the males. But head is still small, neck long, tail long and slender, particularly at base; above all they look very large, almost eagle-like, with their long wings and heavier bodies than the males.
-September 24 15:40:00 Beldon Burn (NY94 P) Adult male 1 1 S Looking up the valley could see a family party of 4 Honey-buzzard near Hunstanworth, firmly up in the air from 15:32-15:40 with the male leading, way above the others, the female following, well clear of 2 juveniles, one of which was skimming the tree tops after a short while; the male went higher and higher into the cloud base and eventually disappeared off S on trek; so he was being given a send off. Site here looks as if it might have moved from N side of valley to S side, which may be why not picked up in spring round of visits.
-September 27 14:35:00 Sinderhope S (NY85 F) Adult female 1 1 SW from 14:32-14:36 had 2 juvenile and female up over wooded hillside, the female went high and proceeded to emigrate with flap-flap-glide to SW, slowly gaining height, as she rounded high moorland to W she leaned against it on the W side, gaining orographic lift from the moderate SW breeze, she had disappeared by 14:40
-October 2 12:30:00-14:30 Stocksfield Guessburn (NZ06 K) Juvenile 8 8 4 SW

4 S

8 Honey-buzzard juveniles emigrated from 12:30-14:30; it was confused to some extent with a number of birds making mock exits, then losing their nerve and coming back. This 8 would count as a gang of 8 locally-bred birds, deciding to finally emigrate, rather than birds passing through from further N, that’s the final stage of the season. The 8 birds could have come from 4 sites, know 3 of the near-by sites raised 2 and the other near-by site 1 . Interestingly they seemed to finally emigrate in 2s, suspect they were siblings! They have timed their initial exit well, getting away before the weather deteriorates. Summary: 8 birds off as 4 duos from 12:30-14:30 with 4 SW 4 S and phases: very dark 1, fairly dark (grey) 5, rufous 1, pale/rufous 1.
-October 7 14:23-14:55 Towsbank (NY65 Y) Juvenile 1 rest Honey-buzzard numbered just one, a fairly pale juvenile bird hanging over the top of the wood from 14:23-14:35 and 14:50-14:55; such late birds are regarded as Scottish-bred, on passage through northern England and inclined to stop a bit with the superb habitat! This bird kept apart from the Common Buzzard and was more mobile, ranging over much of the top of the wood, before disappearing in quite a dive to the trees near the nest-site used by Honey-buzzard this season.
-October 10 14:35-15:15 Stocksfield Guessburn (NZ06 K) Juvenile 3 3 rest Had 3 Honey-buzzard juvenile up over Bywell to N, plus 2 Common Buzzard. First Honey-buzzard up was a rufous juvenile around Short Wood at 14:35, climbing up a little way, before gliding back to the fields a little to the W. At 15:10 a dark Honey-buzzard juvenile was up to NW of Cottagebank, going moderately high and staying up for a while, not sure what happened to this bird. At 15:15 4 birds were up in Short Wood area: 2 Honey-buzzard juvenile soaring above 2 Common Buzzard below. The Honey-buzzard comprised the rufous bird seen earlier and a pale bird, both coming down eventually. So it looks as if 3 Honey-buzzard were present (1 each of dark, rufous, pale phases), presumed to be birds on passage, taking a break in the lovely Tyne Valley.
-October 15 15:55:00 Haltwhistle, North Wood (NY66 W) Juvenile 1 rest still getting the odd Honey-buzzard; today saw a juvenile at North Wood, Haltwhistle, at 15:55, flying across the South Tyne from presumed feeding area on W side to the main wood in strong flap-flap-glide action; again will attribute the bird as a late, resting Scottish-bred migrant,
-October 15 13:30:00 Stocksfield E (NZ06 Q) Juvenile 1 1 SW Friend (DP) has shown me piccies of a ‘buzzard’ moving SW over their house in Stocksfield E on 15/10 at 13:30; think it’s a dark-phase Honey-buzzard, which can be added to list as the dark bird at Bywell seen by me on 10/10 will presumably have moved on by then.
-October 19 13:55:00 Stocksfield Guessburn (NZ06 K) Juvenile 1 rest delighted to have the Honey-buzzard season kept going by a a rufous-buffy juvenile up at 13:55 over the Tyne above Bywell Castle moving low-down into trees towards Shilford; it wasn’t going anywhere in today’s weather, just moving feeding position
-October 23 14:35-15:25 Haltwhistle, North Wood (NY66 W) Juvenile 2 2 rest The 1st bird, quite young-looking with short primary projections, was predominantly grey and was up at 14:35 briefly above the canopy before coming down on N side of extended copse. The 2nd bird, larger and dark phase with long primary projections, came up at 14:45 and flew into a group of 4 large trees where it perched for 10 minutes before continuing its slow progress down the copse towards the S end. Unlike adults, juvenile Honey-buzzard often perch in the open both shortly after fledging and on migration through the UK: maybe they don’t get out of this habit until they get to Africa and find out how many larger raptors will take them, given the chance! Around 15:20 there were a number of disturbances at the S end, with the 2nd Honey-buzzard getting up at 15:25, also mobbed by Jackdaw, climbing a little into the sky and subsiding into another conifer wood 300m to the SW.
-October 25 13:55 Towsbank (NY65 Y) Juvenile 1 1 S a ruddy-brown Honey-buzzard juvenile flew S at 13:55, coming from the N and moving low-down against the ridge to the E, thus getting orographic lift on the SW wind; it kept on flying over the Snope Burn, disappearing from sight; it was not one of the birds at Haltwhistle 2 days ago as they were both darker
-October 27 16:30:00 Ordley (NY95 P) Juvenile 1 rest highlight was a juvenile Honey-buzzard at 16:30 flying low overhead moving SE from Black Hall towards Ordley Village, presumably to roost; think this bird must be feeding locally in the rich habitat of the Devil’s Water.
-October 30 14:20-14:50 Harwood Shield (NY95 A) Juvenile 1 rest 1st up was a juvenile Honey-buzzard, hanging strongly in the breeze, at 14:20 for 10 minutes and 14:50 for 10 minutes. The Honey-buzzard was joined around 14:50 by a Common Buzzard and a Kestrel.
Summary/

Comments:

           
April: 1

May: 7

August: 4

September: 8

October: 20

11-12: 2

12-13: 6

13-14: 8

14-15: 7

15-16: 3

16-17: 3

resting: 11

Tipalt: 1

upper South Tyne: 5

lower South Tyne: 3

Allen: 1

Devil’s Water: 4

Tyne Valley W: 21

Tyne Valley E: 2

Derwent: 3

Adult male: 12

Adult female: 8

Juvenile: 20

40   IN: 5 NE, 2 W, 1 resting

OUT: 8 SW, 10 S, 4 SE, 10 resting

Most records are for migrating juveniles this year, hence the peak in October with juveniles bred in northern Britain, particularly Scotland, moving through. Some of the early birds in spring also appeared to be moving through to Scotland. There is a peak in activity this year in early afternoon from 12:00-15:00, with 21 out of 29 flying birds noted at this time. The times at which resting birds have been noted are not included in the analysis. As ever observer routines affect the picture here. The most popular route this year was via Tyne Valley W, where many juveniles were noted in October. About half the migrants were noted here over the whole season. However, migrants were seen in all areas, suggesting a broad front to some extent. In spring adult males and females both featured with a slight preponderance of latter. In autumn males left first, followed by females. Juveniles very much predominate in October, many resting in prime feeding areas. A record total with the high number in October presumably indicating a rapidly rising population further N in Scotland. Direction in spring was either NE (birds moving further N) or W (birds arriving in Tyne Valley). In autumn the direction was broadly S, ranging from SW to SE, sometimes a reflection of the topology Records this year as usual were concentrated at the start and end of the breeding season. It is obviously easier to be sure that a bird is a migrant when known breeding sites are vacant. So observations this year comprised 8 spring birds at the end of April and in early May and 20 late autumn birds in October. Exiting males accounted for most of the 12 birds in August and September, with a few females noted in the last third of September.

Table 21: Visible Migration Movements noted for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in 2014

April 3rd: at Ordley had a Tree Sparrow singing around large ash trees on road, where had a pair on 8/3; this is an expansion of range. Put moth trap out tonight for 1st all-night session but all very quiet by time going to bed! Caught up a lot with database records today; tomorrow will complete the Honey-buzzard migration table. W4ra4s was good: full house tonite!! 2moro it’s C4c4l and on Sunday joining walking group for walk in Durham on the moors.

April 2nd: music more elevated today with fantastic performance of Beethoven 9 (Choral, once upon a time a bunny …); a packed Hall 1 gave a standing ovation; RNS and Chorus were brilliant; in last Beethoven symphony cycle I thought 3 and 9 were less well done but this time the crispness of the playing was spot-on throughout in 9 with fantastic climax at end; conductor was Nicholas McGegan. A lot more stress is put on the woodwind than on the violins, particularly in movements 1,2,4, and as expected they rose to the occasion!! It was a good idea to have a selection of Mahler’s songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn at the start so the soloists could show off their skills as they don’t do a lot in the Choral. Earlier enjoyed BG4m4l with P (should eat out more in Hexham!!) and MP4m4t with N. As weather brighter and a little milder, stopped off at Wylam in afternoon for a spot of fieldwork before getting the train: had a Red Kite floating over Wylam S site, a Common Buzzard soaring high over Horsley Wood and a female Kestrel flying into the copse just S of the station. Total of 23 species included 42 Goosander (2 pairs displaying away from main flock, which contained 8 adult drake, 30 redheads), 1 Goldeneye (redhead), 2 Cormorant (both adult, much white on necks 1), 3 Grey Heron. A migrant Chiffchaff was anxiously calling from a thicket near the Sage at 19:00. Made a lively BH4ra4s, where good to have jd on!! Land of eastern promise duly performed optimally: she’s got a lot of style: we’d make a gr8 pair: lok2tmbo!!!! Got home, wondered what all the vehicles were doing around Ordley village and there was a power-cut for several hours; emergency work I think. Funds up 1k this week, after 4 weeks of slight drift down. Finished 1st quarter +15k but 8k below all-time peak on 27/2. Pleased that TLS is out of way and have 13k ready to transfer into isa for start of new tax year on Tuesday.

Sad news received yesterday that my mother-in-law passed away in Shaldon, Devon, aged 90. Sophia has lost 2 gt-grandparents in 3 weeks with son-in-law’s grandmother passing away in Iran, aged 88. Neither saw S so that’s a great shame. I’m her only grandparent/gt-grandparent now – poor soul! We’ll be meeting again in Devon as going to funeral at Torquay Crematorium on 13/4. So remaining relations in Devon decline to just 2: younger sister and one of her sons.

April 1st: back on topos paper this morning as want a new version to work on tomorrow afternoon in Newcastle; some good progress made! Did make N4c4t and G4g4ss, latter with good crack! Really enjoyed Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny: totally decadent with much swinging singing, sex, drink and murder! Mahagonny is not too different from London today: a utopia based on service industries with no production; it works well for a while but in the end, with no new money coming in, the bars and clubs collapse! It was a little more than good luck that the show went on: there’d been a major power cut in the West End but they had a generator just for this eventuality. Think tmbo knows my take on life!! 2moro it’s BG4m4l with P (Italian, Back Street), CT4c4t, MP4m4t, S4con, BH4ra4s!! Looking forward to return: lok2t beauties!!!!

March 31st: wild day today, cold gale-force NW wind with plenty of guts hammering the house all day, particularly spectacular in hail and snow flurries! Completed compiling Honey-buzzard migration totals for 2014; need to add commentary and can then publish. Made N4c4t where gr8 2c the lovely mbo: we never go out of style!! Assembled a harem of 3 good Irish girls at N! Did make G4g4s for bit longer than usual to admire tmfso!! T&S4ra4s was a little quiet but with M/A had good crack about the world of computing! 2moro it’s again N4c4t, followed by G4g4ss, with in between trip to FC to see Brecht & Weill’s operatic satire Mahagonny from the ROH, London; it’s the height of German decadence in the 1920s; Weill is perhaps best known for Mack the Knife in the 3d opera! Thursday sees Beethoven 9 at S with N!!

End-quarter adjustments and tax-loss selling have made for some volatile trading in this 4-day week. Funds unchanged so far. MIO Pennines: Share chat has 2 comments from LSE taking the Hexham Courant’s name in vain! Hold 710k shares, 1/493 of issued capital, in this fkir!!

1) This may be old news, in which case apologies for posting it now, but it is new to me:

http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk/news/nenthead-mining-project-on-track-1.1196217

The Hexham Courant is of course a widely read financial journal. Not. LOL.

2) Why do we have to trawl through minor regional newspapers, YouTube videos, etc, for any information regarding Minco?

March 30th: slightly better today with veiled sunshine on cool NW breeze; sat outside N for a bit before meeting J and visited Stocksfield Mount for a session of almost an hour from 13:55-14:55. Pleased to see another pair of Red Kite in display over Ovington, bringing total of sites occupied in core area to 4; they were coping well with the blustery breeze. Also had a Common Buzzard at Merryshields and a Kestrel at Dilston (adult male perched on tree). Highlight was a Sand Martin moving NW with quite a struggle: 1st hirundine in UK for year! Still haven’t had a Chiffchaff singing, very late for that. In total of 14 species also had Black-headed Gull (7 adult moving W, back to breeding grounds on moors), By evening weather had gone downhill again with driving rain on strong W breeze. Made TGGC4m4s with R: very interesting 2-part talk on George Stephenson and Tombstone, a town in the Wild West for tourists. Saw mfso 3 times: putting on the style!! Have completed Honey-buzzard migration table and am now compiling totals and analysis, maybe finish it tomorrow. Next want to take Trektellen buzzard migration counts in UK and compare their timing and numbers to those for Honey-buzzard in the study area, maybe on a weekly basis initially, but that will be in NB 2015. 2moro will make N4c4t, G4g4s (quickie) and T&S4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 29th: weather continued very poor with strong cool WNW winds so no raptor fieldwork today. New windows are fantastic in the strong winds: no temperature gradient near them. But did plough on with compiling Honey-buzzard migration and now up to 10/10 completed so just 7 observations to do. Completion is a big moment as will then close books for 2014 and start winding-up for 2015. Did make N4c4t and W4g4s, meeting P/R/D at latter for good crack, just missing mfso who’s on taxi duty! Brilliant day in important respects, completed in gr8 style with the torrid mgo!!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and TGGC4m4s with R!! lok2tmgo!!!!

March 28th: caught up with piccies below, going back to 20/3 when preoccupied with talk to R. Made C4c4l to catch up with FT! R do was very posh but we had a great duo singing Geordie folk songs, instead of long speeches, which was a major plus. Venue of Hexham Race Course was very comfortable. Main speaker, District Governor (elect), said in his speech that he was very impressed with our website – amazing!! R on Monday is an evening meeting at Golf Club. Entering 2014 migration data for Honey-buzzard into a large table now, done the spring and 1st of the autumn. Getting started on some of these things is half the battle! Here’s an interesting pre-revolution French early-fiddle table spoon 1  2  3  4, bought this year for £50, assayed in 1784 at Aix, Marseilles, with maker IAS and engraving RI; pre-revolution French silver is scarce as much was melted down in the chaos of the late-18th and early-19th centuries; quite a straight-forward example. Weather was too windy today for fieldwork but may be a little better tomorrow when should make N4c4t and G4g4s!! lok2t beauties!!!!

March 27th: leisurely lunch at N4c4l with J, then quick trip out to Warden in cool sunshine, where had 4 Common Buzzard displaying at 3 sites, all around the Boat Side. In total of 17 species, also had Oystercatcher (pair 1) and Great Spotted Woodpecker (1). Back to Hexham for t-time where assisted with technical side of the local Talking Newspaper, generating for blind people almost 100 flash drives, each containing 80 minutes of MP4 audio from 4 volunteers reading the Courant. Might have to take charge in future run; next one for R is end-May as 8 charities rotate the duty. Made W4ra4s where scenery was very good!! Earlier 4St was very inspirational: lok2tmbo!!! 2moro it’s C4c4l and big nite for R in evening at the Race Course! Markets well down this week but funds pretty steady, losing 1k in line with withdrawal. €reit held up well but mining shares on back foot again, though commodity prices rallying a bit. Just 4 more days of tax-loss selling! Wrote letter via email to BB editor on Honey-buzzard graph: keeping things confidential at this stage. At Ordley had 1 Shoulder Stripe 1 and 2 Agonopterix heracliana 1  2.

March 26th: again a busy day with CT with work on topos paper in morning and on train and 2-hour meeting with P/M on VisCat paper in afternoon. Much colder today with quite severe wind chill on bracing N wind. Had lunch at S, always like to support them, and tea at CT! Drafted letter to BB in evening on strange nature of Honey-buzzard graph (108: 139, Figure 6). Made BH4ra4s where good to be served by jd and meet S again!! ‘Twas a very rewarding late-nite visit: almost too close for comfort but not really!!! lok2tmbo: she’s lovely!!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l followed by some R meeting at 15:45 and W4ra4s!! Top priority now, writing-wise, is to close down the 2014 season with the Honey-buzzard migration details and summary. Had Barn Owl on fence at Lamb Shield on way home.

March 25th: another outing, this time to Wallish Walls down A68 towards Allensford on Durham border. Weather was again perfect with cool polar airstream and strong sunshine. Had 7 Common Buzzard (6 in display at 4 sites at Wallish Walls, 1 in tree NE of Derwent Reservoir at Cronkley), 3 Red Kite (1 very close in display at Wallish Walls 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, pair up high in display over Coat Gate, Co Durham) and 2 Kestrel (pair in active display NW of Slaley Village). Total of 21 species included 4 Red-legged Partridge. 6 Lapwing (displaying), Chaffinch (29, some singing, most feeding on spilt grain), Raven (1 displaying over wood near moorland edge), Curlew (1 calling). Probable migrants were 45 Starling and 1 Fieldfare. So it’s looking good for the kite! There was some moor burning 1 on nearby heather moors. Mines included Stigmella aurella (1 gallery, bramble 1), Phyllonorycter maestingella (2 blotches, beech) and 4 oak blisters retained for rearing on. Made C4c4t, LAF recruiting do up the hill followed by 2 trips to G, where new bar lass l on, in line with company recruiting policy!! Windows all done and cheque for £602 for labour and sundry materials is in the post (honest!). J, the installer, said in G that he’d had 6 Common Buzzard in a group over Elvaston today. Did a lot of work in morning at home, adding sketch section to topos paper. Markets a little soft this week but standing all square after withdrawal of 1k for work on the house. 2moro it’s S4s4l, unn for meeting and much later BH4ra4s!! lok2t beauties!!!!

March 24th: started Red Kite quest in earnest today visiting Mount at Stocksfield from 14:15-15:15 in cool polar airstream from N but it was sunny. Good result with 4 Red Kite seen: pair displaying at Cottagebank NW, single up high further N at Mowden Hall (from 14:35-14:40 soaring very high and circling, while neighbouring pair up displaying at Cottagebank) and another single up high over Whittle Dene around Ovingham at 14:52 and again at 15:07. So core area is looking very promising. Also had reports of a single Red Kite being seen twice over Guessburn about 2 weeks ago by 2 lady walkers. Further raptors today were a female Sparrowhawk up displaying E of Bywell Castle, a Common Buzzard up low-down just E of Guessburn and a female Kestrel actively displaying near Linnels Bridge. So that’s 7 raptors of 4 types. 24 adult Black-headed Gull were seen: 11 moving W to colonies on moors, 13 feeding locally. Also in total of 19 species had 2 adult LBBG soaring NE, one Marsh Tit calling from W side of Mount. Plenty of frog spawn 1 in the pond at Ordley. Made N4c4l where gr8 2 c tmbo!! Did pop in to G4g4s where met a few lads from P who were keen on canoeing from Barrasford to P, hope not tonite! They warmed up when started chatting about DrS, the real one not the hospital waiting room up New Ridley! Gr8 service from tmfso: she’s very fanciable!! Made T&S4ra4s late where met M for catch up on CT at unn! R cncl was positive: we’re going ahead with the food evening with members using contacts with restaurants to get things moving. 2moro it’s more Red Kite work, N4c4t and shortly after LAF selection meeting for members for next 3 years so maybe make G4g4s and not G4g4t! Plenty to think about!!!!

March 23rd: talk to R was very well received, the raw odp, created with LibreOffice Impress is 158.9MB but the derived pdf is a mere 45.8MB. Visited W for shopping mid-morning where met S: didn’t realise W4c could be so rewarding!! Made N4c4ll to recover where good 2 c the mmo!! Last 2 windows put in today, almost completed, just need outside cementing of edges. 2moro it’s N4c4l, R4cncl early evening, T&S4ra4s with quickie before at G4g4s!! Moths tonight included 1 Oak Beauty 1, 1 Agonopterix heracliana 1  2  3.

March 22nd: busy this weekend, preparing talk for R on Monday: Cape Verde, Land of the Creole. Finished it this evening and with 55 slides, many of which are 4MB photos, have a 158MB presentation. Will be using own laptop and data projector so only thing needed on top is a screen, which B will provide. Have switched for presentations from OpenOffice to LibreOffice as former is very unstable with large files, crashing regularly: clearly memory management problems. Took a break this afternoon, making Black Hill 1  2  3  4 at 509m asl above Carrshield for walk, looking out for waders and searching for moth early stages; last piccie shows an anti-bike measure. A few snow patches remain, in spite of the sun, reflecting the cool NW airstream. All very good though: total of 12 bird species, including Lapwing (21, some displaying), Red Grouse (24, some displaying, one strident bird very close 1), Curlew (6, some displaying), Oystercatcher (3, pair and single), Stock Dove (3, 1 bird display), Kestrel (adult female hunting over the moor), Starling (6), Jackdaw (48), Rook (5), Pheasant (1), plus migrants Fieldfare (95) with flocks of 60, 25, 10 flying S at low altitude to roost presumably on the moor and a male Brambling flying S with Fieldfare. Searched cowberry for mines and found 1 convincing example 1  2 of Phyllonorycter junoniella with 6 other probables 1 and a much larger number of nibbles 1  2  3, all taken for rearing on. It was made extra worthwhile through finding an Emperor Moth cocoon 1  2 in a cowberry/heather clump. Had a 1w female Goshawk flying off Dryburn Moor towards Ninebanks to add to Common Buzzard high over Linnels yesterday. Made G4g4s with P, where gr8 to have mfso on: she’s looking very healthy!! More work on windows 2moro! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 20th: partial eclipse was visible this morning, getting a few piccies 1  2  3  4 through a light veil of cloud; it hardly got dark at all and the birds weren’t perturbed but it was very dramatic seeing the moon slowly crossing the sun. Did make N4c4l where met J and W4ra4s where the whole gang out – pretty impressive! Funds down 1k over week, so 8k off peak at end of February but still up 15k on year. Junk is out of favour and UK end-year tax-loss selling is having an impact on recovery stocks. Speculation is that €reit will benefit from €qe and that mining stocks will eventually turn round as surpluses from the last great commodity boom are worked through and capex comes to a standstill. Junk bonds make up 59% of funds, providing a good anchor, but still cannot believe the -ve yields people are taking on high-quality bonds: sounds like a bubble as the justification is that yields may go lower still (the greater fool syndrome!). Had a Shoulder Stripe 1 and an Agonopterix heracliana 1  2  3  4 at light.

March 19th: pretty hectic day, off at 08:00 from Wentworth, Hexham, to Saltburn, Cleveland, where visited Boulby Mine with 3 other members from R. Fantastic experience going 1.2 mile underground in lift at 20 feet/second, then by land-rover drove 10 mile out under the sea to a rockface where we saw the automated cutting and recovery machinery in action. Guide was very knowledgeable, explaining a lot of mining terminology and strategies, which was very useful. Had a shower and a cup of tea at end of it, bacon butty and coffee before; the amount of salt dust that came off in the shower was amazing. All the road salt in the NE comes from this mine as a by-product of the potash extraction. We got away at 16:45, heading for Hexham via West Auckland; problem is I was very keen to get to S4con, so persuaded them to set satnav to Nunthorpe Station and off we went. Got there at 17:15 in time to catch 17:30 to Newcastle, where we got in on time at 19:07, jit to walk over High-level to S for 19:30 ko where met N! It was worth it: couldn’t have missed Bradley’s very impressive playing of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and Schubert 8 was played with great feeling and tension, undoubtedly benefiting from the conductor’s rather operatic approach to a few things; you almost expected the soprano to come in on cue after some of the build ups! As usual RNS was very impressive, e.g. showing great inspiration and talent!! Got back on last train to find car still there. Got home to find another 2 of the large new windows in, so all 4 in dining room now completed, except for inside plastering; looks like a great improvement 1  2  3  4. The last 2 wooden ones, both to replace in this batch, are in the upstairs study, which is needing a massive tidy-up, not too bad an idea! Missed meeting at unn this afternoon and BH this evening; will catch up!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and W4ra4s, with full house expected at latter. Jordan is definitely on for 7 days in July, booking starting soon by son. lok2t beauties!!!!

March 18th: sociable day making N4c4l with P and G4g4t with B/J/M; skipped 2nd session as have to be up early tomorrow. Sadly will miss BH4ra4s as car will be in Hexham, unless we get away really early from the mine. Many more moths around in last 2 days, including yesterday 5 Agonopterix ciliella 1  2  3  4 at Ordley and today 2 Agonopterix heracliana 1 and an Oak Beauty 1 at Ordley and 7 March Moth between Loughbrow and Ordley. An Oystercatcher was displaying over Hexham town at lunchtime. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 17th: flight departed a little early and arrived a full 25 min early as we had a tail-wind the whole way. It was raining quite steadily as left so maybe best of weather there over for a while. Rapidly made N4c4ll for quick fix!! Quite a lot to do at home including making safe the 1,521 image/video files totalling 19.2 GB from Faro by copying them to main hard drive and the 2 external drives. A bit of peeling already on forehead; maybe should put blocker on on day 1! unn mates not out tonite so went to G4g4s where chatted up the mfso!! Lovely to drink g again after a whole week off! Thursday’s a busy day with R as we’re doing an all-day visit to the potash mine near Saltburn. Expect to make S4con in evening (but not MP) and BH4ra4s!! 2moro hope to make N4c4l followed much later by W4g4ss. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 16th: mission completed at Lagos, pronounced something like La-gush (very much something like!). The better known Lagos in Nigeria was also named by the Portuguese: it simply means lakes. Did some work on the train to keep up the standards, doing a bit on topos and rather more on drafting a letter to BB on Honey-buzzard data standards. Faro to Lagos took from 10:20-12:06 going and 17:01-18:48 coming back; cost was €14.80. It was very similar to a trip on the Tyne Valley Line! Weather continued very fine at 21C, sunny all day and light NW breeze. Spent much of time from 11:55-17:10 walking, going up to the cliffs at the S end with their fragmented islands and wandering around the harbour, which had a large fishing port – marvellous! Did have lunch at a smart bistro and a welcome pint at station on way back before boarding. Lagos is a more typical Algarve resort than Faro, the latter being a little more arty and eclectic!! As expected, the large gulls here are AYLG (atlantis), slightly smaller than the MYLG with shorter legs, less attenuated rear-end at rest, shorter bill, slightly darker and more blue-grey than ash-grey in mantle shade and calls more like Herring Gull than LBBG/GBBG. Have got masses of data to sort! Total of 138 AYLG were located as follows: 52 (43 adult, 9 1s) around town centre, looking to be occupying territory; 63 in fishing port (30 ad, 28 1s, 5 2s) feeding; 23 adult on sea; frequent calling everywhere, much recorded. A big surprise was the large number of Azure-winged Magpie around – at least 10, on the W edge of the town. Had 5 types of gull in all: AYLG, MYLG, LBBG (1 adult intermedius), Black-headed Gull (1 adult), Mediterranean Gull (1 adult). On the sea had 10 Balearic Shearwater W, 7 Gannet W. Warblers included 5 Zitting Cisticola, 2 Blackcap, 2 Western Bonelli’s. Only raptor was Common Kestrel, with singles on just approaching Lagos from E and final run-in W of Faro on return. Total for day was 28 species, a little below numbers found further E. Butterfly numbers were high though with 7 types: Holly Blue 1, Speckled Wood 1, Swallowtail 3, Clouded Yellow 17, Wall 1, Small White 2, Large White 1. Just before Lagos, train stopped in morning at Portimão around 11:45 where had 16 MYLG (12 adult, 2 2s, 2 1s) around the lagoons. The 2 forms of YLG can be separated on habitat. 2moro it’s return, looking forward to that!!! lok2t lovelies!!!!

Reply from butterfly recorder for NE England on receipt of 2014 records:

It does seem that White-letter and Purple Hairstreak are present on the right trees in the Tyne Valley and even up the North Tyne (if people would look) … Your small pearl find at Kellas is really significant. There have been Dark Green in that 1 km square there for a few years and I have seen them there recently (one landed on the car when I first parked at the site!) but I did not visit last year. Could you possibly give a 6 figure grid ref when you are back home as we would like to follow this up, eg who owns the site, is conservation needed etc. It is so far the only site between the Durham ones south of the Derwent reservoir and those miles to the north in Wark and Sweethope areas.

Butterflies noted in Portugal are summarised in the Table below. There was considerable diversity with 11 types in all and high numbers of Small White (62), Clouded Yellow (31) and Large White (22). Not bad for mid-March!

Species Faro 10/03/15 Faro 11/03/15 Faro 12/03/15 Faro 13/03/15 Vila Real 14/03/15 Faro 15/03/15 Lagos 16/03/15

Total

Small White

2

13

30

6

9

2

62

Large White

7

12

2

1

22

Moroccan Orange Tip

1

1

Bath White

1

1

Swallowtail

3

3

6

Clouded Yellow

3

3

8

17

31

Wall

1

1

1

3

Speckled Wood

1

1

Geranium Bronze

1

1

Red Admiral

2

1

1

4

Holly Blue

1

1

Total

11 types

2

26

50

8

12

9

26

133

Had an unexpected request from Australia from DG, who was my late wife’s fiancé no.1: he’s visiting England and would like to meet up. I was fiancé no.2 with a bit of overlap, so as to speak!! He may be trying to kill me: the Orient Express would be full if I got on it! I didn’t really understand too well why she preferred me at the time but daughter told me that although DG’s family were well off (Jews, related to the Cohens of Tesco fame), she felt she might become a smart family accessory, rather than being allowed to pursue her own career and interests in history. She thought I was so laid-back that anything was possible! I was working at Oxford University then and she moved up to Carlisle Record Office to work as an archivist; after she found me a job at Newcastle University, I moved N and we went to live at Haltwhistle!

March 15th: much the same weather, 21C and sunny; did look as if it might go cooler on NE wind this morning but then swung to light W. Had good walk out around port and old salt pans to SE from 12:15-16:30 after morning work on topos paper and application form for re-join of LAF. Had a remarkable 15 species of wader. Total of 36 species, highest number achieved at Faro in trip, included Marsh Harrier (female type hunting over outer marismas at 13:10), White Stork (14 birds, 7 nests in vicinity of Faro Hotel), Spoonbill (3), Little Egret (42, including flock 30), Little Ringed Plover (1), Kentish Plover (2, pair), Little Stint (5), Whimbrel (3), Curlew (1), Redshank (13), House Martin (13, collecting mud), Swallow (15, few in pairs), Crested Lark (3), Iberian Chiffchaff (1, feeding on insects), Sardinian Warbler (7 at 5 sites, 1 song-flighting), Western Bonelli’s Warbler (1 migrant, sitting on fence by marismas), It was a good time for MYLG calling in harbour with many calls recorded from squabbling birds; quite a lot of variation in pitch but mew calls are definitely deeper than in AYLG; will need quite a lot of analysis; ageing on total 53 seen was 27 adult, 7 2w, 19 1w. No AYLG were seen today. Also had 3 LBBG (all dark backed intermedius, 2 adult, 1 2w). Sorted out most of yesterday’s trip as in added paragraph below. Good evening meal at the hotel with 4 courses, a port aperitif and wine with meal. Cost was €38 including tip, not bad! 2moro is busy day with over 3 hours on trains there and back but hope it will be very revealing on the contrast in gulls found on the marismas in Faro and those on the rocky cliffs of the SW tip of Portugal. We will see!! Think things will start hotting up when I get back to the UK!! lok2t beauties!!!!

March 14th: a little cooler today with wind going to light N but still sunny all day and maximum of 21C, will take that! Trend is down as a cold front passes through on Tuesday. Took to the trains today, going to Vila Real de Santo António, a town on the W side of the Guadiana river, which forms the boundary with Spain, the Spanish city of Ayamonte lying across the river on the E side. Journey took a little over an hour each way and cost €10.40 return. First walked N from the station onto the rough heathland with some old lagoons, then went S to the Estuary before coming back along the river to the station. Had a very productive day, still compiling results but not so far off being up to date as have added previous 4 day’s records to BirdTrack now. One of the attractions of going by train is that you can study the local talent!! Long straight dark hair is ubiquitous, made longer by them continually pulling it! This year’s sun tops seem to have very unpredictable behaviour, adding a lot to the physical allure!! Anyway shouldn’t be noticing such things!! Went out on the town tonite, visiting the odd bar, even had the odd port; it’s a friendly place! 2moro is a catch-up day before the last major expedition to W to meet the AYLG at Lagos on Monday (another train trip). Looking forward to getting back into routine quickly: have missed the beauties!!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

The heathland was very interesting for larks with 2 Skylark, 9 Short-toed Lark, 28 Crested Lark, all likely breeding there, plus 3 Zitting Cisticola and a Great Spotted Cuckoo, very impressively flying fast around the heath. Black Kite were prominent with a pair displaying and 3 birds moving slowly N against the N breeze; a male Common Kestrel was in the pines near the estuary. Waders on the river included Sanderling (17), Turnstone (2), Redshank (3), Common Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, plus a Green Sandpiper flushed from a drainage ditch on the heath. On the lagoons had large numbers of Greater Flamingo (134) plus probable breeding Ferruginous Duck (3), Little Grebe (3), Mallard (14). In the estuary LBBG graellsii very much predominated with 300 on a sandbank and about 60 in the estuary itself; no intermedius were seen; estimated to be 180 adult, 90 1w, 90 2w. MYLG were not that common, getting about 15 on the lagoons at the heathland and 10 in the estuary, including quite a lot of immatures, so do not seem to breed here; recorded ages were 9 adult, 11 1w, 5 2w. Had a single AYLG adult in the estuary with the LBBG. A total of 30 BHG adult may suggest local breeding. Total so far for the town alone is 40 species, best so far. In Olhão area had on way there a Hoopoe and on way back 60 Swallow roosting in reeds and a female/immature Montagu’s Harrier on edge of the reeds. Also on way back 50 Swallow were roosting in reeds near Luz. A Mistle Thrush was flying over the fields at Vila Nova de Cacela. So total for day trip was 43 species of birds. Butterflies included Clouded Yellow (8), Large White (2), Red Admiral (1), Bath White (1).

March 13th: bit hotter today, up to 23C without a cloud in the sky on a light S breeze: think this is as good as it gets but no rain forecast before Tuesday. Did go on boat trip out to Ilha Deserta, the southernmost point of Portugal, with a fantastic sandy beach and dunes, as first line of defence of the marismas against the Atlantic. Left at 11:30, arrived leisurely at 12:45 and decided to stay until next boat back at 14:30, which was an inflatable power boat, getting us back at speed in 15 minutes! Commentary on board was good and we had free time on the island, which, although deserted, does have a fully functioning restaurant! Cost for trip was €25. Birds are really queuing up for return to northern Europe. Had 138 Whimbrel mainly on the mud flats near the coast with 3 off town and 1 N, 147 Gannet (138 adult, 9 1w) W, 1 Great Skua W, 10 LBBG (1 adult, 9 1w) W with 20 adult on mud flats, 3 mobile Sandwich Tern. There were 2 very large flocks of Audouin’s Gull on sand banks near the coast, totalling about 500 birds with 80 MYLG to add to the 50 (37 adult, 13 1w) seen closer to the harbour where some pairs are being set up on the marismas. Passerines on the island included 2 pairs of Crested Lark , 8 House Sparrow and 3 Swallow around restaurant. Other new birds for visit were Mallard (2 female-types), Grey Heron (2), Oystercatcher (9), Common Sandpiper (2), Kentish Plover (2, maybe breeding), 1 GBBG 1w (bringing gull types to 6). An AYLG adult was in the harbour, doubtless another wandering bird. Must sort out the LBBG types from the piccies. Total for visit was 32 species. Butterflies were scarce, just seeing Small White (6), Red Admiral (1, on island, maybe just over from Morocco!), Wall (1 on island). Funds did diminish this week, losing a little under 4k, not too surprising with main indexes in UK/US down around 3% though €markets up; my loss was only about 0.5%. Currency turmoil and falling oil prices are all affecting sentiment. Cannot see how UK can compete with €land at current exchange rates: €land already has a colossal trade surplus; so think interest rates will not go up in UK for quite a while so as to keep a lid on the £. Did some work on topos paper tonight, think copy may be required soon by ANPA. So everything’s going well though resort is a little quiet: could do with a bit more action!! lok2t beauties!!!!

March 12th: weather continued fine, same as last 2 days, looks as if it will hold until Monday anyway. Decided to put on some sun-blocker today as getting a bit pink! Out for long day from 11:30-19:00, walking almost to Airport on W side along edge of marismas before coming back for very late lunch at bar on harbour and then doing area E of harbour, checking for gulls. Lots of interest including an Osprey fishing on edge of distant sea from 12:15-12:20 and a Marsh Harrier, female type, hunting much closer over the near-by marismas not far from the airport at 14:15. So that brings raptors up to 3 species. For gulls just one type – MYLG – with 32 noted (15 adult, 1 2w, 16 1w) including a night-roost of 14 birds (9 adult, 5 1w) off the jetty on E side of the town; some more calls were recorded but nothing too close. The AYLG have b.ggered off as expected! Waders continued to be common with 8 types including new species of Avocet (flock of 60 on ponds near airport). White Stork are in manic nest-building mode with birds criss-crossing the sea front all the time, carrying back seaweed or old grass for their massive nests; counted 7 active nests neat Hotel Faro and maybe 20 birds all day. House Martin were also gathering mud for nest building. There were quite a few warblers in scrub to W, including Zitting Cisticola (10, some displaying), Sardinian Warbler (3), Dartford Warbler (1). Spoonbill numbers rose to 6. New birds for trip included Purple Heron (1), Shoveler (2 female types), Spotless Starling (roost 100+) in park near Hotel Faro. WiFi service is good: have added 1st 2 day’s records to Global BirdTrack. Butterflies included Clouded Yellow (3), Swallowtail (3), Red Admiral (2). Had very good evening meal in a restaurant in the town, with vegetable soup, 250g veal steak, cheesecake, ½ bottle of red wine, Americano coffee, all for €30.40. So left them €35, that’s £25 at current exchange rate (€1.40 = £1), not bad for quality place, can still taste the garlic; you could live here really cheaply! 2moro it’s a boat trip out to the sea to visit Ilha Deserta, where you can spend sometime ashore: sounds good! Well it’s a gr8 break but do look forward to getting home to see the beauties again!!! xxxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 11th: another glorious day peaking at 21C without a cloud in the sky and a gentle SW breeze. Viewed harbour early-on before getting stuck into the ponds (old salt pans) on the SE side of the town. Had total of 34 species, including 9 wader, 3 gull, 2 hirundine, 5 warbler, 3 finch. Sole raptor was a Common Kestrel hunting over the marismas to E. Got masses of sound recordings of gulls which is good as was a little complex today. At 1st thing (11:35) gulls in harbour were much as yesterday – assorted MYLG. On return for lunch though it was clear that 4 AYLG adult were present, maybe having followed the odd fishing boat in. They gave their shriller calls and indeed did look less attenuated, shorter-legged, slightly darker, bit more blue-grey; they kept together in a rowdy group. Total for MYLG was 36 (30 adult, 6 1w), including quite a few out on the mud and edge of salt pans. Other gull in harbour was LBBG (3 – 2 adult, 1 2w), which were quite aggressive in chasing scraps. Top additions to list were a Spoonbill, a Cattle Egret, Black-winged Stilt (16, some display), Grey Plover (4), Crested Lark (7), Dartford Warbler (1). In total of 18 Redshank also had a few displaying birds. Butterflies are coming out in the spring sunshine: Geranium Bronze (1), Small White (13), Large White (7), Clouded Yellow (3), Wall (1), Moroccan Orange Tip (1). Getting a tan already and enjoying eating on the harbour-side. Watched a football match tonite: Chelsea losing in a bad way to Paris. Locals actually wanted Chelsea to win because they like Mourhino! Maybe as a nation we underestimate the French! Down a bit on markets this week but nothing like as much as 2.75% fall in ftse would suggest. Maybe following the Paris side PSG, really like bombed-out €reit after the collapse of the € and have added a few!! Logic is that € property is going to appear really cheap to foreigners; best to also check that borrowings are in € as otherwise ruin will follow; high leverage (ratio debts :valuation) is also needed though does raise the stakes! 2moro going to explore the town more and c what the nite-life’s like!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 10th: well finally away on the Atlantic fly-way, this time at Faro in the Algarve. Weather is brilliant at 20C on continuous sunshine on light E winds: can hardly believe that you can go out without a coat and sit outside a restaurant basking in the sun. Have long thought that March is the cruellest month in Northumberland as it is really still a winter month with any rise in temperatures masked by stronger winds: 5-month’s winter is not the right balance which is why I like to get away. Didn’t feel too good this morning but cold has almost gone now with the sunshine! Flew from NCL-FAO, leaving at 07:50 and arriving a little early at 10:45; plane was completely packed, including my hairdresser L from JG, who was going to a cottage on Spanish border! Slept for quite a lot of it. Got a taxi to Hotel Faro (€14 including tip) where they obligingly checked me into my room straight-away; WiFi is very good! Then out around the harbour area and edge of marismas for afternoon.

YLG in harbour are really interesting: 21 Mediterranean types (MYLG) with attenuated shape (long primaries), long legs, deep calls, broad black bar on P5; no Atlantic YLG. Ages were 8 ad, 2 3w, 2 2w, 9 1w. Like in Estepona would expect Atlantic YLG (AYLG) to be present in harbour in winter/early spring, but maybe left now. Going to Lagos (not Nigeria!) for day trip by train later in week to a rocky stretch of coast where expect to find breeding AYLG. The MYLG here most likely breed on the marismas (salt marshes). In the intersection area between AYLG and MYLG, centred on Gibraltar, the MYLG favour the marshes and the AYLG the cliffs as you move out onto the Atlantic. Other gulls were 1 BHG and 3 LBBG (ad, 2w, 1w). Had 1 tern, a Sandwich Tern. Most spectacular local bird is the White Stork, which breed on the rooftops and are very tame; saw 2 at 2 nests and 8 soaring over marismas, before returning N to sites in town. No raptors yet but lovely to see Swallow (10), Sand Martin (2), House Martin (4), Red-rumped Swallow (2), foraging over the ponds and seashore. Also lots of waders with 10 types: Dunlin (110), Black-tailed Godwit (18), Sanderling (13), Bar-tailed Godwit (9), Redshank (9), Turnstone (6), Curlew (5), Greenshank (4), Whimbrel (4), Ringed Plover (1). Characteristic SW Europe warblers included Iberian Chiffchaff (3), Cetti’s Warbler (1), Zitting Cisticola (2), Sardinian Warbler (1). Finches included Serin (7). Total was 29 species. Butterflies comprised 2 Small White. Pity couldn’t take someone with me!!! lok2t lovelies!!!

March 9th: did make R for both meetings and N4c4ll with P; feeling very much below par and even dizzy at times. But after late-nite visit to T for cat food in evening, sudden improvement so maybe it’s a short-duration bug. Part 6 of Honey-buzzard review beckons with latest BB paper on scarce migrants: blatant data fiddling with omission of peak counts in 2000 and 2008! Chris Kehoe is a co-author – well fancy that, will also write to the editor about their cr.p standards! Windows (6) arrived today through JC – paid £1756 for the materials; he’s going to install them soon. That’s coming out of my funds but obviously it’s good for the house to have it all pvc, as no painting! A few traditionalists will disagree. lok2t gorgeous ones!!!

March 8th: in a still brisk W wind but much calmer than yesterday, made Dipton Wood for a stroll early afternoon, studying the broom and oak. Broom was very productive with 25 Leucoptera spartifoliella mines, 5 with white cocoons, some of which have taken away for rearing to confirm the id. Had 3 small round blisters on oak and a mine on bramble, Emmetia marginea, all also taken away for rearing. Puddles were devoid of moths so nothing much hatched yet. Had a very-high Common Buzzard and a male Kestrel in display over the fields to E. Total was 13 species with count of 16 Goldcrest including a number of singing birds. Made N4c4t for recuperation and much later G4g4s where met P with the lovely mfso doing the honours. I’m fighting a cold – what a time to go down with the 1st of the winter/spring, but often happens to me as temperatures first rise; might just possibly be an allergy! 2moro it’s International @ R, R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll!! Am going to Jordan in July with son and 2 of his mates: sounds good!! Hope the beauties are keeping fit: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 7th: so windy today, lots of small twigs off trees with the milder temperatures completely lost in the wildness. Completed adding Cape Verde bird records from March 2013 to BirdTrack database; next up on foreign scene is New York records from January 2014 not to mention some coming up directly, which will hopefully put in, in situ. Here’s recent photos of family: Sophia about 0.022 old 1  2 and Emily 3.25 1  2, plus Cleo 1, who knows, maybe 16 (she was from a rescue centre when adult). It’s nice to stroke a pussy, even if they can’t catch mice!! Also caught up on UK records with quite a number of piccies below for February. Did meet P at Ab4c4c and then made C4c4l to catch up on FT; too predictable (though Abbey was change!)! Getting ready to compile final table for Honey-buzzard for 2014, that for migration. Wind’s dropping overnight so getting out tomorrow for a walk/field trip, maybe to Dipton Wood. Later going to band at Tanners and G4g4s!! lok2t beauties!!!

March 6th: another slightly quicker meeting at unn from 14:00-16:00; we’re making great progress! Did make N4c4l where met J for good crack; gr8 2 c tmbo!!! Quiz was more fun than expected with good atmosphere and questions not so hard; we came 2nd after a very powerful run-in on true/false where we got 14/15 right; music (Disney films) was dismal, just 4/15. Other high-scoring section was science/nature, our bonus round, where we got 12/15. Team went home to bed at 22:30 but I made W4g4s where met J and D/M for good chat!! Nice ambience!! 2moro it’s Abbey/C4c4l, 1st with P, then catch up. Precious metals down this week but maybe looking up soon. Markets fragile this week, particularly mining but managed some gains in €reit on €qe to make final position -1k after withdrawal of 2k for earlier ag purchases and daughter’s birthday. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 5th: busy day at unn and on journeys in/out as carried on working up the 2 papers; going into unn again tomorrow afternoon! Had good lunch @ S; number of Kittiwakes on Tyne and already on ledges was 26, all adult. A pair of Great Crested Grebe were at Farnley and 2 Redshank at Derwenthaugh. Pretty satisfied after last nite so no BH 2day!! Will make N4c4l and much later it’s quiz at SICA before W4ra4s!! lok2t beauties!!!

March 4th: lots of work in day on topos papers – both of them, one with M in Devon, other with P/M at unn, though both part of Visiting Fellow work. Later made S4con, going to Rachmaninov’s Vespers sung by RNS chorus: it was brill, spot on highest standards of northern England choral work. The work itself is very sombre with eastern orthodox style chanting in Russian without any orchestral accompaniment, so pretty challenging. It started at 9 and lasted 60 minutes! Before, with N, went to Cafe Rouge in GS for change as N had 25% discount voucher! Food and service was very French, quite stylish but not cheap, came to £50 with the discount on the food after a fair few sundries! 8 Cormorant were roosting near Wylam Station. A Kittiwake was calling on Quayside as crossed High-level Bridge: bet the residents will be celebrating their return. Back to P International on last train where A&E was closed but DrS served me a G: always like it there, quick service, good prices and a generally matey feeling about the place. Very torrid finish to day: as good as it gets!!! A fox’s entrance and exit was very dramatic!! Had a few moths on way home as warmed up but not id. 2moro into unn for meeting in afternoon with S4s4l beforehand. Markets very erratic this week but funds trending down overall after recent surge; in pt LON:SLP carry on up and LON:AQP carry on down! lok2tmbo!!!!

March 3rd: weather more like late February (it’s really February 31st) than early spring with biting NW wind. House lovely and warm again: 20.5C at 29% humidity. Made N4c4l where good crack with J, PO to pick up parcel from NHBS with insect collecting gear, P’s to witness his passport application and much later G4g4s for quickie to see mfso and T&S4ra4s with M/A!! The favoured mbo looked fantastic!!! Son has declined offer for deposit on London flat, saying he’ll wait until he hopefully moves back N to Manchester or Liverpool for work on completion of duties down S in 6-9 months; then help will be greatly appreciated! 2moro it’s G4g4t, S4con with N late-on with car left at P, hoping to just catch last train, maybe quickie DrS!! lok2tmbo!!!

March 2nd: weather more like late February (it’s really February 30th) than early spring with biting NW wind. As writing this at 01:30 3/3 it’s 0.5C outside at 72% humidity on NW wind force 6 and mainly clear but with the odd snow flurry; inside it’s 22.7C with 29% humidity; stove is performing really well. Had burglar alarm serviced this morning at 09:00; the engineer woke me up! He replaced the battery as needs doing every 5 years. Had strategy meeting at R, which was interesting: I’m the speaker on Cape Verde, Land of the Creole in 3 weeks time. Worked out how to publish photo galleries, which will make website more interesting. Did make N4c4ll and then home where did further work on topos. Had pair of Kestrel in display at Ordley at 15:00. Have visit to unn on Thursday and quiz nite at SICA on Friday, followed I think by W4ra4s. 2moro it’s N4c4l followed by G4g4s/T&S4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 1st: nearly all moth records, both macro and micro, for 2014 html were submitted to the County Recorder last week; a much smaller 2nd list is being prepared when more difficult ids sorted. A Willow Tit was in front garden briefly this lunchtime so tits doing well this year! Made N4c4t and G4g4s, where very good crack: gr8 to have the mfso back for latter!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l where business meeting, N4c4ll and further catch-up!! Did offer son 40k deposit on flat or starter home with equity stake in return: offer could be more widely available!! lok2t beauties!!!!

Catching up with family documentation. Here’s marriage certificate 1, with transcript 1, of my grandparents on maternal side: William Hudson Nicholls (aged 29) and Mabel Lena Holbrook (aged 22) in register office at Newton Abbot on 25/11/1916. He was a farmer at Eastdon Farm, West Dawlish (considered as Starcross now), and she was living at 17 Abbotsbury Road, Newton Abbot, daughter of George Holbrook, accountant, deceased; Mabel had become an office worker with the Osborne Hotel, Torquay, according to the 1911 census 1 and was apparently now living in the centre of Newton Abbot, where family tradition is that she was a book-keeper. Witnesses were Violet A[nn] Nicholls, William’s sister, and Leslie Bassett. This lovely photo 1 was taken of the newly-weds around the time of the wedding c1916. Here’s another interesting Nicholls family photo 1 with caption correction 1 (page 174) taken c1900 from the book Booths in History by John Nicholls Booth, Ridgeway Press 1982 (cover 1, inset 1, donation message to my mother 1, page 172 1, page 173 1). The Nicholls family tree in the book 1 needs to be treated with a little caution as it lacks any references and authorities but I think the general theme of many generations of Devon farmers on my immediate maternal side is right. The author’s mother, who married a Canadian, is in the photo (top right) and my (maternal) grandfather William Hudson Nicholls is centre back in corrected caption. Violet Ann Nicholls, William’s sister and my gt-aunt, who signed the marriage register, is at front on left. John Jeffry Nicholls (senior, 1858-1923) is my gt-grandfather and Ann Hudson Nicholls (1859-1936) my gt-grandmother. Sadly William’s brother, carrying his father’s name, was killed in World War I. William himself, as a farmer, presumably did not fight in the war. Since William was 29 when he married Mabel in 1916, that would make him 13 if the picture was really 1900, so suspect it’s more like c1905 in reality when he would have been 18. William developed keen outside interests, liking women, horses and dogs!! I think he was always very fond of us but did think at times that we were effete townies! Without the last 2 of his interests, he would have been very wealthy as much thought to be useless land he owned was sold off for a pretty penny to the developing tourist industry at Dawlish Warren. But as a freeholder he still left a substantial unencumbered farm in his estate. As he once showed his winnings to us, my grandmother retorted: he can’t show you the ones he’s lost! He was evidently a shrewd punter, travelling to courses all over SW/W England, but the odds are of course loaded. He also acted as a bookie’s runner on occasion to defray some expenses! The book contains a photo of the 3 Nicholls sisters c1960 on their reunion in Devon 1. Also added is birth certificate 1 of my Auntie Ann, born 02/01/1928 at Eastdon and still going strong even attending regularly matches of the Saints (Southampton); she was 3rd daughter of the marriage after Jean and Betty. She was christened Lena Ann though the Lena has subsequently been dropped. Amazing use of the name Lena over a long period, considering we haven’t met the original Lena yet! The transcript is here 1.

February 28th: updated Honey-buzzard page with breeding data for SW Northumberland in 2014 (Population of the Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland). So breeding results are officially published. Had Chiffchaff alarm calling on W edge of Sele by steep bank down to burn; wonder if it’s overwintered in area as had one in winter last year close-by. Here’s latest spoon, Dutch c1900, a figural spoon 1  2  3 with lady terminal, has a good feel to it! Been working on Nicholls family history: will update tomorrow, including certificates and photo of my grandfather c1905 with his 3 sisters, 1 brother and parents, taken at their Farm (Eastdon). Rather struck by piercing stares! Had sociable B214c4c with P and good read of FT at C4c4l.

February 27th: very sociable N4c4l meeting P/J/P. Concert at S was brilliant with Saleem Ashkar playing 4 Beethoven sonatas on piano; particularly liked no.12, the Funeral March; went solo. Markets were pretty solid this week with rises in LON:WBS, LON:SLP and some other junk! Up 7k on week to new record and +23k on year. Fairly confident trend is upwards for next few weeks as pt/pd comes off bottom, €reit shows benefits of €qe and junk bonds continue to benefit from rock-bottom interest rates; it’s only oil that’s really down at the moment and exposure to that is very small. 2moro going to Bin214c4c with P followed maybe by C4c4l and catch-up later. lok2t lovelies!!!!

February 26th: left Ealing at 10:10; back in good time on 11:30 from Kings X – Ncl, managing to get home to stroke pussy before catching 17:05 from Wylam – Newcastle to go back into town, where met N. Was rather swift but very good visit to see new family! MP4m4t was as usual very good; always very friendly service there!! Onto S4con where had Shostakovich’s piano and trumpet concerto, which was simply dazzling in terms of its speed and virtuosity. Beethoven 1 was played very well by RNS; didn’t agree with the programme note that you could not tell this was Beethoven; all movements but particularly the scherzo were all of that ilk; maybe you can play it like late Mozart but the RNS chose not to! Thought the right members of the orchestra got the initial plaudits from the conductor: woodwind was brilliant!! Back to BH4ra4s for a couple where looked after well by jd!! A little bit W and into further delights: lok2tmbo!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, S4con with Beethoven sonatas, W4ra4s.

Here at last are the final results for the Honey-buzzard breeding season in 2014; migration analysis is to follow.

The detailed results for the 2014 breeding season are given in Table 19. It was yet another record-breaking season for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in terms of occupancy with 56 (53 in 2012) occupied sites and 54 (53) confirmed breeding pairs. Productivity was high with nearly every pair being successful and a record of 84+ (83+) young fledged. Productivity was high in absolute terms with 30 of the 54 successful sites raising 2 young; 15 raising at least one young and 3 raising one young. Perhaps because of the increasing difficulty of covering all sites in the fledging phase, an additional category for numbers fledged has been introduced. This is for the situation where in a visit in the fledging phase the immediate site is found to be still occupied but no young are seen. The classification here is >0, meaning that it is believed young have fledged but none have been seen, in effect the hidden brood. Six sites were classified as >0 in 2014, all also being recorded as breeding category ON, occupied nest, at the confirmed level.

The weather was above average throughout the breeding season, except in August, which was cool and windy after the remnants of a hurricane disturbed the line of the jet stream. This affected observations around mid-August at the start of the fledging season, contributing to the >0 category noted above.

This year the breeding density increased as three new sites were occupied, two classified as infilling; one new pair in the lower South Tyne in the vicinity of Haydon Bridge, another in the Tipalt, near Haltwhistle; the third was anticipated as another step towards the urban conurbation of Tyneside with a pair at Ryton Willows; this last pair are extending the range E rather than infilling. All these new pairs were successful, raising 5 young between them, suggesting that there is scope for further expansion. The Ryton site is 9.5 km from Tyne Bridge and 1.5 km from W edge of Newburn, where the solid conurbation of Tyneside begins. There is still scope for Honey-buzzard breeding at Woolsington and Gosforth Park on NW/N edge of conurbation! As usual the sites are not necessarily new for Honey-buzzard, just for the survey.

Survey effort was maintained throughout the season but there was 1 absence of almost 2 weeks in late May/early June and further absences of about 5 days in mid-June, late July, mid-August and late August. The main effect might have been from the long absence in late May/early June on the results for the display period but good weather at this time mitigated any effect.

In the target area in 2014 the same 12 sites were observed for nests as in 2013 with 100% success this year. Scots Pine (6 nests) remains the most popular tree with Norway Spruce (3) some way behind and Oak (2) and Douglas Fir (1) the only other type employed. Nests are much easier to find in Scots Pine and Oak than in Norway Spruce and Douglas Fir because of the structure of the crowns of the trees with for instance Scots Pine being open and Norway Spruce closed.

Area

No. sites

No. adults

No. nests

found

Observed Occupied (no. sites)

Breeding Category

Number young fledged

Trees used for Nesting

Display

Sit/

Rear

Fledge

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

6

12

3

6

4

6

6

0

0

9 (3×2, 3×1+)

Scots Pine x2, Norway Spruce

Allen

9

15

2

3

8

8

8

0

1

12 (4×2, 3×1+, 1x>0)

Oak, Norway Spruce

Upper South Tyne

6

12

2

6

2

6

6

0

0

10 (4×2, 1×1, 1x>0)

Oak, Norway Spruce

Lower South Tyne

9

14

0

9

1

8

8

0

1

12 (4×2, 2×1+, 2x>0)

Tipalt

4

7

0

3

0

4

4

0

0

6 (2×2, 2×1)

Tyne W

7

13

3

7

4

7

7

0

0

12 (5×2, 1×1+, 1x>0)

2 x Scots Pine, Douglas Fir

Tyne E

7

10

1

5

3

7

7

0

0

11 (4×2, 3×1+)

Scots Pine

Derwent

8

13

1

3

5

8

8

0

0

12 (4×2, 3×1+,1x>0)

Scots Pine

Total

56

96

12

42

27

54

54

0

2

84 (30×2, 15×1+, 3×1, 6x>0)

Scots Pine x6, Norway Spruce x3, Oak x2, Douglas Fir

Table 19: Results for the Honey-buzzard Breeding Season in SW Northumberland by area in 2014

Table 20 gives a breakdown of the numbers of males, females and juveniles in each part of the season. As in previous years, the male:female ratio is highest in the display season at 37:24 (1.54), reducing in the rearing season to 21:17 (1.24) and in the fledging season to 21:31 (0.68). Males are more obvious in the display phase and tend to leave before the females. The female visibility, in absolute terms, is highest in the fledging phase, when 31 noted, with birds being conspicuous in training sessions with the youngsters. The number of juveniles seen, reported as 78 in Table 20, differs from the 84 in Table 19, because of the 6 hidden broods (recorded as >0) noted in 2014. By definition all of the juveniles were seen in the fledging phase.

Area

No. sites

No. adults

Display 23/4-18/6

Rearing 19/6-17/8

Fledging 18/8-30/9

Gangs of juveniles post-breeding

27/9-2/10

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Juvenile

Devil’s Water

6

12

5

4

3

4

4

3

9

Allen

9

15

3

1

7

4

3

4

11

1×7

Upper South Tyne

6

12

6

4

0

2

5

6

9

Lower South Tyne

9

14

8

3

1

0

2

4

10

Tipalt

4

7

3

2

0

0

2

4

6

Tyne W

7

13

6

5

4

4

3

3

11

1×8

Tyne E

7

10

3

3

3

1

1

3

11

Derwent

8

13

3

2

3

2

1

4

11

Total

56

96

37

24

21

17

21

31

78

2 (15)

Table 20: Number of Male, Female and Juvenile Honey-buzzard found in each phase of breeding season in 2014

February 25th: more family dos, helping big sis to mind my gt-niece and gt-nephew after their junior schools. Emily is 3.25 years now, compared to Sophia’s 0.022! We went to Ravenscourt Park for lunch and play in the park, all very entertaining; piccies to follow! Added Ring-necked Parakeet, Chiffchaff and LBBG to year list; a Common Buzzard flew W almost in display; total was 21 species, including Robin and Blackbird nest-building. Weather was sunny and mild on light W breeze. Found a saturation of galleries on holm oak of Stigmella suberivora 1 in children’s park; some taken for rearing (not the children!). Later had supper back at nephew’s for good crack: mixture of G and Wagner highlites was very cool! Thinking of offering son a deposit on a flat to avoid rent payments, which are becoming extortionate, e.g. £1,000 pcm for 1-bedroom in a shared house; would do it on part-equity basis. You can halve your outgoings on a decent mortgage deal. Markets going well this week and up a significant amount so far. Anyway brief family visit is almost over and will be back in N 2moro afternoon going home b4 MP4m4t, S4con, BH4ra4s!! Will WiFi work on train or is there an underlying problem? lok2t beautiful ones!!!!

February 24th: over to Richmond to see Sophia, who was lovely; held her for a bit and she was as good as gold. Piccies to follow. Parents though are exhausted: how can somebody so small cause so much trouble!! Son came over as well, we went for a walk in Richmond Park and had a couple later in Richmond. There were many Ring-necked Parakeet in the Park and the deer were closer to the road than seen before. So great to see new family and will come down for longer stay when more settled. ftse made all-time record today as predicted a little while ago.

February 23rd: early leaver at R, got cheered when gave reason; back home to close down house and then down to London to see 1st grandchild (Sophia Anna Mehadi, last 2 names are of partners’ deceased mothers). Train journey from 14:50-19:50 went very smoothly, arriving in Ealing Broadway on time. Staying with big sis who very pleased to see again. Did some work on topos paper on train and sorted out a report for R. Laptop not connecting to WiFi so using iPhone for network and working off-line on laptop; suspect some incompatibility with local BT installation as did work on train and was working at home. Sad 2 c the mbo for last time for a few days!!

February 22nd: desktop has really speeded up and physical memory use has dropped from 90% to 25-30%, the 90% meaning of course a lot of thrashing between main memory and disk; don’t know what’s done it exactly but pleased that machine is struggling much less (as that wears them out!). Sent out invitations to restaurants. Processed some AYLG calls from the Azores; the long calls are very argenteus (Herring Gull) like, perhaps the closest to Herring Gull of all the atlantis forms; elsewhere on the Atlantic some of the AYLG have a little bit more graellsii (LBBG) in them, mainly due to the flat tone in some variants, what I call a lack of ‘wowing’. Added 2 more days 24/3-25/3 from São Vicente to BirdTrack, only 4 to add from trip now, all on Santo Antão. Made N4c4t 4 break and much later G4g4s where the lovely mfso was doing the honours!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

February 21st: really a day for the computers; the main desktop has been becoming too slow so ran AVG’s and Firefox’s clean-up, uninstalled quite a lot of software and checked msconfig for dross at start-up; also sorted out a few inconsistencies in Java handling by applications, which was causing some things not to work. It’s running better now. Used OpenOffice Base to manage mailing list of Hexham restaurants for the international food evening; probably took far longer than just writing them out this time but it’s good to know how to do it and will save a lot of effort in future; must say the Base is a cr.p database as it seems to rely solely on data loads from spreadsheets. Finally got spectrogram 16 working on the desktop with input as wave conversions via AVS from the mp4 videos. So now can get spectrograms again from the calls of birds, including AYLG on the Azores and recent Honey-buzzard recordings, which will help publishing. So bit of a nerdish day really but need to get things running efficiently for the next season. Gave priority to submitting moth records for 2014 (782 to date) to County Recorder on Wednesday. Now need to publish Honey-buzzard breeding totals. Made C4c4l for good break!! 2moro must get out for walk, N4c4t and G4g4s!! lok2t beautiful ones!!!!

February 20th: sociable trip to N4c4l meeting J/C/M and seeing the delights of Hexham!! Only 3 of us out at W as forecast but we had good chat and gr8 to have j on! Daughter had allergic reaction to epidural and has only got out of hospital tonight with S who’s doing fine; sent her a large bundle of flowers and some chocolates via W for delivery tomorrow. Markets had another risk-off Friday: it’s becoming a pattern; had best week of year at +6k on mining stocks crawling off the bottom; top-sliced profit on LON:SLP, putting it into €reit, other pt shares and NYSE:NBG, last named soaring today on Greek ‘solution’ and up 25% since purchase 2 days ago, giving 0.75k rise. Fairly confident about prospects in general provided oil keeps around its present level of $60 a barrel (lower gives too much disruption to balance sheets, higher will put squeeze back on €land). 2moro it’s C4c4l and catch up (plenty needed!). lok2t gorgeous ones!!!!

February 19th: good day for the topos, doing some work in morning on ANPA paper before meeting M/P for 2-hour meeting from 14:00-16:00 on our 2nd paper: lots of good progress, maybe the end is in sight! We have another meeting in 2 weeks. Made S4s4l where restricted access due to construction of scaffolding for some festival. Will be back there in a week for Beethoven 1, with N. Made BH4ra4s for good crack: really like it there! lok2tmgo!!!xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

February 18th: did quite a lot of work at home on the topos in preparation for 2-hours meeting at unn tomorrow afternoon, preceded by S4c4l and followed much later by BH4ra4s!! Thought the mbo looked just right!! Made C4c4t and G4g4ss: very chatty at latter. Markets a bit shaky still: currently up a bit but like last week far from complacent. Basically next leg up depends on investors getting out of their near 0% or even -ve% bonds and taking a little more risk in equities; once the reduction in oil prices has fed through, inflation may start to show again quite quickly and that might panic some bondholders! We’ll see! lok2t beautiful ones!!!!

February 17th: at 06:09 this morning, became a grandfather! Here’s some piccies 1  2  3  4. She’s quite chunky at 4.015 kg (8lb 13oz). Birth was complicated by the hospital realising quite late on in the labour that the baby was in the breech position, so they had to rush through the c-section operation as an emergency. Fortunately it all turned out well. She arrived one day early (due week 40, 18/2). So that’s really marvellous: I’m going down to London next week for a few days to meet Sophia!! Had sociable day meeting J @ N4c4l, mfso at G4g4s and A @ T&S4ra4s. Went for walk around Peth Foot in afternoon; it was fairly breezy from W but mild; signs of late winter with singing Goldcrest, Great Tit (on nuts with Blue Tit 1), Coal Tit, Dipper 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12, Robin and Dunnock, plus heavy movement of 1050 Common Gull moving S to roost at Derwent Reservoir; interesting counts were 17 Blue Tit, most feeding at Peth Foot, and 17 Yellowhammer roosting in a hawthorn copse at Ordley; bird species count was 16. Had some moths: galleries 1  2  3  4  5 in broom of Leucoptera spartifoliella, galleries 1  in bramble of Stigmella aurella (6), cones 1  2 in bramble of Emmetia marginea (2). Grand finish to day, what you’d expect from a granddad: lokttmgo!!!

February 16th: here’s some recent photos of moths – Agonopterix subpropinquella (Ordley, 15/2) out of hibernation 1  2, Stigmella aurella (Prudhoe, 14/2) gallery on bramble 1, Emmetia marginea (Prudhoe, 14/2) cone on bramble 1, Pale Brindled Beauty (Ordley, 13/2) 1. Not so valuable!! The mbo looked very sultry!! Made R where learnt moving to chair Vocational next year from International – probably more suitable! Met the mfso: looking very good, 4 months behind my daughter whose S is due in 2 days!! The meo looked very stylish: off to see a client! Quite a lot achieved today. It was much cooler so less distractions outside. Checked Derwent records for Honey-buzzard for 2014, no problems found so close to publishing breeding totals. Added visit on 23/03/13 Mindelo, Cape Verde, to Global BirdTrack. Got moth records into spreadsheet format for submission; needs a final check. Compiled list of Hexham restaurants in a spreadsheet for mail-merge letter. Wondered at ½ year results for LON:SLP. 2moro it’s N4c4l, walk out somewhere, T&S4ra4s and maybe some publishing!! lok2t gorgeous ones!!!!

February 15th: grand late winter day with stronger sunshine, almost no wind and no rain with maximum 5C. Completed hedge cutting on all fronts by doing the remaining ½ of the roadside area from 11:30-14:00; quite sociable: roadside hedge-cutting almost has religious significance in the ‘Shire. At Ordley had Song Thrush singing late afternoon and a male Kestrel and a Common Buzzard up in display midday. Found 3 Small Tortoiseshell hibernating in garden shed and a queen wasp was crawling around the house this evening. Put the Skinner Trap out tonight for 1st time this year and had a male Pale Brindled Beauty in it, almost straight away. Found 4 Agonopterix subpropinquella in a puddle by roadside while cutting the hedge, which rescued and photographed. So pace is definitely quickening!! On recording front checked Tyne Valley E records for Honey-buzzard for 2014, no problems found; should do Derwent tomorrow and will be close to publishing breeding totals. Added 22/03/13 Santo Antão, Cape Verde, to Global BirdTrack. Formatted moth records for 2014 and now close to submitting these. Did make N4c4t and G4g4s, latter was very sociable! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll and catch-up. lok2t beauties!!!!

February 14th: opera from NY Met was brilliant example of eastern Europe creativity with Iolanta showing an upbeat view of a fairy tale which ends happily ever after and Bluebeard’s Castle giving a really dark fairy tale with motto: don’t turn over too many stones! Had productive read of FT at C4c4l and good meal before opera at MP where plenty of talent on show!! N also thought the Bartók was really powerful. Got this pair of apostle spoons on Ebay this week, thought really lovely 1  2  3. Appropriately some spring-like features today with, at Ordley, Mistle Thrush singing this morning and Pale Brindled Beauty last night and tonight. 2moro hoping to finish hedge trimming (on last bit on roadside), go for walk, make N4c4t and G4g4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

February 13th: a Red Kite was in the ‘Shire, gliding over Houtley, moving SE at moderate altitude, at 14:30. Checked Tyne Valley W records for Honey-buzzard for 2014, no problems found; probably no time for any more tomorrow but should do Tyne Valley E on Sunday. Added 17/3/13 Mindelo and Porto Novo, Cape Verde, to Global BirdTrack. Did make N4c4l where good to meet J and gr8 2 c mbo and mfso!! 5 of us out at W4ra4s much later for good crack, N having a rest! Much better day on markets than expected at start of week, particularly for commodity stocks. Gained 5k on week taking gain on year to 10k, with strong rise in pt stocks. Have policy of gradually moving over some of bond money to mining and €reit as we enter final stage of bull market. 2moro it’s C4c4l, MP4m4et, TC4opera with N, with 2 separate works being performed: Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle. Special day tomorrow: thoughts then!!! lok2t beauties!!!!

February 12th: checked ‘Shire records for Honey-buzzard for 2014, no problems found except one more tweak needed to BirdTrack records; should do Tyne Valley W tomorrow. Added 16/3/13 Mindelo, Cape Verde, to Global BirdTrack. JC did measure windows, have to decide on type of openings in windows, then we’re off! Had walk around Wylam from 15:25-17:05; dull, cool and calm, so no raptors but a good species list of 26 types, including 4 Song Thrush (3 singing), 9 Robin (6 singing), 15 Blackbird, 11 Redwing, 3 Mistle Thrush, 1 Goldcrest. Made MP4m4s with N, usual good service, back in 2 days! Concert was brill; Mario is such a warm conductor, maybe not so suited to Purcell, but the Nielsen and Brahms came over very well; movement 3 of Brahms 2 is fantastic: really puts you in the mood; had better view of the orchestra this time!! So after quickie at Cnt4g4s, made BH4ra4s off last train, where jd showed me her piccies of birds she’s ringing!! Gr8 end to day, very pleased she’d stayed up; liked the hint at the end : lokttmbo!!!! On way home had 1 Tawny Owl at Riding Mill, 1 Barn Owl at Ordley, 1 Early moth at Dipton Wood E. 2moro it’s N4c4l and W4ra4s!!

February 11th: checked Allen records for Honey-buzzard for 2014, no problems found so far in any area except odd tweak needed to BirdTrack records; should do the ‘Shire tomorrow. Added 15/3/13 Mindelo, Cape Verde, to Global BirdTrack. Very energetic day, cutting rest of party hedge over 3 hours in middle of day with the odd break; very good conditions with no frost, light breeze and sunshine. Had 2 Early Moth at Houtley in evening. Made N4c4t; G went well – very chatty in both sessions. Markets remain shaky, have slight gain to date on week and will be happy to hold onto that by end of week. 2moro it’s waiting for JC to come around and measure 6 wooden double-glazed windows, which replacing next month with pvc to reduce maintenance; a few of the windows also have broken seals in the glazing (meaning they mist-up!). Then maybe into Wylam for a little kite searching before MP4m4t, S4con, BH4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

February 10th: made AF with N, where BH (Bargain Hunt) was in full swing with Tim Wonnacott, a fellow Devonian from Barnstaple complete with bow tie, looking around keenly. They were keeping the cameras well off the riff-raff so don’t think we featured! We went to ‘The Shack’, alias the Wentworth Cafe, before. Bought 2 volumes of originals of a Scottish 19th century moorland/hunting memoirs: The Moor and the Loch, by James Colquhoun 5th edition, c1880, for £60. Very fond of these vivid Victorian accounts of the wild countryside in northern Britain. Made N4c4l where gr8 2 c the meo!! Starting adding Mindelo records to BirdTrack from March 2013 in Cape Verde: glad there’s a proper repository for them. Have now checked Tipalt, upper South Tyne, lower South Tyne Honey-buzzard records for 2014 so making progress but it’s time consuming; should do Allen tomorrow. Evening was lively making G4g4s for a quickie, where the mfso was in good form, and T&S4ra4s where good chat with work-mates. 2moro it’s walk out somewhere and W4g4ss!! lok2t beauties!!!!

February 9th: R event went well, YE of the Year, much better than last year, with prizes presented by local MP. Made N4c4ll where caught by local LD activist: can I deliver leaflets all round the ‘Shire? Well no, but might deliver a few locally. Pleased 2 c tmbo!! Quite a clear-out of paper from 2 piles collected over last 8 months: tackling 3 more older ones tomorrow; main time is in checking for anything interesting! Getting a bit more house-proud – replacing 6 wooden windows with pvc ones in March, complete with new double glazing. 2moro it’s AF @ W4c, N4c4l, G4g4s, T&S4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

February 8th: in checking through last year’s magazines, found this snippet 1 on Honey-buzzard; might be commoner than suggested! Milder temperature-wise, up to 5C, but strong dry NW breeze made it pretty bracing. Made Bywell on top of the hill and Whittle Dene Reservoir from 13:10-15:10 with many layers on. Whittle Dene was good with 11 adult swan (7 Mute, 4 Whooper 1  2) in a turnip field (or something!) and 4 Green Sandpiper together, near the feeder channel to N reservoir; also here had 20 Wigeon, 4 Pochard, 2 Goldeneye drake, 2 Cormorant, 1 Moorhen. A female Kestrel was hunting at Whittle Dene. At Bywell had 7 Common Buzzard at 3 sites with 2 pairs displaying. No Red Kite were seen, wonder if many of them spend a lot of time at the feeding stations on the Durham side in the winter; think the feeding should be discontinued now so that the birds can adopt a more natural routine. Thrushes included a flock of 150 Fieldfare at Bywell and 17 Redwing at Letah Wood. A large wader flock was feeding on rough fields at Aydon of 250 Lapwing and 70 Golden Plover. Had some mines at Bywell on bramble: 4 Stigmella aurella 1  2, 1 Emmetia marginea 1  2. Should have got up earlier but think she’s +ve!!! Did get back in time for N4c4t, where fairly quiet. Made G4g4s for lively crack where the mfso was the ***!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll and catch up!! In coming week have S4con on Thursday. lok2t beauties!!!!

February 7th: started checking Honey-buzzard data, doing exhaustive cross-check of BirdTrack data with this Noticeboard and summary spreadsheet; will take at least a couple more days then will publish final results. Beautiful winter day with clear sunshine, no wind, comfortably above freezing; did a lot of hedge trimming, leaving just 2 stints to do. Made C4c4l but all rather quiet! Didn’t the Gulls do well: beating Man U 1-0 in ¼ final FA Trophy with goal in 82nd minute by Bowman; Man U had 1,300 supporters down in Devon making it almost an away game for the Gulls. Actually correction: it was FC United of Manchester, from Northern Premier League, formed when the real Man U were taken over by American owners. We’re into ½ final now! Here’s another spoon, scroll-back teaspoon 1  2  3, c1770, made by Thomas & William Chawner, bought for £31 3 weeks ago, in good taste! So looks fine tomorrow, may be out looking for kites, with N4c4t and G4g4s as a bonus!! lok2tmbo!!!!

February 6th: good sociable day after slow start, making C4c4t and W4ra4s. Had a Long-eared Owl in Dipton Wood and 4 Early Moth (3 Lamb Shield, 1 Dipton Wood); weather was mild and cloudy, becoming clearer with slight frost by midnight. Gr8 to meet the mmo and mfso!! My mate the mbo looked most appealing!!! Good 2 c the meo!! Here’s a nice table spoon 1  2  3 – trefid with rattail bowl, London 1690, William III, maker Lawrence Coles, £0.26k, bought on Ebay on 1/2! Not arrived yet as had to send a personal cheque after Co-op Bank bounced the PayPal charge to my credit card. Spoon is sterling standard, not Britannia; you can see the backside of the lion passant. Have bid for quite a lot of things recently and dipped out but it’s always good to bid the opposition up so that their money goes less far! Did make new peak on funds, +4k on week, with good rises in LON:WBS, TSE:ELR and LON:SLP; have 414k shares in last-named, 1/708 of the issue. Casualty was LON:AQP on Zimbabwe threatening an export royalty on pt; not sure why I’ve got these. So +5k on year, rather a slow start, but re-investment of B&B proceeds was a bit of a drag and, it has to be said, many investors are still very much risk-off. Think the ftse will hit a record high in next month. See Robert Shiller, who has called at least 2 peaks in past including dot-com and US real estate, is now calling the top of the bond market, which seems good timing as quite a lot of yields are now -ve, meaning the lender pays the borrower for lending him/her money – insane! He thinks other over-heated booms are the Canada and London property markets. lok2t beauties!!!! 2moro it’s C4c4l, some hedge trimming and catch-up in evening!!

February 5th: quieter day, made N4c4l where met J/C for good chat. Did succeed in copying all data (1.77 TB = 1770 GB = 1770000 MB) from existing 4TB drive to new 4TB one; didn’t really sort the error (see 3/2) but it happened rarely enough to get the job done quickly using USB 3.0. After finishing have switched the new external drive to a slower USB 2.0 port, as more reliable and speed not so critical for incremental copying. Can’t be a.sed to do a full diagnosis!! Getting sorted for trip to Italy (Tuscany, flying LHR-PSA) in late May with some of family by booking the car, a VW Golf, to carry 3 of us; think they’re very brave! This is photo of daughter about 10 days ago 1, with granddaughter as large bump: S is expected very soon! Made BH4ra4s where jd in gr8 form!! Reunion didn’t go completely according to plan but very exciting at one point: difficult to optimise!!! Much milder today, 3-4C in evening with drizzle: another Early Moth at Dipton Wood SE. lok2tmbo!!!!

February 4th: again much of spare time spent on topos; think we’re having another meeting on it at unn next week and I want to get M involved as well. Did have another walk out to Merryshields from 14:15-15:40; might think it would be repetitive but the gravel pit was almost frozen this time with a different interesting gull to that on 1 Feb of which more soon. Had total of 26 species, including 2 Oystercatcher, 6 Lapwing, a Herring Gull adult (that’s what the gull was!), 12 Blackbird, 1 Song Thrush, 2 Linnet. Did have another reason for the repeat: lost my varifocals on last visit and thought knew where – under a Broom bush which was investigating for leaf mines. Soon found them in the long grass; they looked a bit bedraggled but came out very well after drying them! Weather was a little milder again with light W breeze but still snow around; this evening it was 1C with indoors 21C and 28% humidity – very cosy! G4g4ss was very enjoyable, meeting lots of mates! Had an Early Moth at Houtley. Markets showing a little more optimism with oil prices now comfortably off bottom at $56 a barrel. Own funds are showing a small gain to within a few hundred of record on 2/1. We’ve created merry-hell for LBG over their intended scandalous treatment of ECN holders with conspicuous articles in FT Money (last Saturday) and Daily Telegraph (today) making our case; we also managed to sour an article in Monday’s Daily Telegraph on LBG restarting dividends, all of course through the use of comments at the bottom of the articles. There’s another article coming up in the next Sunday Telegraph Money. 2moro will be at N4c4l and BH4ra4s, maybe celebrating the milder weather!! lok2t beauties!!!!

February 3rd: busy day in Newcastle, did a lot on topos idea for databases, including reviewing recent work at MIT; probably produced more destabilisation at this stage than final solutions! Did make N4c4c where good 2 c the mbo!! Had a Red Kite at Bywell Castle on way in, a Kestrel 1w at Lamb Shield on way back and a Tawny Owl at Letah Wood in evening. Later made CT4c4l followed by meeting and S4ticket change, where very good company!! ‘phoned Co-op Bank to get my card unlocked after series of PayPal transactions which worried them; didn’t get accepted in my switch to said bank – suspect they think I’m a money-launderer/spiv; indeed my credit card transactions were obviously raising the odd eyebrow as she went through them; usually spend 1-1.4k a month!! Collected new external drive where had some teething problems in installation, with error in copying from one 4TB drive to another of 8007 0037, which think indicates power supply problems; put both drives on direct feed from mains, i.e. not through the anti-spike boards, and all seems better now, though still the occasional error. Have put both on USB 3.0 slots and transfer speed has improved dramatically. Finally made G4g4s where the mfso was the * and T&S4ra4s where met work-mates M/A. Snow set in later in evening but not so cold and not really a problem. lok2t gorgeous ones!!!!

February 2nd: dull but dry today, just above freezing briefly but residual snow still unmelted at Ordley; cloud cleared in evening to put temperature outside down to -4C; inside it’s 22C and humidity is now 27%, a record low over past year. R went well: we drafted the letter to restaurants who might donate food for charity and were able to report progress as a business item. Added another couple of day’s data from Sal, Cape Verde, to BirdTrack; that completes Sal, just the other 2 islands to do now. Moving onto final Honey-buzzard report for 2014 tomorrow: think provisional figures are right as nothing changed during final compilation of videos, but you never know. 2moro going to N4c4c, then CT4s4ll, PCW to collect disk, unn for work on CT paper, G4g4s, T&S4ra4s!! lok2t beauties!!!! Getting a little warmer by Friday, with wind-chill much less marked!! Crude oil prices rose significantly today to $55 a barrel, hoping for $60 a barrel as comfortable for nearly everybody.

February 1st: good sunny day and took walk from Stocksfield Cricket Club through Merryshields to Eltringham and back from 13:50-15:30. Very cold though, couldn’t hang around and hard frost was returning in evening. Had some signs of spring: 2 Oystercatcher, 14 Lapwing and 1 Song Thrush, so tempo up a bit! Total of 27 species in visit. Did have some raptors: a Red Kite hunting in Riding Mill W, single Kestrel 1w at Shilford and Merryshields, a Common Buzzard at Bywell Castle and much later a Little Owl at Houtley and a Tawny Owl at Ordley, so that’s 5 types for day. Made G4g4s where good to meet P before he’s off for a while; very pleased to have mfso back, she’s got something in common with daughter!! Bought a William III trefid spoon 1690, price a secret (for now!, actually 260). 2moro it’s early for R as chairing committee meeting at 12, followed by B4m4l, N4c4ll and catch-up!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

January 31st: again a lot of work on ANPA paper at home; got stuck into a few sections, which will tidy up tomorrow and sent to M in Devon for his thoughts! Weather still very abrasive up here with strong NW wind on temperatures just above freezing all day, giving a significant wind-chill. House continues to be snug, 20C this evening on 29% humidity; evidently 30-40% humidity is healthy in winter-time indoors, maybe 40-50% in the summer. Roads are clear, even including the Lamb Shield interchange! Made C4c4l where met M, who gave me a picture of R going on a bus outing c1937; N is suffering from a sticking front door, which is not so good for comfortable sight-seeing!! 6 of us had great meal at W in evening to celebrate birthdays of me/DP. It was good food – 3 courses, steak for me, medium-rare cooked spot-on with jacket potato, plus soup and crumble – good company and good service from j/j; all for £30 each including tip! 2 of group refused to join us, wanted haute cuisine at some restaurant; not my style, would need a deep-pan piazza to fill-up afterwards! 2moro it’s walk midday followed by N4c4t and G4g4s!! lok2t beauties!!!!

January 30th: did a lot of work on ANPA paper at home, on a cold, sunny day with still 5cm of snow on ground around house. Road is still narrow below Houtley with drifted snow but a lot more passable than yesterday. Snow had started again just after midnight (31/1). Made C4c4t where pleased to see the mmo putting in an appearance; a withering look from the mbo, must try and make it up!!! W4ra4s was very sociable with 6 of us out for good chat; we all meet again there 2moro for a meal! Markets fairly shaky this week on deflation worries: fall of 4k on everything bar WBS was balanced closely by a rise of 4k in that bond as action taken by some BTL mortgage holders on alleged unfair change in terms was rejected in a court hearing; have 134k nominal of LON:WBS. Consumers are starting to benefit from lower oil prices and spending more so bit of a tug-of-war! lok2t beauties!!!!

January 29th: well, great concert, very dynamic, feel RNS continue to go forward and good to have it all broadcast on radio. N made it so it was MPolo for meal b4, where good to meet the regular lasses. Concert did have some impressive drama: rugby-style passes of violin between BC and soloist HP as string broke on soloist’s instrument; BC fixed it and then another swap made back: pretty impressive, all without interruptions to play! Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto 2 was highly abrasive, maybe underlying cause! Highlite was Beethoven 5, which was played with gr8 energy and perfection, other than the odd horn! Piccolo was obviously teacher’s pet; nearby seemed perfection to me!! Weather continues very cold and frostbite seems possible, so after buoyant session at BH, SH with temperature -4C on arrival, coldest of winter so far! Earlier in morning had interesting drive into Hexham where during slow climb up bank past Houtley in deep driven and rutted snow came upon, would you believe it, a tractor with hedge-trimmer cutting the hedge; ground to a halt and had to reverse back 100m to find clear road again before making a successful attempt. Suspect he had missed this bit and they were withholding payment until he finished it: have to have some sympathy! N4c4l was a little quiet, indeed not many people in anywhere though good 2 c the mfso!! 2moro it’s unn followed by Baltic4m4l, L&P and much later W4ra4s!! lok2t beauties!!!! Update: meeting at unn postponed until next week, doing some work on paper at home.

January 28th: updated unn Visiting Fellow page with recent publications:

By the end of 2014, 237 papers had been published including 3 books/chapters, 35 refereed journal articles and 100 refereed conference proceedings.

Sisiaridis, Dimitris, Heather, Michael, & Rossiter, Nick, The Contravariancy of Anticipatory Systems, 8th BCSCMsG International Symposium on Computational Self-Organised Emergence, organised Peter J Marcer, The British Computer Society Cybernetic Machine specialist Group, Liège, IJCAS, Edited D M Dubois 27 181-202 (2014). pdf

Heather, M, & Rossiter, N, The Topos of Category Theory and Reality, Proc XVII International Conference on the Science and Quality of Life, June 29 – July 2 2013, Vilnius, Lithuania, edited Romuald Brazis, Studium Vilnense A 11 204-213 (2014). pdf

Rossiter, Nick, Natural Information Systems, ANPA, St John’s College, Rowlands Castle, Hampshire, UK, 11-15 August (2014). presentation pdf

There are a few more in the pipeline and I think a few more to add from a while ago. Had invitation this week to present a paper at Baden Baden in August 2015, with InterSymp in a symposium that’s moved from Liège but is under same programme committee. Should also be attending ANPA later in the month in Hampshire.

Updated Hobby page with results for SW Northumberland in 2014 (Other Raptors/Population of the Hobby in SW Northumberland). Here’s the Hobby results:

More details of the Hobby breeding season for 2014 are available in Table 9.

Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

Juveniles

Conf

Prob

Poss

Local-fledge

Also seen

Devil’s Water

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Allen

3

2

2

0

1

2

0

Tipalt

1

1

1

0

0

1

0

Upper South Tyne

1

1

1

0

0

3

0

Lower South Tyne

2

3

0

1

1

0

0

Tyne W

3

6

2

1

0

4

0

Tyne E

1

2

1

0

0

2

0

Derwent

1

2

1

0

0

1

0

Total

12

17

8

2

2

13

0

Table 9: Breeding Data for Hobby in SW Northumberland by area in 2014

The total number of sites occupied at 12 is similar to the previous 13 years when it’s varied from 10 to 15; the total number of broods at 8 is beaten by only one other year, 2003 with 9; the number of young raised at 13 is beaten by only one other year, 2002 with 15. In reality, think coverage of the Hobby has suffered as Honey-buzzard numbers have soared, as was able to spend more time tracking down Hobbies 10-15 years ago. Whatever, it’s a good result and in a year, when eastern Scotland has been invaded in numbers (BirdTrack), should gain wider acceptance. The high proportion of confirmed sites (2/3) suggests that it was a successful season with ample food supplies. The surprisingly low numbers in the upper South Tyne, down from 4 sites occupied to 1, is hopefully a sign of lower coverage rather than a real downward trend. In addition no birds were seen in the Beldon Burn this year so there is an apparent trend towards lowland areas, hopefully not reflecting any persecution on the grouse moors. This year 7 of the 12 sites occupied are adjacent to heather moorland; the remaining 5 were in or near the main Tyne Valley.

Made N4c4t and G4g4t but skipped late session as blizzard conditions out in the ‘Shire. Not that much snow, maybe 5 cm, but it’s blowing around in the strong NW wind and wind-chill is quite severe, making any incident such as having to walk home or a breakdown pretty treacherous. Indoors new stove does so well: it’s -2C outside with a strong wind; inside it’s 21C with 31% humidity. Burning coal/ovoids, not wood, and it’s leaving much less waste than the previous stove, which must be a good sign. Input 7 days of data from Cape Verde into BirdTrack: exploring the data is not easy so donated £50 as part of their appeal to improve the international system. Down a bit on markets, natural resource shares and AIM (alternative market) shares both continue to go from really cheap levels to really, really cheap levels! Had some very beautiful dreams and got up late!! gr8 2 c tmbo‘s!! The meo looks very fit and the mfso is back in town!! 2moro it’s taking some piccies of the snow, N4c4l, MP4m4t with N, S4con, BH4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxxx!!!!

January 27th: Hobby records are not actually a record but they are the best since the early noughties; forgot how the Hobby has apparently come off the boil a bit since then. Total number of sites occupied at 12 is similar to the previous 13 years when it’s varied from 10 to 15; total number of broods at 8 is beaten by only one other year, 2003 with 9; number of young raised at 13 is beaten by only one other year, 2002 with 15. In reality, think coverage of the Hobby has suffered as Honey-buzzard numbers have soared, as was able to spend more time tracking down Hobbies 10-15 years ago. Whatever, it’s a good result and in a year, when eastern Scotland has been invaded in numbers, should gain wider acceptance. Next step is to update the web pages. Actually did some hedge trimming this afternoon, starting on party hedge with neighbours at NB; later sunset 16:34 was a gr8 help in getting anything done when got back from N4c4l, where met sun-tanned J back from a lovely 2 weeks in Egypt! Had 2 Kestrel 1w perched together top of a post at Houtley and 48 Redwing roosting at Ordley. Thanx for all the concern about the connection between hay fever drugs and Alzheimer’s Disease; I don’t take any such drugs, just suffer, in fact not on any medications, except alcohol and caffeine! Just M and me at T&S so we had good crack on CT! Very torrid session to end the day: she’s fantastic: lok2tmgo!!!!

January 26th: it’s done, all video processing completed for 2014 summer season of Honey-buzzard in Northumberland, though will want to publish some more of it in due course. So did quick run through of Hobby records and it looks like a record season, at 1st glance! That will be the next task. Tried the BirdTrack global data entry system for Cape Verde, which did not work in April 2013; well today it did, adding one day’s data (Santa Maria, Sal, 7/3/13) as a test; masterly inaction pays! Made R and learnt all about Syria in a talk by P; service gets better!! Then onto C4c4ll and seeing someone’s back somewhere!! Gr8 2 c the lovely mbo!! Booked up Faro trip, going by easyJet from ncl-fao for £133 return+bag and staying at Faro Hotel 4* for 1 week, breakfast included, for £277, not bad at all; Faro, with its salt marshes, is very good for birds and should be well into spring by then with the Storks starting to nest and many migrants passing through! Talking about Storks, daughter sent sidewise photos of Soph, amazing, can’t be long! 2moro it’s Hobby results, N4c4l and T&S4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxxx!!!! Doing massive sync (3.2 GB) of Cape Verde web data with local disk so update of this page will be late. Ordered a 2nd 4 TB external drive from PC World for £109 as there’s only 72 GB left on current 2nd disk. This will be a companion to the other 4 TB drive secured recently. lok2tmgo!!!

January 25th: finished clip 5 and now just need to extract some stills from clip 6, having processed the clip itself. Did get out for walk in chilly W breeze on Hexhamshire Common at Westburnhope from 13:15-14:50. There were a few patches of snow but nearly all had melted. A bit of bright sunshine was lovely to stare at. Managed 10 species of birds on drive out as finally had a flock of 5 Goldfinch on edge of the drove road. Others recorded were Red Grouse (11, some display), Common Buzzard (1 1w), Stock Dove (7), Woodpigeon (2), Kestrel (1 1w), Jackdaw (5), Carrion Crow (1), Coal Tit (4), Common Crossbill (1, feeding in a shelter belt). So as usual a bit sparse at this time of year but in 8 weeks time, could easily double the score! Did a lot of shopping at W (sardines a bargain at 40p a tin, bought 10; large shreddies half-price, bought 2), made N4c4t and met P at G4g4s (still –mfso!). Commiserated with G about Hearts’ 1st defeat of season; we laughed at the attached short article 1 in the I about Gilbert the Gull, a Gulls’ mascot, who told some of the fans to get ….ed!! The article is superimposed on the top sheet of the letter from npower; you can get the gist, even reply if you like!! Anyway 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, C4c4ll and catch up on a number of tasks with completion of video processing. lok2t beauties!!!!

January 24th: finished clip 4 completely and now on clip 5 25/8 Softley. Quite exciting really as can compile final stats for season after a couple more day’s work on this visit. Made C4c4l and P4f&c+mp4s but otherwise quite a head-down day! In cold, clear conditions, did manage a walk in the Sele though from 14:30-15:30 where there were quite high concentrations of thrushes and tits! Had total of 15 species, including Blackbird (16), Redwing (6), Song Thrush (1), Mistle Thrush (1). Also had a Common Buzzard up over Loughbrow on way home. Here’s photos of the dognose spoon 1  2  3, which is 308 years old; the marks are Britannia standard (95.8% ag), giving a silky feel to the piece with the lion’s head erased and the date letter showing well. Nice to have a script N engraved on the top of the stem. Very pleased with it! Had further certificates back on mtDNA analysis (maternal side): the HVR1 and HVR2 together still point to Haplogroup T, though it’s not definite unless you pay a further $US300+ for a complete coding. Might skip that unless there’s going to be a major subclade pay-off. Suspect they wouldn’t tell me, even if it was definite, with the prospect of getting more money out of me (how cynical!). Here’s the main part of the documented results 1  2  3  4. It’s interesting on p.3 of full report 5 that they say:

Today, descendants of mtDNA Haplogroup T are found in highest concentrations in Eastern Europe, Russia (Baltic Sea and Urals) and the Middle East. Notable historical figures who belonged to mtDNA Haplogroup T include Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and American outlaw Jesse James.

I think they both came to sticky ends! Also secured marriage certificate for May Lena Hole (grandmother’s 1st cousin) and Alfred Henry Villetard (French) at Redruth in 1916 1 and birth certificate for their 1st child, Patricia Marie Villetard, in Kettering in 1919 1. Here are transcripts 1. Just trying to complete information on the photo of gt-aunt Iris’ wedding in 1918 but the French connection is interesting. I’m planning to go one generation back soon to the 1860s in Plymouth: was my gt-gt-grandmother Sarah Jane Dashper, in reality, from the eastern Baltic and called Elena (pronounced E-ley-na, leading to short form Ley-na)? Among all the football drama today, totally overlooked was the Gulls’ 2-0 win at Hemel Hempstead to take them into the last 8 of the FA Trophy! 2moro planning a walk on the moorland edge, N4c4t and G4g4s, with hopefully P back at latter after skiing!! Booked a week in Faro in mid-March to take advantage of falling €: anyone want to come, plenty of spending money!! With prospective granddaughter Soph now 1 week short of full-term and 3-4 weeks off due date (18/2), don’t want to go too far. xxxxxxxxxxx!!!!

January 23rd: almost finished processing clip 4 for Softley on 25/8 showing family party of 4 Honey-buzzard; raw clip was 10 minutes, reduced to 4:26 in published form below; still sorting the indexing of the stills and commentary; just 2 shortish clips to do after this when will produce Hobby totals for 2014. Did make N4c4t and W4ra4s, with just 3 of us at latter; going to W 4 drinks and meal twice next weekend with the gang! Gr8 2 c the meo and mbo!! Clawed back most of last week’s fall with +5k this week, amidst some quite big movements in individual stocks (volatility!). Basically bonds were well up, u308 down, and pt and €reit steady. With bonds at 60% of funds, lowered inflation is proving a boon. Not planning to change much in next few weeks. Money Box (R4, 12:04) has Lloyds disreputable plans for early redemption of ECN as one of its items tomorrow with our leader MT on the attack! I’m only on the fringes with 34k nominal, but do strongly support our action group. At stake is the pricing premium over par and future interest; the current interest looks generous but the deal was made in 2009 when LBG faced outright nationalisation and lending them money was very risky. Had coal/ovoid delivery yesterday: coal merchants Cunningham delighted that I hadn’t deserted them; had no stove for a while and when restarted had masses of fuel in the bunkers (bit like Japan’s restart of nuclear reactors!). Strongly recommend npower as an outstanding example of German efficiency: today had 2 bills, for £5.12 credit and £35.68 credit respectively, based on estimated readings, when expecting a bill of £400 based on the actual meter readings they took a few weeks ago; will just let it drift! 2moro it’s C4c4l and catch-up later. lok2t lovelies!!!!

January 22nd: access forum meeting was better than expected, good to meet up again and +ve programme devised for working group, which chair, on looking at trail bike problem on moorland tracks, in conjunction with police. Afternoon session comprised a 2-hour presentation on public highway law and 1.5 hours of navel gazing as we determined how we might do better! Quite a long meeting though so pleased to make BH4ra4s for recuperation; very good to have s on; one guy went home leaving his dog in the pub; rather sheepishly he turned up 30 minutes later but not before his wife had been alerted through a text; dog (Labrador) was quite calm! Very pleased with extent of Q€! Tonite was the joys of the orient!!! xxxxxxxxxxx!!!!

January 21st: sorted clip 2 for Softley 25/8 and published results below. When have finished clips can publish Hobby results for 2014 as will know no more to come. Had a pair of Tawny Owl calling in Sele at 23:45 as left G; at Ordley had a Marsh Tit feeding on cotoneaster berries in front garden and a feeding flock of thrushes (40 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing). Had 2 more Early Moth, at Letah Wood and Loughbrow. Made N4c4l, where quiet, and G4g4ss, where very busy and lots of good chat!! Clawed back some of last week’s losses in markets but everything’s very volatile ahead of ECB meeting tomorrow: anything can happen! 2moro it’s C4c4el and access forum meeting at Eastburn from 13:00-21:00; it’s a pity the forum always seem to clash with concerts. lok2t gorgeous ones!!!!

January 20th: bit more snow overnight but still not that cold at -1C so, considering it’s mid-January, not too much of a problem! Sorted a very long clip at Softley, over 6 minutes, from 15/8 and will post result tomorrow. Had an Early Moth on the front-door window this evening 1  2: a good sign we’re moving towards late winter! Spent a long time on R web-site: happier with it now! Made N4c4t and T&S4ra4s, latter with uni-mates M/A: we had very good crack and certainly struck a chord with the lively mmo!!! xxxxxxxxxxx!!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and G4g4ss!!

January 19th: updated Red Kite page with results for SW Northumberland in 2014 (Population of the Red Kite in SW Northumberland). Here’s the Red Kite results:

More details of the Red Kite breeding season for 2014 are available in Table 8.

Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

No. Juveniles fledged

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

2

3

1

1

0

1

Allen

0

0

0

0

0

0

Upper South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lower South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tyne W

9

14

3

4

2

3

Tyne E

4

8

3

0

1

4

Derwent

3

5

0

2

1

0

Total

18

30

7

7

4

8

Table 8: Breeding Data for Red Kite in SW Northumberland by area in 2014

Another year of steady progress, particularly in the number of occupied sites in Tyne Valley W, rising from 3 in 2013 to 9 in 2014. Numbers fledged were on the surface static but the indifferent weather in August, the only month to have below-average temperatures in 2014 with strong winds from a remnant hurricane, affected fieldwork and inhibited the birds’ activity. It is thought for instance that fledging may well have gone undetected at at least 1 of the Derwent sites and at least 1 of the Tyne Valley W sites. So the apparently continued low productivity does need to be qualified. The successful birds were all in a relatively small area bounded by Stocksfield/Bywell to the W (3 broods of 1), Wylam to the E (2 broods of 1) and the Bradley Burn to the S (1 brood of 2). It is likely that many of the birds in Tyne Valley W were inexperienced breeders, which may well do better in 2015. Outside these areas the only confirmed pair was in the Devil’s Water in the West Dipton area (1 brood of 1). No birds were seen W of Tyne Meet: it appears that newly prospecting pairs have targeted Tyne Valley W this year. There was no recorded or suspected persecution. Overall, the Red Kite has established an inner core of successful breeding sites in the Wylam-Prudhoe-Stocksfield area and is clearly looking to expand its range further W towards Hexham.

Took over R web-site today: tidied up a number of things, a lot to do, particularly in getting members to interface with the world through the web. Talk today was by Regional Director of the N England branch of BASC on conservation aspects of shooting: obviously very well-rehearsed arguments but didn’t disagree with anything very strongly! Service at B is improving!! Made N4c4ll where good to see the mmo!! Later sorted out the Red Kite data for 2014 as above and reviewed latest DNA data which, after 2nd of mtDNA HVR tests (HVR-2), still shows T as predicted maternal Haplogroup. On DNA reunion, 1st 3 matches are with Victor Tastanagi, Gabrielle Anastasia Bartomeo and Elena Valer’evna Iosilevich. Waiting for restoration of the Indigenous DNA function on the DNA website, which is being re-engineered. 2moro should make N4c4t and T&S4ra4s with bad weather forecast for the nite!! lok2t beauties!!!!

January 18th: Red Kite results for SW Northumberland in 2014 are almost ready; tell a more-or-less clear and encouraging story but will leave details ’til tomorrow! Published a little of the video for 25/8 in upper South Tyne: that for the juvenile Honey-buzzard at Lambley on edge of the fell. N didn’t come to S4con – too much snow! There was a cm at Ordley and maybe a little more on hills W of Newcastle but it had largely gone by time came back; in afternoon it was sleet showers in the gloom on Quayside. Decided to have lunch at home and drive in to Dean St Car-park, which was virtually full: had to park on level 11 in a season-ticket holder’s place, which when you read the sign closely was not reserved at the weekend. Concert was great: a matinee performance, under direction of the charismatic John Wilson, of American music by Adams, Gershwin (Piano Concerto in F major), Copeland, Barber, Bernstein (West Side Story). Thought the ‘band’ played very well with incredible rhythms as in Adams’ The Chairman Dances, based on the opera Nixon in China. With a couple of red wines, the afternoon passed off just like that! Maybe not so good if you like Baroque but did have the last word!! Had a 1w Kestrel at Ordley at !3:15 and a total of 7 species at the Quayside. Out to G4g4s, which was quiet in the absence of the dynamic bar lass and P. Forecast very low temperatures had not arrived by midnight (-0.5C outside house) and humidity of 80% outside suggests it’s not going to get really cold. xxxxxxxxxx!!!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N3c4ll and more publishing in evening.

January 17th: got out 1st set of final results for 2014 – Goshawk results for SW Northumberland in 2014 (Population of the Goshawk in SW Northumberland) and NE England butterfly records with 20 species this year (Butterflies NE England 2014). So about a month ahead of last winter’s schedule – don’t know why! Had good visit to Hexham at C4c4l, much to admire!! Cooking took a step back with scrambled egg exploding in the microwave: decided to give it a spring clean! 2moro, with N, going to MP4m4l and S4con matinee. No train service so driving in. Should make G4ra4s later though P’s gone skiing in Austria. lok2t beauties!!!! Here’s the Goshawk results:

Details of the Goshawk breeding season for 2014 are available in Table 8.

Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

Juveniles

Conf

Prob

Poss

Local-fledge

Also seen

Devil’s Water

1

1

0

1

0

0

0

Allen

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Upper South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lower South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tyne W

3

3

1

1

1

2

0

Tyne E

1

2

1

0

0

2

0

Derwent

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

5

6

2

2

1

4

0

Table 8: Breeding Data for Goshawk in SW Northumberland by area in 2014

This was the lowest number of sites occupied in the breeding season since the study started in 1996. The only mitigation was that 2 pairs were successful, raising 4 young, the most raised since 2005. The Tyne Valley produced 4 out of the 5 sites, with success at Wylam and Corbridge perhaps reflecting gaps in gamekeeper activity. The habitat remains very suitable for the species and there is abundant prey with many rabbit and pigeons.

January 16th: working on butterfly records for NE England for 2014 now that have completed analysis of the Hexham Westwood visit. Should have these sent off tomorrow. Weather was better today with more sunshine though cold NW wind still a feature and untreated roads were icy with another cm of snow at Ordley in evening. Walked out briskly to Dotland from 16:15-17:30, getting just 9 species, including 2 Woodcock out to feed at dusk and a Common Buzzard going to roost SE of Dotland. Made C4c4ll and W4ra4s, with 6 of us out in return to full strength at latter. As expected from Wednesday’s dire sell-off in commodities, not a good week with overall -7k, comprising -3k dealing expenses (one-off), -3k pt, -3k u308, +2k bonds. Had been 10k down early Friday morning but good rally later on in the day restored things a little. The dealing costs are unavoidable in the re-investment of the B&B proceeds, now complete. 2moro it’s C4c4l and catch-up!! lok2t lovelies!!!!

January 15th: made a lot of progress on Hexham Westwood visit 27/8, sorting videos and adding links; have got good views of tail bars on both female and juvenile Honey-buzzard; just need to add to BirdTrack, then only 1 visit to do. May sort out butterfly list for 2014 as next step: last visit to process Softley 25/8 has a lot of material. Could then do Goshawk and Red Kite annual totals for 2014 as none at Softley. Bought a George III Hanoverian scroll-back spoon c1770 on Ebay for £26: not bad at all! Had long visit to Hexham mid-day, with good chat with S who’ve not seen for a while. Gr8 2 c the mbo!! Weather pretty wild with very cold, strong W breeze. Made BH4ra4s again where good to have j/s on and meet N (CH fame) who’s thinking of going to Dubai to work!! SH in the wind-chill conditions!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!! 2moro it’s N4c4ll after waiting for special delivery and W4ra4s!!

January 14th: sunny with snow still on the ground at Ordley midday but had 2 Common Buzzard up in display over Letah Wood at 11:50, obviously looking forward to spring! Started processing Hexham Westwood 27/8; think should finish it tomorrow. Had tooth repaired at dentists midday; they were running a little late so did not get in until 12:45 instead of 12:20; after numbing, she drilled out the temporary filling and the old filling and make a deep hole in the base of the tooth for the titanium pin which was quickly inserted; then masses of filling went into the big cavity; all took 25 minutes; wasn’t bad really! Made N4c4ll for recuperation, followed by G4g4ss where lots of good crack! Feeling much better after seeing the mbo!! Bought an Anne dognose spoon 1707 on Ebay this evening for £145; very good, will put a photograph up when get it. Bad week for markets taking its toll; also having significant dealing expenses in re-investing BB proceeds, but making sure income goes up sharply with 139k re-invested yielding 11k per annum or a little under 8%. In total now get £50 per day from bonds which trade cleanly, that is with accrued interest added to the price in deals. Also have quite a lot of dirty bonds (interest included in price). Sharp fall in copper price is a worry, think it’s engineered by hedge funds; if it sticks will increase deflationary pressures. But on + side QE in €land now looks a certainty. 2moro it’s N4c4l with evening undecided!! lok2t beauties!!!!

January 13th: did buy another Abel Chapman book at AF @ W – Retrospect, Reminiscences and Impressions of a Hunter Naturalist 1851-1928, Gurney and Jackson (1928). Got it for £32, listed at £40. These old books have marvellous descriptive passages on the moors of the Borders. Did make N4c4l where met P so reclined upstairs: not perfect from all angles!! Had long chat in Burn Lane on R web site and Facebook; there will be a follow through next week when expect to get administrator status. A little snow this evening building to 1cm at Ordley but worse than it sounds as it partially melted then froze again. No mates out tonite so made BH4ra4s where quiet with the weather. Did call in on way back 2 c the beauty: lok2tmbo!!! 2moro it’s dentist at 12:20 for large filling, then recovery at N4c4ll and W4g4ss!!

January 12th: R was fairly lively with good talk by student NP who went to Tanzania with partial assistance from us. Have meeting to consider R’s web site tomorrow late afternoon in Burn Lane. Mid-morning will be at AF @ W to look for bargains followed by N4c4l!! Will also start processing Hexham Westwood visit 27/8 as important for getting final compilations under way. Not sure about evening – nothing arranged yet but likely to be out somewhere!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

January 11th: completed processing Staward visit for 18/8, details below. Today was overcast and damp on blustery W wind with a few stronger pulses of rain; it’s been continuously windy now for 6 days. Did get out for walk from 14:55-16:10 in ‘Shire doing circular from house taking in Peth Foot and Devil’s Water. Had 16 species of bird including a flock of 35 Redwing at dusk moving towards Linnels to roost and 3 Bullfinch. Did have some Broom leaf miners but need to go back with more magnification to sort them out! Did have 5 Stigmella aurella occupied galleries on bramble 1. Made N4c4t and G4g4s, latter with P; someone’s gone a long way away!! Struggled on Ebay tonite, with interest in 3 items of flatware from 1690-1725, going for £270-360 each, didn’t get any but makes you wonder! 2moro’s a special day!! Expect to be at R @ B4m4l and N4c4ll: lok2t beauties!!!!

January 10th: well didn’t complete processing Staward visit on 18/8 but did do the S part of visit and do hope to complete the N part (site visit) tomorrow, leaving just 2 visits to process. Snow very close to settling today at Ordley (150m asl) but not quite; it’s quite white though in the ‘Shire above 225m asl where snow settles and hangs around a lot longer. House is lovely and warm at 21.5C with 34% humidity. Had a flock of 20 Fieldfare on fields near house, no doubt come off higher ground. Made C4c4l, then general catch-up day. See the Gulls advanced into the last 16 of the FA Trophy (the Conference cup!) by beating mighty Bromley of Conference S, one division below us, 4-0; would be nice to keep an interest in this competition (or even win it!). 2moro it’s a walk somewhere, N4c4t, G4g4s!! lok2t*!!!!

January 9th: over-slept after the noisy nite; started processing Staward 18/8 trip, may get near completing it tomorrow. Made N4c4t and G4g4s, all rather irregular with day running late and mates declining to come out to W through colds/weather! Thought the mfso looked gr8!! G was a fine substitute; gr8 2 have c on again and lots of Wednesday/Sunday crowd in, indeed I’m the one normally absent looking round! Finished nite in fine style: we seem to be very complementary: lokttmgo!!!! Markets very volatile this week with a downward bias: have received 2/3 of B&B money and invested roughly half of that; bonds/cash now down to 61% of total so slowly reducing; finished week unchanged which quite pleased with as had some dealing expenses; minimised expenses by trying to get into the middle or even the lower part of the spread, which not as difficult as usual as dealers overloaded with stock after recent sell-offs. Wounded oil holders will prove a drag for a while, not least in London housing market. 2moro it’s C4c4l and catch up in evening!!

January 8th: concert @ S was very good, always great to see the talented members of RNS perform in smaller groups; we had ‘wind’ in Holst’s Wind Quintet, which was not very memorable but that wasn’t the fault of the performers, and in Stanford’s Serenade in F for Nonet, which had some good melodic moments. Highlight in the second half was Elgar’s Piano Quintet, performed by piano, violin x 2, viola, cello, which was very passionate in places. Had a good evening with N. Called off in BH to wish everyone a Happy New Year! Wild gale building up, blew rubbish bins over in front yard, never had that before. 2moro it’s N4c4t, G4g4s (no-one out at W!). xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

January 7th: compiled most of visit to Shilford 17/8, just need to add the bird list to BirdTrack; so that’s just 3 (and a bit!) to do now. Thinking where to go in March: not so keen on Cape Verde with Ebola still unresolved; might go to Middle East, maybe Jordan, where could visit Amman (almost free air travel from London on BA stand-by), Petra, Aqaba, Azraq; might give the borders with Syria and Iraq a miss! Good time to go with bird migration under way and temperatures rising but not too hot. Dentist said tooth from which chunk lost was sound, inserted temporary filling and next Wednesday will have proper filling inserted with pin support, all for bargain price of £50.50! Made C4c4t where chose cake carefully as that was cause of break: gr8 staff there!! W4g4ss went well: one set of mates early on and another set later on; sadly mfso does not work this evening now! Negative aspects of oil price slide continue to weigh on markets and showing small loss up to today; suspect positive aspects will be ignored until oil price stabilises so planning to put much of money due into bonds (of various complexions!). 2moro it’s N4c4t, MP4m4t, S4con, BH4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

January 6th: as expected nowt on Honey-buzzard visits today but maybe tomorrow, though dentist appointment in Corbridge at 14:15 for broken tooth might be time-consuming! R meeting was productive with Food Evening put back to early May: well that’s productive from my point of view! Will now need to chat up a few restaurateurs! Made G4g4s where Gav was doing the honours very capably as staff had annual function: amazed! Met JC there for discussion on window replacements, wood with pvc, 5 in all; expect to do that in early March. Then onto T&S where met M/A for good crack. Brill finish to nite not too far away: very satisfying: lok2tmgo!!!! 2moro it’s G4g4ss!

January 5th: walked to Dotland at dusk from 15:55-17:05 in dull, mild weather with little breeze; had 14 species, including Tawny Owl (2 calling W of Close House), Woodcock (1, flying out low at dusk (17:05) moving NE over N side of Ordley), Kestrel (1 1w). Earlier at Loughbrow had 1st Common Buzzard of the year, flushed from roadside. As expected B&B tender has been successful so collect 159.21k on Thursday!

The Offers expired at 1.00 p.m. (London time) on 2 January 2015 (the Expiration Deadline). As at the Expiration Deadline, the aggregate principal amount outstanding of each Series of the Notes specified in the table above had been validly tendered for purchase pursuant to the relevant Offer. B&B has decided to accept for purchase all Notes validly tendered pursuant to the Offers. Settlement of the Offers is expected to take place on 8 January 2015. http://www.londonstockexchange.com/exchange/news/market-news/market-news-detail/12204220.html

Well R did not go badly: offer to sort web site was met with applause and there was some sympathy with the International predicament; all goes 2moro to Cncl @B4t. Shall also go to N4c4l and much later T&S4ra4s!! So not a lot of time for Honey-buzzard, for which now ready to return to the last 4 visits. Liked the mbo‘s hair: very fanciable!!! Gr8 2 c the meo again!! lok2t lovelies!!!!

January 4th: cut all the hedge around the old vegetable patch, good work out in fine conditions, after almost frost all-day! Noted snowdrop flowers just pushing through and hazel catkins beginning to unfold, piccies to follow. Not many birds in garden, just 10 species as did the work but that’s quite usual for time of year at 150m asl. Had some owls: Tawny were calling outside bedroom at 05:00 and in Sele at 23:45; Barn was on fence N of Ordley village at 21:45 and 00:45. Did make N4c4t and G4g4s, latter with P; the appealing z did the honours!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll and catch-up on Honey-buzzard clips in evening. R is a business meeting and might be a little livelier than usual as walk away from Food Evening on lack of enthusiasm from members! Am going to offer to look after the R’s web site as that’s a vacant slot much more within my abilities and time-budget! Anyway I don’t get paid for any of it and collaboration, which I would enjoy, seems to be at a low ebb: so s.d ’em!! Wonder if anyone else has collaboration in mind: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

January 3rd: sorted a lot more lepidoptera records but now easing off this avenue, doing one more visit (17/10 Towsbank) then back to the Honey-buzzard visits! Have supported a few seasonal charity appeals – Times 60, Salvation Army 30, couple for injured troops 40, Marie Curie 30, prostate cancer 30. Bit of an insurance policy really! Did renew my sub for the LibDems in the end. Changing bank from Lloyds to the Co-op; think the latter might be marginally more ethical; sent off application form today and will switch in a week if accepted; do get £100 switching fee + £25 to charity of choice; quite interested to see how it goes as a shareholder and debt-holder in the Co-op Bank; my main credit card is already with the Co-op Bank under the RSPB badge; nearest bank branch is Newcastle or Consett but can use ATMs of other banks free of charge and very rarely receive cheques now. Had lovely lie-in this morning: really satisfied!! Then made C4c4ll. 2moro planning to do some hedge-cutting but should make N4c4t and G4g4s, with the mfso on at the latter!! lok2t beauties!!!!

January 2nd: had brisk walk along Tyne Green from 15:00-16:25 to kick off bird list for New Year in a cool, blustery NW breeze with the odd shower and very weak sunshine; gain in late afternoon light already apparent with sunset 15:52 (out from worst of 15:38); sunrise at 08:32 is still around worst: it’s asymmetric! Had total of 18 species, including 10 Goosander (6 drake, 4 redhead) roosting, a Goldeneye drake, a Dipper; no Robin or Blue Tit. After seeing the best of the hits for 2014, thought that the Albanian R(S)O is the most fanciable! Exit from song is perfect: just like the mbo!! Met P at N4c4c to chat about the TB. Bought a couple of paintings at the Art Sale at Queens Hall early afternoon: 1) Dave Pickard, Sitting on the Fence, acrylic £150 1 [a Pied Wagtail, perched on a wooden fence]; 2) Kyle Miller, Pennine Fells, watercolour £70 1 [don’t know much about Kyle, but liked the atmosphere]. These are to add to my desert spoon William III c1697 made by Lawrence Coles which arrived today via Ebay (£215) 1  2  3  4. Quite a fair start to year on markets, making 4k today as tax-loss selling finished on North American mining stocks and they bounced back! Also benefited from falling £. East Coast appear to have promised full refund of return fare from Corbridge-Ealing Broadway in cash following debacle on 27/12. Made W4ra4s where met D/D for good chat: Stocksfield contingent were resting! Fridays are best for beauties – no doubt!! Gr8 end to day: she’s totally fantastic – lok2tmbo!!!!

January 1st 2015: caught up with the Tyne Valley gang today going to P/J4m4l with N in RM; all very good crack! As in previous years will stay with current NB (2014) until all data processed for the last season. Today processed all insects for Softley 25/8 and made the mistake of getting diverted to remaining lepidoptera records in a big pile of ‘difficult’ cases; found some of them were now straight-forward with experience gained in season so am going to polish a few of them off. 2moro it’s N4c4l and W4ra4s!! lok2t lovelies!!!!

December 31st 2014: thought the TB was great; we (P/M/J/me) had supper in Hexham, then made Allendale at 22:20, where we made good with some Prosecco before everyone got lit up! Did take some clips on the iP: here’s band playing 1, start of procession 2 (real action after about 1 minute), procession returning after march around square 3, bonfire alight after barls thrown onto it to conclude proceedings 4. The lit barrels and the bonfire were pretty wild in the strong breeze and there was a brilliant atmosphere, no doubt pagan! We didn’t stay that long, back in Hexham at 01:15 (01/01/15!). Earlier in day sorted out nearly all insects for Staward (17/8), leaving 1 to do in this category. Closed books for 2014 with +4k (thanks to pt) in the 3 days up to 31/12, reduced to +1k after annual dividends to ‘kids’. Pleased to hear that daughter’s spent hers on equipping for baby (now aged -0.12) and son’s going to get a good Notebook. Year ended +152k reduced to +139k after withdrawals, best to date and far outperforming the indices. Bought odds and sods this week, mainly picking up year-end sales of bombed-out securities by investors realising the losses to offset against gains elsewhere, to reduce their CGT; doesn’t apply to UK where year-end is 5/4 nor to RSA (end/2) and Australia (30/6) but does apply to US, Canada and Ireland. 2015 will be another challenging year with maybe a sell-off in bonds as oil prices stabilise later on; beginning to like the look of more tangible assets such as mining where lower oil prices will reduce costs; have 155k in natural resources now. Anyway Happy New Year, particularly to the fancied!!!!

December 30th: sorted out nearly all the insects for Staward 18/8; just 2 more visits to process before can submit butterfly records for 2014 to recorder. Daughter was working in Virgin’s hospitality lounge at Heathrow when their plane was having problems with its landing gear: she said it was very tense with everyone glued to the TV screens but great relief at the end as the plane landed OK; she’s been on ground duties for VA since happy event was 1st suspected; VA seem well versed in handling pregnancies in their staff, bit of a surprise that! Made C4c4l, N far too crowded! Highlite of day was the nite: made G4g4s for a quickie, where surprisingly the mfso was on!! Then onto T&S4ra4s where met M/A for good crack on the year in computing and CT! Nite air was very refreshing: stirred the imagination – quite a lot of people up late in practice for the big one 2moro, when should make N/C4c4t, P/M4m4s and the TB 4 revelry!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

December 29th: completed documenting another visit, that to Slaley Forest on 19/8, 4 to go. Sorted nearly all insects for Hexham Westwood visit on 27/8. Today was again cold, -1C in late afternoon after almost frost all-day, bright, light NW breeze. Walked to Dotland from 15:45-16:45; a Long-eared Owl was in the lane on Dotland Road at 16:30, in dense holly bush area; it flew out and doubled back along hedge. Total was 13 species of birds. Earlier at 12:00 a Kestrel 1w was near Letah Wood. As write this at 00:30 30/12, it’s -2.8C outside with 88% humidity and 21.0C inside with 37% humidity. Did make C4c4l with N being too full! The bedroom look does appeal: she’s very s.xy!!! Catching up on records tonite, but do watch more TV on Monday: fashion show was in good taste and 8/10C is very funny, even if it was covering the last Greek crisis not this month’s!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and looks like G4g4s/T&S4ra4s but not sure yet: make me an offer!! lok2t beauties!!!!

December 28th: a cold snap in progress but nothing remarkable for time of year with frosts at night running to -1C to -2C. Finished processing bird records for trip to London so can get back to the 5 outstanding visits in the Honey-buzzard season now; will initially concentrate on butterfly records for these visits so can send them all off before the end of the year to the Recorders. Did make N4c4l and G4g4s, latter with P who confirmed we’re going to Allendale’s TB to see the New Year in. Gr8 to have z back on: she’s a natural!! House up to 21C with another burst from the fire. Later very keen to get back on track: no misbehaving!! Very glad she stayed up: lokttmbo!!!! 2moro there’s no R but will make N/C4c4l and do catch-up later!!

December 27th: well here I am on the delayed 13:00 from Kings X to Edinburgh at 18:47 at Darlington, having spent 3 hours in the crush at Finsbury Park, getting onto the platform and then the train. Experience of less orderly travelling abroad (e.g. India) probably helped! It was a shambles: why were major engineering works done just N of Kings X Station when the Euston-Manchester-Glasgow line was also closed for a lengthy spell? Normal risk management would have said: make sure one route can run! Not feeling too bad – a spell of comfort in (unpaid) 1st class is gr8! After getting the FT out, they called me Sir! Finally got home at 21:05, 10 hours after leaving Richmond at 11:05; put in claim for refund because of delay. Had 2 Barn Owl between Hexham and Ordley on drive home. House was cold with living room at 12.5C but up to 18C by midnite with new fire lit! Need some supplies 2moro, should make N4c4l and G4g4s!! Final position on markets on week was +2k, after some rise in pt. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

Total bird species for trip was 51, including 4 types of raptor: Red Kite (amazing, 122 birds at 14 sites), Kestrel (4 at 3), Common Buzzard (4 at 2), Sparrowhawk (2 at 2). Note the fantastic numbers of kite. Have got some interesting leaf mines to analyse on a range of exotic plant species (from northern perspective!).

December 26th: a still, rather dull day but fairly mild still. A long walk in Richmond Park was the order of the day to work out a bit: from 10:20-13:55 must have done 10km in continuous walking from daughter’s house in Kingston past Isabella Plantation onto a circuit of the lake. Much of the Park is mature oak trees with grazing for deer but didn’t see a single deer as far too many people around. Having said that, the walking was not at all pressurised as most people kept to the main tracks so a little improvisation could give you quite a lot of space. Did have some raptors – adult male and adult female Kestrel hunting separately and female Sparrowhawk, also hunting – and 37 species in all. Did look for Honey-buzzard sites – crazy you say – didn’t think Isabella Plantation was suitable, too exotic and popular with visitors; but W end of the Lake did not look bad at all with some tall trees, thick scrub, nice views over the water and no public access; so that’s my selection! There are 6 reports of 6-7 birds on BirdGuides for Richmond Park from 2000, with 4 of the reports of 4-5 birds from 2010-2013, so there is some attraction, maybe. Total for birds was an impressive 37 species, including besides the raptors, Jackdaw (122), Ring-necked Parakeet (101), Carrion Crow (22), Pochard (19), Blue Tit (19), Tufted Duck (13), Robin (8), Goldcrest (6), Egyptian Goose (2), Great Crested Grebe (1), Redwing (1), Green Woodpecker (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1). Found 2 leaf mines of Ectoedemia (Fomoria) septembrella 1  2 on St John’s Wort. We went to an Italian restaurant in Richmond for dinner, always like to be taken out.

December 25th: day was spent in Kingston, moving to son-in-law’s sister’s house for lunch where had great hospitality from T/I/R; finished with marathon session of Monopoly with 7 entrants, reducing to 2 finalists (daughter & I) who agreed a draw after it looked as if it would go on for a few more hours; I had hotels on green and purple; she had hotels on red and pink; clash of the titans (or b…ards)! Niece J (aged 35) announced engagement to M; daughter said 3 of her friends had announced engagements in the last 2 days; makes you feel a bit left out! May be moving N soon: looking forward to it!! Happy xmas to the beautiful *: xxxxxxxxxxx!!!

December 24th: cooler today but still quite mild and dry on light N wind with some weak sunshine. Made Pitshanger Park where had a female Sparrowhawk hunting, plus good range of species (23 in all), including Ring-necked Parakeet (never so common, 22 seen), Grey Wagtail (1), Mallard (17), Moorhen (2). The hawk brings raptor species to 4 for trip. Had very good stay at big sis’s but today onto daughter’s on edge of Richmond Park in Kingston, where son joined us this evening. Markets not quite finished this week as US/Canada open on Boxing Day but called it a day, 1k up at new record. Received 446,490 1p divi stamps from Co-op Group on 42TE bonds, not the most convenient currency! Promising update from Irish exploration company LON:MIO in which hold 260k shares, showing potential (note grouse take priority!):

Drilling was suspended from September to November 2014 for the grouse shooting season. Drilling recommenced at the end of November and one new drill hole, NW-001, was drilled in difficult winter weather conditions and has now been completed. Hole NW-001 intersected three separate mineral sections at relatively shallow depths within the Great Limestone horizon… This is the first hole drilled to explore the Whitewood-Barneycraig-Williams fault/vein structure in Northumberland, … centred around the town of Nenthead adjacent to the county boundaries of Cumbria, Northumberland and Durham, … never previously … explored by drilling, either from surface or underground, despite being the centre of extensive lead-zinc mining, extending from the mid-1700’s to the early 1900’s.

Anyway big day tomorrow!! Missing the most beautiful one: lok!!!!

December 23rd: weather was mild again, moderate W breeze, dry. Made from 12:00-14:15 a new bit of the Chilterns for us – Cowleaze Wood in Oxfordshire – on top of the steep escarpment on the N side, looking towards Didcot. Amazing numbers of Red Kite, getting 24 at Cowleaze and 23 over M40 on way out. Also had a Common Buzzard and a Kestrel at Cowleaze, where had total of 21 species including Marsh Tit (2), Jay (2), Stock Dove (1). Had good lunch at Bull & Butcher, Turville, before returning to Ealing towards dusk when still masses of Red Kite around. Still compiling the totals! 2moro sees change-over! lok2tmbo!!!

December 22nd: weather was cloudy, moderate SW breeze, mild. Younger sis went back to Devon with partner. Went out with big sis to Burnham Beeches from 11:55-15:00 where we had lunch + good walk around W part of wood, getting 17 species including 3 Common Buzzard (1 pair displaying + a single), 2 Red Kite, 1 Kestrel (adult male). At nearby Farnham Common, thought Honey-buzzard seen displaying over area last May might have nested in pines on NE edge; had 5 Red Kite here today. Also on M40 had 9 Red Kite at J2, including a displaying pair, and 2 closer to London at J1A, making day’s total of 17 raptors of 3 types: Red Kite 13, Common Buzzard 3, Kestrel 1. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

December 21st: lunchtime gathering at Swan, Turnham Green, reached 13 including me, my 2 sisters, daughter, son, niece, nephew, great-nephew, great-niece, partners, plus the bump Sophia due on 18/2! We had a very good time, plenty of crack, food and drink over 3 hours. I ended up in Turnham Green Park with nephew and his young son (4.9) and daughter (3.0) to re-familiarise myself with kids! As write this we’re 1 hour 6 minutes into the sun starting to move back N. Added Warden visit 22/8 to BirdTrack, just need to test the urls; with 6 Honey-buzzard seen in 2.5 hours, it was one of the highlights of the season so important to document thoroughly. lok 2t beauties!!!!

December 20th: down to see the family in London, now in the wilds of Ealing, staying with big sis in company of younger sis and husband. 2moro sees gathering of the clan in Chiswick! Good to meet everyone again. Almost overslept this morning, waking at 9 with train off c10:50; got to Ealing Broadway at 15:50 via Piccadilly Line. Pity the mbo’s not here: lok2tmbo!!! Tomorrow’s a day well worth celebrating – it’s the Winter Solstice at 23:03 GMT; from that point on for the next 6 months, every day is longer than the preceding one – worth a drink!!

December 19th: finally completed Warden trip with loads of clips and stills, as indexed below (22/8) but urls not checked yet. That leaves just 5 visits to document for this year, all in August, so getting there! Very cold NW wind today, not the best for collecting for the Hospice for R but had some carol singers and seemed to be collecting quite a lot of money; other stint on Wednesday was warmer. Greggs were good, bringing out free coffee and cake! Gr8 2 c the gorgeous ladies of Hexham: mbo, meo, mfso!!! Markets (ftse) were up 4% this week after losing 6% last week, not for the faint-hearted but feel that if oil stays around $60 a barrel, we’ll get a good outcome with more money to spend in oil-consuming countries and containable pain for the oil producers. If it goes much lower, dislocation might become more serious. Gained 4k on week to new record with gain on year now 137k, after withdrawal of 13k; picked up a few ‘bargains’ in € property, ¥ finance and £ bonds. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

December 18th: walk around Tyne Green from 14:26-16:00 in dull, mild weather on brisk SW breeze yielded 22 species, including Goosander (6, drake, 5 redhead roosting on Tyne), Goldeneye (drake), Teal (6), Jackdaw (420 roosting), Redwing (6). Still finding some leaf mines with, in bramble leaves, 4 Stigmella aurella 1  2, 1 Stigmella splendidissimella 1.

December 17th: no work on Warden trip today with attention on collecting in 4s, C4c4l to warm up, G4g4ss!! G was brill: gr8 to have the dynamic jn on!! Well do like sign language: she’s very impressive in anger mode!! More soberly think it may be curtains (so to speak!!). Markets continue to be chaotic, particularly in oil and in Russia. Showing a small gain to date this week. Main event in bonds has been Lloyds moving towards an attempt to call their ECNs at par. Fortunately don’t own many of these but realised over 63k by selling 69k nominal of a Lloyds preference share LON:LLPF which may be called by them next May; don’t trust LBG now, particularly with regard to retail issues, and the reset rate if they don’t call is derisory, giving a sharp loss of capital value. Got out with very healthy return, since I bought them in 2009. 2moro it’s N4c4l and catch-up on Warden trip. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

December 16th: great to see Wagner’s Ring is to be performed over a week at the Sage from 5/7-10/7 2016 by Opera North. It’s a long way ahead but took advantage of Sinfonia’s Friend status to book a couple of seats in a good place for the whole cycle, 1 for me, 1 for son!! Made N4c4l where met P/J for good crack. T&S was called off by M — too much marking — so decided to go to BH4ra4s, where much lively company. Closer deal was the order and very impressed with the closing scene: she’s totally fantastic!!! lok2tmbo!!!! No unn 2moro so start at G is back to normal!!

December 15th: made good progress on 22/8 Ordley Honey-buzzard site visit, completing it, leaving 6 visits to do for year, all in August. Quite well into other visit on 22/8 to Warden. The piccies processed are below (22/8). R @ B4m4l was good with 3-course meal, instead of our normal 1! Not happy with the Group I’m supposed to be chairing, what you might call work-shy! On 4s collecting twice this week, 12-1 Wed/Fri. Gr8 2 c tmbo and tmfso!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, T&S4ra4s, → E!! lok2t beauties!!!!

December 14th: still a glow from the Meistersinger (or is it the DrS?). It’s a remarkable work, recursive in computing terms with the subject of the opera as a musical drama; that’s pretty rare I think in music. Beckmesser, the ridiculed failure in the song contest, was thought to be a Jew by some critics but I think it much more likely that his character is a parody on the critics themselves, with whom Wagner had long, fierce battles. Interesting names in the performance: the name Lena, Eva’s companion, is short for Magdalene in German; the soprano Annette from Berlin has the surname Dasch. Liked the up-close shots of the orchestra in the overtures; good to see their composure. Finally it’s the longest of Wagner’s operas, a full 6 hours including 2 intervals of ¾ hour each but it never drags. Walk went well today in mild conditions on moderate SW wind with light showers; we did just 7 km on S side of Corbridge from 11:00-13:30 but no problems at all. Total of 25 species included 4 Cormorant, 1 Common Buzzard, 2 Jay, 12 Fieldfare, 7 Redwing. Everyone in Walking Group was very pleased to see me again; said I’d be out in the New Year regularly again. Our meal at Black Bull went very well with good parsnip soup and turkey and well-organised service; there were 34 of us there, a record! Much later made G4g4s with P, where sadly j on her last Sunday; said I’d pop around to see her again on her last Friday!! 2moro it’s another Xmas meal with R @ B, then N4c4ll and catch-up in evening!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

December 13th: Meistersinger was fantastic, standing ovation from the audience at New York Met; Michael Volle as Hans Sachs was very impressive, seeming to sing most of the opera but certainly on stage in a central role for the whole of Act III (2 hours 10 minutes). Billed as a comedy, it’s more wry or amusing than a bundle of laughs; indeed Sachs’ emotions with the young lass Eva (Annette Dasch) are very stretched, with the words sounding proper and the music much more sensuous; such is the power of opera!! N did bunk off at ½ time – shame! Parked at Central Station for £7 for the whole time (14:50-23:05). MP was good, very pleased to see the gr8 staff there again! Finally made DrS4g4nc which was pretty riotous with the best of P on view! Then almost SH but aqotef!! 2moro it’s walk out with the Group, followed by its annual dinner at Black Bull, C. Should make G4g4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

December 12th: started processing Warden material, one close-up video of a Honey-buzzard juvenile. Very cold day, ideal for R Xmas Market, making it less than hectic! Good 2 c both the gorgeous tmbo and tmfso. Amazingly bad week on markets continued to the end with the ftse -6.56% by Friday close and -6.39% on year to date; oil and mainstream mining stocks were biggest casualties; so this is what deflation looks like. Expected small loss in own funds didn’t materialise, gaining enough for a passable nite out 4 1 (£46.18!), bit mean 4 2! Slightly better than the loss of over 50k that would have resulted if I’d been in the ftse! One of my favourite stocks at the moment is LON:WBS, having now acquired 125k nominal, 1/1360 of the distressed debt; volume for today is mine! Also just getting interested in LON:IERP with small amounts: could recover well if German and French property markets improve but that depends on QE; has 1 year’s arrears of interest (c9%) included in price (if ever paid!). 2moro it’s a great night (day?) out with Wagner’s Meistersinger at TC from New York Met. Going with N, starts at 5, he said we might get last train to PI: no chance it’s 6 hours elapsed so will drive in; maybe DrS to recuperate later. Should make MP4m4l. Going out with Walking Group on Sunday for 1st time for a while.

December 11th: completed processing trip to Wylam E on 6/9; details are below; pleased with the Hobby pictures. That completes September, now on to 7 visits in August, 6 of which are site visits and 1 a trip to Warden on 22/8, which will do next along with local nest site visit that same day. Had 1st snow of winter, settling on car, roof and to some extent on grass but quickly melted. House is so warm now; made N4c4t but not out tonite with good catch-up on backlog of records; Cleo’s pleased! 2moro have stint for R at Xmas Market from 14:00-15:30 and may make N4c4l beforehand; much later will be at W4ra4s!! lok2t beauties!!!!

December 10th: good meeting at unn with M/P, though 2nd paper still not that close to publishing. Made CT4c4ll and earlier N4c4c, with G4g4ss to round off day (or something like that!). Bedroom look is really appealing: love it!!! Gr8 to have jn on: she’s a real *!! Markets collapsing at the moment with ftse down 3.60% this week, so much for my thoughts that drop in oil price would be beneficial! It’s an incredibly big fall in 3 days, partly due to collapse in oil stocks (BP, Shell). Anyway precious metals have been rising as expected, u308 has come back a bit, junior mining stocks have benefited from inflows from people abandoning oil stocks and junk bonds (in banks) have risen slightly so am unchanged on week so far. Looking for a small fall in rest of week as even resilient stocks come down in sympathy with general malaise (for instance are used to meet margin calls). Think that interest rates will go up slightly next year in US/UK to try and move back to ‘normality’; that’s also spooking markets but may be better in long run; need to convert perpetual bonds to medium-dated to preserve capital. 2moro it’s N4c4l and maybe catch-up later! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

December 9th: great progress on maternal side’s genealogy documented below (8/12) though think some of family are not happy with the turning of the stones; it’s going to get more intriguing I’m afraid! Did go to AF @ W with N; bought a Sheffield plate salver (always useful, £15, listed at £22, you can see the copper bleed from this early form of plating, which is quite collectable); also bought a book, Abel Chapman’s Borders and Beyond (£30, listed at £40), from the great hunting era in the Scottish Borders (1924). Pleased to make N4c4ll where gr8 2c the dynamic duo!! Later made T&S4ra4s with M/A for good chat, except for the misfit who kept on trying to talk to us; a policemen came to chat to him in the end, after being called by the landlady! Did → E; wild weather always excites me; gr8 time was had; she’s absolutely marvellous; think she ought 2 bring me a cup of t in the morning!! 2moro it’s maybe N4c4c with P, certainly unn in afternoon, G4g4ss with session 1 later than usual. lok2tmbo!!!!

December 8th: completed Kellas 3/9 (clips 4059), onto Wylam E (4061) on 6/9, last visit to be processed for September, where had brilliant views of Hobby and Honey-buzzard fledging near Ryton in a great day, one of the best of the season. Chaired a short meeting of International Committee at R, quite a lot of worries about the viability of our event (including from myself!). Not going to sweat too much about it! 2moro it’s a look at old things at AF at Wentworth with N, followed by N4c4ll, T&S4ra4s, → E!! lok2t beauties!!!!

Received 3 certificates from GRO on mother’s side. The death certificate for my gt-grandmother Annie (May) Holbrook confirms her suicide on 6/7/1904 in Penzance Harbour, after an inquest held the same day. Did check the newspapers and found a harrowing account of the events, taken as 8 shots 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 from the British Newspaper Library record of the Cornishman in 2 columns on 14/07/1904. Shot 7 has transcript of her farewell note, to her sister Lennie (Selina) May (married Northey but apparently separated):

Dear Lennie – Will you bring up the children for me? Everything I have I leave to you to do it with – my house in Coulson’s place, my share of rent which I get from Tom every quarter, etc, and all my furniture. From your loving sister, ANNIE.

(Auntie) Lennie was the Miss May of Helston, who now looks as if she is the Selina Northey recorded in the 1891 census in Kenwyn, part of Helston (see 23/11 below); so she was apparently born in California. She was appointed administrator of Annie’s estate with her father Thomas William May (see 23/11 below). Verdict of inquest was death by drowning during temporary insanity. Can see why it’s taboo. Evidently Annie was normally quite cheerful but a week or two before her death had become very depressed; maybe she’d lost a romantic lifeline, which was helping her through the difficult times; a 2nd marriage would have given some stability. The family weren’t poor but seem to be very stressed: certainly not the comfortable middle class. In the Cornishman article, also mentioned are John Holbrook, identifying his sister-in-law and therefore brother to her late husband George Holbrook. The Tom above in the transcript is presumably her father, Thomas William May, who died in Plymouth on 23/01/1916, aged 78, with his son-in-law Frederick G Hole in attendance (certificate); Thomas William May apparently did not leave a will, suggesting everything was settled earlier. Annie’s younger sister, Ellen May, married Frederick George Hole on 22/07/1888 at the Parish Church of Christchurch, Plymouth (certificate). They were both aged 20, she a spinster, he a bachelor. He was a stationer, living at 61 Cambridge Street, Plymouth; his father was George Hole, a blacksmith. She was living with her father Thomas William May, a retired naval officer, at Ringmore Cottage, Tracy Street, Plymouth. Witnesses were T W May (presumably her father) and Annie Elizabeth May (her sister). Top priority at the moment is to sort further Annie’s younger sister Ellen, who seems to have had a more conventional life and I’m sure contributes a few people to the Iris Holbrook wedding photo.

As a preview, taking the maternal side back one more generation, Annie’s mother was called Sarah Jane Dashper (as married); we all share the same mtDNA as do my sisters and my elder sister’s daughter (niece). There are quite a number of female carriers from my mother’s 2 sisters. I’m awaiting the results of a further test on my mtDNA to check the Haplogroup T result. By all conventional naming methods, Sarah Jane Dashper should have been called Lena: it’s a mystery! Maybe she has an alias: Lena Dashevsky!! OMG, that was just a guess, but see there’s a Yelena Dashevsky who’s Director of Education in the Azerbaijani American Cultural Association. Dashevsky is a Russian Jewish name and Azerbaijan is a hotspot for Haplogroup T. Well wild speculation but suspect there’s further surprises to come!

December 7th: almost completed Kellas 3/9 with addition of calls below and compilation of insect records; still need to complete compiling nest visit details but almost done. Delayed start to hedge trimming with sleet showers but got out around 14:00 for a little over an hour and cut ½ the roadside hedge and filled in a gap with a stray hawthorn plant. Fire almost run-in now, burning several loads of coal and place is lovely and warm with very little smell and no alarms going off: here’s piccie of living area with fire ablaze; Cleo is either looking for a tip in the racing pink or (more likely) thinking: why the f.ck have we had to wait so long for this to happen!! Very welcoming, heh: just pop round if you’re the fancied one!! Made W4shp and N4c4t in afternoon. Much later made G4g4s with P, with one of last sessions of the lovely j!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll and catch up on CT and 6/9 visit to Wylam E. lok2t beauties!!!!

December 6th: a very good sociable day meeting P at C4c4l and the W gang at W4m4d; at latter had 3 courses and a few g, very good crack with 8 of us out! Earlier good to see the mfso and enjoy the sights at C!! Cranked stove up by burning one full load of ordinary coal; smell was a bit like a new exhaust on a car and the emission set-off both smoke alarms so had to open a roof-light. Had bought earlier a CO detector from T and this gave no alarm, which is good, suggesting no leaks from the fire itself. The exhaust-like smell is as expected per manual, coming from sealants and the stove-paint; 2moro will burn ordinary coal for longer, perhaps 2 loads, before moving onto ovoids in a few days, which really produce the heat. Of course this should really be done in summer when you can have all the windows open and aren’t needing the heat! So 2moro think will do some healthy outdoors work, maybe cutting hedge on roadside as too many berries on internal hedges still; that’s an exercise in extension leads, requiring at least 4 connectors; best done on Sunday as hardly any white vans! May well recuperate with N4c4t and G4ra4s!! Property is actually getting into good shape after all the work this autumn. lok2t beauties!!!!

December 5th: started processing Kellas 3/9, one of the 2 visits yet to process for September – masses of Honey-buzzard calls in the very late nesting attempt. Had stove on gently again for 2nd day for a little while, supposed to break it in slowly so that the seals and the paint bed-in well; means it’s still a bit cool! Did make N4c4l. Thought the mbo looked just that: very s.xy!! Made W4ra4s with the gang for good crack. Funds did finish slightly down this week, by 2k: mining stocks had a difficult week particularly after ECB chickened out of QE, though metals pt/pd/u308 beginning to rise a little to give some encouragement; holdings are a little more risky than a month ago with 145k in the bombed-out natural resources sector: doesn’t mean they can’t disintegrate further! Liked this article in This is Money on the woes of B&B bondholders! 2moro we’ve got annual xmas dinner for the W gang (at the W!); earlier should make N4c4c and maybe even C4c4l to catch up on FT. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

December 4th: wrapped up 9/7 visit to Wylam, very satisfying as completes July records; now onto the 2 outstanding visits in September. JC did brilliant job on stove/chimney; all working now after we went to MC to collect some connection fittings plus a cowl (£104) and a scrap yard to collect a section of steel chimney (£5), to add to cost of new stove (£695) and labour (£120); wouldn’t have fancied it on the freezing roof. Had house well-aired and it was freezing! Have to break new stove in gently but spent the evening with slippers on and a mug of cocoa – marvellous (but if you know me, not true, more to follow!!). 2moro it’s N4c4l followed much later by W4ra4s!! lok2t lovelies!!!

December 3rd: weather continued cold with frost and fog, quite usual for time of year but transition is a bit sudden. Sorted out most of 9/7 Wylam visit; should complete tomorrow but stove installation and chimney repair may keep me occupied otherwise! Looking forward to having a real fire again. After lie-in with sweet dreams of a certain someone, made N4c4ll before getting train into ncl for meeting at unn with P/M; we made incredible progress, considering how long we’d left the topic; it shows the power of CT to internalise difficult concepts. Budget announcement on end of the pacer trains was timely (but when?): journey back on 17:54 Northern service was not comfortable with 2 pacer cars instead of the usual 4 giving gross overcrowding; tension was relieved by a merry passenger who insisted on smoking, causing much aggro and some laughs! He couldn’t be reached by any staff because the train was so packed! Since the 17:54 is supposed to be a peak-time train for which people pay extra, it was though really p.ss-poor! We were almost 20 minutes late into Hexham. On a much happier note, did make G4g4ss with the dynamic jn on for both sessions!! Markets have been very volatile and down a tiny amount on week to date after recovery today following a significant fall in Monday’s sell-off. Convinced that fall in oil price is a plus point for world economy with overall benefits but some horror stories for the losers (oil producers and explorers (states+companies), banks who’ve lent to oil companies, junk bonds backed by oil assets). Volatility is likely to rise and think bond prices can only go lower from here. Anyway we’ll see: no-one really knows but maybe an OPEC emergency meeting next spring to try and bring the oil price back up. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

December 2nd: sorted the piccies from 9/7 at Wylam, now need to process the 3 clips with the Honey-buzzard calls and compile the data, then that’s July done! N4c4l was very good, gr8 views in 4St!! Have recruited JC to install new stove, repair steel chimney and replace cowl on Thursday, with possible extension to Friday if any problems. With weather turning colder, it’s needed for main living space where electric storage heaters only give background heating; so hopefully jit. Met M at T&S4ra4s for a spot of hooky and some good crack: we’re meeting again tomorrow late afternoon at unn with P, followed by latish ss @ G. Thought the Irish international lass who scored the wonder goal looked very fit (youtube): her surname Roche is Anglo-Norman, dating from the Strongbow invasion. Her goal was for Peamount (near Dublin) away to Wexford Youths. Very hard frost tonite: 1st of the season!! Another gr8 finish was to the E: lok2tmbo!!!! rfaswtmbo!!!

December 1st: added lots of piccies from Devon trip, should finish compiling it tomorrow and can then get back to the Honey-buzzard season in Northumberland. R was quite a grand affair today, coming after the funeral of JBJ; gave International report at business meeting to quite a crowd! Very pleased to see the mbo/meo again!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, T&S4ra4s, maybe E!! lok2t beauties!!!!

November 30th: got back pretty well with plane being just 30 minutes late, due to overnight fog (evidently!) at Exeter preventing it coming in last night. Lot cooler up here, bit of a shock! One problem was that Flybe had cancelled my reservation, I suspected because they didn’t collect my boarding card at Newcastle for compiling the passenger list but according to some, this doesn’t matter. So I was a no-show but it was all rectified in a couple of minutes of smiles! Was really good short trip with the company, the meals and another Devon common added to my list! Total for trip was 52 species with just one species of raptor: Common Buzzard with 6 seen at 5 localities. After sorting Cleo, made N4c4t and much later G4g4s, where the popular j on but she’s leaving soon! One of the dominoes team gave her an endearing farewell: “I’ve never got sick of looking at you”. Struck the right chord later: may even go back for more practice!!! 2moro sees R @ B4m4l, 15 min later than usual to allow for funeral of Jonas, and N4c4ll!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

November 29th: very mild and sunny 14C, absolutely beautiful day for UK, almost into December. Proms and town at Sidmouth packed with people out to enjoy the weather 1  2 (sister next to me on 1st). A Red Admiral butterfly was out at Sidmouth N. We (sis, her husband, I) went for walk along the prom in the morning, popped into C4c4l and then went for longer walk around the heathland at Bulverton Hill in afternoon. From the Prom, in total of 6 species, had a Rock Pipit 1, 9 alba Wagtail 1, 8 Turnstone 1, Herring Gull (adult perched 1). Must say all the heaths in Devon have great potential for Honey-buzzard with large open areas of heather and gorse, surrounded by Scots Pine shelter belts; here’s today’s heath 1  2  3, complete with information boards 1  2 and good views over the surrounding towns 1  2; this potential for Honey-buzzard is realised at least at Haldon and Aylesbeare Commons. A Robin in the car-park on the common posed well 1. Total for birds was 19 species, including a a pair of Common Buzzard, 3 calling Dartford Warbler, 3 Stonechat, 15 Redwing. Moths were interesting for time of year with an Acleris logiana 1  2  3  4, a Winter Moth, galleries of Stigmella aurella on bramble 1  2 and blotches on bramble of Emmetia marginea 1  2 and on beech of Phyllonorycter maestingella 1. We went out for meal at Bowd Inn, Sidmouth, in evening where had tasty carvery, a few g and good service. Return is imminent: looking forward to seeing the beauties!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

November 28th: day started well with a Common Buzzard flapping over sis’s house in Sidmouth at 10:00. In dull conditions on a cool moderate E wind, we went for walk at mouth of the River Otter near Budleigh Salterton, where there’s a scenic nature reserve 1  2  3  4  5  6. Very good display of birds and all approachable with, in total of 32 species, the stars being a Kingfisher, a drake Shoveler, a drake Pintail, a Cetti’s Warbler calling once, a Red-throated Diver offshore, with in addition 176 Wigeon, 27 Teal 1  2  3, 15 Mallard, 4 Shelduck, 3 Stonechat, 3 Redwing, 3 Little Egret, 5 Reed Bunting and 30 Carrion Crow. A Common Buzzard was perched in a tree near Colaton Raleigh. A gallery of Stigmella aurella was found on bramble 1. We had tea in Budleigh. Week on markets finished well with fabulous news from B&B that tender offer is going ahead: see tender document for BBM, BBN and tender document for BBS. Classified just as a retail investor with total holdings of 93k nominal, under limit of 100k due to selling 20k of BBM a little while ago; this means I get longer to accept and a small bonus on BBS. So what’s it all mean: well good rise today in market prices of about 11% and eventual tender value is 159.21k against a purchase price, offset by profits on previous sales, of 12.78k. So not a bad profit and most of it tax free as the issues are QCB. Could even get a pad from monies due on 8/1!! Gain overall on funds this week was 10k to new record with 6k further bonus on acceptance in early January to get the New Year hopefully off to a good start. Missing the lovelies: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

Finally broke through the fog surrounding my maternal side: wondered why so little was known/talked about my grandmother’s ancestors. Sis today said that gt-grandmother Annie Elizabeth (May) Holbrook had been left as a widow with 3 young daughters (aged 9, 7, 3) in 1902 when her husband George Holbrook died. Knew this but didn’t know that on 6th July 1904 she was tragically drowned in the sea at Penzance, apparently as an act of suicide. So not surprisingly it’s family taboo.

November 27th: fruitful day in Totnes, catching train from Exmouth, and meeting M from 11:30-18:30. We had a lot of chat about CT, and the ANPA paper has been progressed considerably. Take notes of discussion now on iP, email to server and all is safely kept, which is just as well as it’s not as if see each other every week. It was very foggy by the Rivers (Exe, Teign) so didn’t see much: had 50 dark-bellied Brent Goose and a Greenshank just out of Exmouth, a Razorbill off Teignmouth and a Common Buzzard just before Totnes. Had just 13 species in Totnes area, but it was a CT-day!

November 26th: flying visit to Devon, really pleased that Flybe have re-started the ncl-ext service, just a little late on schedule, ¾ full which bodes well and ½ the cost of the train. Staying with younger sis and brother-in-law for a little while. Weather very dull but becoming mild and sunnier. Markets are fascinating at moment. Drop in oil price initially brought back memories of the 2008 deflationary crash and caused sharp falls in mining prices so quickly sold out but am now re-investing the proceeds in the same stocks and increasing holdings by 20-30% for the same bucks. Reason is other commodity prices have held up well and reduced oil prices will cut mining costs but above all because the oil price fall is rather like a tax cut, giving increased spending money to consumers. There’s a big difference between a slump in oil prices, because of poor demand (2008), than a slump, because of increased supply (2014, fracking in US). So taking a bit more risky route and down a little this week so far: might just produce more wallpaper! It’s a work-day tomorrow! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

November 25th: quite a lot colder today and the fog returned, making our journey to Stamfordham a little hazardous; B drove 4 R members from the ‘Shire there, very well done! Gave my report, quite a lot of work looming up pre- and post-xmas on International’s event, fixed for 7/2. Cncl meeting lasted from 17:30-19:30. Then a little late, after some food, made T&S with M/A for good crack! Earlier made N4c4l where thought the mbo looked really, really gr8!! Finished painting last outside window upstairs, now done for season. Early to bed, sadly on own, got to get organised: lok2t beauties!!!!

November 24th: added the data for yet another visit, that to Eals on 1/7 summarised below; just 1 left for July but not sure will be done in time! Did make R, and will do so for next 3 weeks up to xmas, followed by N4c4ll. 4St was gr8 with the mfso back in command and the mmo looking good; should have been dazzled – big dip – c reviews r very, very good, and back to being a maiden!! Got back in time to get 2nd coat on window, should finish it tomorrow. Also will make N4c4l, R 4 Cncl in Stamfordham, T&S4ra4s!! Busy life! lok2t lovelies!!!!

November 23rd: well another studious day bringing up research on Selina May (gt-gt-aunt, maternal side) to coherent standards, as below. Working on Eals visit 10/7 but not completed yet. Did more work on property, trimming lots of shrubs along road to reduce seclusiveness and make it less attractive for burglars; here’s shots of trimming 1  2 and of one of new security lights 1. Noticed a lot more police activity in light of wave of burglaries: rumours that Riding Mill residents are not going out because of worries but not sure that’s news! Also primed window upstairs with copper-based liquid in preparation for painting. Made N4c4t and G4g4s, where exceeded quota at latter in response to absence of minder and charms of the staff: she’s got lovely puppies!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l and more research!! No worries: lok2t beauties!!!!

An update on maternal grandmother’s family:

I’ve been checking up on Selina May who I think is the Auntie Lennie in gt-aunt Iris’s wedding photo at Redruth on June 3rd 1918, second from right, seated, and was guardian to Mabel Lena Holbrook (my grandmother) and Iris Holbrook. I found her marriage certificate, to a William Steven Northey, on 10th October 1887 in Plymouth (original, transcript). I also received Annie Elizabeth Holbrook’s administration (original, transcript). Annie (gt-grandmother) died intestate on 6th July 1904, leaving therefore no will; her sister Selina May (spinster) and her father Thomas William May, are appointed administrators and guardians to her three orphaned daughters. But her sister Selina had married in 1887 so should not have been recorded as a spinster. It certainly looks as if Selina’s marriage with William Northey had not prospered; maybe her husband, who was a publican, died shortly after the marriage. Or maybe they separated; divorce was only for the rich at the time. One Selina Northey dies aged 67 in 1929 in Truro, which could well be her.

Whatever, the only Selina Northey in the 1891 census (original) is living in Kenwyn, Truro, as 27-year-old daughter of Edward Northey (aged 70), born in California Great Valley. This could be dismissed as unlikely to be her as she’s in truth daughter-in-law at best, aged 29, born Plymouth, but there are two Mays also living in the house: Emily May, servant, aged 20, and her son William May, aged 7 months, both born in Ladock, Cornwall. So all very problematic but William Steven Northey’s father was called William Alfred Northey, from the marriage certificate, so doesn’t match well. Anyway there does not seem to be any family of her own so Selina would have been well placed to bring up Annie’s daughters, with help from the Olivers for Cora. I cannot trace her in the 1901 or 1911 census, which adds to the mystery, but the 1911 census is not indexed as well as the earlier ones. Ellen May, Selina’s sister, married a Hole and did have a family so would have been less likely to want to take on additional children. The 1850s and the 1860s were of course California Gold Rush time so there is a possibility of the family having gone out there, seeking their riches. Presumably lots of Cornish people went out there with their mining skills

So that’s a fair amount of effort to label one of the people in the photo but very fascinating! I’m going to look at Ellen next as think her side may well contribute a few more to the photo. I’ve also ordered an HVR-2 mtDNA test to get more resolution on the maternal DNA side. Could say quite a lot more about gt-aunt Iris’s wedding photo but will hold for a moment! It is so valuable!

November 22nd: completed compiling Staward Honey-buzzard visit for 16/7 below, leaving 2 sheets to do in July, 2 in September and 7 in August. Main task of day was setting up the 2014 lepidoptera records more as a database but using spreadsheets with OpenOffice Calc. So downloaded the checklists for butterflies and for moths, merged them into one list and cross-referenced the species names I’d entered against the Checklist to fetch the unique species number, which Recorders are so keen on. The Lookup seemed to be a little idiosyncratic, fetching the record before that intended and not returning an error if there was a spelling/format error so put in a check mechanism to Lookup the returned species number in the Checklist, return the species name and compare it with my value entered: if it matches return True, if there’s a difference return False (and manually sort out problem). That all seems to work safely now using the Lookup, Upper, Trim and Match functions. It’s really emulating a join in a relational database, just as the Pivot function, which use for reports, emulates a Group By. The cycle of lookup and check is of course adjointness in CT (free and underlying functors): CT governs everything! With 15,000 records since 1970s did not want to enter each number by hand! Must get on with CT tomorrow to build on last Sunday’s trip before next meeting with M in Devon. Did make C4c4l to plot with FT the week ahead but otherwise a pretty studious day. Would have liked to see the Gulls play the Heed in return fixture from start of season: Gulls led 1-0 at 86 minutes but were 1-2 down at 89, before levelling at 92 and almost getting the winner at 97 from free-kick after Heed player red-carded; finished 2-2! 2moro sees work on CT, bit more trimming in front and around back gate (no hiding for burglars!), preparing window upstairs for painting, N4c4t, G4g4s!! lok2t beauties!!!!

November 21st: completed compiling Oakpool Honey-buzzard visit for 15/7 below, leaving 3 sheets to do in July, 2 in September and 7 in August. Task can be extended considerably, for instance here took opportunity to post piccies and analyse full results for Bamburgh walk on 13/7. So we’re getting there (slowly): cannot post any annual results until all sorted. Made C4c4ll and W4ra4s where 5 of us out for good crack. Markets looking much better by today with efforts by countries and blocks (e.g EU) to avoid deflation boosting commodities. Added 1k this week to new record; should get some follow through next week, maybe a decent run up ’til xmas, which is normally a good time of year market-wise! Indicators to watch are 10-year interest rates in UK, USA, EU; if they start moving up then time to reduce exposure to bonds. 2moro should make C4c4l and sort out work done last Sunday with M. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

November 20th: added Honey-buzzard calls below from Oakpool visit on 15/7 (clips 4055); they’re very clear! Today’s weather was mild, with weak sunshine and calm conditions. Did walk along Tyne Green this afternoon from 13:30 getting 27 species, including 2 calling adult Common Buzzard at Hermitage, a singing Dipper 1  2  3, 4 Goosander (1 drake 1, 3 redheads), 9 Teal, 1 Moorhen, 23 Mallard, 2 GBBG (adult, 2w), 4 Common Gull (all adult), 4 Herring Gull (all adult), 49 Black-headed Gull (40 adult, 9 1w). Also had a few leaf mines on beech and oak. Here’s results from the last week’s hedge trimming: leylandii 1  2, beech 1 — not bad hey!! In true ‘Shire tradition the clippings are left on the ground to blow around for the next 6 months! Had a mouse run along the kitchen-top yesterday: interviewed Cleo about her project plans! She denied responsibility; today bought some Rodine at T for laying as a poisonous bait; going to get tomorrow a hard container with a solid lid to replace the sink-tidy; never had this problem before but Cleo’s a pensioner really! Out soon (not Cleo!) … more to follow … well did make BH4ra4s in the fog, very good crack, my 2nd favourite pub after G! Absolutely brilliant end to day further W: lok2tmgo!!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and W4ra4s, with hopes for completing the processing of the Oakpool visit.

November 19th: well don’t think much of the weather forecast – cloudy with a few showers; got out all the gear, most of it electrical, to finish off the leylandii and it just rained almost non-stop; quickly abandoned the electrical gear and finished the top off by hand – determined to get it done today; hands and wrists very red tonite with allergy and when you put them into hot water, they sting like hell! Still ’tis done! Then plenty of relaxation: N4c4t and G4g4ss, gr8 to have the mfso on!! Very nice 2 c tmbo!! Markets have risen a bit this week but my funds are level-pegging with profit-taking/doubts in ELR counterbalancing continued modest rises elsewhere; general mining stocks quite weak today but have disposed of the holding built up earlier in the year, just retaining out-and-out junk! 2moro it’s N4c4c, trip out somewhere, BH4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

November 18th: started processing Oakpool visit on 15/7; some very clear Honey-buzzard alarm calls produced, which should publish tomorrow. Main business of day was cutting leylandii hedge in the front; it’s quite a major job as it’s dense, quite high, too wide and I’m allergic to the resin! Still after 90 minutes had just the highest central part to do, which decided to leave until 2moro morning when a little fresher again. Indeed should finish the whole of the front tomorrow and can then leave the back for a while on the excuse that the branches still contain a lot of berries for the birds! Neighbour’s large buddleia tree has collapsed again and broken their wall: think it needs decapitating (cutting top 2/3 off!). Had good nite’s sleep and sweet dreams, indeed so sound that didn’t wake up until 09:55, missing an invitation to go on a walk from P/M. Did make N4c4l where quite a sociable crowd, including J/A; gr8 views on way, very memorable!!! Made T&S4ra4s with M, where amazed to meet s; must get my jab!! 2moro it’s N4c4t, G4g4ss!! lok2t beauties!!!!

November 17th: a little late for International meeting at R, which raised a few eyebrows, as I chair it; nevertheless we did make some useful progress on our function. Sorted out nest-site visit on 2/7 to area near Stocksfield: many piccies below of raptors, other birds, moths, butterflies and bumblebees. Quite a job but means just 4 visits in round 1 now to document, all for July. Loved the bedroom look, very fanciable!!! Met P after R at N4c4ll; we went upstairs as he likes his privacy! 2moro it’s N4c4l, some hedge trimming, T&S4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

November 16th: very good trip to London where met M to discuss way forward on CT; trains were on time and 1st class is very comfy with plenty of space to use the laptop. We went to Tower (ceramic poppies), Monument (of Great Fire), St Paul’s Cathedral, Leicester Square (to eat). Spent a lot of time at St Paul’s where they were having evensong at 15:15, which we joined; organ playing and choral singing was fantastic, particularly liked Abide with Me though it wasn’t a funeral service. Did a lot of work on train going down bringing up ANPA presentation towards publication standard. We’re thinking of doing another paper on computer architecture, bringing in our experience of handling jitter in time. We also made a good 1st stab, at adapting the unn work on visualisation to handling music, in the inspirational atmosphere of St Paul’s. We’re meeting in Devon again at the end of the month. Day finished brilliantly with the star: do think she’s so lovely – got home just before 2 and crashed out with sweet dreams!!! lok2tmbo!!!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l with committee meeting beforehand.

November 15th: sorted out nest visit on 4/7 to March Burn including some Hobby alarm calls, which have published below (4/7); both Honey-buzzard and Hobby were nesting in this wood. That leaves 5 more to do for July. Met the lovely mmo at C4c4l, just about to perform for HASS in Be Dazzled; don’t think I said all the right things and wasn’t going to the show!! Earlier started autumn hedge cutting, doing the beech hedge by front gate; it’s a good way of keeping fit, next the leylandii to complete the front part. 2moro it’s a long day trip to London to see M and talk about categories, planning a new paper. I’ve booked advance single first class rail tickets at very reasonable prices, catching 09:25 down and getting 20:45 back; will use car for getting into Newcastle!! lok2t beauties!!!!

Had another paternal DNA subclade test negative, making 3 in a row now of L193- (Scottish borders), S28- (Italo-Celtic) and the latest M222- (Irish, particularly northern/central), with certificates cited. So I’m still L21+ (subclade R1b1a2a1a1b4 (L21+), Atlantic Celtic) with no further specification. You could say well what’s left: not surprisingly there’s lots to pay money for, including L371 (Welsh), L159.2 (Irish Sea coastal areas, maybe Viking), M37 (Irish), L226 (Irish Type III, Ireland mid-W), L144 (Irish-Viking), L513 (scattered), L96 (?), DF21 (?), L554 (?). Well, having eliminated some of the main native populations, think it’s obviously time to check for Viking (Norseman, Norman) influence so L159.2 is next and then L144 and maybe to Wales with L371! Would like a test for L21 Pyrenees/Catalan/Basque but doesn’t seem to be one yet; in some such communities 10-20% of population is L21+ (http://www.anthrogenica.com/archive/index.php/t-1222.html) and my more recent STR markers indicate connection with there.

November 14th: well more stealth is a good idea and mutuality has many benefits!! Compiled list and piccies for visit to Dipton Wood S on 16/5 and sorted out clip from Ordley of Honey-buzzard on same day; all published below. This completes May/June records so reasonable progress in getting season documented;15 data sheets to start from scratch though for July-September. Good progress on markets this week at +13k with main rises, for a change, in mining stocks (TSE:ELR (hold 14.4k shares), LON:GCL (hold 139.1k shares)) but also some gains in bonds (LON:BOI (hold 33k nominal), B&B issues (hold 93k nominal in BBM (30), BBN (30), BBS(33))); still waiting for news of ‘final’ offer on B&B debt, which would expect to be timed to be completed by xmas; this week’s overall rise gives another new record with gain on year up to 124k (after withdrawals of 12k, mainly for wedding, so +136k gross), while ftse is down 1.2% over same period. Did make N4c4l where good catch up with J; cb was in the hot seat!! Also made W4ra4s where 6 of us out for good crack with the lively j on! Very good glow 2day: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

November 13th: getting settled again; compiled list and piccies for visit to South Tyne near Hexham Westwood on 19/5; just one list outstanding now for May (and none for June). Met P at N4c4c for good chat and catch-up. Am joining big sis and family for week in Tuscany, Italy, next May; looks as if I’m the driver (and Honey-buzzard spotter!). Made BH4ra4s where good to meet jd again!! Fantastic end to day with tmbo!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and W4ra4s. lok2tmbo!!!!

November 12th: Radisson was very comfortable and refreshments quite reasonably priced; clientele included quite a lot of engineering/computing types, maybe in tune with Ireland’s prowess in this area. Paid €141 for the overnight stay and refreshments. Perfect service from Ryanair, landing on time at NCL. Straight home to meet Cleo and get things sorted. Out from late afternoon to N4c4t and G4g4ss: gr8 2 c every1 again, particularly the s.xy lass at G!!! As indicated last Friday a good week for funds was likely and that’s been the case, up by 5 figures so far: pt share TSE:ELR is biggest gainer followed by u308 stocks, e.g. LON:GCL, but junk bonds have also gained a bit and the £ has been weak! Managed to buy 15k more of GCL on Monday morning at 8:05 at 22p before market makers had reacted to the move up in America on Friday night: it pays to be alert! Mining stocks are more volatile than virtually anything else so not counting anything in the bag yet! Feeling like a rest after the break: cannot be right, but it was pretty hectic!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

November 11th: weather got even wetter; rained nearly all day out of a featureless sky with no breeze in S end of Co Wexford until 14:45 when it finally faired up; about this time a Subalpine Warbler was found just down the road by another observer near Carnsore Point; only saw the report this evening but would not have stayed, needed to get back to Dublin. Had hoped to leave for Dublin earlier than 14:45 but getting the species list up to 100 proved a little compulsive. So having got up to 99 at Lady’s Island in a visit from 11:35-13:35, decided to go to Rosslare Harbour from 13:45-14:45. Here the light was so poor at the start that you couldn’t see out to sea so decided to have lunch in a café; amazingly on emerging you could see the clearance coming and in 5 minutes as the light improved had a Tystie (Black Guillemot), 2 Great Northern Diver and a Slavonian Grebe close-in. The Tystie and the grebe brought the trip total to 101, same as in 2013! Paid for the lengthened stay later on; it’s about 200km from Rosslare to Dublin Airport and journey was slow with surface water everywhere as drove back into the rainy area. Made Dublin M50 ring road about 17:00 in heavy rain in the rush hour in the dark; brilliantly though the traffic kept moving slowly, there were no hold-ups and got to Airport at 17:30 to fill the car up with diesel (€55) and return it to Hertz; then checked into Radisson for overnight stay. Very glad that I did not leave the drive until the next day for an early start to make the 09:40 flight out.

Earlier checked out of Ferrycarrig where paid them €559 for 5 nights upgraded accommodation and 4 meals with sundry drinks. Drove in opposite direction to Dublin (S) to break new ground in SE corner of Co Wexford. Made Lady’s Island from 11:35-13:35 which has some historical remains from the Anglo-Normans, a few Catholic monuments and quite a lot of grockle traps! Rain poured down but walked out regardless on peninsula between the waters, keeping bins and camera clear of water with frequent wipes by spectacle cloths. Had good numbers of herons, Grey Heron and Little Egret, and Wigeon. Added to list Moorhen (3), Pintail (1 female type), Teal (just 2), Chough (1 flying overhead calling, very pleased with that record). So that made me very damp and car very soggy as got back in but pushed list up to 99 types! Couldn’t leave it at that – see above! Looking forward to return – have missed the lovelies!!

November 10th: in driving rain, a juvenile Honey-buzzard at Rathmacknee: what a record!! You couldn’t make it up!! Weather was appalling today: did start off dry but by mid-morning the rain started and quickly became heavy, made worse by the fresh ESE breeze; it rained all the rest of the day! Started the day’s business at Rathmacknee, 7km W of Rosslare, ancestral home until dispossessed by William of Orange! Was in area in the rain for a long time, 11:20-13:20, the reason being the relative shelter of the high hedges and the presence of the Honey-buzzard. Unlike the previous 2 sightings on the trip, this was a drawn out affair with at 11:34 the juvenile seen flying low between trees on the N side of Rathmacknee Castle, c300m from it. The bird perched on a branch showing the usual horizontal stance for the species, with long tail, elongated body and small head. It stayed there for about 10 minutes while the rain poured down, eventually at 11:45 moving 50m to the top of an exposed tree-trunk where it watched the ground below very carefully as the rain got heavier. At 11:48 it dropped off the tree trunk to land on the ground below, obviously some feeding opportunity it had spotted. I didn’t stay any longer as they can spend ages on the ground (walking around!). The bird was a rufous-grey-brown colour; the clips and stills will be published directly. There were quite a few wasps still around on the ivy in the lanes. Had total of 25 bird species here, including new ones for trip of Siskin and Treecreeper, and single raptors: Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. Decided to go to the coast and visited Kilmore Quay from 13:30-15:00; could hardly stand up in the wind and had to spend some time parked on the front with a spyhole open on the sea, looking for some interesting seabirds. Well with some relief did score with a Shag, 7 Gannet and 4 Kittiwake but must admit it was pretty dedicated. Total was 15 species with no raptors; then back to the Hotel for some restoration. Total for trip is now 95 species. Booked up train tickets for day-trip to London on Sunday to meet Mike: got advance 1st class, very reasonable at the weekend. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

Running total for raptors is 35 birds of 6 types: Red Kite 9, Common Buzzard 8, Sparrowhawk 6, Kestrel 5, Hen Harrier 4, Honey-buzzard 3. Not sure will get many more!! It’s G4t!!

November 9th: weather was very bright while having breakfast but was more showery and cooler by time out in the field in the afternoon from 12:05-16:05. This was big day to the S of the County to visit the famous Tacumshin Lake nature reserve and to hopefully at last track down the fragment of the old Rossiter castle at Tomhaggard, overlooking the Lake. First looked for the old castle and think I’ve found it at IT037078, smothered in ivy and very neglected 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  32  33  34  35  36  37  38  39  40  41  42  43 : unlike Rathmacknee, it’s not part of a preservation scheme so will just gradually fall to bits but it’s done 300-350 years without any tlc so will probably go on a bit longer. It is supposed to be part of a ruined manorial village (Appendix I, Wexford castles, Billy Colfer) and there was a series of further ivy-smothered low-lying ruins nearby, included in piccies above. There were also two more modern ruins 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15, one quite recent 1  2  3  4  5, and the surrounding rough countryside 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 was very attractive from a wildlife point of view. Obviously there are far too many old castles for them all to be preserved as they stand. The favoured name of the Tomhaggard family was William, which does not appear in the Rathmacknee/Tiverton families, who prefer John/Thomas. William will have had a good bird list, indeed his family must have secured quite a lot of its living from wildfowling. Got a bit mixed up in the narrow lane with some horse event but all very affable: of course my Duster does make me look more of a proper country chap than normal! Did a bird count for William R, getting 13 species around the ruins, including a Common Buzzard in territory and a Woodpigeon kill (probably by Sparrowhawk); quite a few wasps still around on the ivy. Earlier had a Kestrel at the final roundabout , going S, on the Wexford town bypass. Visited both the SW and NE sides of Tacumshin (pronounced Ta-kum-shin, with emphasis on 2nd syllable, according to receptionist!), getting 48 species in total, with 9 new on the day of Pink-footed Goose, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Scaup, Goldeneye, Golden Plover. Composition was quite different from last year with more diving ducks and less dabbling ducks (Teal, Shoveler, Mallard). Raptors included 2 hunting Sparrowhawk, much commoner in SE Ireland than in previous visits, and a ringtail Hen Harrier, keeping their numbers up. Had a Blue Tit on way back near Mayglass turn-off – species no. 90 for trip; not been so good for tits though bit better tonite!! Main target tomorrow is a Shag!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

November 8th: another bright day, particularly the afternoon, and fairly mild on a light W breeze. Pace right down today, walked the 5km into town and visited a few favourite haunts, including the Library where found a very good book on initial colonisation of Ireland by JP Mallory — The Origins of the Irish; the Book Centre where had lunch and bought Mallory’s book, the FT and a couple of local papers; Thomas Moore where had a couple of very tasty g while watching Ireland thrash the Springboks; hoped I cheered and cursed at the right moments! Think TM is a good pub, plenty of atmosphere, popular with the ladies, and had a good piece of steak there before getting taxi back to hotel. Would be a good local on limited experience! Must say the town of Wexford looked a lot more prosperous than in the previous 2 visits; the air of desperation surrounding property, with handwritten discounts all over estate agents’ windows has gone, many places have been painted and the main street was bustling. Very pleased at that (not just for my investments!). Did bump up the bird total though no raptors today: had total of 40 species on walk in and profitable stroll to Wexford’s north pier just before dusk/TM, including new ones for trip of Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, House Sparrow, Grey Wagtail, Red-necked Grebe, Greenshank, bringing trip total to 80 types. rfaswtmbo!!! rfaswtmgo!!!

November 7th: had very good walk today, going right round the Raven wood and more, doing c15 km quite briskly from 11:30-15:50. Weather was bright and sunny with just one light shower near the end, on a moderate W breeze, making it feel quite cool. Had 4 divers on the sea: 2 Great Northern, 1 Red-throated, 1 Black-throated, along with 10 Common Scoter, 1 Great Crested Grebe and many Cormorant, including 60 at a high-tide roost. Had to score with Greenland White-fronted Goose and did, getting total of 199. Waders included Oystercatcher (18), Grey Plover (14), Black-tailed Godwit (252), Curlew (4), Sanderling (2). Not a lot of raptor action, having on outward leg just 1 Kestrel 1w up briefly; on return in southern end of central part had 2 Hen Harrier ringtail and a Common Buzzard up with 2 Raven and 2 Hooded Crow in what looked like a very long-term contest for control! So no Honey-buzzard in the area where seen in early November in both 2012 and 2013 but the 2 records elsewhere surpassed what I was expecting. Raptor totals overall are now Red Kite 9, Common Buzzard 7, Hen Harrier 3, Sparrowhawk 3, Kestrel 3, Honey-buzzard 2; so 27 birds of 6 types, not bad and fancy the Red Kite being in the lead! Total for walk was 46 species, bringing running total to 74. Large number of leaf mines in Raven Wood shows its value habitat-wise. Near the sand-bar almost fell over an Atlantic Grey Seal, which was hauling itself up the beach – novel hazard! Markets were more of the same dreary risk-off tendency nearly all week giving a fall of 1k in funds but many mining stocks are now incredibly cheap on normal criteria (assets/earnings). Some realisation of this, on Friday afternoon in North American markets after I’d closed the book, TSE:ELR announced that it was selling its South African pt assets to a Chinese company; the shares doubled giving an immediate 7k gain with the shares still only c60% of their value if the deal goes through. Further, u308 miners also took off, by 10-20%, on increase in spot price and restart of some Japanese reactors; have built up quite a stake in these for when the world realises wind farms are just an (expensive) joke! Mustn’t criticise solar panels!! Contrary to what many dark greens imply, u308 actually produces very low carbon emissions. Will see next week whether the gains hold. 2moro it’s into town of Wexford for a more people-oriented day: like to study the local talent!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

November 6th: checked out of hotel at Wicklow, all very amicable, cost €223 for 2 nites and the odd refreshment. Rained all day, actually becoming heavier in afternoon after a brief lull at midday. Visited Vale of Avoca in southern Co Wicklow from 12:20-14:20 as it is central to the Red Kite introduction programme to Ireland. Wasn’t expecting to see too much in the gloom and was pleasantly surprised to have a Red Kite up in the drizzle at 12:52 over Avoca NE; it was soon joined by 4 more giving 5 up in view at the same time; had 1 more some distance to E and on returning to town had 2 more over the chimney tops; so total of 8 seen in the drizzle. Thought habitat of the whole Vale was superb for raptors, including Honey-buzzard with extensive woodland, mainly deciduous by the river, and rough pastures surrounding the woods. On return leg of walk at 13:44 noticed a ‘buzzard’ floating just over some trees slightly to N; thought it looked like a Honey-buzzard and took some pictures and was rather surprised when a very solid looking Common Buzzard came closer into view from the same area moving E low over the fields; another Common Buzzard appeared in the area it had come from a short time later. The pictures confirm the Common Buzzard but also show a rufous juvenile Honey-buzzard at the start of the series, which was obviously interacting with the Common Buzzard, just over the tops of the trees and had not come forward. So that’s 8 Red Kite, 2 Common Buzzard, 1 Honey-buzzard, in very poor conditions. Picked up total of 19 species, including 4 new ones for trip – Goldcrest (8), Song Thrush (3, 1 singing), Great Tit (1), Pheasant (10) – bringing running total to 66 types. Made local café where they only offered burgers apparently but persuaded them to do me a toastie: gave a bonus of €2 for their initiative! Onto Ferns, the centre of Catholicism in Wexford area for over a thousand years, where looked at the ruined St Mary’s Abbey 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20; had to climb over a gate to get there but took some piccies in the increasingly heavy rain: no worries! Michael Rossiter, of the Rathmacknee family (and hence probable relation), was Bishop of Ferns from 1695-1709 and the House of Missions in the Diocese currently has Superior Father John Rossiter! Nice to have the halo! Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster and ally of Strongbow, was buried at the Abbey in 1171. Michael Rossiter was 1st bishop after the introduction of the penal (anti-Catholic) laws and must have had a hard time. See Catholic Encyclopedia for the details. Next went through Enniscorthy, Co Wexford’s 2nd largest town (slightly smaller than Hexham) which was one big traffic jam. Finally made next hotel Ferrycarrig, Wexford, where stayed twice before. They knew it and gave me a free upgrade to a superior room on floor 2: it’s marvellous – very chuffed! Plenty of bed-room: lok2t gorgeous ones!!!!

November 5th: great day weather-wise with continuous sunshine on cool light N breeze, bird-wise with the Honey-buzzard season continuing as a pale grey juvenile was located in Wicklow Bay area and fitness-wise as did a coastal walk of 10km. Was walking out from 10:30-15:50, taking advantage of good weather before rain promised tomorrow. Raptors comprised 1 Red Kite, soaring slightly inland to SW as out hunting, 2 Sparrowhawk, both males soaring to SW, 2 Kestrel, both hunting 1w, 2 Common Buzzard, close-by hunting near water channels, 1 Honey-buzzard juvenile, a pale grey bird up on N side of bay inland from 12:30-12:40 heavily mobbed by 10-20 Jackdaw, and moving slowly SW towards forests on mountain-edge where it came down. The presumption is that the Honey-buzzard is a Scottish-bred bird that has made the short water crossing from Galloway to Northern Ireland further north; that was one reason for the Monasterevin check: to see whether Irish sites were still occupied. So that’s 8 raptors of 5 types today and running total is 12 birds of 6 types. Also had 6 species of gull: many HG and BHG, 5 GBBG (2 ad, 3 1w), 17 LBBG (11 adult and 3 1w S, 1 adult and 2 1w offshore), 10 CG (4 adult, 6 1w), 2 Mediterranean Gull (2 adult, 1 arriving from high to E); 2 species of grebe: 8 Little Grebe, 1 Great Crested Grebe; 1 of diver: 2 Red-throated Diver; 7 of wader: 5 Oystercatcher, 19 Lapwing, 10 Redshank, 1 Snipe, 2 Turnstone, 28 Dunlin, 38 Black-tailed Godwit; 2 of swan: 2 Mute Swan, 7 Whooper Swan; 4 of duck: 18 Wigeon, 9 Mallard, 9 Common Scoter, 1 Red-breasted Merganser; 2 of heron: 1 Grey Heron, 6 Little Egret; 1 of goose: 5 d-b Brent Goose; plus some interesting late migrants – Swallow 1 S, Chiffchaff 1 calling – and some newly arriving for the winter – Fieldfare 3, Redwing 2. Day’s list totalling a high 59 species also included Rock Pipit (4), Stonechat (12), Raven (1), Reed Bunting (16). Running total for trip is 62 species. In last trip to Ireland in November 2013 had 101 species, hoping to match that this time. Had steak for evening meal – Irish portions are very generous! Hotel is very good – look after you well. Looks like a wet day tomorrow which was one reason for effort today. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

November 4th: very efficient transfer to Ireland, leaving home at 08:40 and starting fieldwork at Monasterevin, Co Kildare, some 60 km W of Dublin, at 14:30! Good for Ryanair. Strange place to start maybe but this was the wooded area where had a female Honey-buzzard up on 20/05/13, looking very much in territory. I’ve now posted the clip of the bird and shots of the landscape and information boards on the 2013 NB; funny how such postings can be triggered by a subsequent visit! Had slight hopes of seeing a Honey-buzzard today here but rather late in season; was more interested in looking at the habitat, which is very good with rough meadows and scrubby woods surrounding the high trees, just about perfect, so suspect this will be a regular site with birds crossing from Pembrokeshire to Wexford, just like Strongbow and his conquering force. Have stronger hopes of picking up a lingering bird in Wexford, maybe hesitating before crossing the sea. Did have some raptors in the area today, in visit up to 16:30: 2 Common Buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Hen Harrier. Total was 20 species including 523 Lapwing, 2 Redwing, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Stock Dove, 1 Hooded Crow, 6 alba Wagtail. Most widespread birds were Woodpigeon and Rook. Also found lots of leaf mines: very rich habitat. Weather looked sunny on the surface but it kept on raining out of nothing, in a coolish NW breeze – very Irish! Car, hired from Hertz, is larger and more rugged than usual, a diesel-powered Renault Duster SUV, should be good on the lanes in Wexford! Was booked into Grand Hotel, Wicklow, and couldn’t see an easy route across the mountains so just went back into Dublin and drove along the coast S. Local drivers are fairly steady, but a few drive without lights right into the nite!

November 3rd: R meeting went well, managed to get a positive slant on the International Group’s activities! Made apologies at N4c4ll for a while and spent the evening getting sorted for the travels.

November 2nd: today was again mild but slightly cooler than last week, sunny, fresh SW breeze, dry. We had leisurely morning, then I took them to Airport for BA flight to London: weekend went very well, very pleased to welcome them up here! Went to Stocksfield Mount from 13:15-14:50 getting a total of 30 species; decided exercise was needed after all the eating so had walk along the Guessburn. Only raptors were a Common Buzzard gliding over fields to NW of Cottagebank as seen from A69 (on way to Airport) and a female Sparrowhawk hunting across Guessburn, a favoured area! A Goldeneye redhead flew down the Tyne. Gull movement, all adult, included 1 Black-headed Gull W, 3 Herring Gull W, 16 Common Gull, basically W, with 14 W, 2 SW. Bullfinch were found in one group of 6. Migrants included 98 Redwing (84 feeding (largest flock 45), 9 S, 5 W), 3 Fieldfare W plus 10 W at Whitley Chapel and 25 feeding at Dipton Wood S, 1 Brambling, 2 Goldcrest. Highlight was a Kingfisher flying low-down over burn, by the tennis courts, always good to see in the SW! Photographed plenty of moth leaf mines along the Burn: a rich area!! Here’s mines of Phyllonorycter nicellii (2, hazel, tube, 1), Parornix devoniella (1, hazel, blister, 1), Stigmella floslactella (1, hazel, gallery, 1), Stigmella aurella (4, bramble, gallery, 1  2  3  4), Emmetia marginea (4, bramble, funnel, 1), Caloptilia syringella (2, blotch, ash, 1), Phyllonorycter maestingella (3, beech, blister, 1). Had a Sprawler 1 at light at Ordley. Made N4c4t where good to meet l!! With P made G4g4s where 1 important item did not run to plan!! But good catch-up later!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll and hope to complete processing of May records, having sorted out 17/5 Hexham NE today!! lok2t gorgeous ones!!!! rfaswtgo!!!

November 1st: made final solution to outside front light by fitting outdoor connection while they were being pampered – all sorted! Also started minor touch-up of wooden frames outside and booked up flights Newcastle-Exeter for the end of the month: it’s good that Flybe have re-started their Newcastle-Exeter service. Made C4c4l where great to see the local lasses!! We had good afternoon catching up on news, completed with very substantial dinner at TR; bills at DEA and TR are very similar! 2moro it’s a laid-back morning followed by trip to Airport, N4c4t and much later G4g4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

October 31st: pleased to welcome daughter and son-in-law to stay for a couple of nights; we went to Diwan E Am for some good Indian food; I had kebab, freshly fried, very tasty; then we watched Halloween 2 on new TV. Sophia, due in mid-Feb, is doing well. Earlier made N4c4l where gr8 2 c meo and mfso. Markets much better this week but while commodities still languishing think we’re heading for modest growth and deflationary pressures in the medium term, giving continued preference for bonds over equities. Managed to gain 9k to new record: quite happy with that! 2moro the couple are going to Slaley Hall for pampering, might skip that so it could well be C4c4l followed by TR4m4s. lok2t beauties!!!!

October 30th: out to the top of the ‘Shire at Harwood Shield from 13:55-15:45 in moderate to fresh SW breeze but almost dry and certainly mild. Did 4 km along a moorland track in walking boots and no poles with no problems. Had 3 types of raptor, all hanging over the clear-fell near Newbiggin Fell at c400 m asl. 1st up was a juvenile Honey-buzzard, hanging strongly in the breeze, at 14:20 for 10 minutes and 14:50 for 10 minutes. The Honey-buzzard was joined around 14:50 by a Common Buzzard and a Kestrel. Most spectacular event of trip was the passage of Fieldfare totalling 850 from 14:20-15:40 and including flocks of 220, 190, 125, 110, all moving SW right into the breeze and doing a bit of weaving as they manoeuvred over the top of the water-shed into Durham. Here’s a clip of one flock. Near the end had 6 Redwing SW at Harwood Shield, and down the valley had 45 Fieldfare and 6 Redwing feeding at Lilswood and 20 Redwing feeding at Whitley Chapel. A resident Mistle Thrush brought total of thrushes to 3 types. Surprised to get 3 types of wader: 1 calling Snipe, 1 wandering Lapwing, 5 Golden Plover, presumed feeding birds. Entirely predictable was 16 Red Grouse and 4 Pheasant. Others seen were 5 Woodpigeon, 1 Carrion Crow, 2 Wren, 4 Starling, 1 Robin, in total of 16 species. Earlier had long chat with P at N4c4c, sitting upstairs. Decided to skip hedge trimming and go for walk on the moors before the weather gets colder (above). Did make BH4ra4s for good crack, a couple of tasty stouts and gave apologies for next week. Later, had tremendous atmosphere with glasses going everywhere (reminded me of Haltwhistle!) but very moving close-up with tmbo: cannot be deterred when the target is so gorgeous: lok!!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, trip to Airport, W4m4t!!

October 29th: out to Bywell from 13:05-14:55 for 5 km walk, maybe not so brisk as lots of distractions to look at leaf mines but, except for a few twinges ½ way, everything went well; feeling generally fitter with more exercise. Total of 21 species included no raptors but did include flock of 50 Linnet. Weather was too still, with no wind in sunny, cool conditions. Indeed only raptors all day were at Ordley: a Tawny Owl calling as went to sweet dreams at 02:45 and a 1w Kestrel on a pole at 12:50. So no Honey-buzzard today, do feel that would have seen one if present at Bywell as they tend to be quite restless. Made S4con in evening to see the pianist, Saleem Ashkar, play 4 Beethoven sonatas (7, 17, 18, 31) in Hall 2; all very good, so well played; N was supposed to be there but he’s a day late back from N due to a plumbing leak. Drove in: it’s amazingly quick getting back, from the pianist finishing his last piece at 21:50 to entering the G at 22:25; went on usual river route, crossing Tyne at Swing Bridge. Hall 1 had the more popular Neil “Oh! Carol” Sedaka on! G was very chatty and have got someone to sort out my stove and chimney (after trip to Ireland); c and j were doing the honours well. Loved tmbo’s hair: very much the bedroom look: getting closer!!! 2moro it’s N4c4c/l (seeing P/J), hedge trimming, BH4ra4s!!

Markets brighter as expected though think looming deflation in €Land is going to be a restraining factor for equities for some time. Currently showing new record after rises in Irish property and casual involvement in Minco (MIO.L) pump and dump (lovely expression!); latter, a tiny Irish mining exploration company, saw price go up from 1.2 to 3.4 and now it’s back to 2.15; took a profit of 2k and dumped! Basic idea is to entice investors into buying a share through giving it a sharp rise, often due to some fragment of genuine news; the pump is encouraged by blogs (sky’s the limit!) so that ordinary investors pile in; then at the height of the frenzy the pumpers sell, leaving the latecomers holding the baby! Me, I’m just an innocent bystander happening to hold almost 240,000 shares in the company before the action and taking a profit, when offered Actually I sold too early as knew what was coming: it’s shark-infested waters out there! MIO might be a good investment but can wait for price to drift down over the coming weeks as the ones caught at the top take their losses.

October 28th: torrential rain in afternoon broke dry spell but the wind dropped, much cooler tonight, no trips out. Indeed worked through Song of Dermot, a contemporary account of the Cambro-Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169-1170, actually finding on p.75 a reference in the 1169 invasion to a possible ancestor, Randolf Fitz-Ralph, who appears to have been a little trigger-happy:

Randolf Fitz Ralph is mentioned in the account for 1169 (lines 977-1001, p.75) as a knight (baron) on watch at the camp near Wexford. He mistook one of the members of his own side as ‘traitors’ and attacked him with his sword, bringing him to his knees, but it appears no lasting damage was done.

The details have been added to the research made last year, which is recorded in the 2013 blog. That’s got rid of one more paper on my desk! Out and about fantastic end to day with tmbo: she’s so gorgeous: lok!!! Earlier made N4c4l to meet J and study the glamour!! Couldn’t be a.sed to go to R Council: feeling a little off talking shops at the moment. Also didn’t make T&S – accordion band on – but we (me/M/A) made the G where best bar-lass in town on!! 2moro will resume training with another brisk walk, followed perhaps by a g!!

October 27th: fresh SW breeze, very mild, dry and cloudy, was the weather today. Did brisk walk-out to Dotland from 16:30-17:40, covering 4 km on the road with no problems; next step is to have another brisk walk on a moorland track! Today’s walk was at dusk so getting 10 species was not too bad: highlight was a juvenile Honey-buzzard at 16:30 flying low overhead moving SE from Black Hall towards Ordley Village, presumably to roost; think this bird must be feeding locally in the rich habitat of the Devil’s Water. More people at R today so better atmosphere! Finished with dessert at N4c4ll; they don’t give us one at B! Thought tmbo looked gr8!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, R @ Oakwood4cncl, T&S4ra4s, then E!! lok2t beauties!!!!

October 26th: finished grass cutting for season and did some fixing in kitchen; hedge cutting is next main activity with a bit of outside painting also required. Might have considered seriously joining group walk next Sunday as knee strengthening but entertaining family more important. Processing of video 4030 completed and 2 of high-altitude display piccies put on home page; will add records for 3/6 to BirdTrack tomorrow to complete the June data, then it’s onto the 2 outstanding for May. Did make N4c4t and G4g4s, with the lively j back on at latter!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l and N4c4ll!! lok2t beauties!!!!

October 25th: made Towsbank, near Eals in upper South Tyne, from 13:40-15:10 in blustery conditions with moderate to fresh SW breeze and only a little weak sunshine but it did remain dry. Had the 3 regular Common Buzzard 1w and 2 Kestrel 1w up in usual spot but there were 2 goodies: a ruddy-brown Honey-buzzard juvenile flew S at 13:55, coming from the N and moving low-down against the ridge to the E, thus getting orographic lift on the SW wind; it kept on flying over the Snope Burn, disappearing from sight; it was not one of the birds at Haltwhistle 2 days ago as they were both darker. The other goodie was a 1w female Goshawk, quite a massive bird, terrorising a local Crow; not sure whether locally bred, will need to check earlier records. On way back at 15:30 had a Kestrel 1w and a Common Buzzard near Haydon Bridge. So that’s 9 raptors of 4 types for the trip: good for late October. Total was 15 species, including just one migrant, a Goldcrest on edge of moor. Then back to Hexham to see how the Spook day was progressing: lots of people around and they seemed to be spending money, good atmosphere, including at C4c4t! Processed all of the 3/6 Material from Eals, getting some good clips of Honey-buzzard in full display; will post tomorrow to complete the June records. Next weekend daughter’s arriving from London with family to stay for 2 nights: look forward to that! 2moro it’s N4c4l, bit of DIY at home in kitchen, G4g4s!! Thinking of scheme for Tuesday nite: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

October 24th: MC duly delivered multi-fuel stove at 14:00; it’s very heavy, installation not for the likes of me, particularly as steel chimney also needs attention. Spotted 10 Fieldfare W from home as well as a Tawny Owl on the road when off to W4ra4s at 21:30. Did make N4c4t, a lot later than usual. Better week on markets with +2k, putting funds back in sight of record on 26/9 (just 5k short). Mining stocks, pulling off the very low levels they’d reached, gained the most. Feeling a little more optimistic that we’re near the end of a correction, rather than at the start of a bear market, but time will tell! Irish property assets look ripe for another revaluation (upwards!). Friend (DP) has shown me piccies of a ‘buzzard’ moving SW over their house in Stocksfield E on 15/10; think it’s a dark-phase Honey-buzzard, which can be added to list as the dark bird at Bywell seen by me on 10/10 will presumably have moved on by then. Done a lot more work on mother-of-mother-of-mother… family tree (tracing mtDNA female line to check Russian/French connection from Haplogroup T finding). Three May sisters (no brothers), were born 1862-1869 in Plymouth – Selina (Se-lena a popular Russian name), Annie Elizabeth (my great-grandmother), Ellen (Ye-lena in Russian) – giving incredibly 2 candidates for the Lena (pronounced Ley-na), who was the Auntie Lennie who raised 2 of the 3 daughters (no sons born) of Annie Elizabeth, including my grandmother Mabel Lena Holbrook and Iris Holbrook, after the death of their parents; the other, Cora Holbrook, was raised by Auntie Maria and Uncle Richard (Holbrook side). Ellen names her first child May Lena Hole: obsession in family with the name Lena! The mother of the 3 sisters should be called Lena but apparently she’s not. Anyway 2moro it’s another trip out, C4c4t, catch-up!! lok2t beauties!!!!

October 23rd: season continued very positively with 2 more juvenile Honey-buzzard in the upper South Tyne near Haltwhistle. Visited river area S of North Wood from 14:30-15:30 in mild, damp conditions, with occasional drizzle, on moderate SW breeze. The first bird, quite young-looking with short primary projections, was predominantly grey and was up at 14:35 briefly above the canopy before coming down on N side of extended copse. The second bird, larger and dark phase with long primary projections, came up at 14:45 and flew into a group of 4 large trees where it perched for 10 minutes before continuing its slow progress down the copse towards the S end. Unlike adults, juvenile Honey-buzzard often perch in the open both shortly after fledging and on migration through the UK: maybe they don’t get out of this habit until they get to Africa and find out how many larger raptors will take them, given the chance! Around 15:20 there were a number of disturbances at the S end, with a Raven mobbed by Jackdaw, a cock Merlin mobbing Jackdaw and the second Honey-buzzard getting up at 15:25, also mobbed by Jackdaw, climbing a little into the sky and subsiding into another conifer wood 300m to the SW. Raven’s increasing in lowland areas of SW of the County. Also had 2 adult Common Buzzard calling to each other from cover. Total of 20 species also included 10 Black-headed Gull SW, 10 Common Gull SW, 6 Stock Dove, 2 Redwing. Also in day had a Red Kite near A69, N of Corbridge, at 17:30, and DH reported a Red Kite over Ovingham on 22/10. Did make N4c4l where met J; gr8 2 c tmbo!! Made S4con where brilliant concert under Mario as maestro with Beethoven 4, a lovely dark symphony the highlight! Brahms Piano Concerto 2 was also very good with John Lill the soloist. N’s away in S, so no MP, had a couple at S, before arriving at BH4ra4s where gr8 2 c jd!! Brill end to day matching the atmosphere of the concert: lok2tmbo!!! 2moro waiting in for delivery of stove from MC so nothing planned except W4ra4s!!

October 22nd: processed about ½ the data for 5/6 in lower South Tyne, should complete tomorrow. Got the ladder out and fished out the cable for the front light from under the eaves; central joint is rather tired; bought new one in HB and will fit tomorrow; did though switch light on tonight for 1st time this year and attracted quite a few moths. Neighbours looked on with askance at the cable lying across the bushes! Suspect may get similar looks when get back late at nite! Social life started at 16:30 with N4c4t, followed by G4g4ss where plenty of chat in both: service with jn is fantastic!! Very pleased with the tea-time views!! Markets have made a little recovery this week and picked up a few ‘bargains’; a little up at the moment and may stay that way but with raised volatility anything can happen so fairly wary! 2moro it’s finishing tasks above, N4c4l, S4m4t, S4con, BH4ra4s!! lok2t beauties!!!

October 21st: sorted all records (minus 1 micro-moth) for 9/6-10/6 and put piccies up below; almost finished June now, just 2 more visits to document. Went to MC to order new stove, coming Friday, got 1 on special offer at £695; also think will need new chimney (£500 for 8-metre steel, current one over 30 years old) and must need new cowl (blown away!). Will get it properly installed! Base load is now electric (bargain prices!) but like multi-fuel top-up, both for effect and the glow! Ulterior motive for greater interest in property is likely over-spill from London/SE exuberance into higher-end property in NE, but am enjoying things working better: not planning to move! At other end of scale, bought new bowl for kitchen sink: old one cracked. Made N4c4l where very exciting to see the beautiful lasses!! Usual 3 of us out at T&S4ra4s for good crack; I proposed moving back to Thursday next week – rejected! So Tuesdays it is, apparently for good. 2moro it’s start of work on front light, trip out, N4c4t, G4g4ss!! lok2t gorgeous ones!!!

October 20th: sorting out Honey-buzzard visit to upper South Tyne on 10/6 and moth/plant records around that date; lots of progress, should all be sorted tomorrow morning. Completed bathroom electrics successfully; need to do outside front light now where cable has come loose and a joint needs attention (to put it mildly!), but probably not tomorrow with the strong winds forecast. Made R where good social chat, decided to be more laid-back as committee chair, things get done or they don’t get done! Gr8 2 c the lovelies in action: very beautiful!! Had dessert at N4c4ll. 2moro it’s N4c4l and T&S4ra4s, maybe last T&S for Tuesday for a while as this Thursday is last of run of concerts on this day. lok2t beauties!!!

October 19th: after heavy showers early on, sun came out but it was pretty wild and mild with fresh SW winds. Went to Stocksfield Mount from 13:40-14:50; delighted to have the Honey-buzzard season kept going by a rufous-buffy juvenile up at 13:55 over the Tyne above Bywell Castle moving low-down into trees towards Shilford; it wasn’t going anywhere in today’s weather, just moving feeding position. In fact afternoon was surprisingly good for raptors with 3 Red Kite (2 at Short Wood, 1 at Cottagebank NW), 3 Common Buzzard (up together E of Short Wood), 1 Sparrowhawk (1w male c20m away hunting through bushes at Mount). So that’s 8 birds of 4 types. Also in total of 19 species had a Blackcap (male flying into trees near me from NE), 28 Lapwing and some gull passage W with 2 Herring Gull adult, 27 Black-headed Gull adult, 7 Common Gull (6 adult, 1 1w). A Speckled Wood butterfly was in back garden this morning – very late! Decided that in a little over 5 weeks, the MCL grade 2 tear on the knee should be largely cured so not using strapping any more and increasing exercise; no problems so far. Bought a new switch from Homebase for the power supply to upstairs shower-room with red LED to give a quick check on electricity supply; replaced old one, switched back on and light came on (great relief!) indicating fault must be in the final socket; took that to pieces, cleaned and re-assembled and fan that had at end of line for test purposes came on – great! So 2moro just need to connect the towel rail into the socket. Made C4c4t and G4g4s: usual good crack at latter and the sparkling service!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll and more sorting out of June records.

Yesterday in Newcastle bought Collins Bird Guide 2nd edition. Amazed at the extensive revisions to the Honey-buzzard section, now a full page with Crested (Oriental) Honey-buzzard. Even more amazed that we’re not so far apart now! I’ve scanned their page into a pdf and translated that into a doc file through the PDF converter add-on. So will now annotate the doc file with suggested improvements, which can be posted as a web page (in HTML) for the purpose of review and criticism. Really very encouraged!! But when will the die-hards of British birding stop using 30-year old info for their ruminating? Don’t hold your breath as they will have to admit that their past understanding was WRONG!

October 18th: quite a full day with C4c4l, MP4m4et, TC4o (for satellite transmission from New York Met), 3BH4g!! Went in on train and came back on the bus. Main business of day was the Marriage of Figaro, a Spanish setting for an opera written in Italian by someone from Salzburg (now Austria): Mozart! It was very amusing, never a dull moment and performed brilliantly but must confess that Mozart is not my favourite composer – not enough angst or climaxes for my liking, and have to concentrate hard on the subtitles to keep abreast of events, which is not easy with the constant supply of wine!! The music should say it all!! Still we had a very good day out: roll on the Meistersinger in December, a ‘comedy’ by Wagner. Comedy in opera doesn’t usually mean side-splitting jokes: maybe amusing at best! So ‘fraid not too fired up at end!

October 17th: grand warm day for the season with sunny spells, light SW breeze and dry in daytime. Made Eals for further check for late Honey-buzzard migrants from 14:30-15:50, but did not see any, not even a Common Buzzard. Did though have 3 juvenile Kestrel here feeding on moorland edge and a male Sparrowhawk out hunting at North Wood, Haltwhistle, where also made short stop for check from 16:00-16:25, again with no success. Did have some interesting migrants at Eals, including a Ring Ouzel (feeding on the moorland edge 1  2), 5 Fieldfare, 18 Wigeon SW (in one flock). Residents included 12 Red Grouse, 6 Mistle Thrush. Totals for visit was 20 species. Moth mines included: Stigmella crataegella (2, hawthorn, gallery, 1  2), Stigmella oxyacanthella (1, hawthorn, gallery, 1), Caloptilia syringella (12, ash, blotch, 1), Emmetia marginea (1, bramble, funnel, 1). Stopped briefly at North Wood, Haltwhistle, on return and had a leaf mine of Phyllonorycter emberizaepenella (1, blister, snowberry, 1). Made N4c4l where met J; thought jn looked pretty good!! Much later to W4ra4s where 4 of us out this week for good crack! Although good rebound today in markets, most investors pretty bruised this week particularly for funds, which are typically priced one day in arrears, hence showing today worst price for week (yesterday’s). Finished 4k down (still +103k on year), but did start trading again today selling on rebound 22k of quality mining stocks, re-investing 10k in bonds and leaving rest in cash. Total equity exposure now reduced to 170k or a little under 22% of total; don’t want to hold 100% bonds as could get caught if for some reason inflation started to rise again. Whatever it’s only money!! Missed the mbo this week!! lok2t beauties!!! 2moro it’s C4c4l, MP4m4et, TC4o, and not sure after that!!

October 16th: influx of thrushes this morning with 55 Redwing and 5 Fieldfare at Ordley. Had a leaf mine of Stigmella lemniscella (1, Wych Elm, gallery, 1) at Wylam Station. Got electric towel rail working but not happy with circuit back to box installed in 2007 by an electrician; will check it out tomorrow! Day went according to plan. Concert starred EG as flautist in a couple of Bach’s numbers: she’s very talented!! She played really well the expressive flute accompaniment to Liesgen’s song of her love for coffee in Bach’s Cantata: Schweight Stille, a humorous coffee cantata! She then came back and made a major contribution to the overture of Bach’s Orchestral Suite 2. She obviously is a star in baroque music. Made Cnt4g4es before getting train and, after long journey, stopped off at BH4ra4s where surprisingly met CH-N with jd on!! Day ended ideally with the best of moments: absolutely fantastic!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, trip out in afternoon, W4ra4s!! lokttmbo!!!!

October 15th: still getting the odd Honey-buzzard; today saw a juvenile at North Wood, Haltwhistle, at 15:55, flying across the South Tyne from presumed feeding area on W side to the main wood in strong flap-flap-glide action; again will attribute the bird as a late, resting Scottish-bred migrant. Weather was overcast, a little on cool side, dry, with light SW breeze. Also in total of 26 species for visit from 14:25-16:05 had 3 Common Buzzard, a Sparrowhawk (female up hunting), 36 Redwing (9 W, 20 feed, 7 N), 1 Brambling (came in from height from N), 5 Blackbird (3 feeding, 2 very mobile), 1 Dipper, 10 Stock Dove (single flock), 1 Raven (calling overhead), 7 Goosander (2 adult drake, 5 redheads flying upstream low-down together over South Tyne). On way back at 16:15 had another female Sparrowhawk at Bardon Mill E, suggesting maybe an influx with the Redwing. Quite a few leaf mines on alder from micro-moths; will analyse over winter when more time. Did make G4g4ss: good crack at both, brill service at latter!! Strong hint of burning in markets today with forced selling by hedge funds and others on margin to cover losses; inevitably losing a bit in such carnage but am determined to sit tight; it’s too soon to sell resilient bonds and buy riskier assets. 2moro it’s N4c4l, big city to collect TC tickets, MP4m4t with N, S4con, BH4ra4s!! lok2t beauties!!!!

October 14th: working on trip to Hyons Wood 5/7. Antique and collectables fair was more the latter with much war memorabilia and difficult to evaluate jewellery; didn’t buy anything but may go to next one with keener eye on some of the old natural history books. Got ½ way installing new electric towel rail upstairs, then hole for screw was too big, these things happen!! Made QH4f with m, but it wasn’t a film, actually a commentary on a film, Rourke’s Drift, which was very well done; had a couple of wines on the house and donated ticket value, given to me by P, to the good cause of Tynedale Hospice. Good 2 c the sponsors, nice pair indeed from the meo!! aq otherwise!! Main business of day was in T&S4ra4s where met A/M for good crack: place has changed though, it’s not as homely as it was! 2moro sees completion of towel rail fitting, trip out maybe, N4c4t, G4g4ss!! lok2t beauties!!!!

October 13th: making progress in compiling back-records for the summer; have sorted out Eals 5/9 and Slaley Hall 4/8; cannot produce annual totals until have done everything. Party for badgers last night in garden, feasting on discards from freezer: everything gone! Made R and N4c4ll, where scenery was good!! Car passed MoT but there’s a little noise from front of exhaust; could be expensive pd part starting to go. 2moro going to Antique Fair at Wentworth with N in morning, N4c4ll, QH4f, T&S4ra4s. Have S4con on Thursday and TC4o on Saturday. Completed booking up Irish trip in November and received 1st invites for London at Xmas. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

October 12th: more Bach tonight with N, going to Portofino before, for a change; actually like Portofino – they do Piazza Portofino with anchovies, which is very tasty and wine is priced not too high! Bach was very good for the soul with the highlight the last Cantata, complete with singer. Did make G4g4s at the bell, where good 2 c jn on hand!! Main activity of day was de-freezing Bosch fridge-freezer for 1st time for a while (8 years?), as door wouldn’t close properly. Best of the finds was sausage rolls 2008: will be eating well this week! Anyone for tea? Took from 07:00-23:30 to defrost but chugging along nicely again now; Cleo’s started swimming lessons! Also replaced toaster, which kept on blowing fuses, and made N4c4t for a break. 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll and MoT test for the Fox over lunchtime. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

October 11th: almost completed grass cutting, 1 more session will do, and removed fallen Ash branches in gateway from Sunday night’s storm. Received by post maternal grandmother’s birth certificate: Mabel Lena Holbrook, born 26/11/1893 at Penzance, Cornwall, daughter of George Holbrook, accountant, and Annie Elizabeth (May) Holbrook; sent 2nd instalment of Mabel’s family history to close relations, has a few exciting developments; will reveal more here after they’ve had a chance to comment! But next constructive step is to get the certificate for the marriage of George Holbrook and Annie Elizabeth May in Plymouth in early 1893; the bride was from Plymouth; this will give the fathers together with their occupations for look-up in 1891 and earlier censuses. Did make C4c4l to admire the sights of Hexham! Hope to finish processing of Eals visit on 5/9 tomorrow morning. lok2t very stylish one!!!!

October 10th: pretty laid-back day: did make Stocksfield Mount from 14:05-15:25 in mild, dry weather with sunny intervals and light SW breeze. Had 3 Honey-buzzard juvenile up over Bywell to N, plus 2 Common Buzzard. First Honey-buzzard up was a rufous juvenile around Short Wood at 14:35, climbing up a little way, before gliding back to the fields a little to the W. At 15:10 a dark Honey-buzzard juvenile was up to NW of Cottagebank, going moderately high and staying up for a while, not sure what happened to this bird. At 15:15 4 birds were up in Short Wood area: 2 Honey-buzzard juvenile soaring above 2 Common Buzzard below. The Honey-buzzard comprised the rufous bird seen earlier and a pale bird, both coming down eventually. So it looks as if 3 Honey-buzzard were present (1 each of dark, rufous, pale phases), presumed to be birds on passage, taking a break in the lovely Tyne Valley. Butterflies included 1 Comma and 2 Speckled Wood. So that was good and had 2 Common Buzzard over Farnley on way back. In total of 21 species also had 1 Brambling E, 2 migrant Chaffinch (1 SE, 1 E), 3 Goldcrest. Well that was a stunning walk: very motivating, gr8 style: lok2tmbo!!! Made N4c4l and W4ra4s as usual for Friday: 6 of us out at W and met J at N; caught up with a lot more grass cutting. 2moro it’s C4c4l, another instalment on Mabel, processing some records. Funds did finish unchanged on week, remaining 3k off peak; rise of 1k on bonds offset by 1k fall on mining stocks; could have been very much worse with ftse off 7.8% from high in May (of which 7.5% in last 3 weeks) and off 5.8% on year. Fears on recovery duly materialised and think the rest of the month will continue to be volatile (shaky!) with perhaps more stability as year draws to a close. Suspect that the very high inequality (1% own 99%, moving towards 0.5% own 99.5%) needs addressing; until it is, interest rates will move close to 0 as the super-rich have all the chips and are forced to lend at virtually nothing to the rest of society to keep the economy afloat. So buy debt where lender looks solid! Did not do a single trade this week for 1st time this year, rather battened down the hatches.

October 9th: good day out with N with MP4m4t, S4con and Cnt4g4s; met another N on train and ended up with him at BH4ra4s. Makes it simpler when everyone’s called N! Concert was Bach’s greatest hits, including 2 cantatas with the Chorus, 2 orchestral suites and a violin concerto; woodwind was brilliant in Cantata 191; whole concert was good for the soul!! 2 more Bach in the coming week. Otherwise processed one more clip, of a male Honey-buzzard, from 5/9, leaving just one more clip to go. Always expect to behave myself after such a nite but doesn’t always materialise!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, trip out for migrants, W4ra4s. lokttmbo!!!!

October 8th: dentist in Corbridge went OK, no probs, all blasted with ultrasonic! Joined Butterfly Conservation and National Trust and gave £100 (with gift aid worth £125) to Woodland Trust appeal for improvements at its Northumberland woods, particularly Whittle Burn (near Ovingham) and Letah Wood (1 km down the road from home); they’re after 10k having raised 10k already. Made N4c4el for lounge-about and G4g4ss, where gr8 to have jn on for late spell!! Did a bit of grass cutting before the showers started and sorted out a Hobby clip from visit to Eals on 5/9. Markets continued their weakness but funds are level-pegging so far; Wall Street up sharply this evening on promise of interest rates being kept low for some time so don’t expect relapse of last week. 2moro it’s into the big city, staying in in evening for MP4m4t and S4con with N, followed by quickie at BH4ra4s!! lok2t gorgeous ones!!!!

October 7th: well routine took a knock today as said below! Not a bad idea to change things occasionally. Weather was dry and sunny, cooler than of late with moderate SW breeze. Made Eals from 13:55-15:50 where sat in a field above a deciduous wood on a steep slope, admiring the raptors, the breeze and sunshine giving perfect conditions. Common Buzzard now rule the skies with 6 up in small area with much family interaction; also had 2 juvenile Kestrel over the top fields throughout the visit and a juvenile male Peregrine over the edge of the moors, the latter a rare bird in the North Pennines. Honey-buzzard numbered just one, a fairly pale juvenile bird hanging over the top of the wood from 14:23-14:35 and 14:50-14:55; such late birds are regarded as Scottish-bred, on passage through northern England and inclined to stop a bit with the superb habitat! This bird kept apart from the Common Buzzard and was more mobile, ranging over much of the top of the wood, before disappearing in quite a dive to the trees near the nest-site used by Honey-buzzard this season. Total of 18 species included 2 Raven, 6 Siskin, 1 Meadow Pipit. Further Common Buzzard on the road included 2 at Park Village, 1 at Westwood (Hexham), 1 at Langley. Had 2 Tawny Owl at Ordley, early and late, so total raptors for day is 16 birds of 5 types: 10 Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 2 Tawny Owl, 1 Honey-buzzard, 1 Peregrine. 1st winter visitors late-on today at Ordley with a Redwing and 6 Brambling in field. Red Admiral putting in a late spurt with 6 at Ordley, feeding on ripe hips, and 1 at Eals. 2moro it’s dentist in Corbridge for check-up mid-morning followed by N4c4l, grass cutting, G4g4ss!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

October 6th: what a squall last night as high-spot of a SE gale: neighbour’s buddleia bush 5m high picked up and slammed into their front window, large ash bough off tree opposite and short section of my guttering ripped off! Yet Hexham unaffected. Was sound asleep (sleep of the innocent!) but think the damage must have been done by a few gusts, rather than steady strong winds. Did make R, better attendance this week and gave tentative (because nothing agreed) report of International Group. S did fantastic job, downstairs really looks presentable. Not neglecting Honey-buzzard; processed clip of pair displaying near Eals on 5/9 complete with juvenile chicken-like calls. The clip and 15 derived stills can be accessed below from 5/9 entry. Pleased 2c jn and the meo!! 2moro it’s sorting out the guttering, N4c4l, trip out to upper South Tyne, BH4ra4s!! lok2t beauties!!!! Late change to routine: guttering took ages, made Eals in sunshine, N4c4t, and it’s T&S4ra4s tonite with mates, with concert on Thursday followed by quickie at BH4ra4s!!

October 5th: after 4-course lunch at MP, including pigeon, made S4con where very lively performance of Russian music by RNS, including Borodin, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. Liked promotion of 1st violinist Alexandra to front row, also thought new principal flautist Eilidh was marvellous! S was full, 2nd time this season, may not be so full for the 3 Bach concerts coming up over the next 2 weeks. Made G4g4s with P – very good crack, always like starting (finishing?) the week this way. Missed Group walk today, knee is getting better rapidly with rest and strapping, 6 weeks recovery period from last ‘bad’ day out – Honey-buzzard site visit on 10/9 – runs up to 22/10, which will keep to. 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll and catch-up!! S is doing double time to spring-clean a couple of areas. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

October 4th: weather a lot fresher than of late – we’re into autumn. Made C4c4l where met jn!! Spent a lot of time on maternal genealogy and generally lazying around! 2moro with N it’s MP4m4l and S4con in afternoon, followed much later by G4g4s with P!! lok2t gorgeous ones!!!!

Got mum’s mitochondrial (mtDNA) results today – a major surprise. So sent fishing message to close relatives:

Got results today of mum’s (Betty’s) DNA Haplogroup. She’s certainly not Celtic, in the deep-rooted sense like the paternal side, so Cornwall was just a one-generation thing. It’s a rare Haplogroup in UK. Any guesses — it’s in Europe! 2 photos are attached of the younger Betty (with me!) 1  2 and 1 at her wedding 1.

Got 3 replies very quickly, suggesting France, but son said eastern Europe was a possibility as well. No-one commented on the state of the gardening (natural!). So offered results to date:

Here’s more information on the mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) test. It indicates Betty belonged to Haplogroup T, with other information suggesting T1. A provisional map is given here. Eupedia says the highest frequencies of mtDNA T1 are observed among the Udmurts (15%) of the Volga-Ural region of Russia, followed by Romania (6%) and the southern Balkans (Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, all 4.5%), the northern Fertile Crescent (Lebanon, Iraq, eastern Turkey, all around 5.5%), the South Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, 4.5% to 5.5%), then Austria and the Czech Republic (3.5%). So it’s not common anywhere, which makes the statistical situation sharper. The map also shows that there are significant concentrations in parts of France, particularly the south.

What was very interesting was the match of Betty’s mtDNA with today’s indigenous populations. This shows very close correspondence with French populations: the RMI are very high, far higher than for the paternal side. A RMI of 50 means that you are 50 times more likely to belong to that population set as compared to the rest of the populations. But there’s also a very high match with Latvia and to a lesser extent with Lithuania, Portugal/Azores and some Scandinavian places. It’s tempting to say that the origin must be France as it’s closer but the capital of Latvia, Riga, was a thriving member of the northern European Hanseatic Trading League, doing much trade presumably with ports like Bristol and Plymouth. We obviously need some documentary clues.

While ‘watching’ Torquay beat Wrexham 2-1, looked at some genealogy of the Nicholls family. Mabel L Holbrook was Betty’s mother, marrying William Nicholls in Newton Abbot district in quarter December 1916, becoming Mabel Nicholls. Looked at birth of Mabel L Holbrook. She was born in December 1893 quarter in Penzance district, where some other presumed younger siblings were recorded. The siblings are Alfred Thomas, Cora, Iris (twice). There is no marriage of a male Holbrook in the Penzance area before 1893, so Mabel’s parents must have married elsewhere. The searches here are only on indexes so we’ve not got any more details. I’ve ordered Mabel L Holbrook’s birth certificate from the GRO to get details of her father, mother, place of birth, date of birth, and whatever else they give. That will come by post in about 10 days.

But you may notice the L stands for Lena, short for Elena, a very popular name in Russia, Sweden, Germany and eastern European countries in general. Now maybe shouldn’t read too much into it but names were chosen with great care: as first born, it’s likely to be the name of the mother or grandmother, or have some other special significance. Not going to say any more at this stage!!

October 3rd: installed 2nd security light – it works! Cut a lot of long grass, resulting from neglect! More importantly was gr8 2 c the mbo!! Sorted out yesterday’s emigration: really was impressive; elsewhere a site record count of 51 buzzard at Anglers CP ( W Yorks) on 2/10 may not be all it appears (but don’t go there!); their 51 buzzard beats the previous record of 28 on 27/09/2011. More on this tomorrow. Feeling a little exhausted after end of long season: need a break so booked with Ryanair the flights for 8 days stay in Ireland in early November, flying mid-week Newcastle-Dublin, and the hire car (VW Golf, rugged!), all for £177. Got a lot of records to catch up with on the database and on fine days will be looking for Scottish-bred Honey-buzzard. Expect to get 1-2 Honey-buzzard in Ireland, even though very late. Did end up with loss on funds this week in the end of 2k with major slide on Thursday when ftse hit low for year; nothing like the loss that would have incurred if had stuck with the precious metals. Still planning for deflation in Europe, so solid fixed interest in favour, with small amounts in quality miners, holding lots of cash, as a hedge. Canvassed today by MT, asking what price I might settle for in B&B; a bit above today’s offer prices would be OK, I said! lok2t beauties!!!!

October 2nd: another beautiful day with almost continuous warm sunshine, cold start, warming up by noon with light SW breeze, slowly strengthening. Made Stocksfield Mount, a favoured migration spot, from 12:15-15:00, having incredible totals. 8 Honey-buzzard juveniles emigrated from 12:30-14:30; it was confused to some extent with a number of birds making mock exits, then losing their nerve and coming back. This 8 would count as a gang of 8 locally-bred birds, deciding to finally emigrate, rather than birds passing through from further N – that’s the final stage of the season. The 8 birds could have come from 4 sites, know 3 of the near-by sites raised 2 and the other near-by site 1+. Interestingly they seemed to finally emigrate in 2s – suspect they were siblings! Incredible what must be going through their minds as they start their journey over the Pennines; they’re on a very steep learning curve but they’ve timed their initial exit well, getting away before the weather deteriorates. Details are below. The Honey-buzzard were mobbed from time to time by 2 Hobby: juvenile female and juvenile male, which suspect are locally bred as territorial and very rarely see migrants away from breeding areas; nearly all mums will be well across the Channel and the dads will be in Africa, so not much help there. A Red Kite adult was up E of Short Wood at 12:25, 1st raptor of day. Other raptors noted were: 17 Common Buzzard (at 5 sites, seemed quite triumphant after the Honey-buzzard finally left!), 4 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk (female over Guessburn). So that’s 33 raptors of 6 types: amazing!! Had a pair of Tawny Owl at home, making 7 types of raptor (35 birds) for day. In total of 27 species, also had Goldcrest (4), Swallow (1 SE, 1 E, 1 feed), Lapwing (290, including flock 240). Went back to Hexham for a rest, visiting N4c4t, where met N and stayed much longer than usual. Didn’t make T&S as no-one out, think will need to change day to go along with teaching timetables. Got 2nd security light wired up for putting on wall tomorrow. Great news from Richmond: at ante-natal ½ way check, it’s all going well and it’s a girl!! 2moro after catch-up at home in morning, making N4c4l and much later W4ra4s!! Looked at Irish bookings and found Jet2 don’t do Newcastle-Cork anymore so it’s Ryanair Newcastle-Dublin, 2 nights in Wicklow, 5 in Wexford, 1 in Dublin, as working plan. loktt beauties!!!! Details of today’s Honey-buzzard movement of 8 juveniles at Bywell:

From 12:30-12:45 3 juveniles were noted up in the air over Mowden Hall area; 1 fairly dark bird soared very high in the slight SW breeze and sunshine, eventually moving off S over the valley at great height; a pale/rufous bird came over much lower, coming quite close to the Mount but then lifted again and continued S; a very dark bird went up to moderate height over Mowden before going off E down the valley at low altitude; this bird was seen again later so did not migrate. The pale bird was mobbed heavily by a juvenile female Hobby.

From 13:20-13:35 2 juveniles were up in the air to E of Mowden but on same ridge; they did some mutual circling with the odd playful dive, eventually climbing very high, above 3 Common Buzzard below who seemed to be trying to push them off! This duo comprised the very dark bird seen earlier and a rufous bird, on the underside, quite dark above. They then left to SW in a power glide, losing height as they travelled.

At 13:50 a juvenile flew over the canopy at Cottagebank towards Short Wood, mobbed by 2 Jackdaw. This was the precursor to another bout of activity from 14:00-14:15 with 3 juveniles up in the air, loosely together. These birds were both medium-dark, best described as grey. 2 of them left decisively to SW in a power glide at the end of this spell. A juvenile male Hobby mobbed them at 14:00.

The one bird left over the ridge at 14:15 was still up in the air at height; it was joined by another bird out of the trees, also grey. These birds were reluctant to go, soaring high to SW, approaching Styford and then coming back again. But eventually they did go at 14:30, going into a decisive power glide to S, with a parting dive at each other as they disappeared from sight.

So that’s 8 birds off as 4 duos from 12:30-14:30 with 4 SW 4 S and phases: very dark 1, fairly dark (grey) 5, rufous 1, pale/rufous 1.

October 1st: sorted most of details for yesterday, just need to add trip totals. Closed recording of fledging period yesterday so we’re into final emigration stage now of juveniles; don’t think any local adults are left now. May still get a few Scottish adults coming through as well of course as Scottish juveniles. Running totals are on Home Page for Honey-buzzard. Attended funeral – very poignant with someone so young. Met many ‘Shire people who’ve not seen for a while, including CJ. G4g4ss went well – gr8 to have jn on, who’s suggesting a few changes to the décor!! Level-pegging on markets so far this week with further small gain in B&B offset by falls in mining/metals; markets generally very weak (ftse -1.4% following last week’s -2.8%) with threat of deflation; still moving small amounts of funds from mining to bonds; need some action from ECB tomorrow to stop the rot in the €zone. 2moro it’s last day of fine weather so out on the migration trail at Stocksfield; should make N4c4t and T&S4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

September 30th: bright sunny weather on moderate SW breeze, fantastic for this late in year. Last day of fledging period went brilliantly in all respects. Still sorting out the material. Easily resolved was the one blank spot: Kellas 12:55-13:30, 1 Crow anxiously up at 13:20 near raptor site was the most promising sign but nothing materialised above the canopy; did have 5 Crossbill here. Earlier at 12:38 had a dark juvenile Honey-buzzard floating over conifers N of Winnowshill, moving slowly S towards Ruffside, after feeding on S part of Pithouse Fell. Major success in this area was finding 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard in area searched yesterday, on moorland side of the Slaley Forest ridge. Was present here from 12:15-12:55, but had to wait until 12:44 for a rufous juvenile to hang over the moorland edge, followed at 12:47 by a dark juvenile. So preference for the moors is quite strong, presumably they’re more insect rich than the pastures. Also here, in total of 9 species, were 2 Meadow Pipit (1 feed, 1 S), 3 Kestrel (adult female, 2 juvenile). Next onto W end of Slaley Forest from 13:40-14:10 where the nest was occupied in mid-August but no young had fledged yet (a 0+). At 13:56 a heavy dark Honey-buzzard juvenile was up to W of site, floating around briefly before returning to pasture; at 14:03 another large, dark juvenile was up over edge of heather moor, mobbed by 2 Crow and eventually coming down on the moor. Also here had a Common Buzzard juvenile, 2 Kestrel (adult male, juvenile), 1 Raven flying overhead to SW calling. Longest visit was to Harwood Shield from 14:15-15:30 where to NE of high pines at Riddlehamhope a juvenile Honey-buzzard, still growing tail and wings so recently fledged, was up from 14:20-14:25 hanging in the breeze with legs dangling; this is one of the highest sites in the study area so would not be surprised if did not fledge until mid-September. Also here in total of 12 species had 7 Red Grouse, 1 Greyhen flushed on rushy fields at entrance to farm, 240 Starling in one flock around sheds, 10 feeding Meadow Pipit; 1 late Golden-ringed Dragonfly was the only insect noted! Didn’t manage to walk as far as Riddlehamhope but got ½ way and had great lunch in the sunshine! Totals for trip was 21 species, including 13 raptors of 3 species: 6 Honey-buzzard (all juveniles), 6 Kestrel (nice to see on edge of moors, 1 adult male, 1 adult female, 4 juvenile), 1 Common Buzzard (juvenile). Made N4c4c -P who was painting. Met couple of walking gang from Newburn at BH4ra4s, where j was doing the honours!! Gr8 rendezvous: think she’s brilliant: lokttmbo!!!! 2moro it’s a sad day in ‘Shire: funeral of 35-year old Jessica C, one of daughter’s closest friends when she was horse-riding; epilepsy is the cause; will be going; should make G4g4ss.

September 29th: out to N side of Slaley Forest from 16:10-18:00 but no joy with Honey-buzzard in almost calm, warm, dry and mainly cloudy weather. Had just one raptor, a juvenile male Sparrowhawk hedge-hopping, and no Swallow. But did have quite a long species list in the rich pasture-land, surrounded by mature timber. Total of 24 species included 4 Common Crossbill, 140 Common Gull, 4 Goldcrest, 2 Chiffchaff. R was again poorly attended, c50%, cheap late holidays rule! Made N4c4ll afterwards for my dessert! 2moro it’s N4c4c with P, PT’s house4RCouncil4t at Dotland and much later BH4ra4s!! Between N and PT hope to do some last minute checks: Slaley Forest on moorland (SE) side, Kellas N, Slaley Forest W and slightly longer walk from Harwood Shield to Riddlehamhope with poles. Could sort out a few zeroes (or not!). This will close fledging phase so satisfying in a way, though a bit sad that the Honey-buzzard are leaving. Getting ready to book up Irish trip: any takers!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

September 28th: march to conclusion became a crawl today as added 1+ juvenile Honey-buzzard to total, at Nookton Burn, near Blanchland, in Co Durham. The bird was up over heather moor to NW of site briefly at 15:28 and 15:30, in mild, cloudy, dry conditions on light SW breeze. The bird kept close to the heather, clearly feeding on the ground from time to time. Also had single juvenile Common Buzzard and Kestrel. Very interesting was 5 Black Cock, feeding on grassy marginal fields on edge of moor to NW of burn, with 3 Red Grouse also heard. In total of 19 species, migrants included 12 Swallow (3 S, 3 SW. 6 feeding), 1 Meadow Pipit S, 1 Chiffchaff calling, 4 Goldcrest. Started installing 2nd security light but only half-way through by dusk as old light was welded to the wall by corroded screws; finally drilled the old screws out and called it a day! Bought a dongle from Argos and connected TV to WiFi; received invitation to join Netflix, which thinking about, and watched a few music clips on YouTube; tested DVD player with part of the Ring (Rheingold) previous evening; pleased everything works! Earlier made N4c4l, where good 2 c l! Much later pleased to see P again, at G, to hear news of his trip; discussed knee injuries with footballing star j!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4t and another site in Derwent. lok2t gorgeous ones!!!!

September 27th: brilliant day out in the East Allen, one of the hot centres for shooting in the North Pennines; weather was not bad — cloudy, few sunny intervals and a little drizzle occasionally, mild, moderate SW breeze. 1st stop was Studdon Park where at 13:45 had a juvenile up over nesting wood, hanging briefly fairly low-down, then moving off W just above top of trees, crossing E Allen and coming down to feed, a heavy, dark individual. Also here had 2 young Hobby: a juvenile female very high-up over site with Jackdaw at 13:55, some interaction; male up at 14:03 with the female. Onto Sinderhope S where from 14:32-14:36 had 2 juvenile and female up over wooded hillside, the female went high and proceeded to emigrate with flap-flap-glide to SW, slowly gaining height; as she rounded high moorland to W she leaned against it on the W side, gaining orographic lift from the moderate SW breeze; she had disappeared by 14:40. From 15:05-15:10 had an amazing loose flock of 7 Honey-buzzard juvenile up over hillside of Sinderhope N, 3-4 birds well above the bottom 3 who were less accomplished fliers; none left, they all came back eventually. At 16:20 on way back, a juvenile was up at same spot. This is a gang of Honey-buzzard juvenile, whose parents have emigrated; they sometimes collect like this before departure. Think from plumage the 2 birds bred at Sinderhope S were in this gang as 2 of the lower-flying birds. Final stop was Byerhope where met shooting party coming off the moors; shortly after they’d left, a male Honey-buzzard was up over site at 15:27 and 15:29, taking command again; female was up at 15:40 over same area. Total for trip from 13:15-16:20 was 21 species, including Honey-buzzard (11 birds at 4 sites, 1 male, 2 female (1 moving SW), 8 juvenile), Common Buzzard (4 birds, 1 adult, 3 juvenile), Kestrel (4 birds, 1 adult, 3 juvenile), Hobby (2 juvenile), 12 Swallow (6 feed, 6 S), 4 alba Wagtail W together, Red Grouse (19, safely on lower ground at Byerhope), Raven (1 gliding in spectacularly from NE, landing in main ‘vermin’ wood at Sinderhope). The raptor list might surprise some who believe the extreme propaganda from the campaigning conservation bodies: of course no Hen Harrier but impressive numbers of the ‘rarities’ Honey-buzzard and Hobby. Put in 31 lists so far this month (with 4 further not yet entered), 49th BirdTracker! The map from BirdTrack is very revealing: look at all the dark squares along the east coast and the much paler squares inland; the Tyne Valley looks relatively good and a lot of the entries are mine! Only have 3 sites not checked for occupation in fledging phase and planning to do at least one of them tomorrow. 30/9 is anticipated as cut-off date for fledging period. Got back in time for C4c4t. Terrible day for Gulls, losing 4-3 at bottom club Telford and having 2 players sent-off; will bring them back to earth! 2moro it’s N4c4l and G4g4s with P, who’s back from Canada. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

September 26th: well all set for fieldwork today but went to collect rug from Next after lunch and learnt via iP that delivery of electric towel rail was imminent from FedEx so decided to wait in and collect that: all getting a bit domestic! Like the rug from Next, goes well with curtains! Not sure what you can say about a towel rail! Thanks for all best wishes for my right-knee!! Was getting better until twice carried that brute of an old TV last week in disposing of it; now strapped knee up and progress is being made again: no long walks for a while, think earlier diagnosis was correct (MCL grade 2, footballers’ ailment); got strap in Boots for £18, evidently £L sell them as well, bad error! Made N4c4l where D’s last day, J turned up! Much later was at W4ra4s where 6 of us out, best turn-out for a while and very good chat! We’re planning xmas meal for the group in early December. Funds are a bright spot with B&B issues up 20k on week; after deducting a fall of only 2k elsewhere in worst week for UK markets in 15 months, that gives +18k on week and +110k on year. Will hang on to the B&B as expect another 10k+ on imminent tender offer. Slump in precious metals very sharp, disposed of another 9k earlier in week; re-investing in bonds and quality general miners such as RIO and ANTO, where get decent dividends. Markets are very nervous at the moment, caution required: extent to which deflation takes hold is the critical parameter! 2moro it’s out to the East Allen to resume site visits, followed by C4c4t!! lok2t beauties!!!!

September 25th: very little time for fieldwork today but weather anyway was cloudy and blustery until late afternoon, particularly in W of study area, where hosted by R/A4m4l at Haltwhistle; showed them the wedding photos from the blog album on my laptop and tried to copy them onto a failing laptop – no joy, but did re-tune their TV! Had quick look out at Unthank from 15:35-16:15 but no Honey-buzzard seen, with only raptor a juvenile Kestrel perched on a wall. Had just 8 species in the brief visit. Next caught 16:50 train at Corbridge to go to MP4m4t with N, where good to meet the staff again! Pretty stuffed after another full meal! Then onto S4con where very much a chamber-style affair, which RNS are very good at; liked the Mozart 39, thought the woodwind did very well!! Onto Cnt4g4s and home on last train. 2moro it’s N4c4l, trip out in promised sunshine and W4ra4s!! lok2t lovelies!!!!

September 24th: very good day in many respects! Trip to Blanchland area went well, sorting out 3 Honey-buzzard sites including one, where no birds seen before this season. Weather was mainly sunny with occasional cloudy spells, on light NW breeze. First site visit was to area N of village from 13:50-15:15 where had a female Honey-buzzard and her 2 young up in the air from 13:35-13:42 a little way to the S of the site; they all kept close together, no great showing off except for one dive by the female at a juvenile; the female was a new bird for the year and it’s good to see a brood of 2 in a heavy shooting area. Also here had a flock of 148 Barnacle Goose W at 14:52 with an abortive flight W earlier at 14:30. Here’s some piccies 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. Summer visitors included 5 Swallow and 3 House Martin, all feeding. Onto Ruffside from 15:20-16:25 where had 2 Common Buzzard (adult, juvenile) over the moors plus a squeaky contact call from a juvenile Honey-buzzard; also a juvenile Kestrel hunting over the moors, 2 Swallow SW, 19 Mistle Thrush in one flock, 3 Meadow Pipit, and a flock of 37 Pink-footed Goose N at 16:15 (piccies 1  2  3  4). Total for trip was 28 species. Looking up the valley could see a family party of 4 Honey-buzzard near Hunstanworth, firmly up in the air from 15:32-15:40 with the male leading, way above the others, the female following, well clear of 2 juveniles, one of which was skimming the tree tops after a short while; the male went higher and higher into the cloud base and eventually disappeared off S on trek; so he was being given a send off. Site here looks as if it might have moved from N side of valley to S side, which may be why not picked up in spring round of visits. So all this takes site total to 56 (52 male, 43 female) with 48 occupied in fledging period, 75+ juvenile fledged (27×2, 12×1+, 3×1, 6×0+); total for autumn migrants rises to 11 (9 male, 2 female). We’re almost done! Did have ss at G: very relaxing where gr8 to have jn on!! 2moro it’s Haltwhistle for lunch with R/A, MP4m4t with N, S4con!! Funds dominated this week by B&B, now showing +13k on mid-prices with a widening of spreads so that the offer prices are 10 points above the mid-price; since assume the current offer prices will be below the eventual tender prices, there’s clearly potential (well at least another 9k gain) in just hanging on to receive the tender proceeds as unfettered cash in perhaps 1-2 months! Mining funds have declined very gently by just another 1k in pretty weak markets. So on the week ton-up for year and new record looks assured, though should never count … xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

September 23rd: a bit of luck today with just a very narrow window for the fieldwork, between lunch and the rain coming in. Did Allerwash, in lower South Tyne, a new site this year from 14:45-15:45. There was intermittent light drizzle at start but by the end, it was very wettening. Just when rain was getting heavier at 15:10, there was a great commotion with many corvids and pigeons up in the air; duly drifting over towards a large wood, a little up the hill, was a juvenile Honey-buzzard giving thin, weak anxiety calls as it flew over the field low-down. Think it was getting ‘home’ before the rain set in! Found that before this year: it’s a good time for seeing raptors when heavy rain is imminent – they’re right softies. Total of 11 species included 13 Swallow (all feeding in drizzle). Also had a Common Buzzard and a juvenile Kestrel up over Warden Hill. Made N4c4l where met J for good crack; good 2 c the meo!! Ordered rug (Teal Vibrant Ombre, 140x200cm) from Next and electric towel rail from Amazon; trying to get the house a bit straighter! Later made BH4ra4s where gr8 to have j on with ex-CH N for good chat about IT!! Not sure I like all this arm’s length stuff (in all respects): feeling discouraged!! 2moro it’s out to Derwent for a couple of sites; should be back for N4c4t and G4g4ss!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

LSE announcement:

Bradford & Bingley plc: Information relating to the subordinated debt instruments of Bradford & Bingley plc 23 September 2014

The European Commission has today agreed to amend the Commitment to allow the payment of principal and coupons on subordinated debt instruments provided that:

(ii) payment is made in the context of a repurchase or redemption of a bond or bonds such that all liabilities of B&B owing to the relevant bondholder are extinguished;

B&B welcomes the European Commission’s announcement. B&B is considering all options in light of the announcement and the terms and conditions of the debt instruments.

Also welcomed by the bondholders! They’re going to tender for our bonds in cash so that the UK Government can get its hands on the rapidly growing B&B (and NRAM (Northern Rock)) equity. Tender price might be fixed as follows (according to some):

The carrying values of these instruments are on an EIR basis which takes into account issue costs. The carrying value of individually hedged items also includes hedge accounting adjustments to reflect changes in the fair value of hedged risks. Hedge accounting of subordinated liabilities ceased during 2010 and the hedge accounting adjustments which existed at the point of cessation of hedge accounting are being amortised to the Income Statement over the original expected life of the hedge arrangement on an EIR basis, with the unamortised adjustments being carried within the carrying amount of the associated subordinated liabilities. On derecogniton of a subordinated liability, any remaining unamortised hedge accounting adjustment is released to the Income Statement as part of the gain or lots on derecogniton.

Well that’s pretty obvious! But maybe more to the point, unless the tender’s above current market prices (LSE today), they won’t get a result! Overall the government is separated from several £billion profit in an election year by £130m nominal of subordinated debt. So let’s hope for a generous offer. My current position in B&B: net book cost 13k, market value 122k.

September 22nd: made Hexham Tyne Green from 15:50-17:20 in lovely autumn weather with bright sunshine on a light W breeze. Sounded promising as arrived with very excited Carrion Crow in the Hermitage. And from 16:00-16:05 had 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard up just above the canopy, pursued by Crow with excited Jackdaw all over the place. One juvenile was pale, the other more reddish-brown. They soon sank back to the trees/ground to feed – quite shy really! Also had 2 Kestrel up together here: adult female and juvenile, plus quite a large gull flock comprising 110 Black-headed Gull (almost half juvenile (50/110)), 280 Common Gull (15 juvenile); also in total of 15 species had Chiffchaff (1 seen), 3 Chaffinch (2 S), 3 alba Wagtail. Lot of people on holiday from R, taking advantage of lower prices as schools/colleges go back. Made N4c4ll; congratulated jn on her fancy signs for the G!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, trip out if rain patchy and much later BH4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!! There were 5 Honey-buzzard reported on BirdGuides today: widely scattered singles from E Yorks, Suffolk, E Sussex, Durham, Glamorgan. On BirdTrack just put in 24th list for September, ranking me 52nd most active nationally.

Still getting results on the DNA; latest from Genebase indicates that I’m positive R1b1a2a1a1b4 (L21+) and negative R1b1a2a1a1b4 (S28-) and R1b1a2a1a1b4 (L193-). L21 is Atlantic (Western) Celtic as shown on map; S28 is E France, SW Germany, N Italy; L193 is Scottish. This is deep-rooted paternal origin, perhaps 5000 years ago. So at this time paternal ancestor was living in either Ireland, Wales, W England, Brittany or W Pyrenees (Basque). The STR markers already obtained, covering more recent period from now back to perhaps 1000-1500 years ago, indicate a Basque/Catalan/Irish mixture! So betting is still on the L21 origin being Pyrenees and a more recent move to Ireland but ‘betting’ is the word! Will get some more stand-alone tests. Closest matches on 6 STR markers (genetic distance of zero) are:

Population Set Area Number Matches NR Population Size Match %
Basque Country Basque 58 168 34.52%
Pyrenees, Spain, Vall D’ Aran (Lerida) Catalonia 9 29 31.03%
Ibiza (Balearic Islands) Catalonia 26 96 27.08%
Pyrenees, Spain, Cerdanya (Gerona) Catalonia 11 41 26.83%
Irish Ireland 41 155 26.45%

So I share (almost?) identical 6 STR markers with about a third of the Basques! Relaxing the comparison to allow larger genetic distances, up to 4, alters the order slightly, with Irish closest match:

Population Set RMI (Relative Match Index): A measure of how closely your Y-DNA STR haplotype matches those of a defined population group as compared to all other population groups in the comparison. For example, a RMI of 10 means that you are 10 times more likely to belong to that population set as compared to the rest of the populations.
Irish RMI: 10.68
Pyrenees, Spain, Vall D’ Aran (Lerida) RMI: 10.61
Basque Country RMI: 10.08
Spanish Basques RMI: 9.66
Pyrenees, Spain, Alt Urgell (Lerida) RMI: 9.62

Whatever I’m thoroughly Celtic on this evidence! Recent close matches reported by Genebase with people alive today include John Lynch and Francisco Castro. Also ordered test on my maternal DNA: family tradition has it that mum’s family came from Cornwall – we shall see!

September 21st: equinox – day = night! Slept very well – no dreams – all at ease!! Out to Kiln Pit Hill from 11:00-13:00 where can keep a good eye on the Minsteracres breeding site as well as on migration (it’s a continuation of the route over Bywell). Weather was sunny spells but rather cool on moderate N breeze. First raptors up at 11:15 were 3 Common Buzzard (1 adult, 2 juvenile) to E at Greymare Hill. Then the local Honey-buzzard got going with the female soaring high above the site to W at 11:30, dragging quite soon a juvenile up with her which was joined after another minute by a weaker-flying juvenile; they stayed up until 11:37 as a group with female well above them before they started descending. However from 12:28-12:40 the 2 juveniles, a dark phase juvenile and a paler one, were up over fields and conifers about 1km to S of nest site, practising flying and doing some reconnaissance. Other ‘residents’ were 4 Common Buzzard to the W of Minsteracres (2 adult, 2 juvenile) and 2 Common Buzzard juvenile up to N of Kiln Pit Hill. Migration occurred at 11:48 when a great commotion was noted to N with 25 Jackdaw and a few Rook heavily mobbing a female and a male Honey-buzzard. The female rode through all the trouble and carried on S; the male got into aggro with a number of corvids and an adult Common Buzzard from the site to N, before finally deciding migration was the priority and climbing decisively higher above the mobbing birds. Both birds continued due S over the wind-farm. So that’s 1st female recorded on migration; suspect these late males are Scottish (aggro!), this one and the one yesterday were certainly pretty fired up, frustrated with delays perhaps! Total of 21 species also included: cavorting flock of 21 Skylark on the arable fields, 11 Swallow (family group of 5 around local farmhouse, 3 S, 3 more feed), 8 Meadow Pipit, 6 Chaffinch (2 S), 16 Linnet (9 feed, 7 SE). Onto Kellas N around 13:05 but no raptors here in brief visit. Then passing Slaley at 13:20 noted to N a high-flying female Honey-buzzard, mobbed by 1 Jackdaw, steadily moving S from edge of Dipton Wood. So females are starting to move out! They are more likely to be confused with Common Buzzard by observers, particularly away from coastal areas where less gifted, as they are heavier than the males. But head is still small, neck long, tail long and slender, particularly at base; above all they look very large, almost eagle-like, with their long wings and heavier bodies than the males. Installed 1st security light – working fine; will do 2nd one later in week; Cleo obviously worried by me up the ladder! Made G4g4s where good to see my mates and watch the football; j in good form even though lost at footie in her 1st match today!! SH!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l followed by walk on Tyne Green to try and nail last site in Tyne W. Winding down a bit so should make N4c4ll. lokttmbo!!!

There were 5 Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides today (following 2 yesterday): 1 Forth, 1 E Yorks, 1 E Sussex, 1 Kent, 1 Scilly, so well scattered. Intrigued by only report on Trektellen of Common Buzzard moving in UK: site record (and exceptionally large count for ‘buzzard’ anywhere in UK) of 29 SE at Winter Hill, Bolton. Wonder if some at least were not female/male Honey-buzzard! Winter Hill is on W side of Pennines, giving possibility of orographic lift.

September 20th: made Stocksfield Mount from 12:30-14:25 in slightly improving conditions with visibility much improved, drizzle ceasing, cloud base rising but still cool, light NE wind. In general no signs of a rapid exit though did get a male Honey-buzzard up at the start (12:30) lifting off Whittle Burn and doing a flap-flap-glide right across the Tyne SE towards Mickley; this mode of flight is the fastest at about 60 km/hour but uses a lot of energy so cannot be sustained for long; whatever he just wanted to be the hell out of here after 5-6 days presumably of being stranded. Also here had a juvenile Red Kite over Bywell Castle, indicating a third successful site in the Bywell area, and 2 Kestrel, adult female and juvenile. Many more interesting migrants noted, including 5 Pink-footed Goose W, 1 Grey Heron W, 2 Black-headed Gull N (ad, 1w floating N. very high-up), 1 LBBG juvenile W, 34 Swallow (4 S, 30 feeding), 10 House Martin (all S), 1 Chiffchaff singing, 1 Grey Wagtail N, 2 Meadow Pipit S, 8 Chaffinch (4 S, 3 W, 1 feeding), 1 Linnet E. Total of 30 species also included 480 Lapwing in one flock, 2 Jay. Onto Hyons Wood from 14:25-15:25 where at 15:05 had a dark-phase juvenile Honey-buzzard drifting very low-down over the trees into the nest site (adults try so hard to keep the sites secret but the juveniles are much less secretive!). So this completes Tyne Valley E with a 1+! Also here had 4 Red Kite up over the wood and hillside to S: pair adult and 2 juvenile, making this the star site this year in Northumberland (previously was not sure about how many young). Also, in total of 18 species, had 2 Jack Snipe (flying E low-down over the wood, looking for rough pastures), 280 Common Gull (all adult, confirmed by photographs that no juvenile), 7 Swallow (5 S, 2 feeding). TV replacement process complete with box into outside shed and old TV into recycling centre; one person there looked familiar – G of cynt fame! Well 1st concert at S was very good with Beethoven (Egmont, Symphony 6) and Brahms (Violin Concerto); did make reception afterwards (as Friend of RNS) where managed to chat up flautist EG by a bit of judicious manoeuvring at the bar!! Onto DrS4g4s where parked and had good crack with a few Toon supporters. It’s not as busy on Saturday as Friday and has an extension until 1 so lots of people arrive around 11:30 from elsewhere and stay for the duration!! Very exciting end to day, could see some logistical problems, but all went brill with the beautiful one: lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s sunny in the morning so might be up to Kiln Pit Hill followed by N4c4t and G4g4s.

September 19th: murk continued for 5th day with not a minute of sun in Hexham area; wind was again a light SE. No fieldwork today, indeed after being up much of the nite, slept until noon with vivid dreams of the dynamic duo!! Things are changing tomorrow (anyway weather-wise) around 13:00 with a cold front clearing SE, giving clearer conditions on a light NNE wind. So will be out in Bywell area, expecting some impatient exits! May make C4c4t! Collected new TV from Argos in Hexham: Bush 40 Inch Full HD 1080p Smart LED TV. Was £255 after discount, imaginary or otherwise! Should be good for connecting to WiFi – on satellite service from Avonline, downloads/uploads from 24:00-07:00 don’t count towards the monthly allowance. Also should be able to play HD material on it from camera and PC. Set-up the stand and it came on with no probs when switched on. Found 147 channels on Freeview. Old TV is a brute: taking it and massive stand to recycling centre tomorrow. Going to get a new rug to go with the TV! Made N4c4t and W4ra4s – all good crack. With N booked up 4 of the operas to be transmitted in HD from New York to TC. Got so much on in October now that think will move Irish trip to early November. So 2moro evening driving in to S4con followed by reception and may pop into the DrS later!! N’s been to Italy and is not quite back yet. Not a good week on my markets, down 4k as £ rose and metals/mining sunk; amount left in precious metals/mines after further sales is now quite small (down from 110k to 50k, taking profits on pd 2.5k, rh 1.0k, SLP 5k)); not sure that full implication of slump in commodity prices has been realised yet. Basically the world economy is slowing and deflation looms. Fixed interest is then a better bet provided the debtors stay solvent. Just 2 Honey-buzzard reports today on BirdGuides; Flamborough, sticking out into the North Sea, is obviously popular as a few birds try to coast in the murk. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

15:27 19/09/14 Honey Buzzard Suffolk Minsmere RSPB 12:45 one flew low over north levels heading northwest

11:23 19/09/14 Honey Buzzard E Yorks Flamborough Head 11:20 circling over Head Farm and moving south late morning

September 18th: again more murk and this time extended further W with no respite over Whitfield; mild enough on light SE breeze but visibility very poor throughout from 14:10-17:10 and deteriorating further as left. Still did my best in Monk area, trying 1st the high land above wood and when this didn’t work out trying the area closer to the Hall on the lower side. Eventually at 16:50 spotted a pale-phase juvenile Honey-buzzard perched in a tree about 300m from the nesting area, looking as if it had been there for hours and with no prospect of an early move. So very interesting to see what they do in the murk and good to sort out one site a little more but if it’s like this tomorrow, will give it a rest! Trip was actually not bad on whole: in total of 20 species had 2 Kestrel (adult male, juvenile), 1 Sparrowhawk (juvenile female), 45 Meadow Pipit (including flocks 31, 10), 19 Goldfinch (one flock), 5 Grey Partridge (pair adult, 3 juvenile), 1 Swallow S, 1 Spotted Flycatcher (in copse), 11 Stock Dove. Collected 2 new security lights (LED) from Argos in Hexham; main TV has snuffed it but as it’s 15 years old, going to get a new one with WiFi/HD capability. Gr8 to c the lovely talent on show: mbo and meo!! Met J at N4c4l and T&S was much busier than of late, where good chat with M/A. 2moro it’s N4c4t and W4ra4s; got 1st concert at S on Saturday nite and am going to the the Friends do afterwards to meet the band!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

Fascinating series of records on BirdGuides with 5 Honey-buzzard in E Yorks today; suspect these are desperate birds breaking through the murk in their impatience to get S. Conditions don’t really improve until Sunday though Saturday might be slightly better. Whatever, frustration is building!

17:23 18/09/14 Honey Buzzard E Yorks Flamborough Head 17:00 dark morph flew north over Old Fall late afternoon

15:09 18/09/14 Honey Buzzard E Yorks Flamborough (village) 14:52 juvenile on east side and south of the B1259 at Whelkie Wynds at 14:52

11:59 18/09/14 Honey Buzzard E Yorks Spurn YWT 10:10 pale morph flew past The Warren at 10:10 the continued towards The Point

11:30 18/09/14 Honey Buzzard E Yorks Beacon Ponds 11:07 one flew south at 11:07

09:33 18/09/14 Honey Buzzard E Yorks Flamborough Head 09:17 one flew south at 09:17

Disappointed with Scots referendum result – think they’ve bottled it and UKIP will return as main concern in London. Scots should have emulated Ireland, Norway and New Zealand, all successful small countries of similar size, population-wise. Power of banking lobby (City) is also of concern. Still if London doesn’t deliver on its promises that will be grounds for another vote: devo-max may not deliver as much as expected!

September 17th: murk continued in Hexham and further E so whizzed out to Alston area in early afternoon; as passed Whitfield area a few impatient raptors were up in the air in brighter conditions and, over Whitfield Moor, the sun came out as approached the South Tyne: brilliant!! Quite a good raptor tally in end: an adult male Kestrel over the road just N of Ordley at 13:05; a Common Buzzard juvenile floating over Whitfield E at 13:30 with an adult calling in the background; family party of 4 Common Buzzard (2 adult, 2 juvenile) up over Parmently at 13:35 with an adult male Honey-buzzard soaring to moderate height above the Common Buzzard, gliding SW and then dropping quickly to ground level; an adult male Kestrel mobbing one of the Common Buzzard at Parmently; a female Honey-buzzard flapping out over the W side of the valley over the high moors opposite Barhaugh Crags at 13:55, returning E; adult female Kestrel hunting over field by South Tyne at Barhaugh; a juvenile rufous-toned Honey-buzzard low-down in West Allen near Parmently at 15:50 mobbed intensely by Jackdaw. So 2 Honey-buzzard sites occupied in fledging period, with Parmently making a 1+ (one juvenile seen/heard, possibly more present) and Barhaugh a 0+ (occupied at fledging time but no young seen/heard). Total for day was 12 raptors of 3 types: 6 Common Buzzard, 3 Honey-buzzard, 3 Kestrel. Was at Barhaugh Crags from 14:25-15:40; at start lots of kids out on rambles associated with the RW adventure centre at the Hall, good to see them out in the countryside! Had 19 species on the trip, including 24 Meadow Pipit (2 S), just 1 Swallow, 3 Stock Dove (including a juvenile), 1 Song Thrush SE. Made N4c4t for preparation for G4g4ss, where jn did the honours!! Gr82c the mbo!! For funds this week much like the last 2, with small loss likely as mining/metals continue to drift (that’s a euphemism for decline!); Scottish referendum could swing things either way quite a bit but would have a lot of sympathy if they voted Yes as London is too dominant for the good of the rest of the UK. 2moro it’s N4c4l, followed by another trip out W and much later T&S4ra4s!! lok2tmbo!!! Just 1 Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides today, a single at Flamborough, E Yorks; the murk is blocking the exit.

September 16th: murky, dry and mild, moderate visibility, light SE wind, all terrible conditions for both the raptors and their watchers with no lift anywhere. Still made 2 trips to E, 1st in morning to Stocksfield Mount from 10:45-12:05 and 2nd in afternoon to Dukeshagg (back of Prudhoe) from 16:00-17:15 with short watch at Hyons Wood from 17:15-17:45. There was certainly some movement/flocking at the Mount with Song Thrush 3 W, Great Spotted Woodpecker 3 (flying across the valley, quite mobile), Swallow 2, House Martin 8, Chiffchaff 3 (2 calling, 1 singing), Mistle Thrush 22 including flock 20, Bullfinch 13 including flock 10. Highlight was another Lesser Spotted Woodpecker record with, at 11:50, 2 birds together flying from one group of trees to another near the Mount at close range; each with much red on crown, either male or juvenile. Had just one Honey-buzzard: at 11:30 juvenile floating over fields in the murk, hanging very well, on W side of Whittle Burn and no signs of restlessness, attempted exits or whatever! At Dukeshagg had a juvenile Honey-buzzard calling when in massive confrontation with Crow at 16:25 to N of area; it was also trying to concentrate on feeding. Also had 2 Kestrel juvenile on N side, 19 Swallow, 4 Sand Martin, 11 House Martin, 3 Bullfinch, 4 Lapwing. No Honey-buzzard in brief, late visit to Hyons Wood, but did get an adult female Kestrel and flock of 24 Linnet. Much earlier had a juvenile Kestrel on favoured post near Houtley at 13:45. This weather pattern is set to continue, particularly on E side, so may go W tomorrow. Thought the mbo looked very fiery – lovely sight!! Had good crack with J at N4c4l. Much later to BH4ra4s where new lass s on, but j/c still gainfully employed!! Gr8 rendezvous later with the favourite: lokttmbo!!!

4 Honey-buzzard today on BirdGuides: 2 East Sussex (late report), 1 Scotland 1 E Yorks; murk in main migration areas will have brought everything to a halt. Didn’t the Gulls do well (no ?):

Torquay 1 Woking 0. Luke Young scored with free kick 90th minute … But Torquay dominated the second period with Jordan Chappell and Ryan Bowman going close before Young’s winner. Torquay, who were relegated from the Football League last season, have won five consecutive games for the first time since January 2012, when they went on to make the League Two play-offs. The Gulls have not conceded a goal in 466 minutes of football. We’re now 2nd replacing Woking at that position! COYY!! (Come On You Yellow)

September 15th: weather very murky today on light NE breeze and quite cool with drizzle in morning. No fieldwork today: R took up much of time, making case for 2 grants to students visiting Africa for charitable purposes (approved, £300 total) and follow-up activities. Caught up with records, getting 3 trip reports into the databases; rank 60th in whole of UK for BirdTrack submissions this month! Got hair-cut at JG with l early morning: look a little less wild! Cost’s gone up to £19 with £3 tip but doesn’t happen that often! Made N4c4ll where promised some more Wagner CD sets by J2, who’s doing a clear-out; served by the appealing l!! 2moro it’s migration watch in morning, then N4c4ll, 1-2 sites in afternoon, BH4ra4s. lok2t*!!!!

Five more Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides today: 1 Essex, 1 West Sussex, 1 IOW, 1 Dorset, 1 E Yorks, So far on BirdGuides in September, 47 Honey-buzzard reports totalling 62 birds as main reports and 3 birds in 3 notes, giving total of 65 birds in 50 reports. Expect some move-out of birds from the study area in next few days of females and juveniles which fledged mid-August. But some will remain, particularly those fledging in early September.

September 14th: great day for writing – completed account of 2008 movement of Honey-buzzard. It’s taken a long time but would make a nice chapter in a book, which is this winter’s major project. Continued fieldwork with trip out mid-afternoon to catch clearance in extreme west of study area. Worked a treat with the sun breaking through as made Tipalt at 14:25, although cooler than of late in light NE breeze. Knew was going to be good with female and juvenile up at 14:25 over Blenkinsopp site, soaring quite high, very close together, affectionate behaviour (therefore mum and juvenile, not siblings!). So this confirms that just the 1 juvenile was raised here. Purpose of visit was to go further W still, stopping at Greenhead from 14:25-15:25. Here had an adult male Honey-buzzard flying around a wood on N side of valley from 14:40-14:45 and 15:00-15:02, some way from the nest. An adult contact call was heard from the S side of valley at 14:47 and from 15:10-15:18 an adult female and a juvenile were up fairly low-down in active display. During this display, the adult male was seen high above them at 15:15 floating ever higher on orographic lift as the NE breeze struck the S side of the valley. There was no interaction at any stage with the female or juvenile and thought he was a Scottish migrant, who’d B&B’d and in the clearing weather had decided to go a little way further S with maybe 2 hours of flying time, covering c100 km. He did manage some interaction with a juvenile female Hobby – very good work! Also here had a family party of 5 Common Buzzard. Onto Gilsland from 15:30-16:40 where drove up the very minor Deanraw road to reach the E side of the Gorge to rest the knee. At 16:15 had a juvenile Honey-buzzard floating over the rough fields to the N of site; at 16:22 another juvenile, a very dark bird, came in from the SW of the site. At 16:25 the female was up very imperiously to see off a Common Buzzard adult, which was displaying stridently over the area. This was a new site for the year as didn’t get round to visiting it in the late spring or summer, but it’s a regular site so will count! Raptor total was 16 birds of 3 species: 9 Honey-buzzard, 6 Common Buzzard, 1 Hobby. Trip produced 22 species, including Swallow (27), House Martin (8), Skylark (2), Chiffchaff (1), Meadow Pipit (18). Additional record in evening was an adult male Sparrowhawk hunting in front garden, very close to windows. Made G4g4s where good crack and the very fit j on (BC)!! Nite finished with a gr8 flourish: lokttmgo!!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l and trip out to far SW of area to escape the murk! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

Interesting comment:

High pressure and resulting fine weather was no doubt responsible for a good week of Honey Buzzard migration; numbers are not yet anywhere near those of recent influxes, but the sight of six and five at Wells and Holkham (Norfolk) on 8th and 9th respectively must have been quite something. Talking of influxes, a massive arrival of Red-footed Falcons has taken place in Poland in recent days, with over 1500 seen countrywide. Given the continuing high pressure and easterly winds in coming days, what odds on one or two making it across the North Sea? [BirdGuides Review of Week 3/9-9/9].

It’s amusing that the source of the Honey-buzzard movement is of no concern (it’s northern Britain!) while the source of any Red-footed Falcon movement is vital. Today’s movement involved 7 records of Honey-buzzard: 1 Scotland, 3 East Yorks, 1 East Sussex, 1 Suffolk, 1 Essex [BirdGuides]. It’s stacking up!

September 13th: weather a repeat of yesterday but with less (SE) breeze, almost calm at times. Turned twitcher this evening on reports of rare North American waders at Grindon Lough [BirdGuides]. So made visit from 17:15-18:05. Waders included 2 juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12 feeding separately, but seen at same time, on mud in the middle of S edge, 630 Golden Plover and 135 Lapwing. The Pect Sand is the 16th wader species that I’ve seen at this site. 17 species today included 630 Golden Plover, 145 Lapwing, 2 Snipe. Main business of day was trip to Mount at Stocksfield to check on migration from 11:30-13:20; well in calm conditions there wasn’t much but still nice to take the pulse. Sowed up a few raptor breeding outcomes. For Red Kite, at E end of Short Wood site at 12:05 had an adult up low-down with juvenile in tow, moving off low to N to feed; at 12:50 another adult came into nest site, starting from to SE of site and moving NW; so 2 pairs bred successfully in this tetrad. For Common Buzzard at 12:20 a juvenile and an adult were up in vigorous diving display over Styford E; at 12:35 another adult was up over same site in flap-flap-glide action. For Sparrowhawk a juvenile female was flying around Bywell Castle towards end of visit. There were 2 positives for Honey-buzzard. Over Prospect Hill from 13:10-13:15 picked up 3 raptors high-up and close together, almost touching, in exuberant display – was a female Honey-buzzard with 2 very fit juveniles, converting site from 1+ to 2. Suspect nearly all males have gone now from lowland areas and these 3 birds will be off soon, having fledged early as usual. At 13:28 picked up to NE of Ovington a floating raptor, a Honey-buzzard, moving very slowly in the calm conditions over the fields low-down and without a flap. It was on W side of Whittle Burn. So that’s 11 raptors of 4 types: 4 Honey-buzzard, 3 Red Kite, 3 Common Buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk. In total of 30 species had 27 House Martin (4 feeding, flock 23 E), 14 Swallow (5 feeding, 2 S, 7 E), 4 Chiffchaff (2 calling, 2 seen), 250 Lapwing (feeding on stubble field in one flock). After lengthy read of FT in C, had another go for Honey-buzzard by parking in the lay-be on A69 near Acomb from 16:05-17:00 but no joy; indeed no raptors seen here or at Grindon. Trying to take it easy at the moment, have had a right-knee injury for a few weeks particularly affecting inside of knee and suspect Grade 2 MCL Tear; managed to complete the site visits and the 2 long walks but now think need to take more notice of it.

Further good score on BirdGuides with 6 Honey-buzzard migrants today, all in S where think they can identify them better! There were 3 in Essex, 1 in Norfolk, continuing E coast theme with little orographic lift over Pennines, also 1 in Oxford, 1 in East Sussex. Another good score was by the Gulls (winning at the Mariners 2-0) – now 5th, only lost 1st game of season, the one I saw and have now won 4 in a row. Glad I encouraged them at the Heed with committed applause! Crunch match next Tuesday when home to 2nd-placed unbeaten Woking. 2moro it’s out to the far W where may even pick up a new site for season! Much later it’s G4g4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

September 12th: another dry day but the sunshine was very hazy and visibility was not good. Made area SE of Haydon Bridge from 14:20-15:30 where did not have to wait long for action with a juvenile Honey-buzzard giving alarm calls at 14:40 and 14:45 from the edge of the wood where coppicing was in action (or at least removal of some of the under-storey). Around 15:00 another juvenile gave a series of softer anxiety/contact calls from the field to SE of the wood and at 15:05 both juveniles were up in the air together, in weak floating flight; one was a much stronger flyer than the other; the flight ended with both birds going on to the stubble field below to feed. So even at this early stage they have the technique of going from A to B by soaring over A, gliding until over B at some height and then diving down to B; it means they are not flying low-down over cover where they are vulnerable to being shot or attacked by Goshawk. A juvenile Common Buzzard flew over the same fields at 15:08. In total of 16 species, had no Swallow in visit, nor on wires at Newbiggin (where 50 on 11/9), so suspect big pull-out here. Copy of 2 TB of data to new 4 TB disk took 23 hours. Had very leisurely lunch at N where met J/M; the meo looked very s.xy!! There were 5 of us at W for good crack. Looked for aurora later at Yarridge, indeed looked for last 2 nites, but nothing very convincing, though had 7 Tawny Owl at 4 sites! Thought some shift in markets this week: some commodities including oil went into a strong downtrend and foodstuffs such as grain continued weak with record harvest; with house prices falling and wages far from buoyant, deflation looks a certainty for the Eurozone and later maybe even for the UK where house prices are plateauing. So did some quick selling of some of my mining stocks and metals on Wednesday afternoon in Northumberland Street through the iP (40k realised!). Will move back the money into junk bonds, where yields of 7% look attractive in the circumstances, but into liquid ones with low spread so can quickly sell them again if necessary. Funds were down 1k on week, potential for much larger loss avoided by fall in £, quick selling and recent rise in SLP of 50%, where selling from hoard of 280k shares built-up around 6.5p during slump. It’s a trader’s market: don’t be greedy! Gain on year is 96k. Over 70% in junk bonds again, got a feeling that current extreme inequality is behind very low interest rates: the 1% have all the chips and the only way that things can be kept moving is by them lending them back at nothing to the disadvantaged 99%! Got stuck into catch-up at home, fixing towel rail, ordering 2 new LED security lights and cutting the long grass. 2moro it’s trip down to the Mount for migration watch, C4c4l, trip to a site S of P; all very busy!! lok2t s.xy ones!!!

September 11th: made Callerton/Throckley N area from 16:20-17:25, where moved a little E on foot from main road running N to a wild area with a pond where picked them up last year; here at 16:50 disturbed a juvenile Honey-buzzard, which flew W quite low-down giving some good piccies. Its sibling also flew W but a little further S, keeping out of my way. So this is another 2 fledged – brilliant and again in an area close to the Newcastle conurbation: Tyne E is performing very well this year, as well as Tyne W! Also had a juvenile Kestrel hunting in same general area and a juvenile Common Buzzard following similar route to the Honey-buzzard; suspect this confirms they all breed to W of the spine road. Total of 17 species also included Chiffchaff (2 calling), Willow Tit (1 calling), Goldcrest (2), Swallow (10), Tree Sparrow (12). Weather today was dry with hazy sunshine, after misty start, on light E breeze. Made the big city earlier visiting CT4s4l, Cent4c4ll and picking up 4 TB drive at PC World. At present copying from one of old 2 TB drives to the new drive, forecast to take about a day at 24 MB a second! Will need to get another 4 TB drive soon as like 2 external drives for backup; this one cost £110. Made T&S4ra4s with M/A; good to catch up on computing; pub was busier than for quite a while; gr8 to c mmo!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, trip out in afternoon, W4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

September 10th: weather was sunny and warm on light E breeze; completed Round 2 of nest site visits with trip to site near Dilston from 13:45-16:30. Obviously fledging occurred some time ago but interesting to see birds are still possessive of their site. A juvenile Honey-buzzard was seen at 15:12 over the Devil’s Water, flying below tree level and coming into N side of site, almost invisible. The female was seen at 15:20 up over fields to S of site, moving down into cover on SW side; all very sneaky but they do care! Some splash and a few feathers indicated continued occupation of nesting area. Total of 17 species included Chiffchaff (5 calling), Goldcrest (8), Coal Tit (18), Green Woodpecker (1 alarm). Also had 2 species of dragonfly: Common Hawker (1), Southern Hawker (1). Here’s yours truly 1  2 in relaxed mood after end of main survey period!! An adult female Kestrel was up at Ordley at 18:15. Interviews at R were interesting; after B4c4c made N4c4l where getting pretty hyper! Made G4g4ss where good to have the dynamic jn on, with her positive attributes!! The meo is very appealing!! 2moro it’s trip to town to collect a 4-TB external drive from Northumberland Street; may have a look round; also hope to pop into Callerton area for site check. Expect to make T&S4ra4s later. Funds-wise this week’s like last one, heading for small fall with fall in £ not quite enough to outweigh decline in $ prices. lok2t lovelies!!!!

September 9th: out in lower South Tyne from 12:05-15:20 doing Willimontswick area in veiled sunshine on light NW breeze but continuing dry and trend to cooler temperatures. Had early success with Bardon Mill E birds, getting 2 Honey-buzzard juveniles feeding near S Tyne on N bank, with one slowly drifting NE from 12:25-12:30 and another giving frequent contact calls from a field near-by from 12:15-12:30. A female was up over this site at 13:50, indicating continued adult presence. No birds were noted near Willimontswick, but to the N towards Vindolanda noted a female up at 13:50 trying to get young flying, rewarded with one juvenile up at 14:00 and 2 weak-flying juveniles close together at 15:00; these birds were most likely from Willimontswick but had sought the slightly fresher breeze on the higher part of the valley to give the youngsters flying practice. It’s important to realise that a site may appear to be vacant but is in fact still occupied with the birds temporarily crossing the valley to get stronger updraughts for flying practice for the young. At Haughstrother a male Honey-buzzard was up very high at 13:35 over South Tyne, then coming down quickly and moving a little towards the S side of the river, towards site. Other raptors included a Kestrel juvenile at Willimontswick and 2 Common Buzzard juveniles on return journey, at Lipwood and Wood Hall (Haydon Bridge). Total for trip was 29 species, including a Raven high-up soaring on arrival (species is becoming more frequent in lower South Tyne), 49 Swallow, 10 Sand Martin, 3 House Martin, 25 Meadow Pipit (24 SE, 1 S), 15 Siskin. Passage, noted on BirdGuides, included the following:

22:39 09/09/14 Honey Buzzard Devon Rippon Tor 13:00 one flew south over Pil Tor this afternoon

14:05 09/09/14 Honey Buzzard Norfolk Newton Flotman 14:00 one flew north

13:01 09/09/14 Honey Buzzard Norfolk Overstrand 12:35 three flew northwest over; also two probables

11:48 09/09/14 Honey Buzzard Norfolk Holkham Freshmarsh five flew over Lady Ann’s Drive; also Common Buzzard with them

Very interesting – the high numbers moving together in East Anglia are repeating the 2008 exercise, thus shunning the Pennies where not much wind for orographic lift, and taking to the E side of England. Did make N4c4t where good to have l on and BH4ra4s where both of the stars, c j, on, former showing her attributes well!! Did dally a while in E with nitecap: she’s so very exciting: miss her daily favours: lokttmbo!!! 2moro is last day of all-out survey with final nest-site visit, after R @ B in morning and N4c4l. Will still be active over next few weeks but bulk of heavy-lifting is done!!

September 8th: got out mid-afternoon in quiet, settled weather with light NE breeze but mostly cloudy. Went local, walking along road S of Dipton Wood from 16:05-17:50. Was lucky getting at the start a juvenile Honey-buzzard floating over the fields to S of site from 16:08-16:21, quartering the area below and slowly moving W; floating is the first skill the juveniles learn, it probably has survival value to be able to be airborne with minimal energy use. At 16:18 had its sibling, the 2nd juvenile, briefly above Slaley Woods into which it quickly collapsed. Hoped to pick up birds at the March Burn site but again unsuccessful: at some sites the birds are so secretive! Did have 2 unaged Kestrel up over this site though. In total of 21 species also had 2 large feeding flocks of Swallow totalling 48, 7 House Martin, 5 Goldcrest, 1 Blackcap chacking. Moth mines included: Caloptilia syringella (10, ash, 1  2), Stigmella nylandriella (1, rowan, 1), Phyllonorycter sorbi (1, rowan, 1). Busy time at R, chairing International Committee meeting from 11:45-12:45, followed by meal and further chats with chairs; helping interview 2 candidates for grants on Wednesday morning. Very surprised to see the mgo: very fit and fanciable!! 2moro it’s long session out in lower South Tyne, returning to N4c4t and maybe later BH4ra4s!! Hope to finish site visits on Wednesday afternoon. lok2t beauties!!!!

Interesting reports on BirdGuides. That’s a good movement of 6 birds at Wells, crossing the Wash from Lincolnshire and making landfall on the north Norfolk coast.

16:20 08/09/14 Honey Buzzard Norfolk Wells-next-the-Sea six flew in off the sea at East Hills and continued south mid-afternoon

11:43 08/09/14 Honey Buzzard Suffolk Trimley St. Martin 11:15 one flew south over the A14 by Trimley Heath, viewed from the layby

September 7th: out for walk with Group around Chillingham Park, being up there from 10:00-16:00 with actual time on walk 10:30-15:00, covering 13 km; very enjoyable with some exhilarating climbs in places. I drove P up there. Made Chillingham Castle4t, quite amazing with its period style, torture chambers (like the Iron Maiden!) and very tasty t!! Good crack all round and particularly liked section to Ros Castle over Hepburn Moor W. Weather was mainly cloudy after early bright sunshine and light N wind, making it feel cool on the higher bits. Raptors started well with a juvenile female Peregrine up over the Park at 10:45 and a family group of 6 Common Buzzard, shortly afterwards, up over Ros Castle. Had a further 2 Common Buzzard to N followed at 11:50 by a juvenile white-headed Honey-buzzard gliding around the area to E of Castle; it was quite fit, obviously been flying a little while. Further Common Buzzard sightings were 2 to NW of Castle and 2 floating over Hepburn Crags. Most comprehensive Honey-buzzard sighting was 3 birds up in the air over Lilburn Towers at 13:10 with male and female high-up and a juvenile floating a long way below. So Honey-buzzard presence in area clearly confirmed! Total for raptors was 12 Common Buzzard, 4 Honey-buzzard, 1 Peregrine: 17 birds of 3 types. In total of 25 species also had 13 Swallow, 11 House Martin, 1 calling Chiffchaff, 1 Treecreeper, 10 Coal Tit, 7 Meadow Pipit. Butterflies were of 3 types: Peacock (2), Red Admiral (1), Green-veined White (1) and macro moths included Northern Eggar and Fox Moth, each with single larva on moorland path. Micros included leaf-mining larvae of Cameraria ohridella (horse chestnut), Phyllonorycter maestingella (beech), Gracillaria syringella (ash). Did make G4g4s with P where usual lively Sunday nite and j on!! Struck the right chord later: lokttmmo!!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l with International meeting at 11:45 and N4c4ll, followed by trip out somewhere. More action this week: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

September 6th: another brilliant day out in field, this time at Wylam where stood near Stephenson’s Cottage out in the stubble fields, where panoramic view, for around 3 hours from 14:35-17:50. Weather trend was ideal with muggy morning followed by clearance around 15:30 when already in position; indeed it was clearing from W in Hexham while sitting in C at 14:00 so knew was time to move soon but cloud movement at Wylam was tantalisingly slow! Wind was light SE with bright sunshine after the clearance. Early part was quiet but good quality with 2 juvenile female Hobby coming over at 15:20 and circling over me for 10 minutes, giving good snaps; they looked well fed, not in hunting mode. Here’s a clip 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15, plus additional stills 16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  32  33  34  35  36  37  38 taken at the time. Activity increased rapidly from then on as sun came out with family group of 4 Common Buzzard up over Wylam S at 15:45, an adult female Sparrowhawk up over Tyne at 15:50, a female Goshawk (unaged) over Wylam S at 15:55, a family party of 4 Kestrel out over woodland to N and another family party of 4 Common Buzzard up over same woodland. Had to wait a bit longer for an adult female Hobby hunting to E at 16:50 and 3 Red Kite gliding down at altitude from Throckley S to Bradley Hall area at 16:55. The same Red Kite were soaring high over Bradley Hall area at 17:10, with pair of adult up high and juvenile below. So that’s 20 raptors of 6 types. What about the Honey-buzzard? A single juvenile anxiety call was heard at 15:26 from the wood to the N but there was no further action until 16:05 when the female was seen about 1 km to E with a weak-flying juvenile below; she failed to keep the juvenile up in the air and it went quiet again. From 16:35-16:40 proper organisation was restored with the female up above 2 juveniles, much closer to their nesting wood; the juveniles kept up a much better height and followed the female closely; here’s clips (4061) 1  2  3; generally young Honey-buzzard obey their parents slavishly, presumably because those that didn’t in the past came unstuck in the perilous first few weeks of flight. No sign of the male here so looks as if he’d left. Indeed at 16:25 did have a male arrive high over the site on the N side of the valley, so high that he’d only been picked up hanging above another raptor that was looking at. He moved steadily S keeping the height but probably looking for somewhere to roost.– definitely a migrant. However the female at the site responded by making a very vigorous flap-flap-glide from the E to her site at low altitude, presumably to discourage him from camping there (or whatever!). The most exciting event was at 16:20 when 3 Honey-buzzard were noted over Throckley, soaring towards Bank Top from the S; the group comprised a female high-up and 2 juveniles far below. They hung in the breeze (orographic lift!) for 5 minutes before gliding back S towards Ryton Willows – yes, it’s confirmed successful breeding at 1st attempt here; the march towards Newcastle continues! At 16:40 they were up again but this time there were 4 birds in the group – a male high-up and the female and the 2 weak-flying juveniles much lower down; they repeated the manoeuvre done earlier at 16:45 returning to the Tyne. So grand total is 28 raptors of 7 types (and 9 types since return from London). Total for birds in this trip was 28 species. While watching all this, the Gulls kept knocking the goals in, thrashing Nuneaton 4-0! Enjoyed lunchtime visit to C, good 2 c meo!! 2moro it’s another walk with Group but not nearly as long as last one. Thinking of a week in Ireland in mid-October for next break! lok2t beauties!!!!

Always like reports from here – departure lounge:

12:44 06/09/14 Honey Buzzard IOW Luccombe 09:35 one circled over for ten minutes before heading high to the southeast across the English Channel at 09:35; also a Whinchat near cattle grid by radar station [BirdGuides]

September 5th: probably my best day ever for Honey-buzzard in the study area: they’re out of the woodwork, relaxing their hold on their territories and showing much more freely in the air. Weather was fantastic: warm with light SE breeze becoming light SW in continuous sunshine; however it was hazy so light was not brilliant and at end of afternoon, light rain came in becoming torrential through the evening and night. Visit was to upper South Town for nest visit 11/12 near Eals but did a lot on the way. Arrived at Haltwhistle North Wood at 12:45 after seeing nothing on drive and was getting ready for another slow day when suddenly noted a group of raptors getting up over the Wood: 8 Honey-buzzard climbed up to a height where they hung from 12:52-13:03 before some birds started returning to the trees; the initial climb was by 4 adults but they were soon joined by the 4 juveniles. Thought it was 2 family groups: one from the Wood and the other from the nearby site in Tipalt; this was confirmed at 13:36 when a family party of 4 birds returned at height to the W, so they’d popped in for tea! Neighbouring Honey-buzzard sites when close together seem to form a social complex. Meanwhile at Blenkinsopp around 13:10 3 more Honey-buzzard were up: a male and female high-up and 1 juvenile having trouble getting up above the trees; the pair of adults went into full display, chasing each other. Drove on to Featherstone Castle at 13:45 where no action for a while, then a long call from an adult Honey-buzzard at 14:41 and at 14:43 the male was seen a little to S high-up in the air, shortly joined by the female and 2 juveniles, very hesitant at first, but eventually getting high up in the sky with the adults, as at North Wood. On to Eals at 14:50 for main business of day – the nest visit. Watched site from field below, getting male up at 15:10 who enticed the female up for full display with much diving until 15:25; one juvenile flapped across below and the other juvenile was making strange chicken-like calls in a noisy confrontation with 2 Jay by the South Tyne. Here’s 1st clip 1 (4060) with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15, showing the pair in full display and recording the calls of the Jay and juvenile Honey-buzzard, and 2nd clip 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15 showing the male up on his own. Nest site in a fork in an oak tree was clearly vacated but nest was still covered in oak sprays and some splash and a few feathers were found nearby. Final Honey-buzzard of the day was a female gliding gracefully with the odd flap S across the A69 at 17:20 W of Melkridge towards the Unthank site. Added 3 female and 4 broods of 7 juvenile to season’s totals with total of 20 Honey-buzzard seen at 6 sites: 5 male, 6 female, 9 juvenile (2 juvenile at Eals were not new birds; they’d been noted when making visit to the other Eals site on 25/8). Also had 3 Hobby at Eals (juvenile male mobbing juvenile Honey-buzzard (clip 3 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23) and Kestrel (clip 4 with derived stills 1  2  3  4), 2 juvenile and female), 4 Kestrel (1 Coanwood, 3 Eals), 1 Sparrowhawk (juvenile male at North Wood), 8 Common Buzzard, so total of 36 raptors of 5 types for trip. Another star bird was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Featherstone Castle flying from one high tree to another to NE of Castle in parkland; very small amount of red indicated a female. More to follow …Just got back in time to N4c4lt at 17:40 in the gloom where l didn’t throw me out!! 5 of us were at W4ra4s for good crack! 2moro it’s C4c4l followed by trip out to Tyne Valley E. Quite a struggle on markets this week but managed to keep loss to the low hundreds, mainly through the £ falling nearly as much as mining investments fell; spent 20 minutes this morning on ‘phone to Lloyds SD, getting 8k worth of SPAL sold for a 1.2k profit; the on-line quote was not working for this stock so they only charged me the normal commission of £11.50; re-invested in pt, rh, ag; this account dedicated to mining and metals is building up nicely! Out with walking group on Sunday to N of county again. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

Twenty-six reports of migrant Honey Buzzards included a number of twos and at least three over Gibraltar Point (Lincs) on 27th [BirdGuides Report on Week 27/8-2/9]. Unadjusted total for August on BirdGuides is 54 records, of which 46×1, 7×2, 1×3. Also there are 2 records (1×2, 1×1) where the species is included in the Notes, giving grand total of 56 records, of which 47×1, 8×2, 1×3, or 66 birds. Not bad for a ‘rarity’!.

September 4th: had quick success at 1st visit today to Beaufront from 13:45-14:50. From 14:05-14:16 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard were up low over woodland to SW of Hall, looking rather uncertain fliers not getting far above canopy. The male was egging them on keeping well above them in the sky and he was joined by the female for a brief display with a rapid dive together. The flying lesson was over at 14:16 with the 2 juveniles firmly back in the canopy. Also up here were 3 Common Buzzard at 2 sites, all juvenile. Weather was warm and sunny on a moderate SE breeze. Total of 18 species included Lapwing 136 (feeding flock on field), Swallow 23. Chiffchaff 1, Blackcap 1 (alarm calling), LBBG 1 adult W. A Common Darter dragonfly was also seen as well as 7 Small White butterflies. So home for lunch and expected on return to get more success with long visit to common near Healey from 16:00-18:30 but, although still warm and sunny, it was now very hazy as the wind had dropped to calm. The only raptor in this 2nd spell was a female Sparrowhawk (unaged) up to E of Slaley Woods. Total of 17 species included Chiffchaff (2), Swallow (5), Meadow Pipit (4 with 1 S), Jay (2). N4c4l was very sociable with J/S and T&S4ra4s was good with M!! 2moro it’s site visit 11/12 way out to W with visit to 2 other sites on way but should be back for N4c4t and much later for W4ra4s!! lok2t lovelies!!!!

September 3rd: out from 12:45-15:45 to back of Slaley for site visit 10/12 to big plantation at Kellas; weather was sunny with light SW breeze. Entered site, plenty of down and splash and looked like all had gone well, when female started getting very noisy and aggressive with many anxiety and anger calls, even including one wailing call. Reason must have been that the young were still in the nest, indicating laying date at least 80 days ago or no earlier than mid-June. Very good confirmation of late nesting of many birds in Derwent area, maybe to coincide the feeding of large young with the peak of the heather bloom. So this is still Occupied Nest (ON) with at least one piece of down hanging from nest, rather than FL Recently Fledged. Here’s 4 clips of calls (4059), all presumed from female: alarm, almost whimpering at time 1 (14:59, calls 26-38s 71-83s 150-159s, also faint Common Buzzard juvenile hunger cries 56s), anger+alarm 2 (14:25, calls 12s 25s-272s), anger+alarm 3 (14:31, calls throughout the 97s), anger+alarm 4 (14:34, calls throughout the 14s). Also here had a juvenile female Hobby up and a family party of Common Buzzard (adult, 2 juvenile hunger crying). Total for bird species was 19, including Green Woodpecker (1 feather 1), Coal Tit (11, including juveniles), Swallow (25, including juveniles), Linnet (16), Bullfinch (7, including juveniles), Chiffchaff (2 singing, 4 calling), Willow Warbler (1 calling), Jay (3). Insects were good as usual at this site with 5 types of butterfly: Speckled Wood (6), Wall (4) 1, Peacock (4), Green-veined White (3), Red Admiral (1), plus 2 Southern Hawker dragonfly and 1 Udea lutealis, a pyralid moth. On way over had a family party of 4 Honey-buzzard over Dotland in ‘Shire from 12:30-12:40; as usual the male was up first, followed by the female, then 1 juvenile struggled up into the sky followed after an interval by the other juvenile. They went quite high in rather passive flight – very nice to see the brood. Later had a Tawny Owl in the Sele and a Barn Owl by roadside at Dukesfield. More to follow … Kept up indulgences with N4c4t and G4g4ss with jn doing the honours as l is off to Newcastle. Expecting funds to be around level this week or slightly down with fall in £ helping to offset falls in metals. 2moro will do N4c4l followed by trip out and probably T&S4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!! From BirdGuides an interesting report today from Isle of Wight, perhaps Northumberland birds:

13:10 03/09/14 Honey Buzzard IOW Luccombe individuals over Luccombe Down at 09:38 and 09:58 this morning; also 3 Redstarts

Moths at Ordley included this Pine Carpet 1, 1st of year, and a Square-spot Rustic 1.

September 2nd: after good stay with big sis, back on EC, leaving Ealing at 10:15 in time to catch 14:54 Tyne Valley train. Got masses done on 2008 paper on train by catching a quiet one with masses of space (11:08 to York), before catching up with the more crowded Edinburgh one (11:30 departure) a few minutes after arrival in York; will sort out results over next couple of days. Made N4c4t where met a good few mates!! Then quick trip out to Morralee from 16:45-18:05, where could view 3-5 Honey-buzzard sites. Weather was sunny with light E breeze. However, only saw 1 Honey-buzzard, a juvenile up weakly over a large birch wood near Whitechapel at 17:00. Still it’s a start for the lower South Tyne, where also had a Raven soaring very high to E and a juvenile female Sparrowhawk out hunting. Total for trip was 20 species, including single Chiffchaff and Blackcap, 2 Curlew W, 1 Lapwing, 17 Swallow. Major catchup at home, but just about sorted by time out to BH4ra4s, where quiet but pleased to see Consett Stout back again! 2moro it’s another site visit (10/12) and maybe a quick look at 1-2 other sites; should make N4c4t and G4g4ss!!

Raptor total for trip S 29/8-1/9: Honey-buzzard 3, Red Kite 46, Sparrowhawk 1, Common Buzzard 7, Kestrel 4, Hobby 4, grand total 65 birds of 6 types.

September 1st: murky morning but we (sis & I) decided to go NW to the Chilterns for lunch and a day out. Had lunch in Turville at Bull & Butcher where pint of Brakspear and some pate went down well. Turville has been the venue for many film settings, including the Vicar of Dibley, because of its traditional appearance; Jeremy Paxman lives nearby! Started walk at 13:00 in drizzle but amazingly this stopped quite quickly and sky lightened a bit. Immediately the raptors became much more noticeable: still counting the kites but had 7 Common Buzzard in 2 family groups of 4 and 3 and 2 Honey-buzzard juveniles on the edge of the large stubble field to W of the village. Getting the 1st was literally a piece of p.ss, generating juvenile anger calls as entered a copse on E side at 13:50 for seclusion!! On the other side of the field (SW) at 14:30 had the 2nd juvenile, again calling from trees on the edge; calls this time were petulant and were duly recorded. Also here had a Raven. Walked up past Idlecombe Farm about 3 km W of Turville, getting many more Red Kite but no other raptors. It was still dull as returned in car at 17:00 but saw quite a few Red Kite from M40 and picked up 2 Kestrel (adult male, juvenile) near Northolt on A40. Total for Red Kite on day was 45 so altogether 56 raptors of 4 types. Also had 20 Swallow and 40 House Martin in total for day of 26 types. So another profitable trip to the S, both for seeing family and for spotting the raptors!! 2moro it’s N4c4t and BH4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

August 31st: beautiful weather, had walk around Pitshanger Park, Ealing, with sis in morning, then over to Richmond where 5 of us (me, son, daughter, husband, sis) met for long late lunch (14:00-17:30) at Lass O’Richmond Hill. Very interesting: all’s going well and we had great catchup; looks like will be spending Xmas in London, maybe with multiple centres! Picked up bill of £143 and gave cash tip of £15 to fit staff! We all then went for walk in Richmond Park in the sunshine, where had 50+ Ring-necked Parakeet and 2 Hornet. Caught up with Ruislip records (30/8) and East Allen records (23/8). Looking forward to return but not quite there yet: lokttmbo!!!

From BirdGuides, steady passage of Honey-buzzard today in southern England, with around 13 birds moving on very light SW winds. Hotspots were Kent (5 birds), West Sussex (3), Scilly (2), Essex, Norfolk, London (all 1). Common Buzzard reports on 31/8 included 18 S at Spurn Head and 6 SW at Painswick Beacon [Trektellen].

22:12 31/08/14 Honey Buzzard Essex Woodham Ferrers one flew west over Woodham Fen today

19:09 31/08/14 Honey Buzzard Kent Lade Sands one flew inland today; also a Curlew Sandpiper and 2 Arctic Terns on shore

19:02 31/08/14 Honey Buzzard Norfolk Thornham 12:00 one flew southwest at midday

16:31 31/08/14 Honey Buzzard W Sussex Bognor Regis 13:15 one circled high over Hotham Park and drifted east at 13:15 SZ938994

16:10 31/08/14 Honey Buzzard London Hampstead Heath one flew over Parliament Hill towards Hampstead

15:26 31/08/14 Honey Buzzard Scilly Tresco 15:10 one over New Grimsbury at 15:10

15:17 31/08/14 Honey Buzzard Kent Lydd Airport 14:48 two over mid-afternoon

13:31 31/08/14 Honey Buzzard Scilly St. Mary’s 13:05 one circled over Porth Hellick before heading high west at 13:05

12:22 31/08/14 Honey Buzzard Kent Dungeness RSPB two over the ARC Pit early afternoon

11:46 31/08/14 Honey Buzzard W Sussex Climping 10:15 two flew east over Bread Lane at 10:15

August 30th: trip to Ruislip Woods today from 12:20-13:55 produced some very interesting raptors in bright and sunny weather on light SW breeze; exciting behaviour was seen from a family party of Hobby (adult pair, juvenile male, juvenile female) gliding fast over the trees; a juvenile Red Kite was soaring near the pylons (no Red Kite seen here in last visit); 2 juvenile Kestrel were hunting over the pasture; and 1+ juvenile Honey-buzzard were present in the wood. Found 2 areas with white downy Honey-buzzard feathers of which one also contained many Woodpigeon feathers and best of all heard a juvenile short piped anxiety call at 12:45, when looking closely at the feathers. Total for birds was 14 species, 4 of which were raptors above. Butterflies comprised just 3 Speckled Wood but took a lot of piccies of mines on Hornbeam leaves. Out with son and big sis to prom Salome in evening, sitting down this time; the opera is by Richard Strauss in one act, lasting 90 minutes, played without a break. Tale is pretty depraved to put it mildly but still working out the details!! Had meal b4 at Bella Italia in SK and GA4g4s; didn’t get into Sk! More to follow on opera …. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

August 29th: busy day, helping to entertain E, B with dad J, before they quietly sloped off! Met son in SK for drinks b4 (Queen’s Arms) and afters (Gloucester Arms). We promenaded for Mahler 2, standing up for 90 minutes at Albert Hall; fantastic performance by Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Chorus, the Swedish Radio Choir and the soloists Kate Royal and Christianne Stotijn; very well paced with lots of emotion as built up to climax at end!! Day off from Honey-buzzard – need a break!! Up in Ealing till late at Shanakee: place big sis says is disreputable, well suits me!! Good week on markets with +7k: pity to be profiting from Ukraine crisis but that’s the way pd is! Also had good rise in SLP, selling a few this afternoon, on results for year; they are incredibly cheap on PE ratios but don’t suggest you wade in: current holding is 233k in number! Approaching ton-up for ytd: lok2t lovelies!!!

August 28th: after N4c4l off S again for short break in London, back again when it matters!! Added some of the data from the Bijlsma paper (2012) to Migration Models, reinforcing the point that western/northern European populations of Honey-buzzard are in decline and therefore do not correlate with increased numbers migrating through Britain; also added the Bijlsma reference to the References page. Working on the movement across the continent now with an additional migration site of interest at Col d’Organbidexka in W Pyrenees, as cited by Bijlsma. 9610 Honey-buzzard were counted here in 2008 – see http://files.biolovision.net/www.migraction.net/pdffiles/news/ORMO_Bilan_2008-2317.pdf. Seeing nephew, partner and their 2 lovely children tomorrow before going to a prom with son in South Kensington. lok2t beauties!!!!

August 27th: made large wood west of Hexham from 13:15-16:05 in another good day weather-wise with strong sunshine, light SE breeze, dry. This was site visit 9/12 and would be rated 2/12 in terms of difficulty with the tremendous ruts made by the timber harvesting machinery. At 13:40 had a female Honey-buzzard soaring to the W of the wood, quite high up in base of clouds; after a few minutes she came down, moving towards the nesting site but keeping over the open fields; suspect she had a juvenile with her for training purposes but not actually seen. Here’s clip 4062 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15; stills 4-13 show tail bars with 10 and 13 showing small head and narrow neck as well. Site was in good order with splash and down indicating a successful outcome. While there a juvenile Honey-buzzard gave 2 quiet anxiety calls at 14:15 and the slightly clicking calls from 2 Jay, associated with Honey-buzzard contact, were heard at 14:25. On making northern perimeter of wood at 15:05, flushed from the pasture to north a very ruddy juvenile Honey-buzzard; had to look closely to exclude Red Kite; it gained some height and then came down in woodland/fields near the Tyne. Here’s 2 stills 1  2 of the juvenile, the first showing the tail bars. So looks like 1+ at this stage. In the distance from 15:40-15:45 picked up 2 Honey-buzzard over the fields SE of Greenshaw Plain; these 2 birds, female and juvenile, did some diving and soaring together, very typical behaviour of adults with juvenile birds as part of the training programme. They are not new birds, returning to the site near Warden. Here’s clip 4062a 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8. Total for trip was 24 species, included fledged Swallow (16 birds in total), House Martin (12) and Bullfinch (4), plus 21 Mistle Thrush (2 flocks), 265 Starling (1 flock), Chiffchaff (2 calling), Coal Tit (18). Also had 3 Common Buzzard (2 adult, 1 juvenile) near the nest site with adult alarm 1 and anger calls 2 here. Had 4 types of butterfly: Peacock (6), Speckled Wood (4, 1), Green-veined White (3), Red Admiral (1), plus moths: Anthophila fabriciana (16, 1), Udea lutealis (1, 1), Phyllonorycter maestingella (2 blisters on beech, 1), Phyllonorycter trifasciella (1 fold on honeysuckle, ??). Good social life at N4c4t and G4g4ss! Miss the sights elsewhere!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!! Not a bad week for funds so far: useful rise in pt shares today; will be interesting to see if it holds. Hope to make N4c4c!!

Quite a lot of records of Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides since had 3 males SE at Warden Hill on 22/8. Expect most of the migrants at this stage will be males, which are relatively easy to identify by those challenged in id of the species! Good to have 1 in Cramlington! Those reported on 27/8 in good numbers have presumably been blocked by the bad weather further south over the last few days.

16:31 27/08/14 Honey Buzzard Kent Rodmersham one drifted east late afternoon

13:43 27/08/14 Honey Buzzard Lincs Gibraltar Point NNR at least three flew southwest; also 5 Spoonbills south, 2 Pied Flycatchers and Redstart

13:25 27/08/14 Honey Buzzard London Wanstead one flew east over Long Wood this morning

13:12 27/08/14 Honey Buzzard Kent Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve 12:00 one flew over at midday

12:13 27/08/14 Honey Buzzard Notts Newstead & Annesley CP 11:50 one flew west over Annesley Pit Top

10:44 27/08/14 Honey Buzzard London Selsdon 10:30 one near Selsdon Woods flew southeast over Brookscroft

10:32 27/08/14 Honey Buzzard Hants Keyhaven Marshes 10:15 one flew south near the lower balancing pond mid-morning

11:14 26/08/14 Honey Buzzard Northumbs Cramlington 10:40 one over Beaconhill late morning

19:17 24/08/14 Honey Buzzard W Sussex Sidlesham village one flew east between Woldhurst and Marsh Farm; also 1+ Pied Flycatcher, 3 Common Redstarts and 6+ Whinchats

14:50 24/08/14 Honey Buzzard Kent Grove Ferry NNR 11:35 two flew south at 11:35; also 7 Whinchats and a Turtle Dove

11:41 24/08/14 Honey Buzzard Kent Reculver 10:45 one flew south over Old Barns at 10:45

11:15 24/08/14 Honey Buzzard Kent Dungeness RSPB one flew high over Boulderwall towards Lade this morning

21:38 23/08/14 Honey Buzzard E Sussex Brighton one flew over today

August 26th: out in field quite late in end, doing trip down the main Tyne Valley W from 15:45-17:15, in perfect conditions for raptors with bright sunshine and a moderate breeze (though it was SE, not as good as SW in general). Passing Prospect Hill at 15:45 noted a large raptor ‘rowing’ in spectacular display over the hill so stopped and picked up a male Goshawk; soon 2 juvenile Goshawk got up in the air below for more display; so that’s 2nd Goshawk breeding success this season, following up on one at Wylam; Goshawk is a serious predator of Honey-buzzard when food supplies are stretched, as in Holland, but think they’re plenty of easier targets such as Woodpigeon in the study area. As soon as the Goshawk had gone down, up at 15:50 came a juvenile Honey-buzzard, which was hanging over a birch wood, peering down closely, maybe looking for some insect prey, such as a wasp nest; no other Honey-buzzard were seen so this goes down as a 1+. Onto Bywell for main inspection, where at 16:25 had a dark-phase juvenile Honey-buzzard flying very low-down over a stubble field near a wood; feeding on the ground close to the neat site is very typical behaviour at this stage; maybe they are eating spilt seed from the stubble. The male came up at 16:35, gave a long call and disappeared to S at moderate altitude to feed. Shortly after at 16:45 another juvenile, rufous-phase, flew along a hedge low-down over a stubble field in the direction of the nest, landing in a tree where it could be picked out perched until left at 17:15. Total for brief trip was 17 species. Did make N4c4l, lots of people around (it’s a Tuesday!) but no mates!! After trip out had R council meeting for 2 hours, which was productive. Got piccies album from wedding; told I can share them but not sure who with!! Makes you feel quite romantic!! lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s a site visit (9/12) followed by N4c4t and split session at G! Another break for trip S is close.

August 25th: what a day in many respects!! Made upper South Tyne from 14:10-18:00 to join in the celebration of the local Honey-buzzard in a very good breeding season, with many 2s now seen (8 out of the 11 broods found so far). Weather was cloudy but mild and dry, with a moderate SE breeze. Run started with a lone juvenile Honey-buzzard hunting near Lambley at 14:10 over edge of moors on W side of valley as SE wind gives more lift on this side; it was again hanging, dipping and picking up some insect prey. Here’s clip 4063 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11 and clip 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5. Still 10 shows the small head and 2 tail bars; all show the small head and long neck. While nearing site near Eals on W side, picked up 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard performing in the same way at 14:15, again on the moorland edge. Here’s clip 3 showing the 2 juveniles in turn (times 0:00-1:08, 1:09-1:50, respectively, and a Common Buzzard adult up shortly after from 1:51-3:28). Derived stills include 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25, with 1-7 showing juvenile 1 (full-winged, full crop), 8-16 juvenile 2 (more ragged wings), 17-25 adult Common Buzzard (extensive moult)). Still made site visit (8/12) as there’s plenty more interest in the remains below the nest and indeed found some small white down hanging on the branches below the difficult to see nest in Norway Spruce. Got back to car at Knarsdale to meet the large shooting party returning from their stint on West Eals/Snope Fells on the E side of the valley 1, another good reason for the birds to be on the W side; at one time I saw 60 Red Grouse up in the air being driven towards the guns by the beaters, waving their white flags 1  2  3  4. However the Honey-buzzard didn’t seem worried by their return and from 17:30-17:50 watched 8 Honey-buzzard up over the moors on the W side, as 2 loose groups of 4, with feeding, diving and general activity, of what was thought to be 2 family parties (male, female, 2 juvenile each) from either side of the valley; they seem to share everything, these 2 pairs, maybe they even wife- or husband-swap! Here’s clip 4 of one family group of 4, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  32  33  34  35  36  37  38  39  40 (39 stills, no 13!). This video was taken over 10 minutes from 17:41-17:51; it shows the juveniles frequently hanging, almost hovering, over the edge of the moor and diving down from time to time to pick up something in the rough vegetation, not sure what but nothing seen carried away so suspect it’s insect material of some sort. The adults appear from time to time and there is then more active display with dives and playful interaction. A little later at 17:52 caught one of the family groups of 4 on this clip 5, interacting playfully with 2 Jackdaw, as shown in these derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9. Finally while wrenching myself away at 18:01 took this final clip 6 of 2:25 reduced to 1:52 after cutting; the first part (0:00-1:00) shows a flock of 40 Lapwing (+ a Starling) put up followed by a juvenile Honey-buzzard hanging over the edge of the moor, hunting as before; the second part (1:01-1:26) shows an agitated adult male Kestrel flying and calling over the moor; the third part (1:27-1:52) shows a juvenile Common Buzzard also up hunting over the edge of the moor. Stills 1-12 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12 were taken through the video camera: 1-2 show the juvenile Honey-buzzard and 3-12 the juvenile Common Buzzard, the latter continuing up to 18:09. Stills 13-18 13  14  15  16  17  18 are derived from Clip 6, 13-17 showing the juvenile Honey-buzzard hunting close to the ground and 18 the adult male Kestrel. While coming back through Lambley off the moors at 18:12 had 3 more Honey-buzzard up, just coming off the moors: male, female, juvenile. So this does look like a 1, not a 1+, the first in that category this year. Must say the ‘keepers and shooters were pretty affable – think they’d had a good day; made very sure that they knew that I’d noted the raptors! Other raptors included 4 Kestrel (2 (adult male, juvenile) on W side, 2 juvenile in valley) and 5 Common Buzzard (4 near Eals on W side including 1+ juvenile, 1 at Lambley on W side). Total for trip was 29 species, including fledged House Martin (34 birds in all) and Swallow (12), plus Raven (4, presumed family party but not sure from where), Curlew (4 birds moving off moors W), Lapwing (feeding flock 40), Black-headed Gull (1 adult SW), Pied Wagtail (12), Chiffchaff (1 calling), Starling (29), Meadow Pipit (13), Song Thrush (1), Pheasant (feral brood of 8 young). At Softley just one butterfly species was noted: Peacock (2), with moths including Caloptilia syringella (20, blotches ash, 1), Phyllonorycter coryli (6, papery blisters hazel, 1), Phyllonorycter maestingella (1, blister beech, 1), Twin-spot Carpet (1), Stigmella magdalenae (1, gallery rowan, 1), Phyllonorycter sorbi (1, blister rowan, 1), Stigmella confusella (1, gallery, birch, ??), Phyllonorycter ulmifoliella (1, blister, birch, ??), Ectoedemia occultella (3, brown spots, birch, ??). Moths in trap at Ordley included Svensson’s Copper Underwing (2, 1), Blue-bordered Carpet 1, Bryotropha domestica (2, 1). Thought morning was pretty inspiring and changed routine to rendezvous in style with the lovely: lokttmbo!!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, Council4R4t and not sure about later!! Probably no nest visit as not enough clear time but will check somewhere!

August 24th: well we did it, 19 km from Wooler (Northumberland) to Kirk Yetholm (Borders, Scotland) from 10:30-16:45, in glorious weather with sunny spells, no rain, light NW breeze, cool. Ascent was 500m. Have got records for every tetrad en route, on which will report tomorrow. Highlight was a juvenile Honey-buzzard on the edge of one of the larger conifer plantations in the Cheviots; it flew off moorland adjacent to Elsdonburn SE and flew low just over the ground back into the wood; it was weak-flying and habitat looked ideal with uneven aged trees, some large conifers, moorland on all sides and extensive clearings in wood. Good to see the gang again, 17 of us went, filling a minibus for return to Wooler where we’d left our cars. Refreshments were had at the Border Hotel in Kirk Yetholm, traditional N end of the Pennine Way (very fit staff!), at P/M (supper) and G4g4s (essential recuperation with hl!). Was a long day including everything but great day out! Bird species totalled 22 over the 8 tetrads for which data compiled, including the Honey-buzzard (1), Red Grouse (5), Ring Ouzel (2), Whinchat (1), Meadow Pipit (46), Grey Wagtail (1), Pied Wagtail (1), Swallow (21), House Martin (3), Chiffchaff (1), Coal Tit (10), Grey Heron (1), Kestrel (adult female). Moth larvae included Northern Eggar (6), Fox Moth (1). Butterflies comprised 6 types: Peacock (18), Green-veined White (4), Red Admiral (3), Small Tortoiseshell (2), Large White (1), Small White (1). 2moro sees lie-in, N4c4l (j’s last day) and trip out somewhere with relatively gentle walk. xxxxxxxxxx!!!! RFaSwtmbo!!!!

August 23rd: some heavy showers today but better by late afternoon and fitted in well with my schedule, visiting site in the East Allen from 15:00-17:00. The heavy rain of the last few days had washed away most of the signs in the fairly open site, with nest in oak, but a few downy feathers and remnant splash were found. More critically, presence attracted 2 juveniles who started calling, giving a series of whistled anxiety calls and getting a little more agitated by end. The juveniles would not come above the canopy, so this shows the advantage of visiting sites at this stage of season; by early September the juveniles will be soaring more, encouraged in flying practice by the females, while many of the males are on their way to Africa! So that’s 7/12 nest visits done in round 2, getting there! Also, in total of 24 bird species, had adult female Sparrowhawk hunting over marginal fields, a flock of 35 Lapwing, 28 Swallow, 25 House Martin, 10 Long-tailed Tit, 1 Dipper. Did make C4c4l for brief visit to read FT, then after field trip, straight out to party. Good chats, we ordered a take-away from a Chinese restaurant in FS, P, to reduce catering. N said 2 pairs of noisy Tawny Owl last night in Stocksfield: one at Hall Farm Close, other in New Ridley Road. P said one of my friends, juvenile Honey-buzzard, was feeding on a field yesterday near his bee hives, between Riding Mill and Stocksfield; it’s amazing how much time the young birds spend on pasture at this stage, just picking up grubs, beetles, worms and the like. Sometimes they quarter the ground, rather like a harrier or a kite. 2moro’s the big walk, wish me luck, hoping for good company and some interesting raptors! Back later for G4g4s but may be rather shattered!! lok2t beautiful ones!!!!

August 22nd: another pretty hectic day in the field. Weather was a bit better: still a cool light NW breeze, but longer sunny intervals with lighter showers in between. Made Warden and site near home with great success at former where had 6 Honey-buzzard. Three migrating Honey-buzzard were seen, all males; at 12:35 2 came from the NW arriving at fairly low altitude, looking as if they were in the early stages of their movement, perhaps from further W in the lower South Tyne Valley; they soared very high, drifting SE and were lost to sight; the local male was up to greet them maybe in defence of the site; at 13:33 the local male Honey-buzzard also departed SE, obviously satisfied with the progress of his family. The 1st juvenile came up from the lower South Tyne river at 12:50, climbed a little and came down in a field to W. At 13:08 the same juvenile came up from the field and floated overhead at moderate altitude drifting N (clip 4058 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15 and stand-alone still 16). It was joining the adult female and its sibling, which had been hanging over Warden Hill from 12:57. One of the juveniles rather clumsily attempted to perch on the top of a conifer on Warden Hill at 13:13 (clip 2). At 13:50 2 juveniles, the local brood, were up above Warden Hill (clip 3). From 14:05-14:35 a juvenile got up (clip 4 with derived still 17) and moved onto rough meadows SW of Warden Hill, where it actively hunted using a hanging/hovering technique (clips 5  6  7 with derived stills 18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27 and stand-alone stills 28  29  30  31). A pair of adult Hobby clearly had young in the canopy; the male was up at 12:45, flying W with some panache, clearly trying to encourage the young to fly but they did not; the female Hobby was up over the site at 13:38. Other raptors were 2 Common Buzzard (adult, juvenile), 2 Kestrel (juvenile, adult female), 1 Sparrowhawk (juvenile female), and also had a Kingfisher, a Dipper, 2 Grey Wagtail, 4 Goosander redheads on the Lower South Tyne. Hirundines included 37 feeding Swallow, 13 feeding Sand Martin and 11 House Martin moving SE. A Raven was calling overhead. Total was 28 species of birds. Butterflies included 5 Wall 1 and 1 Speckled Wood 1; moths included Udea lutealis 1 and Phyllonorycter rajella blisters on alder 1  2. At Acomb 2 Common Buzzard (adult, juvenile) were up at 14:35. At Ordley, everything was well in site visit 6/12, knew young had already fledged but there were still plenty of signs around this season’s new nest in Norway Spruce and had the juvenile flying overhead as left; this one involves a river crossing, always adds interest! A Carrion Crow got very angry, presumably with the juvenile Honey-buzzard, as recorded on this clip (4058a) 1. Total for birds was 15 species, including Coal Tit (14), Goldcrest (2), LTT (4). A few mining moths were recorded: Phyllonorycter coryli, on hazel 1, Stigmella hemargyrella, on beech 1, Stigmella myrtillella, on bilberry 1, Caloptilia syringella, on ash 1. A Tawny Owl flew over the road N of Ordley as came back from pub so that made 6 species of raptor for day! Much more to follow … Funds lost 1k this week, on slight adjustment to CPB book value following their results, which show recovery in progress; took profits on some pd (15 oz) as well as on BBM; you have to trade a bit in these markets! Made N4c4ll in between field trips and much later made W4ra4s, where good to have j on!! SH!! 2moro it’s C4c4l, another site visit (7/12) and a party at Stocksfield in evening, starting at 18:30 to accommodate those who no longer want to come out late! Think might pop into G afterwards!! lok2t lovely ones!!!!

August 21st: as records added today to the database, Lepidoptera species count for 2014 reached 203 for UK; still quite a few records to add. Also sorted out records for yesterday at Wylam so not too far behind. Did some work on 2008 paper by adding full summary for UK movement and polishing up Table 1. Also printed out paper: Bijlsma, Rob G, Vermeulen, Minou, Hemerik, Lia, & Klok, Chris, Demography of European Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus, Ardea 100(2) 163-177 (2012). The abstract includes the quote:

The stochastic model suggests a clear population decline, which is consistent with observed declines across much of northern and western Europe (including The Netherlands).

So why are their migration counts in the UK rising so sharply? See my 2008 paper for a clue! Plenty more to read but looks very interesting. No fieldwork today with quite heavy showers and the need for a break. Had good crack in T&S with M/A in the evening and with S at N at lunchtime; a nice pair on the way!! Had some good nocturnal activity (21/8-22/8): 2 Tawny Owl at Ordley with 1 at Loughbrow and a Nightjar hawking insects over road just N of Letah Wood. Tomorrow hoping to do 2 sites again, one a leisurely walk in the morning, the other a full site visit in the afternoon. Will make W4ra4s!! Sunday sees a walk with the Group from Wooler-Kirk Yetholm, which I’m joining with P/M. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

August 20th: full speed ahead maintained today with a walk at Prospect Hill from 12:30-13:50 and a site visit to Wylam from 14:20-16:25; have done 5 site visits in 5 days – too many, considering how rough they are! Tomorrow’s a rest day! Weather was copy/paste from yesterday: cool light NW breeze, sunny intervals with showers in between. No raptors at Prospect Hill but did have 21 species, including 3 Swift SW, family party of 4 Bullfinch, 7 Linnet, 2 calling Chiffchaff. Very lucky though with raptors, when passing site in car between Riding Mill and Stocksfield, as spotted male Honey-buzzard high up floating around, stopped car, got out and saw a very weak-flying juvenile in treetops in Sitka plantation to E of site; after a pause, at 14:00, both juveniles came out of the Sitka and flew into the actual nest site in Scots Pine; they were very weak flying, could hardly get across the gap! So they’ve fledged since site visit on 17/8. At Wylam 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard were located, close to the nest, giving very mournful (plaintive) calls (clips ???) from 15:28-15:45, with a presumed adult female bill-snapping for 5 seconds at 15:41. I think the juvenile plaintive calls are a new call for me! Total of 15 species also included 3 Swift feeding over Tyne, 2 calling Chiffchaff, 11 Swallow, 8 House Martin, 4 Jay. Six types of butterfly were noted, comprising Peacock (9), Green-veined White (7), Red Admiral (4), Small White (1), Speckled Wood (1), Small Tortoiseshell (1). 2 Red Kite were seen late-on: 1 adult hunting over stubble field N of Wylam village at 16:25; 1 (unaged) hanging over hillside in bright late afternoon sunshine at Beaufront N at 16:40. 2 Tawny Owl were seen on way back from G: 1 calling repeatedly from Sele and another flushed from road at Loughbrow. So day’s raptor total was 5 Honey-buzzard, 2 Red Kite, 2 Tawny Owl, that’s 9 birds of 3 types. Took pictures of 4 moths from trap: Small Wainscot 1, Rosy Rustic 1, Silver Y 1, Large Yellow Underwing 1. Had usual split session at G, where good turn-out of mates at both t-time and s-time: very pleased to have the optician jn back after injury!! Level-pegging so far this week on funds, where have sold another 10k BBM to take some more profit; on + side have rise in GCL, a u308 investment trust, and on – side a compensating fall in pt/pd and pt shares and the dealing expenses with BBM sale/reinvestment. 2moro it’s a catch-up with records and slower pace with N4c4l and probably T&S4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

August 19th: cool light NW breeze, sunny intervals with showers in between. Made visit no.1 to West Dipton Burn on N edge of ‘Shire from 13:00-14:30 where had success for both Honey-buzzard and Red Kite. On E edge of site, NW of Newbiggin, had at 13:15 a juvenile Honey-buzzard up weakly in the air, looking around, before collapsing back again. At 13:57 the male was seen coming in high from direction of Dipton Wood, then losing height rapidly went into the rough woodland area where the juvenile had been seen. At 13:20 a family group of 3 Red Kite came out of the area to E of Newbiggin in the valley and moved NW to area NW of Newbiggin. Two adults led the move with the juvenile lingering behind. In total of 15 species had 26 Swallow, 7 House Martin, 1 Jay. Further Honey-buzzard included a pair of adult up at 13:40 circling low-down over Swallowship site; no juveniles seen but ground level below the adults was not in view. Later in this most hectic time of year made Slaley Forest for site visit no.4 from 17:05-1945. Had the male Honey-buzzard over the site at 17:30 and the female over in a nearby glade at 18:25; the nest in a Scots Pine tree is looking good with down below and from actions of adults still contains large young; at several points felt adults (sometimes presence inferred from angry corvids) were pressing to get back into the site. The ‘official’ fledging date is of course only a rough guide; upland sites such as Slaley Forest will be a little later. Total for birds was 19 species, including 5 calling Chiffchaff, 12 Swallow, 8 Coal Tit, 3 Goldcrest, 5 Siskin, 1 Crossbill. Had good catch-up with P at N4c4c. Made BH4ra4s much later and very good to have ch on!! The ginger tom was very friendly late-on: enjoyed the visit – lokttmbo!! 2moro it’s down the Tyne Valley for further field work followed by N4c4t and split session at G!!

Interesting rise in Honey-buzzard movements in UK [BirdGuides], coinciding with fledging in study area; 6 were seen on 19/8 and 1 on 18/8.

08:20 20/08/14 Honey Buzzard S Yorks Hatfield Moors 19/08 11:15 one flew northwest over Kilham late morning yesterday

16:04 19/08/14 Honey Buzzard Forth Bridge of Allan two probables circled high and moved south today

13:34 19/08/14 Honey Buzzard Staffs Belvide Reservoir (PERMIT ONLY) 13:15 two adults flew south this afternoon

12:54 19/08/14 Honey Buzzard Gwynedd Bardsey Island one flew over the observatory this morning

13:00 18/08/14 Honey Buzzard S Yorks Hatfield Moors 12:35 dark phase flew northeast towards Big Pool this afternoon

August 18th: much cheering as they’re certainly out of the woodwork today with fledging of Honey-buzzard noted at 3 sites, including both sites in the main Allen Valley and near Ordley. Had a long visit to the Allen from 15:40-20:00 in much calmer conditions than over the weekend but still a cool NW breeze and after sunshine at the start, some persistent showers came over midway through the visit. Had a juvenile up first at 16:30, floating over the S site (clip 4057 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12), which was joined by another juvenile and the pair of adults for some vigorous display around 16:50. Here are clips at distance showing part of action: 2 with derived stills 11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23, 3. Also at S site had a Common Buzzard up briefly at 17:10. At the N site, where got much closer to the nesting area, had a variety of calls (short anxiety, single alarm presumed from adult female, chicken) before seeing 2 juveniles flying back into the site after exit at 19:35. Here’s clips of chicken calls with Jay 4, of short anxiety calls 5 and of 1 juvenile returning to the site at moderate altitude 6 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8. Also here had total of 3 Common Buzzard (1 adult, 2 juveniles), an adult male Kestrel and a juvenile female Hobby, another 1st for the year for fledging, flying down the valley. So fantastic result out there. Total for trip was 25 species, including calling Chiffchaff (1) and Willow Warbler (2), Swallow (13, fledged juvenile), Dipper (1), Song Thrush (1), Meadow Pipit (1), Siskin (3). On return home, was getting out of car at 20:30 when heard some very angry Carrion Crow to S; they were involved in an argument with a juvenile Honey-buzzard, which gave one long anxiety call. At Staward N butterflies included Peacock (3, 1), Green-veined White (2, 1), Comma (1, 1), Small Tortoiseshell (1); moths included Phyllonorycter maestingella (2 blisters beech, 1  2  3), Phyllonorycter coryli (3 papery blisters hazel, 1  2), Stigmella floslactella (1 gallery hazel, 1), Caloptilia syringella (10 blotches ash, 1). R was good, seem to be being cultivated a bit! Plenty of inspiration with the mbo: she’s looking stunning!! The meo continues to fascinate!! All in all, good to be back in Hexham! 2moro it’s N4c4c with P, visit to 2 sites (one view from distance, other get closer) and welcome (hoped for) restoration at BH4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

August 17th: still not fledged! Made another site in Tyne Valley W between Stocksfield and Riding Mill from 1620-19:25 in very windy, cool conditions with the occasional spot of rain in the wind (copy/paste from yesterday!) and nest in Scots Pine was definitely progressing but no young have left it yet; had a series of squeaky owl-type calls from E and S of site at 17:40 with very cross Carrion Crow to S (clip of Crow calls 4056 1) and the rather clicking calls made by Jay when they are in contention with Honey-buzzard (clip 2); after end of visit had the pair up in air, triumphantly going back into the site from S at 19:03, female leading male back (clip 3 with derived stills 1  2  3  4). So looking good but still not seen a juvenile! Common Buzzard nest nearby was still intact but clearly vacated. No butterflies seen, too windy, but did get some moths: Twin-spot Carpet (2), Phyllonorycter maestingella (21, blisters beech, 1  2  3), Cameraria ohridella (10, blotches horse chestnut, 1  2), Caloptilia syringella (30, blotches ash, 1), Stigmella aurella (1, gallery bramble, 1), Yponomeuta evonymella (10, tents bird cherry, 1  2). Total was 18 species, including Common Gull (68, all adult), Goldcrest (2), Chiffchaff (1), Swallow (20, still nesting), Coal Tit (6), Oystercatcher (2). Did consolidate progress with report on 2008 movement by putting Migration Models    Base Counts and Timings for Honey-buzzard Movement in UK in September 2008 into final form on web page. Found a definitive paper on decline in Scandinavian Honey-buzzard populations which is pretty devastating (to my critics!). Hope to sneak in further progress before next trip to London. Made N4c4l, good to be back, and G4g4s where gr8 to be on g again and to be served by the charming hl!! SH!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll and trip out for site visit no.3 in round 2 – no time to relax! Looking forward to the delights of Hexham again: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

August 16th: not quite fledged at site visited was the verdict; made burn W of Riding Mill from 16:00-19:20 in very windy, cool conditions with the occasional spot of rain in the wind; present autumnal weather may be slowing down fledging but will know more in a few days with further site visits. Nest continues in Douglas Fir with attention from one bird on W side in copse giving a series of high-pitched squeaky owl calls and being seen off the premises by its mate, with the more fluted anxiety calls. So great to see that it looks almost certain that this site will be successful but will need to come back to check on number fledged; that can be done with a much easier walk! Bird of the day was a Woodlark, coming off a stubble field in the company of 6 Yellowhammer and flying into a tree; this site was thought to be very suitable for the species in the spring visits so suspect breeding in the area; will have another look when come back to check on the Honey-buzzard. Also had 2 Kestrel (adult female, juvenile out hunting) to add to the juvenile Kestrel at Farnley yesterday (15/8) and anxious Carrion Crow and Jay. Total of 22 species included 3 Chiffchaff, 6 Coal Tit, 4 Goldcrest, 2 Treecreeper, 14 Yellowhammer, 2 Linnet. Pinched a few brown leaves off a Horse Chestnut in Elvaston, Hexham; the discolouration is caused by leaf mines 1  2  3  4  5 from the moth Cameraria ohridella. So right back in the thick of it with another site visit tomorrow. Recovered well from meeting after welcome relaxation last nite!! It’s good to stay up with the beautiful one: lokttmbo!!! 2moro should make N4c4l and G4g4s with the site visit in between.

August 15th: back very smoothly on train from Rowlands Castle, leaving at 10:46, and arriving in Corbridge at 17:27, via Waterloo, Leicester Square and KX. Got quite a lot done on train from KX on the paper on the 2008 movement; hope to publish results tomorrow evening. Very much enjoyed meeting: it’s good to present regularly new work and very stimulating to see M, P, G, D again (the ones who like to talk about the day at the RH!). There’s much suitable Honey-buzzard habitat in the South Downs between Rowlands Castle and Guildford, particularly around Liphook. Had 2 Red Kite up in air together near Farncombe and 100 Linnet in one flock just E of Merry Shield Wood. Heard while away that daughter and husband are expecting new arrival in February: all’s well and brilliant news; I’m the only grandparent (poor baby!) but there are 2 great grandparents – my mother in law and husband’s grandmother in Iran. Am visiting the family in London at end of the month; Iran visit put-off with all the troubles in Middle East. Funds went well this week, gaining 4k after deducting final withdrawal of 1k. Took some profits near end of week, selling a few B&B bonds and some rh, with proceeds from latter partly re-invested in pt. In B&B now have bonds worth 129k from 27k net invested, all free of CGT as QCB; tempted to sell some more to reduce net invested to 0. Cash is unusually high at 21k. 4 of us were out at W for lively crack, where good 2 c s!! Gr8 end to day with the lovely one as rendezvous accomplished!! Love the semiotics: she’s very s.xy!!! lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s start of round 2 in site visits, probably after C4c4l, followed by catch up at home!!

August 14th: talk went superbly, up at 08:00 to complete it and an advance for the topos! Slides are here pdf. Meeting was too long today going on until 22:20 (from 10:00) but managed to escape to RH4ra4s for recovery well before the close: very good crack with the lads! Had a discussion session on the topos in afternoon with chief protagonists M (my mate, from Totnes) and L (from USA); pretty heated with a few toys thrown out the pram but M came out on top while I kept cool, after stirring up a few things in the morning! I’m not really a troublemaker!! Anyway back 2moro to W4ra4s; must say really fancying the beauty: lokttmbo!!!

August 13th: jolly day out, visiting Fort Nelson and Portchester Castle, on edge of Portsmouth, with all the delegates. Weather was sunny and mild on light W breeze. Noted some large tracts of woodland to N of Fort Nelson, which would make ideal stop-over points for Honey-buzzard from the north before starting the channel crossing. Total for day was just 18 species of bird as really habitat was quite urban. Total of 4 Kestrel (2 adult, 2 juvenile) at 2 sites was the highlight. Butterflies included a Small Copper, 1st for year. All very relaxing, but then worked on paper up to 02:00 14/8; it’s almost there! My presentation is from 11:30-12:30 14/8, then can relax; good to have M up here early evening for rest of meeting. We’ve got a long discussion on CT in the meeting agenda in the afternoon following my talk – shows increasing importance. Markets not going badly this week with rises in pd/rh and B&B and a fall in £. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

August 12th: pretty busy day at meeting from 10:00-21:00 with the delights of quantum-based logic, parallel universes (already met at G!), quaternions, wave-oriented awareness-function, gravity = amour (!), TauQuernions, Galois theory, Turing limitations; get my own back on Thursday morning with the topos. Quite a lot of humour: was noted that a particularly counter-intuitive door into the meeting room should have had a NAND gate in front of it. Made RH4ra4s for recovery! Got out at lunch-time from 12:50-14:00 for walk into nearby Havant Thicket, a pretty wild area, scheduled for a new reservoir to serve Portsmouth. Took 7 minutes to see a Honey-buzzard, a male gliding into a presumed nest site in a concentration of oak trees at 12:57. Other raptors included 5 Common Buzzard (at 2 sites – 2 adults at one, 1 adult + 2 juveniles at another) and 4 Kestrel (pair of adults and 2 juveniles at one site) with 2 Raven also conspicuous. Other species in total of 15 included Woodpigeon (very common, 80 seen), Stock Dove. Weather was slightly cool, but dry with sunny intervals and moderate SW breeze. Had 6 Southern Hawker dragonfly in glades of wood and 3 types of butterfly: Comma, Speckled Wood, Small Heath. Better nite for Gulls with easy win at home over the mighty Welling. 2moro we’ve got day out to see Nelson followed by RH4m4s!! Talk’s ½ written now! Thinking of the lovely ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

August 11th: down S again, this time near Portsmouth at Rowlands Castle. Met old colleague from ncl on train and we had good catch-up until Leicester Square, when I went off to Waterloo and he went off to LHR. Staying at Travelodge here with other attendees at meeting; good to see them again, off to Robin Hood pub in village for meal and a couple! WiFi in hotel is working (surprise). M’s coming up on Wednesday for reinforcements! 2moro it’s full day at meeting and, on the moors of the SW, the glorious 12th: start of grouse shooting season. Good to make N4c4c and c the beautiful one: gr8 pity about no rendezvous 2moro: lok2tmbo!!!

August 10th: did actually get out before the main murk arrived, making Dukesfield in the ‘Shire from 10:30-11:30. It was spitting with rain at the start on moderate SE wind, becoming more steady rain by end of visit. Action before a depression rolls in can be lively: the birds know that it’s going to be wet for a while and feed actively before returning to base as the rain starts. Main target was Red Kite and had an adult coming into Steel S site at 11:20 from high-up with rapid final descent; no other birds seen but promising for success here. Honey-buzzard now have large young with fledging imminent in 5-7 days so not surprised to see 2 birds, both new for the year. The 1st was a male gliding W between Dukesfield and Slaley Forest at moderate altitude at 10:40, coming down markedly as he neared the nest site and going into the forest at tree-top height. The 2nd was a female up over Ordley NW at 11:10, soaring to some height with much flapping (no thermals) and then gliding down towards the Dotland village, from where she approached the site at low level. It’s clearly a tactic to enter the site some way from the nest and move through the wood at tree-top level to avoid ready detection. Checking a gull flock proved rewarding with a juvenile Mediterranean Gull (clip 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12) picked out in a small group of gulls including 11 Black-headed Gull (9 juvenile, 2 adult); wonder if it’s been reared locally. Migrants in total of 21 species included a Sedge Warbler in a stubble field and a Whimbrel calling overhead as it moved S. Made N4c4t where good to be served by l/j!! Walking down to Wentworth CP at 16:30 had a Green Sandpiper calling overhead, again moving S. So clearly some migration going on with the marked change in the weather. Did make G4g4s: good crack with G/G and gr8 to have hl on again!! 2moro it’s trip to ANPA: hope to prepare my talk on the train!! Will make N4c4c b4 exit: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

August 9th: made Hyons Wood on way to match and proved to be a good move! Weather was cool, with moderate W wind and sunny intervals. From 12:40-13:40, in total of 13 species, had 4 Red Kite and a Common Buzzard (juvenile hunger-crying) plus farmland birds Linnet (13) and Tree Sparrow (1). The Red Kite included 2 adults and a juvenile on the ridge to S of Hyons Wood, seen regularly rising up in the breeze but not staying up long; there could have been 2 juveniles but they were not up in the air together. The final bird, an adult, was up at 13:05 over fields NW of Hedley, moving by 13:08 to hanging over the ridge and wood closer to the village but more on its W side; thought it was trying to get the family up in the air so promising but not conclusive of course; not far from Apperley Dene, scene of disastrous poisoning incident a few years ago. So that’s 3 Red Kite broods found quickly in Northumberland so far. Got train and metro from Prudhoe International to Gateshead Stadium: very quick and efficient. Match was a little one-sided, not too surprised: Heed 3 Gulls 1 rather flattered us! Newly relegated sides often struggle for a while as demoralised and we seem more disorganised than most: only 4 subs appearing on initial team list (raised to 5 later) and of course half the board resigning earlier in the week. On the field our goalkeeper didn’t look as if he’d ever met any of his team-mates before. Once we’d missed the penalty when 2-0 down, never thought we’d score though did sneak one in last minute: that might be useful in the final reckoning! Lots of enthusiastic support with 161 visiting fans though I know from chats that quite a number are ex-Devonians, living in the north, and not making the 800 mile round trip from Torquay. The ones up from Devon were wearing coats! Some booed their own team at the end: I gave them customary standing applause, after all they did turn up! Heed were impressive in all respects, might well go up this year; suspect we’ll struggle for a while. Stadium is impressive; here’s yours truly grinning and bearing it (piccies to follow ??)! Stopped at Bywell on way back and from 17:55-18:15 saw good numbers of hirundines, mainly over Tyne: 35 House Martin, 31 Swallow, 10 Sand Martin. Processed most of Eals visit 12/7 tonight. Feeling very sated today: amazing what a good nite can do!!! 2moro it’s possibly out in morning before the expected heavy rain, N4c4l, work on topos presentation for next week, G4g4s, SH!! lokttmbo!!!

August 8th: updated Wylam report from yesterday with piccies and fuller details. Goshawk success is noteworthy but sobering in its implications. Could say a bit more about BT’s quotas; there is no official one but they are concerned that people will just dump loads of partially processed (or even unprocessed) piccies in the file space and you have to sign an agreement that it will be an active web site, with significant value added (or words to that effect). Otherwise their regular backups of your data and 7×24 availability is a bit of a luxury. So they put in place a series of disk limits, where they can have a quick check on what you’re doing! In spite of ftse falling 1.8% to be down 2.5% on year, had 2nd best week of year with funds +14k; prime movers were B&B bonds and Irish property investments but pt/pd/rh also ended week slightly higher on worries about the world’s ‘geopolitics’ (new term, beloved of commentators!) and the £ starting to fall; don’t really have any mainstream investments! Now up 89k on year after withdrawals of 11k so +100k gross! Final instalment for wedding is next week. Think € situation is dire; we’ll get defaults in southern Europe if deflation takes hold as debt burden will increase in real terms; starting QE is urgent; only € assets held are the Irish ones which would love a spot of QE! Made N4c4l where everyone seemed out; W4ra4s was good with 5 of us out this week, will be back in time for it next week. Gr8 end to day, things get better every time, yesterday’s encounter imprinted on my mind!!!! 2moro it’s to Heed to see the Gulls with 15:00 ko; hope not saying at end of season: well did see them in Conference before drop to Conference South! lokttmbo!!!

August 7th: down to Wylam for afternoon’s visit from 14:25-16:55 in another grand day with strong sunshine on light SW breeze. Parked at station and walked S to Sled Lane where sat on the top of the bank with great views in most directions. Had 2 Goshawk up over woods S of station at 14:37, an adult female and a juvenile male, in vigorous display as started walk (clip 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9); later on way back at 16:32 had a juvenile female Goshawk slowly descending into same area; so for a bird which I’ve found it difficult to prove anything over the last few years, this was an amazingly clear-cut result! Bit sad that they can only breed safely in study area on suburban (eastern) edge where gamekeepers are scarce. Red Kite also gave a clear result but from the N side of the valley on N edge of Horsley Wood, where had single adults coming off stubble fields to W at 14:55 and 15:10, an adult and juvenile up together with mutual circling at 15:25 and a single adult up at 16:20. No Red Kite seen on S side of valley but at 15:50 picked up a large raptor hanging in sky to S, losing height, moving slightly to W and coming in towards Horsley Wood in a rather devious manner by losing height rapidly over the Tyne and coming in at tree top height; it was a male Honey-buzzard! 2 Common Buzzard juveniles were up to NW of Sled Lane at 16:15 to complete the account of 9 raptors of 4 types: 3 Red Kite, 3 Goshawk, 2 Common Buzzard, 1 Honey-buzzard. Also in total of 32 species, had a Grey Heron 1  2, a Goosander, a Little Grebe (fishing on Tyne below bridge), 2 Common Gull (adult, juvenile (interesting, breeding maybe in area!)), Had 2 types of dragonfly: 3 Common Darter 1  2  3  4, 1 Blue-tailed Damselfly 1  2  3  4. Butterflies numbered 6 types: Small White (8), Green-veined White (5), Peacock (3), Large White (2), Meadow Brown (2), Comma (1). Earlier at Ordley had a Wall Butterfly in company of Peacock (10), Small Tortoiseshell (8), Small White (2). In Hexham M&S car park had 8 Small Tortoiseshell, 6 Peacock. Visit to Hexham was incredible: she gets my vote every time!!! N was sociable with S/J and with M/A had good catch-up in T&S4ra4s. 2moro it’s N4c4l, trip out and finally E including W4ra4s!! lokttmbo!!!

August 6th: back in action – sorry for pause!! Here’s message from BT:

Hi Brian, Thank you for your response. I have requested more space be made available to you and as soon as this is confirmed, I will contact you. In the meantime, please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused, Regards, Ivor Bigun, BT

Put out moth trap last night (5/8-6/8), expected big catch in the high humidity, turning to rain later, and not disappointed with 74 moths of 33 types recorded (see below). Downside was masses of caddis flies, which doubled release time! Nights getting longer, out at 04:35 to fetch trap in: always try to avoid really waking up, so do it on autopilot! Otherwise plenty of sweet dreams!!! Made N4c4t and G4g4ss; expected l on for part 2 as only met her on way to part 1 but it was hl doing the honours again!! In spite of continued poor markets, good week shaping up for funds with Irish commercial property revival and B&B off again: maybe will get 1st 5-figure gain since May. Next week I’m in Hampshire for ANPA (the event for mad physicists!). 2moro it’s N4c4l, trip out, T&S4ra4s, SH!! lokttmbo!!!

Moths recorded were: Agriphila tristella (12), Yponomeuta evonymella (7), Common Footman (7), Large Yellow Underwing (5), Shaded Broad-bar (4), Scoparia ambigualis (3), Eudonia lacustrata (3), Yponomeuta padella, Common Rustic, Udea lutealis, Celypha lacunana, Small Phoenix, July Highflyer, The Rivulet (all 2), Ypsolopha dentella, Purple Thorn, Antler moth, Argyresthia goedartella, Crambus falsella, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Dotted Clay, Dark Arches, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Marbled Beauty, Yponomeuta malinellus, Elachista albifrontella, Agriphila straminella, Green Carpet, Smoky Wainscot, Scalloped Oak, Dun-bar, Pandemis heparana, Pleuroptya ruralis (all 1). Also caught 2 of a large ichneumon fly

August 5th: problems with web site, held on BT business account; on transfers to server getting ftp error 550 ‘disk quota exceeded’ when have no limit on disk space; worse when update an existing file, the copy on the server is deleted or removed; anyway reported the problem and will be interesting to see what I get for my quarterly payment of £54. Have contingency plan now (after horse has bolted!) with alternative NB link on home Honey-buzzard (index) page, which links through to the NB on my web space on WordPress. Had leisurely patrol on Stocksfield Mount (Round Hill) from 11:40-14:20; car park for dog walkers was full and had to park at Station. Weather was good with thin, high cloud, almost continuous hazy sunshine and light SW breeze, increasing to moderate near end; it was warm and humid. Raptor action was very slow but some great observations. At 12:30 after almost one hour had not picked up any raptors but then noticed a male Honey-buzzard at moderate height over Bywell Cottagebank; he slowly soared to an enormous height, then floated off to SW, crossing the valley, still gaining height from the ridge lift due to the SW wind bouncing off the N side of the valley; he disappeared from sight, he was so high, by time he reached the S side of the valley at 12:40. He was heading for the W side of the Pennines where orographic lift makes progress effortless on westerly winds. So that’s the 1st migrant, not the local bird (seen later) and perhaps a Scottish bird leaving now the Games are over, or a failed breeder! Next bird up was again a male Honey-buzzard, at 12:55, hunting low-down over the wood and fields near Mowden Hall; after 2 minutes of floating, he dived down to the ground, presumably to catch a titbit; he was thought to be the male from Cottagebank and is a new bird for the year. At 13:30 2 Common Buzzard got up over Cottagebank, did a bit of mutual circling and soon came down again; they were an adult and a juvenile. Was just packing up at 13:50 when noticed a Red Kite adult coming up purposefully from W of Cottagebank; it was joined by another adult, which went quickly off to N, and then by a weaker-flying bird, a juvenile, which came very close. In the next 15 minutes, the 2 birds did some diving at each other, very close formation flying and some mutual circling, all very reminiscent of Honey-buzzard adult/juvenile behaviour; Honey-buzzard are kites not buzzards. So that’s one young Red Kite raised here – marvellous! One for the FoRKers!! Also in total of 25 species had a Swift W, 4 House Martin S, 9 Swallow, 2 Chiffchaff, and family parties of Bullfinch (6 birds in total), Coal Tit (4), Goldfinch (5). A juvenile Kestrel was near Ordley at 19:00 where a Tawny Owl was calling at 23:30. So day total was 9 raptors of 5 types: Red Kite 3, Honey-buzzard 2, Common Buzzard 2, Kestrel 1, Tawny Owl 1.

Butterflies included another White-letter Hairstreak 1  2  3 on thistle flowers, near some healthy stands of Wych Elm 1. Unlike in the backwoods, Small ‘cabbage’ White was the commonest butterfly. This young Ash tree 1 in the area has suffered the die-back disease. Made N4c4ll where met S for good crack; gr8 2 c the mmo in the flesh!! Four days to the start of the season: (Gates)Heed v Gulls, will be there! Made BH4ra4s where the lively j on!: very good time!! Afters were brill with the favoured one: she’s fab: lokttmbo!!!!

August 4th: back in the field with trip out to S side of Slaley Hall at Espershields; had a stroll through a Scots Pine wood but in whole visit from 15:55-18:00 had no raptors seen/heard so not seen a Honey-buzzard since 28/7. It was sunny and warm today on a moderate SW breeze. Highlights in total of 18 species were juvenile Cuckoo feathers within wood, particularly around a tall Norway Spruce, a Tawny Owl feather, family parties of Jay (6, very noisy), Coal Tit (11), Goldcrest (6) and Blue Tit (4), 7 Willow Warbler (presumed migrants) and a Lapwing SW. Insects were good, long list to sort! Had 10 types of butterfly: Small Skipper (21), Green-veined White (19), Meadow Brown (19), Small Heath (3), Small White, Small Tortoiseshell (both 2), Ringlet, Peacock, Red Admiral, Large White (all 1). Ten types of moth included Northern Eggar (1), Northern Spinach (3). R went well, think we’ve got the beginnings of a programme for raising money by International WG. Made N after R: seemed to meet ½ Hexham! Gr8 to c the mbo: lok!!! 2moro it’s trip to Bywell area midday to look for Red Kite broods and other raptor activity; birds in the most favourable areas should have their young flying by now (except for Honey-buzzard and Hobby, where mid-month is keenly awaited). Round 2 will start on 16/8 to run over fledging period. Will be at N4c4ll and much later at BH4ra4s!!

August 3rd: right on the edge of the weather today with rain to W and drier weather to E and quite breezy in the boundary zone. Continued break from field-work; cut masses of grass in morning and sorted out seed heads of cowslip and the marsh orchid. Had 2 Willow Warbler in garden plus 2 Swift S overhead. Butterflies totalled 6 species, including Small Skipper (2). Made a lot of progress on sorting out piccies from 24/7 W of Hexham: have got a good clip of the male Honey-buzzard in flight! Took breaks with N4c4t and G4g4s, with hl on at latter, moving her days, another triumph for J’s selection process!! Returned to a favourite, like to keep things in a certain way: very stimulating: lokttmgo!!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l with meeting of WG at 12 before. Will be out in field later, hopefully in Derwent area. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

August 2nd: very wet day, indeed got soaked in visit to Hexham in afternoon! Woke up very satisfied but late: did make C4c4l where the rain spoilt the views. Added piccies below for last 2 site visits with yours truly 1  2 on edge of site on 28/7, pleased that 1st half of season is about to be completed! Got quite a lot done in the house today, planning on a new multi-fuel stove in main living area and new windows in dining room in the near future (well, before winter!). Camera 16 GB disk was almost full, so ensured copies of images/videos on main hard drive and 2 external drives (2-TB each) before erasing. Need to upgrade to 2 4-TB disks soon with continuing high volume. See from HC that Prudhoe is a property hot-spot; well mix of houses obviously affects the statistics from month to month but it does look a better bet than Hexham!! 2moro weather looks better so may resume Honey-buzzard trail for new sites for season in Derwent area; looks too wet further W in Gilsland for check there. lokttmbo!!!

August 1st: wettest day for some time with bursts of quite heavy rain from time to time, high humidity, no sun and even fog later on. Good for the ground, maybe not so good for visitors. Had long lunch at N with P/J/S, very chatty! Made W4ra4s with D/C for sociable evening. Completed piccies for Devon trip mid-June, now working on Swallowship 28/7. Volatility up this week on markets with some hefty falls in 2nd ½ of week; took profits on some mining stocks early in week and also helped by fall in £ and continued rise in WBS but couldn’t escape the overall malaise altogether with a 1k fall in funds. Have bought some more PGM – now hold 46 oz pd, 25 oz pt, 13 oz rh – with street value of 54k, a little over 7% of portfolio (held in bullion vaults through physical ETF, not under the bed!). Bonds, many short-dated, still make up 67% of trading portfolio, giving a lot of resistance to increased volatility. Gr8 climax to nite with the most fanciable one: she’s got everything: lokttmbo!!!! 2moro it’s C4c4l and catch-up!!

July 31st: quite a day for CT: meeting at unn with P/M from 14:00-16:15 and another meeting with M at T&S4ra4s! Getting ready for trip S to meeting, involving quite a lot of topos theory, in Hampshire mid-August. Also today visited L&P to return a long-overdue book, made station to find 17:24 cancelled and remembered some of the joys of commuting! Missed l at G: she did holler me as strolled out of the rival pub – like the style!! Short trip earlier on was not strictly necessary but gr8 to c the mbo and meo!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, major catch up on records in afternoon, W4ra4s and wherever the fancy …. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

July 30th: break continues with no fieldwork today; did do some grass cutting and sorting of piccies from Aylesbeare Common on 13/6, which hope to post later. Good social with N4c4t and G4g4ss; gr8 crack with new ‘neighbour’ jn and always good to have l on!! 2moro it’s N4c4c followed by CT4s4l and research meeting at unn with P/M at 14:00. loktt gorgeous ones!!!

July 29th: took a break from Honey-buzzard! Made Grindon Lough from 20:55-21:55 in cool, dry weather on moderate W breeze. Water levels were low with much mud exposed but waders were few: 4 Curlew, 4 Lapwing, 1 Redshank. Main feature was breeding BNG with 2 adults and a chick seen with other broods noted for Teal (2 of 8, 4), Tufted Duck (1 of 6), Coot (1 of 1). Large post-breeding flocks of about 130 Mallard and 40 Wigeon suggested a reasonable breeding season. A female Hobby appeared dramatically over the Lough at 21:30, with prompt disappearance of the 14 feeding Swallow seen earlier; have had Hobby here before, suspect it’s a good breeding area with high numbers of insects, pipits and hirundines at the (Muckle) Moss and the (Grindon) Lough. Total of 18 species also included 340 Canada Goose, 1 Mute Swan adult, 1 Little Grebe, 1 Common Gull adult. Had single juvenile Common Buzzard on a post at Letah Wood by the road at 17:15 and flying low-down W of Hexham at 20:10. Went on to TB for a change: last time I was there on a Tuesday, there was a quiz with lots of difficult questions on film and music – no change there, good thing I wasn’t taking part! Rotary Council meeting went off well: think I’m going to have to crank up the International Committee in the next couple of weeks. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

July 28th: major milestone in season with completion of round 1 (12/12) of site visits: made Swallowship in ‘Shire from 17:15-20:20, saw and heard both birds and located nest in Scots Pine (re-use of last year’s). It’s a difficult walk-in along over-grown glades but all very wild and satisfying! Here’s yours truly 1  2 on edge of site, pleased that 1st half of season is about to be completed! Also had an agitated adult Common Buzzard and a calling Tawny Owl. Breeding was confirmed with family parties seen for Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit and Willow Warbler. 2 types of dragonfly were seen hunting: single Southern Hawker and Common Hawker. Butterflies included 13 Green-veined White, 3 Ringlet, 3 Purple Hairstreak (around canopy of oak on N side of Devil’s Water) and 2 Small Skipper 1. Moths included 80 Agriphila straminella 1, 16 Twin-spot Carpet 1, 6 Shaded Broad-bar, 6 Udea lutealis, 2 Common Wave, 2 Lyonetia clerkella 1  2, mines on ash of Gracillaria syringella 1. It was another hot day with strong sunshine on light W breeze, which is why visit was left until the evening. Made R @ B4m4l for visit of DG, our leader in the NE; she was very complimentary about our Y.DT competition, which she attended on 8/7, in her speech: very pleased!! 2moro sees my first Council meeting at teatime; don’t think it goes on that long, should be at BH4ra4s, or maybe change to Grindon Lough and TB!! Also hope to make N4c4c, with trip out in afternoon. loktt beauties!!!

July 27th: did push number of Honey-buzzard sites up to 54 today, a record, 1 more than last year with still Gilsland and middle Beldon Burn outstanding; also today thought outstanding chance of finally fixing the gap in E Slaley Forest at Espershield where found mature Scots Pine/ Norway Spruce at 2.4 km from other sites. Success today was in Co Durham where at Ruffside, in cooler more showery conditions on moderate W wind, arrived at 16:10 and from 16:24-16:27 was watching a female Honey-buzzard floating over the nearby heather moor with occasional hanging and hovering, before diving down to the ground to collect some tit-bit! From 16:31-16:33 she was up again but not seen subsequently. Also at Ruffside had 2 Common Buzzard juvenile up together over the wood plus an adult female Kestrel hunting over the moor. In total of 27 species also had a family party of 7 Goosander (female + 6 juveniles), an agitated Redstart, 30 House Martin S, flock of 140 feeding Starling, 13 Wigeon, 3 Teal, 6 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Common Gull W. With imminent clearance of short-term debt, started checking up on holidays in Cape Verde for November, surprised that there’s quite a lot on offer at reasonable prices. Think it might be the Ebola situation: could get a bargain! One problem is Thompson appear to be only offering 15 days from Manchester in either Sal or Boa Vista; really want 3 weeks with opportunity to go wandering in the middle; may still be better to book it myself if want to do everything, going via Lisbon! Also thinking of getting to the annual Bayreuth (Wagner) musical festival with son, would cost 000s but what’s money for!! Loved this immolation scene from the end of Götterdämmerung, performed at Bayreuth in 1992 with the Welsh soprano Anne Evans as Brünnhilde and Daniel Barenboim as director. G was good – P turned up and lots of good crack generally, with j doing the honours!! loktt lovelies!!!

July 26th: another fine hot day with strong sunshine on light E breeze but breeze increasing in evening and welcome heavy rain coming in before midnight. Made site visit 11/12 in round 1 this afternoon from 17:10-19:50 to Kellas; site was well-occupied with small white down all over the place, so nest contains growing chicks. The female gave one soft anxiety call as entered through 2m high bracken: that was it! Nest, re-use of that for 2013, is well up in canopy of Scots Pine, appearing boat shaped and on a slight slope – this sometimes happens, they need a spirit level! A Common Buzzard tail feather 1  2  3 was found on a track and a Great Spotted Woodpecker feather 1 in a wood. In total of 15 species, a noisy family party of 4 Green Woodpecker was present (one juvenile here 1  2), plus 5 Chiffchaff and 2 Willow Warbler. Butterflies comprised an incredible 12 types, including: Meadow Brown (42), Green-veined White (30), Small Skipper (30) 1  2, Ringlet (26) 1, Small Heath (2), Common Blue (2), Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (1), Small Tortoiseshell (1), Peacock (1), Comma (1) 1 , Small White (1), Large White (1). Moths included Narrow-Bordered Five-Spot Burnet (1 exuvia 1), Common Carpet 1, Udea lutealis 1, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 1, Agriphila tristella 1, Argyresthia goedartella 1  2, Epinotia tenerana 1  2  3. Lots of lovely dreams – up late!! Enjoyed lunch in Hexham: met B after his successful operation, caught up with the FT in C, saw the meo in impressive business mode and had good chat to the ½ Persian z: she’s thinking of returning to the G!! Thought this picture of lasses dancing at the Commonwealth Games opening was pretty appealing (from The Times cover the following day)!! 2moro it’s N4c4ll, trip out for site no.54 to Derwent, G4g4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

July 25th: another fine hot day with strong sunshine on light E breeze. Went up East Allen from 14:20-17:45 to Studdon Park (twice) and Byerhope, 2 Honey-buzzard sites in 2013 with no records yet this year. Drew a blank at Studdon Park in 1st session there, but maybe it was still the afternoon lull. At Byerhope had much quicker success; a Crow was seen anxiously coming up over the W side of wood and a Swallow was dive-bombing something flying through the trees; then at a gap the female Honey-buzzard was seen flying quite low-down. Had the male at 15:58; this time a Curlew gave away his presence, calling as he drifted off SW to feed, ending with a rapid dive towards the ground in Dirt Pot area. Returned to Studdon Park and was getting ready to call it a day at 17:30 but fortunately stayed on a little while: at 17:33 a male Honey-buzzard was seen flying over a meadow near the wood which they usually frequent; he landed on a wall before dropping off to feed on the ground below. So that brings number of sites to 53, equal to last year’s count, with 3 sites occupied last year to have a go at: 2 in Derwent, 1 in Irthing. Other birds in total of 21 species included a male Hobby out hunting, gliding fast to N on E side of valley, 1 Red Grouse, 3 Lapwing, 5 Curlew, 29 Meadow Pipit, 4 Lesser Redpoll, 5 Willow Warbler. Provisional moth count from trap on 24/7 is 189 of 43 types: amazing, all released alive! But then the field is a nature reserve! Butterflies at Byerhope were very good – 9 types – 19 Ringlet, 18 Small Heath, 8 Green-veined White, 5 Meadow Brown, 3 Small Tortoiseshell, 2 Small White, 1 Large White, 1 Common Blue, 1 Peacock. Pattern with insects everywhere is that they’re thriving in areas left in a semi-natural state and plummeting in areas of intensive arable farming. Did make N4c4l where met J for good catch-up; 4 of us were at W4ra4s much later. Brilliant start to the nite-life: very inspirational with the favoured one!!! Sweet dreams and lokttmbo!!! Funds ticked up 4k to a new record this week: mining shares were more in demand and the latest bond recovery play WBS, of which 58k nominal, steadily rises. Delighted by RBS’ results though don’t hold any: wonder if recovery in commercial property outside London will enable some write-backs by the likes of WBS, CPB and BML, quite an interest here. 2moro it’s C4c4l, trip out, P4f&c+mp, catch up with paper work!

July 24th: moth trapping went a little over the top today – so many around, can’t keep up! Put trap out last night from 21:30, fetching it in at 04:10 (just before dawn), dumped it in dining room, back to bed, then at breakfast moths all over the place, still processing them many hours later! Hope to have final score tomorrow. Weather was hot with light NE breeze, with more sightings of raptors, including: 1) at 15:10 a female Honey-buzzard circling slowly over Linnels Bridge, looking as if she was hunting; presumed to be female from Swallowship and hence new bird for year; 2) a pair of Common Buzzard over Devil’s Water, drifting towards Peth Foot; looks as if they’ve been successful; 3) juvenile Kestrel flying off from top of telegraph pole at Letah Wood. Did make visit 10/12 to wood just W of Hexham from 18:15-21:05: much logging done since last autumn with most recent work perhaps April, looking at damage. This has forced the Common Buzzard out of last year’s nest site in Scots Pine, which they pinched from the Honey-buzzard, into nearby Norway Spruce where they’ve raised 2 noisy young. So the Honey-buzzard, coming back later to a more tranquil scene, have got back the nest they used in 2012. Some signs (heavy splash, white down) were below nest. In total of 21 species had 2 Curlew and fledged family parties of Coal Tit, Swallow, House Martin, Wren, House Sparrow. 6 types of butterfly included a Purple Hairstreak flying around the top of an oak tree, 15 Green-veined White, 2 Ringlet and single Peacock, Red Admiral, Meadow Brown. Managed to get into N4c4c where gr8 to see the beautiful one; An4m4l with N was good for catch-up, not cheap at £54 for 2 including tip but classy food; much later made T&S4g4s with M where much chat on the topos! SH! 2moro it’s more relaxing, certainly no trap out, N4c4l and E late-on including W4ra4s; might make the moors in afternoon. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

Here’s the moth list (all 189 individuals of 43 types): Yponomeuta evonymella (40), Common Footman (35), Agriphila straminella (18), Riband Wave (13), Large Yellow Underwing (10), Eudonia lacustrata (6), Celypha lacunana (6), Yponomeuta padella (5), Agriphila tristella (4), Scoparia ambigualis (4), Shaded Broad-bar (3), Pandemis heparana (3), Elephant Hawk, Barred Yellow, Barred Straw, Plain Golden Y, Burnished Brass, Dark Arches, Pleuroptya ruralis, Barred Red, Crambus falsella, Dotted Clay, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (all 2), Common Carpet, Tawny-barred Angle, Eucosma hohenwartiana, Eucosma cana, Hedya nubiferana, Elachista atricomella, Poplar Hawk, Snout, Marbled Beauty, Early Thorn, Common Rustic, Middle-barred Minor, Brimstone Moth, Foxglove Pug, Ash Pug, Apomyelois bistriatella, Plutella xylostella, Smoky Wainscot, Double Square Spot, Stenoptilia pterodactyla (all 1). Note the 3 hawk moths of 2 types and the incredible number of Common Footman around this year.

July 23rd: back on time! Minor problems with air con failing on coach up from Kings X on 14:30 and ‘re-timing’ of train from Exeter, which would have meant me missing the 14:30 and being pushed into expensive zone from 15:00-18:30; fortunately arrived a little early at Exeter and caught another train through Bristol to get to Kings X just in time. Hotel was a bit chattier today, with more staff around and WiFi back on; begged me to write a nice review which I’ve done without commenting on any of the problems – economical with the truth! Here’s the ‘Fawlty’ review: owner was there some of time, but with her arm in a sling! Exciting place, Teignmouth!! Did make G4g4s for some much-needed rehydration – good to have l on!! So 2moro it’s more peaceful with N4c4c, An4m4l (with N, in Corbridge), site 10/12, T&S4ra4s. Looking forward to seeing the delights of Hexham again: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

July 22nd: 26C, very humid with hot sunshine, bit of a knock-out! Tried to walk N to Parson & Clerk but coastal walk closed by National Rail repairs alongside of railway line. So decided to take ferry to Shaldon and walk up Teign Estuary a little, keeping eye open for raptors on Haldon/Holcombe ridge. Not too surprised to have Honey-buzzard male at same place as yesterday, up over ridge between Little Haldon and Holcombe Down at 14:25 at moderate height, then coming down a little and drifting off E towards Down itself. So this site looks pretty active! Total for walk was 16 species, including 14 Sandwich Tern (8 feeding, 6 S), an adult Gannet offshore, 2 Sand Martin S, 31 Oystercatcher. M’s away in France so not seen this time. Daughter is grounded, evidently VA have met this type of situation before!! Hotel declined further with last beer pump off! It has been likened to Fawlty Towers in recent publicity: will publish url when get internet! Some German tourists arrived tonight and were asking the questions! Made Ship for farewell drink, so many memories and a lovely setting! But further away than ever from a return!! So looking forward to return home 2moro!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

July 21st: got taxi up to Teignmouth Golf Club on Haldon heath (£8) and had brilliant walk from 10:15-13:35 getting 22 species of butterfly, which I think is the most I’ve ever had in a day in the UK. Weather was hot, with strong sunshine on light N breeze, 25C. First the birds: a male Honey-buzzard was picked up over a very private wood on SE side of Little Haldon at 11:12; he was up at moderate height over the wood as if he had just soared up from the site; after a bit of hesitation he flew off SW towards the woods on S side of Golf Club House. Wood was very private indeed – walked towards it along footpath over E area of Haldon, which came to shuddering halt near the wood; went downhill to near the farm where footpath sign removed and part of stile missing; walked again towards wood and crossed through series of ‘difficult’ gates and scruffy glades with sounds of shouting behind; galloped up hill and looked back to see GK’s vehicle finally through last obstacle; I merged into copse at top with no further contact; moved onto public lane above copse and strolled out! Well what have they got to hide! Also had a pair of Common Buzzard up twice on W edge of ridge, plus a single calling anxiously near top of Break Neck Hill; 2 Dartford Warbler on gorse-heather interface on E edge of golf course; 29 Linnet; a Jay calling excitedly in private wood. That makes 5 Honey-buzzard sites found in Devon this summer now.

Butterflies on Haldon comprised: Meadow Brown (count 77), Peacock (52), Hedge Brown (35), Green-veined White (26), Small Heath (17), Large Skipper (14), Silver-washed Fritillary (12), Speckled Wood (5), Ringlet (5), Small Skipper (4), Large White (4), Comma (2), Small White (2), Common Blue (2), Marbled White (2), Purple Hairstreak (1), Small Tortoiseshell (1), Dark Green Fritillary (1), Red Admiral (1), Grayling (1), Holly Blue (1), White Admiral (1). That’s (approx!) 266 individuals of 22 types: fantastic. Also had 4 Golden-ringed Dragonfly, a Silver Y and a Celypha lacunana. Passing Teignmouth Cemetery on way down had 2 more Marbled Brown and a Six-spot Burnet.

Went on prom in late afternoon after late lunch at usual café Cobley’s: main show is put on by the Polish ladies!! Had dinner at Drake’s Restaurant with sirloin steak as main course: pretty good! Hotel is clearly struggling: no chef, no WiFi (have to use Teignmouth Library, everywhere else cr.p!) and many things off in bar – very bad sign when main season is underway, also a little short of guests. But room is fine, location on sea front is marvellous and breakfasts are well cooked (by waitress?). Somewhat like Fawlty Towers perhaps! 2moro it’s an easier day, perhaps enjoy the seaside! Will miss highlite of week:(rendezvous!!) but will make it up!!! Hope to make session 2 at G as usual. lokttmbo!!!

July 20th: sorry for break!! Catching up!! A major family re-union for Marjorie M (mother-in-law) was held today in the afternoon on her 90th birthday at Shaldon: a very satisfying event.

July 19th: down to Teignmouth on train via London, all went smoothly and much more comfortable on EC and GWR trains than on the peasant chicken train via Birmingham! Past Reading had a Red Kite at Theale and a female Kestrel a little further W. Staying at Bay Hotel, Teignmouth, where met daughter, son-in-law and son. Went out on the town, making Ness House for meal and Ship, my old-time favourite local, twice! Daughter’s not feeling too well but reason may not be so bad!! Late to bed but breakfast is late 2moro!! Missing the lovely: lokttmbo!!!

July 18th: up Haystacks: no probs! Weather improved after murky start, becoming quite hot on a strong E wind on the summits, giving good visibility. So forecast midday storms never materialised! Haystacks is not that high at 597m asl (almost 2000 feet) but it is a rugged ascent up from the S end of Buttermere at 100m asl. Left Hexham in P’s car at 07:45, arriving at Buttermere at 10:00. We walked up the steep ascent from Gatesgarth via Scarth Gap to the top with the odd scramble needed on some rocky areas. Here’s some piccies of the views 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, the tarns 1  2  3  4 and 3 of us on the top 1  2  3 taken by the 4th, P. There was an idea to extend the walk to Fleetwith Pike (648m asl) but managed to quash that: need to have time for a drink and meal! Plants included the Butterwort carnivore 1  2, with the second shot showing a trapped fly. Birds totalled 14 species, including 11 Wheatear 1  2  3  4  5  6 (family groups of 4,4,3+), 2 Whinchat (agitated birds), 33 Meadow Pipit 1, 6 Raven, 1 Lesser Redpoll. Moths included Eana osseana 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, (at base of Scarth Gap), Agriphila straminella 1, Twin-spot Carpet, and butterflies comprised Small Tortoiseshell, Green-veined White. Top insect was 3 Golden-ringed Dragonfly, found at Enominate Tarn and at 2 sites on descent. Stopped at Fish Inn, Buttermere, for a welcome pint and the excellent Horse & Farrier at Threlkeld for a meal and another pint. Later made W to met the gang briefly, where j was on! On way over to Lakes at 08:05 had a male Honey-buzzard floating low-down over woods SE of Haltwhistle. On way back had 2 Common Buzzard up low-down over separate sites near Penruddock.

Markets were pretty volatile this week, mainly on news from the Holy Ghost, Ukraine and Gaza. Funds finished 2k down but that included a 1k withdrawal, penultimate repayment of short-term loans for the function! The fall was in bond BOI, not unexpected as had already reduced large holding by 1/3 in last few weeks.

July 17th: after not visiting Bamburgh for 10 months, again made another visit today with LAF for meeting at Bamburgh. Even walked some of the same lanes today as on Sunday, trying out some quiet lanes! Weather was fine but cool. Had 22 species on walk including 13 Eider (2 female + 2 young, 2 female + 2 young), 12 Common Gull adult and an excited female Kestrel. Main meeting was in Bamburgh Pavilion from 17:45-20:30, where my WG’s report on windfarms was well received: basically we don’t like them being sited in AONB, whether officially designated or not. Pleased made town before off to meeting: brilliant display: really fanciable!! 2moro it’s up early for trip to Lakes, not sure when back, off early on Saturday again is a bit of a dampener!! lokttmbo!!!

July 16th: did make Staward (Allen) but later than expected – sweet dreams won!! Started at 12:55 on S side of site and finished visit at 16:05 with about 1 hour in site itself. Nest is a re-use of last year’s in Norway Spruce; only sign of the birds was an anxiety call from the female as she backed into an irate Jay but there were plenty of signs (splash, small feathers) on the ground and on branches below nest. At 15:24 a male Honey-buzzard was soaring high over site to S, then glided off purposefully to W, travelling a few km in variation of migration mode. He’s on my home page – piccies 4040, maybe trying for another coup! Weather was humid throughout, with light drizzle on way in and strong sunshine when having picnic, so strong I was cursing bringing my coat; then on way back driving moderate rain set in on fresh S wind, which made me very grateful for the coat; would have got soaked otherwise. So that’s 9/12 sites done now in Round 1; remaining 3 sites are close to Hexham/home. Total of 18 species included some interesting fledging: Coal Tit (total 10 birds including juveniles), Goldcrest (4), Treecreeper (2), Wren (16), Common Sandpiper (3, on stony bed of Allen). Also had a Common Gull 1s E, 8 Sand Martin occupying nest holes, 4 Meadow Pipit displaying. Am still doing moth trapping 2-3 times a week with variation in site selected from grass outside to edge of field to orchard; results are very interesting, will catch-up later! Bit of a break coming up with Access Forum tomorrow in N of county at Bamburgh (leave 12:00, hope to make N4c4c before and T&S4ra4s after), walk in the Lakes (Haystack) on Friday with P/M/J (leave 07:30) and then 90th birthday trip! Gr8 to see the meo so well!! Plenty of crack at G4g4ss!! Do think she’s the bestest: lokttmbo!!!

July 15th: did site visit 8/12 from 12:10-14:30 at a remote site on East Allen; heavily GK area so had to be on watch throughout but no encounters. Weather was cloudy, mild and dry on moderate NW breeze. At 12:45 had sharp Honey-buzzard alarm calls (clip 4055 1) as entered site; at 14:04 had the same on exit (clip 3) as birds came back; in between had distant calls (clip 2) at 13:31 while checking the site. Nest is a re-use of last year’s in oak, looks by low down count as if hatching is just occurring. Female was new bird for year. Also here had a total of 2 agitated adult Common Buzzard with one picture 1 showing the fine barring well. Total of 20 species also included family parties of Long-tailed Tit (8) and Spotted Flycatcher (4), and agitated Nuthatch (2), Oystercatcher (1), Willow Warbler (1). In evening in field at Ordley had 3 Straw Dot 1 (new for me in county) and a Median Wasp 1. Ordered L21 (Irish test) from Genebase; still waiting for S28 test result but will need to do both really anyway. Noted on DNA Reunion, a Genebase facility for matching other users’ DNA with your own, that my closest mates alive today include Manuel Riebeling, Michael Kelly, Eduardo Valdenedo, Michael Drouillard, Manuel Ariza, William McCauley! Thought the mbo looked fantastic on return from N4c4ll!! Made BH4ra4s where met S/J/J for gr8 crack!! Pretty explosive end: totally mesmerised!! 2moro hoping to squeeze another site in before it rains, completing the W sites but will see – might oversleep!! Then would make N4c4ll and G4g4ss!! lokttmbo!!!!

July 14th: made R where received many plaudits for Y.DT! Good lunch today, always nice to start the week that way. Quite a lot of catch-up on records with many Teignmouth piccies added from 16/6, addition of 2 Wylam photos of Honey-buzzard from 6/6 (4040) to home page, processing of East Allen piccies from 30/6, run through of recordings from Eals on 12/7. Did make N4c4ll where good to see the mmo!! No field work today, did 90 minutes grass-cutting to restore some vague order. 2moro it’s another site visit in the East Allen, N4c4ll and BH4ra4s!!

July 13th: very good day with walking group, doing long walk of 16 km from Waren Mill to Monks House to Bamburgh to Budle Point to Waren Mill; walk took from 10:30-16:30 and was great to be on the shoreline from Monks House to Budle Point. Here’s views of Bamburgh Castle 1  2  3, Monks House beach 1, Budle Bay 1  2  3. There were 15 of us on the trip, pretty respectable, good chat with syl of DM! Weather was fine in afternoon after murky start. I drove P up. For refreshments we had an ice cream and a pint at a pub in Bamburgh. Total for birds was 38 species, including a redhead Goosander 1, 40 Eider, 14 Shelduck (1 juvenile), 2 Puffin, 8 Common Guillemot, 1 Little Tern, 8 Sandwich Tern, 2 Common Tern, 45 House Martin, 1 Pied Wagtail 1, 6 Reed Bunting. Insects included a Garden Tiger 1 and 2 Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet 1. Made G4g4s with P: the smart jn was on, sad to say nursing an injury! Very pleased that Germany won, as is rest of family with their part-German ancestry (25%)! Booked up train to Teignmouth with East Coast: it’s only £15 extra going via London on proper trains; my brother-in-law from Switzerland is coming over now. 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll, another site visit!!

July 12th: yet another fine day with hot sunshine on light SW breeze but humidity increasing and drizzle came in to upper South Tyne in the evening. Made visit 7/12 to other Eals site from 16:45-19:05 (with 70 minutes in site itself); this is much easier to walk into than the other one, being close to the Trail. Much small down as in visit 5/12 indicates that some nests now contain small young, which means with 35 days incubation that the eggs were laid around 10 June or slightly earlier, which is quite typical. Had anxiety calls from the female and new, more visible, nest in Norway Spruce with spruce sprigs to adorn its top. Waders included 9 Oystercatcher 1, some quite frantic, 12 Lapwing 1 including fledged young, 5 agitated Curlew. Many family parties noted, including Marsh Tit (4 birds, scarce in SW of county now), Nuthatch (3, 1  2  3), Blackcap (3), Swallow (9), Coal Tit (6). Total was 25 species for trip, including 2 Common Buzzard in Bardon Mill area. Moths included 1 Small Fan-footed Wave 1, 11 Agriphila straminella 1  2  3, 6 Anthophila fabriciana 1, 1 Silver-ground Carpet 1, 1 Snout 1, some tents of Yponomeuta evonymella on bird cherry 1  2, and 1 Ringlet butterfly was seen. Late in day at 23:45 had a Long-eared Owl by side of road at Loughbrow, just S of Hexham. Finally finished Y.DT, sending off certificates and finalising accounts; just need to give report to R on Monday. Did make C4c4l, where met jn!! 2moro it’s 16 km walk in Waren Mill area with Group – good to get out again; site visits increase my fitness! Booked up at short notice trip to Devon to celebrate 90th birthday of my mother-in-law (through late wife); 4 of us (me + son, daughter, her husband) are staying in Teignmouth; I’ve booked up a few extra days to re-visit a few haunts!

July 11th: another fine day with hot sunshine on light W breeze. Gave the field a rest as catching up with material; also busy getting final Y.DT certificates for prizes and participation printed. 2moro it’s site 7/12, the other one near Eals, in the afternoon after C4c4l. Progress with season is very satisfactory: Round 1 visits are always more demanding than Round 2 as need to find the nest for the new season: may be a re-use but always like to check the wider area before fastening onto last year’s nest. Funds were unchanged this week while the ftse fell 2.56% so not too bad; MIO went all over the place but sold some at 3.75 when spiked on 11/7 and bought more back when price fell back today at 2.35 so hold 1/1944 of company now! Increased interest shown in precious metals on troubles in Portugal with the Bank of the Holy Ghost! Rather than all these stress tests this autumn, the EU should be getting things moving again: too much debt in static economies will produce a new crisis. Had chatty lunch at N with S; gr8 to see the meo and the far-sighted jn!! Just 3 of us out at W: me and D/C but we had a good catch-up!

July 10th: another site done from 15:15-18:10, near Eals; bit irregular doing 2 in consecutive days but weather was brilliant, with strong sunshine, fantastic visibility, light NE breeze and dry; could see band of murk out towards the E coast. Found the nest in an oak tree in a fork with masses of oak leaves on top; birds kept a low profile with, as sometimes happens, some (in this case 2) irate Jay keeping tabs on their whereabouts and a Carrion Crow joining in as well; weak Owl-type Honey-buzzard calls from the presumed female, when I was right under the nest, was the only direct evidence. Also found 2 adult Common Buzzard feathers with other birds, in total of 21 species, including 4 agitated Oystercatcher, 3 Goldcrest (small family group), 23 Swallow (many fledged young), 1 singing Nuthatch, 3 Meadow Pipit. Butterflies included a Purple Hairstreak, flitting over the top of a tall oak tree on lower slopes, 27 Ringlet, 8 Meadow Brown, 1 Green-veined White, 46 Agriphila straminella 1, and a new pyralid for me in county – an Evergestis pallidata 1  2 in a clearing in the damp woodland. A Common Buzzard was over Park Village on way out at 15:15 with another, an adult, showing well over Hermitage, Hexham, on return at 18:40 1  2  3  4. At Ordley in trap had interesting catch, including 2 Poplar Hawk-moth 1, 2 Straw Dot (each photographed) 1  2. Offered a talk for ANPA in mid-August in Hampshire on topos theory; will be exciting, well worth attending! See the Gulls open their campaign in the Conference at Gateshead on 9/8: couldn’t have had a worst fixture with which to start (long way to travel, Gateshead are ambitious, just missed promotion last season) but will be there! Will be good to watch some real football! Made N4c4c with P and T&S4ra4s with P/J; computing mates not out. Gr8 to c the mbo earlier!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, walk out somewhere and W4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

July 9th: fine day in good weather with strong sunshine and light winds. Made site 5/12 in Round 1 – Wylam from 10:55-13:10 – getting a good result with site occupied and both male and female giving alarm, anger and anxiety calls from opposite sides of the territory. Alarm calls recorded were 2 close-by on entrance at 11:32 (clip 1), 2 fainter at 12:03 (clip 2), 7 at 12:10 in 1 min 45 sec (clip 3); anger calls at 12:08 were not recorded; no birds seen. The nest has moved by 14m from one Scots Pine to another, going from being boat-shaped on a bough to a more rounded shape in a fork. Nearby the Common Buzzard continue to nest with hunger calls of 2+ juveniles heard, plus anxiety calls from an adult; a family party of 3+ Jay were involved with the calling Honey-buzzard as is common. An adult male Kestrel displayed overhead. Total of 22 species also included 13 Long-tailed Tit in 2 broods, 9 Sand Martin over Tyne, fledged Nuthatch (4 birds), 2 singing Chiffchaff, 1 calling Willow Warbler, 1 singing Blackcap, fledged Treecreeper (2 birds), breeding Mallard (2 female, 3 juveniles). Butterflies were brilliant with 6 types noted before arriving on station platform at Wylam: Ringlet (21), Meadow Brown (9), Comma (4) 1, Speckled Wood (2), Green-veined White (2), Large White (1). On Wych Elm on Platform 1, noted 2 small, fast dark butterflies, which were clearly hairstreaks; 13:07 train was coming in so caught it and went to unn for meeting with P/M on CT and visualisation after quick visit to CT4s4l; meeting went well with M producing a fine supplement on topos theory. Came back on 15:54 and went round to Platform 1 for a quick recce. After about 10 minutes one of the hairstreaks appeared and landed high up on a small branch. I couldn’t pick it up on the camera viewer but took a series of shots saturating the area and amazingly it’s actually visible on 3 of them 1  2  3  4 (4 shows the habitat): it’s a White Letter Hairstreak right on the N and W edge of its range at Wylam. So that’s 7 types of butterfly! Also had 2 types of dragonfly: a Southern Hawker 1  2  3  4 and a Common Darter 1  2  3; Wylam is a hot spot for dragonfly in my study area, with many species just sneaking northwards along the extreme E of NE England. Made G4g4ss: good to have l on!! 2moro it’s N4c4c with P, trip out W where drier, maybe T&S4ra4s!! Hope you followed my tip on MIO (Minco) on 5/7: shares rose 76.67% today to 3.125p, before they were suspended awaiting news on their mn project in Canada. Hold 1/2059 of company, still not worth a lot but better than a kick up the b.m!! Surviving this week in spite of ftse slump by 2.16% so far. Some troubles may be resurfacing in EU, starting with Portuguese banks. FaS: lokttmbo!!!

July 8th: well Y.DT went brilliantly 09:00-14:15 with 28 students turning up from 7 schools, high standard of exhibition, smooth flow throughout, many plaudits! Must say the 4 members of Hexham R who turned up on the day provided brilliant support. So very relieved at outcome. Had a couple at BH to celebrate, very relaxing; ch forgot to put the towel on the appropriate pump!! Gr8 afters with the fantastic one: glad she waited up: lokttmbo!!! Last nite (7/7) went to S4con to hear their guitar consorts play, including one group with P: we (M/J) gave enthusiastic support! Raptors over past 2 days include Honey-buzzard male floating down over Devil’s Water near home at 12:00 on 7/7 and single Common Buzzard at Shilford, flying into site, and at Riding Mill today both at 16:30. Amazing weather as arrived at Corbridge with cloudburst so heavy that got soaked between platform and car, only about 100m. As drove to Hexham first got into sunshine, then rain stopped over very sharp line at Dilston but it caught up with me soon after arriving at N. Good today to see the city slickers at Wylam: one looked familiar!! 2moro into unn for meeting at 14:00, may try another nest visit before. Later it’s G4g4t!!

July 6th: out with Walking Group today but a bit of a soft touch, sitting on boat from Quayside to Tyne Estuary and back, from 12:00-15:00. But am going on 16 km walk next Sunday with the Group in Waren Mill area as pressures ease elsewhere. Enjoyed boat trip, good company, great to see the renaissance of the old Tyne shipyards, imperfect as it is in many respects. Had some interesting birds: 30 Common Tern, 1 Arctic Tern, 1 Eider, 1 Fulmar, 1 Sandwich Tern, 1 Black-headed Gull juvenile, 1st of year. We went into Free Trade at the end: pretty eclectic, full of character! They were doing zip wire crossings from the top of the Baltic to the Quayside, pretty daunting: here’s a selection of the more eye-catching ones 1  2  3  4  5, all women by chance!! Went to G4g4s where gr8 to have the vivacious jn on: she’s moving to Slaley!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l with Committee meeting at 14:00. Later into S4con with a difference – series of guitar concerts, including P, who’s elementary! He’s driving me home as reward!

July 5th: after rain overnight, really bright sunshine and great visibility on light NW breeze. Made Hyons Wood, the site in Tyne Valley E, which was not covered in the display period. It’s a lot more difficult now: was in site from 14:25-17:10 and did not get the first (and only) sighting of a (male) Honey-buzzard until 16:50 so that’s 145 minutes wait! He was eventually seen flying around a freshly-cut hayfield at low level before landing again; such hayfields are very popular with raptors as all the life which has been hidden in the long grass (mice, voles, slugs, beetles, and the like) becomes very exposed and easy prey; raptors don’t like fair contests, they just want to win! Near site an agitated Jay was very active. Also had a Red Kite over the same field; this bird came back into the Wood 1  2  3  4 where it’s presumably nesting, judging by the fuss made by the local Crow. Two specialities of Hyons Wood are species that are normally found only in SE/E Northumberland: Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Tit; both were seen today, the former displaying and the latter (2 birds, adult and juvenile, latter being fed on bough 1  2  3  4  5  6  7) in a tit flock. Willowy tits are one of my favourite sights!! Also seen in total of 31 species were 4 Tree Sparrow, 12 Linnet, 7 Yellowhammer. Had long list of insects including 1st Small Skipper of year in total of 7 types of butterfly with in addition Meadow Brown (24), Ringlet (13), Speckled Wood (5), Red Admiral (4), Small White (3), Small Tortoiseshell (2). So up to 51 sites for Honey-buzzard now: you can see why everything is stretched as far as possible to see them in the display phase, as they’re so much more visible then. Did masses of work on Painswick Beacon records today, completing them so first indication of total of bird species in Cotswolds is 83; need to compile records on way home on 2/6. Thought tonight’s footie was best yet: fancy Newcastle’s goalkeeper Krul coming on to make 2 great saves in the penalty shoot-out to put Netherlands into semi-finals. Did make P4m4l; after quick evaluation decided CC looked the best and sat outside: it wasn’t bad!! 2moro it’s boat trip on Tyne from Quayside with P/M and some of the Walking Group; should make G4g4s much later!! Next week it’s event day for Y.DT on Tuesday; so much work on that lately, will be demob happy by Tuesday nite!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

July 4th: did 4th site visit this afternoon at back of Riding Mill, definitely getting fitter!! Weather was mainly dry with occasional bits of rain in the moderate, warm SW breeze; heavy rain started around midnight. A productive, fairly typical visit lasting from 14:25-16:55 in all of which about 1 hour actually in site itself. Female was home and gave an alarm call at 15:40, followed immediately by the alarm call of a pair of Hobby, both of which were seen flying low over the canopy in a very agitated way, indicating an occupied nest. Here’s the clip 4050 for the recorded calls of the Honey-buzzard and the Hobby, with a comparison set of calls for the Hobby from http://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Falco-subbuteo?&view=3. The Honey-buzzard nest is a re-use of last year’s in Douglas Fir. Also in total of 16 species had an agitated Sparrowhawk and a fledged family party of 4 Chiffchaff. Finished documenting visit to Blockley (Cotswolds) on 27/5. Made N4c4l where met P/M, going on Tyne with them on Sunday; liked the legs at 13:30!! Started regular f&c+mp on Friday night at Paxton’s, anyway for duration of the breeding season. £L is pretty reasonable: 12 pens, 60 envelopes, 2 weed-killer sprays, 60 food bags, all for £5! Made W4ra4s where met D/D for lively crack, good to have s on!! Equities very good this week (ftse up 1.6%) but bonds flat and £ strong so no great shakes with +1k in funds to equal record of 2 weeks ago. Good gains for pt/pd metals and large miners gave the overall plus. Background news is encouraging for natural resources, so in process of shifting 10k more from bonds (undated ones, more vulnerable to interest rate rises) into mining, but switching is being done in measured way to minimise dealing costs (sell when there’s demand, buy when selling pressure). 2moro going to wood at back of Prudhoe, where ?4c4l for a change; been told Balls is good there!! loktt super-fit one!!!

July 3rd: tied up with Y.DT admin today so no time in the field but have processed remaining Devon trip data for 15/6-16/6 with some piccies still to load up for 13/6-14/6 before publishing totals. Interested in account of MIO’s activity in prospecting for zinc in Nenthead area (Hexham Courant 5/7); have acquired a few of these, account seemed a bit more bullish than that submitted to LSE. Did make N4c4ll and much later T&S4ra4s with A/J, very sociable! 2moro hope to put aside admin and do site visit in morning, before N4c4l and W4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

July 2nd: site visit no.3 to a large wood between Riding Mill and Stocksfield from 13:45-16:40 in overcast, dry, breezy(W) and mild conditions. GK was around so decided to take the rough N path to avoid contact; secrecy is not helped by hay fever, which started on 29/6 and continues with sneezing bouts and puffy eyes; don’t like taking medication for it. Had great work-out through waist-high bracken, streams covered by undergrowth and trailing brambles! This year I’m wearing welly boots, suitable for walking, being lightweight with good grip and not clinging; they keep the feet dry. Also using walking poles for extra control and balance and swiping of brambles and nettles. Walked first through a Common Buzzard site at 14:27 where the very obvious large nest in a Larch could be seen, with white down on the edges, splash all over the place and some moulted feathers; they gave me a cheery greeting with angry calls! At the Honey-buzzard site further on, a female was present at 14:40, giving 3 anxiety calls, clip 4048 1; the male was about a km away, at Styford Hall at 15:55, foraging for food, looking almost kite-like (clip 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6) and maybe leaving the female to face me down! The nest was a re-use of last year’s in Scots Pine. Nests of Honey-buzzard compared to Common Buzzard are generally a little smaller, placed higher in the tree and with a more intricate woven cup rather than being a simple platform. In trees with a dense canopy, such as Norway Spruce, the surrounding foliage makes Honey-buzzard nests difficult to see from the ground; in the sparser crown of Scots Pine the Honey-buzzard nests are much easier to see from the ground. Since Scots Pine is the most popular tree for nesting Honey-buzzard in Northumberland, it’s not clear they’re trying to make their nests invisible. Signs on the ground under the Honey-buzzard nest were as usual pretty sparse with a little splash and a few small body feathers. In total of 26 species also had a Common Gull adult (clip 1) over a cut-field, 3 Garden Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker. Moths included a Clouded Magpie 1  2  3, my 1st in Northumberland, and Rhyacionia pinivorana 1, another 1st. Two interesting bumblebees were noted: a Tree Bumblebee 1 and a Forest Cuckoo Bumblebee 1. Did make N4c4c to meet P; later had split session in G. Gr8 2 c the mbo: she looked very beautiful!! 2moro it’s trip out late morning with N4c4ll and T&S4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

July 1st: no Honey-buzzard work today, concentrating on Y.DT, gardening (trimming rough areas) and analysing moth trap contents where over 20 types caught last night. Did make C4c4ll (a change!) and much later BH4ra4s; Bourbon Stout is a really good ra, available for 2 weeks on the trot but a few locals think it’s a bit weak at 4.1%! ch says next week she’s got a real punch for me – 6.8% ra!! Very exciting end to day – she’s absolutely brill: lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s N4c4c, G4g4t with site visit no.3 in between!!

On BirdGuides total for June for Honey-buzzard was 60 reports, a pretty good total, with as many as 4 reported late in the month from 28th-29th when sightings are normally declining rapidly.

So what’s investment strategy now we’re entering 2nd half of year. At start of year, had 4 main areas for portfolio (10/1 2013 Notice Board):

New Year hopes are based on: banking sector becoming safer and growth being uninspiring (junk bonds don’t go bust and interest rates stay low), Irish economy continues to recover (as do its banking and property stocks), Co-op group rehabilitation (its bonds reflect greater security) and precious metals recovery (complex hedging here holding metals, N American and S Africa miners, to reflect most eventualities).

Well junk bonds have risen very well, so well that now think they’re fairly valued so some reduction is in progress except for the star B&B and the speculative WBS; Irish recovery stocks have not done much this year but think they’re very undervalued so will hold on; Co-op Group itself had a nasty scare in March when sold out entire holding just in time but have bought back about ¼ since at lower prices — holding in largely independent Co-op Bank is maintained awaiting float after tidying up by Hedge Funds; precious metals have not done much in spite of a massive strike in RSA but signs are that pt/pd are now rising as mining companies reduce supply to the market once the strike is over (looks as if market was manipulated with the mining companies building up massive stocks before the strike so that they could keep a lid on the price while negotiations were in place to plead poverty in front of the unions, once settled they could let the underlying shortage take hold (clever or cynical?)). Also building up holding in uranium mines through an investment trust; think whatever the worries we’re going to need to use nuclear energy more just to stop the lights going out. And finally increasing holdings in large mining companies to take advantage of anticipated change to a more positive sentiment over the next 6 months. Steady rise in £ has been a headwind as mining stocks and metals are internationally priced (so for a given price in $, the price goes down in £ as the £ rises against the $); these trends can go on for a while but buying overseas assets with expensive £ looks a good medium-term bet. Whatever, cannot take anything for granted and expected plateauing of junk-bond prices takes away what has been a reliable way to make money (with the benefit of hindsight!).

June 30th: number of sites reached 50 today and number of individual Honey-buzzard 70 with a male flying out at 15:06 from the site at Sinderhope S, to feed on the moors well to the E on W edge of Hexhamshire Common. Spent quite a time in East Allen from 14:25-17:35 but this was the only raptor seen on a dry, cloudy and mild afternoon with light breeze. A watch on another site Studdon Park for an hour during the visit did not produce a Honey-buzzard – secrecy now reigns supreme! Waders were brilliant with 19 Curlew (agitated bird 1  2  3  4), 12 Oystercatcher, 8 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 2 Redshank, 2 Snipe; also in total of 34 species for trip had a Twite in fields on edge of moor calling as it flew overhead and a Raven at Studdon Park. Insects included this collection of Small Tortoiseshell larvae on nettles 1  2, a large hoverfly Leucozona lucorum 1, 14 Crambus lathoniellus 1  2, 2 Crambus perlella 1  2  3  4  5, 1 Udea olivalis 1, 1 Silver-ground Carpet 1, 1 Stictea mygindiana 1  2  3  4  5 (appears to be 1st record for county). There were some signs of Ash die-back at Studdon Park 1  2  3. Made N4lc4l where met S/J and admired the views!! R do later was very enjoyable with good atmosphere; food was good but service a little slow so we may stick with the B; the main proponent of a move P was not there; talk on Japan – what it’s really like culturally – was very interesting. After chat to President have now got a Press Officer from another group to help with publicising Y.DT! 2moro it’s N4c4ll, a trip out, BH4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

June 29th: made 2nd site visit to another site in ‘Shire; thought it was going to fair up late afternoon but it kept quite damp right into the early evening at the altitude of the site. Not a lot of action and couldn’t put any pressure on the birds: eggs might addle if left too long un-brooded with light rain falling. Had one call as the presumed female Honey-buzzard backed away into the trees to the N, and a Jay territory! Other raptors in area were a Common Buzzard and a male Kestrel. Birds at moorland edge comprised 15 species, including 4 migrant Curlew moving W after breeding and many Mistle Thrush (13 noted) regularly flying to and from moor, collecting food there and bringing it back to forest; moths here included Argyresthia semifusca 1 and Argyresthia conjugella 1, both beaten from rowan, with 3 Red-tailed Bumblebee 1 feeding. Plenty else seen in forest, particularly moths, including 5 Gold Swift (1 displaying, 4 mating as 2 pairs 1), 1 Celypha lacunana 1, 40 Scoparia ambigualis, many perched on trunks 1  2  3. Total for birds for trip was 36 species, including Green Woodpecker (1), Redstart (2), Garden Warbler (2), Chiffchaff (1), Willow Warbler (3), Grasshopper Warbler (1 reeling). Had sociable N4c4l and G4g4s was good with the lively c on!! 2moro it’s R @ Cnt4m4s (5th Monday in month, evening away, no lunchtime meeting) but S will throw me out so it must be N4c4l!!

June 28th: musical highlight of year with Wagner’s Götterdämmerung at Gateshead Sage; it’s my favourite opera and concert performance by Opera North with singing in German and three-part display of English super-titles, commentary and video for scenery, was brilliant, done in the best of northern European style with great emphasis on the climaxes, sustained brooding and very sensuous passages; the orchestra kept the tension up throughout, an important ingredient in such a long work. Went with N, think he’s becoming a real convert. Started at Portofino at 12:30 (kitchen air-conditioning overhaul at MP), then Sage at 14:30 for pre-concert talk, Act I starting at 15:30 and finishing at 17:45, supper break followed by Acts 2 and 3, finish of performance at 22:15 with further 5 minutes for standing ovation from packed Hall 1 with 1800 capacity, accommodating people from all over England and Scotland, with even some from overseas. We want to encourage Opera North, based in Leeds, to come back: they’re talking about the whole Ring Cycle in a week at the Sage in summer 2016, after a definite performance of Wagner’s Flying Dutchman next July. The acoustics of the Sage are world famous. 2moro it’s back in the field for a nest site visit and a walk on the edge of the moor. Today did have some sightings: a female Honey-buzzard being mobbed over a birch wood near nest site at Farnley at 11:35, a male Kestrel again near Ordley by house at 11:20, single singing Reed Bunting and Whitethroat at Ovingham at 11:50, 1 Common Tern at Quayside at 14:00, a Nightjar over road in Dipton Wood at 23:40. For butterflies 2 Ringlet were on grassy banks of Tyne near Sage.

June 27th: rest day before the big one! Did though sort out a lot of Lepidoptera piccies for 18/6-19/6 (below), look at clips and write up account of nest visit yesterday, and catch up with some computer processing. Had marvellous response from unn on sorting out Y.DT; they’re providing main speaker, 2 judges and a display; like the can do attitude! R seems to suffer from an excessive armchair general approach where people pompously tell you how to do things, rather than providing actual help e.g. Can you help me make some sandwiches? R: You take 2 pieces of bread, you lightly butter them, you insert chicken, etc. Suspect that R has too many small businessmen who are not used to collaborating with anyone, hence not suited at all to a project like Y.DT, which has many actors in a cooperative setting. Shall raise this when all over – might worry the International Committee I’m going to be chairing! Not a good week for markets with ftse down 1%, reducing gain on year to 0.4% – not quite the boom some people comment on. My funds had 1st fall since 11/4, losing 1k with metals +1k and mining shares -2k; not too worried, some of my junk may be being sold off for ½ year presentational purposes! Had 1st official piccies from wedding on Thank You card: isn’t it nice!! I’m on group photo near back on extreme left, with son on extreme left middle (think we had to be recovered from bar!) and daughter in front! 2moro with N it’s MP4m4l, pre-concert talk at S, 3 acts with longest Act 1 at 2 hours 10 minutes, another meal at S in one interval, altogether there for 7 hours 20 minutes! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

June 26th: quite a sociable day meeting P at N4c4c and M/J at T&S4ra4s. Dry today with sunny intervals, slightly cooler than recently, light SW breeze. Made 1st nest visit, over the burn and up the bank. For 1st time since observations began, birds have moved nest, to another Norway Spruce, 30m to the SW in identical position, facing W; both adults present, giving anxiety and owl calls and flying close over new nest. Also had a male Kestrel carrying food and an anxious Common Buzzard, plus a Long-eared Owl at Lamb Shield when still quite light at 21:00 and 2 Tawny Owl calling later at Ordley at 24:00. So great start to the next phase in which will aim for a nest visit every 2-3 days. 2moro it’s N4c4l, trip out up East Allen, W4ra4s!! Getting very excited about Wagner’s Götterdämmerung on Saturday!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

June 25th: Honey-buzzard male up same place as yesterday at 09:40, hanging over the woods E of the Willows. This site is 2.8 km from Wylam E and 3.6 km from Throckley N, so inter-site distances up slightly on edge of Tyneside conurbation (or as get closer to North Sea!). This sighting and one yesterday have been unexpected bonus from trips in to Newcastle over past 2 days. Had good research meeting of 2 hours with P/M; we increased our understanding of queries in the context of category theory. Made B4m4ll – much improved, used to be half-way between counter- and waiter-service, now all waiter service so you know where you are. Surprised to meet Irish girl e again there as waitress; she was very attentive!! Got back at 16:00 to pick up car, which had had 40,000 mile service at MC; only extra was disassembly and rebuild of back brakes as although safe in danger of seizing in due course; cost was £231, paid. Prefer using non-franchise garages for service, once guarantee over, as the franchised ones have a vested interest in pushing up service charges to encourage you to buy a new car! Good to see the lovely mbo!! Made G 4 split session, meeting M at 1st and the gang at 2nd with fellow N-goer l on: putting her on the spot, she prefers G to C&H, her other bar, as more (charming) regulars at G; might be a different story if told in C&H! Interesting discussion with gang on my problems with the dilettante of Hexham: always posing as experts but never doing anything themselves. In computing advisory services, it’s a well-known phenomenon: all possible assistance given, short of actual help! 2moro it’s N4c4c with P, 1st site visit in afternoon, T&S4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

June 24th: busy morning with meeting at DM, where act as chair and secretary: ‘fraid lots of people I know are just clueless when it comes to taking notes and actions from a meeting! Close watch on Ryton Willows has paid off: on way in at 10:10 had much commotion over the high woods but no obvious culprit in sight; on way back at 14:10 had a male Honey-buzzard hanging over the top of the bank to the E of the Willows. So that’s brilliant: new site in Tynedale East on edge of Tyne & Wear. When you get this close to the North Sea, the timing of the breeding season matches that 300m asl up in the North Pennines. Still catching up with notes from Y.DT meeting, so no time for site visit which will delay until Thursday. Did make BH4ra4s where gr8 to see ch on!! Think jungle is causing problems though did remove a branch further W!! aqot… 2moro it’s car in for service at MC, meeting at unn mid-morning, lunch at Quayside, hopefully finalising of actions from today’s meeting and G4g4t!!

June 23rd: finally getting round to other things: sorted out short note in Scottish Birds on Honey-buzzard (below 22/6) and updated my Scottish Honey-buzzard page to include the note and my 2012 results; finished analysing subclade (DNA) results but there’s some difference of opinion in literature on what the subclade R1b1a2a1a1b S116 (+) means so ordered another one-off test for S28 (positive indicates French/Catalan origin) – only $29 (below 8/5); started catch-up on backlog of data entry. R was much better attended – lent them my laptop for the speaker’s presentation as official one broken; gave summary of Y.DT progress – well received! Then N4c4ll and back home to finish current round of grass cutting. Weather continues fine but evidently it’s downhill from Wednesday so may visit a nest site after meeting at DM in Newcastle, CT4s4l, N4c4t!! Got another meeting at Newcastle (unn) on Wednesday morning. Late evening it’s BH4ra4s!! loktt beauties!!!

June 22nd: sultry on the moors as fine spell continues, with not much clear sunshine, lots of haze and little breeze. Honey-buzzard are settling down to nest now with end of display phase assigned as 20/6 this season when had the 5 birds up in the Tipalt area. Yesterday saw no real display and neither did today. However, have to say that putting a date on the display period is fraught with problems. The birds can display at any time through the season and the timing of the season varies from lowland areas to upland areas by several weeks. Further the males carry on displaying for around a week after the female disappears onto the nest so display can certainly occur when incubation has started. A less descriptive but more apt description might be ‘initial phase’ of breeding season. Anyway all over SW Northumberland (and over many other areas as well!) Honey-buzzard are now sitting on their clutches of 2 eggs. Today was productive but very hard work as expected for the sitting/rearing phase. Trip started at E end of Slaley Forest at 11:30 where looking for new Honey-buzzard site – no luck but did have 1 Cuckoo calling. On towards Blanchland noticed a large raptor over rough birch woodland on Cowbyers Fell: it was a male Honey-buzzard, floating over the wood, looking for feeding opportunities; he drifted around for 9 minutes before drifting away to the SW (towards his nest site). From 11:55-16:55 had long walk in Beldon Burn from Baybridge-Riddlehamhope with 3 known sites at hand. However, on way up had no joy until reached top site at Riddlehamhope where a male was seen coming out of the back door from a wood on edge of moor and then floating over the heather. He was seen again from 14:32-14:40, doing some energetic flap-flap-glide over the wood in which they nest and then slowly circling away in territorial fashion over the moor to the S, attended by a mad Curlew. On way back still did not pick up any more Honey-buzzard until sat down for a snack overlooking the Durham side; then finally at 16:35 the male was seen over the Nookton nest site, gliding very low-down over the tops of the trees for a few seconds; without knowing where the site was, you would never have picked him out. So outcome was good – 3 more sites, 3 more males – but it was much harder work than in the display phase. Only other raptors were single male Kestrel in Beldon Burn and at Blanchland. Had 5 Cuckoo in Beldon Burn making 6 for day, a record total for me in North Pennines. Waders were also good with post-breeding flock of 23 Curlew and 21 still-nesting birds, 4 Golden Plover, 3 Lapwing, 2 Snipe, 2 Oystercatcher, 1 Woodcock. Others of interest were a Whinchat (1st for year), 2 Tree Pipit, 21 Meadow Pipit, 8 Red Grouse (1 brood of 5). Moths included 10 Anerastia lotella 1  2  3, a new species for me on the moors so presumably colonised since 1990 when last worked the moors hard. More to follow … Only 7 Honey-buzzard sites to go now: 3 in (East) Allen, 2 in Derwent, 1 in Irthing, 1 in East Tynedale. But these will be intermingled with the more intensive visits to the nest sites, which start soon though pace is now going to be more leisurely!! You have to make hay while the sun shines!! Ate enormous supper (Waitrose frozen fish/chips/peas) then off to G4g4s with P where gr8 to have the far-sighted jn on!! Day finished superbly: very inspiring: lokttmgo!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

Interesting short note in Scottish Birds – McInerny, Christopher J, Honey-buzzard carrying a reptile during display flight, Scottish Birds 34(2) p.143 (2014). Author believes this is the first report of a reptile being used as a visual prey item during display flight by Honey-buzzard in Scotland. Found the comment by Brian Etheridge to be very revealing: “I have not witnessed this before, though I have watched this species display many times. Display in the late summer is quite frequent and appears to be made by non-breeding adults. It is often followed up the next year by a breeding attempt in the wood over which the display occurs.” Well, well, Brian is based in Inverness where I’ve found 9 sites between 2000-2012. It appears that at least some raptor workers in Scotland are being more candid about the growing population of Honey-buzzard in the country!

June 21st: a cooler day with much more cloud in afternoon but remaining settled. The longest day if you’re an optimist; if you’re a pessimist, every day is shorter now for the next six months! Made Allen from 15:35-17:45, visiting 2 sites – Oakpool and Monk (Keenleyside). Very successful for the edge of the grouse moors getting 4 Honey-buzzard at 3 sites, bringing site-total to 45, within striking distance of completion. At Oakpool at 16:10 a male Honey-buzzard came out of the site, rose up to moderate height and moved N towards the gorge, mobbed by a few corvids; female could be incubating. At Monk at 17:12 a very similar event happened with the male up to moderate height and off towards the moor (Whitfield Moor) to NE; female could be incubating. While at Monk could keep an eye on Parmently where had a male land at 16:58 in a marshy area close to site on SE side, presumably to hunt for frogs and whatever else might be found (slugs, beetles, caterpillars, …); the female at 17:10 was up at moderate height over the moorland near the site floating around, maybe looking for a feeding opportunity; at this high site, clearly not on eggs yet. Only other raptor was a female Kestrel at Stublick (Yellow Rigg) at 15:20. Waders numbered 5 species with 15 Curlew (including live and dead chicks 1), 9 Lapwing, 4 Oystercatcher, 1 Redshank, 1 Snipe, all in a great state of anxiety. Total for day was 32 species. Moths included Small Argent and Sable at Monk (good disguise 1) and larvae of Yponomeuta evonymella 1  2 on Bird Cherry and Gracillaria syringella 1 on Ash. Much earlier in day. stopped car at 00:50 (21/6) in Dipton Wood; Nightjar came out of clearing very close-up and flew towards trees nearby. Did make C4c4l, good to see jn!! Start of next week is very busy with the Y.DT R competition, with meeting of Hexham group tomorrow at noon at B and chairing planning group meeting at DM in town, on Tuesday morning; we’ve got 5 schools lined up so far with 28 student entries, not bad! Possible trips later in year include Iran (return match! late August? political uncertainties for timing), Ireland (October) and Cape Verde (leeward southern group, November). 2moro it’s long walk up Beldon Burn to try and sort Derwent! Later should be at G4g4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

June 20th: another day of hot sunshine on light N breeze; amazing for Honey-buzzard as visited Tipalt area, W of Haltwhistle, where had 5 Honey-buzzard at 3 sites from 12:50-14:30; certainly the display season is still in full flow. At 13:05 had a male Honey-buzzard high in the sky to SSE over Redpeth area, he hung there obviously hoping to have a bit of fun; at 13:07 3 Honey-buzzard were up just above the trees, another male and 2 females, right below him; they all got up in the air and were doing some mutual circling at considerable height until the female drifted off to the N; at 13:14 the birds had gone too high in the haze to be still visible; at 13:18 a pair dived from great height back to the ground. The situation reminded me of that at Eals where the 2 pairs intermingle quite freely in display; my presumption is that this was a new pair at Redpeth mixing with the existing pair from Blenkinsopp NE. Next up at this end of valley was a male Hobby over Redpeth at 13:40 on his own at height, looking in territory. From 13:25-13:35 a male Honey-buzzard was doing the butterfly display flight over the nearby Greenhead Bank, slowly drifting at height with frequent breaks for the rapid wing fluttering when stationary (hovering in most people’s terminology but Honey-buzzard don’t hover!); the silhouette in the butterfly flight really shows off the long tail, neck and wings; indeed the bird looks more like a falcon than a buzzard. The female was presumably sitting on eggs at this site and he was showing off! He concluded with a rapid glide and a dive. Spacing of sites here is about 2.0 km, slightly less than regulatory 2.4 km, presumably because of rich extensive wooded habitat and large areas of adjacent open countryside; it’s optimal habitat for Honey-buzzard with basic grazing in meadows between the woods and moorland within easy reach. So that’s 42 sites now (2 new). Had 6 Common Buzzard during the trip: 3 together up over Bardon Mill and single and pair at 2 sites in Greenhead area. Total for trip was 25 species, including 14 Chaffinch, maybe already leaving Border Forests after breeding there; 7 Canada Goose flew S. Butterflies included 1st Ringlet and 2 Red Admiral; moths included Aphelia unitana 1 and Chrysoteuchia culmella 1. Did make N4c4c and W4ra4s, where 4 of us out for good crack; N and I are plotting next season’s Sage series; SH! Did a lot of grass cutting early evening, but area to be cut is temporarily reduced by the orchids (protected, convenient!). Missed the beauty this week: lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s C4c4l, short trip out and catch up with recording!! Not away for quite a while!!

Subtle change in markets this week with bonds stabilising after strong rise through the year on continued low interest rates. So had to rely on mining stocks and metals (mainly in pt/pd/rh/u 308), which now make up about 25% of portfolio; these rose a bit so made +4k to new record with gain on year now 75k after 10k of withdrawals. Any cash that comes up will go into mining but unlikely to switch any more substantially unless there’s a sharp interest rate hike when anyway would have to review whole strategy.

June 19th: cooler today but still dry and settled on light N breeze. Went for shorter trip, out to Slaley Forest Trygill from 15:50-17:30. Moving quite close to site, disturbed a pair of Common Buzzard at 16:35, which proceeded to whine on for 50 minutes, with both birds out and complaining about my presence. No sign of the Honey-buzzard except at 16:48 when the female appeared very high overhead, before gliding down rapidly moving S. Bit surprised by this as it didn’t look as if her interest in the mewing Common Buzzard was anything but academic. Thinking that was it, started driving home at 17:20 and picked up a male Honey-buzzard coming right over the road moving SW from Slaley Hall, carrying some food item; stopped car and picked him up moving into Slaley Forest about 1 km to SW from last year’s site, where he landed in trees with quite a commotion. So very promising outcome but 2 important conclusions: maybe display period finished yesterday; on spacing there may be another (new) site on extreme E of Slaley Forest. Also had a Kestrel female carrying food. Total was 24 species, including 1 Tree Pipit, 6 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 3 Siskin. Moths included Small Argent and Sable 1, Crambus lathoniellus 1. Put trap out last night in humid conditions and had at least 25 moth types (still counting!), including Scorched Wing 1, Triple-spotted Pug 1  2, Grey Pug ??, Tinea semifulvella 1  2, Poplar Hawk 1, Northern Eggar 1, Chinese Character 1, Pandemis cerasana 1, Knotgrass 1 – pretty amazing haul! Lepidoptera total for year now 103 species with some data still to add. Did make N4c4l where met S for good chat; enjoyed the sights including the meo who looked very good: lokttmeo!! Out to SK4cd4s with M, where good chat on CT and very interesting apples!! 2moro it’s N4c4c, trip out W, W4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

June 18th: glorious weather, hot sunshine, hardly any breeze, hot at 23ºC. And still the Honey-buzzard display! Brought the running total up to 38 sites in the study area today with 54 birds seen (33 male, 21 female). Started coverage of Derwent area today, visiting Minsteracres from 11:50-12:50 and Kellas N from 14:30-15:50. At the first had to wait all of 36 minutes until 12:21 when a female Honey-buzzard was spotted circling low-down over trees to SW of Minsteracres. At 12:26 the male was seen diving down towards the same trees and both birds then got up high in the sky, giving a mixture of mutual soaring and synchronised diving, going very high before they both disappeared at 12:30, presumably having returned to the trees below; they’re certainly not on eggs yet. Also here had a Kestrel female and a pair of Hobby up at 12:20, all soaring together with the Hobby way above the Kestrel; the Hobby disappeared to the W of Minsteracres. Insects included Red-tailed Bumblebee 1. Soon after arrival at Kellas N at 14:42 had a male Honey-buzzard high up in the sky, making some long calls, as he dipped and dived up until 14:52 when he dived back towards the nest; possibly his mate was on eggs. Below a petulant Common Buzzard called and later a female Sparrowhawk went out hunting. Butterflies were incredible here: 5 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14 (in very tight area on edge of large clearing), 15 Large Skipper 1  2  3  4, 13 Small Heath 1  2, 8 Green-veined White, 1 Small White. Moths included 7 Chrysoteuchia culmella 1. Early in morning around 00:30 (18/6) had single Tawny Owl at Prudhoe and Swallowship and a Nightjar hawking insects over the Lamb Shield interchange. JC had a Red Kite feeding today for about 2 hours in a freshly-cut hayfield near Dukesfield, Shire’s only known site. Total number of species today was 36, including 30 at the 2 Honey-buzzard sites. Back to N4c4t where good to see j back, followed by G4g4t and G4g4s, where good to see l again!! Hope training party went well: pity 2 miss u!! 2moro it’s sorting out some things on the computer in morning, N4c4l, a trip out W, maybe T&S4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

June 17th: back to the NE, on direct 11:24 train from Exeter-Newcastle, and hence to Corbridge. Took 7 hours in all, on time but reservation system failed, which caused a lot of confusion; may go through London next time, in proper trains! Still no denying pleased to be in Hexham again and straight out to BH where good to meet ch again!! Brilliant end to day, made me feel very welcome: she’s very inventive with the changes: lokttmbo!!! Crashing out as write – more 2moro, when N4c4t and G4g4t!!

June 16th: busy day on other side of Exe, getting 2 more occupied Honey-buzzard sites, both known from the more frequent visits made a few years ago. The 1st site visited was near Starcross, from 10:35-12:10, in warm but mainly cloudy conditions with occasional sunny intervals at 20ºC. Had to wait a little while for action, indeed until 11:07-11:10, when a male Honey-buzzard was seen hanging in the breeze over roughish wood to E of the site, doing a couple of passes in very leisurely fashion. From 11:54-11:58 the female got up, coming out of same area and climbing up on own to moderate height, where she did some steep dives to N of site, before apparently coming down. However, on leaving site at 12:08 she could be seen some way further N floating at moderate height – suspect she was escaping my camera! See clip 4101 ?? with derived stills ???. Other birds included 6 Whitethroat and 7 Skylark. Insects here included Peacock larvae on nettles 1  2  3, Gallium Carpet 1, Dung Beetle sp 1  2. Onto Teignmouth for lunch at usual café of Cobley’s where had good look around at a few old haunts and homes, taking some piccies. Must admit do have sentimental attachment to Teignmouth: so much happened there!! Here’s the Ness headland 1, the Parson & Clerk headland 1, the Regency houses 1  2, the working port 1  2  3, the pilot boat 1, the estuary 1, the Dairy Maid 1 (equivalent of N in Hexham), the sea defences 1 with some still under repair 1, 15 Orchard Gardens 1  2 (where lived as teenager), Bank Street 1 (site of Grandfather’s jewellery shop). Back via Ideford Common on Haldon Moor, where had another session from 13:55-15:15. Here had to wait until 14:42 before a male appeared, clearly back from a hunting trip, hanging over the W part of the Common. He quickly disappeared and then from 14:44-14:46 the pair of Honey-buzzard had a wild bit of mutual circling at moderate height before both coming down close together into the trees. See clip 4102 ?? with derived stills ???. At both sites today would judge that eggs have been laid, but the birds are reluctant to settle down into the mega-secrecy phase. This is a common state: mid-June sees the same behaviour at some sites in Northumberland. But settle down they will!! So that’s 7 birds at 4 sites in 4 days; amazing, but only one site is new to me, the 2nd at Aylesbeare. Other birds included 2 Common Buzzard in area, 3 Tree Pipit 1  2  3, 3 Dartford Warbler, 2 Meadow Pipit and 2 Stonechat feeding young. Insects here included Red Admiral 1  2, White-tailed Bumblebee 1  2, Azure Damselfly (5 including copulating pair) 1  2. On the road had 2 more Common Buzzard at Farringdon and Kennford. 2moro it’s BH4ra4s: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

June 15th: not quite so warm today but still dry with spells of sunshine and 21ºC maximum on light N breeze. Made Aylesbeare Common S today from 11:15-13:00, after doing N part on 13/6. Had just got my bearings when fastened onto a high-flying raptor, hanging almost stationary with occasional languid flaps in slow hovering mode. It was a male Honey-buzzard, up from 11:22-11:40, hanging over W part of Common, before diving down into wooded area beneath where he’d been hanging. This behaviour is associated with the very end of the display period, when the female is sitting on eggs and the male is advertising high above that this is an occupied site, both to other birds in the area and to any very late migrants; he may also be showing off to his mate! See clip 4100 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7; 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9; clips 3, 4. Suspect Clinton Estates own this wooded area. Also had 3 Common Buzzard in the same area and another bird at Newton Poppleford. There is scope for another Honey-buzzard pair at the far S end of the Common; a very high soaring bird there at great distance on 13/6 was put down as a Common Buzzard but might have been a Honey-buzzard. Also on Common, in total of 20 bird species, had singing Grasshopper Warbler, Chiffchaff (4), Stonechat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap. Butterflies included the rare Silver-studded Blue (4 males in tiny area) 1  2  3  4  5  6, Meadow Brown 1, Speckled Wood 1, Small Heath, Brimstone. Moths included a Latticed Heath 1  2. Went for another walk with younger sis onto Salcombe Hill in late afternoon – good catch-up; we agreed that mum was the star in keeping the family going in the 1960s! Added butterflies Red Admiral and Gatekeeper, making day’s total 9 types. It’s golfing day 2moro so out on own in sis’ car to other side of Exe, including trip to Teignmouth for lunch! Return approaches – lokttmbo!!!

June 14th: pretty intense day with M in Exmouth; he came over on the 10:10 ferry from Starcross and we spent 6 hours in massive catch-up on CT papers, including plans to visit ANPA conference in August and to submit paper to a Vienna conference. We had good stroll along the prom and long lunch at Royal Beacon Hotel, Exmouth. Went back with him on 16:40 ferry, returning immediately on 17:10 from Starcross. Had good views from boat of (maternal) grandparents’ farm at Eastdon (hamlet 1 and farm house 1  2). Was a good day for keeping collaboration going (and could check briefly on Starcross Honey-buzzard site, where no action seen). Another hot day, up to 23ºC in no breeze and strong sunshine, but with some cloud midday. Had 20 species in estuary, including female Shelduck with 8 ducklings 1  2, a Little Egret 1  2  3, 3 Gannet and 4 Sandwich Tern fishing over bar, and 2 Turnstone. No raptors today – as no breeze, probably restricted to midday when having lunch! M thinks I’m bound to be moving S to London, to be close to kids, or to roots in Devon, but I’ve no such plans!! Do remember last Tuesday: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

June 13th: hot today, up to 24ºC in light breeze and strong sunshine; day out with younger sister, went on Sidmouth seafront in afternoon where people in sea and most of town seemed to be out; Devonians love being outside in the sun! Morning was as predicted: busman’s holiday, visiting Aylesbeare Common and seeing lots of raptors, with total 8 birds of 3 types: 3 Common Buzzard, 3 Hobby, 2 Honey-buzzard. The Hobby comprised 3 birds up together on W side of reserve, 2 in active display as a pair and the other a male, maybe from a nearby site, on the fringe of the activity. The Honey-buzzard were in their usual spot (secret!) with the male up quite high from 12:50-12:55 doing some butterfly display on his own; the female also came up on her own an hour later from 13:50-13:55, floating around the area before doing many circles low-down around the presumed nest site. The suggestion is that they’ve just started incubating, maybe the first egg, and have not gone fully into top-secret mode yet. Also had on the heath, in total of 26 bird types, Dartford Warbler and Stonechat 1, with 7 types of butterfly including Brimstone 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 and Green Hairstreak 1  2  3, moths including Brown Silver-line 1, dragonflies at a pond 1 including 2 species of damselfly, Large Red Damselfly 1 and Common Blue Damselfly 1, and Green Tiger Beetle 1  2. Animals included a female Roe Deer 1  2  3. Went to Sidmouth later in afternoon where cliff erosion all too evident 1  2  3  4. Too cocky on Tuesday when 7k up on the markets; since then junk bonds have stalled, pt/pd metals have fallen, £ has soared and it’s been son’s birthday, so finished +2k at new peak after withdrawal of 1.5k, not too bad for a week when world markets generally have eased. Cannot believe how high the £ has gone: maybe a good time to buy $/€ assets. 2moro seeing M at Exmouth so continuing the seafront theme. Sister said she’d been told by an elderly relative how the Rs had never been the same since my maternal grandfather entered the scene: as a gambling man fond of women, he’d distracted us from our true destiny, whatever that may mean!! He always had a wicked twinkle in his eye!! Added Slimbridge visit (31/5) to BirdTrack – an amazing 53 species, including 8 new for the year. Not out tonite — missing the action; hope to make up for it on return on appropriate nite: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

June 12th: still adding Honey-buzzard near home with a male over NW Dipton Wood, floating and prospecting, as drove to station at 11:30; he’s a new bird for the year, presumed to be from Dipton S site, where a lonely female was seen earlier! Put a lot of work on train into sorting out 2008 movement for publication, by combining it all into one file; some quite significant tweaking is needed to references, but it’s a major step forward; will continue working on it while down here, here being 5 hours 40 minutes from Newcastle by train and 30 minutes local drive! Seeing M on Saturday for long chat about CT; weather is brilliant as it was in Hexham when left, so should get a busman’s holiday! Locals look very sun-tanned and lots of very positive comments about wedding! xxxxxxxxxx to the lovelies!!!!

June 11th: further sightings and thoughts. At 21:55 (10/6) a female Honey-buzzard flew S over A69 just before A68 goes off S at the roundabout; presumed to be going to Farnley; typical late feeding, almost crepuscular, at this time of year. At 10:30 (11/6) a female Honey-buzzard was flushed from ditch near top of Loughbrow on S side; she was a rich orange-red hue and quite heavy in build, flying off E low-down; quite a near miss, she was engrossed in feeding, presumably on frogs/slugs/beetles in the ditch; she’s a new bird for the year. At 12:00 a female Hobby was up over garage area at Stocksfield E; she had rapid wingbeats, and looked in territory. At Prudhoe Dukeshagg, arrived 12:10, and had to wait until 12:20 for male Honey-buzzard to appear at moderate height above large conifer wood and climb high for 3 minutes, closely mobbed by Crow; he then dived back towards the ground; nice and co-operative considering limited time available for visit of 35 minutes! Weather today was warm with hot sunshine on light S breeze. The habitat at Ryton Willows/Clara Vale was studied closely from train: looks fine for Honey-buzzard. There are plenty of unimproved meadows, some copses, some areas of tall trees, plus the banks on both sides of Tyne, including Newburn Riverside Park; must investigate! Did make N4c4c: will miss the super-fit one: lokttmbo!!! Meeting at unn went well – it shows the conceptual power of CT that we can pick up the paper again after a break of 8 weeks (for exams) and make progress immediately. Thomas Zehetmair’s final concert was tremendous with his wife Ruth Killius playing a major role as soloists in 2 of the pieces, including Bartók’s Viola Concerto. The final piece, Beethoven 5, was played so well, it brought a standing ovation, very fitting for a concert put out live on Radio 3.

June 10th: mopped up upper South Tyne with 2 sites found occupied by Honey-buzzard at Lambley and Barhaugh, each by a male and female, though feeding separately. Weather from 15:40-18:15 was fresher than recently with heavy showers on moderate NW breeze. At Lambley, visited from 15:40-16:45, had a male up over the site at 15:40 diving into trees to E of the site, and a female coming towards the site from E in flap-flap-glide action at 16:17. Also here had 8 agitated Oystercatcher, 1 displaying Common Sandpiper, a Moorhen family group, 2 Grey Wagtail and a Dipper visiting a probable nest site. Cydia ulicetana were common in the gorse 1  2. A Common Buzzard was at Parson Shields at 16:55. From 17:00-18:00 was at Barhaugh, the site at highest altitude in the upper South Tyne. Here a male Honey-buzzard was up briefly over the site at 17:30 in some contention with a Grey Heron; at 17:45 the female Honey-buzzard came out of the moorland edge to N and flew towards Barhaugh Hall, carrying some large food item, perhaps a vole; she was struggling a bit but kept going until she twice changed course, backing away to W, before continuing on S towards the site; at 17:56 the male was again up in the sky to S over site in a rain shower; when carrying food they have a strong instinct to not give anything away when they land with the prey item so suspect that was why she veered away from me. Here’s clip 4043 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16. Also here had a Common Buzzard on hill to N. 13 Stock Dove, in groups of 9 and 4, were at Gilderdale Bridge at 18:10. Total for trip was 32 species. So that means upper South Tyne, lower South Tyne, Tyne Valley W, Devil’s Water now all fully covered for display phase with all sites occupied and one new site at Allerwash in lower South Tyne. Running total is 35 sites occupied, by 29 male and 19 female, total 48 birds. In Allen 3 out of 9 sites have been shown to be occupied this year and in Tyne Valley E 4 out of 6 sites. Tipalt (3 sites) and Derwent (8 sites) have yet to be visited. So plenty achieved but much to do! Trap was busy last night with 14 species of moth, including 1 new one for me in area: 1 Agonopterix kaekeritziana 1  2  3, plus 1 Spectacle 1, 1 Common Swift 1, 1 Common Carpet 1, 1 Eucosma cana 1, 1 Spruce Carpet 1. Also had 6 types in the field at dusk, including 10 Common Swift 1, 6 Aphelia unitana 1  2, 10 Crambus lathoniellus 1. Nice to be buying cards: certainly looked very, very desirable!! Made BH4ra4s where gr8 to have ch on!! Stout was good as well! Close encounter was very inspiring later on: do try to behave myself but it’s difficult: lokttmbo!!! 2moro should make N4c4c with P, then into unn for meeting with P/M, followed by CT4c4t, MP4m4s, S4con with N for Thomas’ farewell concert as RNS director. Another good week on markets with junk bonds and pt/pd all advancing!

June 9th: after yesterday’s action, more leisurely today; went to R where group heads gave proposals for next year; said would like to consult with existing International Group members before committing anything to paper; deadline for Vocational competition entries is this Friday (13/6). Finished yesterday’s account; also sorted out some piccies today, particularly those for 17/5-18/5; a major backlog as usual has built up near end of display phase! Found masses of those orchids 1  2  3  4 (see 7/6) in my field, near far hedge, with at least 80 flower heads. Also at Ordley at 22:00 had a roding Woodcock and a calling Cuckoo. Enjoyed Hexham: gr8 to see mbo, meo!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, then trip out to upper South Tyne to try and complete that stretch followed much later by BH4ra4s!! loktt beauties!!!!

June 8th: trap catch was poor, just 3 Silver-ground Carpet and the beautiful Brimstone Moth ??; bright moon and short period of darkness not good conditions. 1st Speckled Wood of season was seen early-on in garden. Had another great day in the field in good weather for the search with hot sunshine, light SW breeze and the odd shower to keep things fresh. Completed lower South Tyne, working my way from Haydon Bridge to Plenmeller Common. Was at Wood Hall, SE of Haydon Bridge, from 11:15-12:25, where had to wait until 11:29 for a male Honey-buzzard moving E low-down towards a copse, presumed for feeding purposes. At 11:35 the female was seen much closer to the wood, flying into it mobbed by 2 Crow. At 11:48 as I climbed up the hill, the male was flushed from the ground, near a hawthorn hedge, where he had indeed been feeding; he flew back towards the wood to join the female. At 11:58 he came out of the wood on the W side and soared effortlessly very high, where he did some diving and butterfly display. Meanwhile on the other side of the valley at Allerwash a pair had been seen up in display from 11:25-11:32 over the hill to the immediate W, with the female doing some impressive flap-flap-glide at low altitude below the male. At 12:03 the male was up again on his own, also doing flap-flap-glide, but this time over the likely nesting place. Allerwash is about 2.5 km from Wood Hall and from Greenshaw Plain, the next site to the E, so regulations on inter-pair distances are satisfied! Allerwash is a new site for me, but would not be surprised if it’s been used before. Total at Haydon Bridge was 26 species. Onto Plenmeller Common from 12:40-15:35, where hoped to have a moorland walk with the bonus of picking up a Honey-buzzard casually over the woods to the N. No such luck, after finishing the walk, had to visit the site at Unthank from 15:40-16:20, flush the male off the ground (another feeding bird) at 15:45 and watch him soar very high to keep an eye on me until at least 15:53! Other raptors today to add to the 5 Honey-buzzard at 3 sites, were 1 Common Buzzard at Wood Hall and a cock Merlin on the Common, baulking as it suddenly realised my presence. Also on Common was a Wigeon female, flying low over the heather, and some very excited waders: 16 Curlew, 15 Lapwing, 11 Golden Plover, 8 Oystercatcher, 2 Snipe (all confirmed breeding with distraction displays), plus 20 Red Grouse (12 young in 2 broods), 5 Skylark, 20 Meadow Pipit and 1400 Black-headed Gull attending about 900 nests on the ground, in total of 17 species. Moths included 4 Common Heath ??, 1 Emperor male and most surprising of all a Cinnabar ??. The last is a bright red moth, packed full of cyanide, whose larvae feed on ragwort, the favourite hate of country ladies! It’s very much a coastal species in Northumberland so a major surprise, except I had one last Tuesday in Argyle Street, Hexham: thought I was hallucinating at the time but maybe not; of course it could have arrived by car! So further indication of climate change. Had 2 agitated Redshank at Unthank bringing breeding waders on the day to 6 types. Back to W for shopping, N4c4t and much later G4g4s, where good to have posh jn on!! Completed nite in brilliant style with the scintillating one: lokttmgo!!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll, maybe a site visit and catch-up in evening.

June 7th: plenty of rain today, started to catch up with backlog of records with some additions below. Needless to say, still some way behind! As rain cleared at dusk at Ordley had a Woodcock roding over field and a family group of Tawny Owl out on N side of field. On BirdGuides a further 10 Honey-buzzard reported from 2/6-7/6 including 2 at Wykeham Forest (N Yorks). So far this season 93 reports have been received of Honey-buzzard, mostly of 1 bird each. In Benelux 722 individuals have been recorded in the same period, of which 359 in Eemshaven, in NE corner of Holland on the coast. So ratio Benelux:UK is about 7:1, not nearly as high as would be expected, if the UK was a complete backwater for the species. Many Scandinavian birds will be passing through Benelux. Next trip, fairly imminent, is going back to my roots; Gloucestershire had some resemblance to the SW but is classified usually as south Midlands; agree, doesn’t have the decadent feel of the SW!! But will fit in another BH, indeed won’t miss one, and the split session at G!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!! 2moro it’s purposeful fieldwork (somewhere!), N4c4t, G4g4s!!

At Ordley got orchids growing in the grass, near the soak-away area on the back ‘lawn’, about 10 Northern Marsh Orchid ??; so that’s another area of grass I cannot cut quite yet, to add to that occupied by Cowslip. Less kind ejected from the dining room a very large Rubber Plant that have had for almost 40 years which was on its way out; tidied up a few other long-time holds!

June 6th: as usual got some nice piccies of the pair at Wylam E in a visit from 15:00-17:10, in good conditions of light SE breeze and hot sunshine. The pair of Honey-buzzard came up in high-altitude display from 15:25-15:28 with the male doing some spectacular dives; then a plane came through and they disappeared! The male was seen coming into the site at 16:05, low-down. Then from 16:20-16:28 best views of all as the male hung very high-up almost stationary right over the Tyne; he did move slightly S at one stage but came back to N side, where finally lost to view. Here’s clip (4040) 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12 and stills taken during the videoing 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13. This pair is more used to people than some in the wilds; do wonder if there’s another pair at Ryton where some of the rough habitat along the Tyne is very suitable and is the requisite 2.5km from the Wylam E site; will check later perhaps; at 9-10 km from Newcastle City Centre, a Ryton site would be the same distance out as the Throckley one. Also here were a pair of Hobby, displaying towards Heddon, a Common Buzzard and a male Sparrowhawk out hunting. So that’s 6 raptors of 4 types: 2 Honey-buzzard, 2 Hobby, 1 Common Buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk. Other interesting birds were a singing Lesser Whitethroat, 14 Long-tailed Tit in 2 family groups, 10 Sand Martin. Met P at N4c4c for good catch-up; almost bumped into the elegant meo!! Went from Wylam into Newcastle on train to meet N at M4m4t, with one of highlights of season following: Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (solemn mass) performed by RNS and the RNS Chorus with Thomas conducting. It was fantastic – marvellous that we have such live performances in the NE. Pinnacle of season is still to come: Wagner’s Götterdämmerung (twilight of the gods) by Opera North at Sage on 28/6, starting at 15:30; this IMHO is the finest opera ever written, completing the Ring Cycle. Next season Opera North are doing more Wagner in early July (2015): Flying Dutchman! Steady progress on markets this week with +5k: B&B were main mover but BOI also went up well; growing shortages of pt/pd/rh through labour troubles in RSA must surely have a greater impact on prices as we move towards 2nd half of year but all-important sentiment, near rock-bottom in precious metals except possibly for pd, is still to turn; not forgetting bonds, now am proud owner of 21k nominal of WBS, bought for about ¼ of that; intend to buy more. Did make W4ra4s where just 2 more of us out but good to have j on; then SH!! 2moro it’s catch-up day with C4c4l. Here’s another couple of shots 1  2 from the wedding (from the bride’s Facebook page, now under her new name Khatib…..!). Here’s Linkedin profile of her husband. Think they’re going to put the event and notice in HC!

Had 5 types of butterfly today at Ordley and Wylam with 1st Wall of season at both sites, plus the 3 whites and Small Tortoiseshell. In the trap had 9 moths of 6 types: 1 Poplar Hawk (size of small bird, piccie 1 of it perched on my thumb!), 2 White Ermine, 1 Common Marbled Carpet, 3 Silver-ground Carpet, 1 Common White Wave 1, 1 Green Carpet 1. Up to 54 species of Lepidoptera now for the year, with a bit of material still to add.

June 5th: brilliant afternoon out in lower South Tyne in dull humid weather, alternating between brief sunny intervals and drizzle on moderate SW breeze. Added 4 Honey-buzzard sites for the year, bringing total to 29 in study area. Visited Willimontswick from 15:35-16:55 where had quick succession of birds up at the 3 nearby sites. At 16:00 a male Honey-buzzard was up high, floating over Thorngrafton, followed quickly by a male Sparrowhawk up over Thorngrafton Common, actively mobbed by 2 Jackdaw. At 16:18 a female Honey-buzzard was up over wood E of Willimontswick, climbing a little and then finishing up in the middle of an Ash tree where it was perched for at least 5 minutes, mobbed tentatively by a Magpie; here’s clips: 4041 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13, 2 with derived stills 1  2  3. At 16:25 a male Honey-buzzard was up over large plantation at Haughstrother, floating effortlessly before sinking back down again; this process was repeated at 16:30 and 16:32. Going through Beltingham bumped into B, drinking mate at G, and went in for cup of tea and good crack. Emerged at 18:00 and had another Honey-buzzard, a male, floating at moderate altitude over wood W of Langley at Deanraw. So great progress today. Total for trip was 21 species, including 7 Oystercatcher, 2 Curlew, 8 Swift, 10 Swallow. Made N4c4l and much later T&S4ra4s where good to meet the lads again and the delectable mmo!! 2moro it’s N4c4c, out in the field in Wylam area, MP, S4con with N, W4ra4s!! Nice to talktalk? xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

June 4th: rained most of day so took chance to catch up with some indoor tasks like compiling the email reminder to schools on approaching Y.DT deadline. Started sorting clips from Towsbank yesterday (4030): as usual it’s a complex situation there, don’t know how people resolve such things without video as concluding evidence. Had trap out, always good in the rain with 13 moths of 10 types: 4 Silver-ground Carpet 1 (one of commonest moths in early June, Nightjar arrive just as hatching, many such moths in Dipton Wood last night), 1 Common Carpet 1, 1 Brown Silver-line 1, 1 Common Pug, 1 Common Marbled Carpet 1, 1 Green Carpet, 1 Brown Rustic 1, 1 White Ermine 1, 1 Coxcomb Prominent 1, 1 Small Angle Shades 1 (1st for Linnels, only recorded twice before by me). A pair of Spotted Flycatcher spent the afternoon catching flies from the trees just outside the back patio, where a large family party of 10 Long-tailed Tit was also assembled. Bought a few WBS, good for wallpaper! Avoided Saga trap (share issue): although have 2 policies with them, don’t like their dearie ethos and the way they almost try to appear as a charity or a mutual; will switch policies again as soon as they start bumping the premiums up each year; ‘fraid no loyalty there (on either side!). Trying to make Fore Street into the Paris of the north: well yesterday we had accordion, fine weather, people sitting outside and grand views; today would have been back to square 1! Did make N4c4t and a couple of sessions at G, where gr8 to see everyone again. New desk does have advantages!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, trip out at teatime as rain hopefully clears and maybe T&S4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

June 3rd: good to be back, had gr8 lunchtime at the pavement café, meeting P/J/S and enjoying the sights of the beauties!! Then out to the star site for Honey-buzzard of Towsbank in the upper South Tyne where breeding 1st detected in early 1990s; made it from 15:10-17:10 in strong sunshine and moderate NW breeze, perfect conditions for raptors; had 4 Honey-buzzard displaying together for quite a lot of the time and got plenty of video and stills with some more tail band shots suitable for front page; these birds are from 2 sites, one on each side of the South Tyne at Eals, and seem to enjoy each other’s company. Here are the clips 4030: 1 (4 birds up 16:12) with derived stills (3 series, different processing techniques) 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  32  33  34  35  36  (PlayMemories Home), 37  38  39  40  41  42  43  44  45  46  47  48  49  50  51  52 (AVS), 53 (screen capture), pictures 24-36 and 47-52 show a pale Common Buzzard interacting with the Honey-buzzard; 2 (pair up in full display 15:48) with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30, picture 20 shows the pale Common Buzzard; 3 (pair up 15:24, picture 2 shows a Common Buzzard passing over higher-up) with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21; 4 (female up 16:03) with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9; 5 (female up 16:01) with derived stills 1  2  3  4. Notes were also taken at the time: 15:30 pair up soon after arrived, with a Common Buzzard; 15:48 pair up again in full display, female looking larger than male, with another male below, a Common Buzzard also present; 16:05 all 3 birds (2 male, 1 female with female close, hanging in breeze over hillside) up again; 16:08 4 Common Buzzard up in air; 16:12 display continues with 4 birds up in air now; 16:30 2 birds circulating overhead, one giving a long call. Also here had 4 Common Buzzard and a male Hobby, with a male Honey-buzzard hanging over North Wood site from 17:20-17:25 (floating upwards slowly, looking on guard), 2 more Common Buzzard on the road in the lower South Tyne and a Kestrel at Letah Wood at 21:30; total for day was therefore 13 raptors of 4 types: 6 Common Buzzard, 5 Honey-buzzard, 1 Hobby, 1 Kestrel. Also at Towsbank had 3 Cuckoo (1 bird singing, 1 pair copulating), 1 Raven, 4 Tree Pipit (at 3 sites, can be heard on clips above), 1 Redstart (agitated), 3 Garden Warbler, 3 Willow Warbler, 10 Swallow – what a marvellous wood it is. There were 4 types of butterfly: Green-veined White (9), Orange Tip (1 male), Small White (1), Small Tortoiseshell (1), and 2 of moths: Silver-ground Carpet (4) 1, Brown Silver-line (1) 1. Finally received electricity bill for last 18 months – £404.85 – paid already! B&B’s results showed solid progress and bonds advanced further. Made BH4ra4s – very sociable with S/jd and her mum there to see a lively band; good to see jd again!! Perfect finish to day with nearby rendezvous: think we make a good pair: lokttmbo!!! Lastly, through Letah Wood had a Nightjar at 00:45 (4/6), 1st of year, hawking insects over the road!

June 2nd: travelling back day, quite a lot of changes – Birdlip, Banbury, Marylebone, Baker Street, Kings X, Newcastle, Airport – but all on time! Weather was sunny in S but was greeted by spectacular storms as passed through Yorkshire. Kept list open to Peterborough adding 1 Common Buzzard near Chipping Norton; 1 Red Kite, 1 Common Buzzard near Bicester; 1 Common Buzzard near High Wycombe; 3 Common Buzzard near Hitchin; 1 Common Buzzard just S of Peterborough. So that’s 7 more Common Buzzard and 1 more Red Kite to add to list. On recovering car from Airport decided to spend some time looking for Honey-buzzard near Throckley; didn’t have to wait long, then great commotion in field to W as at 18:00 a male Honey-buzzard glided over the area moving perhaps a km without any serious flapping; all this between torrential showers. So much to do at home on return, including major backup of piccies over last year on 2 external drives as need to zap the 16 GB camera data card, which is nearly full. Quite a lot more to catch up on: grass cutting, Y.DT 2nd letter to schools, studying B&B results coming out soon. But getting back to normal 2moro with N4c4l, trip out W, ra tonite!! loktt beauties!!!!

Final raptor total for southern England trip is now 128 birds of 10 species: 52 Red Kite, 44 Common Buzzard, 9 Honey-buzzard, 8 Hobby, 6 Kestrel, 4 Tawny Owl, 2 Peregrine, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Little Owl.

June 1st: fantastic day weather-wise with strong sunshine on light W breeze; equally good day for raptors in Painswick Beacon area with provisionally 20 birds of 6 types: 12 Common Buzzard (2 to S of Beacon, 2 around Beacon, 1 at Golf Club, 1 over Saltridge Wood, 3 over Cranham, 3 over Buckholt Wood), 3 Honey-buzzard, 2 Hobby (a pair were up circling over Buckholt before drifting slowly S), 1 Kestrel (adult male at Beacon), 1 Red Kite (floating over Buckholt Wood), 1 Peregrine (female, doing a fantastic stoop over Beacon, moving S). The 1st Honey-buzzard was a female up low-down over Buckholt Wood for 10 minutes, 12:45-12:55, floating and drifting slowly to lowland to NW; the 2nd Honey-buzzard was a male S of Beacon at 13:40, seen doing a rapid glide, which turned into a dive down into the woods. Had closer look at Buckholt site in late afternoon and was well rewarded: the male was up at 16:48 hanging over wood until 16:55 quite low-down; from 16:05-16:10 female got up above the canopy and there was full display between the pair, with much mutual circling and spectacular diving; after the female went back into the trees, the male floated around the area at moderate height until 16:30. Painswick Beacon is of particular interest: it is surrounded by superb woodlands; it is on the long Cotswold Way escarpment giving orographic lift for migrating and feeding birds; it is part of the Trektellen network for recording vismig; regular sightings are made there in autumn of migrating buzzard, nearly all attributed to Common Buzzard, which looks odd; there are a few records from there of Honey-buzzard. The only breeding record for Honey-buzzard in Gloucestershire is in Newent Woods, part of which is in Herefordshire, a few years prior to 1869; the record was included as a Herefordshire one but it is now thought the area in question is in Gloucestershire. See Barker, Simon, A Nineteenth Century Record of Honey-buzzards breeding in Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire Bird Report 2012 pp.185-186 (bought report at Slimbridge for £8). So, having struggled for years to get just one breeding record for the county, think there may be myriad political problems in coming to terms with a thriving Honey-buzzard colonisation. Also had 3 Raven at Buckholt Wood, 13 House Martin N at Birdlip N at 09:50, 2 Tree Pipit singing near Beacon, where also 3 Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Redstart and a Mistle Thrush carrying food ??. An additional Common Buzzard was at Birdlip N at 18:00. Insects included a Broad-bodied Chaser ?? at Buckholt Wood, a Drinker larva ?? at Cranham and, at the Beacon, 4 Little Blue ??, 3 Common Blue ??, 1 Burnet Companion ??, 11 Small Heath, 7 Speckled Wood ??, 2 Green-veined White, 2 Small White, 6 green-brown tiger beetle sp ??. Had a Pale Tussock moth ?? in hotel at Birdlip and a Drinker larva at Cranham ??. Off to Banbury 2moro in N’s car, then it’s back by train: it’s been a gr8 trip but looking forward to return. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

On BirdGuides today 8 Honey-buzzard through, including 4 at Dungeness in Kent; so arrival continues. Think need to multiply totals seen by 10-20 at least to get the real numbers moving. Running raptor total for southern England trip is now 120 birds of 10 species: 51 Red Kite, 37 Common Buzzard, 9 Honey-buzzard, 8 Hobby, 6 Kestrel, 4 Tawny Owl, 2 Peregrine, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Little Owl. Not bad!

May 31st: visited local Mecca for birds today: Slimbridge, Peter Scott’s original wildfowl reserve, run by WWT. Incredible place, catering for all the family with play areas, welly paddling pools, café, book shop, outdoor-zoo type ponds (pens) and natural areas of ponds and fields, full of wild birds. We spent almost 6 hours there from 11:25-16:15, in hot, sunny weather on light breeze, seeing 53 countable species but not sure can count others – loads of exotics! Nesting pair of Crane, 4 Avocet and a Spoonbill were the highlights. Breeding birds with young included Little Grebe, Oystercatcher, Mallard, Greylag Goose, Coot, Moorhen, Shelduck. Raptors today included 5 Common Buzzard (4 Slimbridge, 1 on Birdlip-Stroud road), 1 Red Kite (Slimbridge), 1 Tawny Owl (Birdlip N at dusk). One more day in the field, then back to the beauties!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

On BirdGuides 5 more Honey-buzzard today bringing monthly total to 79 birds, quite an amazing haul for what some people still regard as a very scarce migrant. Running raptor total for southern England trip is now 99 birds of 10 species: 50 Red Kite, 24 Common Buzzard, 6 Hobby, 6 Honey-buzzard, 5 Kestrel, 4 Tawny Owl, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Peregrine, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Little Owl.

May 30th: hard time today tracking down a female Honey-buzzard in the woodland and meadows N of Birdlip. We walked all the way around the area from 10:55-13:30 as far N as extreme NE of Crickley Park seeing just one Common Buzzard but many other summer migrants in grey, cool, dry weather on light E wind. Had quick cup of coffee at Air Balloon and then had immediate success at 14:00 as a female Honey-buzzard came up over the main road A417 running S and then swiftly dived down again. We caught up with her again in a field just N of Birdlip, with a large copse in the middle; she was feeding on the ground inside the copse and escaped through the back door out on to the blind side, flying low into trees behind; no more sightings until 15:25 when reached George again. So on trip that’s 2nd site in Cotswolds and 4th in southern England, about what expected but pretty satisfying nonetheless and we’re not finished yet! After tea at hotel went out towards Brimpsfield S of Birdlip from 15:55-17:15; found the lane was an amazing rat-run for motorists avoiding the A435/A417 junction; didn’t find any Honey-buzzard but wood at S end of Witcombe Woods looks very promising with uneven aged conifers and deciduous trees. Other raptor today was a Little Owl, giving yelping call on edge of field from high trees just N of Hotel at 22:00. Total for day was 39 species, including 4 Tree Pipit, 7 Blackcap, 5 Chiffchaff, 1 Garden Warbler. Steady progress on markets with +4k, all on balance in B&B, up to new high overall; received some bonus shares in CPB – 1683 to be precise – kind donation from hedge funds for small investors in lieu of rights issue to show they’re ethical (well, better than a kick up the b.m!). Very slow movement out of bonds to mining shares at moment – squeezing the maximum out of the former and really waiting until the autumn for improvement in natural resource stocks; might also be tempted to buy some WBS bonds on recovery hopes, with prospective yield 25%! Break’s going very well – just about recovered from wedding excitement now – looking forward lots to some more stimulation soon: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

Good run of Honey-buzzard records on BirdGuides continues with 8 noted today in British Isles, bringing monthly total to date to 74 birds, including possible duplicates. Running raptor total for southern England trip is now 92 birds of 10 species: 49 Red Kite, 19 Common Buzzard, 6 Hobby, 6 Honey-buzzard, 5 Kestrel, 3 Tawny Owl, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Peregrine, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Little Owl.

May 29th: moved hotel from Blockley to Royal George at Birdlip, near Cheltenham. It was drizzling up until 11:30 at Stow-on-the-Wold, making 47 hours of continuous rain. Then rapid improvement and looking for viewpoint over Cheltenham, stumbled very luckily upon Leckhampton Hill, an SSSI for its grasslands and old quarries, and being on the top of the escarpment, giving great views over Cheltenham. For several hours it was warm on strong sunshine, though there was still some swirling mist around on light SE breeze. Had a walk around the Hill from 14:00-16:20 finding 30 species, including 8 raptors of 4 species: 5 Common Buzzard (at 3 sites), 1 Kestrel (male at Air Balloon pub), 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Peregrine (male up twice near start). The female Marsh Harrier was hanging/hovering over fields to E of car-park, for 10 minutes, before being angrily mobbed by a Crow and coming down towards the ground. No Honey-buzzard seen here: habitat was reasonable with mosaic of unimproved grasslands, quarries, woods, but maybe no large single wood to act as a focal point. Insects included the gorse-eating Cydia ulicetana ??. Stopped at Air Balloon pub on way to Birdlip, then torrential rain came on for several hours with visibility down to almost nothing at Birdlip on the top of the hill. Maybe thinking of next BH: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

Running raptor total for southern England trip is now 89 birds of 9 species: 49 Red Kite, 18 Common Buzzard, 6 Hobby, 5 Honey-buzzard, 5 Kestrel, 3 Tawny Owl, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Peregrine, 1 Marsh Harrier.

May 28th: weather was foul, continuous rain on cool NE wind. Visited Broadway, a select village on N edge of Cotswolds, where 2 small cups of coffee cost £4.80 and an out of the way car-park £1 an hour; very twee, didn’t like it really! Snowshill, for main visit of day from 12:05-16:25, was much better; back in Gloucestershire, it’s an NT property owned formerly by an obsessive eclectic collector, so very interesting and café was reasonable and friendly. Just one raptor today – a Common Buzzard up for a few seconds on Fish Hill, on Worcestershire side. Total for day out was 20 species. Back at Blockley 2 Tawny Owl were calling at 23:50. Missing the beautiful one: she’d fire me up: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

May 27th: part 2 of raptor search began today; morning was dry with some brightness and light to moderate SE wind; afternoon saw rain steadily become heavier. After yesterday’s forced inactivity, raptors were in much better form, getting 15 birds of 6 species: 6 Common Buzzard (4 to S/W of village, 2 to NE), 3 Hobby (1 pair display to SW, 1 male flew low-down right over village in rain in afternoon), 2 Honey-buzzard, 2 Kestrel (male and female taking it in turn to hunt to W), 1 Red Kite (in territory over a poplar copse to NE), 1 Tawny Owl (calling from S at 23:50). The pair of Honey-buzzard came up over Bourton Wood most of the time from 12:10-12:45: female up in floating slow glide from 12:10-12:16; female up to medium height, looking for mate, no sign, floats effortlessly to E, then become stationary hanging by 12:20; pair up at 12:30 diving and mutual circling in the rain with full display at 12:33 as male does some butterfly flight; male up again quite high at 12:35; at 12:45 the female was up in flap-flap-glide mode lower-down over the high, uneven aged conifers. Marvellous sight with no care about the rain. Total for day was 41 bird species, including 6 Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 2 Goldcrest. Butterflies were few: 1 Red Admiral ??, 1 Small White. Running raptor total for southern England trip is now 79 birds of 7 species: 49 Red Kite, 12 Common Buzzard, 6 Hobby, 5 Honey-buzzard, 4 Kestrel, 2 Tawny Owl, 1 Sparrowhawk. Had lunch at village café and evening meal in bar at Crown. Hope the beauties are keeping as super-fit as ever: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

May 26th: took train to Banbury where met N, who’s driving me to Cotswolds for a break! Rained most of day and quite cool, not a single raptor in drive to Blockley in Gloucestershire, in northern part of Cotswolds. Settled into Crown Hotel, in middle of village: very comfortable, nice bar, good food!

May 25th: wedding went off brilliantly, some piccies not far off but Internet connections are pretty primitive in the Cotswolds. Wedding had no hitches; weather was wall to wall sunshine, amazing in context of other recent days; daughter looked stunning; they made a fine couple; both ceremonies (UK civil, Iranian civil) were stylish; Stoke Park put on fantastic food and organisation; met so many relations that not seen for a while; got on well with new Iranian families; all speeches were well received, mine included daughter’s Northumbrian credentials and a sovereign to walk on, for wealth and happiness; string quartet at start played great music including Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll; even did some dancing at end to the band! The happy couple are off to Hawaii on Tuesday for 2 weeks. Spent another night at hotel afterwards before setting off W on 26/5. What a wonderful day: made me feel so romantic!!! lokttmbo!!!

Here’s 1st piccies, off my camera, of the bride and groom – 1  2  3  4  5  6 – plus a selfie 1 and the venue 1.

Wedding started at 13:30 so had morning spare to look around the grounds. Weather was sunny on moderate W breeze, perfect for raptors after they’d been pinned down for days. So shortly after coming out at 10:10, had had a pair of Hobby displaying just to N off Hotel, over the Golf Course, 2 Common Buzzard, a male Kestrel hunting and 3 Red Kite. At 11:25 real action started with 2 Honey-buzzard up in full display 2-3 km to WNW, over Farnham Common/Egypt/Burnham Beeches where had look in poorer weather on 22/5. The birds were very energetic, soaring to a great height, then diving back down in chases before soaring again; the process repeated several times until 11:35. Inside to get changed at 11:40. At 01:00 26/5 had a Tawny Owl calling so 6 species of raptor here. So running raptor total is now 64 birds of 7 species: 48 Red Kite, 6 Common Buzzard, 3 Honey-buzzard, 3 Hobby, 2 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Tawny Owl. Egyptian Goose 1 were common around the course fairways with 11 seen, including flock of 7. Total was 30 species, including a Green Woodpecker, a Ring-necked Parakeet, a Blackcap, 4 Swift and a migrant White Wagtail. A Small White was the only butterfly seen.

May 24th: arrived early evening at SP – 5 of us with strong Haltwhistle connections (daughter, son, me, R/A) had fantastic dinner, came to £550 of which my share was £460; wondered why I was always served last with great respect – you’re set up!! Earlier met younger sis and partner as they arrived up from Devon to stay overnight with big sis. Her garden in Ealing is amazing (for London): lots of flowers and no ‘icides so masses of bumblebees including 15 Tree Bumblebee 1  2  3, 4 White-tailed Bumblebee 1 and even a Large Red Damselfly female 1  2  3 around her pond. So not long now, preparing my speech for tomorrow afternoon, sleeping in (temporary) luxury!! Could do with a partner here: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

May 23rd: today out to Chilterns in Bledlow/Chinnor area for a walk with big sis from 12:20-16:40; after rather heavy cloudy weather at start, the rain really set in after meal at pub (Lions of Bledlow), just stopping rather like yesterday when completing walk. Red Kite were up at every opportunity and had 15 on walk, together with 25 further E on M40 and in Farnham area; also had 3 Common Buzzard on M40 and a female Hobby and a male Kestrel on the walk, the Hobby coming out at end in clearance and flying with great purpose NE along the whole ridge, obviously out to feed. Another good bird was a Cuckoo calling once. No definite Honey-buzzard at the time but check on video from a frantic period at 16:29 on clearance showed a male Honey-buzzard up over site where noted twice before in earlier years. Total in Chilterns was 29 species, including 19 Blackbird (very common) and single Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff. Called in at Stoke Park on way back to see how things were going: moving out there tomorrow for 2 nights, 1st of which stars the Haltwhistle mob at dinner! Yesterday out to the happy couple’s new place for meal with the groom’s family (groom, his sister, her husband, their 4-year old son, sister’s mother-in-law), cooked as a bbq in the garden but eaten inside! Very good to have opportunity to meet them all at leisure and not back until 01:00 when given lift back to Ealing. Another good week on markets with +11k; something’s afoot with B&B (e.g. BBM) with some very large purchases – not sure what – but holding firm; also good week for pt/pd/rh with price rises and further purchases of the metals in ETFs bringing holdings to almost 50k; bought additions from sale of 1st tranche of LLPF, which are approaching maturity. So excitement is mounting rapidly and the clan is gathering!! To the beauties back home: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

Raptor total is 53 birds of 5 species: 45 Red Kite, 4 Common Buzzard, 1 Honey-buzzard, 1 Hobby, 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk.

May 22nd: out in the wilds of Burnham Beeches today from 12:40-15:10 with big sis looking for Honey-buzzard; none seen but weather was not good with thunderstorms, heavy showers and limited sunshine until end. The clearing weather at end enabled 5 Red Kite and a Common Buzzard to get up in Beaconsfield area. Total was 22 species. On way out had a female Sparrowhawk up at Northala. Yesterday had hair-cut at JG by the talented jf; saw jn in action, paid respects at N and dashed off to Airport to park car before catching 14:25 train to KX; all went smoothly! Two prizes this week: £5 at R, drawn by myself! £100 in ‘Shire quarterly draw from fund for parish hall. Sorry to see the beautiful one for last time for a while: lokttmbo!!!

May 20th: meeting at DM went well, all turned up and very positive atmosphere – should be bigger and better event than last year! Then onto CT4s4l: always like that place, might be the friendly staff and the bonnie Geordie lasses popping in for their kwikkies! Mid-afternoon had 3rd crack at main Wylam site, with success at last for Honey-buzzard with a female feeding near the Tyne on W side of road bridge, 1st seen putting up many pigeon, 2nd seen mobbed by a frantic Jackdaw, which finally dislodged it. So 3rd time lucky! Weather was heavy and humid with occasional brighter spell, on light SE wind. Total was 23 species including 9 Swift, a Garden Warbler, a Tree Pipit. Very interesting bird was a female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker flying low-down in undulating flight between copses near Linnels Bridge. B&B still shooting up, not sure why, will hold as symptomatic of a leak such as a new tender. Made BH4ra4s where met N (CH N) off last train – good crack! Gr8 end to day: she seems to inspire me more and more: lokttmbo!!!! 2moro no G but expect to make N4c4c!!

May 19th: talk to R went very well, 40 minutes long + full 10 minutes taken up by questions. Title was The World’s Oldest Consumer Protection; here’s odp and ppt versions (OpenOffice and MS Office respectively), both large at 70MB as contain many embedded photographs. Was some suggestion from the President that I took after my hairy gt-gt grandfather John Rossiter, of Weston-super-Mare (slide 7)!! Out in the field again late afternoon from 16:40-17:55 in humid, sultry conditions, on light SE breeze; went to last outstanding site in Tyne Valley W –- Hexham High Wood – tackling it by visiting area at West Boat, near Boatside, Warden. Incredible raptor area with 2 Honey-buzzard (male up at 16:53 over hill to W circling slowly; male up again similar area 16:58; pair up displaying 17:07 with a Common Buzzard below looking definitely smaller, particularly in wing-length; female flapping back towards site to E at 17:44 (clip 4016 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11); male doing same at 17:47); 2 Red Kite (pair in strenuous display, centred to W initially but one bird moving E later on towards High Wood (clips 1  2), up altogether from 17:08-17:36); 7 Common Buzzard (at at least 4 sites). So that’s 11 raptors of 3 species (all the big boys!), another site this year for Red Kite and the 20 sites up for Honey-buzzard. Also had 3 LBBG 2s moving W low-down, a brood of 4 Goosander with the female, 14 Sand Martin, 8 Swift. Did make N4c4t; good to see the very fit mbo and meo; also managed to see z twice, once out in the field!! 2moro it’s DM in morning for 90 minutes from 11:30, where chairing meeting, CT4s4l, N4c4t and another site, if weather OK, before much later BH4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

May 18th: more routine day after yesterday’s excitement – but cleaned-up in ‘Shire with 6th Honey-buzzard site found occupied at Dotland, with a male making a fast low-glide into the site from the E at 17:10 in brief visit from 16:55-17:55, in very warm, close weather on moderate SW breeze. This is behaviour more typical of July so no wonder I’ve had trouble tracking this site in the display period in recent years. While there noticed male very high-up over local Ordley site at same time (17:10), almost into base of clouds and circling slowly; I know both birds are back here but have not seen them together yet! Total for day was 23 species, including large numbers of breeding Starling (23 birds seen), 10 Swallow, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Lapwing, 1 Curlew. Butterflies included 11 Green-veined White, 4 Small Tortoiseshell. In the trap caught just one moth, a White Ermine 1. Very busy today finishing preparation of talk on The Oldest it’s taken quite a while adding the piccies and getting laptop up to speed with updates, as not used recently. Did masses of grass cutting, indeed completed 1st cut of all the rougher areas, feeling truly fit for 1st time since getting the virus on 30/4. So made G4g4s where gr8 to have jn on and met R/G for good crack (P in Donegal). 2moro it’s R:talk @ B4l, N4c4ll and getting organised in evening!! loktt super-fit ones!!!

May 17th: evocative day with the Honey-buzzard; went to Beaufront from 15:20-17:00 in warm, hazy sunshine on moderate W breeze. Up came another lonely Honey-buzzard, a female, hanging high over a wooded hill from 15:50-16:04, keeping a vigil for her mate, with frequent hovering (or stationary flapping if you don’t think Honey-buzzard hover!). Here’s clips 4015 1  2  3 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24. Well no sign of him then. But I was keeping an eye open for migrants all afternoon, after quite an influx further south over the last 2 days. So not too surprised when a male appeared at moderate height, power-gliding W, about 2 km to the E of the site at 16:50. What followed though was electrifying: the female had clearly spotted him miles off, came quickly out of the wood, rapidly gaining height in broad spirals, and the male went into at least 2 butterfly display flights, with a series of plunges, rearing up and flapping at the top. The female by now was up with him and they went very high in close mutual circling, disappearing into the haze. Quite Wagnerian really: Tristan und Isolde is full of waiting, longing and brief very passionate encounters. So they are very pleased to see each other for the new breeding season!! Had another male Honey-buzzard in territory at the site to the W, near Anick, floating down near the Egger site for a feed at 16:22. Only other raptor was an adult male Goshawk, also up for a long time 16:02-16:22 over Beaufront, suggesting he’s not just passing by. Had 1st Sedge Warbler of year singing; not a common bird at all around Hexham but this is a regular site, in the rape. Total of 22 species also included Oystercatcher (13), Swallow (16), Whitethroat (2), Willow Warbler (1). In the trap had 6 moths of 6 types: Scalloped Hazel 1, Common Pug, Small Phoenix 1, Single-dotted Wave, Garden Carpet 1, Semioscopis steinkellneriana 1  2  3, plus a Cockchafer beetle 1  2; suspect these large beetles are favourite food items of Honey-buzzard on their return. A German Wasp 1  2, with black face markings, was in the house but not convinced it had over-wintered here. A White-tailed Bumblebee 1 also made me a visit. Earlier made C4c4l, later wrote most of talk for R this coming Monday (15 slides). Had fillet steak (rare), chips, fried mushrooms and red wine for supper, all cooked by me! 2moro it’s another site, N4c4t, completing talk with practical side, and G4g4s!! Forgot my hair cut – what a shame!! Hope the beauties are keeping fit!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

May 16th: exciting clip 4007 from Staward on 14/5 now processed, some good stills and the Honey-buzzard mating call! Things are hotting up with the Honey-buzzard as weather improves; today in long spells of sunshine, often veiled, on light NW breeze and with increasing temperatures had total of 3 birds. First was a female Honey-buzzard up at 15:35 at local site near Ordley, mobbed by a Crow, sinking back quickly into valley woodlands (new bird this year at established site, here’s clip 4013 1). Second was a male up at 16:10 over ridge at back of Eastwood House, near the March Burn site, again a brief sighting (seen before). Third was a female up from 16:40-16:55 at main site visited from 15:45-17:00, Dipton Wood S; she got up high and just hung there, almost touching the high cloud, like a distant dot, maintaining her position by facing into the breeze; she came down very fast at the end in a spectacular dive, getting mixed up with 3 frantic Crow as she weaved her way through the tree tops all the way back to the site, very sneaky (new bird, new site for year). Here’s clips 4014 1  2  3 with derived stills from clip 3: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21. Had another Whimbrel N at 16:20, calling continuously, 4th for year, quite unusual, maybe switched on more to their calls. She’s getting closer to my bedroom, which overlooks the road!! Just needs to stop for some ‘Shire hospitality!! Think she’d be an asset!!! A boost to funds this week with +11k, bringing gain on year to date to 50k (61k gross, after 11k withdrawals); B&B are the stars this week on percentage gain but good spell also for large holdings in LBG prefs LLPF/LLPG (worth 101k, cost 73k, pay 6.5k a year, need replacing soon, yield too low, LLPF likely to be called next year at par). Did make N4c4l – very chatty, good to see the meo!! Thought the mbo looked very s.xy!! Also made W4ra4s where 5 of us out; good crack, SH!! lokttmbo!!!

May 15th: spent from 12:15-13:50 at Prudhoe Dukeshagg in pretty good conditions for finding Honey-buzzard – humid, warm, sun breaking through after early rain – but no joy; does give very interesting finding that these sites closer to the North Sea in Tyne Valley E are occupied later than those further W in Hexham area; it’s all to do with the isotherms! Was a very good site visit, plenty else seen, in total of 30 species, including a Kestrel (female out hovering), Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Lesser Whitethroat (1st for year, about as far W as they go), 5 Willow Warbler, 5 Garden Warbler, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Skylark, 2 Tree Pipit. A swarm of St Mark’s Flies 1  2 would give very good feeding for insectivores, maybe even Honey-buzzard. Butterflies included 8 Green-veined White 1  2, 1 Orange Tip and a Large White (1st for year). In trap at Ordley had a Single-dotted Wave 1, a Common Pug 1 and a black tiger beetle sp 1  2. Up to 40 species of Lepidoptera for year now. Earlier made N4c4c for good crack with P; later met TE at DM for productive 1st meeting, then CT4c4t for switch-off, MP4m4s and S4con where had 2 Haydn pieces, and numbers by Stravinsky and Bach! Back on last train to BH4ra4s where sociable last ½ hour. Think she’s a real *: inspires endlessly: well worth staying up for: lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, followed by visits to a couple of sites near Hexham, W4ra4s!!

May 14th: daughter took off early afternoon, everything seems all set, gr8 to see her! Made Staward S from 14:10-15:50 in weather: hot sunshine, little cloudy at times, dry, warming up. One Honey-buzzard was seen; first from 14:18-14:28 a male was almost stationary about 1.5 km to E of site, effortlessly slowly circling without a flap just under the cloud base; showed clearly but too far off for piccies. Moved to Gingle Pot and at 14:54 spotted the same bird very high-up but now right overhead, keeping an eye on me; got some fantastic video and stills of him, while he hung for a couple of minutes before gliding back quickly right into the Gorge; suitable for Home Page (which see!). Here’s clip 4007 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 and stills taken during videoing 10  11  12  13  14  15. Think he’s been back a while and is a little lovesick for his mate, of whom no sign; suspect if no mate after what seems like an eternity, he will try and attract a young filly, by hanging high, just under the cloud base, as he was doing! Only picked him up initially by putting the bins on a nearby Swallow, then noticed what was behind, which was far from visible with naked eye. Had some interesting calls as he appeared overhead: mating call of the Honey-buzzard (really!!) with real jungle overtones, but he’s not apparently got a mate yet, wonder if it came from pair at Staward N, if so means both birds back here now. Here’s the extracted audio clip 1: the mating call of the Honey-buzzard. Total of 22 species in the Gorge included 8 Curlew, 3 Stock Dove, 1 Garden Warbler. Insects today included Honey Bee 1  2 and Grapholita jungiella 1 at Ordley, where 1st Spotted Flycatcher of the year was seen. Funds flying this week: B&B bonds, of which hold 113k nominal (plus 62k interest arrears, increasing at £31 a day), rise every day (cost 41k, current value 113k, up to nominal value for 1st time); pt/pd finally taking off as market gets less complacent about supplies. Still, who knows by end of week? 2moro it’s N4c4c, quick trip out to Tyne E, Discovery Museum for meeting, CT4c4t, MP4m4s with N, S4con, BH4ra4s!!

May 13th: pretty indulgent day, getting up at 11:30, going out to TR4m4s, which was excellent with 3 courses (including Northumbrian lamb), bottle of wine, g, c, all for £80 (for 2), including £8 tip. In between did some lawn cutting, catching up on 2 sections and visited Slaley Forest W from 15:55-16:55 where had a female Honey-buzzard, coming into last year’s site at 16:28 with excited flap-flap-glide from ‘Shire to the S (clip 4006 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7). That makes 14 sites now. Weather was much better today with strong sunshine, light NW breeze and just a few light showers. In Slaley Forest in total of 22 species also had a calling Tawny Owl, 2 Redstart, 3 Willow Warbler. Bumblebees included 4 Common Carder Bee 1 and 4 White-tailed Bumblebee 1. At Ordley had 2 Orange Tip (male, female), a Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Anthophila fabriciana. Daughter’s going back tomorrow afternoon as dress rehearsal at SP in evening! So should be out at a site early afternoon, followed by N4c4t, G4g4t. Looking forward to seeing the sights of Hexham again!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

May 12th: more heavy rain today, given up Honey-buzzard for moment until it dries out. Daughter arrived by Fox – very pleased to see her – new navy blue suit fitted by tailor while in Ealing is brilliant, good for city slickers! Car used to be in the family up here. Must remember to take suit down, complete with pink tie! Son has also been persuaded to buy a new suit from same tailor. Paid final 1k today and discounted completely loan portion of total contribution. So excitement is mounting: they’ve got a string quartet playing at the function, suggested they play a bit of Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll (here, mainly string piece to honour birth of 1st child!). Attendance looks as if it will be close to 100% of those invited, just a couple of cousins away on holiday. Even Swiss mob are arriving en masse. Iran visit for party there looks like late August now, which will extend with son to see more of the country and perhaps visit Afghanistan! Feeling better today – no medications, which were making me quite high – bottle of champagne went down well. In trap last night had just one moth, a superb Poplar Hawk 1  2, the largest moth regularly caught in area. Not sure what is happening next few days; 2moro looks like TR4m4s but should get out to N for quick visit!! lokttmbo!!!

May 11th: very wet in afternoon on almost continuous showers; walkers at Blanchland got soaked, P said at G4g4s. Good records day, just about completed everything up to yesterday. Daughter’s arriving tomorrow evening by car to sort me out for the function: bringing suit for try-on (fitting!) and suspect haircut at JG may not be too far off! She may want to read through my 45-minute address. The bridal shop in Dean Street is closing down, evidently a sign of the times; always buy your dress on a credit card! Finally got Y.DT competition well and truly on road after ‘phoning everyone last week through to today; so can give an upbeat report tomorrow as Acting Chair for Vocational Group; next week I’m giving talk to R on The World’s Oldest Profession, or something like that!! Also made N4c4t and W, where bought some smoked salmon and sirloin steak for supper; still got craving for protein and have tried a sinusitis spray, which is a good liquidiser! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll and entertaining daughter in evening! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

May 10th: very humid, Tyne running high for May and very discoloured, but some warm sunshine in between heavy showers. Such weather does not bother the jungle-loving Honey-buzzard but does make fieldwork difficult. Today had a rather half-hearted attempt to get another site visiting West Wylam from 16:05-17:15, to scan Tyne E Valley before going to Prudhoe International for train to Newcastle. The only raptor seen was a strident Common Buzzard S of Wylam. Total of 19 species included 11 Swift and 7 House Martin feeding over Tyne and a Yellow-legged Gull adult flying W low-down. Only moth in trap was a Water Carpet 1. Need catch-up tomorrow on records!. Withdrew from group walk tomorrow at Blanchland: too much trouble with sinusitis though Vapour Rub seems to be slowly sorting it out; don’t fancy another soaking with important date getting close; fortunately appetite in all respects is holding up!! Concert was small-group work by members of RNS: always very satisfying on intimate setting in Hall 2 and opportunity for members of orchestra to show off their skills! MP was full and queuing but we were waved instantly to a table: shows value of being a regular customer (and good tipper!). Pleased to see favourite waitress at CT is now at S!! So back on express bus to PI, dropped N at St and made DrS for a quickie!! Met very nice local pussy: thought she made a brill job of it: sweet dreams: lokttmbo!!!

May 9th: a cool, fresh SW breeze with occasional showers and sunny intervals today, much better for Honey-buzzard. And so it proved with 2 sites occupied, each by a single male Honey-buzzard, at Whitechapel and Morralee, in lower South Tyne/Allen intersection in visit from 14:45-16:50. They like the breeze: the bird at Whitechapel was up at 15:35 and 15:50, each time for about a minute, hanging in the breeze near the nesting area and mobbed by Crow; the bird at Morralee came up from feeding on the ground, rose up a bit, before being tackled very robustly by a Crow, which pursued it back to its nesting area. The Morralee bird gave some good views on the video; here’s clip 4005 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6; barring obvious but not special enough for the Home Page. Also had Common Buzzard just W of Haydon Bridge and at Whitechapel, in total of 27 species, including 9 House Martin feeding over South Tyne, 5 Swift, 3 Garden Warbler singing. Progress with funds this week +3k to new high with junk bonds well to the fore and after another 1k withdrawal. See Balmoral International Land have staggered off the bottom in their grey market; this is a highly-leveraged European property company based in Dublin, indeed one of Ireland’s largest property companies, which almost went bust over the last 2 years, before the recovery in commercial property in Dublin came to the rescue. Built up quite a stake in company from 2010-2011 to 872,500 shares (1/668 of company) before it de-listed: one to watch, particularly if it seeks a proper listing again; at one time was 25p but not for the faint-hearted! Made N4c4ml, good to see the mbo!! Later there were 6 of us at W4ra4s where good catch-up. SH! 2moro it’s C4c4l, MP4m4t, S4con, maybe DrS4g4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

May 8th: very wet late afternoon and evening with slow-moving almost continuous showers on moderate SW breeze. Went to Spetchells from 15:30-17:05 where rain got heavier and heavier during visit. At 15:50 had a female Honey-buzzard up for 10 seconds over a high hedge just E of Ovingham, which attributed to the Whittle Burn site, the 1st found to be occupied in Tyne Valley E this season. Good to keep things going! In total of 30 species had a female Goosander in flight over Tyne, 30 Swift feeding over Tyne, included flock of 23, 13 breeding Sand Martin, high breeding numbers of Blackbird (21) and Song Thrush (5). Completed recent piccies and records up to 5/5 so not too far behind.

Subclade DNA test has been completed – I’m R1b1a2a1a1b (S116+). Here’s the test certificate. There are at least two interpretations, looking at various sources:

  1. The subclade is based in southern part of SW Europe, shown on map here, which comes from a blog, which says in comment by Maju that the highest basal diversity of the Southern clade R1b1a2a1a1b-S116 is probably in South France and around the Pyrenees. There’s certainly an emphasis in the map on Aquitaine, Pyrenees and Catalan, all of which were part of Normandy c1100. Subclades are earlier in time than the STR markers; indeed they’re the same as clades in timing, suggesting paternal line goes back to Pyrenees area over last few thousand years. The STR markers, done earlier, indicate correlation with indigenous Pyrenees/Irish populations over last say 1,000 years. So it’s all consistent with a population established for a long time in Pyrenees area, joining the Normans in their invasion of Ireland in 1169, where they spent 500 years before, as Catholic landowners, being evicted by William of Orange. Having said that, it doesn’t prove a thing. But the British Isles, northern France, Belgium, all of which are in the R1b clade, are in a different subclade to mine – R1b1a2a1a1a (U106) — and Italy is in a different subclade – south R1b1a2a1a2d (U152) — so does apparently add quite a lot really. A lot of the labels vary from source to source.
  2. The subclade covers not only that presented in 1) but also involves western Britain, including Ireland. In Eupedia the map here shows western Britain in the same subclade as in 1). There’s quite a difference here as the Rs could have been in Ireland for a long time, though the STR markers do suggest a southern France/Pyrenees origin.

Good thing is knowledge and tests are evolving all the time so may well learn more without doing much (an armchair tick!). Indeed Genebase offer some further tests for just $29 to refine your subclade of which S28 (positive indicates French/Catalan origin) and L21 (positive indicates Irish group) are of particular interest. So planning on both of these to resolve 1) or 2).

Nice trip to T&S where gr8 talent on show: accompaniment was very moving: lokttmmo!!! Still on Lemsip but voice improving! 2moro it’s N4c4l c13:00, trip out W perhaps, W4ra4s; got concert on 10/5 so may swap things around. Another report on BirdGuides from Suffolk: are such birds crossing the southern North Sea, the reverse to flow in 2008?

11:46 08/05/14 Honey Buzzard Suffolk Martlesham Heath 09:30 one flew west

May 7th: more like autumn today than spring with prolonged heavy rain out of nothing on moderate, cool SW breeze; still went to Swallowship near start of rain from 14:15-15:50 and did have success with a male Honey-buzzard up from 14:42-14:47 c1km SE of normal site, further down Devil’s Water; seen them here before at start of season, must be a dung heap or 2 as the attraction; Honey-buzzard, being basically a jungle bird, will readily fly in light rain or drizzle. This makes 10 sites now, so things are going well. Also here had a male Kestrel out to hunt, 3 Tree Pipit, 6 Swift, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap and a Garden Warbler. More to follow … Craving for rich food continued, so into store at MW, where delighted to meet z! FwB mbo looked very attractive!! Had 2 good sessions at G, followed by a bit of a surprise!! Voice still poor so on Lemsip now, feeling a bit fitter!! 2moro it’s N4c4ll, a site visit and T&S4ra4s, the last looking for new tenant again. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

May 6th: pretty impressive day for Honey-buzzard locally with total of 6 noted. Went to Shilford on Broomley side in strong sunshine on moderate SW breeze from 14:30-16:20. From 14:40-14:45 had strong NE movement. Noticed a Honey-buzzard female soaring low-down near Newton at 14:40, a long way (2km!) from the long-established site at Bywell Cottagebank. She was soon joined by another female and they soared higher on what must have been very good lift on the SW breeze hitting the south-facing slopes 1 of the Tyne. As they climbed towards the base of the clouds, another 2 birds, judged to be male and female, on size, were seen to follow them, a little way behind. By 14:45 all 4 birds were disappearing from sight, way up in the cloud base. Once away from the slopes of the Tyne, they would power-glide with the wind behind, losing height until further soaring opportunities emerged. Would judge this as mainly orographic lift rather than thermal lift, though must be a bit of latter. At 15:09 another bird, a male, was seen taking the same line, high-up in the clouds. Locally did get a Honey-buzzard: around the start of the movement one (presumed male) gave a very clear long call from the nesting site at 14:40; think it was aimed more at the gamekeeper who’d just arrived then me, but it may recognise me as an intruder! Call was more mellow than Common Buzzard with less sharp upstroke and with quavering impression. Also had a Red Kite soaring over NW of Bywell and 3 singing Whitethroat (1st for year); Swift were more conspicuous with 2 displaying over Hexham and 6 W at Shilford. Total was 20 species in Shilford area. Had 4 types of butterfly: 3 Green-veined White, 1 Peacock, 7 Small Tortoiseshell 1, 1 Orange tip (male) 1  2 plus a micro moth Anthophila fabriciana (8) on nettles; also Common Carder Bee 1 and White-tailed Bumblebee 1. In trap had 4 moths of 4 types: White-spotted Pug (new species for me) 1  2, Hebrew Character, Early Thorn, Red-green Carpet 1 plus an Endrosis sarcitrella (White-shouldered Clothes Moth) 1 indoors; also at Ordley an Early Bumblebee in the house 1. Think getting over virus now but still voice not good; had craving for eggs today with 2 for lunch and 2 for supper! Did make N4c4l where met the very fit jn (from SS/G) and later P; she’s moving to next village!! BH was a lot more upbeat with c on and a few more punters! Some dark ale from Northallerton went down very well. Nite ended brilliantly not too far away: lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s out again in the field and then N4c4t and the G!! One more Honey-buzzard report today

19:18 06/05/14 Honey Buzzard Suffolk Ipswich one flew north over Christchurch Park today [BirdGuides]

May 5th: another 3 Honey-buzzard in UK:

22:00 05/05/14 Honey Buzzard Somerset Yeovil 12:00 dark morph flew over Lark Hill at mid-day

16:22 05/05/14 Honey Buzzard London Rotherhithe 16:06 one drifted ENE 16:02-16:06 as viewed from Greenland Pier at end of Rope Street

15:53 05/05/14 Honey Buzzard Kent Sissinghurst 14:45 one flew north over Sissinghurst Castle NT [all BirdGuides]

Added piccies for 15/4 and 16/4 to 2013 Notice Board, including 6 clips of Red Kite at Bywell Castle. Must add Black Grouse shots for 20/4. Out today in indifferent conditions for raptors – cloudy, almost calm, mild – nothing for lift. So not surprised to struggle a bit. Went to Haltwhistle North Wood area from 13:30-15:45 where did not score but did have a male Honey-buzzard flapping around, with the odd glide, over Featherstone Castle at 13:58. So that makes 8 sites now (7 male, 3 female, total 10). The summary info is updated each day on the Home Page, which have also spruced up a bit by adding some recent photos of Honey-buzzard, starting with Farnley 2/5, in src mode (display on page load). Very pleased to see 1st Swift today with one at North Wood and 5 displaying over Haltwhistle town. Also in total of 36 species had a Tawny Owl calling at 13:50, 1 Goosander redhead, 2 pairs of displaying Common Sandpiper, 6 breeding Oystercatcher, 15 Sand Martin, 7 Swallow, 1 singing Redstart (another 1st for year), 1 singing Garden Warbler, 1 migrant White Wagtail 1  2 on stones on the South Tyne. The only moth was this minute tortrix Grapholita jungiella 1  2  3 (formerly Cydia jungiella). At Ordley had good numbers of hymenoptera on pyracantha with 4 Common Wasp 1  2  3  4, a Common Carder Bee 1 and a Tree Bumblebee 1  2. Did make N4c4l where again voice failed me but yesterday’s tonic lasted and feeling much better by evening. 2moro it’s N4c4l, a trip out and much later BH4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

May 4th: another 4 Honey-buzzard in UK, including 1 in north Northumberland.

15:48 04/05/14 Honey Buzzard Kent Botolph’s Bridge one flew north mid-afternoon

13:08 04/05/14 Honey Buzzard Kent Grove Ferry NNR 12:05 two flew northeast today; one at 10:40 and the other at 12:05. A male Whinchat still

10:09 04/05/14 Honey Buzzard Northumbs Powburn one flew north over Hedgeley Ponds [all BirdGuides]

Good article discussing the Gulls collapse – The fall, rise and fall again of Torquay United; Torquay United: Lottery winners to League Two relegation http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/27190925. Too many loan players lacking commitment seems right to me! See Gateshead play Cambridge in Conference play-off final; I saw us beat Cambridge 2-0 in 2009 at Wembley to regain our League place!

Made March Burn area from 15:40-18:10, in warm weather on light SW breeze and with sunny intervals, scoring again with Honey-buzzard with a pair up soon after arrival at 15:53 to S of site (clip 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4), the male later flapping back to the site from the SE at 17:45 (clip 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4) where he roused the female for a bit more display, this time to W of site, and a migrant female Honey-buzzard on the Broomleyfell heath from 17:20-17:40 causing mayhem among the local Crow. So that’s 3 Honey-buzzard; as usual the migrant was probably on its way to Scotland; weather and season are progressing very well! Total of 21 species included some heathland species: 10 Linnet, 9 Meadow Pipit, 1 Skylark, 3 Yellowhammer, 1 Tree Pipit (2nd of year). A 1st for year was a House Martin W with soon after a Swallow N. Another Whimbrel moved N high-up calling and a Sparrowhawk male was hunting over the heath. At home in Ordley had a queen Median Wasp (stills, no.6 is a short clip) 1  2  3  4  5  6 (with some similarity to Hornet, larger than Common Wasp and with some red on body and in wings, but smaller than Hornet and with some yellow on thorax) on the pyracantha, along with 4 queen Common/German Wasps and a White-tailed Bumblebee. The Median Wasp is a recent coloniser of the UK but is now widespread. Also had a White-tailed Bumblebee 1  2 at Ordley. In the trap had 2 black tiger beetles 1  2  3, not sure what type; they were amazingly fast moving, like cockroach; a number of accounts link Honey-buzzard in May with dung heaps, where the attraction is presumably beetles and their grubs – very nutritious! Made N4c4l after trip to T for printer supplies; lost my voice almost completely at this stage with the bug! Things looked up later on trip to G: slowly dawned on me who was there!! Gr8 to have such company!! Met G/R/H, P annoyed at my not rushing to sort out his computer problem. Health dramatically improved and was up 4 it later: shows what the right company can do: lokttmgo!!! Thrown out at 00:30 after extension by the fit j: so many fit people around including the mbo was very inspiring!! So that was a very good nite!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, another trip out and catch-up in the evening!! loktt dynamic duo!!!

May 3rd: recent reports of migrating Honey-buzzard include 4 in UK, start of significant arrival in Sweden and heavy passage over Gibraltar.

17:50 03/05/14 Honey Buzzard Norfolk Norwich 14:55 one flew over Riverside west mid-afternoon; also a Harrier sp. high west at 07:34 TG235079

14:47 03/05/14 Honey Buzzard Kent Grove Ferry NNR 10:30 one flew east this morning

13:51 03/05/14 Honey Buzzard Norfolk Weeting Heath NWT 13:47 one reported at c.TL756880 this afternoon

12:10 03/05/14 Honey Buzzard Argyll Lismore 09:30 one reported flying north this morning [all BirdGuides]

Sweden: 10 3/5, 2 1/5 [Dagens]

Denmark: 2 2/5 [DOFbasen]

Gibraltar: 29 Apr: Clear skies with a light variable wind, becoming light southerly to south-westerly in the late afternoon and evening. No raptors seen during the morning and much of the afternoon, but as soon as winds turned from the west, Honey Buzzard flocks begun to arrive across the Strait and the Bay, with heavy passage right up until sundown. A total of 3500 Honey Buzzards. Also 8 on 30/4, 28 on 28/4 [GONHS]

Belgium: 2 Weyler 1/5 [Trektellen]

Holland: 1 De Hamert 2/5 [Trektellen]

Analysed Farnley clips, very useful and have also posted them on the Home (index) Page. No moths caught last night in trap, too frosty. Big sis bought me an electronic weather station: you just stick the sensor outside and it connects by WiFi to a monitor, which you can have on a desk inside; very convenient for checking conditions for moths, which like high temperatures and high humidity (but not heavy rain). Had one trip out today to Warden from 15:05-17:05, where at 15:55 heard the wader-like cry of the male Honey-buzzard and soon after saw him careering into the site from the W; at 16:15 he was off low-down to the W again, no Honey-buzzard piccies today. Weather was cloudy, cool and dry with temperatures recovering slowly from overnight frost. Had some new migrant-species today on the lower South Tyne: Garden Warbler singing, Common Sandpiper calling, Tree Pipit in area. Trying to keep survey going without aggravating cold. On/near the South Tyne had an Oystercatcher sitting 1, 2 pairs of Goosander 1  2  3, 61 Sand Martin, 13 Stock Dove. Total was 31 species. St Mark’s Flies starting to swarm at Warden; they’re pretty ugly but sure they provide marvellous nutrition to returning migrant insectivores. Did make C4c4l – beginning to like it more there, certainly nice position. Posted by recorded delivery letter to Budget declining their renewal offer of £300.99 for insuring Fox for a year – real try-on – 9-years no-claims discount, clean license, cheapo crate, low-risk rural area! Budget are a strange organisation anyway: charge you £20 for saying ‘hello’. Card number they’ve got for me won’t work anyway, after loss in January. Will get some other quotes: maybe they’ve been in touch with the Azores (or met me in the ‘Shire)! Gulls finished dismal season in abject fashion but at least they put on a real party for Wycombe. On a review over a quarter of the way now towards my 2nd 106. Wedding is approaching fast, daughter is visiting me around 15/5 up here. 2moro it’s N4c4l, out somewhere if dry and G4g4s!! loktt beauties!!!

May 2nd: a lovely pair today, of Honey-buzzard, up over Prospect Hill near Farnley from 14:07-14:15 initially with further brief sighting at 14:30 and longer sighting of female after she was flushed at 15:49; also a pair of Hobby in area (birds calling and mobbing the female Honey-buzzard); so things are looking up! Weather was brilliant with polar air on slight NE breeze. The male expertly glided around the territory, doing a little mutual circling with the female. Much video was taken of the Honey-buzzard. Here’s clips 4003 in chronological order: 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6, showing female (very little damage to wings) in active hunting, rather like a (Common) Kestrel with hanging in air, measured descent and pounce on some prey on the ground; 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18, showing male (damaged inner primary on right wing, missing inner primary on left wing) in extensive gliding around in territory, with effortless rearing up and strength in the air, the female does some mutual circling near the end; 3 with derived stills 1  2  3  4, showing the female in active hunting as in clip 1; 4 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14, showing the female flushed from a hedgerow, gaining height and being mobbed by a Hobby; 5  6, showing the male in territorial gliding mode. Some stills were taken during video recording: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12, 1st 9 show the male, no.10 shows the trees on top of the hill, last 2 the female. Here’s view to next site 1 down the Tyne. Total of 18 bird species from 13:55-15:55 included 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Skylark, 1 Lapwing. Had 4 types of butterfly: 2 Peacock 1, 2 Green-veined White, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Orange Tip male. Still keeping an eye on bumblebees: photographed Red-tailed Bumblebee 1  2 and Common Carder Bee 1; this Buff-tailed Bumblebee 1 was on my carpet at home on 1/5. A good week on markets for junk bonds and junior pt mining shares, former on banks looking more secure and latter on improved profits for Q1 (they’re not affected by strikes). So up 1k to new record, but that’s after a 5k withdrawal for the wedding, so paid for a good chunk of wedding on this week’s gains! Did make N4c4l: thought the meo looked very exciting!! Still suffering from cold but made W4ra4s with D/C. Had 2 Tawny Owl calling and 2 Whimbrel high overhead calling as they moved N on a frosty night. 2moro it’s the Gulls’ last game in the Football League, maybe for ever! Should make C4c4l and another site, not sure about later!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

May 1st: more reports for late April, showing speed-up at Gibraltar

Reported 22:54 30/04/14 Honey Buzzard Warks Ladywalk NR (PERMIT ONLY) one reported over late morning; also Osprey early afternoon [BirdGuides]

Bivråk 1 ex Ön SO Råneå, Nb 30.4 Elsa Rensfeldt (återkommande gäst men tidig) [Dagens]

Wespendief Brobbelbies-Zuid [Netherlands] 1 30/4 [Trektellen]

Honey Buzzard Gibraltar 26 27/4, 46 26/4, 5 25/4 [GONHS]

Critical step forward in study of Honey-buzzard Movement 2008 with estimation of totals involved. Took hours to sort but result looks quite consistent; that’s why it’s taken so long, everything has to fit together. Further additions: id issues (brief), congeners (longer), similarities with Goshawk in North Sea migration (brief); then need to put into one hyperlinked document, which will enforce some discipline with respect to duplication and consistency.

Size of Movement (from The Honey Buzzard did Cross the North Sea: from England to Benelux)

Any figure placed on the size is going to be at best a guesstimate. We are going to quantify a number of statements above:

    • The UK movement involved raw totals of 196 birds on 13/9 and 215 on 14/9, giving a total of 411 birds. There will be duplicates but many birds are likely to have been missed in the early start and there are indications that juvenile Honey-buzzard are routinely misidentified as Common Buzzard by a number of observers. The actual number moving from 13/9-14/9 could be as high as 600-800 birds.

    • The proportion of the birds noted in Benelux that were of British origin was 80-90%, only 10-20% arriving from Jutland to the E.
    • The estimated passage in Benelux was 285 on 13/9 and 539 on 14/9, derived from grand totals of 981 on 13/9 and 862 on 14/9. The estimated passage from 13/9-14/9 is therefore 824 birds.
    • The total recorded earlier in Denmark from 5/9-11/9, was 2945 with 274 in Jutland and 2671 in E Denmark. As the reports came from many stations, there are likely to be many duplicates. The largest single movement was 524 birds on 11/9 over Nordsjælland in E Denmark. Perhaps 1,500 birds were involved over the whole period in the country as a whole.
    • The total recorded in SW France from 12/9-14/9 was 814 birds and from 15/9-20/9 was 710 birds.

    • The exceptional movement over Malta of 700 birds occurred on 19/9 with a further 100 birds on 18/9.

The Honey-buzzard exiting Britain (600-800 birds, 13/9-14/9) mainly moved through Benelux (824 birds, 13/9-14/9) before travelling through France to the SW area in the Pyrenees (710 birds, 15/9-20/9). The Honey-buzzard exiting Denmark (1,500 birds, 5/9-11/9) moved initially broadly SW through France to the SW area in the Pyrenees (814 birds, 12/9-14/9) and later broadly S through Italy to Malta (800 birds, 18/9-19/9). The numbers support the mapped routes given earlier but obviously nothing is actually proved.

The Honey-buzzard movement in Britain was remarkable for how long it lasted. From 1/9-12/9 35 migrants were noted, from 15/9-21/9 368 were seen and from 22/9-30/9 98 were noted, giving a monthly total of 1100-1300 birds. With 31 in August and 19 in October, this gives an annual autumn passage of 1150-1350 birds. To estimate the number of breeding pairs it is necessary to know the proportion of juveniles. This is not known but it is safe to say that the total indicates 400-500 pairs (1/3 birds are juveniles, productivity 1 young/pair) up to 750-900 pairs (2/3 birds are juveniles, productivity 1 young/pair) with of course other permutations possible.

Weather was miserable today, no fieldwork, pretty poor for May Day; indeed not a good start to the season catching a cold (probably after drenching last Sunday): stayed at home all day, missing R do, could have just about made T&S but might have been embarrassing if someone from R came in! Lovely red-hot coal fire with ovoids is also an attraction. Under severe stress this week, counting out 5k in £ coins for the wedding, as 1st (and major) part of final instalment! Sent off by FPO today to daughter. Fortunately not been a bad week on markets (so far!). Think after good nite’s sleep will be more dynamic 2moro so maybe N4c4l and W4ra4s!! Weather forecast is good so maybe visits to Farnley and Warden. loktt beauties!!!

April 30th: the 3rd Honey-buzzard report from Norfolk this spring:

17:00 29/04/14 Honey Buzzard Norfolk Choseley Drying Barns 16:50 one over at 16:45 [BirdGuides]

M in G told me he’d had 4 sightings of single Red Kite over Hexham S in past month – likely to be from Black House area where saw one on 28/4, certainly confirms another new site. No fieldwork today as very gloomy. Did lot of grass cutting this afternoon before the rain, bpm 58 after it, while lounging at N4c4t. Also took P’s bpm yesterday, bit more erratic around 71. Would like someone else to put their finger over it: must get another interest!! G was good, gr8 to have fellow coffee addict l on!! 7 of us out for late session: some regulars quite upset by Chelsea defeat. Very pleased to see the mbo!! Does she trust me: SH today; she’s very s.xy!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and possible visit to Sunderland in evening for NE District meeting of R. Looks as if it will rain all day so Honey-buzzard migrants grounded. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!! Some change in plans – got a cold – doing some work at home on the Honey-buzzard migration in 2008, not going to Sunderland, may make T&S4ra4s.

April 29th: the first female Honey-buzzard on site! Went to Mount at Stocksfield from 13:50-15:50; strange weather with sharp demarcation of cloud to E and to W but it was sunny, warm and sultry in Bywell area on very light E wind. Highlight was actually first Hobby of year: a pair in fantastically energetic display over Bywell Cottagebank from 14:20-14:25. The Honey-buzzard female was rather more laid-back: she was first seen up at moderate altitude over Cottagebank at 14:00, doing a slow recce, moving SE over Ovington and then S to Merryshields Wood before disappearing; she reappeared from 15:04-15:07 doing a much more aggressive flap-flap-glide over Short Wood; the recce flight is common in newly arrived Honey-buzzard: they’re clearly checking the habitat out again. She roused a Red Kite at the E end of the Short Wood site; 2 Red Kite were up separately at the new Bywell Castle site. So total for raptors was 6 birds of 3 species: 3 Red Kite, 2 Hobby, 1 Honey-buzzard. Also in total of 27 species had 5 Swallow (2 NW, 2 E, 1 feeding), 2 singing Chiffchaff, 1 singing Blackcap, 1 calling Jay, 17 Herring Gull 1s E, 1 GBBG 1s E. Butterflies included 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Green-veined White, 1 Orange Tip male (first for season). In trap at home had 5 moths of 5 types: Alucita hexadactyla, Powdered Quaker, Hebrew Character, Common Quaker, Flame Shoulder 1 (change from the 1980s when one brood, now looks double brooded as in southern Britain, worn, flame on shoulder clearly visible, perfect match with shape in Waring, very narrow wings). Went to N4c4l; met S who used to be a History Lecturer at Newcastle Uni, when I was there; always good for a chat, sadly he’s losing his toes now (PN), one more 2 weeks ago. Also met J/P there. Recent Tawny Owl records include one calling at Ordley on 26/4 at 05:00 and another calling at Prudhoe tonite! Highlight was the parade of the lovelies: love the outdoor life!! Did make BH – very quiet. 2moro it’s catch-up at home, N4c4t and G (maybe split session!). lokttmbo!!!

April 28th: another day, another Honey-buzzard! Went to Letah Wood area from 15:55-17:10 in dry, warm, almost sultry conditions, with variable breeze. On arrival had a Red Kite up over hillside to N: it looked a bit odd with a missing central tail; great further success for the kite in their colonisation of SW Northumberland; also at this time had a Pied Flycatcher singing, 1st of the season. Was finishing reading of book below while keeping an eye on the sky. Then at 16:25 a male Honey-buzzard was up over Black House, mobbed by 2 Crow; he climbed strongly, going right up into the cloud base, leaving the Crow far behind; he was up from 16:25-16:38, 13 minutes, longer than usual: they do arrive in very fit condition after the migration. Also, in total of 24 species, had 2 Common Buzzard (at 2 sites), 3 singing Chiffchaff, 7 Swallow. R AGM went well – gave annual report for Vocational and appointed to join Council with chairing of International Committee next year! Pulse rate really low today at 50 after the good walk yesterday. Met P at N4c4c afterwards. 2moro it’s N4c4l, trip to the Mound, BH4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

Another Honey-buzzard in UK, this time in Devon:

13:35 28/04/14 Honey Buzzard Devon Exminster Marshes RSPB 13:28 one flew over then over Topsham town centre [BirdGuides].

From Kibbutz Lotan, Israel, further reports of 6 NE on 25/4, 65 NE on 27/4 and 250 NE on 28/4 [Trektellen]. From Sweden single migrants at Lövstad Valdemarsvik on 25/4 and Stannum Nordgården on 27/4 [Dagens Fågel för Mobil]. From Denmark 2 birds at Bagsværd on 28/4 [DOFbasen].

Don’t think this is my ancestor, though John/Thomas are the Rathmacknee and Tiverton family names! Read book by Tom Reilly “Cromwell: An Honourable Enemy, Brandon 1999”. Reilly is trying to redress the balance of historical accounts which have generally portrayed the invasion in October 1649 of Wexford by Cromwell, following that of Drogheda, as a massacre. So on pp.135-136 Reilly emphasises the wickedness of the Wexford people!