Notice Board: the Honey-buzzard Season in Northumberland 2011 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. Analysis of the latter is still to be finalised but a continental origin for the migrants appears very unlikely. 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!).

Think this is enough to end 2011 season! There’s some further documentation to do but let’s move on to 2012! Report for 2011 Honey-buzzard season in SW Northumberland is here.

February 29th 2012: from the Honey-buzzard summary page for observations in Northumberland, the detailed results for the 2011 breeding season are given below. A record breaking year in all respects as shown below. So 2moro it’s N4c4c, B4s4l, unn, CT4c4t and T&S4g4s!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

Area

No. sites

No. adults

No. nests

found

Observed Occupied

Breeding Category

Number young fledged

Gangs of juveniles post-breeding

Nests found in

Display

Rear

Fledge

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

6

12

3

6

4

6

6

0

0

10 (4×2, 1×1+, 1×1)

0

Scots Pine (2), Norway Spruce

Allen

9

15

2

7

3

9

9

0

0

12 (3×2, 5×1+, 1×1)

2×1

Norway Spruce, Oak

Upper South Tyne

5

10

2

5

2

5

5

0

0

9 (4×2, 1×1+)

0

Norway Spruce, Oak

Lower South Tyne

5

9

1

4

1

5

5

0

0

8 (3×2, 1×1+, 1×1)

0

Scots Pine

Tipalt

3

4

0

3

1

3

3

0

0

4 (1×2, 2×1+)

0

Tyne W

7

13

3

7

3

7

7

0

0

12 (5×2, 2×1)

1×3

Scots Pine (2), Norway Spruce

Tyne E

4

7

1

4

1

4

4

0

0

6 (2×2, 2×1)

0

Scots Pine

Derwent

7

12

1

7

1

7

7

0

0

13 (6×2, 1×1+)

1×4

Scots Pine

Total

46

82

13

43

16

46

46

0

0

74 (28×2, 11×1+, 7×1)

4 (1×4, 1×3, 2 x1)

Scots Pine (7), Norway Spruce (4), Oak (2)

Table 3: Results for the Honey-buzzard Breeding Season in Northumberland by area in 2011

Some sites were colonised early in May, or even in late April but the main arrival was later. The season started on time and fledging occurred from mid-August. The weather was fine in May and early June but declined through late June, July and August with increased dampness and wind but heavy downpours were largely avoided. September was windy, particularly in ten days before mid-month with the passage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina from 12/9-14/9 but as usual there were quite long spells of sunshine. Fieldwork was performed continuously in the study area from end April – early November, except for the following absences in other parts of England and Scotland: 22-26 May, Devon; 16-22 July, north Wales; 26 July-3 August, Tuscany, Italy; 7-14 August, Liège, Belgium; 4-5 September, London; 18-22 September, Lake District, England. The rather lengthy absences from 16 July-14 August did not significantly affect fieldwork as for the most part this is the quiet rearing part of the breeding cycle. It would have made studying the fledging easier though if the final visit had finished say around the 10 August. Compiling the results was delayed by a long-running broadband connection problem with BT from 5 August-23 September.

As shown in Table 3, it was yet another record-breaking season for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in terms of occupancy with 46 (41 in 2010) occupied sites and 46 (41) confirmed breeding pairs. Productivity increased slightly with 74+ (64+) young fledged. Productivity was high in absolute terms with 28 of the 46 successful sites raising 2 young; 11 raising at least one young and 7 raising one young. Although the number of pairs increased, the breeding density was maintained with no infilling. The increase in pairs occurred because of 1) the addition of a new area Tipalt on the extreme west of the study area (+2 sites); 2) the species started moving towards the Roman Wall in the lower South Tyne with a site on the north side of the lower South Tyne (+ 1 site); 3) the species moved to higher altitude in the East Allen (Allen), reaching 460m asl, and in the Beldon Burn (Derwent), reaching 380m asl (+2 sites).

Survey effort was maintained throughout the season. In the 3 phases of display, nest/rear and fledge the number of sites at which the species was recorded was 43, 16 and 46 respectively. The dip in the middle is because of absences elsewhere and the greater secrecy of the species in the middle of the breeding cycle. The display period was covered better than in 2010.

Gangs of juveniles, defined as gatherings of presumed local birds post-fledging, feeding-up prior to migration, comprised 4 juveniles in Derwent on high moors on 28/9, 3 in Tyne Valley W on 29/9, reducing to 1 on 30/9, and, in Allen, on high moors, 1 on 1/10 and 1 on 4/10. Total is 4 gangs from 28/9-4/10 totalling 9 juveniles.

Another feature of the year was the observed visible migration in autumn as shown in Table 4.

Spring visible migration was typically very light with a single bird, a male, flying N high-up on 9/5 at Devil’s Water.

Autumn migration, delayed by bad weather in early September, took off on 15/9 with 13 birds, all adult, seen leaving the Devil’s Water between 10:45-13:05, including a kettle of 7 birds from 11:59-12:02. 12 of the birds moved S and 1 SE. Movement coincided with very rapid exodus of Swallow over previous 24 hours. Later the same day a female flew S low-down at Parson Shields, upper South Tyne, not a known nest site, at 18:00 and came to rest in trees near the South Tyne. She may well have been a Scottish bird, perhaps making her 1st stop on migration from say the Tay Valley. Earlier in the month on 1/9 a male left a site to S in Tyne Valley W. On 17/9 a female intruder was at a site in Derwent, perhaps also a migrant from further N. Finally, for the month, migration of 2 juveniles must have occurred from 29/9 to 30/9 as the gang of 3 birds at a site in Tyne Valley W reduced from 3 to 1.

Much more attention was paid this year to locating late migrants, particularly in the upper South Tyne, which is ideally placed for birds from Scotland seeking orographic lift to assist their emigration. In October 8 migrants were located in the upper South Tyne from 11/10-22/10 at 3 sites with 4 juveniles feeding at one site on 11/10. A further juvenile flew SE in Tyne Valley W on 10/10. The final migrant of the year was a juvenile flying slowly S in Devil’s Water on 1/11 off high moors.

Date Time Locality Age/Sex Count Movement
May 9 14:05 West Dipton (Devil’s Water) Adult male 1 Even more remarkable was another male appearing high overhead above him at 14:05, so high that I’d never have picked him out unless I’d had the camcorder focused on the high clouds. He disappeared off to the N so think he was a migrant, interested in territory below and its occupying male, but quickly passing on to his own territory.
September 1 13:10

 

Shilford (Tyne Valley W) Adult male 1 First Honey-buzzard was a male up over Shilford at 11:50, soaring very high and shortly disappearing to S so thought to be on his way to Africa.
September 15 10:45-13:05

 

Dipton Wood (Devil’s Water) Adult male 4

Adult female 2

Adult (gender not known): 7

13 13 birds, all adult, seen leaving the Devil’s Water, including a kettle of 7 birds from 11:59-12:02 over Dipton Wood, an amazing sight, other than 2 birds doing a brief swoop the atmosphere is serious as normal for migrating birds; 12 of the birds moved S and 1 SE. Movement coincided with very rapid exodus of Swallow over previous 24 hours. The 1st fine day after a spell of 10 days of very windy weather. Others:11:27 male from West Dipton has another go, impatiently flapping at lower levels, then effortless soar, this time going higher, out of sight and off (trial soars are not uncommon); 11:47 male soars to moderate height at Viewley, then moves into solid flapping mode and moves off SE at speed;12:25-12:29 female appears flapping hard to S, then soars over Swallowship, before drifting N and meeting 2 males, who all depart together to S, males presumed as from Swallowship (her mate) and Farnley; 12:45-12:50 female soaring over W of Farnley at long range, going very high above clouds, lost to sight and presumed to leave.
September 15 18:00 Parson Shields (upper South Tyne) Adult female 1 A female flew S low-down at Parson Shields, upper South Tyne, not a known nest site, and came to rest in trees near the South Tyne. She may well have been a Scottish bird, perhaps making her 1st stop on migration from say the Tay Valley.
September 17 13:50:00 Minsteracres (Derwent) Adult female 1 Some dramatic action with the presumed female Honey-buzzard of the site soaring and then flapping very fast in a straight line to intercept another female Honey-buzzard, presumably a migrant (maybe a migrant from Scotland in the 15/9 movement). There’s a bit of a skirmish with the presumed migrant drifting off to the E and the incumbent to the W. The migrant was where her young were just 10 minutes before but they had moved to the W and she moves off in this direction.

September 29

13:20:00 Bywell

(Tyne Valley W)

Juvenile 2 Yesterday noted that the 3 Honey-buzzard at 13:20 reduced to one later on; suspect that 2 of the juveniles actually left while I was in the area. It did appear that the 2 birds were ‘paired’ while the 3rd bird was more on its own.

October 10

15:20:00 Stocksfield

(Tyne Valley W)

Juvenile 1 Had inklings a Honey-buzzard was in the area with very nervous feeding corvid flock, an irate Grey Heron flying off from Tyne, and a brief glimpse of a soaring raptor over Shilford, mobbed by a Jackdaw, which looked just the part. At 15:12 a juvenile Honey-buzzard, mobbed by corvids, took off from the Tyne near Bywell Castle and in next 11 minutes, gave some of best views of the species for the year. Slowly gaining moderate height it flapped SE over to the Guessburn, where it turned at 15:17 and unbelievably came back towards me, stalling when over me and finally slowly and reluctantly making its way SE again into the distance, disappearing at 15:23.

October 11

12:50-14:25 Eals

(upper South Tyne)

Juvenile 4 4 juveniles feeding in area identified from clips: bird A, heavy, missing secondary on right-wing, from 12:53-12:55, this bird is very similar in structure and plumage to the one at Harwood Shield on 1/11; bird B with the ragged wing, missing P4 on right wing, this bird was very visible, being up for about 15 minutes in all from 13:02-14:21; bird C was slim and full-winged, visible for 2 bursts of activity around 13:46 and 14:20; bird D was even slimmer, noted only once from 14:20-14:21, appearing while recording bird C.

October 15

15:50:00 North Wood, Haltwhistle (upper South Tyne) Juvenile 1 The Honey-buzzard juvenile came flapping in low-down from the N, clearly looking for a B&B. A local Common Buzzard got up to intercept it but backed off from any interaction once it realised it was no threat. The Honey-buzzard certainly looked tired and came down finally on the S end of North Wood, close to a Honey-buzzard site, which had been active earlier in the season. These older juveniles show structural features closer to those of adults with fuller wingtips, longer tails and more obvious longer necks. By time they get going on migration, these older birds should be readily identifiable.

October 16

14:47:00 Parson Shields (upper South Tyne) Juvenile 1 Main walk was at Parson Shields where had the 1st Honey-buzzard moving S along the ridge on E side of valley at 14:47, riding the updraught from the W breeze. Not as close as the Towsbank bird but shape and structure very clear. This bird covered about 1km in 1 minute 17 seconds so a little slower at 41 kph.

October 16

15:28:00 Eals

(upper South Tyne)

Juvenile 1 The 2nd Honey-buzzard was moving S just after arrival at Towsbank, to the N of Parson Shields, at 15:28. It came right overhead after approaching from the N, then drifted off to S, where a brief interception was attempted by a Common Buzzard. Could time this bird: it covered 2.5km in the 2 minutes 27 seconds it was on the video, so roughly 60 kph (38 mph), with hardly a flap! It was also using the updraught from the W breeze on the E side of the valley to maximum effect.

October 22

15:00:00 Eals

(upper South Tyne)

Juvenile 1 a juvenile, seen up 4 times above the canopy in a style really reminiscent of their behaviour in South Africa with fairly frequent short low-level forays above the canopy in between feeds on the ground. Many Woodpigeon, presumably feeding on acorns in the oak/birch wood, are flushed by the Honey-buzzard in its first recorded flight. From feather damage, with at least 2 feathers missing in P1 area on its left wing, have a good idea this is a new bird, not one in long term rest-mode!

November 1

13:45:00 Harwood Shield (Devil’s Water) Juvenile 1 juvenile Honey-buzzard up over a conifer plantation for 5 minutes, without a real flap, from 13:45-13:50. The juvenile floated around for a while, including a dive, and then soared high before skittishly flying off S. As not seen again, suspect it was on migration but care-free behaviour suggested it was not going too far!
Summary/

Comments:

         
May: 1

Sept: 18

Oct: 9

Nov: 1

11-12: 2

12-13: 11

13-14: 4

14-15: 2

15-16: 3

16-17: 1

upper South Tyne: 9

Devil’s Water: 15

Tyne Valley W: 4

Derwent: 1

 

Adult male: 6

Adult female: 4

Adult (gender not known): 7

Juvenile: 12

29

 

IN: 1 N

OUT: 17 S, 3 SE, 6 resting, 2 direction unknown

Most records are for migrating adults this year, hence peak in mid-September with move delayed by bad weather earlier in month; juveniles bred in northern Britain, particularly Scotland, continue to move through October Most records at height of day in GMT terms (12-13 BST), many birds move through afternoon Birds at Devils Water in autumn, bar 1, were local breeders exiting; upper South Tyne appears to be a popular route for Scottish-bred juveniles; Tyne Valley W is another popular route for birds bypassing the Pennines Unusual this year in that most records are of adults

 

A high total with pent-up adult movement on 15/9 and notable movement through upper south Tyne of juveniles in October In autumn birds went mainly S with 17 in this direction and 3 SE; this year 6 resting birds were found, an adult in Derwent in September and 5 juveniles in October in upper South Tyne. Direction unknown refers to 2 birds having clearly left but their final trajectory was not followed.

Table 4: Visible Migration Movements noted for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in 2011

February 28th: making progress with final Honey-buzzard check, now done Devil’s Water, Derwent and Tyne Valley E as well. So just Tyne Valley W to do. Final Honey-buzzard figures for the 2011 season will be published tomorrow. See habitat section for Honey-buzzard needs updating as it rather plays down potential of Tyne Valley E. Did make Bywell today and had 2 Common Buzzard and 2 Kestrel, but no Red Kite or Goshawk. Weather was incredibly warm with Durham breaking February record at 17ºC but raptors seemed unmoved – very conservative! Lovely lunch outside at N!!! Had Bumble Bee on wing at Ordley. Booked car hire for main island for 12 days, not too bad at £270. Into unn to see P on Thursday afternoon but for now it’s definitely E to W4g4s!! 3 Tawny Owl tonight, at Riding Mill, Wylam and Ordley. Gr8 reunion with star sign: very e.otic!!! 2moro it’s walk on moors followed by G4g4t!!

February 27th: completed compilation of Honey-buzzard totals in UK for 2011 with final figure of 297 as against 299 for 2010. Added quite a lot of clips of Honey-buzzard on migration in Northumberland for October to substantiate the claims of the numbers moving through the upper South Tyne in particular. As you can see 2011 season is being wrapped up quickly! Did get new ‘phone, iPhone 4, from Orange shop in Newcastle. Took longer to purchase than expected but perhaps on reflection you can’t just walk into the shop and stroll out with the package 5 minutes later. Had current dongle bundled into the package. Had first Redshank (2) at Derwenthaugh. Got train in from the fair town of Prudhoe, where interested in one or two things: puzzled!! Enjoyed lunch in Hexham: she’s very, very fit!!! k+++→3*!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, E to Bywell for Red Kite and not sure about evening, a‘sinvited me to G (but I’m paying!!)!! Got iPhone working well, can trade with it! Amused by comment on a banking forum I’m involved with: “that’s what it takes for me to sleep nights. By this board’s standards I’m pretty cautious; by the standards of most people I know on a day-to-day basis I’m a raving chancer”.

February 26th: have checked 3 Honey-buzzard areas (Tipalt, lower South Tyne, upper South Tyne) confirming previous figures, 5 areas to go. Very mild so decided to catch up with some outdoor tasks spending 4 hours cutting roadside hedge (1st pass on ground, 2nd on steps) and another hour clearing gutters on W side of house; latter is lovely task, perched up on ladder with black gunge all over the place including hair; kin N afterwards thought I needed some attention!! A few waders on the move toady at Hexham with 2 Oystercatcher overhead at 16:20 and a Curlew moving W to E at 21:25. G was good with ltaking over from aafter her prang!! Hoping to get new ‘phone 2moro in Hexham but will go to Newcastle if necessary. Should be N4c4l!!

February 25th: compiled the 3rd raptor report with a pretty typical Hobby season in 2011 by recent form, which is stable numbers and productivity since 2001 with 10-15 territories each year and 5-9 broods in 8 of the 11 years.

Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

Juveniles

Conf

Prob

Poss

 

Local-fledge

Also seen

Devil’s Water

1

1

1

0

0

1

0

Allen

3

5

2

0

1

4

0

Upper South Tyne

3

4

1

2

0

1

0

Lower South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tyne W

1

1

1

0

0

1

0

Tyne E

1

1

0

1

0

0

0

Derwent

2

2

0

1

1

0

0

Total

11

14

5

4

2

7

0

Table 6: Breeding Data for Hobby in SW Northumberland by area in 2011

This year the number of sites was down slightly but a widespread presence across the area was noticed with birds in all valleys except the lower South Tyne. Poor weather in the first half of September reduced the effort on the edges of the moors, which are popular with the species. Very strong winds and blustery rain reduced both observer effort at altitude and the visibility of the family groups, which is the main way that breeding is confirmed. 7 of the 11 sites occupied are adjacent to heather moorland. Maybe though the birds are tougher than the observer with a family party of 4 Hobby up at Studdon Park in 60kph SW winds on 13 September, seemingly unaffected by the conditions. Hobby now seem well established in the Allen as well as in the initial stronghold of the upper South Tyne. They remain scarce in lowland areas with a total of 2 territories in the main Tyne Valley, E of Hexham. Full details of the maintained colonisation are available here.

While doing final check on Hobby records, realised that had not compiled multimedia data for visit to Studdon Park on 13/9 in very wild conditions. So here’s 2 clips 892b of Honey-buzzard for that date. First shows male and female playing together; second shows family party of 3 birds up in the blustery weather with 60kph SW winds. They seem to cope very well. The adult pair peel off and come quite close with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. Details: at 15:28 the Honey-buzzard male rose up briefly from copse and went down again; after some time the pair at 15:52 had an exciting fly-around in the strong breeze for about a minute. At 15:56 pair adults were up with juvenile below in display in strong wind. The pair peeled off towards me with the male going further S to feed. Next species for presenting 2011 totals is the Honey-buzzard!

February 24th: here’s Red Kite material from yesterday as video, together with pan of Wylam area. Here’s clips of 1w+adult, adult close up and adult close with flapping. Account: at 14:15 1w Red Kite seen over Wylam station, moving S towards site where joined by an adult; at 14:50 another adult floated beautifully for 6 minutes over fields and copse SE of Hagg Bank; no tags seen. Will post Hobby results for 2011 tomorrow. Took Cleo to vets in Hexham: jab, de-worming and de-fleaing, all for the bargain price of £80. She’s quite a good patient, even purrs when the needle is stuck into her! Lunch was memorable: had good chat with delectable mate afrom G and then the gorgeous one walked past!!! Good week for bank debt, spurt of +6k overall with some American updates still to come (gave slight further uplift with flat fund up to 103k). Finally moved some money from bonds into equity of 2 Spanish banks with large South American interests, bringing bonds down to 78%. Thought pick of FG Friday was PL’s Kiss the Stars!! W had sad overtones with no more meeting for quite a while but was good in itself! 2moro it’s A’s for lunch and maybe a ½much later!! But not confirmed!!

February 23rd: trip to Wylam from 12:30-15:10 went well with 3 Red Kite (2 adults, 1 1w) found at regular site S of village. Got some good clips as birds floated around effortlessly in the warm breeze. No other raptors here but a Common Buzzard was at Swallowship on way out. W again late on: the beautiful one’s very sensuous!!! Did some trading today: swapped half of JPM Japan fund for New Europe fund (impressed with Croatia) and bought small quantities of French and Portuguese bank equity, after corrections. Booked cottage near Inverness for week from 5/5 with Nick: great to be going back to Scotland, my personal request! Still resisting cruises – one quote was for 12k; prefer to be more independent. Good to see the rhbback again!! Mobile is ph.cked; think might need to replace it as not as connected as usual. 2moro back to N4c4l and it’s Cleo’s jab time mid-afternoon with much later W4g4s!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

February 22nd: another raptor report with more details of the dismal Goshawk breeding season for 2011. Today made unn and had busy meeting with P from 12:00-14:00. Always like visiting Newcastle – marvellous sights; G4g4t was a good follow-on with more tempting scenes!!! Think rhbhas b.ggered off: gr8 pity!! 2moro it’s down to Wylam around lunchtime to look for Goshawk and Red Kite. Lads have got their monthly meeting at BH4g4s!!

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

1

1

0

0

1

0

0

Upper South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lower South Tyne

1

1

0

0

1

0

0

Tyne W

2

2

0

1

1

0

0

Tyne E

3

3

0

0

3

0

0

Derwent

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

7

7

0

1

6

0

0

Table 5: Breeding Data for Goshawk in SW Northumberland by area in 2011

The poorest year to date with no more than single birds seen at 7 sites and no juveniles seen anywhere in the study area. The Tyne Valley to the E of Hexham continues to provide most of the sightings. The Goshawk on this form is no longer a breeding species in the study area though its secrecy means that one or two pairs may have bred undetected. The habitat is very suitable for the species and there is abundant prey with many rabbit and pigeons. Persecution by game interests is thought to be the culprit in the species decline. Full details of the lengthy decline are available here.

February 21st: now publishing annual totals for the raptors in 2011, with first one for Red Kite as below. Good to be back, nice to see kagain at N, shopping enlivened by gbs!! Booked up hotel and car parking at Manchester, seems cheaper than before at £90 the pair. Late lunch 2moro as meeting P at 12!! More later (after W) …. indeed W of W for the evening’s delight, very motivating!!! k+++→3*!!!

Last year’s account for Red Kite was rather pessimistic: in 2009 it was too early to think that yet; but after the poisoning incidents in 2010 there is a real fear that the colonisation will be blocked on its northern edge. In 2011 these fears were allayed to some extent by a strengthening of the colonisation in Tyne Valley E and Derwent and a pair breeding successfully at Bywell, close to the poisoning incidents the previous year. More details of the Red Kite breeding season for 2011 are available in Table 5.

Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

No. Juveniles fledged

Post-breeding sites

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

0

0

0

0

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

1

Tyne W

1

2

1

0

0

1

1

Tyne E

3

6

3

0

0

4

0

Derwent

2

3

0

1

1

0

0

Total

6

11

4

1

1

5

2

Table 5: Breeding Data for Red Kite in SW Northumberland by area in 2011

It was a much better season with no recorded or suspected persecution. In the area in Tyne Valley W around Stocksfield adversely affected by poisoning in 2010, a pair settled and bred successfully at Bywell, raising one young. The favoured areas remain those close to the reintroduction areas, that is Derwent and Tyne Valley E. In Derwent in May a single bird was at Blanchland and a pair were circling over Wallish Walls, where other birds were seen by other observers later in the year suggesting probable breeding. In Tyne Valley E pairs were seen S of Wylam, E of Wylam and at Hyons Wood, raising 1, 2 and 1 juveniles respectively. The total number of broods of 4 equals that in the previous best year of 2008 with one fewer young reared than in 2008 of 5. Full details for the colonisation are available here.

February 20th: back feeling inspired if a little knackered!! Easyjet flight from Zagreb-Gatwick was bang on time and got Bedpan train through to St Pancras, where short walk to Kings X and train to Newcastle. All smooth today but on way out took Gatwick Express and 2 hours to do a ½hour journey with 2 terminations; think will stick to Thameslink in future which avoids Underground and the Express. Latter was also a shambles when came back from Italy last summer. Fortunately was travelling early next day so didn’t miss the flight but some people were going to miss theirs. Ibis Hotel at Gatwick was very good value for money. Do have some photos but they’re on mobile; will upload some tomorrow. So long lie in 2moro but should make N4c4l and W4g4s later!! Into unn on Wednesday.

February 19th: had good look around city like a proper tourist! Delayed a bit by missing passport which recovered from restaurant intact: gave them 100 kunas (£11) bonus for their care and trouble! Saw some of the photos from canon netting – very interesting michahellis, one with broken band P5, another with reduced black and complete white tip to P10 but overall impression of yesterday maintained. An argentatuswas caught with yellowish legs and very little black, so probably from NW Russia. Very festive atmosphere with splendid late flourish for our last evening!! Next IGM may be in Lithuania when can report on Azores stuff. This IGM was a great success with impressive local organisation. We were even on the national TV, a 1st for the series. 2moro back to UK where looking forward to seeing the canny lasses!!!

February 18th: visit to dump was not as exciting as some hoped as the gulls were frightened of us until near the end but I found it fascinating way to study the eastern michahellis. Started at -4ºC but was above freezing in warm sunshine by time we left at noon, becoming rather like the tundra with glutinous mud and increasing aroma. Very approximate totals of gulls were 4,000 Black-headed, 3,000 large gulls, mainly Yellow-legged Gull (michahellis) and Caspian, and 10 Common (4 adult, 6 1w). The Croatian michahellis were subtly different to western Mediterranean ones. They had slightly more black in the wing-tip with end being almost square-cut and more white with P9 carrying a mirror in the majority of birds. Structurally there was less evidence of boxy heads but the birds were large and heavy with long legs and attenuated rear end, similar to western Mediterranean birds. The calls were almost invariably deep, one or two sharper calls heard out of 100s could have been argentatusthough none of these was identified by me in the milling gulls. The long calls were deep, though not guttural so more like deep graellsii; the mew calls were close to deep graellsiiand the contact calls were strident and deep. Raptors included a Black Kite (eastern type with some Red Kite plumage features so rather strange), 3 Common Buzzard and a Common Kestrel. There were also 20 Crested Lark, 52 Grey Heron, 11 European White-fronted Goose, many Raven and a White Stork. Crows are all Hooded. More talks in the afternoon but meeting dinner in nice Croatian style in evening and great session afterwards!! Think I’ll skip canon-netting 2moro and have a look around city. xxxxxxxxx to the lijepe žene back home!!!

February 17th: talk went fine, a lot of discussion after, a few feathers ruffled particularly in Spain where don’t want to be part of atlantis! The sonograms, the analysis of the long calls, are difficult to refute though. Weather continues cold with a little thaw each day with the sun out. Had 1,300 Black-headed Gull and 1 Common Gull 1w on a pond in the park, which is starting to melt, with a Hawfinch in a nearby tree. Good day on markets yesterday turning for week a 1.5k loss into a gain of 3k with a swing of 4.5k. Actually writing this at 05:49 on 18/2, just about to go to the dump! ‘Bye to the gorgeous ones!!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

February 16th: up at 05:00 this morning, bit of a sweat for a night owl! Now surrounded by snowy mountains and forests in bright sun. Nedostaje one lijepe!!! Meeting starts tonight, talking tomorrow evening; 80% of talk done now! 2 Common Kestrel displaying on way in by taxi. Formal meeting starts at 10:00 tomorrow but great informal meeting to start with: plenty of beers and good humour! Finished writing talk at 17:30 with 24 hours to spare. Tomorrow it’s all talks, mine’s at 17:30, before visit to rubbish tip on Saturday. Interesting that Laayoune in Western Sahara is now open to tourists: always wanted to visit Spanish Sahara to look at the gulls, now it’s on! Next year’s a toss up between there and Cape Verde Islands. k+++→3*!!!

February 14th: got 1.24GB of material for talk, not sure it’ll all fit in 45 minutes, can see a spot of improvisation! Well certainly was a special day – very symbolic!!! Moving S 2moro!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

February 13th: had good meeting with P. Added 2 more gull species on Quayside to yesterday – Herring Gull and LBBG (adult, 1st of year) making 6 types in 2 days. Also had white-headed Cormorant there, which was attracting a bit of interest. ½term so Baltic was full but plenty of room at Sage. Plenty of interest in Hexham and Tyneside – the beautiful duo!! Still processing gull voice material, if finish most of it will get out 2moro evening, otherwise will have to stay in! Bought some speakers for laptop at PCW, only 9.99, very clear and powered through usb so no plug needed. Actually think 2moro’s a special day when gorgeous talent is celebrated!!! Later, finished processing material, can put it together while travelling (so what’s new!). So E to W4g4s!!

February 12th: pretty drained but exhilarated after inspiring performance of Götterdämmerung from New York Met; Acts 1 and 3 were best I’ve seen, Act 2 not quite enough gusto with the vassals. Act 1 is so pessimistic; in the interviews the conductor when asked what was the most difficult part said the middle of Act 1, when you’re 1 hour in with 1 hour still to go and the mood and pace fluctuating all the time! Think N had the odd nap in Act 1: we did have a good meal before! Perhaps strangely to some the music brightens as the forebodings in Act 1 are realised later. Spending hours preparing material for gull talk, going to be last minute, some of it! Had good walk on Tyne Green from 15:05-16:30 in much milder (non-paralysing!) weather. Many gulls gathered on Tyne there including 250 Common, 70 Black-headed, 2 GBBG and (best of all) a Caspian 1w, from 16:40-16:45; last seem to be getting an affection for the Tyne Valley, very welcome! Should see a lot more in a few days. Also had 3 Goosander (2 drake) and single Little Grebe, Grey Wagtail and Marsh Tit. Singing birds included Robin, Chaffinch and Goldfinch, last 2 first heard this year. On way in had single Common Buzzard and Kestrel in Letah Wood area. G was very good, bonny new ‘maid ab: much merriment at my meeting in E!! Nice tuck-in later: problem with gate>1!! 2moro it’s N4c4c, B4s4l and unn to see Paul. k+++→3*!!!

February 10th: found that the major congeners for Honey-buzzard on 13/09/2008 were Meadow Pipit, Swallow and Osprey — all well-established breeders in northern Britain. Osprey is particularly interesting: did they come E as well because of the conditions? Getting ready with Nick for the ultimate tomorrow in bipolar entertainment: Götterdämmerung, from 17:00-23:00 at Tyneside Cinema so 12:00-18:00 in New York. Ends very peacefully, maybe not surprisingly as there’s no-one left! Siegfried is done in by Hagen after he scornfully rejects offer of a way out from Rhinemaidens – he thinks they’re trying to frighten him into giving up the gold ring. Siegfried has a fine funeral march and the Rhinemaidens get their gold back in the closing moments from Brünnhilde – yes they’re still standing come to think of it! The Rhinemaidens, perhaps symbols for the natural world, reassert their authority. No napping!! W was good – hard-working r was on!! Markets finally moved lower this week as expected with the ongoing tedious Greek tragedy, but up 3k. Sold most of high β stuff, waiting to move back in. Over to FG Friday where feel LGG’s Edge of Glory was the most inspiring!! Driving in 2moro, fetching Nick and having meal in MP before.

February 9th: well completed one task, on ct and visualisation, and selected 46 more gull DSC photos taken as stills on the camcorder; next task is to sort out some clips with calls on them of Mediterranean and Atlantic forms. Weather very poor with much freezing rain early morning causing chaos and dull with drizzle for rest of day. Thought fog might stop play but went ahead and plenty of action: very moving!!! s&dare going to run house a bit more when I’m away but Cleo’s going into WD cattery for longer trip to Azores; needs a booster – invited to take out a treatment plan and fill in a questionnaire on her health, even had a letter addressed to her! Talk about anthropomorphism! ‘Fraid it’s the basics! Back on Honey-buzzard page on 13/09/2008 tomorrow – almost finished. Made N quite late but good to see her erect!! T&S with work-mates was lively, also meeting a few people from W. 2moro it’s N4c4l and W4g4s!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

February 8th: working on too many fronts with gulls talk, Honey-buzzard movements on 13/09/2008 and journal paper on ct and visualisation with Paul. Still progressed them all to some extent! It appears the Honey-buzzard on 13/9/2008 were up at dawn, apparently well before most observers – lazy sods – 11:30 was start for me, quite early really. Need to start compiling annual totals for the raptors in study area for 2011. The rhblooked very fit!! Made G to meet mates – very chatty! Afters is very tempting!! 2moro must see cleaners s&dso it’s N4c4t, followed by T&S4g4s with mates from unn. Thinking of moving into JPM New Europe funds (Turkey, Russia and the like), bought a few to get a feel! lok to the beautiful trio!!!

February 7th: enjoyed walk at Harwood Shield at top of Hexhamshire Common from 15:15-16:55, lighter late afternoons are welcome! Plenty of sunshine and light wind (SE) but ground frozen and patches of icy snow on highest moors; perfectly normal weather for early- to mid-February. Managed to get 10 species, normal goal in the uplands, with last one (4 roosting Starling) on the bell. On the moors had 32 Red Grouse, 2 Golden Plover and a Common Buzzard. The plover were obviously very keen to take up a special territory. Here’s views of upper reaches of Devil’s Water, snowy moorland at Riddlehamhope, Beldon Burn (great area for Honey-buzzard) and top of Harwood Shield with icy conditions underfoot. Extracted 127 stills of Yellow-legged Gull from archive of Canon photos from Andalucia; not going to be short of material! Need to look at videos next. W was good – no quiz next week as something else is on! 3 owls late-on: Barn Owl and Tawny Owl at Ordley and Tawny Owl at Wylam. Good flow to the evening, very s.xy, she’s a real turn-on!!! Had message from my old mate Brendan McL: evidently nearby LF sold for 270k in October; that’s the amount little sis paid big bro to buy out his half. Big bro also got the free transfer of Leo so he’s done very well! Think Leo is now an alley cat in Hexham, might meet him some time! Cleo’s top cat so that’s at least 2 triumphs for females!

February 6th: finished processing Madeira material for Yellow-legged Gull, will give an atlantisperspective to talk with which to start. Zagreb is forecast -3ºC maximum, -20ºC minimum on Wednesday; Balkans have been very badly affected by the Eurasian high with snow even at Dubrovnik. Now starting to retrieve material from visit to Andalucia this year in February/March. Visit to unn went fine; collaborating well with Paul on latest journal paper; another meeting next Monday. Enjoyed the scenery: she’s very appealing, nice b.m!!! Recent bird sightings include an adult Iceland Gull at Wylam on 2/2 and 1st Oystercatcher with one at Hexham on 3/2 and 6 at Merryshields today. Weather seems pretty typical here for time of year, don’t know what all the fuss is about, except it’s bad in SE! 2moro it’s N4c4l, walk on moors and E to W4g4s!! k++ to the beautiful ones!!!

February 5th: compiling calls now of Yellow-legged Gull from Madeira in March 2007; much like Herring Gull, not like Mediterranean Yellow-legged Gull at all. Will put some up in next couple of days, even though they’re not really Honey-buzzard! People in G think the IGM (International Gull Meeting) must be some sort of cover operation! So much better tonite: very stimulating!!! Like the invitation to use the table: I don’t mind!! 2moro into unn to see Paul in afternoon with B4s4l!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

February 4th: here’s final clip from Stocksfield Mount on 13/09/2008 showing at 13:30 a juvenile Honey-buzzard floating around the hillside to N of Bywell. Also had 2 females moving SE at 13:17, appearing from the N and moved SE down the Tyne Valley. So total number seen moving SE from 11:38-13:17 was 5 birds (male, 4 female). At Fellgate (NZ3262), near Hebburn, in Durham from 11:45-13:40 4 Honey-buzzard passed S, together with 2 Hobby (BirdGuides). This site is 24km E of Ovingham, a distance which at 55km/hour would take the birds 26 minutes. The last birds at 13:17 are close enough to the end of the count at Fellgate to be recorded there so there does seem to be a reasonable tally between the counts at Stocksfield and Fellgate, with the birds turning S as they approached the coast. However, birds were moving through SE Northumberland around midday with all reports on BirdGuides from 12:50-14:35 except for one at Cambois at 09:55, so would not want to read too much into this. Indeed in Northumberland other than 2 at Low Newton in N of county and the birds at Bywell, all other reports were from SE of county. The 10 birds reported on 13/9 in Birds in Northumbriacomprised 5 juvenile, 4 adult and 1 unaged. Analysing in detail now all east coast records for 13/9. W was good last nite: 5 of us! Today snow threatened but just drizzle up to now. Met old boss (dean) in N! Another good week on markets with Post Office savings book continuing to do well – up 4k. Italian bond yields now down to 5.7%, so is Greece going to soon be booted out of €zone! xxxxxxxxx!!!

February 2nd: very poignant day with last meeting with Mike in NE after 35 years of collaboration and 200+ joint papers. Had long meeting at his house in Durham discussing Vienna abstracts: he and wife Liz are off to Devon next week. Think we’ll continue publishing together with current state of IT but it won’t be the same: personal contact is so important for meeting of minds. Still can always cheer up with Götterdämmerung at Tyneside Cinema on 11/2! Some consolations: T&S was sparkling with 4 of us there and flat fund reached 100k! Otherwise finally very cold with -6°C tonight and ending left something to be desired!!

February 1st: here’s 4th clip from Stocksfield Mount on 13/09/2008 showing at 13:06 3 juvenile Honey-buzzard floating around the hillside to N of Bywell. They don’t make any attempt to leave though they do lean a little to SE, the direction the adults were taking. They may have been locally bred. There’s one more clip to go for this day, then will wrap it up and compare observations with those elsewhere in NE England. Lovely and sunny today, made Hexhamshire Common at Westburnhope from 14:20-16:15. Most plentiful species were Stock Dove (37, including flock 33) and Red Grouse (18). A Common Buzzard was up hunting over edge of moor at 15:45, always nice to see in such a heavily keepered area. There was a little snow on Lilswood Moor, view down to Corbridge was grand and the Honey-buzzard site was still there. Snowdrops are coming on well – fully out now at the back. See forecast for Zagreb on Saturday is -5°C maximum and -19°C minimum, phew! Not even freezing here at moment (00:11, 2/2). Enjoyed G, even though no business later!! 2moro think it’s T&S4g4s!! k+++→3*!!!

January 31st: here’s 3rd clip (large, 53MB, 11:46 long) from Stocksfield Mount on 13/09/2008 showing from 12:31-12:43 a male Honey-buzzard attempting to leave to the SW, failing and coming back, where he meets a female circling around. These may have been the 2 birds that left to SE about 10 minutes later in clip 2 but it has to be said that the female appearing at 12:52 seemed to be coming from the NW; I suspect the male is the same in both clips. The clip has not been tidied up in the usual way as absolute timings might be important. This clip does support strongly the idea that the birds would rather move S/SW and migrate over the Pennines than choose another route. The male is indeed quite persistent making 3 determined runs but finally gives up with the lack of W breeze and poor visibility. In more detail the male does some attempted thermalling at start, then goes off confidently to SW in flap-flap-glide mode until 03:10 when more thermalling is attempted; he then drifts back slowly E until 04:25 when more thermalling attempted; there is then a long drift E gaining some height until 05:20; he then tries another strong movement SW gliding quickly until 06:15 when attempts thermalling again; the final SW drive is done up to 07:20 when he appears to give up, coming flap-flap-glide to E up until 08:50; he then meets a female at 09:00 with which he does some mutual circling and a Sparrowhawk which comes across NW-SE from 10:10-10:50; finally the female is seen circling on her own. A plane comes over at 08:30, on its way to landing at Newcastle Airport, suggesting the wind is in the E. These clips are pretty devastating to the idea that the Honey-buzzard arrived from the continent: can add some more arrows to the map of the movement! Had walk out to Dotland from 15:55-17:20 in very cool grey conditions getting good views of a 1w male Peregrine at dusk gliding over; about a minute later mayhem in a large corvid pre-roost (1100+ birds) so target looks pretty clear. Around 12 had 3 Common Buzzard up at the back of the house in active display. Made Hexham for lunch – met Stan for long catch up: very interested in how he publishes books on local history! W later was not as memorable as some: no deviation!! xxxxxxxxx!!! Going to Durham on Thursday for last lunch at Mike’s. 2moro it’s G4g4t and walk on moors earlier.

January 30th: here’s 2nd clip, with derived stills 1  2  3  4, from Stocksfield Mount on 13/09/2008 showing from 12:52-12:56 another Honey-buzzard female coming from the NW over Newton and moving to S over Bywell Castle, NE over Ovingham and SE towards Ovingham. She flap-flap-glides the whole way except for a little attempted ‘thermalling’, which fails, around 2:00 in. She could have come down the A68, think some birds follow that — whether it’s a river or a road, it’s still a good straight landmark feature, and it’s been there since the Romans were here (as Dere Street). There’s a surprise at the end around the 3:20 mark. A male appears over her and does a playful dive. They then go off together, more slowly. The clip is 4:08 long and she travels 3.5km from NW of Bywell Cottagebank to 1km to E of Ovington, so about 51km/hour – slightly slower than the other bird; if she hadn’t had the distraction of the male, the speed maybe would have been similar! Meyer, Spaar & Bruderer [2000] indicate for Honey-buzzard speeds of 37.4 km/hour in soar-glide mode and 49.7 km/hour in horizontal flapping modeso the speed of the 2 females is very much as expected for flap-flap-glide, which is relatively fast but uses more energy and cannot be sustained for long periods. Winds were light and variable so neither bird was wind affected. After this analysis we’ve got 3 Honey-buzzard moving SE from respectively W, NW and unknown (the male); the male was not picked up when doing the actual recording, might have thought it was a crow or maybe napping (as not home until 03:00 after driving up A1 from Doncaster). Made all intended venues today – gr8 2 c the bonny lasses!!! lokttgt!!! Paul and I were looking at reviewers’ comments on a submitted journal paper – think they want it so worked out strategy for refining it. Seeing Paul again at unn next Monday and Mike, who’s definitely off on 9/2, maybe this Thursday in Hexham. 2moro it’s N4c4l and W4g4s, with maybe a walk out in afternoon!!

January 29th: today had walk at 16:00-17:25 along Tyne from Corbridge-Devil’s Water mouth at Widehaugh; no sun so cold but ground thawed; had a Tawny Owl calling at dusk and a roost of 9 Goosander (5 drake, 4 redhead). At Ordley my ungrazed field is very popular with Kestrel, Tawny Owl and last night a Long-eared Owl; Cleo just sits on edge of it waiting for a vole to come out. Never published video material that got from Stocksfield Mount on 13/09/2008. Here’s 1st clip, with derived stills 1  2  3  4, showing a female Honey-buzzard coming in from the W over Shilford and moving to N side of valley over Bywell before disappearing to SE over Ovington. She was in view from 11:38-11:42 for 3 minutes 51 seconds in all, covering 3.5km so averaging about 55km/hour in a steady flap-flap-glide action with no attempt at soaring. This shows an example of a Honey-buzzard migrating in dull conditions with a light wind, determined to exit, ignoring the Pennines and moving towards the east coast to continue her journey. Tynemouth is 32km to E of Stocksfield but the bird was looking to cut off this corner by moving SE to the Durham coast. With observers lined up on the coast and very few inland, such birds will not have been generally picked up in the national data. At the time I thought she may have come from the Shilford site but she could have come from further W. Updated Scandinavian Literature on Migration to suggest that orographic lift is unlikely to be significant across southern (flat) Denmark. See Hester’s annual bonus is 4 weeks’ earnings of Wayne Rooney: there’s Bread and Circuses for you. Mind you the Gulls continue to thrive – 5th now and even the Chairman said on Friday that if we get 3 more points tomorrow we’ll stay up! Well we did and we’re now 28 points clear of 23rd placed Plymouth with 18 games to go. Local expectations are not high: you keep your eye on the bottom, not the top! Like both angles myself!! Off to G now!! 2moro it’s N4c4c, B4s4l and unn in afternoon with Paul, and perhaps CT4c4t! Booked up train return and hotel for Gatwick on way out to Zagreb: looking forward to freezing rubbish tip! G was good – like a!! Beautiful ambience!!!

January 28th: made Kellas today for walk from 14:55-16:30 in sunny, cool conditions – very exhilarating! Had 2 1w Kestrel, one at Kellas, the other over field in garden at Ordley, plus a Tawny Owl calling at Ordley when got home. Sorting out a lot of material for the Honey-buzzard scene in Northumberland around 13/9/2008 including Atlantic weather maps and hourly readings at various weather stations plus own and other observations. A good nite ending so brilliantly!!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

January 27th: moved orographic material onto main page as refinement of Southwards Migration Model under the Movement in 2008. All fits in very nicely! Did realise that it’s perhaps counter-intuitive to some with the birds moving to the W in westerly winds and to the E in easterly winds, because of the goal of maximising orographic lift. They’re not balloons! Anyway only a few days now from finalising the account of the 2008 movement. Need to add a page on behaviour of the local (my!) Honey-buzzard and the weather in NE England, plus a page on evidence from the BirdMap facility of BirdGuides. May see one or two other things when sewing it all up. Marvellous!! Well she’s so very, very fit!! Nice to see she’s so keen on the outputs!! Got the chain saw out this afternoon: Cleo’s been watching too many films – terrified! Off to W now!! Very good to see con again!! Not a bad week on markets with +4k, but still mostly in bonds at 82%! The things I thought I would be ditching continue to progress so keeping them! Maybe 2moro out on moors again with a ½later!!

January 26th: working up gull call recordings from Algarve in 2006 and Madeira in 2007; the 2006 ones are in Sony’s dvfformat but converted these to wma with Switch after installing a Sony plug-in for Windows Media Player; the 2007 ones are already in wma. Can process wmawith Windows Movie Maker, then convert to wavwith Switch and do spectrogram analysis to produce a sonogram in jpeg. All of course for Zagreb. Busy day with LAF – WG2 which I chair given an interesting task to investigate some access rights on the Rede near Otterburn; get away delayed through discussion until 19:30 and a bit pushed to get 19:52 from Wylam but did with a few minutes to spare! Only made one of the 3 Beethoven quartets at Sage but no.14, one of Wagner’s favourite pieces of music, was sublime – well worth it! BH was much busier than last week – good service from m!! Do drink real ale there now to do it justice – Champion today. Barman unbelievably is banned from DS in Prudhoe! Quite a bit later, eastern delight!!! k+++→3*!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and W4g4s!! Going into unn on Monday.

January 24th: written overview article Honey-buzzard Strategies for Autumn Migration across Northern Britain: the Significance of Orographic Lift with associated map. Next stage is to explore the detail for 2008 and 2011 in the new context. It’s for 2011 that found the amazing development but later! Very stimulating visit for lunch – quite a licker and expressive semiotics!!! Affecting my concentration!!! Very exciting evening in all respects – would be lovely if it continues!!! xxxxxxxxx!!! 2moro it’s G4g4t. Thursday is complicated as LAF is on at Eastburn, Hexham, from 14:30-20:30 but want to see Belcea String Quartet in evening – current plan is to bunk off LAF in time for 2nd half at Sage with BH later!!

January 23rd: the answer is orographic lift: not actually an alternative to breast implants or a new wonder bra!! Think can be sorted now for all years, including 2000 and 2008; it’s a very straightforward solution so that’s highly encouraging. Grand sunny day to celebrate 1 month past the solstice; sat outside N, but back fairly early as wanted to finish trimming party hedge on neighbour’s side on top and side – good exercise, took almost 2 hours but it’s light to 16:26 now (+48 minutes from darkest and overall gaining 3 minutes 26 seconds a day now). Sadly neighbour still has trapped nerve. Missed the aurora last night though kept a keen look out, but may have been in the G! Trying again tonight, may go to Dipton Wood if sensor goes yellow again as get superb view N from there. Anyway good views in Hexham: very desirable!!! No aurora flagged on sensor later. 2moro it’s N4c4l at 12:30 and W4g4s!! An amazing development in orographic finding this evening! lokttgt!!!

January 22nd:addition today to main page — “included in analysis of September 2011 migrants the suggestion that the high variability of counts of Honey-buzzard in the UK in the month of September is an artefact (Trends/2011)”. The relative low national count for September 2011 and the knowledge from my own observations that birds were moving makes this conclusion inescapable. Vital question: so why, in September in the two years 2000 and 2008, did many more birds move SE onto the east coast rather than moving S inland? Obviously this question is being given high priority: the answer is likely to be in the weather and its effect on navigation and aerodynamics. Had grand walk on Hexhamshire Common today out on Broad Way at King’s Law from 13:50-15:25 in very breezy NW wind and mostly sunny with no frost but still pretty chilly. Total of 5 species: 30 Red Grouse, 2 Golden Plover (overhead) and single Woodcock (flushed from heather), Black Grouse (Greyhen) and Bullfinch (out feeding on heather from shelter-belt). This sign onto the moor might be regarded as intimidating! But met one person with 2 dogs off lead (OK actually as they were on public right of way) and 6 lads on fell-bikes (definitely not allowed). With my LAF hat on should have told the lads off but couldn’t really be a.sed! Who’s perfect? Reminded me it’s quarterly meeting of LAF this Thursday in Hexham. Views were grand, here’s Broad Mere, Westburnhope Moor and a Honey-buzzard site on edge of Slaley Forest. There were too many sheep on the moor – overgrazed. Sun was very low – here’s a silhouette of yours truly; could get more creative! G was very good with aon again!! Early western promise and nice tuck-in!!! xxxxxxxxx!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and hedge-trimming!!

January 21st: at 18:45 finished processing last Honey-buzzard material for 2011, that from 15/9, and published below at 15/9 where all the details of the day are recorded. Great feeling, there’s a lot of excellent material for the book! Already sorted out national September total for Honey-buzzard: it’s 64 birds, lower than recent years. Expect to post these figures tomorrow with some analysis. Concert at Sage last night was brilliant with Paul Lewis playing with much energy and expression Beethoven’s piano concerto 5, my favourite! Hall 1 was almost full, perhaps just 100 light at the back. Looked after very well in MP, Polish waitress is very interested in going to an opera but not sure next one in February at Tyneside Cinema, Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, is very suitable as an introduction to opera: Act 1 (of 3) alone is 2 hours 10 minutes and that act is very bipolar, with long brooding passages interspersed with ecstasy!! Another good week for LBG debt and bank equities (LON:BARC, EPA:ACA), up a further 8k; new chips on on Tuesday and off on Friday. Off for f&c+mp to keep feet on ground! Sad news is that Mike, my collaborator for almost 35 years in research on 200+ papers, leaves for Devon on 9/2 having sold house in Durham; no house in the SW yet but target area of Totnes is only 18 miles from my home town of Teignmouth. 2moro it’s out on the moors in the afternoon, when wind supposed to drop, followed much later by G4g4s!!

January 19th: 1st Goshawk of the season with an adult male soaring near Bywell Castle at 12:10; impressive sight with pigeons and corvids scattered all over the place! Busy day in unn with Mike, still polishing contravariance paper and getting ready 3 extended abstracts for submission tomorrow to a conference in Vienna at Easter. Lovely views where it matters!! Booked Zagreb flight for mid-February IGM for only £110 return with Easyjet from Gatwick: just got to get to Gatwick now! If you want to pay my registration fee, I’ll understand! Exercised star-sign compatibility later: fantastic!!! 2moro hope to complete processing of 15/9 material for Honey-buzzard and finalise totals. It’s N4c4l, MP4p4d, Sage for concert and W4g4s!! k+++→3*!!!

January 18th: now been through all of 15/9 material in PMB but nothing run through movie maker yet. Very interesting stuff – sky full of Honey-buzzard – the pride of the ‘Shire! Today went to Thorngrafton Common, just to W of Grindon Lough, in pretty cool conditions but no snow anywhere. Had Raven, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk there, plus Kestrel at Warden, Common Buzzard over Hexham and Sparrowhawk at Ordley, last joining in at neighbour’s bird feeder! Grindon Lough was ½frozen but a few Lapwing had gathered, perhaps looking forward to spring. 2moro looks like a busy day with unn and BH!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

January 17th: looking closely at final day’s material – 15/9 in the ‘Shire (895). Hope to publish some tomorrow as over half-way through the clips in initial analysis. When this is complete, can quickly publish summaries for species and finish the national migrant counts. Finally fitted new towel rail: already making the downstairs bathroom super comfortable! W was good: later fabulous!!! lokttgt!!! 2moro it’s Grindon Lough for lunch and G4g4t!! Into unn on Thursday!!

January 16th: here’s material from Ruffside 897 on 17/9 with clip of female and 2 juveniles up at 15:06, and derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9. One juvenile is very weak-flying and is only seen at the start (last 2 stills); the female and older juvenile then do some follow-me display. The other clip, with derived stills 1  2  3, shows the female up on her own at 15:07, trying to encourage the juveniles up in the air again, but no joy. Last night was coldest of winter at Newcastle Airport with -6.4ºand daytime maximum of only -0.4º! Hexham would normally be colder. Might be warmer tonight if cloud builds. You can get current weather and almanac for Beaumont Park, Hexham, here. Had new tyres fitted; met N at N where discussed merits (or otherwise!) of cruises! Think the 3rd Rhinemaiden isa Sag but not sure about the star sign!! Actually that’s not very compatible either, but I’m sure the synastry’s up there somewhere!! So it’s out with the hips, in with the lovely smile!! 2moro it’s back to normal with N4c4l at 12 and E much later to W4g4s!! Finally here’s some more Honey-buzzard related material from the visit to Rhaeadr Fawr on 21/7 in north Wales in July (clip 860, 22/7). These stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 show the habitat in which the female Honey-buzzard was found. Thought the site was quite similar to Staward Gorge with rocky outcrops, steep sides to the valley and much deciduous woodland with heather moors on the surrounding high ground. Recent atlas work has confirmed the presence of Honey-buzzard in north Wales. The falls are spectacular. Here are some stills 1  2  3 giving views of them with a few others showing the pride of Wales 4  5 and my niece and partner 6. The information board at the entrance to the site shows the extensive woodland on the steep-sided valley.

January 15th: made Staward in brilliantly sunny but frosty weather from 13:05-15:45 getting 3 Kestrel and 2 Common Buzzard. Also had a singing Dipper and 2 Grey Heron; only sign of cold-weather movement was 2 Common Gull adult SW. Had 2 Tawny Owl calling at home on return after N4c4t. Car goes in for 2 new tyres on front 2moro morning: it’s only done 14k; Carrs say “it depends on how you drive sir”. Seeing N at N4c4c! Engineering-wise pretty amazed at Costa Concordia misadventure: quite topical because someone is very keen for me to join them on a Med cruise this autumn and I’ve been resisting. Not sure that cruises are for more independently-minded travellers and they’re very expensive for what you get (been quoted 6k). Competing idea is to go to Russia with son to Moscow and St Petersburg, and fit in a few top-notch Russian concerts; no Wagner as they hate him! Odds shortening on Russia! Concerts resume at Sage on Friday and have BH on Thursday with mates!! G was good: someone’s birthday spiced it up a bit, to put it mildly! Later very stimulating — maybe just a little bit left out in the cold — certainly brass monkey weather!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

January 14th: further clips for 896 include this one of a juvenile Honey-buzzard floating in the distance from 13:35-13:38 and this one of 3 Common Buzzard soaring at 13:29 at Kiln Pit Hill. Soaring Common Buzzard often differ from soaring Honey-buzzard in that there is much more flapping as they are less buoyant, the birds keep further apart perhaps because they have less control in the air, they mainly use mutual circling as the aerobatic technique – also found in Honey-buzzard but they often practice follow-me as well, and they keep closer to ground perhaps because of the buoyancy factor again. This clip shows some dramatic action with the presumed female Honey-buzzard of the site soaring at 13:50 and then flapping very fast in a straight line to intercept another female Honey-buzzard, presumably a migrant (maybe a migrant from Scotland in the 15/9 movement). There’s a bit of a skirmish with the presumed migrant drifting off to the E and the incumbent to the W. The migrant was where her young were just 10 minutes before but they had moved to the W and she moves off in this direction. There’s a few derived stills 1  2  3  4 but the video is much more revealing. The next clip shows the Honey-buzzard female in power-flight moving across at 14:06 to join the juveniles; there are some flight calls about half-way through, presumably the birds calling to each other; at the end the juvenile is up on the left greeting the female. The penultimate clip shows the female and juvenile in energetic display at 14:08, which can be profitably compared with the Common Buzzard display earlier today at this site: there’s a lot of follow-me and close-contact diving in the Honey-buzzard action. Derived stills include 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9. The display ends with the juvenile coming down into the trees followed by the female. Final clip, with derived still 1, shows first the juvenile in unsteady flight coming out of the copse at 14:12, followed later by the female who gives one whistle – think she’s trying to get the juvenile up for more practice. So that’s the end of 896 – detailed analysis has revealed an additional female migrant, which was not realised during the visit. Provisional number of migrants in study area is now 15 for September (may change after 15/9 visit analysed), 9 for October and 1 for November, 25 in total. Never had anything like that before: a healthy Scottish population is indicated by the later records. Still a few clips (897) to analyse for later on 17/9, from nearby Ruffside in Durham at Derwent Reservoir. Booked up 4* hotel in Horta so whole trip basically done now except for car hire at Ponta Delgada and last 2 nights back on São Miguel: Horta is great for whales! 2moro going to Staward to look for Goshawk, followed much later by G4g4s!! Gulls did well, beating the Silkmen 2-1: think we’ll escape relegation now! Might see them at Morecambe next Saturday to celebrate compilation of Honey-buzzard totals for 2011. Hope next week will be as good as the last!!! k++→3*!!!

January 13th: here’s clip 896, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13, of 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard moving to W of site at Minsteracres at 13:40 on 17/9. They are now quite strong flyers and move well against a moderate breeze. The small pointed head appears to be a reliable identification feature for juvenile Honey-buzzard; the shape of the tail for juvenile Honey-buzzard often lacks the rounded corners of adults but the narrow base and length are still diagnostic. 12 more clips to go here but can combine some! Today made Whittle Dene N Reservoir in sunny, frosty weather from 14:30-15:30, where had a 1w Kestrel, a European White-fronted Goose, 2 Green Sandpiper (1st waders of year!), a Grey Wagtail and a Skylark, moving SW. Have had 5 Tawny Owl in last 2 days: last night singles at Elvaston, Loughbrow and Ordley, tonight a pair at Dipton Wood. Booked 8th and final flight from Flores back to Ponta Delgada: the inter-island flights are on Otters just like on safari. Another great week on markets at +10k, mainly due to across the board rise in subordinated debt, aliasjunk bonds, as increasing confidence that banking system will not collapse. But who knows? S&P’s flagged announcement on France downgrade would have completely shafted the markets 6 months ago but a lot calmer today; still have taken a few chips off the table for a few days! Bonds still at 80% of total. Flat fund reaches record at 97k! W was good but feeling a little sated!! Really fascinating week!!! 2moro it’s A’s4s4l!

January 12th: productive trip to unn, less distractions than at home. Very nice lunch and buena vista!! Don’t hold any Tesco shares, never think they cater well for the single person – deals are too bulky. But party-time in junk bonds today: this is the indicator that matters, the lower it gets the better unless you’re Greek as if it gets down to 5-5.5% expect Greece to be ejected from €zone without fear of contagion. On 2nd thoughts, might be good for Greece as well. About to start processing visit on 17/9 to Derwent area: maybe complete this in a couple of days and then there’s just 15/9 – big emigration day — to do. Anyway off to T&S to see work-mates!! All very good: very satisfying, particularly the bedroom bit!!! xxxxxxxxx!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and W4g4s!!

January 11th: continuing with material from Bywell 885a on 1/9, here’s another clip (with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9) of build up to the action at 12:09 of all 4 birds up in the air, with the darker grey-brown of the 2 juveniles soaring to medium height and flapping into the nest area, followed by the male soaring and enticing the juvenile higher. There are 2 plaintive calls from the juvenile early-on in the clip. After the display of 4 birds, the male glides back to the site from 12:14-12:16, frequently calling. Here’s the clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12. The final clip, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9, shows the less dark but still basically grey-brown juvenile, perhaps with a purplish tinge, hovering and than flapping back towards its nest site before the main action at 12:08; there’s single Honey-buzzard calls at the start and end of this clip. Lunch was good, had terrine for starter and salmon with mussels and prawns for main course; latter had some clear benefits later!!! Aries and Capricorn are supposed to be completely incompatible, except for one thing, which can go rather well!! So that’s alright then!! Made G – a little quiet, but enough of us to keep things up! 2moro into unn for work on 2 current papers. xxxxxxxxx to the beauties!!! Booked up flight from Horta to outer island Flores so outward trip secure, and bought another Azores bird book, by Rey!

January 10th: material from Bywell 885a on 1/9 is exciting with the whole family party of 4 Honey-buzzard (pair adult, 2 juveniles) in the air around 12:12 as in clip, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8. Much more to come here! Met Nick in N and had good chat about his btl plans. Off E to W now!! W was very good! Takes a Capricorn to understand a Capricorn: marvellous!!! xxxxxxxxx!!! 2moro going to Angel with Nick for lunch but G4g4t and N4c4c!!

January 9th: pleased to see article in latest British Birds Honey-buzzards in southern England by E J Wiseman (BB 105(1) 23-28 (2012)) and greatly enjoyed reading it. Deals with study of New Forest population over nearly 60 years. We do have some empathy in that in their study area and mine, the birds are left as undisturbed as possible, without any ringing for instance. Wiseman does cite cases where disturbance at critical times has caused nest failure. I think we both realise that this restriction drives the ringers mad but the birds come first! It’s noteworthy that the SW Northumberland and New Forest populations are both healthy while in Wales, where ringing, frequent nest visits and webcams are all part of the paraphernalia, they’re struggling to find a successful pair now! More to come on this. Did make Wylam today but rather late 14:55-16:25 and no Red Kite though did have an adult Sparrowhawk male going out to hunt over the Tyne and village and a large pre-roost of 1,450 Jackdaw; dad worked really hard today with moral support from mum! Hexham was good at lunchtime – the rhblooked very delectable!! In N a rather melancholy woman attached herself to me but fortunately she had an appointment elsewhere. Daughter’s been celebrating birthday over weekend in New York. Good news that LBG seem almost certain to resume dividends on their preference shares from February – will increase income by 9k a year, as well as boosting capital values. Working up visit to Bywell on 1/9 now and then just 2 to go. 2moro it’s N4c4l (need rescuing if she’s there again!) and E much later for W4g4s!! Here’s some piccies: yesterday on Devil’s Water 1  2 at Peth Foot and view over to Dipton Wood; today Tyne at Wylam. xxxxxxxxx to those with nice b….ts!!!

January 8th: continuing with 890 here’s another clip of the older juvenile flapping around at moderate height at 15:55, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9. Here’s a clip of the younger juvenile at 15:37, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 ; it shows weaker flight and similar plumage but darker body; P7 is not visible on either wing. The clip starts with an irate adult Common Buzzard giving anger cries; it is rather untidy, especially on its tail where it is particularly ragged. The wings look very short compared to Honey-buzzard. The clip finishes with the juvenile Honey-buzzard flying low away from the Common Buzzard. Finally here’s a clip of a female Honey-buzzard at 15:33 in vegetation near South Tyne, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5. The clip starts with a Honey-buzzard anxiety call, continuing with a Common Buzzard call, the female with reduced black on wingtip coming up briefly and some dive-bombing by a corvid. So with some relief 690 done! Had good walk around the Linnels on the Devil’s Water from 13:20-15:30 with 3 displaying Common Buzzard, mobbed by an adult male Sparrowhawk, and 2 Marsh Tit and 2 Dipper. G was chatty with 5 of us there; taste in barmaids impresses! aqotwf!! 2moro it’s N4c4l!! Maybe trip to E Tyne later to look for Red Kite, if weather permits.

January 7th: here’s some material from Haughstrother 890. First is Common Buzzard adult clip taken at 14:49, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8; moult is up to P8 and tail and wings both look short. Next clip is of Honey-buzzard older juvenile at this site at 16:05 with full-grown wings, including rounded wing-tip with relatively long P10, long tail slightly wider than wing width, fine bill looking pale, long neck and small pointed head at times and characteristic loose flapping jizz in flap-flap-glide. Derived stills include 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13. These 3 stills 14  15  16 were taken directly on the camcorder. A little later at 16:06 the juvenile was soaring higher in this sky as shown in this clip. Just 2 more clips to process on this visit and some data entry done on 1/9 visit so the end is in sight with 15/9 and 17/9 the main obstacles! Sociable visit to Hexham for late lunch: like aat A’s!! Felt good vibes on walk around the block!! Sent daughter 1k for birthday, which is very close to mine in date: we’re both Capricorn!! Did some more work on family tree – fascinated by Irish connection – there’s a very strong resemblance in family names between the Tiverton lot colonising c1700 and the dispossessed (by William of Orange in 1690, Battle of the Boyne) disappearing Catholic gentry of Rathmacknee in Wexford, and the choice in Devon of Bernard as name for one son is pretty odd. And it’s very strange how the Tiverton lot are within one generation gentry, from apparently nowhere. Maybe they had the blarney! But it’s all a hypothesis at the moment. I’m very indebted to Kathleen Merryweather’s research on the Irish Rossiters. Thomas Rossiter, the pioneer in Tiverton, was had up on 10.2.1713: Bishop of Exeter v Thomas Rossiter and wife Mary of Tiverton, case for pre-nuptial fornication (AE/I/6). See Bijlsma’s book on Honey-buzzard postponed again to 2013: I’m catching him up! 2moro doing local walk followed much later by G4g4s!! xxxxxxxxx to the stars!!!

January 6th: working up video 890 from Haughstrother, lower South Tyne near Willmontswick, on 10/9; a lot of material but initial run through seeing what’s what completed. Only 3 days to process after this. Enjoyed visit to N at lunchtime: very good to see the lovely rhb!! Did make Grindon Lough, just as murk was settling in, from 14:35-15:25; not a lot there, just 12 species in all but good walk on the Stanegate. There were 6 of us at W with good crack! 2moro might put up new towel rail after A’s for lunch. Evening is free: will see where the spirit leads!! Sweet dreams and lok to the gfff!!!

January 5th: here’s 2nd clip for 892 from Unthank, near Haltwhistle, on 11/9, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12. This clip taken at 13:05 shows 3 birds up above a wood on the moorland edge of Plenmeller Common. The female appears first (blurry still 12) and quickly moves off to the NW; she appeared quite ruddy-brown when first seen in the field. Then 2 juveniles appear up above the wood, one dark and one pale, interacting with each other; the pale one is presumed to be the bird seen just over 30 minutes later in 1st clip, published 4/1. It could well have moved onto the moor after 13:05, returning at 13:37 by a circular route. These birds might well of course be the ‘Marsh Harrier’ of Plenmeller Common! Made unn, worked hard with Mike on ideas for 3 new papers, getting back on old regular train of 18:24 after CT4c4t. Rather mesmerised by vivid illustration of natural isomorphism!! Noted xmas office party for someone who’s rather deep held at PP: hope she’s not spying on me!! Made TS4g4s with workmates: feeling very good later, she’s so brilliantly sensuous!!! xxxxxxxxx to the gorgeous ones!!! Think many commentators are missing the point of € fall: it will improve competitiveness of the bloc – very cunning new Italian ECB boss who says he’s more German than the Bundesbank but then lowers interest rates and prints € in subtle ways! Making Azores booking cheaper so can’t be bad. 2moro it’s N4c4l and maybe a trip to Grindon Lough, followed much later by W4g4s!

January 4th: here’s 1st clip for 892 from Unthank, near Haltwhistle, on 11/9, in visit from 12:55-14:10, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6. This clip taken at 13:37 shows, floating over the moorland edge, a juvenile fairly close up with dark envelope to wing, small head, long neck and long tail; indeed getting fairly confident and fitter for emigration. Big emigration date, at least for adults, was just 4 days later on 15/9. There’s one more clip to process from this visit to Unthank. Weather was pretty windy then with hurricane Katrina imminent and pretty windy today with incredibly wild weather at Ordley from 21:00-22:30: whole house shaking and rain hammering onto the W wall and windows. Just like Wuthering Heights! No wonder the natives of Hexham are so wild!! Made G4g4t: very good to see everyone again! Almost got carried away later!!! 2moro it’s unn in afternoon: hope to make Hexham and Wylam before lunch in town!! xxxxxxxxx to the beauties!!!

January 3rd: here’s clip, with derived stills 1  2  3  4, of Peregrine 1w female at Slaley Forest on edge of Blanchland Moor on 11/9, a rare bird in the study area because game interests hate it. The only saving grace is that the ‘keepers are able to distinguish Hobby from Peregrine as the former continue to breed in the valleys. Making progress with Azores bookings, got flight from Ponta Delgada to Horta (Faial) and a hotel on another island Flores, where accommodation scarce. So it’s not quite all joined up yet! Geologically, based on the plates, Faial is the most westerly point of Europe and Flores the most easterly point of North America! Can visit Pico on boat from Faial, giving total of 4 islands. Here’s clip 891 from Beaufront, near Egger factory on NE outskirts of Hexham, on 11/9 from 12:25-12:28. Derived stills 1  2  3  4  5 show 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard floating well against strong wind. Made Hexham Tyne Green for bracing walk in afternoon – no raptors but did have Goldeneye, Goosander, Cormorant, Moorhen and Dipper, that is classical riverine birds. River Tyne was very high 1  2 and strong wind very cold. Later made W where won £20 in snowball – how many golf balls did some professional hit 100 yards into a target area in 12 hours? My answer was 7,550 a few hundred below right answer of around 7,950! Lots of excitement later!! lokttgo!!!

January 2nd: slight diversion to Welsh Honey-buzzard with look at habitat of 2 Honey-buzzard sites found in North Wales, with first addition of material to 19/7 below from Betws-y-Coed and Capel Curig (clip 859 below for male Honey-buzzard). It’s interesting that from the limited experience, the Honey-buzzard here preferred a more open mixed deciduous/coniferous/pasture habitat to a solidly coniferous one: shades of the situation in Northumberland where the birds prefer the mixed habitat of SW Northumberland to the wall-to-wall conifer planting of the Border Forests. Indeed the habitat at Capel Curig is not unlike that in the upper South Tyne. That Capel Curig is one of the wettest places in the UK indicates that high rainfall is not a deterrent. Next is habitat from Rhaeadr Fawr (Aber Falls). 2moro it’s N4c4l and W4g4s!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

January 1st 2012: Happy New Year!!!*** Again at P’s today on New Ridley Road after short break for breakfast at Ordley! Went for walk around S/E Stocksfield from 11:20-14:30, seeing a Red Kite 1w, tail not that forked and rather dark (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4), 2 Common Buzzard (pair display, one bird in Red Kite clip) and 2 Kestrel (adult pair). Red Kite may be from Bywell success last season (or anywhere!); could be based at West Mickley, NE of New Ridley Road. Walk included the fords and New Ridley, with views over to Broomleyfell, Shilford/Broomley woods, Hindley Hall and Hindley, all Honey-buzzard feeding areas. As usual tits excelled in Stocksfield with 22 Blue, 7 Great, 6 Long-tailed and 2 Coal! This Holly bush was the only one still covered in berries, guarded by a Mistle Thrush. Flowers out included periwinkle, gorse, hosta, flowering cherry and winter jasmine. A Common Buzzard was also seen sitting on wires at Letah Wood on way over at 11:00. Another type of fly was noted on ivy at Ordley on 27/12. Here’s clip 886b, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, of Honey-buzzard juvenile from Staward S on 3/9; the bird is in a long glide with a few flaps at the end; the calls are from Common Buzzard who were actively contesting territory. Yesterday completed compilation of all nest site visits, except for ground findings at 5+ sites, and just 5 days on which to report for September; one of these 15/9 is for the big emigration, which is holding up the national 2011 September and hence annual totals. This page will run until at least end of January as compile 2011 totals. Now off to G, with extension to 24:00 as usual when next day is bank holiday!! Stayed bit longer than usual, well-served by new a! Thrilling start but early close!!! 1st Tawny Owl at Elvaston at 01:00 (2/1).

December 30th 2011: here’s clips for 31/8 – 884a for juvenile at Softley floating over the moorland edge at 14:18 with derived stills 1  2; 884b for juvenile at Lambley chased by Rook at 15:26 with derived stills 1  2  3; 884c for juvenile at North Wood, Haltwhistle, at 16:13 with derived stills 1  2  3 . Nest site visited was Softley where family party of 4 birds already seen on 23/8 so getting a juvenile over the moorland was a bonus. As stated below on 19/10 for the 1st visit the nest is very difficult to see in the Norway Spruce thicket but here’s 2 further attempts 1  2. In the glade 1  2, near the nest where remains are concentrated, found 7 patches of splash 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, rabbit fur, tarsal feather 82mm long, 7 large white down 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 (53mm, 43mm, 48mm, 41mm, 41mm, 48mm, 40mm) and 1 small white down (30mm). This find is dedicated to those fancied!! Well markets all closed now – a very difficult year but survived almost intact by switching largely out of equities last November (2010). Am a bull now but not putting money where my mouth is! Keeping bonds (79% of portfolio) where some special factors come into play next ½year such as resumption of payments after freeze and move closer to redemption. But expect to have more in equities by June. Booked up partially Azores for March, that’s flights from Manchester- São Miguel and 4* hotel in Ponta Delgada for 11 nights from 1st arrival. Going onto other islands in 2nd half. Anyone want a sweet black cat? Or to share a double bed?? Enjoyed t: the gfffis lovely!!! Off to W now, more later! 2moro it’s A’s for lunch and out for New Year at the P’s in Stocksfield!

December 29th: sent off contravariance paper to Liège as final draft for review for AIP! This is the one that won best paper award in August. Dimitris is delighted we’ve got there at last and he’s first author! Started sorting out material for 884: there will be 3 subsets for the day for Softley 884a, Lambley 884b and North Wood 884c. Made G in evening with workmates as T&S had music nite, which gets in way of conversation and also is annoying with many seats taken by people who spend all evening supping a ½. We’re always very welcome in the G! Late tryst was marvellous: a lot to catch up with!!! Very s.xy!!!

December 28th: saw daughter off on early train, more birds singing in Hexham than at Ordley early morning with a Song Thrush and 3 Robin prominent at Sele! Nite in with son watching dvd of Tristan & Isolde, Wagner’s 4-hours on-stage opera of the passionate love affair between Isolde, a wild lass from Ireland, and Tristan, a knight from Cornwall. The over-riding theme is liebestod (love in death) and ends just like that, with Isolde singing her swan song over Tristan’s dead body. It’s set in a ship on the way from Ireland to Cornwall, in Cornwall itself and in Brittany, so thoroughly Celtic in story, in fact a Celtic version of Romeo & Julietin many respects, but Germanic in style. Went well with a few g! Reading through final draft of contravariance paper, going to be submitted tomorrow. Well they say that the 1st gorgeous one you see has significance!!! 2moro processing 884 Softley 31/8 to complete visits for August; son leaves Hexham at 10:22; back to N4c4l, not sure about evening!!

December 27th: more material from 883b includes stills 1   2  3 taken on the Canon as the juvenile Honey-buzzard flushed in the glade on entrance to the site flew away from me quickly. Still 3 is an enlargement of 1, showing broad barring on the remiges as a chequered pattern. The bird is of the warm rufous phase and the body is very heavy as is quite common in just-fledged birds. Must say it did look like the birds in Britney Spears’ Toxic, which always thought had some of the jizz of Honey-buzzard!! In fact jizz all round!! Here’s a clip of the approach to the nest, showing the high bracken barriers; not good habitat for bare midriffs or shorts because of the deer ticks, which can spread Lyme Disease. There’s more material from ground for 883b but moving onto last visit in August on 31/8 for now. Good day with family; plentiful shopping at W made much more pleasant by the gbs!! 2moro daughter leaves by train to Carlisle around 07:15, too early! Thinking of you!!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

December 26th: did walk from Ordley to Dotland getting 1w Kestrel over own field, competing with Cleo, and a Common Buzzard up, in blustery very mild weather; such a contrast to last year when Tyne frozen all over at Hexham. Indeed there were a few flies around the last of the flowering ivy, which is pretty amazing at 150m asl in Northumberland for this time of year. Gorse is flowering well. Made TR4g4t with family for few hours to catch up on gossip, very enjoyable! Here’s some nest material from 883b at Hexham Westwood on 30/8. First, Honey-buzzard nest in Scots Pine 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21; second, Common Buzzard nest in Norway Spruce 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 just 60m away, the closest yet for the 2 species, no wonder they were getting on each other’s nerves! More material to come (as usual!). Some things might be looking up from Thursday!!

December 25th: happy xmas!!! Went to Whitley Chapel church with daughter at 09:30. Son cooked very good lunch, my role is skivvy! Family staying until Wed/Thurs, which is nice! faswtgo!!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

December 24th: here’s clip 883a from West Dipton Burn in visit on 30/8 from 15:00-15:40, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, showing a fairly full-winged juvenile Honey-buzzard flying across a clearing at 15:06. Still 4 has been lightened and contrast increased in 4c to show the 3 broad bars more clearly along the underside and topside. This bird also shows small head, long narrow tail, relatively long P10 and contrasting upperside. This bird doesn’t always show 5 protruding primary tips (P6-P10) but it might be that the feathers are overlapped rather than missing; young birds seem to have difficulty in flexing all their feathers at times. As usual there are Common Buzzard mixed up in the action with clip of an adult here (with one derived still 1), moulting P7 on both wings; in all 2 very agitated adult Common Buzzard were present and Honey-buzzard might well have been their concern. The presumed same juvenile Honey-buzzard flew E down the valley low-down at 15:25, coming out of the cover it had flown into earlier. ‘Kids’ arrived this evening: very good to see them!

December 23rd: very Christmassy material for 877a! Visit was from 12:15-15:40 on 23/8 to Towsbank in sunshine on NW wind after heavy rain. The Honey-buzzard young are very weak flying but up above the canopy and the males look very restless; suspect this is the cue for some of the males to say goodbye! Had a cross juvenile at 13:20 giving anger calls while I was right on the nest; another juvenile came into a clearing to the S near the old mine railway and was mobbed heavily by a Jay. This was before the family party got up for training from 14:35-14:55 so the young petulant bird must have been removed by a parent and told to get on with it! Video 877a, with derived stills 1  2, shows the female and juvenile up briefly in the air together, then the female is seen flying into the trees where the practice is taking place with flap-flap-glide action, finally a juvenile is seen flapping weakly low-down in the same area. From further observation of all the action, the male was seen at tree-top level and by the directions of the birds it was thought that 2 juveniles were involved. The nest 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 is in a lower fork in an oak tree, same place as last year, and fairly sheltered in the wood. A lot of dead oak sprays on the side of the nest block easy viewing of the nest itself; think that’s the idea! Below the nest found quite a lot of splash 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, in spite of it being very wet. Feathers included small white down (20mm), large white down 1  2 (50, 48, 59mm), possible tarsal 1  2 (58mm) and this primary stub, 89mm long, probably Common Buzzard on moult grounds, pictured with another feather 62mm long, possibly Meadow Pipit or Tree Pipit. Tree Pipit breed in the wood but Meadow Pipit are abundant on the nearby moors. A little rabbit fur was also found. The Hobby family party up at 14:38 included a female and a juvenile in close contact and a male flying above all the action (clip with derived stills 1  2). They were in the same group of trees as the Honey-buzzard, more out in the open to the W of the main wood than their nest sites. Final raptor figures for visit: besides the 8 Honey-buzzard and 3 Hobby had 4 Kestrel and an agitated adult Common Buzzard. So 16 birds of 4 species. Another very good day in Fore Street!! Much more shopping, floor nailed down and waiting for ‘kids’ 2moro. Daughter’s on a plane from LA and son’s getting ready for the megabus! Off to W, which was very good – 6 of us there! 2moro will put up tree am, visit A’s for lunch and complete shopping with chauffeur duties later on. Working now on material from 30/8 at West Dipton Burn 883a and Hexham Westwood 883b, and the Liège paper. Must say lasting impression, both events, from 20/12!!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

December 22nd: this shot shows strategy for free xmas trees – keep cutting the tops off but the one on the left has got away! I’m within waving distance of neighbours to N, that’s Gaynor S, Northumberland County Show Secretary, who I see is also letting her shelter belt grow. Another shot shows strategy for wind breaks, all planted over last 20 years with row of apple/crab apple/bird cherry in front of house and far high hawthorn/rose/blackthorn hedge on W boundary where the xmas trees make up NW corner. When we arrived people in ‘Shire seemed to like it open and windswept but windbreaks have made it much better habitat for insects and sitting out! Ponies also love high hedges, or at least I think they do. Finished cutting party hedge on top and on my side; neighbour has a trapped nerve which makes operating a hedge trimmer on a high hedge a little difficult evidently. Completed floor repair today at 22:00 – letting it settle for a day and then going to nail it down; turn left and you’re in my bedroom! Masses of shopping this afternoon. Mates not out tonite so decided to dry out a bit before Christmas revelries start! Did make N at lunchtime – sat outside in fantastic warm sunshine for time of year. Intriguing walk-pass: think she ought to get someone her own size!! Feeling generous today, gave large bonus to cleaners and staff at N; normally give ‘kids’ 1k each as well. Anyway hope to see the gorgeous ones around!!! Holiday period will make things a little less predictable. Have processed material for 877a and will publish tomorrow.

December 21st: “the December solstice will occur at 05:30 UTC [GMT] on December 22, 2011”. So by time you read this the days will be getting longer again – marvellous!! Seemed to spend most of day with laptop in Bradleys Coffee Shop in Consett, where had roast meal and endless cuppas! Paper ready enough after bit more work for final draft to be submitted and reviewed while we finish it off, so that’s some relief. Went in some store where the prices must have been about ¼of those in Waitrose; left Mike there, totally absorbed, with a trolley full of goodies! Floor repair is proving a right b.stard – in the original conversion they used glue to weld the chipboard into the top of the stairs. So am having to drill in and repeatedly soak with water to get it out. Cannot leave it there as it’s over the joist which need for support. Finished cards but no action on raptors, except for a Sparrowhawk at Steel on way out this morning. G was excellent – nice seasonal atmosphere!! Stimulating otwf!! Missed the rhb!! 2moro it’s s&d coming at 09:30, N4c4l and not sure about evening!! lokttgt!!!

December 20th: very happy day with trip to N4l and E much later to W4s! Took right turn and really impressed by the beautiful pair!!! 2moro it’s Consett for much of day to see Mike so Br4c4l but will be back for G4g4t!! Hope to process 877a after t. Financial xmas presents with increase in US housing starts (where credit crunch all began) and plunge in Spanish bond yields (that is rise in Spanish bond prices, the ECB’s printing € but in a devious way); don’t let the doomsters get you down!

December 19th: processing trip 877 to upper South Tyne on 23/8 where had 2 family parties of Honey-buzzard and one of Hobby. Softley 877b completed; this was adjacent site as was actually visiting nest at Towsbank. For Honey-buzzard family group of 4 up in air floating over nest site area at Softley at 12:30 on arrival at adjacent site, juveniles only just above trees, female a little higher and male considerably higher; later at 15:20 male patrolling over site for 3 minutes; clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4. For Hobby family party was at Towsbank, which still processing. Snow melted today; cut down xmas tree from top of Sitka Spruce in copse at far corner of field; started repairing floor at top of stairs as chipboard has got a soft spot, going to use redwood from Dove as replacement; original layout is poor as span is too large so going to alter direction of timber through 90º. Cleo is worried! Also got 1st batch of items on menu sent by son so getting moving now! Mike thinks we’ll finish contravariance paper, on time for submission, in Consett on Wednesday. 2moro it’s N4c4l and E to W4g4s!! k++→3*!!!

December 18th: now processing nest visit 876 from 18:00-20:05 on 22/8 to March Burn in warm weather after earlier rain. Shots of views were taken to S (Kellas) and N (Dipton Wood). Account below augmented with multimedia: very similar situation to yesterday (21/8) with 2 juveniles out of the nest but too weak-flying to get up above the canopy. Had a mixture of the angry juvenile calls recorded yesterday and chicken-like juvenile calls, latter recorded and probably a food begging call. The adult Honey-buzzard also made occasional alarm calls, including one wail. The nest 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 in Norway Spruce is very bulky and there were many downy feathers in the vicinity of the nest; many photos of down still to process but this one showing the Wood Ant bringing down feathers into their nest is shown here. Three larger feathers were found near the nest, perhaps scapulars with 2 being white 1  2 (121, 92mm long) and one brown 1 (111mm long). There was very little splash, just one patch, presumably because of recent persistent rain. Common Buzzard juvenile(s) had fledged nearby with calls recorded. Yesterday did make A’s for lunch where good to see a!! Party kept me off the streets!! Today went for walk at Tyne Green from 14:00-15:50 in cold and frosty conditions but no comparison with last year. Some increase in water-birds, maybe frozen out of stiller waters, with 13 Teal, 9 Cormorant, 6 Goosander and 2 Moorhen and Goldeneye. More active raptors at home at Ordley, in bright sunshine and with turn in season imminent, included 2 calling (adult) Common Buzzard and a 1w Kestrel. Made G late-on! Tuck-in nite: always pleased to do that for the gfff!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

December 16th: now done 872, visit to Wylam on 19/8. Original accounts, augmented with further details and multimedia: made Wylam in overcast warm conditions from 15:25-17:35 to see whether the male’s victorious behaviour yesterday was justified. Well maybe but they’ve not fledged yet with the nest 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 in Scots Pine still occupied; where 2 nests visible in still, this year’s nest is the higher one with the lower one an old nest. Male is very cocky, giving a single fly over top of nest swearing at me, then settled in trees at distance giving a single alarm call, followed by argument with Crow and some more muttered calls. Also an agitated Jay later. Masses of down on E side of nest, blown there by persistent westerlies; enough to build a young bird almost. Also some splash 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, so ongoing but amount of down indicates fledging perhaps a day or two away. Here’s 2 shots 1  2 of Tyne from the nest site, showing restricted view! Still to process numerous shots of down, nearly all of which accumulated since previous visit on 5/8. Butterflies included Peacock, Speckled Wood and Comma. So just 4 visits left to process for August, from 22/8-31/8. Made W tonite: 4 of us there including Ovingham and Riding Mill contingents but Stocksfield absent. Road was very bad in ‘Shire – rutted and completely frozen after massive snowfall of 2-3cm partially melted and then froze again. 2moro into A’s for lunch; later to party in Riding Mill, will probably be stopped by police well into the nite!! Message from ‘kids’ in Devon seeing their grandmother (my mother-in-law); they’re coming up here next Saturday, which is very nice. Seeing Mike in Consett next Wednesday as half-way. faswtgo!!!

December 15th: busy day at unn, seeing Paul for chat about visualisation identity transformations, Ahmed for preliminary on palm print recognition theories and Mike for detailed discussion on finalising Liège paper. Lunch was good, obvious key feature for id and must be in the team!! MP was lively and last concert of year at Sage was recorded for Radio 3; enjoyed it with Ravel’s piano concerto played sultrily by Imogen Cooper and Beethoven’s so under-rated symphony 4 performed well with Thierry Fischer conducting. The rhinemaiden’s certainly very inspirational!!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

December 14th: here’s the material from 866 (5/8, fair town of Wylam!). Original account, augmented with multimedia: good visit to Wylam from 15:45-17:50 as breeding confirmed for Honey-buzzard, Common Buzzard (2 fledged juveniles, clip of one with calls and derived stills 1  2  3  4) and Red Kite (1 fledged juvenile). The 2nd visit to the Honey-buzzard nest was made to confirm breeding as the 1st visit in poor weather indicated probable breeding only. The nest was found in Scots Pine 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16, and was briefly attended by the female at 16:40, flying low over the nest and calling at her chick(s) to lie low. Shortly after a Lesser Black-backed Gull was calling angrily overhead, suggesting she was above the canopy somewhere. Also found 4 large downy feathers 1  2  3  4 (63, 53, 59mm), 8 small white downy feathers 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 (32, 31, 24, 27mm), 2 brown feathers (scapular 1, reddish-brown with 4 large white spots, very wispy at base, 133mm long; Common Buzzard P2 1  2 255mm long, width of 6 black bands from subterminal inwards 40, 10, 8, 7, 5, 5mm) and 3 patches of splash 1  2. Butterflies in glades of Horsley Wood included Speckled Wood, Green-veined White, Peacock, Comma and Large White; weather was sunny and warm late afternoon after early rain. Made G4g4t where ‘interviewed’ a potential accomplice for next season’s work on Honey-buzzard, to join me on the license. Basically you pass if you go in the G (or have got a nice b.m)! Enchanting one has got beautiful eyes and would definitely make the team!! Sadly aqotwf but little early!! Mike’s move to Devon not quite as quick: apparently the first person in the chain is awaiting a mortgage offer ‘on a daily basis’. So 2moro it’s the big city after early visit to the market town! xxxxxxxxx!!!

December 13th: now processing video 866 for visit to Wylam on 5/8, the only visit made in round 2 for Honey-buzzard. Weather wild this evening with small branches all over the place down on the road and obviously something bigger at Linnels Bridge as closed by police late-on and diverted through Steel (into the sleet). W was good, actually came closest in snowball on answer to some weird question on largest display of Champagne glasses but too far off to get any cash! Very sorry about events in Liège – it’s not a prosperous area, rather similar to NE England in that it was formerly an important coal and steel area, now doing its best to make a new identity. Had 35 minutes in dentist chair this morning, but addition of titanium pin must be a bonus! So all teeth present bar 1. lokttgd!!!! 2moro into G4g4t; long day at unn on Thursday with 3 appointments but should get out for lunch; later it’s MP, Sage and BH!!

December 12th: yet more material from 856 (12/7, Hexham Westwood) is a clip at 17:28 of a Common Buzzard up first of all followed by a pair of Honey-buzzard up together with focus on the male as he disappears behind the trees. Derived stills include 1  2  3  4  5  6  7; still 1 is of the Common Buzzard and the rest are of the Honey-buzzard with still 2 of the pair and 3-7 of the male. Calls on the clip are mostly adult Common Buzzard but at 31 seconds there’s a Honey-buzzard alarm call and at 53, 68, 82 and 88 seconds, there are Common Buzzard juvenile calls. Completion of last clip below completes processing for June and July except for stills for 845 and 856. Six outstanding visits for August are next priority. So it’s a great day today – earliest sunset reached at 15:38 for Newcastle. Evenings get no darker now for the next 6 months, though it’s 18/12 before we gain a minute. Bad news for the workers though is that mornings are still getting darker and it’s 4/1/2012 before the first move earlier for sunrise from 08:31 to 08:30 at Newcastle. Quite like dark mornings, good for thinking about the s.xy duo!! Today Exeter has sunrise:sunset of 08:06:16:09 compared to 08:22:15:38 for Newcastle so 47 extra minutes of daylight. But of course Newcastle scores in June with maximum of 17:23 (hours:mins) of daylight compared to Exeter’s 16:30. Dentist appointment this morning in Corbridge, attempted tooth repair on 30/9 failed and tomorrow it’s more serious work late morning with a pin drilled into side of tooth to support new filling, something to look forward to! Did lot of hawthorn hedge trimming in afternoon on long party hedge with neighbours. Like the Xmas hat!! xxxxxx!!!

Final material from 856 (12/7, Hexham Westwood) is a clip at 17:25 showing, in turn, male and female Honey-buzzard passing overhead in the clearing. After both disappear into the trees the female appears briefly again. The female has a notched tail with rounded corners. The male’s tail is not notched but it does have rounded corners. Derived stills include 1  2  3  4  5  6  7; still 1 is of the male and 2-7 of the female. Calls on the clip are mostly adult Common Buzzard but at 2-6 seconds there’s a series of Common Buzzard juvenile calls and there are distant Honey-buzzard alarm calls at 51 and 61 seconds.

Planning Part 6 of Review of Review – the Negative Role of Ringing Groups in Understanding Raptor Populations. People enjoy reading these and Google rates them highly!

December 11th: more material from 856 (12/7, Hexham Westwood) is a short clip at 17:33 of the male Honey-buzzard up with a Common Buzzard, giving useful comparison showing the much heavier Common Buzzard structure; derived stills include 1  2  3  4  5, with still 1 showing the 2 birds together. The male Honey-buzzard is missing an inner secondary on his left wing. The calls are all Common Buzzard. The second clip at 16:50 shows the male Honey-buzzard doing 2 flights over the nest area, followed by the female Honey-buzzard, with derived stills of the male as 1  2  3 and the female as 4; still 5 is a brightened version of 3, showing the much reduced black on the wingtip and reduced barring. The calls are all Common Buzzard. Got the chain saw out today to sort out a wood pile! Another long session on contravariancy. Always good to do the double!! They’re both so lovely!! xxxxxxx!!!

December 10th: hope to complete the 856 processing tomorrow. Today spent hours on contravariance – understanding more what Greek PhD student did in detail and it’s good use of bifunctors! Made A’s for lunch, good to see aand also met some mates from Riding Mill. Much later to BE4g4s in Ovingham where Dave was playing in the BE band (formerly Buskers!). Very entertaining – they’re improving and it’s keeping them off the streets! Eastern promise fulfilled later!!! xxxxxx!!

December 9th: more material from 856 (12/7, Hexham Westwood) is a clip at 16:48 of an angry Common Buzzard, with derived stills 1  2, complete with a number of calls, including a juvenile Common Buzzard around 32 second mark. Did make Whittle Dene North Reservoir today in much quieter weather; haven’t been there for quite a while. Had 4 Kestrel in area including 3 up in air at same time; thought to be adult male and female and 2 1w, but not claiming a family party! Geese included 350 Grey-lag and a European White-front. Someone is very pretty and alluring!! Another week of wild swings on the markets, almost 2k up but think that will drop later tonight as JPM update their prices (one day in arrears; yes gain reduced to 1k). Absolutely flabbergasted at eurosceptics’ attack on €: obviously a Little England approach but the eurozone’s economy is better than ours as a whole. Off to W4g4s, which was good, appealing company!! Gulls won the sneaky way tonight scoring the only goal of the game against the Bees at 90+4. 2moro it’s A’s for lunch and E later to see BEB!! In between back to contravariance.

December 8th: more material from 856 (12/7, Hexham Westwood) is a clip of the nest in Scots Pine from 16:52-16:55, with stills from camcorder 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12. The nest is a re-use of last year’s and is quite bulky. The anger calls are all Common Buzzard, from the pair nesting nearby. So windy today, severe gale surely! And incredible rain early-on with a really wild spell as front started to clear at 11:30; lines of plantings to provide shelter to SW/W of house really paid off. No fieldwork but did see a Kestrel on a tree near Ordley village. Good to see the rhb!! Very sociable day in Hexham at lunchtime, at home with sand G later (yes we switched there from t&s!). aqotwf!! Next week it’s the BH again for the lads!! 2moro it’s N4l, Whittle Dene and much later the W.

December 7th: perishing with very strong cold NW wind but sunny. Did make Grindon Lough (but not Whittle Dene) from 13:50-15:30 where had 4 European White-front. Raptors included a 1w Kestrel at the Lough and a Common Buzzard at Greenshaw Plain on way back. Highlight was the Caspian Gull, now in its 3w, flying onto the Lough at 14:55, lingering a while and then moving N to roost perhaps at Broomlee Lough; presumed to be the bird seen earlier in this area as a 1s and 2s. Did make G for good crack! 2moro not into unn as Mike busy with house move and meeting with Paul postponed a week. So it’s N4l and t&s4g4s!! Video 856 has some very good close-ups of a female Honey-buzzard wingtip; will appeal to some!! I’d forgotten about this exciting visit as started trip to Wales almost straight after. Shows methodical analysis pays. Here’s first clip for 856 at 16:45 giving alarm calls and showing the female close-up as she flies towards me in anger after being flushed from the nest. Derived stills for Honey-buzzard include 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17 with 2 additional ones 18  19 respectively showing stills 8 and 9 lightened, emphasising the 3 broad wing bars, which are also visible on other stills.

December 6th: started processing last visit for July on 12/7 (856) to wood west of Hexham. Quite a lot of material here, should be rewarding to sort. Had pair of Common Buzzard up over Letah Wood at 12:15, looking quite frisky, even with the snow patches around. Started hedge cutting in back area, first of many but good exercise! Kingston flat all sown up now! Mike may be moving to Devon before Xmas as his buyer is very keen, though not exchanged contracts yet so pretty tight. Bought Dimplex towel rail for bathroom downstairs from Dove; other one on the cheap side blew up! 2moro birdwatching trip to Grindon Lough and Whittle Dene midday and G4g4t!! W was good tonite, pleased to see r on!! Freezing on way over with anti-lock braking on Lamb Shield but milder later. As on 4/12 aqotwf!!

December 5th: first snow of winter at Ordley with patches still present when alarm man came at 09:00; road was beginning to get icy last night and much worse this morning. Still working hard on contravariance paper, up to just over 8 pages of ‘final copy’ now, still a bit of a rush to complete by Christmas. But did find some time for Honey-buzzard. Here’s material 853 from Staward on 6/7. Account made that day from 14:00-17:15 is now augmented with the multimedia: Honey-buzzard nest 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 is still in Norway Spruce but it’s moved c30m from last year towards the edge of the wood and is resting on a bough. They don’t just choose the tallest tree in a wood. That would give them exposure to both the weather and predators. Another factor is the need for an easy entrance so they need an opening in the canopy to accommodate their 115-135cm wingspan. Also had both birds up in the air for about 2 minutes at 16:57, with the lighter male weight-wise looking quite frisky; they were obviously celebrating my exit as shown in this clip. Also had owl-like calls from the Honey-buzzard in between screeching of Jay when leaning on the nest tree (a good tactic!), small amount of splash 1  2, and 3 large white down 1  2  3 (59mm, 64mm, 67mm) and a small elongated brown feather 1 (60mm) on the ground near the nest. A pigeon kill 1  2, an empty pigeon egg 1 and various prey items 1 including rabbit/vole were also on the ground near the nest. Weather was wet at the start, clearing up during the visit. The only butterfly seen was Ringlet 1  2. For July just one more visit to do (12/7) and for June just stills analysis for one visit (25/6). We’re getting there! 2moro it’s N4l and W4g4s!!

December 4th: first snow of winter on edges of Slaley Forest this morning. Back to contravariance paper today! Out this afternoon for walk, N4t and G4g4s!! Had walk along Tyne Green at Hexham from 15:15-16:30 at dusk with driving sleet! A Tawny Owl at Hermitage was the highlight.

December 3rd: well Handel’s Rodelinda, written in Italian in 1725, was good – didn’t know what to expect as not experienced a full-length (4 hour) baroque opera before but it was surprisingly romantic and sharp though must admit caught up on sleep a bit in Act 1 after good meal before (and too many late nites!). Two of the leading male roles are for alto castrato, which sounds painful but modern techniques are much better! Actually they do keep their Christmas crackers now with roles played by counter tenors. One of the characteristics is the repeated use of phrases in aria such as the topical Dove sei, amato bene? Dove sei, amato bene? Dove sei, amato bene? Dove sei, amato bene? Dove sei, amato bene? Working up now multimedia (853) from visit to Staward on 6/7; catching up quite well. Had 2 raptors on drive in – Common Buzzard at Swallowship and Sparrowhawk at Stocksfield, plus a massive shooting party (bye bye pheasant) at Lamb Shield.

December 2nd: here’s material 851 from visit to Oakpool on 4/7. Account made that day is now augmented with the multimedia: nest from last year, very high in an Oak tree near a glade 1  2, was thought to be being re-used; plenty of splash around 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14 but no feathers and birds keeping a low profile with the male doing 2 brief fly-overs at 17:30 and 18:15 and the female making 3 short piped calls, 2 at 17:32 and 1 at 18:08. As it turned out from 2nd visit this nest 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  was not in use this year. It may have been a trial nest and the absence of feathers should have been a a warning sign. The large amount of splash indicates that at least one of the adults was still spending time off-duty perched in the old nesting site, which was about 100m away from the new site. This pair appear to have 2 main sites, which they swap fairly regularly from year to year. Recorded as ON (Occupied Nest) breeding category as birds only call near nest sites. What a fortnight for the markets, ruined last week and made this week with 12k gain, waiting for final figures from JP Morgan global funds in high yield, finance, Japan, mining, and natural resources (adds another k, that’s my flat purchase fund!). Bonds down to 78% of total in own funds as gradually switch into equities; would be lower proportion but BOI.L took off today with 119.85% gain on withdrawal of confiscation threat! Well it’s more interesting than keeping it in the Post Office! Am becoming more bullish, having been a bear since 12/11 last year, as international collaboration is now back on the agenda with lessons of the 1930s perhaps being learnt at last, and dividend yields on many stocks are at historically high levels. Big opera day 2moro! cya!!

December 1st: here’s material 852 from visit to Kellas 1  2 on 5/7. Account made that day is now augmented with the multimedia: last year’s nest in Scots Pine is being re-used and is now massive 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16. Plenty of feathers around, including one brown one 1  2 a little larger at 89mm than the white body feathers, which predominated and were relatively large 1  2  3  4  5 (5 feathers at 58mm, 52mm, 52mm, 54mm, 50mm) or small 1  2  3  4  5 (5 feathers at 39mm, 40mm, 45mm, 48mm, 24mm, plus 3 more small down). Also 2 further wispy feathers 1 (tarsal perhaps, 58mm and 64mm long), some splash 1  2  3  4  5  6 and some prey remains, particularly rabbit on a plucking post 1  2  3  4  5. As for the birds, around 16:38 had just 3 soft short piped calls, presumed from female, so hardly spectacular; Crows were very agitated at one point to NW of site where the female sometimes likes to retreat. Butterflies were very varied with 7 species: Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Skipper, Large White, Small Heath, Common Blue and Small White, and there were some orchids. 2moro it’s N4l and W4g4s!! Tiddly pip!!

November 30th: did make Grindon Lough from 13:50-14:40 getting new species there for the autumn of Greenland White-fronted Goose, Barnacle Goose and Tufted Duck. A Common Buzzard was over A69 at Hermitage turn-off to Hexham; raptors are keeping a very low profile now. But the Smew has gone, anyway temporarily. Good to see kat MP, back there Saturday afternoon with Nick before another satellite transmission from New York Met at Tyneside Cinema (Rodelinda, not Wagner!). Concert tonight was sublime with 3 Beethoven string quartets — one early, one middle, one late — played by Belcea! Did make BH – becoming one of my favourites – do get some good vibes there (or thereabouts!!). 2moro into unn to see Paul to discuss visualisation, image processing and category theory. Out later on the town!!

November 29th: hard day in Durham working on papers with Mike from 09:50-16:20. Sad to think it might be last visit there with ‘Sold subject to contract’ notice up. Still we can meet on my trips to Devon. Wild weather and wild woman – lovely combination if you’re up for it!!! 2moro it’s N4c, out in the field ending up in Wylam, MP and concert at Sage with Nick, finishing at BH4g4s!! xxxxxxx!!!

November 28th: so almost finished BirdTrack entries for June now with just the signs on the ground to add from 25/6 (845). Next one to process is Kellas from 5/7 (852) where birds and signs much less obvious and later the whole plantation felled around fledging time but fortunately the young made it! A day for catching up on things with patch repairs on remaining wooden window frames, ordering solid fuel, arranging intruder alarm service and attending to a pile of accumulated post. Did keep up the social side though with dynamic detour as afters!! Started moving money across for contribution to flat in Kingston; when finished that, might have ambitions again in Hexham area for a town pad!! Typical man – can only do one thing at a time! 2moro in Durham with Mike in day and E to W4g4s in evening!! lokttgd!!!

November 27th: here’s masses of video (845) from Slaley Forest on 25/6 from 16:20-18:20. It was veiled sunshine for the visit and rather close after recent rain with light SW breeze. Not surprising then that there was an enormous insect hatch on and you can even hear them buzzing and getting in the way of the focus on a few shots. First clip is of Honey-buzzard nest in Scots Pine with stills 1  2  3  4  5  6; flattish nest on bough, re-use of last year’s. Second is of male Honey-buzzard appearing 9 seconds after start following a Common Buzzard which appears to be full-winged; derived stills are for Honey-buzzard 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 and Common Buzzard 1  2  3  4  5. Third is of Common Buzzard missing P7 on its left wing, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10. Fourth is of Common Buzzard appearing full-winged, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13. Fifth is of female Honey-buzzard for first 8 seconds, followed by Common Buzzard missing P7 and Common Buzzard appearing full-winged, with derived stills for female Honey-buzzard 1  2  3  4, Common Buzzard missing P7 1  2  3  4  5 and Common Buzzard appearing full-winged 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. Sixth is of Common Buzzard missing P7 briefly, male Honey-buzzard from 6-10 seconds, Common Buzzard missing P7 for longer views and finally male Honey-buzzard from 47 seconds to end; derived stills are for male Honey-Buzzard 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 and Common Buzzard missing P7 1  2  3. Seventh is of Common Buzzard missing P7, briefly, followed by male Honey-Buzzard from 12 seconds to end; derived stills are for Honey-buzzard 1  2  3. Eighth is of female Honey-buzzard doing a low-level pass, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5. Ninth is of Common Buzzard with apparently full wing in low-level flight, with derived stills 1  2  3  4 and additional stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 also taken. Some more material from the stills camera such as feathers, splash and prey remains is still to be published. So very good visit, one of best in season! Made Dipton Wood today walking from NE corner near West Farm to SW corner at Lightwater and back from 14:30-16:35. Still very breezy but lovely to be out again in bright sunshine – no raptors there but did have 2 Tawny Owl in Hexham later at 00:15. G was good – new barmaid a!! h++!!! Disturbance at sites will occur: there is one way to avoid it!! k++→2*. 2moro it’s N4l and G4g4t as it’s MP/Sage on Wednesday.

November 26th: video 845 is fascinating – complex scenario with pairs of Common Buzzard and Honey-buzzard very active but only one bird appearing at any given time overhead. The 2 Common Buzzard were silent, one adult was missing P7, the other was apparently full-winged. The pair of Honey-buzzard were silent, the male generally appeared high-up and the female lower-down; there was no direct interaction with the Common Buzzard. The male and female were closer in size than is often the case, both full-winged although the male had some stunted feathers due to tip damage on its right wing. The male was slightly slimmer with respect to tail width and neck, had more pronounced pinching of wing width next to body and had reduced black on its wing-tip. No wonder it’s the last June visit to be sorted. Done half of it now and pace is increasing as distinguishing features of each bird better understood – very educational. Weather is very wild with severe gales and driving rain but warm and the snow had started last year on 24/11 so not grumbling. Westcountry football teams continue their revival as conditions deteriorate! Brilliant result for the Toon today: nice for Man U to be on the wrong side of a penalty decision at home for a change. A’s was good for lunch: a has a lovely pair!! Going to publish Ethiopia raptors as next distraction from sorting out last season’s videos! All the information is on last year’s Notice Board. Anyway hoping weather improves 2moro as promised so can get some fieldwork in. Definitely making G4g4s!! xxxxxxx!!!

November 25th: hope to get on more with video 845 tomorrow. Think need early night, but with whom!! W was very chatty with the 3 of us. Contravariant paper is coming on well, ½in final form now; going to Durham next Tuesday to see Mike for chat on second half. 2moro not sure what is going on other than A’s4l but plenty to do, writing-wise, and will play it by ear!! rfaswtgd!!!

November 24th: did nearly everything promised! Have got a lot of scribblings to translate into final copy for contravariance paper from work done in Newcastle; Mike didn’t come in in the end because of conveyancing work he’s doing on his house which is being sold to make way for his move to Devon. Concert was good if you like Mozart and Bruckner! Bruckner is supposed to be based on Wagner but can’t see it myself; Wagner is the master of building up tension, something which Bruckner never really tries. Still evening was good, particularly MP where persuaded to introduce one of the Russian waitresses nto our culture! Did lots of fieldwork in Wylam from 11:20-13:10; no raptors but 21 species in all; think she looks like her father!! Day started very well in Hexham with the rhband gfffstarred later!! Back in Wylam did make BH4g for last orders, which is not very adventurous; needed a boat for return journey in torrential downpour. 2moro it’s N4l and W4g — xxxxxxx!!!

November 23rd: working up video and stills from visit to Slaley Forest on 25/6 (845). A lot of material, some of it close-up of Honey-buzzard, including nest in Scots Pine. Made Grindon Lough today and again had the redhead Smew, plus an adult female Kestrel hunting. Shopping is enlivened again with re-emergence of the gbs! N4t was good, rhblooked lovely and G was very chatty! Diversion afterwards with the gfffwas full of promise! Feeling good 2day!! 2moro into Hexham fairly early, Wylam for kites, Gateshead for lunch and unn for work, before finishing off with MP, Sage and BH! Daughter is finally completing on 2/12 after mega hold-up through lease queries; asked about procedure for signing Declaration of Interest before parting with 35k! k++→2*

November 22nd: working on contravariant paper today as pretty urgent really; took hours sorting out a series of queries, none of which looked to be very major in itself! Did have quick walk to Dotland at dusk getting 2 Tawny Owl to add to the 1 calling at dawn at home; getting fed up with latter, it’s destroying my beauty sleep! Yesterday had 1w male Sparrowhawk hunting through field in garden. Going to produce a report on Durham conference – the questionnaire given us shows they have a lot of doubts as to long-term viability; will be positive about how they might encourage young people, in particular doing much more novel, imaginative, ground-breaking work rather than the endless routine which characterises much ringing work. Most people have enough of the latter at work, such as exam marking! Also stop the almost-religious crusade against gamekeepers; the shooting industry is very important environmentally and economically and we should be working with them. Made N4l with Gordon; enjoyed the lovely willow tit!! W was good!! p++!!! 2moro it’s Grindon Lough area for lunch followed by N4t and G4g. Nick is back from Northampton and we have concert at Sage on Thursday evening. xxxxxxx to those with nice legs!!! Sad about Plymouth’s exit to Stourbridge by 0-2 in the FA Cup!

November 21st: added Italy report this evening, still some testing and tweaking required. Wedding photos now on the web,quite a lot of the ones at the wedding itself were taken by yours truly. First slide is Devon folk and I’m on slide 6 with big sis! Liverpool predominate at least early on. Still thinking about yesterday’s meeting – peoples’ faces were very revealing – review of review is obviously pretty devastating but think they’re hoping the proverbial bus will come to their rescue! On pleasanter topic had leisurely lunch in Hexham, good to see the beautiful willow tit!! Not out tonite as usual after last nite’s highlite but 2moro it’s E again including W!! Into unn for meeting with Mike on Thursday afternoon with trip to Wylam in morning to look for kite. On your bike perhaps!! lk→2*

November 20th: hmm! Very strange conference in Durham, better think carefully about what to say!! But Orient Express tickets are running low! Could talk about football – thought the big match didn’t go as badly as some people seem to think. We hold our own up to around half-time then get 2 quick-fire goals in 2 minutes, followed by a 3rd mid-way through 2nd half and with a rout of the wretches looking likely, they get a consolation goal about 10 minutes from the end. Yes it was Torquay 3, Plymouth 1, the first time the Gulls have beaten the Pilgrims since 1972! How sweet: Plymouth are 4 points clear now and face exit from the FA Cup to a non-league side on Tuesday. Azores books have arrived – going to need 3-4 weeks to do Lisbon and 3-4 islands. Need an assistant really!! Made good progress with Italy 2011 report, might finish it tomorrow. Going to G4g soon! h++!!! lox2t2stars!!! 2moro it’s N4l!

November 18th: fascinating trip from 14:20-16:50 to Merryshields gravel pit, Stocksfield, to look at the geese where some rarities reported recently. Did find them! Had 9 European White-front and 15 Tundra Bean as well as 95 Greylag. Also in the area had 2 Marsh Tit, 2 Common Buzzard and single Sparrowhawk, Tawny Owl (calling at 16:10) and lingering Chiffchaff. Best of all was 2 Little Owl calling together at 16:45 from the top of a telegraph pole looking very sweet! 36 species in all. Used to often walk to Merryshields when lived at The Pastures (old dairy!) for 6 years and indeed played leading role in rescuing Merryshields Wood from fruitless further mining. Wanted to move up housing ladder and plumped for ‘Shire as less conformist and more land. Also today had Kestrel at Letah Wood and Tawny Owl at Ordley and Dipton Wood so raptor total for day was 9 birds of 5 species: 3 Tawny Owl, 2 Little Owl and Common Buzzard, and single Kestrel and Sparrowhawk. Added clip 889d to 8/9 below showing the family party of 3 birds up at Hexham High Wood. Now going to finish documenting Italy trip. Unusually mild today, sat outside N, very stimulating with the glamourous one — wonder whose birthday!! xxxxxxx!!! Markets have had another terrible week – but only down 0.39k, helped by B&B distressed debt offer. In Durham for a North of England raptor meeting this weekend, promises to be a little tense!

November 17th: hard-working day (for me!) seeing Paul at 11:00 for over 2 hours and Mike at 14:30 for over 3 hours. A ct working day, ending up in favourite café in Newcastle ct! Good visit to Hexham early on!! Just m&me in t&s but lively crack; straight home! 2moro N4l, W4g much later and trip to Merryshields in afternoon to look at the geese. lokttgd!!!

November 16th: another mild day and out to Grindon Lough early afternoon; very different from normal woodland/moorland experience, should really get up there much more outside the breeding season. Highlight was a redhead Smew; also had a Common Buzzard near Settlingstones. Waders included 610 Lapwing and 31 Golden Plover, pretty exceptional totals for this time of year. Had wasp at Ordley at lunchtime on the ivy. Sorted out some more video. A brief clip 889e of the female Honey-buzzard at Swallowship on 8/9 is included under that date. A longer clip 889d of the family party of Honey-buzzard near W end of Hexham by-pass has been prepared and should publish that tomorrow. Did make Hexham just after 16:00 for N and G; latter was packed as Hexham Races today. Outlaw Tom in 2:40 was very popular winner at 10:1 — part local owners. Must say green cleavage is very attractive!!! 2moro most of day at unn but Hexham 1st thing and nice break for lunch!! And much later it’s t&s!! xxxxxx!!!!

November 15th: made Hyons Wood, SE of High Mickley, from 14:35-16:50. Almost dark when finished but this time of year like to extend the walking into dusk as too constrained otherwise. Did get the Willow Tit, first for year, and also had single Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Tawny Owl with Kestrel at Riding Mill. Feeding thrushes included 110 Redwing, 25 Fieldfare and 11 Blackbird. Further raptors included 2 Tawny Owl calling around midnight in Dipton Wood and one calling at Ordley at 06:00 and 00:15. So raptor total for day was 7 birds of 4 species: 4 Tawny Owl and single Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. Lovely willow tit in Hexham as well, sociable at W with quiz nite and movement E was beautifully rewarded!!! lokttgd!!! 2moro walk midday at Grindon Lough and into N4c shortly before G4g4t.

November 14th: change today with 2s (2nd summer, 3rd calendar year, 2 years old) Caspian Gull from Whitfield Lough on 24/6, seen first perched on a stone, then taking off and flying over me before gaining height and moving N, all from 14:22-14:26. This must be the returning 1s (1st summer, 2nd calendar year, 1 year old) seen on nearby Plenmeller Common in 2010. Here’s the clip with derived stills 21  20  19  18  17  16  15  14  13  12  11  10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1. It’s a Caspian Gull because of its structure (long pencil shaped bill (slides 21, 18, 17), small head, long wings and tail) and its plumage (adult grey saddle with mottled grey scapulars (slides 13, 14, 15, 21), white head, body and tail with irregular breaking-up dark subterminal band on tail, adult grey lesser and marginal coverts on upperside (slide 10), underwing largely pale with residual boundary line between median and greater coverts (slides 19, 20), solid dark wing-tip). Bill appears to be pale with dark tip. The bird appears to be missing P9 on each wing and is moulting P3 on left wing and P4 on right wing. This is quite early and consistent with primary moult starting late May for adult summer to adult winter, reaching P6-8 by mid-August [Olsen p.320]. Quite a different sort of day today spending hours getting ready early draft for Mike of contravariance paper given at Liège with deadline for AIP of end December. Seeing Paul in morning and Mike in afternoon on Thursday at unn! Finally made Hexham late afternoon but sadly rhbwas scarce! 2moro more normal day with lunch at N and trip E in afternoon to see whether can find any willowy tits. E again with W much later! xxxxxx to the lovely ones!!!

November 13th: here’s final clips for Towsbank on 11/10 (905). First a further clip on the juvenile bird B with the ragged wing, missing P4 on right wing, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19. This bird was very visible, being up for about 15 minutes in all from 13:02-14:21 in 12 clips totalling about 1GB in mpeg format. The 3rd bird juvenile C was slim and full-winged, visible for 2 bursts of activity around 13:46 and 14:20. It was recorded on this clip on its own with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13. The 4th bird juvenile D was even slimmer, noted only once from 14:20-14:21, appearing on this clip while recording bird C. Derived stills include 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10, with 4, 6, 7, 8 showing the 2 birds together. A total of 11 Honey-buzzard was recorded in October with 1 more in November to date. Passage was particularly intense from 10/10-16/10 with 8 birds noted, presumed Scottish migrants. This period coincided with final exodus locally of Swallow, House Martin and Chiffchaff. Made Towsbank from 14:35-16:40 and didn’t see any Honey-buzzard; indeed in damp weather, with a few sunny intervals this far W, the only raptor was a Common Buzzard at Softley. Had feeding Blackbird (7 birds) and Redwing (1). Most amazing count was 10 Jay, including 7 going to roost in follow-me fashion. Well marvellous nite!!! The scheming one’s so fabulously sensuous!!! A kindred spirit!! xxxxxx!!! Next step is to sort out recent trip to Devon and data from Italy on Honey-buzzard, other raptors and wildlife in general. Also got some wedding photos, which may entertain!

November 12th: walk in E Dipton Wood from 15:05-16:10 getting good numbers of feeding thrushes with 120 Redwing, 12 Fieldfare and 8 Blackbird; also 2 Brambling on ground but no raptors. Still some wasps around with one in Hexham at lunchtime. A’s was very good: nice service!! Completed processing of clips and stills for 4 Honey-buzzard juvenile at Towsbank on 11/10 (905) and hope to publish final material very soon. 2moro off to Towsbank to see whether any Honey-buzzard are lingering! xxxxxx!!!

November 11th: here’s clips 889c from Dotland in ‘Shire on 8/9. First with derived stills 1  2  3 shows female floating up from site and flying 2km to NW corner of Dipton Wood for feeding purposes at 13:05. Second with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6 shows older juvenile following her at 13:18. Third with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 shows younger juvenile following both of them at 13:23. Behaviour has been used to some extent in making these assignments; the female is showing the younger birds where to feed. But the younger juvenile does look less developed in terms of feather growth. Concert at Sage was very innovative with Percy Grainger the underlying theme. His interest in folk music gave the opportunity in the 2nd half for Kathryn Tickell and Bradley Cheswick to show off their skills on the pipes and fiddle — love the Northumbrian pipes! Good attention from the fit kin MP, bills are going up!! See Merkel, empress of all Europe, has now got Greece and Italy under her hegemony. Markets continue their manic flow — been a good one though with LBG soon resuming some debt payments (+7k). New trading platform for iii seems unable to deliver dividends to nominee accounts — suspect classical computing problem in that the entitlement dates are on the old platform; oh dear! Anyway behind on 1.2k in 2 weeks and will need to be subbed soon! 2moro to A’s for late lunch followed by trip to Dipton Wood; bread and dripping later. Quiet evening coming up!!

November 10th: back on 13:25 from Exeter to Newcastle on CrossCountry, all pretty much on time and quite smooth! Weather was much better in Devon this morning with warm sunshine, had walk on Sidmouth seafront with sis and brother in law. Had Tawny Owl calling at 06:00 and a 1w female Sparrowhawk hunting over the town; insects included Red Admiral, wasp and bumble bee. Enjoyed stay; you need to see Waitrose’s wine section at their Sidmouth store to get an idea of the deep pockets here! Grand welcome back in the NE: the beauty’s the main motivator!!! mmc!!!! 2moro it’s a concert at Sage with MP before, hope to make Newcastle before that with N for lunch!!

November 9th: very mild, very humid and very wet with moderate SSE breeze giving quite rough seas. Did 3 hour visit to Teignmouth, including one or 2 old haunts!! Had a Balearic Shearwater moving S and 3 Gannet offshore (1 S). Then on to Dawlish and Powderham, with Kestrel at latter as well as view of known Honey-buzzard site. 2moro looking forward to trek N! faswtgo!!! Here’s abstract for YLG talk at Zagreb:

Yellow-legged Gull: Differences between Atlantic and Mediterranean Populations. The area where the Atlantic and Mediterranean meet gives an intersection of the two forms of Yellow-legged Gull. Studying the gulls here is valuable for giving an insight into the differences with respect to appearance, vocalisation, habits, habitats and breeding cycles. The results are presented from an extended visit to Andalusia, Spain, in February-March 2011. A combination of these results with those from earlier studies in the Canaries, Madeira, Morocco, Portugal, other parts of Spain and France, suggests that the Atlantic forms have distinctive characteristics, which may complicate gull identification outside their home ranges.

November 8th: did some processing of material from 8/9, including clips 889a and 889b below from Ordley and West Dipton respectively. Explored Teign Valley with sis in the drizzle, going to Nobody Inn at Dodiscombleigh for lunch and doing a walk from Sowton Mill, where surprised to see 7 Fieldfare established in SW England already. No raptors today but weather very dull and very mild, no wonder people from Devon are waterproof! Bridford Wood, near Steps Bridge, looks a fantastic site for Honey-buzzard as noted on 25/5 below. That’s all for today!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

November 7th: Understanding Visualisation: A Formal Foundation using Category Theory and Semiotics, a paper by 3 of us at unn, has been submitted today to the journal IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics. Paul & I are planning to extend this work so more trips to unn! Good day on Exe with younger sister, walking to Turf. Wondered what a few birders were looking at and we saw a Red-breasted Goose on the edge of a large Canada Goose flock (c600). Also had large flocks of Avocet (c50) and Black-tailed Godwit (c60) but in dull, dry weather few raptors with just a single Common Buzzard and Kestrel. Came down by train yesterday via Carlisle and Birmingham; extra busy on final stretch because of the terrible M5 pile-up. Missing 2Gs but not t&s!! Keep s.xy!! xxxxxx!!!

November 6th: updated 2011 national monthly summary with accounts for July and August. Next to do is September for both numbers and account. Why records were low this month after such high numbers earlier on and a good breeding season, anyway in Northumberland, is an intriguing question. Birds moving inland with most birders on the coast is one possible explanation. Missing the lovelies temporarily, in the land of the Gulls!! xxxxxx!!! First air frost of season early morning at Ordley and Hexham.

November 5th: opera from New York was absolutely brilliant; never seen such a good portrayal of the title role of Siegfried, by the Texan, Jay Hunter Morris, the most demanding role in the world of tenors, requiring acting, stamina and a wide range of emotions including boyishness, aggression, affinity with natural world and love! Last scene with Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde was very emotional! Came out feeling inspired and found target to fit the bill!!! lokttgd!!!

November 4th: here’s clip 1 for second Honey-buzzard juvenile, heavy B missing P4, P6 on right-wing, from Towsbank on 11/10 (905), with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13. This bird is in a bit of a mess, plumage-wise, though it flies very well. Next another clip 2 for second Honey-buzzard juvenile from Towsbank on 11/10 (905), with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16. Next yet another 2 clips, clip 3 and clip 4, for second Honey-buzzard juvenile from Towsbank on 11/10 (905), with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14. Crazy week on markets, bought back in to financials in small way on Tuesday! European banks have actually got rid of most of their PIIGS sovereign debt now, so hair-cuts may not be such of a problem. Enjoyed lunch in Hexham: good to see the rhb!! W finished a little early, getting set for mega opera, going in with Nick at 13:00 for meal at MP with kick-off at 16:00 and close at 21:30! Siegfried is an amazing creation, complete with dragon and woodbird, 1st 2 acts of strife, a few fatalities and injured pride, and best of all 3rd act of dramatic romance between Siegfried and Brünnhilde in passionate grand opera traditions! Just need to forget she’s his aunt!! Bought new trousers yesterday in Beales: old ones worn out, not fit for purpose!! xxxxxx

November 3rd: here’s clip for first Honey-buzzard juvenile, heavy A missing secondary on right-wing, at Towsbank from 12:53-12:55 on 11/10 (905), with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9. This bird is very similar in structure and plumage to the one at Harwood Shield on 1/11. Note that Honey-buzzard typically hang, rather than hover, by flexing the wings horizontally, extending and withdrawing them, rather than flapping with vertical motion. Well very exciting day with perfect ending: she really turns me on!!! xxxxxxxx!!! Newcastle is very stimulating in all its activities: visited unn, Baltic, Sage, library, ct and Sage again, last time for concert with a strong Spanish flavour (plus a little Italian; but no Irish, Greek or Portuguese so no PIIGS!). Made BH late-on where met a couple of mates from Hexham on nite-out! Great pity about the robbery early in the week. Recent sightings include, at Ordley, adult female Sparrowhawk hunting on 2/11 and Tawny Owl screching early on 4/11, and, at Quayside, 3 Grey Wagtail and 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult intermedius, 1w). 2moro into Hexham for late lunch and W much later. Saturday sees the big one!!

November 2nd: added more details and multimedia for yesterday’s fine trip. Marvellous that target species continues to be found; might have another bash at Towsbank before trekking SW. Other marvellous target also flourishes — early action adds a bit of variety!! sohdoes come to mind again!!! Fascinating video of an attack by a Himalayan Vulture on a paraglider in the Himalayas; the vulture gets caught in the rigging and the glider crashes slowly into the trees but all ends well with the glider pilot ok and the bird flying off into the trees!

November 1st: from 12:30-15:30 out to Harwood Shield and walk across the watershed at 400m to upper reaches of Beldon Burn at Riddlehamhope in brilliant autumn weather with warm sunshine and almost cloudless skies. An interesting social development was conspicuousness of Fenn traps. Since they’re legal — catching stoats without using indiscriminate poison — there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be upfront but the public is a little sensitive sometimes! After Rough-legged Buzzard, in view of recent influx on E coast, but all could find was a juvenile Honey-buzzard up over a conifer plantation for 5 minutes, without a real flap, from 13:45-13:50. The juvenile floated around for a while, including a dive, and then soared high before skittishly flying off S. As not seen again, suspect it was on migration but care-free behaviour suggested it was not going too far! Derived stills include 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19. Stills 1,2 show 2 broad bars on inner wing, on zoom in; still 3 shows barring on upperside of tail with subterminal bar and 3 further broad bars, evenly spaced; still 4 shows long neck and small head in dive, with carpals pushed well forward. Looked hard at differences between Rough-legged Buzzard and Honey-buzzard, as not covered that well in literature. Obvious similarity is in some aspects of jizz with Honey-buzzard and Rough-legged Buzzard both looking longer-winged, longer-tailed, flatter-winged and generally more eagle-like than Common Buzzard. Can see that juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard lacks dark envelope to wing so fairly easily detected but adult male is closer to Honey-buzzard with dark wing envelope and less solid markings on belly. As so often the case the tail holds the best clues with Honey-buzzard tail never as strikingly pale as Rough-legged Buzzard. The Honey-buzzard was actually seen earlier from 12:45-13:20 in at least 3 skirmishes with a Common Buzzard, which was obviously very cross with the intrusion of the Honey-buzzard into its territory. These skirmishes were also recorded and the Honey-buzzard does seem to be eventually driven off a liitle way to N, the Common Buzzard keeping above the Honey-buzzard in the action. A male Goshawk is also mixed up in this action and the Honey-buzzard rises trying to keep above it, obviously wary of the potential predator. Also had 3 Kestrel, 3 Common Buzzard and a Goshawk (adult male, clip on its own here). This is a well-managed grouse moor; talking to a well-known land agent in the W later was told that the owner not only arrives at his big house by helicopter but also uses a helicopter to take the short trip out to the shooting butts! Later had 6 Tawny Owl — 2 at Riding Mill and Ordley and singles at Lamb Shield and Dipton Wood. So 14 birds of 5 species of raptor for day, remarkable for early November. Also on the moors had 25 Red Grouse, 5 Common Crossbill, a Raven and a Meadow Pipit, plus a Red Admiral butterfly. Delighted to tuck her in!! Very s.xy!! xxxxxx!!!

October 31st: finished run through of clips obtained on 11/10 at Towsbank and deriving stills of birds in suitable poses. Thought there were 2+ juvenile Honey-buzzard present but detailed analysis shows 4 present: a younger (stockier) juvenile missing a secondary on right-wing, a largish juvenile missing P4 on right-wing, 2 sleeker juveniles, both full-winged and seen together. Quite incredible: good for Scotland! Will take a day or so more to get it all sorted. This afternoon went for walk to Dotland near dusk and had 32 Fieldfare migrating SW and a Tawny Owl. 2moro taking a walk up from Harwood Shield to Riddlehamhope midday to check for any Rough-legged Buzzard. W later!! Lots of kisses to the gorgeous one!!!! Ordered 4 books from NHBS on Azores; while on site checked for progress on Bijlsma’s Honey Buzzard book and it’s due for publication, 250 pages long, in January 2012. Looking forward very much to this as can compare findings in northern Britain with those in Holland. Booked up hotel in Zagreb. Hope sown up paper with Paul on use of category theory in visualisation with a couple of extra paragraphs supplied today. On Thursday it’s unn in morning, library in afternoon, MP for bevvies and Sage for Spanish-flavoured concert, last 2 with Nick. Perhaps BH for nite-cap!

October 30th: added quite a lot of material to BirdTrack from visits in September where little or no multimedia evidence to publish, plus the visit to Towsbank on 30/6 where a wealth of information on breeding for 34 species obtained. Backlog for final analysis, after this one below, is 1 visit in June, 4 in July, 6 in August, 8 in September and 1 in October. Here’s material from 2nd nest visit to Swallowship on 2/9 (886). This was not a great visit for seeing the birds with copied from 2/9 below: “A fairly fit juvenile Honey-buzzard was seen flying W low-down near the nest tree at 15:25 for 5 seconds”. However, some interesting material was obtained on the nest in Scots Pine, in particular seeing how it has grown since the visit on 18/7 and how more sprays have been added to the edge. There’s only one species still building up the nest this late: the Honey-buzzard! Here’s a short clip of the nest with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12 and conventional stills taken on the Canon 1  2  3  4. If for instance you compare derived stills 11, 12 and derived still 1 (from videos 857) taken on 18/7, you can see that the nest has been built up on the right-hand side as viewed and that there are the remains of new sprays (birch perhaps, as well as Scotch Pine) on the edge, not found in the early still where a few sprays of Scots Pine are apparent. Honey-buzzard are well-known for continuing to add to the nest structure through the breeding season, so this is consistent with that. The larger dead branches result from the heavy snows of last winter. Here also is some splash 1  2  3  4 found near the nest on the vegetation. Also found were a 72mm long body feather, a white down feather 55mm long and 7 small white down feather 1  2  3  4, at 42, 46, 40, 25, 27, 16, 36 mm long. So pretty good stuff!! Having quiet weekend, trying to keep things in the family!!! Next weekend is busier with Siegfried at Tyneside Cinema and start of short trip to roots! About to go to G now, for a change: always good crack! Think I’m going blind now: she’s so lovely!!!! xxxxxx!!!

October 28th: here’s the clip (847, small format) of the approach to the Honey-buzzard nest in oak tree at Towsbank on 30/6, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6. The nest was in a birch tree last year. The new nest is relatively low down in the oak tree in a hollow in a fork; the birds have placed oak sprays on the edge of the nest to provide cover. On almost arriving at the nest, the female sneaked out of the back door. Five patches of splash 1  2  3  4  5 were found in ground vegetation near the nest, the first being heavy. Two small white feathers were found, one hanging from a leaf near the nest and another on the ground. Two further stills of the nest 1  2 show the dead vegetation on the edge. This still shows the nest site as a whole, which must be rated as optimal for Honey-buzzard as this was the first site colonised and is a popular stop-over with Scottish-bred migrants. Took some chips off the table this morning; don’t want to be carried away, made 12k this week! Made Hexham a little late, wanted to see cleaners. Off to W soon! xxxxxx to the lovelies!!! 2moro it’s really A’s and maybe a little fieldwork. W was good, lots of chat with David & Margaret over the improving culture (entertainment!) in NE. Tawny Owl at Lamb Shield on way home; they’ve amazingly resurfaced the bank at Newbiggin on the Lamb Shield interchange!! Still a warm glow from yesterday!!!

Yesterday Turner art prize at Baltic was interesting, so to speak! Had to queue outside to get in; when it started to rain, think they allowed people inside more. There were 4 artists short-listed of which one, Hilary Lloyd, was the local ‘girl’ having graduated at Newcastle Poly. She made use of high-tech displays, which grew on you as you watched them, or was it the charming lass who was telling me all about her! They say art galleries are good for pick-ups! Popular favourite, from comments on the wall, was George Shaw, the only entrant who painted. ‘Fraid I understood his work so that’s the end of him: theme was rather like the Welli in decay! Martin Boyce had some interesting architecture-type experiments with concrete trees and leaves: can’t see that catching on in Ealing! Finally there was the inevitable chaotic room by Karla Black — well! My preference is in the order above: you can be pretty sure that won’t be the outcome! Had lunch before at Sage, 150-minute dinner (and wine!) at MP and then back to Sage for concert with Northern Sinfonia: main work was Tchaikovsky’s symphony 5, one of my favourites, over all composers. It was brilliantly done, can’t even imagine the orchestra attempting something like this 4-5 years ago. Archetypal manic depressive (bipolar) music with longish melancholy passages interspersed with wild short spells of ecstasy! All these great 19th century composers would have been locked up today under tight medical regime and music would be very much the poorer.

October 27th: culture day with Nick on Quayside, very impressive at Baltic and Sage, more tomorrow, feeling s…..d out!! Had Peregrine Falcon female twice over Millennium Bridge at 16:30 on way to MP. BH was good off last train — they’re very friendly there, though I don’t go in much! On way in had single Common Buzzard at Ordley and Bywell. Migrants at Wylam from 11:30-12:05 included 27 Redwing S and 1 Chaffinch SW. A Barn Owl was at Ordley at 00:15. Brilliant day on markets, particularly with exposure to banking sector! Where’s the champagne and who to drink it with!! Afters with the scheming one; very impressive!!!!

October 26th: demob happy, think we’re just about at the end of the Honey-buzzard season after none were found at Towsbank this afternoon from 14:25-16:20. Mind didn’t get any raptors at all today but Honey-buzzard juveniles at this late stage of the season are restless and sure would have been visible if present. Not abandoning fieldwork though! Migrants included a flock of 150 Fieldfare. Here’s another clip 847, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15, from 30/6 at Towsbank showing male hanging over site, first from 14:29-14:30 and second at 16:16. He also looks a bit battered, showing missing feathers around P4 on his left wing and a damaged, shortened, tail. In the clip an agitated Oystercatcher is first heard; waders don’t seem to like Honey-buzzard at all, suspect they try and catch their chicks. He does land on a post at the top of a glade but tends to just hang above the site in a fairly stationary manner. Have just got to do the clip of the nest here and look at the stills and this one will be done. G was very good, always lively crack there!! Needed a drink!! 2moro it’s Gateshead from 12:30 with Nick for a bit of culture; perhaps a quick look at Wylam kites on way in and BH much later for a change!! xxxxxx!!!

October 25th: weather brightened up in afternoon after dull morning so made Stocksfield Mount from 14:15-16:05, checking for migrants. Had 4 birds of 4 species of raptor in afternoon as a whole: single Red Kite (Styford), Common Buzzard (Guessburn), Kestrel (Ordley, almost inside house at dusk!) and Sparrowhawk (E Hexham). On the Mount had movements of 63 Redwing (36 SE, 27 W), 3 Crossbill (all SW), 2 Chaffinch (1 SW, 1W) and 2 Blackbird (1 W, 1 SW). Probable migrants feeding locally were 2 Goldcrest. Not bad! Best sighting was in Hexham: really!!!! Off to W soon!! 2moro it’s N again at 12:30, Towsbank mid-afternoon and G4g4t at 17:00. lokttgd!!! Here’s a clip from Towsbank 847 on 30/6, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6 from 16:08-16:12. She’s in a bit of a mess with the outer primaries on her left-wing missing their ends and missing feathers around P4 and tertials on her right-wing. The tail also looks as if it’s a little worn. She’s mobbed by a Lapwing at the end and actually gives up hanging over the site. She’s quite heavily built as is quite common in females but long neck, small head, flat or bowed wings, long bulging tail and graceful flight confirm the family. W was ok, no better than that as rather quiet; weather terrible when emerged with complete cloudburst and straight home! See westcountry football clubs are performing slightly better as grounds become muddier and skill is less at a premium!

October 24th: full day’s work today, bit of a strain; couldn’t even get away for lunch to see the beauty, cautious about suggestions for involvement in 2 grant applications, went to ct with Mike. Early morning sighting of rhbwas a real tonic!! Working up video 847 from visit to Towsbank on 30/6 from 14:10-16:40; already found that one of the Honey-buzzard was flying into the Softley site, so should be in video 848; all very welcome and in my view shows limitations of doing this type of work without video for retaining evidence. So here’s a further clip 848, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, showing male Honey-buzzard flying high over Towsbank and right into site on opposite side of valley at 16:12. Males in particular can range up to 5km from the nest in search of food. 2moro it may well be wet, into N4l at 12:30 and W4g4s at 21:30!! faswtgd!!!!

October 23rd: mild and breezy today, no fieldwork but lot of work on front yard, cutting beech hedge and generally tidying up after lack of attention in the summer. Rugby final was great: support for France was the kiss of death but they did much better than expected! I didn’t really want the kiwis to lose as it would have been so sad for them but felt northern hemisphere team needed cheering on, and I like the French. Planning for IGM (International Gull Meeting) next February is going ahead: you can read all about it here, including presentations (with mine on the list!). I’m going to use some of the masses of material collected in Andalucia/Gibraltar this February/March, plus earlier stuff from western Europe, Madeira and Canaries. After 3 weeks in Azores next March, topic for IGM after Zagreb one is pretty obvious. Of course some might think that migrant ‘buzzards’ this late are more likely to be Rough-legged Buzzard. That may well be true on the east coast but down the centre of the UK and in the west I would say they are more likely to be Honey-buzzard, because for the late-breeding Scottish birds, this is the natural way out. 2nite meeting usual mates in the G; 2moro it’s busy day at unn seeing Paul in morning and Mike in afternoon; have to collect something from Hexham before going in on 09:53!! Next concert is Thursday evening at Sage and Nick & I are going to Turner Exhibition at Baltic in the afternoon; got to see the spaced-out material for ourselves! xxxxxx!!! She is a marvellous turn-on!!! mmc!!

October 22nd: fine day with lots of autumnal sunshine, though feeling cool if caught in the moderate SW wind. Skipped A’s as wanted to get out before it got dark! Still made Honey-buzzard utopia of Towsbank in upper South Tyne quite late from 14:35-16:55. Total for trip was 7 raptors of 3 species: 5 Common Buzzard and single Kestrel and Honey-buzzard. Yes still keeping in touch with the beauties: the Honey-buzzard was a juvenile, seen up 4 times (3 recorded) above the canopy in a style really reminiscent of their behaviour in South Africa with fairly frequent short low-level forays above the canopy in between feeds on the ground. Many Woodpigeon, presumably feeding on acorns in the oak/birch wood, are flushed by the Honey-buzzard in its first recorded flight. Here’s the clip 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. From feather damage, with at least 2 feathers missing in P1 area on its left wing, have a good idea this is a new bird, not one in long term rest-mode! Only migrants in flight were 2 Redwing S. xxxxxx!!! Anyway c’mon France!

College Valley was fascinating as it’s a determined effort to get a rich wildlife area without serious game activities. So they have felled some of the conifers and replaced them with wild woods of native trees such as birch, oak and elder. An information board showed what they had done, for which they won an award. One large conifer plantation remains at Fawcett Shank (363m asl), which has Honey-buzzard written all over it! To the S lies a steep rugged area (Red Cribs) and to the NE lies Hare Law with deciduous woodland on its lower sides. The village hall at Cuddystone is very grand with our minibus from Mickley in the foreground. The Cheviots were quite a hazard to our aircraft returning from sorties in WWII and there’s a plaque to honour them and a display of where the planes crashed, with the Bizzle, steep ravines on N side of The Cheviot, seeming particularly hazardous. Certainly scenery-wise the College Valley is very stunning, more like a Scottish glen; I’d love to visit it in late May/early June to see how rich it is for birds of prey.

October 21st: busy day at unn, had planned meeting in morning in which made the mistake of destabilising the paper by stringently revising a paragraph. So break for lunch and then resumed again – the application needs re-checking over weekend by the others! How to make yourself popular! Enjoyed lunch break – like watching executives in action!! It’s a very motivating turn-on!! Fortunately never a day minus the rhb, almost bumped into her at Dilston!! Off to W now; 2moro it’s A’s for lunch followed by another session in the upper South Tyne, looking for very late migrant honey-buzzard. Think actually these very late migrants are the rule rather than the exception, and they’re all Scottish, from the latest breeding population, seasonal-wise, in the world! W was very chatty – 6 of us again; very good to meet s again!!

October 20th: here’s material 906 for juvenile Honey-buzzard at North Wood on 15/10 — clip and derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. The bird looks quite weary, perhaps having flown all the way from the Tay Valley. These older juveniles show structural features closer to those of adults with fuller wingtips, longer tails and more obvious longer necks. By time they get going on migration, these older birds should be readily identifiable. A Common Buzzard, rearing up to greet the Honey-buzzard, is also shown in this clip. Most of day on LAF meeting in College Valley, 87 miles and 2 hours by minibus from Hexham. Very rewarding with ideas of WG2, which chair, for promoting links with parish councils getting a lot of interest and support. Piccies tomorrow. Back just in time for a couple at G!! She certainly was!!! xxxxxxxx!!! ffe!!!!! Very stunning!! 2moro into unn for meeting in morning!! Also in next Monday for 2 meetings!!

October 19th: here’s material 848 from trip to Softley, near Eals, on 30/6 from 16:40-18:40, in round 1 of nest visits. No birds were seen or heard during this visit but plenty of splash 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 was found in the glade 1  2 very near the nest, well hidden in Norway Spruce. It had been quite wet so the amount of splash found indicated occupation. A pair of Oystercatcher were very agitated when I arrived at the nest, suggesting that I had displaced a raptor up above the canopy. The birds fly down the glade to access the nest without being seen and spend considerable time perched in it when off the nest. Here’s a short clip showing the tree and the nest, built into the crown of the tree on the N side. Derived stills include 1  2  3. Nests in Norway Spruce trees can be particularly difficult to see from the ground as the crowns are quite thick (multi-layered) and the birds can choose a bough in the middle of the crown. The nest in Norway Spruce near Ordley was easier to see, perhaps because the difficult access makes the birds a little blasé. Just 2 more trips for June on which to report, one at the other Eals site on 30/6 where birds were seen well, the other at Staley Forest on 25/6 where much evidence obtained. Today made Stocksfield Mount from 13:55-15:05 in a pretty cool blast from the N, right on to the top of the round hill – hence short visit! But it was sunny. Had 7 raptors of 3 species: 5 Common Buzzard and single Red Kite and Kestrel. Only migrants were 24 Redwing, going in all directions with 15 SE, 4 S, 4 W, 1 N, and 1 Chaffinch SW. t was very good in G – enormous jovial crowd! rhblooked very delectable!!! 2moro it’s way up N in county, leaving at 12 in minibus for meeting, which goes on to 20:45. Back late to Hexham, but hope the gorgeous one’s up for it!!! xxxxxxx!!! Talking about the dire state of westcountry football, see Bath are bottom of Conference and the Gulls and Grecians let in 9 goals at home between them last Saturday – must be some sort of record! Here’s leylandii hedge in front yard, cut on the haystack model! It’s an effective wind break on NE edge and popular winter roost site for birds, so worth keeping.

October 18th: here’s video 888 from trip to Ruffside, near Derwent Reservoir, on 7/9, first and second clips showing the male and female respectively up above the nest site, against a very strong W wind. Derived stills have been prepared from first 1  2  3  4  5 and second 1  2  3  4 clips. Also processed material from Dukeshagg/Hyons Wood visit on 9/9 – been very busy! Wheatear clip and still is added below (9/9). At Hyons Wood the Red Kite juvenile on 9/9 was very welcome, suggesting breeding was successful here as pair of adult seen at this locality in April; here’s the clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5. Its right wing is showing some asymmetrical feather damage on outer primaries; plumage is rather dull and tail fairly short. Honey-buzzard clips 889 comprised 2 different juveniles; first one over the fields to S, with derived stills 1  2  3  4, and second, one flying through the trees, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5. Weather was very blustery today on strong W wind with some heavy showers and rapid cooling. Had quick walk out in ‘Shire to Dotland from 16:40-17:50, getting no raptors but did have 38 Redwing S and 12 W. Made W in evening, very chatty, attendance declining a little with colder weather, wimps! Neighbour’s got a new nanny. 2moro it’s lunch at N, followed by sessions at Stocksfield Mount and G4g4t!! Think any remaining Honey-buzzard will be keen to get away after frost promised for morning. Note 6 juveniles below from 10/10-16/10. Note also report on 2009notice board: “Highlight of trip was a juvenile Honey Buzzard, seen close-up, drifting S over Caldbeck [N Lakes, Cumbria] at 12:30 today [18/10]”. This bird was on the more dangerous route C. Anyway determined to check out last birds! It’s LAF in College Valley on Thursday but into unn on Friday. Hope the pretty ones are keeping fit!!!

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 13/13 nest visits in round 3, end of phase 4 (18/10) are: Allen 9 sites, 14 adult (7 male, 7 female), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 3×2 5×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Devil’s Water 6, 12(6,6), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 5×2 1×1+ juv fledged; Tyne Valley west 7, 13(6,7), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 5×2 1×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Tyne Valley east 4, 7(3,4), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 2×2 2×1 juv fledged; upper South Tyne 5, 10(5,5), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 4×2 1×1+ juv fledged; lower South Tyne 5, 9(4,5), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 3×2 1×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Tipalt/Irthing 3, 4(2,2) 1×2 2×1+ juv fledged; and Derwent 7, 12(6,6), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 6×2 1×1+; giving grand total 46, 81(39,42), 13 nests (Scots Pine x7, Norway Spruce x4, Oak x2) 75+ juv fledged in 29×2 12×1+ 5×1 where 1+ means 1 juvenile seen/heard, not sure whole brood seen. Breeding confirmed, and successful, at all 46 sites. Gangs of juveniles: one 4 birds 28/9 Derwent, one 3 birds 29/9 Tyne Valley W reducing to 1 30/9, one 1 bird Allen 1/10, one 1 bird Allen 4/10. Migrants: May 9/5 male N in Devil’s Water; September 1/9 male S in Tyne Valley W, 15/9 10 birds S in Devil’s Water, 15/9 1 female S in upper South Tyne, 29/9 2 juveniles presumed S in Tyne Valley W, 10/10 1 juvenile SE in Tyne Valley W, 11/10 2 juveniles present presumed migrants in upper South Tyne, 15/10 1 juvenile S in upper South Tyne, 16/10 2 juveniles S in upper South Tyne.

October 17th: weather a lot better than expected and sitting out at N at lunchtime but terrible squalls by teatime. Breezy throughout but would not be surprised if Honey-buzzard were continuing their trek S early on. Here’s 1st clip from yesterday 16/10 (908) of Honey-buzzard juvenile moving S at Parson Shields, with derived stills 1  2  3  4. Not as close as the Towsbank bird but shape and structure very clear. This bird covered about 1km in 1 minute 17 seconds so a little slower at 41 kph. Also yesterday had 2 Red Squirrel, at Williamston and Parson Shields, with latter cutie showing off well. In the ‘Shire Grey Squirrel now very much predominate with a still of one recently seen in Dotland on 15/9 here (also a cutie but politically incorrect!). 2 species of butterfly – Small White and Red Admiral – was pretty remarkable for this late in season. Indeed have had Red Admiral on nearly all trips this month. These very late Honey-buzzard are of great interest; Scottish birds would be likely to follow the route A on the map of Northern Britain through the upper South Tyne as this valley contains superb habitat and runs N-S, indeed almost due S of main Scottish populations from my studies, basically along the A9. It’s not so clear why Bywell is also favoured on route B except that birds moving SE after crossing central Scotland would come this way and will be attracted by the ideal habitat. After crossing Northumberland the birds, if moving due S, would cross the Channel from Dorset on route A or Hampshire/Sussex on route B, both reasonably safe routes. As shown by satellite studies, Scottish juveniles on a more W course through Galloway or Cumbria, as in route C, are in danger of drifting W out into the Atlantic and drowning if they end up going down the SW England peninsula. Adults, using their experience, presumably keep well to the E of route C; indeed one satellite-tracked adult came through Riding Mill! The BTO atlas is producing some very interesting data; particularly like the richness map for the bird breeding season in Northumberland, showing that the valleys of SW/S Northumberland, marked in blue, are very fertile habitat indeed. These valleys are of course the ones packed with Honey-buzzard! Finally in this catch up session here’s piccies of Towsbank from Parson Shield yesterday, South Tyne at North Wood on 15/10, North Wood information board by Bellister Estates, and view N over Bywell from Stocksfield Mount on 14/10. More later, or maybe not!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

October 16th: exciting day in fine weather (sunny, light W breeze, warm) in upper South Tyne from 13:00-16:30 with 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard moving S low-down through the valley. Total for raptors was 20 birds of 4 species: 12 Common Buzzard, 5 Kestrel, 2 Honey-buzzard and a Merlin (male up at Parson Shields briefly mobbing Common Buzzard). Migrants comprised Fieldfare, with 35 at Yarridge and 20 moving NW at Williamston, and the Honey-buzzard. A total of 6 Raven was very satisfying for a bird still vulnerable to persecution. Main walk was at Parson Shields where had the 1st Honey-buzzard moving S along the ridge on E side of valley at 14:47, riding the updraught from the W breeze. The 2nd Honey-buzzard was moving S just after arrival at Towsbank, to the N of Parson Shields, at 15:28. Here’s the video 907 and many derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18 as it came right overhead after approaching from the N, then drifting off to S, where a brief interception was attempted by a Common Buzzard. Could time this bird: it covered 2.5km in the 2 minutes 27 seconds it was on the video, so roughly 60 kph (38 mph), with hardly a flap! It was also using the updraught from the W breeze on the E side of the valley to maximum effect. Much more later!! It’s all coming together!! Really enjoyed last 2 evenings – lok to the marvellous cunning stunts!!!!

October 15th: out to North Wood, Haltwhistle, in upper South Tyne this afternoon in Bellister area from 14:30-17:00 in brilliant sunshine and very warm for time of year with light S breeze. Had 7 raptors of 3 species: 5 Common Buzzard and single Sparrowhawk and Honey-buzzard. Other migrants S were 111 Common Gull (all adults), 8 Chaffinch (1 of these SE), 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull (2 adult, 1 first-winter) and 2 Starling, with a Chiffchaff also present. The Honey-buzzard juvenile came flapping in low-down from the N at 15:50, clearly looking for a B&B. A local Common Buzzard got up to intercept it but backed off from any interaction once it realised it was no threat. The Honey-buzzard certainly looked tired and came down finally on the S end of North Wood, close to a Honey-buzzard site, which had been active earlier in the season. So on we go! Tomorrow it’s upper South Tyne further upstream in Eals/Slaggyford area. Here’s remaining material from Stocksfield on 10/10 (904). First clip is of Honey-buzzard juvenile soaring up from Tyne at Bywell Castle at 15:12, mobbed by Jackdaw and Crow, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12; in this clip the bird moves off apparently decisively SE but then it turns and comes back right over the Mount as captured in the clip below for 10/10 at 15:17. Second clip, with derived stills 1  2, shows the bird finally moving off SE at 15:23 but with some reluctance. Preceding other sightings, the third clip has much briefer and distant views over Shilford from nearer the start of the visit at 14:16 with the bird mobbed by a Jackdaw. These were sufficient though for it already to have been marked down as a juvenile Honey-buzzard on jizz. Derived stills include 1  2  3  4  5  6. Have processed one of the stills, 6, from the clip 904 on 10/10, raising contrast and brightness, and blowing it up with Paint. Result shows sparse broad barring across the bird’s left wing, on secondaries and inner primaries, with 2-3 thickish bars showing. This still taken with the camcorder also shows the barring, on the bird’s right wing. Note also the fine yellow bill (confirming its age), the fairly uniform body colour, the relatively long P10, the extensive black on the wing tips and trailing edge and the broad wings over the secondaries. lok to those with nice legs!!!!

October 14th: today again went to Stocksfield Mount to look for migrants, from 14:45-16:30, in warm, rather hazy conditions with light S breeze. It’s really a very good vismig point as birds coming down S over Bywell seem to funnel down the Guessburn. Migrants moving S included 14 Chaffinch, 13 House Martin, 7 Redwing, 5 Swallow, 4 Skylark and 4 Starling. 18 Siskin moved SW/W. Had 6 (resident) raptors of 2 species: 4 Common Buzzard and 2 Sparrowhawk. So no Honey-buzzard, more or less confirms that juvenile on 10/9 had migrated SE, as thought. Still expect one or two more though before season completely finishes. Here’s clip 887 from Blanchland on 7/9 – very brief one of male diving back sneakily into the nest site. Derived stills include 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. Another clip, with derived stills 1  2  3, is of the adult male Hobby, producing a great power flight against the almost gale-force wind. Best week on markets for a while, +6k, although frustrated in range trading where shares moved out of range higher! Not chasing! Keeping some powder dry with 52k in cash. Bonds have risen up again to 81% of total as re-invested some recent divis; re-invest all income as a rule, it’s desirable with fixed-income securities to stop inflation from eroding the capital base. lokttgd!!!!!

October 12th: dull with drizzle all day so no fieldwork. Now processing video from trip up Derwent on 7/9. Completed processing clips from East Allen for 14/9 — here’s video 894 for highest site in study area at Byerhope at 460m. First shows juvenile Honey-buzzard flying into wind with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6. Second, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, shows a juvenile hunting over the moor, thought to be a different bird as other one had disappeared further down the valley. On the same visit also captured on a clip this Kestrel juvenile at close range, hovering over the moorland edge, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8. Earlier that day had another juvenile Honey-buzzard briefly over the moorland edge at Sinderhope, as captured in this clip 893 with derived stills 1  2. Today did make N for lunch and G4g4t! Met Bill in G, persuaded me to join him there 4g4t on Friday (hard work on his part!). Good vibes after: can sense when a site is occupied!! 2moro morning into unn to try to finish paper with Paul; will stay for lunch!! Much later t&s4g4s!! Hope the gfff keeps it up!!!

October 11th: incredible end to season with 2+ Honey-buzzard juvenile at Towsbank in visit from 12:50-15:05. Almost certainly migrants from further N (i.e. Scotland), enjoying rich feeding in prime area as first to be colonised in 1990s. Earlier said there were 2 classes of juvenile – just fledged and more mature, perhaps fledged one month ago. Well these birds are more mature with structures and flying power closer to adults, so it’s great to be able to study them and they’re giving long views in fearless displays. Still analysing material but looks like minimum of 13 raptors today: 8 Common Buzzard, 3 Kestrel and 2 Honey-buzzard. Masses of video to publish! Other migrants included Swallow (1 N, 28 SW), Chiffchaff (1 calling) and Redwing (1 S). Local resident reported a Tawny Owl to add to the picture of richness. Weather was very mixed with sunshine for 10 minutes followed by a quick heavy shower. Might have a look around Haltwhistle 2moro, weather permitting, after N and before G!! Have had 2 sessions cutting leylandii with 1 more to go, relatively unscathed so far. W was excellent, plenty of crack!! Very good to see the rhb again!! Lokttgo!!! Into unn Thursday morning this week. xxxxxxx!!!

October 10th: made Stocksfield Mount from 13:25-15:50, speeding out of N as rain cleared and sun came out. Always the best weather for raptors and had 10 birds of 4 species: 4 Common Buzzard, 3 Red Kite (together, suggests family party of 3 birds, 1 young raised), 2 Kestrel and a Honey-buzzard. Had inklings a Honey-buzzard was in the area with very nervous feeding corvid flock, an irate Grey Heron flying off from Tyne, and a brief glimpse of a soaring raptor over Shilford, mobbed by a Jackdaw, which looked just the part. At 15:12 a juvenile Honey-buzzard, mobbed by corvids, took off from the Tyne near Bywell Castle and in next 11 minutes, gave some of best views of the species for the year. Slowly gaining moderate height it flapped SE over to the Guessburn, where it turned at 15:17 and unbelievably came back towards me, stalling when over me and finally slowly and reluctantly making its way SE again into the distance, disappearing at 15:23. Here’s the clip 904, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. There is an amusing instance from 1:15-1:20 when the bird tries to use its tail as a rudder to turn. It doesn’t seem to have proper control over this action yet. You can also hear a train arriving and leaving Stocksfield Station. I would say the bird is Scottish: firstly it’s very tame, unlike the birds raised locally on the shooting estates; secondly feel local birds from Tyne Valley will all have left by now; thirdly it’s carrying a wee hip flask! More clips to come of this bird. Also had 11 Swallow SW and 13 House Martin with 7 SW, 6 SE, 2 Goosander redheads W and 3 Chaffinch S. So still some summer visitors around. Total a very high 31 species. Did make G, got thrown out a bit earlier than usual as Monday is very quiet, the gods have it in for me as again it poured with rain, but plenty of sensuous compensations, including mmc with the gorgeous one!!!! 2moro will make other prime Scottish Honey-buzzard route of upper South Tyne midday, weather permitting; N later!! And quiz nite at W to round things off!

October 9th: processing material from 14/9 up East Allen, including some shots of juveniles (clips 893, 894). Belcea Quartet were very sublime, playing Beethoven’s string quartets 10, 3, 13; they’re playing the whole set over the next 9 months, in Sage Hall 2. MP was fun!! Concert finished later than expected so didn’t make G. Never mind, will have a couple there 2moro for a change!! Also on the agenda is lunch in Hexham with sunshine promised for afternoon, so may check Tyne Valley again for late birds. Disastrous start to football season for westcountry sides: Bristol City, Exeter, Plymouth all ┴ of Championship, 1 and 2 respectively; Bournemouth and Yeovil 5th and 4th respectively from ┴ in I; Bristol Rovers, Swindon and Torquay middle of 2. It’s enough to make you stay in the NE, along with the other attractions!! xxxxxx!!!

October 8th: here’s some material 841 from visit to Honey-buzzard nest site near Ordley in ‘Shire on 16/6. Massive amount of material secured during this visit! First clip of nest in Norway Spruce from several angles, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 and further still of ground cover in vicinity of nest; because the woods chosen for nesting have to be open to accommodate their wing span, there is quite often luxuriant ground cover as here and splash 1  2  3 can be located readily on the foliage. Second clip of burn, covering entrance to site and providing some protection for the birds from casual intrusion. Third clip of Wood Ant nest; in this area Wood Ant are very common and undoubtedly they transfer evidence like feathers and prey remains from the open ground below the Honey-buzzard nest into their own nest; they missed this one large down feather (51mm) this time and there were also a few small Woodpigeon feathers in the area. Fourth clip of piped anxiety calls from both birds, in reduced size. The calls vary according to how worked up the birds are. It’s always better if both adults are present as they egg each other on (sorry about that!). Fifth clip of same calls but a bit more distant; one bird is up above the canopy briefly and this is included in both this clip and this short excerpt here; the angry Crow at end are fairly typical of Honey-buzzard nest site visits – the Honey-buzzard get pushed back into the Crow territory and there is much aggravation. Sixth clip is also of some distant calls, which appear to start with wailing calls and then carry on with chicken-like calls. In general many of the calls remind me of tropical Africa, maybe betraying their origins; a few calls are almost African Oriole like. Finally the female is shown up above the canopy on vacating the site in seventh clip, with derived stills 1  2  3, and in eighth clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16. She’s missing an outer secondary on her left wing, possibly through moult, and appears to have feather damage on her right wing in the P5/P6 area with P10 also shortened. A Crow dives at her quite aggressively in the latter clip but she’s unperturbed. Did wonder whether it was a male Honey-buzzard in the few frames available but the carpal joints are not pushed well forward and neck/head is too thick; you can also hear the Crow calling angrily.

This is copied from 16/6 below: “Did local site from 14:00-16:00, crossing burn at 14:30 to reach nesting area. No action until 15:15 when the pair of Honey-buzzard came closer from S with much calling. Nest appears to be a re-use of last year’s in Norway Spruce. Left site at 15:35 as put a limit of about 1 hour on each nest visit to avoid undue disturbance. The birds do seem to have a strategy of ignoring visitors for 30-45 minutes so that casual disturbance is readily accommodated. On clearing the site at 15:45 the female was beating over it, demonstrating to her young that she’d seen me off!” Also copied from 17/6 below are shots of female from day before: “here’s clips 839 from Ordley on 15/6 with 1st the female Honey-buzzard mobbed by Black-headed Gull (derived stills 1  2), 2nd mobbed by Crow (derived stills 1  2) and 3rd drifting away to S to feed. The comparison shots show just how big a female Honey-buzzard can be, distinctly larger than Common Buzzard for instance. The jizz with fluid wing flaps is very characteristic.” On the 1st clip you can also see the telephone pole for our 3 houses and hear my neighbouring mummy!

Made A’s for lunch; weather very dull, no fieldwork, kept on raining even at midnite!! E in evening for late ½!! Well quite chatty now and attractive scenery! Highlite later – she’s so very inspiring!!!! Have to watch that leylandii!! Slept well!! 2moro it’s Belcea Quartet at Sage with N, starting at MP for meal. Driving in and hope to be back for G but it’s a late start! xxxxxxx!!!

October 7th: better weather today particularly in afternoon with continual sunshine on light NW breeze. Walked from Ordley to Dotland via Close House from 16:05-17:50 but no raptors at all; a little late in the day admittedly but juvenile Honey-buzzard tend to be fairly obvious particularly when there are many other birds around as is the case here, as flocks of birds keep on being noisily disturbed. This walk gives excellent view over ‘Shire (see 15/9) so it’s a blank for this part of the area. No migrants seen either but total of 26 species not bad. Afterwards finished grass cutting for season; next job is cutting a leylandii hedge, which is a bit more challenging, particularly as I’m allergic to the sap – cover up as much as possible and immediately on finishing jump in a bath! It’s the same chemical as used for sticking plasters. Visit to Hexham for lunch was very rewarding – think I owe her one!!! Is it poets day?? Off to W soon!! Enjoyed W, 6 of us this time. 2moro pretty routine but maybe BEB later!! Sold nearly all bank equities this afternoon after recent rally – see € top level meetings this weekend! Incidentally Newcastle BS was one of those downgraded yesterday: thought of buying some of their PIBS but balance sheet was not that brilliant. lokttsd!!!

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 13/13 nest visits in round 3, end of phase 4 (07/10) are: Allen 9 sites, 14 adult (7 male, 7 female), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 3×2 5×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Devil’s Water 6, 12(6,6), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 5×2 1×1+ juv fledged; Tyne Valley west 7, 13(6,7), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 5×2 1×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Tyne Valley east 4, 7(3,4), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 2×2 2×1 juv fledged; upper South Tyne 5, 10(5,5), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 4×2 1×1+ juv fledged; lower South Tyne 5, 9(4,5), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 3×2 1×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Tipalt/Irthing 3, 4(2,2) 1×2 2×1+ juv fledged; and Derwent 7, 12(6,6), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 6×2 1×1+; giving grand total 46, 81(39,42), 13 nests (Scots Pine x7, Norway Spruce x4, Oak x2) 75+ juv fledged in 29×2 12×1+ 5×1 where 1+ means 1 juvenile seen/heard, not sure whole brood seen. Breeding confirmed, and successful, at all 46 sites. Gangs of juveniles: one 4 birds 28/9 Derwent, one 3 birds 29/9 Tyne Valley W reducing to 1 30/9, one 1 bird Allen 1/10, one 1 bird Allen 4/10. Migrants: May 9/5 male N in Devil’s Water; September 1/9 male S in Tyne Valley W, 15/9 10 birds S in Devil’s Water, 15/9 1 female S in upper South Tyne, 29/9 2 juveniles presumed S in Tyne Valley W.

October 6th: g.d that was almost a full day, in on 08:54 train and back on 17:54. Hope to get paper with Paul off next week but Mike and I abandoned other paper for moment as we need to understand more what’s going on in Dimitris’ mind! That’s a compliment! Made Baltic for lunch and Coffee Trader for t. She’s very beautiful in her eyrie!!! Bit like a nesting Honey-buzzard really!! That’s another compliment! Off to t&s now! 2moro N for lunch and out looking for migrants later, weather permitting. Seem to be leading comment on Banking Forum blog (Motley Fool) now in UK, but annoying a few wrong-footed pundits!

Last night said: One thing that puzzles me is the pricing of non-PIIGS sovereign debt. Presumably some banks are showing profits, maybe considerable, on their UK, US and German sovereign debt, through the ‘flight to quality’. This has been ignored so far. I realise the gains will disappear on maturity but on say a 10-year loan there could be a market-value gain for quite a while.

Today: Trichet, head of European Central Bank, made an interesting point in the ECB conference. He said it was difficult to calculate the losses that banks are currently sitting with regards to their sovereign exposure. To counter those losses you have to factor in the very large gains they would have made on their exposure to the likes of German, US and UK treasuries.

So rejoined tonight: Well this was becoming apparent to me last night. It’s amazing it’s not been made before more forcefully. It does suggest that while there is a small core of European banks in trouble because they hold mainly PIIGS sovereign debt, the overall problem with sovereign debt may not be as widespread as recent hysteria has suggested. Nick

Had 2 telephone calls from BT complaints department this morning; got £55 reduction on bill for last quarter and apology. Satisfied now both with manner of resolution and current good service.

October 5th: still tied up with Visiting Fellow activities, very interested in keeping the ct publishing going! Long day in unn tomorrow starting at 10 with Paul and finishing with Mike from 14:30-16:30. Long that is on current perspective: would have been regarded as a bit short a while ago! Still have time to visit a couple of coffee houses and Central Library, so plenty of time for the wonders of Tyneside!! Tidied up front garden today. G was good, nice mixture of mates! Thought someone might have been arrested but still looking keen!!! See she’s top of the work team now! xxxxxx!!!

October 4th: brighter but very breezy from SW, decided to give upper East Allen at Sinderhope a whirl with visit from 14:15-15:55. Had 2 Kestrel and a Honey-buzzard juvenile, latter seen twice, first at 14:58 flying over edge of moor low-down into a conifer stand on the moor itself, second at 15:17 repeating the manoeuvre but with a little flourish at start higher-up, showing more of its profile. Treating this bird as another gang of 1, that is a bird reared locally that has not left yet but is still feeding-up in favourable habitat. View is that the bird could have been reared anywhere in the Allen complex but more likely to be from a higher site where breeding is later. Quite a mixture of birds now with Chiffchaff calling at Ordley yesterday and today a Swallow at Yarridge and the Honey-buzzard at Sinderhope and 9 Redwing over Ordley late afternoon. Completed clearing of mint and rockery plant, going to leave it a week to spring up a little and then lower the blades! Very pleased earlier to see the efficient rhb, admit distracted by another lovely b.m!!! Made W for quiz, later more street-wise, so to speak!!! Very sensuous!!! xxxxxx!!! 2moro it’s supposed to be wet and cleaners coming lunch-time but confident it’ll be G4g4t!! Hope to get some more video sorted.

October 3rd: rather dull, particularly on higher ground, so leaving search for Honey-buzzard gangs until tomorrow afternoon, in Sinderhope area of East Allen. Had good lunch with Nick in Nero! Updated Visiting Fellow web pages with 9 papers and presentations; Mike and I went to Cambridge, Liège and Frankfurt this August. Lots of time spent today working up one of Dimitris’ paper for an AI workshop at Cambridge in December. Busier day at unn this Thursday seeing Paul in morning and Mike in afternoon with lunch in between somewhere very nice!! Catching up with gardening as well – besides final round of grass cutting, attacking an area of the field invaded by mint and some rockery plant with aim to restore it to grass. Do more gardening in October than any other month! Good to see the rhb!! lokttgd!!!!

October 2nd: dull all day with spells of rain particularly around midnite!! Made some progress on video 841 (home site 16/6) and will publish results soon on this page. Next visit for videos page is that to same site on 21/8 (871) where had juvenile perched. There’s no doubt that all similarities to Common Buzzard disappear immediately when a Honey-buzzard perches, which may be one reason why they very rarely perch in the open: their mimicry is undone. Did make G! Afters were gr8: very s.xy!!!! Achieved a very major ambition this weekend!!!! Lots of xxxx to the most beautiful ladies in Tynedale!!

October 1st: out to heights to W of Allendale at Hawksteel (promising name!) this afternoon from 15:10-16:50 in sultry conditions to check for late Honey-buzzard. Between 15:50-15:55 had 2 sightings of a Honey-buzzard juvenile at 420m on Round Hill foraging low-down near an isolated conifer plantation. So this counts as a gang of 1, perhaps residue from the birds reared in West Allen and possibly other Allen sites. Also had a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk (female) over the moorland edge. Passage included 9 Meadow Pipit S and 2 Chaffinch SW. 4 Curlew feeding on fields were unseasonable. Butterflies were unusual behaviour-wise with 8 Red Admiral moving S. Yesterday at Bywell had an exceptional 5 species for late September with Small White, Red Admiral, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Comma. Did a lot of grass cutting early evening. Working up for main videos page the nest visit on 16/6 to Ordley (841). BEB were fun, left before end for a ½ where becoming a regular now! Afters were gr8: very s.xy!!!! 2moro it’s going to be wet so catching up with writing papers and editing video but may well make N for t and G for g!! xxxxxxx!!!

September 30th: quick visit to unn in car as wanted to get back out in the lovely weather, again in Bywell Home Farm area from 13:00-15:25 where had, in hot sunny weather with light S breeze, an incredible 6 species of raptor comprising 13 birds in all: 5 Common Buzzard, 4 Sparrowhawk (family group) and single Red Kite (juvenile), Kestrel, Goshawk (unaged male) and Honey-buzzard. The last was a juvenile at 14:50, rising up from Cottagebank and then moving E down to the valley below Short Wood. Yesterday noted that the 3 Honey-buzzard at 13:20 reduced to one later on; suspect that 2 of the juveniles actually left while I was in the area. It did appear that the 2 birds were ‘paired’ while the 3rd bird was more on its own. Bywell is now one of the best areas for raptors in the county, and pretty good on any national scale as well. Glad to see the efficient start at a certain office by the lovely rhb!!! And still at it later on!! Hair cut was pleasanter than the dentists but whole mouth feels better, think must have been some mobile twinges before! Off to W now!! Comment on 22/9 was half-joking, but on experience since ‘fraid it might be true! W was good, although only 3 of us. Seeing Nick for coffee at N on Monday lunchtime. End of dreadful quarter for markets, worst since end of 2008, been moving some funds out of bonds (down to 79% of total) into equities (financial, high yield, natural resources). Daughter has moved into new flat but not everything sown up yet so still studying the race cards! 2moro it’s A’s for lunch and foray up Allendale to see if any birds left up there. Might go to see the BEB later after f&c+mp!!

September 29th: late out into field after seeing dentist at 12:20, thought it might just be a check on break with another appointment later but no, new filling increased my value by £47 by 12:40 (0.00458%). Amazing how dental techniques are improving, think tooth would have needed a messy crown 10 years ago. Fortunately got none of those as they seem to be very unstable. Completed questionnaire at end: one question was on a scale of 1-5, how brave are you in the dental chair (1 = scared witless, 5 = nonchalant)? Answer 2. Made Stocksfield Mount from 13:00-14:10 and then Bywell Home Farm area until 15:00 in brilliantly sunny weather with moderate W breeze. Total for raptors was 20 birds of 4 species: 12 Common Buzzard (7 at Short Wood, 3 at Cottagebank and singles at Merry Shield and Bywell Castle), 3 Honey-buzzard, 3 Kestrel and 2 Red Kite (adult and juvenile up over Cottagebank, brilliant result after last year’s poisoning, confirming breeding in area). The Honey-buzzard comprised a gang of 3 juveniles in Cottagebank/Newton area with 2 birds up from 13:07-13:11, 13:13-13:15, 13:22-13:23, 3 birds from 13:18-13:20 and 1 bird at 13:40 and 14:36. Such gangs spend quite a lot of time feeding but also get flying practice, particularly in effortless floating, useful for survival, at relatively low altitude compared to the heights that adults achieve. Many wasps were around still. With 6 juveniles raised at the 3 nearby sites, this indicates some dispersal already, as expected. WG2 went smoothly in Beaumont! Off to t&s now!! 2moro hair cut at crack of dawn, then meeting at unn at 11:00. (They didn’t really ask that question!).

September 28th: from 14:52-14:55 started drawing season to a close with 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard up together over heather moor to N of Nookton Burn in County Durham; they were hanging low-down in the SW breeze in fantastic hot sunshine for September with one affectionate tumble. At 14:59 one of them was at N end of wood being felled at top of Nookton Burn. From 15:24-15:27 had the first gang of juvenile Honey-buzzard up over the fell with 4 birds out on the moor towards Nookton West Fell at 470m asl. This gang is presumed to contain birds from Nookton and the even higher site at Riddlehamhope. The Nookton nest site at 400m asl is now the 4th high moorland site to raise young this year. Also got further information on the Blanchland site with one juvenile well up on the fells about 1km to the W at 15:20 and another soaring high over the site at 15:43, converting the site from 1+ to 2. Other raptors included 2 Kestrel so total for day was 8 raptors of 2 species: 6 Honey-buzzard (all juvenile) and 2 Kestrel. Would expect nearly all lowland Honey-buzzard to have departed but will check this out tomorrow in Tyne Valley; Bywell is on the Scottish migration route, think they follow the A68! Meeting with Mike went well yesterday; intuitionistic logic (logic of women!!) is the logic of category theory where unlike classical logic the double negative is not necessarily a truth value and there is a third outcome, not proven, in addition to true and false. Main thrust at the moment is using category theory for database modelling: underpinning logical constructions by physical existence!! Dimitris is giving a paper for us in Greece over the next few days. Another visit to dentist in Corbridge 2moro lunchtime to look at 2 cracked teeth: he will think I’ve been in a fight! And it’s hair cut at JG first thing on Friday morning before going into unn. Very stimulating end to G!!! xxxxxx!!! Out for bit of late nite shopping!! Pity in one respect that letting is picking up!

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 13/13 nest visits in round 3, end of phase 4 (28/9) are: Allen 9 sites, 14 adult (7 male, 7 female), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 3×2 5×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Devil’s Water 6, 12(6,6), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 5×2 1×1+ juv fledged; Tyne Valley west 7, 13(6,7), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 5×2 1×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Tyne Valley east 4, 7(3,4), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 2×2 2×1 juv fledged; upper South Tyne 5, 10(5,5), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 4×2 1×1+ juv fledged; lower South Tyne 5, 9(4,5), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 3×2 1×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Tipalt/Irthing 3, 4(2,2) 1×2 2×1+ juv fledged; and Derwent 7, 12(6,6), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 6×2 1×1+; giving grand total 46, 81(39,42), 13 nests (Scots Pine x7, Norway Spruce x4, Oak x2) 75+ juv fledged in 29×2 12×1+ 5×1 where 1+ means 1 juvenile seen/heard, not sure whole brood seen. Breeding confirmed, and successful, at all 46 sites. Gangs of juveniles: one of 4 birds on 28/9 Derwent. Migrants: May 9/5 male N in Devil’s Water; September 1/9 male S in Tyne Valley W, 15/9 10 birds S in Devil’s Water, 15/9 1 female S in upper South Tyne.

September 26th: morning walk in welcome autumn sunshine along Hexham Tyne Green from 09:05-11:15. Juvenile Honey-buzzard was still N of Tyne, this time on fields towards Acomb, where it was seen at 09:55 up in the air heavily mobbed by corvids, a familiar picture. Also had 3 Common Buzzard (family group of 2 adults, 1 juvenile) and a Sparrowhawk (juvenile female). Car service went fine, ready by 12:15, no problems though front tyres down to 4mm! Did make N, nice to see the sights (twice!) and realised something!! Can be a little slow off the mark in the Honey-buzzard season! West Allen trip from 15:10-17:35 was very positive, finding on arrival at 15:12 a juvenile Honey-buzzard up over the rough grassland to W of Monk Wood; it was foraging in the rough pasture also being seen up again a little further W at 15:15-15:16 and slightly closer still to Ninebanks at 15:30, maybe keeping its distance from 2 Common Buzzard up over the fell. Walk was actually through Parmently as determined to check whether the site had really been vacated this year. Delighted at 15:40 to see a juvenile Honey-buzzard low over woods on the Carr’s Burn soaring some way before coming down again as an aggressive Common Buzzard adult approached it. I’ve taken this bird as locally bred at this location as the site has been used before, the bird was very close to the presumed nest location and the proximity of the site to the grouse moor may cause the birds to be ultra secretive. That’s 2 broods of 1+ today. We’re up to 46 sites now with 72+ young fledged and for 45 of these have almost as much data as can get now for 2011. The 46th site is Nookton in Derwent area, which will visit on Wednesday 28/9 sometime. Also had 9 Common Buzzard in Monk/Parmently area including the very strident bird mentioned above over the pheasant release pens near Parmently: good luck! So day’s total was 16 raptors of 3 species: 12 Common Buzzard, 3 Honey-buzzard (all juveniles) and a Sparrowhawk. Parmently is the third successful site this year at altitude on intensively managed grouse moor: might surprise some! Expecting remaining juveniles to move out soon, taking advantage of current good weather: we’re into end of phase 4 now. 2moro it’s back to category theory in Durham with W in evening. Chairing LAF WG2 at Beaumont, Hexham, on Thursday early evening and unn on Friday. Hope to see the lovely ladies!!! xxxxxxxx!!

September 25th: almost there after quite a lot of hard searching on far W of study area in Tipalt/Irthing from 12:45-16:45 in good sunny weather with moderate SW breeze. Stopped at Greenhead on way out and way back, spending 1 hour 20 minutes there in all. Bulk of time was spent at Gilsland Spa from 13:20-15:55. Good omen at start with juvenile Honey-buzzard up over Hermitage on Hexham bypass at 12:25; could have been a migrant but seemed to be mainly foraging so attributed to Hexham Tyne Green site where one juvenile fledged earlier. Total of raptors for day was 10 of 4 species: 3 Honey-buzzard (all juveniles), Common Buzzard and Kestrel, and 1 Sparrowhawk. At Greenhead had no Honey-buzzard on way out but on return at 16:23-16:28 had a juvenile coming out from Blenkinsopp W, surrounded by corvids, and circling ever so slowly up to Blenkinsopp Castle where it came down in the trees. At Gilsland wait was longer, indeed from 13:20 to 14:45 before a Honey-buzzard was seen very high up moving slowly S; it then lost its nerve, dived down and disappeared into a field. It resurfaced, then clearly a juvenile, from 15:13-15:18, circling very slowly and moving N to W side of the Spa where it came down. Both these are 1+, suspect the bird left is the younger juvenile with everyone else packing up and going! 2moro 10,000 mile car service at 09:00 so will have to be up a bit smarter than usual. Plan to visit Monk/Parmentley in upper West Allen in afternoon after look around Tyne Green while car has oil changed. Completed addition of video 857 (‘Shire 13/07/11) to Videos page; extra stills include 1 for video 3, showing the wing barring beautifully on the female in flight. G was good though a little quiet; few walks around block later, not sure what’s going on!! Anyway xxxxxx!!! Going to Durham to see Mike on Tuesday.

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 13/13 nest visits in round 3, middle of phase 4 (25/9) are: Allen 8 sites, 14 adult (7 male, 7 female), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 3×2 1×1 3×1+ juv fledged; Devil’s Water 6, 12(6,6), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 5×2 1×1+ 1×0+ juv fledged; Tyne Valley west 7, 13(6,7), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 5×2 1×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Tyne Valley east 4, 7(3,4), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 2×2 2×1 juv fledged; upper South Tyne 5, 10(5,5), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 4×2 1×1+ juv fledged; lower South Tyne 5, 9(4,5), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 3×2 1×1+ juv fledged; Tipalt/Irthing 3, 4(2,2) 1×2 juv 2×1+ fledged; and Derwent 7, 12(6,6), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 4×2 2×1+; giving grand total 45, 81(39,42), 13 nests (Scots Pine x7, Norway Spruce x4, Oak x2) 70+ juv fledged in 27×2 11×1+ 5×1 where 1+ means 1 juvenile seen/heard, not sure whole brood seen. Breeding confirmed at 43 sites, probable at 2.

September 24th: no fieldwork today as decided to have a more sociable day! A’s was good – met the lovely jobo there at start of hen party, moving to Quayside! Well everyone was in Quayside later including us at MP before trip to Sage where Mozart’s Mass in C minor was brilliantly done, lots of lovely singing, with Malin Christensson the star. And horn concerto was brilliantly played by Sinfonia’s own Peter Francomb. Looked up from my pizza in MP and saw an attractive young raver looking my way!!! Finished up in E where the young ladies are particularly s.xy!!! xxxxxx!!! Out to the far W today (Gilsland/Greenhead) to see whether can find any more fledged Honey-buzzard. G later!!

September 23rd: lucky stayed in this morning as Openreach engineer called and fixed the problem. He said it all indicated cable failure outside, quickly identified a joint just outside the window, replaced it, checked my broadband set-up and away we went. No problem since though it takes 48 hours to stabilise at a higher speed. Whole repair took 40 minutes. Confident it’s fixed – joint has been moved from exposed position on W wall (weather wall) to under the gutter. Evidently previous position is not recommended but saves getting the ladder out! Engineer was a cut above others, competent with both broadband and the line, and communicative. Early lunch in Hexham – like the sights!! Walked up Beldon Burn this afternoon from 14:35-18:50 with frantic grouse shoot nearby. Had 4 timid Honey-buzzard juveniles at 3 sites and 3 Kestrel. More details below. W with detour tonite!!! aqotwf! 2moro it’s A’s for lunch followed later by MP and first concert at Sage in evening! Will we catch last train, 21:54 to Prudhoe? Or have to wait for last bus? Think it will be last bus. Next week resuming visits to unn and beginning to wind down survey effort. Thinking of trip to Tay Valley in mid-October for a few days for walking (perhaps a Munro or two) and maybe seeing the odd late Honey-buzzard. Might go on own as no-one else seems to want to go N; any takers??

Trip up Beldon Burn was made in mild dry conditions with moderate SW breeze and little sunshine. Scored almost straight away at 14:45 with juvenile Honey-buzzard flapping over at low altitude, coming from the E (presumably Blanchland village site) and turning S before swinging around E again. Others were to prove more difficult. At the middle site at 15:35 a juvenile was seen in flap-flap-glide action deep in the burn, quickly coming down again when it saw me. At the top site at 380m, good news with at 16:50 a juvenile seen to E flapping over from the N and coming down into the burn near the site. At the high woods over Riddlehamhope was sure there was a large hidden raptor by the behaviour of the Jackdaw but it was not until 17:15 that it finally emerged for a few seconds above the canopy mobbed heavily and accompanied by the bird seen at 16:50. So 2 raised at top site, 1+ each at middle and lower sites and outcome unknown at Nookton. No adults seen so presume they’ve left. Stress on the birds from the shooting was intense and birds were obviously keeping a very low profile. Thought a young couple were just ordinary walkers but realised at end that they were non-shooting friends of the ‘guns’ and probably reported me for my intense recce of the area. A gamekeeper gave me a hell of a look at the end but stared him out: scrutiny is essential and if they know someone is looking out for the birds they’ll be more careful! Of course it’s good to see Honey-buzzard so successful on intensively managed moorland for grouse; there shouldn’t be any issue between Red Grouse and Honey-buzzard. In the 12km walk effects of altitude marked in autumn with 19 species in bottom tetrad, 9 in middle and 9 at top.

September 22nd: walked around Loweswater today from 10:55-14:15; good walk in weak sunshine but no raptors although did get a Raven. Got 3 Common Buzzard on way home: 1 at Penrith and 2 at Hayton, all in Cumbria. No Honey-buzzard in western Lakes, suspect it may be too maritime for them, as in north-western Scotland. All helps to build up a national picture. Was excellent trip with Nick: will summarise results soon. Made t&s – 5 of us – good chat! afqotwf except for curtains!!! 2moro catching up in morning in Hexham then out in Derwent for walk through 3 upland Honey-buzzard sites to see what’s left! W much later!

September 21st: thick cloud and strong SW breeze today, mostly dry but spectacular downpour around 14:30. From 10:15-16:45 went to Muncaster Castle, which was very interesting with WOT (World Owl Trust) based there, large wooded grounds and well-documented castle. The downpour coincided with the flight of the owls (Barn and Eagle), causing its postponement for today but they did parade briefly on the keepers’ wrists. Only raptor was a Kestrel, calling from trees on the Esk. Done further work on video 857 on videos page, adding 2 clips, one on female flying-around at close range, the other on male and female flying high over the site. Much more to follow here. Carrying on stormy tonight but better promised for return tomorrow. Hotel is very good: we’re close to Sellafield and there’s a lot of deference to that concern here, bit like Egger in Hexham! Glorious BT saga continues with claimed resolution of broadband fault (in effect an admission that fault is in line quality not in broadband per se) and plan to work on line delayed until 26/9! t&s 2moro nite, hope weather is better for outdoor pursuits than here!!! lokttgo!!!

September 20th: much better day weather-wise with sunny spells up until tea-time. Went to Wasdale Head from 10:00-17:00 where had good supply of raptors with 3 Common Buzzard and 2 Kestrel (one juvenile) and Peregrine (juvenile male and adult female). Wasdale Head has very dramatic scenery being situated near Scar Fell; didn’t quite make top of that but did walk about 10km. At base near Irton had a juvenile female Sparrowhawk out hunting at 08:15 and a Tawny Owl calling at 22:00. So 5 species of raptor now but no Honey-buzzard! Worked up video 857 on videospage a little. Here’s sample from 13/7 in ‘Shire of female Honey-buzzard perched 1  2  3  4 and landing 15! Looking forward to seeing the gfffagain!!! xxxxxx!!!

September 19th: dry at start soon turning wet for rest of day at height but sunny on coast late afternoon. Walked from hotel to Dalegarth in the rain where decided to get steam train back to Irton Road, near base. Beautiful countryside but obscured much of time by mist and driving rain. On return at 15:15 could see clearance over sea so down to nearby coast at Ravenglass in the car for walk along the shore. It was here that had only raptor of day, an adult male Sparrowhawk hunting over the village. Ravenglass is very atmospheric, a bit like Holy Island. rfaswtgo!!! mmc!!!

September 18th: short break in western Lakes, staying with Nick at Bower House Inn, Eskdale. Had walk around Ennerdale Water from 13:05-16:30, very beautiful, warm when sun out but also drizzle from time to time. Birds of prey included 2 Common Buzzard (adult, juvenile) and a Peregrine holding territory (male). Also had an adult male Sparrowhawk near Bardon Mill on way over. Missing the gorgeous ones!!! xxxxxx!!!

September 17th: wet morning followed by bright and sunny afternoon with SW breeze, good weather for raptors. Made Minsteracres from 13:20-14:35, getting 10 Common Buzzard, 3 Honey-buzzard and 2 Kestrel (both juveniles). The Honey-buzzard comprised a juvenile flushed from stubble field on arrival at 13:25, another juvenile floating over field to N at 13:36, 2 juvenile flying W together low-down from 13:40-13:41 and female and 2 juveniles (one quite weak flier with feathers still growing) up together in display over conifer plantation on ridge to W from 14:06-14:12. The ridge was chosen for display because of the stronger breeze, which gives added lift. 35 Swallow flew S here. No time to rest, onto Ruffside in Durham from 14:40-15:20 where had 4 Common Buzzard, 3 Honey-buzzard and a Raven (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5). With the Raven note the narrow wing with 4 protruding primary tips of P6-P9, a feature shared by Osprey. The Honey-buzzard comprised a female and 2 juveniles (again one weak-flying with feathers still growing) up from 15:06-15:07 low-down over their nest site; this had been the only remaining site to have had 0+ status. Onto Slaley Forest SE from 15:25-15:40, which is normally a desert for raptors and a gap in Honey-buzzard distribution, but today had 2 Common Buzzard and a Kestrel (male) all to E. Finally had a Common Buzzard at West Dipton, perched on wires at 19:00 as went for f&c+mp. So day total was 27 raptors of 4 species: 17 Common Buzzard, 6 Honey-buzzard and 3 Kestrel. Have now confirmed breeding at 38/45 sites with 64+ young fledged; upland sites left to check are at Derwent (4), Tipalt (2) and West Allen (1). Will also check Parmently in West Allen as only site lost from last year at this stage. Almost there! Tawny Owl are easy to hear calling now with, on Thursday night (15/9), singles at Prudhoe, Hexham and Ordley late-on!! Early start 2moro so off the p.ss!! No offers anyway! Did upload 120MB of video and stills from visit 857 in the library in 10 minutes so may get that organised over the next day or two. Formal complaint made to BT, should have done this earlier. Hope the beauties keep fit!!!

September 16th: one reason I’ve been studying the Honey-buzzard population so closely in the last 10 days is to see how they behave in very poor weather prior to emigration. This is one factor that was unknown in the 2008 movement as was in Poland in the crucial period before the visible migration. The results for 2011 confirm that the birds in northern Britain will simply be blocked in bad weather, waiting for better days. Can see my way now to finishing the 2008 account with confirmed conclusion that the birds moving on 13/9-14/9 were UK bred birds that had been blocked by bad weather in UK finally making a bolt for it! Today been working up the material from visit to Swallowship on 13/7 (857) for 1st publication on main videos page for 2011, showing perched female on top of tree and various close-up shots of female in flight with one very distant one of male plus some calls. Hope to upload it in Hexham Library tomorrow morning, before lunch in A’s. Weather was very gloomy today and no site visits; Minsteracres remains next target if weather stays poor; better weather would see me in West Allen. Enjoyed W! Still open for offers 2moro evening!! Not making next 2 Gs!! lokttgd!!

September 15th: quick update at 14:40. They’re off – mass exodus from ‘Shire between 11:30 and 12:50 in perfect conditions of warm sunshine, very light S breeze and limited cloud cover, soaring very high and moving S over North Pennines. Details later. Off to Barhaugh now. xxxxxx!! Later — well what a day. Final totals for whole day after analysis were 33 raptors of 6 species: 23 Honey-buzzard, 4 Common Buzzard, 2 Hobby (juvenile hunting in fast mode at 10:47, adult mobbing Honey-buzzard at 11:44, both at West Dipton), 2 Tawny Owl and single Kestrel and Sparrowhawk. Was at Dotland in ‘Shire from 10:45-13:05 with Honey-buzzard records as follows: 10:52 the male from West Dipton came out of Letah Wood, soared high then dived back again (lost his nerve!); 11:08-11:12 very large juvenile from West Dipton soars to moderate height and then flap-flap-glides, losing height steadily mobbed by Rooks, and sinking into wood SW of Ordley, one anxiety call at 3:03 into action; 11:27 male from West Dipton has another go, impatiently flapping at lower levels, then effortless soar, this time going higher, out of sight and off (trial soars are not uncommon); 11:35 female from West Dipton soars to moderate height and comes down again (where’s he gone?) — she is a new mate as expected from male’s vigorous solo display in the spring, first time she’s been seen, not as heavy structurally as previous mate, perhaps a real catch!; 11:44 female up again at West Dipton, not up high, mobbed by Crow and Hobby; 11:47 male soars to moderate height at Viewley, then moves into solid flapping mode and moves off SE at speed; 11:53 at Dipton Wood SW 2 juveniles just get above the canopy and sink down again; 11:59-12:02 kettle forms over Dipton Wood of 7 birds, all thought to be adults, moving very high and birds are lost to sight beyond the top of the clouds, an amazing sight, other than 2 birds doing a brief swoop the atmosphere is serious as normal for migrating birds; 12:03 male, up over Swallowship comes down again, perhaps tempted by kettle but not quite ready; 12:07 female, up at Swallowship with juvenile below, she then dived and juvenile followed (they don’t get up early at this site!); 12:12-12:14 rufous female, up over Swallowship with another juvenile, which she left behind, female soared higher and higher above the clouds but then came back again to ground, false starts are quite common in migration; 12:16 male going high over Swallowship and actually doing some undulating display, he comes back to some extent; 12:25-12:29 female appears flapping hard to S, then soars over Swallowship, before drifting N and meeting 2 males, who all depart together to S, males presumed as from Swallowship (her mate) and Farnley; 12:45-12:50 female soaring over W of Farnley at long range, going very high above clouds, lost to sight and presumed to leave. One reason for selecting the ‘Shire for migration watch was that there were quite a lot of 1+ here, as surveyed quite early for broods, and these may well have been 2s. This was confirmed today at 2 sites with broods of 2 at Dipton Wood SW and Swallowship, both of which had been earlier assessed as 1+, but West Dipton was confirmed as 1. The birds in the kettle could have been the males and females from Dipton SW, Ordley and Dotland, particularly as no adults were seen otherwise at these 3 sites, plus the female from West Dipton. Total for migrating Honey-buzzard was 12 adults S and 1 adult SE; all 12 adults from the local 6 sites appeared to leave S from 11:27-12:50 with a male from a further site to S leaving SE at 11:47; so the exodus was highly synchronised, a tendency perhaps encouraged by limited opportunities in the recent stormy weather. A further 5 birds were seen which did not appear to leave: 1 at West Dipton (juvenile), 2 at Swallowship (2 juvenile) and 2 at Dipton Wood SW (2 juvenile). Movement coincided with very rapid exodus of Swallow over last 24 hours with just 8 moving S in entire visit and no local birds left. Then swift coffee in Hexham and out in field again to Barhaugh in upper South Tyne. Purpose here was to try and sort last site in this area and to look for Scottish migrants. In visit from 15:45-18:10 had 4 Honey-buzzard and 2 Common Buzzard, with steady passage S of probably Scottish Swallows totalling 92. The Honey-buzzard comprised a family group (female, 2 juveniles) of 3 at 16:52 near Barhaugh Hall, on the N side of the Barhaugh Burn, and a female flying S low-down at Parson Shields, not a known nest site, at 18:00 and coming to rest in trees near the South Tyne. She may well be a Scottish bird, perhaps making her 1st stop on migration from say the Tay Valley. BH was good, 4 of us there, very busy, nice change! Back to t&s next week. The gfffis very sensuous!!!! Love it!!!! xxxxxxxx!!! 2moro looks to be dull, maybe try Minsteracres in afternoon if not too bad. But N for lunch and W for supper! BT line has collapsed altogether now – 6th fault report since early August: sure it’s the cable and connections outside between the pole and the master socket; broadband is much more sensitive to line quality than voice and this may have been early warning signal. It’s not a quaint rural ‘phone problem as BT are trying to make out – just a standard pole/master socket connection.

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 13/13 nest visits in round 3, start of phase 4 (15/9) are: Allen 8 sites, 14 adult (7 male, 7 female), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 3×2 1×1 3×1+ juv fledged; Devil’s Water 6, 12(6,6), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 5×2 1×1+ 1×0+ juv fledged; Tyne Valley west 7, 13(6,7), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 5×2 1×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Tyne Valley east 4, 7(3,4), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 2×2 2×1 juv fledged; upper South Tyne 5, 10(5,5), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 4×2 1×1+ juv fledged; lower South Tyne 5, 9(4,5), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 3×2 1×1+ juv fledged; Tipalt/Irthing 3, 4(2,2) 1×2 juv fledged; and Derwent 7, 11(6,5), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×2 1×0+; giving grand total 45, 80(39,41), 13 nests (Scots Pine x7, Norway Spruce x4, Oak x2) 60+ juv fledged in 24×2 7×1+ 5×1 1×0+ where 1+ means 1 juvenile seen/heard, not sure whole brood seen; 0+ visit, often to nest, indicated fledging but no juveniles seen/heard yet.

September 14th: again windy 30mph W but sunny and made upper reaches of East Allen, visiting Sinderhope from 13:00-14:05 and Byerhope from 14:45-15:50. Total for day was 5 Kestrel (family group of 4 at Byerhope), 5 Honey-buzzard (male, female, 3 juvenile) and 3 Common Buzzard (one at Sinderhope, two at Byerhope). Swallow were still common with 42 in main visits. Honey-buzzard comprised, at Sinderhope, a strong frisky juvenile flying wildly low-down over a field on moorland edge at 13:38 and a female, on way back at 15:53, flapping deeply high-up over the site, mobbed by a Jackdaw. See video 893 above (12/10). Sinderhope is well established now as a high-altitude site at 300m and last year was considered the highest on the East Allen. Further up the valley at Allenheads there is the probability of another site following visit on 3/7 to Wolfcleugh Common. This was confirmed today with at 15:01 a male briefly up over Byerhope Reservoir at 460m followed by one juvenile flying out to feed c1km to N from 15:02-15:04 followed by another juvenile on same path at 15:12 and hanging over moor hunting from 15:40-15:42. See video 894 above (12/10). So it appears that the Honey-buzzard can breed on the heather moors as high as this provided perhaps there are woods with mature trees to give them safe nesting areas. This shows how attractive the high heather moors are to Honey-buzzard. BT have decided another engineer needs to visit, date fixed for 23/9. Internet Everywhere with Orange off all day but managed to find a hot spot for BT Total Broadband in Allendale Town and tuned into neighbours’ at the moment! So keep your BT router on, I may need to park outside and use it! G was packed, many places have been so quiet recently, great to see!! So are they going to start moving out tomorrow in the calmer weather promised – surely they will. Going to have a watch in ‘Shire in morning, look at the sights of Hexham for lunch and go to upper South Tyne in afternoon. Going E in evening!! faswtgd!!!!

September 13th: fascinating day! Winds were still very strong but abated to a reported 60kph SW by the afternoon and it was quite sunny. So decided to make a site visit to see how the birds were getting on in such conditions. All sites left to finalise are in moorland areas so very windswept. Selected Studdon Park, just S of Allendale on the East Allen, for a quick visit from 15:15-16:15. Only 6 species of birds in all but one was the Hobby with family party of 4 birds revelling in the conditions with dives and sudden rearing up. Another, you’ve guessed it, was the Honey-buzzard with 3 birds (male, female, juvenile) in vigorous and confident display from 15:55-16:01 in the wind. Some video 892b, reasonably close-up of the Honey-buzzard was taken, which will publish later. This shows they can fly well in such conditions but lack of migrants reported today suggests it’s not chosen conditions for migration. Could have tried 2 sites further up valley but with exposure setting in, retreated! 5 large Ash branches were down on Hexham Racecourse road; it’s the windiest in which I’ve ever seen Hobby and Honey-buzzard perform. Lines felled by fallen trees will doubtless keep Openreach away for a while! Weather 2moro is on the mend but far from ideal: will the Honey-buzzard wing it or wait until sunny, calm Thursday? Will make longer visit to high moors on East Allen to see what is going on. G4g4t later and it’s Wylam BH on Thursday evening with the mates. Liked the poise of the rhbin Hexham!!! Off to W soon!! Very good but didn’t win any money today! Good to see someone in action: she’s so very, very s.xy!!! xxxxxxxx!!!! Contribution on tmf banking sector had 20 recommendations, but then was supporting the .ankers!

September 12th: with very strong gale-force SW winds, grounded like the birds! Not many piccies added lately – broadband connection is still cr.p with frequent disconnections and consequential low rating of 250Kbps (that’s 0.25Mbps, hardly better than dial-up) so sent BT ultimatum saying that was going to cancel my land-line (voice/broadband) and move to mobile/dongle with Orange. Have since had more positive help and discovered that the new master socket fitted last month does not have broadband diagnostics. What a shambles: f.cking Openreach!! It’s a disgrace calling them engineers: they’re technicians. Anyway they’ve escalated my complaint, whatever that means! Better news is that Santander have approved daughter’s mortgage application. Lunchtime in Hexham was very relaxing – lovely to see the rhb!!!! Have added links to Hobby family party below (5/9) from the visit to Ruislip Woods. This site is actually in London so interesting suburban record. Links will not work until I upload files at Hexham Library tomorrow. Expect to be out in the field tomorrow and W much later!! xxxxxx!!!

September 11th: pretty hectic day monitoring sites while there’s still time! Seeing weather forecast at 12 noon with rain forecast for afternoon got me out in minutes to see what could do before it arrived. First went to Beaufront, near Egger, and had 2 very obliging juvenile Honey-buzzard up above a pine wood from 12:25-12:28. Then rushed out to Haltwhistle area, to Unthank on edge of Plenmeller Common, where again immediate success with a female and young juvenile making brief forays in the drizzle up above some high trees from 13:05-13:10. Video 891. Driving rain put a finish to that but hid behind a hawthorn bush and at 13:40 in a bright interlude had an older juvenile taking off from a copse to W and floating down into the valley to feed. Over to Blenkinsopp, finally made it to Tipalt, where had a family group of 3 Honey-buzzard (female and 2 juveniles) drifting slowly at 14:46 into the strong wind off the high hill where they nest into the valley below. Very high visibility indicates the beginning of the break up of the territories: another sign the birds are getting ready to leave. Weather was too wild to consider going up into the higher parts of the valleys so retreated for shopping at W and lunch. Final visit was to Slaley Forest from 16:45-18:20, rated as 0+, where had to wait until 17:28 before a juvenile was seen flying fast over site with wind behind, quickly coming down in the trees in the nest site. Other raptors today were 2 Kestrel at Unthank and surprisingly, as very rare on grouse moors, a 1w female Peregrine hunting along edge of Blanchland Moor in strong wind. So brilliant day even though almost blown to bits. Total for raptors was 12 birds of 3 species: 9 Honey-buzzard (2 female, 7 juvenile), 2 Kestrel and a Peregrine. The juveniles are getting stronger in flight, able to deal with strong winds, and this will encourage emigration soon by the adults. 2moro looks too windy for the birds to be active with remains of hurricane Katia passing over us. So N for lunch and longer stay in library than recently! lokttgd!!!! mtbsw!!!! Thursday 15/9 has a good weather chart for emigration but 14/9 may be possible for those desperate to get away. G was good – plenty of chat! Not there next week as going to Lakes with Nick that day.

September 10th: anyone who thinks the Honey-buzzard season is over, well think again! Today still didn’t make Tipalt, as weather looked wet to W, ending up from 14:15-17:35 back of beyond near lower South Tyne/Allen meet at Willmontswick, where got a new site for the season – Haughstrother – making total 45! Weather was OK, very humid and mild, with occasional pulses of rain but mainly dry with some sunshine, particularly late-on. Migrants included 2 Chiffchaff; Swallow have had a tremendous breeding season and are so abundant that they are actually getting in the way auto-focus wise on distance shots! Honey-buzzard are well and truly blocked with strong S airstream at present on Met Office Atlantic weather maps but 14/9-15/9 looks interesting as fronts pass through and winds lighten. They don’t seem to mind the delay as it’s mild with plenty of wasps around and it’s certainly helping me finish the survey. First Honey-buzzard seen today was a dark juvenile near Willmontswick c1km E of probable nest site at Haughstrother at 15:37; this bird was very young with at least one primary still growing on each wing. There was a lot of contention here with 4 adult Common Buzzard, resulting in much cursing during which time the female Honey-buzzard was picked up at 15:33 near the South Tyne. Eventually the Common Buzzard departed and an older juvenile Honey-buzzard came out of the wood at 15:55 and flapped around at moderate altitude overhead, as to be shown in clip 890 with derived stills. The flight was repeated at 16:05 but soaring higher. Marvellous!! An adult female Sparrowhawk was also seen here, with derived stills 1  2; she was persistently mobbed by Swallow. Some action was noted at site to N near Vindolanda with a female up at 16:12, eventually attracting up a lighter juvenile, giving rise to some chasing and display. From 16:24-16:28 the male was up hunting to the E of the site. Clip 890a of distant action is here. At the Ridley site, on the Allen, 2 Honey-buzzard (female, juvenile) were chasing each other from 16:56-17:00 and 3 birds, with addition of male, were up at 17:12. At 17:16 there was a brief vigorous display flight by the male and female. This was quite far off and rated 1+ — could have been another juvenile around. So total today for raptors was 14 birds: 9 Honey-buzzard (2 male, 3 female, 4 juvenile), 4 Common Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk. 2moro planning to visit Plenmeller Common and Barhaugh for Honey-buzzard broods and upper South Tyne in general for Hobby and much later the G! Tonite had a ½: cheaper g just about offsets petrol! But there are other major attractions!!!! xxxxxx!!!

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 13/13 nest visits in round 3, end of phase 3 (10/9) are: Allen 8 sites, 14 adult (7 male, 7 female), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 2×2 2×1+ juv fledged; Devil’s Water 6, 12(6,6), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 2×2 3×1+ 1×0+ juv fledged; Tyne Valley west 7, 13(6,7), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 4×2 1×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Tyne Valley east 4, 7(3,4), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 2×2 2×1 juv fledged; upper South Tyne 5, 10(5,5), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 3×2 1×1+ juv fledged; lower South Tyne 5, 8(4,4), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 2×2 1×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Tipalt/Irthing 3, 4(2,2); and Derwent 7, 9(6,4), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×2 1×0+; giving grand total 45, 78(39,39), 13 nests (Scots Pine x7, Norway Spruce x4, Oak x2) 44+ juv fledged in 16×2 8×1+ 4×1 2×0+ where 1+ means 1 juvenile seen/heard, not sure whole brood seen; 0+ visit, often to nest, indicated fledging but no juveniles seen/heard yet.

September 9th: morning was dull and damp so started fieldwork in somewhat brighter conditions after lunch S of Prudhoe, visiting 1st Dukeshagg from 13:30-15:15 and 2nd Hyons Wood from 15:25-17:25. Not great weather for raptors but managed to get 12 birds of 4 species: 6 Honey-buzzard, 3 Kestrel (loose family group), 2 Common Buzzard (both adults) and a Red Kite (juvenile at Hyons Wood). Also had a Honey-buzzard male over SW Dipton Wood at 17:45 from Lamb Shield road. Honey-buzzard S of Prudhoe included 3 at Dukeshagg with female up low over wood at 14:18 and 14:21, a very heavy juvenile up briefly at 14:26 and a restless male soaring high above the site from 14:35-14:39. Looks as if only one juvenile fledged here, matching the situation at the site downstream of Wylam. At Hyons Wood had nothing for a while but then a Common Buzzard adult got very irate and was seen to get mixed up with an adult and ruddy juvenile Honey-buzzard at 16:12 causing the former to call and the latter to fly through the trees. The Common Buzzard then flew about a km to intercept at 16:17 an older, dark Honey-buzzard juvenile, which took evasive action by climbing and altering course. So 2 young raised here, in richer woodland than at Dukeshagg, due to be opencast at some time! Had 5 Wheatear at Dukeshagg (clip, still) and 1 at High Mickley, plus 5 Chiffchaff and 1 Blackcap during day. Also good for owls with 5 Tawny at 3 sites and 1st Barn Owl for a while, at Lamb Shield. Good quick lunch in Hexham: someone’s very pretty when fluttering her eye-lashes!! W tonite, maybe further E 2moro!! Didn’t make Tipalt today, may do that after lunch at A’s 2moro!! Added below short clip and stills from older juvenile flying over wood at Ordley on 28/8.

September 8th: they’re packing!! On a day with different weather every 5 minutes, varying from bright sunshine to squally showers, had 13 raptors of 2 species: 12 Honey-buzzard and 1 Kestrel. Did a lot of fieldwork around Hexham, being perched on the good viewpoint at Dotland from 10:35-13:30, except for 20 min interlude to go home to set alarm off so s&l could get in! Here had a pair of adults in display over home site at 10:45 just getting ready to bring the young up and it started to rain, so quickly down again. Here’s a brief clip 889a of the female with derived stills 1  2  3. At 11:40 had male flying N from Dotland, out to feed. At 11:45 had the male at West Dipton up above the skyline, then flying low over fields, coming down near a hedgerow. Here’s the clip 889b with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12. At 12:50 had juvenile up at Dipton Wood SW for a few seconds. Then procession of female, older juvenile and younger juvenile out from Dotland at 13:05, 13:18 and 13:23 respectively, towards Dipton Wood, where all landing in same spot. See clip 889b above (11/11) for pictures of these birds. Then into N for quick coffee, bank for business, home for lunch. Back in field from 15:50-17:55 at Tyne Green, finding a family party of male, female and single junior Honey-buzzard at NW extreme of Hexham High Wood (one of core sites), near W end of bypass, doing some low soaring from 17:00-17:10. It’s quite common for them to move the young a little way from the nest site, which may be less than sanitary by end of season and often in low-lying dips. Low-lying areas are fine for nesting but it’s much easier to fly in a breeze on a slope. The clip 889d shows some of this activity, first with the 3 birds up, male on the left, floating low over the corner of the wood; then the female and juvenile do a little diving together and finally there is a glimpse of a bird as they disappear below the canopy. Derived stills include 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. To cap it all, driving past Houtley in ‘Shire at 18:03 a female powered her way eastwards in powerful flapping flight, all the way to Swallowship. Here’s the clip 889e with derived stills 1  2  3. So day’s total is 12 birds (4 male, 4 female, 4 juvenile) at 6 sites. There was a noticeable urgency about the feeding today and an increase in restlessness. Problem is weather over next few days is pretty mixed. Expect them to leave after a deep depression has dumped a lot of rain on us: as the front passes, many will say time for Africa but of course quite a lot of the juveniles will stay longer, with some females, as they’re not yet strong enough for the journey. t&s tonite late-on, one mate back for drink!! 2moro if rain clears it’s back of Prudhoe in morning, N for lunch and Tipalt in afternoon. Busy times!! xxxxxx!!! Maybe the Residents’ Association is in control!! Never mind!!!

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 13/13 nest visits in round 3, end of phase 3 (8/9) are: Allen 8 sites, 14 adult (7 male, 7 female), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 2×2 1×1+ juv fledged; Devil’s Water 6, 11(5,6), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 2×2 3×1+ 1×0+ juv fledged; Tyne Valley west 7, 13(6,7), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 4×2 1×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Tyne Valley east 4, 6(2,4), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×2 1×1 juv fledged; upper South Tyne 5, 10(5,5), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 3×2 1×1+ juv fledged; lower South Tyne 4, 7(4,3), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×2 1×1+ juv fledged; Tipalt/Irthing 3, 4(2,2); and Derwent 7, 9(6,4), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×2 1×0+; giving grand total 44, 75(37,38), 13 nests (Scots Pine x7, Norway Spruce x4, Oak x2) 37+ juv fledged in 14×2 7×1+ 2×1 2×0+ where 1+ means 1 juvenile seen/heard, not sure whole brood seen; 0+ visit, often to nest, indicated fledging but no juveniles seen/heard yet.

September 7th: well can’t sit around with so many sites still to visit even if the wind is almost a gale force W. It was though nice and bright and did a brisk survey of the Derwent from 11:10-15:30, at which point gathering rain clouds brought matters to a close. Weather was better anyway than at Carlisle Races where in G saw a race in such driving rain that the poor cameraman virtually gave up! Total for day was 10 raptors of 4 species: 4 Kestrel (family group of 3 at Blanchland, juvenile at Nookton), 3 Honey-buzzard, 2 Hobby (adult male Blanchland, adult female Beldon Burn) and a Sparrowhawk (juvenile male, Blanchland). Spent 2 hours at Blanchland and was just getting into car to leave when a male Honey-buzzard came gliding at some speed into the site at 13:10. Video 887. A pair of adult Honey-buzzard were at Ruffside on Durham side of border around 13:15 but in ‘my’ area for survey purposes! The male and to a lesser extent the female patrolled over the top of the nest site for a few minutes but seemed to decide it was too windy to get the young up for some practice. Video 888 (above, 18/10). Interesting scenario indicated for Honey-buzzard: weather is bad, males are still on site at this late stage with the females and productivity is high with many broods of 2. This is similar to the situation in 2008, the 2nd big year for visible migration, so watching the weather patterns closely. Tomorrow morning looks a reasonable time for movement as winds dropping and some sunshine. But forecasting Honey-buzzard movements is far from easy: they’ll go when they’re ready! Suspect the males will not leave until the brood is competent in the air. Doing some sites around Hexham 2moro!

September 6th: terrible weather, almost gale force SW winds with squally showers will block any Honey-buzzard emigration, will be very interesting to see how it develops! No national Honey-buzzard movement at all today! Train journey back was very efficient, getting to N at 16:45! Went to W – won Snowball on how many TVs are registered in the world each day (up to 7:42pm), said 555,200 with actual answer 583,000; not bad, £50 for g! aqotwf!! 2moro out to Blanchland area to check for Honey-buzzard broods – promises to still be very windy! Later G4g4t!!

September 5th: went for walk with sister around Ruislip Woods, London, in very windy but bright weather from 12:40-14:30 finding 2 Kestrel (adult, juvenile) and 3 Hobby (adult male, adult female and juvenile male). Here’s the clip of the Hobby with adult female first followed by play between the adult and juvenile males; derived stills include 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11. For comparison here’s the clip of a Kestrel with derived stills 1  2. Sorted August national totals for Honey-buzzard, making it 59 just short of 62 in 2010 and 63 in 2009 and well above the long-term average of 37.5. Total from April-August in 2011 is 213, above best to date for this period of 201 in 2009. There have been 12 in 1st 5 days of September so we’re up to 225 now, only 74 short of last year’s total. September is the big month, tentative feeling that passage is being blocked to some extent by poor weather and persistent adverse SW winds. Back tomorrow and out in evening!!! lokttgo!!!

September 4th: what am I doing in London when should be catching up with Honey-buzzard broods? Well concert last night was fantastic at the Albert Hall; I’ve always wanted to prom and it was very moving choral music, just didn’t notice the time at all as stood for 1 hour 40 minutes! Had great evening with family with a couple of glasses of wine at Queens Arms and meal later at Da Mario. Know Kensington well now! Worked out Honey-buzzard totals for July from Birdguides on train on way down – comes to 31 – record for month as normally very few seen at this time of year. Will update 2011 web page later. Trust the gfff is as fit as ever!!! xxxxxxxx!!

September 3rd: thought weather would be too bad today but it cleared up midday and went up the Allen from 12:50-15:20 before rain came in again. The sun didn’t really come out but it was warm and bright at times on a helpful moderate SW breeze. Main aim was long-standing site Staward N where young thought to have fledged from nest visit but none actually seen. That was corrected today from 13:15-13:20 with female up above site dragging 2 juveniles out of the canopy to provide a few minutes flying practice. Thought the male must have left but he turned up at the end at 13:20, looking a bit detached and flying off to W low-down presumably to resume search for food. The action was recorded patchily on the camcorder with this clip and derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9. So on to Staward S where at 14:20 had a juvenile flying off the higher fields into the valley below, near the nest site. No further birds were seen here so it’s a 1+. Did try again the 2 higher sites at Monk and Parmently but the rain was coming on and again drew a blank. Also had 4 adult Common Buzzard and 4 Kestrel (clip, adult pair, 2 juveniles) at Staward S and a Kestrel at West Nubbock, near race course turn off, so total for day was 5 Honey-buzzard and Kestrel and 4 Common Buzzard. Updated totals below, things are moving very fast now. High productivity looks assured with 13 broods of 2 from data for 21 sites. Next priority is Derwent area. 2moro it’s the proms with Missa Solemnis, actually promenading with son. Also meeting daughter, who’s now got contracts to sign, at The Queens Arms and staying with big sis. Very short trip, back for next visit to W! Hope things will have calmed down by return when will desperately faswtgo!!!! But for now it’s f&c+mp at Priestlands! Had talk accepted at next International Gull Meeting (IGM 2012) in Zagreb, Croatia, in mid-February on Yellow-legged Gull: Differences between Atlantic and Mediterranean Populations. Want to get back into gulls more, particularly after this spring’s stay in Andalucia and next spring’s promised trip to the Azores. xxxxxx!!!

Finally found time to process a few piccies, for trip to Oakpool from 13:15-15:35 on 27/8 (880). It was so wet underfoot and so overgrown 1  2 that the logistics were difficult. The first clearing, which is more accessible, held the nest last year in oak even though a new track had been run through the wood close to the nest tree. Suspect that the birds were already committed to the tree when they started laying the new track. This year the birds appeared to be using the same tree but the late visit showed the nest in decline and so thought to be a mock nest as evidently Honey-buzzard can build several nests in spring, finally fixing on one in which to lay the eggs. The second clearing, where they have nested before, is very much more inaccessible as shown by the glade shots above. So it was a bit like a jungle adventure getting there but it was worth it as after 30 minutes drinking coffee with the midges a female flew over low-down at 14:29 as shown in this clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9. There’s a bit of tension over taking the clip as I kept on sliding down the bank while trying to focus so a few choice Devonian comments emerge I’m afraid! The female must have been checking the area out of habit as had a single alarm call at the opposite end of the wood when arriving at 13:13 and all 4 birds (adult male and female, 2 juveniles) got up in the air at the S end at 15:20 in drizzle. The clip shows firstly the female and older juvenile together; after 1 min 30 seconds the weaker-flying younger juvenile finally appears just above the trees and finally the male who was high up at the start is captured gliding back into the trees (derived still for male). The new nest 1  2 is in the fork of an oak tree with many sprigs of oak, now brown, added to the top of the nest. All in all a very instructive day!

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 13/13 nest visits in round 3, middle of phase 3 (3/9) are: Allen 8 sites, 14 adult (7 male, 7 female), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 2×2 1×1+ juv fledged; Devil’s Water 6, 9(5,4), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 1×2 2×1+ 1×0+ juv fledged; Tyne Valley west 7, 13(6,7), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 4×2 1×1+ juv fledged; Tyne Valley east 4, 6(2,4), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×2 1×1 juv fledged; upper South Tyne 5, 10(5,5), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 3×2 1×1+ juv fledged; lower South Tyne 4, 7(4,3), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×2 1×1+ juv fledged; Tipalt/Irthing 3, 4(2,2); and Derwent 7, 9(5,4), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×2; giving grand total 44, 72(36,36), 13 nests (Scots Pine x7, Norway Spruce x4, Oak x2) 33 juv fledged in 13×2 6×1+ 1×1 1×0+ where 1+ means 1 juvenile seen/heard, not sure whole brood seen; 0+ visit, often to nest, indicated fledging but no juveniles seen/heard yet.

September 2nd: great feeling as do final nest visit (13/13) to Swallowship at lower end of Devil’s Water from 14:55-16:50. Nest in Scots Pine was in good fettle and there was some splash and downy feathers scattered around the area confirming fledging. A fairly fit juvenile Honey-buzzard was seen flying W low-down near the nest tree at 15:25 for 5 seconds; an adult Common Buzzard was agitated at end of visit. Earlier tried Dipton S W from 14:30-14:50 but no joy. On to Beaufront from 17:00-17:45 where again had an agitated Common Buzzard and in addition a female juvenile Sparrowhawk. An adult Honey-buzzard, presumed female, gave one piping call – 1/2 a second, so that’s just over 5 seconds seeing/hearing the birds. Brings me rapidly down to earth after the riches of yesterday but not surprised: there’s no pent-up energy to release. Just off to W!! Not sure about my new company in Hexham!! The rhb is very fast!! lokttgo!!!

September 1st: what a day, after almost continual gloom since 25/8 skies cleared at 11:30 just as arriving at Bywell and between Shilford and Wylam from 11:35-14:05 had in the air 13 Honey-buzzard, 6 Red Kite and 6 Common Buzzard. First Honey-buzzard was a male up over Shilford at 11:50, soaring very high and shortly disappearing to S so thought to be on his way to Africa. At 11:55 his family of female and 2 juveniles were up for some practice flying for 5 minutes with usual floating, close-contact formations and diving in chases; on the clip 885 at some distance the male can be seen high-up on left early-on before quitting. At Bywell a juvenile was foraging low over a field at 11:20 before going into the nest wood; this was the cue for display for 10 minutes by 4 birds — pair of adults and 2 juveniles; this time the male stayed. Onto West Wylam where wait before single Honey-buzzard juveniles seen to N of Horsley Wood at 12:56 and to W of wood on a grain field at 13:18. Finally at 13:30 3 birds (male up high, female and juvenile below) were seen downstream of the Wylam road bridge over the Tyne. No adults were seen at Horsley but the main display was probably earlier, same time as at Bywell. The Red Kite comprised 4 together on NE side of Wylam (presumed family party) and 2 (adult + paler juvenile) in more usual area to S of Wylam; looks like an additional pair has bred so very good news. Tried back of Prudhoe (Dukeshagg) from 17:25-18:10 but no more raptors seen. Met Philip on train, he described display of 4 ‘buzzard’ over Greenshaw Plain on Monday (29/8) around 12:00; sounded like Honey-buzzard so think 2 juveniles have been reared there (see 20/8-21/8 where display of 2 adults recorded). So that’s 25 beauties! More intriguing beauties were noted further W and further E!!!! No meeting in unn today and no mates around tonite; these university types are very laid back! Still going on a little expedition, which was very fulfilling!! sss:mmc!!!!! xxxxxx!!! 2moro afternoon it’s last nest visit at site in ‘Shire, also hope to visit a couple of sites close to Hexham.

August 31st: did make upper South Tyne in very overcast conditions with cool NW breeze from 12:50-16:20. Visited 2nd nest site in Eals area where knew 2 young fledged from visit on 23/8 but wanted to check up on state of nest and continuing occupation. Nest in Norway Spruce was built up well and in good condition. There were just 2 small feathers in the vicinity of the nest but at the top of the glade there was a fair selection of splash, rabbit/vole remains and downy feathers. Near end of visit at 14:17, 2 anxious Curlew were heard, the culprit being a juvenile Honey-buzzard floating up over the edge of the moor, before coming down again. Had checked 2 sites in the upper South Tyne on drive over – North Wood and Lambley – with no success. On way back, after no success on way out at 12:50-13:00, in slightly brighter weather had more luck with a juvenile up to W of Lambley at 15:30 chased by 15 Rook before coming down again in trees nearer to the moors in the W. This bird flapped very hard to escape from the Rook, showing corvid jizz but obviously larger with narrower wings and shorter, wider tail. At North Wood 2 juveniles were seen from 15:38-16:15, one from Lambley watchpoint, feeding about 500m apart. They also were very reluctant to get high, simply gliding quickly into cover. A bonus was an adult male near Bardon Mill at 12:40, hanging over the site but he failed to stir up any action below. So in spite of the dull weather a productive day and coverage of fledging phase in season is much the same as last year with 20 juveniles found fledged this year, to date, in 12 broods. G was very good; gossip on chief suspect suggested that evidence included DNA and dealings in jewellery of deceased. Hope they find him quickly – why are people like him out at all?? Anyway working my way E 2moro, through all the lovely sights, with t&s much later!!

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 12/13 nest visits in round 3, middle of phase 3 (31/8) are: Allen 8 sites, 14 adult (7 male, 7 female), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 1×2 1×0+ juv fledged; Devil’s Water 6, 9(5,4), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 1×2 1×1+ 1×0+ juv fledged; Tyne Valley west 7, 12(5,7), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 2×2 1×1+ 1×0+ juv fledged; Tyne Valley east 4, 5(2,3), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×0+ juv fledged; upper South Tyne 5, 10(5,5), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 3×2 1×1+ juv fledged; lower South Tyne 4, 7(4,3), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×1+ 1×0+ juv fledged; Tipalt/Irthing 3, 4(2,2); and Derwent 7, 9(5,4), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×2; giving grand total 44, 70(35,35), 13 nests (Scots Pine x7, Norway Spruce x4, Oak x2) 20 juv fledged in 8×2 4×1+ 5×0+ where 1+ means 1 juvenile seen/heard, not sure whole brood seen; 0+ visit, often to nest, indicated fledging but no juveniles seen/heard yet.

August 30th: visited 3 sites today, 2 for casual check and 1, Hexham Westwood, for site visit (11/13). Lunch in Hexham was good!! Weather was a tad disappointing in early afternoon with some drizzle but perked up mid-afternoon and went out to West Dipton Burn (883a) from 15:00-15:40 where on arrival had 2 very agitated Common Buzzards adult; suspected that Honey-buzzard might be their concern and sure enough a juvenile Honey-buzzard, fairly full-winged, was seen twice, first flying into some cover and 15 minutes later coming out of it. One of the adult Common Buzzard was moulting P7 and there’s a very interesting comparison between it and the young juvenile at Kellas on 28/8. Then from 15:40-16:00 hopefully checked Dotland where no raptors seen at all. Main business of day was visit to Hexham Westwood (883b) for nest site visit from 16:50-19:15. Approaching site down a very over-grown glade flushed a Honey-buzzard juvenile at 30m, getting a couple of stills on the Canon as action was far too quick to get camcorder into action. In actual site nest was vacated in good order and there was plenty of splash and feathers, including down, confirming that fledging had successfully occurred. But no further contact was made with any Honey-buzzard. Only other raptor was a juvenile Common Buzzard, calling out to W of wood. Enjoyed W, team in closest proximity came last for first time ever! Good to see m on the bar!! Last customer out!! Miss badly some attendees!! 2moro it’s another site visit in upper South Tyne, together with checks on another couple of sites, followed by G4g4t! Thursday checking on sites in Tyne Valley before meeting at unn in afternoon. Friday hopefully completing nest visits with trip to site on Devil’s Water; that will be cause for celebration! xxxxxx!!!

August 29th: almost a 6-hour walk with N around Simonside Hills from 10:30-16:25. Very cool for time of year with little sun but dry. Walk was great; it’s amazingly diverse habitat with heather moor and coniferous forest of various types and ages. No Honey-buzzard seen; best habitat seemed to be towards Chester Hope and Ravens Heugh with steep sided woods, more mature Scots Pine and some birch; we didn’t take this walk along the ridge today. All raptors, 4 Common Buzzard, were seen at start of trip with 1 at Colwell, 2 at Cambo and 1 at Simonside forest car park. Particularly liked the one at Colwell: the ‘keeper there always used to assure me that the soil was too shallow for rabbits, so there was nothing for the Common Buzzard to eat, hence no buzzards around. Now that ‘keeper has retired, Common Buzzard have amazingly colonised the area as also witness birds found in Gunnerton area in July. He always used to say such things to me twice so I cannot have looked entirely convinced! Well it was tense at Kellas yesterday. Sat by felled nest and waited for any sign of the birds. A sudden fly-pass of frightened Woodpigeon raised hopes and sure enough an adult Honey-buzzard was heard soft-calling in a neighbouring copse followed by a full-winged juvenile getting briefly up in the air. Decided to explore further, finding much down on E side of nest and on entering a clear-felled area flushed at close range another juvenile as shown in clip 882, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5. This one’s very young with primaries still growing, preliminary view is that only P8 is fully grown; the bill is entirely pale as on the very young bird at Ordley on 21/8 (875). Looking at the state of the pine needles on the felled branches the thinning is recent, perhaps start of last week around 22/8. So what would the birds do when faced with the emergency of their nest tree being felled. They wouldn’t just sit there at their age. The older bird should have been able to fly and escape under guidance by the adults into a neighbouring wood. The younger bird, perhaps born half a week later than its sibling, would have been in real trouble, probably escaping by marching through the canopy (jumping from branch to branch) and eventually perhaps leaping onto the ground and running, again guarded by its parents. I don’t believe I’m farming Honey-buzzard, so not over-protective, but still very pleased to see that the 2 juveniles had escaped!! May check one or two things out later!! Well so very exciting she is!!!! Good to see the night watchman is protecting everyone!! Great relief: xxxxxxxx!!!! 2moro it’s another nest site visit in afternoon after lunch in Hexham, hoping to finish last one on Friday.

August 28th: good weather for October! Today’s visit 10/13 in round 3 to Kellas in Derwent area was certainly different. Wot no nest tree? Wood 1  2 has been thinned recently at c40 years old (counted 40 rings on base of trunk of nest tree, a Scots Pine). So what’s happened to our intrepid feathered friends? To be continued! Also had the older juvenile at Ordley up above the canopy at 15:00 in active flight against a moderate W breeze as shown in clip 881 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5. Finished adding material for May. Visited an old haunt, company not too good!! Do appreciate empathy: we’ll see it through!!!! xxxxxx!!!!

August 27th: monsoon continuing this morning. So completed processing of trips in May with Staward on 18/5. Details below. Made opportunistic trip to Oakpool nest site (9/13) on the East Allen in afternoon, getting a female close-up and brood of 4 Honey-buzzard in air together (clip 880). But no birds up the West Allen later. Details later. Meal at W was good, nice atmosphere! N had been stopped by the authorities on Friday at midnight at Shilford roundabout for vehicle check! Main preoccupation has been getting on-line reliably again. Netgear N300 wireless router arrived yesterday morning; had a little trouble installing as BT would not handshake with new router; put in old voyager username and it all worked fine for a while, faster than before. Marvellous and wireless works throughout house and on patio! But think there’s a problem with the BT line still as dropped out intermittently so this is 3rd fault report in a month with BT. At least have new powerful wireless router working, new master socket and greater confidence in faulting BT line quality now! New router coped well throughout 28/8 with erratic line speeds, not dropping out in the bad times. 2moro another nest site visit and trip up Derwent after lunch and shopping in Hexham. G much later!! lokttgo!!!

Here’s clip (816) from Staward on 18/5 showing female flying down the valley from top site, Staward S, to feed. Derived stills include 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. This was on a very windy day, just like 28/8! Last clip for this day shows a female Honey-buzzard up over the long-standing site at Staward N at 15:15, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9. Female Honey-buzzard appear able to vary freely their appearance from close to Common Buzzard to close to male Honey-buzzard. This is partly because when the neck is retracted and they have a full crop, they can look more like Common Buzzard. When they extend their neck the Honey-buzzard profile is obvious. Whatever the tail is always long, equal to wing width, and the effortlessly floating jizz is very characteristic. She’s suffering from feather damage, missing P2-P4 on her left wing and P1-P2 on her right wing. The feather loss is asymmetrical and extensive so suspect it is not moult. Picture 1 shows 2-3 sparse broad bars over the secondaries; this picture has been processed with increased contrast and exposure to produce picture 2, which shows the expected barring for female Honey-buzzard more clearly. Note also the long P10 and the bulging tail near the terminus.

August 26th: very wet day today, compiled below totals to date for Honey-buzzard. It’s looking promising at this stage!

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 8/13 nest visits in round 3, start of phase 3 (25/8) are: Allen 8 sites, 14 adult (7 male, 7 female), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 1×0+ juv fledged; Devil’s Water 6, 9(5,4), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 1×2 1×0+ juv fledged; Tyne Valley west 7, 12(5,7), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 2×2 1×0+ juv fledged; Tyne Valley east 4, 5(2,3), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×0+ juv fledged; upper South Tyne 5, 10(5,5), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 2×2 juv fledged; lower South Tyne 4, 6(3,3), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×1+ 1×0+ juv fledged; Tipalt/Irthing 3, 4(2,2); and Derwent 7, 9(5,4), 1 nest (Scots Pine); giving grand total 44, 69(34,35), 13 nests (Scots Pine x7, Norway Spruce x4, Oak x2) 11 juv fledged in 5×2 1×1+ 5×0+ where 1+ means 1 juvenile seen/heard, not sure whole brood seen; 0+ visit, often to nest, indicated fledging but no juveniles seen/heard yet.

Here’s final material from Farnley on 20/8 showing at medium range 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard up above the canopy in this clip (874). Up to 1min 30 sec what was thought to be the older bird (slightly better flier) is in view followed by the younger bird. First bird was up at 16:25, second at 17:10. Always think very young juveniles, perhaps for 1st 3 weeks after fledging, are very characteristic and different from both adults and older juveniles. They are heavier, presumably because of considerable weight gain in the later stages of being fed by the adults, helping them to survive their first period on the wing. In the air they are good at floating, keeping aloft, but are very similar to a trainee human swimmer in that they don’t do anything dramatic, being very deliberate in their actions. So they tend to float around, with flap-flap-glide action as a way of propelling themselves. They have trouble in spotting thermals and making use of them, so they can take much longer than adults to climb in the sky. They find landing in trees difficult, sometimes making an undignified spectacle and always adopting a very careful approach. Over the tree-tops they remind me of primaeval life as depicted in say Jurassic Park. When first fledged their primaries are not all fully grown and their tail feathers are still growing so they can look untidy. Both the wings and the tail look broad compared to the adults, the former because of the bulging secondaries on the inner wing and the latter perhaps a delusion because of the shorter tail length. The bulging secondaries add to the impression that the tail is relatively short. Whatever, on the positive side they develop their flight skills rapidly after fledging so that 3-4 weeks after getting above the canopy for the 1st time, they can handle the flight to Africa with relative ease. Compare that to the 4 months, from mid-July to mid-November, that Common Buzzard juveniles have to settle in before the adverse conditions of winter set in. W was very chatty with 5 of us; 8 for meal 2moro! Detour on way back was very rewarding: gr8 to know the gorgeous one’s still up for it!!!! We can make up time!! Trip to Allen postponed until 2moro. Hope to make Simonsides with Nick on Monday: any bets on Honey-buzzard being there?

August 25th: after going into unn, got back on 16:54 train and, as it was such nice weather, decided to make quick nest visit (8/13) to site at back of Haydon Bridge from 18:35-20:30. Large nest, in Scots Pine, was in fine fettle with plenty of downy feathers and some small tarsal and other feathers in area and also some splash below trees to W of copse. No birds around though so assumed fledged and at end of visit walked up lane, getting single adult Honey-buzzard alarm call c200m to N of site and seeing one juvenile in a tree c500m to N of site. So they’ve broken out but would expect them to return to roost, although it was past sunset when they were picked up. Also had 3 juvenile Common Buzzard and a juvenile Kestrel. Almost got caught in wood by ‘keeper on a quad; had to dive into some bracken to hide and then roll-over a few times as he turned the corner! Whatever next? Mike and I had a meeting with morale very high now that our work on category theory is receiving some acclaim! Appropriately we talked about ct in the ct (coffee trader!). Hope to update vf web site soon with latest papers. Lunch was very good – extremely productive!!!! Booked up 4 operas with Nick at Tyneside Cinema for next season from the Met, including 2 Wagner: Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, the last 2 parts of the Ring. Tickets are selling very well, at least for the comfy upstairs. We also have about 20 concerts booked at the Sage, including staged performance of Wagner’s Walküre. Think they might need to call in Miss Brodie; it’s so very frustrating!!! No t&s tonite as no mates around! 2moro and Saturday it’s W, dinner on vouchers with the gang on the 2nd visit. Hope to do another Honey-buzzard nest visit to the Allen on Friday afternoon after lunch at N. xxxxxx!!! Broadband continues to deteriorate, new router due tomorrow.

August 24th: no fieldwork today, catching up with various tasks including processing of material from last few days. The clip 875, in reduced format, large format here, of the perched juvenile Honey-buzzard at Ordley on 21/8 gives the circumstances as well as showing the bird; I was half-way across the burn when the young bird started calling; the stones were very slippery and the burn a little higher than I like but realised that if I went to the bank the bird would fly off; so balanced in the middle, got the camcorder out and picked up the bird; sure enough when I did make the bank the bird had flown off. Stills of the juvenile are shown below (22/8) and here are some stills derived from the clip 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9. Perhaps could say why this is 100% a juvenile Honey-buzzard and 0% anything else: dark eye eliminates adult Goshawk; barred breast and dark eye eliminate juvenile Goshawk; broad tail bars eliminate Common Buzzard; pale bill and dark eye eliminate adult Honey-buzzard; also note pale bill in main snap below (22/8). So there you go – pretty quickly for some phoney experts on Honey-buzzard!! There are some juvenile anger calls, at medium range, at the end of the clip. Much louder such calls were given as left the site, again crossing the burn. They were recorded in this clip. The young bird was acting a bit like a sentry. This covert feather was found in the area in which the photographed juvenile was perched – not necessarily its feather as the adults will keep it company from time to time. The nest 1  2 in Norway Spruce, occupied for a number of years, is now colossal. The overall situation was similar to that in the March Burn on 22/8 with one juvenile 100m to S of nest in Scots Pine and another 50m N of nest also in Scots Pine but no adults were seen or heard in this case. Quite a lot of white downy feathers were found, mostly below the nest and splash 1  2  3 was concentrated in the areas where the juveniles perched. Moving back into equities on rolling investment programme (so much a month!). Broadband still giving problems – keeps dropping out – ordered a new router, Netgear Wireless-N 300 Router, to get rid of some of the cables and be able to use the laptop in the garden. But just after placing order it’s been much more stable, though still slow, after disconnecting the ‘phone attached to the router! Good thing action on cat was reversible! G was good – Matty’s birthday – evidently the elder of the ‘suspects’ is a man aged 87/88. 2moro meeting Mike at 14:30 with hopefully a productive lunch beforehand!! xxxxxx to the gorgeous one!!!! rfaswtgo!!!

August 23rd: advance of Honey-buzzard broods is at a blistering pace. Today went to upper South Tyne and had 2 family parties, each of 4 Honey-buzzard (2 adults, 2 juveniles), up in the air in the Eals area from 12:15-15:40. The young are very weak flying but they’re up above the canopy and the males look very restless; suspect this is the cue for some of the males to say goodbye! Did still make nest visit to Towsbank and had a cross juvenile giving anger calls while I was in the vicinity. This was before the family party got up for training so the young petulant bird must have been removed by a parent and told to get on with it! Wood was so damp, managed to get suckered by a bog near a tiny stream going in up to my knees; best way out is to kneel down and very slowly pull your feet out so that the boots stay on. But certainly gave some young people I know from Hexham a laugh as I approached them! That’s 2nd pair of trousers needing immediate wash this week (other at Ordley). Besides the 8 Honey-buzzard here had 4 Kestrel (2 — adult male, juvenile, over Whithwam) and two (adult, juvenile) at Softley, 3 Hobby (adult pair and a juvenile, Towsbank) and an agitated adult Common Buzzard. So just missed 5 species! Towsbank piccies are 877a and Softley 877b. Will catch up with some of the piccies 2moro morning, hoping to do a general foray up lower South Tyne in the afternoon before the inevitable G4g4t!! W quiz nite was good, afterwards a little tense but gr8 to know she’s still around!! xxxxxx!!! Thursday into unn to see Mike after lunch in town!! Did you know that Oriental Honey-buzzard have ‘won’ a film award in SE Asia?

August 22nd: here’s juvenile Honey-buzzard snapped yesterday (875) close to my house, in site visit from 16:55-19:10, with picture slightly darkened and original. Happy snaps indeed! Expect it’s first time it’s seen a human: looks rather puzzled! Openreach man here now: replaced master socket so far! Think that’s it except Broadband still slower than before: maybe contention with students on holiday! Actually think ADSL box is overheating because Cleo likes lying on it! Taken remedial (non-drastic!) action. N for lunch and another nest visit this afternoon. Met Nick at N – 2 hours leisurely cup of coffee outside – that’s the life! Action later with nest visit (6/13 in round 3) from 18:00-20:05 to March Burn at back of Riding Mill, near where the campers have their base! Very similar situation to yesterday with 2 juveniles out of the nest but too weak-flying to get up above the canopy. Had a mixture of the angry juvenile calls recorded yesterday and chicken-like juvenile calls, latter recorded and probably a food begging call. Each juvenile was attended by an adult with the older one 200m to S of nest with male and the younger one just 50m W of nest with female. Very intriguing – it’s quite like other birds of prey with very inexperienced just-fledged young – the 2 young are separated and the parents take one each. Advantages are that the young bird can be given individual attention by each adult in feeding and learning to forage and if there is a calamity like an attack by a predator the chance of losing both young is reduced. The nest in Norway Spruce is very bulky and there were many downy feathers in the vicinity of the nest. Noted the Wood Ant collect the feathers, have suspected that where Wood Ant are found, remains on ground will not last long. Multimedia material above (876). Sold some bonds today, may trickle proceeds into bombed-out Santander or Barclays, but nothing done yet and may wait for at least one more panic day! Or could park the funds for son’s (or anyone else’s!) flat! Very good to see the rhb!! Missing greatly someone else, not sure when kick-off will be!!! 2moro it’s a visit around midday to upper South Tyne for nest visit and general look-around. Back to Hexham later and W for quiz!!

August 21st: here’s clip 873, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, from yesterday 20/8 at Greenshaw Plain of the pair of Honey-buzzard in post-breeding display from 13:15-13:20. It’s dynamic and warm It’s dynamic and warm with close contact and some follow-me, suspect such display serves 2 purposes: getting fit for the imminent migration and reinforcing the pair bond until they meet again next spring. Quite poignant really! Male may well be off in a week and the female in 2-3 weeks. Broadband works but is subnormal, think damp may have been an additional cause of its demise but no ‘phone yet; Openreach have an appointment for 2moro morning. Here’s clip, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6, of adult female Goshawk yesterday 20/8 at Styford; she’s a big girl! She’s not viewed as a threat to the Honey-buzzard as there’s masses of easier prey around, unlike say as might be the situation in Kielder Forest and other monocultures. Indeed a Kestrel was seen close-by; in Kielder Goshawk have eliminated the Kestrel almost completely. Off to Hexham now for N and shopping. Here’s another clip, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, from yesterday 20/8 of Hobby juvenile at Farnley. The young bird came out of pine trees to N, flew over the pond and then soared to a great height before going into a power glide. Trying to keep up with material but a stack more from today, actually meeting a Honey-buzzard juvenile, just fledged, while crossing the burn at local site and getting close-up video 875 of it perched on a branch together with some juvenile anger calls. Very exciting!! Pleased to see Teignmouth and Shaldon (home area in Devon) on Countryfile! G was good but feeling very frustrated!!!! Still is it a d or is it an m?? Rumours also about a shot gun pellet but may be disconnected!

August 20th: and in brilliant sunshine we have the first result – 2 Honey-buzzard juveniles fledged at Farnley, between Riding Mill and Corbridge, in Tyne Valley W!! Also a male Honey-buzzard up over Ordley (Devil’s Water) and a pair of adult Honey-buzzard in triumphant display (we did it!) over Greenshaw Plain (lower South Tyne) but no juveniles yet above the canopy. So they’re coming out of the woodwork at last! Change of strategy today to alternate nest visits and more general visits to determine what’s happening on a wider scale; so visited Warden from 12:50-14:50 and Farnley from 15:35-17:15. Again reached the magic total of 5 species of raptor (as on 14/8) with 17 Common Buzzard, 5 Honey-buzzard and single Hobby (juvenile at Farnley), Goshawk (adult female at Styford) and Kestrel (adult female). Always remember that walk through Farnley on the show day – very nice company!!! Well she can always move in with me!!!! About to go to G to see what the gossip is! Mainly the triumph of the Magpies but rumours that 2 people already ‘assisting’ in enquiries! Very much hope it’ll be resolved quickly. 2moro doing the local site in the afternoon but N for lunch and G much later with hopefully some piccies from today in the morning! Some good footage obtained today. xxxxxx to the gfff!!

August 19th: in visit 4/13 in round 3, made Wylam from 15:25-17:35 to see whether the male’s victorious behaviour yesterday was justified. Well maybe but they’ve not fledged yet with the nest in Scots Pine still occupied. Male is very cocky, giving a single fly over top of nest swearing at me. Masses of down on E side of nest, blown there by persistent westerlies; enough to build a young bird almost. Also some splash, so ongoing but amount of down indicates fledging perhaps a day or two away. Multimedia material above (872). Keeping close eye on local site: bedroom window wide open at night so can listen for any early morning activity such as Crows going mad. Bit sad really!! No joy yet and burn is too high to cross to check actual situation! Here’s clip 859, with derived stills 1  2  3, for male Honey-buzzard at Capel Curig in Gwynedd on 19/8: quite distant but jizz including full rounded wing clear. Here’s a pan of the habitat. Financial chaos continues: my bonds holding up better than equities with fall of 4% over last 2 weeks as against 15% for ftse. Would normally now move some cash back into equities but cannot stand the current volatility, which can be toxic in its own right. Property investment with daughter in London perhaps 2 weeks away. Without an appointment Openreach actually visited the property this morning when I was in but were very quiet, leaving a sorry we missed you card. How touching, thinking about switching to Sky! Making W as usual, may check-out later but depends!!! Evidently 1st train out of Newcastle to Hexham this morning had quite a lot of revellers on it! Well W was good: did notice problems in Hexham later at 01:00! xxxxxxxx!!!

August 18th: adding some material from yesterday, links not tested yet, but it’s a start! Into unn this afternoon to collect some books sent there containing my publications (vanity!). Had a male Honey-buzzard up triumphantly over Wylam at 13:05 – best sign yet that fledging is imminent. Had late lunch in town – fantastic show, well worth the journey!!!! BT missed deadline so cancelled their DD: current status is no telephone in/out and unstable broadband which keeps on popping. They usually write to you if you cancel a DD; will give a chance for negotiation while possession is in my favour. Going to look closely at suitability of package. Off to t&s now!! Forgot it was exam results day: revellers all over the place!! xxxxxx!!

August 17th: visit 3/13 in round 3 to Slaley Forest where spent almost 3 hours from 12:55-15:45 in cloudy but dry conditions grappling with the species! They’ve certainly not fledged yet as secrecy is maintained at super-high levels. Nest in Scots Pine 1  2  3 continues with minimal signs below the nest, including a bit of splash and a brown tarsal feather (84mm). But in a nearby glade plenty of signs with feathers (brown tarsal 84mm, long thin tarsal 112mm, barred small feather 58mm, small brown feather 60mm, previous 3 feathers shown here, large white down 68mm, small white down 38mm), splash (6 lots in all) and rabbit remains on a plucking post. So what’s going on? Looks as if the birds bring oven-ready food into the nest having sorted it out for the young in the glade. One piped call in 2 hours was all I got for direct evidence of the birds in 1st part of visit. So decided to retreat a few 100 metres and see what materialised. Well after an hour’s wait the female came out of the nest area and flew off NW to feed. Never underestimate this species’ capability to lie low! The old site here has been clear felled but just let things take their course and this is the new site . Also found an impressive Common Buzzard primary feather (P8, 325mm). Back on narrowband speeds now. Deadline for repair, 2nd time of asking, is 17:00 2moro: got finger on delete DD for BT – Openreach are a bunch of w.nkers!! Might add some more material later but it’s taking 30 minutes to upload a video! G was very good – 8 of us there – back into routine very quickly!! 2moro into unn unless last-minute request from BT for home visit. xxxxxxxx to the sensuous gfff!!! Not very spontaneous but sentiment’s same: faswtgo!!!!

August 16th: added some material for visit to Staward (869) on 14/8. Whole telephone system with BT collapsed now: don’t think much of their service as no ‘fix’ promised until Thursday. These updates done from Hexham Library. Broadband resumed as narrowband and added clip 815 below for 14/5 showing a pair of Honey-buzzard in display in the ‘Shire. Only one visit to catch up on for May now! Ground very wet again after overnight rain so signs will be poor but resuming nest visits tomorrow lunchtime in Slaley Forest before making the G for t. Broadband totally down when got back from W but working at full power by 10:00 17/8, best speed since got back! Enjoyed W, last nite for the campers! Good result last nite for the Gulls: it’s nice to start slow and finish with a flourish!!!! xxxxxx to the favoured one!!!!

August 15th: site 2 in round 3 was Shilford, between Stocksfield and Riding Mill, in Tyne Valley. Weather continues good but it was very quiet for all birds from 15:40-19:00. Had to find a new way in as on arrival ‘keeper was doing some work with pheasants in SW corner; so came in on very rough path within the wood on railway line side of wood. Honey-buzzard were at home but, in keeping with view that young are still in the nest, kept a very low profile and only had 4 calls during time at nest with 2 soft piped calls and 2 sets of squeaky owl notes from presumed female. Nest in Scots Pine (from clip 870) is in fine fettle 1  2  3, there was quite a lot of high-quality fresh splash under a larch tree close to the nest and a few feathers (ruddy-brown from female (110mm, tarsal ), large white down (4 in all, 68, 62, 68, 70 mm) and small white down (2 in all, 48, 40 mm)) also near the nest. A pair of Crow were very agitated for over 30 minutes; they get rattled when the Honey-buzzard retreat into their territory to watch me. A rabbit kill was found nearby and pigeon feathers were pretty widespread. No Honey-buzzard were seen in the neighbouring territory at Bywell but this morning at 11:45 a male was up over the West Dipton Burn, quickly gaining height and then diving back down again. This site is normally early and such activity indicates young are very close to fledging: he could be off in 9-10 days! Cleo finally returned at 21:00, 2 days after I got back, finishing successfully her 3rd survival course: there are so many rabbits and voles around outside in the summer so no problem, she will be put in cattery when in Azores! Leo who had a free transfer is now an alley cat in Hexham after his preferred ‘owners’ moved there — might meet him some night!! This might appeal to some!!! BT still not fixed fault – declared visit for last Wednesday morning and then terminated incident when not there. So resubmitted – worryingly broadband performance is in decline! rhblooked good at lunchtime!! Not out tonite but W 2moro and maybe après-W!!

August 14th: back on the Honey-buzzard project straight away with trip to Staward (869) as first visit of round 3 from 15:40-19:10 in sunny weather with moderate W breeze – perfect weather for raptors! So no surprise that had 5 raptor species in this hot-spot with 4 Hobby (family party of 2 adults, 2 juveniles, up together with much interaction, clip here) and single Honey-buzzard (adult alarm calling occasionally), Common Buzzard (anger call from adult), Kestrel (juvenile) and Sparrowhawk (female juvenile). The Honey-buzzard have not fledged yet from their nest 1  2  very high-up in Norway Spruce. The heavy recent rain in continuing monsoon had washed away most signs no doubt but there was some splash concentrated below one tree close to nest and one large white downy feather (67mm) near the nest. Heavy rain makes Honey-buzzard less visible, perhaps because the female tends to brood the young more or simply because the birds become more defensive in general. Whatever suspect that the pair at Staward have 2 young as a sole youngster would just about be flying now. But we’ll have to see. Heavy rain in past years has not affected breeding success. This is a very tense stage of the season when the success rate is about to be revealed, bit like waiting for the 1st election result! Further S Honey-buzzard are becoming more visible perhaps because fledging is imminent with an incredible 16 reported today on BirdGuides, including 2 4s, 3 2s and 2 1s. Multiple counts at 5 sites is very interesting as it suggests breeding. Butterflies at Staward included 5 Purple Hairstreak flying around the top of oak trees, the 1st seen at this site. Here’s certificate awarded yesterday! Made G as usual – soon back into old habits! Longer than usual sojourn: she’s absolutely captivating!!!! xxxxxx!!!! Back to N 2moro for lunch followed by another Honey-buzzard nest site visit in the main Tyne Valley. Will be into unn on Thursday!!

August 13th: really chuffed, got award for best paper in Symposium 10, for the presentation on Tuesday 9/8 of Contravariancy in Anticipatory Systems. Thought it went well! Got 3 certificates, one for Mike and Dimitrios as well. D will be delighted but think it needs this promised trip to Greece to finish the paper off. All awarded this morning at Best Paper ceremony with lots of official photos before a ‘wine-tasting’ farewell. Think behind success is growing acceptance of role of category theory in formalising multi-level systems and rapprochement between Liverpool group and ourselves as we discover with clearer presentations that we are in convergence; basically all you need is duality and a 3-level architecture with contravariant mappings throughout (or anti-commutativity as they put it). Gulls beat the Pirates away: what a triumph against one of the favourites for promotion! Writing this in Amsterdam Schiphol. Later all went smoothly, back to Teesside slightly early in fact. Made G at 23:30 and being pretty dry managed 3g by close of business! Amazed by Hexham’s glowing red security lights! Whatever next?? C’est tout!

August 12th: another day, another paper! This was going more into the lion’s den as in session on Applied Mathematics, which does now thankfully include category theory, but many attendees remain to be convinced. However, still standing at end with presentation here and abstract here. If you’re naturally contrary it does have its attractions knowing that they’d like to see you off but can’t land anything on you! Feeling pretty knackered this afternoon and looking forward to going on the town later. Tomorrow it’s closing session from 10:00-13:30 and then smartly off. lokttgo!!! Someone could tweet a little more: love the photo!!!

August 11th: another busy day at conference, chairing session from 14:00-18:30 with some strong-minded presenters: think everyone was satisfied at end. Complimented afterwards on giving people a little time more to express ideas but coming down hard on those taking advantage. Tomorrow it’s 2nd paper for one hour from 10:30, almost finished but a few slides to add. Local Irish pub has run out of g! Tonite it’s the banquet – time to relax – at Le Duc d’Anjou, just 2 doors from my hotel. 2moro is of course also the glorious 12th on the grouse moors; afraid will not be there but hope to make G late on 13th! Fortunately no more trips planned for a while; looking forward to becoming more settled again!!

August 10th: break day, though some might not agree! Out to Eupen on 11:05 train, getting there at 11:50 and going for long walk in forests on S side of town including the large reservoir, which was very low. Caught 18:09 train back and just stopped for lunch at the restaurant near the reservoir dam, where wasps were super-abundant suggesting the local Honey-buzzard might be doing all right. Must have walked 15km – welcome exercise after sitting around the last few days and weather was brilliant after heavy showers rest of week so far. The forests are not like Kielder Forest: they are more mature with some enormous old trees and more diverse in species so the canopy is an interesting mixture of shapes, types and colours, unlike the uniformity of much of Kielder. The rotation of the timber crop is clearly much slower than in Kielder, and even slower than that on the estates in SW Northumberland. Suspect maturity of timber is a key parameter in Honey-buzzard abundance. Total for day was 8 raptors of 2 species: 7 Honey-buzzard and 1 Common Buzzard. The Honey-buzzard comprised 2 from train going out with a male floating over Sart Tilman just out of the city and another male out foraging near Pepinster. The remaining 5 were all S of Eupen with a male high-up immediately S, a pair (one calling, one out over field) SE of Eupen, a female persistently low-down over trees S of reservoir trying to ‘pull’ the young up in the air and a female low-down over trees N of dam. All suggests that young may have left the nest but are not strong enough for getting above the canopy yet so perhaps 1-2 weeks ahead of Northumberland. The Common Buzzard was SE of Eupen in more open country. Had camcorder with me but birds were only visible briefly though did get one foray recorded. A lot of panoramic footage taken of habitat. No shortage of tits!! Started preparation of 2nd paper tonite as getting too complacent with chairing a session tomorrow afternoon followed by banquet! rfaswtgo!!!! She’s foremost in my dreams here!! xxxxxx!!! In physics quite a lot of similarity between chaos in financial markets and in rioting: ultra-fast communication is apparently removing our reflective nature (in ct terms, we exercise the free functor without any check from the underlying functor so adjointness breaks down).

August 9th: paper went very well, 20 minutes of questions and collaboration secured with prof Liverpool University. ppt presentation is here and abstract here. Enjoy! Day went from 08:30-20:30, spending 2 hours after lunch destroying a trojan that had got on my desktop from the memory stick put in the ulg computer: normal chase around involving deleting from startup and registry (msconfig) and safe restart to delete virus files before they can be locked by processes. Did actively make some questions in another presentation later on ct where the Russian chair was obviously delighted that someone was going to help him out: might get a vodka! Interesting views on financial crisis: too much connectivity increases the entropy, resulting inevitably in much higher instability. Get free FT in the School! Had dinner with mates at Brasserie de Midi, almost next door to my hotel. 2moro it’s Eupen for guess what? Missing someone but travels almost over!!! xxxxxx!!!

August 8th: busy day attending start of conference and finalising (perhaps bit of euphemism!) one-hour presentation for tomorrow morning. Wish me luck at 11:30 GMT! Had drink at City Hall at lunchtime to welcome us. More relaxing tonite with a few strong Belgian pale ales at a local bar with a few other attendees (2 UK, 1 US, 1 Belgium, 1 Norway). Mike’s just given paper for team at ANPA in Cambridge, where I went last year. Baggage arrived this morning. So all’s well! xxxxxx!!

August 7th: well they say that unwanted events go in 3s; to complete the set (hopefully) I’m in Liège now but baggage is in Amsterdam. Honest! KLM didn’t get it quickly enough across the airport but promised delivery tomorrow morning by van and gave me a toilet kit! Always a risk when you have a tight connection. Otherwise efficient active journey with drive to Teesside, 2 flights by KLM and 2 trains from Brussels airport to Liège, 9 hours door to door. Met an attractive student Stephanie from Eupen, the German part of Belgium, on the Liège train; she’s doing psychology, always slightly wary of that subject as you wonder whether you’re part of some experiment! But good for a chat-up until her boyfriend materialised!! Eupen is best known for its marvellous forests and Honey-buzzard! Will be making a visit. Had 2 Common Kestrel and a Marsh Harrier ringtail around Amsterdam airport. Internet is good in hotel, which is the fairly modest but convenient Hotel Les Nations, in the most lively part of the City, close to conference location, conference banquet and the station. Normally doing better things on Sunday night: faswtgo!!!! chérie je t’aime!!

August 6th: processed another clip from Ulignano on 28/7 (863), showing in chaotic action a male Honey-buzzard in brief combat with a Short-toed Eagle. Derived stills include 1  2  3  4   5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14. Slides 1-4 show both birds together, 5-7 show the Honey-buzzard fleeing, 8-9 show the Honey-buzzard returning, 10-14 show the Honey-buzzard nervously circling over the area, obviously fearing another ambush. It was hazy with some dust! Not a misprint yesterday: it is the G as otherwise landlord juwill murder me! Spent much of day writing 1st talk for Liège, need a break! G was very lively and gr8 to see old mate jobehind the bar again!! May be there again late-on in a week’s time. aqotwf: but do realise this is irregular practice!! xxxxxx!!!!

August 5th: good visit to Wylam from 15:45-17:30 as breeding confirmed for Honey-buzzard, Common Buzzard (2 fledged juveniles) and Red Kite (1 fledged juvenile floating to S from 17:40-17:45). The 2nd visit to the Honey-buzzard nest was made to confirm breeding as the 1st visit in poor weather indicated probable breeding only. The nest was found in Scots Pine, and was briefly attended by the female, calling at her chick(s) to lie low. Also found some large downy feathers, many small white downy feathers, 2 brown feathers and some splash. Don’t think I need to make any more visits to do such checks as all the other 12 sites monitored closely are at the confirmed level already. Will start visits in round 3 to all 13 sites on return from Belgium. Fledging typically occurs around 15/8 at the earliest nesting sites so round 3 will monitor this exciting climax to the season. Got Fox back, all shiny as washed! Rare problem, do wonder if caused by quality of fuel at nearby garage as they’re always having problems with their main fuel pipes; topped up at Stocksfield this afternoon. Problem was compounded by home telephone going faulty on incoming calls while outgoing calls and broadband worked. Fault still there but fix early next week promised by BT. Going to W with Dave&Chris, no one else around!! Good chat with early exit, well-timed for very stimulating business elsewhere!! xxxxxxxxx to the gorgeous one!!!! 2moro looks like return of monsoon so will catch up on processing records but should make A’s for lunch and G in the evening!!

August 4th: monsoon weather, prolonged heavy rain. Since 16:30 driving VW Golf on free car-hire while petrol pump replaced on Fox; repair scheduled for 2moro! Quickly made Hexham for N and shopping!! Thank G sold all UK bank equities last year; absolute blood bath today; for instance sold last year 48,928 LLOY at average 75p, today 35p. QE2 in UK (QE3 in US) here we come, which means property (bricks or equity) is looking more attractive; printing money is the only way out! Have 92.4% of own funds in bonds now, which are much more stable but will move more into property if QE resumes as it will be inflationary. t&s cuming up!!! May get some more Italian Honey-buzzard shots up before go. t&s was good, group here mainly for the duration now: summer stays include New Zealand, France, Wales, Italy and Belgium! 2moro need to fit in N for lunch, car swap and a Honey-buzzard trip to Wylam. Hopefully will be at W later on. Strong light pollution does make the urban environment difficult!!

August 3rd: well arrived back in style in Hexham in VW Fox at 21:00, towed by RAC Rescue! Had collected car at 17:30 from Newcastle Airport; it started well, went 50 metres and petrol pump went into spasms, finally dying just as getting on one of the arterial roads. So that’s not very impressive for a 10 month old car. Awaiting repair at Carrs with car blocking main entrance gate! RAC acting for VW breakdown were pretty impressive and he did take me home with all of luggage at 21:20 but no action tonite!! Hoping they’ll fix it tomorrow or give me a courtesy car: don’t like suggestions on Internet that it might be a wiring relay problem as could be temperamental. Here’s clip 862 of female Honey-buzzard at Ulignano (E site) on 27/7 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6 showing usual features of long tail, long neck and small head. Italian Honey-buzzard are the same as British ones! Noted the same day at same site was a female Hobby with clip and derived stills 1  2. Put in linked material from Blanchland area referenced on 25/7 below. Not long to next trip to computing conference, which will be last until end September. I’m sorry they’re so close together: it’s difficult keeping up the plot!! 2moro will be out in t&s in evening whatever!! faswtgo!!!!

August 2nd: vacated villa at 10:00 and drove to coast with big sis to explore area around Pisa as flight by BA to Gatwick not until 22:35. Had 2 good walks in maritime forest but no raptors at all in this habitat. Did though have a couple of interesting raptors over the old marshes, now mostly maize fields, which will study on video tomorrow. Had late lunch in Marina del Pisa and dropped Clio off at Pisa airport in early evening. What do I think about Italian drivers: very skilled and highly impatient, but we didn’t have any near misses and at least the traffic rattles along! Think my sister is not really happy with my driving as she keeps putting her foot through the floor!! Italian lasses are lively, dark, slim, smart: indeed some do remind me of someone!! Flight was early and back in Ealing by 02:00 via Gatwick Express and a taxi. Other group members had more hassle: younger sister’s party ended up at Luton instead of Bristol as missed intended flight and main Liverpool contingent arrived in convoy at Pisa airport 5 minutes before departure but managed with their charm to persuade Jet2 to hold the plane for 30 minutes, becoming 50 minutes when all done. Problem: new ‘faster’ route from Volterra to Pisa, which unfortunately included a long scenic hilly section! Excited about return 2moro!! xxxxxx to the gfff!!!!

August 1st: day started with Scops Owl calling at dawn at 06:00. Very hot with thunderstorms brewing, but they never actually materialised. Went for walk from 16:15-18:15 to Montenero area and had 4 Honey-buzzard and single Common Kestrel and Common Buzzard. Birds new for the trip were up to NE over heavily wooded area: 2 Honey-buzzard (male and female up separately) and a Common Kestrel. Also had a Common Buzzard in familiar area and Honey-buzzard males, bringing food in, up at Montenero and E of site. Fantastic area for Honey-buzzard with extensive woods, interspersed with pasture. Had signs of Wild Boar in Montenero: heavy rustlings in undergrowth, droppings and diggings. Have lots of shots of everything which will publish here directly. lei è bellissimo!!!! poiana 13; gheppio 12; falco pecchiaiolo 8; tawny owl 2; biancone 2; falco grillaio 2; lodolaio eurasiatico 2; albanella minore 2; long-eared owl 1; nibbio bruno 1; scops owl 1. So that’s 46 raptors of 11 types. Must say it’s better than expected. Final party was for someone’s 13th birthday and a couple of others coming up very soon; November must be a busy time for the family! Lots of chianti drunk and very fitting end to a marvellous week with much more time than usual to chat to the family.

July 31st: warmest day so far with plenty of hot sunshine. Bit banged on the head this morning but determined to find an Internet café in Volterra and succeeded, catching up on a few vital things. Had walk from 16:50-18:10 on way back in a farmed area where all crops cleared and fields full of stubble. Added to the list here a male Hobby, a ringtail Montagu’s Harrier, 2 Common Kestrel (male, juvenile) and 2 adult Common Buzzard. Missing G tonite but should just make the next one!! See a flurry of Honey-buzzard records today on BirdGuides: total for month looks likely to break the previous record meaning that 3 of the 4 months this year to date have seen new record totals. Wonder when the penny will drop that the Honey-buzzard is actually a fairly common species in the UK, having made a successful recolonisation in the last 20 years. Many UK birdwatchers seem to be closer to religious bigots than to scientists. The serious point of course is that quite a lot of public money goes into funding bird recording and maybe it’s not being used as well as it might. poiana 13; gheppio 11; falco pecchiaiolo 6; tawny owl 2; biancone 2; falco grillaio 2; lodolaio eurasiatico 2; albanella minore 2; long-eared owl 1; nibbio bruno 1. Evening entertainment closed early, most people looking for an early nite after yesterday’s revelry! Thinking about and missing the s.xy one!!! xxxxxx!!!!

July 30th: fine day for the wedding, which took place at 15:00 in Volterra town hall with reception afterwards going on until 01:00; marvellous day for all, did a lot of dancing!! I was given groom’s camera to take shots for him to supplement official photographer who actually got some shots of them in the local prison. Obviously hadn’t seen Puccini’s Tosca where the commander takes a bribe to fire blanks at a prisoner condemned to death but double crosses them and uses real ammunition, causing the distraught heroine to jump over the castle walls to her death! Service started traditionally with Wagner’s Here Comes the Bride from Lohengrin! Earlier, from 10:30-12:00, went for walk in Montenero reserve, which is only about 1km from the villa; 1st 2 species of raptor listed on information board are biancone and pecchiaiolo. Very natural wood where these 2 species, Short-toed Eagle and Honey-buzzard, in combat on 28/7. Today had Short-toed Eagle giving some fluty calls and 2 Honey-buzzard to NW of wood, with the female flying in to feed at Montenero and the male soaring high before gliding down far to W to feed. This is the 3rd site to be found near the villa. Looks somewhat like the Dipton Wood scenario where the birds nest in a circle around the main wood, which is then used as a common feeding resource. Common Kestrel female and juvenile to NW of reserve completed the picture there. Also in day had a family party of 3 Common Buzzard and male and juvenile Common Kestrel N of Volterra and Common Buzzard and Common Kestrel S of Volterra. Internet at villa collapsed: is WiFi the most dodgy facility in holiday lets? Sending this from Volterra! poiana 11; gheppio 9; falco pecchiaiolo 6; tawny owl 2; biancone 2; falco grillaio 2; lodolaio eurasiatico 1; long-eared owl 1; nibbio bruno 1; albanella minore 1. rfaswtgo!!!!

July 29th: poiana 7; falco pecchiaiolo 4; gheppio 4; tawny owl 2; biancone 2; falco grillaio 2; lodolaio eurasiatico 1; long-eared owl 1; nibbio bruno 1; albanella minore 1. Another hot day with thunderstorm midday. We all went to Siena on a coach sight-seeing; it’s a very old city which peaked just before the Black Death, now best known for its amazing horse race around the central square. No raptors here but did have a Montagu’s Harrier ringtail and a Honey-buzzard on the road, latter gliding over a wood at Montagnola, with a Common Kestrel female and a Common Buzzard on wires close to villa. Evening activity was a pizza making competition which somehow never got judged as we ate it all too quickly! Went for stroll for owls at midnight and managed to get locked out! Wish someone was here: she’d fit in perfectly with the smart Tuscan lasses!!!! 2moro’s the big day!

July 28th: very hot morning with plenty of strong sunshine. In walk around villa from 12:45-14:00 had male Honey-buzzard in conflict with pair of Short-toed Eagle, a bit uneven in size with Honey-buzzard making first strike but soon being seen off. He returned unchastened soon after though. Further Honey-buzzard sightings were of presumed female as approached nest on track swearing at me with wailing call which confirms breeding and another female to the S by a wooded steep piece of rock soaring briefly. The gap between the sites looks to be in the 2-3 km range. Common Buzzard included at least 3 in Short-toed Eagle area mewing from time to time and 2 soaring near rock to S. A Black Kite was floating over agricultural land to W, 2 Lesser Kestrel were up to S and a Short-toed Eagle to NW at end, gliding back strongly into its site. Then off to Volterra for sight-seeing which included trip around the Acropolis Etrusca to see an amphitheatre from 1st century AD holding 2,000, somewhat less than the Gulls’ ground! Near villa had a Common Kestrel juvenile and at Volterra had a Common Buzzard low over the road. A fine day and Devon looking more tanned and less pink than Liverpool/Wales with drinking spoils even!! Bit of night-time action with a Long-eared Owl and 2 Tawny Owl calling. Had casino evening with roulette: 2 younger nephews battled it out ultra competitively at end! lokttgo!!!

July 27th: gheppio 2; falco pecchiaiolo 2; lodolaio eurasiatico 1. Went for walk to have closer look at the nearby site. Dull early on with heavy rain in afternoon. Got out in morning though to see a female Hobby flying out to hunt and the female Honey-buzzard returning to her nest site, from which she made another foray later filled with curiosity about what we were doing, all from 10:40-11:40. Nest site is actually narrowed down to a group of darker pine trees in the large pine wood noted on arrival as very suitable. Villa is great fun, had excursion of all of us yesterday evening to Ristorante Enoteca del Duca, Volterra, where lost count of courses, and of Chianti, my favourite wine! Internet at villa very erratic. faswtgo!!! xxxxxx!!

July 26th: buongiorno! 2 gheppio; 1 falco pecchiaiolo. Lot of travelling today in hot sunshine. The Common Kestrel included a female on the road and a male near the villa. The male Honey-buzzard did a spirited circle of a wood near here already selected as highly suitable! The party comprises (in vague origins) 14 from Liverpool, 4 from Wales and 12 from Devon – good start last nite!! xxxxxx to the gfff!!!!

July 25th: processed video material from 8/5, yes that’s May! Confirmed picture for Blanchland part of trip and prepared a clip for the Red Kite, with derived stills 1  2  3, and one for the Honey-buzzard 809. At Ruffside the 3 displaying Common Buzzard are confirmed as shown in this clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6, and possible Honey-buzzard discovered on clips not clear enough for confirmation. So position as reported initially on 8/5. These late processed clips are ones where time needed for final analysis! Ruffside remains a Honey-buzzard site this year with a female seen soaring there on 3/6. Left Newcastle at 15:28 by train with car at airport! Staying with big sis tonite. Beautiful sighting but felt it was perhaps a rather plaintive moment!!

July 24th: success today in lower South Tyne with Honey-buzzard nest found. It may look too easy but I’ve spent a lot of time gently probing the site and analysing the video from afar; searching vast tracts of woodland cold is not the way to do it. Strategy today in visit from 16:40-18:55 was to first find the Common Buzzard nest as that would eliminate the area around it. This nest 1  2 was found in the main wood, fairly low-down on a Scots Pine, where the birds were still territorial today and yesterday. There didn’t look space for Honey-buzzard in this wood as well as the Common Buzzard nest was centrally spaced so searched an annexe containing mature Scots Pine and Norway Spruce. The Honey-buzzard nest 1  2  3  4  5 was found on the N edge of the wood in Scots Pine. It’s very large and is still being built-up, a strong indicator for Honey-buzzard at this stage of the season when the Common Buzzard young have left their nest, which is beginning to look unkempt. The two nests are 250m apart. So is this the first time Honey-buzzard have nested in the annexe? Probably not as this old nest in Norway Spruce might be last year’s, so as usual new sites are a challenge to find. Didn’t see or hear any Honey-buzzard but from antics of Crows had clear idea where the female was hiding, watching me; did of course see the female yesterday. There were many more signs in the Common Buzzard area with tail and other feathers and rabbit fur. In the Honey-buzzard area did though find much splash near the tree holding the nest, one brown feather, some body feathers and a few remains probably of rabbit. Here’s another clip from North Tyne 855 on 10/7 of the male floating over the site N of Chipchase attended by a Common Buzzard. Fairly distant but different jizz is obvious. Compared to the Common Buzzard the Honey-buzzard has flatter wings which appear longer and a longer tail as shown in these derived stills 1  2  3. It’s a typical stand-off with neither bird getting into close contact. They are probably nesting near each other and this routine will have been practised many times before this season. Off to a wedding soon and maybe more Honey-buzzard; happy family occasion is between nephew, eldest son of younger sister, and his business partner from Lancashire where they have a BT franchise. His first marriage was to a beautiful red-haired lass from the valleys in south Wales but she had trouble identifying Honey-buzzard! Family has perhaps slowly drifted N as the youngest son in that family is now in Burnley, where he’s just lost his driving license being over the limit but at least he’s not apparently dealing in c any more and is even living with a policewoman’s daughter! Pre-travel lunch at Baltic tomorrow and G tonite!! Very sad about Amy Winehouse, liked her sultry style. Event following wedding is a conference in Liège where I’m presenting 2 papers and chairing a session: going to keep me busy! Going to miss the very sensuous one!!!! xxxxxx!!!

July 23rd: from 15:10-18:10 completed last atlas square at Blenkinsopp Wrytree in beautiful fine weather with strong sunshine and light SW breeze. Had 6 Common Buzzard in this area (3 adult, 3 juvenile) and a female Honey-buzzard at long range out of Greenhead W site to N to hunt (861). Interesting atlas record was 2 Little Grebe juveniles in mine water-treatment ponds and 51 Common Gull adults moved W in whole time out. Also did closer approach to prospective Honey-buzzard nest site in lower South Tyne, the 13th in the study area it is hoped. Got to likely wood from 18:25-19:10 and had some very positive signs from the outside: flushed a female Honey-buzzard feeding on the ground at about 50m and she flew into the wood and was not seen again – very promising territorial behaviour! Also had 4 Common Buzzard here – 2 fledged young and 2 irate adults. Idea was to survey wood for practicality, the last step before walking below the tree canopy using the disturbance permit. Can you get in without being seen? Once in are you going to be noticed from outside? Does the wood have rides or glades for relatively easy movement? Where do you leave the car? All seems fine on these counts. Makes me sound like a criminal! Not so different from one or two other things in my life!!! xxxxxx to the gfff!!! Still negotiating with daughter over her flat as she says equity from me would reduce LTV and the interest rate. So putting in 30k for 17.86% stake to be verified by solicitor’s letter, plus gift of 5k for start-up expenses. What a softy I am!! Could do a few more deals like this!! Actually a little more confident over property and the economy after the latest Eurozone fudge as they’re realising that the € requires a more federal structure like in the USA. It will take time though to be sorted.

July 22nd: back in Hexham late afternoon after another 5-hour drive; weather was too dull to linger looking for more Honey-buzzard but did pick up 4 more Common Buzzard in Wales on the A55 and another one in England, carrying food, above the M6/M62 interchange! So total for trip in Wales was 40 raptors of 5 species: 35 Common Buzzard bwncath, 2 Honey-buzzard mêl bwncath, Peregrine Falcon hebog tramorand Kestrel y cudyll coch and one Sparrowhawk gwalch glas. Not bad for 6 days. Impression of north Wales was generally favourable: people very friendly; scenery diverse with rugged mountains, lush woods, wild coasts and soft beaches; birds of prey plentiful; Celtic women very beautiful!! Good to see the rhb again!! Already been to N and out E to W later!! Here’s the clip 860 from trip of female Honey-buzzard yesterday (21/7) at Rhaeadr Fawr at 15:25. On the moorland edge she is first mobbed by 2 Crow, indeed this is how I picked her up – Honey-buzzard seem to be particularly disliked by Carrion Crow. The size difference is very obvious – she is massively bigger than either Crow. She then glides down into the valley. Some derived stills 1  2  3  4  5 show the small head, long neck, long narrow tail and extensive black on the wingtip. W was good, nice to see cthere!! Detour was more varied than usual: lovely views and conclusion after the best of young Hexham completed their cocktails!!!! Maybe ought to re-consider position on flat in Hexham: could even have a partnership! 2moro lunch at A’s and then final atlas square (in current project) in Tipalt with perhaps a quick look at Whitechapel for breeding Honey-buzzard.

July 21st: cymylog a chynnes dod yn heulog yn y prynhawn; 2 mêl bwncath, 29 bwncath, 2 hebog tramor, 1 gwalch glas, 2 y cudyll coch. 2nd Honey-buzzard found today, a female fairly close on walk from 13:10-16:05 up to spectacular Rhaeadr Fawr (Aber Falls), near Bangor. She was spotted at 15:20 in dispute with 2 Crow on the moorland edge before gliding down into the valley. Have video of both Honey-buzzard seen but cannot publish them yet. Also there had 9 Common Buzzard (at least 3 fledged juveniles, 1 adult carrying food) and a Peregrine Falcon (female, up high with 6 Raven). Earlier looked over the very fine Caernarfon Castle, enjoyed coffee nearby and had 3 Common Buzzard, part of a family party, on S side of Straits. Actively looked for Tawny Owl this evening but none seen or heard. Continued analysis of national counts of Honey-buzzard with those for June 2011. Pertinent summary: “the total of 37 was a new record for the month, beating 33 in 2003 and 2009. The running total over the three months April-June of 122 is the highest so far since the current series of record began in 1996 with other high totals of 117 in 2009 and 116 in 2008. 2moro checking Beddgelert area on way back if weather not too bad. Been a fantastic break! lokttgo!!!

July 20th: heulog trwy’r dydd, anhygoel; 1 mêl bwncath, 17 bwncath, 1 hebog tramor, 1 gwalch glas, 2 y cudyll coch. Well best weather in country today with wall-to-wall sunshine and brilliant visibility; could have been up Snowdon but better not talk about that! We went to Aberffraw an atmospheric seaside village on Anglesey and went on beach as well as doing a headland walk. Butterflies were brilliant with 12 types noted: Small Copper, Common Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Dark Green Fritillary, Wall, Grayling, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Green-veined White, Small White and Large White. Did check for 1.5 hours on N side of Newborough Forest for Honey-buzzard but none seen; the Kestrel included adult female and juvenile at dunes near Aberffraw and added 5 more Common Buzzard to the list. Think wooded area around bridge over Menai Straits on S side also looks promising for Honey-buzzard with reasonable area of deciduous trees and pasture. A flock of 70 Sandwich Tern (one juvenile) was interesting, anyway to a rare coastal visitor like myself. Had bbq tonite on the ranch with plentiful supply of g and wine – not bad! Looking forward to return!!! xxxxxx to the gfff!!

July 19th: dim haul, glaw yn y bore, prynhawn disgleiriach; 1 mêl bwncath, 12 bwncath, 1 hebog tramor, 1 gwalch glas. Big one was supposed to be Snowdon but looking at weather outside and dire forecast for summit led to me dropping out and going to look for Honey-buzzard in east of Snowdonia where forecast better. So made well-wooded area 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 around Betws-y-Coed for lunch in brightening skies if not in actual sunshine! From 12:50-15:10 had 5 Common Buzzard, including family party of 4, and male Sparrowhawk here but no Honey-buzzard, although habitat looked good. Moved up River Llugwy towards Capel Curig and after just 15 minutes here at 15:35 in more upland plantation of spruce with oak woods and meadows 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11 nearby had a male Honey-buzzard taking off and soaring very rapidly (clip 859 above) at 15:35 into the base of the low clouds!! Marvellous: those withdrawal symptoms fixed!! 3 of party did still go for Snowdon summit at 08:00 and not back until 20:30; they’ve done quite well but not very well as they’ve not coordinated their departure off the mountain with the placement of their car, needing a taxi to complete the circuit! Still they climbed the mountain so congratulations! Must say everyone around here is very hearty and earnest: think prefer Scottish sense of humour and style! Sadly other withdrawal symptoms not fixed: no t&s this week but back for W!! Lots of kisses to the gfff!!!

July 18th: dim haul, bwrw glaw y rhan fwyaf o’r dydd; dim mêl bwncath; 5 bwncath hyd yn hyn; 1 hebog tramor. The Peregrine was a male, out for a few minutes in a lull in the weather, carrying food into old slate workings near Llanberis, presumably to feed fledged but still dependent young. Spent much of day at Llanberis in the rain with sis and sis-in-law; had excursion to the Electric Mountain and saw pumped storage hydroelectric generator built inside a massive cavern in a mountain, where it was dry! Helped with shopping later – difficult task matching up a list designed for Knightsbridge with Morrisons in Caernarfon! House sale in Dawlish, Devon, was completed today with proceeds into estate, which should now be quickly wound up. Missing the gfff‘s!!! wrth eu bodd yn rhai sydd â bronnau ‘n glws!!! 2moro might be the big one with the younger members!!

July 17th: dim haul, bwrw glaw y rhan fwyaf o’r dydd; dim mêl bwncath; 5 bwncath hyd yn hyn. So in fittingly sombre weather, my brother-in-law’s ashes were cast upon Llanddwyn Island in Anglesey with 8 of us present. It was an area of which he was very fond. We got soaked. Newborough Forest is rather like Forest of Culbin in Morayshire, Scotland: a large forest has been planted on sand-dunes to attempt to stabilise the coast. Culbin does hold Honey-buzzard but they are not actually nesting on the edge of the sea. Would not rule out a pair in Newborough Forest where dominant tree species is Corsican Pine but would need to survey the area furthest from the sea in better weather for a fairer test. Sea-birds were good with 3 species of Tern (3 Arctic, 2 Roseate, 2 Sandwich), breeding GBB Gull, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and Rock Pipit, fishing Gannet, loafing Cormorant and Shag and migrant Turnstone (16) and Common Sandpiper. Updated national counts of Honey-buzzard with those for May. Running total for year is 85, ahead of total last year at same stage of 74. Internet access is through Orange dongle on laptop – fairly limited. Missing the gfff!!!

July 16th: croeso i cymru! Dim mêl bwncath eto; 3 bwncath hyd yn hyn. Took 5.5 hours with 2 stops to do the 250 miles to Llanfaglan, near Caernarfon, where we’ve taken over a few converted barns, we being 10 relatives organised by big sis. Already identified a few potential Honey-buzzard sites from map including Newborough in Anglesey and a few forested areas near Beddgelert. Weather forecast is poor for next couple of days. Fenyw adael mwyaf dymunol yn anffodus yn y cartref!! xxxxxx!!

July 15th: catching up on gardening at home – a lot of neglect in midsummer! Still finished by 18:00 and had briefly the male Honey-buzzard up over the local site at 14:45 and female up at 16:45 as a bonus! Hay fever season is largely over: thanks for numerous good wishes! Visit to Hexham went well – will miss the rhb!!! Off to W now, may check on things later with the gorgeous one!!!

July 14th: something (still 4) to dream about (857, 13/7 below) or maybe something else!!! Day in the big city: had good meeting with Mike discussing the 4 papers we’re presenting in the next month. Good weather so lunch outside slumming it in Gateshead at the Baltic. Quite a turn-on really!!! Like the latest fb piccie – they’re very motivating!!! No mates around tonite so grass-cutting after helping LD councillor with EARS! Around next 2 Fridays! Still 4 shows all the structural features that should be looked for in a flying bird, such as this one (1) taken day before (12/7) in site W of Hexham (856). In particular on perched bird note long thin tail, stretching far beyond wing tips, attenuated rear end due to both wings and tail being long, long neck, small head and fine bill. On the bird in flight the first of these properties translate into both wings and tail long but tail particularly long as equal in length to wing-width and with narrow base. The front-end properties are variable in flight as the neck can be retracted and the bill not clearly assessable but the small head is a constant feature. In perched Common Buzzard the rear end is not as attenuated as the wings and tail are both shorter and the tail and wingtips are of similar length in adults; the neck appears thicker and the head is larger. Of course some people like plumage so here’s the wingtip of the bird in flight 1  2 (856, 12/7, derived stills, contrast increased), showing 3 broad sparse bars across the primaries.

Analysed North Tyne situation for Honey-buzzard sites and come to provisional finding that at one site Nunwick there was a pair and at the other site Chipchase N there was a male. Provisional because I’m not sure that in one visit you can reliably work out the nesting areas. Haughton Strother, a little downstream, is where juvenile Honey-buzzard have been seen at least twice by another observer (MR) but Nunwick looks the better nesting area. Still it’s a probable 2 new sites for the county but not including them in the study area as have enough to do as it is! To kick off with clips 855 here’s a male down by the river at Nunwick at 12:03 (with calling Quail) followed by a shot of the female in flap-flap-glide, then soaring high, floating and gliding off W from 12:06-12:11, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7; both clips contain a bit of chat and the latter has the bonus of a sheep drive in the lane behind us. The scenario is perhaps that the male brings food into the nest and then takes over nesting duties while the female goes off to forage. The backdrop to Nunwick is very interesting – the moors at the back of Simonburn, where John Wallis lived and wrote about Honey-buzzard in 1769. faswtgo!!! but puzzled (as usual!! who’s talking?? yaqotwf??).

July 13th: did site visit 12/13 to Swallowship, getting much contact with birds including anger calls and shots in flight. The nest has moved about 10m to another Scots Pine tree and there was much splash and a few feathers and prey remains below the nest. Highlight though was the female Honey-buzzard actually perching out in the open at close range: here’s 3 stills taken with the camcorder 857 for starters 1  2  3. She’s like an enormous Kestrel! Here are clips 832 from Ridley on 6/6 at 14:48-14:58. First shows male floating with derived still 1; second shows female floating with derived still 2; third shows male displaying followed by female floating followed by pair up together followed by male alone in frisky mood, with derived stills 1  2  3  4; fourth shows male floating followed by Common Buzzard passing close by at low altitude. All calls are from the Common Buzzard peeved at the display over their territory. Butterflies were diverse including Ringlet, Small White, Green-veined White, Small Skipper, Meadow Brown and Speckled Wood. Backlog of analysis now includes 4 visits to nest sites for June and 3 visits to observe display for May. Likely to give priority to the May visits over the next few days as it can cause problems in understanding later visits if earlier ones not documented in the database. lokttgo!!! Recent research shows ladies prefer s…s!!! Had invite to 2012 IGM (International Gull Meeting) in Zagreb, Croatia, from 16/2-19/2 next year. Think will delay trip to Azores a little and go, giving a talk on Atlantic Yellow-legged Gull. G was good, very busy!! Meeting Mike at 13:00 2moro.

July 12th: did site visit 11/13 in round 1 at wood west of Hexham with brilliant results. Weather was dry with hazy sunshine and muggy with many insects around. Flushed female Honey-buzzard off nest with some close-up video, derived stills and anger calls, and also found a lot of signs around the nest, a re-use of last year’s in Scots Pine, such as splash, feathers including down, plucking post, pellets and other prey remains. She put up a more passionate resistance than many! Added clip 833 of male Honey-buzzard soaring and floating over Whitechapel in lower South Tyne on 6/6. Still wondering whether to make this the rendezvous for a nest in lower South Tyne. It’s got to be an inspired choice as could otherwise spend days tracking the actual site down. The clip shows the effortless power of the species with hardly a flap in 3-4 minutes. Seeing Mike at unn on Thursday lunchtime. Better news today on house front from Tracie:

I am pleased to say that contracts have been exchanged in relation to your sale of …. The completion date is 18 July or earlier by agreement and I understand all parties in the chain are hoping to complete on Friday 15 July.

Not a bad day if you take it from midnight!! Now all we need is for the Eurozone finance ministers to stop behaving like a bunch of university lecturers!! Working on clip 832 (Ridley, pair, 6/6). Did make W, 5 of us there tonite, good crack!! 2moro it’s visit 12/13 followed by G for g for t!

July 11th: rest day aided by torrential rain for most of afternoon! Good lie-in, late in to Hexham. They resurfaced the road today from Newbiggin – Juniper right past my house: very smart! Here’s Quail calls from yesterday (10/7) at Gunnerton, including a little Honey-buzzard sighting at end of clip! Analysed visit to Dipton wood on 1/6 and produced this long clip 827 of 6 minutes, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6, showing a female Honey-buzzard in rather grey conditions in effortless floating from 16:37-16:45 over the SW corner of the wood. It’s very characteristic jizz for the females in particular and shows impressive aerodynamics with virtually no thermals to assist in lift. Feel past peak of season now as BTO surveys almost done and can concentrate on Honey-buzzard. Completing site visits 11 and 12 over next 2 days with 13, to try to find a nest near Vindolanda, about 10 days later. faswtgo!!! ssi:rwp!!! xxxxxx!!

July 10th: well, put North Tyne on the map for Honey-buzzard with some sightings in Chipchase area in walk of 9km with N from 11:10-16:30 in Gunnerton – Birtley – Chipchase – Chipchase Strothers – Gunnerton. Other highlight was calling Quail in a wheat field. Common Buzzard were conspicuous with a number of pairs near fledging success. Interesting passerines included Lesser Whitethroat and Tree Sparrow. Needs further analysis! Made BA at Barrasford for recuperation afterwards, followed by good meal at Hadrian at Wall. Later made G where good to see l in action!! Promising later!!! 2moro must be a laid-back day!! xxxxxx!!

July 9th: very strange weather, did make Wark Forest for BBS and although pouring with rain in Hexham when left at lunchtime and most of way up, it was actually dry in the normally damp forest for almost the entire visit from 13:50-18:50. Exception was in last 30 minutes when every few minutes a pulse of torrential rain came through, finishing abruptly as if someone’s turned the tap off. This is another long walk, of 12km, but nearly all on tracks so nothing like as exacting as Whitfield Moor. Looked as if it had been torrential rain further E for longer. Today was Common Buzzard fledging day with a pair of adults up in the air at Brunton, near Chollerford Bridge, with a juvenile below just above the trees, perhaps on maiden flight, and at Whickhope Nick in the forest a marching brood of 2+, very close to flying above the canopy. Had 8 Common Buzzard altogether, only raptor seen, and total of all birds in the forest was 22 species with 12 in the BBS transects in NY6781. Midges were not a problem except at end when they were swarming around car and about 100 jumped in to join me for the drive back! Not really ideal travelling companions!! Retaliated by tucking trousers into socks and winding down windows: they don’t like draughts, but think there are still a few around. Fancy a lift! 2moro it’s North Tyne again. Practising my Welsh: am I going to find any Honey-buzzard bod y mel in north Wales?? Bod is a mountain kite, very perceptive! lokttgd!!!!

July 8th: some piccies and totals from yesterday: Most interesting bird was a Twite calling over Humble Dodd: must be a small population on the high moors in SW Northumberland but still to connect with any nests in this atlas. Red Grouse totalled 42 birds, 13 adults and 29 chicks, with broods of 8,7,6,4,4 plus 2 hidden ones; waders were of 4 species: 5 Curlew, 4 Snipe, 4 Golden Plover and an Oystercatcher, most left now perhaps some to Solway which was in view for a bit yesterday. Also in view was the top of Whitfield Moor at Pike Rigg. Three Knights, a collection of large stones in a rather featureless moor, was the target of the walk: thought a buoyant sign was appropriate to complete the moorland survey. Grip filling again looked to have been successful. Cotton Grass has had a good season; it’s very popular food for moorland birds and a few Wood Tiger moths were on the wing. A Roe Deer was out on the open moor. This Wheatear, a juvenile, was another interesting bird. Made unn yesterday, good progress with paper but aqotef!! Just N and me at W but good to catch up on chat and pleased that ewas on hand!! 2moro it’s up to Wark Forest for BBS second leg and on Sunday another trip up North Tyne to Chipchase with N for walk followed by BA!! Family problems sorted with daughter buying flat in Kingston upon Thames for 168k off own resources (with 5k donation from bank of dad!) and son offered 30k for deposit on a flat in London (plus similar donation) in return for equity: it’s a tough life being a rossiter! Bit like Irish bank refinancing! Could be seduced into slightly better terms!! Meanwhile saga of sale of mum’s house drags on:

Unfortunately contracts have still not been exchanged but I have done some ringing around to find out what the current situation is. Mr and Mrs C are ready but it is another party further down the chain who are causing the hold up. I am told the property in question needs an indemnity insurance policy and the proposed policy has been sent to the lender [Woolwich] for approval. Unfortunately no-one in the chain will be able to exchange contracts until this has been resolved but I will continue to keep the pressure on regarding exchange and will contact you again as soon as I have an up-date. Kind regards Tracie (solicitors, 7/7/11)

July 7th: in clearing weather with just the odd shower, good walk on Whitfield Moor from 15:30-19:40 starting from Haltwhistle turn-off on Plenmeller Common road and getting as far as Three Knights on Coanwood Common, about 8km in all but not a path in sight so going was pretty rough: that’s why it’s been left to last! Target was BTO atlas survey of NY75-I where had 9 species today. Only raptor on this moor was a male Kestrel but did have a Common Buzzard on way back at Stublick. Will add up the totals tomorrow. Just one more atlas square, in Tipalt, to do by end of July. Next priority is BBS survey in Wark Forest, perhaps on Saturday. Processing some Honey-buzzard material from early June (Dipton 1/6, Ridley 6/6) so can submit it to N&TBC and Birdtrack in reasonable time. 2moro is supposed to be bad weather-wise so unn trip well-timed for meeting at 11 but do prefer it fine there really!! Did make t&s tonite with a. Good chat, think I’m the only person around next week so might end up in A’s!! Lights down low with the gorgeous one!!!! xxxxxx!!!!

July 6th: weather a bit better than forecast so did another Honey-buzzard site in the Allen. Made Staward (853) from 14:00-17:15 with long shower shortly after arrival which delayed entry into the site but then weather gradually got better until strong sunshine at end. At start met school party who’d been visiting Staward Peel, for the history, and a few of them had seen a ‘buzzard’ there. Honey-buzzard nest is still in Norway Spruce but it’s moved c30m towards the edge of the wood. They don’t just choose the tallest tree in a wood. That would give them exposure to both the weather and predators. Another factor is the need for an easy entrance so they need an opening in the canopy to accommodate their 115-135 cm wingspan. Also had both birds up in the air, owl-like calls in between screeching of Jay when leaning on the nest tree (a good tactic!) and some splash and small white feathers on the ground near the nest. More details later. So then quickly to G for g for t!! 2moro it’s Whitfield Moor for last moorland atlas square after lunch at N and chat with cleaners s&l. Had been thinking of a walk with N at Chipchase but we’ve postponed that until Sunday. Feeling sleepy tonite!! xxxxxx!!

Compiled records for last walk with Nick on 1/7 in Thorngrafton area. Had 46 species with a pair of Whinchat and an agitated male Stonechat being the highlights. The former is very rare in North Pennines though commoner in Cheviots. The latter have been knocked back inland by the cold spells in the last 2 winters. Waders totalled just 5 Curlew and 1 Oystercatcher: much scarcer than on keepered moors to S. Commonest birds were Willow Warbler and Swallow. Also completed processing of video 840 from Nookton in County Durham on 15/6. Here’s a long clip of the female floating over the site and worrying the waders from 15:49-15:54. A Common Buzzard was up over the same moor at 15:35. It’s a rich area for waders with 5 species noted: 16 Curlew, 10 Lapwing, 9 Oystercatcher and single Snipe and Common Sandpiper.

July 5th: rain held off at least until early evening so fitted in another Honey-buzzard nest site visit (852) at Kellas in Derwent area from 15:05-17:45, with time actually on-site from 15:35-18:55. Last year’s nest in Scots Pine is being re-used and is now massive. Plenty of feathers around, including one a little larger than the white body feathers, which predominated. Also some splash and some prey remains, particularly rabbit on a plucking post. As for the birds, had 3 soft short piped calls in all but hardly spectacular. Dentist visit went as well as could be expected; feel like been in boxing match, not allowed to eat on right-hand side until 2moro and some prayers that it will hold when finally bring it into action. All for the bargain price of £47. Hay fever is down a notch. Made Hexham a little late for lunch but suddenly perked up on seeing the rhb!!! Pleased to meet j at N!! g at W will be very welcome restorative!! Will look in on gorgeous one on way back!! 2moro expect more serious rain, might try last atlas square on Whitfield Moor in afternoon if just showery. Friday is day in unn this week!! Get up close I say: the lovely one’s very, very sensuous!!!!

July 4th: added piccies from yesterday. Pleased with recent additions to Merlin portfolio. In very close weather made visit 8/13 in round 1 (851) from 16:55-19:00 to Honey-buzzard site on East Allen in Oakpool area. Nest from last year, very high in an Oak tree, is being re-used; plenty of splash around but birds keeping a low profile with the male doing 2 brief fly-overs and the female making 3 short piped calls. Terrible hay fever today, by far the worst of the summer, welcome rain 2moro hopefully but not that heavy so might well fit in another site visit after that appointment at 11:50 and lunch! Good to see the rhb on my favourite perch!! x9 to the gorgeous gfff!4 This site is now placed 2nd for Honey Buzzard in search of entire web on Google, up from 6th a month ago. Say this because quite a number of visitors come in through direct access and may not be aware of the change. Thinking of the Azores for my jaunt next late-winter/early spring.

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 8/13 nest visits in round 1, phase 2 (4/7) are: Allen 8 sites, 14 adult (8 male, 6 female), 1 nest Oak; Devil’s Water 6, 9(5,4), 2 nests Norway Spruce, Scots Pine; Tyne Valley west 7, 12(5,7), 2 nests Norway Spruce, Scots Pine; Tyne Valley east 4, 4(2,2), 1 nest Scots Pine; upper South Tyne 5, 10(5,5), 2 nests Norway Spruce, Oak; lower South Tyne 4, 6(3,3); Tipalt/Irthing 3, 4(2,2); and Derwent 7, 9(5,4); giving grand total 44, 68(35,33), 8 nests in Norway Spruce x3, Scots Pine x3, Oak x2.

July 3rd: amazing afternoon in Allenheads area from 14:40-18:50 with male Honey-buzzard flushed off Wolfcleugh Common at 520m, soaring very high and then gliding off NW towards N of Allenheads where site with Scots Pine looks like the highest so far in the study area at about 435m. Altitude has no worries for these birds provided heather moorland and mature woods are available. Also had an agitated male Merlin a bit further up the moor and a juvenile Kestrel, first of year, over road at Yellow Rigg, Stublick. The top of the moor was very quiet: some birds have finished breeding and rapidly left, either for further down the fell or the coast. Here’s 2 clips 850 of the Honey-buzzard, first (with derived stills 1  2  3  4 emphasising his long neck and small head as Merlin stoops) showing him flapping away from the moor above me and beginning to move higher, second showing him soaring very high and gliding NW at base of clouds. In both clips he’s mobbed almost continuously by a male Merlin. Pushing onto the high moor further, it was my turn to get the male Merlin’s attention as shown in next 2 clips 1 (close with calls) 2 (more distant), with derived stills from first 1  2  3  4. Busy afternoon for him! Waders included this noisy Oystercatcher, which I often hear when kicked out of G! Totals for waders were Golden Plover 21 birds, Curlew 16, Lapwing 6 and Oystercatcher 3. Red Grouse broods were much smaller than on Whitfield Moor with two of 3 and 1, plus 3 hidden. This evening G was busy with lots of crack. aqotwf!! 2moro it’s back to Honey-buzzard nests in the Allen after lunch at N!!

July 2nd: here’s some scenic shots of Honey-buzzard sites from yesterday 1/7. First the Allen, a spectacular wooded valley, with 3 sites on the lower slopes in view and at least 4 more where the wood narrows and the moors predominate. Second, up the lower South Tyne towards Plenmeller Common where 2 more sites on moorland edge. Third the local site, a mixture of rough pasture, moss, birch woods and conifer plantations: that is a mosaic, sometimes quoted as what Honey-buzzard really like habitat-wise. The rough pasture slide does give a learned view on my diminishing opponents’ arguments! Fourth, Thorngrafton Common is on the edge of the site near Vindolanda. The Wark Forest, the S edge of the massive Border Forests, might hold Honey-buzzard on the edge but I’ve not the time to look into this. Opportunistic shots included this Roe Deer doe, a Dung Beetle and a Welsh Mountain Pony. Used to have a pony just like this. They’re very greedy, tremendously hardy, good jumpers and difficult to catch, which is why it’s got a head collar on! N took a photo of me, complete with gear. House at Ordley village up for sale, c250m from mine, interesting garden, owned by former colleague at ncl, beautifully placed and good views over Devil’s Water but only over Common Buzzard site so not recommended unless you just want to live near me! Honey-buzzard female was up today at local site at 15:45, rising up from valley with deep flaps before gliding off to feed to SE; could not reach camcorder in time. Completed two abstracts 1  2  and sent them off to Liège. 2moro it’s atlas work on moors near Allenheads at Wolfcleugh Common – 4 hours survey minimum but then only 2 sites left to do by end July. Might just possibly be Honey-buzzard in woods near Allenheads but it’s very high at 400m+. lokttgd!!!!

July 1st: good walk in lower South Tyne in perfect weather (sunny, light W breeze, marvellous visibility, could see Cross Fell and Cheviot) on S side of Whinnetley Moss and Muckle Moss with N, starting from New Alston and going to Thorngrafton Common with return via Chesterwood, some 14km in all with detours. Some recuperation at Boatside in Warden (Murray’s best moment as left!). Some 6 Honey-buzzard sites in view, a few very distant but one quite close, and not a single bird seen from 10:00-16:20. Well it is July: they are keeping a very low profile now as on eggs or with small young. Shows the problem of people looking for them in July when a few birders seemed to think that as it’s quiet on the coast, why don’t we go looking for Honey-buzzard inland? Did have 4 Common Buzzard and a Goshawk; presence of latter is interesting as area is not intensively keepered like on the other side of the valley and distance to Wark Forest of 5km is quite small. About to book up 22 concerts at Sage for next season with highlight of Walküre, 2nd part of Wagner’s Ring, on 23/06/2012. Main recuperation was W and later!! Very good to see s and e again!! sftb:icb!!!! Off to A’s now for lunch and then back for analysis of last few days and submission of 2 long abstracts to Liège.

June 30th: busy today fieldwork-wise with getting on for 5 hours in Eals area of upper South Tyne from 14:10-18:50, visiting 2 Honey-buzzard nest sites. Two in a day is way above normal procedures but the sites are close together. Showers were never-ending, giving water on ground and vegetation, but bright sunshine in-between and it was quite warm. Midges were a real problem – have heard they’re increasing in NW England. Found the 2 nests, one in Oak, the other in Norway Spruce and did see some birds but need to analyse the clips before reporting in detail. Final total for raptors was 6 birds of 2 species: 3 Honey-buzzard and 3 Common Buzzard. Done 7/13 1st round visits now. Made N for lunch and t&s for nite-cap!! Here’s 2nd and final clip 846 from March Burn on 28/6. This was recorded on exit: bird 1 (presumed female as same sound as on 1st clip) calls angrily for 26 seconds, then slightly shriller male joins in a duet for c7 seconds before male carries on, on his own. 2moro morning going for walk with N in Bardon Mill area, not directly for Honey-buzzard, but you never know what will turn up! Feeling very sleepy and early nite needed to be up in time for walk: sweet dreams in prospect!!! xxxxxx!!

June 29th: here’s a clip 846 from yesterday (28/6) showing female calling angrily and then moving along outside of wood to S, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12; structural features of small head and long tail are shown on many of the stills; still 3 shows 3 broad bars across outer primaries and limited black on wingtip. Also here’s some stills 1  2  3  4 of the nest in Norway Spruce, various stills of splash everywhere 1  2  3  4  5  6 and two stills 1  2 of white body feathers 62mm long (still 1), 41mm and 32mm (both still 2) respectively. The upper part of the wood has been tidied up with the glades being cleared as shown here but the more critical lower part remains a jungle. Two neighbouring Honey-buzzard sites show abundant woodland in the best sort of habitat in the county: Dipton Wood SW and Kellas. Newcastle was good – semiotics paper progresses with next meeting on Friday week; very sensuous sights!!! Back to G where good crack; jwas a bit apologetic about Sunday but he didn’t have to drink that terrible Budweiser (which son had brought in for last visit!). Today’s magic numbers are 4,4,2,3,6:6,10!! 2moro might be joining bfor lunch in t&s followed by trip out W and t&s again much later!!

June 28th: not perfect organisation today; had been in Hexham Library sorting out some MS-Word figures, which were not porting well into OpenOffice, and was sitting in N with all gear packed for lengthy trip to upper South Tyne when suddenly remembered had a dentist appointment at 16:10 in Corbridge. So decided to switch to shorter trip to March Burn from 13:45-15:50, which went well fortunately with a female Honey-buzzard calling angrily and caught on video flying along the side of the wood at 14:20. She was flushed from N side initially moving to nest site; nest in Norway Spruce, high up and concealed well; much splash around; 3 feathers found, small white body, 62mm, 41mm and 32mm long; on exit from site at 15:30 female calling again from nest site angrily with male (slightly shriller) calling c100m further S. All a bit rushed and arrived at 16:08 with pretty good glow at dentists in Corbridge for 1st appointment there. Torture next Tuesday with one filling was the outcome! Completed questionnaire with all ticks on rhs though a bit hazy on the 21 units (thought it was 28!). Piccies will have to wait – off to W!! W was good though quiz rather washed over me; talking to d a shooting/fishing type who loved the grouse moors! Gr8 afterwards!!! baitc: se!!!! xxxxxx!! 2moro plan is same as last week!!

June 27th: well Wagner yesterday was fantastic, still getting over the captivating performance by Opera North of Rheingold. Very draining, concentrating for 2 hours 30 minutes non-stop but N&I really enjoyed it. It was the first Wagner opera that N had seen and he was surprised at its subtlety and drive. Alberich (Nicholas Folwell), the scheming dwarf, was best performer I thought. Sage was packed for first time this season (and last concert of season) so that’s 1,700 attending with a much younger audience than usual. Combination of power and love must have its attractions!! Here’s the inside cover of the programme. It finished a little later than expected and did not get out until 10:20 after a lot of applause so actually missed G by 8 minutes, after picking up car from N’s in Stocksfield. So thirsty and, with no hospitality in Hexham, went home for a few beers!! A lot of gardening yesterday afternoon, mainly of the hacking type. Today made N for lunch, very chatty, sadly rhbhas bu..ered off; shopping afterwards was very leisurely, the gbs is very fit!! Into unn on Wednesday again to see the sights!! Doing 2 Honey-buzzard nest sites in upper South Tyne tomorrow. Here’s some more clips from 24/6 on Whitfield Moor. A male Merlin was flying around very acrobatically for 3 minutes; a Red Grouse brood was slowly creeping away from me through the long grass; broods of Wigeon were on Blind Lough; a small Black-headed Gull colony has returned to Blind Lough. Wader totals for the visit were 24 Golden Plover, 12 Curlew, 3 Lapwing and 2 Dunlin (at 2 sites, alarm calling); Red Grouse totals included 5 broods of 9,8,8,6,4 (35) plus 7 hidden broods; gull totals were 110 Black-headed Gull birds at Blind Lough and 14 Lesser Black-backed Gull (LBBG) nests at Willyshaw plus an interesting gull videoed at Whitfield Lough, perhaps a 2s Caspian Gull; ducks included 4 broods of Wigeon totalling 16 young, the best for a while, the return of the Black-head Gulls helps as they drive off predators such as LBBG; just one raptor was seen – the male Merlin; passerines included 23 Meadow Pipit and 2 Skylark. The Honey-buzzard over West Dipton at 18:10 on same day was captured in a clip 844 showing him drifting over the site, with derived stills 1  2. He’s presumably the bird there in territory on 9/5 awaiting the return of his mate: let’s hope she’s returned (or another!).

June 25th: very good visit to Slaley Forest yielded a pair of adult Honey-buzzard patrolling overhead, a nest, a few feathers and a few butchering posts, plus lots of f…ing flies! Here’s stills from yesterday (24/6) in walk over North Pennines Access Land from Clarghyll (the wood, where car left, taken from Pike Rigg) to Willyshaw Moss to Whitfield Law to Pike Rigg to Whitfield Lough to Blind Lough. Further views are from Whitfield Law, looking W to Barhaugh Burn, S to Willyshaw Moss and Clarghyll and SW to Cross Fell. Active moorland management included grip blocking, trays of wormer for Red Grouse (now placed everywhere and much closer together) and Fenn trap (not in use). This bit of bog is treacherous as witness bones from dead sheep! Live birds included this female Red Grouse 1  2, with much more action to come on video. Yours truly posed at Whitfield Lough 1  2 to show he’s still up for it!! If you’re hungry you can eat Cloudberry but it’s a bit of a soddish thing to do as the birds love them! Dead birds included this Red Grouse chick, a Lesser Black-backed Gull 2s and a Feral Pigeon. Eggs found eaten included Red Grouse and Curlew. Will analyse bird counts tomorrow and hopefully produce some more Honey-buzzard material as well. Going to Sage+MP with N 2moro evening to see Rheingold by the great one (Wagner!). Looking forward to it!! Will still be up for the G later!! xxxxxx!!!

June 24th: a rousing day on the moors! Out for almost 6 hours on Whitfield Moor, walking from Clarghyll to Blind Lough (and back!) from 11:55 -17:40. Weather was perfect with coolish NW breeze, no rain and sunny intervals particularly on outward part of walk. As the grouse flies, walk was 8km but think it was probably nearer 12km with detours through thick heather and bogs for the whole route. It’s looking like a brilliant breeding season for Red Grouse with large broods all over the place! A stack of material to process including Merlin, Red Grouse, Wigeon, gulls and yours truly! On way back in car had Kestrel at Stublick and Honey-buzzard over West Dipton. Wondering about missing Honey-buzzard at Parmentley: it’s not an ideal site as too close to intensive game activity, rather elevated so exposed and only 2km from nearest site at Monk. Wonder whether they’ve moved to Ninebanks or even become Buddhists! Feeling very relaxed but should make W for g!! W was good – talent definitely improving with b, c, e!! Straight home as unclear semiotics!! Here’s soggy material from trip to Wylam on 22/6 843: splash 1  2, white body feathers as found 1  2 and after drying 1  2 and nest in Scots Pine 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8. The feathers are 60mm and 52mm long respectively. 2moro it’s A’s for lunch and resuming Honey-buzzard nest site visits afterwards, in the ‘Shire!

June 23rd: postponed any further Honey-buzzard nest site visits until it’s drier. Signs are less than brilliant when it’s so wet and don’t want to risk anything with chilling of clutches or small young. Completed current work on jizz page: found some evidence for reversed sexual dimorphism in weights for Oriental Honey-buzzard. Think (Western) Honey-buzzard is rather similar to Marsh Harrier in that females are close in dimensions to males but are significantly heavier. Also updated description of various modes of display. Enjoyed shopping with the gbs; pleased to meet awho used to work in N!! Got a free transfer to Princes Street Dental, Corbridge, from Prudhoe with 1st appointment next Tuesday: it’s same business, think they’re load balancing! t&s was very good; m’s off to New Zealand next week but 2 of us will carry on! ssa: jaotp!!!! Love the cat-walk!! 2moro it’s long walk on Whitfield Moor right up to the Lough over Willyshaw and Whitfield Law. lokttgo!!!!

June 22nd: did make 3rd site visit, to Horsley Wood, Wylam, from 15:40-17:10 but within actual area in vicinity of nest restricted to 40 minutes from 16:00-16:40 because of damp weather. No sign of the birds, suspect female was sitting tight and male was away foraging. Did find 2 white body feathers near where last year’s nest was in Scots Pine, but old nest has gone perhaps due to snow damage with quite a few limbs off the trees. New nest appears to be very close, perhaps 20m to W and again in Scots Pine. Not much splash but most of it would have been washed away anyway. Feathers are being dried out before being photographed again. Meeting on semiotics and category theory with p&j went on for 2 hours from 11:00-13:00. Earlier made Coffee Trader and later Baltic. Must say always like to see the lasses in Newcastle: very, very s.xy!!! And very, very lively!!! Late back for G, told off again but caught up! Trying to sort out ct papers for Liège at moment. Other possibilities for late winter trip are Dubai and/or Egypt. Or even Thailand for busman’s holiday with Oriental Honey-buzzard! Any takers?? 2moro it’s N for lunch followed by another Honey-buzzard nest site, perhaps in W, and much later t&s!! xxxxxx!!

June 21st: taking a breather from field work to do some work on feathers and on reversed sexual dimorphism, latter resulting in general update of jizz page. Will do more on this page over next few days to reflect recent gains in knowledge. Going to W much later!! Today is solstice – every day is shorter for next 6 months! W was good, always like quiz nite, team supporting 1=! Did score on one question: who wrote the Ring Cycle? Well Richard Wagner of course! Have much sympathy with the workers!!! 2moro meeting is at 11:00 so hope to have lunch afterwards in town before doing another Honey-buzzard nest site on way back!! Must keep up pressure on field-work, away for most of period 16/7-13/8 in Wales, Tuscany and Belgium! And still haven’t fitted in everything! Planning trip to St Petersburg with son (no Wagner, legacy of the war, but plenty of superb Russian music) and beginning to think about long holiday next February. Fun-wise tempted to the Canaries but maybe not enough raptors!

June 20th: visited a secret nest site near Stocksfield late afternoon from 15:30-18:45 in dry and rather sultry, but not hot, conditions, at least that’s what it felt like under the trees! Nest 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 is in Scots Pine, same one as used last year. First roused a pair of Common Buzzard (with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, 1st bird missing P5 and P1 on right wing, 2nd bird with complete outer primaries), then while studying the canopy noticed at 16:40 a male Honey-buzzard crossing over the site at moderate altitude and captured that on video 842 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 , absolutely amazing! P8 on his left wing is either missing or damaged. Did have a few calls from the depths of the wood but nothing very loud; could almost have ignored them if not switched on to the quiet communication between the pair at times. Then both birds flew quickly at 17:15 above the canopy but that flight not captured on the camcorder. Time actually at nest was 1 hour 20 minutes. So that’s two nest visits and twice lucky! Today’s magic numbers are 10,7,7;5,2,3:6,3,5!! Neighbouring sites are to W and to NE. There’s a new pheasant release pen in a corner of the wood, complete with electric wire near the base and a Larsen Trap nearby, perhaps for Magpie; better than carbofuran and didn’t see any Magpie at all. The walk-in is very overgrown but that’s why the birds are there of course! There was much splash 1  2 near the nest and these 2 feathers were also found close-by: scapular (118mm), white body (64mm). The freshly-shed scapular is ruddy-brown with pale spots and other markings on the edge of the inner web. The Honey-buzzard and Common Buzzard are nesting about 200m apart. xxxxxx!!

June 19th: did do an atlas square in light rain at Dykerow Fell, Whitfield Moor, from 13:20-16:00. This is a bleak area and got only 6 species in the target tetrad. However, including walk-in, wader totals were pretty respectable at Curlew (21 birds), Oystercatcher (4), Golden Plover (2), Redshank (2) and Lapwing (1). So addition of Redshank makes that’s 8 breeding wader species in last 2 days, which is amazing from a national perspective. Here’s views from Dykerow Fell looking NW, including car, looking W to Brown Rigg and looking S to Parmentley Fell where eye kept open for any Honey-buzzard, but none seen. As expected weather did clear on way back and had a male Honey-buzzard up above Oakpool at 16:10, same bird as on 12/6. Very good to see N again and hear all about his epic North America trip, MP was great to re-visit and Mozart’s Requiem was very well performed by Northern Sinfonia, Chorus and soloists. It was one of his last works, in fact not completed by Mozart, and shows the potential if he had carried on (or something like that!). Told off for arriving late at G but soon caught up! afa;ssh:act!!!! 2moro it’s back to the Honey-buzzard with site visit in the Tyne Valley W. Here’s a couple more earlier shots: village of Carrshield on 18/6 where 4 properties for sale including a barn conversion (off left picture); tree lopping at Ordley on 17/6 with part of debris. xxxxxx!!

June 18th: monsoon season well under way now! Did make Wellhope Moor at c560m for atlas from 16:30-19:15, walking up from Carrshield; weather cleared partially but still pulses of rain coming through pretty regularly. Here’s 2 views 1  2 of The Dodd from the top of Wellhope Moor and 2 views 1  2 looking N down Wellhope Burn. Enjoyed the walk getting 33 species with 7 species of wader: Curlew (15 birds), Golden Plover (10), Lapwing (3), Dunlin (2), Snipe (2), Oystercatcher (2) and Common Sandpiper (1). The waders were very happy in the damp. The Dunlin were the highlight; obviously I’d entered an area where they had small young, getting close views and hearing that lovely trilling. Here’s a short clip at close range and a longer clip (with smaller frame size) giving more context. Raptors included a Common Buzzard and a Kestrel. Great hot bath afterwards, thinking of the wonders of the world!!!! 2moro looks poor weather-wise with clearance probably clashing with the Sage but will keep an eye out for a break. Looks like Whitfield Moor as weather not so bad!

June 17th: here’s clips 839 from Ordley on 15/6 with 1st the female Honey-buzzard mobbed by Black-headed Gull (derived stills 1  2), 2nd mobbed by Crow (derived stills 1  2) and 3rd drifting away to S to feed. The comparison shots show just how big a female Honey-buzzard can be, distinctly larger than Common Buzzard for instance. The jizz with fluid wing flaps is very characteristic. Not bad for a garden bird – filmed from front garden!! Weather forecast was way-out today – sun came out late afternoon and decided to get garden straight(er!); lots of grass cutting, trimming of beech hedge and lopping high branches off a flowering cherry, which were beginning to brush against overhead cables. With super-fitness in Honey-buzzard season, tasks no problem!! But thirsty so off to W; N back this evening but not sure he’ll be out! aqotwf!! lokttgo!!!! Here’s also a clip 840 from Nookton on 15/6 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5. The pair of birds were up over their territory from 15:24-15:26; the female is the heavier bird: identification guides are deficient on the differences between male and female Honey-buzzard – they describe the former well and describe the plumage differences between males and female but do not bring home the heavier structure of the females, which makes them closer in jizz, although subtly different with experience, to Common Buzzard. Some even mention the heavier structure of the females but then go on to produce drawings and photographs, which do not bring out the point. Much of the problem is due to endless copying from book to book and a desire for caricatures! 2moro doing a moorland walk for the atlas at Carrshield in afternoon; Sunday evening it’s Mozart’s Requiem, MP before, with N at Sage but will drive in and should be back late in time for G!!

June 16th: phase 2 started well with strong sunshine this afternoon after rain at lunchtime when sat inside at N! Did local site from 14:00-16:00, crossing burn at 14:30 to reach nesting area. No action until 15:15 when the pair of Honey-buzzard came closer from S with much calling. Nest appears to be a re-use of last year’s in Norway Spruce. Left site at 15:35 as put a limit of about 1 hour on each nest visit to avoid undue disturbance. The birds do seem to have a strategy of ignoring visitors for 30-45 minutes so that casual disturbance is readily accommodated. On clearing the site at 15:45 the female was beating over it, demonstrating to her young that she’d seen me off! See clips 841 above (8/10) for multimedia material. Piccies and calls to follow tomorrow hopefully when weather is due to deteriorate badly for 2 days. So very pleased to get this visit in! Not become tt!! G was very good yesterday for t and there again tonite with work-mates as no space in t&s. Meeting at unn was postponed until next Wednesday but did go in with Mike to evening meeting of Institute of Physics at unn on Antikythera Mechanism, the earliest known scientific calculator, discovered in a ship wreck and developed by the Greeks c150 BC. Fascinating talk! Migration counts today included 18 in Sweden and 5 in Denmark.

June 15th: phase 1 ended with a bang, not a whimper. While getting ready at home to drive out to Derwent noticed a ragged Common Buzzard overhead, then a female Honey-buzzard appeared from 14:25-14:28, mobbed first by Black-headed Gull and then by Carrion Crow before drifting off S to feed. This is the first Honey-buzzard to be seen here since 4/5: suspect they laid early and may even have small young now; will be visiting them soon. She is not in moult. At Nookton had a pair of Honey-buzzard up over the site, the female of which went out hunting over the meadows full of waders, causing a lot of fuss! This pair cannot have laid yet so they are probably 5-6 weeks behind my local pair and their young will not fledge until early September at the earliest. Also had another Common Buzzard here so total for day is 5 raptors: 3 Honey-buzzard and 2 Common Buzzard. Here’s 2 clips 838 from yesterday, 1st showing the female Honey-buzzard gliding over site with derived stills 1  2  3  4, 2nd showing her in long effortless soar with derived stills 1  2. Building up opportunistically collection of common birds on video: here’s a clip of a male Yellowhammer from yesterday.

Totals for Honey-buzzard at end of phase 1 (15/6) are: Allen 7 sites, 12 adult (7 male, 5 female); Devil’s Water 6, 9(5,4); Tyne Valley west 7, 10(4,6); Tyne Valley east 4, 4(2,2); upper South Tyne 5, 10(5,5); lower South Tyne 4, 6(3,3); Tipalt/Irthing 3, 4(2,2); and Derwent 7, 9(5,4); giving grand total 43, 64(33,31). Certainly confirms SW Northumberland as the premier area for Honey-buzzard in the UK. There are only 2 sites from last year in which birds have not been found this season to date. There are also perhaps another 5 gaps in the area which could hold the species. Migration counts from 11th-15th are: Sweden 23, 25, 14, 10, 12 respectively; Denmark 104, 61, 14, 10, 5; UK 0, 1, 0, 2, 3; Belgium 0, 1, 0, 0, 1. Movement N still continues, may carry on reporting the counts for a little while longer.

June 14th: in beautiful weather did make Hyons Wood at back of High Mickley from 16:35-18:05 and all was quiet until 17:35 when on exiting wood had female Honey-buzzard gliding down into wood; 4 minutes later and she was soaring effortlessly very high for 5 minutes where a Crow finally caught up with her and did some mobbing, forcing her down a bit. She’s missing at least one inner primary on her right wing. Have some piccies to publish. Think she was on site in earlier part of visit and had soared up a little when first seen to see what I was doing (curiosity killed the cat!); she then went back to the nest and a few minutes later flew out to feed. The male must have been sitting on the eggs – nice to study a pc bird! So that’s 42 sites and 62 birds (32 male, 30 female); in all of 2010 had 41 sites and 69 birds (38 male, 31 female) so count of sites is up already and total of females is just 1 short of last year’s total. Last year was of course very stressed in May with death of mother. Phase 1 finishes tomorrow with trip to Derwent (Nookton). We worked hard in Durham on 3 papers and 2 long abstracts; Mike thinks move to Devon is closer as house sale looks more promising. Mike also thinks I should move back but prefer the birds up here!!! Interesting investment property in Prudhoe!! Getting ready for W! O is back from Canada, saw him on train, very tanned! Think might need to do some gardening!! sss:gtjf!!!! xxxxxxxx!!

June 13th: another jaunt out to Haltwhistle North Wood from 15:55-17:10 in breezy weather but with cloud clearing – good conditions! First Honey-buzzard was up at 16:07 a male flying in a straight line out of the site S down the valley; then from 16:50-16:54 had a female Honey-buzzard flying in skittish form to W of site; suspect male had come back to relieve her at the nest and she was releasing some of her pent-up energy. This is a long-standing site so pleased but not surprised it’s occupied this year. Then off for another go at Haughstrother from 17:15-17:45 where no Honey-buzzard but did have a cock Merlin mobbing a Lesser Black-backed Gull, which was unexpected to put it mildly. Other raptors were single Common Buzzard at North Wood and Haydon Bridge and a female Kestrel at Haydon Bridge so total for trip was 6 raptors of 4 species: 2 Honey-buzzard, 2 Common Buzzard and single Kestrel and Merlin. Not bad! 2moro it’s Durham to see Mike; 2 days vf this week as also making unn on Thursday morning!! Still trying to sort out D’s papers – think I’ve destabilised them now and there’s going to be a chain reaction of further changes. But not to worry: he’s a long way away! Might just make Hyons Wood late afternoon for another check for Honey-buzzard and later it’s W!! lokttgo!!!! Very addictive!! ftb!!!! The Gulls have appointed a new manager following a probably timely desertion by their previous one. Who’s this strange side Plymouth Argyle in League 2?? Exeter are top Devon team next year anyway! 5,2,8:4,3,4,4!!

June 12th: typical tantalising day with the Honey-buzzard. Went out to Parmentley on SE corner of Whitfield Moor for walk from 11:50-15:00. Had 2 Common Buzzard on drive over and no raptors at all on the edge of the moor in breezy dry weather with veiled sun. That is until, on leaving, drove car 100m up road to turn and on passing parking place used for visit saw a female Honey-buzzard flapping heavily towards the Monk site, obviously carrying some prey. The Curlew had been very restive for a while but whether she’d grabbed a Curlew chick or a small rodent such as a vole or a rabbit, I’d no idea at the distance involved. On last visit (21/5) she showed for perhaps 5 seconds, add another 5 now and she’s keeping a low profile! And why not – she’s not there for my benefit! No signs at the Parmentley site right on the edge of the moor so it’s either unoccupied or (more likely) they’re into the incubation phase. So onto Oakpool at 15:05, where nest is to be visited later, and had a male Honey-buzzard overhead as I parked with the rain just starting. Again the Curlew were excited and 5 minutes later he reappeared with attendant Curlew low-down overhead in the gathering gloom. Will put up video later with derived stills but off to G soon for Sunday nite crack!! To the naked eye he appeared quite pale on the underwing, hence considered a male. He’s not in moult at all and appears well fed: the tail is long with rounded corners, the head is small, the neck is long but not that thin, perhaps because he has a full crop! His mate is a real brute: she-devil of the Honey-buzzard world! But not seen her this year yet! Here’s the clip 836 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10. Still 10 has been brightened to attempt to bring out plumage detail but the light was too poor to permit this. Left at 15:25 with 40 sites up and 59 birds (31 males, 28 females). Rain was heavy for rest of day but did not stop play where really mattered!! ssg:ltjf!!!! xxxxxxxx!!

June 11th: wettest day for ages but good in long run for the Honey-buzzard as they don’t like it too dry – wasps become difficult to dig out and wildlife populations in general can decline. Very wet summers have no effect on Honey-buzzard productivity in Northumberland though elsewhere, for example Scotland, they have blamed losses on poor weather. Continual wet weather can affect observations though as signs on the ground get washed away, extra care is needed in minimising time on site so eggs/small young do not get chilled, access across streams and down banks might be restricted and the birds seem to take a lower profile. Here’s a clip 814 from Whitechapel Hill on 13/5 showing a pair of Honey-buzzard displaying over their new site from 16:52-16:56. The first half shows the male up at the start joined quickly by female, mutual circling by the pair with some flapping, female chasing the male, the pair diving together and rearing up and grappling. The male then goes off W and the female E. I particularly like the determined chase by the female: she’s really up for it, probably a young filly!! The second half shows the female floating, in flap-flap-glide action and gliding. A brief pan of the habitat was also taken. Here’s another clip 819, with derived stills 1  2, from Barhaugh in trip to upper South Tyne on 29/5 in very windy conditions. The pair were high up over Williamston S at 13:53 for 10 seconds, before power-gliding down into Barhaugh area. The male in particular was so captured at 13:54: there’s a break in the clip as a bus with kids from the Robinwood Activity Centre passes, forcing me off the narrow bridge; diplomacy rules though, don’t want to get the Honey-buzzard a bad name! Fine silhouette of male is obvious. Here’s yet another clip 821 from upper South Tyne at Eals on 29/5, amazing what you can do when no fieldwork! The pair were up in the strong wind from 14:45-14:52 but because of the distance only a small amount was captured on the camcorder. The birds spent some time close together alongside each other holding against the wind; they also did some diving down the hillside followed by a sharp rather wild rearing up again as shown in the clip – this behaviour is almost like Chough on sea cliffs. Have also processed video 811 from Beaufront on 10/5. As said below had already noted a male Honey-buzzard as being attacked by everything around. Well he is mobbed by Carrion Crow, Jackdaw and Common Buzzard. But also he’s joined by a female Honey-buzzard for a few seconds, maybe to show her solidarity! Clips were taken from 16:48-17:00 during which the male spent most of his time floating around, with the odd glide down into the trees, and being attacked at first by Carrion Crow, then seen off by Common Buzzard and finally attacked by 2 Jackdaw. Piccies to follow. So that’s now 39 sites and 58 birds (30 males, 28 females). D’s evidently reopening, after seeing off its creditors! Keep fit!! xxxxxx!! faswtgo!!! N’s coming back from his long trip to North America in a few days: will be good to go to concerts with him again although season is almost over. In many respects, absence has made me feel closer to someone else!!!

June 10th: made Minsteracres from 14:40-15:40 and at 14:45-14:53 had a male Honey-buzzard foraging on S side of road from Kiln Pit Hill – Barleyhill, with another sighting of the male on N side of road at 15:23. Weather was cool and rain arrived as left. This clip 834 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5 shows the bird: long-winged, long-tailed and small head held up on a long thin neck when extended. Think at the end of the first part, when the bird was moving quickly across a field in a ‘gutter’, that it did actually continue after I lost it, and moved to the N side where had the further sighting 30 minutes later. The pair at this site also look to be on eggs now: no sign of the female and the male out foraging but with rather devious flights. This is not uncommon in mid-June with the males out on their own giving a chance for discovery of further sites. That’s why phase 1 is going on until 15/6. Here’s stills of site and of foraging area. The extreme nervousness of Woodpigeon during the male’s tour of the area was noted; suspect that Woodpigeon eggs and chicks are an important part of their diet. A Common Buzzard was also hunting over S side. Off to W, maybe detour later!! Hexham was very chatty at lunchtime – coffees at both N and QH; liked the rhb!!!! sss:mmc!!!!! marvellous!!!! Do know who is now, very impressive!! Again 4 Honey-buzzard noted at Wykeham this afternoon, showing well; migration counts today included 15 in Denmark and 10 in Sweden. 2moro lunch in A’s and then catching up with data entry in the rain!

June 9th: busy day with category theory papers and quite a lot of follow-up actions. Sage is good for working – plenty of space and drinks to hand. Concert was of the adventurous type, including Kai by Turnage and 2 pieces not so often performed, by Stravinsky and Richard Strauss. Very stimulating, as was seeing the workers in action earlier!!!! Popped into O’N for a perfect pint of g but skipped A’s. Rather intrigued later, could be a sidewise move or competition, but unwanted attention!! 2moro back to business with trip to Derwent in afternoon, after lunch at N!! Migration over last 3 days included 14 on 7/6, 6 on 8/6, 9 on 9/6 in Sweden, 20, 80, 28 in Denmark and 0,1,2 in UK. At Gibraltar no Honey-buzzard have been reported from 3/6-9/6. Will cease reporting migration counts after 15/6 as passage is declining steadily. Good numbers reported from Wykeham Forest, North Yorkshire, over last few days, reaching 4 today. North Yorks Moors is perfect habitat for Honey-buzzard with its mixture of plantation and heather. xxxxxx!!

June 8th: made Gilsland Spa on the Irthing, the most W site in study area with Lakes in view, this afternoon from 14:30-16:05 in a showery but less wet day than yesterday. This area is not a proven site so no favoured areas known which is a hindrance. So walked through the gorge and after 15 minutes heard a Honey-buzzard calling once, with long call, at fairly close range; didn’t actually see the bird which is significant as it suggests a pair incubating at this stage of season and thus keeping a low profile. I’ll assume the bird was a male as the most likely scenario is the female sitting and the male on a tree nearby giving a low-key warning to her. The only other raptor seen was a Common Buzzard near Haydon Bridge on way back. So maybe the Honey-buzzard are beginning to settle! The gorge at Gilsland is a spectacular steep wooded area, managed by the Woodland Trust. Will carry on searching sites, where birds not found to date, until 15/6 when will switch in phase 2 to visits to the actual nests. Added clips 807, from visit to Swallowship in ‘Shire from 15:34-15:45 on 6/5. The first shows the male gaining height and then flapping out to feed to S at Dipton Wood in fast flight; the second shows the pair at distance up over the wood with much floating and mild interaction with the female keeping close to the trees and the male going a little higher, at one point they actually have a brief soar higher together; the third shows some interaction with a Common Buzzard which is trying to push the Honey-buzzard towards the E, there’s no serious combat but definitely an effort by the Common Buzzard to lean on the Honey-buzzard to push them eastwards away from their own site. Had 2 Wood Warbler singing, first of year. Here’s a note in RSPB magazine Birdsfor May 2011 saying Hobbies “are on the increase and expanding their range”: pleased to see it! Just bought 2nd volume of The Irish Rossiter; here’s flyer for 1st volume from Somerset and Dorset Family History Society. Somerset has more Rossiters than any other area of the world, even more than Wexford, and my paternal side made several switches between Somerset and Devon. Thought the gfff looked really terrific on last sighting!!!! G was very good at t: 10 of us there in our group, don’t know why so many but landlord jdidn’t complain. Suggestions should support Sunderland more next year (still after Gulls of course!). 2moro at unn and city library for most of day but meeting Mike at Sage at 16:00 for chat on paper before the concert. No t&s but might pop into A’s off last train!!

Totals for Honey-buzzard to date (8/6) are: Allen 6 sites, 11 adult (6 male, 5 female); Devil’s Water 6, 9(5,4); Tyne Valley west 7, 9(4,5); Tyne Valley east 3, 3(2,1); upper South Tyne 4, 8(4,4); lower South Tyne 4, 6(3,3); Tipalt/Irthing 3, 4(2,2); and Derwent 5, 6(3,3); giving grand total 38, 56(29,27). Also Hobby, total to follow. Sites in which birds not found yet are scattered – no neat line! Some have been visited already but the birds had not returned yet.

June 7th: added clip 828, with derived stills 1  2  3  4, from 2/6 at Dukeshagg, S of Prudhoe, which shows the female Honey-buzzard ‘in action’ for 4 out of 8 minutes in view from 17:47-17:55, effortlessly soaring and floating over her site. She does do a little hanging, flapping her wings while holding a stationary position. A bit like watching paint dry! But the whole flight is very economical energy-wise and actually quite a key feature of Honey-buzzard jizz. The site at Dukeshagg contains some conifer plantations, birch scrub and rough pasture, all very suitable for Honey-buzzard. A Sparrowhawk secondary feather (124mm) was also found there. No fieldwork today, rain early- to mid- afternoon and editing some catgeory theory papers from Greece for submission to a couple of conferences. Lunch at N was a little quiet in the damp; off to W soon, gr8 to see the lovely pair– mesmerised by them!!!!; 2moro planning to do a couple of sites in Gilsland/Haltwhistle area but back to G for g for t!! Thursday into unn for couple of meetings, followed by Sage for orchestral concert. xxxxxx to the gorgeous ones!! All quiet on the W front (apparently!). Who’s calling the shots?

June 6th: what an afternoon!! Morning was cool and grey but getting slightly better through lunch as sat at N in Hexham watching the lovely sights in Hexham!!! Then around 13:45 the sun came out strongly and the temperature rose quickly. I’d just started driving out to Allen Banks and at 13:55 a female Honey-buzzard came tanking over the road near Hexham Cemetery; I stopped briefly and she’d gone out of sight but her mate was way up in the sky above. Not a good place to stop so moved on to A69 at 14:00 where another pair of Honey-buzzard were in conflict with a Crow right over the road; this time found a lay-by nearby and got this close-up clip (831, much traffic noise) of the female crossing the road, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9, and this clip of the male, floating and in display with exaggerated flapping, who was more distant to E. Past Haydon Bridge at 14:15 another female Honey-buzzard was low-down over Whitechapel, a new site found earlier this season, where again couldn’t stop and proceeded to intended stop at Morralee for a walk. Morralee was a regular site but it’s too close to Whitechapel and had surmised the occupying pair had moved to Ridley. That appeared right at 14:48 when a male Honey-buzzard was seen in high-altitude display over the Ridley area. He was joined by a female until 14:58 and 2 Common Buzzard wailed below from the trees. Back at the car, a male Honey-buzzard was seen soaring and floating over Whitechapel from 15:28-15:32. So that’s 8 Honey-buzzard in 4 pairs at 4 sites. The presence of both members of the pair in the air indicates that none in this area are on eggs yet. It’s also confirmed that Whitechapel is a genuine new site, not a moved one, and totals to date rise to 37 sites (4 short of last year’s total), 28 males and 27 females. Should have more days with pressure off!! Had a further 3 Common Buzzard at Langley at 15:50 so total for trip lasting about 2 hours was 13 raptors of 2 species: 8 Honey-buzzard and 5 Common Buzzard. After 2½dull days the birds were itching to have a fly. Always think in this first phase of the season, it’s rather like a stereotyped opera or musical where the characters are introduced slowly in the first act one by one, culminating in a grand chorus at the end when everyone is present. The birds are absolutely hyped up now – mating must be frequent and egg laying imminent! There could well have been 50-70 birds up in the air from 14:00-15:00 in the study area this afternoon. Migration over last 2 days included 39 on 5/6,30 on 6/6 in Sweden, 52,46 in Denmark and 2,2 in UK. 2moro more showers likely and will see how they develop before deciding where to go. W much later!! lokttgo!!!

June 5th: did make Plenmeller Common in the rain from 16:20-18:45 and walked around the whole of the old open cast area. Waders, ducks and gulls were unaffected by the weather with good numbers and variety. At 17:55 the inevitable appeared: a male Honey-buzzard gliding N with occasional stronger flap-flap-glide in the rain all the way from edge of Whitfield Moor towards Unthank, a journey of about 5km, showing both their liking for feeding on the moors and the distances they’ll travel for feeding. Here’s the clip 830 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6. So that’s one more site for lower South Tyne. Earlier shopping went well – leek and Wensleydale chicken breasts for supper (easy to cook!) — gbsis a star!!! Think there might be a new presence in the land!!! G was good for chat; very appealing afterwards!!! Going to ease off the pressure now – have 35 sites compared to 30 by 15/6 last year! faswtgo!!! xxxxxxxx!!

June 4th: migration included 55 on 3/6,24 on 4/6 in Sweden, 48,16 in Denmark and 3,0 in UK; perhaps about another week of significant migration to go. Some interesting footage of Honey-buzzard from yesterday to publish: it’s a fascinating area with a few reshuffles over the years as the population increases and one more possible this year. Weather much duller and cooler today, not good for activity after a few good days. Into A’s for lunch and Sage this evening for opera (Beethoven’s Fidelio), driving in as last train too early; hope to catch up on data and video processing but grass also needs cutting! That’s 34 sites now with another 11 days of phase 1 to go and equal numbers of males and females at 25 each. Or put another way bloody brilliant!! Main concentration of sites with no birds recorded yet, 4 in total, is between Haltwhistle and Haydon Bridge but don’t suspect anything sinister; it’s just the logistics. Hope to have a go at that tomorrow with walk on Plenmeller Common as central tactic; a favourite spot with perhaps even a black cock! Fidelio by Opera North was brilliant; it’s short compared to some at 2 hours 45 minutes but very intense! N will be back in 2 weeks to rejoin me at concerts. Tyneside used to be visited by Scottish Opera but the Scottish Assembly cut back on opera considering it elitist, in spite of Scottish Opera then being regarded as one of the great operas companies of Europe. Opera goers tend to be pretty hedonistic so hotels and restaurants like them and cutting subsidies can be short-sighted for the community as a whole. Opera North from Leeds have thrived over the last few years; their next performance at Sage is on 26/6 when they’re doing Rheingold, 1st part of the Ring by the great one – Wagner, the most dramatic and the most sensuous!! Straight home – well behaved on Saturday, not even a stiff drink! xxxxxxxx to the most stimulating one!!!! Added clip 805 showing male floating over Dotland on 3/5 at 17:45 before circling slowly N towards West Dipton Burn at 17:48, complete with nice Curlew call; catching up on material from earlier in the season. 2moro’s trip is postponed to teatime when might brighten up; won’t interfere with nitecap at G!!

Here’s piccies from yesterday (3/6). First clip 829 taken from 16:20-16:25, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10, is of female Honey-buzzard flying downstream from top site. She has some feather damage, more evident in a later clip, and a Common Buzzard is swearing at her from the trees below. She is then mobbed by Lapwing and Curlew before another Honey-buzzard female appears, who is seeing her off the premises back to the middle site. This second bird returns to the top site, also being mobbed by waders including Oystercatcher. Perhaps a case of handbags!! Generally males take on males and females take on females; not seen a male-female stand-off yet! She appears to be the one seen here on 7/5, now moulting an inner primary on each wing. Second clip taken at 18:12, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, is from the middle site of the female chased out of the upper site. She’s close but pose is not revealing. Another Honey-buzzard can be seen much higher-up drifting NW: think this is her mate. Third clip taken from 18:19-18:27, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11, shows her profile and jizz better as she floats over the site. Females are not as lithe as males as they are built partly for nest defence. She is missing 2 inner primaries on her right wing, at least one central tail feather and a significant section off the tip of her left wing. Stray strands of feathers can be seen sticking out on a few stills: this and the widespread asymmetric damage might indicate that she has been shot at recently. Still she could fly well and appeared quite trusting. This freshly-shed scapular feather was found on the fell near Riddlehamhope; it’s 129mm long and ruddy brown having 2 pale bars on both edges with large breaks in the middle. Here’s also clips, from Sinderhope on 31/5, of the first-summer Peregrine and agitated Redshank, and from Beldon Burn on 3/6, of agitated Curlew and male Redstart. Habitat to follow.

June 3rd: here’s video 825 from Sinderhope on 31/5 showing firstly female gliding out of site with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5 and secondly female in distance soaring over neighbouring wood after an elegant bounce off a hill with brief views of an attendant Hobby in this derived still. Females are heavier than males but still have the same underlying structure in respect of small pointed head and long thin tail. Also note raised head in flight, very characteristic pose. Females will now presumably be putting on weight in preparation for egg laying which is imminent. She is missing an outer primary, perhaps P7, on her left wing. Here’s a clip 826 of the pair soaring at Studdon Park on 31/5 and another of the female out patrolling on the edge of her site with derived still 1  2  3  4. She appears to be moulting P1 on each wing. Her structure is very similar to that of the Sinderhope bird. 2 Honey-buzzard over Isles of Scilly today to greet the queen. Elegant pictures in the mind (1) – 5,2,5:2,9,4; more down to earth (2) – 5,2,8:4,5,4!! Still doing walk in Beldon Burn but have to try and keep up with processing the data. Out in Derwent area from 13:45-19:10 with c12km walked to cover 2 breeding atlas tetrads in hot weather with little breeze; managed to eat and drink all supplies by time I’d got to the top – just like a kid! So urgent f&c+mp on way back. Total for raptors was 4 Honey-buzzard and single Kestrel and Common Buzzard. 3 of the Honey-buzzard were females with one soaring high over the Durham site of Ruffside at 13:45 and 2 in the Beldon Burn itself. One of the latter had been seen before this year (7/5) and she appears to be a young bird occupying a new site at Riddlehamhope, which at around 380m appears to be the highest in the study area. She chased off another female from the middle of the Beldon Burn, an established site from which the birds regularly foraged up the burn to the new site. So that might affect the feeding potential of the middle site but maybe no problem as habitat is ideal mixture of woods and heather and spacing is the regulatory 2.5km! The male was up high over the female at the middle site, captured on video with identification left to later! Strangely the established site at Nookton, also in Durham, did not appear to be occupied; it’s a very late site so maybe they’re not back yet. Quite a lot to add from an exciting visit! Off to W for the odd welcome g; maybe disturbance too much tonite!! xxxxxxxx!!

June 2nd: wall to wall sunshine and very warm, supposedly up to 25º. Not actually the best conditions for spotting raptors because they don’t stand out very well against the blue; much better is a high thin veil of pale cloud! But anyway into Newcastle where spent most of day with afternoon meeting starting late and going onto 16:30. ssl:mfp!!! Came back to S of old Prudhoe hospital at 17:35 and at 17:47 was watching a female Honey-buzzard over Dukeshagg!! She was low over the trees at first, then soared effortlessly to moderate height for a bit of hanging and flapping before going even higher and out of sight. Also had a Sparrowhawk secondary feather (125mm long) from the Prudhoe site and a Common Buzzard flying low over a field at Lamb Shield, where pleased to say the interchange is now fully open again after a massive operation (man with bucket and spade) on the potholes on Newbiggin bank! Saves me 5 minutes in going E. Out to t&s tonite!! sse:vsc!!! 2moro it’s the Beldon Burn for long day with 2 breeding atlas squares and hopefully some Honey-buzzard. Migration today included 24 in Sweden, 20 in Denmark and 1 in UK. xxxxxx!!

June 1st: here’s last clip, with derived stills 1  2  3, from Lambley on 29/5 822 showing a Common Buzzard up at the start in mild interaction with a female Honey-buzzard, which continues in view after the Common Buzzard disappears. It was too windy for the Common Buzzard to take the matter further and it quickly returned to the trees. The derived stills show the Common Buzzard in focus. This is of course the site where a prominent member of the NCRC, from the review perspective, was supposed to have spent 70 hours sitting on his a.se watching for Honey-buzzard and found none!! To be fair (or patronising!) id does have a psychological edge: if you think “it’s all f…ing rubbish” as he happily told people then you’re unlikely to notice subtle differences in the jizz!! Imagine someone on a jury making a similar statement. In addition his attempts do not pass the test of scientific reproducibility: I like walking around the sites as well as sitting, though to be honest can see the attractions of the latter, and I never press one site that hard. It’s quite possible that the Honey-buzzard, who are wary of people, adjusted their flight paths and display areas to avoid the Viaduct. Aren’t they b.stards (the birds that is!). Or maybe that’s how they survive. Today’s lucky numbers are 5,2,8:4,3,4,4!! Out to Dipton Wood S this afternoon in dull weather from 15:25-16:50, walking along road from Wooley to Todburn and back. Thought it might be a dead loss but no, had a female Honey-buzzard going through the trees at the March Burn site for a few seconds and a male at the Dipton Wood SW site hanging and stalling ever so slowly over the woodland for about 8 minutes from 16:37-16:45 and delaying my trip to G, which was as usual very chatty! This is the first bird noted this season at March Burn, in Tyne Valley W area, but the male has been seen once already at the Dipton site. It’s only about 2 weeks to the first nest visit when they should be nicely settled on eggs! Working on papers this evening for 2moro when got meetings at 10:00 and 13:30 in unn with lunch at Baltic in between. Also trying to get house straight after cleaners’ 2-week absence! Hope to get out in the field late afternoon 2moro. lokttgo!!!!

Apt comment by Lee G R Evans in email today to Surfbirdsnews Not what you call a classic spring: “HONEY BUZZARDS are now starting to return to their summer territories in the UK and as such, migrants are being noted at numerous coastal localities as well as at inland sites. In fact, two birds from the Wykeham Forest (North Yorks) breeding population are already back on territory and showing from the Raptor Viewpoint”. Think he might get a missive from those in denial! Migration counts today included 23 in Sweden, 5 in UK (4 moving in Norfolk – 3 W, 1 NE), 3 in Denmark and 1 in Belgium.

May 31st: weather is improving and this is the best time for seeing Honey-buzzard in display. Today was cool on a NW breeze but with strong sunshine so plenty of thermals. Allen was very productive even though didn’t make Sinderhope until 14:25. Had a pair here up together at 14:42 but the male quickly sunk back into the site leaving the female to glide off to feed to the N where she was casually intercepted by a female Hobby up for the customary 30 seconds! Also here had a first-summer female Peregrine, only the 2nd in the study area this year: an amazing sight! Next downstream to Studdon Park, on S edge of Allendale Town, where arrived at 15:40 and had a pair of Honey-buzzard up at 15:54 with similar behaviour to the pair earlier, the female going off to hunt on his own, fortunately towards me. So didn’t linger here, quickly moving onto Oakpool from 16:10-17:05 where no local Honey-buzzard but a female was soaring to N over the Staward S site at 16:20. So total for day was 5 Honey-buzzard and single Peregrine and Hobby. Here’s 2 stills from visit on 27/5 to Hexham Tyne Green showing site and foraging area to N. This is the closest site to the centre of Hexham, just over a km from the Abbey! Also shown are short clips of juvenile Carrion Crow and Blackbird found in same visit. Today’s magic numbers are 5,2,9:5,2,3, including punctuation!! 2moro need to consolidate by catching up on videos and visiting a couple of sites in Tyne W perhaps, before g for t at G!! Tonite did make W – good crack. European reports today included 38 in Denmark, 26 in Sweden and 2 in UK (at Wykeham Forest). From Gibraltar for 30/5: “winds finally turned to fresh westerly, and a trickle of raptors flew north across the Straits and over the Rock. Although no constant watch was kept, several Griffon Vultures arrived low and landed on the Rock, but took off after a short rest. At least 10 Griffon Vultures were seen, with many more missed. Also observed over the Rock were 10 Egyptian Vultures, mainly immature birds, several flocks of Black Kites, some Honey Buzzards and a Hobby”. So passage continues in southern Europe indicating the migration season still has some way to go. sss:ltjf!!! xxxxxxxx!! Sweet dreams!!

Totals for Honey-buzzard to date (31/5) are: Allen 5 sites, 9 adult (5 male, 4 female); Devil’s Water 6, 9(6,3); Tyne Valley west 5, 6(3,3); Tyne Valley east 2, 2(2,0); upper South Tyne 4, 8(4,4); lower South Tyne 3, 5(2,3); Tipalt 2 3(1,2); and Derwent 3, 3(2,1); giving grand total 30, 45(25,20). Also Hobby, total to follow. Need to get back now into lowland areas to make sure what’s going on before mega-secrecy begins with the onset of egg laying! Also Derwent needs a visit and one is imminent for atlas work up the Beldon Burn.

May 30th: not bad timing but not perfect making Bardon Mill around 14:00 about 10 minutes after weather had cleared and getting a female Honey-buzzard in excited mood over a field towards Vindolanda in lower South Tyne area. Another female Honey-buzzard was up over Blenkinsopp Hall but decided not to stop as too much traffic! Made Blenkinsopp Castle Inn for proper stop and did 2½ hours breeding atlas work in Blenkinsopp Wrytree/Greenhead E area (NY66S), walking through to the Military Road and Greenhead and coming back along A69. Female, who I didn’t stop for, was very obliging coming towards me in flap-flap-glide mode before doing some floating and soaring high into cloud base; she disappeared but then made a repeat run a few minutes later just in case I hadn’t noticed! All this from 14:35-14:48. Next Honey-buzzard up was to the W over Greenhead, another female, floating high from 15:20-15:26. Later at 16:05 she was over Greenhead Bank. Meanwhile the male at Blenkinsopp Hall had made an appearance at 15:42 coming in from the fields S of the Wall towards the site. So these birds are being assigned to a new area Tipalt; Blenkinsopp Hall is being given a free transfer from upper South Tyne and Greenhead is a new site. Total for today in Tipalt was 3 Honey-buzzard at 2 sites; also seen were 6 Common Buzzard and 2 Kestrel, latter including a female carrying food into a presumed nest. Winds were lighter today, just a moderate W breeze, and this seemed to encourage the Common Buzzard to get up as well. Made quick visit to Featherstone Common around 17:00 to check for Honey-buzzard on open moor but none seen, though there was some dynamic glamour!!! On way back had the same male Honey-buzzard crossing the A69 just W of the Hexham bypass but at 17:40, 10 minutes later than yesterday! Two more clips from yesterday at Lambley 822. The first shows a pair displaying in the strong wind with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10; the attempted mobbing by a corvid is soon seen off with a quick turn of speed and one of the birds manages some dipping/rearing display despite the conditions. The second shows the female alone in display with derived stills 1  2  3  4; the wind is so strong at the end that I get almost knocked over but she stays in the air! Here’s the brief Hobby clip with 2 derived stills 1  2; the bird rises up very strongly and then dives spectacularly back into the trees, all in 19 seconds. Report on BirdGuides suggests the Honey-buzzard are not yet back at Swanton Novers: 12:35 30/05/11 Quail Norfolk Swanton Novers watchpoint one calling mid-morning but no sign of any Honey Buzzards by mid-day”. Migration is very slow once more: 19 in Sweden, 14 in Denmark and 2 in Holland. This week pressing ahead with survey work except for Thursday when into unn. It’s upper Allen 2moro with W later on!! Open to offers for the evenings but rfaswtgo!!!! ssb:mmc!!! xxxxxx!!

May 29th: what a day, blues quickly banished from yesterday! Very blustery morning with low cloud as expected so delayed departure to upper South Tyne to 12:45 and made usual circuit of Ordley-Alston-Haltwhistle-Hexham. SW wind was still very strong, almost gale force, but it was dry, the sun had come out and it was fairly warm. Left Lambley at 17:10 after almost 2½hours in the Eals area and earlier visits to Gilderdale and Barhaugh. The stars had decided to party, no matter the wind. Total for upper South Tyne was 8 Honey-buzzard at 4 sites and single Common Buzzard and Hobby. The Honey-buzzard put in some superb power-flying in the strong wind from 16:40-16:48 with the one Common Buzzard looking very cumbersome and unsteady in comparison. On way back had another Honey-buzzard, a male, flying low across the A69 just W of the Hexham bypass at 17:30 giving grand total of 9 for the day. With pairs in the air at the 4 sites in the upper South Tyne, no eggs have been laid yet. On reflection the wind probably helped as the birds flew lower than they might at this time of year when often lost to sight. Off to G to celebrate!! Very good, stayed a little longer than usual admiring s’s pair!!! Today is end of Dontino’s (Studio) but there’s always Havana! Here’s 1st clip 820 showing female up near Eals (W site) in wild display at 14:35 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9. Just a few seconds earlier had male Honey-buzzard up at this site at close range, making 3 long calls, but he sank down very quickly back into vegetation. The female appears to be moulting P1 on each wing and slide 3 shows 3 broad bars across the inner primaries on her right wing. 2moro weather looks like a repeat so may try new area of Tipalt/Irthing. Do wonder whether I’m neglecting Northumbria Ringing Group (NRG) in my review of review. After all they did play quite a big unrecognised role which should be acknowledged in some way! Some anxious activity I feel after developments with Twitter: BirdForum would likewise have to reveal identities if pressed by legal action! Migration today included 35 in Sweden and 17 in Denmark. xxxxxxxx!!

May 28th: well the Gulls didn’t win it; great pity but not enough composure in front of goal with 13 shots off target; still great atmosphere, nice to attend Old Trafford and had good chat on train back with a Gulls supporter k from Glasgow who I’ve met before. Trains were completely on time throughout – marvellous with 3 changes each way from Prudhoe – Manchester Utd station at Newcastle, York and Manchester Piccadilly. May be an upside in that we might struggle in the higher division and get relegated in a demoralising fashion. But really you have to aim as high as possible. Made O’N in Newcastle for a couple of g at £3.05 a time; rather bizarre with (some other!) football game on the big screen at one end and a live band Gladstone (with s.xy singer!) playing at the other. I settled for the band in the end!! Migration today remained slow with 36 in Sweden, 8 in Denmark and 1 in Belgium; for final rush suspect we need a rise in temperatures due midweek evidently. 2moro it’s back to business with long trip to upper South Tyne from noon when rain is supposed to clear followed much later by G, which is always good before bank holiday Mondays. Also got a fair backlog of material to process. Think I’m going to raise my estimate of the Devon Honey-buzzard population – habitat on edge of Dartmoor could hold quite a few pairs: would make someone a nice study area! Total for Devon trip was 15 raptors of 4 species: 11 Common Buzzard, 2 Honey-buzzard and single Kestrel and Hobby.

May 27th: visited Hexham’s closest Honey-buzzard site today from 16:35-18:05 in cool cloudy conditions with moderate SW breeze. It’s by the Tyne close to the golf course. Had 2 birds up separately, a male floating over a wood for 10 seconds at 17:05 and a female flapping slowly N low-down for a similar time at 17:23. So the pair is back but food is the current emphasis. When it warms up they will start thinking of other things!! Migration over last 2 days is still slow with Sweden (27 26/5, 46 25/5), Denmark (15,66), Holland (1,7) and UK (3,0 – 60 in month so far now). Made unn as planned – think we’ve got a novel paper coming up on formalising visualization of graphs in category theory. Very much enjoyed lunch on Quayside – always said when finished work that this would be a treat as never had time when lecturing. Some very stimulating sights around!! Made N at Hexham for t: gps looked very appealing!! 4 of us at W – good service from c&e!! A little way E, then back home. 2moro it’s the big one: even if it goes to extra time and penalties should be back on last train for Saturday, which is now the 21:54 to Prudhoe! Why doesn’t it go on to Hexham?? Then serious spell on Honey-buzzard is coming up.

May 26th: back by Flybe, smoother flight and just a little late. Desktop paralysed by updates and only been away a few days! But going fast now and merging in multimedia from Devon trip. Report today on very poor speeds achieved on mobile devices, particularly compared to those advertised, is a timely warning that serious work is still done on desk- and lap-tops. Migration yesterday 25/5 was pretty slow with 22 in Sweden, 8 in Denmark and 7 in UK. Total for UK though was 2nd best of the season! One coming ashore at Orcombe Point, near Exmouth, and flying N, was just a few km down the road from my sister’s house! The comparison between UK and Belgium totals to date is fascinating: 79 this season in UK and 62 in Belgium. Populations are estimated at c30 breeding pairs in UK (RBBP) and 300-450 in Belgium (Kostrzewa (1998)). So Belgium’s Honey-buzzard population is apparently 10-15 times greater and its passage much the same, despite the fact that it would be expected that at least some Scandinavian-bound birds would drift a little W over Benelux. The migration is still proceeding so we’ll see how it goes. But it’s very strange as it stands!! Incidentally in 2010 the IUCM didn’t think the Honey-buzzard was a passage migrant over the UK, in the sense that it overflies from elsewhere. They’re right of course; the large numbers in 2000 and 2008 were bred in the UK!! Here’s clip 818 of yesterday’s male Honey-buzzard on edge of Dartmoor, complete with back-chat with sister which does show some of the id process, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6. Here’s also 2 stills 1  2 derived from the clip of a Hobby at the same place. Looking forward to g tonite; 2moro into unn for meeting at 11 followed by leisurely lunch at Baltic, a spot of fieldwork, N for t, W and maybe a rv!! Quote from Gibraltar: “26 May: Easterlies have continued throughout most of the month, but the arrival of a low pressure system this morning produced cloudy conditions and for once the winds turned to westerly for a few hours. During this period a Honey Buzzard and a Marsh Harrier were seen heading north over the Rock. Easterlies are predicted for the rest of the week”. So most raptors in 3rd wave are probably moving on W side of Straits, e.g. Tarifa. Migration elsewhere included 59 in Denmark, 43 in Sweden, 7 in Holland and 0 elsewhere. Pleased left shopping late – gbs is a star!!!! t&s was good – 3 of us tonite; fairly settled for next few weeks so hoping to catch up on Honey-buzzard sites in the W, weather permitting.

May 25th: weather continued fine, much as previous day. Went with younger sister out to Dartmoor for walk (and search for Honey-buzzard). First stop for an hour was at a known site in a reservoir complex near Bovey Tracey where on arrival from 12:25 until 12:30 had a male Honey-buzzard floating over the site with some hanging and flapping and one dive, obviously waiting for mate! Some video and derived stills to follow on this bird who was up for 5 minutes. It’s clearly very easy said sister! Also had a male Hobby in conflict with 2 Jackdaw and 3 Common Buzzard here with 2 Hornet hunting for insects in a hedgerow. Next on to Soussons, a moorland conifer plantation 1  2, where a female Kestrel was the only raptor. This is a grand part of Dartmoor with much heathy scrub at Vitifer and Birch Tor rising to 480m. A large party of kids were enjoying Birch Tor! We walked for 2 hours in the area getting good range of moorland and forest birds. Then recovery plan at the nearby and well-placed Warren House Inn, right on the open moor and at 430m the highest pub in southern England. Fernworthy Reservoir is another moorland conifer plantation worth checking. Finally looked briefly at Bridford Wood 1  2, near Steps Bridge on the Teign, simply superb Honey-buzzard habitat similar to that at Towsbank, which was the first site colonised in Northumberland. But none seen in the short stop. Noted in Devon bulletin that 2 Honey-buzzard were seen at Chudleigh on 30/8 last year, an area where had 2 birds myself last September. Sister thinks identifying Honey-buzzard is a piece of p.ss!! But she hasn’t seen a female yet! So enjoyable short ‘break’ nearing end. Looking forward to return!!Back to action in the woods!! xxxx!!

May 24th: much better weather with long sunny spells on a light SW breeze. Went for walk in E Devon with younger sister for 3 hours along the coast from Seaton to Branscombe, where that container ship went aground in a very popular incident for local recovery merchants. Midpoint for coffee break was Beer which is an appealing fishing port and grockle trap. Hoped to get a Peregrine on the steep cliffs but none appeared, did though get 4 Common Buzzard and a Cuckoo flying S. Breeding seabirds included Herring Gull and Cormorant with Shag, GBB Gull, Shelduck and Fulmar also present. Cliff scenery was stunning everywhere but particularly on this ‘Jurassic’ stretch between Beer and Branscombe 1  2  3. Other picturesque sections were S of Seaton and immediately S of Beer. Sister’s partner dropped us off at Seaton and fetched us at Branscombe where g at Masons Arms before late lunch at Wheelwright Inn, Colyford, where mum had large party celebrating her 90th birthday in 2009. With deep depression moving into Scandinavia little migration today with 14 in Sweden, 3 in Denmark, 3 in UK (total for month now 50) and none in Holland and Belgium. Looking forward to t&s, f…… a.. permitting. More imagination needed on rendezvous!! faswtgosm!!! xxxx to the gorgeous duo!!

May 23rd: strong SW breeze, mild even warm in shelter of lanes, a little rain at tea-time. Made regular site near Exe from 11:35-12:40 and had a female Honey-buzzard up briefly, first mobbed by a Crow at 11:55 and then gaining height a little and moving off to N low-down at 11:56. Also had 4 Common Buzzard up between Sidmouth and M5 at Exeter. Visited Dawlish (to check on bungalow, sale subject to contract with original buyers again, no chain) before going to the shrine of Plainmoor in Torquay to get a ticket for Saturday!! Then back to Teignmouth to check on old haunts. Added Cirl Bunting, Gannet and Shag to year list in UK. Nephew and partner came over from Teignmouth in evening with her son; very lively dinner, again with a commemorative flavour, good to see them again. Next big family re-union is in Volterra in late July when 30 of us are taking over a villa for a week for another nephew’s wedding!! But also going with elder sister’s family to north Wales in mid-July. Slower migration today with 73 in Denmark, 31 in Sweden and 6 in Holland. Further piccies today from Teignmouth of Wellington Street with broader and narrower views showing old jewellery shop of grandfather, now a card shop, the clean but empty beach with view to Ness and some real gulls 1  2  3!! xxxx!!

May 22nd: flying visit to Devon (or busman’s holiday) staying with younger sister and husband in Sidmouth; bumpy flight with seat belts fastened all way and fast landing at Exeter to avoid problems with gusts but it only takes an hour – take-off delayed by group of men ignoring assigned seats, necessitating a number of movements of passengers to re-balance the plane. The offenders weren’t from the NE, pleased to say, probably from Plymouth! Not very pc with a few very large passengers selected for moves to minimise traffic! Wind is definitely affecting the study now; in fairly calm conditions several pairs of Honey-buzzard can be up in the air at the same time taking advantage of the thermals. In windy conditions the birds can still be found by watching each nesting area closely but this is much more time consuming (and less satisfying!); perhaps more like fieldwork in July. It’s getting worse tomorrow in the N with rain forecast in SW for late afternoon. Hoping to go down to Torquay in hired Corsa to get my ticket and visit a few heaths before rain starts. Migration continued at recent higher rate with 236 in Denmark, 98 in Sweden, 3 in Holland, 2 in UK and 1 in Belgium. No reports from Gibraltar since 16/5. Missing the super-fit duo!5 rfaswtgo!! x9

Totals for Honey-buzzard to date (22/5) are: Allen 3 sites, 5 adult (3 male, 2 female); Devil’s Water 6, 9(6,3); Tyne Valley west 4, 4(2,2); Tyne Valley east 2, 2(2,0); upper South Tyne 1, 1(0,1); lower South Tyne 2, 3(1,2); and Derwent 3, 3(2,1); giving grand total 21, 27(16,11). Also Hobby 5 sites. It’s not bad with Honey-buzzard now found at about half the sites in study area with very incomplete coverage in the W where it’s been particularly wet and windy and 3rd wave only just starting. Males predominate this year so far 16:11.

May 21st: did make Whitfield area for breeding atlas from 14:50-16:50 and had female and male Honey-buzzard up separately over Monk Wood in very breezy conditions. The female was seen moving through the tops of the trees for a few seconds at 15:28; the male was up longer from 16:08-16:10 hanging over the wood virtually stationary in the strong SW breeze, a very strong flier. Also had a male Sparrowhawk in the area and 1st Spotted Flycatcher of year. Did a lot of grass-cutting, getting 1st attack of hay fever. A’s was good for lunch: excellent opportunity to catch up with the FT! 6 Honey-buzzard migrants today on BirdGuides, in Suffolk, Norfolk and E Sussex, perhaps vanguard of 3rd wave. Migration elsewhere picking up as well with 298 in Denmark, 121 in Sweden, 17 in Holland, 4 in Belgium and 3 in Germany. Concert in evening was entertaining with Bradley excelling in gypsy music on the violin – met a lot of people from the 2 universities ncl and unn who I’d not seen for a while so nice and sociable. Went to the ½ after – only £2.75 for g — very interesting!! Something’s happened elsewhere or I’m finished!!

May 20th: made Hyons Wood, S of High Mickley, from 14:35-16:10 in cool mainly cloudy conditions on a moderate W breeze. Raptors were not bad having 4 birds of 3 species: 2 Sparrowhawk (pair seen separately), a male Goshawk (soaring quickly into base of a dark cloud and disappearing!) and a Red Kite (at Wylam S, from train). But no Honey-buzzard, maybe not returned yet, no feeling that they were present from movements or actions of other birds and no signs either at Dukeshagg, which is to E. So we’ve still got some birds to come back I think! Meeting at unn went well, plotting another paper, meeting again next Friday morning (27/5). Made N at Hexham for t, healthier than G, good feeling from the rhb!5 Didn’t the Gulls do well – followed every second on live updates, getting a battling 0-0 draw putting them through 2-0 on aggregate — will go to Old Trafford on 28/5 for final!! Bit late to W but very good chat; did pop back to see if any action but sadly none. 2moro into A’s for lunch, then a breeding atlas square near Whitfield, a concert early evening at Hexham Abbey with p&j and then nitecap (E or W?)!! Migration speeded up a bit over last 2 days: Denmark (72 20/5, 92 19/5), Sweden (54, 38), Germany (3,10), Netherlands (5,0) and UK (1,0) but think we’re still waiting for 3rd wave.

May 19th: watched Horsley Wood, Wylam, from 16:30-17:45 and had a male Honey-buzzard up for 5 minutes and a female Hobby for 30 seconds, latter is par for the course, they don’t hang around. Added further clip 816 from yesterday showing the same male Honey-buzzard up above the site and mobbed aggressively by a Crow. The Crow starts off by striking the Honey-buzzard but eventually the latter escapes in an impressive power glide into the strong wind, leaving the Crow well behind. These stills 1  2  3  4 are derived from the clip. It was red-hot at Byker this afternoon with these shots 1  2 taken on mobile of smoke pouring from a scrapyard – would not have hung around if downwind of the toxic fumes! Submitted a paper with Dimitris to 15th Panhellenic Conference on Informatics for late September and we’re hoping to submit 2 more to Liège for August; D’s going to 1st, myself to 2nd. Had long meeting with Mike, going on to 15:40. Got another meeting at unn tomorrow at 11:00 with 2 colleagues on formalising visualisation. There’s so much stress with exam/project/course marking at the moment: that’s the aspect I liked least, really enjoyed teaching and research! Great day though, very much my favourite blouse and b.obs!7 x9.t&s was good chat, 3 of us this week, perhaps turn for Wylam next Thursday. Had Tawny Owl calling in Hexham at 24:00 but no Oystercatcher overhead. 2moro after meeting in unn, back to Tyne Valley for another Honey-buzzard site in Prudhoe area, G for g for t as missing next 2 scheduled Gs and W later! Good luck to the Gulls for sf leg 2 against the Shrews; don’t give away an early goal and don’t get any red cards!!

May 18th: blown to bits today up at Staward from 14:15-16:30 with SW wind near gale force at times. It was sunny most of the time but made a hasty exit as black clouds built up to W. Good result though with 3 Honey-buzzard: a female at the site to the S and a pair to the N, adding 2 birds and one site to the year’s totals. Indeed these were the only raptors seen and they coped well in the strong gusty wind as you’d expect for a long-distant migrant that crosses such windy areas as the Sahara Desert and the Straits of Gibraltar. The birds bobbed around and the camera and myself were buffeted but from this clip 816 of the male some sharp images were obtained 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11 showing the classical male silhouette of long tail bulging near tip, small protruding head and cuckoo-like jizz in fast glide. You can see why Honey-buzzard are unlikely drift migrants – very effective powered flight against the wind. Satisfied with Google rating of the ‘review of review’ pages (e.g. part 1, cited above): try searching for Steve Roberts raptorfor instance. ‘Phoned big sis tonight to discuss a few more ideas: good thing I’m nice really!! Not sure where it’s going to end but La vendetta è un piatto che si serve freddo!! Trust queen will be buying some Irish bank shares! Ken Clarke has got big feet – amazingly insensitive. Though fact that only 6% of cases end up with convictions, the real issue he was trying to highlight, is pretty serious. Added clip of Goshawk to 17/5 below. Crack at G was very good!! 2moro into Newcastle, then trying a site near Wylam and much later at t&s!! Migration still at a crawl with 32 in Sweden, 10 in Denmark and singles in UK and Belgium. Feeling stiff. Lots of love to the gorgeous duo!6

May 17th: trip up North Tyne to Wark Forest, walking 12km in all from 13:30-17:30 from Whickhope Anchorage area of Kielder Reservoir up to Whickhope Nick at 420m asl. Purpose was for BTO’s BBS (Breeding Bird Survey) in which you walk 10 transects of 200m each in a 1km square, noting habitat types and counting all birds seen/heard. Two of the transects, across a raised bog 1  2  3, are completely knackering (but keep you fit!). It’s very bleak up there now as they’ve done a clear fell over a vast area. So it resembles a moor in some respects but there are masses of remains of old trees and new trees have already been planted. Quite a lot of drizzle today and fresh SW breeze but mild, much warmer than last year when it was snowing for a bit. Two raptors were seen: single Goshawk (male, clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5) and Common Buzzard, both on the top. Very interesting were single Red Grouse (clocker found on raised bog indicating paired female plus one call) and Black Grouse (Greyhen) showing how they might return if it really did become moorland again. Also had a male Wheatear, probably a migrant northern bird, on its way back to Iceland or Greenland. Still compiling the data for the survey. Have had Honey-buzzard in this area before but none today. Also checked Hesleyside, near Bellingham, for Honey-buzzard as habitat looks great but none today and not planning to extend study area into the North Tyne! Too many wild border reivers!! Do wonder if visibility of Honey-buzzard a few days ago and non-visibility now is partly due to pause in migration. Birds holding territory may spend extra time looking conspicuous when migrants are passing overhead, as at West Dipton on 9/5 where 2nd bird passing over very high captured fortuitously. Migration everywhere is at a virtual standstill today with 19 in Sweden, 8 in Denmark, 2 in UK and none in other monitored countries. Pleased with Amazon – return reached them and postage and defective product cost quickly refunded. About to leave for W, g will be very welcome!! More piccies later! xxxxxx to those with nice legs!4 W was good though quizzers sadly a bit depleted: straight home!! 2moro lunch at N, field trip out in afternoon to Staward and G for g for t. That’s it!! Thursday into unn, lunch in town and meeting Mike in afternoon at 13:00. x9

May 16th: more clips from West Dipton visit on 9/5 (810). First shows male up in aggressive flapping over site with migrant male way above, with derived stills showing both birds 1  2  3  4  5 and only the lower bird 6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13, still 6 shows the grey head, the black envelope to the wing, black restricted to the fingers on the wingtip and the missing P7 on his left wing; second shows a longer sequence of floating and gliding including the first clip; third shows the occupying male in high altitude display with dips and flaps at peaks in between. Mixed news from Malta where significant Honey-buzzard passage of >100 birds at the end of April (28/4-29/4 apparently from Google News dates) but a few birds sadly shot including this male recovered on 2/5; fortunately, as the 2nd link shows, the situation is improving though thanks to the tremendous watch mounted by activists: congratulations to CABS!! Saw son off on train to Newcastle at 12:23; ran a bit later than usual but definitely had its upside with the rhb!6 Thinking about trip to St Petersburg next with son. Update from Gibraltar: “16 May: very little to report on since the easterly winds have dominated the week, preventing any further raptor passage [since 7/5 in fact]”. Some may still have gone further W (Tarifa, Barbate) but does look as if 2nd wave is complete in southern Europe, one more wave to come there! Indeed passage is slow everywhere today: none in Holland, Belgium, Germany or UK, 46 in Sweden and 6 in Denmark. Today visited Hexham Westwood from 16:25-18:10 for an experiment: how bad do the conditions in May have to get before you don’t see any Honey-buzzard? Well today was bad enough – indeed no raptors seen at all though did get 25 species of other birds. It was very windy, almost a gale, and cool and cloudy with persistent drizzle! View to neighbouring site shows the drizzle. 2moro doing BBS in Wark Forest for full day out with long walk, hopefully back for t in Hexham and W for supper!! x9 to the pretty gfff!4 Certainly G++, possibly G+++, what a star!9 Over-slept, sweet dreams, but still going to Kielder!4x9

May 15th: son staying an extra day! Saw daughter off at Newcastle Airport at 17:00; very good to see her again, next stop Lagos! Planning trip to London in late June and it’s Devon next week for a few days to see younger sister. New disk behaving well with larger internal drive now having free 528GB out of 698GB instead of a more perilous 40GB. Worked also on C drive, releasing 50GB of space so it now has 64GB free out of 232GB; this disk of course holds the system and programs so should not be stuffed with data. Weather is really quite poor now for Honey-buzzard activity (fresh breeze, cloudy, frequent rain showers, cool) so not missing too much. Sorted April 2011 national counts for Honey-buzzard and published them on main web page. Total of 22 is easily a record, breaking comfortably previous one of 17 in 2007 and average of 8.0 from 1996-2011. Also compiled, but not published in final form May 2011 figures to date; these show a total of 36 from 1/5-15/5, which can be compared with long-term average of 51 for whole month and counts for whole month for last 3 years going backwards of 65, 77 and 75 from 2010-2008. Looking at European figures from 13/5-15/5: in Denmark (159 on 15/5, 665 on 14/5, 408 on 13/5), Sweden (158, 229, 74), Holland (11, 1, 4), UK (1, 8, 3), Belgium (0, 4, 1) and Germany (0, 1, 0). So big passage now moving well into Scandinavia in Sweden but the highest counts still in Denmark. UK total of 58 for whole season to date compares not that unfavourably with Dutch and Belgian totals of 177 and 56 respectively. German totals come from Trektellen, originate mainly in the area to NE of Holland and are not representative of the whole country. No news from Gibraltar since 10/5. Something really missing tonite: hopefully Sunday nite G++ reassigned to Monday nite!6x9 to the pretty ones!4

May 14th: made site way up ‘Shire this morning for 50 minutes and had 2 Honey-buzzard in 2 separate incidents (clip 815 with derived stills 1  2  3), a pair up high in follow-me at 12:05 and a male up high doing a rapid dive near end of flight when joined by female at 12:07. Also had a Common Buzzard close-up here and a Sparrowhawk with kill at Houtley. Shopping and meal all passed off very successfully; now for the big one!! x9to the most inspiring one!4 Made Tyneside Cinema at 17:00 for Wagner’s Walküre from New York Met; it started 35 minutes late because of database problems with the high-tech set! Son and I really enjoyed it: impressive stage effects and very good singing by Wotan (Bryn Terfel), Brünnhilde (Deborah Voigt), Sieglinde (Eva-Maria Westbroek) and Siegmund (Jonas Kaufmann). Ride of Valkyries, 4 hours 15 minutes in (long time to wait for generally acknowledged highlight!), was really exhilarating. Had to get taxi back as didn’t finish until 23:00 and missed last bus, only £35 to Riding Mill! But couldn’t have left early! On a slightly different tack Gulls are 2-0 up after 1st leg at home against the Shrews in SF play-off. Some 8 Honey-buzzard in UK today on BirdGuides, best so far this season. Will try and catch up with things later tomorrow. x9

May 13th: out to Morralee at bottom of Allen from 16:15-17:15 and had a pair of Honey-buzzard displaying over Whitechapel Hill from 16:50-16:55 on other side of valley. This site is in lower South Tyne and is a new one. It’s about 2km from Morralee so a little too close for comfort if there were still a pair there. Suspect the Morralee pair have moved a little W to Ridley thus keeping everyone happy at 2.5km spacing but will obviously need to check. Again profitable weather pattern has been late afternoon when showers begin to fade away and sun is still fairly strong. Mid-afternoon the eyes have it!6 Lots of love to the s.xy duo↑!6 Replacement disk arrived and it works so now in a very long copy to back up the raw Sony video data: 5 hours 35 minutes is initial estimate to copy 436GB. W was good, rather fascinating drive E and only 10 minutes late meeting son off 23:10 megabus from London (sooner him than me!). Now copying 65GB of stills. Family reunion continues until Sunday at 18:00 when drop daughter off at Airport. 2moro sees big shop, commemorative lunch, train in to Newcastle, Walküre from 17:00-22:10 and last bus back! x9

May 12th: am on a medium-term move to bring a more uniform style to these web pages – same font of Arial, font size 13/14pt, Honey-buzzard not Honey Buzzard and some administrative changes to the html source. At the same time the content of each page is being reviewed to bring it up to latest thinking. So over the past week have updated the identification and plumage pages. One of the motivations with the latter is to be a little more positive on the usefulness of plumage features when the bird is close and you have a useful tool to record features such as an HD camcorder, while maintaining a cautious view on its overall use in breeding areas where underlighting is poor. Following visit to Newcastle did manage quick trip to Bywell where had a female Honey-buzzard hanging over Cottagebank in the rain; of course they spend half the year in the African rain forest so are not very perturbed by the damp! You can hear the rain near the end, when she becomes more skittish: it’s not me having a p! Here’s clip 813 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9; at some distance and in poor light but there’s no alternative in field conditions at times. Picked daughter up, so good to see her again and made W for extra shopping where very moving to see the gbs!4 €♫ on tonite and daughter wants to watch that so will make t&s, which was chatty with 5 of us there! Afterwards soooo lively!9She’s so very s.xy!9Recent pattern continues in migration, except for increased numbers in Sweden, with 226 in Denmark, 51 in Sweden, 4 in Holland, 3 in UK and 0 in Belgium and Germany. Further S 2nd phase is waning with, at Gibraltar, 99 on 5/5 and 378 on 7/5. x9to the gorgeous gfff!42moro out to a site in late afternoon after trip to Hexham to post back the disk. Should make W later followed by trip to Newcastle to fetch son off the bus!!

May 11th: focus today was meeting Mike at Bradleys coffee shop in Consett to discuss papers for Liège; all very productive. Stopped on way at Kellas from 12:00-13:00 and rewarded with this male Honey-buzzard flapping by at close quarters after 35 minutes wait; here’s clip 812 with derived stills 1  2  3  4. New summer visitors for the season included Tree Pipit and Whitethroat and a female Kestrel was hunting over some clear-fell. Also tried without success for a new site at Allensford, which looks very suitable, from 13:10-13:45 (expecting a bit too much in that time!). Red Kite seem to be all the way through the Derwent Valley with another pair near Wallish Walls turn off at 13:05 on Northumberland side; occupation is certainly much better this year. Made G late at 17:30 but good crowd tonite and plenty of lively chat; healthy life continued with Chinese takeaway; as usual not out again! Frustrated this evening by failure of new WD Elements 2TB external drive to install; suspect power supply problem and working on it. Could also try it on laptop for 2nd opinion! 2moro into unn for meeting at 10:00 and picking up daughter at lunchtime from airport; not sure about t&s later but will try!! Many nice thoughts today of the lovely one!4 WD Elements is going back; getting replacement from Amazon; p.ssed off with loss of 3 hours in trying to get it to work! Recent pattern continues in migration with 265 in Denmark, 18 in Sweden, 8 in Belgium, 5 in Holland and 3 in UK. I think the Danish figures include a number of localities quite close together so maybe same flock being counted several times!

May 10th: added running totals to yesterday for Honey-buzzard below. Got positive results now in approximately 1/3 of sites active last year. Home area of Devil’s Water (Hexhamshire) is featuring very well. Going to try Tyne Valley later this afternoon and Derwent tomorrow morning, latter on way to Consett for meeting with Mike (½ way!) in afternoon but expect to be back for G! x8 if you’re up for it!4 Well she certainly was!9 Absolutely brilliant!9 x8 Delighted to see the gorgeous duo earlier!7 Made site near Egger’s factory in Hexham, Beaufront, from 16:20-17:45 and had a male Honey-buzzard up about half the time attacked by everything around. Need to analyse video before saying anything more. Had Sedge Warbler singing from oil seed rape fields. Migration pattern similar to yesterday with 320 in Denmark, 18 in Sweden, 5 in Belgium, 4 in Germany and 3 in UK. New backup external disk arrived so can sort out internal disks that are near to being full.

Totals for Honey-buzzard to date (9/5) are: Allen 1 site, 1 adult (1 male, 0 female); Devil’s Water 5, 7(5,2); Tyne Valley west 2, 2(1,1); Tyne Valley east 1, 1(1,0); upper South Tyne 1, 1(0,1); lower South Tyne 1, 1(0,1); and Derwent 2, 2(1,1); giving grand total 13, 15(9,6). Also Hobby 4 sites.

May 9th: had very good trip to West Dipton Burn 1  2 (in ‘Shire, near Hexham Race Course) this afternoon from 13:30-15:00 with local male Honey-buzzard back on site. Indeed that’s an understatement as he spent 1 hour and 4 minutes up in the air, almost continuously, over the nesting area from 13:50-14:54, hanging in the S breeze with wing/tail flexing and some flapping, sometimes wheeling off to W and then returning to E, and diving/rearing display. Even more remarkable was another male appearing high overhead above him at 14:05, so high that I’d never have picked him out unless I’d had the camcorder focused on the high clouds. He disappeared off to the N so think he was a migrant, interested in territory below and its occupying male, but quickly passing on to his own territory. So where’s the female? She is one of the bigger Honey-buzzards, only matched by another female at Oakpool. He’s obviously anxiously waiting for her but if she doesn’t turn up he’ll be after a bright dark young filly with which to mate!4How it works I think is that the oldest birds come back first and re-take their prime territories (first phase, completed), then other experienced birds come back to also take their territories (second phase, in progress), finally the inexperienced 3cy/4cy (cy = calender year, fledged 2009/2008 respectively) birds come back mainly but not always to their natal areas (third phase, not started yet though see 7/5). The last group will be courted where there are vacancies; there must be some protection for genetic diversity (not morality!) against father-daughter or mother-son pairs but not sure what! Those not quickly finding mates in established territories might look for a new territory as pioneers or simply over-summer on the edge of the territory of an existing pair as non-breeders. Also had an irate Common Buzzard (never like return of Honey-buzzard), a Kestrel (female) and a Sparrowhawk (male). So 4 raptors of 4 species. Late into Hexham: made N where good chat to p; very stimulating silhouette of gps!5 More business needed with the gorgeous one, maybe 2moro!5x8. Here’s first clip (810) for today’s Honey-buzzard with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9. The flapping is very characteristic, like a kite not a buzzard, so you don’t even have to consider Common Buzzard as jizz indicates another family. He’s missing P7 on his left wing and there’s a small nick on an outer secondary on his right-wing, but he’s not as battered as some! The head is small and raised in flight, the tail long and narrow and black on the wingtips is restricted to the fingers. There’s a lot more video material to come here, showing further characteristic poses. Heavy Honey-buzzard passage through Denmark today with 414; elsewhere 70 in Holland, 22 in Germany, 18 in Sweden and 3 in UK, where 2 in Northumberland: Birdguides (19:22 09/05/11 Honey Buzzard Northumbs Hexham 14:05 male drifting north and high mid-afternoon; 14:57 09/05/11 Honey Buzzard Northumbs Shirlaw Pike a female circling over Shirlaw Pike this afternoon). Have removed obvious duplicates in spite of what said yesterday. 2moro it’s lunch at N followed by a spot of fieldwork and much later the W!!

May 8th: today made Blanchland and Derwent Reservoir from 15:45-17:50 with very welcome news that Red Kite (one bird floating and gliding in slowly to land, mobbed apparently by House Martin) are back at the former. Had one Honey-buzzard male seen from Ruffside at 17:16-17:20 in-between sites soaring very high and moving slowly W at great height, not far below clouds, then giving subdued display with a few dips before finally gliding down onto the moors to the W of Ruffside (clip 809 above). Also had 2 Kestrel (pair) and 3 Common Buzzard (in full display at Ruffside) so that’s a total of 7 birds of 4 species. Piccies of birds to follow. Weather was not so good in morning with continual showers so left trip until late afternoon when really bright sunshine and a moderate SW breeze (perfect!). Lots of x8to the gorgeous gfff!4 Numbers of Honey-buzzard on passage increased today in northern Europe with 104 in Denmark, 42 in Holland, 29 in Germany, 16 in Sweden and in Belgium and 1 in UK. There are some duplicates in these counts but I’ve neither the time nor the local knowledge to resolve them! Made G, rare compliment from landlord that he likes me coming in because I keep others staying longer!! Haven’t had my free g yet, and probably won’t!! Think there’s an effort to move closer, or something like that!8Very good!4But maybe not so lit-up!42moro looks better in morning so out in field then getting back to N for late lunch!! x8

May 7th: mid-morning update, added material from Ordley for 4/5. Received this morning disturbance permit from Natural England for Honey-buzzard, Hobby and Goshawk for SW/S Northumberland for the current season. This is needed for nest visits, not for watching them from some distance and the Hobby and Goshawk are there for insurance purposes in case I accidentally come across one of their nests. But I’m not planning any Honey-buzzard nest visits until mid-June: let them settle down nicely first! The last thing I want to do is destabilise their nesting patterns as it’s bad for the birds and it’s bad for me (have to re-locate new nest sites). About to go out for a long moorland walk from Baybridge; slept very well last nite; love to the fabulous gfff!6 Mid-evening update, did walk up Beldon Burn from 13:40-18:50, a repeat of 31/1 atlas survey, walking 12km and climbing from 280-430m asl. Very steamy conditions with driving rain on way up, turning to a Turkish bath on top as sun came out! Visibility was very poor as can be seen of these 2 shots of Honey-buzzard territory at Nookton (in Durham) and the Beldon Burn. Raptors numbered 3 of 3 species: Honey-buzzard (female in feeding area at 15:15, focused on restricted area, flying a few times in rain between denser woodland and an isolated stand of pines, perhaps after bird nests, clip 808 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10), Hobby (female, bobbing up briefly) and Kestrel (female; this series shows who does the work!). The female Honey-buzzard shows long tail, small pointed head, solid dark trailing edge, bulging secondaries, long wings, contrasting upperside (slide 8) and P10 as long as P5. She is missing P1/P2 on her left wing and P4 on her right wing. Slide 5 shows 3 broad bars on upper side of left wing across the secondaries. She is a heavy bird, might have been considered a juvenile in autumn; think might be a 3cy female. Covered 3 tetrads getting 27, 25 and 24 species respectively as moved up from Newbiggin to Middle Plantation to Riddlehamhope. Compares with 13, 10 and 8 in winter survey showing how many more species are found inland in spring and the lower effect of altitude in spring compared to winter. Red Grouse were tame 1  2, as they incubate their clutches. Did keep an eye on the Gulls, using radio for half-time scores when out of top 7, and getting mobile reception as came out on top of moor (quite a way to go to get this!). Well we didn’t exactly storm our way in (losing 3-1) but lots of congratulations on finishing 7th owing to Gillingham losing their match (thanks!). 1st leg of play-off with the Shrews next Saturday (14/5) clashes with Wagner’s opera Walküre which watching with son at Tyneside Cinema on live HD link from New York Met; starts at 17:00 and will still be going long after the football, which starts at 17:45, finishes. It’s the second part of the Ring cycle and does include Wagner’s best known music — Ride of the Valkyries (or Apocalypse Now). Daughter is also coming up on Thursday for long weekend. Going for long soak in bath now, always great after a long walk in the damp and so much to think about!4More news later when some analysis done. faswtgo!!! (she’s fantastic!6). 2moro may make another trip in the afternoon to the Derwent after lunch at N! Much later it’s the G!! Passage of Honey-buzzard continues at high level in southern Europe with 1415 through Spain in Straits area today (Trektellen) and totals elsewhere of 35 in Denmark, 23 in Holland, 15 in Sweden, 14 in Belgium and 4 in UK.

May 6th: late afternoon update. Out to Swallowship in ‘Shire from 15:30-16:35 where a pair of Honey-buzzard had started without me! They explored the woodland to the N of their site before departing in different directions to feed at 16:48, the female to the W and the male S to Dipton Wood. 15:30-16:00 is a very popular time for Honey-buzzard to have a second display period, call it the four o’clock soar! Almost finished processing video of displaying Honey-buzzard at Ordley on 4/5; have solo display of male and female, butterfly display of male, floating female and best of all active chasing display at close range of the pair. Not sure got time for Rotherham tomorrow, may go to Derwent to do 2 atlas squares in Honey-buzzard territories. It’s all happening very quickly. Anyway x8 to those with nice b.ms and keep ftb!4 Concert with Hallé at Sage was very inspiring, really enjoyed it. Sunwook Kim certainly gave the piano a good hammering in Prokofiev’s 2nd piano concerto and Elgar’s Enigma Variations was very well played. Had to drive in as train cancelled but quicker and Dean Street parking is free in evening! Plus side was got back to W earlier where good crack with gang, augmented this week by Brian, colleague from unn! Brilliant display later with the gorgeous one!8 Think she’s extending her property empire!! Back too late for processing video and also very dreamy!4 Full of good intentions for 2moro. Passage of Honey-buzzard continues at high level in southern Europe with 1376 through Gibraltar on 4/5. Totals for today elsewhere are 10 in Denmark, 8 in Holland, 6 in Sweden, 4 in UK and 2 in Belgium.

Here’s clips (804) from Ordley on 4/5 showing for Honey-buzzard a pair in vigorous display with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10, female floating, male brief butterfly display (taken from ‘garden’) and female display. Here’s also a Common Buzzard taken at the same time; note the shorter tail and larger head. For the Honey-buzzard the male is the pale one with the pale grey-looking head; he’s got feather damage missing what looks like P7/P8 on left wing and P1 on right wing with damage in P5 area; on slide 9 you can see sparse broad bars on his left wing. The female is darker and she’s missing 2 secondaries on left wing and P5 is damaged on right wing. They certainly are a bit battered in general after the spring migration – not an id feature (!) but perhaps making id just that little bit more uncertain for the casual observer. The damage evidently has little effect on flight ability. The one at Wylam (806, 5/5) on the other hand was pristine. The clips 804 give a fascinating series of shots because they show the variability in jizz with flight manoeuvre: video evidence in my view is the only way forward in raptor id because you get so many frames of the action. She only appeared to arrive back the previous afternoon but is obviously up for it straight away: in fact she seems to be doing the chasing!

May 5th: always very satisfying to track down nests. Found one high-up today at 13:15 but it’s top secret!! Made West Wylam for watch over Tyne Valley from 15:40-17:20; good position is from rat-run bridge over Prudhoe bypass. This is Starling capital of S/SW Northumberland; they were everywhere with many carrying food, in great contrast to the drastic declines elsewhere in the area. Did not expect much for raptors as murky after a series of bright days. But had a male Honey-buzzard presumably from the site E of Wylam bridge at 16:45 beating the bounds and coming right overhead; here’s the clip (806) with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5; note the long narrow tail with rounded corners, small head and lazy smooth flapping style. This male has fasted on migration and is lightweight, making it much easier to identify on jizz than some of the heavier birds. Also had female of both Sparrowhawk and Hobby soaring over the W edge of Horsley Wood. Not bad at all seeing the visibility. On way back had another good sighting!! It’s a day for diplomacy!! After LLOY q1 results, thank g.d sold all my UK bank equities last year! Passage increased in Europe of Honey-buzzard with following totals: Gibraltar 97 on 3/5 and 1652 on 2/5; today, 7 in Sweden, 6 in Denmark, 3 in Holland, 2 in Belgium and 1 in Germany, none in UK. Good nite with mates at t&s; sadly no sign of the gorgeous one!4 2moro it’s fieldwork (pre- or post-lunch, depending on weather), N for lunch (missed last 2 days!), Sage in evening for concert by Hallé and W much later off last train!! N’s liner has been struck by norovirus!

May 4th: busy day, up early as cleaners s&l came early! Local Honey-buzzard don’t waste any time with male up over fields to W at 10:30, female up over site at 10:50 and full display by the pair at 12:20. Clips to follow. Because they’ve both arrived back very early, assume they’re the resident pair from previous years so they will know each other well, though they will have migrated and over-wintered apart. My feeling is that younger birds arrive later filling in gaps, if they can find any. Went to Bywell area in afternoon from 14:30-16:10 where had a pair of Red Kite in display near Short Wood. Is this the pair from West Mickley or a new pair? Picture for Red Kite is much more encouraging so far. A male Honey-buzzard was at Shilford drifting into the site at 15:05 but none were seen over Cottagebank or elsewhere. It’s still 8 sites found to be occupied now. G was very lively, plenty of crack!! Ovaltine later. 2moro into unn for meeting in morning, look around Wylam on way home and t&s much later!! Thought a lot today about the gfff!4 She’s soooo lovely!5 Added below (3/5) clip 803 with derived stills for female Honey-buzzard on 27/4. Also added video of Cuckoo from Towsbank on 1/5. Reports of Honey-buzzard over last 2 days are: Sweden 3 on 4/5, 1 on 3/5; Denmark 0, 0; Germany (Trektellen) 1, 0; UK 1, 1. From Gibraltar, where break over, reports as follows: 29/4 Honey-buzzards were on the increase with a total of 156 birds; 30/4 Honey-buzzards dominated the raptor passage with 1027 birds counted. So the second wave approaches, may be held up a little by the bad weather in Spain, which has marred most of March and April there. Zapped all data on camcorder and reset time to set it up accurately for new season. Ordered new 2TB external drive from Amazon as cost not much more than 1TB. x8

May 3rd: exciting day with 3 new Honey-buzzard in the ‘Shire: a female near home to complement the male already arrived, a female at Dipton Wood and a male at Dotland. The female near home was being mobbed by Crows over the Devil’s Water, the female at Dipton was floating over a field to which I’d been close the previous day and the male at Dotland was slowly circling N at low altitude exploring the territory. Birds tend to be active on first arrival, exploring the territory to check it’s still there! All found early evening from 16:50-18:30 and suspect they may have arrived today. It’s been another sunny day but with a cool E wind. In completing the processing of material for last week found an obvious female Honey-buzzard, with severe damage to one wing, at Warden on lower South Tyne from 27/4 (803): she even shows the wingbars! Here’s the clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. She has ruddy plumage on topside, 3 bars across the remiges, small head and long narrow tail, equal to wing-width. On her left wing she seems to be missing P6 and a number of inner primaries. This has affected her jizz, making her flight more laboured: quite remarkable how she has got here so early in this state. She flew into the wood causing some consternation before flying out a few hundred metres to N and then returning. There’s a photo (taken by Per Poulsen) of a Honey-buzzard with similar feather damage on DOFbasen for the 30/4 record. They do arrive fairly battered sometimes. So I think we’ve really started the season now!! New monitor arrived this morning at 10:00 and it’s in and working – marvellous quality on HD video: have games machine and additional video card fully capable of giving a brilliant display! Glad I didn’t p.ss around with old one. Both internal hard disks are over 90% full and going to get a 1TB external hard drive to take a second copy of the multimedia, which can then more safely be deleted, freeing up space for the new season. The first copy is held on a 2TB external drive. Did make W, which was chatty, but high-lite of day was later with the soooo exciting one!8 Will catch up with piccies tomorrow, when plan visit at midday to the Tyne Valley followed by G for g at t! x8

May 2nd: made Dipton Wood where 2 Honey-buzzard sites nearby; no raptors seen at all from 15:45-17:30 in bright sunny weather with cool moderate E breeze. Did though have 6 Green Hairstreak 1  2 in 2 colonies of 3 each; they like sunny fairly open glades with bilberry and birch and their presence in Dipton Wood is very long-standing. Only other butterfly was a Peacock. Confirmed breeding for Common Crossbill with juvenile and female together. Monitor on desktop is not working; amused at trouble shooting on web involving all sorts of swaps and setting changes. If the monitor is 5 years old, the green light is on and nothing is displayed even when in local mode, then it’s f.cked! Ordered Samsung P2450H HDMI 1920×1080, perfect for HD video, from Amazon and it’s arriving Wednesday morning by express delivery (just left Swansea!). Really should have made this change when getting new desktop but don’t like throwing away things which work – green principle! Anyway laptop is powerful and coping well; it was set-up for almost complete functionality for Spain. Honey-buzzard records today comprise just 2 from Sweden. Note that Gibraltar spreadsheet for soaring birds has not been updated since 13/4 and text account does not include raptors after 20/4. So maybe they’ve gone on holiday: good timing for Honey-buzzard! Not much more added: sorting out problem with PMB (Sony’s video browser) on laptop where finally realised that handlers (default programs handling files with particular extensions) are screwed. Sorted but off to bed!! 2moro lunch at N followed by further fieldwork in ‘Shire and W much later!! Keep it up: ftb!4

May 1st: excellent trip out to upper South Tyne from 13:00-18:00 in continuous sunshine with moderate E breeze; visited 3 Honey-buzzard territories. Had 12 raptors of 5 species: 8 Common Buzzard and single Honey-buzzard, Hobby, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk, with the main focus on the area around Eals. The Honey-buzzard was a female in the Lambley Viaduct/Glendue Burn/Towsbank area, covering a lot of ground, first seen coming off the moors at Glendue Burn at 15:45, then flying into Towsbank N before settling more near the Viaduct at 16:00. They are mobile on first arrival, easily flying 2-3km in one move, seeking good feeding (on what?) to regain weight after loss during migration; and their lives are focused on the whole territory, not just on the nest site. The Hobby was a male, up for a minute in a wild display over Softley, but that was it! Story of my life!4 Also had a Cuckoo at Towsbank (clip including calls), Ring Ousel at Parson Shields and, on the South Tyne, pairs of Dipper 1  2 and Common Sandpiper. The dry weather has left the rivers very low on Gilderdale and the South Tyne. Butterflies included Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Green Hairstreak (2 at Towsbank, where Purple Hairstreak also found in recent Augusts) and Red Admiral (one at Towsbank, it’s early). 11 Honey-buzzard reported today: 8 in Spain in Straits area and 3 in Sweden. Buskers were good at the Bridge; lively evening, one of players Dave, a professional photographer, is regular mate at W on Friday. Après-Bridge was marvellous with the most sensuous one!8 2moro more relaxed with late lunch at N and field trip later; will catch up on piccies as well after sweet dreams!! As usual not on the p.ss on Monday!! x8 to the gorgeous gfff!4

Totals for Honey-buzzard to date are: Allen 1 site, 1 adult (1 male, 0 female); Devil’s Water 1, 1(1,0); Tyne Valley west 1, 1(0,1); Tyne Valley east 0; upper South Tyne 1, 1(0,1); lower South Tyne 1, (0,1); and Derwent 0; giving grand total 5, 5(2,3). Also Hobby 2 sites.

April 30th: bright and sunny but with very cool breeze off North Sea, particularly at Sunderland where witnessed terrible performance by the local football team particularly in 2nd half, losing 3-0 to Fulham. Good day out though, starting in G at 12 with pre- and post-match bevvies at Fitzgerald’s! Had 2 Kestrel in Washington area. Dinner party was very entertaining with 5 of us there! Last day of giving every Honey-buzzard record, will just give summaries in future as passage increases in May. Today 1 in UK through BirdGuides (30/04 12:34 Lancashire: Honey Buzzard, Marshside RSPB [S] one reported in off sea; think that’s 22 for month but will update main web page with final score), 1 in Denmark through DOFbasen(Hvepsevåge (Pernis apivorus) 1 Ribe Holme PPO Bred sort vingebagkant med smal hvid kant, grålig felt på håndens overside, runde hjørner på samlet hale. Flyver med løftet hoved som Gøg, syntes også at grålig hoved skimtes, kommentar ønskes gerne til denne tidlige Hvepsevåge se mere på http://pposblog.blogspot.com/ [Broad black wing trailing edge with narrow white edge off box on back of the hand, round corners on the overall tail. Flying head raised as Cuckoo, also appeared to head off the peach, like you want to comment this early Honey Buzzard see more at http://pposblog.blogspot.com/] ) and 1 in Sweden through Dagens (Bivråk 1 ex födosökande Ymsen, Vg 30.4 Thomas Johansson Vid skjutbanan i norra delen [At the shooting range in the north] ). It is the upper South Tyne tomorrow for long day in the field with recuperation at the Bridge!! Next Saturday going to Rotherham to see Gulls’ final match of the 46 in which we will hopefully confirm our play-off place! x8to the gorgeous ones!4

April 29th: cool rather grey day so no fieldwork. Hoping to do long day in upper South Tyne on Sunday to catch up a little after Sunderland trip tomorrow followed by dinner at p&j in Riding Mill. Going to Bridge End, Ovingham, on Sunday evening to see the Buskers! 3 Honey-buzzard reported today: 2 in UK through BirdGuides (16:40 29/04/11 Honey Buzzard Norfolk Breydon Water RSPB 12:00 one northeast over the South Wall; 15:28 29/04/11 Honey Buzzard Hants Stubbington 11:00 dark morph east over; 21 for month) and 1 in Denmark through DOFbasen (Hvepsevåge (Pernis apivorus) 1 29-04-11 Gurre Vang [near Helsingør] To the left of the lake, came cruising over the forest (circa 30 metres away from obs spot) with a common buzzard. Adult light morph, dark carpals, slim neck and head, good spacing between dark bands on tail). Spring fever still prevails and spring-cleaned own bedroom today: it’s so sparkling now, just missing a princess (or perhaps the gfff)!4 W was good with 6 of us but après-W better still!8

April 28th: today made Shilford area from 15:30-17:00 but again no Honey-buzzard although had 3 Common Buzzard, who now look to be settling down on eggs and hence going much quieter. Was in vicinity of 2 Honey-buzzard sites 1  2. Highlight was a House Martin and 2 Common Swift flying N at 16:50, both firsts for the year in England. This comment on DOFbasen shows that April Honey-buzzard records are controversial in Denmark: Hvepsevåge (Pernis apivorus) 0 Selvfølgelig er der ikke Hvepsevåger over DK.i April måned-det er sgu da helt aim.Børnelærdom!-Utroligt! [Of course there is no Honey Buzzard over DK in April month-it’s damn quite AIM. Children Learning?-Unbelievable!] Nørrevang 28-04-2011 (11:22–17:45). So other migrants arrive earlier but Honey-buzzard aren’t allowed to, so many rules for them, wonder if they care! Actually think comment is sarcastic as it’s the same observer (AF) who had 50 birds on 26/4!! Need to adapt to Scandinavian sense of humour! Almost finished first round of grass cutting, ground is dry; shouldn’t say it but need rain if insect populations are to be maintained! Fledermaus was very lively and funny; it’s an adaption of Johann Strauss’ operetta, performed by Opera della Luna; thought maid Adele (Helen Massey) had a lovely voice! Good to see Mike and Liz; going to resume Thursday visits to unn starting from next week (5/5). Made G afterwards as mates away where good to be served by sagain!! Later ready but not sure what’s going on!4 Actually on reflection do have some idea but no comment at this stage except you must be very kinky!72moro out in Hexham afternoon and it’s W in evening (-N who’s just gone through Panama Canal); rake’s progress back through Tyne Valley!!

April 27th: out today as planned at Warden, in brilliantly sunny weather from 13:45-16:30 where Kingfisher was a bonus; also had pair of Goosander and a singing Willow Warbler. Had 6 Common Buzzard at 3 sites and a female Honey-buzzard with severe damage to one wing at a regular site; video 803 to follow; another site was in view but appeared unoccupied. Butterflies included this Small Tortoiseshell. So from 21/4-27/4 have covered 9 Honey-buzzard sites and found 3 birds, suggesting 3/18 adults back or 17%. Think it’s rather less than this as have selected sites known for their early occupancy. G was very lively; met bwho’s invited me to the game at Sunderland on Saturday, starting with pre-match drink at G – got my black and white striped shirt pressed; should be fun! Feeling very relaxed today: she’s so lovely!62moro it’s N for lunch, then some fieldwork followed by Golden Dragon for meal with Mike and wife before going to Fledermaus at Queen’s Hall, Hexham, and no doubt finishing up in t&s!! 2 Honey-buzzard reported in Sweden: Dagens, Bivråk 1 ex förbifl. Sisjöns skjutfält, Vg 27.4 kl. 19:35-19:40 Anders Olsson (kom från norr och paserade i väst, varefter den uppehöll sig några minuter kring kullen väster om store mosse. Dock hela tiden i motljus vilket gav dålig bild av dräktkaraktärer, dock typisk bivråksjiss, smal hals svagt kupade vingar, lång stjärt [coming from the north and Pasera in the West, after which it stayed a few minutes around the hill west of the great bog. But all the time in the lens resulting in poor picture of costume characters, however, typical bivråksjiss, narrow neck slightly cupped wings, long tail] ); Bivråk 1 ex förbifl. Ängsviken, Hjulsjö sn, Vstm 27.4 Christina Svensson. And 1 in UK making 19 for month: BirdGuides, 14:32 27/04/11 Honey Buzzard Warks Kingsbury Water Park 10:30 one flew north over Cliff Pool mid-morning. Note the Swedes use the term bivråksjiss— Honey-buzzard jizz – and rely on it which is very encouraging! x8to the most beautiful pair!4

April 26th: planning next stage of review of Honey-buzzard review. Likely to look at NCRC acceptance of role of an anonymous internet discussion group as a substitute for serious technical analysis. Now being advised by big sis; she gave me a lot of advice from her experience as NUT official. One of her major challenges was the inadequacy of asbestos handling in a borough’s schools (Brent) in London, leading to the premature death of teachers and long-term health risks to pupils. The union won a number of cases leading to a recent supreme court ruling in their favour. Earlier they had used TV to good effect. She is much more cynical than I, and not surprisingly when you look at how councils have denied the health risk, destroyed incriminating documents and tried to undermine their critics, such as by attempting to sack awkward NUT officials in schools. She had polio when she was 3, resulting in one weakened leg; I went down with similar symptoms a little later but my mother thought I was faking it to gain attention (we’ll never know!). Good passage N through Fore Street today. She’s certainly changed, looks soooo classy (and cuddly), one clinching id feature, based on jizz — the same stirring where it matters!6Thought gpswas going to ask me out; live in hope!5 W was good, long chat to o, a bit closer on Snowball this week but not difficult after last week. Close to day was superb: she’s amazingly inspiring!8No fieldwork today as started serious clear-out of upstairs: spring fever! 2moro lazy lunch with coffee at N but will then be out at Warden in lower South Tyne before g for t at G! More Honey-buzzard reports today, including 50 in Denmark and 18th in UK making this best April to date, but going to bed for sweet dreams so will have to wait!

Here are migration details for 26/4. Significant flock of 50, moving NE in Denmark towards Helsingborg in Sweden, is the highlight with full Danish records comprising 52 birds: DOFbasen Hvepsevåge 50 Trækkende mod nordøst [Towing to the northeast] Lå i en skrue med 10 Havesangere….Helt klart Faldborgs fugle!-Måske bør kvalitetsudvalget begynde at stramme skruetvingen lidt igen? [Lay in a screw with 10 garden warblers …. Definitely Faldborg birds!-Perhaps quality committee begin to tighten the clamp a little again?] Korshage (13:00 – 13:01) 26/04/2011; Hvepsevåge 2 Trækkende mod nordøst [Towing to the northeast] Over Sct. Hansgade, Roskilde 11:15 26/04/11. In the UK from BirdGuides: 18:52 26/04/11 Honey Buzzard Notts Barnby Moor one flew over towards Sutton and Lound early evening.

April 25th: here’s clip 801 from Ordley yesterday at 13:50 showing high-flying male Honey-buzzard; the mewing is Cleo! This is a bird with up to 1.35m wingspan on x20, not really sure how to gauge its height but the dot could have been 3km away on the horizontal making it 3,000m up (10,000 feet)! At this height on migration not many would be picked up from the ground. The other Honey-buzzard yesterday was at Staward and was not quite so high, being caught at the end of its glide in clip 802. He was also seen at the end of the visit at 18:05, flying W across the valley in flap-flap-glide mode to feed on the moorland edge. I suspect that very few, maybe only about 10%, of the adults arriving in the UK to breed are spotted on migration so the 16 observed to date (just gone up to 17!) could be 10% of the 160 which have arrived. The 10% is only a working figure but I would dispute a claim that say as many as 50% were seen or as few as 2%. A higher proportion are seen in autumn as the juveniles are weaker and less experienced fliers, hence more likely to be seen at lower levels, and of course there are more birds involved (twice as many if 2 raised per pair). A lot depends on weather conditions as to the actual numbers seen from the ground. This Common Buzzard (video) was interesting yesterday, having some properties of Honey-buzzard such as long tail (equal to wing-width), long neck and wings held level but going on the jizz means on the whole shape and structure, not on bits. So the tail is too wide and broader at the end, the neck too thick, the head too large and the trailing edge too straight. The flight is too laboured and anyway never base much faith in angle of wings as it’s too dependent on wind conditions. Close-ups from derived stills 1  2  3  4  5 confirm it as a first-summer Common Buzzard with 5-6 narrow bars across the remiges, diffuse trailing edge and yellow cere. About to catch up on shopping and visit N! Cut some grass yesterday, more today. Hope to visit another site in ‘Shire after that.

Did make West Dipton Burn from 14:45-15:45 and saw 4 Common Buzzard in fierce territorial dispute but no Honey-buzzard there today although 2 sites in view. Common Buzzard are about to settle to nest. Some more Honey-buzzard arrival reports though with 2 in UK (BirdGuides: 11:51 25/04/11 Honey Buzzard Kent Grove Ferry NNR one northeast over the viewing ramp; 10:49 25/04/11 Honey Buzzard Suffolk Lakenheath (Hockwold) Fen 18:00 24/04/11 yesterday south along the Little Ouse [near where had the birds in Thetford Forest last August]; total for 15/4-25/4 is 17, 1st= for the month); 2 in Denmark (DOFbasen: Hvepsevåge (Pernis apivorus) 2 25-04-2011 Adfærd: Trækkende mod nord [moving N] Tid: 16:35 Kommentar til obs.: Sammen med 1 Musvåge. Lange slanke vinger, lang hale med tydelige striber, lille langstrakt hovede, glider med hængende hånd, kredser ikke med hævede vinger [Together with 1 Buzzard. Long slender wings, long tail with distinct stripes, small elongated head, sliding with hanging hands, circling not with raised wings]; and 2 in Sweden (Dagens: Bivråk 1 ex förbifl. Borgeby våtmark, Sk 25.4 kl. 19:55-20:00 Mikael Grantén (Österut, ganska lågt. Grått huvud, ljus haka och undersida, svagt/mjukt hängande vingar [east, quite low. Grey head, light chin and underside, weak / soft hanging wings] ); Bivråk 1 ex Barkerydssjön, Sm 25.4 Jonny Wilhelmsson). Not planning to continue reporting all records when main arrival starts! But might well give totals for a while. 2moro into N for lunch and then a site somewhere if rain holds off! Should make W much later!! (x↑)8to the lovelies!5

April 24th: early evening update! 2 more Honey-buzzard today, both males in high-altitude territorial display, one from home in ‘Shire at 13:50 and the other at the prime site in the Allen of Staward at 15:50, where total of 3 Honey-buzzard sites in view. Beautiful sunny day with much better visibility. Honey-buzzard are super-fit after long migration, rather than dead tired, and seem to revel in long-lasting flight displays but energy use is pretty minimal as very few flaps. Total for trip to Allen was an impressive 8 raptors of 5 species: 4 Common Buzzard and single Kestrel, Honey-buzzard, Goshawk (male soaring over Staward S) and Short-eared Owl (hunting on Stublick Moor). Later it’s the G, which has an extension until 24:00!! On BirdGuides one Honey-buzzard through, at Beal in Northumberland (mainland opposite Holy Island); details are 13:56 24/04/11 Honey Buzzard Northumbs Beal one flew north early afternoon. Met r in G, a very keen digital photographer of the Wall; good company and interesting techniques trying to capture what the eye sees in a still! After yesterday’s fantastic action all’s quiet on the western front!5

Totals for Honey-buzzard to date are: Allen 1 site, 1 adult (1 male, 0 female); Devil’s Water 1, 1(1,0); Tyne Valley west 1, 1(0,1); Tyne Valley east 0; upper South Tyne 0; and Derwent 0; giving grand total 3, 3(2,1). Also Hobby 1 site.

April 23rd: perhaps against better judgement spent morning delivering LD literature in Riding Mill (March Burn/Sandy Lane/Longriggs); puzzled why I’d got this beat of 88 houses until started the round when found long drives and houses well-spaced out and often built on top of steep banks. So took just over 2 hours! Did though take bins and camera gear and found a pair of Dipper 1  2 nesting and a male Goshawk displaying (clip). Met quite a few people to talk to from W; one said the Goshawk have been nesting successfully on the NW edge of the village for a few years now. Then back to A’s followed by quick visit to falconry at the Sele where a distant Black-headed Gull was pretty bemused by the falconer attempting to call it onto his wrist! In UK 3 more Honey-buzzard migrants (BirdGuides: 13:11 23/04/11 Honey Buzzard Essex Hockley 12:00 one flew over Woodlands Road at mid-day; 11:26 23/04/11 Honey Buzzard Devon Hope 12:30 22/04/11 probableflew in low off the sea at Hope Cove and continued inland early afternoon yesterday; 11:03 23/04/11 Honey Buzzard Essex Galleyhill Wood 10:30 one flew over mid-morning; total 14 from 15/4-23/4). In Sweden 1 more (Dagens: Bivråk 1 ex förbifl. Ölands södra udde, Ottenby, Öl 23.4 Stefan Svenaeus) and in Denmark 1st 2 (DOFbasen: Hvepsevåge vi måtte lige se en ekstra omgang på dem men den var go nok det lille hovede og den smallehale set i fint lys på ca 100m afstand [we might just see an extra game on them but the go was probably the small head and narrow tail seen in well lit at about 100m distance] US 2011-04-23 2 Ø Nørrevang [phj]). Note the Danish birds, in Sjaelland (NE Denmark), were identified on jizz alone, even though seen in good light at short range! Added new page to site, summarising monthly totals for Honey-buzzard in UK from 1996-2011; wanted a quick reference for, say, seeing how this April compares with others. It’s already 2nd=! Very pleased about something else; maybe I’m too flippant when do  care!8

April 22nd: here’s some video (series 800) from yesterday of female Honey-buzzard mobbed by Hobby and the Honey-buzzard flapping (classical flap-flap-glide) over the site. Also had 7 species of butterfly: Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Small White, Peacock, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood. See smog reported today in country as whole; it was close to that yesterday. Here’s a Grey Heron at Haltwhistle on 20/4: there are at least 9 heron nests on the Tyne near Riding Mill, all in Scots Pine, with 2 young bill-snapping yesterday. Off to do atlas visit to moor near Allenheads now, call in Hexham on way out and back, W much later!! Made Middlehope Moor (NY84R) near Allenheads from 15:45-18:20, seeing 11 species in all; survey was on plateau at 600m, peaking at 607m, and took the easy way, parking on county boundary at 570m! It all looked very uniform 1  2 but there was one interesting moss 1  2 where had bird of the day, a Dunlin (video including call, stills 1  2  3), in breeding territory and nearby a Greyhen (female Black Grouse). This small old reservoir might also attract Dunlin. Sizeable totals were 27 Red Grouse, 10 Curlew and 6 Golden Plover and among the passerines a pair of Wheatear were of note. Only raptor in the haze was a Kestrel hovering at Catton Beacon. In UK 4 Honey-buzzard reported as migrants today is a remarkable total for an April day (BirdGuides: 18:27 22/04/11 Honey Buzzard Lincs Louth male flew over Windsor Mews early afternoon; 17:21 22/04/11 Honey Buzzard Bucks High Wycombe 11:15 one flew northeast with a Common Buzzard this morning; 16:35 22/04/11 Honey Buzzard Hants Romsey 15:30 probableflew north over Fishlake Meadows with Common Buzzard this afternoon; 15:53 22/04/11 Honey Buzzard Cheshire Woolston Eyes NR (PERMIT ONLY) 15:30 possible over this afternoon; total 11 from 15/4-22/4). W was good, 6 of us there! faswtgo!!!

April 21st: AND THEY’RE OFF!! Female Honey-buzzard near Corbridge from 15:50-17:10 beating the bounds excitedly and, to add to the moment, being mobbed by Hobby!! Pretty exciting day really; sure she heard, fully deserved!6 Lady behind seemed outraged, be a while perhaps before she gets such comments! It’s a good day to be in the early evening headlines!! So good afternoon to E of Corbridge getting 8 raptors of 5 species: 3 Common Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk and single Hobby, Kestrel and Honey-buzzard. Other migrants included 22 Sand Martin, 14 Chiffchaff, 9 Blackcap, 4 Willow Warbler and a Common Sandpiper. Was there from 14:45-17:30 in bright, hazy, warm sunshine. When the Honey-buzzard got up at 15:50 recognised it straight away from its very full inner wing and floating flight even though tail length and shape not visible at that point. Later she did some soaring, hanging and, joined by a Hobby, flapping over the water. She beat the bounds a couple of times eventually settling more into last year’s territory. Do have some video with 2 promising clips, one of female being mobbed by Hobby and the other of the female showing typical flapping jizz. 4 Honey-buzzard migrants reported today with 1 in Sweden (Dagens: Bivråk 1 ex Boda Djupsgård, Sm 21.4 kl. 08:00-08:30 Roger Karlsson (sittande i björk, sedan sträckande norrut [sitting in birch, then migrating north]) ), 1 in Netherlands (Trektellen: Wespendief, de Drieberg, Ede, 1, 21.4 17:30-19:15) and 2 in UK (BirdGuides: 13:49 21/04/11 Honey Buzzard Norfolk Great Walsingham 20/04/11 northwest over yesterday; 11:12 21/04/11 Honey Buzzard E Sussex Weir Wood Reservoir10:30 northeast over the dam). Made t&s tonite with a&p, very chatty! So busy tonite in pubs: the long weekend has started! All quiet on the western front!4 x8 to the beauties!4

April 20th: just 1 more Honey-buzzard report today (BirdGuides: 11:56 20/04/11 Honey Buzzard Lancs Sefton Meadows possibleflew south this morning; total now 5 from 15/4-20/4). A Hobby has been reported on BirdTrack in SW of county. Went out to Haltwhistle area (North Wood) this afternoon and found 6 raptors of 3 species: 4 Common Buzzard and single Kestrel and Sparrowhawk. No hint of a Honey-buzzard: even if you don’t see one you can sometimes sense their presence through anxiety in other birds. Had 7 Willow Warbler, 9 Swallow and 5 Sand Martin, and at Ordley the first Garden Warbler was singing, which is early. Asked by Natural England to make a formal Honey-buzzard submission to RBBP (see part 5 of review). Regard this as a good step forward and am completing the forms for return tomorrow. Today’s best task was clearing the kitchen drain which had got blocked. Some gravel had got into it and had arms up to elbows in the water removing the stones. Satisfaction comes when you remove a handful and the water finally gurgles away! Anyway gives plenty of space around you in the G, where crack was good as usual! Sadly no sign of gffftoday!4The gpsis certainly a turn-on!4 2moro N for lunch, then returning to Tyne Valley in afternoon and much later t&s.

April 19th: 4 more Honey-buzzard migrants today with 3 in Sweden (Dagens: Bivråk 3 ex Södra Sockerbruksdammarna, Örtofta, Sk 19.4 Göran Ågren) and 1 in Wales (BirdGuides: 12:16 19/04/11 Honey Buzzard Pembrokes Ramsey Island one on the ground). Some doubt Honey-buzzard start to arrive this early, maybe just another bit of lore debunked! It’s amazing how this species has collected so many fixed ideas without any proper studies to test them. Have identified Red Kite material from Chilterns for publication. Made W late-on; après so brilliant in all respects!8 First Cuckoo calling overhead at 00:30 (20/4)!! Earlier pleased to see both of the beauties gps and gbs!4 Becoming much keener on shopping!! x8!4

April 18th: published part 5 of review of Honey-buzzard review by NCRC from 2003-5. Did explore E of Wylam, visiting Newburn Riverside Park from 16:15-17:50 in rather dull conditions. Rich bird area with 34 species but no raptors. This Magpie came very close. It’s in this area that Honey-buzzard would have to eke out a territory if they are to make one move more of 2.5km to the E from Close House. There is some typical edge land and quite extensive woodland, rather marred by the pylons from a human viewpoint. Here’s views to NW, N, SW and S (first 2 on N side of river, latter 2 on S side). On the continent I’ve found Honey-buzzard sites quite close to housing so it’s not impossible. It’s certainly suitable for Red Kite so well worth watching for them alone. Migration news today: single Honey-buzzard flying NE in SW London at 2 localities, some 3 hours apart (BirdGuides); no more passage over Gibraltar where poor levanter (easterly) weather conditions – note though as I found on 1/3 and 7/3 in the Straits, raptors may still cross from Africa in E winds but they may land well to the W of Gibraltar and not be seen from there. Not sure what’s going on, think ought to behave myself!! But do wonder wtfsi (where …!!). xxxxxx!! Had divi for £1.35k today, hardly affected by today’s slide as 84% in bonds. Easy day 2moro, s&l cleaning in morning, then N for lunch and W much later. Hope to get Red Kite material from Chilterns sorted.

April 17th: productive afternoon in Tyne Valley in Bywell/Stocksfield area from 14:45-17:00 with total of 15 raptors of 3 species: 11 Common Buzzard, 3 Red Kite and a Kestrel. No Red Kite on W side of Bywell, where been present over winter, but had one over Horsley village, supporting idea that there’s a new pair in top part of Horsley Wood, giving 2 pairs in Wylam area. Had a single Red Kite over gorse behind garage in Stocksfield and then at 16:55 great satisfaction with a pair of Red Kite soaring to an enormous height in the same area, perhaps from Merryshields. Red Kite at high altitude display rather like Honey-buzzard with follow-me, effortless close-contact floating and ability to go so high as to disappear from view. It’s encouraging as there appears to be a nucleus of a viable population being established in the E Tyne Valley. On 14/4 had another Red Kite at Walbottle, on fringe of urban Tyneside: the species is very tolerant of humans. We could be looking at 5 pairs in E Tyne: keep fingers crossed! Common Buzzard were everywhere: New Ridley, Cottagebank, NE Styford, W Guessburn and Shilford. They must have stopped feeding them carbofuran! You can view the valley W to Styford and E to Horsley from Mount at Stocksfield. 12 LBBG moved W and 3 Swallow seen. Another place to monitor Honey-buzzard migration is of course the web page of Gibraltar ONHS where 1st Honey-buzzard, 2 birds, were noted on 10/4. Yesterday’s exercise has made me think of other things!↑! G was good crack! 2moro it’s N for lunch and may then go E of Wylam to check what’s going on there with Red Kite. Caught up with photos a bit, added stills of Wolfcleugh Common and of cattle and alders at Chillingham Park and video of flocks of Black Kite at Gibraltar on 27/2.

April 16th: another great moorland walk, this time from 15:50-18:30 on Wolfcleugh Common in County Durham, 4 km SE of Allenheads. Parked by the old mine on Rookhope Burn, formerly “Frazer’s Grove & Grove Rake Mine: Lead and Fluorspar mining complex” (picture of old working mine here, from Durham Record) with close-up and more distant views including trustworthy car! Walked energetically up to the top of the Common at 600m where good view to Killhope Law. Here’s another Fenn Trap (one of 4 today, all legal), the effect of not blocking moorland grips (erosion) and plenty of frog spawn. Highlight of day was a juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard, hunting over nearby Redburn Common from 16:00-16:30 eventually flying off high to N; presume it’s on migration and had been tempted to make a stop by the numerous small rabbits around; but also could be based in Beldon Burn. Moorland birds featured well with 4 Black Cocks, 14 Red Grouse, 17 Curlew, 9 Golden Plover and Lapwing, 4 Redshank and single Snipe and Raven. Stopped at Derwent Reservoir on way where had 7 Wigeon (5 drakes, 2 ducks), a Common Sandpiper (1st of season), 2 Common Buzzard and a female Kestrel, with a further Common Buzzard over Shilford (looked closely at that one!). There’s a Honey-buzzard site near the reservoir on the Durham side. A’s was good for lunch – food is actually much better there than at N – fresh ingredients! But coffee is better at N. Sorted out LD computer problem in 60 seconds. Need to catch up on piccies for past week; since Thursday 7/4 have ‘lost’ 4 days to voluntary duties. 2moro will attempt to do this, plus more local visits such as Tyne Valley, N and the G!! A lot of my friends think the G, motto who’s counting!, is a dive and am surprised I go in there. But it’s always chatty and very classless: reminds me of Haltwhistle! No more Honey-buzzard reported today. Am also monitoring Denmark through DOFbasen. x8 to the lovelies!4

April 15th: 1st Honey-buzzard in the UK moved N in Oxfordshire today (BirdGuides):

20:05 15/04/11 Honey Buzzard Oxon North Aston one reported flying low north over the village today

Another Honey-buzzard, the 5th, also reported in Sweden today:

Bivråk 1 ex förbifl. Upplands-Bro, Upl 15.4 kl. 10:00 John Costello (över Fasanstigen)

Will be out next 2 days in better weather starting to look for them here. Here’s the 1st 2 shots from potential Honey-buzzard site at Chillingham on edge of Cheviots yesterday, this one of the ideal feeding habitat with heather moor, birch trees, pasture and other open woods; the second of where they might actually nest, lower down and with bigger trees. LAF meeting had its lighter moments among the troubles resulting from budget cuts for the National Park: suggestion made that farmers might like to join the Big Society by maintaining stiles out of their own resources! Good visit to Hexham midday with both gps and gbsshowing well!4 Concert was very inventive with Adams’ violin concerto having some fantastic almost-jazzy rhythms and 2 pieces by the Australian composer Grainger on sheep, which appealed to those from Northumberland. Had meal at Sage rather than at MP as -N. After visited O’N’s where the rock band Dee Tees from Donegal were playing: very lively and good impromptu dancing!! The lovely gwswas on the train going home!! Made W late-on where met 3 mates, then home. 2moro it’s A’s for lunch, then some computer work for LD in Riding Mill and further atlas work near Allenheads. x8to the gorgeous gfff!5

April 14th: LAF meeting went well; good walk in afternoon of 8km around perimeter of Chillingham Park including at end visit close to the Wild Cattle, numbering a near-record 92 at the moment. Wild Cattle are very interesting, being potentially inbred for hundreds of years. Here’s a group of young bulls, a cow coming into season with 2 hopeful bulls (cows are white, bulls light grey) and 4 calves with main herd in attendance. It’s ideal habitat for Honey-buzzard (see 15/4) being above all low intensity farmland. These alders (or at least their rootstock) could be 600 years old. Had 3 Common Buzzard in vicinity of park and 4 more on the road. A Red Kite near Walbottle was surprising, to put it mildly! We then went to the Percy Arms, Chatton, which served us a meal and gave us a room for our formal meeting; enjoyed visit there, they looked after us very well. Working groups (WG) are being reduced to 2 with membership on a regional basis to reduce travel costs. I’m chair of southern WG, expect most meetings in Hexham! Got back to t&s at 22:00 where met colleagues: 5 of us, good chat! A lot of inspiration later: she’s fantastic, so exciting!8Capacity to roam is being eroded!8 2moro it’s N for lunch and Sage+W in evening! x8

April 13th: well Honey-buzzard are apparently starting to arrive in Sweden with following reports on Dagens Fågel för Mobil, Bivråk 6.4-13.4.2011, from 10/4-12/4:

Bivråk? 1 ex förbifl. Fornlämningarna, Mårdängsjön, Gstr 12.4 kl. 14:20 Rony Karlberg (Väldigt lik men väldigt tidigt)

Bivråk 1 ex förbifl. Väsby, Evlinge, Upl 11.4 kl. 06:30 Dan Nilsson (Kommentar från Rrk Sthlm: Ett extremt tidigt fynd som måste dokumenteras. /Bertil Johansson)

Bivråk 1 ex förbifl. Drössviken, Vrm 11.4 Andreas Persson (Kommentar från Rrk Värmland: Ett extremt tidigt fynd som måste dokumenteras. /Magnus Köpman)

Bivråk 1 ex Öre sjö nordost, Öre sjö, Vg 10.4 Kerstin Wiklander

It’s acknowledged (in the Swedish) that these are extremely early records and will need to be documented. Southern Sweden is about as far N as Edinburgh so perhaps we may expect the first soon. Part 5 of review of review is almost ready, expect publication on Friday: contents are a secret! Met k in Hexham: many expletives evidently last nite when they realised I’d b.ggered off!! It’s standing room only on the Orient Express. G was very good with g for t, a lot of us there and plenty of good crack! Late nite shopping was very rewarding: she’s soooo beautiful!