Notice Board: the Honey-buzzard Season in Northumberland 2012 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 with various studies on the continent all indicating that the Honey-buzzard is not susceptible to drift while on migration. Focus is now on the significance of orographic lift in the choice of migration routes for birds from more northerly areas where thermals are weaker. The breeding status of the Honey-buzzard in Britain is surely less controversial than it was. Migration totals in the UK have soared in the past decade and attempts to attribute these movements to a Scandinavian origin are in conflict with both 1) the underlying physics of broad-winged raptor migration, and 2) the actual details of the movements. The status of Honey-buzzard in the UK has been highly politicised, as in the climate change debate. A close examination of the Honey-buzzard review performed by the Northumberland County Records Committee is in progress: start with part 1 and follow the links through to later pages. Fear is the path to the dark side; fear of not being able to identify Honey-buzzard leads to anger; anger leads to hate of those that can; hate leads to suffering in the UK birding community (with apologies to Star Wars!). A report on the 2011 Honey-buzzard season in SW Northumberland is available here.

March 6th 2013: record-breaking migration of Honey-buzzard was an outstanding feature of 2012. None were recorded in spring but the autumn total reached 35 the highest to date, indicating rising numbers in general and high productivity in northern Britain. Details are shown in the table below.

Date

Time

Locality

Age/Sex

Count

Direction

Movement

-August 22

15:57

Staward N (Allen)

Adult male

1

1 S

Finally at 15:57 yet more action, with male up again this time with female, and doing a muted display over site with rises and falls but without butterfly action at top of rise; the birds come very close together in touching farewell and the male starts moving S, gliding fast overhead before being lost in the sun. Always nice when speck in the distance is 100% confirmed when bird comes much closer! Think the male was actually emigrating, starting journey back to Africa, after seeing young gain confidence in air and making space for the brood in terms of food resources (good strategy!).

-August 26

12:28-12:31

Bywell Cottagebank (Tyne Valley W)

Adult male

1

1 SE

the male was up floating over area from 12:28-12:31, moving SE at altitude and was presumed to leave-

-September 1

15:35-15:40

Towsbank (upper South Tyne)

Adult male 1

1

1 S

From 15:35-15:40 another male Honey-buzzard, a presumed migrant from Scotland, was gliding to S at moderate height on E side of valley using orographic lift on the moderate W breeze in the sunshine; he was actually intercepted by the resident local pair, who shielded their site from the intruder: keep away you forker!! Suspect he was tired and looking for somewhere for half-board: he moved on towards the higher end of the upper South Tyne where he should find the natives more amenable! The migrant male when first seen by me had local male getting ready to intercept; the intruder was obviously seen much earlier by the resident pair; the migrant moved S trying to give the area a miss but was intercepted and chased off by the local male; the local male celebrated his success in seeing him off

-September 9

12:20

Beaufront (Tyne Valley W)

Adult male

1

1 S

at 12:20 a male Honey-buzzard was spotted very high-up moving S and quickly lost in haze; not sure whether it was the local male or one from further N but definitely a migrant

-September 17

13:13:00

Bardon Mill E (lower South Tyne)

Adult male

1

1 SW

The1st Honey-buzzard of day was a male migrating SW at 13:13 over Bardon Mill, taking advantage of orographic lift in the fresh breeze, with a bounce in the end over Ridley. There were no thermals today for soar-glide.

-September 21

16:40:00

Langley (lower South Tyne)

Juvenile

1

1 SW

had a juvenile Honey-buzzard soaring high over Langley at 16:40 and moving SW; this is a new site this year so very good to see them fledge young; confirms pull-out is taking place, a trend which may be accelerated tomorrow after forecast ground frost tonight

-September 22

11:44-13:45

Allen

Adult male 1

Adult female 1

Juvenile 4

6

5 S

1 SW

Weather was beautiful with almost continuous bright sunshine, incredible visibility and wind light and variable. In more detail, action started at 11:44 with 3 juvenile Honey-buzzard coming out of the Allen valley from the Staward area, disappearing into thin grey cloud, taking about 8 minutes to get out of sight; count here matches 3 young raised in this area (2 Staward N, 1 Staward S). At 12:40 another juvenile Honey-buzzard came out of the Allen valley, from the Ridley area, matching the one young raised at this site. All the juveniles appeared to be moving S at high altitude; these fledged around 20/8 so, after one month of getting their strength up, are now ready for the journey to Africa. From 13:40-13:44 the female Honey-buzzard at this site decided to leave, soaring rapidly as usual into the base of a grey cloud (where thermals are strongest) and moving off S, high-up; she must have thought the young could now fend for themselves. The next site to visit was the highest known on the West Allen at Parmently, but from Monk at 13:45, before could get there, saw the male moving rapidly SW into the dark grey clouds; he gained height incredibly quickly before moving off on the edge of the clouds

-October 7

13:43-15:00

Stocksfield Guessburn (Tyne Valley W)

Juvenile

6

3 SE

2 SW

1 rest

made Stocksfield Mount from 13:05-15:50 looking for migrant Honey-buzzard; impressed with big pull-out as 6 juveniles noted, all coming over hill above Bywell Cottagebank and either moving SE or SW at considerable height: 1 flapping hard to SE at 13:43 then soaring very high over S side of valley S of Mickley before moving on; 2 moving very high off N side of valley at Bywell at 13:46 before moving off high to SW; 1 moving SE quickly at moderate altitude at 14:03; 2 moving high to SE at 15:00 of which one carried on SE and the other came flapping back to Bywell, presumably to rest and feed for the night

-October 8

15:15-15:35

North Wood, Haltwhistle (upper South Tyne)

Juvenile

2

2 S

Today, in continuation of fine autumn spell with all-day sunshine after early frost, in the afternoon made Haltwhistle North Wood from 14:50-16:50 where had 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard, presumed Scottish, feeding up in area, before setting off high into the sky and S from 15:15-15:35; one typical juvenile flight call was heard. Seen were 2 juveniles floating up slowly without a wingbeat, escorted by a flock of Jackdaw; one juvenile disappears, the other flies high then quickly comes back to their base in a wood; then at 15:18 one bird came out of the wood in which they had been feeding and did a circuit before returning; at 15:26 the 2nd bird again slowly ascended and this time it appeared to depart to S

-October 10

13:20-16:05

Towsbank (upper South Tyne)

Juvenile

2

2 rest

good trip out to Eals in upper South Tyne from 13:20-16:05 in sunny, mild weather on light SW breeze. As expected saw more Honey-buzzard: 2 juveniles up together, one of which was tracked down to a field grazed by sheep and photographed at close range, calling in flight. These birds are also presumed to be Scottish-bred migrants: local birds will have left some time ago. Towsbank is an incredible magnet for Honey-buzzard: combination of moorland, deciduous woodland, river and rough sheep pastures seems to be ideal

-October 11

11:30:00

Prospect Hill (Tyne Valley W)

Juvenile

1

1 SE

a juvenile Honey-buzzard flapping slowly SE at Prospect Hill at 11:30, mobbed by quite a few corvids, as drove towards Corbridge Station. These juveniles will of course not have made the journey before; I’m sure they linger through Northumberland and Durham as the habitat is so ideal in these 2 counties; further S will be a bit more of a shock as the agriculture intensifies and the population density (of people) increases

-October 13

15:00:00

Greymare Hill (Derwent)

Adult male 1

Juvenile 1

2

2 S

The two birds came through together around 15:30-15:40, comprising a juvenile and an adult male; the male presumably is from a high moorland site in Scotland where finish very late as at Riddlehamhope. The 2 birds were gaining height over the ridge, the juvenile was lost to sight after an attack by a Carrion Crow caused it to go ever higher but the male glided S high above the wind farm, roughly in line for Castleside. The Honey-buzzard seen today would have passed over Bywell: Greymare Hill is almost exactly S of Bywell by 8km. The Scottish population must be increasing rapidly, given the number of juveniles seen in the last 2 Octobers

-October 15

14:55:00

Barrasford (North Tyne)

Juvenile

1

1 rest

Today made Barrasford, 11km to NNW of Hexham, on North Tyne from 14:45-16:00 in beautiful sunny weather with light SW breeze. Took all of 10 minutes to locate a juvenile Honey-buzzard, involved in a massive stand-off with Rook and Jackdaw at 14:55 in the trees around Haughton Castle, which is suitable breeding habitat. It was up for a few seconds before disappearing below the canopy again. Plenty of other good habitat in the area, including out to NE at The Hermitage, but suspect that this bird was a Scottish-bred migrant as birds reared in the lush lower reaches of the North Tyne will have left a long time ago

-October 18

12:40:00

Haydon Bridge (lower South Tyne)

Juvenile

1

1 SE

Weather was sunny on trip out on SW wind and had a juvenile Honey-buzzard gliding high to SE near Haydon Bridge at 12:40 with a Common Buzzard way below trying to fend it off – quite a common scenario

-October 20

14:25-16:05

Towsbank (upper South Tyne)

Juvenile

7

6 SW

1 S

The 1st Honey-buzzard was up at 14:25, joined by a 2nd at 14:32 floating together; various further sightings were made over the next 50 minutes and it was going to be difficult to get an accurate total; then at 15:30 6 birds got up in the air together, 3 very high-up and 3 at moderate height, and proceeded to glide off slowly SW to disappear completely from sight. Meanwhile at 15:20 another bird had arrived from the N over Lambley Bridge and was presumably the bird left at the end on its own, last seen at 16:05. So Towsbank is a bit like a café, a place to stop and refresh, for Scottish-bred Honey-buzzard. So 6 SW, 1 rest

-October 25

12:57:00

Shilford (Tyne Valley W)

Juvenile

1

1 rest

Down to Stocksfield Mount from 12:05-14:05 in mainly cloudy, cool conditions on light N wind with just a few brief sunny intervals near the end; good enough to check for Honey-buzzard juveniles which are typically active unless weather really bad! On passing woods E of Shilford had what looked like a Honey-buzzard juvenile being harassed by 2 Common Buzzard but nowhere to stop so drove on and hoped the action would move my way. Had to wait a while but at 12:57 a juvenile Honey-buzzard came over Broomley Woods low-down flying E on what looked like a feeding trip and continued over the Guessburn still at low altitude

Summary/

Comments:

Aug: 2

Sept: 10

Oct: 23

11-12: 4

12-13: 4

13-14: 6

14-15: 1

15-16: 14

16-17: 1

rest 5

upper South Tyne: 12

lower South Tyne: 3

Allen: 7

Tyne Valley W: 10

Derwent: 2

North Tyne: 1

Adult male: 7

Adult female: 1

Juvenile: 27

35

IN: 0

OUT: 13 S, 11 SW, 6 SE, 5 resting

Most records are for migrating juveniles this year, hence peak in October with juveniles bred in northern Britain, particularly Scotland, moving through in numbers

Much more activity this year in late afternoon, when in October many juveniles moving through from Scotland, decide to continue their journey

The 2 popular routes of upper South Tyne and Tyne Valley W were again evident. The latter continue from Bywell through Derwent at Greymare Hill. The Allen birds were all locals exiting from breeding areas

Adult males predominate early-on, followed by adult females and finally by juveniles moving slowly through. May have missed this year the main move of females towards end of September

A record total indicating rising numbers in general and high productivity in northern Britain

No spring records this year; weather for observations was poor except for the end of May. In autumn birds went mainly S/SW with 24 in this direction and 6 SE; 5 resting birds were found, all juveniles in October

Table 15: Visible Migration Movements noted for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in 2012

Journey went very smoothly (with one exception), getting TAP flights from LHR-LIS at 13:25 and LIS-SAL at 20:45, getting to destination at 00:50 our time on 7/3 (23:50 CV time); they let me in, for visa fee of €25. Got taxi to Dunas de Sol Hotel, where arrived at 01:00. Exception was train Ealing – LHR where chaos due to train failure; eventually First Capital Connect dropped all of its passengers on the Heathrow Connect at Hayes and told us to get the 140 bus (could hardly believe that!); will get the U next time! So ready for action!! lokttgo!!!

March 5th: well made Ealing by train, where staying with big sis for a little while! Visited nephew and partner tonite for supper. Added Bargy Castle piccies to report from Ireland for 8/11; more background to come on this. Very pleased to see someone in Hexham!! lokttgd!!! Will be missed!!

March 4th: rounded things off nicely with completion of all clips from 20/10, including indexing and checking. The data is very important as want to compare my observed dates of passage with those for Common Buzzard in Britain on Trektellen (fairly explosive, but I’ve got the evidence!). Fitting in quite actively at R in Vocational Subcommittee – working on YEDT entries and prizes for schools in Northumberland. Very pleased to meet c in N b4!! Hope it’s not last sighting of the beautiful one for a while: plenty of room in the bed!! 2moro early-on have a date with a cattery and a return of Columbiana dvd to GJs (must like female assassins or maybe I’m studying their techniques!). Once migration totals for Honey-buzzard are compiled, will start the NB for 2013!

March 3rd: processed all but 2 of clips from 20/10 so must complete task tomorrow, including indexing. Very good day for owls with 7 birds of 2 species: 5 Tawny Owl (pairs Ordley, Elvaston, single Dotland), 2 Little Owl (near Close House in ‘Shire, exciting new colonisation). Saw son off from Newcastle Coach Station at 14:30; has been a gr8 weekend! Sadly brother-in-law (through younger sis) is is Devon & Exeter Hospital seriously ill. Made G as usual, where gr8 to see j on!! Later bit like the Masked Ball, so to speak, very moving!!! 2moro it’s N4c4c and R @ B4m4l!! lokttgo!!!

March 2nd: added below clips processed yesterday from 20/10 visit. Entertaining trip to Newcastle with son, making MP for tea (bill a bit more than usual at £60!) and Parsifal (time still going up!) from 17:00-22:55. Slightly oiled by bottle of red wine and a couple of limoncello for the 2-hour Act 1! Parsifal (German for pure fool!) was brilliant with fantastic soloists and orchestra; Italian conductor showed off a little by performing whole piece without a score! Certainly get your money’s worth. Didn’t trust advertised finishing time so drove in and well-pleased with that decision as would have had trouble catching last bus; parking at Dean Street was very cheap (£2.60) and convenient. Last Act is the Good Friday music, a day which has very special significance this year!! 2moro hope to get back to processing 1123 in afternoon and may well be out as usual much later on!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

March 1st: spent ages on clips from 20/10, confirming count of 7 Honey-buzzard juveniles migrating that day and producing mp4 of Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, Redwing and perched Common Buzzard, together with mp4 of a perched Honey-buzzard on wires. The comparison with perched Common Buzzard is very illuminating; they really look very different as documented. Still got to produce about 12 more clips of Honey-buzzard; may amalgamate some for convenience. Markets continuing risk-off and dropped a further 2k; gone physical this week as now proud (indirect) owner of about 3 oz of Platinum and 6 oz of Palladium through an etf! Exit from much of €trash has avoided a much bigger fall with Italian election results giving sharp sell off in all European banks. The best sighting of the week was at lunchtime: very smart!! lokttgo!!! Son arrived on time; he decided to go for home comforts over the W, where just 3 of us. Looks like 2 of us for the Wagner extravaganza tomorrow, from 17:00-22:35, with MP before to get in the mood!

February 28th: day off today from Honey-buzzard processing but will resume tomorrow in earnest on clips for 20/10 (1123) so can complete Honey-buzzard migration totals for 2012 and finalise numbers of the commoner raptors in the study area. Another beautifully sunny morning and sat outside at N until J arrived, when took excuse to move inside! N down with flu so hastily re-arranged agenda, going to L&P, O’N 4 a couple and an Irish steak pie, S4con and BH4ra4s!! Concert was brilliant with Veronika Eberle giving a stunning performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto; lots of applause and she played a rare encore, for a Northern Sinfonia concert. Gate was better and gather that programme will be maintained next year with a bit of x-sub from folk and jazz areas, which have sold very well this year. Just made BH off last train and said goodbye to the vivacious j again!! Top priority engagement later: very cool!!! Good day for raptors as they sense spring arriving with 3 Common Buzzard (1 Linnels, 2 displaying at Lamb Shield), 2 Kestrel (1 Lamb Shield, 1 Prudhoe) and a Tawny Owl (Ordley); also a few water-birds at Wylam with a pair of Goosander, 2 Cormorant and a Grey Heron, and a Grey Wagtail on Quayside. 2moro it’s N4c4l as break from clip processing with much later W4g4s!! lokttbo!!!

February 27th: here’s the big one – the detailed results for the 2012 Honey-buzzard breeding season are given in Table 14 (from Population of the Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland)

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

5

5

5

6

0

0

7 (1×2, 3×1+, 2×1)

0

Scots Pine (2), Norway Spruce

Allen

9

16

2

7

4

9

9

0

0

13 (4×2, 2×1+, 3×1)

0

Norway Spruce, Oak

Upper South Tyne

6

11

2

6

2

6

6

0

0

9 (3×2, 3×1+)

0

Norway Spruce, Oak

Lower South Tyne

7

10

1

7

1

6

6

0

1

8 (2×2, 3×1+, 1×1, 1×0)

0

Scots Pine

Tipalt

3

6

0

2

1

3

3

0

0

4 (1×2, 2×1+)

0

Tyne W

7

14

3

7

6

6

7

0

0

9 (2×2, 2×1+, 3×1)

0

Scots Pine (2), Douglas Fir

Tyne E

5

7

1

4

2

5

5

0

0

6 (1×2, 1×1+, 3×1)

0

Scots Pine

Derwent

8

14

1

5

3

8

8

0

0

12 (4×2, 2×1+, 2×1)

0

Scots Pine

Total

51

90

13

43

24

48

50

0

1

68 (18×2, 18×1+, 14×1, 1×0)

0

Scots Pine (7), Norway Spruce (3), Oak (2), Douglas Fir (1)

Table 14: Results for the Honey-buzzard Breeding Season in SW Northumberland by area in 2012

Text comment to follow tomorrow; also still need to work out migration totals but we’re getting there! Had lunch sitting out on patio staring at the beautiful sunshine. Could have done more this evening but decided to watch this week’s dvd Mr & Mrs Smith: amazing what some couples get up to! Makes you wonder about these super-fit ladies!! Made G4g4t: fullest for a while and very chatty! Old haunts still have their fascination!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, L&P, MP4m4s, S4con!! Son arrives on Friday and is staying until Sunday with ‘entertainment’ at Tyneside Cinema of Wagner’s Parsifal from New York Met on Saturday starting at 17:30 and running until 23:00! Reviews are good, a performance on the dark side evidently! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

February 26th: about half-way through final check on Honey-buzzard data for 2012. It’s worthwhile: one list for Kellas N for 9/6/2012 had been added to the database with the date 9/6/2011, another list for 14/7/2012 for Kellas N had been recorded without breeding codes, probably a database error; obviously we’ve got it in for Kellas N for some reason! Missing is the video evidence for the exciting trip to Towsbank on 20/10 (1123); checked where this is and found an unprocessed 4.1 GB file which needs quick attention! Bird-count wise had not recorded on the summary sheet the female Honey-buzzard at Gilsland on 17/9 so that’s one more female for year raising total to 46. A juvenile assigned to Sinderhope N was re-assigned to Studdon Park; Sinderhope S remains as 2 juveniles fledged but Studdon Park goes from 1 to 1+. Should get it all sorted tomorrow except for video 1123 which will take another day I expect. Sociable lunch with J at N! BH was very good as usual with j&c in charge! Will not b there 4 a while!! Pretty fantastic in other respects: good glow!!! lokttso!!!

February 25th: caught up with bird visits over previous 2 days and published some piccies from walk yesterday. R was chatty and N was relaxing beforehand. She’s still absolutely inspiring!!! 2moro will start final check of Honey-buzzard data for 2012; might take a couple of days with distractions! As usual for Tuesday will be at N4c4l and BH4ra4s!! lokttbo!!!

February 24th: made walk in the snow, near Bishop Auckland; great day out and feeling very fit!! From 10:30-15:30 walked 12 km from Barns Nature Reserve near Witton Park, via Escomb, Etherley Dene, Low Etherley and Witton Castle, back to Witton Park; refreshments were at Stanley Jefferson, Bishop Auckland. Old Saxon church at Escomb 1  2  3 was worth seeing; they were keen for us to join them at their service but we resisted! Snowdrops 1 near the nature reserve lived up to their name. Snow was typically only a few cm deep with frequent flurries of snow at just above freezing point not adding much to it. Conditions underfoot in the fields varied from crisp to soft snow but firm underneath to soft snow with mud underneath. Last type was pretty testing as these shots show of the group going over an uphill stretch 1  2 with boots suckered into a muddy icy mix! Birds were subdued in the conditions: but did manage 29 species including a Kestrel 1w and an agitated Common Buzzard; think 60 Greylag Goose was the most interesting sighting for the Group, though many liked this (not counted!) Peacock 1 at Witton Castle. Stimulating change of focus after very good session at G!!! lokttgo!!! 2moro it’s N4c4c, R @ B4m4l and general catch-up!

February 23rd: return of snow though pretty marginal with 2cm this morning and 1cm this evening; much more though viewable on the moorland edge at Slaley Forest. Made A’s4l, always very friendly there! Also had walk to Dotland from 17:00-18:15 to test new boots; had a 1w Kestrel and 3 Tawny Owl, with 2 of latter and the Kestrel on my rough field (after voles); total was 16 species including a high total of 8 for Dunnock. Working on Wexford trip, processing material from the Slobs, complete with video of White-fronted Goose (below, 7/11) and some piccies of the very flat but atmospheric land, rather like parts of Norfolk. Completed 7/11 and started on 8/11 where processed material on Bargy Castle, another definite R haunt in the 15th/16th centuries before getting on the wrong side of Cromwell as defending Catholics! Names (main one, William) don’t match my lot, which are very close to the Rathmacknee ones. Hope to process this tomorrow, followed in a day or two by the Kilmore Quay material. Will be keeping an eye open for Honey-buzzard in May visit; the Pembroke-Wexford crossing is certainly not that difficult for them (following my ancestors in 1169 with Strongbow (not the cider!)). May well go back to Wexford in November 2013. Other main task is finalising the Honey-buzzard data for 2012 where deadline is 28/2 so can complete the 2012 Notice Board and start the one for 2013! 2moro it’s a proper walk followed by refreshments in Bishop Auckland and at G4g4s!! Missed nocturnal activity!! lokttwba!!!

February 22nd: details of the Hobby breeding season for 2012 are available in Table 7 (from Population of the Hobby in SW Northumberland) and the 2 paragraphs below

Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

Juveniles

Conf

Prob

Poss

Local-fledge

Also seen

Devil’s Water

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Allen

3

5

1

2

0

1

0

Upper South Tyne

2

3

0

2

0

0

0

Lower South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tyne W

2

3

0

1

1

0

0

Tyne E

2

4

1

1

0

1

0

Derwent

2

3

1

1

0

1

0

Total

11

18

3

7

1

3

0

Table 7: Breeding Data for Hobby in SW Northumberland by area in 2012

At 11 sites (same as in 2011), as many as 18 adults were seen, with 10 of the sites being at least at the probable level and just one at the possible. Evidence for fledging was not so good with 3 juveniles noted at 3 sites. Considering how bad the weather was in the summer, this was not a bad result, suggesting that the Hobby will be able to maintain a presence in northern Britain. Although only 3 broods were recorded, this is likely to have been an underestimate as birds were still on-site at 3 of the sites in the probable category in August. As in 2011 there was a widespread presence across the area, ranging from upland areas such as the East Allen near Allenheads to lowland areas in the east such as Wylam. 7 of the 11 sites occupied are adjacent to heather moorland; the remaining 4 were in the main Tyne Valley, E of Hexham.

It is regrettable that so much politics surrounds the colonisation of the Hobby in Northumberland. Below it is stated: “The Hobby was regarded as a well-established recent colonist in Northumberland in 2003. See bulletins for reports by 22 observers in the monthly bulletins of the Northumberland & Tyneside Bird Club. Hobbies were also found in two field trips led by Nick Rossiter in south west Northumberland in 2001 and 2002. The report on the latter, published in the bulletin for September 2002, is available here”. Then along came the Honey-buzzard debacle, after which it was very difficult for the NCRC (Northumberland County Records Committee) to accept my expertise in Hobby, while denying it in Honey-buzzard. So Hobby was made a category A species (full description required), upgraded from category B (brief notes) when all indications were that it was rapidly increasing in NE England and E Scotland. Hobby are unmistakable when in flight on their jizz but seeing much in the way of plumage is often quite difficult. So we now have the situation where most observers do not bother to submit descriptions as acceptance is questionable on often brief views or on jizz alone. In Birds in Northumbria 2011 we find the NCRC reports (p. 228): “A further 95 records were not submitted for adjudication by the CRC. This is a significant increase on 2010. Of these, 24 relate to Hobby sightings where no details have been submitted to the CRC to corroborate the sighting”. Under the Hobby account (p. 78) we find: “There were again many reported sightings during the year, only six of which have been documented”. From a scientific point of view it’s a triumph of precision over accuracy: we have a few very nice (precise) descriptions but the reported totals are highly inaccurate when compared to the real number of birds frequenting the county.

Pretty quiet lunchtime at N: P’s away still in RSA and N’s in the S Midlands. Much better crack at W later on where 6 of us out! Markets have been pretty turbulent this week with major commodity crash on Wednesday/Thursday as rumours circulated of at least one hedge fund having to dump assets in a distressed manner. Took opportunity to top up in American pt/pd shares, which have special attractions as located in a more stable area than RSA. So -2k overall although €trash actually rose on week, partly due to continued weakness in £. Invoices for holidays quoted in € are proving 8% more expensive than at time of booking, when € are converted to £! 2moro will take it easy with A’s4s4l and SC4f&c+mp4s and limbering-up walk in afternoon to test new light boots; very sadly to bed early as significant drive and long walk on Sunday! lokttgo!!!

February 21st: details of the Goshawk breeding season for 2012 are available in Table 6 (from Population of the Goshawk in SW Northumberland) and the paragraph below

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

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Upper South Tyne

1

0

0

0

1

0

1

Lower South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tyne W

3

3

0

1

2

0

0

Tyne E

1

2

1

0

0

1

0

Derwent

2

0

1

0

1

1

1

Total

7

5

2

1

4

2

2

Table 6: Breeding Data for Goshawk in SW Northumberland by area in 2012

On the surface another abysmal year as in 2011. However, 4 juveniles were seen, 2 of which at least were thought to have been bred locally. Only at one site, Wylam E, was ideal breeding evidence obtained with a pair of adult present in early June and a juvenile in late August. The technique used for Honey-buzzard is far from ideal for Goshawk recording as first visits are made in May/June, when Goshawk are keeping a low profile; so breeding pairs may well not be picked up at this stage. On the other hand the later visits for Honey-buzzard in August/September are well timed for detecting locally-bred Goshawk juveniles. The Tyne Valley to the E of Hexham continues to provide most of the sightings. The habitat remains 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.

Next one up is the Hobby, which perhaps did better than expected, considering the very wet summer; will also deal here with the twisted county perspective on this species! Pleased to see The Times agreed with my perspective on the proposed mansion tax (16/2, 17/2 below). In a leading article on 19/2 entitled A Slippery Slope, it said: “Quite quickly, however, it will become obvious that however large the amounts of money taken from the small group, the sums will not be enough when spread across the large group. And so the mansion tax will expand until it becomes a home tax to be paid on much more modest properties”. ‘Phoned up Marie Curie yesterday and they were very pleased with my new donation of £25 per month, worth with gift-aid £31.25 to them and costing me, as a higher-rate tax payer, £18.75. Did make N4c, where met J. Cleo was very cooperative with the vets and in better condition than last year; clean bill of health, vaccinated and now worth £48 more! Later with lads made G as tiddly-plonk at T&S; we’re thinking of going to G every Thursday now as range of ra in T&S disappoints M! Think they’re a lovely so-so-fit pair!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and much later W4g4s!!

February 20th: compiled Goshawk data for 2012 and will publish tomorrow; a rock-bottom year on the surface but more juveniles seen than in recent years. Did make Newcastle – swapped ticket for Sage for 22/2 to one for 28/2 to be sociable (can go to W on Friday 22/2 with D and to concert on 28/2 with N) and visited CT, no time for lit&phil. Back in time for important engagement at G!! Son is coming up on 1/3 to see Parsifal at Tyneside Cinema on the Saturday, 5 hours of Wagner! Watched Fellowship of Ring on dvd this evening; there are quite a lot of connections to Wagner’s Ring, including it’s long! Going for walk this Sunday with Group near Bishop Auckland. 2moro will make N4c4l and also have pleasure later of taking Cleo into vets for annual check-up and booster vaccinations! She’s put on weight! Not sure what’s happening in evening. lokttso!!!

February 19th: details of the Red Kite breeding season for 2012 are available in Table 6 (from Population of the Red Kite in SW Northumberland) and the paragraph below:

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

1

1

1

0

0

1

0

Tyne W

3

4

1

1

1

1

0

Tyne E

3

5

2

1

0

3

0

Derwent

2

2

1

1

0

1

0

Total

9

12

5

3

1

6

0

Table 6: Breeding Data for Red Kite in SW Northumberland by area in 2012

The improvement in 2011 was consolidated with 5 pairs breeding successfully, raising at least 6 young. The number of broods was the best yet. Numbers in the areas adjacent to Gateshead (Tyne E, Derwent) were maintained at a total of 5 occupied sites but there was some expansion westwards with 3 occupied sites in Tyne W (1 in 2011) and 1 in lower South Tyne (none in 2011). Out of the total of 9 occupied sites, 5 were confirmed breeding, 3 probable breeding and 1 possible breeding. The probable breeding may well be really failures due to the poor weather; the possible breeding might refer to a future colonisation. There was no recorded or suspected persecution. It is likely that there is a further pair in the Wallish Walls area in the Derwent Valley; birds were reported here by others. Successful breeding sites were: in Tyne E, S of Wylam and Hyons Wood; in Derwent, Greymare Hill; in Tyne W, Bywell E; in lower South Tyne, Haydon Bridge E. Probable breeding sites were: in Tyne E, Wylam E; in Derwent, Beldon Burn; in Tyne W, Stocksfield E. The possible breeding site was S of Riding Mill in Tyne W.

A good FoRKing outcome! Let’s hope the better story continues into this year’s breeding season. Enjoyed lunch at N with J: thought he might be not coming in again after end of month but appears notice not given properly! BH was pretty quiet but 3 of us is enough for good crack, with j! Pretty hot later on: she’s marvellous!!! lokttgo!!!

February 18th: added 1030 to BirdTrack, impressive 39 species all documented below for 7/6. Highlights for male Honey-buzzard at Wylam E: clip 4 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 (male up over nesting area, moving S over Tyne low-down); 9 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3 (male up over nesting area, hanging, diving steeply into wood); but really need to see all the 10 clips of Honey-buzzard for a total feel for the species, including the more difficult to identify females. Also had an angry Common Buzzard (not liking new neighbours) as part of a pair, a Kestrel, a pair of Hobby, male and female, overhead on E of site, above male Honey-buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk (male, female) and 2 Goshawk (pair very high up in territory, no gamekeepers?), so that’s 11 raptors of 6 species, incredible! A passer-by reported a Red Kite over the village (Wylam) on 6/6, presumably from Wylam S site, which would make 7 species of raptor in 2 days in the area. Made JG at crack of dawn (09:00) where handled by l! Visited N afterwards to get the week started well. R went smoothly, then did some shopping at Mountain Warehouse getting lightweight boots for CV, wellies for home and boot socks! Updated the full blog for 2012 with recent changes to the current blog and zapped July reports from current blog. Got back to Wexford trip, adding images of Wexford town from 7/11; will process the Slobs from 7/11 tomorrow! 2moro it’s N4c4l, walk in afternoon on moors in ‘Shire and BH4ra4s!! lokttso!!! Next day going to try out lit&phil sub!

February 17th: a day of completions! Finished hedge trimming on a beautiful late winter day at 16:00 after 4 hours of active work cutting my roadside hedge and neighbour’s corner to E, with many complaints about latter lately! Keeping you hedge tidy is not mandatory every week in the ‘Shire but you have to trim once a year or face being ostracised! See there’s an outline planning application for Ordley to build a few more houses on land to N of Ordley village (other side to me); will be interested to see how they get on as, like my 2 acre field, it’s green belt! Other completion was Honey-buzzard multimedia for 2012 which finally laid to rest at 21:30 with testing of video 1030 – all OK. Need to add trip results to BirdTrack but that will not take long and can now get on with annual summaries and reports. Should add with LibDems comment yesterday that I’m not in line for mansion tax but extension to other assets, reduction of starting point over the first few years and inflation will lead to many professionals being (fiscally) dragged into the net and that is precisely the idea. If red meat of politics is ignored, why not just throw in a few new council tax bands above the current maximum of 900k value? Am going to donate the £15 saved per month from the 2 cancellations to Marie Curie (which is gift-aided, if you’re cynical!), making my sub to them £25 a month. Did make G, where pleased that R&D turned up! Very good service from j and feeling pleasantly knackered! Good tuck-in!! xxxxxxxxxx!!! 2moro it’s hair cut at JG, R @ B4m4l and hopefully 1st summary data, for Red Kite, for 2012.

February 16th: completed 130 by deriving many stills and indexing everything; all on server and described below (7/6) but not tested nor added to BirdTrack yet. This has been a lot of work with 10 clips of Honey-buzzard and 1 of Common Buzzard but well worth it. Had marvellous walk in West Allen from 15:35-17:50, walking along edge of moor above Ninebanks in mild, sunny weather; always feel great after staring into the winter sun! Virtually all the snow had melted. Had 11 species including flock of 36 Lapwing (moving into breeding area), 13 displaying Red Grouse, 13 Pheasant, 12 Jackdaw, 11 Rook, 3 Carrion Crow and single Golden Plover (in territory, calling, brilliant), Kestrel (1w, hunting), Woodpigeon, Starling and singing Mistle Thrush. Had 2 Tawny Owl calling at Ordley at 22:00 and 2 in the Valley. Received lit&phil cards – very efficient, gift-aided £130 a year. Not causally, cancelled STO to Gulls Supporters Trust as (like rest of club!) moribund since April 2012 and risk of fraud increases! Also cancelled DD to LibDems after hearing about their proposals for hammering those with any money; not actually resigned yet, will see how they get on in their spring conference when debating the issue. I liked the LibDems because of their environmental and educational policies but we don’t hear much about those now and they’re becoming more confiscatory than Labour! But I’m keeping my lovely pussy!!! 2moro it’s hedge cutting on the road and much later G4g4s! lokttso!!! Sat bb down in the wee hours, will try later; Sundayitis I expect!

February 15th: busy day, meeting J at N, then meeting N in Newcastle at MP where usual good meal, followed by concert at Sage where Brahms 3 and Schumann 3 were on the agenda. This was an inspiring performance – Thomas Z obviously really is in tune with this era; gate was bigger and more diverse age-wise, which was good to see. Sitting next to someone at concert, he suddenly mentioned Honey-buzzard! Well didn’t know I was that infamous! Made W just in time for last orders – not out until 00:30! In the event markets did go quite awry today – risk-off, as they say! But still finished +1k on week: it’s a hard life at the moment, with junk bonds continuing to ease a little! Prospects for pt looking better, but big sell-off on Friday when bought back in to a few stocks; currently 9.5k up in total investment of 35.5k, which planning to increase to 50k (c9% of portfolio) over next month! We’ve booked up our Irish trip in May, staying at Osprey in Naas (1 night), Lake Hotel in Killarney (5 nights) and Academy Plaza in Dublin (2 nights). Almost forgot Premier Inn in Bootle, complete with horse supper, to set us up for Liverpool-Dublin car ferry (with Fox)! 2moro it’s back to video 1030 and walk in West Allen in afternoon. She really is beautiful!!! lokttbo!!!

February 14th: no unn today but did make T&S with the gang for a couple; pleased to meet s there again!! Spent hours on video 1030, eventually completing the processing of it and uploading results (9 clips) to server. Really keen to finish this task as it’s blocking more interesting analytical work. Still got to derive some stills and index it but feel will be close to finishing it all after another session tomorrow morning. It’s no accident of course that these clips left to last are the longest to process; all shortish clips are processed during the season as I go along. There’s some long clips of display including mutual circling, wing shaking and butterfly. 2moro it’s N4c4l, MP4m4t, S4con and W4g4s, maybe celebrating one or two things! Unless markets go really awry tomorrow, expecting a return to profit this week. lokttgo!!!

February 13th: compiled a few long clips for 1030, still some way to go but should publish first batch tomorrow. There are some interesting comparative Common Buzzard/Honey-buzzard clips! Some wet snow today at Ordley, which accumulated to all of 2cm by lunchtime, then started melting. Wind though was a fierce southerly. G was good – very matey! Joined lit&phil in Newcastle following 220 publicity meeting last week. Weather’s getting milder, looking forward to more moorland visits, useful for plotting walk I’m leading in April in West Allen. Should complete hedge cutting on Sunday on roadside. 2moro’s a little uncertain with respect to unn and T&S: will play it by ear! Should make N sometime! lokttvg!!!

Some recent snippets from the literature:

British Birds 105 (10) p.567 (2012), under Short-toed Eagle account in Report on rare birds in Great Britain in 2011, by NS Hudson and the Rarities Committee. The English Channel does seem to form a genuine barrier that prevents most broad-winged raptors from reaching these shores. Comment NR: yes, due to the physics of the flight of such birds. So they will avoid such journeys as much as possible. However, if there are known benefits to be had from crossing a stretch of sea, such as facilitating new breeding areas, the risks may be acceptable, as for instance for the UK breeding population of Honey-buzzard. There is no way the risks are acceptable for raptors moving S from Scandinavia to choose a route across the North Sea into the UK and from there back to the continent.

Scottish Birds 32 (4) p.347 (2012), under The autumn influx of Pallid Harrier into Western Europe 2011: a Scottish perspective, by MS Chapman. Local weather conditions across the near-continent and North Sea clearly need to be taken into account, and in fact in autumn 2011 there were many days with an easterly component in the wind direction, from early August through to early October; more than an average autumn, at least in Shetland. But large numbers were not just displaced to the UK, but across Western Europe, and spread over a two-month arrival period. If we compare the situation with the the two recent Honey-buzzard influxes in the UK, in autumn of 2000 and 2008, these were both in September, and both involved several hundred birds (or sightings) over a relatively short time (10-14 days) and both were thought to involve birds on normal passage on the continent being displaced westwards by unusual weather systems/events (Fraser & Rogers 2002, BirdGuides 2008). Comment NR: not sure what the attempted comparison with the Honey-buzzard movements in 2000 and 2008 is meant to show. It all looks rather specious to me! However, the author should read Panuccio, M, Chiatante, G, & Tarini, D, Two different migration strategies in response to an ecological barrier: Western Marsh Harriers and juvenile European Honey Buzzards crossing the central-eastern Mediterranean in autumn, Journal of Biological Research – Thessaloniki 19 10-18 (2013). This would show that, because of the underlying physics, harriers and Honey-buzzard have completely different migration strategies! The sources Fraser & Rogers 2002, BirdGuides 2008 do not deal with the scientific issues in any depth so afraid their citation is also specious.

British Birds 106 (2) p.88 (2013), under Population estimates of birds in Great Britain and the United Kingdom, by Andy Musgrove and 8 others. Honey-buzzard population is estimated as 33-69 pairs based on the survey in 2000 [Batten 2001, Ogilvie 2003]. Derivation: 5 (method = miscellaneous breeding estimate). Reliability 2 (scale 1…3, good…poor). Comment NR: This survey actually included 5 pairs for Northumberland, submitted by me from my early survey efforts. It’s revealing that the Rare Breeding Birds Panel’s (RBBP) figures have not been used; the average of the results reported by this panel for 2006-2010 are used for a number of other raptors. The RBBP cite their results for Honey-buzzard with a confidence-factor of high; it is reassuring that Musgrove et al have seen that this confidence is misplaced, almost certainly through their realisation of the difficulty of locating the species while breeding and the high figures reported for some areas, not included in the RBBP data.

British Birds 106 (2) p.88 (2013), under Population estimates of birds in Great Britain and the United Kingdom, by Andy Musgrove and 8 others. Hobby population is estimated as 2,800 pairs in 2009 based on the BBS (Breeding Bird Survey). Derivation: 5 (method = miscellaneous breeding estimate). Reliability 2 (scale 1…3, good…poor). Comment NR: It’s not so surprising that the Rare Breeding Birds Panel’s (RBBP) figures have not been used here. There is much variation in the way different counties compile their figures. Clements’ estimates in a paper in British Birds in 2001 [Clements 2001] form the basis for more recent figures.

February 12th: started processing last series of clips for Honey-buzzard in 2012 – 1030, some very long clips for display, will take a little while! Looking forward to completion as can get onto other things. Made N4c, sociable with J back! Much later made BH where met usual crowd and, as music, the lively team of j&c! 2moro it’s G4g4t – what’s new! lokttso!!!

February 11th: got out on the moors this afternoon, going to Kings Law and Westburnhope in the ‘Shire where 2-3 cm snow on ground, cloudy but dry, cold SE wind. Managed all of 7 species from 15:20-16:50 including 19 Red Grouse (displaying), 4 Grey Partridge, 2 Pheasant, 1 Kestrel (1w hunting), 9 Woodpigeon, 1 Blackbird, 5 Bullfinch (coming off heather moor to roost). 1039 has been finalised below (30/6) after a few adjustments. Here’s highlight: the female Honey-buzzard flew into the wood, giving anger calls, as shown here hd  ld, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16. Good turn out at R: very sociable! 2moro it’s N4c4l and BH4ra4s!! lokttwbe!!!

February 10th: finished indexing 1039 and result is below with masses of clips and stills (30/6); need to test it, add highlights to top of page and add visit to BirdTrack, then nest visits completed – marvellous!! Should aim for slightly earlier nest visits in round 1 next year: birds are much more vocal in early stages of incubation. Didn’t get a walk in but scheduled for tomorrow afternoon when weather looks a lot better. Made G4g4s for good crack, P’s away for a bit! Spent 2 hours in day completing report on R meeting on 6/2. 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l! lokttwnl!!!

February 9th: completed processing 1039, with 8 clips done and many stills; highlight is a female Honey-buzzard, calling angrily as flying into the side of the wood but also got many Honey-buzzard anxiety calls as well as a comparison of Common Buzzard and Honey-buzzard nests. So been very busy with that, hope to index it all and test it tomorrow, completing nest site documentation but with the Wylam display 7/6 (1030) outstanding (it was!). There’s some very interesting materiel on Trektellen to analyse when finished current tasks: much more on this later! 2moro may get that moorland walk in if it stays dry! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

February 8th: started processing 1039, sorted out Common Buzzard and Honey-buzzard nests in stills; hoping to substantially finish it tomorrow. More signs of spring with Song Thrush singing near M&S in Hexham at 17:30 and DP had 3 Common Buzzard from Corbridge-Riding Mill, 1 at former, 2 at latter! Did finish cutting party hedge, neighbour’s face was a picture when he came back from work! W was very sociable – 7 of us there! Markets pretty shaky this week, not unexpected after good run but only down 2k, mainly due to € sliding back against the £; performance was helped by recent running down of € bank stocks but am now increasing exposure slightly again; pt portfolio showing record profit of 10k on modest outlay of 23k. Son got 87% in his MSc exam on databases: must run in the blood! 2moro it’s A’s4s4l and perhaps walk on moors in afternoon, to claim Red Grouse for year! lokttgo!!!

February 7th: with more settled weather, again more action with Common Buzzard over Loughbrow at 12:00, Kestrel 1w at Ordley at 14:30 and Dilston at 15:40, Redshank at Derwenthaugh at 16:20 and Tawny Owl at Letah Wood at 00:10 (8/2). L&P 220 was a surprisingly lively and welcoming affair, with some very interesting old books on natural history on show, expect to join! Got late to T&S where 5 of us out and gr8 to meet s again!! 2moro it’s hedge-trimming, finishing party hedge, followed perhaps by N4c4t and more definitely by W4g4s! After more work today on ct/relativity, hope to complete current stage and pass it back to M. Processing clips 1039 is also a priority. Thinking of not going on walk on Sunday: forecast is poor and there’s a lot to do at home. Booked Cleo’s holiday!

February 6th: further signs of spring (if you’re a bird!) with 5 Oystercatcher at Merryshields gravel pit at 09:00 and 1 over Hexham town centre yesterday in sleet at 14:00; Tawny Owl were calling last night at Wylam and Letah Wood. Chaired R meeting at Discovery Museum in morning – all very cooperative! Did some work on ct/relativity paper while in Newcastle, making CT4c4l and S4m4l. Something’s changed: nest looks as if it’s moved!! Made G4g4t – good group today! Everything seemed fine later with the lovely ghs!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, MP4m4t, Lit&Phil with N to membership-drive event (£100 a year, think they’re after my money!) and T&S4g4s – quite a full day! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

February 5th: clips and stills of Honey-buzzard at Slaley Forest (24/6, 1038) were: 1 (female, stills 1-3, overhead followed by male, stills 4-7) hd  ld, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7; 2 (female overhead) hd  ld, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5; 3 (female overhead) hd  ld, with derived stills 1  2; 4 (male overhead) hd  ld, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5; 5 (female overhead, heavier than male with gap in central tail feathers, sparse broad bars are shown on still 3) hd  ld, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10. Stills taken directly include 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12 (female 1-4, 7-9, 11; male 5-6, 10, 12). More details below! 2 visits to go now for 2012, both June: Wylam display 7/6 (1030), Shilford nest 30/6 (1039). It’s Shilford next. More snow at Ordley today – 2-3 cm, on bitterly cold fresh N wind. But still planning on far E!!

February 4th: completed processing and indexing of nest visit on 24/6 (1038, below); needs to be checked and added to BirdTrack; close-up views were obtained of male and nest. Inducted successfully at R at lunchtime with appropriate badges: have 1st serious commitment at Discovery Museum, Newcastle, on Wednesday morning with discussion of young engineer prize with the museum and unn! 2moro it’s N4c4l (more leisurely than today!) and much later BH4ra4s!! Another walk this Sunday: circular Monkseaton to St Mary’s Island to Monkseaton; will be gr8 to see the sea again!

February 3rd: well pretty exhilarating walk today, starting at dog-walkers’ car park at Broomley Woods, going through Merryshields and Eltringham to W extreme of Prudhoe where leader got lost in housing estate E of bypass and was threatening to take us towards the Castle; well had to intervene and eventually we struck right path up to Edgewell House Road, where onto High Mickley, New Ridley Road, Old Ridley Hall and back to Broomley Woods. About 12km in all from 09:30-14:30 in dry but very windy weather (from W); crossing the fields towards High Mickley with the W wind against was pretty tough-going, if it had been raining it would have been hell! Highlight for me was the marvellous views over Stocksfield as came over the top of the hills to the E but it was rather hazy for good photography. Worst section was last track back through Broomley Woods which was flooded in places and mud was a drag everywhere but it was still a great way to keep fit! Raptors were very scarce in the conditions, just one Common Buzzard calling in Broomley Woods. Total was 24 species with Great Tit particularly prominent and very perky – 24 noted in total. Above Prudhoe there was a flock of 200 Starling and 10 Lapwing. Group rather quizzical about my knowledge of back-alleys in P!! Piccies to follow! Made W4g4t with the Group, New Golden Rice for chicken chow mein (couldn’t be a.sed to cook!) and G4g4s, where good turn out of the gang! 2moro it’s N4c4c and R4m4l with induction at latter! lokttgo!!!

February 2nd: woke up to a smattering of snow, indeed it started falling just after I got back home last night but a lovely sunny day to follow; it’s going to be cloudy, but mainly dry, for the walk 2moro! Working on 1038, got some good shots of the nest in Scots Pine and the male Honey-buzzard flying over the trees, won’t take long to sort. It was the 1st nest visit of the season. Did make A’s4l: very welcome there, it’s a good use of time as can leisurely read the FT! Very much enjoyed the ½ later: accepted as a local now; as probably said before, reminds me of Haltwhistle of which I’ve very fond, if hazy, memories! Big sis was horrified when she found out I’d been in the Shanakee at Ealing; it’s a dive she said: certainly was! Brilliant good-nite with the fancied one!!! She’s a real turn-on!!! lokttrhb!!! Always like it when the Toon win, especially against arrogant London teams, puts everyone in a good mood! Didn’t CV do well in the ANC? Lost today to Ghana but way above expectations for such a small country, must be Brazilian/Portuguese influence!

February 1st: added 1020 to BirdTrack, incredible 40 species in Eals area that day; now moving on to 1038 (Slaley Forest 24/6). Made N4c4l where J worried about his job; the rhb looked very business-like!! Who’s going to warm up my double bed with single occupancy in CV? Later into Tyneside for concert, making O’N before and after and W off last train, where great to meet up with the gang again; didn’t get out until 00:45! Concert at Sage was by Bergen Philarmonic Orchestra. Liked the Beethoven piano concerto 3, played very precisely by Christian Ihle Hadland and Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben, which has some moving Wagner-like passages! A Barn Owl flew over road at Dilston on way home. As alluded yesterday not a good week on markets and down almost 4k, roughly equalling last poor performance in week ending 28/9. Main reason is kitchen-sinking by banks reporting their annual results, some very adverse comments on subordinated debt on a bulletin board by someone influential who’s missed out on the recent action and some kitchen-sinking myself! Still active though, selling some LON:BNC before results and buying back later after 7% fall (increases number of shares held and income as all proceeds re-invested!) and battling profitably with testosterone-crazed investors in pt, particularly LON:AQP! 2moro it’s A’s4s4l and reduced measures later!!

January 31st: well-deserved g at T&S with work-mates to celebrate completion of 1020 processing. As many as 20 clips in all, with the 1st 10 processed in June with technology as existed then and 2nd 10 processed in last week with latest Movie Maker. The results are below for 28/5 but here’s the clips and stills for all 4 Honey-buzzard in the frame together: 11 hd  ld four birds up floating around with some follow-me display, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6; 12 hd  ld four birds up together floating, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9; 15 hd  ld four birds up together floating but now more as 2 pairs, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8; 17 hd  ld Curlew calling below, 2 males still interacting, one glides up the valley, is chased by the other male and they skirmish before floating together, they then join the females and all 4 birds engage in vigorous rather chaotic interaction with some chasing, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19, 1,2 showing female Hobby attacking a Honey-buzzard. Just got to add details of visit to BirdTrack tomorrow, can then start on last 3 visits to be analysed, all in June; one of these shows good close-ups of Honey-buzzard at Wylam. When done these, can do annual summaries including Report on Honey-buzzard Season in SW Northumberland for 2012, which will be fully hyper-linked so that all of the multimedia for 2012 can be accessed from it. Target is to get all this completed by time go to Africa: hence efforts this week! Met P4c: we’re going on a group walk from Stocksfield on Sunday. Today’s markets enlivened by bear squeeze in LON:LMI and gratefully accepted offers at 100p more than my buying price during end of rights issue. But that’s the only good story this week so far: looks like being a weekend of halves!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, O’N4g4t, S4con and last train to W4g4s!! N’s got ticket but not up N. xxxxxxxxxx!!!

January 30th: finished processing 1020 and uploaded material to server, just need to index now! Made G4t for good crack! jit for the beautiful one!! 2moro is more sociable with CCP4c4c with P to discuss R induction next Monday, N4c4l and T&S4g4s!! lokttgo!!!

January 29th: when about to add visit 1020 (Eals 28/5) to BirdTrack realised that about 11 clips of all 4 Honey-buzzard together had not been published so back to the original clips to process them into mp4, with derived stills; have already done 6 so should catch up tomorrow; these are some of the most detailed clips of Honey-buzzard display that I’ve seen anywhere! Did make N4c in much milder weather; good to catch up for lost time!!! Wins for 2 great football teams over last 2 nights after poor spells: Toon tonite and perhaps more importantly Gulls over Grecians last nite, captured on Sky Sports! Back to BH tonite: inspired service from j&c! Do fancy the rhb!!! lokth!!! 2moro it’s more work on 1020 followed by break for G4g4t!!

January 28th: good journey back leaving Ealing house of sister at 10:20, catching 10:33 overground Ealing Broadway-Paddington, underground Paddington-King’s X with Circle line, 11:30 East Coast Edinburgh train to Newcastle and 14:54 Newcastle-near Hexham, so potentially 5 hours 20 minutes door-to-door! Next EC train (to Inverness) broke down near Darlington. Made N4c4t so quickly back into the swing of things. Total for bird species in London was 42, including Gadwall, Shoveler, Pochard, Egyptian Goose and Ring-necked Parakeet, but raptors were scarce with just the Red Kite; did though have 2 Common Buzzard on way back at different sites near Peterborough; 3 flocks of Fieldfare, maximum 60 birds, were in Ealing area in parks, presumably taking refuge in cold weather. Great to see relations again; in this respect London is main focus now with son, daughter, elder sister, niece, nephew all living there. I prefer the country though!! Do think NE women are more attractive than SE ones! 2moro it’s N4c4l and BH4ra4s!!!

January 27th: today made Black Park (wooded park with lake near Pinewood Studios), Pizza Express (Clerkenwell Road) and Barbican, last for brilliant concert with John Adams conducting the UK premiere of his own work, the very rhythmic and exciting Absolute Jest for String Quartet and Orchestra, and other American work with London Symphony Orchestra. Copland’s Appalachian Spring is well known and very atmospheric with section 7 based on old Shaker music, now best known as Lord of the Dance; Carter’s Variations for Orchestra was expected to be spaced out but was actually quite accessible; Ives’ (not Burl!) Country Band March was a romp! Had Red Kite gliding over Black Park, only raptor to date! Looking forward to return!!!

January 26th: checked material from Eals on 28/5 (120) so May completed now, just 3 visits to compile for June. Today made niece’s newly-bought flat overlooking Thames at Wandsworth and The Ship for leisurely lunch! Said farewell to daughter who’s off to Jamaica tomorrow with VA! Pity no ½ today!! lokttgo!!!

January 25th: enjoyable day with Barnes Wetland Centre, Richmond Park, Pitcher and Piano, Delhi Orchid and Shanakee for entertainment! Thinking of going to New York in April! Completed indexing below of material from Eals on 28/5 (1020), needs checking. A new trend is emerging in markets: fall in £ and poor production figures from UK make overseas assets more attractive. Quite a lot of ups and downs this week but overall +4k with more money into pt (and less glamorous, but increasingly important, cousin pd) and transfer in bonds from undated to short-dated, reflecting concerns about rising inflation. Missing the lovelies!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

January 23rd: looked at epic trip to Eals on 28/5 (1020) and see all material in 10 clips has been processed and uploaded to server, so this is next trip to index; an epic day because of active display by 4 Honey-buzzard. It was CCP4c where met P; G was a lot more lively than last week. Several people I know have moved to Hexham from the ‘Shire recently: makes getting around easier. But I’m not thinking of joining them! Mooted change to planning system to make it easier to convert empty offices into residential property might have quite an effect on high streets everywhere. Things might be looking up!!! lokttrhb!!! 2moro it’s early at N4c4c then S!!

January 22nd: a bit more snow this afternoon but no thaw even in weak sunshine late morning. However, gritting good and made N4c; gr8 to see the rhb and gbs!! Produced 6 clips below of Common Buzzard from Swallowship on 13/7, showing juveniles calling, perched and flying; so that’s July almost done, just need to add results from this visit to BirdTrack. Then think will soon get back to the Azores material; just 4 Honey-buzzard visits left to process: 1 in May, 3 in June. 2moro it’s either CCP4c4c or N4c4l, followed by G4g4t!!

January 21st: well snow has really been falling overnight and not planning on getting out today! Indeed snow reached 22-24 cm by early afternoon and was up around 30 cm by time main band stopped at 21:00. Here’s piccies of house, front yard with car, house from side with car and tooway dish, field and trees. Road was cleared pretty well late afternoon with farmer using plough on tractor to get the bulk off before the gritters arrived but was re-covered in snow by heavy early evening fall. Cleared the runway out to the road late afternoon to make things easier tomorrow! Power still on fortunately and sat bb works ok even with some snow on the dish. Finished processing Honey-buzzard part of Swallowship trip on 13/7 (1052): butterfly display by male was highlight of this trip – clip ld  hd with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14. There was a very close encounter with a family party of Common Buzzard on this visit and will process that tomorrow; then all trips done for July. Hoping to make N4c4l 2moro, not sure about evening trip yet!! lokttgo!!!

January 20th: good walk with Group today of about 11km in snow from Ovingham – Wylam – Horsley – Whittle Dene – Ovingham, lasting from 10:30-15:00 and finishing at Bridge End for refreshment! Here’s lunch at a Horsley bus shelter, me in the snowy fields to W of Horsley and Group on the move 1  2 in the same area. Snow was deepest at c14 cm on fields to W of Horsley, more like slush on some paths at low levels such as along the Tyne near Hagg Bank. Good views along the Tyne Valley including la dolce vita!! Some locals fancy themselves as snow sculptresses 1  2! Total for birds was 32 species, including 2 Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 9 Fieldfare E, 6 feeding Redwing, 80 Yellowhammer, 2 Linnet and, for volume, 550 Woodpigeon. Then after quick meal at home, into Newcastle, meeting M at Travelodge, Quayside, working on ct papers from 19:30-22:20. Finally back to G4g4s, managing a quart at last orders! Fresh snow this evening was wetter than forecast, more like sleet. 2moro it’s R at B4m4l. xxxxxxxxxx!!!

January 19th: processed, published and indexed below visit to Honey-buzzard nest at Wylam on 5/7 (1043); quite straight-forward, remaining one for July – Swallowship on 13/7 (1052) – is a sod as family party of 5 Common Buzzard in the mix! Just 3 in June and 1 in May to process after that one, can then start very satisfying final analysis for 2012. Got full blog for 2012 synchronised with this current blog. Good to be back at A’s4l, civilised way to read FT! More snow today and beginning to be a problem by the evening with 7-10cm at Ordley. Drawn out though by an irresistible force for a ½: very chatty, quite a lot of gossip on conversion of Raymond H to Rachel H, and nice to meet m! Very sensuous end to evening, excited by the beautiful one: lokttrhb!!! On way back car some way in front at Loughbrow suddenly backed out from the climb, losing me momentum and line, but managed to slither round the icy right-handed bend! Walk is still on 2moro apparently! And so is evening trip to Quayside.

January 18th: some very interesting results from MEDRAPTORS, the Mediterranean Raptor Migration Network, in a paper: Panuccio, M, Chiatante, G, & Tarini, D, Two different migration strategies in response to an ecological barrier: Western Marsh Harriers and juvenile European Honey Buzzards crossing the central-eastern Mediterranean in autumn, Journal of Biological Research – Thessaloniki 19 10-18 (2013). The paper confirms the reluctance of Honey-buzzard to make long sea crossings:

Conclusions: our results confirmed that the two studied species use different migration strategies across the Mediterranean Sea, indicating that when possible, the European Honey Buzzard attempts to cover the longest land way of its autumn migration using gliding-soaring flight, while the Western Marsh Harrier is more likely to undertake long water crossings. These two different migratory behaviours could be a result of different skills in the exploitation of soaring-gliding flight and/or a result of different rates in energy consumption during powered flight as shown by the computer calculation (Spaar, 1997; Åkesson & Hedenström, 2007). Since their aspect ratio is similar, body mass that is quite different in the two species could be considered as the morphologic trait that drives such differences and could also explain why the powered flapping flight is particularly more disadvantageous for the European Honey Buzzard rather than for the Western Marsh Harrier.

Further the paper does go into the physics in more detail as to why this is so. The table (reproduced from p.14) shows that Marsh Harrier and Honey-buzzard are remarkably similar in many flight parameters except for the 46% greater weight of the Honey-buzzard (790g as against 540g). This leads to the Honey-buzzard using as much as 76% more energy in powered flight than the Marsh Harrier (penultimate column) and rather less, 39% more, in gliding flight (last column). This is the underlying reason why Honey-buzzard prefer soaring-gliding flight to powered flight, and so avoid long sea crossings where the only flight option available is powered (continuous flapping). Or as the authors say in their commentary on their blogspot for 17/01/2013: “A simulation process demonstrated marked differences in the energy consumption rates between the two species, highlighting that the powered flapping flight is particularly more disadvantageous for the European Honey Buzzard rather than for the Western Marsh Harrier”. They add: the results of this study show two different migration strategies, the Western Marsh Harriers “migrate through parallel flyways, while juvenile European Honey Buzzards migrate island hopping being attracted by landmarks and following leading lines of land masses”. Important examples of leading lines in England are the north-south Pennine slopes, where orographic lift facilitates the birds’ passage.

Booked up final part of Cape Verde trip: half board at Oasis Atlantico Porto Grande Hotel, Mindelo, for 4 nights on arrival at island São Vicente. Getting excited about trip now! Wondered about influence of Al-Qaeda on island and found a little, in S (leeward) islands; I’m going to the less populous N (windward) islands. Cape Verde is roughly same latitude as Barbados. See also that sand storms a few days ago, presumably from Sahara Desert, closed a number of airports. N’s booked 5 nights at Lake Hotel, Killarney, for the May trip. Didn’t expect to carry on in markets as in 1st 2 weeks of year and that was correct! But not bad with rise of 6k, quite a lot due to fall in £ against € and $ as hold a lot of overseas junk! Have put a bit more into pt, reducing bonds and the like to 71%; have 21k in pt, now worth 29k, not bad for a beginner! Snow did finally fall this evening, not very much but as it was well below freezing point, expected ice on roads as snow diluted the salt. So none of us made the W: wimps! On Sunday there’s a walk with Group from Ovingham up the Whittle Burn; I’ve signed up for this 8-mile trip. Mike’s wondering whether he can make Bristol Airport for trip up in evening. 2moro fancy A’s4s4l and a ½!!

January 17th: sociable day with J at N4c and M/A at G4s (T&S packed for music), where pleased to meet new staff h who ticks all the boxes (for j)! Working on relativity/ct paper for Sunday, almost got 1st formatted draft ready. Also going into Newcastle next Tuesday morning for meeting between R working group vocational and unn over prize for a technological student. No concerts for 3 weeks. Usual Kestrel on Lamb Shield interchange and Tawny Owl at Elvaston made up the raptors for today. Warming up this evening but expecting some snowfall 2moro when late lunch at N4c and much later W4g4s!! Very pleased to see the ghs!! lokttghs!!!

January 16th: met P at CCP4c and on a whim we decided to go for walk at Lambley Viaduct in the sunshine; well by time we got there, it was overcast but still dry and good invigorating walk was had from Wallace Arms to Viaduct and back. Ground was frozen but recent muck spreading attracted birds to 2 fields with 80 Fieldfare, 25 Starling, 8 Lapwing and 4 Redwing. Had total of 22 species including 2 Kestrel, 1 Common Buzzard and 1 Raven in trip, plus a Kestrel at Houtley. Tried out new bins and they are brill! Here’s views downstream and upstream of South Tyne from viaduct, of Towsbank well upstream and of plaque for the viaduct. Then back to P’s place for xmas cake and a little late to G4t, which was quiet. pt shares are a little volatile – 5-15% movements up/down in a day – suspect the domain of testosterone-fuelled traders!! Not into unn this week, just meeting M on Quayside on Sunday evening. So 2moro it’s N4c4l and T&S4g4s!!

January 15th: finished compiling Honey-buzzard nest visit on 4/7 at Ordley (1042) and published below; not too much material for some of these early season visits as time on site was minimised because of the wet weather. It’s back to the Azores trip tomorrow and paper on relativity in preparation for Mike’s next visit on Sunday. Ordered some new 8×42 binoculars yesterday from a site in Norfolk: arrived today with driver ‘phoning me as just about to receive cappuccino at N; told him where I lived and said he could put them in shed; all duly done! Booked ferry tickets from Liverpool-Dublin for mid-May – very reasonable at £208 return for car (Fox) and 2 people, both daytime sailings. 2nite made BH4ra4s, more snow in E but pretty modest fall really. Very sensuous rendezvous in Middle E: maybe relax Devonian caveman approach!!! lokttrhb!!! Talking of Devon, crunch football game between Gulls and Grecians this evening ended 1-1, seemingly with honours shared and no brawls, though both goals were penalties! pt is beginning to shine as Amplats slashes production in S Africa; BNC go xs. 2moro it’s CCP4c4c with P and G4g4t!!

January 14th: after Song Thrush singing in Hexham Wentworth on 3/1 and Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming at Ordley on 13/1, had another sign of approaching spring today with pair of Oystercatcher calling over E end of Hexham town centre: marvellous! Weather forecast was wrong, a little alarmist, no snow on ground even at Ordley! Added below multimedia for Honey-buzzard nest visit on 4/7 at Ordley (1042): just 3 more to do for July now, next up is Softley on 9/7 (1045). See from RSPB’s latest Birds (spring 2013) that they’re supporting tenuous Cory’s Shearwater colony on Corvo by putting up an Xcluder fence to keep out rats and rabbits and translocating some young birds. Corvo 1   2 was visible from my hotel in Flores last March; description (p.31) is apt: “Corvo is a remote island in the Azores, in the North Atlantic, ravaged by extreme storms in winter – a tough place to live”. I had an extra day on Flores as a wild storm resulted in all flights being cancelled. Corvo and Flores are both on the North American shelf. Today made R4l – good talk by Ian N on demise of North Tyne railway; he had a shop in Wark for 40 years! 2moro it’s N4c4l!! lokttgo!!!

January 13th: 2-hours hedge trimming, including a lot of work on steps, blew away a few cobwebs; forecast snow never materialised! Persuaded N to ignore forecast and we made S4m/S4con; concert was small-scale performances in Hall 2 by leading members of NS which was very inspiring, particularly liked Shostakovich quintet at end; piano player was star, she performed brilliantly in all of the 4 pieces! Asked by Northumberland recorder for all my Lepidoptera records (going back to 1980s) in computer-readable form – will oblige, always willing to help any scheme which has conservation at its heart. Booked up 2nd half of stay at Mindelo at Don Paco Hotel for few days: business-like hotel with good facilities for catching up on wifi after expected lack of facilities on Santo Antão. Cape Verde on maps in news today: islands on extreme left-hand in Atlantic due W of Mali/Senegal! Main part of Ireland trip is being booked tomorrow. Concert finished at 22:15 and after dropping N in Stocksfield made G at 22:50 for a quick quart of g!! Attracted by local beauties!! lokttghs!!!

January 12th: booked up stay on Santo Antão at Pedracin Village for 5 nights; bit of a contrast to Sal but that’s really the object to mix the experience up a bit! About to start booking up trip to Ireland for 10 days in mid-May with N; looking for 5 nights in Kerry and 3 in Dublin; will we find Honey-buzzard there? Also need to think about 8-9 days in Latvia in early June soon, though have already got the tickets for Wagner’s Ring there (and there will be Honey-buzzard there I’m sure!). Getting through the Honey-buzzard sites this spring in Northumberland is going to be difficult! Next trip is London at end of this month to see the southern gang! Concert was brilliant with star tenor Ian Bostridge singing some great songs; surprisingly for such an experienced singer he looked quite nervous at the start but settled down much better as time went on. Highlight was Vivaldi’s La Tiranna, fantastic rhythm and tension! Last bus back made me feel sick – 2moro evening it’s another concert at S with N and, in absence of trains back, I’m driving us in!! Gr8 to see the delight of P stayed up!! lokttrhb!!! Next week have Hexham security firm coming to check intruder alarm and give quote for additional external light on Monday morning, tempted up to BA on Tuesday nite and meeting M in Newcastle on Sunday evening for some more category theory!!

January 11th: processed, uploaded and indexed below material from March Burn on 1/7 (1041); this visit did not generate much multimedia! Next up is trip on 4/7 at home base of Ordley (1042); then perhaps back to Azores. Booked up return internal flights from Sal to São Vicente and had look at where to stay on São Vicente and Santo Antão; latter island requires a boat trip (no airport) and is back of beyond! It’s very rugged due to eruptions; slight rise in sea temperatures around it recently suggest to some that another spell of volcanic activity is imminent! But it’s the most interesting for raptors in many respects while Mindelo on São Vicente should produce some gulls. The flights were about twice as much as a local would pay; that’s fair I suppose (though did try to pretend I was a Cape Verdean; failed as needed a card only issued in Cape Verde!). As hinted on 7/1 this was going to be a good week for my kind of market and up highest-amount ever in week of 20k! Star was B&B bonds (didn’t they go bust?), pleased with recent top-ups of them, but everything did well. Bought back into AQP (last proceeds back in, lower price, more stock!). Sold final BARC today: how can analysts have the cheek to recommend them now at 300 when they were advising selling at 160 last August? 2moro it’s MP, S4con and somewhat back home!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

January 9th: labelled and uploaded material from Hexham Westwood on 18/7 (1056) and indexed it below; all visits processed now back to 14/7; next up is visit to nest site at March Burn on 1/7 (1041). Busy meeting with M at S; quite a way off finishing relativity paper though; going to use Skype to try and speed things up. Not into unn tomorrow, should resume visits there next week to see P. Good to see the eyrie was occupied!! Had a Common Buzzard displaying over Farnley at 10:50; early in the season for this but always good to see! Went there and back on train with N. Made G just in time with lots of mates in. Company afterwards was very warm!! lokttghs!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and presumed T&S4g4s!!

January 8th: back to Honey-buzzard, looking at visit to Hexham Westwood on 18/7 (1056); identified much material, a lot for Common Buzzard breeding very close nearby. Hope to get it all labelled tomorrow but long meeting with M at S4m4l from noon may delay things. Made N4c4l: plenty of lovely sights including rhb looking just the part and gbs looking very beautiful (must get up the North Tyne). Met S at MM4c after brief trip to library. BH was exciting as usual with j her usual dynamic self!! Later certainly had its gr8 moments, with the sensuous one of the Orient!!! lokttgws!!! A few owls around recently: Barn at Bywell at 21:45, Tawny at Wylam at 23:45, Dipton Wood on 5/1 at 00:30 and 2 at Ordley on 9/1 at 02:00. 2moro it’s Newcastle for much of day but hope to make G4g4s!!

January 7th: completed processing of AYLG material from Mosteiros, Azores, including rally and anxiety calls, on 5/3 and added it below. Finally decided to visit islands of São Vicente and Santo Antão in Cape Verde in middle part – 1st looks good for gulls and music, being centre of Portuguese-Brazilian Creole music; 2nd is very wild and rugged, good for scenery and raptors perhaps. Made R4l as usual on Monday, followed by QH4c4ll with S; paid 6-month’s sub to R: £65! Daughter had left large sack of clothes cleared from her room; not sure who to give it to but decided in end on RSPCA for their recent anti-hunt work; they were very pleased! Impressed by the rhb in the flesh, so to speak: green is my favourite colour!! Getting back to vf duties, meeting M at S on Wednesday and mates back in T&S on Thursday!! lokttgo!! Good news from Basel Committee, relaxing and delaying criteria for required bank liquidity levels; hastily put spare cash (7k) into bank bonds before others got round to it; LON:LLPF stake is only a few k behind LLPD now, indeed hold 0.6% of total left in issue, expecting it (contrarily!) to be called at par in just over 2 years! News today should help underpin recent rally in financial shares, particularly € ones, though feel markets are technically overbought at moment (short-term traders are long, running tempting profits). 2moro it’s N4c4l and BH4ra4s!!

January 6th: continuing work on Atlantic Yellow-legged Gull rally calls and pictures in flight showing wing-tip pattern from 5/3 on Azores; have uploaded a lot of material and hope to publish it tomorrow. Had major session on party hedge, as finally ground dry enough for using electric cables outdoors; think 2 more sessions will complete this long hedge, ahead of last year’s schedule. Had sudden worry about end of Cape Verde trip as very close to Good Friday, so booked up hotel for 3 nights in Sal, the Hotel Odjo D’Agua, right on the southernmost peninsula of island for this period. Still need to book up island hopping mid-stay! Nick and I discussed last night our trip to Northern Ireland in May and, in view of revolting Orangemen (fitting ancestor feedback!), decided to switch trip to southern Ireland, probably taking car ferry from Liverpool to Dublin and visiting Kerry and perhaps Mayo as well! Did make G, all the stalwarts there with welcome service from j! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l New Year resolution is to resist the trend to the lcd!!

January 5th: epic opera day at Tyneside Cinema with Les Troyens (The Trojans) by French composer Berlioz, transmitted by satellite from New York Met. It’s almost as long as Wagner’s Götterdämmerung and the main theme is the power struggle between Troy, Carthage and Rome with a passionate love affair dominating the last 2 acts (4/5), between Dido and Aeneas, ending in Dido killing herself with Aeneas’s sword as he is called to Rome by the Gods. Really enjoyed it, particularly the last 2 acts; Acts 1/2 were a little chaotic, maybe with such a large chorus it’s difficult to maintain cohesion, computer interest of the Trojan Horse (as in viruses) was played down; lots of beautiful dancing in Act 4 by some very fit people! Deborah Voigt sung Cassandra as a change from her normal duty as Brünnhilde in the Ring! So started at 17:00 and finished at 22:30 (12:00-17:30 in New York); caught last bus at 23:00 to Stocksfield with N; feeling fruity, went E and there she was!!! lokttrhb!!! Got concerts at Sage next Saturday and Sunday. 2moro it’s 12th nite so quite a lot to catch up on at home but should make G4g4s!!

January 4th: working on Atlantic Yellow-legged Gull rally calls (and others) from 5/3 on Azores; hope to publish these soon as well as looking at other unpublished video from start of Azores trip. Good last chat with P at N before he goes off to Austria for a bit of skiing; very good to meet someone else there!! W was good much later on; bit depleted through coughs but 4 of us there and lots of good crack. Flying start to 2013 for markets with 1st fiscal cliff in USA averted; up 11k, put more profits into LON:BBS and LON:BBN, sold some of holding in LON:AQP for sparkling profit, cannot see why they’re rising so strongly as pt is dull! Bonds and the like up to 73% of total as remain (relatively) cautious! 2moro it’s New York Met @ Tyneside with N, preceded by MP, followed by last bus home!!

January 3rd: added Common Buzzard material from the Azores trip (8/3 below); might move back to Northumberland Honey-buzzard material to keep that progressing or maybe keep both areas moving forward but that’s difficult for a man! Did make Apple Store; some more lint removed from dock but still did not charge; nice young lady decided as 54 days warranty left I should have a new one and 5 minutes later had received one and downloaded contents of ‘phone as it was on 27/12 from the Cloud – marvellous! Was given gentle pep talk on how to make the dock last longer – use a cover for iPhone except when charging to keep lint out; if charger connection does not appear to be going in very well, then turn it round! She laughed when I suggested a new 12 months warranty might start today. Very impressed with Apple service! Could equally rave (or more so) about the other attractions of Newcastle!! Had lunch in B as S closed; greeted like lost friend, must go back there more! Almost finished xmas food; hurled turkey carcase into the field yesterday and just a few large bones left today. Had hour-long chat with sisters on Skype at teatime, works much better on sat bb than led to expect, am going to miss a wedding of a nephew as in Cape Verde at the time – bad form! Not out tonite but 2moro it’s N4c4l and W4g4s!!

January 2nd: keep fit day doing 13 km walk with walking group from 10:30-15:10 in tight circles around Whitley Chapel in ‘Shire. Rain just before dawn was not promising but it cleared up and weather in morning was fantastic for time of year with no wind, no rain and even a little sunshine! It was so muddy underfoot, good training for ankles and calf muscles! Had 3 Common Buzzard (Steel, West Dipton, Ham Hall) and a 1w Kestrel (Whitley Chapel), plus a Marsh Tit, now quite rare in area; total was 26 species. We retired to Travellers Rest for a pint and then I went on to G4g4t, where lots of mates in and quite a festive atmosphere still! 2moro into Newcastle for longer stay with visit to Apple Store, S4s4l and CT4c4t!! Evening’s uncertain as mates away, could try somewhere new!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

January 1st 2013: Happy New Year!!! Good walk from Riding Mill to Broomley and back with the Tyne Valley gang, followed by meal at P&J’s! Good weather and 27 species to start my New Year list, including 2 1w Kestrel; there seem to be a fair number of these around at the moment. Continued work on Azores media, adding a few stills for Ring-billed Gull and Laughing Gull below for 12/3, and identifying some useful additions for 8/3 at Lagoa das Furnas, including AYLG, Little Blue Heron and Grey Heron. The Little Blue Heron is another addition to the list. Made BH4ra4s: gr8 to see s.xy m on, and met B, former workmate at ncl! Quite a conclusion with the beauty from the Middle East: the rhb is very gorgeous!!! December 31st 2012: a lot of distractions today! Made N at lunchtime to see P and Thursday night gang, then into Newcastle to visit Orange and Apple Store with appointment for Thursday morning at latter to try and sort it out; ‘phone is 10 months old so within warranty. Saw in New Year in friendly atmosphere with D&C+N in New Ridley Road! 2moro morning it’s Riding Mill for follow up proceedings and may go E later!! lokttgo!!!

December 30th: weather continued wet and wild! Managed a very good day on the Azores trip in particular making most of recordings of gull influx at Ponta Delgada on 12/3. Laughing Gull looks as if it will be bird of the trip with 35 at Ponta Delgada on this day and some moving W at Flores later in trip, back towards USA. The late moult of Laughing Gull 1w was another finding, indicating that in a dull climate apparently juvenile/1w plumage is retained longer. Of course Atlantic Yellow-legged Gull was the main target species and plenty of data here but suspect the Laughing Gull is more s.xy! Did make G, full and chatty with P&son there and the fit j doing the honours! Good cuddles later, makes me sleep well!! 2moro going to try iPhone charging at Hexham Library; if no good it’s off to Orange in Northumberland Street. Going to Stocksfield for New Year’s eve, Riding Mill for New Year’s midday and Whitley Chapel for walk with group on day after!

December 29th: ‘kids’ left this morning, gr8 to see them again; will be visiting London in late January for catch up! Did make coast at Bamburgh yesterday afternoon; weather was a bit windy but dry and had look at the castle and walk along beach, followed by tasty f&c at Pinnacles in Seahouses; had just 3 birds of prey with a Common Buzzard at Lamb Shield on way out and single Kestrel at Bamburgh (adult female) and Rennington (1w); only 13 species at Bamburgh itself. Here’s some shots from the area: Bamburgh Castle, Inner Farne 1  2 from Castle, Lindisfarne from Castle, Stag Rocks from Castle, Bamburgh beach with breakers. Markets getting really worried in USA about fiscal cliff now and New Year may be difficult; finished week 1k down but that was after taking 2.5k out for the festivities! Voltage drop yesterday affecting iPhone charging (daughter’s and mine) and continuing this morning; suspect electricity usage in ‘Shire doubles at holiday periods with extra people staying and residents not going to work. Made W yesterday evening: full house-N; good to have chat. Gr8 to catch up later with the ghs!!! She’s very motivating and weather was appropriate!!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

December 27th: well, went to Whitley Chapel church with daughter on Christmas Day, plenty of feasting and very good time at home with son cooking! Have (on the quiet!) sorted out the Azores piccies for 12/3, quite challenging with 6 types of gull present. Helping son revise for his database exam, daughter is doing a design course, less help there! Did make N today for a rest and aqotwf when fetching daughter from Corbridge. Might be off to the coast tomorrow. Missing the fancied ones!!!

December 25th: happy xmas to everyone with a beneficial interest in accurate bird recording and to the favoured ones!!!

December 24th: published below Hexham Westwood (24/8, 1074) so finished compiling all Honey-buzzard visits back to 19/7; next up for Honey-buzzard is Hexham Westwood again, but this time for 1st visit on 18/7 (1056). But going to have a break from this raptor to finish the Azores records, where 12/3, a great day for gulls, is the only date not published. Have masses of analysed material to put forward here, fortunately carried forward to new machine, enabling a final trip report to be published. Did final shopping today: £188 over last 2 days on food and drink. Hexham town was packed so had c with P at Wentworth café, which was much smarter than I remembered. So what’s the feeling on xmas eve: rfaswtgo!!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

December 23rd: processed Hexham Westwood (24/8, 1074) and will add tomorrow to web pages. Good journey up for family from London, just 5 hours in clearer weather and light traffic, using A68 at end; 2 Fox now in yard! We had gr8 reunion drink in evening! Waitrose absolutely manic, not sure how some people are going to get through what they’re buying, manager agreed saying it had been 7 days of continuous way above-average trading; I was there for the beer, more subtle shopping 2moro! Went for walk at lunchtime in very windy but dry weather from SW; managed to get 15 species but no raptors. Earlier in day had Tawny Owl calling to disturb my sweet dreams and something howling outside my bedroom window at bedtime (presumed fox, but checking!). Missed G but these things happen sadly once in a while!! lokttwnb!!!

December 22nd: verified all recent additions to web site and processed Softley, 25/8, 1071. All these are below. Policy now is to keep on this page the current month’s Notice Board in full and material processed recently, which would otherwise be lost in the full details for the year. So for instance all the exciting material from Wylam E on 28/8 is on this page, below. Next up is Hexham Westwood (24/8, 1074) which will complete August and the fledging period, so will have made number of juveniles fledged as firm as possible on the evidence. Rewarding trip to N4c4t: completed wine rack with shopping at Beales, collected xmas card from staff and, best of all, had a moving session for afters with the sensuous ghs!!! 2moro ‘kids’ arrive in daughter’s car so got to be on best behaviour! Will be gr8 to see them again! Have now put up xmas tree, need to do some shopping 2moro morning. xxxxxxxxx!!!

December 21st: with sat bb back at full speed (12 MBPS) in process of synchronising web content with results of analysis to date. Very pleased to see the lovely gbs again!! No W, had very good supper and wine at P&M’s. Very murky today, hardly got light but at least this is the shortest day and earliest sunset is already behind us by 2 minutes with latest sunrise still to come (sorry, workers!). Booked with Olotels 1st week of stay in Cape Verde at Hotel Dunas De Sal, where can enjoy the sunshine on grand beach at typical windy Atlantic island (March, maximum is 24º, minimum is 18º, sunny and dry). Another up and down week but finished +5k; steady exit from €trash continues with profit taking and pt is less dull where +3k on 22k invested; to show my confidence with latter have spread funds over 9 stocks, much more thinly than usual with 3 stocks priced in the high pennies! Bonds and the like up to 70% of portfolio. My own funds (+46.1%) have performed pretty well this year (would be in top few % of investment funds); managed funds (+15.4%) have done less well but still beaten most indices because of emphasis on popular high yield bonds; conservative accounts (+3.2%) are not at the races with low interest rates. >5*102 bag. More later!! lokttgo!!!

December 20th: decided to do 1071, Softley, 20/8 next as easy to polish off! Should complete this one tomorrow. Sat bb back on full throttle at 00:01 (21/12) so should be able to upload the recently processed material tomorrow. Did make N4c and had last chat of year with J. Then to Spetchells Library to do a bit of work: at Shilford had Common Buzzard flying high over home wood and Kestrel 1w on tree by roadside; very wet but they cannot sit out all the bad weather: they’ve got to eat! Bought fresh turkey from Waitrose: last year got a frozen one at Iceland, which put in fridge to slowly thaw and an hour later there was a great crash: the glass shelf had collapsed under the weight! Thought the elf looked very desirable: she ought to go on parade!! Just 2 of us at G (T&S packed) but we had a good chat about why relational databases still predominate. Finished with cuddles with the gorgeous one!!! As they say: all the world’s a stage!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

December 19th: completed compiling 1067, next up is Hexham Westwood (24/8, 1074) with more calls again the target. Actually had a Common Buzzard up over Loughbrow today both on way in and on way back; they keep a very low profile in winter but mild spell might be encouraging a bit more adventure; also had regular Kestrel 1w at Houtley (lives on a telegraph pole!). Had good chat with P at CCP and with M at G, where a few regulars missing! Sent most xmas cards today (2nd class) and cut off top of Sitka Spruce tree in corner of field for xmas tree – no expense spared! On more generous side am doubling pay of s with a bonus 2moro for putting up with me all year! The gorgeous seductress is very tempting: should see more of her!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and T&S4g4s!!

December 18th: about half-way through processing 1067, video material sorted, a couple of interesting chicken calls from juveniles: there’s always something new in each visit. New publication (73 1-246 (2012)) by Natural History Society of Northumbria on Mammals, Amphibians and Reptiles of the North East, is a great step forward. Pleased to see my work cited (p.14): “as both Rossiter (1998, 1999) and Yalden (1999) have pointed out, reductions in the populations of species regarded as pests had not begun with game preservation by private estates. At parish level churchwardens had been offering bounties for the purpose since the 17th century”. Slightly worried by some credibility being given to big cat sightings: the out of the way places where I go for Honey-buzzard nests are absolutely perfect retreats for such beasts! Did some street collecting: people were actually quite generous, think we did quite well, had a cheery player of carols on the accordion to help for an hour. Later to BH where packed with the fortnightly band on; pleased to see j back from France! Did make Middle E for good time!!! loktt special beauty!!! 2moro it’s CCP4c4c and G4g4t!!

December 17th: compiled all the material for 1077, next one up is March Burn nest visit on 15/8 (1067). Then have 2 more to do for August taking compilation back to 18/7 with totals in backlog then of 6 visits in July, 3 in June and 1 in May. Impatient to complete analysis as can then get final reports done and move on to further analysis. Still working out best way to process videos on new machine: derived stills are much better produced directly by Sony’s PlayMemories Home save frame facility as 1MB jpg stills directly from the AVCHD (HD) clips. Had 2nd Christmas meal of season at B4R at lunchtime, very stylish and good value! Might start writing some cards soon. The rhb looked very smart!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, collect4R and much later BH4ra4s!! lokttgo!!! Captivated by Prada advert for Luna Rossa: music is Vorspiel from start of Rheingold, the first part of Wagner’s Ring; very evocative for fans of the Ring as you fasten your seat belts with 17 hours to go!

December 16th: processed much of Wylam E trip on 28/8 (1077), some very revealing shots of the very young Honey-buzzard, complete with calls; still got a few clips to go. These very young birds are an identification challenge and, since they’re only seen in their breeding areas, poorly studied (except here!). Not restored to full speed on sat bb, may have to wait until 21/12, as installation was on 21/8; reluctant to go onto a permanently higher tariff just because of exceptional traffic for new computer. Main thing is to get through the unprocessed media and doing that quite quickly now. Changed the current Notice Board, returning some of it from wordpress to BT, splitting it into recent activity (this page, on BT) and archival material (repository for whole year eventually, on wordpress). Reason is blog for whole year is getting large and wordpress is very slow around 00:00-02:00 when I typically update the blog; wordpress is American and this is peak early evening time over there. Lots of hedge-trimming today: 2 hours out at the back! Lovely mild, sunny day, good to keep fit! Only birds of note were 5 feeding Redwing. Did make G, pleased I did (rather than T&S) as R obviously very happy for a chat about his caring problems. Cuddles later with the beauty: she’s fantastic!!! 2moro it’s xmas lunch at R and Tuesday at 13:00 doing a bit of tin rattling for them in Fore Street! lokttwnb!!!

December 15th: finished analysis of visit to Blanchland on 15/7 (1054), adding links below. Am adapting to new environment in Windows 7, using Windows Live Movie Maker to generate clips and stills. All clips will now be produced in the international standard mp4 format, with 3 sizes of a) optimal display, b) best for computer and c) suitable for email, termed raw, highdef and lowdef respectively in my production system. The raw will not be posted to the web as they are too large, up to 100MB/minute but will be retained locally for reference purposes; both the highdef and lowdef will be posted to the web to offer a choice of quality: highdef gives the user good quality in a larger window with the downside of longer download times; lowdef gives good quality in a small window with minimal download times. Derived stills from clips are now in png format, not jpeg. Stills taken on the camcorder and on the Canon will continue to be JPG. These changes will be applied to all future processing, even of old material such as that for 15/7 (there’s no alternative!). Next up is E Wylam 28/8 (1077) where good close views of a juvenile Honey-buzzard. Made N late afternoon, donated £10 to N’s staff outing! Very good meal at W later with 8 of us there: gr8 to see such harmony and good to see r again! 2moro it’s hedge-cutting time again but will be at G4g4s (unless tempted by Happy Cats over the road)!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

December 14th: progressing video 1054 from Blanchland on 15/7, nice clips of Hobby, Sparrowhawk and Honey-buzzard; will sort it out tomorrow and hopefully publish on Sunday. Paper (21 pages) off to Liège: hope you like it, difficult to put down once you start! Note the new department name at unn – Computer Science and Digital Technologies (in Faculty of Engineering and Environment). Pretty flat week on markets while worries persist about America’s fiscal cliff; €trash did better after wobbly Monday as it sinks in that € is actually fairly safe now and +6k on week. Intriguing postscript to last major holiday; put £1500 earlier in year into ELI:BNF, the main bank on Madeira and the Azores, and stake was worth £980 this morning at start of business (pretty dismal, Maria told me island economy was picking up, she’s fired!); decided to buy a few more this morning putting £1,000 in at 10:00 and from 11:00 price rose almost 30% in one hour so by end of day have in total 19,437 shares worth £2,549 for small gain overall; I’ll be done for insider trading, Maria’s re-instated!! Bonds and the like up to 69% of total – getting more cautious. Made W, just 3 of us but good chat. Trip W was brilliant: pity to interrupt BoS but it’s well worth it!!! lokttghs!!! 2moro it’s N4c4t and W4m4s!!

December 13th: good active day with lots of progress – 2nd paper with P on visualization and category theory is taking shape, paper with M on relativity and category theory ditto, paper for Liège off tomorrow. We’re getting much more confident on need for category theory (ct) to replace set theory (st) as main working mathematical language of the globe; many of today’s problems are due to relying on what is essentially a local formalism (st) to handle global problems such as control of banks and multinationals, interoperability between systems and prediction of climate change; ct handles much better than st the interactions between systems: ct is the language of the Universe! When we started our ct work in the 1990s we had some very stormy conference sessions and frequent paper rejections; now at least the need to change is much more widely accepted and people are keen to learn how to use ct. M&I are thinking of presenting 4 papers at Whitehead conference in Krakow, Poland, next September. MP was very relaxing; M joined us for a while. Concert was brilliant once we’d got Haydn’s violin concerto out the way. Beethoven 6 (pastoral) was very inspiring, one of N’s favourites evidently; grand to have atmosphere of high summer, brought down to earth later with train back delayed, missed BH and spent 10 minutes de-icing car! 2moro it’s N4c4l and W4g4s with another session at W the following day. On low bandwidth at home until at least Sunday!

December 12th: completed papers for Liège for sending off on Friday by email. Quite busy with vf duties at present, seeing P at unn at 11 and M at S at 13:30, then MP4m4d with N, S4c and BH4ra4s!! Did make N4c today, where met J. Think I need a PA, dealing on my iP managed to buy some more ELI:BES rather than selling them; decided not to wait for providence to bail me out, sold double the number bought, costing me £45 in spread and commission! Bought some more shares (EPA:CIV) over ‘phone from brokers mid-afternoon: French shares cannot be bought online until trading platforms have implemented the 0.2% transaction tax introduced recently. It’s more exciting dealing with the brokers directly. The real way to make money was shown later in G where some punters, disappointed by cancellation of Hexham races due to frost, put £70-80 on several races and got some impressive winnings including £440 for £80 on one race. It was very exciting: I dared to put £1 on a horse in a sweepstake and backed a non-runner! ‘Fraid I’m averse to betting on horse racing, except on course where it’s part of the fun. The bookies are always richer than the punters! Like the hat, really: well looks good anyway!! Stimulating time (twice!) in transit!! lokttgo!!!

December 11th: have added links for video 1070 below (15/8) but data not added yet as will have to wait until 16/12 I think, new monthly accounting period, for return of high speed. On sat bb monthly allowance on my package, Tooway 12, is 16GB; once you’ve used this it’s still quite usable for low volume stuff with quick response but a regulator is put on to stop you getting the high speeds necessary for transferring bulk. Nothing’s simple; will upload large files from the Library for a few days! Working hard on Liège papers but had pretty leisurely lunch with coffee at both CCP and N. Now working on video 1054 from Blanchland on 15/7. Did make BH where had couple of good Captain’s Stout! Then off to Middle E where everything worked out very well with the beauty!!! lokttrhb!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and G4g4t!!

December 10th: prepared material for nest visit to Shilford on 18/8 (1070); not uploaded yet, exceeded daily limit of 4GB for sat bb (synchronising web site and local disk pages) and reduced until 2moro to bandwidth of 125 kbps as punishment! Made R again, made to feel very welcome! Good to see P back again, he’s been on a trip to the States. Never made N, met S afterwards at MM4c4l. Feeling fit again!! Thanks for all good wishes! Did a brisk walk in freezing conditions from 16:00-17:00 around area N of Juniper; had 11 species including a hunting Kestrel over my field (pretty rough!), a pair of calling Tawny Owl and 6 roosting Redwing. Good to see the mega-fit rhb!! 2moro it’s CCP4c4c with P, N4c4l and BH4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

December 9th: all ready to go now; so this is where new machine develops teething troubles – hope not, all going OK. The 2 2MB removable drives are sorted with 970GB of multimedia synchronised. Bought Canon Pixma MG5250 printer for £39.50 from Tesco in Hexham: can’t complain about the cost, wonder what the replacement cartridges are! Anyway all working after finding own USB/printer cable to replace one missing in box! Still under the weather – feeling cold and periodic nausea but managed to make the G in evening for normal quota of g so can’t be too bad! Liked the goodnite cuddles from the gorgeous one!! 2moro it’s R@B4m4l and N4c4l!! This week M is up from Devon so in S4m4l on Thursday and Consett on Friday! lokttgo!!!

December 8th: made a lot of progress on the new machine, getting all required software installed now and making some massive disk moves to tidy up the file structure. Most importantly got MikTex to work so that can process papers for Liège. Made W in evening for very enjoyable meal; N was absent with some bug; think I’m being attacked by something but didn’t stop me having 2 courses and a couple of g! Raised up at t-time, liked the welcoming approach from the gorgeous one!! Hope to get a walk in 2moro and to make G4g4s!! Keep-fit!!!

December 7th: completed processing 1044 below (7/7); highlight – female came swinging out low down from trees giving great views and photos with male briefly seen in background, more retiring (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12, 9-12 show male). Transferred recent material from laptop to removable drives; installed some software on the desktop. A little bumpy this week on markets but upwards drift continued, gaining 4k on week and it’s ton-up for the year to date; would not have believed this remotely possible back in January. Lucky bet this year is against almost the entire Anglo-American investment community on the € surviving in its present form! Good to see the super fit gbs again!! Action’s hotting up in the ‘Shire!!! 2moro it’s N4c4t and W4m4s with d&c!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

December 6th: new computer arrived at 17:10 after another day waiting for it; unpacked it, removed old computer and connected most of cables lying around to new machine, left it all for 3 hours to acclimatise, switched on, nothing happened! Found small master switch on back and it came on with successful Win boot tune but screen blank; put video cable in the right hole and all OK. Brilliant! Processing/disk speed is fantastic and downloads are faster over sat bb. Now got to install masses of software and bring together files scattered over a number of removable drives. Other good feature is the ssd, which gives 10 second boot and is easy to put to sleep. So very pleased (so far!). s arrived mid-afternoon so was able to get out for some urgent shopping (cat food) and her money!! Put new toy aside to go to T&S where 3 of us this week, all very chatty! Long session with the gorgeous one!!! lokttghs!!! 2moro it’s back to N4c4l and W4g4s!! Hope to finish processing 1044 tomorrow morning and then give the laptop a break after its valuable stand-in!

December 5th: not the best of days. FedEx failed to turn up after waiting in for them from 08:00-17:30; they finally reported Address Query at 17:10 but address was spot-on; suspect aq is code for can’t be arsed this late in the day. Was supposed to meet N for concert at Sage and collect new vacuum cleaner. So made Argos jit at 17:45 and sorted that out but next train for Newcastle was cancelled so drove in at 17:55. Nothing could have prepared me for the traffic chaos in Newcastle on 1-2cm of cold snow; trouble started the minute crossed the county boundary on A69 at Throckley where realised was passing dozens of cars in the slow lane; the outside lane was covered in sheet ice but passable with care and a bit of cadence braking! Major grind near A1 bypass but West Road was fairly clear and centre of town OK so parked in free car park in Dean Street at 19:20. Whole saga reminded me of how Devon would react to such a ‘massive’ snowfall; yet this is Newcastle, absolutely pathetic! No precautionary gritting is fatal in heavy traffic zones. Only commendable feature was skill and patience of local drivers: in Exeter there would have been a prang at every roundabout! A little late for short 1st part of concert so unwound with a large red wine and a meal at Sage before meeting N who’d come on earlier train. Concert by City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra was fantastic with performance of Bruckner’s 8th: 90 minutes of intense pounding (relentless!) with large orchestra, marvellous acoustics and brilliant lady stand-in conductor Simone Young from Australia. Evidently it was a near sell-out but only about 20% of seats occupied, great shame. Quayside was deserted, never seen it so quiet, some places like Red House had simply closed. Coming back at 22:30 Scotswood Road had obviously not been gritted for a while, last queues were just dispersing on A1 bypass but all roads in Gateshead and Northumberland were just fine, including the Ordley expressway! Some enquiry is needed into gritting policy of Newcastle, if it is to remain a vibrant business and cultural centre! 2moro w4ffx again but later T&S4g4s with work-mates!! Booked up flights for 3 weeks in Cape Verde in March (TAP scheduled, London-Lisbon-Sal); might have a bit of hedonism at Santa Maria for part of stay!

December 4th: now processing Staward N visit on 7/7 (1044) where more dynamic action. Am going to ease off Honey-buzzard processing a little over next couple of weeks as good news from Liège that both papers accepted: Categorising Anticipatory Systems needs more work though; The Contravariancy of Anticipatory Systems thought to be excellent though difficult to understand – take this as compliment! Need to get everything sorted by 14/12! New computer is on its way up the M1, to be delivered tomorrow; also ordered for tomorrow new vacuum cleaner from Argos, Hexham, as current one is b.ggered! Made BH, music nite, very entertaining! Magic of the E later: do think she’s very sensuous!!! lokttso!!!

December 3rd: completed processing media for 22/8 at Staward N (1072). Highlight was fantastic action by Honey-buzzard at 15:00 in N site where family party of 4 birds up in vigorous chasing flight with some calling; looks like both adults and their 2 juveniles involved (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). Some of the best action this year, to be added to main videos page tomorrow. Made R@B today, all very smooth! No Internet on computers at Hexham Library and a lot of Openreach engineers around the town. Used Skype on Saturday night in 40-minute call to N@Northampton, quite impressed! Snow had nearly all melted mid-morning but bitterly cold NW wind by evening; eating so much today after yesterday’s exertions in the cold. 2moro it’s back to N4c4l and BH4ra4s!! On Wednesday it’s MP4m4t and S4c. Xmas dinners booked include W with gang on 15/12 and R on 17/12. xxxxxxxxx!!!

December 2nd: completed adding clips below for Honey-buzzard family party including departing male at Bywell Cottagebank on 26/8 (1075). Next task is to complete visit report for Staward on 22/8 (1072). Today had great walk with group in Derwent Valley in Winlaton Mill/Rowlands Gill/Burnopfield/Gibside area, being on the move from 10:30-15:30 and doing about 15km in brilliant sunshine with frozen surfaces everywhere. Red Kite were not visible until 11:40 when first over Gibside, but increased in afternoon as light breeze got up and final total was 8 birds (some close-up video obtained); also had 2 Kestrel and 2 Common Buzzard so pretty good total for time of year of 12 raptors of 3 species; we went in appropriately named Red Kite Inn afterwards for a bit of refreshment! Total of 25 species including 10 Redwing; videos still to process. Made G to complete recuperation!! Great scene before and after with the vivacious ghs!! 2moro it’s R4m4l and maybe coffee somewhere to follow. Snowing as write this at 01:20 3/12! lokttwnb!!!

December 1st: busy sorting out the visit to the Mount on 26/8 as lots of video and 6 species of raptor. Very rewarding clip of a juvenile Honey-buzzard from Shilford (1075a): the juvenile was low-down over edge of Broomley Woods and much closer than others this day; here’s 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; the structure and jizz are very much Honey-buzzard like and sparse broad barring shows on stills 19-21. Overall this day on final lap sorting out distant Honey-buzzard at Cottagebank. Again very cold today, but sunny, and night was forecast to be down to as low as -7º. Amazing story from kh in Juniper today: a female Sparrowhawk knocked down a Collared Dove, which lay on the ground still alive. The hawk picked it up, took it to the garden pond and with wings out and tail fanned, hung just above water for about one minute drowning the dove, before eating it! Did go E tonite: very entertaining (wild!) lasses in pub! But much the best later with the gorgeous rhb: finest … in the county!!! Can see one or two new angles!! 2moro long walk but at least it shouldn’t be muddy and must score on Red Kite! lokttgo!!!

November 30th: next visit to process is that to Stocksfield Mount on 26/8 (1075) where good haul of raptors, often at some range. Note planned book by Ron Bijlsma The Honey Buzzard scheduled for 2013 has been cancelled; the species does seem to jinx writers; well maybe it’s my calling, even a need to subsidise publication costs would be no problem! Found the notice on NHBS site where looking for present suggestions for ‘kids’. An interesting recent book is Hawks at a Distance by Jerry Liguori with review: “The ultimate must-have guide for identifying migrant raptors, Hawks at a Distance is the first volume to focus on distant raptors as they are truly seen in the field”. Raptor id books which pretend you can see them as in the illustrations are very unrealistic! ‘kids’ are coming up here for Christmas (23/12-29/12). Very motivating appearance by the s.xy rhb!! Made W late on in light snow, which had largely melted by the time it was to go home; we’re planning a meal for 8 of us in W in a couple of weeks! Markets, surprisingly to some, continued to improve and gained +4k on week; have accumulated cash of 13k after further sales; one smart mover this week up to yesterday was LON:BKIR of which hold 100k shares at not a lot each; it’s affectionately known as that FKIR in some discussion groups! Might have a ½ 2moro, essential preparation for walk out with group in Derwent Valley on Sunday where must see some Red Kite!!

November 29th: sunny and frosty now; did bird count around Hexham from 13:20-14:50 getting 22 species, including a Waxwing on edge of Sele on N side and a Grey Wagtail on Skinners Burn. Pleased to see the lovely rhb again!! Made T&S with the gang, haven’t been there for a while on Thursday, greeted like long-lost friend! Had to beg for it but relieved the beautiful ghs‘s still game!!! lokttgo!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and W4g4s with maybe another outing in afternoon!

November 28th: apologies for late updating, sat bb went down tonite at 23:00 just as preparing to upload a great pile of material from Wylam on 16/8 (1069); there’s a clip of a very graceful male Honey-buzzard floating overhead, with 14 derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14 for closer analysis; no doubt about this one! G was good, very matey, almost picked up someone else’s g, as ju said: you’re not at R now! There’s really 4 pubs I feel at home in, in Tyne Valley: G, BH, T&S, ½. But should try out 1-2 more, how about DrS in P for instance! Dying desktop actually went for an hour this evening and still didn’t crash; trying to get Trend (anti-virus) off it to reduce pressure; quite sci-fi like it stops itself being uninstalled; will get it in safe mode! 2moro it’s N4c4l and T&S4g4s!!

November 27th: great progress with P on paper no.2 , think we’ve reached top of the hill and can now see our way forward to completion; paper no.1 is standing up to close scrutiny, by ourselves and others! P had some lively feedback from seminar he gave in York. Included CT4c4t in tour of Newcastle, lots of talent there!! Added more material below from trip to Wexford on 5/11 and 6/11; thought you might like to see my mates 1 in the Tholsel Inn in New Ross, birthplace of JF Kennedy’s ancestors (the town that is!). Made W in evening, pretty boring really, going to go somewhere more interesting next week!! 2moro it’s N4c4t and G4g4t!! Replaced McAfee with AVG as virus checker on laptop; never, never let one of these things install its own firewall, if you’ve already got Windows firewall on; latter is much better designed for allowing legitimate tasks. Suspect McAfee were snookered by this situation: bug installed on computers could not be corrected as updates not possible through remote connection, what a tfd! New computer has been assembled and is now being tested (email update from Dino PC).

November 26th: finished processing material from Towsbank on 12/7 (1051) and published it below. Also added below some material from Tomhaggard area of Wexford (castles, landscape) for 6/11. Finally nailed growing network problem on laptop: neither ftp nor updating for java, Adobe Flash, OpenOffice, MikTex, nor Skype would work. After quite a lot of research found it was McAfee’s firewall protection that was blocking all remote calls on the laptop; zapped this part of McAfee and it all works. This is complete overkill on McAfee’s part: Windows already has an effective firewall and absence of updates can actually make the system more vulnerable as they’re often security fixes. After a number of prompts, updated About at the top of the blog pages, to say a bit about myself!! R meeting was good: again won raffle (chance 900:1 of 2 in a row, is it prospective joiner’s luck!). Met S afterwards and went to QH4c4l. Here’s some shots 1  2  3  4 of Tyne at Hexham today mid-afternoon, certainly high but not flooding. 2moro it’s N4c4c, S4m4l, unn, W4g4s!!

November 25th: worked very hard (honest!) to complete 1083; all done now with all processed material (vast amount) below on 1/9 and migrant highlight copied to 23/11. Now working on other Towsbank visit, 1051 on 12/7, much easier to process! Donated £170 to BTO over next 12 months as part of drive to increase charitable donations (and reduce tax). Any other takers? Made G as expected and good session with R; gr8 to have fit lady footballer j behind bar! Before and after, very much a turn on; she’s irresistible!! 2moro it’s getting smart again for R4m4l followed by N4c4l; next day into unn instead of Thursday, this week only!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

November 24th: total of 3 Tawny Owl today in Ordley area, 2 at home calling at 07:00 and 1 on post by road near Newbiggin Farm at 18:00. Added below masses more videos and derived stills of Honey-buzzard for Towsbank on 1/9 (1083), including nest in oak, chewed wax comb, and clips of female, male and juvenile no.1. 5 more clips to go of juveniles then this remarkable day is all done. Pretty laid-back day with trip in afternoon to Beales to complete dressing for top-half (bottom-half last week!) and N4c4t. Dark late afternoons have one definite advantage, quite romantic really!! 2moro it’s out for walk, perhaps in W, and G4g4s!! lokttgo!!!

November 23rd: extracts from exciting incident at Towsbank on 1/9 at 15:35-15:40 — a male Honey-buzzard, a presumed migrant from Scotland, was actually intercepted by the resident local pair, who shielded their site from the intruder: keep away you forker!! Here’s the migrant male when first seen by me with local male getting ready to intercept (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, 1083); the intruder was obviously seen much earlier by the resident pair; here’s the migrant moving S trying to give the area a miss but intercepted and chased off by the local male (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7). Quite a lot more to compile here, some of it almost ready. Completed Leylandii trimming by using long-handled clippers on central bit, which cannot reach from steps. W was very chatty in evening – 5 of us there! Moved W later, marvellous time with the gorgeous one!!! lokttghs!!! Sorry for interrupting BoS!! Markets had one of their best weeks of the year and outperformed my now lower-β portfolio for the 1st time in 5 weeks. But still up 6k on week and 92k on year to date with €trash once again to the fore! Using pt shares as wallpaper!

November 22nd: will process Towsbank Honey-buzzard nest material tomorrow, no time today. Pretty rarified concert with N at Sage with Gabrielli Consort & Players performing some Purcell and Britten. Very elevating! Some of the more quavering parts of Ode for St Cecilia’s Day reminded me of the scene in Wagner’s Meistersinger where Beckmesser sings his stolen prize song, which was a set-up to trick him into losing the contest! N4c was very rewarding: gr8 to see the rhb!! ghs was back on top form: thought I was barred!! Last train was packed with happy supporters; got off for a quick one at BH, like the service! 2moro it’s N4c4l and W4g4s!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

November 21st: sorted out Honey-buzzard piccies for 29/8, including 1080a, showing a female returning from hunting trip just over tops of trees at Dotland (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4). Actual event at Sage was The Late Mix (In The Mix is something different!), which went on from 21:00-22:40. Idea was to give individual members of NS a chance to shine and perform in Hall 2 more adventurous items. Well we liked the Bartók Contrasts and Ligeti Horn Trio but thought the Nancarrow Study no.6 was a bit repetitive! Fiddlers Alexandra Raikhlina and Kyra Humphreys were the stars! Weather calmer and drier today so cut Leylandii hedge this afternoon – delayed by sociable neighbours: J, a lawyer, very curious about experience with sat bb as he’s fed up with slow time to download documents when he’s working from home; H giving me advice on dying tree in middle of hedge (she said just let it fade gradually and the others will take its place). Anyway as allergic to Leylandii (may be relevant elsewhere!!), had to have immediate shower to wash off the bits and then arrived on Dipton Road to find Hexham Races was just finishing. Just made it before the bell: fantastic!! G was exciting, packed full of punters, but left early for the concert. 2moro it’s N4c4c, unn, MP4m4s, S4c, BH4ra4nc!!

November 20th: completed addition of findings at nest at Kellas on 30/8 (1081), including downy white feathers, thin black feather, possible tarsal feathers, dark body and ruddy brown body feathers, splash, area around nest and difficult access to nesting area. Wasn’t difficult making mind up on desktop: failing machine is like a small car with 80,000 miles on the clock so even if get repaired, further troubles loom; also latest models are faster with many new features. Did also look at Dell’s latest range but more expensive for what you get and less customisation choice. New machine ordered has Intel i5 quad core processor, 2 internal drives – 120GB SSD (solid state for rapid boot) and 1TB, CPU cooler, HD 1GB video card, 8GB RAM. Only difficult decision was operating system – Windows 7 or 8; in the end went for 7 as not sure interface to 8 is ideal for desktop working. So that should come in 1-2 weeks – can’t wait! Problems with their networking to Paris meant had to ‘phone brokers today to get an order in for some French certificates; they cannot comment on your portfolio as it’s a no-advice service but he seemed impressed (or polite!). Met J at N at lunchtime and P at W in evening; no quiz as B’s had a baby (or something like that!). Later E for the sensuous delights of P: very inspiring!!! lokttrhb!!! 2moro it’s G4g4t followed much later by S4c with N, going in by car to in the mix, a late night show! More conventional visit on Thursday with unn, MPP, S4c.

November 19th: R was entertaining, into 10-day period of application acceptance/rejection now, won £5 in raffle, helping with street collection before Christmas! Met a couple of birders on way there. rhb looked really desirable: a very definite *!! Desktop resumed downhill trajectory and noises coming from it and failure to sustain even safe mode for long suggest a hardware problem, which after 4.5 years of heavy, constant use means it’s time for a new one! Got one lined up from Dino PC who supplied last one – a multimedia high-spec desktop for £705.66. Going to sleep on it! Meanwhile laptop carries on so will not affect progress. Saved all files and have a 2TB external drive connected to the laptop now. Processed some of nest visit at Kellas on 30/8 (1081) and added material below. The male was overhead at 14:11, coming in from high-up to W and disappearing from view (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6). Still to add are the stills of the feathers and the nest. 2moro it’s N4c4l and much later W4g4s!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

November 18th: walk was very enjoyable, did 15km from 10:30-15:30, starting at Colwell and basically doing a wide circuit of Hallington Reservoir anti-clockwise; weather was as good as you’ll get this time of year: sunny and bright with overnight frost quickly melting, later sunshine became hazy, quite cool, light S wind. Company was good: total of 4 men and 12 ladies! Walk went smoothly except near Hallington Hall where we ended up in a farmyard complete with roaming pigs! Wasn’t our fault we think: farmer pretended that footpath had been diverted but no evidence for this on ground or on definitive maps; she could have got a proper diversion but would cost £700 in fees! We resumed at Errington Arms for ‘tea’, not really a pub now but happy to take the punters outside main meal times; I was keener on BA but over-ruled! Total was 33 species including 1 Common Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 46 Teal, 3 Goldeneye, 42 Golden Plover, 18 Fieldfare and a Brambling. Used to visit Hallington a lot for gull roost counts – hardly ever saw a Common Buzzard there; the ‘keeper said it was because the top-soil was too thin for rabbits; well if you believe that ….! Made G for recuperation, complete with P’s coat, left in car! Beautifully timed afters with the gorgeous one!!! lokttghs!!! 2moro it’s R4m4l, N4c4l and hopefully some more videos!!

November 17th: major effort on material from 9/9 (1093) at Tyne Green (Hexham’s own Honey-buzzard site!) where had a juvenile Honey-buzzard up for 8 minutes (derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8), effortlessly floating on N side of Tyne near bypass from 15:47-15:55 and another weak flying-juvenile mobbed by Carrion Crow came quite close and gave good views (derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6); all results are below. Also added clips for 1087 from Morralee (1087, 4/9 below). Catching up well with season, back to 1/9 now! Thought desktop had had it today; it’s been crashing more lately and decided to work through recent software changes; found Nvidia driver for video card had had a failed update from routine Windows update in October leaving only half the components changed; tried to update the driver fully from Nvidia’s own web site; tfd with system crashing and unable to do anything; on 3rd attempt got it to start in Safe Mode where did pretty quick backup of some files using Command Prompt (command line interface) onto external disk and took Nvidia driver back to 2011 version; it then restarted OK in normal mode and has not crashed again yet! Bought a lot of clothes in Beales – 25% discount today – even underpants wear out in time!! 2moro more energetic with walk with group, but should make G4g4s with P!! rfaswtgo!!!

November 16th: beautiful sunny day and spent afternoon doing some more hedge cutting (beech), which helps to keep me fit in the absence of Honey-buzzard! Did make N4c where met J and library where met S and went for more coffee at QH; beautiful style (figure!) from the rhb!! Markets continued falling with sharpest drop in ftse since May and main index is now up only 0.6% on year; suspect we’re in a for a rough few weeks before the traditional Santa rally! Sold some more financial equities on Monday and been moving small amounts into miners of my favourite metal – pt (a massive train wreck, see urban dictionary for more apt description — tfd!)! Pretty choppy week with bonds up 2.5k, managed funds down 1k and financial equities (much reduced holdings) down 1k, giving small gain of 0.5k; bonds and the like up to 68% of total. Off to W later, which was good, full house with 6 of us + BS; supported CIN trials! 3 Tawny Owl in heated dispute in Dipton Wood at 00:30 (17/11). 2moro should make A’s4s4l and SC4f&c4s, taking it easy with long walk in view at Colwell/Hallington area on Sunday. xxxxxxxxx!!!

November 15th: added the 3 revealing clips (1090) below of Honey-buzzard from Staward S on 6/9, highlights: a juvenile gliding over from S suddenly turned towards me, where I was standing by a pheasant release pen at 15:56, and did the unexpected, attacking without success a Pheasant chick (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14, stills 5-6 show the large yellow bill, 6 the broad sparse barring, 12-13 usual structure with long neck, small head and long tail with narrow base); the adult pair then appeared from 16:00-16:03, entering into vigorous display over a nearby copse (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, stills 1-3 show the usual elegant, lightweight appearance of adults, particularly males). Busy day as vf, seeing P in morning trying to thrash out 2nd paper, to date we’ve identified 3 more possible papers but not made too much progress on paper no.2! Saw M in afternoon at S up from Totnes, we did actually get quite a lot done on ct+relativity; he was pretty incredulous about my not moving, seems it’s compulsory now for people to move in my circumstances! Did say I would try and get down to Devon early December for another meeting. Thought the style of the gws (legs!) was pretty impressive!! Concert was very entertaining; besides appropriately dynamic playing of Beethoven 7, had world premiere of Benedict Mason’s Sacbut Concerto with soloist Mike Svoboda, who served as trombonist for 11 years with Karlheinz Stockhausen; say no more, it was pretty weird but captivating with the sackbut giving a more vibrant tone than the trombone, reminded me of a foggy day on the Humber at Hull! For an encore he produced something like a shower attachment, complete with tube, and proceeded to play a number of tunes, without any stops! The Sinfonia also played Dowland’s Pavan: Lachrimae Antiquae; Dowland (1563-1626) was a contemporary of lutenist, for James I, and song-writer Philip Rosseter (1567-1623); not sure which branch P came from but suspect it’s the Somerset one (Combe St Nicholas). Pleased made BH: m‘s smartest ‘maid on travels at moment!! A very strident Tawny Owl was at Wylam at 23:30 (omen!) and a more subdued one at Ordley at 06:30 (16/11). 2 concerts next week, Wednesday and Thursday, and long walk on Sunday with group. 2moro it’s N4c4l and W4g4s!!

November 14th: grand day, settling back in again after last week’s trip! Processed the material (1090) from 6/9 at Staward S when juvenile Honey-buzzard attacked a young Pheasant! May not be able to publish it until Friday; the young Honey-buzzard is captured close-up showing wing barring and bill well. Gr8 to see the beautiful one b4 G and stimulating session after with the gorgeous one!! Good crack at G and actually made N a little earlier to keep my hand in! 2moro is quite busy: meeting with P early in morning at unn, S4s4l, meeting with M in afternoon at S, MP4m4t, S4c (last 2 with N), BH4g4s!! lokttwnb!!!

November 13th: added below for 17/9 clips 1101 of juvenile and female Honey-buzzard at Gilsland and additional clip 1100a of distant male Honey-buzzard at Blenkinsopp; just 3 more post-nesting visits to document for September and then can start on the nests themselves. Pretty indulgent midday at CCP with P followed by N with J, latter with stimulating views!! Did though do some energetic shrub trimming in back ‘garden’ in afternoon. Made W for quiz nite where saw lots of piccies of Corfu from P; looked very attractive. Then a little to the E: lokttrhb!!! 2moro it’s more work on garden at home followed by N4c4t and G4g4t!!

November 12th: had brisk walk out to Dotland at dusk (16:15-17:20) getting 7 species, including a Woodcock flying out to feed. Added below clip 1094 of brief Honey-buzzard juvenile sighting at Dukeshagg on 11/9 and further shots of Tacumshane Castle, Wexford, from 6/11; had to produce today annual report for Visiting Fellow post so updated the VF web page. PlayMemories seemed in better form today after installing an update to the drivers for the NVIDIA video card; not sure it’s very user friendly! R seemed to go well, men in black coming to see me sometime! rhb looked very fit, affecting my dreams!!! Seeing P at CCP4c4c 2moro. Bit of a change around this week with W on Tuesday and another concert at Sage on Thursday coming back on last train!! Seeing both P and M at unn on Thursday in morning and afternoon respectively so pretty stretched! xxxxxxxxx!!!

November 11th: getting sorted after the enjoyable break in Ireland! Added 4 clips below to go with the derived stills for the Hen Harrier, Northern Harrier and Honey-buzzard (1125). PMB (video browser) has stopped working on desktop, will not play high-quality clips, so downloaded its replacement PlayMemories from Sony; that didn’t work either; fortunately PlayMemories does convert .mts (AVCHD) to .mpeg and can then use Windows Live Movie Maker to process the clips including producing snapshots (frame capture) but it’s a factor that’s making me think twice about getting a Sony replacement for the current camcorder. Made G with P: very chatty, always like it there on Sunday nite! Gr8 empathy before and after with the s.xy one!! 2moro it’s R4m4l@B (meeting new pals!) with N a little later! loktt***!!!

November 10th: went to MP and Sage with N to see Northern Sinfonia in good form with Vaughan Williams, Haydn and Mozart; theme was summer with Cuckoo calling and ascending (Sky)lark from first named; very mellow! Gate much better as was partly sponsored by Classic FM; much more relaxed atmosphere which was good, clap when you like! Some purists objected a little to this: well they can always sit at home instead and watch a recording on dvd in ultra-hygienic surroundings! Missed last train to Prudhoe so came back on bus: did get a ½ in!! Seems to be doing better than it was: good to see! Rediscovered the joys of the ‘Shire!!! 2moro it’s catching up on Irish material, a walk out somewhere and G4g4s!! lokttgo!!!

November 9th: sorry for late update, crashed out last nite after trip to W!! Came back in style on Cork-Newcastle flight, slight delay on take-off as few desperate passengers vacated from toilets! Then on climbing as soon as seat belt sign turned off, mad panic for loo and for fresh service of beer from the trolleys at each end. Yes this was a trip containing at least 5 large parties of Irish revellers heading for the Quayside for the weekend. All good business and they were very friendly! It was raining in morning at Wexford when checking out of hotel; bill from Ferrycarrig was pretty reasonable at £300 for 4 days half-board in 4* hotel; would recommend it on all counts. Rain eased off as got towards Cork and stopped at Ardmore, a seaside resort in Waterford, for lunch. Ardmore has a headland, a sea front and a tower. Had 2 Great Northern Diver here, so on limited info, this seems to be relatively common here. One came close, as captured in this video hd  ld. Only raptor was again on the Waterford by-pass toll road where on W side had a Common Buzzard flying low near the motorway. No new species today but will update on all records soon. Pretty mad week on markets with stocks going in all directions: €trash down 3k, managed funds down 1k but junk bonds up 5k so overall gain of 1k in a very poor week overall for markets; bonds and the like up to 66%; LLPD went xd so cheque for £2244.79 in post! Fittingly best performer of week was LON:BOI; need BoS for this investment (not Board of Studies, favoured late nite programme after W on Friday!!). Brilliant to be back: celebrated post-flight and post-W with the gorgeous one!!! lokttghs!!! 2moro it’s A’s4s4l, MP4m4t, S4c and then depends when finishes!!

The final total of bird species for the trip was 84. Here’s the details of the sightings.

November 8th 2012: today went SW, first visiting Bargy Castle, which was built by relations of the Rs of Rathmacknee in the 15th century – didn’t go in as looked very private but Merryweather (who wrote the Irish Rossiter) says that there are inscriptions in the bedrooms, complete with coat of arms, maybe latest conquests! The Castle itself 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16 is still lived in; the tower section is presumably the older part in which the Rs lived. Chris de Burgh’s family owns it now and he has a website on the Castle together with an entertaining Tour, from which have extracted 5 stills: 1 that bed 1591, 2 Cromwell’s arrival 1649 (initial conquest thwarted by bees!), 3 friendly ghosts, 4 battlements, 5 love for Bargy. There’s a round tower 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 in the field to W of the castle. Wikipedia has an entry for Bargy Castle:

Bargy Castle is a Norman fortress near the village of Tomhaggard in the Barony of Bargy, County Wexford, Ireland, some 12 km south-west of Wexford town. The name Bargy derives from Ui Bhairrche, the name of a local tribe. The building is a square keep to which two wings have been added at right angles during the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. The keep itself is in good condition, having been renovated several times. … From the 15th century the castle was occupied by the Rossiter family until 1667, when it was confiscated by Cromwell in response to Rossiter’s part in the defence of Wexford. It was then granted to William Ivory, who sold it to the Harvey family. … It was bought in 1960 by General Sir Eric de Burgh, a former Chief of the General staff, Indian Army (and the maternal grandfather of musician and songwriter Chris de Burgh) and occupied by him and Charles and Maeve Davison, Chris de Burgh’s parents. Together they converted it into a private hotel.

Bargy Castle is a Norman fortress near the village of Tomhaggard in the Barony of Bargy, County Wexford, Ireland, some 12 km south-west of Wexford town. The name Bargy derives from Ui Bhairrche, the name of a local tribe. The building is a square keep to which two wings have been added at right angles during the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. The keep itself is in good condition, having been renovated several times. … From the 15th century the castle was occupied by the Rossiter family until 1667, when it was confiscated by Cromwell in response to Rossiter’s part in the defence of Wexford. It was then granted to William Ivory, who sold it to the Harvey family. … It was bought in 1960 by General Sir Eric de Burgh, a former Chief of the General staff, Indian Army (and the maternal grandfather of musician and songwriter Chris de Burgh) and occupied by him and Charles and Maeve Davison, Chris de Burgh’s parents. Together they converted it into a private hotel.

Did a bird survey here as well getting 17 species, but no raptors, in fairly rich countryside 1  2  3  4, very suitable for Common Buzzard but perhaps more marginal for Honey-buzzard as rather too open without any large woods. Then went to the seaside at Kilmore Quay 1, on South Wexford path 1  2, which was a little quiet shop-wise, as out of season, but plenty of people around, including builders. You can see the Saltee Islands 1  2 well from the Quay. Had good walk around the area from 12:25-14:10, including the headland where this raptor feather found 1 (thought to be Common Buzzard), and plenty of coastal birds with 1 Great Northern Diver, 6 Rock Pipit hd  ld, 2 Grey Plover hd  ld, 6 Gannet, 14 Kittiwake, 2 Stonechat and welcome sight of 20 Shags!! A few clips were taken of the local Herring Gull including this adult hd  ld, this 1w hd  ld and the 1w with a flock of calling birds hd  ld. Area really wanted to explore was Ballyteige, which is a large lagoon with dunes on the sea-side and mud flats on the inside. Not easy to get at; went down 2 tracks which appeared to go there on E side but 1st ended up a long way short with padlocked gates and the 2nd got closer but finished with very aggressive notices! Finally went through Duncormick, took left turn shortly after (going W) and made the lagoon at Lacken. It was well worth it, marvellous wild area 1  2  3  4  5 from atmosphere point of view, packed full of birds with just the odd dog walker around. Here had very late summer visitors – 2 Swallow W, 1 female/1w Wheatear hd  ld; winter visitors – 414 Pale-bellied Brent Goose feeding on eel grass hd  ld, 22 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank; residents – 2 Stonechat, 14 Red-breasted Merganser. Day’s total was 56 species and trip total is now 84 species. Had had no raptors during day but drive back up lane finally produced a ‘buzzard’ at 16:30, flapping over from E. Stopped car and had good look around but it had vanished. Then a few minutes later it appeared again, hunting over the fields to W and confirmed as Common Buzzard by video hd  ld (in particular broad tail base, short tail, large head) but it’s still a good tick for the square. I had hoped in some respects that it wasn’t a Honey-buzzard as moving SW along the Irish coast towards Cork is almost a death sentence, going further out into the Atlantic; from Wexford they must go SE to Pembroke or SW England. Interested to see from local Wexford Free Press that the Rs (Fiona Rossiter) play a prominent role in local folk music; think next time will stay in town centre as makes evenings easier! There were some local lasses in the hotel bar tonite: very fit but need a translator when they get excited!! 2nite and 2moro morning it’s raining and may head W for a stop where weather may be on the mend. Whatever, looking forward to return to N!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

November 7th: day really rather like at home with lunch in Wexford Town, field trip in afternoon and a few g to follow! Wexford’s harbour is on the mouth of the Slaney 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. This plaque 1 gives some background. The outer wall 1 had some Cormorant on it. This Black-headed Gull adult 1  2 was close-in. The town has some narrow old streets 1  2  3  4 and St Selskar’s Church 1 is an impressive old building dating from the 14th/15th centuries, complete with plaque 1. It’s very flat around Wexford so difficult to get a good view of it but did find later you get a better view from N side of estuary. Friendly enough town, local accent takes some learning – not really like Dublin, but nice atmosphere! Was planning visit to Wexford Library; did find the new building 1. but it just happens to be in transit from another building during 5/11-19/11 so that’s as far as got; to be sure, did check on web site last week! Did get an up to date OS map, very useful, and had coffee at the Book Centre, where many books on old Wexford by my namesake Nicky R. House market is obviously pretty dire and they don’t attempt to disguise it like in Spain. Over half the properties in one window had reductions with one or two hand-written to increase the scale of desperation; the next door agents had been vacated. Dublin market is supposed to be recovering a little after a 65% decline (biggest anywhere in recent history!), no sign of that here. But there’s quite a lot of building activity, maybe mainly repairs and make-overs, which was a surprise. Some property seemed cheap like €200k for a 4-bedroom bungalow and €120k for modern semi-detached; so maybe properties are doing the classical undershooting following a boom and bust. Then out to the Slobs 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9, a flat area of cultivated fields on N side of the Slaney River. Managed to avoid the official wildlife area and ended up bang in the middle of the Slobs by a farmhouse; parked there and started walking down the track when the farmer caught me up in his van and suggested that I should keep in my car rather than walking around and disturbing the birds. Well only too happy to oblige! Was there from 14:40-16:25 and it really was a great place for birds, being more inland and closer to an impressive conifer shelter belt than the recommended area. It’s the main home for Greenland White-fronted Goose (clip hd  ld) in the winter and counted 550 of these; also had 45 pale-bellied Brent Goose, masses of Starling and Golden Plover, 17 Shelduck and 58 Curlew, in total of 33 species. Raptors were brilliant! Had a female Merlin hunting over area on arrival and a 1w Kestrel prospecting in a ditch on departure; a Hen Harrier ringtail was hunting over the fields at 15:55 (stills 1  2  3  4 derived from video); and yes you’ve guessed it a juvenile Honey-buzzard came out of the plantation, flapping slowly (almost Harrier-like) and then landed in a stubble field, scattering birds in all directions; later at 16:02 it tangled briefly with a Common Buzzard, just before the latter caught a substantial prey item and returned to the plantation carrying it (stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11 derived from video, 1125). Honey-buzzard on the E coast of Ireland are likely to be Scottish-bred birds, moving from Galloway into Northern Ireland and then continuing S to Wexford before facing a hazardous sea crossing. Go SE (or SSE if cutting it finer) and make SW England or Brittany; go SW and you’re out into the Atlantic. It’s very mild here, 13º today and sunny on moderate W breeze, with lots of insects still around so the birds can linger for a bit longer. Farmer gave a cheery wave as departed! Other raptor today was a 1w Kestrel hovering near Wexford so total for trip is now 18 birds of 7 species, with 8 Kestrel, 4 Hen Harrier, 2 Common Buzzard and single Sparrowhawk, Northern Harrier, Merlin and Honey-buzzard; much better than expected. Settling well into hotel: staff very friendly after initial reserve! loktt***!!! rfaswtgo!!! 2moro it’s Kilmore Quay, Ballyteige and maybe another castle (Bargy).

November 6th: added some piccies from yesterday, got some from New Ross to add. After yesterday’s brilliant weather (sunny, mild, light NW breeze), quite a lot cloudier today and breeze NW moderate but remaining dry and mild. Tacumshin Lake (from NE side 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10) was brilliant with 42 species of birds including 25 Whooper Swan, 9 Little Egret, 5 LBBG, 1 Raven and masses of Wigeon, Dunlin, Golden Plover and Lapwing. Hopes were not high for raptors on trip so pretty pleased with today — 9 raptors of 3 species: 5 Kestrel, 3 Hen Harrier, 1 Northern Harrier. The Hen Harrier were all at Tacumshin Lake with 2 juveniles (presumed male and female, derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 from video for latter) and an adult male flying SE high-up, a presumed migrant, next stop SW England! The Northern Harrier juvenile female gave good views at 12:50 being flushed from NE bank and moving onto W bank – a mega-rarity of course from North America, but not my discovery! Good features seemed to be very dark upperside, narrow gleaming white rump, deep reddish underside when at close range initially, appearing all-dark in distance. Here’s some stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 derived from video. Also had 2 walks near Tomhaggard, slightly inland, getting 25 species including Redwing (6), Blackbird (62, incredible), Song Thrush (3), Chiffchaff (1). Here’s some shots 1  2  3  4  5 of the farmland around the Tomhaggard mediaeval church: it’s flat and fertile with few trees, not suitable for Honey-buzzard. The ivy 1 was flowering in profusion, giving a heady smell; there were many small flies around the flowers so good feeding for small birds. Kept up the pressure on the history with Tacumshane Windmill 1  2; Tacumshane Castle 1  2  3 with windows 1  2  3  4  5, walls 1 and fields 1; mediaeval church 1  2  3  4  5 of Tomhaggard near Paradise (apt!); Butlerstown Castle (definitely not R’s) 1  2  3; and remains of farmhouse 1  2 by side of road at Tomhaggard. The Rs were involved in this area but written evidence is not as clear as at Rathmacknee except perhaps for Bargy Castle (see 8/11). Should add the Rs were not originally Celts: they were Normans coming over with Strongbow in 1169 to conquer parts of SE Ireland. Laws were made to keep the Norman blood free from Celtic ‘dilution’ but these quickly broke down under the charm of the local lasses!! So by 1690 the occupiers had gone truly native!! 2moro it’s a morning in Wexford Town, an afternoon on the Slobs (wetland near hotel, really!) and an evening in Wexford Town! Hotel is quite classy, had dinner for €50 but they do serve g with the meal (if you ask!). Hope the gorgeous ones are keeping well!! Back for next W!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

November 5th: after driving 400m yesterday went much further today doing 200km to County Wexford in morning, arriving in New Ross at 12:10 after leaving Cork Airport at 09:45. New Ross is a well-preserved market town with narrow streets 1  2 and traditional shop fronts 1  2  3 except perhaps Paddy Power; Kavanaghs and Kelly were 2 of the families the Rs had help from in the period after the Treaty of Limerick in 1691. The River Barrow 1  2  3 is very wide at the town, which sits at the head of the estuary. The church 1  2  3 is another prominent feature. Popped into a welcoming pub, Tholsel Inn 1, and made a few new mates 1 very quickly! New Ross is famous now as the origin of the Kennedy family (JF) before they left for America. Roads for the journey were good: a mixture of dual carriageway, clear 3-laners and not so clear 2.5-laners! Ireland has in the last century been very poor for raptors, suspect they were wiped out in the shooting frenzy of the 18th/19th centuries and recolonisation has not been easy because of the sea crossings required for incomers. But not too bad: had single Kestrel (1w) and Common Buzzard off the toll road N of Waterford near Grannagh Junction (well worth the €1.80!) and a Sparrowhawk (hunting female) at Rathmacknee. Did full survey of Rathmacknee, 8km S of Wexford town, from 14:20-16:05 getting 21 species including 8 Redwing, 2 Goldcrest, 16 Blackbird, 10 Dunnock. Rook is the most conspicuous species and Carrion Crow is of course replaced by Hooded Crow. Land around Rathmacknee is very much like Devon/Somerset as these shots 1-4 show 1  2  3  4  5  6; shot 5 shows a lane, which would not be out of place in Devon; still 6 shows an unfriendly attitude to walkers though must admit strolled around a bit without any problems! Certainly this area could hold high raptor populations including Honey-buzzard, if they get over the initial problems with the sea-crossing. Interest in Rathmacknee was that this holds main Rossiter castle during their stay up until 1690; many shots taken in the sunshine, complete with signage, farmyard, washing and TV aerial! Stills 1  2  3 shown the signage, 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 show the castle itself, 1  2  3 show the fortifying walls, 1  2  3  4  5  6 show the windows. Local pronunciation of Rossiter is very unlike that of SW England: more like Rawseter with a pronounced drawl on the first syllable. Bet that’s how it was pronounced in 17th century everywhere! Hotel is very comfortable, now moved out of Murphy’s land into G land! 2moro it’s deep S with castles at Tomhaggard and Tacumshane and one of Ireland’s best bird reserves at Tacumshin Lake.

November 4th: published clip 1095 below from Hyons Wood on 11/9 of close-up juvenile Honey-buzzard; stills 4 and 7 have been brightened as 10  11 respectively. Steadily working through backlog of unpublished videos but some way still to go. Now in Cork at Park Hotel – very comfortable, nice Murphy’s, flight from Newcastle packed full and just a little late! Have Ford Fiesta with maximum insurance cover possible! Not covered for losing keys and putting in diesel, that’s all! Think was charmed by the pretty lass into a bit of duplication of cover from UK, what’s new! Besides family history and birds, also interested in beers and financial climate over here. Have large investments here in terms of paper, could cover many walls metaphorically, but not so good value-wise. Just listening to debate on bank pensions on RTE-1 and pretty hostile, particularly with regards to almost entirely state-owned AIB, of which don’t hold any. BOI, which do hold as both bonds and equity, has 85% private ownership and seems to be regarded as less of a problem, or at least one that’s a bit more untouchable. So that’s very useful for future reference. 2moro it’s breakfast here and then on the road to Wexford where staying at Ferrycarrig Hotel. Weather improving generally this week and sunny tomorrow so planning to make Rathmacknee Castle just after lunch after stop somewhere on the coast on way. Well that’s the plan anyway! Missing the lovelies!!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

November 3rd: worth bringing up clip 2 from video 1097 on 15/9 below at Barhaugh; derived stills are 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 (stills 2 and 3 have been brightened as 8  9 respectively, contrast also reduced, both stills show clearly the inner tail band on an outside tail feather); the female has her neck hunched up with small head on top pointing upwards, a classical pose. Wonder how the SoDs will cope with this! Some relief that finished processing of 15/9 material – quite a day! Now onto Hyons Wood on 11/9 (1095). Updated entries below with various raptor sightings over last week. Have added below Red Kite 1w/adult clips, with derived stills, for visit to Hyons Wood on 11/9. Great stuff for the FoRKers! More to come from this visit. Spent hours today catching up with things: finalising Liege paper 1 with Mike, poring over maps, annotating family history sources, adding account of 23/2 to Kenya diary (Notice Board 2010), sorting IR (refunds on inheritance tax of 1.6k and on 2011-12 return of 0.5k). 2012-13 return will see me much further into higher tax band with income now up to professorial levels (unn) but can legitimately use isa, reinvestment schemes and charity donations to mitigate things to some extent. Anyway change coming up!! Look after yourselves!! lokttgo!!!

In week from 28/10-3/11 in study area have had continual reduction in raptor sightings with 8 birds of 4 species: 3 Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 2 Tawny Owl, 1 Barn Owl. From 26/8-3/11 have had 12 species of raptor. Maybe should start documenting something else!!

November 2nd: bit of a hedonistic day! Made N4c4l, O’N4g4t, S4con, Cen4g4s and W4g4nc!! Concert was good but gates leave something to be desired; suspect quite a lot of the elderly supporters are becoming more selective. Conductor was the inspiring Mario Venzago who’s great with his enthusiastic, supporting manner in encouraging the Sinfonia to take on larger works such as Dvorák’s 7th symphony. Ibert’s flute concerto was also played spot-on by Sinfonia’s own Juliette B, with the highlight the cadenza. Evening was broadcast live on Radio 3. Good chat with c about Tenerife in W: lots of memories, maybe it’ll stay that way! Another good week on markets with +7k; bonds/certs/cash up to 65% as continue to sell high-β stocks; financial stocks are best performing ftse sector this year and BARC is 2nd best performing stock in index; baffling that institutions could be dumping BARC in May at 160-180 and are now piling back in at 230-245; still good for those doing the opposite! Fancy high-yielding low-β financials and mining, particularly metal pt, for next year. 2moro not sure what’s happening: could be fireworks for real or metaphorically!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

November 1st: posted videos for 1097 below, Barhaugh on 15/9, one of the most memorable trips of the year! Will bring up to top some interesting stills tomorrow. Meeting with P went well, getting stuck in to 2nd paper; earlier made S4s4l, going there again tomorrow in evening for concert; later made CT4c4t, always enjoy the coffee in Newcastle! Regular 1w Kestrel had disappeared from Houtley after the great fog, but relocated today at 11:30 at Lamb Shield, again on a pole, about 300m away! Made BH for 2nd time in week, bit irregular but pretty stimulating seeing m again! Closure with gorgeous lady of the W!!! lokttghs!!! 2moro besides S, making N4c4l and ending day with W4g4s; N’s away so might make O’N4g4t in training!

October 31st: finished processing 1097 but not indexed yet; hope to post the 4 Honey-buzzard clips tomorrow along with Hen Harrier and Peregrine material. Rain arrived late so did a lot of work on garden with grass cutting, trimming entrance onto road and taming other vegetation near house; good thing about such work at this time of year is that it doesn’t grow back for 6 months! Had a Common Buzzard up over Linnels at 15:00. Into unn tomorrow to see P, putting more effort into ct studies now. G was gr8, j on for a change! Stimulating walks through Hexham, both before and after!! Also 2moro we’re going on a pub crawl, starting at BH mid-evening to meet W (work-mate from Heddon) and moving onto T&S!! Double bed still has a vacancy!!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

October 30th: still processing 1097, got some tail bars on the female Honey-buzzard in this one! Processed couple of clips from Kenya on 23/2. 2 Tawny Owl calling at Ordley at 01:00 today and a Barn Owl flushed from road here at 23:00 day before. Made further progress in Irish castles and Rathmacknee/Tiverton family transition! Great interest in the Frankenstorm and not just because it’s disrupting daughter’s flights. Again it’s high G which is the culprit; persistent high pressure over Greenland blocked the normal path of the tropical storm into the Atlantic, forcing it onto land in NE America. It’s ironic that America is the great bastion of the SoDs (State of Denialers!) with respect to climate change. Scepticism is very much part of science but the SoDs have more of a religious fervour. This article in New Scientist discusses the issue. The situation with Honey-buzzard in the UK has many parallels with that of climate change. The lack of technical debate and dominance of belief over logic give British birdwatching an almost religious feel. Suspect many in the environmental movement would have been in the church in the 19th century. Can find some unwelcome parallels: county recorders are Catholic fathers, apparent authorities are prophets and field guides are bibles! It’s a long way from engineering and physics, where healthy scepticism rules while issues are thrashed out in technical debate. Did make the far E: favoured ‘maid j is off to France for a bit! All ended well with the sensuous one!!! lokttgws!!! 2moro it’s more rain and G4g4t!!

October 29th: started processing material from 15/9 with close-up views (1097) of female Honey-buzzard at Barhaugh (upper South Tyne); completed processing Kenya material for 18/2, 24/2 and 25/2 so just 23/2 to do now, all on Notice Board 2010 page; finalised 1st paper for final publication by CASYS “The Contravariancy of Anticipatory Systems”; preparing spreadsheet with accumulated knowledge on the Wexford castles. Otherwise pretty laid back — made N4c, where too many idle half-termers, but good to see the beauty!! Rotary of Hexham dinner was at Quattro Mori, think passed the cherry pie test, 1st meeting for me on Monday week for lunch at Beaumont! Actually enjoyed atmosphere, went with P, sitting opposite S, MD of Hexham Courant. 2moro it’s CCP4c4l and BH4g4s!! lokttgo!!!

October 28th: pretty demanding walk of 13km in ‘Shire from 10:20-16:05 with group doing zig-zag around area S and E of Dipton Mill. Main problem was the mud and wet fields which slowed us down, but very good for keeping fit! Thrush movement continued with 67 Fieldfare (45 W, 21 circling, 1 feeding) and 12 Redwing (9 W, 3 feeding); 4 Goldcrest were also noted. Raptors were keeping a low profile in overcast mild conditions with drizzle from time to time on moderate SW breeze but did have 2 Common Buzzard and a Kestrel 1w. Total was 28 species. Recuperated well in G with j on again! Good tuck-in for the lovely one!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and change in evening with trip to Rotary dinner for trial! xxxxxxxxx!!!

October 27th: snow quickly melted with occasional rain by evening. Continued processing Kenya material for 6/2 and 18/2 (2010!), still some way to go with 23/2-24/2 still to do. We went in from Prudhoe Station on 15:00 as last train finishes at Prudhoe, leaving Newcastle at 21:52. Did some shopping before at top Spar, Stocksfield, at 14:25 and was rewarded with a crowd of corvids up overhead plus a Red Kite 1w (locally bred?) and a Common Buzzard. Earlier had 20 Fieldfare and 10 Redwing on a field near Ordley. MP was good – favourite waitress on, thought congratulations were due but not so sure!! Otello by Verdi on real-time HD transmission from New York Met at Tyneside Cinema was marvellous – romance, s.xy scenes, scheming, murder and suicide – so pretty routine really!! Dropped N off in S and went for a ½: another party on so went in public bar where watched football on big screen! Afters matched brilliantly 1st 2 attributes of Otello!!! Did fancy a cup of cocoa!! lokttrhb!!! 2moro it’s walk with group, starting at Dipton Mill and wandering around the ‘Shire, so home match really. Tawny Owl calling at Ordley at 23:00. Later should be at G4g4s!!

In week from 21/10-27/10 in study area have had continual reduction in raptor sightings with 19 birds of 5 species: 7 Common Buzzard, 6 Kestrel, 3 Tawny Owl, 2 Red Kite, 1 Honey-buzzard. From 26/8-27/10 have had 12 species of raptor.

October 26th: mostly sunny, dry, light N wind, cold! Perhaps not surprising then that it was a Honey-buzzard free day at Haltwhistle North Wood, which visited from 15:00-17:05. Did have 3 Common Buzzard there with one more on roadside at Melkridge so 4 for day. Also at Haltwhistle had 1+ Redwing overhead and a Brambling feeding with Chaffinch. Birds presumably on their way out (of the area) were 25 Lapwing and 2 Grey Wagtail. Added Honey-buzzard clip 1097a below from 15/9 at Unthank, where female and juvenile up above a wood. Worst week since June on many markets; €trash fell but bonds rose and latter just won so +1k to new record; bonds up to 58% but could be viewed as 63% if reclassify French banking investment certificates, which I’ve been buying with skimmed profits on €trash, as low β stock. Largest investment LON:LLPD, going xd soon, topped 50k for 1st time! Just about to go to W4g4s! 2moro it’s MP4m4t, TC4o, ½4g4s!! xxxxxxxxx!!! Journey back was interesting: wet snow had frozen in patches and 4wd had hit a wall at Dilston Farm, on Hexham-Corbridge road, where very little traction; with bit of tacking made it up to top of Loughbrow, crawled down hill to Newbiggin and made Ordley in style!

October 25th: early-on at 09:30 in murk there was a considerable fall of Redwing at Ordley with at least 50 noted; visibility increased during morning and birds dispersed. Down to Stocksfield Mount from 12:05-14:05 in mainly cloudy, cool conditions on light N wind with just a few brief sunny intervals near the end; good enough to check for Honey-buzzard juveniles which are typically active unless weather really bad! On passing woods E of Shilford had what looked like a Honey-buzzard juvenile being harassed by 2 Common Buzzard but nowhere to stop so drove on and hoped the action would move my way. Had to wait a while but at 12:57 a juvenile Honey-buzzard came over Broomley Woods low-down flying E on what looked like a feeding trip and continued over the Guessburn still at low altitude. Here’s the clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5 (1124). Also had a Red Kite up briefly over Eltringham so total for trip was 4 raptors of 3 species. Quite a lot of autumn migrants were noted in impressive total of 33 species: 20 Fieldfare with 17 W and 3 NW, 10 Redwing SE, 11 Brambling present including flock of 8, 1 Skylark SW, 1 Siskin SW, 1 Herring Gull 1w W. Made Prudhoe Library and N4c4t: rhb still looked lovely!! Much later made T&S with 4 work-mates: good crack! Fantastic end to day with the gorgeous one!!! lokttghs!!! 2moro it’s perhaps N4c4l, a trip to Haltwhistle to check for migrants and W4g4s!!

October 24th: 3 in a row, dull days that is! Still getting on with processing material and now completed all Honey-buzzard video for the fantastic migration/juvenile day at Whitfield Moor on 22/9 (1108, 1109, 1110). Transferred last remaining Notice Board, that for 2007, onto WordPress. By removing refresh on the WordPress versions, seem to have got over back key not working, but maybe that’s just for my browser! Will shortly check everything is uniform and working as expected (or something like that!). Planning next to do some work on the Kenya material (variety is the spice of life!!). Made G today – very lively, wonder if local building trade is picking up! Pleased to see the lovely rhb on show again!! Find trip to Wexford just misses the Wexford Festival Opera but just as well as look at these prices. Wondered why hotel prices slumped as I arrive! Not keen on snobby opera, gather they even want black tie for works by composers such as Kurt Weill, who being a socialist would have been horrified. For comparison seats in Riga, Latvia, next June for 4 opera performances for 2 people comes to a total bill of £203.76; that’s for 19 hours of Wagner including intervals (though some might say the price should come down if it goes on too long!). It’s much cheaper to go to eastern Europe for music than to London, when you add everything up! Good news from Liège in that publication of proceedings from last August (2011) is underway again and that meeting will continue in August 2013. Must be the season for category theory again! 2moro not into unn as P busy; may go in afternoon to Bywell for migrants and Library in Prudhoe; much later it’s T&S4g4s!!

October 23rd: another dull day and expect last of departing Honey-buzzard all grounded, maybe slightly better tomorrow out W so may go out to Haltwhistle then. Processed video for juvenile and female Honey-buzzard at Parmently, Whitfield Moor, on 22/9 (see below, 1110). Worth reproducing a few shots of the juvenile up here: in particular from clip 3 stills 2  8  9  12 show sparse broad barring across the primaries and still 5 shows the pale fine bill. Sorted Notice Board 2008 by transferring it to WordPress, one to go! Did get out E; very enjoyable couple and good chat, with bonus of music! Gr8 finish with the one with the bedside manner!!! lokttgws!!! Don’t think I can go anywhere else on Tuesdays now!! 2 Tawny Owl calling at Wylam at 23:45.

October 22nd: good thing walk wasn’t today as very dull weather with drizzle on and off, misty at best, foggy at worst, mild, calm! Did go for walk to Dotland from 17:20-18:25 and had 6 feeding Redwing in the murk, in total of 12 species. Looks as if no more proper sunshine until Saturday when it will be much colder; fog is replaced by overcast skies with little brightness perhaps from Wednesday; need 2 visits to prominent migration routes (Bywell and Towsbank) by Saturday. Sorted out clips and stills for video on 8/10 from North Wood, Haltwhistle, of 2 departing juvenile Honey-buzzard; these are posted below. Also got Notice Board 2009 onto WordPress in similar format to 2010-2012 so just 2008 and 2007 to do. Working now on video 1110 from Parmently on 22/9. Made N4c4l; everyone seems to be going to Sharm now; only been there once but it’s a great destination for sun, sea, gulls and raptors! Some don’t seem to like the many Russians there: beg to differ! 2moro it’s N4c4l and BH4ra4s!! loktt s.a.s!!!

October 21st: beautiful day for mid-October, sunny all day, mild, light SW breeze. So perfect for walk at West Woodburn, expertly led by P, where did 12km circular walk to E from 10:45-15:50 with welcome refreshments at end at BH! Good turn out and company; have another walk next Sunday but will be out on Saturday nite for Verdi’s Otello, satellite transmission from New York Met!! Bird of day was Kestrel with 6 noted (adult male 2, adult 1, 1w 3): 3 on walk, 2 at Fourlaws and 1 at Houtley. Other sightings were of 35 Lesser Redpoll on East Woodburn Common, 1 Nuthatch at East Woodburn and 3 Redwing W at West Woodburn. Kestrel was the only raptor seen all day – not even a Common Buzzard in view. Total was 24 species of birds with a single very late Red Admiral at West Woodburn making up the butterflies. Did make G later: gr8 to have j back again, personal service to table!! She’s into ladies football, evidently Prudhoe ladies, a very physical lot, beat some side 26-0 recently; can believe that! Good sign-off later with the gorgeous one!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

October 20th: putting into practice the move of some material out of the blogs into greater prominence. Assembled all the Ethiopia material, sitting in the 2010 blog, into a trip report “Visit to Ethiopia from 7-17 February 2010: Raptors, Mountains and Churches” (Ethiopian Raptors). Going to complete the Kenya part of that trip over the next week, followed by processing the Tanzania part, which was very good for the big game! Mind you, the Honey-buzzard are not letting the pressure off, good thing I’m staying around a little while. Made Towsbank this afternoon from 14:00-16:45 in beautiful sunny, mild weather on light SW wind. Total for raptors in trip was 12 birds of 5 species, pretty amazing for mid-October, comprising 7 Honey-buzzard (all juvenile, 1123), 2 Sparrowhawk (adult male, 1w female hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3), 1 Peregrine (1w male, circling overhead, hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5), 1 Common Buzzard (on wires, hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4) and 1 Kestrel (1w, Haltwhistle by-pass). The 1st Honey-buzzard was up at 14:25, joined by a 2nd at 14:32 floating together; various further sightings were made over the next 50 minutes and it was going to be difficult to get an accurate total; then at 15:30 6 birds got up in the air together, 3 very high-up and 3 at moderate height, and proceeded to glide off slowly SW to disappear completely from sight. Meanwhile at 15:20 another bird had arrived from the N over Lambley Bridge and was presumably the bird left at the end on its own, last seen at 16:05. So Towsbank is a bit like a café, a place to stop and refresh, for Scottish-bred Honey-buzzard. Clips of Honey-buzzard juvenile comprised: 1 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5 (bird up mobbed by Carrion Crow, white head, pale underwing, small carpal, ruddy body, hanging over wood); 2 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2 (bird up, dark head, full-winged, hanging over wood); 3 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12 (bird up with looser outer tail feathers, grey head, very pale underneath, uneven trailing edge on right wing, one dive); 4 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6 (2 birds up at same time, one relatively slim); 5 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2 (at least 2 birds very high up, one pale bodied); 6 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5 (bird up high, very pale); 7 hd  ld (bird up very high, a speck); 8 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 (bird up, dark underwing coverts and small carpal,grey head, broad dark subterminal tail band, landed on wires where perched); 9 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5 (bird perched on wires, horizontal stance, attenuated appearance with long wings and tail, small head, like large Cuckoo, compare with much stockier Common Buzzard on wires); 10 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 (bird on wires mobbed by male Sparrowhawk, overall dark grey appearance); 11 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 (3 birds up, floating higher, gliding to S, one bird pale body, grey head, small dark carpal, another similar but ruddy body, last similar to 1st but with greyer body and transverse bar on remiges); 12 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4 (same 3 birds up, very high, one tussle between 2 birds, becoming specks); 13 hd  ld with derived still 1 (2 more birds in view, part of 2nd contingent of 3 birds leaving, 1 bird gliding S); 14 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 (bird up, dark body with ruddy tinge, grey head, partial transverse bar across remiges, very recent arrival from N, resting). Had 10 Redwing moving N plus this tired lone bird by side of South Tyne (hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4). Other birds of note, in total of 25 species, were 4 active Jay, a Raven, 4 Stock Dove, 1 Skylark SW, 3 Chaffinch S and 3 Lesser Redpoll S. Quite a lot more to say but early to bed, early to rise!! Looking for a picture sharpener!! lokttgo!!! 2moro it’s the walk with much later G4g4s!!

In week from 14/10-20/10 in study area have had reduced sightings of raptors, partly due to other commitments, with 29 birds of 7 species: 9 Honey-buzzard, 8 Common Buzzard, 4 Tawny Owl, 3 Kestrel, 3 Sparrowhawk, 1 Merlin, 1 Peregrine. From 26/8-20/10 have had 12 species of raptor.

October 19th: no fieldwork today, hope to have good shot tomorrow. Concert with N at Sage was good with 2nd symphonies of Schumann and Brahms; must say preferred the Brahms, more romantic! They did remember us at MP: always very friendly, good service there and food that’s very good for you such as ice cream sundae! Good week on markets with +6k, spread pretty evenly over €junk, bonds and managed funds, but another poor Friday, which may suggest a choppier period coming up; it’s a bit worrying that people like to clear the table each weekend! Anyway another new record total with some skimming of BARC and EPA:ACA profits on Tuesday and bonds steady at 57%; self-managed finance portfolio now up 31.4% on year to date. Booked up at Ferrycarrig Hotel for trip in early November; planning tour around castles and libraries (and bird reserves). 2moro it’s upper South Tyne to check for very late Honey-buzzard juveniles; there’s an early start on Sunday for long walk. xxxxxxxxx!!!

October 18th: sorry for late update, bit s…..d out!! Trip out to the Allens for JLAF meeting from 12:30-21:15 saw us visiting Cupola Bridge, Deneholme and Allenheads in the minibus with final drive down the West Allen to EH at Whitfield where had tea and formal meeting; EH has been transformed, always used to think of it as a rather austere country inn but it’s had a new meeting room built onto the back and is obviously cashing in on shooting parties to become more upmarket though it still has the pool table and welcomes everyone; staff have been upgraded to match; might pop in a bit more!! My task as chair of WG2 is to prepare a report into how Allenheads could make more of its heritage: not too difficult but getting response on the ground may not be so easy! Weather was sunny on trip out on SW wind and had a juvenile Honey-buzzard gliding high to SE near Haydon Bridge at 12:40 with a Common Buzzard way below trying to fend it off – quite a common scenario; also had 3 Common Buzzard up over Warden and the fixture of the 1w Kestrel on a pole near Houtley. Weather became cloudy with showers out in the Allens and only one more raptor seen; had at Allenheads 6 Goldcrest migrants and 1 Blackbird W; on the Allenheads-Coalcleugh road had 12 Red Grouse, 2 Black Cock and a cock Merlin hunting low near Shieldridge. Recent Tawny Owl include singles at Wylam at 23:50 on 15/10, N of Ordley at 00:15 on 16/10 and outside house at 01:30 on 19/10. Earlier in morning met P at N4c to discuss walk on Sunday at West Woodburn; gr8 to see the rhb!! Much later made G4g where just the 2 of us but good chat! Closure was brilliant with the dynamic one!!! lokttghs!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, MP4m4t, S4c, W4g4s; N is back from cruise; Towsbank trip moved to Saturday.

October 17th: busy day in Newcastle (well by recent standards!). Interesting train journey in, with r going shopping! Amazingly heavy rain first thing but then the sun came out; weather declining by the day which should worry the (few?) remaining Honey-buzzard juvenile. Hoping to make upper South Tyne on Friday for another check on progress. Processing video 1120 (Haltwhistle 8/10), which when complete will bring me up to date with October, indeed complete back to 23/9. G was very good: lots of mates in and football match on to amuse some people, e.g. to watch Rooney’s shooting ability! Enjoyed views for afters: should do that more often!! Maybe forget the office! 2moro it’s JLAF in afternoon and early evening, but should make N4c4c and T&S4g4s before and after!! xxxxxxxxx to the lovelies!!!

October 16th: poor day weather-wise with clearance delayed until 16:00; never mind carried on sorting out the blogs on WordPress; purchased the domain nickrossiter1.com for $18 to hold WordPress material; set up new posts for the Notice Boards for 2010-2012 on the new domain; did some testing. Downside is the loading time is slightly slower for the blogs because of the indirection and the back arrow does not return you from a blog to the home page; worked around the latter by raising the home page link to the top of the page but needs more thought. Upside is a clear logical separation between the informal/work in progress side and the more formal pages; no movement of images is required, they will still be held on the main BT site; the blogs will no longer be indexed by search engines and the ranking of the more formal side should improve; there will be a greater incentive to convert material in the blogs to more formal published pages because of their relative invisibility. Anyway it’s still work in progress to some extent but gone too far to go back now! Added some material below, particularly stills from 5/10, 13/10 and 14/10 and more commentary on the Honey-buzzard passage over Greymare Hill on 13/10. Did make BH, very friendly as usual and a couple of Cumberland dark ales went down beautifully! Promised I’d return next week for live music again! Very sensuous closure: she’s a real turn-on!!! lokttgws!!! 2moro it’s S4m4l, unn, CT4c4t and G4g4t!!

October 15th: carried on checking N edge of study area for Honey-buzzard migrants. Today made Barrasford, 11km to NNW of Hexham, on North Tyne from 14:45-16:00 in beautiful sunny weather with light SW breeze. Took all of 10 minutes to locate a juvenile Honey-buzzard, involved in a massive stand-off with Rook and Jackdaw at 14:55 in the trees 1  2 around Haughton Castle, which is suitable breeding habitat. It was up for a few seconds before disappearing below the canopy again. Plenty of other good habitat in the area, including out to NE at The Hermitage, but suspect that this bird was a Scottish-bred migrant as birds reared in the lush lower reaches of the North Tyne will have left a long time ago. Also had a Grey Wagtail in total of 18 species. Other raptors today were a Tawny Owl calling at Ordley at 01:30, a Kestrel 1w at Houtley on usual pole at 12:10 and a Common Buzzard at Hexham Hermitage at 16:10. Have altered set-up for this blog, and shortly for the earlier years as well. Have moved it to WordPress; other than the changed format it should work as before. There’s an automatic redirect on the Notice Board page so there’s no need for readers to do anything; more formal material remains with the current domain. Well that’s the theory anyway! Another major go at back lawn: good thing is it’ll stay short until April 2013! A small skein of 25 Pink-footed Goose flew high to S at 17:45. Quiet nite in tonite, may get some other things sorted! 2moro looks like being wet so nothing planned, other than N4c4l and BH4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

October 14th: very cool, occasional sunshine in-between frequent heavy showers on light NE breeze, summer visitors must be getting worried! A Honey-buzzard free day! Did a visit to Newton from 13:30-15:30, investigating the area as on N end of known migration path through Bywell to Greymare Hill. Woods at Mowden Hall are suitable for roosting Honey-buzzard but area around is quite intensive for agriculture. Then went onto Bywell Home Farm area from 15:30-16:30; these views to Kiln Pit Hill and Prudhoe show the terrain for Honey-buzzard migration with due S to the former and orographic lift to SE. Total for raptors was 4 birds of 3 species: 2 Common Buzzard, 1 Kestrel (1w), 1 Sparrowhawk (1w male hunting over stubble fields). Common Buzzard were perched upright, the opposite of Honey-buzzard who perch horizontally like gamebirds. Had 1st Redwing of autumn with 2 feeding and 2 S, plus 1 Blackbird S. Gatherings included 90 Goldfinch, 42 Linnet, 20 Greenfinch and 6 Bullfinch. Had 1 Chiffchaff calling at Newton plus 1 seen at Ordley at 11:00. Total in Newton/Bywell area was a creditable 32 species. Added multimedia to 7/10 below, visit to Bywell a week ago, when it was much sunnier. G was very sociable! Match later started in scintillating style: brilliant!! lokttghs!!!Going on walks with group for next 2 Sundays with P/M&B. 2moro it’s N4c4l Hoping to catch up on more October material tomorrow evening.

October 13th: and still they pass through. This afternoon made Greymare Hill from 15:05-16:30, just E of A68 at Kiln Pit Hill and just N of Shotleyfell in Derwent. Weather was sunny with moderate N wind, quite cool if any clouds came over. Had 6 raptors of 4 species: 2 Honey-buzzard (both S), 2 Red Kite (1w overhead, another soaring high at Shotleyfell – another breeding site probably but too late in season to claim it perhaps), 1 Kestrel (1w) and 1 Common Buzzard (up to N briefly). The Honey-buzzard (1122) came through together around 15:30-15:40, comprising a juvenile and an adult male; the male presumably is from a high moorland site in Scotland where finish very late as at Riddlehamhope. The 2 birds were gaining height over the ridge, the juvenile was lost to sight after an attack by a Carrion Crow caused it to go ever higher but the male glided S high above the wind farm, roughly in line for Castleside. 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. In the clip the juvenile Honey-buzzard is shown from 0:00-2:25 (stills 1-7), the dive-bombing of the juvenile by the Crow from 2:26-2:35 (stills 8-10, 24), the Red Kite 1w from 2:36-3:16 (stills 11-14) and the male Honey-buzzard from 3:22-4:35 (stills 15-23). The Honey-buzzard seen today would have passed over Bywell: Greymare Hill is almost exactly S of Bywell by 8km. The Scottish population must be increasing rapidly, given the number of juveniles seen in the last 2 Octobers. St Andrews church on the top at 290m asl provides good views, such as this one to NW; the Hopper Mausoleum is out of the ordinary! This sign gives the official description. The new windmills are of more than passing interest as this is a raptor migration route. Other species included 25 Greylag Goose and a Skylark in total of 20 types. Been through videos 1119 taken on 7/10 at Stocksfield Mount: excellent total of 6 Honey-buzzard juveniles; details are below (7/10); hope to publish piccies tomorrow. s is willing so booked flights Newcastle-Cork return and car hire from Cork Airport (Polo, hole in the middle, remembering CD excess refund!). Later went E: ladies football nite, quite amazing, not seen pub so busy before and all gr8 fun!! Match later started in scintillating style: brilliant!! lokttrhb!!! 2moro will be down to Bywell, continuing look for Honey-buzzard migrants and perhaps seeing where they come from to the N; much later it’s G4g4s with P.

In week from 7/10-13/10 in study area have had high sightings of raptors for the time of year with 38 birds of 8 species: 13 Honey-buzzard, 11 Common Buzzard, 5 Kestrel, 4 Red Kite, 2 Tawny Owl, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Barn Owl, 1 Merlin. From 26/8-13/10 have had 12 species of raptor.

October 12th: added below from 10/10 the multimedia from Towsbank on 10/10. No fieldwork today, started on back garden with some determination in quite breezy and cool weather. Booked opera in Riga next June, so complete Ring cycle by Wagner on 200th anniversary of his birth is secured; going with son; always watch the urls in web transactions and liked the way Click Safe called a low_risk page very quickly – who would really want to secure access to 19 hours of opera over 6 days in Latvia by fraud, not quite like a flight to Lagos! Also poised to book Cork/Wexford trip for 6 days in early November: just need to check s can look after Cleo! Plenty of space in the bed for those with nice legs!! Pretty fraught week on markets with increased volatility (that’s a euphemism for declines!); finished unchanged which was gratifying in view of overall market movements, picking up some stock on Friday afternoon, often a good idea in a poor week as markets get rather fractured; helped by getting very large allocation of 98,539 new shares at 4c in deeply discounted rights issue by ELI:BCP; target for bonds now reduced to 55-60% to permit more flexibility in purchase of equities, actual proportion has reduced to 57%; no interest in RBS, much more in LON:BNC! Next week got JLAF meeting in Whitfield on Thursday so unn switched to Wednesday; concert season starts on Friday at S with MP before with N, who’s back from cruise. 2moro it’s A’s4s4l, walk out in afternoon and SC4f&c4s maybe washed down with a ½!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

October 11th: into unn today for further work on 2nd paper with P – long discussion from 14:45-17:30! Rain held off until late evening and morning actually had some veiled sunshine on light to moderate SE breeze. Did get some raptors: a Kestrel 1w at Letah Wood on wires at 11:15, a Tawny Owl calling at Lamb Shield at 19:10 and best of all a juvenile Honey-buzzard flapping slowly SE at Prospect Hill at 11:30, mobbed by quite a few corvids, as drove towards Corbridge Station. These juveniles will of course not have made the journey before; I’m sure they linger through Northumberland and Durham as the habitat is so ideal in these 2 counties; further S will be a bit more of a shock as the agriculture intensifies and the population density (of people) increases. Made all usual social points; 5 of us at T&S for good chat; gr8 action later with the lovely one!!! Missing the scarlet pimpernel!! 2moro it’s N4c4l (became CCP4c4c with P), a trip out to Kiln Pit Hill for migrants and W4g4s!!

October 10th: good trip out to Eals in upper South Tyne from 13:20-16:05 in sunny, mild weather on light SW breeze. As expected saw more Honey-buzzard: 2 juveniles up together, one of which was tracked down to a field grazed by sheep and photographed at close range, calling in flight (1121). These birds are also presumed to be Scottish-bred migrants: local birds will have left some time ago. Towsbank is an incredible magnet for Honey-buzzard: combination of moorland, deciduous woodland, river and rough sheep pastures seems to be ideal. Other raptors were 4 Common Buzzard, 1 Kestrel and 1 Merlin, the last being an adult male flying N, having presumably run out of small birds to catch on the moors as they leave for the winter. Here’s clip 1 of juvenile close-up at 15:49, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18, showing the bird flying away, calling and then coming back low-down into the wood; clip 2 at 13:29, with derived stills 1  2  3, shows 2 juveniles up in the air together with mutual circling and follow me, so the latter seems innate; clip 3 at 13:31, with derived stills 1  2, shows one juvenile sitting on wires – the elongated profile and horizontal stance are typical features of perched Honey-buzzard; clip 4 at 13:32, with derived stills 1  2  3, is a continuation of 3; clip 5 at 13:34, with derived stills 1  2, shows this juvenile back up in the air, rapidly returning to ground as a low-level fighter plane attacks; clip 6 at 13:40, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, shows the juvenile landing on a wall and perching rather like a gamebird. Also in total of 24 species had 5 Jay and 1 Dipper, with 1 Meadow Pipit S and 2 Siskin N. No sign of Twite in upper South Tyne: the Allen has many more herb-rich meadows. A late Painted Lady was the only butterfly seen. Made G4t and good crack there! 2moro it’s N4c4c, S4m4l, unn, CT4c4t, T&S4g4s!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

October 9th: here’s video, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11, of juvenile Honey-buzzard from Sinderhope in East Allen on 6/7 (1118). The bird at 16:55 is in close view and makes a series of frequent slightly squeaky calls; its neck is folded rather like a snake with the small head held on top of the neck pointing upwards (stills 7-10); its primaries and tail feathers are still growing; stills 3-4 show 2 bands across the outer secondaries where a feather is missing; the bill is pale and fine (still 11). Also here were 4 Curlew, in addition to 1 at Byerhope, so perhaps some overland movement in last day or two (up to 6/10). No fieldwork today: decided to start catching up on neglected garden with clear up of front area; managed to avoid cutting satellite bb cable! Hexham at N4c was brilliant: the rhb is so incredibly fit!!! Later made W4g4s for good chat with k&p; quiz was well supported though I’m a bit laid back towards it now, don’t do snowball! Finished with the joys of the W with the beautiful one!!! lokttgo!!! 2moro it’s out to upper South Tyne for lunch, looking for Scottish bred Honey-buzzard, followed by recuperation at G4g4t!!

October 8th: here’s video of Honey-buzzard from Byerhope at 450m asl on 6/7 (1117). Clip 1 at 15:16, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, shows the juvenile floating over the moor with female above occasionally in view, junior gives typical thin piping calls at 22 and 32 seconds; clip 2 at 15:19, with derived stills 1  2  3  4, shows the juvenile continuing to float, going down towards ground as gun shots are heard from grouse moor above; clip 3 at 15:34, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, shows the juvenile moving S across my path towards nest site, calls are heard at 31, 53, 57, 62, 75, 82 seconds; clip 4 at 16:36, with derived stills 1  2  3, shows the female and juvenile up together near nest site, with Twite calling. 76 Pink-footed Goose flew SW during visit; here’s clip with stills taken with camcorder 1  2  3  4; warning, the clip opens with artillery fire! Other birds present at Byerhope included 1 Black Cock, 20 Red Grouse, 2 Meadow Pipit (1 S), 5 Swallow S and a late Curlew, in total of 12 species. Today, in continuation of fine autumn spell with all-day sunshine after early frost, in the afternoon made Haltwhistle North Wood from 14:50-16:50 where had 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard, presumed Scottish, feeding up in area, before setting off high into the sky and S from 15:15-15:35 (1120); one typical juvenile flight call was heard. Clip 1 at 15:16, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, shows 2 juveniles floating up slowly without a wingbeat, escorted by a flock of Jackdaw; one juvenile disappears, the other flies high then quickly comes back to their base in a wood; clip 2 at 15:18, with derived stills 1  2, shows one bird coming out of the wood in which they have been feeding and doing a circuit before returning; clip 3 at 15:26, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, shows the 2nd bird again slowly ascending and this time it appears to depart to S; an irritating dog and equally wining owner are prominent in clip 3, a few expletives might have been in order! A sheep almost expires in clip 1. By the way Scottish birds normally carry a wee hip flask attached to their tarsal! Also had single Common Buzzard at Lipwood, Kestrel at Langley and Red Kite (adult) at Keepershield. Gr8 and very welcome surprise at lunch seeing the lovely ghs!! Sociable coffee at N! 2moro it’s similar but don’t know where going for trip out in afternoon, and not sure where going for a couple in evening!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

October 7th: made Stocksfield Mount from 13:05-15:50 looking for migrant Honey-buzzard; impressed with big pull-out (1119) as 6 juveniles noted, all coming over hill above Bywell Cottagebank and either moving SE or SW at considerable height: 1 flapping hard to SE at 13:43 then soaring very high over S side of valley S of Mickley before moving on (distance shot, clip 1 with derived stills 1  2); 2 moving very high off N side of valley at Bywell at 13:46 before moving off high to SW (distance shot, clip 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5); 1 moving SE quickly at moderate altitude at 14:03 (distance shot, clip 3); 2 moving high to SE at 15:00 of which one carried on SE and the other came flapping back to Bywell, presumably to rest and feed for the night (much closer shot of returning bird, clip 4 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8); so that’s 3 SE, 2 SW and 1 resting. Other raptors were 3 Common Buzzard and single Sparrowhawk (1w female mobbed by corvids, clip with derived stills 1  2  3), Kestrel and Red Kite, the last up at Elrington as a Microlight flew over; 2 further Common Buzzard were up at Ordley on return so total for day was 14 raptors of 5 species: 6 Honey-buzzard, 5 Common buzzard and single Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Red Kite. Weather was very good from about noon with warm sunshine on light NW breeze but earlier it was cool after overnight frost; suspect frost will have persuaded many lingering summer visitors to leave. Also had single calling Marsh Tit and Chiffchaff in total of 27 species. A Red Admiral was the only butterfly. Published results below for video 1116, has occurred to me that they might have actually bred in the top of the Devil’s Water rather than the top of the Beldon Burn, going to think about this! 1117 is next: it is very gratifying to see the Honey-buzzard floating over the edge of the moors while shooting goes on; not sure what the ‘keepers think as Common Buzzard are scarce in this habitat again; shooting such large raptors is pretty risky but poisoning can be done in a more covert manner; Common Buzzard would eat poisoned baits but Honey-buzzard wouldn’t because of diet differences. Wonder if ‘keepers really know what they are or do they think the ‘buzzard’ have become immune to normal techniques! Anyway I kept my watch on yesterday until the shooting parties left the moors (just in case!). Had Barn Owl at Shilford and Tawny Owl at Dipton Wood on way back last night at 00:30! Made G4g4s: like a morgue after the Newcastle football result, didn’t even have MotD on tele! Sat broadband had its first major outage from 11:00-21:00 due to system network problems, only known previous difficulties have been 2 short losses of 5 minutes each due to thick cloud; Orange 3G on dongle continues to improve from home though. 2moro it’s N4c4l and perhaps a trip out to Haltwhistle to have another check for migrants!!

October 6th: finished analysing clips from yesterday 5/10 and find that at this high moorland site it’s a family party of 4 Honey-buzzard (1116), comprising adult pair (male and female) and 2 quite weak-flying juveniles; number of sites goes up to 51 with breeding confirmed at 50 and possible at 1. So it does appear that these high moorland birds are synchronising their breeding season with the flowering of the heather, the season then running 4-6 weeks behind the lowland birds in a prime area such as Tyne Valley W. It’s amazing! I have read about the Honey-buzzard being very successful (even more so than Common Buzzard) in mountainous areas such as the Austrian Alps and will look into the literature here. Here’s 6 clips (1116) of the action: clip 1 at 15:27, with derived stills 1  2  3, shows the male coming up above the wood, with the female higher-up; clip 2 at 15:28, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, shows 3 birds coming up above the wood close together, the pair of adults and a juvenile; clip 3 at 15:29, with derived still 1, shows 4 birds above the wood, the pair of adults and 2 juveniles, with the male doing a rapid climb; clip 4 at 15:35, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, shows the adults in active display, which is fast and aggressive at times and involves some close manoeuvres and a dive; clip 5 at 15:38, with derived stills 1  2  3  4, shows a continuation of the display over the heather moor with the male doing one spectacular rearing up; clip 6 at 16:25, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6, shows at closer range the male flying from S to N, coming down in upper reaches of the Devil’s Water where there is no large wood but plenty of scrub and one good-sized shelter-belt. Today made A’s4l (always a friendly place) and then went up to Allenheads for a walk from 14:45-16:50 in fine sunny weather on light NW wind on the moors around Byerhope. There was a lot of shooting going on but this did not seem to worry a juvenile Honey-buzzard being escorted around by its mum (1117)! Had another juvenile Honey-buzzard at Sinderhope (1118), a bird which is clearly younger than the one seen here on the long walk on 23/9 (1111) so taken as 2nd juvenile to be raised here. Interestingly both juveniles were calling. So a marvellous day, closing down the breeding season in the uplands very successfully; total number of juveniles raised this year is 68+ at 50 sites. Lots more to report on the 2 days. 2moro it’s down to the Mount at Stocksfield to see how migration is going on a significant SE route through Northumberland. Gr8 evening, met old mates for a ½, then out to see the gorgeous one, who was in good form!!! She’s a natural!!

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 13/13 nest visits in round 3, phase 4 (6/10) are: Allen 9 sites, 16 adult (7 male, 9 female) 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 4x2 1×1+ 4×1 juv fledged; Devil’s Water 6, 12(6,6), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 1×2 3×1+ 2×1 juv fledged; Tyne Valley west 7, 14(7,7), 3 nests (Douglas Fir, Scots Pine x2) 3x2 3×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Tyne Valley east 5, 7(5,2), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×1+ 4x1 juv fledged; upper South Tyne 6, 11(6,5), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 3x2 3×1+ juv fledged; lower South Tyne 7, 10(4,6) 1 nest (Scots Pine) 2×2 3×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Tipalt/Irthing 3, 5(3,2) 1×2 2×1+ juv fledged; and Derwent 8, 14(6,8) 1 nest (Scots Pine) 4×2 2×1+ 2×1 juv fledged; giving grand total 51, 89(44,45), 13 nests (Scots Pine x7, Norway Spruce x3, Oak x2, Douglas Fir x1), 68+ juv fledged at 50 sites as 18×2 18×1+ 14×1. Confirmed breeding at 50 sites with FL 46, NY 3, ON 1; possible breeding at 1 with H 1. Migrants: August 1 male S in Allen 22/8; September 1 male S in upper South Tyne 1/9, 1 male S in Tyne Valley W 9/9, 1 male SW in lower South Tyne 17/9, 1 juvenile SW in lower South Tyne 21/9, 1 male SW, 1 female S, 4 juvenile S in Allen 22/9. Just a very few adults left at highest sites; juveniles fledged at moorland sites mostly remain; expect all local birds to have left lowland areas but Scottish birds will take their place through the rest of the month.

In period from 23/9-6/10 in study area with 7 days fieldwork have had reduced sightings of raptors with 33 birds of 6 species: 13 Honey-buzzard, 7 Common Buzzard, 6 Tawny Owl, 5 Kestrel, 1 Red Kite, 1 Sparrowhawk. From 26/8-6/10 have had 11 species of raptor.

October 5th: made top of the ‘Shire on watershed between Devil’s Water and Derwent above Harwood Shield from 15:05-17:45. This is good heather moorland rising up to 427m asl and had great walk over the open countryside in a cool NW breeze with occasional heavy shower and a little weak sunshine. Was checking for late juvenile Honey-buzzard, either making up a gang of locally bred birds or a more obvious family party, which could be linked to the Riddlehamhope site. Did find some Honey-buzzard (1116) but need detailed analysis to be sure of what was going on; hope to sort this out tomorrow (really!); analysis is above (6/10). Also, in total of 11 species, had 2 Kestrel in upper parts of ‘Shire, a Black Cock at Harwood Shield, 85 Red Grouse including gatherings of 28 and 34, a pre-roosting flock of 500 Starling, 5 Meadow Pipit, 4 Stock Dove and 4 Swallow. This large Fox Moth larva was out on the open moor. On way back through farm saw 2 lads in a tussle with a ewe: well these things go on so quietly crossed to other side and crept past; going to a show they cried out! At Ordley had 6 Swallow earlier at 12:10. Good week on markets, particularly with €trash and +7k overall to new record! Bonds now below target of 60% so bringing some of profits into this area; also increasing holdings of bombed-out platinum shares – amazed how much these bob up and down! Where will it all end? W was lively, good to see c but we were a little thin on ground. 2moro it’s A’s for lunch followed by trip out to upper Allen for last formal nest-site visit and SC4f&c4s; may go for trip E later!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

October 4th: pretty indulgent day with N4c, S4l, CT4t and G4s (last escaping music in T&S, 4 of us present). Made good progress with P on our 2nd IEEE paper; avid discussion today reaffirmed faith in 1st paper! Had 5 Common Crossbill and a Tawny Owl at Ordley, plus a Red Admiral butterfly on the buddleia. 2moro it’s N4c4l followed by trip out to high moorland, still looking for late, late Honey-buzzard!!

October 3rd: been busy, adding multimedia below from last few days. Beginning to plan trips for next year now, with Cape Verde looking like the long-stay group of Atlantic islands for March; may do similar trip to Azores with base on one island in good hotel plus a spell of island hopping to get a broader view! Cape Verde is subtropical but evidently retains Atlantic flavour with good swell, most of year. In early June probably going with son to Riga for Wagner festival, seeing the whole Ring over 6 days plus fitting-in St Petersburg at one end. No cruises I’m afraid: N’s on one in Med at the moment; far too institutionalised for my liking! Think would enjoy cruise to Antarctic or Arctic, as gives chance to see the fantastic scenery and wildlife. Still want to visit Ireland; N’s happy to go for our week in May next year to the north; but I also want to visit Wexford in south-east where the catholic R’s were dispossessed in late 17th century by Orange, moving to Devon; may fit this in earlier, even in November to celebrate end of Honey-buzzard season! G was gr8 today, nice to get back to earth! 2moro is a repeat of last Thursday!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

October 2nd: fair day out in the field from 14:55-16:45 with trip to 3 sites in afternoon in Baron Mill/Haltwhistle area, where outcome still unknown. Weather was sunny on light SW wind, punctuated by brief heavy showers. Made Morralee area first where had a Honey-buzzard juvenile up at 15:16, moving N heavily mobbed by corvids at 15:19 to the E of the site in the Thorngrafton area (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4, 1114); still 3 shows a broad bar across the secondaries. Thought the juvenile might have been a migrant when over Morralee but return to Thorngrafton area against the migratory flow (to S) suggests it was from there. Here’s another clip of the juvenile at a distance when first seen at Morralee. Then onto Haughstrother area but no joy there; this site goes down as possible breeding, with just one sighting of a bird in spring. Finally made Blenkinsopp and had instant success here with a juvenile Honey-buzzard flying into the exact nest site at 15:52, where it was attacked by an adult Common Buzzard (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13, 1115): the juvenile gave way! Still 10 shows the juvenile being attacked from below; stills 11-13 show its retreat below the strident Common Buzzard. At 16:00 the juvenile briefly got up over its nest site again. So it looks as if these sites are simply very, very late rather than being failures! Also had 1 Kestrel juvenile at Hexham Loughbrow, 6 Common Buzzard (family group 3 Lipwood, adult and juvenile at Blenkinsopp, one bird at Thorngrafton) and 2 Tawny Owl at Ordley at 00:30 (3/10). So day’s total is 11 raptors of 4 species. Absence of Swallow was noteworthy but did have a Chiffchaff in garden at Ordley at 12:10. Enjoyed N4c: gr8 to see the lovely rhb!! Didn’t the Gulls rally well? 0-3 down at home to the Shots after 47 minutes, they won 4-3 with 2 of their goals coming in the last 6 minutes! Made W4g4s but kept up eastern tradition for Tuesday nite: certainly an adventurous change with the s.xy one!!! lokttgo!!! 2moro it’s possibly more fieldwork if weather OK but whatever it’s G4g4t!!

October 1st: lots of fond farewells, then back to N, catching 10:15 at Littlehampton in very wet weather and making Corbridge at 16:25; shaved time a bit by getting from Victoria platform to Kings X platform in just over 30 minutes. Only raptor seen was a Common Buzzard 1w at Merry Shield Wood, near Stocksfield. 2moro going to have a final go at 3 Honey-buzzard sites in lower South Tyne/Tipalt where, although known to be occupied in fledging period in 2 cases, no juveniles have yet been seen; could be reintroduction of the 0+! Camcorder had developed a problem yesterday: “HD video recording disabled”; there was space available on its 80 GB disk and could still take stills, so decided there was a lack of contiguous space for the relatively large HDs. Backed-up everything held on camcorder in two places (internal/external drive), deleted everything from the camcorder and it works again! Should make N4c4l in-between survey work and expect to be out in evening somewhere!!

September 30th: walk out on sea-wall at Elmer Sands 1  2 in dry, overcast conditions with moderate to fresh SW breeze around 10:30 yielded a dark-phase Arctic Skua W (clip). Also seen was just 1 Swallow after large numbers day before, 2 Mediterranean Gull adult, 10 Dark-bellied Brent Goose W and 2 Sandwich Tern (adult, 1w). This wood on edge of beach looks good for raptors hesitating before crossing the Channel. Main event of day was at the Oystercatcher Inn, Climping, on the edge of Littlehampton, where we all had a great lunch including great-aunt Ann from Southampton (late mum’s younger sister, my aunt, aged 85). Been very good weekend, we think we ought to do more of these! 5 more Honey-buzzard today in the S on BirdGuides between Cornwall and Kent, with I would think birds, mainly juveniles, who left the N on 22/9, still making their way through. I do know a lot more about their route but not revealing anything until end of migration season (1st few days of November). Great Ryder Cup fightback – well done Europe! Looking forward to return 2moro; may make N4c4t!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

September 29th: good day today, we all went to West Wittering (sign) in far west of West Sussex for walk, lunch and pub! Weather was beautiful for late September with strong sunshine, just a few clouds in the sky and a fairly cool, moderate NW breeze. Raptors comprised 3 Kestrel (adult male, 2 juvenile, all hovering) and 2 Osprey (fishing out over the water in distance to NW and N of us respectively). Very pleased to see the Osprey and interesting to see 4 more birds in West Sussex today (BirdGuides); obviously it’s a popular late staging post for the species. Some Honey-buzzard were reported on S coast today: 2 at Portland, Dorset, and 1, yes, at Littlehampton, but that was not my record. I had 2 Honey-buzzard juvenile at Chichester at 15:20, slowly circling and moving S at moderate altitude, mobbed by many corvids! Suspect they had lost height, seeing the Channel ahead and were looking for somewhere to spend the night. Of course you could get romantic and say these birds had come from Staward (as viewed a week ago) and that’s certainly possible but more realistic to say they’re from northern Britain. Other birds included 3 Mediterranean Gull (adult, 2 1w), 27 Swallow (feeding in dunes), 25 Dark-bellied Brent Goose W and 4 Grey Plover. Earlier at Elmer Sands had 28 Swallow W and 1 House Martin W from 09:00-10:20. 2moro sees major function of weekend! Missing the lovelies!!!

September 28th: down to Littlehampton, West Sussex, today for gathering of 16 member of family to celebrate various things! Booked holiday cottage Drift-In at Elmer Sands for most of us with main event coming later! Went down by train, just 2 changes though did take c6.5 hours. During journey had Sparrowhawk (adult male) at Corbridge and Kestrel at Potters Bar. Very good to see everyone again! In walk out from 17:15-18:15 with cloudy weather on moderate SW breeze had moving W: 8 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 3 Sandwich Tern (all adult). Markets retracing steps this week but partial move over last few weeks into lower β stocks (beta, those with lower volatility) helped keep loss to 3k with bonds rising also helping; bonds back up to 62%; bought a few bombed-out platinum shares. Sold from managed fund 14k-worth of high income units, which have risen to an extent where the 5.91% gross yield hardly justifies the description. Of course could be following Honey-buzzard, from last Saturday’s move S, over the Channel. Well more on that soon! Sorry not out 2moro nite!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

September 27th: into Newcastle today following route as forecast yesterday; good meeting with P, progressing 2nd paper; Sage is good for working in beforehand, good food and WiFi for iPhone; enjoyed sights before in Hexham and in City!! Accumulated some raptors over last few days: 5 Tawny Owl with 2 at Wylam at 11:30 on 25/9, 2 at Ordley at 06:00 on 27/9 and 1 at Elvaston at 23:30 on 27/9; also today 1 Kestrel at Merryshields Wood, Stocksfield, and a Red Kite floating just under low cloud at Newburn; reminded with last named of the saying ‘it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good’; raptors like disasters such as floods and fires as they displace rodents and insects from their natural cover! Not sure it will do too much for new-build prices, unless swift compensation available! lokttgo!!!

September 26th: strange day weather-wise with frequent heavy short showers on light NE wind and brief drier spells in-between, reminding me of snow flurries in colder weather in spring. Did get out, making Derwent Ruffside from 15:00-16:25. Thought visit was going to draw a blank in dull conditions but then at 15:52 spotted 2 Honey-buzzard juveniles over N side of W end of Reservoir, mutually circling and moving at low altitude S towards trees at Ruffside on the Durham side (clip with derived stills 1  2  3, 1113). Some birds were moving E: 12 Swallow (with 5 more feeding), 1 Chaffinch, 1 Goldfinch. Feeding flocks included 45 Lapwing and 16 Mistle Thrush. Most unusual movement was 8 Kittiwake adult W at low altitude, maybe taking the short cut to the Atlantic and being forced lower than usual by the weather. Total number of species was 19. Pace slowing with more leisure today: haircut at JG, good chat with P at CCP and G very lively at tt! Heard a bit more about trouble at Dalton from S. Next G is Monday. The rhb looked very fit (x3!!); almost new motor has some similarities to mine (but better!). 2moro it’s N4c4c, S4m4l, unn, CT4c4t and T&S4g4s!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

September 25th: weather followed on from yesterday without a break so no fieldwork! Did catch up on quite a lot of computer-work adding videos for several visits over last week to this page so not wasted, indeed it’s good to catch up. Should be out tomorrow to Derwent Reservoir for 1st check on a site there on Durham side. Feeling rather demob happy as there’s really a limit to what I can do now. Good to see the gbs at lunchtime!! Early-on it’s hair-cut at JG and CCP4c4c with P and later it’s G4g4t. Caught in 2 minds tonite but finally made BH4ra4s: had Matfen Magic, misread as Maiden Magic, or maybe that was the dynamic ‘maid j! Really like it there – very matey!!

September 24th: well not much happening in the Honey-buzzard world today except survival: heavy rain on strong SE wind, virtually all day. Actually don’t think even the juveniles are vulnerable to heavy rain though will slow down their emigration. Added video and stills (1111, 1112) for yesterday (23/9) and for a month ago at Farnley (1073, 23/8). Tomorrow again looks wet so should catch up on some more material. Sat BB not affected at all by the gloom, which is encouraging. Made N4c4l and very pleasing it turned out to be; bit baffled really but that’s not difficult!! 2moro it’s again N4c4l and W4g4s!! xxxxxxxxx!!! Into unn on Thursday to see P, more leisurely this time! The event would then be imminent but nephew’s got possible gallstones so all up in air! Hot current bird is the Twite (see 23/9), which seems to be re-establishing itself in the North Pennines, particularly the Allen, perhaps because of more traditional meadows being maintained: brilliant!

September 23rd: long walk with group of 11km today in East Allen, expertly led by P, from 10:00-15:30, taking in impressive lowland habitat in the valley and a very large number of hurdles (stiles!). Weather was dry with veiled sunshine on light SE wind. Couldn’t have chosen area better myself at this stage of the season with 3 Honey-buzzard sites in view, scoring at 2 of them. Started at Sinderhope where had a juvenile Honey-buzzard up at 11:14 hanging over moors to E (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9, 1111); it had probably been abandoned by its mother yesterday and gives a plaintive call at 2:38 before going out onto the moor to feed; it has primaries still growing and a shortish tail so very recently fledged; then we moved N to the waterfall before returning S to Sparty Lea and then N again back to Sinderhope. At 14:55 had another Honey-buzzard juvenile up over Green Hill, different to earlier one with longer tail and fuller wing (hence older) and assumed to come from lower-altitude Studdon Park site (clip with derived stills 1  2  3, 1112); this one hung in the SE breeze over W flank of Green Hill, before gliding down and landing on top of it on pasture, perhaps to feed on grubs or on something from nearby burrows. So just highest site of Byerhope to re-visit! Other raptors included a Common Buzzard near Catton Beacon, a juvenile Kestrel at Sinderhope and a Tawny Owl at Elvaston. So total for day was 5 raptors of 4 species: 2 Honey-buzzard, 1 Common Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 1 Tawny Owl. Still some Swallow around with 50 noted, including 1 S. Other birds included 42 Goldfinch, 32 Meadow Pipit and 5 Twite (seen, calling, also found 22/9 in West Allen and 16/9 at Kiln Pit Hill) for total of 27 species in East Allen valley. Exercise was good, company was great and we finished at Kings Head, Allendale, for a little recovery! Actually have 6 sites left to check/re-check: 2 in lower South Tyne and Derwent and singles in Tipalt and Allen. Not expecting any fieldwork tomorrow with heavy rain forecast but on Tuesday may be out to last site in Derwent for 1st check! Made G with P&A in evening for further recuperation, which was completed by the gorgeous one!!! lokttgo!!!

September 22nd: what a day! Spectacular pull-out of Honey-buzzard with 4 migrants (all juvenile) out of Allen and 2 (adult female, adult male) out of West Allen during visit from 11:25-15:55. If repeated over northern Britain, then quite a lot will be moving. Also found 2 juveniles at each of the 2 high sites in the West Allen so very productive in high-moor intensive game-rearing area, with female still present at highest site when left. Weather was beautiful with almost continuous bright sunshine, incredible visibility and wind light and variable. In more detail, action started at 11:44 with 3 juvenile Honey-buzzard coming out of the Allen valley from the Staward area, disappearing into thin grey cloud, taking about 8 minutes to get out of sight; count here matches 3 young raised in this area (2 Staward N, 1 Staward S). At 12:40 another juvenile Honey-buzzard came out of the Allen valley, from the Ridley area, matching the one young raised at this site. All the juveniles appeared to be moving S at high altitude; these fledged around 20/8 so, after one month of getting their strength up, are now ready for the journey to Africa. Was of course also looking for signs of fledging at Whitfield Monk, the upland site where first started the watch. At 12:59 picked up 2 Honey-buzzard juveniles over in-bye land to S, in argument with some corvids (1109). The stronger bird came back towards Monk (clip 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13) but the weaker bird sank back towards the ground, appearing to be too unsporting to interest the corvids. Shortly though at 13:01 the weaker bird did fly pass me, low down and fairly close-up (clip 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8). So 2 young raised here but only recently fledged. From 13:40-13:44 the female Honey-buzzard at this site decided to leave, soaring rapidly as usual into the base of a grey cloud (where thermals are strongest) and moving off S, high-up; she must have thought the young could now fend for themselves; here is the clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6. The next site to visit was the highest known on the West Allen at Parmently, but from Monk at 13:45, before could get there, saw the male moving rapidly SW into the dark grey clouds; he gained height incredibly quickly before moving off on the edge of the clouds (clip with derived stills 1  2  3, 1108). That gave me great hope for occupation as it’s an uncertain site with the altitude and intensive game rearing. So moved over there and walked up onto the moor edge. Had a fairly strong juvenile floating over the moor at 14:21, as soon as I opened the gate, with female some height above, keeping an eye on it (clip 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5). So thought there was just one young raised but a weaker bird was flushed at 14:30 from near the nest area (clip 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4), also going out over the moor briefly, before returning at 14:50 giving superb close views (1110). These close-up views are shown in clip 3 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14. In particular stills 2, 8, 9, 12 show sparse broad barring across the primaries and still 5 shows the pale fine bill. So 2 young raised at both of these high-altitude sites in an appalling summer: shows the value of the heather moor; it’s a project over the winter to assess the distance from each nest to nearest moorland. This moorland is the most intensive game-rearing area in Northumberland, so further credits are due to the ‘keepers and landowners for not doing what they used to do (‘beating your wife’ syndrome!). It’s interesting that 2 adults migrated with the juveniles; it’s sometimes said how do the juveniles cope with no adults to hand to guide them, but the 1st wave of fledglings will have a few upland adults to accompany them and show them a few tricks! Total for day was 15 raptors of 3 species: 11 Honey-buzzard, 3 Kestrel (single juvenile at Houtley, Monk, Parmently), 1 Common Buzzard (juvenile at Monk). Other birds moving were Swallow (29 S), Chaffinch (2 S), Siskin (1 SW), Golden Plover (overhead) with 45 Meadow Pipit and 3 Raven present. Had flock of 8 Twite, calling and seen, around wall on E side of lane above Monk. Total for day was 30 species. Butterflies included Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Green-veined White. With any luck tomorrow in East Allen, this year’s survey is coming to an end but there will be late migrants to check-on through October. Just as well: massive family re-union coming up. So where have the birds gone and are they being picked up? I know but my lips are sealed: assassination might follow! Goodnite to the lovelies!!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 13/13 nest visits in round 3, phase 4 (22/9) are: Allen 9 sites, 14 adult (7 male, 8 female) 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 3x2 1×1+ 2×1 juv fledged; Devil’s Water 6, 12(6,6), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 1×2 3×1+ 2×1 juv fledged; Tyne Valley west 7, 14(7,7), 3 nests (Douglas Fir, Scots Pine x2) 3x2 3×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Tyne Valley east 5, 7(5,2), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×1+ 4x1 juv fledged; upper South Tyne 6, 11(6,5), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 3x2 3×1+ juv fledged; lower South Tyne 7, 10(4,6) 1 nest (Scots Pine) 2×2 2×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Tipalt/Irthing 3, 5(3,2) 1×2 1×1+ juv fledged; and Derwent 7, 12(5,7) 1 nest (Scots Pine) 2×2 2×1+ 2×1 juv fledged; giving grand total 50, 86(43,43), 13 nests (Scots Pine x7, Norway Spruce x3, Oak x2, Douglas Fir x1), 58+ juv fledged at 43 sites as 15×2 16×1+ 12×1. Confirmed breeding at 43 sites with FL 38, NY 3, ON 1, FF 1. Migrants: August 1 male S in Allen 22/8; September 1 male S in upper South Tyne 1/9, 1 male S in Tyne Valley W 9/9, 1 male SW in lower South Tyne 17/9, 1 juvenile SW in lower South Tyne 21/9, 1 male SW, 1 female S, 4 juvenile S in Allen 22/9. Except at highest sites, most adults left now, juveniles fledged in 1st wave about a month ago may well have left today, leaving younger juveniles wherever reared and, for youngest of all, one or more parents will remain.

In last week from 16/9-22/9 in study area have continued remarkable raptor totals with 66 birds of 10 species: 32 Honey-buzzard, 14 Kestrel, 10 Common Buzzard, 4 Tawny Owl, 1 Red Kite, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Peregrine, 1 Hobby, 1 Merlin, 1 Goshawk. From 26/8-22/9 have had 11 species of raptor.

September 21st: cool day, light NE wind, sunny at start and end, showers in-between. After N with Ph, decided to have quick look at scene in ‘Shire at 11:20-12:00 from Dotland. At 11:27 had a juvenile Honey-buzzard powering its way down the West Dipton Burn (1106) and at 11:43 another juvenile was up floating over the fields S of Dotland, giving reasonable views before coming down into an oak tree (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, 1107). These birds looked restless and might even have left but rain came on. 22 Swallow and 1 Meadow Pipit moved S, and 1 Chiffchaff was calling. Had fairly long trip to Bardon Mill E in Thorngrafton area from 14:50-17:10 but could not find any local juveniles, maybe they’ve left. Did though have a juvenile Honey-buzzard soaring high over Langley at 16:40 and moving SW; this is a new site this year so very good to see them fledge young; confirms pull-out is taking place, a trend which may be accelerated tomorrow after forecast ground frost tonight. Also here had 19 Swallow (1 S), 2 House Martin and 2 Meadow Pipit, in a total of 27 species. On way back had best sight of day: a Red Kite juvenile at Keepershield on road between Haydon Bridge and Hexham (see 28/5 below for adult here in spring); so this is first confirmed breeding W of Hexham. Other raptors during day were single Kestrel juveniles at Letah Wood and Thorngrafton. So total for day was 6 raptors of 3 species: 3 Honey-buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 1 Red Kite. W was good for supper! Thought markets would be reversing this week after 2 weeks of strong gains; €trash did retreat but bonds did very well, cancelling each other out and unchanged on week. 2moro doing sites up West Allen in last ditch attempts! On Sunday going on long walk with group in East Allen which has a few sites, which need checking; in closing stages, other avenues beckon!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

September 20th: only raptor today was a juvenile Kestrel at Tyne Bridge at 10:20 from train! It was very dull today, though with not much rain, changing dramatically late evening when pouring down. A cold front is moving through, think tomorrow may see some significant raptor passage. Seeing Ph at N4c4c, will be out after this to lower South Tyne, both for remaining 3 sites for juveniles and for any passage birds. Had hectic day unn-wise, seeing P in morning with rather frenzied (but justified) discussion over exact meaning of monic and epic: decided we’d covered ourselves! M then arrived at 12 and we went off to S4m4l and for rest of afternoon to discuss future publications; it’s very relaxing there! Finally made G (music at T&S) with 3 work-mates; very stimulating later, she’s very attractive!! lokttwnb!!! Added video and derived stills (1102) below.

September 19th: almost sown up Derwent now! Long favoured walk up Beldon Burn, Baybridge to Riddlehamhope, from 12:50-16:55, in another bracing day with cool moderate NW breeze, occasional light rain showers and plenty of sunshine. Soon (13:30-13:52) picked up family party of 4 Honey-buzzard in air over Nookton on Durham side in shelter-belt on top of ridge, an appropriately breezy place for the nursery. The adult pair did some display at moderate height and later when just above the canopy, managed to persuade 2 weak-fling juveniles up into the air (1104). There was also a family party of 3 Common Buzzard up over the same shelter-belt. The walk took me through the Middle Plantation site on the Northumberland side, where I was greeted with a single alarm call from juvenile at 13:45; had lunch here and at 14:10 a female Honey-buzzard came right overhead and drifted down into the valley, presumably to check on the youngster(s) (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7); at 14:22 the juvenile called again from the same area; at 15:00 the male was seen over the top of the ridge on N side, before descending down into the valley (clip); so at least one juvenile fledged here and both adults present (1105). Finally made Riddlehamhope where earlier visit on 4/8 was inconclusive. Well no further forward as no Honey-buzzard seen; it’s possible the young have not fledged here yet and so the birds are still being very secretive; will get over here once more from Harwood Shield side in early October; only raptor here was a Kestrel hunting over moors a long way to S. So total for raptors was 11 birds of 3 species: 7 Honey-buzzard, 3 Common Buzzard and 1 Kestrel. No Hobby were seen though they almost certainly fledged from Riddlehamhope (4/8 visit) so they must have b.ggered off! Other birds included 54 Swallow (33 Newbiggin, 16 Middle Plantation, 5 Riddlehamhope), 5 House Martin, 11 Pied/White Wagtail, 19 Meadow Pipit, 20 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Common Crossbill, 18 Red Grouse, 1 Song Thrush and 3 Chiffchaff. Total was 28 species for the trip. Got to G a little late and stayed late to compensate until l arrived! Break 2moro, fortuitously with rain forecast, for visit to unn, seeing P at 11:00, not sure about M, it’s a little vague, not even sure about lunch!! Anyway it will be T&S4g4s!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

September 18th: pretty amazing day, clinching 50th Honey-buzzard site for year in study area in the expected area of Slaley Forest Trygill (see anticipation on 31/7 below) where there is an obvious gap on the map. Visited the site from 17:05-18:00 as thought needed some exercise after sitting around earlier. In very suitable habitat in mature Norway Spruce had complaining adult Common Buzzard (briefly with juvenile calling as well), before noticing a second call, anger call of juvenile Honey-buzzard from 17:29-17:34, less insistent and thinner than Common Buzzard but still fairly firm (audio clip, wma format, 1103). Then at 17:38 the female Honey-buzzard flew right overhead and moved out to N, giving some very good views (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, 1103); she appears to be carrying some food in her right talon, wasp cone perhaps; she goes far off to N but then appears to be sneaking back on the NE side. So this is 7th Derwent site, might get an 8th here at Riddlehamhope in imminent visit. Much earlier on drive into Hexham around 12:30, had 1 Kestrel (adult male) hovering at Ordley and 2 Common Buzzard up over Letah Wood. Main visit of day in bracing NW breeze but with some sunshine was to Blanchland village from 15:35-17:00 where had 2 Kestrel (both juvenile), 1 Peregrine (female, unaged, hunting over moors to S), 1 Merlin (female juvenile hunting over village), 1 Honey-buzzard and 1 Hobby. The juvenile Honey-buzzard came up just after 4 o’clock soar time at 16:02, but only stayed up a minute (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13, 1102). At the end of its flight it was mobbed by the juvenile Hobby (stills 9-13); so maybe Hobby have done a little better here than in upper South Tyne; still 7 shows 3 broad bars across the bird’s left wing. Other birds included 28 Mistle Thrush, 13 Swallow, 3 Song Thrush and 3 House Martin, with 4 GBBG (3 adult, 1 2s) moving SW. Also had a juvenile Kestrel up over Acton Burn at 17:00 and a Tawny Owl calling at Riding Mill at 21:40 so day’s total was 14 raptors of 7 species: 4 Kestrel, 4 Common Buzzard, 3 Honey-buzzard and single Peregrine, Merlin, Hobby and Tawny Owl. Did go to W where met K&P for good chat; then E for the one I’m missing!!! lokttgo!!! 2moro it’s another bash at the Derwent before G4g4s!!

September 17th: a great day, we’re into phase 4 moving out of fledging into post-nuptial. Today the birds came out of the woodwork, were much more visible and roaming much more: the end is in sight! Went to Tipalt from 13:25-16:30 where continuing moderate to fresh NW breeze with sunny spells and brief heavy showers. Here’s 1st Honey-buzzard of day (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, 1099), a male migrating SW at 13:13 over Bardon Mill, taking advantage of orographic lift in the fresh breeze, with a bounce in the end over Ridley. There were no thermals today for soar-glide. Next was another male over Blenkinsopp at 13:30, high up but coming rapidly down again as it started to rain. Later here from 16:10-16:14 he was again up in rather typical end-season display over nesting area with undulating flight, a subdued version of butterfly display (clip, 1100a). So as usual the Blenkinsopp pair are nesting very late with no young up in the air yet. From Greenhead Bank did have a juvenile Honey-buzzard up to NE at 16:17, floating around the valley on the W side, so definite fledging here (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6, 1100). Main focus of day was Irthing Gorge from 13:35-15:35, on W limit of study area, straddling Northumberland-Cumbria county boundary. Here had quite a lot of action: juvenile up weakly over nest site at 14:25, some calls from 2+ birds in same area at 14:30, a juvenile at close range coming in from the E at 14:33 and turning low-down to S (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15, 1101) and the female in rapid power flight down the valley S at 14:45 (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4). View was that there were 3 birds here: female and 2 juveniles. Other birds, in total of 16 species, included 27 Swallow, 17 Meadow Pipit and 2 House Martin (1 S). Other raptors were a juvenile Kestrel at Letah Wood (‘Shire) and, at Irthing Gorge, an unaged female Sparrowhawk and an adult Common Buzzard up calling. So total for trip was 9 raptors of 4 species: 6 Honey-buzzard and single Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard. 3 Peacock lingered on buddleia at Ordley this morning. 2moro it’s back to N4c4l and W4g4s, with trip out to Blanchland area in-between! xxxxxxxxx!!!

September 16th: fascinating trip out to Kiln Pit Hill from 15:55-17:45, in a continuing moderate NW breeze with sunny spells; showers were around but missed them. Some good raptors and flocks of farmland birds were seen. Striking feature was the new windmills, towering above the stubble fields. Not sure what a couple of men were doing on field above Minsteracres. They fired off some light-guns and generally looked a little shifty, obviously not wanting me around. Still I persisted though eventually found the 2 Honey-buzzard juvenile from 16:56-17:12 around large stubble fields to SW (1098), where the adults had taken them earlier presumably for flying practice on the top of the ridge. The juveniles were weak-flying, or at least hugging the tops of trees in a shelter belt, causing the local Crow to go mad and also worrying many of the birds feeding on the stubble. There was no sign of any adult but the way that the juveniles rose up periodically from the trees for a few seconds before going down again suggests that they were looking out for a returning adult (and a feed!). So Honey-buzzard are still being very reticent and hard to find: need knowledge of nest site and of transfer site for fledged birds to be able to monitor them when they’re like this. But today in retrospect marked end of phase 3! Also in this area had 2 Kestrel (adult male, juvenile) and a Common Buzzard. Earlier near where the men were, had a juvenile female Goshawk (possibly locally bred), flushed by the gunshots; don’t think the men were after birds, they were interested in the ground, perhaps a collection of rabbit burrows; anyway they were still going, when I left! On the fields had 600 Starling, 105 Linnet, 70 Lapwing, 15 Twite (seen and heard), 13 Yellowhammer and 7 Meadow Pipit. Summer visitors included 16 Swallow and a Chiffchaff. Total was 26 species. Later had 1 Tawny Owl at Elvaston, Hexham, and 2 calling at Ordley (06:00, 17/9). Earlier watched GNR on tele: very good for NE, seeing Newcastle by the Tyne and so many enthusiastic fit runners. G was very good, always like Sunday nites with l on, though no GNR runners from there! An important aspect of Sunday nites was appealing, with the gorgeous one!! lokttgowbb!!! 2moro it’s out to Tipalt in W for a crack at the 3 sites there, then back for N4c4t!!

September 15th: still quite breezy from NW but the cool wind dropped to moderate strength; sunshine became veiled in afternoon but it remained dry. So better for raptors! Made N edge of Plenmeller Common from 11:35-12:35 where had to wait until 12:06 before 2 Honey-buzzard, female and juvenile, got up for a bit of practice; the female kept above the juvenile,which periodically tried to collapse into the canopy but was stronger-flying than some recent efforts (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, 1097a). Also had a Common Buzzard here plus 51 Coal Tit (flock of 44), 40 Meadow Pipit (feeding on field) and14 Skylark (also grounded), in total of 17 species. So onto Slaggyford area, getting another Common Buzzard near Coanwood Pond and a juvenile Kestrel N of the village; plenty of property for sale in Slaggyford area, some of which has been on the market for a while; not really planning to buy anything out here, would prefer an additional town pad! Was at Barhaugh Hall, the main target for the day, from 13:20-15:45; raptor total was 3 Honey-buzzard, 3 Common Buzzard and single Kestrel (juvenile), Sparrowhawk (juvenile female), Peregrine (adult female overhead at 14:13, clip with derived stills 1  2  3) and Hen Harrier (adult male moving S at 13:28, clip with derived stills 1  2  3). Last 2 are very interesting: hope with many grouse shoots on, they move through quickly. The Honey-buzzard comprised a male up over a wood to S of the Crags at 14:07, eventually dragging a very weak-flying juvenile up into the air for a few seconds (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, 1097); if the youngster had fledged yesterday (14/9) at this high altitude site then subtracting 80 days for incubation and rearing would give a laying date of about 26/6, just after the solstice. From 15:13-15:18 was ‘buzzed’ by a female Honey-buzzard (new individual bird for year) who was behaving as if her nest was still occupied; some very good views here; lateness suggests that still have a bit of time to cover other high-altitude sites. Here’s the video from 15:13-15:18: clip 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, clip 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 (stills 2 and 3 have been brightened as 8  9 respectively, contrast also reduced, both stills show clearly the inner tail band on an outside tail feather), clip 3 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8; the female has her neck hunched up with small head on top pointing upwards, a classical pose; she’s also a little scruffy missing a few feathers on both wings. Finally onto Blenkinsopp, where top secrecy by the birds is the watchword! No Honey-buzzard from 16:00-17:05 (no surprise there) but did have 2 Kestrel, a juvenile and an adult male. Lots of Swallow (82 with 7 S), Meadow Pipit (56) and Skylark (14) during day suggest a late season for them; their final exit often coincides with a significant exodus of Honey-buzzard. Chiffchaff were at Ordley and Blenkinsopp. Total in South Tyne was 32 species. Day started well around 01:00 with 1 Tawny Owl in Dipton Wood and 2 at Ordley. So total for raptors today was 20 birds of 7 species: 5 Honey-buzzard, 5 Common Buzzard, 4 Kestrel, 3 Tawny Owl and single Sparrowhawk, Peregrine and Hen Harrier. No Hobby suggests no breeding success at all this year in upper South Tyne: Hobby are much less comfortable than Honey-buzzard in the NE England climate. 2moro you might see me in the GNR but also possibly not, it’s a big event! Weather’s on the edge so may keep as E as possible, perhaps Minsteracres, but should have a more sociable day with N4c4l and G4g4s!! xxxxxxxxx!

In last week from 9/9-15/9 in study area have again had remarkable raptor totals with 60 birds of 9 species: 20 Common Buzzard, 17 Honey-buzzard, 11 Kestrel, 3 Tawny Owl, 3 Red Kite, 3 Sparrowhawk, 1 Peregrine, 1 Hen Harrier, 1 Hobby. From 26/8-15/9 have had 11 species of raptor.

September 14th: very windy day with fresh NW breeze, diminishing slightly in afternoon, but on the whole sunny. Decided therefore to go out late afternoon to Bardon Mill area from 16:20-18:00 where had a juvenile Honey-buzzard flying between trees in nesting area at Haughstrother E at 17:05 and a call from a juvenile from the same area at 17:50. Also here had 17 Swallow and 4 House Martin in total of 22 species. School CEIS&BE at unn very pleased with our successful submission to IEEE: congratulatory message broadcast to all staff! Not too bad a week on markets: thanks to Ben for QE3 in US and to Mark and the Dutch voters for not rocking the boat; +10k at moment but waiting for update after close of Wall Street on JPM funds, which contain a lot of natural resource stocks, enjoying a major bounce! Yes final result for week was again +12k; don’t invest directly in individual natural resource stocks as lack expertise in depth so trust this to JPM! Betting against the € had become so fashionable that it was taken as a fait accompli (so to speak!) – very dangerous assumption; expect some casualties if rally does not unwind as € bears are squeezed to death! I never short but am not against those who do: every short seller is eventually a buyer, and sometimes when they’d rather not be! Bonds now down to 60% in spite of rising this week by 4k; don’t want that proportion to get any lower as not that convinced yet. 2moro it’s lower South Tyne on way out for a site that’s normally obliging and then up to top of upper South Tyne for final Honey-buzzard site there, hopefully some migrants and maybe a Hobby. lok to the gorgeous ones!!!

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 13/13 nest visits in round 3, phase 3 (14/9) are: Allen 9 sites, 14 adult (7 male, 7 female) 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 1x2 2×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Devil’s Water 6, 12(6,6), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 1×2 4×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Tyne Valley west 7, 14(7,7), 3 nests (Douglas Fir, Scots Pine x2) 3x2 3×1+ 1×1 juv fledged; Tyne Valley east 5, 7(5,2), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×1+ 4x1 juv fledged; upper South Tyne 6, 10(6,4), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 3x2 2×1+ juv fledged; lower South Tyne 7, 10(4,6) 1 nest (Scots Pine) 2×2 1×1+ juv fledged; Tipalt/Irthing 3, 5(3,2) 0 juv fledged; and Derwent 6, 9(4,5) 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×1+ juv fledged; giving grand total 49, 81(42,39), 13 nests (Scots Pine x7, Norway Spruce x3, Oak x2, Douglas Fir x1). 41+ juv fledged at 31 sites as 10×2 13×1+ 8×1. Confirmed breeding at 31 sites with FL 26, NY 3, ON 1, FF 1. Migrants: August 1 male S in Allen 22/8; September 1 male S in upper South Tyne 1/9, 1 male S in Tyne Valley W 9/9. Feel nearly all males have left now, but some females remain so their numbers are creeping up; juveniles remain on site; productivity is not high but the fact that every pair has raised at least one young in such a tough summer weather-wise is remarkable.

September 13th: well it was almost like going back to work today with 11:52 train in and 17:54 back! Had long chat with P on ip issues (not iPhone!) as we assembled final IEEE paper with 2 images adapted from cited sources; next Thursday I’m seeing Mike at unn as well as P, former being on trip back to NE. Earlier did do some Honey-buzzard work; made Whitley Mill with good views of Dotland site from 10:10-11:20 but spent most of time in SC’s house in lively catch-up over a cup of t! Did though get a juvenile Honey-buzzard up over nest-site for a few seconds at 10:15 before collapsing quickly back into canopy (the bird, that is). Went on to Dipton Wood SW from 11:20-11:40 where had immediate success at 11:26 with a juvenile Honey-buzzard low-down over the wood and a female higher-up, ambushing the young bird in playful attack (1096). So the 2 sites where no joy yesterday, quickly produced dividends today, in the mild, sunny weather with moderate SW breeze of the morning. Largely sown up now Tyne Valley E, Tyne Valley W and Devil’s Water; next target is both stretches of South Tyne. Only other raptor was a good one: a Hobby circling around the top of trees near Wylam Station at 12:08, thought to be a juvenile female. Lunch-time was gr8, was actually S4m4l – more space there and can linger longer, enjoying the beauty!! On way back did think those lovely legs looked familiar: so very fit!! Made G4g4s with 2 other work-mates. So pleased that back together for afters: very moving!!! xxxxxxxxx!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, lower South Tyne in afternoon and W4g4s!!

September 12th: morning was very wet so no field work then but after N4c4l with N, got out to edge of Dipton Wood from 14:25-15:10 and Dotland from 16:20-17:00. It was quite cool on moderate NW wind and had no joy with Honey-buzzard. Did have 4 raptors of 3 species: 2 Common Buzzard juvenile calling at Lamb Shield, a male Kestrel hunting NE of Dotland and (later at 17:00) a female Sparrowhawk hunting at Elvaston, Hexham. Very good news of acceptance of paper “Understanding Visualization: A Formal Approach using Category Theory and Semiotics” (draft pdf) in IEEE journal Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, one of highest rated international journals in this area; into unn tomorrow for meeting at 14:30 to discuss final compilation with P so B4s4l!! Another productive day in €trash with German court ruling on ESM – favourable so €€€+++! Thanks Karls!! So is the € now sailing off into the sunset: doubt it! Re-tuned tele this morning (with digital change-over); seem to have got c60 tele and c40 radio programmes on Freeview now; watching Russia Today at the moment; pleased that Pussy Riot are about to be released if Russian PM’s views are anything to go on! Wonder if they’ll put on any special performances. Made G4g4t, very chatty! Pity rhb’s gone on walkabout again!! Also 2moro should get out in morning for a bit of fieldwork and it’s T&S4g4s!! lokttwgb!!!

September 11th: a cool day with fresh NW breeze and the occasional heavy shower, passing quickly. A great trip out to Dukeshagg (12:00-14:00) and Hyons Wood (14:15-16:00), both on S side of Prudhoe towards the Durham border. The whole area is really the top end (source) of the Stanley Burn, which comes off the Tyne in Wylam S, where the Red Kite first settled in Northumberland on the county boundary with Gateshead. Day turned out well in conditions raptors in northern Britain like in autumn: plenty of breeze for uplift as thermals are now becoming much weaker with the sun’s angle declining. Total was 11 birds of 5 species: 3 Red Kite, 3 Kestrel (family group male and 2 juveniles at Dukeshagg), 2 Honey-buzzard, 2 Common Buzzard and 1 Sparrowhawk (adult female dashing past at Dukeshagg, clip with derived stills 1  2, note the similarity in the stills to Honey-buzzard, both hawks!). The Red Kite comprised 2 juveniles hunting over the stubble on E side of Hyons Wood at 12:48, with an adult high up later at 15:45 on S side of Hyons Wood; so this looks very much like confirmed breeding at Hyons Wood – marvellous! Wonder if the FoRKers were here! Here’s clip 1, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, for 1st juvenile and clip 2, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13, for 2nd juvenile; clip 3 shows the adult in the distance. The 1st Honey-buzzard was a dark juvenile flying fast into the wood E of Dukeshagg at 12:47; managed to catch a few frames before it disappeared, not to emerge again (clip with derived stills 1  2  3, 1094). The 2nd one at 14:40 was more obliging; another dark juvenile was flushed from near its nest site in Hyons Wood and instead of just flying away it did make a loop out of curiosity so was able to get some more frames (1095). Here’s clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9; stills 4 and 7 have been brightened as 10  11 respectively, contrast also reduced. Not a lot of plumage is visible even at close range; the tail bars appear to be fairly broad; the primaries are still growing; the tail is fairly long and the small head is pointed. It looks as if the pairs in Tyne Valley E have nearly all raised just one juvenile; productivity does seem to decline as the coast, or maybe the conurbation of Tyneside, are approached. Total for all birds in Prudhoe S was 29 species, including 7 Chiffchaff, 35 Swallow, 1 Willow Tit, 150 Linnet. Gr8 relaxation later with the charms of the E: she’s very s.xy, just in time!!! 2moro weather is better in the afternoon so maybe it’s N4c4c, out to a couple of sites in the ‘Shire and back for G4g4t!! xxxxxxxxx!!! Loved Andy Murray’s victory: don’t see why he has to smile, he’s a tennis player, not a ……. celeb!

September 10th: sorted out trip on 8/9 but only had quick run through of one on 9/9. Whatever the position is far better than last year when the problems with the line left me using up most of the autumn playing catch-up. Cost with Orange in keeping going was high at £104 for last statement but well worth it. Added some piccies to home (index) page for Honey-buzzard, trying to make impact more striking! In cloudy, damp weather with rain in evening, decided to have a laid-back day; visit to N was inspiring: rhb has such tempting jazzy hips!!! 2moro it’s E again for 2 Honey-buzzard sites S of Prudhoe from midday; later it’s BH4ra4s and maybe a move to the middle!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

September 9th: at Ordley many butterflies out on buddleia at 11:40 with 20 Peacock, 2 Small Tortoiseshell and a Red Admiral, plus a Chiffchaff singing. Another long day in the field on N side of Hexham from 11:55-17:55 in beautiful late warm summer sunshine on light SW breeze; very rewarding! At Beaufront from 11:55-13:10 had a juvenile Honey-buzzard up very briefly at 12:18; then at 12:20 a male Honey-buzzard was spotted very high-up moving S and quickly lost in haze; not sure whether it was the local male or one from further N but definitely a migrant. At 12:25 could hear juvenile Honey-buzzard calling from scrub. At 12:37 the female and juvenile were up together, with some follow-me and chasing; the juvenile was a weak-flier and did not stay up long (clip 1092 with derived stills 1  2  3  4). Finally at 12:40 the female was up alone. Common Buzzard then appeared in numbers with a family group of 5 birds up in a very strident display and 2 more up to W. Here are stills from close fly-pass of an adult Common Buzzard 1  2  3  4, moulting P7. Only other raptor was a juvenile Kestrel, up hunting over stubble field. Interesting other sightings were 73 Swallow (3 S), 7 House Martin, 1 Yellow Wagtail (may breed on Widehaugh), 1 Reed Bunting and a singing Chiffchaff. Total was 24 species of birds at Beaufront. Butterflies included Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Green-veined White, Small White and Large White, and one Southern Hawker dragonfly was seen. Things got even better during the afternoon at nearby Tyne Green (1093) from 15:05-17:55 where had total of 3 Honey-buzzard (female, 2 juveniles), 4 Common Buzzard (pair adult, 2 calling juveniles) and 2 Kestrel (adult, juvenile). The first Honey-buzzard was a juvenile (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8), effortlessly floating on N side of Tyne near bypass from 15:47-15:55, it did not ascend quickly (inexperience with thermals) but kept aloft well before drifting off to NE, doing a dive and coming back towards me SW at lower altitude; this juvenile was up again for a shorter spell at 16:02 (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6), this recording has breaks in concentration by photographer, had been sitting on a red meadow ant nest and they got their own back!); at 16:14 the female and juvenile were up together to the NE towards St John Lee (clip) and the female was up on her own at 16:22 in the same area (clip). Finally at 17:35 when near Tyne at Hermitage, a weak flying-juvenile mobbed by Carrion Crow came quite close and gave good views (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6). During both visits today hirundines were everywhere: gatherings before final major departure with 137 Swallow, 91 House Martin and 67 Sand Martin on the Tyne; raptors totalled an impressive 21 birds of 3 species with 12 Common Buzzard, 6 Honey-buzzard and 3 Kestrel; also in grand total of 38 species had 9 Pied/White Wagtail, 3 LBBG adults and 2 Chiffchaff. Have tarted up home Honey-buzzard page with some quick links. G was exciting, met some nice young ladies!! Enjoyed close with the beautiful one!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, perhaps a site early afternoon and maybe a repeat later-on!! lokttgo!! Have added details for raptors from yesterday in upper South Tyne (8/9), including update on another very exciting week! Have tarted up home Honey-buzzard page with some quick links. G was exciting, met some nice young ladies!! Enjoyed close with the beautiful one!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, perhaps a site early afternoon and maybe a repeat later-on!! lokttgo!! Have added details for raptors from yesterday in upper South Tyne (8/9), including update on another very exciting week!

September 8th: good visit out to upper South Tyne from 12:20-17:10 in warm, sunny weather with light S wind, clouds clearing as passed Haltwhistle. Visited 3 sites just up from Haltwhistle: North Wood, Featherstone and Lambley. At North Wood (1091) had a juvenile Honey-buzzard up, just after arrival at 12:23, floating over wooded pastures to W; it went down into fields after a short period (clip 1). Next sighting was not until 15:09 when a weaker flying juvenile was floating over the large wood near Park Village (clip 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6); it was in the air for about 3 minutes without a flap just above the trees, before uncertainly going back into the canopy; weak-flying juveniles remind me of people who are out in a small boat for the 1st time: don’t move at all, don’t try anything dynamic in case the boat capsizes! At Featherstone Castle caught sight at 15:40 of a juvenile Honey-buzzard flying low off the grass through the parkland trees; it cursed me with a couple of anger calls (as at Warden on 31/8); this is a new site (for me, anyway) so very pleased to see they’ve been successful. At Lambley, from deciduous woods to W closer to moors, the only signs were a series of long calls at 16:40, normally used for communication between adults and juveniles so presume at least one adult (female) and juvenile here. The birds often switch the young on fledging out of the nest site to a nearby wood. There appear to be a number of reasons for this: better elevation so that the young birds can get greater uplift in a breeze, improved sanitation away from nesting area and not giving the nest site away when the young are practising flight. Other raptors in Haltwhistle area were 4 Common Buzzard (3 juvenile, 1 adult) and most interestingly a juvenile cock Merlin, hunting at Lambley at 16:30. Elsewhere today had Tawny Owl in Dipton Wood at 01:00, juvenile Kestrel at Ordley at 17:45 and Tawny Owl at Ordley at 20:30. So total for raptors today was 13 birds of 5 species: 5 Honey-buzzard, 4 Common Buzzard, 2 Tawny Owl, 1 Merlin, 1 Kestrel. Passage in upper South Tyne included 60 Pink-footed Goose S, 4 Swallow S, 2 LBBG adult S and 1 Common Gull adult SW. Pink-feet are early, hope not due to changing climate in Arctic. Also had family group of 5 Goosander (all redhead, clip with derived stills 1  2  3) and single Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff calling. Total number of bird species in the upper South Tyne was a very respectable 39. In the boggy area near South Tyne at North Wood had 2 Southern Hawker dragonfly. Enjoyed last night at proms on tv, all very enthusiastic and great music! 2moro hoping to do some more local sites – Hexham NW and NE – with N4c4l and G4g4s!! Added material below (1086) from visit to Whitechapel on 5/9. Also posted 2012 British totals to date, accessible from main web page or here; poor totals when weather was very poor (April, June, July) but more normal in May and a record in August; all needs commenting, but it’s a start! xxxxxxxxx!!! Had 20 Peacock and 1 Small Tortoiseshell on buddleia at Ordley; strong late emergence of Peacock is very gratifying, lots of nettles around!

In last week from 2/9-8/9 in study area have again had remarkable raptor totals with 56 birds of 7 species: 26 Honey-buzzard, 11 Common Buzzard, 6 Kestrel, 4 Tawny Owl, 4 Red Kite, 4 Sparrowhawk, 1 Merlin. From 26/8-8/9 have had 9 species of raptor.

September 7th: bit of rest today with just short visit to Beaufront from 14:55-15:30, which produced no raptors and just 9 species in brief trip. After fine morning, weather went downhill in afternoon becoming dull with blustery NW wind. Added some multimedia below from Spetchells on 5/9. Best week on markets this year at +12k, taking funds to all-time high, beating previous record on 4/3/11, before the sovereign debt crisis really struck! Thanks Mario! My home-made financials fund is now up 24% on year, compared to 4% for ftse. Took some chips off the table late afternoon for possible re-playing next week if the market gets jittery about German court’s view of ESM! Actually think things are improving for the €: the ECB is acting more like a normal central bank. Don’t underestimate the ability of the Europeans to hold together, in spite of their constant squabbling. Best performer over last few days was ELI:BPI where bears obviously caught with their trousers down (shorted stock which is rising strongly, margin deposit exhausted, wipe out!); happy to provide some of my stock late today at 78.5c for a 50% profit; think was inspired by M in Ponta Delgada to buy some of these! Maybe decisions are not always entirely rational! 2moro will have full day out in field, perhaps in upper South Tyne and Tipalt. W was good, 5 of us there; do think it’s improved with new management team! lokttwgb!!!

September 6th: did make Staward S in Allen from 15:45-17:10 just as rain belt approached from W; right on edge with flurries of heavy rain and a little residual sunshine on moderate to fresh W breeze. Honey-buzzard obliged (1090): a juvenile gliding over from S suddenly turned towards me, where I was standing by a pheasant release pen at 15:56, and did the unexpected, attacking without success a Pheasant chick (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14, stills 5-6 show the large yellow bill, 6 the broad sparse barring, 12-13 usual structure with long neck, small head and long tail with narrow base); the adult pair then appeared from 16:00-16:03, entering into vigorous display over a nearby copse (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, stills 1-3 show the usual elegant, lightweight appearance of adults, particularly males); they disappeared to the W side of the valley and were quickly followed at 16:04 by the juvenile seen earlier (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5); the juvenile was more independent than most, suggesting that it was an early-fledged bird (c20/8). Later had 2 Common Buzzard (adult, juvenile) up over same area and a Common Buzzard juvenile on SW approach to Hexham at 17:20 so total for visit in the difficult conditions was 5 raptors of 2 species: 3 Common Buzzard and 2 Honey-buzzard. A Raven was up over the valley at 16:28 (clip with derived still 1), in a total of just 14 species. Earlier very sociable, good chat with P and S in good form!! Think beautiful one’s become peripatetic (or something like that!) – could ask for a consultation!! Bravo Mario: €€€+++! 2moro it’s back to normal with N4c4l and W4g4s!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

September 5th: bit behind events – apologies!! Yesterday made Spetchells near Tyne at Prudhoe from 11:40-15:05 in sunny, dry conditions on a fairly cool moderate NW breeze; it’s quite exposed on the top of the heaps but you do get marvellous views all-round and visibility was very good. Here’s views to NNE, NE, S, SW, NW. Total for trip was 11 raptors of 4 species: 4 Honey-buzzard, 4 Red Kite, 2 Kestrel (adult and juvenile hunting together, E of Prudhoe) and a Sparrowhawk (juvenile female hunting at Whittle Burn). The Red Kite comprised a family party of 3 SE of Wylam at 12:50 moving slowly back towards their nesting area in S Wylam, and an adult floating high beautifully over the area to NE of Wylam from 13:49-13:54; now suspect the attempt N of river failed as should have seen family group if they existed; continued presence though does suggest a serious attempt here; here’s clip of the distant kite NE of Wylam with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8. The Honey-buzzard comprised a male up over N end of Horsley Wood at 12:38 and a juvenile up at 13:40 in same area very briefly (1088): they don’t give much away when the young have not been fledged long! Exciting was the sight of a female Honey-buzzard (new bird for the year, indeed as new site, new absolutely) up low over farm E of Whittle Burn (1089) at 12:57 with a weak-flying juvenile below, just about off the ground! It’s great that they’ve raised young on their first attempt. Total for visit was 27 species; there was some gull passage W, including 47 Black-headed, 12 Common, 5 Herring and 4 LBBG; 5 Chiffchaff were still calling and 3 Sand Martin remained; a Lesser Redpoll, presumed migrant, was calling overhead. At Ordley good numbers of butterflies on buddleia with 15 Peacock, 4 Small Tortoiseshell, 2 Wall and single Red Admiral, Comma and Small White. Only butterflies at Spetchells were Speckled Wood, Small White and Green-veined White. Leaving-do was good, very nice to see old colleagues – had a couple of g and back a little later than expected after O’N4g4s!! 2moro no T&S as we decided that Wednesday would count as Thursday this week! Also seeing P at CCP4c4c, S for chat, listening to Mario at lunchtime (ECB!) and out to a site in Allen for 4 o’clock soar. lokttgo!!!

September 4th: a moderate NW breeze today, sunny but cooler than yesterday. Out to Whitechapel from 11:10-12:10 this morning and Morralee from 14:30-16:50 this afternoon. Day very much affected by shooting activities, some negative, some positive. Negative: was hoping to get into wood at 1st place for site visit #13 but didn’t look very inviting with ‘keepers doing repairs so abandoned this idea; thinking next season of switching lower South Tyne nest-visit site to the one immediately W of here at Thorngrafton 1  2 as looks more relaxed there (footpaths onto edge of wood, more local people around, no release pens!). Positive: the Honey-buzzard, which breed at Ridley, had decamped, at least partially, into Morralee on NT land, because of shooting activity at Ridley, giving me better views (not actually positive for the birds!). Day was productive overall, adding 2 males and 3+ juveniles to season totals. At Whitechapel (1086) a female Honey-buzzard was seen going out to hunt to E at 11:25, probably attracted by number of freshly-cut fields (clip with derived stills 1  2); later as viewed from S side of valley from 16:34-16:40, 2 juveniles were up over the birch wood to N of nest site 1  2  3  4, hanging in the breeze for short intervals before collapsing back into the trees – weak fliers! The male was keeping a watching brief. So suspect birds had decamped N to higher ground from nest wood to avoid the human presence and get more breeze. Just before this at 16:25 another male Honey-buzzard was up to W over heather on Thorngrafton Common. The decamped birds at Morralee (1087) included the male and a weak-flying juvenile; the male was seen first moving W low-down at 14:47 (clip); the juvenile followed in laboured fashion at 14:50 (clip with derived stills 1  2  3); the male came back E at 14:53 realising the shooting was continuing (clip); a juvenile, presumed the same as seen earlier, was up briefly at 15:15, before collapsing back into the canopy. Morralee has got this nice tarn, which should be good for dragonflies in fine weather. Only other raptor all-day was a female Sparrowhawk hunting at Whitechapel. So day’s total was 8 raptors of 2 species: 7 Honey-buzzard and a Sparrowhawk. Day total for all species was 28. Have to add that though the shooting activity was affecting my observations, the raptors had been allowed to thrive on the estates, which is the main thing! Total at Whitechapel was 18 species. In-between visits made N4c4l for lots of chat; intrigued by quick getaway plans of the rhb; good to see the gbs!! Much later it was BH4ra4s: very passionate!!! xxxxxxxxx!!! 2moro it’s Spetchells (park) for views over Tyne Valley E at lunchtime and leaving-do at unn for IB from mid-afternoon. Should be fun, not back for G I think!

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 13/13 nest visits in round 3, phase 3 (4/9) are: Allen 9 sites, 14 adult (7 male, 7 female) 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 1x2 2×1+ juv fledged; Devil’s Water 6, 11(6,5), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 1×2 3×1+ juv fledged; Tyne Valley west 7, 13(7,6), 3 nests (Douglas Fir, Scots Pine x2) 2x2 2×1+ juv fledged; Tyne Valley east 5, 6(5,1), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×1 juv fledged; upper South Tyne 6, 9(6,3), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 2x2 juv fledged; lower South Tyne 7, 10(4,6) 1 nest (Scots Pine) 2×2 juv fledged; Tipalt/Irthing 3, 5(3,2) 0 juv fledged; and Derwent 6, 9(4,5) 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×1+ juv fledged; giving grand total 49, 77(42,35), 13 nests (Scots Pine x7, Norway Spruce x3, Oak x2, Douglas Fir x1). 25+ juv fledged at 17 sites as 8×2 8×1+ 1×1. Confirmed breeding at 19 sites with FL 13, NY 3, ON 2, FF 1. Migrants: August 1 male S in Allen 22/8; September 1 male S in upper South Tyne 1/9.

September 3rd: bit of a day off, with trip to Newcastle to book seats for 4 Met Opera events (satellite broadcasts from New York) at Tyneside Cinema and change a ticket at Sage. Made CT4c4c and S4s4l. River was lovely in the strong sunshine on light W breeze; one of hottest days of year I would think! Very much enjoyed the attractions!! Back to Hexham early afternoon to collect car, which had no problems in the service; have to get next service at <30k miles as otherwise not eligible under pre-payment scheme. Of course no day is without raptors and had a juvenile Kestrel over bridge near the Central Station at Newcastle, a juvenile female Sparrowhawk hunting at Ovingham and 2+ Honey-buzzard at local Ordley site; made this last-named site as wanted to see what was going on; a little wiser as the male came in from the E at 15:43, stalled slightly (probably seeing me) and then glided into woods N of site going deliberately behind some trees for cover (1085). Here’s clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. It’s unusual to have so many males still on site; suspect it’s combination of late fledging and high brood numbers (that is 2!). A little bit later, heard some calls, confirming presence of juvenile(s) at this site but still don’t know whether it’s 1 or 2 fledged! Also had 2 Kestrel (adult male, juvenile) near Devil’s Water so on ‘rest’ day had 6 raptors of 3 species: 3 Kestrel, 2 Honey-buzzard and a Sparrowhawk. Also at Quayside had 2 Grey Wagtail and 2 full-grown juvenile Kittiwake still on nests under Tyne Bridge. 2moro it’s lower South Tyne in morning, lower South Tyne in afternoon and in-between N4c4l!! Might be ra later, will see!! More to come!! lokttwnt!!!

September 2nd: day started at 01:30 with 2 Tawny Owl calling at Ordley. Pretty hectic walk with N, managed to do 9km in roughly 6 hours from 10:45-16:55 but was a grand day for dawdling with strong sunshine on light W wind; we did have a break in D4ra4l! On last visit on 23/8 the 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard were very weak in flight and no adults were seen; today the pair of adults were up together briefly at 12:17 and 2 much stronger juveniles (similar to those at Towsbank on 1/9) were flying below them; the female was seen up on her own again at 15:50, soaring to moderate height and then gliding down. Here’s the clip (1084) with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19; 1-10 show the adults, 11-17 a juvenile; there’s a Honey-buzzard long call at 1:15, the end of the clip shows the female up on her own at 15:50. At 12:26 this brief but very close-up view of a 2nd juvenile Honey-buzzard was obtained: clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8. This 2nd bird has longer P10 and more fully-grown secondaries. While sitting out at D at 13:36, had a pair of raptors up in the stratosphere over Dilston – almost certainly male and female Honey-buzzard from the Swallowship site; they may well have had juvenile(s) below but they would have been shielded by the trees; jizz looked right for Honey-buzzard with flat wings, effortless floating and slow movements. 4 Common Buzzard were seen: family party of 3 at Farnley and 1 bird up over Corbridge, just S of Station. An adult female Sparrowhawk was hunting at Farnley. Waterbirds included the large Mute Swan family (2 adult, 8 cygnet) still intact and fully-grown family groups of 7 Tufted Duck and 3 Little Grebe, with 10 Moorhen including 1 juvenile and 2 Coot also including 1 juvenile. Chiffchaff were again conspicuous with 6 heard calling. Total for birds was 32 species, good for the time of year. Butterflies were not as common as usual at this site with small numbers of Peacock, Small White, Large White, Green-veined White, Speckled Wood and Large Skipper. Southern Hawker dragonflies were widespread with high numbers at Farnley itself. This Common Toad had tea with us. Plenty of activity (and cheering) at Tynedale RFC; these ‘facilities’ 1  2 could do with a towel, soap and water! Meal at W, Sunday lunch lamb, quickly followed; enjoyed service by w!! Not home long and out to G4g4s, where good chat! Good nite tuck-in with the gorgeous one followed!! xxxxxxxxx!!! Day’s total for raptors was 13 birds of 4 species: 6 Honey-buzzard, 4 Common Buzzard, 2 Tawny Owl and 1 Sparrowhawk. 2moro into town in morning while car serviced!

September 1st: did nest visit #12 today to Towsbank, where it all began in the early 1990s, from 15:15-18:10 (16:20-17:15 near nest). Honey-buzzard were very conspicuous, having adult female and male up, followed by extensive flying practice for 2 juniors; would say this was a relatively early fledging site like its neighbouring Eals site, perhaps around 20/8. Recordings as follows: 1) at 15:23 the ruddy-brown female came drifting into the site (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6, 1083); 2) at 15:26 the male comes in from high-up and hangs briefly (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10); 3) at 15:31 juvenile no.1 (dark head) comes up from the canopy and floats around, including some hanging (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11); 4) at 15:54 juvenile no.1 flying over towards me (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4); 5) at 15:57 juvenile no.2 (paler head and neck with dark eye mask) up over wood, hanging for a while (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10); 6) at 15:58 both juveniles up briefly together (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4); 7) at 16:08 juvenile no.2 up again for more hanging (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6); 8) at 17:29 juvenile no.1 up again for more hanging (clip with derived stills 1  2); 9) at 16:36 the female was actually keeping a sneaky eye on me when I was checking out the nest, maybe from habit! (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4). Clips 4-8 have intermittent shimmer on them, as the camcorder overheated. Visited the nest in area of oak/birch woodland 1; the nest was well-covered with oak sprays 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11 and looked occupied until recently. Some chewed wax comb 1  2  3  4, presumed from wasp nest, was found under a tree about 200m from nest. There were no signs below nest,and ground was very slippery. From 15:35-15:40 another male Honey-buzzard, a presumed migrant from Scotland, was gliding to S at moderate height on E side of valley using orographic lift on the moderate W breeze in the sunshine; he was actually intercepted by the resident local pair, who shielded their site from the intruder: keep away you forker!! Suspect he was tired and looking for somewhere for half-board: he moved on towards the higher end of the upper South Tyne where he should find the natives more amenable! Here’s the migrant male when first seen by me with local male getting ready to intercept (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5); the intruder was obviously seen much earlier by the resident pair; here’s the migrant moving S trying to give the area a miss but intercepted and chased off by the local male (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7); here’s the local male celebrating his success in seeing him off (clip). Other raptors were 5 Common Buzzard (another good-sized family party) and a juvenile female Goshawk (possibly locally bred), which had a faint-hearted attempt on a passing flock of 105 Jackdaw; total for all birds was only 13 species but had to concentrate hard on the Honey-buzzard. 2 Southern Hawker dragonflies were hunting glades and a Common Hawker was perched on a birch trunk 1  2. On way back had another Common Buzzard family party of 4 at Thorngrafton. So total for day was 15 raptors of 3 species: 9 Common Buzzard, 5 Honey-buzzard and a Goshawk (all the big boys!). Lot more people around today everywhere, must be coming back for school term and the like! Felt like a ½ later for relief and certainly pleased with the beautiful one: she’s very motivating and s.xy!!! lokttwna!!!

In last week from 26/8-1/9 in study area have had remarkable raptor totals with 72 birds of 8 species: 27 Honey-buzzard, 26 Common Buzzard, 6 Kestrel, 4 Tawny Owl, 3 Goshawk, 3 Red Kite, 2 Hobby and a Sparrowhawk.

August 31st: did make Warden this morning from 11:20-13:05 and had very close views of a weak-flying juvenile Honey-buzzard (1082), one of 2 present from 11:38-11:43 on N bank, both in flight and perched – marvellous! The 1st juvenile seen was flushed from a recently cut hayfield with the cut grass still lying; seen them in such habitat before, think this is a popular feeding habitat for other raptors because of the disturbance to voles, mice and even slugs. The juvenile landed in a tree and whined at me for a little while, before moving further along the trees with its sibling and finally retreating to the S bank of the river. Here’s 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. Would have expected the Honey-buzzard young at this site to be flying high by now as it’s normally an early one. But whatever it’s so very important that in the wettest spring on record and the 2nd wettest summer on record, Honey-buzzard are still able to breed successfully in NE England. Too early to say much on productivity overall except no failures found yet and some 2s on the wing but the season is about 10 days late and as late as I’ve known it. After sightings above had a series of the Honey-buzzard juvenile anger calls at 11:44, as recorded on this audio clip. Also had a family party of 5 Common Buzzard up over Warden Hill throughout much of visit and a juvenile Kestrel up over house at Ordley at 11:00. Total for Warden was 20 species including 30 Swallow, 4 Sand Martin, 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Grey Wagtail and 1 Reed Bunting. Weather, after being very sunny in morning on light W breeze following a ground frost early-on, closed in again this afternoon, which was a pity, preventing further play. It’s so cold, lit fire for 1st time since June this evening. Made N4ll, not been the same this week, missed someone!! Markets have been resilient, particularly in €land where if Mario does not deliver some bond-buying programme next Thursday, there will be severe disappointment. Down 3k by yesterday but strong rally this afternoon left funds unchanged on week; am buying small amounts of mining stocks on dips but main thrust in equities is still €banks e.g. EPA:ACA and LON:BNC. Looking forward to W later! xxxxxxxxx!!! 2moro it’s nest visit #12, maybe E later!! Going for walk with N on Sunday from Riding Mill-Corbridge and back with Dyvels and W for refreshments; on Monday car goes in for 20k service at Benfield in Hexham, so into town in morning to catch up on a few things, including booking up some tickets for next Met Opera season at Tyneside Cinema, particularly Parsifal!!

August 30th: made Kellas, near watershed between Tyne and Derwent, from 13:00-16:05 in very cool, dry, mainly overcast conditions on moderate N wind. This was nest visit #11 and was actually on-site from 13:30-15:25. The nest in Scots Pine was built up (stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14, 1081) and could have been in occupation still, with plenty of down in immediate area and a little splash. These stills 1  2  3 show the area around the nest and this one 1 shows the difficult approach through waist high bracken! Soon after arrival, at 13:53, there was a great commotion in the trees just on N side of the nest, with angry Crow dive-bombing the tops of the trees and a weak-flying juvenile was seen flying off through the tops of the trees. Could have been another juvenile somewhere; this one was certainly very recently fledged perhaps 1-2 days only, considering its weak flight, proximity to the nest and the amount of down around (18+ white down in stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18). The male was overhead at 14:11, coming in from high-up to W and disappearing from view (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6). At 14:18 a series of adult anxiety calls was heard from wood to S, presumably from him. Other feathers near nest included 3 possible tarsal feathers 1  2  3, a thin dark feather 1, a dark body feather 1 and a larger ruddy brown feather 1  2  3. There was little splash 1  2, presumably because of the continual heavy rain. Visit was valuable in that it confirms just how late Honey-buzzard can fledge, particularly after this very wet summer (wettest since 1912). Also up hunting to N had a juvenile male Sparrowhawk, the 8th raptor species to be recorded since Sunday (26/8), and an adult Common Buzzard over high-up. Only other raptor was a Tawny Owl at Ordley at 00:25 (31/8). Also at Kellas in total of 24 species were 8 calling Chiffchaff, 3 Green Woodpecker, a Spotted Flycatcher and a Grey Wagtail. Added to dragonfly list with 4 Black Darter in a damp heathery woodland glade 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12. Had enjoyable long coffee with P before visit; much later made T&S – 4 of us this week – for good crack; gr8 work-out later – so inspiring – that set-up’s very fruitful!!! She’s lovely!! lokttwbb!!! 2moro it’s lower South Tyne in morning, N4c4ll and somewhere else perhaps later, before W4g4s!!

August 29th: thought you might like to see the running totals up to yesterday: all looking good! Didn’t make N, went for walk to Dotland from 12:20-14:05 as sun came out after morning murk and had 6 Honey-buzzard up, comprising male patrolling at Ordley at 12:27 (1079), family party of 4 (adult pair high-up, 2 weak-flying juvenile, hardly able to get off the ground) up at West Dipton from 13:00-13:02 (1080) and a female (new bird for year) returning from hunting trip just over tops of trees at Dotland at 13:26-13:27 (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4, 1080a). Only other raptor was a juvenile Kestrel hanging over West Dipton. Total was 20 species including 5 calling Chiffchaff, 1 calling Willow Warbler, 38 Swallow, 2 LBBG juvenile and 20 Common Gull adult. Just got back before heavy rain, which caused 1st fade, for 5 minutes, on sat bb. Did make G after another very brief check on local sites from 16:20-16:30 but nothing in rather cool conditions. G was excellent with 10 of us today, with people back from summer breaks! The vet said the ‘gentry’, where I was yesterday, are regarded by the local farmers as arrogant b.stards! Cut some more grass this evening. Added material from Oakpool below (1078, 28/8) plus piccies of recent dragonflies: Common Darter at Wylam (28/8) and Southern Hawker at Farnley (23/8). 2moro seeing P at CCP4c4c followed by trip in afternoon to another nest site #11. Later think it’s T&S4g4s!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 10/13 nest visits in round 3, phase 3 (28/8) are: Allen 9 sites, 13 adult (6 male, 7 female) 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 1x2 1×1+ juv fledged; Devil’s Water 6, 10(6,4), 3 nests (Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2) 1×1+ juv fledged; Tyne Valley west 7, 13(7,6), 3 nests (Douglas Fir, Scots Pine x2) 2x2 2×1+ juv fledged; Tyne Valley east 5, 6(5,1), 1 nest (Scots Pine) 1×1 juv fledged; upper South Tyne 6, 9(6,3), 2 nests (Norway Spruce, Oak) 1x2 juv fledged; lower South Tyne 7, 9(3,6) 1 nest (Scots Pine) 0 juv fledged; Tipalt/Irthing 3, 5(3,2) 0 juv fledged; and Derwent 6, 9(4,5) 1 nest (Scots Pine) 0 juv fledged; giving grand total 49, 74(40,34), 13 nests (Scots Pine x7, Norway Spruce x3, Oak x2, Douglas Fir x1). 13+ juv fledged at 9 sites as 4×2 4×1+ 1×1. Confirmed breeding at 16 sites with ON 7, FL 5, NY 3, FF 1. Migrants: August 1 male S in Allen 22/8.

August 28th: great day out in the field, in sunny weather on a NW breeze, going to Wylam, around Close House 1  2, from 11:10-13:35 where had 4 Honey-buzzard (2 adults, 2 juveniles), 3 Common Buzzard (family group of 2 adults and 1+ juveniles), a Kestrel (juvenile) and a Goshawk (juvenile female), in total of 31 species. In earlier visit here in late spring (7/6) had a pair of adult Goshawk so this confirms breeding; the juvenile bird had a purposeful attack on a feeding flock of Jackdaw and may well have been successful as didn’t see it again. The Honey-buzzard sightings (1077) were many with a male up several times to E of site (captured once on clip hd  ld, 12:01), where he was joined by a female for one soar (clip hd  ld, 12:43). At 12:15 the pair of Common Buzzard adult started to get agitated and shortly after a juvenile Honey-buzzard was seen on the edge of their shared wood (clip hd  ld, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6, 12:22). The bird shows typical Honey-buzzard features when perched with horizontal pose, long thin neck and long tail. The young bird had a fly around before again landing on the top of another tree (clip hd  ld, 12:23); before going down into a stubble field, presumably to feed (clip hd  ld,12:26). Meanwhile a 2nd juvenile was perched in the same area, looking more upright but very ruddy in overall appearance. This clip hd  ld at 12:24 shows both birds, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12); the squeak (contact call) of the 1st bird is given at 1:10 as it settles on top of a tree. This clip hd  ld taken at 12:29 shows the 2nd bird alone. I moved closer and the 1st juvenile emerged calling, coming close overhead (clip hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16, 4 flight calls at 00:08. 00:17, 00:38, 00;46, time 12:29), before going down towards the Tyne, mobbed by all and sundry (clip hd  ld, 1 call at 00:14, time 12:31). There are some very revealing shots of the very young Honey-buzzard. Such very young birds are an identification challenge and, since they’re only seen in their breeding areas, poorly studied (except here!). It can only have been flying a few days at most with striking white patches on primaries from above where coverts not fully grown. It didn’t join in the soar with its parents, obviously regarded as too young still for this activity. The 2nd juvenile followed shortly afterwards, moving also to the Tyne but passing over at greater height (clip hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, 12:50). The 1st juvenile might be the older one with all feathers visible; it has a very pale bill, dark eye and 3-4 bars across the remiges; the 2nd juvenile does not have P10 protruding yet and is still growing a left-hand side outer tail feather. However, from a jizz point of view, the 2nd bird looked more controlled. This and the pale patches on the primaries from above suggest to me that the 1st bird is actually the younger one. Here’s latest addition to dragonfly list: Common Darter 1  2  3  4 (at Wylam). Then welcome break at N, where met N who was full of dire predictions (probably correctly) from Arctic melting! So onto Oakpool on East Allen from 15:20-18:10 for site visit #10. Unlike at Wylam where people very cordial, slight altercation here with local family who obviously think they’re squires! Parked car down at bottom in pull-in off the public road to W of bridge and finished lunch, with plenty of hackies from passing car. Ignored and went off into wood from 16:05-17:20. When came out they’d got the troops out as while scanning a field from a gate, man stopped car and asked if I’d taken a short-cut across their fields. No I replied (truthfully, as there’s no Honey-buzzard site that way!). On way to car the woman appeared with 2 barking dogs rushing at me; saw they were retrievers who are normally good-natured so stood my ground, whereupon the dogs started wagging their tails, nice doggies! She walked past stony-faced, without saying a word, having made no attempt to control the dogs. The man reappeared again in his car, just as I was leaving and I waved cheerily! He set off up the hill at a ridiculous pace and when I came round the corner, he was having a stand-off with a builder’s van which he lost having to reverse at least 100m; seemed to be some history here, the van could easily have pulled off a little! The Council builds and maintains the road down to their house at considerable expense to the public, yet they try to treat it as a private drive! The wood I was walking in, without permission, does not belong to them. Saw their property was up for sale by posh agents SG: maybe they don’t fit in! The particulars state: “A private lane provides access to attractive pasture land and woodland, having substantial sporting value”; incorrect, it’s a public road, suspect they’re trying to increase the appeal! Back in a couple of weeks. Anyway what about the birds? Honey-buzzard nest in Oak (1078) was in fine fettle 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17 with a number of fresh sprays of oak on the rim, could have still been in use. Found some small feathers 1  2, some fresh down 1  2  3  4  5 and quite a lot of splash 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 in vicinity. Wondered where the birds were; then at 16:50 heard at least 3 Honey-buzzard calling from the N end of wood for about 30 seconds. The calls were the normal interchange of family parties, very soon after fledging (as at Staward on 22/8), so took it that nest had been vacated in last 1-3 days and that at least one juvenile had fledged. If the nest had still been occupied, the birds would have been more anxious. The wood is difficult enough to traverse in its southern part 1  2 but gets much worse on its northern part with lots of prickly low-growing shrubs like Hawthorn and Holly; so I left them to it! Also here had single Common Buzzard (adult) and Kestrel (juvenile) and later at Ordley had fairly captive Tawny Owl calling. So day’s total for raptors was 15 birds of 5 species: 7 Honey-buzzard, 4 Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 1 Goshawk and 1 Tawny Owl. Other birds at Oakpool included 5 Spotted Flycatcher (family party active in nest tree of Honey-buzzard), 3 Chiffchaff (calling) and a Dipper in total of 26 species. Total for whole day was 37 species. Relaxing more 2moro: N4c4l at usual time and look at sites in ‘Shire with G4g4t!!

August 27th: added details of visit to Swallowship site yesterday (26/8). A poor day weather-wise for raptors, very damp and breezy, so no field-work. Did manage to cut some grass in sheltered bit of garden and cooked a massive spag bol to help re-stock the freezer! Have not discontinued compiling running totals of Honey-buzzard nationally from BirdGuides; had a tedious way of doing it last year which was too time-consuming, so wanted to streamline it and found that copying the web output unformatted into a spreadsheet gives a flying start and an easy way to tot up the figures; hope to start publishing the monthly totals up to end of August very soon. A brilliant, very stimulating result late-on: totally confirms what said on Friday!!! lokttwbt!!! 2moro it’s Close House/Wylam to look for raptors in the morning and site up the Allen for nest visit in afternoon. It’ll still be N4c4l but a little late!!

August 26th: much better weather this morning with long sunny spells on light winds but surprising downturn in afternoon with drizzle turning to quite heavy rain late afternoon: weather forecasters tried to make light of it but think it was a significant cock-up! Whatever, good weather days between bad ones are marvellous for seeing birds of prey as the times in which they can perform are reduced, increasing their visibility. 1st bird of prey today was a Tawny Owl at Ordley at 01:40; Stocksfield Mount was absolutely superb with provisional total of 20 raptors of 6 species from 11:55-15:05 with 7 Common Buzzard (2 adults and a juvenile locally, family group of 3 over Short Wood and 1 bird over Styford High Barns), 4 Honey-buzzard (family group up E of Cottagebank with pair of adults and 1 juvenile, 1075; juvenile close-up from Shilford site at 14:24, 1075a), 3 Red Kite (juvenile and pair of adult up E of Short Wood, confirming breeding at 2nd site), 2 Hobby (pair of adult mobbing male Honey-buzzard high-up over Cottagebank with female up also mobbing Red Kite E of Short Wood, having a good year), 2 Kestrel (1 local adult female, 1 juvenile at Cottagebank) and a male Goshawk (high-up over Cottagebank); birds were particularly active from 12:05-12:45. Honey-buzzard details for Cottagebank were fairly typical for post-fledging display: male was up first at 12:09 (clip), followed by female and juvenile at 12:23 (clip); the male was up floating over area from 12:28-12:31, moving SE at altitude and was presumed to leave (clip); female slowly returning towards nest site in stages at 13:11 and 14:04 (clip). The juvenile at Shilford was low-down over edge of Broomley Woods and much closer; here’s 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; the structure and jizz are very much Honey-buzzard like and sparse broad barring shows on stills 19-21. Here’s some landscape shots from the Mount, looking NE, NNE, N, NW, SE, E. Very much like the eco-concerns with solar panels and field replacing cut-grass!! Then onto nest visit #9 at Swallowship from 15:25-17:50 with time on site from 16:00-17:10. This site has quite a rough approach 1  2, sometimes but not today stroll across the fields on way out! Dipton Wood is nearby and is a popular foraging area. When weather was good, thought would get some more raptors here but soon disillusioned: Honey-buzzard nest (1076) was looking good in Scots Pine 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22 with tremendous drop from it to Devil’s Water below, perhaps 50m, but no signs below; these 4 shots 1  2  3  4 show the ascent to the nest from the burn to the top, any takers! There’s at least one bit of down on side of nest. In popular loafing area for juveniles, on edge of copse, did have more signs with waterlogged down 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 and a little splash 1. Thought I was being watched and on exit from site at 17:10 a single long call from an adult Honey-buzzard confirmed continuing occupation! Later at Elvaston, Hexham, had Tawny Owl calling at 21:35 and a migrating Green Sandpiper overhead calling at 00:40. So total for day was 22 raptors of 7 species: 7 Common Buzzard, 5 Honey-buzzard, 3 Red Kite, 2 Hobby, 2 Kestrel, 2 Tawny Owl and 1 Goshawk, very impressive from any perspective in UK. As usual in this area, good day for tits with 29 Coal at Swallowship, including flock of 26! 9 calling Chiffchaff was a noteworthy count and one Swallow flew S. Total was only 11 species of birds. Surprised in drizzle to get 4 species of butterfly: Peacock, Meadow Brown, Small White and Speckled Wood. Recovered from exertions for good trip to G where chatted lots to locals! pqotwf!! xxxxxxxxx!!! 2moro it’s more rain with N4c4l as respite! May go Nightjar hunting later!!

August 25th: rain stopped play! Did catch up a bit on things being in the wrong place from the almost traditional midsummer IT crisis. Sat broadband continued to function well through the murk so that was some relief; high speeds to web server are definitely improving efficiency. Good do in Riding Mill went on longer than expected into the wee hours, so sadly no time for a ½!! lokttwnb!!! Recurring theme in chat was diminishing fortunes of those friends whose only asset is their house; downsizing isn’t the solution people thought it was because everyone is trying to do it; moving away is fraught with problems; think I’ll just carry on with present strategy (which is to make my 2nd 106!!). 2moro it’s Stocksfield Mount area for scan around lunchtime followed by site visit in afternoon; reached that demanding stage of season where need to do 2 outings a day – for soars at 12 and 4! Later it’s G4g4s with extension as bank holiday on Monday!!

Interested in the activities of the FoRKers. They’ve just published their annual report on the breeding of Red Kite in NE England, with main finding: 26 known active territories (19 in 2011), 19 nests built or refurbished (19), 13 nests (12) successfully fledging 22 young (24), 5 nest failures, 1 during incubation, 4 with young. Reason for tough times is:

The wettest spring since records began appears to have had a major impact on the region’s Red Kite population and its breeding success. It resulted in another difficult year for the re-introduced species and prevented any increase in breeding success for the 2011 season when kites were still suffering from the effects of the harshest and most prolonged winter for more than three decades.

Northumberland was again attributed with a blank:

All of the kite territories identified were in the core release area around the Derwent Valley or adjacent areas of Causey and Beamish in County Durham. For a second year there was no evidence of breeding in Northumberland although a pair was present throughout the season on the county boundary around Derwent Reservoir.

This is strange when you look at section on Red Kite in June bulletin of Northumberland & Tyneside Bird Club (NTBC):

Single birds were near Shotleyfield on 1st (IFo), Heddon-on-the-Wall on 15th (AA), Tritlington on 18th (JMA), Morpeth on 19th (JFa) and at three other confidential sites in SW Northumberland on 2nd, 19th and 24th (MR/AA).

NTBC tally is similar to mine. Maybe the birds in Northumberland are on holiday! Think best section in FoRK report is:

Plans are already being made to regularly monitor kites roosts this winter and a full co-ordinated spring survey of kites is planned for 2013. This will be done by recruiting volunteers from FoRK and local bird clubs. This should enable a much more accurate assessment to be made of the size of the local population and could help to pinpoint new territories for the next breeding season.

Whatever, think the FoRKers should keep it up!!

August 24th: out in the wilds to W of Hexham from 15:25-17:50 in overcast, humid conditions with occasional pulses of rain; this was visit #8 to Westwood (Leazes), Hexham, actually on site from 15:50-17:15. Visit was not nearly as routine as might have been. On getting near glade, leading into site, noticed new gravel surface and mournful slightly angry cries hd  ld were heard from a juvenile Honey-buzzard at 17:50 out in an outlier to W of main wood (1074); these calls are trisyllabic. The whole of the glade 1  2 had been ‘demolished’ by machinery and the opening extended right towards the Honey-buzzard nest. Not too bothered as the presence of the young bird showed at least some escape but decided to skirt forestry activity on N side and come into breeding area in Scots Pine from opposite direction to usual. As came to E extreme of approach, an adult Honey-buzzard (presumed female, see below) gave an alarm call at 18:00, probably thinking: it’s all your fault! Nest in Scots Pine 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18 had been vacated, showing fairly flat top, but there was a fair amount of down (10 items) 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10, long white feather 1, possible tarsal feathers (4 items) 1  2  3  4 and splash (5 items) 1  2  3  4  5, with 2 larger brown remiges feathers 1  2, in area, particularly on E side, away from the ongoing operations, which involved thinning 1 of spruce on W side of nesting area, at closest perhaps only 50m from nest. So very tense for birds, but no apparent damage done, and of course forestry operations are a legitimate hazard, which the birds will just have to cope with: I’m not farming them! Suspect operations started on Monday 20/8, the day the young may well have fledged, so the 1-2 young were quickly moved by the adults out of the way. The noise from the machinery was pretty loud, decided not to introduce myself to the operator! At 17:35 a distant male Honey-buzzard was picked up in the murk on corner of Hexhamshire Common about 2.5-3.0km away to SW, beating over the moor, before moving E towards Blossom Hill about 1.5km to S of site. Had Honey-buzzard over this moor before and attributed to Leazes site: shows their liking for moors, even if the nest is in the valley some distance away. So total raptor count was 3 Honey-buzzard with 25 species noted in all, including 3 Chiffchaff. Plenty of exciting ‘messages’ at lunchtime, maybe she’s gorgeous, well-protected and professional!!! Profit taking on markets this week and down 1k; sold out of a couple of French and Italian banks and moved some funds back into bonds, increasing these to 62%. 2moro it’s supposed to be wet so will see what’s happening. A’s4s4l looks likely and gathering of W crowd in Riding Mill is definite for evening do; could wash it down with a ½!! lokttgo!!!

August 23rd: have processed video (1072) from yesterday and publish it below (22/8); amazingly fast uploads with new broadband — a few initial hand-shakes and then whoosh! Can see more people moving to it in rural areas; evidently main client of Mark is Duke of Northumberland who has a policy of equipping all his rural businesses with satellite broadband (when he’s not dealing with Harry Potter!). Mostly overcast today on humid W wind with frequent showers. Went out to Farnley from 13:35-16:15, looking for juvenile Honey-buzzard at a site, which is normally one of the first to fledge. Had to be very patient! At 14:44 given hope with adult Honey-buzzard call heard to W of pond; this indicates young out in the open so is almost proof of successful breeding on its own. But getting damper all the time had to wait for more evidence until 15:55 when male seen up in air over Tyne to W of site; great sight 2 minutes later at 15:57 when a juvenile Honey-buzzard — more compact than adult, but still longer tail and flatter wings than Common Buzzard – soared rather hesitantly up a short distance (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, 1073) with weak calls at 0:53 and 0:56; not up long but as 1st bird uneasily went back into the trees saw a 2nd weaker-flying juvenile up just above the canopy. So great result but could have just arrived for 4 o’clock soar! Total for afternoon was a very good 5 species of raptor with the 3 Honey-buzzard (male, 2 juveniles), 2 Common Buzzard (both juvenile), 2 Kestrel (adult male, juvenile), 1 Sparrowhawk (juvenile female, 1st juvenile seen this year) and 1 Tawny Owl (calling from bank of Tyne, towards Riding Mill). Warblers included 6 Chiffchaff and 2 Blackcap, with 5 Spotted Flycatcher among other summer visitors. Water-birds included 10 Mute Swan (pair adult, 8 cygnets), 7 Mallard, 5 Moorhen, 2 Cormorant and a Little Grebe. 15 LBBG adults flew S, no doubt from breeding colonies further N. Total was a creditable 33 species. At last got good piccies of Southern Hawker dragonfly 1  2. Earlier made CCP with P in Back Street for good chat; much later T&S where 5 of us for good catch-up. 2moro it’s back to N4c4l with another nest visit in afternoon and W4g4s!! Pretty hot pace at the moment, very critical stage of season! xxxxxxxxx!!!

August 22nd: well what a day from the clock striking 12 (midnite!!) to the trip out to Staward Gorge (1072) from 12:15-16:15!! Weather was dry, sunny and breezy with moderate W wind. Honey-buzzard provided some close-up action above the canopy, starting with a male calling and flying N down the valley to N site at 12:54 (clip with derived stills 1  2  3); at 12:59 he was picked up again in the air, doing muted display, when another male flew S down the valley very close-up into S site (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  25  26  27). The 2 males seemed to ignore each other. Fantastic action at 15:00 in N site where family party of 4 birds up in vigorous chasing flight with some calling (to be analysed); looks like both adults and their 2 juveniles involved (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). Finally at 15:57 yet more action, with male up again this time with female, and doing a muted display over site with rises and falls but without butterfly action at top of rise; the birds come very close together in touching farewell and the male starts moving S, gliding fast overhead before being lost in the sun (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4). Always nice when speck in the distance is 100% confirmed when bird comes much closer! Think the male was actually emigrating, starting journey back to Africa, after seeing young gain confidence in air and making space for the brood in terms of food resources (good strategy!). Visited nest site #7 from 13:30-15:15 and located nest in Norway Spruce 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19, which did have a recently vacated look about it; found some downy feathers 1, a Woodpigeon kill 1  2, splash 1  2  3 and chewed wax comb 1  2  3 in vicinity. Besides the 5 Honey-buzzard also had 2 Common Buzzard (adult, juvenile) and a Hobby, with adult male up twice over last year’s successful site, so looks like young still to fledge here. A female Kestrel tail feather 1 was found on the ground in the wood where the Honey-buzzard nest. Made G4g4t where lots of good crack and then back to superfast broadband! lokttbo!!! 2moro it’s N4c4c with P, earlier than usual, then hope to check a couple of other early sites for juveniles. Much later it’s T&S4g4s!!

August 21st: it took Mark, satellite man, 3.5 hours to get the satellite broadband connection complete, with extra work required to place the dish on front grass rather than on S wall, where large Ash tree in way. Some of work was rather like IKEA flat-pack assembly with masses of things to fit together and always some bits left over, when I do it. I helped as sort of jobbing labourer. Total installation cost was £350 including dish, Tooway modem, router, digging hole in garden, pole, laying cable through garden, drilling hole in house wall, getting it all to work on my machine, etc; ISP is for Skylogic, Europe; monthly cost is £35 per month, similar to BT bill; delivers wireless throughout house and nearer bits of garden to laptop and iPhone with main desktop on Ethernet connection from router. Glad didn’t try self-assembly as quite precise and difficult really; think could just about maintain it now. So all working now with speeds in test of 13.5 Mbps download and 3.65 Mbps upload. It’s very fast in heavy duty situations, particularly uploads, but a little lumpy when dealing with lots of small requests linked together; latter is due to latency, time taken for signal to go out into space and back again. Will cancel BT agreement 2moro – family members and friends amazed at farewell to BT; almost as much part of liberal establishment as free banking! Went to P’s in afternoon – he’s got good view of Cottagebank in Bywell from his house so altered seat to not be distracted by it! We sorted out paper 1 for final submission, providing minor corrections. Much later made W4g4s, pretty quiet but good chat with couple running it, who are from Dorset, and good to see w!! Nite-cap further W with the gorgeous one (or seasoned pro!!): she’s lovely!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!! 2moro it’s back to Honey-buzzard with the Allen for another site visit, followed by N4c4t and G4g4t!

August 20th: and finally we have it! The first young of the season fly! Somewhat secondary evidence at Ordley where usually eat lunch outside at 15:00, keeping a weather eye on the local pair. On Saturday 18/8 all very peaceful, today lots of continual anger cries from Crows, which normally indicates the young Honey-buzzard are out on the branches and the Crow are suffering some sort of sci-fi crisis imagining the world is about to be taken over by the kites! Better evidence later at one of the Eals sites where visit #6 from 16:15-19:30 in sunny, rather fresh conditions on light W breeze. The nest in Norway Spruce 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11 looked much the same as before with 3 pieces of down on the side and a number of feathers (11 in all, white downy 1  2  3  4  5  6, possible tarsal 1  2  3, long white 1, white body 1) and a small amount of splash 1  2 on the ground (1071). Also on ground was a dead Red Squirrel 1 (probably not due to Honey-buzzard) and remains of Jay and Woodpigeon 1  2  3  4 (which might well be prey items). Made 1st search of site from 16:45-18:00 before moving to Whitwham for a general scan of the area. On way back, passed site at 18:55 and heard chicken (hunger) cries of 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard from the copse adjacent to their nesting area. So these young have flown the nest but are still close-by and of course totally dependent on parents for food. So fledging date goes down as 20/8 though of course a few pairs may have fledged young before this. Good to see productivity of 2 though sample is rather small! Only other raptors seen were Kestrel with 6 noted: family groups of 4 at Parson Shields and 2 at Snope Burn, and a male Sparrowhawk just W of Haydon Bridge. A late Swift was moving S and other summer visitors included 4 Chiffchaff, 3 Spotted Flycatcher (family group) and a Willow Warbler in total of 22 species. Added piccies below for nest visit to Ordley on 8/8 (1036) and Horsenden Hill trip on 13/8. Satellite man ‘phoned me up to say he was arriving at 08:00 2moro (just as well!), not sure how long it will take; going to Stocksfield in afternoon to meet P at his house to discuss ct paper; much later it’s W4g4s!!

August 19th: early wake-up for very enjoyable walk in Upper Coquetdale from Blindburn SW to Chew Green, then NNE to Lamb Hill (walking on Scottish border for a while) and SE back to Blindburn via Blind Burn, c13km in all, which took us from 10:45-16:00, pretty quick time considering the sodden ground and bogs! Leader was motivated by oncoming rain, which we did have at the end but largely escaped the deluge which followed on way back, after stop in Barrowburn Tearoom. Day was memorable one for Honey-buzzard in the Cheviots with a male over road at Grasslees at 09:20 in brilliant sunshine, swinging out to S and then moving back again to N side, and another male flapping out over open moor, NW of Carshope Forest, at 13:25. Have seen Honey-buzzard before at Grasslees but this confirms they must be breeding there; the one at Carshope is very significant, suggesting they’ve occupied all Cheviot woods of any size; I’ve certainly had them before in Kidland Forest and the forest S of Cheviot. It all confirms their liking for upland plantations, surrounded by moorland or mountain. Also in day had a Peregrine S of Deel’s Hill, a Common Buzzard at Carshope and 4 Kestrel (adult male N of Brownhart Law and single juveniles at Chew Green, Blind Burn and near Sweethope turn-off). Still compiling other data. Had a very interesting Nightjar record last night at 23:40 – confidential!! Looking forward to faster broadband, plan to update web page appearance if can get a faster interface. Pretty shattered at end but made G4g4s to meet P; good chat about the walk. 2moro it’s N4c4l, library for uploads and another nest site visit in afternoon. xxxxxxxxx!!!

August 18th: visit #5 in steamy conditions to Shilford from 15:50-18:35 with sunshine, moderate W breeze and high humidity; vegetation is very lush everywhere this year and this site was no exception, being good example of temperate jungle! On way there had juvenile Kestrel at Lamb Shield and N edge of Riding Mill and a female Hobby out anxiously over hill above Farnley. Where parked had good view over March burn and Dipton Wood to W. Starting walk towards site had the male Honey-buzzard up briefly to S of wood but he quickly came back to the wood. Was in site from 16:30-17:40 with the male moving away from me, flying NE low down on entry. If any site should have fledged by now, this was it, but large 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  22 was still in use with some down below 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 and small amounts of splash 1  2  3  4 in vicinity (1070). Other feathers included possible tarsal 1  2  3  4, tarsal with ruddy tip 1, pointed 1 and grey body 1  2. So we are looking definitely at a late fledging season now, which is not unexpected in view of the monsoon in May and June, with display going on until 18/6. But still expect some dramatic action over next few days. Also had 3 Common Buzzard, presumed family group, up over Styford Hall, and 2 juvenile Kestrel at Shilford, in total of 27 species for area. 3 Honey-buzzard were on coast in Sussex today including 2 over Beachy Head, so maybe much earlier breeders in S England are starting to leave; don’t think any will have left Northumberland yet! Steamy later as well after ½: the beautiful one’s a turn-on!!! 2moro it’s long walk with group up in Cheviots (Blindburn area); dry in morning but forecast for afternoon doesn’t look so good! Anyway glttwnt!!!

August 17th: day off fieldwork with very humid, mild conditions and rain at intervals; good weather for wasps and Honey-buzzard development! Sociable lunchtime, meeting for coffee P at Back Street and S at Miggins! 2moro doing another nest visit after A’s4s4l and maybe a ½ later!! Holiday has put Angela in a good mood; she’s fallen for Mario; benefited €trash! So +5k, best since 6/5/11; did 2 lots of arbitrage this week on Lloyds debt, gaining £60 per year income, about 10x that in capital. My liberal friends hate all bankers and share-dealers: biting my lip is becoming painful! Sitting in Hexham Library, amazed by call to iPhone from Avonline, asking if, per email just sent, installation of satellite broadband on Tuesday morning would be OK; not used to this level of communication – certainly it would! Anyway glttwnb!!!

August 16th: site visit #4 to Horsley Wood, Wylam, from 15:20-18:00 in sunny, warm conditions, with occasional light shower, showed nest 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16 in Scots Pine progressing well with significant amount of down below nest 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  and a few bits of splash 1  2 (1069). Quite a number of pigeon feathers were also around the nest area, maybe from kills by the Honey-buzzard. On driving through West Wylam could see a large raptor over Horsley Wood, which on stopping, turned out to be a male Honey-buzzard hanging motionless over the site, always a good sign with regard to imminent fledging. Was actually in site from 16:15-17:30; it’s not that long a walk-in but had a watch first over Tyne nearby. The young are not fledged yet with adult over nest a few times low-down whilst under canopy but suspect fledging is only a few days off. After leaving the nest, at 17:24, had the male flying overhead in the open, seeing me off the premises, giving good views, captured on video (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14). Whole visit had a chaotic atmosphere with family party of Common Buzzard (adult, 3 juvenile) in same area, young calling throughout! Young can be heard in video of male Honey-buzzard flying out from nest area. Completing the happy picture, a juvenile Hobby flew out tentatively over the Tyne at 15:57 before retreating back to Horsley Wood; presume fledged from nearby area in S Wylam where seen twice this year; that’s the first Hobby youngster seen in study area this year. A clattered Woodpigeon kill 1  2  3  4 at entrance could have been performed by a Goshawk. Had a Banded Demoiselle 1  2 (damselfly) on the edge of the Tyne, just like seen on Little Ouse on 11/8. A Hare 1 gave close views in a glade. Earlier, progress in semiotics with the lovely rhb, and visit to library at Prudhoe (Spetchells Centre); have been told by my mates in area that this centre was a waste of money but disagree – well laid out and exactly same up-to-date computer facilities as at Hexham; uploaded almost 100MB of data from the Ordley site (8/8). Out to G later with work-mates as music on, and no space, in T&S. A-level results out today so little tense!! Gr8 to see the dynamic, beautiful one in action!!! xxxxxxxxx!!! 2moro seeing P for N4c4c to discuss long walk near Rothbury on Sunday; might get some fieldwork done in afternoon if fairs up; much later it’s the W4g4s.

August 15th: piccies of dragonfly and butterfly from Little Ouse added below (11/8), with summary of bird details. Today, site visit #3 to March Burn from 12:50-15:05 was rewarding with large nest confirmed in Douglas Fir 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11, young again heard calling a few times from nest with chicken calls (recording, 2 calls at 4 and 29 seconds) and adult (presumed female) making some alarm calls as left immediate area of nest at 14:35, where arrived at 13:15 to alarm calls from Crow, presumably in response to retreating Honey-buzzard adults (1067). Wood Ant have had a good season and they were all over the place, pity Honey-buzzard don’t eat them; never any signs of attacks on the bulky nests; know the ants remove much material from below the nest including feathers as in these shots 1  2  3  4. Did still find 2 white downy feathers 1  2 below nest, plus some splash (6 lots) 1  2  3  4  5  6 and goo as 2 kill remains 1  2. Had lunch with the ants below the nest tree and they got everywhere – literally – a few were still crawling out in the G later! Only other raptor was a Tawny Owl calling, 3rd of preceding 15 hours!! Total for all species was 22, including 2 Chiffchaff and a Swift. Weather was warm at start of site visit, becoming hazy with strong SE breeze when came out of wood and at N4c4t, and turning to torrential rain when in G. Butterflies included Meadow Brown, Small White, Small Tortoiseshell, Small Skipper, and Ringlet. Always like to take photo of neighbouring site: here’s Dipton Wood from March Burn. Met RSPB ex-regional leader A and was pleasantly surprised when he asked me how the Honey-buzzard were getting on; he told me of Woodpigeon kill up West Dipton in woodland, which sounded like work of Goshawk with head decapitated. We talked about how difficult the valley bottoms are for access: sometimes I think I’m the only human to tread foot in some of the sites during the whole year; difficulty of access by us is an important choice-factor of course for the birds; Honey-buzzard do not like humans at all! Mobile signal is reasonable in virtually all the sites, because they lie along the main valleys. 2moro it’s N4c4l, Prudhoe Library for uploads (Hexham’s shut on Thursday), nest visit to Tyne Valley E and much later T&S4g4s!! loktt3*!!!

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 3/13 nest visits in round 3, phase 2 (15/8) are: Allen 9 sites, 13 adult (6 male, 7 female), 2 nests Norway Spruce, Oak; Devil’s Water 6, 10(6,4), 3 nests Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2; Tyne Valley west 7, 12(7,5), 3 nests Douglas Fir, Scots Pine x2; Tyne Valley east 5, 6(5,1), 1 nest Scots Pine; upper South Tyne 6, 9(6,3), 2 nests Norway Spruce, Oak; lower South Tyne 7, 9(3,6) 1 nest Scots Pine; Tipalt/Irthing 3, 5(3,2); and Derwent 6, 9(4,5) 1 nest Scots Pine; giving grand total 49, 73(40,33), 13 nests in Scots Pine x7, Norway Spruce x3, Oak x2, Douglas Fir x1. Confirmed breeding at 15 sites with ON 11, FF 2, NY 2. Phase 3 (fledging) is imminent. Looking forward to 1st young of the year up in the air. Here for the duration now!!

August 14th: well, back today and family party of 5 Common Buzzard up over Welwyn Garden City at 12:45 with further Common Buzzard up near Grantham later on and male Sparrowhawk near Tyne at Farnley. Train was on time but lack of a/c made it rather hot. Looking forward to return to the lovelies!!! xxxxxxxxx!!! Might be BH4ra4s tonite!! Got back for N4c4t and very pleased to see the rhb getting in trim for kf!! Later did make BH, music on there with indulgence in Secret Kingdom, probably good description of events later with the lovely fellow star-sign!!! Have signed up for satellite broadband, neither got the time nor the patience to deal with CRAP/O and struggling so hard for 2 MBPS (at best) really is ridiculous. Haven’t yet resigned from BT, will check whether satellite works first.

August 13th: went to Horsenden Wood in west London for walk with big sis from 11:50-13:30 in mainly cloudy but dry conditions; always like this walk because although it’s very built-up around, it is quite wild with some ancient oak trees and unkempt under-storey, latter due to tight la funding! Finally had some birds of prey with angry chattering noise above the oak trees and fleeting glimpses of irate falcons indicating a successful conclusion for Hobby; sure enough a few minutes later at 12:30 the male was up to S of wood in a spectacular vertical dive that amazed sis! Here’s clip of a typically brief encounter with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. Not sure of precise count of others (female, juvenile) as confused situation in oaks. Just like in some other cities e.g. Berlin, Hobby seem to be able to colonise urban parkland if it’s got some truly wild areas. Also had a female Kestrel 1, many Crow 1 and Magpie, 4 Chiffchaff (all calling), 3 Green Woodpecker (feather) and 3 Ring-necked Parakeet, last appearing just as leaving and remarking hadn’t seen any (talk of the devil!). On canal had 14 Coot (3 juveniles 1) and 5 Moorhen 1. Later off to prom #2, featuring Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra and a more adventurous piece in middle: Olga Neuwirth’s Remnants of Songs … An Amphigory. With a lady conductor Susanna Mälkki, and a lady composer, this was a progressive concert and 5 of us in group (sis, N, 2 ‘kids’, me) really enjoyed it. In QA had meal before and drinks after! Got back to house in Ealing at 23:55 to find chain across door; niece who is staying there for a bit had never known her mum stay out so late! No repeat of altercation in QA nite before when replied in G- (or F-!!) style to an Aussie who told us to move down the bar as there was plenty of space there; think he was taken aback at us standing our ground!! Son’s comment that Aussies had not had too good a games didn’t soothe the situation too well!

August 12th: talk went really went, lots of queries and discussion, thought might have trouble making hour but time filled up nicely; made final touches to it at 08:50, nothing like last minute stuff! Trip to Lancaster in autumn for meeting with P from Liverpool, to write a joint paper on application of ct to the nilpotent. We get on well, similar soh! Gurrelieder was fantastic, mixture of Wagner, Mahler and Schoenberg himself, with great singing and final climax with 4 choirs and enormous orchestra; standing for 2 hours was quite an achievement but few wines before helped; basic story was king’s affair with his mistress petered out after his wife poisoned her, leaving him distraught; very steamy music for the affair! There’s some event on in London, never seen it so busy. 2moro it’s meal at Queens Arms, followed by prom #2 (but sitting this time) with return soon after. rfaswtgo!!!

August 11th: had long walk in Thetford Forest W along Little Ouse E from Brandon lasting from 14:35-19:20; plenty of butterfly and dragonfly but no raptors, not even a Honey-buzzard, renewed acquaintance with the Ram! Indeed not seen a raptor since arrived! Path by side was really overgrown in places, got masses of nettle stings even though wearing thick trousers. All of a tingle as went to bed!! Had Honey-buzzard in this area 2 years ago near Santon Downham and Brandon E, regard as inconclusive even though pretty purposeful visit. Butterflies totalled an incredible 11 species: Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Brimstone 1  2 , Comma 1  2  3  4 (last shows reason for name) , Peacock, Hedge Brown, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Speckled Wood 1, Large Skipper 1  2  3. Dragonflies were in abundance with 4 species identified: Banded Demoiselle (abundant 1  2  3  4, first shows pair mating), Emerald Damselfly (common 1  2  3), Common Blue Damselfly (one 1) and Brown Hawker (3 in each of the 2 tetrads). Warblers included 5 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap and a Cetti’s. Late broods were noted for Moorhen and Mallard and a fine gathering of 2 adult Mute Swan, with 7 full-grown cygnets, was at Santon Downham. Total for birds was 31 species. 2moro morning is big day at meeting with talk at 11:30. Then going to promenade in evening for Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder (told it’s a bit like Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, a mediaeval love-tragedy), with son! xxxxxxxxx!!!

August 10th: busy day at meeting at Cambridge University, but conference dinner tonite was more relaxing, very entertaining and sociable! 2moro bunking off to Brandon in afternoon for check for Honey-buzzard! Have couple of proms lined up after ANPA. Very good week on markets, up another 7k, best since 20/5/11 and indeed within sight (by 15k) of all-time high in spring 2011! Bonds reduced to 62% and not planning to cut any more unless inflation prospects take off. Missing tgo and lok!!

August 9th: here’s clip 1065 of male Honey-buzzard going to Dotland from Ordley yesterday (8/8), with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5. This clip shows how breeding Honey-buzzard travel between feeding and breeding areas in good weather: they soar, gaining height, and then perform a long glide before diving down into the nest site. Now in the rarified atmosphere of ANPA 33, busily finalising talk on The Representation of Reality in Computational Form (1 hour), or something like that! xxxxxxxxx!!!

August 8th: added material below from visit to nest at Slaley Forest on 6/8 (1064). Beautiful warm sunny weather today and went out for local walk from 12:45-14:45 doing nest visit 2 in final round. Just setting off at 12:50 had male Honey-buzzard up over Lairds Wood, floating over wood a little while, before climbing and gliding off NW to Dotland site (1065); so he was from neighbouring site! Entered local site from 13:10-14:15 with usual fording of burn and climbing up a steep bank; nest 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  in Norway Spruce looks enormous and is well-maintained (1066); small amounts of splash 1  2 were in vicinity with one large amount 1 below a nearby Larch tree; a few small feathers included at least 3 white down 1  2  3  with one down feather seen to fall from nest while videoing it. 4 large white down feathers 1  2  3  4 were found. Small amount of down would suggest that the young are progressing well but fledging is still some time off. Had a series of adult piped alarm calls at 13:45 and a single such call at 13:55 but no adults seen. Wood Ant have built some enormous nests 1 this year. Butterflies included this Small White. 4 Spotted Flycatcher in hedge at home indicates a successful outcome to their breeding attempt, which is very pleasing! Had 16 species in all. Made N4c4t and G4g4t with library in-between for uploading some large files. G was particularly good – all the gang in! Little diversion now – lokttgo!!! Had to say goodbye!!

August 7th: good meeting in unn with P – our long-running journal paper saga with prestigious high-ranking IEEE journal is now in its closing stages with long paper close to acceptance now (minor revisions only required on latest submission). ANPA paper is imminent – dreamed of monads last night, bit worrying as normally only dream about women! Enjoyed visit to Tyneside: had some interesting young gulls with 6 Common Gull juveniles at Derwenthaugh (surely breeding on some roof/industrial site) and 9 young Kittiwake at Quayside (7 juvenile, 2 chicks still in nest) where also 9 juvenile Herring Gull. A Banded Demoiselle over the Tyne was a surprise. Not to mention a few other sights in the Toon!! Don’t hold any STAN – too posh for me – prefer companies with no reputation to lose e.g. BARC, but do have 850 STAB in ISA on which lost £61.63 today – devastated! Had 9,000 STAB until recently in trading account but flogged them as part of bond to equity trend. Made W tonite for a change – and W later where beginning to get the hang of things!!! She’s very s.xy!!! Hope to publish material from Slaley Forest tomorrow and to make another site visit. Had Nightjar over Dipton Wood E, hawking over road, at 11:30, 2nd of year in this area. xxxxxxxxx!!!

August 6th: added below clips for Osprey fishing at Bassenthwaite on 26/7, clip and derived stills for Hobby at Riddlehamhope on 4/8, possible evidence for Honey-buzzard at Riddlehamhope on 4/8 (1063), storm that day and maturing conifers to S of Riddlehamhope. Today started round 3 (round 2 was null!) of Honey-buzzard nest visits, commencing with Slaley Forest, in dry, humid weather on moderate SW breeze (1064). The birds are still very secretive and was out from 16:00-18:35 with time at site 16:15-17:45; can spend a little longer in the sites this late in the season as the nests should hold fairly large young who do not need brooding, except in wet weather. Found nest in Scots Pine, looking very kempt and built-up; here’s stills (1064) from camcorder 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14 (intrigued as to what is hanging down trunk in 7,8); while doing usual series of camcorder shots of nest from all angles, had 2 chicken-type calls from the nest itself; that’s a first as such calls have before been heard from just-fledged juveniles outside the nest tree (clip is here). No signs below nest but perhaps not surprising after recent cloudbursts. No sign of the adults also; moved 200m from the nest to a popular clearing, still no sign; then did a long sweep to N of site ploughing through the conifers, still no sign! So vacated site and moved to watchpoint about 400m to N of site at 17:50. Here had immediate success with female Honey-buzzard seen floating low-down over the nest tree and the male above her and more reluctant to re-enter the canopy. She went in quickly and he dallied! Typical! Here’s clip with derived stills 1  2  3. Returned towards car and had male at 18:15 rising up over trees for a few seconds before going out to hunt to S over the moors. Also in visit had 3 Common Buzzard (adult, 2 calling juvenile), 2 Crossbill and family party of 3 Green Woodpecker. Total was 21 species. 2moro it’s B4s4l, unn, CT4c4t and not sure about evening!! loktt*!!!

August 5th: lot more heavy showers today including thunder in morning so did not start phase 3 of Honey-buzzard season as planned, in which make further visits to Honey-buzzard nests as start of fledging approaches. Amazing to think 1st young could be flying in about 10 days: they’re still very secretive so don’t think any young fledged yet. Sorted out material from yesterday and will publish this tomorrow. Very noteworthy how conspicuous Hobby are at present; suspect they’ve been underestimated over last few years because of time I’ve spent under canopy. Tidied up patio area by removing all debris from the wall-clearing scheme; wanted to start re-pointing but too wet. Did a lot of work assembling ct material for paper due soon! Made G where met P for good crack, back from his Iberia tall-ship expedition. Support clandestine approach out W with gorgeous one!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and Honey-buzzard nest visit in afternoon if it’s mainly dry!! Into unn on Tuesday and finish with usual G4g4t for a little while! xxxxxxxxx!!!

August 4th: out on the moors today from 12:40-16:00, walking from Harwood Shield at top of the ‘Shire over the watershed from Devil’s Water into the Beldon Burn at Riddlehamhope. At Whitley Chapel on way out had juvenile Kestrel and on way back had male Kestrel. Was looking for Honey-buzzard at Riddlehamhope but visit was inconclusive with no birds seen but a couple of small furry remains 1  2 and 3 feathers found on open moor to N of presumed site looked promising (1063); suspect it is occupied but not classified as such yet. Possible Honey-buzzard feathers included tarsal (118mm), scapular (109mm) and small body (53mm). Most significant event of visit was a Hobby at 14:10 carrying a Crossbill prey-item from the shelter-belt to E of old shooting lodge back to its nest in maturing conifers on the S side of the Burn, in Durham. Here’s clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12. Jizz is always very much affected when raptors are carrying prey as their mode of flight changes. This bird laboured under weight of the prey; it does show long narrow wings and looks dark against the vegetation. The Swallow were very agitated, moving very high in the sky when it started hunting but the Crossbill were presumably less wary. A male Kestrel was hunting downstream of the lodge. Counts included 48 Red Grouse (with family groups of 12, 9, 8, shooting prospects may be OK), 9 Stock Dove, 18 Crossbill, 17 Meadow Pipit and 3 Curlew, with total of 22 species. Think visit will be remembered best for the weather. Could see that it was getting steadily worse with an enormous storm 1  2 building up to the NW but was fairly complacent as could see this storm was just going to miss me. Then there was an enormous thunder-bolt behind me; on turning round, where it had been fairly clear, there was a marvellous Wagnerian scene with swirling mist and low cloud going in all directions, a rapidly darkening sky and multiple lightning strikes every few seconds. Decided to speed up a bit and made car just in time before the cloudburst arrived; bad weather was moving slowly and beat it to home. There the deluge really tested all the guttering on the W side from where clearing much material. The down-pipe got blocked at the bottom and water started pouring out of the top of the gutter, so got outside, cleared the plug by removing the grill and became absolutely drenched in 20 seconds! Celebrated escape with a very welcome ½; always feel at home there! Taste for pretty, lively, leggy brunettes duly satisfied!!! xxxxxxxxx!!! Had a Tawny Owl at Prospect Hill and a Long-eared Owl, sitting on branch with ears erect, in Dipton Wood. An exciting day!!

August 3rd: long session in Hexham Library of 2 hours saw catch up on all recent material except Osprey clip which is just greater than 25MB limit of net2ftp; this program is nifty in that it does the file upload through http rather than ftp and fools gateways in Orange Mobile Broadband, BT Wi-Fi, some hotel Wi-Fi, and others, which block port 21 in ftp (to reduce traffic). Have reduced Osprey clip in size slightly now and will try again. Going to discuss satellite broadband with the lads at W before ordering. Testing of links may be imperfect! Wild week on markets, +3k fairly sedately by Wednesday, -4k on Thursday in Mario’s panic and +5k today in renewed confidence making +4k overall. Bought some more equity yesterday afternoon in the panic exit by others (via iPhone at Byerhope!) and bonds now down to 63% of total, making portfolio more volatile! Lots of talent around (in order of appearance): gbs, l, rhb!!! Apologies for erratic updating of site: takes almost 10 minutes to update this page through Orange Mobile Broadband (dongle) at home and it doesn’t always work! Trying to keep the show on the road! xxxxxxxxx!!! W was good – 6 of us there! No news there or on Internet to discourage taking up satellite broadband, unless you want to use it for radio or TV when volume limits can give difficulties; latency (delay in signal going out to space and back) is a problem for some applications such as games and direct voice communication. aqotwf!! 2moro it’s Beldon Burn to see whether can find another high Honey-buzzard site; later maybe a ½!!

August 2nd: in strong sunshine on light W wind, very interesting trip up East Allen to 460m asl at Byerhope, highest Honey-buzzard site last year but not yet found to be occupied this year. Had 11 raptors of 4 species: 7 Kestrel, 2 Hobby and single Short-eared Owl and Honey-buzzard from 14:45-17:35. Had to wait until 4 o’clock soar for much action getting 5 seconds of joy as male Honey-buzzard arrived from the W at 16:10, low-down, and dropped into the nest-site in spruce carrying some food (1062). The Hobby comprised a pair occupying a shelter belt in Scots Pine, both up around 16:25. Here’s a clip of the female with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5 and one of the male with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10. Interesting how Hobby are quickly discovered when I get out from below the canopy. The Short-eared Owl was hunting the fields next to me, annoying still present Curlew, Oystercatcher and Redshank. The Kestrel comprised family party of 4 (2 adult, 2 juvenile) at Byerhope itself, a juvenile at Sparty Lea and an adult and juvenile at Stublick. So Honey-buzzard up to 49 sites now with 15 confirmed (13 nest found, 2 food carried in); Allen has full complement of 9 sites. Total was 15 species. Enjoyed N4l: uplifting to see the beautiful rhb and gbs!! Made T&S with M: gr8 to see the gorgeous ghs; not sure my imagination is up to the indirection required!! No sign of any action from the Communist Republic And Proletariat of Openreach: thinking of ditching BT and going satellite broadband. Can get 12 MBPS (2 at best at present) and 16 GB traffic (10 at present) for £35 a month, same as with BT. Do lose voice calls but nearly all of these are done on the iPhone now. There is an installation charge of £240 but BT are history if they do not respond tomorrow. Would keep BT website though, with which I’m satisfied and which is not dependent on BT account. In general don’t think that BT look after their customer base at all well; could switch to Virgin or Orange broadband but still rely on CRAP/O!. 2moro it’s back to ct but should make N4c4l and W4g4s and hopefully an interesting short trip somewhere.

August 1st: added stills in Library from Wylam on 28/7 below and prepared clips for later addition. Second round of nest visits starts in 4 days. Could go on another walk with group on Sunday in Rothbury area but Honey-buzzard nest checking and other matters might take priority. G was very chatty and liked exhilarating sight beforehand!! Quite a lot of work on ct today on paper doing with P. 2moro it’s N4c4l and a trip up to top reaches of East Allen to check on highest Honey-buzzard site in study area; fits nicely with work in Ullswater area, which incidentally yielded 2 new sites. Much later it’s T&S4g4s!! loktt beautiful ones!!!

July 31st: continuing assault on potential Honey-buzzard sites around E end of Slaley Forest. Today parked on opposite side of road to yesterday and walked from 17:30-18:50 to Trygill end of Forest. Much warmer here with 2 fledged Common Buzzard juvenile and 2 Long-eared Owl squeaky young, all on edge of very mature stretch of Norway Spruce 1  2. So this is where the big boys hang out! Birds of prey are rather like kids in a park. If there are 10 seats available, they’ll all congregate on one and spend all the time jostling each other for best position. No Honey-buzzard yet but feel this is it! There’s room for 2 sites here as spacing from perfect habitat found today is 3.0km to W and 4.0km (above minimum 2.4km) to E so nothing’s certain yet. Area was heaving with Woodpigeon, which is good for many raptors, and state of the spruce looks spot on with tall trees with glades and other gaps between them. Also had 4 calling Chiffchaff and an agitated Redstart in total of 16 species. Spent afternoon looking at ct material – talk at Cambridge is looming fast! N4c was sociable at lunch-time and continue to like crowd and beer (Red Ellen today) at BH! Very stimulating time with the sensuous oriental!!! xxxxxxxxx!!! 2moro think BT might come though no appointment yet; anyway it will be more ct before G4g4t!!

July 30th: completed analysis of Cumbria (Lakes) trip from 23/7-26/7. Total was 60 species with 5 species of raptor: 9 Common Buzzard, 3 Honey-buzzard, 2 Osprey, 1 Kestrel and 1 Tawny Owl. Made Slaley Hall today from 16:00-17:40 in showery weather with strong sunshine in-between, walking top (orange) path, kind courtesy of De Vere! Looking for Honey-buzzard but none seen in this obvious gap. Did though have 2 raptors: a juvenile Goshawk on E side and a juvenile Kestrel on W side. So if Goshawk are breeding in this area, that will not encourage Honey-buzzard! Need to find where any Common Buzzard are located as the big boys often hang out together! Gulls were more conspicuous with 56 Common Gull (including a juvenile, where’s that from?) and 5 LBBG. Also had flock of 11 Common Crossbill and a Common Blue Damselfly at a small pond. Total was 19 species. Swift increased to 5 over Ordley tonight with one screaming party: suspect the few local country breeders are a little behind their town brethren! About to upload Wylam material from 28/7 in Library. 2moro it’s N4c4l, another trip out to E Slaley Forest area and BH4ra4s!!

July 29th: more time catching up on garden with much grass-cutting, clearing debris away from house wall and dealing reluctantly with wasps. Added stills below for Osprey at Bassenthwaite on 26/7 and Honey-buzzard female and male at Grisedale on 25/7; did upload at Hexham Library on 30/7 but seem to be increasing problems with using native ftp, which is inhibiting video upload; also can only upload into top directory; investigating but at least it’s fast network! Interesting observations today included Honey-buzzard male up for a few seconds over home site at 14:00 to show he’s still alive! Also 60 Common Gull S during early evening from 20:00-21:00 and 13 Swift screaming over Hexham and 3 over Ordley to show there are still some around. Did make G – few stalwarts in, good chat, gr8 service from l and good to see crazy girl a again! P is doing tall ship trip from Cádiz to Porto! Fantastic end to day with the favoured one!!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

July 28th: had 7 raptor species today, starting with Tawny Owl at Elvaston and Ordley in the wee hours and followed by Honey-buzzard (bed-time tick!) giving 3 wailing calls at 08:00 in response to some light gunfire! Had delights of the ‘vermin’ paradise at Sled Lane, Wylam, from 15:10-17:10 where had brilliant time with 4 Common Buzzard (family party of 2 adults and 2 juveniles), 3 Red Kite (adult and weak-flying juvenile at nest and another adult out hunting, clip of adult in moult with derived stills 1  2, clip of weak-flying juvenile with derived stills 1  2), 2 Hobby (female out hunting, followed by male, and all hirundines up into the stratosphere, clip of female with derived stills 1  2  3, clip of male with derived stills 1  2  3  4) and 2 Sparrowhawk (female in territory, male out hunting, clip of male with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5). Total was 31 species. On way back had juvenile Kestrel hunting at Bywell Peepy at 17:15. Weather was perfect with sunny intervals, light to moderate W wind, mild and mainly dry, with even a shower on arrival which cleared well just in time for the 4 o’clock soar! Started work on W wall, removing 6 trestles, masses of associated vegetation and exposing lots of lovely stone, see result here; slight problem is that BT cable came through experience quite well but not very well! Also there are 2 thriving wasp nests in the wall close to the cable, which may not appeal to any engineer who might come by! This is a dilemma as without the cable would just let them finish and re-point in the autumn. But I’m rather determined to sort this wall out now so ‘fraid tna! 2moro may get up to Derwent in the afternoon followed much later by G4g4s!! Have Orange dongle, which is OK for networking text but too slow for images, can always use Hexham Library for uploading latter. lokttgo!!!

Even later Honey-buzzard at Gibraltar:

14 Jul: Clear skies with moderate to strong westerly winds. A very late Honey Buzzard was seen arriving across the Straits and continued north.

Interested in end of Swift breeding season. Only one seen today, at 20:00 at Ordley. Have all our local birds moved out over last 2 days; certainly they were very excited at Glenridding, Hexham and Guessburn. Looking at Trektellen just 79 Swift moved S in Yorkshire/Lancashire today (28/7) with more, 700, at Spurn on 27/7; from 20/7-26/7 10350 moved S mainly in Yorkshire including 6031 on 22/7 with wind SW 2-3 and 3705 on 23/7. Looks like smooth end to a reasonable (good?) breeding season with maybe earlier birds moving from localities nearer the coast. A lot are seen flying down the E coast but presumably nobody thinks they are from Scandinavia.

July 27th: made Stocksfield Mount from 16:00-17:55 for welcome lazy birding from seat, after walking 56km in previous 5 days. Swift was most striking bird with 49 in air over Guessburn at one point, presumably containing just-fledged juveniles, like at Hexham yesterday evening at 21:25 when 22 seen screaming over roof-tops at dusk; one Swift at latter time appeared to have been taken by a female Sparrowhawk and was being carried off towards Elvaston; presumably very young Swift are not wary enough or perhaps fluent enough in flight to escape a Sparrowhawk. Today had distant views of male Honey-buzzard circling over Bywell Cottagebank at 16:24 (1061), a Red Kite up over E of Short Wood at 16:35 and single Common Buzzard up over Stocksfield E and Cottagebank. So not bad, considering out a little late. A lady dog-walker said she sees a Red Kite about once a week around the Mount, maybe birds foraging out from Mickley. Might have been out earlier but wanted to make Hexham for lunch: certainly a brilliant idea where gr8 to see the ghs looking so lovely and the rhb looking fit!!! Hopefully a bit more video to be released before out to W: yes added clip 1059 below!! Good week on markets in end: 3k down by Wednesday but gain of 7k over last 2 days makes it +4k overall. With Angela and Wolfgang on holiday and keener on getting their beach towels down early than on dour ECB matters, Mario is not taking any leave and is weaving a few wicked spells! Exciting later: beautiful!!! xxxxxxxxx!!! 2moro it’s A’s4s4l and more Red Kite work later.

July 26th: did go to Bassenthwaite from 11:15-15:55, where first visited Osprey watchpoint. There a long way away was pointed out 2 Osprey, an adult and a juvenile, latter only one fledged this year, but seeing weather, not bad. We went onto lakeside and had very exciting spectacle of Osprey fishing at no more than 30m diving into lake near us; it made 2 attempts without success and then moved on. Here’s clips 1  2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20. Weather was rather grey except for brief brighter period when hanging mist suddenly cleared; calm and mild throughout. So in spite of dire weather forecast last Saturday of rain throughout week, did not actually get wet except for occasional spells of light drizzle. Very poor season visitor-wise throughout Lakes, locals seemed quite despondent, poor weather and recession blamed. There’s a new road around W of Carlisle and only took 90 minutes back from Bassenthwaite to Stocksfield, where dropped N! Made T&S with M, where good crack! 2moro it’s N4c4l and W4g4s with trip out E in afternoon for Red Kite, weather permitting!! xxxxxxxxx to the lovelies!!!

July 25th: went for walk up Grisedale in rather grey weather but dry and mild and virtually calm; amazed at 14:47 seeing medium-sized raptor flapping across Bleaberry Crag at 600m asl, just 2km from summit of Helvellyn (950m). The raptor first flew across the gap to Bleaberry Crag from Grisedale Brow and thought it had gone down into crags with scattered trees but then it reappeared floating majestically above Bleaberry Crag, circling while scanning bleak countryside below, with jizz of a small Golden Eagle. At this point realised that it was a female Honey-buzzard out foraging. Here’s clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6. At 15:01 a male was seen gliding high down the ridge at Grisedale Brow, where he was intercepted by 2 irate Raven; he disappeared briefly and then turned around, flying back to Bleaberry Crag and not seen again. Here’s clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4. Just before the female was sighted some habitat was panned incidentally on the crags over which she was moving. There’s some mature woodland in Grisedale near head of valley at Broomhill Plantation and wood on opposite side of valley with Grisedale Beck in-between, both containing tall stands of Scots Pine. This woodland is 3-4km from Glencoyne Wood, where female seen yesterday. Did see a nest 1  2  3  4 in Scots Pine, which could be Honey-buzzard but not sure and no disturbance permit for closer check. Theoretically it could be the same bird but females don’t tend to travel as far as males from their nests, this bird looked attached to the upper valley and it had a gap on its inner secondaries on its right wing and a well-formed tail (1060), while yesterday’s female had well-formed wings but a gap in its tail. So this is a different bird and a different site. The male Honey-buzzard could have come up from Glencoyne – it’s within permitted foraging distance, but the simpler explanation is that he’s an item with the female seen a few minutes earlier! Had thought Lakes population of Honey-buzzard might be restricted to obviously rich habitat around Windermere and Ullswater but this no longer looks to be the case, suggesting a considerably higher population than anticipated! Also had a Tawny Owl calling last night at Glenridding and 2 calling juvenile Common Buzzard up Grisedale, where 11 Raven was noteworthy. 2moro it’s Bassenthwaite to try and see an Osprey and who knows what else! May just possibly be T&S later!! rfaswtgo!!!

July 24th: well, at 11:13 had 1st Honey-buzzard of short trip here, a female floating out of Glencoyne Wood, Ullswater, moving W up the water a bit, before soaring and going back into wood. Here is the clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 derived from the video (1059). This is a new site for me in this area though know they’re into Gowbarrow which is next site to E. Was waiting for ferry to Howtown, from where did 12km walk back to Glenridding. Waiting for ferries seems good tactic in hunting Honey-buzzard in the Lakes, where once had 3 birds up at Windermere! Weather was sunny and warm around Howtown, becoming more overcast towards Patterdale but dry for whole time out. Only other raptor seen was Common Buzzard with 4 noted at 2 sites (2 adult, 2 juvenile); also had 3 Raven, 5 Goosander (all redheads) and Red-breasted Merganser (redhead), plus others to follow. Hotel is very cosy!! Wish u were here!!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

July 23rd: short break in Lakes here with N; today looked at Aira Force in really weird weather, being in warm sunshine in strong SW breeze for 4 hours with rain all around us and giving us a bit of dampness from time to time as rain blew in from S; think we were in rain shadow of high ground to S with a föhn-type effect! No Honey-buzzard ventured out but did have raptors: 2 Common Buzzard and a Kestrel, plus 2 Raven and a Wheatear in total of 31 species. Continues waterfall theme of this summer! Total yesterday (22/7) for Wall walk was 22 species, including 39 Swallow, 9 Willow Warbler, 5 House Martin, 5 Meadow Pipit, 3 Spotted Flycatcher and 3 Canada Goose (pair adult, single juvenile). Missing tgo!!!

July 22nd: added details below from yesterday’s successful conclusion of round 1. Had Whimbrel moving S calling over home garden at 08:00. Walk on Roman Wall was great: pretty energetic doing 15km from Walltown to Housesteads from 10:00-16:00; we left the cars at Housesteads and got the Roman Wall bus to Walltown to make it a linear walk. It stayed dry with bits of sunshine but was very windy; fortunately we were walking with wind behind and away from gathering murk to W! It’s a spectacular section of the Wall with good views below; there’s a lot of up and down (almost 600m in height gain). Took a pan from highest point of Roman Wall at Windshields Crags (345m), where could hardly stand up! Had total of 4 Kestrel and 1 Common Buzzard on Wall, with another Common Buzzard at Acomb on way back after stop for ‘tea’ at Hadrian at Wall! Not nearly enough woodland on Roman Wall for new Honey-buzzard sites, but did note Chesters and woods E of Wall on way back as very suitable; but they’re North Tyne so will have to wait for an opportunity for further study. Have formally joined group now: Tyneside Walking & Social Group. Am member of Ramblers but find them a little twee! Still in one piece – out later!! G was good! Ideal sync later: she’s perfect!!! Patrol is really to check we’re OK!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

July 21st: did make site visit #13/13, concluding round 1 of visits, going to Whitechapel, lower South Tyne, from 15:40-17:30, with time near nest 15:55-16:50. This was the site last year where had to adopt James Bond tactics, going for a roll in the bracken, to evade a posse of gamekeepers! No problems this time, though did meet the farmer on road outside as leaving: he was very friendly, reticence at first giving way to a lengthy chat! Weather was sunny, veiled at times, and warm and dry with light W breeze; ground though was still saturated and almost lost one boot going between 2 gates in a quagmire. So were the birds at home: yes, found nest quickly of Honey-buzzard (1058) in site 1  2 as re-use of last year’s in Scots Pine 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12, with some splash 1  2  3  4 in area and 1 small white down 1 on the ground. Also found this Common Buzzard feather (outer secondary, 232 mm) and their nest 1  2  3 in a Scots Pine but no sign of the birds, so presumably fledged OK and departed. Common Buzzard nests are usually larger than those of Honey-buzzard, more platform-like in shape with less intricate weaving of sticks, and lower down in the tree. As emerged from wood containing nest at 16:30, had Honey-buzzard alarm calls, presumably from female, and on getting back to road at 16:40 the male appeared, drifting off to forage to S (River South Tyne way); here’s clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5; he’s missing a number of feathers, perhaps P1 on left wing and P5, P8 on right wing. Consider myself within the immediate nest area if my presence might deter the birds from normal nesting business, such as sitting or feeding young. A female Sparrowhawk (clip) also came out of the wood a few moments later. Here’s a shot of foraging area over other side of valley at Morralee. Also studied new site Langley to see which areas might be best, identifying 2 candidates. Should stress that while the male Honey-buzzards may be a bit laid-back near the nest, they are energetic foragers going up to 5km from the nest to bring back food. If the male’s not up to this task, the nest is in trouble as the female has to go further and further from the nest to find food, leaving it exposed and vulnerable to predators and chilling. There will not be a round 2 this year as happy that as much progress has been made as possible before the late rearing/fledging period. Round 3 will start in early August (perhaps 4/8) to run across the fledging period into late August. In the meantime going to concentrate on finding more Honey-buzzard sites (at least 4 possible, mentioned below 15/7), checking on possible Hobby sites and on monitoring Red Kite breeding success, mainly in Tyne Valley and Derwent. Spent early evening lawn mowing, catching up after the deluge but some areas are still too wet to mow. 2moro early start for walk on Wall, wonder if will pick up any new Honey-buzzard sites! Later it’s G4g4s for recuperation!!

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 13/13 nest visits in round 1, phase 2 (21/7) are: Allen 8 sites, 12 adult (5 male, 7 female), 2 nests Norway Spruce, Oak; Devil’s Water 6, 10(6,4), 3 nests Norway Spruce, Scots Pine x2; Tyne Valley west 7, 12(7,5), 3 nests Douglas Fir, Scots Pine x2; Tyne Valley east 5, 6(5,1), 1 nest Scots Pine; upper South Tyne 6, 9(6,3), 2 nests Norway Spruce, Oak; lower South Tyne 7, 9(3,6) 1 nest Scots Pine; Tipalt/Irthing 3, 5(3,2); and Derwent 6, 9(4,5) 1 nest Scots Pine; giving grand total 48, 72(39,33), 13 nests in Scots Pine x7, Norway Spruce x3, Oak x2, Douglas Fir x1. In 2011 was off on travels so comparisons difficult; in 2010 had grand total 35, 53(34,19), 11 nests, by 18/7 so quite similar progress in survey but note large increase in population over just 2 years. Probably not an exaggeration to say that the Honey-buzzard population in SW Northumberland is the largest in the UK and in an extremely healthy state!

July 20th: made site visit #12 to Oakpool on the East Allen (1057) from 15:45-17:15 with time near nest from 16:05-16:55; thought this might be difficult as birds spent all their time on the opposite side of the valley to normal side when displaying; but no problem, conservative as usual, they’ve returned to area of usual wood closer to road and built a lovely new nest in a large Oak tree 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17. Last year they retreated further into the wood, following a new track being driven through the wood, but this track is very little used and has been eroded in places by heavy rain. So they’ve really reverted to their favourite position in the wood, right in the middle with a large adjacent clearing. Weather was sunny and mild with light SW wind. Had male up near the car on arrival at 15:45 for about 3 seconds but he disappeared quickly; he reappeared in distance 1 to W soaring at 17:03 perhaps coming back to nest on my departure; only other sign was an alarm call at 16:30 when leaning on the nest tree (always a good trick!); this is presumed to be from the female, generally more protective near the nest. Ground was saturated and very slippery after recent rain and no signs below nest. Total was 18 species with breeding confirmed for Honey-buzzard, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Willow Warbler, Blackbird and Chaffinch. At Ordley had an agitated Common Buzzard up over the house at lunchtime – a promising sign after long period of no sightings. Also had 3 Common Gull soaring S, several have been seen over last few days, presumed birds returning from Norway. Again promising week on markets spoilt by slide on Friday but at least did pick up some ‘cheap’ stock this afternoon; down 1k on week; stocks look cheap compared to bonds on many measures but confidence is so low and as they say about investment managers: the market can remain illogical longer than you can keep your job! Son has got promotion at Herts uni, doing more or less what I was doing at his age, database management for the uni; BoD has had its credit rating upgraded! 2moro after A’s4s4l it’s site visit #13, completing 1st round: very satisfying! Next week a brief change of scenery with N! But not there yet! Hope the gorgeous one can keep it up until Sunday!!!

July 19th: busy time at JLAF at Hexham (Eastburn), organising WG2 report on Dangers for Dog Walkers from Cattle; basically we’re fairly relaxed on this, thinking it’s an education issue: walkers should realise that cows with calves are every bit as dangerous as bulls, indeed probably more of a threat in some respects because of their unpredictability. Never worried by bulls personally (many are quite soft) but always give cows with young calves a very wide berth! Had brief trip out this morning to Dotland, from where could see a pair of Common Buzzard up over Letah Wood: Common Buzzard have been keeping a low profile over last few weeks as young fledge; need to adjust expectations now as they become more conspicuous again. A family party of Garden Warbler was noteworthy, plus 2 Common Gull adult to S. Here’s a still taken today from Dotland, showing ideal Honey-buzzard habitat in the ‘Shire with mosaic of meadows, valleys and woods; 6 pairs forage over this area, including one in Tyne Valley. Interesting id article on Honey-buzzard versus Common Buzzard by BTO with shape and behaviour (jizz!) elevated over plumage: well that’s encouraging! Will return to this over next few days as have a few quibbles. Had lunch at N with P (bees) and P (walks)! Made T&S later with M, then switched to G for a bit more peace. Brilliant end to day: very moving, think she’s so exciting!!! 2moro it’s site #12 with G4g4s!

July 18th 2012: in between rain in morning and evening made site visit #11 to Hexham High Wood (1056) from 14:30-16:55 with time on site itself 15:00-16:15. Weather while there was mild on moderate SW breeze, with a few outbreaks of drizzle and occasional brief sunny intervals (muggy!). Walk-in was so muddy, met a group of walkers who were floundering! As entered site a very irate adult Common Buzzard started hectoring me and continued to do so for 30 minutes, backed up in the distance by 2 calling juvenile Common Buzzard; the adult came overhead a number of times 2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21 and their large bulky nest was located in a Norway Spruce 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 with conspicuous down on the sides. One of the juvenile Common Buzzard flew close to me 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20 through the trees. As is usual in this type of case, the Honey-buzzard kept a back seat with the only sighting a male hiding behind the trees 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 and then disappearing through the trees to E at 15:10. The Honey-buzzard nest is a re-use of last year’s one in Scots Pine 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21; a few white small downy feathers 1  2  3 and a longer white feather 1 were found below the nest indicating that the nest contains growing young. Splash 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16 was widespread but some may have been due to Common Buzzard; this pellet 1 and rabbit fur 1 may also have been come from either species. Total was 24 species, including 15 Coal Tit, 3 Chiffchaff and 2 Willow Warbler. So just 2 more sites to do now in phase 1: no time tomorrow with JLAF. G was good – lively group in! Shown M’s holiday snaps from Isle of Man. Doing 12-mile walk on Sunday on Roman Wall with the Tyneside group: keeping fit! Following Cambridge trip next month with 2 days in London at Proms.

July 17th: long meeting at unn discussing morphisms of relations in ct, went on until 14:20 (from 11:00) without a break, but we are getting well stuck into paper 2 now; next meeting is at W sometime in early August! Basic choices are monic, epic, endic and isic; think should be steering other matters towards the first named!! Enjoyed the sights of the town!! Did make BH later: Russian Roulette preceded unfinished business!!! Never a day without a Honey-buzzard: had male up in strident flap-flap-glide mode N of Ovingham at 10:00; this is over new site at Whittle Burn so maybe he’s just had a happy event – first chicks hatched! Working up visit to home nest-site on 4/7 for publication (1042). Gutter repair has worked! 2moro it’s site #11 in the afternoon after N4c4l and before G4t4s!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

July 16th: added below some more details and piccies from yesterday’s trip to Derwent. No fieldwork today, weather rather dull and decided to repair a gutter with a leaking joint so up on ladder with tape and mastic! Seemed to make it through shower later but only time will tell! Decided to cut back climbers on W (weather) wall below as needs re-pointing, which can do myself. Did make N4c: rhb looked very efficient; wonder what her policy is!! Confirmed breeding at Ordley for Spotted Flycatcher (occupied nest), Swallow (young on wing) and Green Woodpecker (family party on road!); and at Hexham for Chiffchaff (family party at M&S!). 2moro it’s unn with P at 11, B4s4l, city library, CT4c4t and BH4ra4s!! So busy! Thursday sees JLAF meeting, chairing WG2 in afternoon and at full meeting in evening; back to T&S right after!! rfaswtgo!!!

July 15th: here are some stills (1053) from yesterday 14/7 of the nest 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19 in Scots Pine at Kellas, taken with the camcorder, and of site 1  2. Also found in vicinity of nest was splash 1  2  3  4, possible tarsal feather 1 88mm, small brown feather 1 52mm, long thin brown feather 1 130m and Magpie primary feather 1 (P2/P3) 160mm. Also in this visit had family group of 3 Green Woodpecker, 6 Chiffchaff, 5 Willow Warbler and single Redstart and Tree Pipit. Total was 23 species. Brilliant trip out this afternoon to Derwent with 5 species of raptor: preliminary details below!! Made G and 5 of us there tonite in group: good chat!! Quite a lot of Austrians there: they like the G and work for a large local employer, which is continuing to invest large sums of money! Fit in well! Sunday nite was really gr8 again: so very inspirational!!! She’s a beautiful star!!! xxxxxxxxx!!! 2moro weather downhill again so may catch up on paper work but should make N4c4l!!

A couple of even later Honey-buzzard moving N at Gibraltar:

08 Jul: After the previous day with levanter conditions, the winds turned to westerly producing another spate of sightings of late migrant raptors. Two Black Kites and two Honey Buzzards were observed on the Upper Rock, heading into Spain, and a Short-toed Eagle was also seen.

Trip out to Derwent area was productive with 35 species, including 5 species of raptor (13 individuals); new site for year for Honey-buzzard at Blanchland with pair of adults changing-over at nest from 14:45-14:50 (1054, clip 1 hd  ld of female up with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, clip 2 hd  ld of male relieving female at nest); male Honey-buzzard at Minsteracres was new bird for year (1055, female only here before); pair of Hobby displaying and hunting spectacularly at Blanchland at 14:25 (clip 1 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, 2 hd  ld), Swallow scattered in all directions at end of Hobby display as male plunged to ground; Kestrel fledged young at Blanchland and Minsteracres; Sparrowhawk male hunting persistently (clip hd  ld) at Blanchland with female also up in skittish form (clip hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3); Common Buzzard pair up for long time at Minsteracres. Total for raptors was 4 Kestrel, 3 Honey-buzzard, 2 Common Buzzard, 2 Hobby and 2 Sparrowhawk. In last 8 days have seen 9 species of raptor. Was out altogether from 12:35-16:50 in dry, cool, breezy conditions with moderate W wind and veiled sunshine. Started at Slaley Hall and Slaley Forest SE before moving to Blanchland where present from 13:25-15:20. Then finished with Baybridge, Ruffside and Minsteracres. For Honey-buzzard up to 48 sites and 71 birds now (39 male, 32 female). Only 2 sites occupied in 2011 remain to be found occupied in 2012: Byerhope and Riddlehamhope; must have another crack at these soon. New sites are possible along E part of Slaley Forest and Slaley Hall, where it is thought gamekeeper pressure has eased; here’s some views 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 of the habitat. Here’s the clip (1055), with derived stills 1  2  3, for the more distant male Honey-buzzard, at Minsteracres from 16:28-16:31; he floats effortlessly around the sky perhaps enjoying the better weather and making one clear dive as in display; at the end he is joined by 2 Common Buzzard, latter looking heavier as expected for male Honey-buzzard versus Common Buzzard. There’s not really a skirmish but the Honey-buzzard disappears back to the ground. The Common Buzzard displayed for another 9 minutes, presumably to celebrate fledging of their (non-visible) young! At Blanchland 6 Twite were present in what was presumed to be a loose colony, including some singing as recorded here ld; they can also be heard singing and calling in the Honey-buzzard clips above (1054, particularly clip 2), together with Lesser Redpoll of which 16 were present.

July 14th: here’s the clip, with derived stills 1  2 to confirm id and gender, of the male Honey-buzzard doing butterfly display yesterday (13/7, 1052) at 18:57. Accompaniment is by family party of Jay (with Crow-accent, another congener of Honey-buzzard) and juvenile Common Buzzard. Hovering is very deliberate! Maybe better called float and hover display as hovering better understood than the butterfly action; in its more subdued variant, often over its nesting area, the Honey-buzzard languidly floats over its territory and repeatedly moves a short distant out, hovers and then moves back again. The display is also sometimes called the sky dance, which seems a little too dramatic a term! Today worked on visualisation paper all morning and lunchtime, then made Kellas for site visit #10 from 15:10-17:30, close to nest from 15:45-16:45, in cool, mainly overcast conditions with showers threatening all afternoon, one of which actually arrived as leaving. Last year the Scots Pine nest tree was chopped down just before the young fledged, which must have been a little tense but the 2 young survived. The tree was felled in a thinning exercise so the birds could have returned to the old tree’s neighbour but perhaps wisely did not do so. I’d seen where their interest was in the display phase, in the same wood but in a taller part to the S so went there first. I got well into the trees, found some splash and a few feathers, put my saw down and was just working out a strategy for walking the wood when looked up and there was the Honey-buzzard nest in a fork in a Scots Pine tree right overhead: piece of p.ss! It’s about 100 metres from last year’s nest, in an already thinned area (very smart!). Ten minutes later at 16:05 the male flew right overhead low over the canopy, moving off NE, so that was good: always useful to see a bird! Had 4 species of butterfly: Ringlet (very common), Common Blue, Small Heath and Small Skipper; and 3 species of dragonfly: Azure Damselfly, Large Red Damselfly and Southern Hawker. Last lot can be input to BirdTrack now so will study those a bit more. Going to start putting up clips of nest visits now, starting with this one. There’s a gap around E Slaley Forest in known sites, which is surely filled by now. Slaley Hall is just the right distance (2.5km) from other sites so worth checking. Looked at it from 17:35-18:00 in rain, footpath network is well developed now (thanks De Vere!) and there are some scruffy (uneven aged) woods so worth keeping an eye on. Don’t think the birds would be bothered by golfers: they don’t mind the Hexham or Close House ones for instance! Golfers usually have eyes only for their balls! 2moro having a break from nest visits, like to get out from under the trees; planning long trip out to Derwent part of study area, looking for anything, but Honey-buzzard in Blanchland village for 2012 is top wish (bird-wise that is!!). Should make N4c4t and much later G4g4s where meeting P. xxxxxxxxx!!!

July 13th: well, site visit #9 achieved from 17:25-19:30 at Swallowship with time actually on-site from 17:55-18:50, in cool, dry conditions on light NE wind. The walk-in was through glades with waist high long grass, full of pollen, fallen branches and soaking wet patches. Made return across the fields, keeping a wary look out for any keepers! Absolutely chaotic (but exciting!) with family party of 5 Common Buzzard (2 adult, 3 newly-fledged juvenile) actually residing in Honey-buzzard nest area. So screamed at for over an hour by 5 Common Buzzard with birds sometimes coming as close as 20-25m. Here’s 6 clips of Common Buzzard juveniles calling, flying and perching (all ld) 1  2  3  4  5  6. The Honey-buzzard male came off his nest and moved into an adjacent shelter belt, clip ld  hd with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, where he spent over 30 minutes while the battle raged! Honey-buzzard do sometimes seem to do this: just move out and let the Common Buzzard do the hectoring; not a bad strategy really as long as you don’t think the Common Buzzard will take your small young. They don’t seem to do this – some non-aggression pact perhaps! Found the Honey-buzzard nest 1  2  3  4  5, in the crown of a very tall Scots Pine overlooking the Devil’s Water – re-use of last year’s nest. No point in looking for Honey-buzzard splash as the masses around were probably mainly from the Common Buzzard. Retreated to field outside nesting area and mobbing continued. The male Honey-buzzard floated over high-up keeping an even lower profile than the female (quite normal!). When out a bit more the female Honey-buzzard came back towards the nest and one of the birds, the male, proceeded to do what old field guides call the butterfly display clip ld  hd with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14. I’ve observed this a number of times but would describe it better as a series of glides, each one ending with a slight rise and a spell of hovering. The same guides sometimes even say that the Honey-buzzard does not hover; of course it hovers, not only in the butterfly display but also in simple variants of it such as when floating around the nest site. Spring-time display more often involves mutual circling and follow-me than the butterfly variant. Honey-buzzard accounts in field guides have been copied from book to book with no adaption to modern terminology or what is feasible to see in field conditions, rather than in shot specimens. Anyway all appeared to end well and I’ve got over 4GB of videos (1052) in the field of a Honey-buzzard male and a Common Buzzard family party. Will need to update the jizz pages!! Total for visit was 22 species with breeding confirmed for Chiffchaff (7 birds), Willow Warbler (6), Jay (5) and Long-tailed Tit (8), and post-breeding flocks of 35 Siskin and 8 Common Crossbill. Made W4g4s: 4 of us there tonite: good chat! Not a good week in markets – lost last week’s gain of 2k but Friday was a lot better; bonds are still 69% of personal portfolio, slowly reducing towards end-year target of 60-65%; income is up to 7.2%! N’s still thinking of investing in property in Northampton but doesn’t like estate agents so procrastinating; well, rather like bankers, estate agents do what they’ve got to do!! 2moro doing some work on visualisation paper in morning, then trip to Derwent for nest site visit #10 and survey of Blanchland village area for any signs of occupation (by Honey-buzzard that is!). Otherwise feeling pretty laid-back!! loktt gorgeous ones!!!

July 12th: a sunny dry day on light NW wind and brilliant progress out W. Made Blenkinsopp from 11:50-12:50 and at 12:23 sighted a male Honey-buzzard soaring high to SE; he was coming home, doing a powerful glide right into the site, which is a Norway Spruce clump; from 12:27-12:29 the female was up low-down a few times with the male in view also as she evidently was relieved of nest duties by the returning male; so that’s 47 sites now! Piccies (1050) are here: clip 1, with derived still 1, shows male high-up in distance; 2, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10, shows male gliding in to site; 3, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9, shows female and male up above the site. On to Towsbank where saw 2 raptors up in air from car at 13:00 just before reaching site itself. Stopped car and picked up a male Honey-buzzard below a soaring Common Buzzard. Just as well that stopped as did not see any more Honey-buzzard during visit, lasting until 15:40, but in nest site examination from 14:05-14:55 did find that last year’s nest in a fork in an Oak tree is being re-used with build-up of fresh foliage on top 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, a few spots of splash 1  2  3 (even after recent heavy rain) and 2 white body feathers 1  2 (1051). This is an enjoyable healthy site for field-work – steep climb in and out and lots of sliding around on sodden ground; but ended up with sneezing fit in Hexham from grass pollen! I must be allergic to a very late flowering grass, always suspected Cocksfoot. Also had a Common Buzzard N of Coanwood Pond. Meeting mates at BH very early at 20:30. Driving down to BH at 20:28 had a Honey-buzzard female gliding powerfully just to E of Egger works at Hexham, presumably from Beaufront site, going out over Widehaugh to feed; extra bird for year as only male here earlier; left 2 minutes to get to BH! Had 2 Tawny Owl in Dipton Wood on return; in between plenty of good crack and well-judged stop for the really gorgeous one in the country!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and site #9 for Honey-buzzard in afternoon!!

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 8/13 nest visits in round 1, phase 2 (12/7) are: Allen 8 sites, 12 adult (5 male, 7 female), 1 nest Norway Spruce; Devil’s Water 6, 10(6,4), 2 nests Norway Spruce, Scots Pine; Tyne Valley west 7, 12(7,5), 2 nests Douglas Fir, Scots Pine; Tyne Valley east 5, 6(5,1), 1 nest Scots Pine; upper South Tyne 6, 9(6,3), 2 nests Norway Spruce, Oak; lower South Tyne 7, 8(3,5); Tipalt/Irthing 3, 5(3,2); and Derwent 5, 6(2,4); giving grand total 47, 68(37,31), 8 nests in Scots Pine x3, Norway Spruce x3, Douglas Fir x1, Oak x1. Last year on 12/7 had just completed nest visit 11/13 so still lagging but last year went to North Wales from 16/7-21/7 so will catch up I think.

July 11th: made good progress with sorting out video 1020 from Eals on 28/5. Prepared 10 clips, with 41 derived stills, and uploaded them to BT server but not indexed yet. About half-way through: it’s an exceptional record of the display and encounters between 4 Honey-buzzard (2 male, 2 female). Hope to do some more tomorrow but think it will take 2 more sessions to complete. Weather today was not as bad as forecast but everywhere is so wet that decided to catch up with garden at home; ever tried to mow a paddy field! Tomorrow does really look better so off to upper South Tyne again for a nest site and Blenkinsopp (Tipalt) to see if can nail any birds here for the 1st time this season! Will probably try Blenkinsopp twice for 2 shortish visits, on way in to upper South Tyne and on way out, as that is often more productive than one longer visit. Back for N4c4t!! Think the lads are still on for BH4ra4s!! G was good this afternoon, able to circulate more, which enjoy! rfaswtgo!!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

July 10th: rain on cool N wind since 21:00 yesterday continuing right through today, but after last few years used to monsoon in July and August – it’s the extension into April-June that’s particularly damaging! Thursday 12/7 is forecast to be better after perhaps 50-55 hours of continuous rain and hope to fit in site #8 then. Had good meeting with P on our 2nd paper (Understanding Visualization: Determining Equivalences of Visualization Processes, or something like that!), meeting same time next week. Very pleased with sightings on the Tyne, which included the beauty and a Common Tern!!! Enjoyed the sensuous delights of Wylam, including Oatmeal Stout!!! lokttgo!!! 2moro will catch up on processing video and make N4c4t and G4g4t+1 (not concurrently!).

July 9th: quick strike on site #7 Softley in upper South Tyne as saw lightening skies on the W horizon at tea-time. Visit was from 18:40-20:45 with time in vicinity of nest from 18:45-20:00. There was even some blue sky for a while and it was dry throughout the walk but the rain was returning as soon as I got in the car to return home: a real opportunist trip! Not an easy site as the nest is in an overgrown Norway Spruce plantation with not enough space between the mature trees. In addition everything was soaked so little splash 1  2 around. Decided to look at all trees in the wood, which took quite a while, finally settling on the active nest 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 in the Norway Spruce tree occupied last year (1045)! It increases your confidence if you have a look around the area, rather than just looking at last year’s tree. At 19:25 a Mistle Thrush gave an alarm call, a Curlew cried and there high up in the sky, visible through a gap in the canopy for 2 seconds, was a male Honey-buzzard. He was obviously trying to keep an eye on me but did not see him again. Feathers were few, including 4 white down 1  2  3  4, a tarsal 1 and a barred larger one 1. This snare 1 was across a glade near the nest. Flushed a Barn Owl from a track on way back to the car: think it was an adult male as very pale, perhaps rather desperate to find food for a brood. Keeping details down on nest visits at the moment, until season more advanced! In high total of 32 species had 4 Oystercatcher, 2 Curlew, 7 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Spotted Flycatcher and 3 Treecreeper. Tried to look at this page in Hexham Library but page is proscribed because it’s claimed to be drugs-oriented! Bit baffled by this as no drug names are included (other than g!) but decided in the end it was the repeated use of the word high, referring to the soaring of raptors (as above)!! 2moro it’s unn, B4s4l (late), Newcastle City Library, CT4c4t, BH4ra4s!! Fruitful semiotics with the kk!!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

Analysed all data from the Cheviots. Total was 39 species, over the 4 tetrads visited, with raptors: 5 Kestrel (including 2 juveniles, 1st of year), 2 Common Buzzard, 2 Short-eared Owl (1 seen, 1 primary feather at another site, P4/P5, 194mm) , 1 Peregrine (juvenile female, flushed from grouse kill); waders: 19 Oystercatcher, 6 Curlew, 4 Lapwing, 3 Snipe, 3 Common Sandpiper; others of interest: 19 Red Grouse (including family party of 10), 5 Whinchat (including family party of 4), 2 Garden Warbler, 2 Grey Wagtail, 1 Wheatear and 1 Raven. With Tawny Owl later at Ordley and the Honey-buzzard at Whittle Burn, that makes 6 species of raptor for the day. Add in the Barn Owl today at Softley and that’s 7 species of raptor in 2 days.

July 8th: very good walk out in the Cheviots in Ingram Valley from 10:20-16:40, starting at Hartside Farm and taking a southerly loop to High Bleakhope, then returning on northern side, taking in Linhope Spout, about 15km in all. Terrain on top was very wet but lovely to be out on the fells again! Linhope Spout was spectacular after recent rains: there has to be an upside. Good company with P&M and others, and met P later at G4g4s. Weather was much better than forecast with just a few flurries of drizzle early on and real sunshine later on but conditions underfoot were very, very wet, and have a significant problem with dry socks and boots! Still compiling totals for birds but not bad for both waders and raptors. Pleased with quest for keener walkers, need to be stretched more! Star bird on way up in P’s car was a male Honey-buzzard flapping low-down to N over Whittle Burn at 09:30, just S of the A69 near Nafferton Farm. This is a new site for Tyne Valley E but forecast last year in walk up from Ovingham (see prospecting report on 21/03/2011). Don’ think he was actually going to cross the A69, he looked in territory on the Burn: marvellous! So up to 46 sites now and real possibility that will reach 50 sites this year. Not planning to search for nest of this presumed pair: far too much else to do, but will keep an eye on it for fledging in September. pqotwf!! rfaswtgo!!! This week into unn for meeting with P at 11:00 on Tuesday, BH on Tuesday nite and it’s BH again on Thursday as we meet mates from Wylam! 2moro it’s N4c4l; everything else is weather dependent!!

July 7th: did make site #6 Staward 1 on Allen from 15:20-18:15 with time on site 16:20-17:30, in humid conditions with weak sunshine after recent heavy rain. Piece of p.ss really, walked into wood and found nest very quickly in Norway Spruce 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10. The heavy rain has made finding the current year’s nest easier as last year’s nests and even this year’s nests from spring are already looking pretty worn. The downside is that the splash is washed away so quickly and other remains on ground quickly get waterlogged and rot; just one feather 1 and one bit of splash 1 found. On arrival in site at 16:20 had single alarm call from the nest area but no more action until 17:05 when sitting on beach 1  2  3 at Costa d’Allen! Female came swinging out low down from trees giving great views and photos with male briefly seen in background, more retiring (1044, clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12, 9-12 show male). Then at 17:10 the female was up overhead with a Common Buzzard in close attention (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17, 1-6 show Common Buzzard alone, Common Buzzard call can be heard), but she returned towards the nest after a little while. Two of these birds are fairly ragged. The Honey-buzzard female is missing P1/P3 on left wing, P1/P4 on right wing and a central right tail feather; the Common Buzzard, more compact than the Honey-buzzard, is missing P4/P5 on left wing, P3 on right with P1/P2 new, a central tail feather and a left outside tail feather; the Honey-buzzard male on the other hand is not missing any feathers. At 17:15 the male was off through the trees, out to forage to W, so they’d decided danger was over. I had thought this site might pose problems this year as the birds in spring were up the valley more on W side. But as so often happens, they’ve gone for same area as last year in the end. Bit like those tourists who every year speculate on going somewhere different but in the end say: “Oh let’s go to Tenerife again, we know that’ll be nice!”. To complete a total of 34 species, a weak-flying juvenile Raven was at Staward S. Where I was in Devon at end of June has just had a major deluge reported as 100mm, which is incredible if true; Ottery St Mary is just a few miles from Sidmouth, see Totnes also flooded. Will put up some photos from this trip directly. See T4 On the Beach was held in the westcountry at Weston-super-Mare on 1/7 in brilliant sunshine; good thing it wasn’t today! My great-great-grandfather John Rossiter founded Rossiter & Sons at Weston in 1832, specialising in “gems, gold and silver jewellery, modern and antique silverware, clocks, barometers and watches”; my great-grandfather Ebenezer Rossiter had a similar business in Clevedon, which he moved to Teignmouth; this business then passed to my grandfather George Rossiter. George had a long-term mistress – his accountant – must have been a real turn-on looking at those old ledgers together! My late partner was convinced we were Jews really, especially when she found out my father had relatives at Golders Green and family tradition was of a dark complexion! But the detailed genealogy showed something very different. Anyway early start tomorrow for walk in Cheviots so sadly not out tonite even for a ½: healthy life does have its downside!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

July 6th: well today weather certainly will not permit, but looks better tomorrow if front finally clears N! Here’s 2 clips (1031) of male Honey-buzzard at Kellas from visit on 9/6: 1 (with derived stills 1  2  3) overhead at 14:31 circling, he’s missing P2 on his right wing; 2 taking off from E and soaring effortlessly over site at 14:03. Here’s 3 clips of female Honey-buzzard: 3 (with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7) gliding past at speed from E at 14:10, floating around to W; 4 (with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7) coming back from W, then overhead at 14:14 floating and circling slowly; 5 (with derived stills 1  2) still overhead at 14:17, floating and circling slowly, before moving off S. The same female is involved in clips 3-5: she’s missing an inner secondary on each wing. She’s a heavy Honey-buzzard, indeed had to look at the stills carefully before being happy with the assignment. Clip 3, showing her gliding, is convincing. Slide 6 of clip 3 shows all the expected structural features for a Honey-buzzard: angular carpal pushed well-forward, long neck, small head sometimes raised a little, bulging secondaries, long (at least 90% of wing width), thin tail with rounded corners when folded. When she starts floating though she looks much more like a Common Buzzard and this is a recurrent theme with Honey-buzzard identification: they look more kite-like in glides and more buzzard-like in soars/floats. On the jizz-side Honey-buzzard float more effortlessly than Common Buzzard and with flatter wings and this does hold here. Indeed she doesn’t make a full flap through latter half of clip 3, all of clip 4 and start of clip 5, only flapping fully when moving a longer distance to S in clip 5. That’s 6-7 minutes without a full flap. Markets are needing strong nerves: all over the place and banking isn’t very comfortable at the moment. Still up 2k on week so far and expecting to hold this after the closing bell on Wall Street but was up more (5k) by Wednesday! Made N4l – sat outside, got to pretend it’s summer! Good chat with S on Barbados: he’s an expert on the low-life of the West Indies! Hoping to make Allen tomorrow afternoon (after A’s4s4l) for nest #6; let’s hope the sun shines! xxxxxxxxx to the gorgeous ones!!!

July 5th: did another site visit #5 to Wylam in steamy but dry conditions as sun finally emerged, from 17:25-19:00 with 17:45-18:35 close to nest (1043). Birds are very obliging, re-using last year’s nest in Scots Pine 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19, and the male did circle over the nest briefly before cursing me: always like it when they do this, suggests they have small young, which he was instructing, and does help to confirm nest location. Also found a little splash (5 items) 1  2  3  4  5 and a few (4) white downy feathers 1  2  3. Pleased to see a Speckled Wood butterfly 1 surviving the monsoon. Tyne 1  2 was high for time of year. Total of 23 species included an adult male Kestrel hovering, 6 Oystercatcher, 1 agitated Common Sandpiper, a Spotted Flycatcher and a family party of 4 Bullfinch. Wood of 134 acres is up for sale by Strutt & Parker, so if you want to ‘own’ a ‘valuable’ pair of Honey-buzzard, hurry! Have completed processing Kellas material and will put up tomorrow morning. The rhb is a very kool kat!!! Made T&S with mates: wondered whether RBS star computer programmers from Hyderabad had anything to do with us! Phoney happenings perhaps later and strange new neighbours: can empathise!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, another nest site if weather permits and W4g4s!! Interesting report from Gibraltar showing N passage of Honey-buzzard continuing into early July, maybe Byerhope bound birds!

05 Jul: Late Honey Buzzards continue to head north with one early in the morning and another seen in mid afternoon.

Totals for Honey-buzzard after 5/13 nest visits in round 1, phase 2 (5/7) are: Allen 8 sites, 11 adult (5 male, 6 female); Devil’s Water 6, 10(6,4), 2 nests Norway Spruce, Scots Pine; Tyne Valley west 7, 11(7,4), 2 nests Douglas Fir, Scots Pine; Tyne Valley east 4, 5(4,1), 1 nest Scots Pine; upper South Tyne 6, 9(6,3); lower South Tyne 7, 8(3,5); Tipalt/Irthing 2, 3(2,1); and Derwent 5, 6(2,4); giving grand total 45, 63(35,28), 5 nests in Scots Pine x3, Norway Spruce x1, Douglas Fir x1. Last year on 4/7 had 44 sites, 68 birds (35,33) and 8 nests, but feel considering worst weather since study started that not doing too badly this year!

July 4th: made site visit #4 from 14:30-16:20 to local site from home, crossing burn at higher level than before, but with sticks so reasonably safe but very wet feet! Flushed male off tree as entered site when camera equipment still in rucksack: good close views but no piccies. Nest continues in same Norway Spruce tree as in previous years, now enormous and clearly a very productive tree 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24. Found a number of feathers, including 12 white down 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10, 2 brown tarsal 1  2 and 1 long grey 1, and some (8) splash 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 (1042). Alarm calls by Black-headed Gull on entry and Carrion Crow near end, showed Honey-buzzard were in residence. As is practice this year, anyway for 1st visits, kept time in site to around one hour, from 14:55-15:55; this is to avoid undue disturbance in the poor weather. Today was not so bad though with warm muggy sunshine and no rain until evening. In total of 23 species had 8 Common Gull 1s S and a pair of Spotted Flycatcher. At 16:40 had male Honey-buzzard up high over Swallowship, seemed to be mobbing a plane (Curlew-style). Fascinating lunch-time: again met l.x. at N!! Beautiful rhb is a lovely prospect!!! xxxxxxxxx!!! Enjoyed what saw of Diamond: 3 hours of defensive backhand (to keep in with tennis metaphors!). 2moro it’s N4c4l, perhaps another Honey-buzzard site (depends on weather) and last but not least T&S4g4s!! G was good today, about 8 of us around the table! Going up to Cheviots on Sunday with P&M for walk and trip to Lakes with N arranged to a Western Hotel at Ullswater for 3 nites in late July!

July 3rd: day off Honey-buzzard, met P in unn from 14:30-16:00 and we agreed to submit paper tomorrow. Good scenery before: love watching other people work!! Made BH4p4s (that’s Peacock dark ale, appropriate enough!). Some diversion on way home: subtle change in some respects, more focus one might say!! Certainly very moving!!! xxxxxxxxx!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, Honey-buzzard site in afternoon and G4g4t: very busy! Am preparing video from Kellas visit on 9/6 (1031) when very good views of a pair of Honey-buzzard.

July 2nd: here’s video of Honey-buzzard from visit to Oakpool from 11:40-12:40 on 4/6 (1026): clip 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7; 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7; 3 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8; 4 with derived stills 1  2; 5 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6; 6 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. In clip 1 at 11:56 the pair are in active display with mutual circling and follow-me; in clip 2 at 12:01 the male is high-up performing the rear and dive display with a pause at the top; in clip 3 at 12:09 the male performs a fast glide in one direction before flapping and stalling and returning in fast glide in opposite direction; in clip 4 at 12:10 the male is briefly seen overhead to the accompaniment of much anxiety calling by Curlew; in clip 5 at 12:12 the female appears overhead, hanging briefly; in clip 6 at 12:25 the female appears over the site again and slowly moves to the S soaring and gliding. At 12:40 on leaving the site by driving S, the female was still slowly circling over the countryside about 1.5km S of nest site. Narrowing down Ireland trip – think would be good to go to Wexford where Rossiters come from, including castles such as Rathmacknee Castle, from which I think my family were ejected after the Battle of the Boyne and came to Tiverton in Devon where they became grain millers, gentry and slave traders (honest!); there are also some interesting wildlife sites in this area. Here’s 4 photos from trip on 10/6 with walking group in Teesdale, showing 1  2 how we got absolutely soaked, 3 how we tried to dry out and 4 a little flooded beck crossing. Into unn tomorrow to wrap up final changes to paper with P, meeting at 14:30. So it’s B4s4l and CT4c4t!! May sample some real ale later!! lokttgo!!!

Have had written confirmation of renewal of Visiting Fellow position at unn. From VC:

I am pleased to be able to inform you that the Visiting Titles Committee agreed at its meeting on 25 April 2012 to renew your title of Visiting Fellow to the University. The title is conferred for a period of three years until 24 April 2015. I should like to convey the congratulations of the Committee, and renewed thanks for your engagement with the University.

And similar letter followed from Dean of CEIS with interesting suggestion that I give a public lecture.

July 1st: another day, another Honey-buzzard nest visit, going to March Burn site from 17:05-19:10 in damp, mild, showery weather. This is normally a very difficult site and today was no exception with the only signs of occupation alarm calls from 7 Carrion Crow as came near to site and a quick series of 3 Honey-buzzard alarm calls at 18:19 in total intrusion from 17:35-18:45; the crows would be reacting to the Honey-buzzard leaving the nest and the alarm calls might be given as the displaced bird (presumed female) sees its mate returning. The nest has moved from high in a Norway Spruce to high in a Douglas Fir 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11, probably the highest from the ground in the sample of 13 sites surveyed for nests (1041). Only 2 bits of splash 1  2 were found and 2 large pellet collections 1  2 were found, not necessarily from the Honey-buzzard. Also during the visit a Tawny Owl was heard calling, a Woodcock was flushed from the ground and 4 Jay were heard in a total of 25 species. A male Sparrowhawk was at Newbiggin on way over at 16:15. Fitness approaching peak for the season with the difficult terrain stretching a lot more muscles than usual! Did make G a little early and enjoyed the Euro final even if Italy did not win: Spain were brilliant! Met P there for good chat; gr8 service from l!! Best left to last: really beautiful!!! rfaswtgo!!!

JJune 30th: raptor totals for Devon trip from 25/6-29/6 were 8 Common Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel. Total for all species was 51. Next trip away is Cambridge for ANPA from 9/8-12/8 but may go to the Lakes with Nick and am also thinking about a break in Ireland! Finished adding gull photos (mainly Atlantic Yellow-legged Gull) from 8/3/2011 at Estepona to Notice Board 2011 for that date; gives a good indexed repository on an external site and moreover completes processing of data for that trip. Today made 2nd nest visit, to Shilford, between Stocksfield and Riding Mill, from 16:55-19:25 with actual time at nest from 17:35-18:45 in warm conditions with occasional sunny intervals on moderate SW wind. Very rough wood underfoot: good for keeping fit! Action was confused with 2 angry Common Buzzard defending their nest in Larch 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 and a Honey-buzzard nest in Scots Pine 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18 being less obvious. Honey-buzzard nests are less of a platform-shape than Common Buzzard’s with the woven sticks more obvious; Honey-buzzard nests are usually circular when built into the main trunk and more boat-shaped when built along a bough. Honey-buzzard avoid Larch as a nesting tree, while Common Buzzard appear to regularly use Larch, building the nest on sturdy lower beams which would not suit Honey-buzzard. Two body feathers 1 were found below the Honey-buzzard nest, together with 7 lots of splash 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. The female Honey-buzzard flew into the wood, giving anger calls, as shown here hd  ld, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16 (1039); her mate, the male, can be heard calling in the distance as she comes in. The dark bill, long tail with narrow base, relatively long P10, small head and long neck are all evident. That was the only clear view of a Honey-buzzard but had many plaintive anxiety calls, for instance at 2, 6, 12, 19, 24 seconds on clip 1, as recorded on these clips: 1 hd  ld, 2 hd  ld, 3 hd  ld; clip 4 hd  ld contains a single sharper, shorter Honey-buzzard alarm call at 5 seconds followed by a Common Buzzard anxiety call. In the next 3 clips the Honey-buzzard continued to make anxiety calls in the distance but the main bird in view and calling loudly was the Common Buzzard: 5 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4, 6 hd  ld (loud anger calls from Common Buzzard and thinner, quieter calls from Honey-buzzard), 7 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15. The exception is in clip 5 (1:48-1:54) where the female Honey-buzzard appears again on the edge of the wood 5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14. The yellow bill, short tail with broad base, relatively short P10, heavy head and short neck are all evident in the Common Buzzard. The Honey-buzzard calls are less strident and more fluty than the Common Buzzard calls. Clip 5 shows you need to be suited to jungle exploration to undertake this survey! A further raptor was a male Kestrel hunting on edge of wood. Relieved but not very surprised that birds had weathered the storm: no recorded cases in study area of failure of Honey-buzzard due to stormy weather yet. Presumably in a storm the female will cover the young or eggs and just sit tight, taking all the elements can throw at her. While the nests are not on the highest branches, they’re still pretty exposed and hail stones must be painful! They have to sit also through thunder and lightning: Thursday will have given very testing conditions. Of course bad storms are commoner in central Europe where both Common Buzzard and Honey-buzzard thrive and are an everyday occurrence in the rainy season in the tropics where the Honey-buzzard over-winter. So could say they’ve had to adapt to handle storms. Critical thing is to avoid human disturbance in bad weather as adult may then be flushed off nest and small young or eggs quickly perish in the conditions. Suggest the female covers the nest in a storm, rather than the male, as she’s larger so giving better protection. Further work over next 2-3 weeks will show whether any pairs have been adversely affected. In total of 31 species had 14 Coal Tit, 10 Chiffchaff, 8 Goldcrest and 5 Blackcap; flocks of cone-feeders included one massive flock of 90 Common Crossbill and another of 10 Siskin. A pair of Curlew had clearly bred at this relatively low-altitude site.

On way back, passing Farnley at 19:30 just before houses on S of Corbridge, had a male Honey-buzzard carrying some large item of food, perhaps a wasp cone as it looked light. He was being persistently mobbed by a Jackdaw. Stopped in someone’s drive (thank you!) and took these 2 clips: 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6 (1040). He’s a new bird for the year (only female here before) and bringing food in suggests they’ve got small young and they’ve also weathered the storm! Last bit of video showing him descending into a wood is withheld: gives away too much on location of nest. BE was good, got there at 21:00 just before band in which D (from W on Friday) stars started playing. They’re still progressing, pub was packed and Swan was deserted! pqotef!! 2moro must try and make another site late afternoon, weather forecast for next week is poor. Will make G a little earlier than usual for 2nd half of football final: hope Italy win in normal play; that makes England 2nd best team! Might not totally believe that! xxxxxxxxx!!!

June 29th: fairly smooth trip back with Flybe from Exeter to Newcastle, delayed a little but only 40 minutes late and avoided chaos on trains in the floods. Delay was actually due to congestion at Exeter; as the pilot said the airport cannot handle more than 2 flights at once!. As approached Newcastle Airport could see lots of surface water but had to see it on TV later to see how bad it really was. Incredible that floods weren’t on national news last night: but then it’s not London! Had walk in Hawkerland Valley, adjoining Aylesbeare Common outside reserve, with sis and her dog before flight from 09:45-10:45: looks better habitat for Honey-buzzard than main reserve as more chaotic with good mixture of woods, scrub and heathland. Did see 2 Common Buzzard in this area: sis has had a buzzard-type bird floating around one of the woods in early June; sounded a bit like Honey-buzzard from her description but not sure. Total was 8 species in breezy mild conditions on SW wind. Some thinking that liking for bank stocks has sunk me this week. That was true up to Thursday when 3k down but € re-balancing deal today has given the best day’s gain of whole year of 5k, mainly in € bank stocks so finish 2k up. Do hold some BARC but only just over 1% of portfolio and bought a few more today at new low price: find some of the moralising a little tiresome! Don’t hold any RBS/NatWest and would not recommend them as businesses that have major computer problems have a tendency to collapse 6 months later (for instance Blackberry’s disastrous upgrade last year and collapsing Canadian parent Research in Motion today). Prefer the sharp but competent to plodding incompetence! Highlite of afternoon was the rhb on way to N!! Made W and very pleasurable afterwards; good to wait up; very welcome stimulation!!! xxxxxxxxx!!! 2moro it’s A’s for lunch, Honey-buzzard nest in afternoon and BE for BE band in evening at Ovingham!!

June 28th: drove down to Totnes for all day meeting with M&L; former is long-standing co-worker on category theory; productive meeting with outline of talk that I’m giving at Cambridge next month prepared – just needs a s.xy title! Saw their new town cottage, property is more expensive in Totnes than in Durham and they feel they’ve downsized too far with not nearly enough space. Very keen for me to join them but my heart’s in the north! Weather continued steamy with brief but noisy thunderstorm early morning followed by misty morning and oppressive afternoon as sun came out in 100% humidity! Had 3 Common Buzzard, 2 over Totnes and 1 near Farringdon. Total in Totnes was 21 species. xxxxxxxxx to those with accommodating looks!!! About to start migration to NE!!!

June 27th: very humid and warm with rain this morning; today went for walk from 14:35-17:35 with sister from Lyme Regis towards Charmouth but couldn’t complete it because of cliff fall! Still explored every corner of Lyme Regis including harbour and had refreshments there! No raptors, murk and lack of wind don’t help, but coastal birds included displaying Rock Pipit and 3 Cormorant and warblers included 2 Chiffchaff and 2 Blackcap. Total was 20 species. Looking forward to some more inspiration soon!! xxxxxxxxx to those with beautiful bre.sts!!!

June 26th: doing final processing of gull photos from Estepona on 8/3/2011; took masses of photos of Atlantic YLG on last day, which show many interesting features. So these (82 stills, 113 MB) will go up initially on Notice Board 2011 on Friday (29/6) but will ultimately be added to YLG pages. This completes Estepona material – about time too, you might say! Today was warm, misty, even foggy at times, with heavy shower early afternoon when on walk up to West Down Beacon from Budleigh Salterton. This took us from 12:30-16:15 but did have extended lunch in café to escape the rain. No raptors on walk but did have Kestrel and Common Buzzard near Sidmouth. Seabirds on walk included c300 Herring Gull, 10 GBBG, 1 LBBG, 9 Cormorant, 3 Shag and a Fulmar. A Little Egret was 1st for the year as was a Rock Pipit. Warblers included 11 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap and a Whitethroat. Total was 31 species. Not expecting Honey-buzzard on an exposed coast line. xxxxxxxxx to those with gorgeous b.ms!!!

June 25th: out on Aylesbeare Common from 14:55-16:25 in warm, close conditions. Raptors included 2 Common Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk, with another Sparrowhawk later in garden. Heathland birds included 39 Linnet, 6 Lesser Redpoll, 6 Yellowhammer, 3 Stonechat, 3 Dartford Warbler, 2 Tree Pipit and 2 Meadow Pipit. Warblers included 9 Chiffchaff. Total was 22 species. But no Honey-buzzard – have only had them occasionally here. Lively evening meal with younger sister, her husband, nephew and partner! Return W!! Missing the stars!!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

June 24th: complete backup on removable 2TB disk today and creation of recovery disk – all precautionary. Did make 1st nest visit to site in ‘Shire from 13:55-15:15. Allowed no more than hour for presence near nest and this was reduced to 40 minutes from 14:15-14:55 by a heavy shower coming on, after earlier warm sunshine. But in this time found nest from last year in Scots Pine 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21 was being re-used and had good views of female and male Honey-buzzard up above the canopy (1038). Clips were: 1 (female, stills 1-3, overhead followed by male, stills 4-7) hd  ld, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7; 2 (female overhead) hd  ld, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5; 3 (female overhead) hd  ld, with derived stills 1  2; 4 (male overhead) hd  ld, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5; 5 (female overhead, heavier than male with gap in central tail feathers, sparse broad bars are shown on still 3) hd  ld, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10. Stills taken directly include 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12 (female 1-4, 7-9, 11; male 5-6, 10, 12). Black-headed Gull flying overhead repeatedly responded by calling angrily when the Honey-buzzard was overhead; 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull adult flew N together and a Common Gull 1s was seen. Total was 36 species including 4 of warbler (Willow, Garden, Blackcap, Chiffchaff). Then onto Dotland 1  2 from 15:20-16:30 where no records this year yet: arrived just as torrential rain finished and up came a male Honey-buzzard flying steadily out to E at 15:45; he was seen a little later flapping over a field at 16:00. So, for the year, that’s 1st nest and one new site: marvellous! More to follow! Pity England didn’t do so well but had good time in G with mates! ‘maid c persuaded me to stay a little longer!! Really baffled by Sunday nite otherwise: wonder if she’s a really wicked woman!! 2moro off to roots!!! loktt3*!!! As IT professional amazed by RBS/NatWest problems: breaking all elementary rules by putting in a software update mid-week in critical database transaction system with apparently no testing, backup or recovery procedures. Know scenario: update is trivial, no possible problems! Actions are evidently in-house with Edinburgh IT staff: total disgrace for UK banking. Don’t hold any RBS group shares or bonds fortunately!

June 23rd: here’s the material from Slaley Forest 5/6 (1028). While camcorder was warming up took some stills with Canon 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 of the female overhead at 11:22. She’s a regular bird at this site, which is one of the ones where the nest is found. She’s certainly on the heavy side for a Honey-buzzard but her tail is long (equal to wing-width), P10 is long (slightly longer than P5), the bill is fine and dark with dark cere and there are 2-3 broad bars across the remiges. The first clip 1, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15, taken from 11:23 shows the pair up together low-down doing some mutual circling. While the female is pristine the male is tatty, with damage to P2/P3 on left wing, 2 tail feathers missing (one in centre, one on left side) and missing P3/P4 on right wing. He shows a pale grey head and no barring inside of the trailing edge. Both birds show prominent dark envelopes to the wings. It will be interesting to see how quickly the male re-grows his feathers: not long I suspect. It’s perhaps not surprising that quite a number of Honey-buzzard return from their long migration with feather damage. Clip 2, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, shows the female higher up at 11:24, floating over the site. Clip 3, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, shows the female gliding fast over the site at 11:25. Clip 4, with derived stills 1  2  3  4, also shows the female floating around at moderate altitude at 11:26. Finally clip 5, with derived stills 1  2, shows the female returning back to the site from high-up at 11:29. Thanks to the Garden Warbler, a congener of the Honey-buzzard, for musical accompaniment. Off for a little music now! xxxxxxxxx!!!

Walküre was amazing – really good performance by Opera North with everyone doing so well together. Leading soloists of Alwyn Mellor (Sieglinde), Béla Perencz (Wotan), Erik Nelson Werner (Siegmund) and Annalena Persson (Brünnhilde) were superb and the 100-member band, conducted by Richard Farnes, played with great mixture of measured brooding and racy climaxes! The Valkyries looked like some of the wilder women in Leeds! Finished at 22:30 to great applause (some standing). Walküre has vital ingredients of passion and power: some of the former is the incestuous love affair between Sieglinde and Siegmund but anything goes in opera!! They say bar takings double on Wagner nights – perhaps hedonistic tendencies! Excitement was too much for one person in row in front who collapsed and was carried out but the band kept on playing and Wotan and Brünnhilde kept on singing — bit like an intergalactic bar! You can’t really stop and restart the action! Anyway came out feeling a bit fruity, decided had already had enough wine and ½ would be an anti-climax so went for the opposite effect with the inspiring one!!! Started up computer and it crashed: would not restart (bootmgr error) so altered disk boot order in setup and seems to be OK now. Had Kestrel at Rudchester on way in and Nightjar hawking over road near Linnels Bridge, presumed from Dipton Wood, around midnight. 2moro hoping to do 1st Honey-buzzard nest visit in afternoon; last display noted anywhere was on 18/6 so making that cut-off point for phase1 with phase 2 starting 19/6. Should make G in evening for football but early start following day!!

June 22nd: another very wet day with increasingly strong SE wind in evening. Did have Kestrel at Dilston on way to W at 21:30. Cannot start visits to Honey-buzzard nests until it dries out a bit, because the birds must be under some pressure (and ground conditions underfoot are terrible!). Completed processing of video of pair of Honey-buzzard at Slaley Forest on 5/6 (1028): will publish tomorrow morning. N was exhilarating: 2nd meeting with lx!! W was very good with 6 of us there: new manager t and nice to see r/c again!! European financials continued to recover this week and moved up 4k; did a bit of arbitrage with 25k this morning to improve yield! Walküre is sell-out – starts at 16:30 at Sage, singing time is a little over 4 hours and in addition there are 2 lengthy intervals. Might drive in to make coming home easier! N’s not making it.

June 21st: finished Gibside (14/6) processing with 2 clips of Red Kite: first close-up showing bird moulting inner primaries, second showing birds at distance. Very wet day with fog later! So time to start processing next video of pair of Honey-buzzard at Slaley Forest on 5/6 (1028), hope to publish this tomorrow. Did actually have a Honey-buzzard today: flushed a ruddy female from road near Newbiggin in the murk at 21:45 on way into Hexham. I’ve found in the past that they’re crepuscular at this time of year, maybe hunting frogs and other creatures of the night! Had been watching Portugal, my 2nd favourite team in the tournament, win. As usual we (4 of us tonight) switched from T&S to G as music in former! No problem for me: good to see l!! Topic of conversation on Thursday night recently has been the largely unrecognised contribution, by the general public, of Alan Turing to computing technology. Indeed computing scientists still feel very aggrieved at the treatment of Turing by the British establishment, in spite of an official apology by Gordon Brown in 2009. Turing was undoubtedly perceived as a geek, yet he developed the basic theory for the modern computer in leading pioneering work in the 1930s and 1940s. Some say – so what, he was an eccentric gay, hardly a person you would welcome to a cocktail party. But arguably Turing made the biggest contribution to World War II of any single person by using his pioneering computer techniques at Bletchley Park to crack the German Enigma war code and give the UK/USA a tremendous strategic advantage, particularly in knowing U-boat movements and intentions in the North Atlantic; millions of lives were saved (on both sides) as a result of the shortening of the war. The sequel is awful. After being found guilty of a homosexual offence in 1952, Turing was removed from his cryptographic work and subjected to chemical castration; he committed suicide on 7/6/1954, aged 41. So I’m a signatory for the petition to pardon Alan Turing! This week is the centennial of his birth (23/6/1912) so raise a toast for him on Saturday! N’s got a bug so might be pulling out of Saturday’s Wagner extravaganza! So there might be a free ticket – any takers?? It’s very romantic!! Murk had other consequences but maybe also s…..d out!! Or something like that!!! xxxxxxxxx to the lovelies!!!

June 20th: from 12:50-16:00, tried the 2 highest sites in the East Allen for Honey-buzzard. At the lower one, Sinderhope, saw a female reddish-brown Honey-buzzard at 12:55 moving low through the trees over rough pasture towards the nest site. And that was it for rest of afternoon for raptors! Did though investigate the higher site Byerhope a little more and could see some promising woodland within the outer shelter-breaks. Suspect there’s not too much ceremony at these higher sites: the birds arrive and start breeding almost straight away. The East Allen has some attractive flower-meadows now and these were full of waders and passerines. Weather was cloudy but warm and dry with light SW breeze. For whole trip summer visitors included 4 Willow Warbler, 4 Wheatear, 2 Spotted Flycatcher and single Cuckoo, Redstart and Garden Warbler. Waders totalled 5 species with 33 Lapwing, 22 Curlew, 8 Oystercatcher, 6 Redshank and a Snipe. Meadows at Sinderhope may appeal to Twite: one seen flying while calling, travelled a long way from moors in NW to meadows in SE. Total was 40 species: upland areas on edge of moors are very rewarding at this time of year. So for Honey-buzzard that brings total to 44 sites and 60 birds with 5 sites at which yet to score: Devil’s Water 1, Allen 1, Tipalt 1, Derwent 2. Phase 1 finishes tomorrow and is expected to be wet so total is unlikely to change. Expect to re-check these sites opportunistically over next 6 weeks. Spent a lot of evening grass cutting before the next deluge. Made G, good crack!! Still on diet – no chocolate, cakes, crisps, biscuits or fatty sweets – investing savings in Chianti!! It’s a gr8 pity the rhb has b.ggered off: thought she’d had her hair streaked!! It’ll be N4c4l and T&S4g4s 2moro!! lokttgo!!!

June 19th: here’s clip 4 from Gibside on 14/6 at 12:25, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13. This shows the female up, hanging in the sky fairly high-up slowly drifting towards us; she’s missing P4 and P7 on right wing; she does a little dip with wings closed. There is then a confused spell with 3 birds up (not all in clip at once, 2 Honey-buzzard,1 Common Buzzard). The low-flying bird was thought to be a Common Buzzard. The male then goes on a purposeful flight to W. Finally the female is shown high-up floating over the site. Stills 1-7 show the female Honey-buzzard, 8-10 the Common Buzzard, 11-12 the male Honey-buzzard and 13 the female Honey-buzzard. Made unn where very productive session with Paul, revising the paper for despatch early next week; amazing how useful direct contact is for such purposes, compared to email! Preceded by lunch in Gateshead and followed by CT4c4t!! Glad to be back to the stimulating sights!! Welcome to star-sign mate to unn!! Had Red Kite on Tyne opposite Close House on way home at 17:40 and a little later a female Honey-buzzard over Shilford, which may be site for 1st nest visit: she looked very skittish, obviously doing very well! Did make BH – a couple of Barista made a change – all very positive! Nite-cap further W: 3 in a row with the exciting one!!! Seem to be well synchronised!!! rfaswtgo!!! 2moro it’s out to the East Allen upland sites before weather breaks, with G4g4t!!

Monsoon is due to resume on 21/6. Something on The Times Weather page today (p.50, Weather Eye, Paul Simons) chimes with my feelings: “There is a fear that our wet weather may be driven by the Arctic warming up. It may be no coincidence that this is the sixth wet summer in a row in the UK and this has happened at the time when the Arctic ice cap is melting at an alarming rate. This melt could be upsetting the balance of cold and warm air masses in the northern hemisphere that drives the jet stream, leaving the UK vulnerable to a wet and windy weather pattern”. Basic problem for us is persistent high G over Greenland ice cap (remaining store of extreme cold), which forces low pressure S. Honey-buzzard seem to thrive in continuous wet conditions but Hobby do not: hence Honey-buzzard still up and away while Hobby are struggling on the N edge of their range.

June 18th: trip out to upper South Tyne area from 14:35-17:10 included highest Honey-buzzard site in area at Barhaugh, Kirkside, Williamston and Parson Shields, with final diversion to Blenkinsopp in Tipalt. Weather was perfect for spotting raptors with strong sunshine, thin veil of high cloud (to make them more visible) and a light W breeze. Total for raptors was 10 birds of 5 species: 5 Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrel and single Honey-buzzard, Hobby and Peregrine Falcon. The Peregrine is a rarity for the study area but was a male on northern fringe moving N so presumably a bird from the Roman Wall, where they are not persecuted. The Hobby, a male at Parson Shields, was mobbing a Common Buzzard. The Honey-buzzard, also a male, was soaring very high S of Barhaugh from 15:19-15:22 eventually being lost into the high thin cloud; maybe his mate is on eggs; well that’s progress for an upland site. Popped into Blenkinsopp but no Honey-buzzard seen in 30 minutes there; it’s always a sod of a site! Nice to see the Common Buzzard doing well (see below). At Barhaugh Hall summer visitors included 5 Willow Warbler and a Tree Pipit; total was 21 species from 14:45-15:50. A late Cuckoo was calling at Parson Shields. Earlier at 12:10 had a male Honey-buzzard up over Loughbrow, gliding back into Swallowship; that’s an extra bird as only saw female here earlier. So that’s 43 sites and 59 birds now. 2moro it’s B4s4l, unn and BH4g4s!! Might start driving into Hexham via Dotland in hope of seeing one of the local pair! Tyne Valley pairs are the best!!! xxxxxxxxx!!!

My sources say that the Whitfield Estate was one of the leaders in the ill-fated (and misguided) Defra project to research ways of getting rid of Common Buzzard from pheasant pens (paraphrased). Well it’s good to see the gentry getting £375,000 and this is the background: “This would be only in areas where there is a clear problem, using non-lethal methods including increasing protective cover for young pheasants with vegetation, diversionary feeding of buzzards, moving the birds elsewhere or destroying empty nests” [DEFRA web site]. Fortunately public outcry aborted the project but it’s interesting to know that the Whitfield Estate has an attitude problem with raptors. Common Buzzard have been very scarce in NY75 this year. Feel rather worried about the 3 Honey-buzzard I found yesterday in the intensive game-rearing area; maybe the pair lower down had deliberately moved away from last year’s site to be closer to the Hall where perhaps less pressure from ‘keepers (some family members like raptors, evidently). The male at the top is in a very hazardous position right on the edge of vast numbers of release pens. Honey-buzzard are unlikely to fall for a poisoned rabbit, just on diet preferences, but they could be shot or have their nests destroyed. Anyone who drives from Hexham to Alston will know how many pheasant are run over by cars each year in the Whitfield area, and what a hazard the birds are to road-users. Basically the scale of the industry has got out of hand and needs to be curtailed/licensed. Same sources say release of pheasants on said estate now up to 80,000 a year.

June 17th: good walk over Whitfield Moor up to top of Parmently from 13:00-15:20 followed by walk above Monk Wood from 15:20-16:25. Weather was still very cool and cloudy on moderate NW breeze but at least dry and mild. Did find some Honey-buzzard: had a male up over long thin wood to N of Parmently Plantation at 13:07 for a few seconds; he hopped over it and disappeared. Downstream from Monk had a pair of Honey-buzzard up low-down in restrained display from 15:05-15:08; they were not that far off the ground, quite unusual, perhaps influenced by the weather (1037). Whatever the birds are still settling down here with a pair at the lower site but obviously not on eggs and at lower altitude than their breeding station. At the higher site, maybe only the male is back. It’s going to be fascinating to see how these higher-altitude birds get on in a bad spring/summer. So far perhaps no real damage down. Only other raptors in this intensive game-rearing area were a pair of Kestrel actively hunting, to feed their presumed brood. Obviously pleased in that both West Allen sites are occupied. Summer visitors in trip included 4 Willow Warbler and 1 Garden Warbler; wader totals included an impressive 27 for Curlew, 15 Oystercatcher and 1 Lapwing; total was 30 species. Hectic session on long grass followed at home (with mower!): it’s been difficult getting out there (well, good excuse!). Very pleased with Greek election result: would have been an uncomfortable Monday if it had gone the other way – quite a lot of tension! Feeling well-exercised as arrived at G – revived by service of l