Notice Board: the Honey-buzzard season in Northumberland 2013 as it happened – Nick Rossiter

Notice Board: the Honey-buzzard Season in Northumberland 2013 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!). For full details of the 2012 season see the study area Report 2012 with hyperlinked Appendix containing all field observations.

April 16th: made Warden along lower South Tyne from 12:05-13:50 in dry but cooler conditions than yesterday with veiled sunshine. Had 3 Common Buzzard (at 2 sites) and a Kestrel; a Raven was over the oak wood, seen enough here to think they breed close-by. 22 Sand Martin were back at the colony and 3 Swallow were feeding over the river, where had 3 Grey Wagtail feeding and a Pied Wagtail N. An apparently unattended Mallard duckling on a pond was a surprise. Total was 33 species. On and below a birch tree had a mini-swarm of the long-horned micro Nematopogon schwarziellus 1  2  3  4  5 (female photographed, antennae 1.5 times length, reticulated pattern). Made N4c4ll, G4g4t, G4g4s. Very good crack at G, 8 of us in earlier and 6 later, with the lovely l on!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, T&S4ra4s and in between catch up on planning for R competition!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!! Updated page Population of the Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland with table and comments below. That’s it for 2013!! Bye….

An analysis was made for the 2013 results of the numbers of male, female and juvenile found in each phase of the season at their breeding sites. The results are shown in Table 18. As expected males are most conspicuous in the display period, outnumbering females by 29 to 21; numbers are more equal in the rearing period with males just outnumbering females by 19 to 16, perhaps because of their propensity for high-circling over the site when incubation starts; males leave earlier than females so it is not surprising that females outnumber males by 27 to 18 in the fledging period; by far the majority of birds seen in the fledging period are juveniles with the 83 seen being roughly double the number of adults seen. Because of the difficulty for inexperienced observers of separating juvenile Honey-buzzard from Common Buzzard, this compounds identification issues at this stage of the season.

Area

No. sites

No. adults

Display 2/5-19/6

Rearing 20/6-15/8

Fledging 16/8-2/10

Gangs of juveniles post-breeding

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Juvenile

6

10

6

4

3

3

3

3

8

1×7

9

15

3

1

4

4

5

4

14

6

10

3

3

2

2

2

5

10

8

11

4

5

1

1

3

2

11

3

4

1

1

1

0

0

1

5

1×8

7

14

7

5

2

2

3

5

14

6

8

4

1

1

1

1

3

8

8

13

1

1

5

3

1

4

13

2 (15)

53

85

29

21

19

16

18

27

83

0

Table 18: Number of Male, Female and Juvenile Honey-buzzard found in each phase of breeding season in 2013

April 15th: further glorious weather and great activity in the field!! Made Stocksfield Mount from 11:35-13:35 and it was just like the Chilterns: 8 Red Kite were noted at 5 sites, including 2 pairs up at same time, each in active display — one NNW of Cottagebank, other NE of Short Wood, a brand new pair at Bywell Castle very visible over most of visit with clips 1  2  3  4  5  6 (birds up separately, one bird is missing a primary on its right wing, Green Woodpecker yaffling at end of clip 4), a single hunting over New Ridley Road and another single soaring high over Ovingham. Gr8 news for the FoRKers if they’re sincere! Other raptors included 4 Common Buzzard (at 2 sites, near Mound and Short Wood), 2 Sparrowhawk (single females at 2 sites – Guessburn and Bywell Castle) and a Goshawk (female at Cottagebank, also seen by NH last Sunday). Had 1st hirundines with 5 Sand Martin (2 NW, 1 S, 2 E) and 4 Swallow N; also a Goosander female, After lunch had further quick sortie at Wylam from 16:15-17:05 where had 3 Common Buzzard and a displaying male Goshawk, plus 14 Sand Martin (6 feeding, 8 W). In between had a Common Buzzard over Linnels Bridge at 15:50 and a Swallow on wires at Ordley. Later had a female Kestrel looking rather menacing near the Kittiwake colony at Newcastle Quayside at 19:00. So that’s 21 raptors of 5 species: 8 Red Kite, 8 Common Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Goshawk, 1 Kestrel. Not bad … Scene is being set for the big one!! More to follow … Only 3 moths in trap after a frosty night including 2 Hebrew Character 1 and a Clouded Drab 1. Had an Early Bumblebee 1  2  3  4 on the flowering currant at Ordley. Made N4c4l: saw the jailer (meo) in fine style!! Made MP4m4t with N where usual attractive service!! Concert at S was pretty sublime – Stabat Mater with The English Concert – but we really enjoyed the singing by the 2 ladies: Roberta Invernizzi and Sonia Prina! Made BH4ra4s just in time with minutes to spare: went native, they’re very appealing if a little late: lokttmso!!! 2moro it’s out again in the sunshine followed by N4c4ll and a session at G!!

April 14th: glorious weather today, spring is here! R event went fine! Did make TC4t by train with P to meet B, a walking partner, who’s had an op; he was pleased to see us! Had 2 Common Buzzard displaying E of Hexham Station and another over Shilford, plus Small Tortoiseshell in Elvaston. Wrote draft advert for walk coming up at end of month. In process of compiling final Honey-buzzard stats for last year; almost there! 2 weeks now perhaps to 1st returning Honey-buzzard: excitement mounts! Decided to take advantage of free parking by using LH, where plenty of space for up to 3 hours. Gives an interesting route into town!! Added piccies from moorland walk on 8/4 but still to sort walk from yesterday. 2moro it’s walk out somewhere in morning, N4c4ll, MP4m4t, S4con (with N) and hopefully BH4ra4s off last train!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

April 13th: bracing walk from Carrshield up to Black Hill from 14:15-17:20, climbing 210 m in altitude and doing about 6km; started off in sheltered valley in sunshine, top was very blustery, almost being blown over, just reached car at base before heavy showers started rolling in on the squally NW breeze. Here’s some piccies of the mine workings 1  2  3  4. There’s still a little snow on Cross Fell 1. Again got some good numbers of waders plus a pair of Kestrel in active display and many Meadow Pipit but no Wheatear, Twite or Ring Ouzel. Have pre-walked ¾ of route now for walk I’m leading on 27/4. Moorland birds included 18 Red Grouse 1  2  3  4, 2 Black Grouse 1  2, 2 Oystercatcher 1, 2 Golden Plover 1, 7 Lapwing, 10 Curlew, 1 Snipe, Black-headed Gull (9 adults back in vicinity of breeding colony at old Coalcleugh Reservoir), 5 Stock Dove,1 Wren, 1 Grey Wagtail, 35 Meadow Pipit. Total of all birds was 20 species. Also had 3 more Mottled Grey moths in ponds on the top around 580 m asl and there was plenty of frog spawn around 1  2. Did make G4g4s, full of racing folk getting warmed up for meeting tomorrow, not sure they were all punters, some looked more like owners/minders! Good to have j on!! Drifted off W: gr8 accompaniment from the mmo: lokttmmo!!! 2moro it’s big day at R with awards to Young Employee of Year (in Hexham and Tyne Valley); if it doesn’t go smoothly I’ll be shot! May well make N4c4c as going into TC with P to meet a walking friend, who’s not well, in the afternoon.

April 12th: Cape Verde records for northern line (Barlavento, windward, 17ºN) wrapped up, for the birds, anyway! All can be viewed at the bottom of this page for March 2013. Might try to sort out the insects if can find a good reference and will put the diary below into a special page for Cape Verde. Think for my next major trip (3 weeks, comfortably after the wedding and seasonal late-summer rains at CV!), maybe November 2014, might do the southern line (Sotavento, leeward) of Cape Verde islands at 15ºN, closer to the equator! Any takers: max 29, min 23, warmer than in March and in start of dry season, when should be some vegetation around still!! Would need to bring Wexford trip forward to October but that’s no problem; could even go to an opera. Raptor and other updates – recent records: pair of Red Kite circling over Stocksfield Station 11/4 NH; Common Buzzard, one up over Linnels on 9/4; Goosander, pair on Tyne at Ovingham 11/4; Mute Swan, pair nesting at Merryshields gravel pit 11/4; Tawny Owl, one bird Dipton Wood 12/4; Tawny Owl, one pair calling Ordley 11/4; Sparrowhawk, adult male hunting over Riding Mill 11/4; Blackcap and Chiffchaff, singing at Riding Mill Station 11/4. First butterfly up here was a Small Tortoiseshell in M&S car park, Hexham, on 10/4. Still quite chilly, doesn’t feel like even late spring yet. Final task for 2013 season is to produce some subtotals of male, female and juvenile Honey-buzzard for rearing and fledging stages of season; will not take long. 2moro might recce final stretch up at Carrshield; should make N4c4t and more definitely G4g4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

April 11th: gr8 concert at Sage with Shostakovitch Piano Concerto no.2 brilliantly played by Romanian Alexandra Dariescu (very jazzy and lively) and Beethoven 7, all with RNS. Earlier good to be back at MP with N and N with P; later it was W4ra4s with the gang, 7 of us! SH!! Most volatile week this year on markets with ftse ending 2.0% down after heavy fall on last day, leaving it 2.5% down on year. Own funds had some wild movements with -6k by Tuesday close but sold out of some mainstream mining stocks midweek on bounce and ended just 1k down overall. Irish bank stocks are falling on worries about coming stress tests, B&B junk bonds improving on housing market upturn, pd reached another 3-year high at $802 per oz at today’s close, AQP rose sharply on tender for debt, £ amazingly rose further to new high for year against $ even though UK industry totally uncompetitive: these are -+++- factors respectively for my portfolio. Anyway hanging on in there! Don’t have any tech or momentum stocks, which are slumping – Mr Contrarian! Watched The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas on BBC2 on Thursday evening – film version from 2008 of novel by Irish writer John Boyne: very harrowing narrative of life/death at Auschwitz, ending in death through gassing of German commandant’s own son 8-year old Bruno together with many Jews; Bruno had become friendly with a Jewish inmate Shmuel of the same age; didn’t sleep well at all after it. 2moro it’s C4c4l and catch-up for rest of day.

April 10th: posted piccies for Wellhope Moor on 4/4, bought a few MIO on Monday, interesting zinc veins and maybe a bit of fracking; bit much when you’re looking for investment opportunities even when you’re out for a walk on the moors! Trap out last night, getting 7 moths of 4 types: 4 Common Quaker 1  2, Hebrew Character 1, Early Grey 1, Engrailed 1  2 (time of season is critical for id here). Completed compilation of Cape Verde piccies; tried adding these records to BirdTrack’s new global data system but didn’t work – returned me to Home, without message, after data entry instead of acknowledging submission; nothing was added to database; will let others debug it before using again! So now compiling final totals in spreadsheet, which use for virtually everything now; the data pivot in OO gives much of the power of the SQL Group By; can also readily cross-reference between sheets as well as doing general statistics and performing calculations with functions. Did make N4c4ll where l turned up!! No mates out for T&S so it’s a miss! 2moro sees more activity again with N4c4l, MP4m4t + N, S4con, W4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

April 9th: no time for mischief this morning, had to catch 09:22 into Newcastle from Hexham to make appointment in Pardon at 10:30, with very cordial chat on how we can make R competition more focused on the Think Physics project, by aiming to increase the number of women working in physics and engineering, with emphasis also on encouraging less advantaged pupils to study physics and allied subjects. In France and Germany about half the people working in physics and engineering are women while in America and UK it’s only about 20% and falling. Also popped in to see P to discuss our paper. So that was morning gone! Made CT4s4l, always like it there, then home before having split session at G. Very sociable both times, with l saying that I’m very elusive at N4c!! Well 2moro it’s N4c4ll, maybe T&s4ra4s later (M away), work on Cape Verde clips for 16/3/13, publishing piccies for recent West Allen trips. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

April 8th: fairly busy day! Made Dodd End near Nenthead for further pre-walk of route for later this month – fantastic old mining area 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 , good waders and gamebirds, but so very wet underfoot with frequent showers at start of walk from 14:45-17:35. Actual walk is going to take 24 hours at this rate! Views included Cross Fell from Dodd End 1 and from Black Hill 1, Nenthead from Roughside 1, Wellhope Mine from Dodd End 1  2, bog between Black Hill and Dodd End 1  2. Moorland breeding birds included 23 Red Grouse 1  2, 2 Black Grouse (one cock dead 1, droppings 1  2), 11 Golden Plover, 12 Lapwing, 10 Curlew, 2 Redshank, 1 Skylark, 1 Wren, 11 Meadow Pipit, with others including 3 Pheasant, 3 Black-headed Gull and 2 LBBG. Total was 12 species. Had 1st moorland moths of year with 7 Mottled Grey in puddles 1  2  3  4. There was plenty of frog spawn in puddles 1. Made Hexham Music Society’s last concert of 2013/2014 season at QH for a performance of the Divertimenti String Sextet: enjoyed it, met quite a gang from unn! Liked the Brahms String Sextet in G best. Son thought message titled DNA results indicated I’d be on the Jeremy Kyle show! Things were brewing well at N4c4l where good chat with J. Both mbo and mmo looked very delectable, waylaid mmo later for catch-up!! After concert made BH4ra4s where old colleague B from ncl was surprisingly present, but think he likes a drink and evidently some pubs in W that he visits are struggling; also met N and S there so pretty sociable really! It was gnttmbo: very, very satisfying: lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s visit to unn in morning, seeking funding for R; then CT4s4l, L&P, G4g4t and maybe later again!!

April 7th: sorted out Cape Verde 17/3/13 so just one day to go there on the clips (16/3, Mindelo), then can sort out final trip report and finish this NB! R was good, better lunch as price goes up a £, taking over Vocational Committee chair as current chair is absent for a while! P is also becoming a chair so we can become the terrible duo! We went to N4c4ll to plot. Very good stroll back to car: lovely eyes, think she’s gr8!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and QH4con (quartet) but may well finish off as usual!!

April 6th: well it’s rare in genealogy that a scientific test confirms findings and hunches from poring through old documentary evidence and family lore but in my case it has to a significant extent! Have done the indigenous Y-DNA searches against many populations in the literature on Genebase and the predominant indications are that the Rs from Tiverton are Irish and Catalan in the paternal line!! Three typical results are shown here: 1 analysis no.7 with 6 STR markers; 2 analysis no.1 with 6 STR markers; 3 analysis no.3 with 10 STR markers. For the third have also posted the complete report. Back through the generations we have: George Friend, optician of Teignmouth (1901-1963), George, jeweller of Teignmouth (1876-1946), Ebenezer, jeweller of Teignmouth (1848-1888), John, watchmaker of Weston-super-Mare (1811-1893), George, baker of Chard (1779-1843), John, miller of Tiverton (1755-1842), Thomas, of Tiverton (1720-1789), Thomas, of Tiverton, married in Tiverton 1712, probably born in Rathmacknee, Wexford, Ireland (-1741). So that’s 9 generations with me, pretty slow going, c35 years per generation to some extent because line goes back through a number of younger sons. There may have been some tendency to marry ladies of Irish origin for a while after arriving in Devon, much as recent immigrants to England tend to marry among themselves initially. Back through Ireland from 1169-1690, could imagine 20 more generations at 25 years a generation, if dealing with elder sons. Before that we seem to have a base in the Pyrenees on the Spanish (Catalan) side with high matches also in northern Italy. With a speculative 500 years here, that would give 20 more generations at 25 years a generation. So all in all around 50 generations, this would give the highest DNA matches with indigenous populations in Ireland and Catalonia, as shown in the results. Can try other theories: the milkman in Tiverton was Pedro Gonzalez – in that case there would be no Irish strand; a Spanish sailor from the Armada after their wreck in Ireland in 1588 got lucky – the Irish strand would be much smaller; the Irish Rs have been there for thousands of years – in that case there would be no Spanish strand. So why did the Rs come from Catalonia to Ireland? Presumably they were keen to capitalise on the Norman power and saw this as an opportunity to secure new lands. Around 1100 northern Catalonia was part of France so it would not have been difficult for people from there to have participated in Norman manoeuvres. Another point is how far do STR markers allow you to go back in time; not sure here, quoted as genealogical and historical times, which would correspond very roughly to the years 1500 and 800 respectively as outer limits, but think this is still being investigated. So it’s not a Gascony departure point for Ireland but it’s only the other side of the Pyrenees in Catalonia, which was also French at the time; it is of course possible that the Rs in Catalonia were involved in trade in Gascony through Bordeaux. Next task is to wait for confirmation of clade as R1b from further tests and have a subclade test to narrow down area of origin; also link up Rathmacknee and Tiverton family trees from the documentary evidence – exciting times!

Enough genealogy! When are you going to do the female side, says daughter, after admitting that I do have a Spanish/French look! Will do mum’s side after subclade test done. It’s expensive but it is subsidising cancer research, through improving DNA analysis and increasing the pool of DNA samples, though my involvement is strictly non-medical. Had moth trap out last night, getting 14 individuals of 9 types: 4 Chestnut, 3 Hebrew Character, 2 March Moth (male), Alucita hexadactyla 1, Diurnea fagella 1, Common Quaker, Water Carpet 1, Clouded Drab 1  2, Brindled Pug 1  2  3 (length 9.5mm, wingspan 24 mm, shape and size as in Waring, Townsend and Lewington (2009)). Had preliminary trawl through Cape Verde 17/3/13 clips – some nice Osprey, will sort tomorrow. After many hours sorting out the DNA results, got to N4c4s where served well by j&k! Made G4g4s with P; good crack, jn was on, very nice, like the touch-up, invited to C4c!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, with start at noon sharp for WG meeting; last week when not there, no notes taken so we repeat the meeting with yours truly as minutes secretary this time on the iP. Good nite ttmbo!!!

April 5th: well they always say enjoyable exercise makes you sleep better!! Been through part of DNA report; Y-DNA Haplogroup is given with moderate confidence as R1b, not much surprise there for R1b is the dominant clade in western Europe as shown on this map (from Haplogroup R: Supposedly The White Peoples’ Genes); signed up for the further ‘backbone’ test to confirm R1b ($89), which is done on existing sample; then can have a subclade test (more $!), which will pin down my area very much more within that shown in dark red on the map. R1b is most dominant in Wales (82% of population), Ireland (79%), Scotland (72%), Spain (69%) and England (67%) with substantial presence (40%+) in France, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Iceland, Russia (Bashkirs). It’s labelled Italic, Celtic, Germanic. My DNA report shows how many western Europeans got here, nothing specific to me, but the extensive move into west Asia and arrival from east relatively north, with extensive brushes with Neanderthal Man, means we all have a bit of the caveman in us! If nothing else, the preliminary result should quash persistent rumours that we’re of Jewish origin! Still got to go through the DNA analysis over last 1,000-1,500 years or so. Some progress in funds this week with +2k overall to new high; PGM metals (pt/pd/rh) were the gainers with other areas mostly unchanged or slightly down; end of tax year today so topping up ISA with maximum 11.88k on Monday; also selling a few high-yield bond funds (5-6% yield currently, not that brilliant!), as CGT goes into next year, with switch in due course into LBG’s ECN where can get more yield (and more risk with possibility of what would be a very highly contested RCP – Regulatory Call at Par!); don’t really want the yield per se but such investments rise in capital value if hazards do not materialise. R do was good – very stylish – could have done with a smart lady friend!! LC is very well-organised and classy. Family lore and research indicates that the Rs are from Ireland and before that Gascony – watch this space!! lokttmbo!!!

April 4th: brought a tear to the eye as watched re-opening of railway line at Dawlish on TV headlines http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-26874503; very impressive restoration with National Rail really co-ordinating well to do such a massive job so quickly. It was nice to have such a fine day for the re-launch. In trap had quality with 5 moths of 5 types: Hebrew Character, Common Quaker 1, Chestnut 1, Spring Usher (male) 1, Early Grey. It was very damp last night, perfect for moths. Did make N4c4ll where met l: she’s very lively, didn’t know she worked in C&H as well!! Getting cabin fever after all the murk we’ve had so at 1st sign of a break went up to Carrshield at the top of the West Allen for a recce for my leading of a walk with the Group later this month; parking at base looked ok 1 (well, no fo notices!). Cloud was breaking slightly as arrived but was still misty through most of walk, doing 6 km up to Wellhope Mine at 537 m over Middle Rigg 1  2 and back, from 15:40-19:15. Bird list was good with 27 types, including 2 Black Grouse and a Short-eared Owl (clip 1) in territory, both a 1st for year. Other moorland birds included 12 Red Grouse, 11 Golden Plover, 9 Lapwing, 13 Curlew, 2 Redshank, 1 Snipe, 2 Skylark, 14 Meadow Pipit, 1 Reed Bunting. Irish Drilling Co had a rig at the old mine 1  2  3  4  5  6, evidently re-prospecting by Minco http://www.minco.ie/; 2 men were operating it, pretty amazed to see me come out of the mist; think they thought I was a spy! As left for W, received some messages from Genebase: analysis has been completed and results published; no time to look yet, but will study results tomorrow. Good crack at W with 4 of us there and s on! Very pleased that went E: she’s so very beautiful close-up: lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s C4c4l and R @ LC4m4s, latter posh do, wearing dark suit!

April 3rd: finished Cape Verde clips for 15/3, just 16/3 and 17/3 to go now, latter perhaps tomorrow (full of good intentions!). Weather is hopeless for raptor searching: very gloomy with poor visibility and periods of rain, but low pollution (apparently!). UK air pollution is a scandal, particularly recent cover-ups: it’s only when it’s mixed with Sahara sand that they have to admit to it. Maybe not so good living in London after all! My disinterested view is that they’ll have to increase the amount of pd/pt/rh catalysts in car exhausts to further reduce emissions of pollutants with rh reducing NO and NO2, pd oxidising CO and unburnt particulates, pt doing both reduction and oxidation but the most expensive; diesel engines pollute far more than petrol ones and rely on pt rather than pd/rh for current clean-ups; Americans use petrol, Europeans use relatively more diesel; catalysts are most effective at cruising speeds and least effective at start-stop and high speeds; good case for taxing diesel-powered cars at much higher rates to discourage their use long-term, particularly in cities; increased recycling of the PGM would increase sustainability; did actually top up on my ETFs in all 3 precious metals at lunch-time in N, where had good crack with J. Sent out LAF draft notes for meeting at Ford on 24/4. Good evening: out to DoW for 20:00 where 4 of us out from unn; been massively extended and very comfortable with good choice of ra. We finished a little early so made solo trip to T&S4g4s, which was very lively! SH! 2moro it’s N4c4ll and E later, including W4ra4s!! loktt*!!!!

April 2nd: good catch in moth trap after yesterday’s warm, sunny afternoon and mild night with little mist: 23 moths of 6 species with 11 Common Quaker 1, 5 Hebrew Character, 3 Powdered Quaker 1  2  3 (compared with Common Quaker, larger, longer-winged, more pointed apex), 2 March Moth 1 ,1 Early Grey, 1 Agonopterix ciliella. Last major moth-trapping at Ordley was from 1985-1990 when area was much bleaker with open windswept fields. With so many trees planted by the incomers the area is now much more a natural extension of the woodland in the Linnels in the Devil’s Water. So comparison of data between 1985-90 (which have in database containing 13,143 records) and now will be very interesting. Today’s counts for Common Quaker and Powdered Quaker were record highs and Early Grey was not recorded earlier. Obviously am keeping database up to date with new records and will merge in records from years between 1992 and 2013, of which some in spreadsheets and not too many overall. Milestone in year was 1st singing Chiffchaff in garden at 11:00; in spite of grotty weather, spring is underway! Did all promised for day except arrived in Newcastle late, after delay through moth id and visit to N4c4c4, and swapped CT for Kittiwakes. LBBG adult are back in strength in breeding areas with 16 at Derwenthaugh and 3 in Newcastle city centre; 5 GBBG (3 adult, 2 1s) were at Merryshields gravel pit. Made good progress in meeting at unn; another meeting there next Wednesday morning on collaboration with R. Had split session in G: good to have l on!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and DoW at Newton much later in meeting of regular Thursday gang with another colleague from Newburn. Catch-up in between, including getting notes out from last LAF/WG2 meeting and Cape Verde clip processing. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

April 1st: finished proof-reading journal article The Topos of Category Theory and Reality accepted for publication, resulting from trip to Vilnius last year; not many changes required, list sent to editor by email today and copyright forms by post tomorrow. Did make N4c4c with P, where good chat; also BH where good crack with I. Mopped up a few junior resource stocks today, being sold rather desperately, perhaps to establish losses for CGT ahead of year-end on Friday; end of calendar year and end of financial year often see clear-outs of loss-making stocks. Hexham scored well: gr8 2 c some1 so inspiring – lokttmgo!!! A Curlew flew W over Hexham calling at 00:40, when 4 Oystercatcher were overhead in display (2/4). 2moro it’s N4c4c, Kittiwakes, L&P, unn (late 15:00), G4g4lt: busy day!!

March 31st: For major movement in 2008, updated Map of Honey-buzzard Routes in North Sea Area from 11-14 September, added Map showing Routes across Southern Europe from 11-20 September; Analysis of the Movement across Southern Europe from 11-20 September. So ½ work done on ideas from yesterday. Also spent a lot of time helping M with re-submission of Whitehead paper Krakow 14-4 to fit in more with their length guidelines and tried installing latex2html (LaTeX to HTML) for flexibility in publishing but not completed yet. Made R @ B where going up in the world, chairing a WG next year – International, and joining Council! Decided on talk title for late May: “The World’s oldest consumer protection”. It’s big R do at Langley Castle this Saturday, not joining Walking Group on Sunday. Put out moth trap last night, pretty sodden in the fog, just 1 – Hebrew Character. Gr8 to see the mbo again!! 2moro it’s N4c4c with P after trying to fix a computer problem for him; hopefully out in afternoon if murk clears, much later BH4ra4s!!

March 30th: walk around Pitshanger Park with big sis from 10:50-12:30 in beautiful, sunny weather on light SE breeze at 17º; a queen Wasp was out of hibernation on one of her windows, 2 Small Tortoiseshell were in her garden and 2 LBBG adult flew N, more to follow … Came back on very fast 14:00 from KX to Aberdeen, making NCL at 16:50 and CRB at 17:50. So got things mildly straight in the evening; massive drop in temperature to 7º as moved through South Yorkshire and very foggy in Hexham area. Think that paper on Honey-buzzard migration in Malta (below, 14/2) provides a bit of a breakthrough for the 2008 movement in Benelux and UK. Movement at night makes it much easier to explain the early birds on 13/9 in North Holland and East Anglia; the large movement cited on Malta on 19/9 could well be of birds from Denmark on 11/9, reducing the need to model such a large movement W to Benelux. Will take a little while to revise but this is the ultimate snap: the final account can be written; train journey was good! Did make G4g4s with P and the very eye-catching jn on!! Dolce e furtivo: struck a chord with the mmo!!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll and catch-up in evening; back to BH on Tuesday!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

Total for London trip was 40 species, including raptors (4 types): Common Buzzard (6 including 1 each in N Yorks and Notts), Goshawk (1 female at York), Kestrel (3), Red Kite (4); woodpeckers (3 types): Green (7), Great Spotted 2, Lesser Spotted (1); gulls (3 types): LBBG (15 adult N), Common Gull (1 adult N), Herring Gull. Exotic birds included 74 Ring-necked Parakeet and 3 Mandarin Duck. 2 Small Tortoiseshell were 1st butterflies of the year. Up to 99 bird species now, 321st in BirdTrack league table.

March 29th: final totals and account published for migrating Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland for 2013 (Population of the Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland). Not long to the new season now – 4 weeks, excitement mounts! Big family meeting today at Turnham Green – no special occasion, we like to keep in touch – hosted by nephew, partner and 2 young kids with guests: niece and partner, daughter and fiancé, elder sis, elder sis’s brother-in-law and partner, me! So that’s 12 of us! All very convivial – lunch and tea with walk to Green in between. Very warm and sunny today with almost no breeze, reaching 20º, warmest I’ve been in for quite a while. In total of 15 species had some migrating gulls: 10 LBBG adult and 1 Common Gull adult, all moving N. Looks as if will be be going down about a week before wedding to sort out final details; gives scope for a local Honey-buzzard survey in Bucks! Hopefully should make G4g4s 2moro!! Looking forward to seeing the beauty again!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 28th: went to Richmond to see daughter’s new house – very smart, in new gated development along the boundary wall of Richmond Park, with views over the park, but actually just in Kingston upon Thames (KT2). We went for 6 km walk around Richmond Park from 13:15-16:15, seeing and hearing many Ring-necked Parakeet (60+, much display and grabbing nest holes), Kestrel (pair), 3 species of woodpecker – Green (3 yaffling, 1 other seen), Great Spotted (2), Lesser Spotted (1), the last a good find; it was singing from high up an oak tree. Also in total of 23 species had 1 Nuthatch and 2 Jay, including one making vague cat/raptor like calls, maybe in response to an unseen Sparrowhawk (not on list!). Weather was warmer than yesterday, on a dry, light SE breeze, but still needed full winter battle gear. Had for lunch salmon sandwiches at Pembroke Lodge – very tasty! Back to big sis in evening, where measured for suit by tailor – very meticulous, didn’t realise it was so complicated. Not sure exactly how funds went this week as left spreadsheet at home, but think unchanged on broker statements; pattern was similar to recent weeks with early fall in week recovered on Friday. Yes, this outcome confirmed: pd/pt and Irish bank stocks fell back, latter on rumours of difficult stress tests, and B&B/LLPF moved up. House prices down here have gone berserk: think something needs to be done to calm situation down without stalling the economic recovery, maybe stronger controls on overseas buyers, who it seems are only interested in city centre property, not even in country estates in say the Chilterns and certainly not in rural property in Northumberland! House boom must be one factor pushing £ to ridiculous levels while we have such a large balance of payments deficit. 2moro it’s a gathering of the clan!! lokttmbo!!!

March 27th: here’s migration totals for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland for 2013. Table 17 is its number in the Honey-buzzard population page, which will be updated when sorted here; need to add summary paragraph. As shown in Table 17 it was a much quieter year for observed migration than in 2012 with just 13 obvious migrants observed in 2013 against 35 in 2012. Part of the problem is that so many birds are now seen throughout the breeding season that it is difficult to be sure of the origin of a bird seen at this time so genuine migrants may occasionally be marked down as a bird in territory. As in 2012 migrants were fairly reliable along the upper South Tyne valley, particularly in the Eals area, and in the Tyne Valley W area, particularly around Bywell. Direction of travel was basically N in spring and S in autumn. As many as 5/8 autumn birds, all juveniles, were resting, that is not pursuing active emigration.

Date Time Locality Age/Sex Count Direction Movement
-April 30 15:13:00 Staward N (Allen) Adult male 1 1 NE at 15:13 male Honey-buzzard noted overhead in typical power-glide mode, moving NE at speed. He came down to near the ground and then in distance began soaring again to do another soar-glide cycle. He will have crossed the South Tyne at Haydon Bridge. Presumably heading for Scotland.
-May 2 15:53-15:54 Corbridge Adult female, adult male 2 2 N At 15:53 a female Honey-buzzard was soaring over Corbridge, steadily moving N, gaining height and joined by a male Honey-buzzard at 15:54. They disappeared into the distance, perhaps to follow the A68 to the W of Edinburgh and then the M9 to Perth, over the next day or two. When first seen, think the female was at the end of a power glide and about to start the soaring phase. In May the sunshine is a lot stronger than in September, giving more thermals and favouring soar-glide over orographic (ridge) lift.
-May 4 15:30-15:45

 

Bywell S/Stocksfield Guessburn (NZ06 K) Adult male, adult female 2 1 W, 1 NW Action started at 15:30 when a male appeared flapping hard against the breeze, initially on the Bywell side but moving SW to go over Shilford and carry on W; definitely a migrant, perhaps going to a site further up the Tyne or one further to W/NW (Lakes, Galloway). Finally at 15:45 near Farnley noted a Honey-buzzard female (not the male noted on 2/5) lifting off quickly and adopting a territorial pose; soon after another female came from the SE over Guessburn and flew powerfully NW over to the N bank of the Tyne at Styford to avoid the Farnley female; she carried on to NW so presume she’s going further N but she’s not on the A68.
-October 5 12:42:00 Bywell S/Stocksfield Guessburn (NZ06 K) Juvenile 1 1 SE The Honey-buzzard juvenile rose up from the Tyne at 12:42, climbed a little and flew almost overhead SE to New Ridley; they don’t normally continue SE but aim for Kiln Pit Hill, 7 km S of Bywell; the bird is presumed to have been feeding up by Bywell Castle; got some good video and stills!
-October 8 14:20-16:10 Towsbank S/ W Asholme Common (NY65 Y) 2 Juvenile 2 2 rest On arrival a pale juvenile Honey-buzzard was floating over the wood, not that mature and not one of the birds fledged earlier at the site, which were darker. It was readily photographed from 14:20-14:30! It had damage to P7/P8 on its left wing with one feather missing and the other pushed up vertically. This could be damage due to being shot at, but suspect it’s a Scottish bird, which has blundered into a tree or wall, maybe after a wee dram or too many berries! A very rapid learning process is required to get away on migration with the late fledging of some birds. A steady stream of raptors floated over the wood in the next 2 hours, involving another, darker, intact Honey-buzzard juvenile from 15:55-16:10, also thought to be a migrant; both the pale and dark Honey-buzzard were up at 15:58; all needs to be checked against the 96 stills taken. Yes, on review, there was definitely a second Honey-buzzard juvenile, both migrants, as different plumage from birds reared here.
-October 13 11:34:00 Bywell S/Stocksfield Guessburn (NZ06 K) Juvenile 1 1 rest As in last visit, at 11:34 great panic in the vicinity of the Tyne below the Mount with Woodpigeon going all over the place and Carrion Crow and Jackdaw circling higher calling angrily. Yes it was another juvenile Honey-buzzard, a ruddy one seen flying low-down through the tops of the trees slightly to the E, giving one call (recorded).
-October 15 15:37:00 Towsbank S/ W Asholme Common (NY65 Y) Juvenile 1 1 SW The Honey-buzzard was a dark juvenile, moving out towards the moors to the W of Towsbank at 15:37 and then turning SW to disappear from view; so a migrant, thought to be darker than any bird present on 8/10 so a new bird; I think a steady trickle of birds pass through from Scotland on their way to the south coast of England, around the Isle of Wight, and from there over to Normandy; that’s the ideal route with a few ending up further W with more uncertain journey through SW England and Brittany.
-October 16 13:10:00 Hexham Town/Tyne Green (NY96 H) Juvenile 1 1 SW From bridge across railway line at Hexham Station at 13:10 a juvenile Honey-buzzard appeared from the E moving WNW in flap-flap-glide motion; as it came over Acomb it started to turn and eventually moved SW over Warden at moderate height. The bird was well developed and a good flier. The wind was moderate SE, so feeling is the bird had followed the A68 to Corbridge and then drifted W on the breeze and started to correct its course over Acomb to resume its basically S direction.
-October 17 12:15:00 Ordley/Steel (NY95 P) Juvenile 1 1 rest out only 30 seconds from home at Ordley before bumping into a Honey-buzzard at 12:15, a pale ruddy juvenile up above Laird’s Wood mobbed by sundry corvids; it was hanging rather indecisively over the wood moving W, before finally more decisively dropping down out of sight on W side of wood.
-October 27 11:30-12:43 Bywell S/Stocksfield Guessburn (NZ06 K) Juvenile 1 1 rest juvenile up at 11:32 from Cottagebank S, coming down by Tyne near Bywell Bridge, mid-brown plumage, pale underside, relatively mature in that wings and tail fully grown, power of flight high; moved SE to feed 11:35, to S of Mount at 11:53, then back via W of Mount to Tyne at 12:10; up again S of Cottagebank at 12:40, finally before heavy shower up over Mowden Hall at 12:43. Bird was very restless, keen to feed, maybe food not so plentiful now
Summary/

Comments:

           
April: 1

May: 4

Oct: 8

 

12-13: 1

13-14: 1

15-16: 6

resting: 5

upper South Tyne: 3

Allen: 1

Devil’s Water; 1

Tyne Valley W: 8

Adult male: 3

Adult female: 2

Juvenile: 8

13

 

  IN: 1 NE, 2 N, 1 NW, 1W

OUT: 2 SW, 1 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. The early birds in spring also appeared to be moving through to Scotland. There is a peak in activity in late afternoon. The pattern reported though is probably exaggerated by the observer concentrating on this period. The 2 popular routes of upper South Tyne and Tyne Valley W were again evident. In spring adult males and females both appeared in the early movement. Juveniles very much predominate in October. The total in autumn is much reduced from 2012, falling from 35 to 8. This might indicate poorer productivity in northern Britain. But more likely it is a simple reflection of the high variability in observed migration. Direction was broadly N in spring, ranging from NE to W, and broadly S in autumn, ranging from SW to SE. Records this year were concentrated at the start and end of the breeding season. It is obviously easier to be sure that a bird is a migrant when known breeding sites are vacant. So observations this year comprised 5 spring records at the end of April and in early May with the remaining 8 in October.

Table 17: Visible Migration Movements noted for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in 2013

Out to Burnham Beeches for good walk with sis from 12:15-15:35. Weather was erratic: warm and sultry at start, ending with torrential downpour of hail and thunder and lightning, gap between last 2 indicating distance away of strikes of 1 km. During the hail the temperature dropped from 10º to 5º. Had good showing of Red Kite (2 calling, displaying bird at 2 sites) and Common Buzzard (2 pairs, 1in vigorous display), plus the exotic-looking Mandarin (pair, single male), 3 Moorhen, 4 yaffling Green Woodpecker, 4 Song Thrush. Total was 22 species; also saw a few Bumblebee on the pussy willow and exploring leaf litter for nests, plus a few rather dazed Wood Ant. In evening with son, daughter, fiancé, made Kew for drinks – Kew Gardens Hotel, the Botanist – followed by Curry Garden Tandoori Restaurant, Richmond, for meal; all very good, main topic was upcoming wedding, dad was host for tonite! So time is flying; 2moro seeing daughter’s new house and going for walk in Richmond Park. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 26th: lazy morning, then caught train S to stay with elder sis. Very surprised to see a female Goshawk up over York Railway Station in full display. Inspiring musical evening, seeing BBC Singers at Six, in St Giles’ Cripplegate, where they sang some Russian songs including numbers by Shostakovitch and Rachmaninov, very uplifting! Then as part of double bill, went onto Barbican where had the première of Salonen’s Violin Concerto – very innovative, with percussion closely-knit with the violin. Seemed amazingly difficult to play but the soloist Leila Josefowicz was well on top of her game. Esa-Pekka Salonen is a Finnish composer. Final piece was Shostakovich 5, a brilliant symphony in passages but with a dark edge. The upbeat close is supposed to show support for the Revolution under Stalin but there’s always been some doubt about whether Dmitry was taking the p.ss! So very good concert, with elder sis and son. We started at Jugged Hare, a well-known traders’ bar; felt like putting the odd rumour around! Completed on train the Honey-buzzard migration analysis in Northumberland for 2013; will publish that later. Getting closer to end of this year’s Board! Missing the lovelies!!

March 25th: just caught the Gulls in time before their demise from the Football League. Here’s selfie at York City complete with warm-up, action, players applaud fans at end clip; well we lost 1-0 to a deflected shot in 11th minute but we weren’t disgraced putting up quite a fight against a side in the play-off places; match stats showed an even game but it’s clear to me and to the 100-odd Gull fans there that we just don’t have any punch to our attack, so apparently unfortunate 1-0 defeats happen all too often. Punchy forwards are scarce in League II – preserve of richer clubs. Never mind: I’m very pleased to have kept the faith! Gr8 atmosphere with the Gull fans, complete with drums; quite a number had come up by bus from Devon (c300 miles). For more basic culture, here’s York Minster 1 at nite. Staying at Hampton by Hilton York Hotel – bit boxy in the architecture but very well equipped, ultra modern, with good free WiFi and very close to the Railway Station. Had last N4c for a bit where met P and C; plenty of delicious ephemeral distractions outside!! Why not commute from the ‘Shire? lokttmbo!!!

March 24th: did make R where had informative talk on South Tyne Railway; they are hoping to have Haltwhistle-Alston operational within 10 years as narrow-gauge route. Then made N and had interesting chat with S. Did do work on 15/03/13 Cape Verde clips, labelling them and starting to process; sorting out Honey-buzzard migrants in Northumberland in 2013, that’s next technical post. Exciting encounter in Hexham: as elusive as a Honey-buzzard certainly increases the attraction!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, then off to see a few Gulls, sadly no BH!! lokttmbo!!!

March 23rd: no frost last night, indeed it rained a little. Had 4 moths in trap: 2 Early Grey 1  2, 1 Hebrew Character, 1 Agonopterix ciliella. Out for walk with Group in great conditions: bright and sunny for the most part but with brief soft-hail flurries 1, all on brisk NW breeze. Started at Simonburn and walked via Tecket Farm across to Brocolitia Milecastle near the Military Road, then back via Stooprigg and Simonburn Common to base, where had good social including cake at the Simonburn Tea Rooms. Distance was 12 km from 10:30-15:00. Quite a historical flavour with St Mungo’s Church 1  2  3 (mainly 13th century) at Simonburn, Brocolitia 1  2 with Roman temple of Mithras (AD 1st century) and remains of Simonburn Castle 1 (14th century). Tecket 1  2  3  4 (1,2 farm, 3,4 burn) features in John Wallis’ book: Wallis, J. (1769). The Natural History and Antiquities of Northumberland and of so much of the county of Durham as lies between the rivers Tyne and Tweed, commonly called north Bishoprick, W. and W. Strahan, London (2 volumes). Wallis was vicar of Simonburn Parish and this is one of the places at which he did his bird-watching, particularly of riverine birds. This Lesser Celandine 1 was the first for the year. Bird-life was a little restrained – this is not as rich an area as the upper South Tyne, but then that is the richest for breeding birds in the county. Did have 3 Common Buzzard in the 4 tetrads covered, displaying at the W end of the Tecket; total was 29 species including 360 Fieldfare (1 flock 350), 2 Curlew, 1 Snipe, 1 Skylark, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Grey Partridge, 4 Mistle Thrush and 2 Pied Wagtail. The virtual absence of waders in comparison with South Tyne walk on 9/3 is very striking. Final recuperation with P was in G4g4s with the very fit j on!! Very cold when came out, windscreen frozen, not many times that has happened this winter. 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll and catch-up in evening, including more Cape Verde clips and tabulation of Honey-buzzard migrants in county for 2013; looking to wind-up 2013 season. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 22nd: bit s.a..ed out!! Completed processing of Cape Verde clips for 14/3/13, just 3 days to go now (in more sense than 1!). Almost completed proof-reading of Vilnius CT paper, just appendices to check; helped re-draft of Whitehead paper with M. Did make C4c4l, rather quiet but plenty to read in FT on plight of the Russian oligarchs. At last Eastgate is free of roadworks; route through Linnels to Hexham from E is good bet for avoiding jams on N side of Hexham: take B6307 left off A695 to Slaley, turn right on meeting B6306 to Hexham, cross Linnels Bridge (drive like local: slow approach to make sure nobody on bridge, then accelerate to get as far across as possible before anyone else gets on bridge, (s)he who hesitates is lost), ignore the inviting left turn onto the Lamb Shield Interchange just after the postbox and straight through to Eastgate (piece of p.ss!). Must admit there’s been the odd townie lost in the ‘Shire recently! Surprised that NE England is the fake sun-tan capital of the UK: can’t say I know anyone who goes in for this, though KT, part of CT in town, does come to think of it seem quite busy and a number of brunettes have very bonny complexions!! Buying another suit for wedding – navy blue, Thai tailor, will be quite a change to have a choice! 2moro out with Walking Group in Simonburn area, much later recuperation at G4g4s!! lokttmbo!!!

March 21st: the equinox duly arrived on a very bright and breezy day, quite appropriate! Went for walk to heathland, actually open access land, at Broomleyfell from 14:30-16:20; never actually walked up here before though it’s close to a Honey-buzzard site. Looks quite possible for Woodlark with Scots Pine and Birch invading the heath at a few points. Here’s some shots of the habitat 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8. Had 2 displaying Common Buzzard, from March Burn, plus a hunting Kestrel female. Main feature, in total of 14 species, was 6 Common Crossbill in the pines, in display. Must get back there, too windy today for everything to show. At Ordley had 77 Fieldfare and 6 Redwing at 10:30 and at Newbiggin had a female Kestrel hunting at 11:40. Daffodils at home are very bonny 1. Did make N4c4l where plenty of company with couple from P and J from Consett; gr8 to see the lovely mbo and meo!! Funds didn’t change a lot, indeed +5.29 (0.00529k), a pint and a half of real ale, but was 3k down by Tuesday after apparent easing of tension over Crimea; not dissatisfied as quite a lot of dealing expenses this week with re-investment of 2/3 of Co-op proceeds; still down until this afternoon when pd, of which have 36 oz in an etf, soared to its highest level in 2.5 years ($791 per oz, main use in car exhausts as pollution control catalyst for petrol-driven cars; main producers Russia, RSA; diesel-powered cars use more expensive pt of which have 19 oz in an etf). Made W4ra4s where 6 of us out and good crack! Single Red Kite seen today at Stocksfield E by DP and in last week at Bywell by NH. Marvellous finish to day: will sleep well: lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s C4c4l and catch up!!

March 20th: processed clips at Cape Verde from São Vicente for 24/3, completing those in visit on way back, next up is 14/3 on outward leg. Very windy overnight (19/3-20/3) blowing door off garden shed: all restored at tea-time; must have made quite a bang but slept through it all. No moth trap out, would have ended up in Corbridge! Made N4c4ll and Sk4ra4s: latter not as pricey as made out, very different to town centre pubs, younger clientèle, spacious, very relaxed, enjoyed, think mates are going back there next week but I may not! Pleased with NISA limit of 15k per annum from 1/7 (11.88k is limit for stocks ISA from 5/4); always take out full allowance in 1st week by a funds transfer to get the best advantage. Planning a trip to Dartmoor in spring, staying in hotel on edge, fitting in visits to see M and younger sis! 2moro it’s N4c4l and E much later, including W4ra4s!!

March 19th: very blustery day on strong W breeze but sunny and mild for the most part. Made town around 12:30, in time for stroll around Quayside (interesting signal!!), CT4s4l and unn, where met P/M for almost 2 hours on viscat; good discussion, just about confirmed a vital large diagram in the paper under draft; also proof-reading Vilnius proofs, about 1/3 through 14 pages. Had 32 Kittiwake back at Quayside, some already on ledges and calling (bet residents are delighted!); also 4 LBBG adult in total of 9 species. So after G4g4lt and G4g4s with the lovely l on, no time for anything else! 2moro it’s Cape Verde clips 24/3/13, N4c4ll and Sk4ra4s with M/A (Hexham’s newest pub, pricey and select until we arrive!). xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 18th: early insects are on the wing: in moth trap caught 3 Hebrew Character 1  2; Buff-tailed Bumblebee queens 1  2 (2) were again on Flowering Currant in front (sheltered) garden, 1st seen 11/3; Tree Bumblebee queen was seen yesterday (17/3) in front garden 1. Made N4c4l where surrounded by 3 ladies (1 very fanciable!), learning a lot about the art of tattooing – very expensive, don’t think I’ll bother! Went out for walk at March Burn from 17:05-18:15 in blustery, mild weather on fresh W breeze; had a Common Buzzard. A nearby heath looks possible for Woodlark! In total of 15 species, had 9 Fieldfare roosting in young conifers, with heather as ground cover, plus 3 Redwing,1 Curlew. Gulls beat Bury with goal in 91st minute – couldn’t believe it, great push at the end for the winner! Did make BH4ra4s – very quiet – but gr8 beer! Went W for pleasures with the dynamic one: lokttmgo!!! 2moro it’s day in town at L&P and unn, latter quite late at 15:00; hope to see some Kittiwake again! Back to G4g4lt and G4g4s!!

March 17th: processed clips at Cape Verde from São Vicente for 23/3, day of the sandstorm! Just reminded me that sand got everywhere that day! Made R @ B4m4l with meeting of Vocational Group before at 12; talk was on visit to Gondar and Simien Mountains in Ethiopia, in August, the rainy season, by a girl guide j who had got money from R as partial support for her work in a school at Gondar; all presented well and brought back lots of memories of trip there in February 2010, fortunately the dry season. Finished with N4c4ll and telephone call to Stoke Park to confirm my stay there for 2 nites in late May for daughter’s wedding – only 0.49k, discounted – they played music from Goldfinger while connecting me; that’s where the film was made! It’s near Black Park (Pinewood), which always fancied as a Honey-buzzard site, and it’s right in the middle of the peak display season! Good to see the mbo!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, trip out for kite and much later BH4ra4s!!

March 16th: did complete processing of Cape Verde clips from Santo Antão (21/3-22/3); final verdict on this island was that found Common Buzzard at 3 sites and Egyptian Vulture at 2, very satisfactory as only covered a tiny bit of it though Pedracin probably the best habitat there. In very windy weather on strong W breeze, got out for walk in Dipton Wood, going from Prospect Hill end to Lightwater Cottages and back, c5km from 14:20-16:00. Had 1 raptor, a Common Buzzard. Some recently re-planted areas with much heather on them may be suitable for Woodlark; also had 4 Common Crossbill together in Scots Pine at E end of woodland,10 Coal Tit, including 3 singing birds, plus singing Great Tit and Greenfinch. Total was a fairly good 15 species for this predominantly coniferous woodland. Made N4c4t where assistant j on last day with happy event soon! Did make upstairs bathroom sparkling. Had Barn Owl by side of road near Ordley on way back late-on, 1st for quite a while here. Made G4g4s with P: he’s off skiing again 2moro; good to have j on!! Booked hotel at York for Gulls’ game, on way to see the family! Dolce e sostenuto: the mmo is very impressive!!! Feel like restoring ra levels to normal this week!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 15th: did a lot of work in evening on Cape Verde clips from a year ago, doing those from 18/3-20/3 on Santo Antão; should complete tomorrow the last full day on that island on 21/3 and the travel day back to São Vicente on 22/3; then need to do the clips on São Vicente on return leg from 23/3-24/3 and on way out from 14/3-17/3; then whole report finished! Pleased to see Ireland win the rugby! Gulls’ result confirms black-armband day at York! Not that untypical a spring day up here with rising temperatures matched by increasing wind speeds so no frost but pretty uncomfortable outside with the wind chill. Decided to spring clean my bedroom, which is now really sparkling: fit for a beauty!! Did make C, good to see jn on lunch break! 2moro it’s a spring clean of the upstairs bathroom (another room s doesn’t do), a walk out, N4c4t and G4g4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 14th: did catch one moth in trap – a male Pale Brindled Beauty 1  2  3 (females are flightless with vestigial wings). Trap is a live one: no moths are hurt during its operation and all are released alive after id. Not a bad week for funds: ftse fell almost 3% on Ukraine political and Chinese economic difficulties, worst week since June last year; in spite of slump in cu to 4-year low, pt/pd moved ahead a bit more on uncertainties and continued RSA strike, now in its 50th day; BOI moved ahead strongly on re-investment by the TMF-gang of their CPG proceeds; lost 1k in selling CPG bonds on the dealing spread (difference between offer and mid-price) but would have lost 5k on fall in price since with surely worse to come; intending to move bulk of my CPG proceeds into ECN, which, offering 8-10% YTM, are very depressed by dodgy actions of LBG, and CPB bonds offering 8% YTM, if prospects for the bank are not too bad at end of month; also picking up odds and sods in u-308 and mainstream mining/oil stocks, latter for range trading. Overall up 2k on week to new high. After sociable trip to N where met a couple from P and J from Consett, was going for walk but decided too cold in a strong NW wind for anything to appear! Made W4ra4s where good crack with 6 of us there; had long chat with the fit s!! SH! 2moro it’s C4c4l and catch-up, except might make W late-on to use up my ra vouchers!!

March 13th: more sociable day, meeting P at N4c4c, R&A in Haltwhistle from 18:00-21:10 (good dinner!) and A at T&S4ra4s. Moth trap arrived by Parcel Force at 10:09 from Totnes (NHBS) via Plymouth, not bad only ordered it 36 hours before. Spent a couple of hours assembling it from flat-pack and testing it out; trying it out tonight for an airing, don’t expect anything with bright moon. T&S was good: mmo in gr8 form!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, trip out for kite and W4ra4s. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 12th: another beautiful day, almost calm and quite cool, but with continuous sunshine and fantastic visibility. Went to Slaley Forest Trygill, a good site for raptors, from 12:20-14:00, where had a persistent pair of noisy Common Buzzard and an adult male Sparrowhawk hunting; with pair of noisy Tawny Owl later in Sele, that makes 6 species of raptor in 2 days – fantastic! No Woodlark at site where seen in autumn last year; think clear-fell is not suitable for breeding. Total was 18 species, including 11 Robin, 2 Curlew (pair), 5 Coal Tit, 2 singing Goldcrest, 4 Siskin. Also had a Bumblebee here (sp!). No dealing frenzy today though did buy 75000 shares in a Tanzanian uranium prospecting company at not a lot; uranium looks very promising as Japan restarts its nuclear programme after the disaster. Suspect the Germans will have to return to nuclear power at some time as well, rather than relying on France’s. So if you find any U-308, hang on to it! Made N4c4t where again met S for good crack. G was good – twice – 4 of us 4t and 7 4s; jn, an optician’s receptionist, was on late and fixed a loose-fitting lens for me with a screwdriver – she’s very talented!! Gr8 to see the mmo!!! After break-out with start of spring, edging back to normal 2moro with N4c4c with P. It’s a meal in Haltwhistle in evening with R&A; R is daughter’s godmother. Should be back to T&S4ra4s!!

March 11th: excellent trip out to Wallish Walls, near Derwent Reservoir, from 13:05-14:25 in beautiful sunny spring weather. Total for raptors was 10 birds of 4 species: 5 Common Buzzard (at 3 sites), 2 Kestrel (pair), 2 Red Kite (singles at Wallish Walls and W Durhamfield, both in Northumberland, 1st gliding into site near water works from E, other up soaring to SW in territorial display), 1 Goshawk (1w male on way, soaring high to SW of Steel Pond, quite aggressive actions). Red Kite now up to 10 sites in the County. Total for visit was 23 species, including 5 displaying Lapwing, 6 Stock Dove together. Also on Steel Pond had a Redshank. At Ordley a mobile flock of 45 Fieldfare moved S at 18:00, when 1 Redwing went to roost; at home had 1st Bumble Bee of season on Flowering Currant, a large queen. Made N4c4ll where good chat with S on Egypt. Busy early morning as TMF banking group gave alert at 08:00 that Co-op Group was in trouble again; had been running down holdings in 42TE anyway including that yesterday with Lloyds Direct which had to be done over the telephone; but this morning ditched the remaining lot in 9 deals from 08:14-08:55 as a precaution, raising almost 90k, quite a lot of which is held in a stock-Isa so gain is tax-free. Why so many deals: well there is a feeling in automated dealing systems that smaller deals pass unnoticed while larger amounts trigger an immediate reduction in price. Later bid prices (by dealers) were down about 5% as Sutherland’s resignation confirmed. CPB holdings left intact as, contrary to what some commentators said, the Bank is no longer a subsidiary of the Group: it’s controlled by the HF! Not out tonite, continuing catch-up!! Bought new moth trap, an Actinic 40w run off mains, for 0.2k from NHBS in Totnes. Amazed at Gulls’ 3rd home win of season against 3rd in table (Rochdale): prospect is absolutely hopeless still of course (except Exeter are almost as bad!). 2moro it’s another trip out at lunchtime, maybe looking for Woodlark, N4c4t and split session in G!!

March 10th: caught up with bird records on BirdTrack and posted below (9/3) summary for the 4 tetrads covered yesterday, 3 in NY66 and one in NY65. R was good again, nice to get one decent lunch a week at B; talk was on history of B’s house in Hexham. Re-thought Core as it’s not a charity, so no gift aid, but will still become a Friend and give £10 a month for its support of community music. Did make N4c4ll – good to have j back and to see someone!! We (M/me) have had a paper accepted from Vilnius presentation last summer on CT, got to check the proofs and sign the copyright form; another paper lined up for an ANPA book from a presentation at Cambridge. 2moro it’s out in the field to take advantage of the sunshine, then N4c4ll; not sure about evening!

March 9th: excellent walk, with Walking Group, led by P in upper South Tyne area starting at Featherstone Rowfoot, going S to Lambley Viaduct, onto Pennine Way W of Lambley, N to Greenriggs, NE to Featherstone Bridge and SE to Rowfoot; that’s 13km over valley and edge of moor, from 10:45-15:10. Lots of bird around in mild, rather cloudy weather on light S breeze. Total was 34 species, with waders moving back onto lower slopes: 56 Lapwing, 22 Curlew, 9 Oystercatcher, 1 Snipe; other moorland species: 1 Meadow Pipit; 1 Red Grouse, 42 Black-headed Gull; a very few migrants: 1 Brambling, 2 Herring Gull 1s to W; riverine species: 2 Dipper, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 Mallard, 3 Reed Bunting; a few raptors: 3 Common Buzzard. Refreshments were in nearby WA, where I took the group last spring. Countryfile on Perthshire was interesting, showing tall trees in impressive forests, ideal for Honey-buzzard as found by my surveys. Made G4g4s with P for some recuperation! Good to have j on, now a star in the magazine supplement to the HC (near the end!!). 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l with early start at 12 for Vocational WG, followed by N4c4ll. Hope to catch-up with a few things after laid-back weekend!

March 8th: cut roadside hedge for 2 hours from 15:00-17:00 in lovely spring weather with warm hazy sunshine on light S breeze; that completes hedge cutting for the season! Local farmers don’t like me sweeping up the cuttings: sets a bad example they say! Had 3 Common Buzzard today, 2 over Linnels and 1 over Letah Wood; also mobile flock of 120 Lesser Redpoll over Devil’s Water at Linnels and singing Mistle Thrush and Greenfinch. Made C4c4l, prefer view from there to A’s and don’t have to visit N every day! Did make QH in evening with P for Core concert, on 2 returned tickets; really enjoyed it and good cause – increasing music opportunities for people of Hexham – so will chip in as much as goes to Marie-Curie (£25 a month, helps with my higher-rate tax bills). Thought the seductive mmo did very well on the keyboard!! 2moro it’s Featherstone area for walk with refreshments in WA, followed much later by G4g4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 7th: did make N4c where met c/P for long chat: c used to work there! Had local walk at dusk, in clear, cool conditions with moderate NW breeze, from 17:30-18:30 out to Dotland; good range of species with Common Gull in full spring run, plentiful Blackbird (total 14) including singing birds and 2 very mobile birds getting ready for overnight emigration and 1 Redwing roosting – all these going to Norway eventually, plus singing Song Thrush and Robin and a migrant Meadow Pipit. Total was 17 species. Made W4ra4s where just 4 of us this week, good to see s on again, SH. As indicated on 5/3 good week for funds at +8k bringing year’s gain to 33k after 4k cash withdrawals: smart rises in IL0, pt/pd metals and their miners, with junk bonds rising on Friday as LBG’s LME on ECNs takes the attractiveness out of that competing diversion. Started to reduce dependence on Co-op by selling off a few of the 42TE bonds; about 100k in precious metals/miners now, maybe appropriate for more turbulent times. Visiting London at end of month to see the family with concert at Barbican, dinner party with fiancé, escort around Richmond area and new 730k house, party at nephews (and black-arm band visit to see Gulls play one of their last games in the League!). 2moro it’s A’s4s4l with possible visit to QH in evening with P but event (Core Music 5th anniversary) appears to be sold out; hope to get some hedge trimming in and a search for kite. Long walk on Sunday with Walking Group in upper South Tyne sees welcome return to familiar stamping ground.

March 6th: yesterday evening (5/3) had 3 Agonopterix ciliella 1  2 on front porch window, length at rest 11-11.5mm; this is one of the commonest micro moths in the area, hibernating through the winter in adult form. Also pictures from Dukeshagg on 4/3 of new building S of Prudhoe on old hospital site 1 and budding sallow catkins 1. Interesting debate on conversion of redundant farm buildings without needing planning permission. Does that include my 2 unused pony shelters? Leader article in Times implied it might. Of course I might have environmental objections to building 3 houses in my field but, if the gain was good enough, might consider it as can always apply the offset principle – buy a wood with the proceeds (or something like that!).

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “We are carefully considering all the representations to this consultation, from farmers, to country business, to the National Park authorities. Our goal is to help bring redundant and empty buildings back into productive use, whilst protecting the openness of the countryside and our National Parks. Reusing rundown buildings is potentially a good way of providing more rural housing, and still safeguard England’s beautiful landscape.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10520380/National-park-chiefs-unite-to-fight-barn-conversion-plans.html

Bit of a mixed up day with unn – was meeting on or not? Since hadn’t been told by 14:00 decided to go to N4c, where met P at 15:00; just sat down to find message desiring my presence but decided they could get on with it! The mbo aroused something!! Made MP with N where well looked after as usual. Concert at S was excellent with Paul Watkins conducting the RNS; his rapport with orchestra was so good that wondered whether he might be in line as next resident conductor. Local star Louisa Tuck was on cello for Britten’s Symphony for Cello and Orchestra, a pretty abrasive piece with a great ending; she’s always absolutely note perfect. Schubert’s 9 the Gr8 was played with great gusto and good mixture of lyrical and dramatic effects. 2moro it’s N4c4l, a walk somewhere and W4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 5th: more Irish history from John Beckett, Making of Modern Ireland 1603-1923, Faber and Faber (1967), cover 1 title-page 1 (borrowed from L&P, piccies taken with iP). In introduction

but the greater part of the country was divided into some fifty or sixty regions, each of which was virtually an independent state, ruled over by a native chief or ri (king) or by an Anglo-Norman noble. By the fourteenth century many of the latter had adopted native names and customs and were hardly distinguishable from their Irish neighbours. p.14

But the incompleteness of the Anglo-Norman conquest, left the church, as well as the country, divided into spheres of influence. In the conquered and colonized territories (inter Anglos) the clergy, both secular and regular, were English or Anglo-Norman by birth or descent; in the areas under Irish control (inter Hibernicos) they were for the most part native Irish; and there was little co-operation between the two groups. p.15

Self explanatory, indicating that many of the Anglo-Normans had been integrated into the Irish culture by the 14th century but ominously religious divisions remained even though the Anglo-Normans and native Irish were both catholic.

One feature of the economic revival of the early seventeenth century was the rapid exploitation of the woodlands. During the Tudor period the destruction of the woods had begun … At the beginning of the seventeenth century there were still extensive woodlands …. One cause of this more rapid destruction was the export of pipe-staves (the narrow pieces of wood from which pipes (large casks, commonly used for wine) were made). p.28

Ecological note! So Honey-buzzard may have bred in Ireland up to the 17th century.

The prosperity of Wexford depended mainly on its fisheries; but in the early years of the seventeenth century the herring-shoals deserted the coast, and by the 1630s the town was impoverished and decayed, and the quays going to ruin; such importance as it still possessed rested mainly on the export of pipe-staves. p.31

So the destruction of the woodlands became crucial to Wexford continuing as a port.

Any hope of winning over the recusants by persuasion must rest with the established church, which was still, at the opening of the seventeenth century, in a state of confusion, inefficiency and neglect. … In contrast with all this the Roman Catholic clergy were numerous, zealous and efficient. pp.38-39

So the catholics’ (recusants’) organisation was much more impressive than that of the protestants (established Church of Ireland) at the start of the seventeenth century.

Though the Cromwellian plantation was in some respects less successful than hoped, its importance in the later history of Ireland can hardly be over estimated. It had a profound effect on the balance between protestant and recusant, not only in land-ownership but also in civic life. The old corporations, which had been a major element in the political power of the recusants down to 1641, now passed under protestant control. In the cities and towns that had been held by the Confederates, all property was confiscated, and granted or leased to protestants. Attempts to drive the recusants out of towns altogether had only partial success; but those who remained had no political power and little share in trade. p.109

The Cromwell invasion and subsequent protestant plantation was the beginning of the end for the Anglo-Norman recusants, including the Rs, in Wexford. After almost 500 years of domination their tenure was almost over.

From the time of his restoration, Charles was under constant pressure from those who had lost estates in Ireland and now hoped to recover them. … to many of these claimants Charles issued letters instructing the authorities in Ireland to restore their lands; but there was no machinery for making these instructions effective, and in face of opposition by the new planters, they could seldom be executed. … In April 1662 the [English] council at length decided on the terms of a bill, and the Irish parliament, though not without some complaint, accepted it in the following month. In effect this ‘Act of Settlement’ gave statutory force to the royal declaration of 30 November …. By August 1663, when the time prescribed for hearing of claims ended, the commissioners had dealt with some 800 cases, and had issued 700 cases of innocency. … The Cromwellian planters were naturally alarmed at the decisions of the court of claims. pp.118-119

In the 1660s some attempt was made by the recusants to gain their estates back. While procedures were established for this, they were generally ineffective in the face of strong protestant resistance.

Tyrconnell reached Ireland in February 1687, and at once pushed ahead with his plans. The army was greatly increased, and became almost entirely Roman Catholic. Extensive changes on the bench reduced the protestant judges to a minority. In preparation for a meeting of parliament, Roman Catholic sheriffs were appointed to almost every county; and cities and towns were compelled to surrender their charters and accept new ones, in which predominantly Roman Catholic corporations were nominated. Protestant Ireland, sufficiently alarmed before, now fell into a state of panic; Clarendon’s reassurances had carried little conviction; Tyrconnell’s carried none at all; and the growing throng of protestant exiles in England was a powerful influence in turning opinion there against the king. p.141

In the mid-1680s the Catholics had a brief resurgence under James II, the catholic king of England, benefiting some recusants in Wexford such as the Rs. But it was brief as the Orangemen were on their way!

Having learned in the interval of William’s arrival, he [James II] retreated, and finally decided to defend the line of the Boyne, ‘the old Rubicon of the Pale’. It was probably the wisest decision he could have made. His army was inferior to William’s both in size and quality, and for a defensive action the river provided a strong front, which was quickly made stronger by the erection of breast-works; and behind him lay an open road to Dublin. On 30 June, the Williamite forces appeared on the northern bank; and next day, Tuesday 1 July [1690], the decisive battle of modern Ireland was fought. p.145. …. for the historian of Ireland, the Boyne marks the climax of a civil conflict that had grown steadily more explicit and more intense as the century progressed. The campaign was not over, but the result was no longer in doubt; and the result meant that in future the protestant minority would rule Ireland. The power of the Roman Catholic nobility and gentry, which had survived the Elizabethan conquest and had not been fully extinguished, even by the Cromwellian settlement, was now to be finally overthrown. p.146

The rout of the Catholic forces at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 by the Orangemen was the end for the recusant landowners in Wexford, including the Rs.

The Treaty of Limerick [signed 3 October 1691], imperfectly executed as it was, protected a considerable number of Jacobite landowners from forfeiture. But a much larger number fell beyond its scope – those, for example, who were prisoners at the time the treaty was made, and those residing outside the protected areas. Not all who were officially regarded as ‘rebels’ were formally proceeded against, but some 270 estates, comprising not far short of 1,000,000 acres, were confiscated. As a result, only about one-seventh of the kingdom was left in the hands of Roman Catholic landlords; and the pressure of the penal laws during the eighteenth century was to reduce that proportion still further. p.149

Limerick offered no way back for the Rs as they had fought vigorously on the side of the ‘rebels’. So that’s a useful historical timeline giving the background to the dispossessed Rs turning up in Devon, first noted in Tiverton in 1712.

Good social day with CT4l and split session at G with B/B/M at no.1 and about 8 of us at no.2. Had small flock of Pink-footed Goose migrating N over Sele, Hexham, at 23:35, quite low down, on way back to Iceland. Also 2 Common Buzzard displaying over Shilford at 16:20 and 6 Stock Dove at Dipton Wood S; latter found in longer drive to Riding Mill Station with Lamb Shield Interchange closed for one day for repairs. 2moro is a little uncertain in places but looks like N4c4c, another meeting at unn, MP4m4s and S4con, last 2 with N. Not bad week on markets so far – pt/pd rising steadily as strike in RSA goes on and on; IL0, better known as Permanent TSB, an Irish bank, seems to have lift off with merger mooted with Ulster Bank: cr_p * cr_p = cr_p^2!

March 4th: with P did make N4c4c, where we sorted out the Yahoo Group for the Civic Society on my laptop; later in cool moderate W breeze but with some sunshine off to back of Prudhoe at Dukeshagg from 15:30-17:00 where no kite but did have a couple of Common Buzzard in territory; activity approaching spring levels with singing Robin, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Wren, plus flocks of 21 Lapwing, 25 Fieldfare and 13 Linnet, and the spring run of adult Common Gull. Total was 24 species. Down to BH 4nitecap, where I on and N (from CH) providing support for the bar! Gr8 climax to day later: think she’s got everything: lokttmbo!!!! 2moro it’s CT4s4l, unn and split session at G4g!!

March 3rd: another imaginative present was Nick’s Home Turf, a personalised OS 1:25000 map 1  2 centred on Ordley and with picture of 3 of us (NR, NH, DP) on cover, pasted together from photos in Scotland in last visit in May 2011. Had a couple of moths on kitchen window on 28/2 at light – 2 Dotted Border 1  2. Thinking of buying another moth trap, pretty essential if you’re living in the country! Did wear suit to R: think it’s a good buy! Gr8 to see the mbo and meo!! Started working on Cape Verde videos for 18/3, one sorted on Common Buzzard below. Made QA4g4s in evening: needed a break! 2moro it’s N4c4c with P, trip out for kite and BH4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 2nd: sorting out things at home, added quite a lot of piccies to the website (recent Red Kite at 2 sites, Caspian Gull 1w, Oystercatcher, great flowers in Sele), finished testing New York piccies so this trip complete now, collected new suit from M&S (it fits!). Want to add Honey-buzzard migration for 2013 (not as much noted as in 2012) and finish Cape Verde video processing (islands other than Sal), then wrap up 2013 and start 2014. Had good trip to N4c4ll where j is taking a week’s holiday from 2moro, will miss her bubbly charm!! Also made G4g4s where met f: she’s challenged me to a g drinking bout in Newcastle!! Hostess was jn: very smart!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l and walk late afternoon!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

March 1st: 1st day of spring was rather drab and cool but day length obviously continues to increase. With N, caught 14:01 train from Prudhoe International to Newcastle, had meal at MP and wound up in TC from 17:00-21:35 for Borodin’s opera Prince Igor transmitted via satellite in HD from New York Met. As with much Russian music, it was far deeper and darker than many western critics would say, at least until recently. Borodin died with the composition in a bit of a mess and although Rimsky-Korsakov and Gladunov polished up the orchestration, this was the first performance in New York for almost 100 years. The structure of the work has been thoroughly altered by today’s Director Dmitri Tcherniakov. The result was impressive with a passionate, melodic opera including the popular highlight of the Polovtsian Dances at the end of Act 1 with the well-known tune Stranger in Paradise (Kismet, Cole Porter’s adaption of Borodin’s music) and some wild Russian dances, all in a poppy field, presumably to reflect the site of the battle. Here’s a more conventional delivery of the Dances by Kirov Ballet; guy in the red is Igor, captured by Khan Konchak (boss man), and being offered the lady of his choice as encouragement for collaboration; he declines staying loyal to his family back home in Putivl. Ending of Act III was not the triumphant chorus expected but an ethereal orchestral conclusion, not unlike that in Wagner’s Parsifal. Came back on last train to PI (21:53, last train out of Newcastle, 3 ambulance emergencies down Grainger St in 5 minutes!). Dropped N and called in at W4g4s on way home, where good to see s on!! Would have gone to ‘Pool if not at TC to see one of Gulls’ last appearances in Football League; must try and make the York game on 25/3. Don’t think they’ll come back: many seaside resorts are in serious decline. 2moro it’s catch-up day with G4g4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

February 28th: bit more on 1169! Strongbow, leader of the invading force, set an example for preserving the purity of the Norman blood:

Eva (Aoife) McMURROUGH daughter of Dermot Macmurrough King Of LEINSTER and Mor Ingen Muirchertaig O’TOOLE, was born about 1141 in Ireland and died in 1177 at age 36. Eva married Richard “Strongbow” Fitzgilbert DE CLARE Earl Of Pembroke on 26 Aug 1171 in Waterford, Ireland. http://www.daveweaverfamily.com/david/a26.htm

When Dermot died in May 1171, Strongbow declared himself King of Leinster, much to the amusement of the other Irish chiefs. Strongbow had Welsh blood in him as he was son of Nesta, Princess of South Wales, and Stephen the Castellan [Spanish?] (of Cardigan). Nesta’s father was Rhys ap Tewdwr Mawr, Prince of South Wales (1081-1093). She had children from (at least!) three relationships: Stephen the Castellan (of Cardigan), Gerald FitzWalter (of Windsor) and Henry I (King of England) http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~irlkik/ihm/invasion.htm. So gene mixing seemed to be in full flow and indeed everyone wanted a piece of the beautiful Nesta. Strongbow of course, held large estates, including an orchard and a cider press. Suspect the term Norman in the context of south Wales and south-east Ireland referred to military organisation and hierarchical social structures, including the way landholdings were managed, rather than any particular genes. Significance for the Rs is that being a Norman doesn’t say too much about your origin and recent family history.

Got quite a lot more information on the battle: Norman vs Norseman (what’s the difference?). A sunny, cool day for official end of winter. Made N4c4ll: fairly quiet! Steady progress on funds this week, up 3k, almost entirely on continued recovery in Irish stocks, with a small further rise in pt/pd being counter-balanced by a small fall in junk bonds; up 25k on year to date while main indices almost unchanged. Enjoyed W4ra4s: 4 of us there for good crack! Marvellous trip to far E: she’s very exciting: lokttmso!!! 2moro it’s Prince Igor at TC from New York Met, preceded by MP with N; should be good, lots of passionate Russian music (by Borodin). We’re travelling from PI!!

February 27th: out to Grindon Lough in afternoon from 16:10-17:25 in cool, sunny weather on moderate NW breeze. Had 3 Common Buzzard displaying at Warden on way up and a male Sparrowhawk up over W of Newbrough on way down. No raptors at the Lough but gulls were good with a Caspian Gull 1w 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9, a Herring Gull 2w, a GBBG 1w and roosting 1 Black-headed Gull (140 adults) and Common Gull (20 adult, 6 1w), so that’s 5 types of gull; in addition 122 Common Gull adults were moving through site to Broomlee Lough on arrival. Geese included 185 Canada, 2 Greylag and 2 Greenland White-fronted; also of interest in total of 23 species was Pochard (6 drakes), Goldeneye (3 drakes, 10 redheads), Curlew (15 feeding scattered on north bank). Decision to make N earlier than usual was well-rewarded by the brilliant one: lokttmbo!!! T&S went well, 3 of us there for catch-up on the week in computing (admit not to everyone’s taste!). Bought suit on-line from M&S – sartorial, black, pure wool, 2 button, herringbone, bargain for 0.249k! Picking it up from Hexham store on Saturday, think I’ll break it in at next R. 2moro it’s maybe a little later for the schedule but certainly E later including W4ra4s and maybe far E!!

February 26th: did make the big city, good lunch at CT, meeting at unn and trip to L&P, where returned recently-published book The Art of Thomas Bewick, Diana Donald, Reaktion Books (2013). Interesting novel angle on Bewick’s work, looking in depth at his life and artistic style, with an appendix giving a modern interpretation of his illustrations in his British Birds, which I’ve photographed. Back to W, where met B/B4t and the late-nite gang4s, 8 of us, with l on! In between did have chat on reliable computerisation of CS’s mailing list with principles of no duplication of data (one fact in one place), simplicity of operations (xls) and remote backup (shared Cloud); membership is increasing rapidly. Been doing some more reading on Irish history c1169, hope to publish results soon. 2moro it’s N4c4l, trip out in early afternoon, T&S4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

February 25th: good day out in the field in sunny, mild weather on a moderate SW breeze. Made Greymare Hill from 14:35-16:20 getting pairs of displaying Common Buzzard and Red Kite to the S of Minsteracres on the Derwent side of the watershed. Total was 13 species, quite low but perhaps typical for late winter at moderate altitude. Here’s some of the wind factories 1 at this site plus the eclectic mausoleum 1. On way back highlight was a Red Kite over a field close-up to the E of Slaley, giving good piccies 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. On leaving Ordley on way out had 3 Common Buzzard up in full display at 2 sites. So day total was 5 Common Buzzard and 3 Red Kite: latter now noted at 8 sites, colonisation is in full flow, good news for the FoRKers if they’re objective, suspect loss of face is quite damaging! Did meet P4c, good crack; sat out in sunshine later for 1st time this year: must say she’s perfect!! Flowers in Sele, Hexham, are marvellous: here’s crocus 1  2  3  4 and snowdrops 1. Made BH4ra4s where a brown special on at £2.30 a time, not bad value, almost pays for the petrol (or something like that!). Good to have c on; re-decorating and installation of stove in new fireplace is imminent. Very fulfilling end to day: lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s unn, L&P, split session at W with meeting at Civic Society in between to look at spreadsheet options.

February 24th: catch up on photos. Here’s: spring flowers at home on 22/2 – snowdrops with remains cooking apples 1  2, hazel catkins 1  2, house, still intact, some people very welcome!! 1; Welly party on 15/2 1  2  3 (all 8 of us, taken by Michael); force of waves on 5/2 at Teignmouth 1, which does have modern sea defences with angled top to seawall to stop waves riding over it and a series of retaining secondary walls on the prom running back from the seawall itself — town would have flooded very badly without them; 1st storm at Dawlish on 5/2, wrecking railway line 1  2  3; hanging railway track at Dawlish on 6/2 1; 2nd storm at Dawlish on 13/2, affecting repairs 1; state of repairs at Dawlish by 24/2 1; damaged Teignmouth prom on 22/2 (taken by younger sis) 1  2 (Aunty Amy’s nest in background at Shaldon, other side of River Teign, on 2nd piccie!) – 1st retaining wall knocked over, 2nd one held, 3rd one further back still, not seriously tested. Trouble in Dawlish is that the seafront is the railway line, so everything depends on Network Rail retaining this as the main route to Plymouth, Cornwall and Torbay.

Studying very useful book by Billy Colfer, Wexford Castles: Landscape, Context, Settlement, Cork University Press (2013). Looks from the cover like a coffee-table book with large format and many coloured pictures but it’s very scholarly. Interesting information on p.144: a league table of tower-house building by the different family groups with the Rs coming 9th equal with 5 built Figure 4; a map of sites of towers of leading 12 family groups with the Rs having Rathmacknee as the ‘parent’ castle plus Bargy, Slevoy, Tomhaggard and one other Figure 5.

Earlier (p.33): Marshal’s Land Grants 1207-1213. Families holding as free tenants included the St Johns of Ballymore, the Butlers of Butlerstown, the Waddings of Ballycogley, the Rossiters of Rathmacknee and the Esmonds of Johnstown.

Further perspective on the early days is given in Richard Roche, The Norman Invasion of Ireland, Anvil (1995). At p.104-111, Preparation, the Norman armies are described in general terms as well as the starting line-up for the 1169 invasion by Strongbow. The leaders of the first conquerors of Ireland were nearly all descendants of Nesta, either by her two husbands or through the son she had by Henry I of England (pp. 107-109). Nesta was a Welsh princess, starring in the failed resistance against the Normans and described as the most beautiful woman in Wales (only fleeting resemblance to Star Wars: beauty obviously led to much gene mixing!!). The origins of some of the settlers are described. Besides the aristocratic Norman leaders (with Welsh blood!), there were other Norman families (6 named), families from Pembrokeshire (13) and Devonshire (5), and Flemish names were prominent (15). Unfortunately the Rs are listed as of uncertain origin in the context of a paragraph starting with Devon (which may or may not be significant):

From Devonshire came Furlong, Bellew, Codd, Cruys (now Cruise) and Hore. Of uncertain origin are Harper or Harpur (said to be descended from Strongbow’s harper), Sutton, Stafford, Rossiter, Loundres, Esmonde, French (or ffrench as it is spelled in south Wexford today), Lamport (now Lambert), Peppard, St John and Tuner. (p.108)

It’s possible the Rs may have not had such a high profile in the invasion but were more prominent when land was handed out. But things didn’t usually work out like that. Same book (p.208): “Strongbow granted these two baronies [Forth and Bargy] to Hervey de Monte Marisco who colonised his holdings with Norman, Flemish and Welsh settlers and followers, dividing the lands between the Suttons, Prendergasts, Roches, Sinnotts, Rossiters, Furlongs, Hays, Keatings, Cheevers, Codds and others.” Surnames were of course still evolving in the 12th century so it’s possible that the Rs were called something else in the invading force (quite probably!). Nobody was called Rossiter in the 12th century: the name was de Roucestre, e.g. Ralph de Roucestre (Ralph of Rochester), who is an early carrier of the name. In England the name became Rochester, signifying someone from Rochester, probably in Kent but there were other places with this name, for instance that in Northumberland. In Ireland the name became Rossiter, via variants such as Rawceter, which is quite close to how they pronounce my name today in Wexford.

Since Ralph seems to be a popular name among the first Roucestre, it is worth noting any mention of the name in the accounts of the invasion and the early years of the colonisation.

Jason Botkin (2011) in a blog “The Cambro-Norman Invasion of Ireland” in Irish Abroad has the following entries:

From Camden (Britannia, 1610) comes this list of persons who participated with Dermot MacMorrogh during the Invasion:

Raulfe Fitz-Stephen (It is possible that the name Raulfe Fitz-Stephen (Ralph, son of Stephen) given on p.110 (Roche 1995) as one of the invaders could have been changed to Ralph de Roucestre to make the surname more distinctive).

Others “claimed” to have been present during the Invasion (or shortly thereafter):

Randolph FitzRalph – with FitzStephen

From the book “The History and Antiquities of the City of Dublin”, by Walter Harris, Esq., comes this alphabetical list of “such English adventurers as arrived in Ireland during the first sixteen years from the invasion of the English, collected partly from Maurice Regan and Giraldus Cambrensis, two contemporary writers, and partly from records.”:

Fitz-Ralph (Randulph); Fitz-Stephen (Ralph); Ralph, abbot of Bildewas; Ralph, archdeacon of Lhandaffe.

Descendant of Nesta (in family tree):

Ralf FitzRobert (son of Strongbow, Robert FitzStephen, and Nesta)

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

But who knows at this stage how my family were involved! DNA Genebase test swab was received by them on 7/2 and it takes 4-6 weeks so still a while for the result and suspect it will raise more questions than answers: may of course trace the Tiverton milkman!

Up early today for intruder alarm service by Swanson – no problems; he was very interested in my satellite BB. R was good: P talked on St Helena, which looked remarkably like Santo Antão, Cape Verde. Ill-advised irreverence to secretary in solicitors NP when he was collecting projector for his talk has stirred things up a bit: keep well clear! A gr8 day for local sightings: the lovely mbo and the lively mmo!! 2moro it’s N4c4c with P, trip out to Derwent watershed and BH4ra4s!! Also getting soon new suit. xxxxxxxxxx!!!

February 23rd: walk was certainly strenuous, we did at least 16km in area W of Morpeth from 10:20-16:00, starting at Beacon Hill and moving out to Wingates at furthest point, taking in Whinney Hill and Rayburn Lake. Ground was oh so muddy with gateways often under 15 cm of soft topping and wind was very strong SW, almost gale force at times, with continuous spitting rain. So very good for getting fit but maybe one of those experiences you look back on with favour, rather than actually enjoying it at the time! Bird list was actually not bad at all, had 23 species in walk area, including, at Rayburn Lake, 14 Whooper Swan adult and 38 Pink-footed Goose, at Whinney Hill, 4 singing Skylark, 2 skulking Meadow Pipit, 400 Starling, 130 Fieldfare, at Beacon Hill, a Marsh Tit, and at Hebron, a male Kestrel. P drove, S ably led the walk and there were one or two walking wounded at the end. On way back at 16:40 had very interesting record of flock of 40 Golden Plover moving W at moderate latitude over Bywell Peepy, presumably birds on way back to moors to breed. Also had 3 Tawny Owl around 18:00 between Hexham Loughbrow and Ordley. Did make G where j looked very delectable as well as delivering the g in gr8 style!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4s, N4c4ll and catch-up later on!! Another good nite’s sleep coming up, maybe not for best of reasons!! lokttmbo!!!

February 22nd: beautiful lie-in, lovely start to weekend!!! Met P at N4c4l so we could plan attendance at walk tomorrow, promises to be windy, not for the faint-hearted. Younger sister visited Dawlish and Teignmouth today, said damage was quite severe, area looks quiet devastated with re-opening of line at Dawlish now delayed until mid-April, after further recent damage to temporary sea-wall they’d erected. Whole area is demoralised, think I’m better off up here! Had email from daughter with indication that final wedding budget deficit is estimated to be 7k (all-in), pleased to offer 3.5k with loan of rest! As stock market likely to peak this year in current bull phase, thinking a bit about property again (btl/town pad!!). If planning regulations get even slacker, might be able to sell my 2 acre field as building land. After walk near Morpeth, it’s hot bath time and G4g4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

February 21st: made Merryshields, near Stocksfield, from 14:10-15:50; was very breezy and cool with squalls coming through quickly but sunny intervals were very bright; never taken me so long to get there, road works everywhere! Visit was successful with 2 Red Kite, 1 up over Merryshields/Eltringham area 1  2 from 14:15-14:25 displaying well 1  2  3  4  5, other up over Bywell Short Wood at 15:30 briefly circling and rearing up over a copse, strongly suggesting holding of territory. So that’s 6 sites now! Also had 4 Common Buzzard up over Short Wood and 1 up over Merryshields Wood. Enjoyed new footpath along Tyne, courtesy of Eltringham Anglers, after recent public enquiry! Total was a grand 35 species, including also 6 Oystercatcher 1  2, 62 Lapwing (7 W), 2 Goosander (ad/1w drake), 2 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Reed Bunting (1w). The FoRKers are showing improved tactics with recent request:

2014 Red Kite Breeding Survey: Friends of Red Kites (FoRK) are planning a survey of breeding red kites in the north east of England next spring and early summer. The aim of the survey is to establish the number of breeding pairs of red kites in Durham and Northumberland, including the areas of North and South Tyneside and Cleveland. FoRK already have a very strong monitoring team but would like to enlist the help of additional volunteers to carry out a more comprehensive survey. Ideally, the survey will involve visiting potential breeding sites at least twice a month from the beginning of February to the end of June, although once evidence of breeding has been confirmed, visits will reduce significantly, and be made from a distance, to reduce disturbance. [http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=146481&page=15].

At last they now realise that you don’t do a raptor survey by making one annual visit to a site on a nice day for one hour. It’s a pity that accusations have been made against all landowners in Northumberland, based on inadequate survey work. The Hindley Hall shooting estate certainly deserved all the criticism they got for the poisoning cases but other estates in the main Tyne Valley appear to be not breaking the law with respect to Red Kite.

Made C4c4l with N packed out at half term. W4ra4s was quite inspiring with j around!! There were 5 of us there, not bad as 3 definitely away. Rather a struggle for funds this week although markets did well in general; managed gain of 1k to new record but there were modest falls in some of the junk bonds after LBG threatened to redeem some ECNs at par; don’t hold any of these but there was a knock-on in that other bonds were sold by investors to fund purchases of ECNs at perceived bargain prices; by end of week worries had eased somewhat. Completed indexing New York piccies but need to check all the links work. Highlite of day was at end with the most beautiful one: xxxxxxxxxx!!! Sweet dreams beckon!!!

February 20th: some more fieldwork from 12:20-13:55 in the ‘Shire in Steel/Dukesfield area getting 27 species, including 4 Common Buzzard (at 3 sites) and a Little Owl, latter new for year. Weather: damp moderate SW breeze but mainly dry during visit with little sunshine at end. On pond had 7 Teal with mobile (wary) feeding flock of 45 Greylag Goose overhead. Had 2 Lapwing, one looking in territory by pond, the other moving W. Also had 11 Black-headed Gull moving W, maybe to moorland breeding sites such as Plenmeller. Winter Olympics have caught the imagination a bit: pleased to see Scottish lady curlers getting a medal, one of them reminds me of someone!! A lot of sour grapes towards Russian winner of ladies figure skating – Adelina S – but she had the passion and ambition, no doubt assisted by home support! Going for walk with group this Sunday near Morpeth. Did make N4c4ll, gr8 to see the mbo!! Made T&S4ra4s with M, good chat and whole pub very lively with music nite. 2moro it’s N4c4l, trip out somewhere and W4ra4s, maybe more care needed!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

February 19th: main focus of day was meeting at unn as we took forward our ideas a long way with formalisation of the visualisation part and its integration with the schema and data; there are many spin-offs here, including in database area where processing rules and formats languages are essential add-ons for user functionality. So that was good progress! Had a Kestrel at the Spetchells from the train. Earlier was at N4c4c, seeing many of P’s shots from Zimbabwe, and CT4s4l where looking at visualisation problem. Did make G4g4t where met B; we’re planning to go to Hartlepool on 1/3 to see ‘Pool play the Gulls, might be a good opportunity to see one of the Gulls’ last matches in the League (perish the thought!). Also met M, one of DB’s relations and stayed a while, so no part 2! 2moro it’s out in the field, followed by N4c4ll and T&S4ra4s!! Day length reached 10 hours 0 minutes today in Newcastle (increasing at 4 minutes 22 seconds a day now) and altitude of sun is up to 23.8º at midday: spring rapidly approaches, with singing Song Thrush and Chaffinch in Hexham today.

February 18th: did make back of Bywell from 14:10-15:35 where had 4 Common Buzzard and a Kestrel as rain cleared on light SW breeze in mild conditions; also in total of 21 species had 35 Lapwing (16 W, flock 17, plus 2 singles on fields), 8 Stock Dove, a Goldcrest and singing Song Thrush (2) and Chaffinch (1); spring approaches! But no Red Kite up when I was there; it’s not such an easy species as some people think after they’ve seen them in a stronghold like Chilterns or Derwent Valley. Visit to N4c4l was very tasty: more than matched later!!! 2moro it’s N4c4c with P (back from Africa), unn for meeting with P/M and split session at G; might leave car at M&S for day. lokttmbo!!!

Did have some words with Chef & Brewer after last Saturday’s do:

To: guest.service@spiritpubcompany.com;

On 15/2 8 of us went for dinner at the Wellington, Riding Mill, for a birthday celebration (mine), taking the normal menu. We had a very good time, able to leisurely talk, eat 3 courses and drink for over 3 hours from 19:30-23:00. The food was cooked well and not a scrap was left. We had 3 vegetarians in the group and they were satisfied with the choice available. The service was excellent from both Michael and Sarah. Value for money was fair.

Reply: I would like to thank you for taking the time to contact us. We truly appreciate your kind words. I can assure you that your comments have been passed to the Pub Team and the Business Development Manager for the pub who also thank you for your comments. We do hope you enjoy your next experience with Wellington Hotel.

February 17th: weather continuing to get milder but cloudy with drizzle at times; had Tawny Owl calling at Ordley at 05:00, interrupting sweet dreams!! R was good, talk by S on a photographic safari in Kruger, RSA, with some marvellous shots of Leopard. It’s my turn again on 19/5; might talk about the oldest consumer protection system (not the oldest profession!); alternatively could get a local music charity to give a talk for me e.g. Core. Don’t think I can talk about Honey-buzzard again (however dressed up!). Gr8 to see the mbo: hope she liked her coffee: lokttmbo!! Added piccies below for New York on 14/1 – mostly birds on the lake in Central Park, with 4 species of gull including Kumlien’s Gull. One day left to do, 15/1, mostly Empire State Building and more of Central Park. 2moro it’s N4c4l, trip out for Red Kite in Bywell area (hoping to add to 4 sites found occupied so far this season) and much later BH4ra4s!!

February 16th: 1st day of spring, raptor-wise: much better day, sunny spells, dry, mild on light to moderate SW breeze. Went to Wylam from 12:15-14:05 where walked around BH in ever-decreasing circles, fitting in visit to the pond at Bradley Hall. The walk along Sled Lane is pleasanter now that it’s mainly for cycles with just one-way traffic for cars. Main target was Red Kite; had to wait a while but finally struck lucky: 1st bird at 13:35 flying W close to Tyne, just on S side, flap-flap-glide display; 2nd bird at 13:55 also flap-flap-glide display over SE edge of Horsley Wood. So 2 sites in Wylam area as last year. Also had an unaged male Sparrowhawk diving into wood behind BH on W side of pub and pair of displaying (talon grappling) Common Buzzard just to S of Station when arrived and seen on and off through visit. Total was a very creditable 34 species – full report to follow. Had a pair of Common Buzzard displaying over Bywell Cottagebank on way over at 12:10, 3 Common Buzzard at Ordley at 2 sites at 16:00, including a displaying pair, and a Tawny Owl calling in the Sele much later. So total for day was 11 raptors of 4 species: 7 Common Buzzard, 2 Red Kite, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Tawny Owl. Made N4c4t, where good to see j, and G4g4s, where good to have j on; symbols overloaded but context resolves the issue! A pair of excited Oystercatcher over the Sele completed a memorable day! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l and N4c4ll with some effort needed on YEDT at former, I feel. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

February 15th: here’s the Hobby data for 2013, showing a steady as she goes picture. Longer series of data is available here.

Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

Juveniles

Conf

Prob

Poss

Local-fledge

Also seen

Devil’s Water

1

1

0

0

1

0

0

Allen

3

4

1

1

1

2

0

Upper South Tyne

4

3

3

0

1

5

0

Lower South Tyne

1

2

0

1

0

0

0

Tyne W

3

4

0

1

2

0

0

Tyne E

1

1

0

1

0

0

0

Derwent

1

1

0

1

0

0

0

Total

14

16

4

5

5

7

0

Table 8: Breeding Data for Hobby in SW Northumberland by area in 2013

A similar year to recent ones with 16 adults seen at 14 sites; finding broods remains challenging with breeding confirmed at just 4 sites. All the broods found were on the moorland edge with 3 in the upper South Tyne and one in the Allen. A gathering of 3 juveniles at Parson Shields on 14/9 produced spectacular display; it is possible that this brood was from more than one site. Evidence for fledging is not easy to produce as the period in which the full family groups are visible is thought to be quite short from mid-August to early September. If this were the top priority species in the study area, a focus could be put on this period at the known Hobby sites but the Honey-buzzard sites for early fledging take preference. 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. However, 9 of the 14 sites occupied are adjacent to heather moorland; the remaining 5 were in the main Tyne Valley, around Hexham, including the gravel-pit site at Farnley; in Tyne Valley E around Wylam; in lower South Tyne around Warden. Sand Martin might be a significant prey along the Tyne Valley. On the moorland edges, Meadow Pipit may well be targeted as the commonest passerine.

Another day of rain and wind at start but sun came out mid-afternoon; ground is saturated. Made C4c4l (better views!) and sorted out Hobby data for 2013 as above. Good to see the meo in action!! Meal in evening at W from 19:30-23:00 was gr8 – 8 of us there for 3 courses – very good crack, good food and sparkling service from s!! I picked up the tab at 0.2k for the meal and 0.02k cash tip, well received! 2moro thinking of going E for Red Kite, maybe to Wylam. Should be back for N4c4t and G4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

February 14th: here’s the Goshawk data for 2013; continues the very poor results since 2010 with birds noted at only 7-8 sites from 2010-2013, compared to 10-14 sites from 2006-2010. Longer series of data is available here.

Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

Juveniles

Conf

Prob

Poss

Local-fledge

Also seen

Devil’s Water

1

1

0

0

1

0

0

Allen

1

1

0

1

0

0

0

Upper South Tyne

1

0

1

0

0

2

0

Lower South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tyne W

1

1

0

1

0

0

0

Tyne E

2

2

0

1

1

0

0

Derwent

1

1

0

0

1

0

0

Total

7

6

1

3

3

2

0

Table 7: Breeding Data for Goshawk in SW Northumberland by area in 2013

The very poor performance of recent years continued with birds noted at only 7-8 sites from 2010-2013, compared to 10-14 sites from 2006-2010. Even the one apparent breeding success is not definite as no adults were seen at Towsbank but it has been a regular site and the 2 juveniles present together have been taken at face value. There is no concentration of the sightings, just a thin scattering across the study area. 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 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.

Some interesting snippets in BB 106(4) 2013. At p.183 in BB eye: Ghosts, Conor Jameson says about the Goshawk:

They are three times as heavy as harriers. We know they can cross the North Sea, but show a peculiar reluctance to do so, if the low number of records for Shetland, the oil rigs and coming in off the east coast are anything to go by (one Scandinavian ring-recovery, ever).

Well there is a very close correlation here with the Honey-buzzard. In September 2008 there was only 1 in Shetland (14/9) (and 1 in Orkney (14/9-15/9)). None were reported from the oil rigs. There were some reported in-off records but these almost entirely related to birds obviously crossing the Wash or being diverted in coastal passage by the shape of the headlands, as in Cleveland. There are just 2 recoveries of Honey-buzzard in Britain that had been ringed in Scandinavia (ever!). So Honey-buzzard share Goshawk’s reluctance to cross the North Sea (at least in its northern and central parts).

Second snippet. Short paper – Raptor Migration in Malta, Sammut, Michael, Fenech, Natalino, Pirotta, Juan Ellul, pp. 217-223:

(pp.219-220) Our records suggest that three species at least – Marsh Harrier, Honey-buzzard and Hobby – migrate at night. It has long been known that some Marsh Harriers migrate at night, as on many occasions birds have been noted flying out to sea at dusk and continuing over the horizon. Meyburg et al (2001) used satellite tracking to confirm that some Hobbies migrate at night. Our observations also show many instances when large numbers of Hobbies were recorded in the late afternoon yet none were seen leaving the roost early the following morning; it seems most likely that these birds had departed during the night. Honey-buzzards were also suspected to migrate at night, based on a similar discrepancy between birds counted roosting and those leaving the roost the following morning. This was especially evident during large movements. For example, 700 Honey-buzzards were counted on 19th September 2008, with over 300 roosting within the immediate vicinity of the watchpoints, yet fewer than 50 left the roost the following morning from the whole area. On 28th September 2011, two Honey-buzzards were watched heading out to sea to the SW at dusk. They were observed until they disappeared over the horizon, proving that these birds do sometimes migrate at night. Records of birds arriving off the sea at first light or just after sunrise also suggest that some raptors migrate at night.

The interpretation of the movement in the morning of 13/9 could be aided by some of the birds breaking roost early from the Midlands or NE England, after the frustration of being blocked by the weather. This could explain how some birds got through to Norfolk early in the day.

At 16:55 1st Song Thrush singing in garden this year, bang on cue, but in driving sleet. Mining shares and precious metals made some recovery this week and gained about 3k there; also gained 4k on LLPF, a Lloyds preference share, which is a special-situation: will they be called next May (2015) at par (100) or will they revert to a low coupon, when they will probably go to 50. Well there’s only £10.93m outstanding of which I own almost 1% and think LLOY will simply say: “Sod it! This is small beer; let’s just redeem it!” They have stated that they want to get rid of small (rump) debt items as it’s not efficient for them and probable resumption of dividends on equity early in 2015 removes some capital redemption constraints. With price now at 89 (+4.5 on week, most of mine bought at 66), market is swinging towards the call; will get total of 9.12% interest on nominal (100) in 3 coupons by May 2015 whatever happens. Further withdrawal of 1k left week’s gain at 6k to equal previous record on 17/1; could add these withdrawals are not releases of capital but in effect a partial withdrawal of dividends, which are all re-invested by default! Made N4c4l (rather quiet) and W4ra4s where 6 of us tonite for good crack. Did go E for the delights of the orient!!! lokttmso!!! She’s very sensuous!!! 2moro it’s A’s4s4l and W4m4s, where I’m treating the W crowd to a meal!! Will start processing Hobby records for 2013.

February 13th: did make Whittle Dene Reservoirs from 12:25-13:45; weather was bracing: very fresh SW wind, cool, dry, sunny periods, but good to get out! Birdlist was not bad at all: 57 Greylag Goose with 1 Pink-footed Goose, 23 Tufted Duck with 4 Goldeneye and 1 Goosander, 3 Tundra Bean Goose with 3 Whooper Swan adult and 3 Mute Swan adult, 1 Green Sandpiper flushed off muddy pool, near cross-roads with Military Road, on young oil-seed-rape field, 1 Great Crested Grebe in winter plumage. Total was 21 species. Had 2 Common Buzzard on the road: 1 displaying E of Dilston, other hanging over Widehaugh. Made N4c4ll where heard all about j’s new car. Eye-up had me thinking for quite a while: subtle hint of the imperative!! 4 of us at T&S, where good chat; shown good picture of Hawk Owl in Holland by fellow N&TBC member also there. SH it was!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, work on Goshawk records for 2013 and recent raptor migration analyses, W4ra4s, then E!! Upward momentum building in pt/pd as RSA strike, now in its 4th week, starts to bite. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

February 12th: here’s the Red Kite data for 2013. Not a bad picture at all! Let’s hope improvement continues into 2014, both in numbers and productivity. Longer series of data is available here.

Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

No. Juveniles fledged

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

2

3

1

0

1

1

Allen

0

0

0

0

0

0

Upper South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lower South Tyne

1

1

0

0

1

0

Tyne W

3

5

1

2

0

2

Tyne E

4

6

2

1

1

2

Derwent

3

4

3

0

0

4

Total

13

19

7

3

3

9

Table 7: Breeding Data for Red Kite in SW Northumberland by area in 2013

All indicators were positive this year with record totals of pairs, broods and young fledged, in anyway the last 2 centuries. Productivity remained low, perhaps because of the weather, at just over 1 young/successful site with broods of 2×2 and 5×1. Out of the total of 13 occupied sites, 7 were confirmed breeding, 3 probable breeding and 3 possible breeding. The probable breeding may well be really failures due to the poor weather or inexperience of the birds; the possible breeding might refer to a future colonisation. The birds are still concentrated along the boundary with Gateshead. For confirmed/probable sites 3 pairs were in Derwent, on the Northumberland side at Shotleyfell, Wallish Walls and Beldon Burn, 3 in Tyne Valley E, at Wylam Horsley, Bradley Hall and Hyons Wood, 3 in Tyne Valley W at Bywell, Stocksfield E and Corbridge. Outside these areas the only confirmed/probable pair was in the Devil’s Water at Dukesfield. The possible breeding sites were widely scattered, comprising Woodhall, between Hexham-Haydon Bridge where breeding has been confirmed before, Dalton, in the Devil’s Water, and Callerton Grange, in Tyne Valley E. There was no recorded or suspected persecution. Overall, a little more optimism is justified with consolidation of the population in the east of the study area. There is little sign of the birds moving into the west.

Next up, very soon, is Goshawk, which feel will not be so comforting! What a day for weather. From 22:00-24:00 at Ordley, horizontal driving sleet, temperature 0ºC, wind W force 8-9 in gusts! That’s wind chill -18ºC in the gusts; we need to get round to using wind chill measures more in UK. In between made G for nitecap where met R/G for good chat with l on! Everything going sideways in drive-in and most of barriers in gas workings blown over. Earlier made N4c4t and G4t where good to see B/B. Some bird information: pair of Red Kite on N side of Corbridge regularly, male Blackcap lower Elvaston last 2 weeks on fat-balls, another Blackcap Eastwood Grange. Did make unn for meeting; also visited CT, EE for new iP 5s, which is exciting new toy, and L&P to sort out my library card (lost with wallet) and current borrowings. She might think that’s what I like: she’s very right!! 2moro it’s a visit to Whittle Dene Resr to look for some Bean Geese, N4c4ll and T&S4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

February 11th: a good day! Worked up Red Kite breeding data for 2013 and will publish tomorrow (it’s a record total for over 200 years, anyway!); also found interesting information in BB 106(4) on why Goshawk cannot be considered a North Sea migrant and on Honey-buzzard migration at night at Malta, both useful background reading. Made N4c4l where met J and a couple from Prudhoe, who I’m chatty with! Got ready to go out E (didn’t take too long!) and shocked to see 2 cm of snow on car in process of freezing and then less surprised to see road in similar state. Gritting by NCC was below par – just one lane of A69 in each direction seemed to have been done, everywhere else icy tracks! Never mind, like to keep things up, so good chat in quiet BH with c. A lot of harmony later at the rendezvous!!! She’s brilliant: lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s unn with CT4s4l, visit to Orange shop to sort out new contract with iP 5S and split session at G!!

February 10th: busy day. Talk at R was interesting, dealing with ACB of Northumbrian kings: Aiden – Cuthbert – Bede 651-735 AD. When my turn comes round again, thinking of talking on ag hallmarks. Made N4c4ll: exchange of compliments with manageress j continues. I made the mistake of telling her she was bubbly last week; she retaliated this afternoon by saying you look smart today!. Meeting at B for LAF WG2 went on from 17:00-18:30, all very enthusiastic and think we made progress. B are quite happy to have us there as long as we have a drink and give a bit to the staff box. Looks as if Eastgate will open tomorrow but you never know: absolutely amazed at impatience of drivers through temporary route of Elvaston; certainly wouldn’t leave my car out in the road there. Suspect Slaley is as dysfunctional in driving as in pub management! ‘Shire of course is perfect! Fascinating story in DT last week 5/2 on find of a photograph of 40 lady codebreakers, from January 1945, working with the pioneer Colossus machine, used to break the German Lorenz cipher and to shorten WWII by finding the positions and intentions of the enemy, particularly of submarines. The ladies were involved in manual indexing of information gleaned and in operating the machines: no relational databases for another 30 years! Gr8 to see the very smart one on 2nd trip to B!! Below added few photos from yesterday and from 2/2. 2moro it’s N4c4l and BH4ra4s!!

February 9th: grand walk of 12 km from Ovington, NW to Mowden Hall, N to Shildonhill, SW to Thornbrough High Barns, SE to Newton, Bywell home Farm and back to Ovington. Forecast was spot-on: strong W breeze, light rain at start, then dry with sunny spells. Started at 10:30 and finished at 15:30; we then went to WS in Ovingham, BE being shut; never been in WS before, surprised how big it was, would suit people from Cork, excellent pint of M! A couple of interesting new members, including a marine ecologist! Great to get out for a strenuous walk again: the mud was glutinous in places. In total of 28 bird species, had 4 Lapwing on flooded field and raptors included single Red Kite (up over Tyne on arrival, flap-flap-glide action S of Ovington at moderate height) and Common Buzzard (out to hunt, N of Mowden Hall), with a Kestrel 1w at Ordley on return at 17:00. Year list has reached 65 species, 464th in BirdTrack. Early flowers included Azalea 1 and Snowdrop 1  2. Here’s view to paradise. Soaking in a hot bath after such a walk is one of life’s pleasures! Did make G later, where R also attended and we had good chat; very fit lass on duty as emergency cover, J’s selection criteria score again! 2moro have R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll, then back to B for LAF WG2 meeting early evening, which chairing.

February 8th: lovely lie-in, up late, sweet dreams!!! Did do some work today on major movement in 2008, updated Summary, Map of Honey-buzzard Routes in North Sea Area from 11-14 September, The Honey-buzzard did Cross the North Sea: from England to Benelux, Analysis of the Movement across France, Map showing Routes across France from 11-16 September 2008. All hanging together well now with much more consistency between the various pages; next some stab at the totals moving, both in Britain and through the continent. Then made A’s4s4l where good chat! Had an Oystercatcher flying over Hexham. Caught up with bird records since start of year, both on BirdTrack and the summaries on here. Catalogued a couple of ag pieces bought on ebay in last week: Dublin table fork 1725 and a London table spoon 1768, both hanoverian-style. Too wet for power tools but finished work in orchard removing some wild plum strays with a hand saw. 2moro it’s walk with Tyneside Group from Ovington to NW, promises to be wet in morning but feel like getting out of hibernation. Expect we’ll go to a pub afterwards! Much later it’s G4g4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

Could have done without that storm – stirs up memories! Might add that dad died intestate (no will) and next few years were pretty traumatic financially with family fortunes at a low ebb even before the accident, though we did have some property; we got full grants to go to University (no such luck for current students), endowments for a few years from a rich 2nd cousin (Sir E Norton, paternal grandfather’s sister’s son, director) and lots of moral support from other relatives; it all gave mum, sisters and me a very steep learning curve but that did yield benefits in the long run for our finances and mum 5 years later married the other optician in town (Teignmouth): she was very far-sighted! Property was our salvation; we sold some poorly-preforming steel shares and converted our rambling town house into flats and offices. We also had a bungalow in Shaldon occupied by my grandfather’s mistress (Aunty Amy, his accountant, regarded as one of the family!) on a very low rent, which was protected, meaning the property was only worth a fraction of its unfettered value. After a few years she decided to buy her own house in Teignmouth, enabling us to sell the property for its full market value. No harassment … honest …. !!

February 7th: beautiful sunny late winter day. Did get out in afternoon in garden to do some trimming in the orchard, making sure there’s more space between the trees (7 apple, 2 pear, 1 cherry, 2 plum, 2 greengage), using the hedge trimmer. Last season was best ever for apples, have been eating 1-2 a day since late August, now on cookers, which core, punch a few holes and stick in microwave for 3 minutes, with no additives at all. Also been giving s quite a few for helping out with Cleo. Don’t expect any crop at all this year on the law of averages! Only the apples did well last year. Made N4c4l where met J for good crack. There were 6 of us at W – very sociable! Did go E – absolutely brilliant with the favourite one: lokttmbo!!! Markets were better this week but my funds fluctuated in a narrow band throughout and were unchanged at the end. There’s a bit more interest in mining shares but pt/pd remain out of favour; junk bonds slipped a little, perhaps catching up on general fall over last few weeks. 2moro it’s A’s4s4l and catch up; out with walking group on Sunday in Ovington area. Think should play out with this number!!

February 6th: got out for walk to Dotland at dusk from 17:05-18:15, hoping for Little Owl but did get 4 Tawny Owl (2,1,1), an Oystercatcher W and 10 singing Robin, with total of 12 species. Weather was damp but mild on light S breeze; no real snow yet this winter. Made N4c4ll (quiet) and T&S4ra4s with work-mates (noisy with BB in, very enjoyable!). More work on Honey-buzzard movement in France; printed out a copy and took it to N to try a better line through it, partial success but still not quite there! The mbo continues to impress: matron’s giving me an evil eye: lok!! 2moro it’s hedge trimming, N4c4l and then E including W4ra4s!!

February 5th: amazing weather at Dawlish, my birth place and where my mother lived after her 2nd marriage, with extensive damage to London-Plymouth/Cornwall main line. It was in nearby Teignmouth that my father drowned in February 1963, taking weather readings on the Pier in a storm; he was town meteorologist (almost honorary). The south Devon coast is a frightening place in SE gales, perhaps not appreciated by all. It’s so serious for the area as the railway line forms the seawall fortification, along the Rivers Exe and Teign and the sea fronts at Dawlish and Dawlish Warren (but not Teignmouth). If they eventually decide to re-route the line inland, directly from Exeter-Newton Abbot to the back of Haldon, there are immense coastal defence implications from who will replace Network Rail. One or two lighter notes: wonder if the Gulls’ next home match on Saturday will take place, still time to dry out, otherwise 3rd postponement in a row; one lady, with bare track hanging over the sea, in an interview had wondered whether they would get things going tonight! Had scheduled power cut at Ordley today. Pretty indulgent day with CT, N and Gx2. Good meeting at unn where we finally started to make progress on assigning logic to the topos. mbo looked very impressive: smart and s.xy: lok!! 2moro it’s N4c4ll and T&S4ra4s!!

February 4th: completed updating 2008 movement pages on passage through Germany and France; will give final read-through tomorrow and then announce update to results; next step is estimate of numbers. Made Low Yarridge late morning to meet TH for chat about YEDT organisation by R this year. Then into N4c4l where had good catch-up chat with J, who’s back from Sharm. Helped M cut back Krakow paper from 50 to 24 pages; fits (almost!) with their guidelines now. Nice mild sunny day: pair of Common Buzzard displaying over home at 11:05. one up over Loughbrow at 11:10 and Raven soaring over Hexham at 14:00, last 1st record for the area. Weather not so good by evening as rain arrived on strong E winds. Out to BH where good to see I back; had a couple of Corby brown! Lovely rapprochement later; think that’s how mid-week should be done: lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s CT4s4l, unn 4 meeting with M/P, N4c4t and split session in G!!

February 3rd: did make R and N4c4ll: good to see the meo!! Made MP/TC later with N for rearranged Falstaff (see 14/12), a comedy opera by Verdi; was very witty and well done – typical NY Met with hyper-reality – exceeded expectations! Sitting next to couple, parents of B, who had enviable track record in quiz! Why don’t you come anymore they said. Well that’s not strictly true but 2moro it’s N4c4l and BH4ra4s!!

February 2nd: sorted Switzerland, Spain and Morocco but still integrating some weather reports with counts in France and Germany; latter are important as can see way to estimate total number of birds on late passage from Scandinavia and Britain individually, which is a great bonus! Weather sunnier today, though fairly cool, and went for walk along Tyne Green from 15:30-16:45; in total of 18 species had interesting ducks: 12 Goosander (5 drakes, 7 redheads), 2 Goldeneye drakes 1, 23 Mallard, 14 Teal; also a calling Common Buzzard, a singing Blackbird, a Black-headed Gull in summer plumage 1. Then N4c4t where j looked after me well! Had received kit from Genebase in Vancouver; so took swab today by scraping the inside of each cheek for 15 seconds; doesn’t hurt but get a slightly raw feeling like after treatment at dentist; will post tomorrow and may get results online in a couple of weeks; could open a book on Neanderthal content; question which may not be answerable quite yet is: did my catholic Norman ancestors in their 500 odd years in Wexford, Ireland, from c1170 (Strongbow invasion) – c1690 (Battle of the Boyne) inter-marry with the Gaelic people! My guess is a strong yes! Made G4g4s where just 3 of us with the fit j in charge!! Had a Chiffchaff calling later near the Sele, incredible record, call was shorter and slightly thinner than our breeding birds, maybe eastern bird; didn’t see it! Very satisfying!!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l and N4c4ll! To the gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

February 1st: spent a lot of time on the Honey-buzzard 2008 movement, bringing together data from Switzerland, Spain and Morocco; the extra data suggests that the birds drifted SW from N Germany took a route to W of both Switzerland and the Rhône Valley but managed to avoid the North Sea murk and flew faster towards the Pyrenees than the ones which were drifted W from N Germany towards the North Sea blocking depression. The late movement was not picked up at the Straits of Gibraltar; it’s very difficult to count across the whole Strait as I found when I was there in February/March 2011 so maybe not too surprising. So it’s in a bit of flux, hope to sort tomorrow: fascinating picture! Did get to C4c: makes a change and good observatory! Terrible weather: bitterly cold SW wind, gusting to gale force at wuthering heights, with driving rain on showers; had some sleet yesterday. Think the wildlife groups should offer to buy out distressed property owners on the Levels, in the same way as HF operate in the banking world; whole area could be like the Camargue with a bit more laissez faire! 2moro going for a walk, maybe at Tyne Green, then N4c4t and much later G4g4s!! Good win for Gulls today, but still 91st; not such a good day for the Toon against their bogey side! To the beauties: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

January 31st: finished indexing 13/1 piccies from NY (below), might return to Honey-buzzard movement in 2008 tomorrow. Good social life today: made N4c4l where J back, looking so tanned, after his 2 weeks in Sharm; good to see the mbo looking very fit!! Into Newcastle where met N at MP4m4t; after good meal went to S where fantastic performance of Bruch’s Violin Concerto, bit soppy in places but pretty convincing, particularly on a period instrument (worth a fortune, lent to the star – Jennifer Pike). Met G in interval, former Journal reporter from Ovington who used to see often on commutes from Prudhoe International; we got so engrossed in talking about US that we missed 1st piece of 2nd half and were let in with dunce hats on for remainder of concert, 2 Falla pieces, conducted energetically with a light touch by Christian Vásquez. So no comment on Fauré! Quick g at Station then on last train where met BH N, so 3 Ns together, makes life simple! Into W where 4 of gang still present for a nitecap of ra and good chat! Straight home. Worst month in 2 years ended on markets today with further moderate falls: factors worrying market are winding down of stimulus in US, stagnation and possible deflation in Europe and turmoil in emerging markets (linked to 1st). Funds dropped 4k this week, with falls in pt/pd prices, even though some key RSA mines on strike, and slide in some natural resources shares; situation in RSA is chaotic with R slumping against £, which should benefit local miners with costs in R and sales in $. Feeding funds slowly into market on dips but don’t really expect any sustained recovery until 2nd half of year; bought some ‘sensible’ shares such as BP, RIO and FRES this week for the medium term (and a few train-wrecks). In context fall is not so bad, as still 16k up on year and fall on last 2 weeks of 5k is only 0.72% against hefty market fall of 4.72% (ftse). 2moro it’s C4s4l, working hard in evening! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

January 30th: finished run-through of 13/1 piccies from New York, re-living the adventure! Not indexed yet. Had quick local dusk walk, getting 10 species, including predictably a Tawny Owl. Did make N4c4ll, where met the mmo for lively chat: affairs are quite complicated, to put it mildly, but maybe Scheherazade is the key!! Good time to visit town, with meo and mbo both in view!! Bad week on markets, worst since last June for indices so far, with 1 day to go; what’s called risk-off: investors like a good upside to offset against risk and maybe markets now too high on risk-reward ratio (rrr). Also made T&S where 4 computer scientists from unn at the table, 3 appropriately with beards; very good crack putting the world of IT to rights. 2moro it’s N4c4l, MP4m4t (with N), S4con (NS, including Bruch violin concerto), W4ra4s, SH!

January 29th: labelled and indexed 80% of photos for 1st day at New York (13/1, below); can’t believe we fitted in so much! Should finish this day (13/1) tomorrow, less photos taken on other days. Further work planned on Krakow paper, maybe to add a database introduction; that’s with Mike in Devon, next meeting at unn is next Wednesday. Did make N4c4t and very sociable, split session in G!! 2moro it’s more work on NY piccies, N4c4ll, T&S4ra4s. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

January 28th: labelled 2/3 of New York photos for 13/1, to be published this afternoon; will index them tomorrow. Identified Black Duck, Double-breasted Cormorant and House Sparrow from photos. Still got to do Statue of Liberty from this day. Had long, lazy session in N: very good to see the beauty!! Embarking on new EE contract with iPhone 5s around 5/2. Made BH4ra4s where ra=’rumour’; c was in good form! Gr8 end to day with close encounter: lokttmbo!!! Timing maybe not perfect! 2moro it’s more work on NY, N4c4t, library, W4g4t, W4g4s – busy day!!

January 27th: did make R – working group meeting before, not good turnout for main meeting, maybe speaker not to everyone’s taste! Strolled into N4ll – met the sultry mmo who’s becoming a little more separate!! The mbo looked very desirable, worth a visit!! Into F to collect piccie (shows taste in women!) at 19:00 after big shop at W: amazed how many people I knew there – it was a transmission from Royal Opera House of ballet Giselle. Waited until show started, then they packed it up nicely and I was off. 2moro it’s N4c4l, BH4ra4s and hopefully at last NY photos.

January 26th: still pre-occupied with Krakow paper but finally finished it off at 21:00 so that M could send it off to the editor; that’s taken much of spare time this weekend. Did though have afternoon off, going up to Grindon Lough for a brisk walk and a duck count – quite a lot of ducks: 80 Wigeon, 55 Teal, 24 Tufted Duck, 18 Goldeneye, 8 Mallard, 4 Pochard; also 5 Golden Plover on fields to S and a Little Grebe, in total of 12 species. It was very cool, moderate NW breeze, light showers of rain. Then down to N4c4t for complimentary snack and ST paper as written-off near closing time! Relaxed late-on at G4g4s with 4 of us there tonite and the dynamic j on!! Tawny Owl conspicuous in Sele. Very satisfying!!! Have sent off some $ to have a DNA test, not paternity!, to be precise: Advanced Paternal Ancestry Package (Y-DNA 44 Marker Test), $199.00 US. Have to wait for kit to be sent from US, then take a light scraping off inside of cheek, send it back to US and they give you the results on the web about a week after its arrival there, together with cross-links to people of the same name (or whatever!). Idea of course is to trace back where you come from on male side; will repeat on female side if it turns out OK. May give useful background information for genealogy; or may simply show I’m a caveman!! Looking forward to the week ahead for a rest, after this weekend. Hope to see the lovely one: lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll, collecting piccie from exhibition, finally getting round to New York photos!

January 25th: best part of day was lie-in until 11, very satisfied!! Did make A’s for a chat, good to meet B. Then most of time on Krakow CT paper, with many exchanges with Mike (in Totnes), leading to penultimate draft: Formal Representation of Process & Reality in the metaphysical language of Category Theory: Whitehead’s relational theory of space. We’re finishing it tomorrow and submitting it to the proceedings for the conference Mike attended at Krakow in September. Am thinking about 1 or 2 other things: use of fibreglass telescopic mast for photographing nests from the ground, available up to 50 feet high at reasonable cost; opening another on-line stockbroker account, this time with Davy in Dublin, to add to the 2 I’ve got with III and Lloyds Direct, so as to trade Irish shares more freely. Think every day should be Friday!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!! 2moro it’s likely to sleet up here but hope to get out for walk in afternoon, N4c4t and G4g4s!!

January 24th: met P at N4c4l upstairs for good chat, before his African trip. Sharp sell-off in markets today, with losses of almost 2% on WS and LSE; loss on week at latter was 2.4% with worries over emerging economies coming to the fore; own funds were fairly stable over week, finishing just 1k down on a cash withdrawal of that amount, breaking a run of 19 weeks without loss; helped by a good rise in SXX mid-week, upon which sold entire holding! Picked up some resource stocks this afternoon, after falls. Expecting a few weeks of volatile markets, until it’s obvious that the printing presses are still rolling to avoid a fall-back into deflation. Made W4ra4s – Black Sheep today – just 4 of us there, but that’s plenty for good crack! Good to have s on! Late nite liaison was gr8: very sensuous encounter of the close kind: lokttmbo!!! Made friends with 2 wild cats!! Not sure when I’m moving in!! 2moro it’s A’s4s4l and much work later on, including penultimate pass on Krakow paper, sorting out NY birds and a bit more on 2008 Honey-buzzard movement.

January 23rd: spent morning getting draft of Krakow CT paper in shape for further drafting. Made N4c4ll: thought the graceful silhouette looked familiar when driving in; confirmed later: flouncy hair on the mbo is very s.xy!! AF meeting went on for hours, glanced at agenda in N and realised it started at 14:00 so off with some purpose; finished at 20:45; WG2 managed to make some progress on computing issue with maps, need to arrange as chair a meeting at B soon to discuss a new topic. So into T&S4ra (Consett Red Dust, same as 21/1) for recuperation where met M/A for good crack. Did meet the lively mmo: very seductive and one comment was revealing!! 2moro it’s N4c4l (maybe N4c4c earlier with P), W4ra4s and E!! lokttbo!!!

January 22nd: met P/M in afternoon at unn, for more chat on 2nd paper on CT and visualisation; in long meeting, just about recovered our position to that in early December when we last discussed the matter, but maybe with a little more insight! Had lunch in CTr, near Library. Did make G twice, once a bit late 4t where met B/M and second much later 4s; as came through door, gr8 cheer, but not for me! Black Cats had just equalised on the nite; almost finished ordering my 1st g and Man U had equalised over the 2 matches and we were into penalties: what a farce with most missed but ‘we’ won – never seen so many people supporting Sunderland in the G before. Very good atmosphere, helped by the lively l; 6 of us at our table! 2moro it’s work at home in morning sorting out a CT paper with M; then N4c4ll and AF at Eastburn, on Slaley road out of Hexham, from 14:30-21:00. Think should be in T&S later for the odd ra!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

January 21st: great, finished analysis of the movement through France, gives valuable extra slant. For major movement in 2008, updated Map of Honey-buzzard Routes in North Sea Area from 11-14 September, The Honey-buzzard did Cross the North Sea: from England to Benelux; added A Full analysis of the Movement across France, Map showing Routes across France from 13-16 September 2008. So just counts and congeners now! Did make N4c4l – even extended my welcome, 2 hours with K from ‘Shire on every topic imaginable that might interest a ‘Shire man! Day completed with BH4ra4s with c off until end but plenty of crack, particularly after N (Close House N, not Stocksfield N) arrived off last train! Late birthday present to the mso was in order: she’s superbly motivating!!! Very sophisticated: lokttmso!!! 2moro it’s CTr4s4l, meeting at unn, G4g4t, G4g4s: sounds bad!!

January 20th: busy lunch: R 12:15-14:00 followed by working committee meeting up to 14:45, N4c4ll and library4ft, giving almost 4 hours in town! Favoured blouse will keep me on-side!! Didn’t leave quite enough time to complete French Honey-buzzard section but have got maps and weather en route sorted as well as a draft account, so should finish tomorrow. Busier this week with unn on Wednesday afternoon and LAF on Thursday afternoon and evening. Booked up table for 8 in W for 15/2. Have got some piccies of meal in London on 11/1, which will post after finishing French section. Also masses of piccies for New York but just managed to upload and save them so far. 2moro s coming to keep me sorted, N4c4l and BH4ra4s!! lokttmbo!!!

January 19th: think I’m still on ET, need to force myself up earlier and adjust! Good to see more birthdays (2) in the last week among the lovelies: Capricorn rules OK!! One is only 1 day after someone’s. Weather cleared up on time just after midday becoming sunny, dry, cool on light breeze; went for walk from 14:35-15:45 on edge of Hexhamshire Common at Kings Law. Great view over low quarter of Shire showing Honey-buzzard habitat. Managed 11 species (par for course for winter), including Red Grouse (11, some displaying), Common Buzzard (1 perched in larch tree throughout visit, photo), Stock Dove (4), Magpie (5, unusual on edge of grouse moors), feeding flocks of Common Gull (40 adult), Starling (120), Fieldfare (55). Good to be in N4t, then G much later with P/R/D and the lovely j on!! Expanding on wallet loss, detected bit of mirth in circumstances: when did you last see your wallet, sir? Well, I got it out in the restaurant to pull out a £5 note to stick in the belly dancer’s knickers! I see, sir! Incidentally when I got back on Thursday, the main 2 replacement cards had already been delivered. Explored W a little: it’s very exciting with plenty of brilliant rhythm: lokttmmo!!! 2moro it’s R @B 4m4l, N4c4ll and completion of French section on Honey-buzzard movement (all data compiled and checked now). Had 5 Tawny Owl this night: 2 at Sele at 11:40, 1 at Elvaston at 12:20 and 2 at Ordley at 12:30.

So what did I like about New York: the people (very chirpy, quick humour, up for it!), the public transport (Subway was reliable and clearly marked), the weather (sunny, mild and longer days than in England, would not have all applied week before!), the service (everywhere very good, but you pay for it with 15-20% tips, cash gets you a bigger smile!), the top-class organisation at events and museums, the effective WiFi really works everywhere and is often free, the marvellous breakfasts with everlasting coffee pot, the ease of walking around (pedestrians well-catered for at junctions), Central Park and the riversides for walking and wildlife. Didn’t have any unpleasant experiences, everything was very positive (but you do pay for it!). Would suggest only need 2 meals per day with a token lunch as portions large, particularly if g is your aperitif!

January 18th: getting back on even keel after the 8 days mega-excitement. Another sleep-in, think I’m still on ET a bit, never mind. Lots of dreams – think I’m being affected!! Decided to scan boarding cards, and then throw them away. Did a lot on Honey-buzzard 2008 movement in evening, tidying up some links after last week’s changes and looking closely on Trektellen at exit through France; have compiled a table and it’s all very interesting suggesting virtually no movement through NW France and a rapid, large movement of the Benelux birds through the Rhône Valley and E of the Pyrenees. All this is in line with previous thinking. Distances covered are 624 km Ghent-Lyon and 872 km Ghent-Marseilles. Gulls had a good day with waterlogged pitch meaning no loss! Interested in upcoming Liverpool player (story on 29/12): “Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was true to his word today, when he gave teenager Jordan Rossiter a place in his match-day squad to face Chelsea”. He was born in Liverpool, like Leonard Rossiter, presumably Irish origin. Did make A’s today in gloomy weather: very relaxing. Good raptors since return with on drive back from Airport to Hexham (16/1): 2 Red Kite together at Callerton (2 birds floating over field), a Kestrel 1w at Bywell and a female Merlin, hunting spectacularly over A69, near Newton turn-off (amazingly early in season); next day (17/1) had a Kestrel 1w at Ordley at 16:30, and this morning had single Tawny Owl at Riding Mill at 00:20 and Ordley at 01:45. 2moro going to walk on edge of moor if weather OK, should be at N4c4t and make a welcome return to G4g4s, where could meet P. Felt really good about the late scene!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

January 17th: slept until 10:30, definitely feeling up for it! Made N4c4l, where met S; good to be back in familiar territory. They were very pleased to see us in MP; January sees very poor trade. Concert at S was brilliant with 2 of my favourite (Richard) Strauss numbers: Don Juan and Four Last Songs (Erin Wall as soprano); quite a Wagner-feel and the large orchestra (CBSO) played with plenty of passion. In 2nd half we had Stravinsky’s Petrushka, a lively ballet piece by Stravinsky; conductor in surgeon’s gear was the impressive Andris Nelsons. Certainly in the mood as made W off last train to see the gang; very good to see s at W and mso again, latter very sophist!! Best was late with the most favoured one: she’s so fine!!! Not a bad week on markets with funds up 17.5k, gain reducing to 16k after cash withdrawal. Everything’s up this week, particularly Irish stocks and junk bonds with B&B the star performer. A nite of sweet dreams to come – maybe A’s4s4l but not out later. lokttmbo!!!

January 16th: back around 09:00 at T3 LHR, feeling knackered as it was 04:00 ET but gradually recovered with help of a lot of caffeine; went to T5 at LHR for 12:45 to NCL, which landed a little early and in Hexham by 14:40; hope yesterday was definitely realised!! Later made T&S4g4s where the mmo was in tantalising, good form!! Drinking g is a good habit!! Hope for good nite’s sleep, plenty of inspiration. 2moro it’s N4c4l, MP4m4s, S4con (with N), W4ra4s and maybe E again for close encounter!! lokttbo!!!

January 15th: son went back on early plane, we waited until late evening. Went up Empire State Building in morning – it’s 381m (1250 feet) high, giving amazing views over city and surrounds; it’s a bit scary when you first step out onto the viewing deck at floor 86 but you get used to it after a while! Many, many photos of views from the building: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  32  33  34  35  36  37  38  39  40  41  42. We then went for a walk in the afternoon, up to Central Park 1  2  3  4  5, passing buildings like New York Public Library 1  2, Rockefeller Center 1  2  3, St Patrick’s Cathedral 1  2  3  4, elegant shops like De Beers and Tiffany 1, with the shops becoming more exclusive as you move uptown from the mid-town Empire State Building. Here’s a few blocks 1  2  3 on S end of Central Park, and a few statues 1  2 (2nd is Shakespeare!) and Delacorte Clock 1 in Central Park. Only birds photographed today are House Sparrow 1  2  3  4  5  6 in Central Park and Eagle Owl 1  2 in the Zoo (not counted!). Final views were of Empire State Building 1  2 from Radisson Hotel. Caught train out to Newark Airport from Penn Station, near the Radisson Hotel; daughter paid the $1,600 hotel bill with her card and I used fpo to transmit £1,000 to her current account, which took a few seconds. Loads of commuters on the train but evidently taxis are slow and expensive in the rush hour so our route wasn’t bad (and train fares were $22 for the 2 of us compared to $90+ for the taxi). Caught 21:05 VS2 to LHR: again got upgrade to Upper Class, with bunk on upper deck, right behind the pilot’s cockpit. Looking forward to return: predict will see someone special tomorrow!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

January 14th: realised major life ambition with visit to New York Metropolitan Opera, one of leading opera houses in the world and of course the one we visit via satellite at Tyneside Cinema. Performance was of La Bohème, Puccini’s romantic/tragic tale of life among poor artists in Paris. After some beautiful love scenes, Mimi the heroine dies of TB; she’s in Rodolfo’s arms shortly after passing away, he was making her a cup of tea; nothing of the melodramatic death scenes of Wagner or of Verdi in Traviata or some other Puccini operas, such as Tosca or Madame Butterfly; the artists have plenty of spirit but are penniless and with no hope of medical help. Conductor was Stefano Ranzani; stars were Maija Kovalevska as Mimi, from Riga, Latvia (they get everywhere!) and Joseph Calleja as Rodolfo, from Malta. Feeling very satisfied afterwards: very moving performance of Puccini’s most popular opera (not a dry eye in the house, surely, in the like of songs such as your little hand is frozen), unashamed opulent setting with fantastic chandeliers and fountains, lively young audience, totally hedonistic!! Thought I’d save my tickets for posterity ($92.50 each). Will take a little time to come down to earth, though barman in hotel said g was a good bargain at moment as pouring fresher with increased sales! Earlier made Madison Avenue for breakfast (good value, again), Central Park 1  2  3  4  5 and New York Met Museum for Arts 1  2. Rain at mid-day, still mild, drier later. Ducks and geese were plentiful on the lake in Central Park. Here’s Northern Shoveler 1  2  3  4  5, Mallard pair 1, Black Duck 1  2, Bufflehead pair (2) 1  2  3, Hooded Merganser redhead (1) 1  2  3  4, Canada Goose 1  2  3. Gulls were the stars with GBBG adult, 2w 1  2  3  4, American Herring Gull all ages but adults predominated 1  2  3  4  5, a single Kumlien’s Gull adult 1  2  3  4  5  6 and a few Ring-billed Gull, including a 1w. Also had American Coot (1) 1  2, Pied-billed Grebe (1) 1  2 and House Sparrow 1  2  3. So that’s 5 new species for trip: Northern Shoveler, Hooded Merganser, Kumlien’s Gull, American Coot, Pied-billed Grebe, taking total to 19. Return not long off!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

January 13th: breakfast at base, where in penthouse apartment on top floor – Radisson Martinique 1  2  3 – enough for 2 meals, endless coffee pot always nice; long walk down Manhattan in morning in beautiful, sunny weather (50ºF) on light S wind, well above average temperatures, taking in High Line (old elevated rail line 1  2  3), Hudson River 1  2 (latter a sign with bird list), Manhattan Municipal Building 1  2  3 (with gilded figurine statue on top), Freedom Monument 1  2  3  4  5 (son, daughter ahead in last one), Brooklyn Bridge in distance 1, Wall Street, including New York Stock Exchange (Wall Street per se) 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, American Stock Exchange 1  2  3, financial district 1  2  3. WS had worst day for some time – hope wasn’t us! Then we went on Statue Lines cruise 1 to Statue of Liberty 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12 – fantastic view of the lady and we had time to walk around the base of the statue. Here’s views 1  2  3  4 back to Manhattan from Statue of Liberty area. Birds included Ring-billed Gull (very common, nearly all adult, so tame, they can be approached to within a foot, calls quite squeaky, thinner, version of Common Gull) adult 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, 1w (much scarcer than adult) 1  2  3  4; American Herring Gull (all ages, fairly common, more wary of people except when being fed, 1w are striking with bi-coloured-bill, brown underbody, look slightly bulkier than European Herring Gull) adult 1  2  3  4  5  6, 2w 1  2  3, 1w 1; GBBG (6 adult, 1 1w) adult 1 in group with American Herring Gull; Bufflehead (1 drake 1); Red-breasted Merganser (3 redheads 1); Mallard 1; Canada Goose (3) 1 with RBG adult and 1w; Brent Goose (pale-bellied, 2 flocks at Statue 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10, feeding on frosted burnt-out grass); Northern Mockingbird (1) 1  2  3  4; plus European imports: Feral Pigeon (abundant) 1; Starling (fairly common) 1  2. Still to sort from photos: sparrows (id as House Sparrow, another European import (fairly common) 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9); cormorants (id as Double-crested Cormorant 1  2); possible Black Duck (yes, confirmed, 2 seen 1). So total of 14 species after day 1. Back to base by Subway, then off to concert at Carnegie Hall – a clarinet lament (Kinan Azmeh, A Sad Morning, Every Morning) played by composer and Shostakovich 7 in concert Shostakovich for the Children of Syria. Symphony 7 is the Leningrad, composed during siege of Leningrad by the Nazis, with Dimitris having 1st-hand experience (i.e. he was there!); it was conducted by George Mathew who has a a great record in organising humanitarian concerts. Music was appropriately sombre but difficult, not immediately accessible, and Leningrad was very long, c90 minutes for the whole symphony, last few minutes were best when music finally became stirring! It certainly couldn’t be accused of glamourising war, which may not be a bad thing. Finally had meal at 23:00 in Time Square. Marvellous day, wish u were here!!! lokttmbo!!!

January 12th: now looking up to Empire State Building from Radisson Hotel below on Broadway; arrived at Newark Airport at 19:40 local time after 7.5-hour flight on VS1 in upper class (after upgrade) from LHR at 16:00! Great thing about upper class is that you can stretch out and go to sleep, just like in a proper bed; so on arrival at hotel at 20:40 had few drinks and walked up to nearby Time Square, feeling quite refreshed. Temperature at 4ºC is very similar to that in Hexham! Upgrade of course comes from daughter’s work, nothing to do with us! Yesterday was brilliant: feel Mehdi is really one of the family now and daughter is really one of their family. Had lunch at Browns in Mayfair and supper and entertainment at Persian Nights, a restaurant near Acton, complete with band and belly dancer. About 20 of us at each event but not same 20. Very pleased to see Aunt Ann at lunchtime, up from Southampton; she’s my late mum’s younger sister, born 02/01/1928 so now 86. Minor annoyance was loss of wallet yesterday evening, spent 1 hour cancelling cards this morning; also lost 3-4 N/C stamps, 6 2nd-class stamps, £50 cash, Waitrose loyalty card and some membership cards, which may not be too useful to someone in London e.g. Northumberland library card, or even useful at all e.g. Lib Dems card! Fortunately plenty of cash in current account, which can pay to daughter and son in return for dollars. So 2moro sees a lot of sightseeing and a concert at Carnegie Hall in evening. Signing off at 04:50 Hexham time; now wouldn’t this be a lovely city to entertain a beautiful lady!!! lokttmbo!!!

Sorted photos from party in London on 11/1; titles say who’s on each one (for posterity!): 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11.

January 10th: made Thames today for boat trip from Westminster-Tower-Westminster with stop-over at Tower for lunch at Perkin Reveller, a trendy restaurant with good service but not cheap at £73 for 4 of us, which went on my card. Weather was sunny on mild SW wind. Boat’s an excellent way to see London, with in view Big Ben, Parliament, Festival Hall, Tate Gallery, Shard, Oxo factory, New Globe Theatre, St Paul’s Cathedral, many bridges, Tower of London, etc. Real grockle experience! Had 6 species of gull: Black-headed (270), Common (11), LBBG (7), GBBG (4), Herring (19), YLG (1); pretty good, particularly the LBBG and YLG, which was a michahellis 1w, with long legs, ruddy mantle and size in between Herring and GBBG. Round in evening to nephew’s and partner’s for meal – very good prawn curry and company. Good start to year on markets with +6k. New Year hopes are based on: banking sector becoming safer and growth being uninspiring (junk bonds don’t go bust and interest rates stay low), Irish economy continues to recover (as do its banking and property stocks), Co-op group rehabilitation (its bonds reflect greater security) and precious metals recovery (complex hedging here holding metals, N American and S Africa miners, to reflect most eventualities). We’ll see! 2moro is big day in London with lunch in Mayfair and evening at Persian Nights in Acton, complete with belly dancer and band. At 15:00 the Gulls are playing at Wimbledon but been told assassination would follow attendance!! Missed Friday nite at home – has such a beneficial effect on Saturday mornings, early and late!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

January 9th: finally for major movement in 2008, updated Summary and added new section Timing of Honey-buzzard Movement within UK from 13-14 September 2008. It nearly all hangs together now, just need to sharpen up consistency in a few places and look at congeners of Honey-buzzard in the migration, which are already recorded in Regional Reports and other Original Sources for the Honey-buzzard Movement. Today was sunny, light W breeze, mild; went for walk in Pitshanger Park from 15:10-16:50 with younger sis and husband who came up from Honiton-Waterloo-Brentford by train, passing through mile after mile of floods, was on time though. Had 12 species including very raucous, widely scattered Ring-necked Parakeet. Feels less like winter down here with sunrise 08:04, sunset 16:12, day length 08:08, angle of sun 16.5, compared to 08:27, 16:00, 07:32, 13.0 respectively for Newcastle. After walk went to Cinnamon Café in Pitshanger (addicted to cappuccino!) and bought a few bottles in local Co-op, which patronise more now! Great niece has been telling fibs – thought she had – she’s only 2.2 but is desperate to keep up with her brother, 1st morning at nursery today! We had a very good fish pie in evening, made by big sis; 2moro we plan to go for a boat trip! Daughter’s birthday today but not meeting until Saturday. Looking forward to being back in action for W after next!!! lokttmbo!!!

January 8th: away for festivities! Down with BA NCL-LHR in afternoon and round to Turnham Green to meet big sis who was minding my great-nephew and great-niece, aged 4 (just, 6 days ago, the whole family are bloody Capricorn!) and almost 3 (she told me!). Wee sis is coming up from Devon 2moro with her husband. Almost finished editing timings paper at NCL but then flight was called on time; fairly turbulent flight with seat-belt sign on all the time except for 5 minutes (to allow a few desperate to p!). Earlier made N4c4c where met P. Not away for long but a lot happening! No long March absence this year. lokttbo!!!

January 7th: walk went well in mild, blustery, showery weather with ground completely saturated; we went from Allen Banks to Plankey Mill, up the woodland path to Briarwood and back via Wool House and Beltingham, where very interesting church with reputed 1,000 years-old yew tree and more definite burial ground of Bowes-Lyon family (from where Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother came from); 6 km done in 2 hours from 10:30-12:30; good company, followed by excellent food at CB where young couple in charge really excelled! Had a male Sparrowhawk hunting along a hedge on walk and 3 Common Buzzard up, on way, 2 at Lipwood and 1 at Letah Wood, where 1 seen yesterday as well. The Common Buzzard are beginning to display over their territories in the mild weather. Had 13 species on walk including a Goosander drake flying upstream and 2 Treecreeper on Bill’s feeder; Chaffinch were very common with 56 seen, including a flock of 35 on beech mast. A Song Thrush was in full song at Wentworth Car Park, Hexham, at 09:40. Met the lively mmo at N4c4t, very pleased about that; all too short a liaison though!! Made BH4ra4s where good to see c still on, and met the cycling team! Called in to say farewell in style: she’s very sensuous – lokttmbo!!! 2moro if well-organised might make N4c4c!!

January 6th: well, finalised map of migration movements of Honey-buzzard in North Sea area from 11-14 September 2008 and published it: Map of Honey-buzzard Routes in North Sea Area from 11-14 September; very satisfied with result, which I think takes into account all the observations at the time and the physical characteristics of Honey-buzzard migration in general. Reviewed carefully the document on the timings within the UK from 13/9-14/9 and swapped some material around; need to sleep on it, i.e. see what it looks like on fresh read tomorrow, but it’s close to finalising. On BirdTrack for 2014 have 3 lists in now (287th in ranking) and 37 species (348th in ranking). In 2013 had total of 192 species on BirdTrack, ranking me 92nd of all contributors in the UK at the year end, almost a twitcher! The total of 192 was my highest ever in a year, mainly due to 2 visits to Ireland and 1 to Jersey, both of which participate in the scheme. Don’t know about annual total of lists (as not published) but certainly for the months in the Honey-buzzard season was up around 10th-20th in the UK by volume. Had haircut at JG by the dynamic l: think it was well done; only cost £10 under discount for January; they must think I’m a real cheapskate but did give tip £3. Very rewarding trips to town with x3 for beauty and x3 for pa-appeal: lokttmbo!!! R went well, nice to see everyone after 2-week recess. Made N4c4t as we had meeting of vocational group after lunch. Bought a 1726 spoon on ebay for £39. 2moro it’s walk with R at Allen Banks for morning with lunch at CB, then N4c4t and much later BH4ra4s!! Hear R&C in trouble – manager resigned, trade not as expected; glad did not participate.

January 5th: local walk out from 12:00-13:00 produced a male Goshawk displaying with flap-flap-glide action, remarkably early, must be the very mild weather, which was cloudy, moderate SW breeze, dry during walk but rain coming in later, ground soaked; Blackbird were very common, feeding on hedgerow haws and fallen apples in orchard, total of 15, and 17 Redwing were in a single flock. Total for all species was a quite high 19. A lot more hours on Honey-buzzard 2008 movement ended up with a document in final form on the timings within the UK from 13/9-14/9 and an updated map for the movement from 11/9-14/9 over western Europe, including UK, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Benelux and France – very excited about the forthcoming closure – it’s been a long-time writing but needed to understand a lot more about raptor migration in the UK from 1st principles. Still need to look at congeners as final stab, before putting into one html file with internal hyperlinks, which will take a clear head. Did make N4c4t and G4g4s; j back at latter, very delectable and fit!! 2moro it’s more work on Honey-buzzard movement plus JGs for haircut at 09:30, R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll!! Do have wanderlust feeling back again but ideally there would be room for 2!! lokttmbo!!!

January 4th: did hours on the Honey-buzzard timings with endless spreadsheet manipulations of hours and minutes; results still being tallied but hope to add it to the published documents on the web page tomorrow. The timings certainly don’t support anything other than a British origin for the migrants within the UK; the timings do though support the idea of a move from the UK hinterland to the coast. Had lunch with P at Sydney’s, the new bistro next door to the more established bistro of the Globe! It’s a much bigger place than expected with spacious upstairs, where we actually ate. Food was fairly delicate; you need to like nuts, yoghurt, olives and fancy bread, to get the best out of it. Anyway we enjoyed it, cost £25 for the 2 of us. M sent me up a 39-page paper for conversion from LaTeX to MS Word – I’m looking for a semi-automatic way, otherwise forget it as could take an hour per page with endless unreliable manual conversions of mathematical formulae, footnotes, diagram placement, cross references, bibliography handling, panels, and the rest! It’s going in the wrong direction anyway: MS Word is not a serious mathematical publishing language. 2moro hope to get up for quick walk on the Common before the next batch of rain comes in, then N4c4t and G4g4s!! lokttbo!!!

January 3rd: getting timings of Honey-buzzard movement in UK on 13/9 and 14/9 into tabular form so can cite these from main threads; it’s actually closer to completion than realised, not the usual state of affairs, which is the opposite! N a little quieter and had good relaxing lunch there; gr8 to see the lovely mbo: fittest lass in Tynedale!!! Well, nice wrap up of 2013 markets, finishing with +1k in final week to today, not bad at all as this is after 3k cash withdrawal; gain on year was 121k and this week was the 17th in a row without loss. Good thing not flying to NY this week, with the heavy snowfall! “It is with great regret that Torquay United can announce we have terminated the contract of manager Alan Nil,” read a club statement; well no surprise there after successive losses to the 2 Devon rival clubs. W4ra4s was good with 6 of us out; planning another meal in February, this time at W at my expense. 2moro it’s A’s4s4l and lots of work on that Honey-buzzard article!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

January 2nd: hit the ground running with 2008 Honey-buzzard movement, indeed vowed to finalise complete account before taking anything else on! Working on UK timings with a view to estimating numbers in UK and their contribution to the corresponding Benelux movement. Did make C4c4l and then went for walk around Wydon Reservoir, just S of Hexham, from 13:30-14:50 as banished by s while she straightens the house out; looks immaculate now! Weather was sunny, coolish moderate NW breeze, dry while out but ground soaking after recent heavy rain. Total was 23 species, including on Wydon Reservoir itself – 30 Mallard, 3 Goosander (1 drake, 2 redheads), 13 Black-headed Gull (10 ad, 3 1w). Common Gull totalled 360, all adult bar 1 1w and 2 Fieldfare flew overhead, calling. Singing birds comprised a Woodpigeon and a Great Tit. Carrying on increased film-watching: really fascinated by Pretty Woman; so that’s what you do when you profit from distressed debt!! Booked up hotel in NY: 3 king-sized single rooms at Radisson Martinique on Broadway for 3 nites, daughter got discount, dad pays! 2moro it’s N4c4l (have to have some loyalty!) and E to W4ra4s!!

January 1st 2014: catching up a little! Completed processing of records for Sal in Cape Verde; next up is Honey-buzzard movement in 2008, further thoughts. Had good social with almost complete W crowd at Stocksfield, with walk out from 11:00-12:50 up to New Ridley and back via Painshawfield. Weather was mild, moderate S wind, rain coming in at end. In total of 23 species, had 3 Common Buzzard (2 at Hindley, 1 at Shilford), a Song Thrush, 2 Nuthatch. Also on trek had a Kestrel 1w at Dilston and a Tawny Owl over the road at Newbiggin Farm. We then had lunch and drifted off later in the afternoon. Made G4g4s where good to have l on!! Booked trip from NCL-LHR return for parties, going up in the world with BA return flights, cost just a little more than LHR-EWR! 2moro it’s C4c4l (N too full at moment), walk S of Hexham and maybe out later, will have to see but feel up for it!! Got my divi stamps from the Co-op, quite a heavy parcel for the postman! Sold last of € bank equities yesterday (BNC) for good profit: think junk bonds (continuing low interest rates and anaemic growth), precious metals (oversold, cyclical recovery, odd black swan, priced in cheap $) and distressed debt situations (with potential) are better bets for coming year. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

December 31st 2013: reflecting slightly increased tempo of raptors, did another walk along Hexham’s Tyne Green from 13:50-15:20; weather was sunny, clearing after earlier rain, dry, mild. Had total of 21 species, including 1 Marsh Tit (calling twice), 1 Song Thrush (flying low-down into trees), 1 Common Buzzard overhead, 6 Goosander (2 drake, 4 redhead) and 42 Black-headed Gull (35 adult, 7 1w; one of adults carried a metal ring, another adult had blackish head). 1st bird of 2014 was a Tawny Owl, flying overhead at Swallowship at 01:15. Earlier made N4c4t and met D/C/N in Stocksfield for meal and to see the New Year in; we watched Hot Fuzz, very funny all-action film made on location in Wells, Somerset, where village politics is taken to a new extreme, even outdoing Riding Mill! Was a good evening! Happy New Year to the lovelies!!! lokttmbo: let’s hope it’ll be another beneficial year!!! 2moro it’s Stocksfield again with walk and lunch; may make G4g4s!!

December 30th: part-way through 26/3 now for Sal on Cape Verde, should complete Sal tomorrow and take a break! Highlight today was finding a female Black-crowned Sparrow Lark in a clip so the more-obvious male present did have a mate! Did make N4c4l where met P/M; think might be well-deserved holiday!! Watched Raiders of the Lost Ark on TV in evening – good for relaxing; thought following cartoon version of Empire Strikes Back was funny; Wagner would have been proud of Star Wars with its dramatic, descriptive music and leitmotifs (signature tunes) holding the series together; John Williams, like other film music writers such as Max Steiner, who wrote the score to Gone with the Wind, owe a lot to the 19th century genius! 2moro it’s year-end, seeing in the New Year with a few of W crowd at Stocksfield, SH! Might make N4c4ll after a walk earlier. Pretty laid back today – was quite a tonic!! lokttbo!!!

December 29th: up to part way through 13/3 now for Cape Verde with processing of a number of clips of waders; once finished these will do clips for last 2 days on Sal (26/3-27/3) and then take a break by returning to Honey-buzzard. Did take a walk around Wylam SW from 13:50-14:55 in cool conditions on W breeze and weak sunshine, but it was dry; had a Kestrel 1w and a Common Buzzard here and another Kestrel 1w near Brocksbushes but no Red Kite; more to follow. Daughter had problem with standby ticket as Flybe said it was out of date (it was!) but after a few manoeuvres on the V site, the revised documentation was accepted and she got on with a few minutes to spare! I just stood around for moral support (don’t think I was really needed!) building up a parking charge of £4.50. Did make G where met P; interesting chat with z who is ½ Iranian!! Very keen to also go to the Orient for the fantastic mbo: much more relaxed!!! lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s no R but should make N4c4c/l to meet P.

December 28th: up to 11/3 for Cape Verde now for video with more close-up shots of Greater Hoopoe Lark. Actually got out in the field today, making Bywell from 14:25-15:40 while daughter went shopping in Corbridge. Weather was dry, cool NW wind, sunny at start, not freezing. Had more raptors than expected with total of 8 birds of 3 species: 6 Common Buzzard (1 Prospect Hill, 5 together at Short Wood), 1 Red Kite (near Stocksfield garage) and 1 Sparrowhawk (male, near Bywell Castle). Also, in total of 25 species, had 3 Goosander (all redheads), 5 Cormorant, 8 Greylag Goose, 14 Redwing and 12 Brambling. Added some records from mid-December with Barn Owl at Prospect Hill at 00:30 on 10/12, Little Owl calling at dawn at Ordley on 13/12 and Iceland Gull adult at Scotswood on 11/12. Meal at Diwan-E-Am was very good, favoured restaurant in Hexham, £70 for the 2 of us! Still thinking aloud about mining and metals; don’t fancy au as it’s not a very useful metal industrially-speaking, prefer pt/pd/rh which have many industrial applications (e.g. catalyst in vehicle exhausts), ag probably comes in between. Have a bit more confidence in RSA, which has devalued the R heavily to cope with fall in precious metal prices; this benefits local producers. All quite complex though and planning a trickle-feed approach over the next 12 months up to perhaps total of 100k staked. 2moro it’s Airport at lunchtime, maybe walk afterwards around Wylam looking for kite and should make G4g4s, maybe FwB later!!!

December 27th: finally sorted 9/3 on Cape Verde – quite a challenge, finalising the larks and sparrows – still needs indexing! Wild weather continued, son left on a slow-running train on Hexham-Newcastle line, but he did manage to get bus to London on time. Daughter is staying an extra couple of days until Sunday, very honoured! Made N4c4ll, Hexham was very quiet! Did not make W, watching film Cast Away with daughter on TV. 2moro we’re going for a meal in evening, could guess Diwan E Am! Another good week on markets – +7k – with rise spread evenly across CPB, metals, miners and bonds; still not got divi stamps but doesn’t really matter as sure it will all be sorted in New Year. Have some 50k in metals and miners; expect a rally as end-year selling, to materialise losses incurred during the year to offset capital gains elsewhere, ceases. It’s been a terrible year for mining stocks but they should return to favour as the world recovery continues, so am planning to shift money into them as it becomes available. Only 1.5 more trading days this year! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

December 26th: processed the clips for the passerines on Sal, Cape Verde, on 9/3, just need to derive a few stills! Did some shopping in T with daughter, followed by C4c4l nearby. R/A did come over from Haltwhistle to see us in afternoon, good reunion. Also good for family to meet P/M/J in Hexham early evening. Missing a bit of usual activity but hoping to make up for it 2moro: lokttmbo!!! Weather really wild tonite after beautiful sunny and dry weather over holiday period. Might make N4c4l when drop son off who’s going to Zagreb/Belgrade/Budapest for a break! Very uncertain, sorry …

December 25th: merry xmas!!! Had 1st trawl through clips for 9/3 on Cape Verde, finding good material for the 2 main types of lark found on Sal. Went to StH Church in WC this morning with daughter – very purifying, put £20 in collection! Son cooked marvellous lunch, with every utensil in the kitchen out at one stage! They did criticise the wine until realised they’d been drinking the cooking stuff! Upped their annual divis to 3k between them to be debited on 31/12. 2moro we’re seeing old friends from Haltwhistle in afternoon at home and going round to P/M in early evening for drinks. Son is off on 27/12, daughter possibly on 28/12. Should make W4ra4s as usual!! lokttbo!!!

December 24th: busy late afternoon fetching son from Hexham Station (on time from London in 8-hour National Express journey) and daughter from Newcastle Airport (just 40 minutes late in journey from Gatwick Airport South Terminal). Weather was wild at this time but settled down later. Delighted that Alan Turing given a royal pardon; let’s celebrate his contribution to winning world war 2 through code-breaking and his pioneering work in computing science, rather than worrying about his sexual preferences; what a carry-on that one of Britain’s greatest scientists was treated in this way, leading to his suicide, and what a lack of proportionality! Did make C4c4l as N too busy. Very good to see ‘kids’ again, much chat about New York and wedding; makes one feel very romantic!! lokttmbo!!!

December 23rd: added clips and derived stills for a number of waders, plus the remarkable Greater Hoopoe Lark, from Cape Verde on 9/3. Just about completed shopping with £L (£4) and W (£25); latter was manic, some people buying enough for about a month, former was very competitive price-wise! Made N where met P, much busier than usual and lost regular seat!! Gave £30 to LD € campaign. FS collection for hospice raised £2231.88 in all, thought people were pretty generous to the cause. Dealings started on LSE in CPG (42TE) and CPB 11% bonds (42RQ) at 120, up a bit; still not got my divi stamps, think the brokers are having one long xmas party; could perhaps ‘phone the Co-op help line! Out in afternoon on flat roof to clear debris and realign a drain pipe; monsoon-style rain in morning with Newbiggin Bridge almost too deep to pass; last night had ice all over windscreen and on road before driving in to G but it had cleared on way back; it’s very unstable weather! The mbo looked just that: might get the steps out!! 2moro it’s fetching both ‘kids’ sometime but should be in N/C4c4l before doing some cooking later! Not out BH for next 2 weeks but might well still make W as usual!! lokttbo!!!

December 22nd: made tremendous progress on Cape Verde material, processing much of video for 2 key dates early on, at Sal – 7/3 and 10/3 – including Peregrine Falcon madens (juvenile female) and Common Kestrel alexandri (adult female escorting juvenile on hunt). Otherwise more preparation for xmas with shopping at M&S (£10) and B (£10). Made quick visit to N4c4t and longer visit with P to G4g4s, where the delightful z back on, undoubtedly the best ‘maid!! Cut down a Sitka branch from the copse at the far end of the field: that’s the xmas tree, looks a bit like a triffid, Cleo is worried! Undoubtedly s will have a quip! 2moro it’s final shopping, mainly at W, N4c4l (no R) and wait to see if severe storm arrives in evening! So hope something turns up!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

December 21st: shortest day (winter solstice), marked by violent winds and heavy squalls; on the bright side every day is longer for the next 6 months! Completed processing of stills for Cape Verde trip, a lot of material for 26/3 but all done now; onto video tomorrow. Didn’t have to do any more FS duty; someone not on list turned up and insisted it was his stint; didn’t argue – went straight to A’s to look for tips in the racing pink (FT!). Done a lot of food shopping in last 2 days – W yesterday evening (£95) and B this lunchtime (£15); in danger of not having any panic! Gulls had another win and climbed out of table death-zone: note they do better in appalling weather, which may level things out a bit! Daughter has booked flights for New York; cost is taxes only, £104 each return, guaranteed boarding with upgrade to club class if space; will cost me as much (or more) to get to London. Beautiful lie-in this morning: lokttbo!!!

December 20th: stint of 90 minutes on FS today with the collecting box for the hospice; replacement was late; noted people were much happier, giving to a specific cause without any admin, several people mentioned that. Anyway rapidly made N to warm up after session in cool breeze but at least it wasn’t raining; manageress j noted my hair was smart (meaning it isn’t usually!). Very rewarding session with meo and mmo in view and the mbo looking gr8 (twice!!). Another good week on markets with most things up, particularly the OTC prices of new CPB bonds; +7k on own funds taking yearly gain just ahead of last year’s rise now, making this best year ever if no fall back next week. CPB settlement has reached brokers but not my accounts; they want the interest over the weekend; official trading in new CPB bonds starts on LSE on 23/12. Getting very interested in the precious metal sector again, which is a train wreck in market terms; prices of both metals and stocks are at multi-year lows; indeed it’s not difficult to pick up tens of thousands of stock in some of the small cap companies for a few thousand; will say a bit more over weekend. Gave £50 to Core Music, a Hexham musical charity (see 15/10 below). Did make W, 6 of us tonite, bit argumentative over ‘liberal’ ideas! Late nite rendezvous went brilliantly: superb encounter: lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s FS, A’s4s4l and evening in for catch-up!!

December 19th: added about half the material for Cape Verde on 26/3 and indexed it. Chimney recovery project duly completed this morning: here’s problem, design, implementation, deliverable. Well done to P! He had only just left when there was a knock on the door, thought he’d left something but no it was the MC driver, wondering if he could have the roof ladder back. Think he’d been watching our progress through deliveries in ‘Shire and decided to hurry up pre-xmas shut-down! House cold with main fire (8 kw) not lit for a few days and doors open too much; fire works without cowl but maybe fixers don’t work with hot chimney! So we went to Cnty for lunch! 1st time there: impressed, good steak and ale pie, nice glass of red wine, gr8 views, friendly service, not expensive – £29.50 for 2!! House warming up well by early evening. Switched from T&S to G as music in former – not my choice, prefer music nite atmosphere – but work-mates wanted to chat seriously! 2moro it’s stint on Fore Street followed by N4c4ll and W4ra4s!!

December 18th: roof ladder arrived and we (well, P!) all ready for action tomorrow morning; would have been challenging up there in this evening’s storm! Dentist visit was fine: she’s Yeovil supporter (from Somerset); no fillings, but she did throw in for the £18 the ultrasonic plaque remover, which produced some blood – good for you, my lover! Did collect some money on Fore Street, it’s all for the Tynedale Hospice this year. Also made G4g4t where met B/J – good crack; gr8 to renew liaison with the mgo; she’s lovely!! Later came back briefly for G4g4s to make final arrangements with P. Should be in Hexham lunchtime (N4c4l or maybe even try County!). xxxxxxxxxx!!!

December 17th: just one day of Cape Verde to do for stills, 26/3, last day on Sal; a lot of material and only just started to process it. Major achievement was completing cutting of party hedge – 90 minutes of hard graft with the trimmer and steps; so just roadside hedge to do now. Conditions this winter have been so much better than last for outdoor activity. Thinking of having a couple of day trips to coast around Holy Island between Christmas and New Year after offspring return to London. Got roof ladder hire sorted with MC, arriving tomorrow morning for perhaps 2 days hire, main use Thursday when sunnier. Also tomorrow dentist appointment in Corbridge at 10:50 and Fore Street duty from 12-1. Few charity donations: £50 to Times xmas appeal and £28 to Salvation Army. Really enjoyed BH: S/N back and c in very stimulating form!! lokttmbo!! Might have 2moro G4g4t and G4g4s, in moderation of course!! CPB LT2 bondholders approved recap yesterday, just court sanction required now (10:30 tomorrow) for pay day on Friday!

December 16th: sorted 25/3 (below) on Cape Verde, a trip out to the highest point of São Vicente – Monte Verde – followed by return flight to Sal! Xmas meal at R was very good, 3 courses and pretty substantial, all for £14.75 at B; managed to sneak onto top table, must be my keenness on street collecting! P inspected roof and am going to hire roof-ladder from MC for a week, so as to give plenty of opportunity weather-wise for the climb to be done (kindly by P!). Wild and windy last night and that’s again the forecast for Wednesday and Friday so need to look for a gap carefully. Don’t expect the ladder tomorrow so looks like opportunity to finish party hedge. Exciting views in town of both mbo and meo!! Decided to waive free parking for the more interesting route!! Bonuses of £20 today to house-keeper s and staff at N. 2moro it’s MC, N4c4l and BH4ra4s!! lokttbo!!!

December 15th: sorted 24/3 (below) on Cape Verde, a day out to the beach resort of São Pedro, São Vicente! Didn’t make walk – sound asleep, in hibernation mode at moment! Did do masses of gardening and far ahead of last year now, with mild weather, in getting things straight (relatively!) after usual (Honey-buzzard induced) summer neglect. Did make N4c4t where good to see j and G4g4s, where pleased to meet new bar-lass l!! P is coming around to look at chimney tomorrow morning, not really my type of repair! Bought a few Georgian apostle spoons in evening on ebay in rather tense battle over a collection of them, like a combative atmosphere, last one was a real bargain, also got postage combined as single seller. Did a lot of research on the pt/pd industry today as destination for surplus cash. Shaking tin in Fore Street 3 lunch-times this week, that is 12-1, Wed, Fri, Sat; it’s for R, not me! 2moro it’s big xmas lunch at R, then N4c4ll. lokttmbo!!!

December 14th: well, transmission at TC from New York didn’t work, so no Falstaff; they showed us a film Nebraska free and gave a refund in full of ticket price so not bad! Film gave good insight into the paucity of hope and imagination in a small mid-west town in US; the deluded guy who thought he’d won a million dollars on a scam draw ticket was keenly sought after by ‘friends’ and ‘caring’ relatives and then mocked and derided when the truth came out. So very absorbing! The problem in the transmission was thought to be this end (wind-blown satellite dish). MP was good and enjoyed the day; if it had been a Wagner opera might not have been so forgiving! Suspect match fixing as 24th-placed Gulls beat 3rd-placed Shrimpers 1-0 at home, using a revolutionary 0-10-0 formation; odds must have been good! Didn’t make A’s: overslept with sweet dreams!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!! 2moro it’s walk near Durham City in morning, maybe back to N4c4t and G4g4s!!

December 13th: sorted 23/3 (below) on Cape Verde, another day at the sewerage works in Mindelo, São Vicente! Going to add a herons table for São Vicente shortly. Still got to process video for whole of trip – quiet variable amounts per day and some already processed from 1st visit to Sal. Sociable day with P/C at N4c4l and with 10 of us out at W4ra4s! Thought someone looked ever so smart and business-like!!! Managed to cut most of top of party hedge in late afternoon – neighbour sadly still has trapped nerve which means he can’t raise his arm. Fantastic end to day after little disturbance to E; she’s very vibrant and beautiful, and so attractive!!! lokttmbo!!! Geminid shooting stars added to the atmosphere!! Markets continued their slide with ftse down for 6th week in a row (-1.71% this week) but on own funds finished with +17k, including +15k on CPB mentioned yesterday. Ton up for year now! 2moro it’s A’s4s4l, MP4m4t and TC4op (Falstaff), latter 2 with N. Probably SH as early start for walk on 15/12.

December 12th: sorted 22/3 (below) on Cape Verde, day started return with boat trip from Santo Antão to São Vicente; added table on herons in Santo Antão. Dynamic day: gr8 to c the mbo 3 times!! Went with N to An4l – good service and food, and not as expensive as remembered, so value not bad! Actually made C4c4c and N4c4ll, don’t want to overdo N. Much later made T&S4ra4s with work-mates – good crack! CPB meetings for retail holders yesterday, as expected, approved recapitalisation. Dealings suspended in old bonds so re-calculated amounts based on OTC quotes for new bonds (official LSE dealings start 23/12) and discounted book value for new ordinary shares (no quote for a while), giving further gain of 15k and total divi stamps of £45,175.41 to date! Will continue to hold with a not insignificant 153k monetary stake now; experience of past recaps is that as confidence returns bonds/shares recover steadily but needs watching carefully. Should stress that very happy to support the co-operative ideal of profit sharing but see no reason why politics should be involved at all, a common feeling amongst the new owners, so bad news for Labour (and maybe good as a consequence for LD). Some gossip on local pubs: TR becoming more aggressive with bar manageress N chatting me up at G (not unwelcome!); R&C not all bliss with weekly stock taking asked for by MD, who spoke at R, and some stakeholders not supporting in the expected way, like turning up (no personal stake, don’t like that sort of jolly co-op); SH up for sale directly as LTSB dump loss-making de Vere! 2moro it’s N4c4l and much later to E, including W4ra4s!! lokttmbo!!!

December 11th: long meeting at unn, late back at 17:35 for short session at G4g4t but came back for another short session at G4g4s, when the shapely l on! Hexham races today meant all pubs were packed early on, beautiful weather for a change. Meeting at unn on CT was very useful, gaining info on certain details of topos approach, which could be applied to database research with M. Our next meeting is not until 22/1/14, same time. Completed indexing below for last full day on Santo Antão (21/3) and should do 22/3 tomorrow so end is in sight, 5 more days to do, think will add tables of results for other groups. 2moro have 2 meetings at N – 4c4c and 4c4ll – with in between An4m4l with N, if fine! 2 walks coming up on Sundays before xmas: both in Co Durham. Saturday sees another trip to TC with N for opera Falstaff transmitted from New York; next one I’ll be there! lokttbo!!!

December 10th: finished indexing material for Cape Verde for 20/3; next up is last full day on Santo Antão (21/3) before starting on material on way back. Did make N4c to meet P: good chat! Also bit more hedge trimming to keep fit! Orange was colour of the day: very s.xy!! BH was lively with party on in lounge, large group of bikers celebrating something and c on!! Marvellous end to day with favourite one: she’s very motivating!!! lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s unn midday but should be back for G4g4t!! Almost forgot it’s also CPB retail bondholder meetings to approve formally the exchange offer (result known – yes – but will be interested to see frn/in ratios).

December 9th: sent Vilnius paper to Mike for his turn and finalised material from Cape Verde for 20/3 but have still to do indexing of small number of photos. R had pretty harrying talk on medical facilities in a Tanzanian city Iringa, delivered well by a local unn year-3 nursing student Rachel. You can see her and colleague Charlotte on this clip. It’s xmas lunch next week at R. Very pleased to see someone back (but for how long!!). Back for 45 minutes hedge trimming at dusk. Thinking hard about late winter trip. May do 2 trips to N Spain of 1 week each, in March, spaced a couple of weeks apart, to look at AYLG, perhaps Santander, Cantabria, and Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, staying in decent hotels and hiring cars. Daughter and fiancé have exchanged contracts on their modest 0.72m house-purchase in Richmond; buyers of fiancé’s house tried to reduce their offer at last moment but family resisted and found another buyer who was keen to complete quickly at the asking price; original buyer then came back with higher price but told where to go! Daughter still has (our!) flat in Kingston. 2moro it’s N4c4c with P, maybe still around 4l. Much later it’s BH4ra4s!! lokttbo!!!

December 8th: weather-wise dreary day but took advantage of lack of distractions to do some work on Vilnius CT/Whitehead paper, due at year-end, in N and catch up on Cape Verde material at home with 19/3 now completed and 20/3 well under way; problem is Santo Antão is so photogenic! Did make G4g4s, where the lithe j on, to see P again after his cruise-walking trip with Fred Olsen to Canaries, Madeira and Morocco; weather there not brilliant and Morocco could have been skipped but otherwise fine! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l and N4c4ll!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

December 7th: very good reasonably priced meal at Anchor, surprised how big the place is now. We finally thought the Emperor yesterday did not suffer so much from technical problems as from a rather wet southern European interpretation; seen same with Wagner; German music of the 19th century is passionate and aggressive, certainly not in the early renaissance style! Here’s how it should be played. Also made A’s where good crack and loud cheers as the Toon scored at Old Trafford. A good day for the Gulls – we didn’t play! Good to see the meo in charge!! Did a bit of shopping at the art exhibition: bought a lovely lady for £325!! Paid just under half of deposit for daughter’s wedding, a snip at 2.8k; am going to stay before and after event on 25/5 at the hotel, might as well celebrate in style! Going to finish processing the Cape Verde trip material over the next week, then it’s Jersey, particularly the Honey-buzzard and Marsh Harrier clips. Idled away a bit of time yesterday on quizzes: found my brain has quite a lot of properties of the female brain with emphasis on verbal processing, communication, multi-tasking and even preferring cats to dogs (do like pussies, well done Cleo!). Another quiz suggested high levels of testosterone with keen interest in risky trading! 2moro it’s N4c4ll and perhaps G4g4s later, or somewhere!! Here’s piccie of Walking Group last Sunday (1/12) in Dipton Wood. Missed someone this week: lokttmbo!!!

December 6th: not much according to plan today! Bunked off new walking group, but did make N to see J. Train in (16:54 from RM) was cancelled without any notice, so drove in to S, via Stocksfield with N. Too late for MP so had meal at S, which was not bad at all. Concert with NS had Beethoven piano concerto 5 as hi-lite, my favourite – Emperor! Received very well by capacity audience and pianist gave us an encore. While queueing for coffee, said rather tentatively to N: did you think there were a few extra notes? He said he was puzzled by some of the cues, didn’t seem to be completely synchronized. We wondered whether they had had any proper rehearsals; inclined to cast doubt on the conductor Enrique Mazzola (Italian) who was not letting the soloist Cédric Tiberghien (French) dictate the pace but who knows, not for me to say: they’re supposed to work together regularly! Anyway, after paying, coffee never arrived so asked for a refund, which required manager intervention to return £3.75! Scotswood Bridge again closed so went back on A69, calling in at Horsley’s remaining pub L&L4g and good chat before dropping N off. Then to W4g4s to admire the scenery!! Rendezvous was achieved very impressively!!! lokttmbo!!! Plenty of sweet dreams tonite!!! ftse was down for 5th week in a row as tapering of qe in USA now looks inevitable after very good employment figures (markets fear interest rates will rise and money supply will decline). Own funds were +4k, taking gain on year to 89k; may make further gains on CPB junk (now up to 169k nominal, including 51k LT2, no more buying, very slow release next) around settlement day 20/12 as actual exchange takes place. 2moro it’s A’s4s4l, Forum for look at some art and Anchor for xmas meal of W gang; straight home!!

December 5th: really wild last nite, chimney cowl off, bit of guttering displaced and door on shed almost off, but no power cut and rather surprisingly slept through it all! No An4m4l with N: postponed to next week by mate on account of the gales! Made QH4c4l and N4c4ll, meeting at former S and at the latter the fanciable mmo!! Made T&S much later with work-mates, very good crack: managed to be last out, even later than the decadent mmo!! 2moro might try ‘Shire walking-group in morning from 09:30 for couple of hours, then N4c4l, MP4m4t, S4con and maybe back to W4g4s before final rendezvous!! lokttbo!!!

December 4th: into unn this afternoon for another meeting; there’s one more before xmas next week. Also made L&P and CT4c4ll. Did a bit more hedge trimming in morning, but gave up after a while because of the cold, increasing N wind. Bit like wuthering heights up here at the moment. Another issue’s all sorted – CPB modified Scheme of Arrangement approved by Chancery, 66+% of creditors locked-in to approve it and pay day (mixture of junk bonds, untradable shares, cash) is 20/12! Was on train at Prudhoe coming back from Newcastle at 16:15 when TMF message came through with the good news. Could have a champagne breakfast with favoured one on 20/12!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!! 2moro it’s An4m4l with N, N4c4ll and presumably T&S4ra4s!!

December 3rd: sorted out a few R meeting reports; trimmed top of hedges in front with new lithium-battery powered trimmer (Gtech HT05 cordless telescopic); very impressed, not a lot of guts but gives a great finish if thicker bits taken out with long-handled cutters. Made N4c4l where met J – very friendly staff! Much later made BH4ra4s for music nite where c on!! Afterwards was very sensuous with the mso: she’s so very motivating!!! lokttmso!!! 2moro it’s CT4s4l, unn and L&P in afternoon, G4g4t!! Also lined up is Angel with N4l on Thursday, MP4m4t with N before S4con on Friday and meal with W gang, away at Anchor, Whittonstall, on Saturday. Finally, need to acknowledge Gulls are 92nd out of 92 clubs in Football League. Torquay United manager Alan Knill (simply known as ‘nil’ locally) told BBC Radio Devon: “There is nothing between top and bottom, anyone can get the result on the day.” Well maybe but Oxford (top) have won 9/19 and scored 30 goals, while conceding 15; we’ve won 3/19 and scored 20 goals, while conceding 33. Further in the last 10 games, Oxford are won 4, drawn 4, lost 2, while we’re won 1, drawn 3, lost 6. Suspect Club is trying to raise the funds to pay him off!

December 2nd: here are the Honey-buzzard breeding results for 2013: a very good year in all respects.

The detailed results for the 2013 breeding season are given in Table 16. It was yet another record-breaking season for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in terms of occupancy with 53 (51 in 2012) occupied sites and 53 (50) confirmed breeding pairs. Productivity was high with every pair being successful and a record with 83+ (68+) young fledged. Productivity was high in absolute terms with 30 of the 53 successful sites raising 2 young; 20 raising at least one young and 3 raising one young. The weather was very poor in May for the display season which made observation difficult and reduced visibility, hence birds were only noted in 35 sites at this time. Warm weather at the rearing stage made perhaps the birds a little more visible at this stage with positive observations from 28 sites. As usual the birds were very visible in the fledging period with observations from 52 out of 53 sites. The result is a testimony to the near ideal habitat that SW Northumberland offers Honey-buzzard.

This year the breeding density increased as one new pair resulted from infilling in the lower South Tyne where 3 pairs (+1) were found in the vicinity of Haydon Bridge. The other new pair, in Tyne Valley E, was an extension to the E towards Newcastle Airport. The new site is 10.5 km from Tyne Bridge and 2.5 km from W edge of North Walbottle, where the solid conurbation of Tyneside begins. There is still scope for Honey-buzzard breeding at Ryton, Woolsington and Gosforth Park! As usual the sites are not necessarily new for Honey-buzzard, just for my survey.

Survey effort was maintained throughout the season but there were 2 absences in June of about a week each and another in May of 10 days. These may have had an additional effect on the poor return for the display period.

In the target area in 2013 12 sites were observed for nests with 100% success this year; the lower South Tyne site with nest in Scots Pine was dropped for logistical reasons. Scots Pine (5 nests) remains the most popular trees with Norway Spruce (4) close behind and Oak (2) and Douglas Fir (1) the only other type employed. Nests are much easier to find in Scots Pine and Oak than in Norway Spruce and Douglas Fir because of the structure of the crowns of the trees with for instance Scots Pine being open and Norway Spruce closed.

Area

No. sites

No. adults

No. nests

found

Observed Occupied (no. sites)

Breeding Category

Number young fledged

Trees used for Nesting

Display

Sit/

Rear

Fledge

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

6

10

3

6

3

6

6

0

0

8 (2×2, 4×1+)

Scots Pine x2, Norway Spruce

Allen

9

15

2

3

5

9

9

0

0

14 (5×2, 4×1+)

Oak, Norway Spruce

Upper South Tyne

6

10

2

4

4

6

6

0

0

10 (4×2, 1×1+, 1×1)

Oak, Norway Spruce

Lower South Tyne

8

11

0

6

2

8

8

0

0

11 (3×2, 4×1+, 1×1)

Tipalt

3

4

0

1

1

3

3

0

0

5 (2×2, 1×1+)

Tyne W

7

14

3

7

4

7

7

0

0

14 (7×2)

Scots Pine, Douglas Fir, Norway Spruce

Tyne E

6

8

1

5

2

5

6

0

0

8 (2×2, 3×1+, 1×1)

Scots Pine

Derwent

8

13

1

2

7

8

8

0

0

13 (5×2, 3×1+)

Scots Pine

Total

53

85

12

34

28

52

53

0

0

83 (30×2, 20×1+, 3×1)

Scots Pine x5, Norway Spruce x4, Oak x2, Douglas Fir

Table 16: Results for the Honey-buzzard Breeding Season in SW Northumberland by area in 2013

 

More to follow on the season including migration totals and further analysis. Busy at R: seem to have been adopted as secretary for working group in absence of anyone else who can take notes electronically at the meetings. Still does give some power! Doing 3 stints at lunchtime for R collections in week before xmas: perhaps don’t feel the cold like some members. Met the mmo at N – very pleased to see her again!! Did some more hedge trimming on return and set-up new one with long handle for some action tomorrow. Should make N4c4l with both arms followed much later by BH4ra4s, still complete I hope!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

December 1st: good day with walking group: set off from Riding Mill Station at 10:45, walking onto Beauclerc, Hemmels, Dipton Wood Todburn, Slaley N, Broomleyfell; weather was calm, cloudy, cool; total distance walked was 15km, finishing at 15:30; quite a stretch really with lots of up and down, though not in same league as Blencathra. Then 23 of us sat down for 3-course xmas meal in W; pretty good, with a couple of g, almost certainly consumed more calories than spent in walk! Gr8 crack at meal with s and j!! Didn’t make G! Bird list for walk comprised 22 species, including Great Spotted Woodpecker (4), Redwing (48), Fieldfare (6), Blackbird (23), Song Thrush (1), Mistle Thrush (4), Common Gull (80 feeding adult). So good for thrushes but no raptors at all; did have single Tawny Owl and Little Owl calling outside bedroom window at 07:00 next morning (2/12). 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l with working group meeting before at noon, N4c4ll and more hedge trimming later. Publishing details of Honey-buzzard 2013 breeding season in study area tomorrow. lokttbo!!!

November 30th: pretty laid-back day, into A’s for good lunch, observed good office re-fit for someone(!!), collected an additional electrical hedge trimmer with lithium battery from Argos with long handle to help cutting tops of hedges, did an hour’s hedge trimming with old trimmer at home up to dusk, made N4c4t where greeted like long-lost friend by j! 2moro it’s out with Tyneside walking group, starting at Riding Mill and doing loop S before coming back for our xmas dinner mid-afternoon at W – well that will make a change! Look forward to meeting the group again! Should make G4g4s for further recuperation!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

Here’s 1st extract from J Wexford Historical Society, consulted in Wexford Library in recent visit. Have camera shots of pages, shown here as images 1  2  3  4  5.

 

Conflicts of Loyalty: The Dixons and Le Hunte’s Cavalry in 1798, David Goodall, J Wexford Historical Society, no. 17 pp.83-100 (1998-99).

 

Among the nine catholics were at least two men subsequently identified as rebel leaders, Nicholas Dixon and Ignatius Rossiter; and another Dixon – Patrick – who must have been Nicholas’s close relation and possibly his brother. ….

Nevertheless it seems virtually certain that the two yeoman named were the Nicholas Dixon of Castlebridge and Ignatius Rossiter of Saunderscourt who figure as captains on the list of rebel leaders said to have been found by General Lake in Matthew Keogh’s house after the royal army re-occupied the town and Nicholas is also mentioned as a rebel leader by Cloney.

 

p.93. Ignatius Rossiter, we have already described as the ‘Captain Rossiter of Sanders-court’ who features along with ‘Captain Nicholas Dixon’ and others in the list of rebels found in Matthew Keogh’s house, ‘captain’ arguably referring to their formal military rank in the United organisation. He will then also have been the ‘Captain Rossiter’ described in Mrs. Newton Lett’s diary as being reluctantly persuaded to spare the life of Mr. Joseph Gray, a lieutenant in the Wexford Cavalry, because Gray’s brother Nicholas was secretary to the rebel council. Musgrave mentions two Rossiters as being members of ‘the bloody committee that sat in the gaol’: Ignatius and John, of whom John exerted himself to save the life of John Atkin. Musgrave says that Ignatius Rossiter was put on trial on 20 February 1800, but does not say what the outcome of the trail was, and I have found no record of an Ignatius Rossiter being executed or transported.

 

I guess he was the son of the P. Rossiter of Newcastle who signed the catholic resolution of 1792, along with John Dixon of Castlebridge and Edward Roche of Garrylough. As well as being another family from the Castlebridge neighbourhood, the Rossiters were related to the Dixons by marriage: a James Rossiter had married a Marina Dixon in 1752. Andrew Rossiter of Castlebridge, saddler, along with James Whittby, a smith, and Henry Leary, a farmer, swore an affidavit before Dr. Ebenezer Jacob on 8 August 1798 testifying that Fr. James Dixon was innocent of any involvement in the rising. Whittby is described as a Protestant, but there is no mention of Rossiter’s or Leary’s religion, which implies that they were catholics. Presumably they were also loyalists, since if they had been known as rebel sympathisers their testimony would have carried no weight. Like their relations the Dixons, the Rossiters too were probably divided in their sympathies.

 

So although there is markedly less information about the nine catholics than about the ten protestants, it is clear that they also were heavily interrelated neighbours, some of them with connnexions across the religious divide, and with reputations and property to lose.”

 

November 29th: great news this evening, after markets closed, about Co-op recapitalisation below. My funds unchanged on week with some nervousness ahead of result. Increased holdings this week to 159k nominal in CPB debt with 113k of UT2/pref, voted today, and 46k of LT2, still to vote in adjusted Scheme, giving more ordinary shares than before to basic holders. Didn’t know about result until got back from W at 00:45!

Have been dying to share this for hours. After a superhuman effort all early bird thresholds have been met by the deadline so the enhanced consideration will be paid. Many thanks to all for your invaluable assistance. We did it again! Could not have been achieved without your help.“ Our leader – OBR at 22:16 : http://boards.fool.co.uk/co-op-bank-offer-all-75-early-birds-met-12933842.aspx?result=RecSuccess.

Comment from Co-op: “The Co-operative Group and The Co-operative Bank are delighted at the overwhelming levels of support for the Liability Management Exercise at this critical juncture, and we would like to thank all our bondholders and Preference Share holders for backing the Recapitalisation Plan. Based on the votes received so far, we expect the proposals to be approved at the meetings of the holders of the Preference Shares, 13% Bonds and 5.5555% Bonds on 11 December 2013. Successful completion of the Liability Management Exercise is also dependent on the success of the Scheme – holders of the Dated Notes are currently due to vote on the Scheme on 11 December 2013. We are now highly confident that our £1.5 billion Recapitalisation Plan for The Co-operative Bank can be achieved.” [ibid]

Day in Edinburgh was very interesting, stimulating to be back with academics of a high calibre, more to follow. Trains went well, made W a little earlier than expected as 20:15 to Hexham was 15 minutes late, enabling me to catch it after arriving at Newcastle from Edinburgh at 20:20! W was very good with 8 of us there. Earlier did make Hexham at 09:20 to pick up paper but not encouraged! 2moro it’s A’s4s4l and maybe wee celebration later over the good news above!

November 28th: still very mild for time of year, did 90 minutes of hedge cutting in afternoon around vegetable plot, good for keeping fit! Completed annual report for 2013 for unn, here’s list:

Publications and Conferences Attended in Role as Visiting Fellow

Vickers, Paul, Faith, Joe, & Rossiter, Nick, Understanding Visualization: A Formal Approach using Category Theory and Semiotics, IEEE Transactions On Visualization And Computer Graphics 158. IEEE Transactions On Visualization And Computer Graphics, 2012 Jun;19(6):1048-61. doi: 10.1109/TVCG.2012.294 (2013). pdf

Heather, Michael, & Rossiter, Nick, The Metaphysics of Whiteheadian Naturalism: reality as an instantiation of the formal categories of process, 9th International Whitehead Conference Society and Process – from Theory to Practice, 9-12 Sept 2013, Krakow (2013), conference handbook. abstract html

Heather, Michael, & Rossiter, Nick, Universal Themes of the World as a Topos, GRAPH OPERADS LOGIC, AGMP X GOL Tallinn University of Technology 25-28 June 2013, AstrAlgo cWeb Vol. 2013 (1031) issue GOL X #1165, Eugen Paal and Zbigniew Oziewicz (edd.), meeting communications (2013). abstract html. Invited speakers at meeting.

Heather, Michael, & Rossiter, Nick, The formal arrow of physics. An introduction to applicable category theory, GRAPH OPERADS LOGIC, AGMP X GOL Tallinn University of Technology 25-28 June 2013, AstrAlgo cWeb Vol. 2013 (1031) issue GOL X #1190, Eugen Paal and Zbigniew Oziewicz (edd.), meeting communications (2013). abstract html. Invited speakers at meeting.

Rossiter, Nick, Heather, Michael, & Sisiardis, Dimitris, Typing of information systems: architecture and dynamics, GRAPH OPERADS LOGIC, AGMP X GOL Tallinn University of Technology 25-28 June 2013, AstrAlgo cWeb Vol. 2013 (1031) issue GOL X #1185, Eugen Paal and Zbigniew Oziewicz (edd.), meeting communications (2013). abstract html presentation ppt pdf. Invited speakers at meeting.

Sisiaridis, Dimitris, Heather, Michael, & Rossiter, Nick, The Contravariancy of Anticipatory Systems, Symposium 10, 8th BCSCMsG International Symposium on Computational Self-organised Emergence, organised Peter J Marcer, British Computer Society Cybernetics Machine specialist Group 10:7-10:8 (2011). This paper received the best paper award in Symposium 10. summary presentation ppt. Full paper published in IJCAS 26 (2013). paper pdf

 

Heather, Michael, & Rossiter, Nick, The lag of science behind society, and on a simple introduction to applied category theory, 17th International Conference on the Science and Quality of Life, 29 June-2 July 2013, Vilnius (2013). presentation ppt

8th Scottish Category Theory Seminar, 29 November 2013, International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Edinburgh University. (in attendance).

Publications now up to 234, including 3 books/chapters, 33 refereed journal articles and 100 refereed conference proceedings. Trying to sort Vilnius 4-page paper on trains to/from Edinburgh tomorrow, will take laptop. Conference venue is close to Festival Hall, not far at all from Waverley Station. Might need to pop into Hexham early-on!! Not sure when back, hope to make W4ra4s eventually so leaving car at RM. Did make N4c4l where met J. Thought the meo looked very fit!! Late-on met mates at T&S4ra4s, lots of good crack! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

November 27th: grand day, sunny and mild, completed painting at lunchtime; parked usual place and walked to Hexham Station for ride into Newcastle (saves £1 in parking and has better views!!). The 3 of us at unn had a brainstorming session on a whiteboard from 16:00-17:30, managing to fill up one wall of visualization in topos representations, which we then all photographed on our phones; hope results continue to show promise in cold light of 2moro! Completing updates to CV tomorrow as wanted by unn asap. Made CT4c4ll before and O’N4g4t after, really enjoyed revisiting O’N again, used to be favoured haunt after work but mates think it’s a dive, which it is but that’s part of the attraction! Much later made G4g4s where good turnout with 6 of us present and l on. Think highlight of video is at 0:28!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and T&S4ra4s!! lokttmbo!!!

November 26th: did make N4c4l, where met B/J; gr8 sightings of the fit one!! In afternoon tried to repair one of outside security lights, think it’s a write-off — getting a new one – certainly sparked impressively and blew the fuse! Spent quite a lot of time assembling publications for 2013 on CT for annual review of VF position; Tallinn ones are most impressive I think; hope to get it sorted very soon as requested from unn for annual review. Also made BH4ra4s where the charming c was on!! Day was complete with the fantastic mbo and ginger cat!! lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s N4c4ll, then into unn, O’N4g4t and much later to G4g4s!! Very impressed with that superb video of local interest, even rivals Honey-buzzard in some respects!!! Bird species list for Ireland 1/11-8/11 duly published below (8/11).

November 25th: made R where good turn out of 30 members; Vocational WG, which I’m in, had quick unscheduled meeting after enthusiastic speaker: BT Bell of Hexham, largest civil engineering designers in Northumberland. Tapping away on my iPhone they thought I was very rude until I pointed out I was taking notes on the meeting! We’ve another meeting next week but this time, before the lunch. Made N4vll after this delay and just failed to get out of car-park in time before the HMS traffic jam; what a pain, turned right and headed off E in end! Completed adding below all piccies of the birds and scenery in Ireland from 1/11-8/11 so just need to format the list now. Videos in m4v format, like latest Honey-buzzard (1201), do play on an iPhone (as expected as it’s an Apple format). Next will pick out some of the photos of pages in the family history publications in Wexford Library. Arranged to go to Edinburgh University on Friday to a Scottish CT meeting, held in the afternoon and travelling by train; have another CT meeting late on Wednesday afternoon at unn. 2moro it’s N4c4l and BH4ra4s!! lokttbo!!!

November 24th: 2.5 hours of hedge-trimming were enough to cut most of front yard, still a few high bits left, getting a trimmer from Argos with telescopic handle on Friday to sort. Added piccies for 3/11 in recent Ireland trip, just 2/11 to do now so should finish tomorrow and publish final list; then back to Cape Verde trip to finish that and Honey-buzzard results for 2013. N4c4t was very chatty with manager j: she was telling me how the stock-checking worked, very interesting if you’re into databases (like me!) but can accept would not get many new customers in! Cloud used by N is same system as G runs now, which is very convenient. Good crack at G with j on!! Probably the liveliest pub in Hexham on Sunday evening as keeps open late while others close. 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l and N4c4ll plus some more outside work, weather is very kind at moment – dry, calm and not much in way of frosts. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

November 23rd: actually used benefit of Azores expedition in very recent exchange on a strange gull in Tenerife, Canaries.

    Re: [Birding Gulls] Possible Western Gull 23/11/2013 06:22

    To: birdinggulls@yahoogroups.com;

    Thanks Nick. After initial replies, I wondered how I could have ‘missed’ an atlantis YLG. The answer is that I have not been to the Azores, so I am not familiar with that population. It is quite different to the local ‘Tenerife’ population. It was the black tail that biased me towards Nearctic Gulls – I have only seen one definite Western and that was a juvenile. I also thought that the bird in question was still moulting. Barry

    On 22/11/2013 19:12, Nick Rossiter wrote: I don’t think it’s Western Gull, which look quite dumpy and have flesh legs. This bird seems to have a yellowish tinge emerging on the legs. Structure looks right for atlantis. Agree that width of tail band is on upper limit for extent and bird does look dark but transitional 1s/2w birds can look like this.

    The moult is interesting. P9 is shorter than P10 or P8. It looks as if P9 is still growing and that P10 is old. The secondaries look rough (still moulting) and of course the head is very dark, with a distinct hood. Late moult and dark hood suggest to me Azorean atlantis. Cheers … Nick

Made A’s4s4l – not been there for a while, very welcoming, and good to see B/R again. Usual quiet Saturday, though always have a warm glow in the morning after dreamy lie-in!! Enjoyed review of AG in HC [p.18 22/11/2013]: would agree it’s ‘not a problem for such a talented actress’!! Copes very well with a husband and a 6-year old daughter! Here’s a more interesting video than one below of kick with Pans People on TOTP! Caught up some more with Irish trip, now posted piccies from 4/11-8/11, so just 2/11-3/11 to do. Did lots of shopping at W, followed by some cooking: spag bol, for a change, enough for 3-4 meals! 2moro it’s a session hedge-trimming, with break at N4c4t and much later G4g4s!! lokttmbo!!!

November 22nd: lot of coffee consumed with 1st visit to Costa, not bad – good views, with P, and immediately after more regular trip to N with J; had to visit N, been spied in C by N’s manager! CPB crisis reached a peak this week but it’s not derailed the recapitalisation, which continues to go ahead as planned; next Friday at end of business (29/11) is closing date for early-bird acceptances for pref/UT2 – if we’ve responded promptly, we get a wee bonus (stiff drink might be more apt!). Haven’t learnt anything this week except for the amazingly salacious affairs of the Rev; the TMF 50033 board has been wanting a public enquiry for months to look into the failure of regulators and the deceit of the Co-op and politicians; neither Labour nor Cons are going to come well out of this – Lord King’s statement tonight is dynamite, wonder where he gets his kicks, they’ll be looking! Up to 137k nominal in CPB now, have formally voted to accept exchange for 107k pref/UT2 (into new CPG bonds) and will vote analogously for 30k LT2 (into 1st offering of CPB equity, new CPB bonds) when appropriate; 21/12 is settlement day or 31/12 if voting goes to 2nd round. So not too bad with overall +1k this week, the 11th weekly rise in a row, up to new high and +86k on year. W was lively with 7 of us there, have to sit in lounge now, dining tables preserved for diners! Gr8 vibrant end to day with the mbo!!! She is incredibly beautiful!!! lokttmbo!!!

November 21st: published below piccies from Ireland for 5/11. Did make Newcastle, where made L&P and took out the mammoth book Alan Turing: his Work and Impact, a good testimony to the pioneer of today’s computers; interested in his treatment of lambda calculus (CT implications) and his novel ideas on self-organising computers. More relaxing was visit to CT4s4l where c put on the style!! Back to collect car with new brake fluid, front pads and discs, all for £155, against combined estimates totalling £240 from KF and BF! On to N4c4ll where pretty quiet, sadly no mbo!! Did make T&S4g4s where met the mmo for lively crack about the show!! 2moro it’s C4c4c with P, N4c4l and later to E, including W4ra4s!!

November 20th: published below piccies from Ireland for 6/11-8/11; hope to do some more tomorrow. Good to get back to G4g4t, livelier crowd then! Sports nite at Golf club was not very athletic: carpet bowls, snooker, putting, dominoes. Matched against P, winning snooker, putting (14/20 in, 14-6), dominoes (4-2) and losing carpet bowls 2-3. Think he was a bit taken aback at my competitiveness! Terrible rain today on strong NW/N wind, good thing almost finished outside painting; it’s hedge cutting next. 2moro it’s Fox into MC for work on brakes in early morning, then into Newcastle while it’s being done, back at N4c4ll followed by G4g4s with work-mates and maybe pop-in to music nite at T&S before!! Daughter has switched wedding to Stoke Park Hotel, Gerrards Cross, with 80 guests scheduled at £145 each! Think she thinks that organising it up here in the display period of the Honey-buzzard season may not be straight-forward! ‘hi dad’ message indicates they’re a little short on the deposit. Makes you feel quite romantic!! So hope the beautiful ones are keeping fit!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

November 19th: completed labelling of material from Ireland trip and uploading it to server; next stop is indexing it on this page. Made N4c4l where good to meet J again and see c from the cold place! Down to BH4ra4s where gr8 to meet j again, recent bar lass!! Arranged to meet her in DrS (or something like that!!). 2moro it’s N4c4t, G4g4t and later out to GC!! lokttmbo!!!

November 18th: here’s at last a Honey-buzzard clip (1201), with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, taken with the new Panasonic camera. It’s from The Raven in Wexford on 7/11 and shows the juvenile Honey-buzzard being mobbed by 3 Hooded Crow. Plenty more to come like this. Using AVS as processing package, had to pay about £45 for it but it works fine in splitting and gives large snapshots (0.9-1.5 MB) which is very important for analysis as can blow them up on the screen. Clips produced in MP4 (m4v) are much smaller than with Windows Live and snapshots are much bigger – very satisfactory! I think the clips will play on iPhone/iPad as well as on laptops/desktops as it’s basically an Apple format. Made a lot more progress in processing the rest of the Irish material: should be able to upload it all shortly. R was good – talk by RA, MD of Hexham Mart, on its history and pivotal importance to the town’s success; we’ve got a sports nite at the Golf Club on 20/11, complete with p&p. Did make N4c4ll where pretty quiet. Very good to see the meo and mbo!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and BH4ra4s!! lokttbo!!!

November 17th: leisurely day, bit more painting, catching up with the papers, labelling multimedia from Ireland; done most of last-named now and will post results asap. Did make the Mount from 12:10-13:20 but no raptors at all in calm, dry, bright conditions; total was 23 species, including Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinch (4), Herring Gull (6 SW). G was good: gr8 to have j on again, 2 assists in a 5-0 win today and top of division!! Finally a greeting from Rev. Paul Flowers: “Welcome to the Coke-operative Bank, run by a Meth-odist minister, about to crystallize its losses, embark on a joint funding venture and weed out poor management. Will they ket away with it?” [TMF 50033: 44191]. Think he’s been set-up: he was claiming in recent evidence to TSC that politicians were egging on the CPB to make acquisitions. xxxxxxxxxx!!!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l and N4c4ll!!

November 16th: not enough sleep though sound enough for what there was!! Up at 07:30 to pick up P at 08:30 for my drive to Park Hotel, Tynemouth. Easy drive, got there at 09:20. So what did I think? Well some clear downsides: Farage pulled a sickie, education and engineering featured poorly and when mentioned were mocked in context of climate change, difficult to distinguish bouncers from some delegates, coffee poorly organised with only 2 service points for 200+ delegates, seller looked pretty unimpressed when suggested that would rather have a € badge than a £ one! On upside: thought Paul Nuttall (deputy leader) and Rob Comley (just 21) were impressive speakers and Roger Helmer (Energy) made some good points about the mad dash to have wind farms everywhere. Can see them doing well in € elections next year, ironically of course because they intensely dislike Europe! Bought a UK.P mug, to wind up son! Only coloured person in hall was the technician for the Hotel! Interesting day, didn’t go to sleep, but not planning to join. We bunked off to Salutation Hotel in Tynemouth village for a good, cheap lunch, and left early at 16:30. Added distribution by month of Honey-buzzard and Common Buzzard to main web pages; started to prepare final totals for breeding Honey-buzzard in the study area for 2013. 2moro doing bit more painting, then Stocksfield Mount for raptor watch followed in afternoon by N4c4ll to catch up on FT/HC. Should make G4g4s as nite-cap. lokttmbo!!!

November 15th: started to wind up season now. Here’s distribution by month of records for Honey-buzzard and similarly for Common Buzzard for 2013 – obviously needs updating when year finished for Common Buzzard. The Honey-buzzard distribution is very typical with the occasional sighting in April, then a sharp peak in May as birds display followed by reduced sightings in June and July when the species is nesting; an increase in sightings follows in August as fledging approaches and peak visibility occurs in September with family parties on the wing; numbers rapidly decline in October though birds can be seen throughout the month, occasionally lingering into November. The Common Buzzard season runs at least one month earlier with peak sightings in April and August. Observer bias affects March – I was on Cape Verde most of the month. Bird lists sorted for Blencathra expedition: total of 17 species seen in 3 tetrads, including Kestrel (ad male, 2 1w), Sparrowhawk (1w male hunting), Raven (9), Carrion Crow (19), Common Gull (34 adult feeding in one field), alba Wagtail (1), Meadow Pipit (1). Not a lot for the effort but the Raven were very spectacular in their flying over the summit in the strong gusty wind. Met K&T from ‘Shire in N4l – good catch-up! 6 of us out at W later, where hunny bunny seemed an appropriate choice of ra! Most stimulating part of day at end with the marvellous one: lokttmbo!!! An up and down week on markets, finally finishing +2k at new peak as B&B issues and Irish stocks moved ahead; CPB holdings reached 129k nominal, including 28k of the more senior LT2; think LME will get through: it’d better! 2moro it’s UK.P conference at Tynemouth with P (going as very doubtful guest) and a quiet evening!!

November 14th: named and uploaded piccies from Blencathra to web server. Here’s yours truly on top 1  2 and at Scales Fell 1. Various shots of route including up to summit 1  2  3, on summit itself 1  2  3  4  5  6 and walk off summit over the windy Gategill Fell ridge 1  2  3. More to follow. Almost finished window frame painting with a longish session outside early afternoon, putting on 3rd coat, gloss. But as usual one bit is lagging behind, where primer did not take! Not ideal weather for it, cold NW wind but seemed to dry quickly. Gr8 views going in!! Met mmo at N4c4ll; she said it would be better tonite and asked if I was coming again!! Well would have loved to but made T&S with work-mates for a couple of Wylam ra and good crack. 2moro it’s N4c4l and much later E, including W4ra4s!! lokttbo!!!

November 13th: captured piccies from Blencathra on computer, should publish tomorrow! Had 2 hours meeting at unn, working me too hard, good recuperation at CT with c!! Gr8 to see mbo twice: she’s very beautiful!! Did make AG: mmo is a superb dancer and singer – I get a kick out of you!! That song is done JS-style by Gary Shearston! Recovery with G4g, 6 of us there, good crack! 2moro it’s wind-down day with a few coffees around lunchtime and T&S4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

November 12th: Blencathra (868m) duly conquered today in an enjoyable challenging walk with interesting breeze on top! Indeed amber warning on fells forecast was right: “Max wind above 500m: Westerly wind 25-30mph, gusting 40-45mph at times mainly during the afternoon and the evening, then easing slightly through the night. Strong wind will make it feel very cold on higher ground and exposed ridges despite the extended sunny spells.” Up at 06:00, left Hexham at 07:00, started walking at 09:10 from Gategill, moving E to above Scales Farm with little climbing but the crossing of Scaley Beck involved some scrambling down a ledge about 15m high. Then we moved NW towards Scales Fell climbing 400m on one hillside, before taking the more gentle slope along the ridge to the top of Blencathra; recent snow was lying in patches but was not a problem throughout. The NW wind at this stage was gusty but not too bad. We moved further along the high ridge to due N of Gategill and then dropped off the ridge onto the very steep scree path towards Gategill Fell. One woman was quite alarmed: she thought we were stepping off the crag! The walking here was quite like that in the Cuillins (treacherous!). Once onto the exposed Gategill Fell ridge the wind was incredible: each of us got blown over several times and as it was a wave effect off the high ground to N, you could not wait for the wind to pass, you were pinned down at those points where the waves hit the ridge until you struggled clear. So good stuff and final descent was very steep over heather-covered slopes which were relatively safe, finishing at 14:40. Made Horse & Farrier in Threlkeld for deserved fish and chips and Jennings for high tea. Plenty of piccies to add on whole expedition plus bird report.

After long soak in bath off to meet N at S4con!! This was NS players in small groups performing works by Britten and Beethoven; love seeing the best players showing off their talents in this way. After dropping off N, renewed contact with the lovely mbo!!! Very relaxing after earlier activities!! lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s unn for meeting late morning with (another) P/M followed by CT4s4l and N4c4t. Then a change in evening with Anything Goes at QH, with the mmo as one of the stars!! Here’s a piccie 1! Should make G afterwards.

November 11th: made R@B4l, meetings are a bit more lively with even some insubordination to the president! Completed account for the grand walk around The Raven on 7/11. Yesterday, in the fine sunny weather, decided to continue with the window frames, doing some undercoating, not very exciting but maybe useful. There was a further frost yesterday evening. Think Honey-buzzard season has ended, which takes away an important driver! Feeling so sleepy since Ireland: had good chat about trip in G yesterday – unlike T&S, the G doesn’t seem affected by C re-opening, maybe C not so suited to more down-to-earth clientèle! Had 2 new front tyres put on Fox at Kwik-Fit after leisurely N4c4ll. 2moro it’s another challenging Lakes day with P/M: Blencathra (868m) is the target; we’re leaving Hexham at 07:00! Not planning to use the Sharp Edge route and strong winds promised for afternoon mean we need to get up there quickly! Refreshments afterwards at Horse & Farrier, Threlkeld. Supposed to make S4con with N at 20:00 but might only get there for 2nd half! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

November 9th: marked drop in temperatures today and feeling the cold after having got used to Ireland’s weather, a good 3-4º warmer than the NE in early November; noticed the Irish lasses were all in their woollies on their way to Newcastle, while those from the NE had much less on! Number of wasps around in Ireland was incredibly high for the time of year, think they like the mild, damp climate and the flowering ivy which was everywhere. Indeed that was my problem with Slevoy Castle – it’s only a small ruin and it was difficult to pick up anything from a distance because many outbuildings and trees were smothered with ivy; need to do more research, getting a more accurate grid reference. Slevoy is an outlier on way to New Ross but has clear records of early-on by the Rs. Will do better next time! With N made MP in afternoon and TC early evening for Tosca, Puccini’s very popular tale of treachery, duplicity, power and romance!! Cinema was packed and for the only time this season we could not get a circle seat so sat downstairs. It was very moving, particularly liked the angst at the end of Act 1 with power-crazy Scarpia declaring his evil plans and the start of Act 3 as Tosca’s lover Cavaradossi contemplates the firing squad. At the end of Act 3 Tosca finds the firing squad has broken its promise to only fire blanks at her lover and the soldiers find she has not only broken her promise to sleep with their leader Scarpia but also very spiritedly stabbed him to death! Rather than be captured and tortured Tosca jumps off the castle walls to her death. So typical opera – all dead and the driving forces of power and love reign supreme!! Wetted my appetite for Puccini’s La Bohème in New York in January, another tragic love story! Got back to Prudhoe International to find car a block of ice; lots of fireworks were going off, back home to get things sorted from Irish trip. 2moro a nice easy day in Hexham with perhaps a trip to the Mount for check on raptors; any lingering Honey-buzzard will get their skates on after tonight. lokttmbo!!!

November 8th: another fine day with almost complete sunshine, cooler on moderate W breeze, dry; but few showers when closer to Cork. Drove the 200 km from Wexford to Cork, with 2 detours, one to look for Slevoy Castle (only partially successful) and another to twitch a drake Ring-necked Duck in Co Waterford (completely successful) at Ballyshunnock Reservoir 1  2. At Ballyshunnock 19 species were found, including Tufted Duck (7), Little Grebe (5) and Yellowhammer (1). At Slevoy 19 species were also found including plentiful Magpie (7), Skylark (4) and Yellowhammer (2). Total of species reached 101 with Yellowhammer at both of today’s sites, Skylark at Slevoy and the Ring-necked, a North American version of Tufted Duck, at Ballyshunnock. So that’s a brilliant total, long time since 100 species in trip in British Isles. Last raptor was a Common Buzzard, sitting on post, on minor road coming into Taghmon from E, at Garradreen. Had lunch at a bistro, the Green Barn, just before Cork: very nice toastie with imaginative salad. Flight with jet2 from Cork to Newcastle was on time, then tried to make Sage for concert but was 20 minutes late so had to make do with a large red wine for 1st half joining N at half-time! Then back to W4ra4s to meet the gang where 8 of us out – good catch-up! Completed day in style with the mso: she’s gorgeous, should have come!!! lokttmso!!! Not a bad week on markets: +30k on CPB reprieve! Takes gain on year to 83k. Sold all of CPBA while waiting for boarding at Cork: feeling a little exposed in CPB at 135k nominal with additions in LT2, now back to 112k.

In Co Wexford added one species of Gull – Little Gull – making total 9 for trip and one species of wader – Bar-tailed Godwit – making total 13 for trip. Raptors were impressive in Wexford with 6 more species noted, in addition to Merlin at Co Cork, with final result: 7 Common Buzzard, 3 Merlin, 3 Kestrel, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Hen Harrier, 2 Marsh Harrier, 1 Honey-buzzard, that is 20 birds of 7 species for trip. No butterflies were seen but wasps were still present in significant numbers at all localities visited. All bird records for trip are itemised here.

November 7th: brilliantly fine day, moderate SW breeze, good visibility, sunny and dry; went for long walk of 11 km from 11:45-15:40 right around The Raven: a marvellous conifer wood (mainly Pine 1  2  3 ) on the dunes on the N side of the Wexford Harbour. The end (The Point 1  2) was very dramatic with swirling currents, many shoals and large breakers. A large gathering of Atlantic Grey Steel 1  2  3  4 was hauled-up on a sandbank, isolated by the dangerous channels. No swimming notices 1 seem apt! And yes, following last year’s Honey-buzzard in this area, had another juvenile Honey-buzzard in the dunes just N of the wood. It was up at 11:55, heavily mobbed by 3 Hooded Crow, and had clearly been disturbed in the dunes where it was presumably feeding. It moved N and didn’t see it again. Good views and clear clips were obtained. Here’s the Honey-buzzard clip (1201), with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, in lightly wooded area 1 on edge of dunes, taken with the new Panasonic camera and processed with AVS software. So this place seems to be a holding area for juvenile Honey-buzzard, offering good feeding, while they work out what to do. It could be a Scottish bird, having drifted into Ireland from Galloway, or an Irish one, after the discovery in Co Kildare this May. Hopefully it will go on to Pembroke, doing a Strongbow in reverse: it’s not far! Tremendous day’s birding and now up to 98 species! Other raptors included a family group of 4 Common Buzzard in S part of wood (clip) and a female/immature Marsh Harrier hunting up over S end of wood (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9), looking as if speculating over movement out, but stayed. Sea-birds from the beach part of walk included 260 Common Scoter, put up by a passing helicopter, 12 Great Northern Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Skua S, 32 Common Gull S, 3 Little Gull adult feeding out at sea, 1 Red-breasted Merganser redhead, 1 Black Guillemot S, 11 Gannet with 7 S. Waders included 8 Bar-tailed Godwit (clip), 7 Grey Plover. In the pine woods had a flock of 21 Common Crossbill and 2 Raven. Could glimpse the Slobs through the trees with 110 Greenland White-fronted Goose 1 the main attraction. Total for day was 43 species. So all set for return!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

November 6th: a soft day, misty with drizzle all day, calm, mild, but still managed 24 species in the damp. Walked the 4 km into Wexford again and there was clearly a small fall of migrants in the conditions with 3 Swallow together 1  2  3  4 on wires near yard on N side of Wexford of which 1 was more active flying around hawking insects; other movers were a calling Chiffchaff and a mobile Goldcrest near Ferrycarrig Bridge; was interrogated by owner of house where Swallow were perching: what was I photographing? He was relieved when piccies played back. Total of species for trip is now 89! At Wexford Harbour had close-up views of a Grey Heron 1  2. Indeed had a good day in Wexford, spending much of time in the Library, getting a lot more background information on events from 1169; can buy some of the books on eBay or via Abe maybe to continue research at home but it’s more fun continuing to do some of it here! Sampled a bit of g in local pubs afterwards – Thomas Moore, Wexford Arms – g was very good, very smooth; it’s a serious business – drinking that is – early evening, bit like Scotland! Got taxi back and arrived just in time for meal at hotel. Looking forward a lot to return – will be gr8 to see the gorgeous ones again!!! Meeting N at S4con on 8/11 and we have Tosca at TC the next day. lokttmbo!!!

November 5th: cool moderate NW wind, dry, overcast. Had great day out in the field, going to Tacumshin Lake, one of Ireland’s best wildfowl reserves, from 12:15-15:15. Very impressive, getting 22 species on SW side and 32 on NE side. Stars for me were the raptors: 1 Merlin (male chasing for long time a Reed Bunting over E part of lake at 12:40, outcome unknown), 3 Kestrel (2 1w, 1 adult male, all on SW side), 2 Hen Harrier (1 up at 12:55 to SE, other up hunting towards wind-farm to S at 13:10, both distant but were ringtails (immature/female)) and a Marsh Harrier (immature/female hunting over fields to NW of lake at 14:55). But also had a Scaup (female), 35 Greylag Geese, 12 Pink-feet, 3 Stonechat, 1 Little Grebe, 1 Shoveler, 12 Reed Bunting. The Lake is overlooked by Tacumshin Castle, which was not owned by the Rs up to the arrival of Cromwell; think the one we had was actually Tomhaggard after looking at Wexford Castles. Here’s some pictures of the lake 1  2  3  4  5  6, the last 3 having Tacumshin Castle in the background. On way back called into Rathmacknee; thought my ancestors would like a BirdTrack submission to add to last year’s! In contrast to Tacumshin, which is swampy, Rathmacknee is high quality farmland with good numbers of birds, totalling 20 species, with an adult male Sparrowhawk the star, hunting through the hedges. Occasional wasps were noted throughout the day but no Honey-buzzard: will check keenly on last full day (Thursday) the woodland near the Slobs where had a bird last year (last stop before Pembroke). Here are some more piccies of Rathmacknee 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, Piercestown Church 1 and plaque 1 for those who died in the 1798 rebellion. 2moro rain is forecast in morning and will continue the history line. Trading in CPB re-started with CPBC up over 55%, where have 49k nominal, and somewhat smaller rises of c40% in CPBA and CPBB; planning to hold and accept, always support the mutuals!! Was going to post some piccies but held up in bar by football (Man U) and events: they charged me for too much g and I suggested that they just delivered the missing drinks rather than alter the bill; this they did – all happy, still tipped them, nice lass on tonite!! No fireworks celebration here of course: doubtless most Irish would have been on the side of Guy Fawkes anyway! Hope the gorgeous ones are keeping fit!! lokttmbo!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

November 4th: very sunny, light W breeze, cool, dry. Spent most of today in Wexford Town Library, nothing spectacular found on genealogy but lots of background accounts read of what was happening society-wise in 17th/18th centuries — basically Ian Paisley types were trying to grab land at every opportunity from the catholic Anglo-Normans (my lot, who of course had earlier grabbed it from the Irish/Norse!). Will spend at least another full day there. Did find that Ignatius Rossiter, possibly in direct line from Rathmacknee lot but after mine split off, was one of the 2 leaders of the catholics in the Wexford 1798 rebellion; ended in another rout for the catholics and thousands dead but Ignatius, who was a wealthy merchant, surprisingly sailed on as usual after the event! This seemed to quite often happen to merchants, suspect bribery! Walked the 4km from hotel to town with bins and camera; use the latter to photograph paragraphs on interesting pages as well as for scenery and wildlife. Got taxi back, just €10 including tip. Had an agitated pair of Common Buzzard (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6) in territory by Ferrycarrig Bridge in trees on SE side, one bird going off N in a loop while other cried from trees. Here’s a picture of Ferrycarrig Castle 1 in the sunshine. Wasps 1  2 were fairly common on one line of flowering ivy by side of road with another isolated individual seen. An adult Mediterranean Gull 1 took off from outer wall and flew towards inner harbour. Also had 3 Red-throated Diver and a Great Crested Grebe fishing in the bay and close-up Redshank 1 in the harbour 1  2. Here’s a picture of The Point at Raven 1, an area visited on 7/11. Finally here’s some shots of the main street 1  2  3  4  5 in Wexford. Co-op deal is looking good for people who bought when distressed. Those CPBC bonds I mentioned yielding 24% at 56 were 95 today on the grey market. CPB still suspended on LSE but prospectus for new bonds out now so expect resumption soon; hold 116k nominal of the junky pref/bonds, bought at distressed prices for just over 50% – in for a penny, in for a pound! Talking about cheap assets, you can get a waterfront penthouse flat in Wexford for €80,000-90,000; the slide in property prices in Ireland has been reversed in Dublin but is continuing in many regional towns. Think I’d rather buy property in England though, better the devil you know! So still 2 beds spare – very comfy and bouncy!! Locals are very friendly and welcoming! Keep fit!! lokttbo!!!

November 3rd: 260 km drive today from Rosscarbery to Wexford, from 11:10-14:50. Road was very clear, no lorries or tractors! Had a further check on area around Rosscarbery, concentrating on reedy pond near Celtic Ross Hotel 1  2; took wader species count up to 12 with Snipe (8) 1  2  3 and Golden Plover (1,300 in flocks high above) and rails species count up to 2 with single Moorhen 1 and Water Rail; this alba Wagtail 1 came very close as did this Jackdaw 1. The wind had gone completely but it was overcast, and mild with rain just starting as left. Total in brief stay in Co Cork was 54 species including just one raptor: Merlin (2). Managed to get ahead of the rain by time got to Ferrycarrig Hotel at Wexford, where did a walk around the River Slaney, taking in Ferrycarrig Castle 1  2  3  4  5, a ruined fifteenth century square tower house originally built by the Roche family to guard the ferry and the river traffic on the Slaney. Got fantastic room in hotel 1  2, with a balcony overlooking the river 1 and 3 comfy beds!! Had 2 raptors today: a female Merlin flying purposefully to N low-down at 11:20 Clonakilty, Cork; a 1w male Sparrowhawk flying across Slaney at 15:35, into wood to W of bridge on N side. So running total by end of day in Wexford for trip is 3 birds: 2 Merlin, 1 Sparrowhawk, strange mix! Still one or two posh opera goers around, complete with suits, bow ties and the like, look pretty pretentious but evidently good business for the hotel and the town. Prices at Ferrycarrig halved today now the rabble’s here! 2moro going to local library to see what I can find; need to start looking on 1st day here so can develop research later in the week: or something like that! lokttbo!!! Gulls had a rare win on 2/11; can see the low expectations of gull fans by the following blog: “But we have now won three out of 15 and are up to the giddy heights of 21st instead of in the bottom two, as we would have been, had we lost. So, I suppose there is plenty for us to celebrate…”. CPB offer exceeded expectations, shares still suspended but expect sharp rise when re-open!

November 2nd: wild, W wind almost gale-force strength, gusty, frequent heavy showers of driving rain with brief sunny intervals, sea very rough! But one of best days out birdwatching in the year: fell in love immediately with Rosscarbery, intimate mixture of estuary, woods and sea, with fantastic wildlife. In the bay the sea was incredible as shown in this clip and stills 1  2  3: reminded me of my roughest ever sea crossing from Swansea-Cork; we did ask a local salt before we booked tickets but he said: “you don’t want to trouble yourself with things like that”. Anyway boat went all over the place; even the barman went wildly up and down while you were ordering; and the shuddering as we hit the bottom of each trough was quite amazing; we were 2 hours late into Cork. But no problems though the earth moved for a couple of days! Put me on a bus from Newcastle-Hexham and feel ill within minutes: must be in the mind! Had 46 species at Rosscarbery from 09:20-14:30 with the highlights in the stormy bay where saw 1 Sabine’s Gull adult, 4 Sooty Shearwater, 2 Long-tailed Duck, 37 Kittiwake, 9 Guillemot, 4 Gannet; close-in plenty of lively shags (clip still) with 14 in tight group and 2 Great Northern Diver 1  2  3. Two more Shag 1 were on the river, just inshore. On the mud-flats had 10 species of wader, including Black-tailed Godwit (40) 1, Greenshank (2) 1  2  3  4  5  6, Redshank (67, see picture 6 Greenshank), Lapwing (280), Curlew (7) 1, Oystercatcher (35) 1, Dunlin (18) 1, Ringed Plover (15), Grey Plover (7), Turnstone (7). Only raptor was a Merlin – female arriving over ridge to E and commencing dive towards estuary at low altitude, waders alarmed, outcome unknown. Others of interest were 1 adult Mediterranean Gull 1  2, 6 Little Egret 1  2  3, 11 Redwing SE, 17 Hooded Crow, 1 Raven, 1 Red-throated Diver (on water above causeway at start of visit). Gull species up to 8 with usual 5 types, plus the Mediterranean Gull, Kittiwake and Sabine’s. A few Herring Gull adult 1  2 posed well on the edge of the seashore. A Rock Pipit 1  2  3 was also very tame. The hotel 1 looked welcoming in a sunny interlude. Some wasps are still around, one nest (clip) had c20 sluggish wasps flying around after a vehicle-based hedge trimmer had cut into its cover; 3 widely-scattered further individuals were noted. So hope for you-know-what! Decided to warm up after the battering in the wind so off in the car W to local hot-spot of Skibbereen for cup of coffee and sandwich; very traditional feel 1  2 (Hexham would have looked like this 30 years ago) but friendly enough! Had planned to make Galley Head but doubt whether could stand up there today; on agenda for 2moro morning before leaving West Cork for the SE! Wish u were here!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

November 1st: out with Jet2 from ncl to ork, all on time, arriving at 16:45 just before sunset and able to start list with 5 species: Rook, Hooded Crow, Magpie, Starling, alba Wagtail. 60km drive down to Celtic Ross Hotel at Rosscarbery was very smooth in hired Corsa in clear, cool weather, probably best weather for a couple of days. As usual in hotels in Ireland, very friendly staff and gr8 service; this is Murphy’s land but they did have a line of G, chose former! M is a little sweeter than G but much the same otherwise – good! Rather poignantly it was bb time in Hexham for the mbo!! Hiatus this week in markets I trade with news of CPB tenders due on 4/11; managed +1k to new peaks; still cautiously optimistic for CPB next week – grey market (otc – over the counter) prices this week have moved steadily higher while bonds suspended on LSE, a good sign since the City is so leaky but kept to last LSE prices while waiting for definitive news. Daughter says having difficulty in dealing with Bamburgh Castle over wedding but delighted with my offer to discuss budget, when it’s available! Looks wild 2moro but will be out! lokttbo!!!

October 31st: busy day decorating outside (painting primer coat, filling small areas); but did make N4c4l to meet N for good chat. Further good crack later with M/A at T&S4g4s, where good to meet the mmo again!! Otherwise getting ready for next trip, which will be last before early January: hopefully will get more continuity on return. Whatever some mixed feelings as go off on next romp!! Will miss the very fit ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!! 2moro fairly early N4c4c!!

October 30th: no fieldwork today with YEDT wash-up meeting in Newcastle from 11:00-13:00, CT4s4l from 13:00-14:00 (c is very fit), meeting with P/M on CT from 14:30-15:30, collecting car from MC at 16:40; it passed (cost £54) though front 2 tyres need replacing soon (2nd set gone in 34k miles!); can now get road tax 2moro, when also outside patching and N4c4l. Got back just in time for the lovely one!! lokttmbo!! G4g4t was very lively with about 10 of us in a group and j on! G4t is better than G4s mid-week! Will be amazed if this gull is still around:

   16:49 30/10/13 Azorean Yellow-legged Gull Cork Rosscarbery 29/10/13 3rd-winter reported yesterday [BirdGuides]

October 29th: a cool sunny day with moderate NW breeze. Was planning fieldwork in South Tyne but decided in end that annual work on wooden window frames was more important; so couple of hours spent this afternoon, sanding, removing a few small rotten patches and treating all with wood preservative; house outside smells like a Rentokil factory! On Thursday will prime and fill to leave it all weather-proofed for return, when can apply the gloss. Did think about electricity switching but am on Economy 10 with last bill 18/12/2012 when in credit by £120. npower’s latest it system cannot cope with this tariff evidently and they notified me 4 months ago that they were having problems. Economy 10 is not covered by uswitch: could call it a shambles but anyway shall continue to run up credit until they send me a proper bill! Sorted out CT drawings, the dual 1  2 of earlier ones, for discussion tomorrow. Also got YEDT meeting in morning at Discovery Museum but should be back for G4g4t!! Evening went very well. Did make BH – lively chat and Robin Hood ra. Gr8 end to day with the very sensuous one, think she’s brill: lokttmbo!!!

Catching up on recent literature: The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors is reviewed in BTO News, no. 305 p. 21 (August, 2013) by Su Gough. This book deals with American raptors and produces a vast photo-montage for each species, showing all the possibilities, against a natural background. So emphasis is very much on jizz, like in Jerry Liguori’s Hawks at a Distance, which is also North American. Will be hated by the semi-religious bigots who seem to believe that plumage details are paramount! The jizz is everything!!

In The Times 25/10/2013 pp.42-43 “The new ‘FTSE’ index that has wildlife in a flap”, there is much on bad news, particularly for moths and butterflies. But the article finishes: “It is not all bad news, however. Several previously declining species are now thriving, including the red kite, marsh harrier, osprey, honey buzzard and whooper swan”. Wonder where they got the information on Honey Buzzard – certainly true but censored in official documents.

October 28th: posted on YLG pages the Azores Trip Report March 2012, containing gull records classified by species and diary (edited blog) to give an overview. Will classify more directly, particularly raptors, terns, herons and waders, and produce summaries for each section. Butterflies will also be sorted. Made me quite nostalgic for the Azores, going through the sightings in detail! Almost completed CT work promised for Wednesday so quite productive at the moment. While about to submit road tax application, suddenly noticed I needed an MoT certificate as from last Sunday! ‘Phoned up my long-time favourite garage MC and they said no slots this week, which would have been a bit inconvenient, but then he remembered me (big bills for Ka!) and slot much sooner agreed: “we look forward to you returning to us now 3-years is up on new car”. R was good – had talk, complete with 2 songs, by Saul Rose, accompanied by his melodeon. Think remaining migrants will be pulling out quickly this week with drop in temperatures. So 2moro after N4c4c with P, N4c4l with J, will go to upper South Tyne for penultimate check. Should make BH4ra4s late-on!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

October 27th: and still the Honey-buzzard pass through! Today made Stocksfield Mount from 11:15-12:55 in mild weather with moderate SW breeze, gusty at times and frequent heavy showers with sunshine in-between. A juvenile Honey-buzzard was up at 11:32 from Cottagebank S, coming down by Tyne near Bywell Bridge, showing mid-brown plumage with pale underside, relatively mature in that wings and tail fully grown, power of flight high (some good shots obtained); moved SE to feed 11:35, to S of Mount at 11:53, then back via W of Mount to Tyne at 12:10; up again S of Cottagebank at 12:40, finally before heavy shower up over Mowden Hall at 12:43. Bird was very restless, keen to feed, maybe food not so plentiful now. Other raptors included a credible 9 Common Buzzard (4 up together over Cottagebank, 1 up over Short Wood, 2 high-up hanging over hillside to E of Stocksfield, 1 Broomley Woods, 1 just N of Bywell Castle) and a nice-to-see Red Kite (over regular area to NE of Short Wood, flying low-down over field). A feeding flock of 150 Lapwing was up towards gravel pit. Migrants included 3 Herring Gull W (2 ad, 1 1w), 3 Redwing (2 SW, 1 W), 1 Blackbird W, 3 Chaffinch (1 W, 2 SW). Total for visit was 23 species. Added Jersey butterflies report below (11/9), together with piccies of 12 of the 15 species recorded. G was good – much crack on the emerald isle! New bar lass jn has obviously satisfied the strict selection criteria!! Gr8 afters with one of the ss love the style!!! lokttmgo!!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll, work on CT for Wednesday and further progress on Azores trip report.

October 26th: Jersey butterflies processed with 15 types the final total; will publish some piccies and the full list tomorrow. Azores trip report will be very detailed on gulls and Common Buzzard; gulls section is shaping up well. The opera The Nose by Shostakovitch was very dynamic and restless but pretty baffling; had a rapturous reception in New York Met but not too many there in Tyneside Cinema! Had a vaguely decadent air, typical of 1920s/1930s, not too far apart from works of Weill and Berg. The acts were played without a break, lasting only a little over 2 hours so we were out by 20:20; well makes a change from some German music, indeed just Act 1 of Götterdämmerung by Wagner would have been longer! Didn’t quite manage to dodge the seductive spirits, pleased to say!! Indeed ko’d when sighted the stunning ones!! We went back on 21:18, with police escort and a very boozy crowd! 2moro it’s out to the Mount late morning for migrants, N4c4ll, G4g4s!! lokttss!!!

October 25th: working on Azores trip report and Jersey butterflies. Back in style, well on Flybe anyway, and only for a week! Flight out of Exeter delayed by an hour, officially due to a technical problem, but really think it was the familiar problem that the Airport cannot handle boarding for more than 2 flights at a time! Anyway with strong wind behind we caught up a lot of time and were only 30 minutes late into Newcastle. Straight into Hexham where very refreshing views of the mbo, the meo and the mmo!! Further progress on markets this week with +4k to new high, almost entirely due to CPB rise on Monday before suspension; latest details on recap in a RNS are: “The Co-operative Group, The Co-operative Bank and bondholders continue to work on the detail of a recapitalisation plan for the Bank. Good progress is being made and it is expected that a further announcement with full details of the plan will be made on 4 November 2013, with the recapitalisation being implemented by the end of the year.” As you’d expect for Regulatory News, there then follow about 55 risk statements; still the best show in town but trembling a little! Could say that about another affair!! Made W4ra4s where 6 of us out – very good crack! Later up close in the best of places!!! 2moro it’s A’s4s4l, MP4m4t and TC4o!! It’s spooky nite, may dodge the seductive spirits!! lokttmbo!!!

October 24th: moderate NE wind today, sea choppy, a little cooler, occasional spots of rain; in evening heavy rain set in. Went for walk from Exmouth to Sandy Bay with sis, quite bracing and walk along wide beach was very atmospheric at low tide. Had 2 Common Buzzard and a Kestrel over the cliffs, and on the beach an attacking frenzy by 20 Carrion Crow on a 1w Herring Gull, which had just broken its wing in a collision with a car; outcome was not known but prospects not good for the gull. At Sidmouth had a Tawny Owl calling at 05:00 and a Common Buzzard at 16:10. More to follow … We went to Indian restaurant in early evening followed by Captain Phillips at local cinema, very exciting, tense film dealing with an American captain and Somali pirates. 2moro if all goes well back in NE early afternoon!! Opera The Nose is on, on Saturday nite!! Looking forward to seeing the beauties again!! xxxxxxxxx!!!!

October 23rd: sunny and warm today on light W breeze with just the very odd shower. No walk today but very good chat with M on CT in Totnes from 12:20-19:00; we still get a surprising amount done when we meet, even though that’s not very often; quite a lot of books and publications to add to my already full small case! Honey-buzzard sighting yesterday was so valuable as could see how it behaved in the conditions, not so different to those in NE England when the large movements have occurred on the coast. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

October 22nd: weather better than forecast for walk with sis at Dawlish Warren from 13:20-15:20 with moderate SE wind, warm, rain flurry at end, few sunny intervals. Highlight was right at the end, at 15:20: a juvenile dark phase Honey-buzzard was seen moving S low-down over the dunes, going over the village and disappearing into the distance; much anxiety by Herring Gull and Carrion Crow; used flap-flap-glide action followed by a more languid mode showing off long wings. Once over the dunes, it was keeping a little inland, probably close enough to the cliffs to gain orographic lift but not that far away where it might get caught up in low cloud and murk; quite a classical illustration of a Honey-buzzard juvenile moving down the E coast (of Devon in this case) in a moderate SE breeze on poor visibility. Should make Start Point in daylight and then is faced with difficult Channel crossing of 150 km, going due S to Brittany or SE to Normandy. Weather tomorrow looks OK with light to moderate W (side) breeze, which would keep it on the landward side of the Channel. It cannot afford to get drifted much to W (on E wind) as that puts it out into the Atlantic. Ducking the issue by moving WSW to Cornwall aggravates all the problems. Had total of 26 species with redhead Red-breasted Merganser flying up estuary, an adult LBBG with much dense head streaking, 2 Little Egret, 7 alba Wagtail (common on beach), 2 Dunlin, 5 Oystercatcher, 3 Grey Plover, 1 Curlew, 2 Meadow Pipit, 1 Rock Pipit, 45 dark-bellied Brent Goose. Caught up a lot in the chat today – all very good – back to philosophical ct tomorrow, which will be good for the soul, or something like that! I’m borrowing sis’s car for the trip. Hope the super-fit are keeping well!! lokttbo!!!!

October 21st: down to Sidmouth to see young sis; flew down by Flybe on 10:25, all as scheduled, but stretched a little to get there on time as overslept!! On strong SE wind, sea very rough and spectacular, and cliffs are being eroded on all sides, particularly to N, with gardens and summer houses going over the sides. Had a Sparrowhawk (female 1w) at Exeter Airport in the light warm rain; the rain eased off in the afternoon and we had a bracing walk on the sea-front. Another good meal cooked by brother-in-law, very comfortable here. Almost choked on shreddies when watching news at 07:30 with announcement of CPG/Bondholders negotiations failing; checked on Pesto, who’s very close to BoE, and found that it was potentially good news with the CPG ceding control to the bondholders; bought some more in the confusion, later prices rose a little and trading was suspended until formal announcement of deal next Monday on 28/10. Cautiously optimistic that will make a little bit on the likes of CPBC, CPBB and CPBA: but certainly not counting any chicks yet! Down here for the business week, seeing Mike, my long-time co-publisher on category theory, on Wednesday in Totnes. Missing seeing the beauties!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

October 20th: we had nice Sunday lunch at home with roast beef, courtesy of daughter! They left late afternoon, gr8 to see them both in a very relaxed atmosphere. Did some tidying up of archive on computer – have two 2.0 TB external drives and they’ve been getting almost full; removed some duplicated material by extensive copying and have got 250-300 MB clear now on each drive, enough to last a few months. Using Corbian for backup now: much better than MS’s as takes daily increments and you can view the updates in the archive as ordinary files. Popped into G to see the gang, then onto DrS for a nite-cap!! Thought was going to be savaged as in Katy Perry’s Roar, but survived!! Trip was definitely rewarding with the beautiful one!!! lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s off to my roots, quite early!

October 19th: wet morning followed by clearance in mid-afternoon; decided to complete grass cutting which done, while recording any local bird movements; in total of 20 species, had 10 Woodpigeon SW high-up, a Goldcrest, a Brambling, 7 alba Wagtail on roof in brief visit, 2 Chaffinch moving (1 SW, 1W), 1 Chiffchaff calling; also 1,376 Common Gull (51 adult, 1 1w) moving S to Derwent Reservoir to roost. Completed compiling butterfly sightings for 2013 for Northumberland – can submit these to the Recorder now. Evidently Bamburgh Castle/Eshott Hall top the venues with 24/5 favoured date and 80 guests scheduled! Return fixture in Mashhad is scheduled for September as cooler then. Took them out to Diwan E Am for very good Indian meal; he’s amazed at how empty Northumberland is! 2moro daughter’s cooking lunch after I go shopping; back to London late afternoon; might feel like trip to DrS!! lokttmbo!!!

October 18th: so where do migrating Common Buzzard (if correctly identified) come from? Some clues from: Prytherch, Robin, The Breeding Biology of the Common Buzzard, British Birds 106(5) 264-279 (2013).

Abstract: “The population [in Avon] rose from 13 pairs in 1982 to 105 pairs in 2012”. … “The study population was probably self-supporting throughout and latterly it appeared to produce more adults than it could absorb.”

p.276 “On maturing they might have tried to settle locally, but were forced to move away. Some other juveniles disperse widely and either settle without returning or move back to their natal area [references]. Therefore, many new adult birds in my study area (or in other similar areas) now have little choice but to move elsewhere in order to establish territories. Most ’empty’ ground was likely to be to the east.”

So Common Buzzard migrants in UK in autumn, particularly in eastern areas, are likely to be British birds, irrupting from breeding areas. The rise in Common Buzzard migrants in eastern areas has nothing to do with a Scandinavian origin as is proposed in some quarters. It’s obviously more romantic to treat a Common Buzzard migrant as of continental origin but the reality is that it’s British, seeking space for a territory. There’s very little evidence for migration of continental birds through Britain from ringing returns; further, dramatic increases in UK passage are correlated with increased UK populations, not with unchanged populations on the continent. Also suspect the position is complicated by many Honey-buzzard juvenile being erroneously identified as Common Buzzard. What a mess!

Good week on markets with bank junk bonds regaining their poise, even those of the CPB of which own a few (won’t say how many!): +13k overall to new record high; going to stay aboard for a while, seems to be some momentum there; CPB crunch day may be 28/10 when terms of a tender could be announced – squeaky b.m time! That’s 6th weekly rise in a row with +23k over period. Made W briefly for a couple to meet the mates! Then back home to meet the fiancé! He’s a natural gas trader; all went well though think he wonders whether daughter has my affairs sussed up OK; they’re looking at a few venues in NE of County tomorrow (Bamburgh Castle, Alnwick Castle, Newton Hall, …); not sure what my role is! IUBTUBA!! Magical N4c4l: marvellous lasses mbo, meo, mmo!!! loktua!!!!

October 17th: out only 30 seconds from home at Ordley before bumping into a Honey-buzzard at 12:15, a pale ruddy juvenile up above Laird’s Wood mobbed by sundry corvids; it was hanging rather indecisively over the wood moving W, before finally more decisively dropping down out of sight on W side of wood. Made Grindon Lough from 12:45-14:00 on a beautiful mild autumn day with almost continuous sunshine on a light W breeze. Among the usual plenty of Wigeon (350), Teal (170) and Mallard (23), had 4 Pintail (3 drake, 1 duck), 3 Goldeneye (all redhead) and a Pochard (drake). In total of 21 species, also present were waders, Lapwing (360) and Golden Plover (7), and migrants 350 Starling, 20 Fieldfare, 5 Redwing, 18 Meadow Pipit. The only raptor was a 1w female Sparrowhawk, hunting vigorously but unsuccessfully over the Lough, and 2 Raven kept up this bird’s increased presence in the SW. Made N4c4ll and started getting ready for daughter and fiancé’s visit this weekend. Music in T&S but had a quickie in there to recce the scene before making G with the mates! Gr8 end to the day with the mgo: she’s absolutely gorgeous: lokttmgo!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, trip out in afternoon to E, shopping and maybe out later but waiting for them to arrive late evening!

October 16th: not many days without a Honey-buzzard! From bridge across railway line at Hexham Station at 13:10 a juvenile Honey-buzzard appeared from the E moving WNW in flap-flap-glide motion; as it came over Acomb it started to turn and eventually moved SW over Warden at moderate height. The bird was well developed and a good flier. The wind was moderate SE, so feeling is the bird had followed the A68 to Corbridge and then drifted W on the breeze and started to correct its course over Acomb to resume its basically S direction. Made N4c4l, good to see the beauty, then into unn where had long meeting with P/M on ct approach; not agreed by any means, clash between multi-level logic using full ct facilities (mine) and a more detailed single category approach; suspect we’ll amalgamate them in the end to good effect at next meeting in 2 weeks. Returned to old CT haunt after meeting (C = coffee, T =trader!) where good to see some familiar faces. Finally back on 17:16 train. Today was the sort of day on markets that you dream about! Much later made G4g4s where good to see l on!! Good crack with all; usual remonstration from J on missing afternoon session. Bit puzzled about something but no news there!! Decided to support Hexham events more, starting with Anything Goes on 13/11. 2moro it’s Grindon Lough in morning, N4c4ll and much later T&S4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

October 15th: took a while to get better but by mid-afternoon it was dry and brighter in the upper South Tyne with sunshine by 17:00; it remained cool with a light NE breeze. So did make Towsbank from 14:50-17:10 where had significant migration plus the usual good raptors with total of 3 Kestrel, 3 Common Buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk (1w female flying around valley, presumably hunting winter thrushes) and 1 Honey-buzzard, that’s 8 birds of 4 species. Visibility was good so could see Haltonlea West Fell where 2 Common Buzzard and a Kestrel were up. The Honey-buzzard was a dark juvenile, moving out towards the moors to the W of Towsbank at 15:37 and then turning SW to disappear from view; so a migrant, thought to be darker than any bird present on 8/10 so a new bird; I think a steady trickle of birds pass through from Scotland on their way to the south coast of England, around the Isle of Wight, and from there over to Normandy; that’s the ideal route with a few ending up further W with more uncertain journey through SW England and Brittany. The Common Buzzard at Towsbank was perched on wall, breast band showing very clearly, along with vertical pose. Two more Kestrel, both 1w, were seen, 1 W of Coanwood Pond, the other perched at Towsbank. Migrants included 245 Redwing (pretty chaotic with 95 S, 136 N, 14 feeding), 82 Fieldfare (also pretty chaotic with 38 S and 44 N), 17 Starling S, 2 Brambling S, 1 Greenfinch N and most interestingly a Ring Ouzel N, on its own. Total was 19 species. Made CCP with P for good chat; we then went onto Core Music in Gilesgate as I was interested in the set-up, shown around very well by M, very interesting! Made BH4ra4s where good crack with I; very much xs with the beautiful one: lokttmbo!!!

Two interesting Hobby records from Ireland on 9/10, may well have settled in somewhere in the E of the island:

12:34 09/10/13 Hobby Wexford Cahore one over the beach road before gradually heading southwest today

11:24 09/10/13 Hobby Cork Cork City 11:20 one flew south from Fitzgerald Park this morning

Couldn’t resist selling RMG, both tranches, as price reached 485; made £685.40 after expenses; not a game changer for the year but, as my mum would have said, better than a kick up the b.m! Week’s started well but who knows! 2moro it’s N4c4l, unn and G4g4s!!

October 14th: awful weather, gloom and rain all day on light NE breeze, not out in the field! Sorted out exciting visit to Stocksfield yesterday! Working on Azores Trip Report for March 2012 by converting the diary into species accounts; need to get it sorted for the next (non-imminent) IGM meeting where could talk on Gulls of the Azores. There’s a lot of novel Nearctic, AYLG and MYLG material there. R was good, very sociable; talk was on the advantages of ethical running of companies by Sir Michael Darrington of Greggs, with quite an attack on executive pay levels; one questioner wondered how ethical was the food served by Greggs; the speaker thought the main thing was that people enjoyed it! Completed leisure with N4c4ll. The meo looked very tempting!! 2moro it’s CCP4c4c and N4c4l, followed by trip out to upper South Tyne and a hostelry somewhere!! Into unn on Wednesday afternoon. xxxxxxxxxx!!!

October 13th: surprisingly good on raptor front at Stocksfield Mount/Bywell Bridge from 10:50-12:50; weather was cool and dull with moderate NE wind and rain to E from start, gradually extending further W; think raptors are hungry after days of dull weather have made hunting difficult. Total was 11 raptors of 4 species: 5 Red Kite, 4 Common Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 1 Honey-buzzard. The Red Kite comprised 3 birds up over wood to NE of Short Wood around 11:25, including a pair in active display over area where successfully bred this year and 2 up low-down just to E of Eltringham area at 11:02; so both of these 2013 breeding sites are firmly occupied as we go into late autumn. The Common Buzzard comprised 2 up over wood to NE of Short Wood and singles at Cottagebank and Merry Shield. The Kestrel was a 1w over Guessburn. As in last visit, at 11:34 great panic in the vicinity of the Tyne below the Mount with Woodpigeon going all over the place and Carrion Crow and Jackdaw circling higher calling angrily. Yes it was another juvenile Honey-buzzard, a ruddy one seen flying low-down through the tops of the trees slightly to the E, giving one call (recorded). Did go down to Bywell Bridge for 30 minutes but no sign though did add Goldeneye to my year-list (how late is that?). Lots happening today on the migration front, will report tomorrow in detail. MP4m4t was very good, with familiar faces and the like around! Sage was packed for Hallé: Shostakovich 1, written when he was 18, had amazing contrast within the work with the 1st movement sounding like a sketch and the 3rd/4th movements sounding like developments of Mahler/Tchaikovsky. Popular works before half-time were Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to Orchestra and Rachmaninov’s Variations on a Theme of Paganini. Latter for piano and orchestra has some lovely romantic sections. Got back just in time for G, where J looking very good!! Guys in there who know Cork approved of choice of Celtic Ross; also booked up 5 nites at Ferrycarrig, where stayed last year; would be nice for some company!! Have worn Gulls scarf throughout last 2 days but it hasn’t done any good – 3rd from bottom. Actually wearing it more for a stiff neck, or something like that!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll and another evening of catch-up! lokttmbo!!!

At Stocksfield total of 32 species included migrants: 146 Redwing (56 W, 64 NW, 13 N, 6 E, 7 SE, all over the place, probably come in further S than they had hoped), 6 Greylag Goose SW, 6 Wigeon W, 24 Common Gull N (also in too far S, perhaps), 8 Jackdaw W (from high to E), 4 Chaffinch (1 S, 3 W), 1 Greenfinch (S). At Ordley at 16:20 had flock of 17 Swallow feeding overhead for at least 20 minutes, on W edge of murk, with 8 Redwing N and flock of 35 Linnet on wires.

Two very interesting snippets from the German Wikipedia account for Honey-buzzard, which is very different from the English one. All the real experience is in Germany of course! So much for tail bands as a single id feature for juveniles! So much for population estimates based on a few studies!

Young birds differ until the first moult significantly from the adult animals. The hull is solid with dark birds, spotted and build the bright birds, especially on the neck and chest or dashed. Wings and tail as in adult birds show three napkins [Binden – bands] that Endbinde [end-band] is however considerably narrower. Both tail and wings are also more or less regularly quergebändert [cross-banded] dark dense, so that the three binding overall much less noticeable. The cere is yellow, dark brown iris. [Google translate of http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wespenbussard]

Large-scale population surveys of this type are due to the late arrival in the breeding areas and the very secret of life is very difficult and therefore are hardly before, the following inventory figures are therefore only rough estimates for Germany were dar. 2002 4000-4900 pairs specified to the year for about 1500 Austria and Switzerland in the mid 1990s 400-600 pairs. The total population in Europe and the Middle East by 2000 was estimated at about 130,000 pairs. Since maximum alone in Eilat 852,000 Heimzügler were recorded (see above), which would correspond to approximately 425,000 pairs, it is likely a significant underestimation of the stock even taking into account the Siberian population not included in the above total. [Google translate of http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wespenbussard]

October 12th: continued gloomy, spells of drizzle or heavier rain, cool NE breeze. Good day for putting things in order. Compiled all data from visit to Shilford on 18/8 so that’s it – up to date with compilations though plenty of clips and stills to process for presentation. Tidied up data storage on the two 2-TB external drives, deleting redundant items and synchronizing various directories with those on the data drive in the main computer; that means have enough storage to get through to late winter when will probably purchase some 4-TB external drives to keep pace; not keen on saving data to Cloud, firstly they’ll charge, secondly it’s not under my direct control. Did get out from 17:20-18:30 for local walk, and had a Little Owl calling near old smelt works on Dotland Road; this has been their territory now for almost a year – brilliant addition! A Common Buzzard was up on N side of lane near the seat on the same road. Thought A’s looked a lot brighter and smarter with continued very friendly staff so will keep up my Saturday appearances. Found article in FT Race to register ‘manorial’ rights as feudal remnants swept away: “The Land Registry, a government department covering England and Wales, has sent out more than 82,000 notices to property owners from Cornwall and Kent in the south to Oxfordshire, Powys and Cumbria, telling them that an application had been made to register rights relating to their land.” So feel quite select, though would rather have not had Lord Allendale as a partner! 2moro hoping for better weather, will go E by choice but W if necessary; with N it’s drive in, MP4m4t and S4con with Hallé, perhaps regular Sunday haunt later if time!! Renewed sub at full level with LibDem, booked car hire at Cork Airport (very cheap, £60 for 7 days, excess waiver on annual policy bought previously elsewhere) and 2 nites at Rosscarbery, near S tip! Daughter and fiancé are coming up next weekend to look for wedding locations, might suggest the G or DrS! Hope the very fit one sleeps well!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

October 11th: sorted out visit to Wylam Horsley on 22/8, very impressive bird species total of 33, plus a Purple Hairstreak butterfly; just one visit left to compile from the summer. No fieldwork today, quite raw on cool NE wind; completed grass cutting on main area instead. Booked up flights from Newcastle to Cork (and back!), just £96 in all. Local Records Centre at Wexford confirmed open so can do some family history research there; also doing most S point of Cork, with particular interest in whether any Honey-buzzard have ended up there plus the obvious highlights in Wexford. Markets very volatile this week on US debt ceiling machinations; issue not really resolved so more a relief rally at end of week; up 3k on week (0.55%) including +567.50 on RMG where got and still hold 2 tranches (dealing accounts with 2 separate brokers!); new record for my funds this week is good news while main markets struggle! Bizarre letter from Land Registry notifying me under a B133 notice that the Allendale Estate claims the ‘manorial’ rights on my land! If they did nothing, under a change in the law, the mineral and sporting rights would have come to me instead; nice to know freehold has its limitations – could have fracking or a pheasant shoot on my 2 acres! Made N4c4l where good to see J. W4ra4s was sociable with 5 of us turning up; pressure to renew my Lib Dem sub is becoming very strong, might go along with it, not really very comfortable with the Cons. Brilliant end to day in the E with the very sensuous mbo: lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s new-look A’s4s4l, walk in afternoon and catch-up with writing in evening!!

October 10th: completed draft of CT diagrams for visualisation in long session in morning, forwarding 1  2 to mates tomorrow. Made N4ll, where surprise sat with the vivacious, musical c!! Brill to see the lovely mbo!! Decided fresh air needed to maintain sanity so went out to Grindon Lough from 15:35-17:05; well very invigorating with almost gale-force NE breeze, occasional sunshine and vigorous squalls! Had 19 Whooper Swan (all adult), 5 Mute Swan (all adult), 88 Canada Goose, 424 Wigeon, 285 Teal, 78 Mallard, 19 Lapwing, 2 GBBG (adult, 1w), 1 LBBG (adult), amongst the bigger birds! A restless, feeding flock of 26 Twite was very interesting, presumably having just moved off higher ground and working way towards the coast; they were feeding on a low grassy area on N side. The flock included a leucistic bird, tried hard to make it into a Snow Bunting but no black on wing-tips and anyway behaved in unison with flock like the perfect Twite! In total of 16 types, there was a very tired Blackbird in roadside, an adult male. Out to T&S4ra4s with the mates: very chatty!! Did dawdle on way home: attracted by the mgo!! Gr8 tuck in!! 2moro booking Ireland trip in morning (plenty of spare capacity in room!!), N4c4l, trip out for any lingering Honey-buzzard and then E, including W4ra4s!!

October 9th: concentrated on CT today with another lengthy session tomorrow morning, taking current structures up a level for comparison of different visualisations! Completed report on Oakpool visit on 19/8, 2 to go now. Working hard on juvenile Honey-buzzard features as discussed below (8/10). Setting Irish dates for early November, have asked Local Studies in Wexford about required arrangements, may visit a headland in Co Cork at start of trip. Did make N at tt, gr8 to see the mbo; G was very lively, prefer it really at tt as younger set in! 2moro it’s N4c4ll, trip out in afternoon and maybe much later T&S4ra4s. lokttbo!!!

October 8th: out this afternoon to the Mecca for raptors in the county – Towsbank – from 14:20-16:35 in perfect conditions of moderate W breeze, mild, dry, sunny intervals. On arrival a pale juvenile Honey-buzzard was floating over the wood, not that mature and not one of the birds fledged earlier at the site, which were darker. It was readily photographed from 14:20-14:30! It had damage to P7/P8 on its left wing with one feather missing and the other pushed up vertically. This could be damage due to being shot at, but suspect it’s a Scottish bird, which has blundered into a tree or wall, maybe after a wee dram or too many berries! A very rapid learning process is required to get away on migration with the late fledging of some birds. A steady stream of raptors floated over the wood in the next 2 hours, involving 6 Common Buzzard, 3 Kestrel and another, darker, intact Honey-buzzard juvenile from 15:55-16:10, also thought to be a migrant; both the pale and dark Honey-buzzard were up at 15:58; all needs to be checked against the 96 stills taken. Yes, after clearing head with 8/10C, there was definitely a second Honey-buzzard juvenile, both migrants, as different plumage from birds reared here. Now working on using a cocktail of plumage features for separating Honey-buzzard juvenile from Common Buzzard, involving bands across remiges, tail bands, cere and upper bill colouration, eye colouration, palest area on underwing coverts, breast banding, darkness of secondaries. Great thing is it’s confirming the structural and jizz features used earlier (and still used on more distant birds); tail length and shape is still very critical, indeed an essential filter before bothering with plumage; a complication is that structural features change during the first month as the feathers grow; will publish all of this in late autumn. Had a county record for me of 12 Raven in a flock on the fields on the moorland edge, E of Towsbank; Raven seem to be flourishing in the upper South Tyne valley now. In total of 16 species, migrants included 4 Brambling in the birch wood and a LBBG adult NW. A dazed Peacock butterfly was on the wing in a glade. Had an adult male Sparrowhawk at Hexham High Wood on way back at 17:00 and was woken by 2 Tawny Owl at home at 06:40. So that’s 5 species of raptor for the day: 14 birds comprising 6 Common Buzzard, 3 Kestrel, 2 Honey-buzzard, 2 Tawny Owl, 1 Sparrowhawk. Completed report of intensive visit to Swallowship on 29/8, just 3 more to do, aiming for 1 per day. Sights of Hexham were brilliant, with mbo and meo the *!! Sage thing was the Late Mix from 21:00-22:30; went on own in car; very intimate atmosphere in Hall 2 with 2 pieces by Britten and one each by Thomas Macmillan (present!) and Colin Matthews, all small-scale, played by members of NS. Had glass of wine after concert and no time for BH, so straight into the wild passions of the orient: lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s some CT at home in day before N4c4t, G4g4t!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

October 7th: no field-work today, R+N took up middle of day and grass cutting, much delayed, took up a lot of afternoon: cut a much larger area than usual! Have caught up with documenting visits below though could add more for Bywell on 5/10 and the Scafell trip on 26/9. 2moro P off to Jersey on package (not sure looking for migrants!), N4c4l, Eals for migrants, S4con, BH4ra4s!! Booked up trip to Devon in a couple of weeks: wonder if the Gulls will have a new manager then! More raptors – 7 types – at Noirmont Point, Jersey, on 7/10: “2 Merlins and a Hobby also passed, with a Marsh Harrier, 5 Buzzards, 2 Sparrowhawks, a Peregrine and 2 Kestrels also seen”. Same 7 types as we saw, but swap Honey-buzzard for Merlin. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

October 6th: very good walk today with P as leader, taking Alston railway to Lintley Halt, end of line, walking N to Williamston, then coming S along South Tyne to Kirkhaugh, before moving SE to Ayle and Clarghyll Hall and SW back to Alston, where refreshments again in Angel! Total distance walked, from 11:15-16:45, was about 12 km in intermittent drizzle, moderate SW breeze, occasional sunshine, mild. Raptors totalled 11 with 9 Common Buzzard, 1 Kestrel and 1 Honey-buzzard. At 12:30 had a juvenile Honey-buzzard flying out from beech trees to N of Barhaugh Crags, where breed, taking a wide arc to W of us; presumed to be the bird bred at this high site and still on territory. In total of 28 species also had a mobile feeding flock of 8 Brambling, 4 Redwing S, a Green Woodpecker (rare in this valley), 4 Raven (up together over Williamston), 3 Dipper (at 2 sites), 26 Goldfinch (largest flock 22), 1 Chiffchaff (calling). Made G where gr8 to see j again!! Brilliant to commune spiritually with the mgo!! lokttmgo!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll and maybe a trip out later!

Quite a few Honey-buzzard migrants in southern England today [BirdGuides]:

22:41 06/10/13 Honey Buzzard W Sussex Shoreham-by-Sea 11:15 one flew west over Beeding Cement works at 11:15

17:21 06/10/13 Honey Buzzard Essex Rayne one high up over the village heading south

13:17 06/10/13 Honey Buzzard Norfolk Sheringham 12:45 one drifted over with 12 Common Buzzards early afternoon

11:13 06/10/13 Honey Buzzard Cornwall Marazion 10:45 one flew southwest over RSPB reserve late morning

11:11 06/10/13 Honey Buzzard Norfolk Winterton Dunes NNR 10:55 one circling north dunes at 10:55 with 6 Common Buzzards

Identification of birds in these flocks with Common Buzzard must be fraught with difficulties, unless you take some video or stills; suspect some Common Buzzard are really juvenile Honey-buzzard. On 5/10 43 Buzzard were recorded broadly moving S in the southern Pennines [Trektellen]. I’d love to see and record some of these birds also. Looking at Jersey Birds, see 35 Hobby recorded on passage at Noirmont Point from 29/9-2/10, quite amazing; shows how common they’re becoming in UK!

October 5th: a day for raised emotions!! Out to Stocksfield Mount from 11:35-13:25 in mild, dry weather with sunny intervals on light SW breeze. Had 7 raptors of 4 species: 3 Common Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk (both 1w female, soaring over Tyne and moving S hunting), 1 Kestrel, 1 Honey-buzzard. The Honey-buzzard juvenile rose up from the Tyne at 12:42, climbed a little and flew almost overhead SE to New Ridley; they don’t normally continue SE but aim for Kiln Pit Hill, 7 km S of Bywell; the bird is presumed to have been feeding up by Bywell Castle; got some good video and stills! In total of 24 species had 13 Chaffinch (5 migrants – 3 W, 2 S; 8 feeding), 4 House Martin (group moving SE), 2 Herring Gull (1 1w W). A late butterfly was a Small Tortoiseshell. Later on in the wee hours (6/10) had 2 Tawny Owl calling at 2 sites at Lamb Shield. Everyone very pleased to see us at MP again for the new season! Eugene Onegin (last word changed by spell checker to ‘one gin’ on iPhone!) beat expectations, having some beautiful, lyrical music and poignant scenes as Eugene’s love life goes awry! The ‘jolly’ polonaise has accompanying stage action with Eugene being systematically rejected by his former society pals, after he’d killed one in a duel and disappeared on travels for a few years; the effect is very moving! Moral is don’t lecture women you really fancy on why you don’t want to go out with them. After a quickie in 3 Bull Heads, came back on 22:40 bus to Prudhoe International; dropped N off in Stocksfield and returned for another quickie in DrS (no ½): well that’s a fine pub, g at £2.80, still serving at 23:45 and plenty of lively company! Again it was xs with the sensuous mbo: lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s Alston with walking group, including train ride and walk, with high hopes for seeing more Honey-buzzard.

October 4th: very gloomy, weather wise. Pretty laid-back day with even longer than usual in N, meeting a whole range of people and very pleased with appearance of the lovely meo, mbo, c!! W was good much later with 7 of us there and gr8 to have s on!! Did cut the front grass. Another week with real grind on markets but +2k stands good comparison with fall of 1% in ftse; now equal to all time record! Good performance by last major € holding – BNC – on limited recovery in Spain, started to reduce holding from maximum holding of 6k shares. Put in 3 applications of 2k each for Royal Mail, one for each dealing account. CPB scandal grows by the day; some people have been quite apoplectic today on TMF (50033), put in 3 comments myself but more of a strategic nature! 2moro it’s migration watch at Stocksfield Mount late morning, followed by MP, TC, ½!! This overture to Act III of Eugene Onegin, the Polonaise, is so lively: Tchaikovsky was a maniac depressive and such brief outpourings of joy are a feature of such composers (most of them really, including Wagner!). lokttmbo!!!

October 3rd: beginning the catch up of many things neglected over the past mad month. Had good meeting with P&M on category theory and visualisation at unn at lunchtime. Met former student on way down to Quayside from ncl in 1998; thought he looked fairly familiar, he said: is it Dr Rossiter? He’s a software engineer with BT in Newcastle, so maybe formal database stuff will have helped! B was good for lunch, but quiet; came back to N4c4t and some shopping – shoes and a few odds and sods. So a Honey-buzzard free day! Most noteworthy records were 2 Grey Wagtail on Quayside and a Dipper at Ovingham. Met A&M (same M as above!) in T&S for a couple. 2moro will cut some grass, neglected for a month, if get the chance with the weather but will take breaks for N4c4l and trip in afternoon, perhaps to Stocksfield Mount. Much later it’s W4ra4s! Saturday it’s Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin opera from New York Met at Tyneside Cinema with N: very inspiring music!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

October 2nd: mission accomplished! Piece of p.ss really! Took a chance on the weather after morning gloom and rain on moderate SE wind; as approached Whitfield Moor, looked a little better and it stayed dry while I was at Parmently from 15:05-16:25, though light was very poor, due to low cloud base. As got out of car, parked near small deciduous wood at bottom of track, almost instant success at 15:20 with anger calls of 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard from the wood, which duly recorded. After a little while, the 2 birds came out, one moving low, back towards the nest site further up the hill, the other going S across the valley in a wide arc before returning to N side of valley to the NE of me. Continued walking towards the nest site and caught up with the juvenile there, which came out of a beech tree at 15:50, circled low-down over the tree and moved further away towards the moor. It must have come round again as had a further anxiety call from the nest-site wood at 15:55. I doubt whether the juveniles had been fledged more than 14 days, they were both quite weak flyers. So Allen finishes as 5×2, 4×1+. Running total is now 30×2, 20×1+, 3×1: 83+ juveniles raised at 53 sites, no failures. Won’t say figures are absolutely final yet; will be going about looking for migrants, particularly on Bywell and Eals fly-ways, so as well as recording Scottish birds passing through, may pick up a little more information such as a 1+ being really a 2, but time is running out fast. Only one adult (a female) has been seen since 28/9 in 7 high moorland sites while 13 juveniles have been seen. Total for walk was 11 species, including Pheasant (32), Grey Partridge (8), Woodpigeon (39, some singing), Swallow (3 feeding), Coal Tit (12); 1st 3 in list are typical of game estates and maybe Honey-buzzard is as well! Daughter’s flat in Kingston has gone up well in value, from 175k to 225k, not bad news for my 17.65% stake! Could do more of these, good time to buy in the NE; could be a sleeping partner!! Did make CCP4c4c! On way, thought certainly would be nice to wake up next to!!! Switched G to tt as felt a celebration was due: all old mates in, very good atmosphere and plenty of banter! lokttbo!!! 2moro it’s CT4c4c, unn, B4s4l and maybe N4c4t and T&S4g4s!!

October 1st: very close now to finishing last round of site visits with one to go, maybe tomorrow afternoon if promised rain clears a little. Today went all the way up to Allenheads Byerhope from 15:50-17:30 in continuing dry weather, but cloudy with cool, moderate SE breeze (copied from yesterday!). As parked by side of moor, 13 wagons came off the moor in a procession – filled with grouse shooters and ‘keepers! 2 more came off a little later and as I approached the gate the last one went through, very grateful for my assistance! It looked as if it had been a good day. A flock of 7 Red Grouse ‘deserters’ was flushed just off the edge of the moor – good tactic! Saw no raptors at all up here but did notice disturbance at Spartylea, 2 km downstream of Byerhope. That’s where at one point yesterday (16:50-17:03) I saw 2 Honey-buzzard juvenile, far S of the Sinderhope site, and I think those birds were from Byerhope, maybe seeking the shelter of the valley for feeding and some retreat from shooting pressures; the birds seen earlier (16:10-16:23) and at the end (17:08) were Sinderhope birds. I do have a video of the distant birds yesterday and will check it against the stills of the Sinderhope birds as one of the latter had a distinctive primary structure with clustering of P8-P10 and P6-P7. Preliminary look this evening at the video showed both juveniles at Spartylea had full, evenly-spaced outer primary feathers; close look next morning (2/10) confirmed this structural feature and also showed that the Spartylea birds are both paler than the Sinderhope ones. Total of 13 species today at Byerhope also included 22 Mistle Thrush (largest flock 16), 35 Goldfinch (largest flock 25), 7 Meadow Pipit (1 S, 1 SW), 6 alba Wagtail (1 S),1 Song Thrush (migrant). Sorted out notes from WG2 meeting on 22/7 for presentation to LAF in mid-October. Didn’t have any time left for planning visits but have 3+ weeks before actually go anywhere. Made N4c4ll; met the lively, musical c; very good chat, might show more interest in what goes on at the Queens Hall!! Later made BH4ra4s where good crack! Thought it was xs later with the beautiful one: lokttmbo!!! 2moro it may be CCP4c4c and W4g4t, with trip to edge of Whitfield Moor in between: could be celebration time!

September 30th: started on trio of outstanding high-moorland Allen sites, visiting Sinderhope S from 15:45-17:30 in continuing dry weather, but cloudy with cool, moderate SE breeze. Had a juvenile Common Buzzard fly overhead low at 16:10, and immediately picked up 2 more raptors, 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard, over the moorland edge from 16:10 until 16:23 intermittently in 1st batch of sightings. 2 juveniles were picked up again from 16:50-17:03, feeding over marginal edge-land far to S of where first seen, with final views at 17:08 as both birds moved overhead to N side of nest site; reasonable shots were obtained. So that brings Honey-buzzard fledging total to 79+, a clear record for the area. The number of sites, currently 53, is also a record but the number of adults seen, at 85, is not a record, perhaps too many absences! Had flock of 8 Twite in rose/hawthorn hedge on edge of moor at 17:25, 12 alba Wagtail in one in-bye field, 4 Meadow Pipit (2 S, 1 SE, 1 rest), 6 Chaffinch S, 2 Chiffchaff seen, 24 Mistle Thrush in one flock, 2 very late Curlew on a field. Total of 19 species also included some game: 21 Mallard, 12 Grey Partridge, 2 Pheasant. A male Kestrel was on wires at Letah Wood on way back at 18:00. Enjoyed lunch with the mbo and meo showing well!! Met J in N for good crack. R at Golf Club in evening was very convivial, sat opposite c, one of the 2 lady members, who was very chatty! Food was good! 2moro it’s planning next 2 trips in morning (Devon, Wexford), N4c4ll, trip out to Allen in last forecast dry day and much later BH4ra4s!! lokttbo!!!

September 29th: completed Derwent with visit to Slaley Forest Trygill from 13:10-15:00 in another beautifully sunny, warm day on moderate SE wind. Honey-buzzard started without me, a juvenile flying low over the car-park just after I’d parked at 13:12; it continued SE on a foraging trip. Decided to continue with visit to site, to see whether any more juveniles would appear or the one seen already would return. But no more sightings, though in the distance a juvenile dark-phase Honey-buzzard was soaring to moderate height over Shield Hall at 14:07, my local site! So Derwent total is 5×2, 3×1+ – a very rich area for Honey-buzzard with the heather moors. In the Forest did have an agitated Common Buzzard adult up near the Honey-buzzard site. But highlight in many respects was a Woodlark, flying along on the N edge of the Forest, the 2nd of the season and maybe indicating that they’ve successfully colonised the area; small and dark with small head, long neck, short tail, short rounded wings, direct but slightly undulating flight. Also in total of 16 species had 1 Green Woodpecker (flying into trees, briefly, then back out calling), a calling Chiffchaff, another large roving flock of 17 Mistle Thrush, 2 Meadow Pipit SE. A late Red Admiral was on the wing. Made S with N to hear the Royal Northern Sinfonia orchestra and chorus perform Brahms’ German Requiem; very moving and well done! MP was hosting some massive party so went to nearby Portofino instead, which was really better quality. Late-on made G4g4s with P; he was trying to persuade me of the benefits of an internet dating site but rather lost interest when he thought 2 months preliminaries were appropriate before a 1st date! Gr8 to have j on again: fine b.m!! Afters were very inspiring (and more direct!): lokttmgo!!! Finished with lonely hearts session on pavement: poor lad had been thrown out by his girlfriend! 2moro R is in evening at Golf Club as 5th Monday of month, so earlier will be N4c4l and a trip up the Allen in afternoon for one of the 3 remaining sites there.

September 28th: on verge of completing Derwent after long session in Beldon Burn from 12:35-17:45, walking 12 km in continuous warm sunshine on moderate S breeze. Total for raptors was 10 birds of 3 species: 7 Honey-buzzard, 2 Red Kite (SW Baybridge area: at 13:28 juvenile Red Kite came over valley from N, dipping into trees; at 17:35 an adult was in trees on S side of wooded valley) and 1 Common Buzzard (juvenile W of Riddlehamhope on high moor). Honey-buzzard comprised 2 juveniles at Middle Plantation, 2 juveniles at Riddlehamhope and a female with 2 juveniles at Nookton. The 2 juveniles at Middle Plantation gave great close-ups in flight from 13:15-13:20; one bird was seen briefly up at 13:10, it disappeared, another bird got up at 13:15 soon to be joined by the 1st bird; they were hanging over the wood on top of the ridge with the S wind keeping them aloft effortlessly; they drifted off E to feed at 13:20; at 14:00 one of the birds was seen returning from E and gliding back into the trees above the nest site. The birds at Nookton were not seen on the way up but were very obvious on the way down from 16:50-17:05; a dark-phase juvenile was seen up in the air low-down, before landing on a wall, where it posed well for a while; another juvenile was seen above it briefly flying around its sibling at low altitude; at 17:05 the 2 juveniles were up in the air at moderate altitude in mutual circling over the Burn with the female higher-up still urging them on; the juveniles quickly sank back into the fields on the moorland edge and the female flapped back into the nest site. Very interesting was a Jack Snipe SW: seen flying in over moor to W of Middle Plantation, on way back, at 16:30; losing height, appeared to be coming down on moors to SW; short bill and smallish size readily visible. At the top site at Riddlehamhope, the Honey-buzzard were very shy, perhaps because they’ve seen too many hot shots. At 14:28 a juvenile was up over a conifer plantation to E of site, floating for a bit and moving SE before turning around and at low latitude, coming back to spot in the wood where first seen. At 15:04 this small palish bird was up again briefly, before returning once more. At 16:15 on return a large palish juvenile Honey-buzzard was on the moors to NE of site, disappearing quickly into a conifer shelter belt, where appeared to remain until after I left. 2 Raven were conspicuous at this high site; not confident about their survival in view of lack of other corvids. Very interesting were 2 large Black Grouse juveniles, flushed from the heather, not had them breeding here before. 3 late Red Admiral butterflies were feeding on the heather. A fantastic result, making 76+ Honey-buzzard juveniles found now at 49/53 sites! Total for trip was 26 species, including Red Grouse (34), Grey Partridge (1), Stock Dove (1), Goldcrest (8), Coal Tit (22), Swallow (55), House Martin (20), Chiffchaff (5 – 3 calling, 1 seen, 1 singing), Mistle Thrush (39 in 2 flocks), Meadow Pipit (29 with 14 S). Have added quite a lot of details below to visits in the last week. 2moro it’s last site in Derwent at Slaley Forest E in morning, N4c4ll and MP/S with N for concert in evening; driving in so should be back for G4g4s!!

September 27th: drizzle in morning, becoming fine and warm in afternoon on very light breeze. Decided to go for a site where not too much walking – chose Studdon Park in East Allen, from 16:15-17:50. Not too easy with the only raptor seen being a juvenile Honey-buzzard moving into the nest site at 17:33, almost 1 hour 20 minutes after arrival, and viewed for just a few seconds; it had been feeding down by the Allen and was perhaps returning to roost. Takes total for juveniles up to 70+ at 46 sites – getting there! Migration was in progress with 14 Lapwing S, 3 Swallow S, 2 Meadow Pipit S, 1 alba Wagtail S, 1 Chiffchaff singing; total was 18 species. At Ordley had a calling Chiffchaff, 3 Tawny Owl at 01:15 (28/9) and a Small White butterfly. Lazy day really with N4c4l (*** the mbo!!) and W4ra4s where 6 of us out for good crack. Gr8 climax to day came later: lokttmbo!!! Steady progress on markets this week with +1k, while ftse lost 1.3%; cash holdings reach 18k, highest for a while; have put in for 2k in Royal Mail IPO, think it will go well with generous yield but larger applications are likely to be scaled back severely so don’t want much money tied up for 2-3 weeks needlessly; will need to make some profit to pay for deliveries of post in rural areas! 2moro it’s long walk up the Beldon Burn with 3 sites on view; some worries in Derwent area after shot adult female Common Buzzard found last week in Blanchland area according to a report in the Hexham Courant.

September 26th: well we did it! Climbed to top of Scafell Pike, England’s highest peak, 978 m asl – a Munro in Scottish terms as 3,209 ft asl. Weather was dry throughout with brilliant visibility on light SE breeze; sun came out as approached the summit. Did the scenic route therefore in perfect conditions:

A more taxing, but scenically far superior, approach begins at Seathwaite Farm at the end of Borrowdale, proceeding via Styhead Tarn, then taking the Corridor Route (formerly known as the Guides Route), a delightful walk along the western flank of the Sca Fell massif with intimate views of the fell, before joining the route from Wasdale near the summit. The return journey can then be made along a high ridge, taking in any or all of the neighbouring summits of Broad Crag, Ill Crag, Great End, Allen Crags and Glaramara. An alternative route from Borrowdale, longer but perhaps less taxing than that via the Corridor Route, runs from Seathwaite via Grains Gill and the high pass of Esk Hause.” [Wikipedia].

But reversed the choice, doing the high ridge on the way up and the Corridor Route on the way down. Here’s yours truly and our walking party (PW (leader), MH, NR, JH) on the summit. Took from 09:30-18:30, pretty knackering! The Seathwaite route we did is 15 km long, up and down, and includes 996 m of ascent, compared to 11 km up and down and 723 m of ascent for Snowdon on Pyg track. Starting point at Seathwaite Farm is low at 127 m asl (422 ft asl) and there is one major dip en route just before the summit after Broad Crag (5th highest peak in England at a height of 934 m (3064 ft), also a ‘Munro’), which makes the ascent greater than the theoretical climb of 851 m. We also did Ill (ill) Crag (935 m, 3,068 ft, another ‘Munro’, 4th highest peak in England), just before Broad Crag but there are problems in the trade with definitions! Just about made T&S4g4s after stop on way back for meal and g at Horse & Farrier, Threlkeld! Gr8 to be tucked in by the mgo!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, Honey-buzzard site in East Allen at tea-time and out E in evening, including W4ra4s!! More to cum …

No raptors. Total for whole walk was 10 species with Raven the star totalling 26, including a pair right on the top, obviously looking for any discarded sandwiches! Meadow Pipit was the other star, with 2 right on the summit and total of 53 including 23 in small groups moving S, mainly over col near Great End; thought might get a Honey-buzzard S here but no luck and had to watch footing so much, couldn’t stare up into the sky other than by stopping. Other 8 species were: Carrion Crow 5, Mallard 4, Jackdaw 4, Wren 2, Robin 2, Chaffinch 2, alba Wagtail 2, Reed Bunting 1.

September 25th: straight back to business with trip at teatime from 16:35-18:00 to the Blenkinsopp NW site, which has been a problem in the past. It was dull with moderate E breeze but mainly dry; getting this far W was part of the plan to escape the murk. Relatively obliging today with 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard flushed from rough pasture on E side of site at 17:15; one flew onto a post and posed well for a photo-session though it would not let me get too close; got broad tail bars and yellow-bill and relatively uniform body with no pale shield; when it flew off N, the other one decided to do some chancy floating through the pylons; then both came down into a pine copse at 17:25 where an annoyed Common Buzzard adult started crying and both juveniles came briefly above the canopy together at 17:27 before slowly retiring S. So that’s a solid 2, finalising Tipalt/Irthing as 2×2, 1×1+. Lower South Tyne was sown up on 19/9, with result 3×2, 4×1+, 1×1. So juveniles found at 45/53 sites with 4 in Allen and 4 in Derwent to do, all high up on the heather moors. In total of 21 species, lots of migrants at Blenkinsopp with 392 Starling (310 feeding, 70 S, 12 E), 2 Song Thrush (flushed when going to the loo!), 133 Lapwing E, 3 Swallow S, 1 alba Wagtail, 7 Meadow Pipit (latter 2 species both restless). Battle over consumer fuel prices has more market significance than perhaps realised; this recession has been remarkable for the resilience of company profits, which has helped hold up share prices, at least in staple industries, to a surprising degree. Any reduction in margins would knock some sections hard. Personally think energy prices are a complete con, with the companies paying for all of their investment out of profits rather than using debt or equity issues; the effect is to raise equity value substantially at the expense of the consumer. Sold last week my last OEIC with exposure to this type of stuff for 10k; it had almost doubled in value over last 4 years. Did make CCP4c4c with P, discussed climb of England’s highest peak, which is on 2moro! Distracted admirably by the attractions of the mbo!! Made fleeting appearance in G4g4s, good to see l on and s visiting! Near home at 23:15 had a Little Owl, in undulating flight to ash tree; they seem to have settled in now in area which is not surprising given the abundance of small, rough meadows with high hedges. So relatively early to bed as off at 07:00: sweet dreams lined up!!! lokttbo!!!

September 24th: sunny and warm in London but very hazy so not easy to see raptors! Went up Horsenden Hill with sis from 10:50-12:10; always enjoy this walk, it’s a surprisingly wild oak wood with surrounding fields in the middle of west London. No raptors but plenty else seen, including lots of spider webs, beautifully highlighted by the dew, 4 Speckled Wood and a Small White. Interesting birds included Ring-necked Parakeet (13), Green Woodpecker (3), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Chiffchaff (2 in flock of 12 Long-tailed Tit), Jay (4); not bad considering the built-up area around! Left at lunchtime after very relaxing and enjoyable stay! Train back was fine, collected car from Airport and was back in T for some shopping in Hexham by 19:00. Off to BH4ra4s: music nite so lively with c on!! Had a Barn Owl over A69 near Nafferton Farm at 21:50. Very pleased to see my pussy again!!! Return of autumn has some advantages!!! lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s probably CCP4c4c and G4g4t, but a number of variables, including whether we’re doing Scafell Pike on Thursday (if not, it’s G4g4s!).

September 23rd: sunshine never arrived but it was warm, close and dry with the overcast skies. Made Bledlow/Chinnor area of Chilterns near Princes Risborough, where had both Honey-buzzard and Hobby before. Went for walk with sis through Bledlow and Chinnor Hill from 12:00-15:45. Had to wait until 15:17 for a juvenile Honey-buzzard to get up above the canopy on a finger of trees running into the farmland, not far from where 2 juveniles seen up in the air by us, playing 6 years ago on 09/09/2007; this bird didn’t stay up long, going on a circle at low altitude, before returning to the same spot, perhaps disturbed by a walker. Had only 1 Red Kite on walk, calling close to the Honey-buzzard’s location at 15:25, but saw 14 more on M40 at 6 locations on the journey out/back. Also had 2 Common Buzzard (single juveniles at Bledlow and J6 of M40) and found a feather, pretty fresh, an inner primary P3 of an adult Hobby (135mm long, pointed, short stem, dark), no birds seen. In total of 31 species, Swallow were amazingly common with a very large feeding flock of 150 over Chinnor Hill throughout visit; 18 House Martin flew S, 1 Chiffchaff called, 4 Jay were very noisy perhaps mobbing a raptor, and local specialities of Long-tailed Tit (8) and Bullfinch (5) were both seen. Late butterflies included 4 Small White and 2 Peacock. 2moro morning it’s Horsenden Hill, then Kings X for return home. Looking forward to seeing the beauties again!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

September 22nd: good look around London with sis and son, going in afternoon to the British Museum to see early history of Iran (topical!, Darius was star 550-486 BC, Persepolis has amazing ruins, like Aksum in Ethiopia but on grander scale); see Mashhad is very close to Afghanistan, indeed day trip to Herat possible! Then Italian meal in Farringdon and evening concert at Barbican with wild, mainly Russian music. Very entertaining! Chopin’s Andante spianato was romantically played by Alexei Volodin; Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances including Stranger in Paradise were very lively (dances are from opera Prince Igor, which formed basis of the show Kismet); highlight was Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, with its incredibly dynamic and complex rhythms. Conductor of BBC Symphony Orchestra, Alexander Vedernikov, was zany throughout! 2moro out for last major item on agenda, walk in Chilterns looking for Honey-buzzard! lokttbo!!!

September 21st: equinox – same length of day across the globe! Reducing daylight might be starting to affect the remaining Honey-buzzard though a few stick around until late October/early November; most juveniles are still on site in SW Northumberland. A family day – out with Gill (sis), John (nephew), Claire (his wife), Ben (great-nephew, aged 3.9), Emily (great-niece, aged 1.9) – in Pitshanger Park, Ealing, in warm, rather muggy weather with little sunshine. Great to see everyone again – here’s Emily on slide and swing! Hope the lovely ones are keeping fit!!! xxxxxxxxx!!!!

September 20th: off to the big city on 09:59 from ncl by train, to stay with big sis. Big evening, making Kew Gardens for meeting daughter’s fiancé and son, going to Kew Gardens Hotel for aperitif and Curry Garden for meal. All went very well with 2 engagement parties coming up in November and main event next summer in Northumberland, perhaps at Bamburgh Castle, followed by a major celebration in Iran at Mashhad, near border with Afghanistan. lokttbo!!! Good week on markets with end of QE in USA delayed, so +3k, but better still have taken opportunity to offload 20k of stock, which is vulnerable to ending of QE, at advantageous prices! CPB situation is looking more promising with LT2 group proving to be a serious contender.

September 19th: rain all morning on moderate NW breeze but more showery rain in afternoon and got out to Derwent area for a couple of visits. Made Minsteracres from 15:40-17:00 where had some Honey-buzzard juvenile calls from nest site area, a female hanging over the wood and a juvenile flying weakly into an Ash tree near the nest. Nest site here has been pinned down to woods at West Minsteracres, close to the ridge, rather than 1-2 km to the NE. Onto Ruffside from 17:05-18:05 where quite wet but the family party of Honey-buzzard was all over the heather moor and everyone was present: male, female, 2 juvenile, so very successful here. The male was up over the moor at 17:10 circling and the female went out to forage in the drizzle at 17:15; she returned in a clearer spell with 2 juveniles in tow, all flying into the wood separately; the weather deteriorated again and no more action was seen. On way home at 17:30 noticed a dark shape floating low-down over a stubble field near the Travellers Rest: it was a dark juvenile Honey-buzzard, presumed from the Dipton Wood S site. All the Rook in the area went berserk 10 seconds later! Total for trip was 7 Honey-buzzard (4 juvenile, 2 female, 1 male) 1 Common Buzzard (juvenile up at Ruffside, last word after Honey-buzzard action finished), 1 Kestrel (adult male hovering over Ruffside, near Derwent Reservoir). Total for trip was 18 species, including 10 Lapwing, 31 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 1 calling Chiffchaff, 6 Bullfinch. Really hectic fieldwork over past week but now got juvenile at 44/53 sites with all 9 remaining sites on the moors, where plenty of time next week to sort things out. We were in G4g4s as fiddlers in T&S – 4 of us, me the only one without a beard! Fantastic end to day with the mgo!!! Charm always wins out in the end! lokttmgo!!!

Further thoughts on why the game estates of SW Northumberland are so good for Honey-buzzard. A lot of grain is fed to young pheasants to rear them and the feeding continues even as they mature so as to keep them in the release area. The pens and feeding barrels are open to pigeons, and Woodpigeon in particular take advantage of them. This raises the number of Woodpigeon in the area, a fact readily confirmed by my BirdTrack counts, which I do for every visit. Woodpigeon have a late breeding season, coinciding with the grain harvest and the harvesting, which leaves some spilt grain in the stubble fields. Honey-buzzard also have a late breeding season, coinciding with peak insect populations particularly of wasps. So the breeding seasons of both species are unusually late, compared to other species. Honey-buzzard like to eat scaly food (insects, frogs, etc) being not so keen on fur or feather. The young of Woodpigeon, the squabs, are covered in thin down, hence readily edible by Honey-buzzard. So we have squabs as an abundant food source for Honey-buzzard, available in quantity at the right time of the year. The squabs are simply snatched out of the nests by the Honey-buzzard, an easy matter when the prey is so common and the pigeons so defenceless. Woodpigeon down and feathers are often found below Honey-buzzard nests though there is a conspicuous absence of pigeons breeding in the vicinity; the eerie silence around Honey-buzzard nests is due to the avoidance of such areas by Woodpigeon. So is the Honey-buzzard such a specialist feeder as is often supposed. Or is it acting like a more generalist predator, fastening opportunistically on to what is abundant and easy to catch, like the Common Buzzard with rabbits. Seeing how common the Honey-buzzard is over much of Europe, I suspect it is much more of a generalist predator than is usually supposed, particularly by observers in the UK. This year it’s been another very good breeding season for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland but wasps have been scarce. The artificially high numbers of Woodpigeon may be the reason. I think in the Netherlands it was found by Rob Bijlsma that, when wasps are scarce, the Honey-buzzard turn to pigeons to keep them going.

On same topic previously also considered plus factors for game estates for Honey-buzzard to be (1) retaining rough areas for cover for the game, (2) allowing timber to mature, providing open woodland with high trees for nesting and significant under-storey of shrubs and low-growing vegetation for feeding and (3) (less happily) elimination of predators that might eat Honey-buzzard, particularly the Goshawk. So we now have 4 plus factors. Not sure whether it’s a plus factor but estates seeking to ‘control vermin’ with poisoned baits would find Honey-buzzard apparently resistant to laced rabbits, as it’s not their type of food!

September 18th: bright morning but didn’t last and forecast of scattered showers was pretty inaccurate as lines of heavy showers from NW came across the Haltwhistle/Gilsland area at 30 minute intervals. But good news was that it didn’t affect the Honey-buzzard, which were very active, even in the wet. Indeed had birds at every site visited with just main Blenkinsopp site left for further visit on this run west. Provisional total for trip from 13:45-18:15 is 12 raptors of 4 species: Honey-buzzard 9, Common Buzzard 1 (juvenile high up over Bardon Mill east, one of yesterday’s birds), Kestrel 1 (juvenile hunting at Unthank), Goshawk 1, plus Sparrowhawk (juvenile male up hunting) at Ordley at 11:45. Started at 14:10 at Unthank, staying until 15:20. As arrived a dark-phase juvenile was up over the wood on edge of rushy fields, just keeping above the trees. Had lunch in car further up the bank in rain before returning to site on foot; quickly flushed a male from trees close to site but no further sign of juvenile. From 15:25-16:45 added and finally pinned down 1 new site for 2013: Greenhead Bank is really Blenkinsopp Wrytree. On arrival at 15:25 at Greenhead Bank had a juvenile up over pylons c1km to the E, mobbed by a Jackdaw; no more action until 16:10 when a female came flying up from the E and hanged territorially over Wrytree for 3 minutes, peering hard into the trees, presumably looking for her young; she landed in the trees in the end; this wood fits in with previous observations, good news for catching-up with this site next year; this counts as 1+ juveniles raised for this year. The nearest site is Blenkinsopp NE, just under 2 km away, quite close but acceptable if the birds can share the area between their nests to some extent and have large unshared areas to keep to themselves. Onto Gilsland Spa from 16:45-17:50 where just after arrival at 16:52 had 2 juveniles in mutual circling over small hill to SE of Hotel; they didn’t stay up long in the rain, moving quickly back to the Gorge, but at 17:07 the urge to practice flying re-asserted itself and one of the juveniles was back up over the hill in the drizzle for about 30 seconds. The Goshawk, a juvenile female, came up at 17:40 for about a minute circling over the Gorge; this site is near the Border Forests of course. On way out the site at Langley was also narrowed down to the Deanraw E area with a dark juvenile Honey-buzzard flapping low-down over the fields at 13:55 near the farm; there is some rough woodland in dips in this area. Also on way out had 2 more Honey-buzzard: a dark-phase juvenile over A69 at Greenshaw Plain at 13:50 floating S low-down and another dark-phase juvenile over A69 at Haltwhistle, drifting S low-down near North Wood site, at 15:20. In total juvenile Honey-buzzard were found at the 3 sites visited and at 3 on the road with 2 adults also seen, male and female, giving breakdown of 7 juvenile and 2 adult Honey-buzzard at 6 sites. So day of great progress! Total for trip was 28 species, including 53 Swallow, 11 House Martin, 4 Chiffchaff (3 calling, 1 singing), 5 Meadow Pipit (3 S) with highlight of 28 Pink-footed Goose SW in 2 skeins of 18,10 at 14:52, 15:02 respectively at Unthank. Had good lunch in Hexham before, meeting J at N, and seeing the mbo!! Much later into G, where good to renew terms with the mgo!! Lifestyle change still being implemented, much to my surprise! Since 1/7, cut out nearly all chocolates, cake and biscuits, and reduced alcohol from 30 to 20 units a week. Weight down from 85.7 to 80.3 kg, waist from 107 to 102 cm and bmi from 26.4 to 24.7. Not quite down to target yet! 2moro looks like being wet until late afternoon so catch-up with records and N4c4l; should get out when rain starts fading; maybe T&S4ra4s later!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

September 17th: damp and cool in morning, weak sunshine started coming through at 15:00 and straight-away was off on the road to the Bardon Mill area, going S of South Tyne near Willimontswick for 1st part of trip from 15:30-17:00. Conditions were still pretty bracing but at least the sun was out, weakly. Action started at 16:00 at an unexpected site, the one to the W at Haughstrother, which has always been a bit of a mystery as to what is going on! A heavy, dark juvenile was seen coming out of this wood and flying N across the South Tyne into the fields in the Henshaw area; 2 minutes later, the male was seen following, but flying in much more elegant style. If it had been the female, would have put this as just 1 young raised, but it’s unusual for the male to leave after the female so suspect she may have been around with another juvenile; so this is 1+. This is a new site for 2013, bringing total to 52. At 16:23 action started locally with female Honey-buzzard giving a few calls from an oak wood and flying off SW to a nearby copse; she hung over the wood, waiting for the juvenile to follow her; it took about 3 times as long to cover the distance against the wind and was greeted with a few playful dives; they then disappeared to feed; the juvenile was carrying a small parcel, not sure what it was! Close-up video was obtained of the juvenile. It looks like just the 1 young here. A Common Buzzard adult was high-up to SE of Willimontswick. Went on to east of Bardon Mill from 17:05-18:05 where had 4 Common Buzzard (2 adult, 2 juvenile, latter both calling well when returning S) and a Kestrel over Thorngrafton Common. As arrived near Thorngrafton had a juvenile Honey-buzzard right overhead at 17:05; as soon as got out of car in middle of village, it moved away but still got some clips; it drifted off to S. Another very dark juvenile was seen at 17:50 coming from the N off the fields S of the Common, so looks like 2 young raised here. Total for trip was 12 raptors of 3 species: 6 Honey-buzzard (male, female, 4 juveniles), 5 Common Buzzard and a Kestrel. Total for all bird species was 24, including 61 Swallow, 15 House Martin, 1 Chiffchaff (calling), 2 Lapwing W, 45 Goldfinch (in single flock). Earlier had hair-cut by Jen at JGs: quite a transformation, rewarded appropriately! She found it quite a challenge! Met P at CCP. BH was good, nice to see S before he disappears. Brilliant end to day – put in my place by the beautiful one!!! lokttmbo!!! At Prudhoe at 23:45 had 2 skeins of Pink-footed Goose, close together, moving S, calling all the time. Count is of course a guess! 2moro weather’s improving so out morning and afternoon but N4c4l and G4g4s!!

September 16th: cool winds continuing very strong at fresh breeze SW but sunny intervals and fieldwork must continue! From 15:25-16:35 made Throckley N, an intensive arable area but with some decent areas of woodland, particularly on W side towards Heddon Birks. Had to wait until 16:08 when picked up 2 Honey-buzzard displaying low-down over fields to E of road leading up to Callerton Grange; they kept it up until 16:14 before subsiding back into the fields. Of the 2 birds the stronger flying one with perfect plumage was the female, with the fairly frequent almost solid brick-red body; she kept on diving at the weaker one, a juvenile, which was still growing primaries P6/P7 and tertials. So it appears just the one young raised here but it’s a brilliant result 10.5 km from Tyne Bridge and 2.5 km from W edge of North Walbottle, where the solid conurbation begins. Still scope for Honey-buzzard breeding at Ryton, Woolsington and Gosforth Park! Site at Wylam E, previous furthest known to E, is 13 km from Tyne Bridge. If it’s a new pair, then to raise young in more marginal habitat is very creditable. Also had a juvenile female Sparrowhawk hunting here. On to Whittle Dene Wood from 16:40-18:05, where even windier. Not sure about best viewing point but tried walking down track to E, shortly after turning off A69 for Ovington. No raptors up in the air but did have a juvenile Honey-buzzard calling 3 times from a stubble field just to S of track at 17:16; field was raised in middle so couldn’t see all of it. Call was the contact one, so presumably communicating with another bird (but cannot be sure!). Also found a dark body feather, which was probably this species. So this is a 1+. Suspect the nesting site is in the woods close to the A69 where access for people is more difficult. It takes 2-3 years of study to finally pin the nest location down. Met a dog walker who said she sees Red Kite almost every day if the weather is good; this is of course the Short Wood – Ovington area where the Red Kite raised 2 young this year. So Tyne Valley E now sown up (2×2, 3×1+, 1×1). Total for trip was 26 species, including Swallow (18), Chiffchaff (3 calling), Starling (125), Lapwing (19) and the 5 common species of gull. Did make R, well-known ‘Shire resident (and fellow Devonian) Greg F giving the talk on Dukesfield lead smelting – very interesting. He drew winning raffle ticket for me (£5) but explained at start of talk that there was no question of a ‘Shire stitch-up: an Exeter City supporter would never intentionally pick a ticket for a Torquay United one! Thought the mbo looked very appealing!! 2moro it’s visit to JG early in the morning (10:00!), maybe then CCP4c, trip out W to lower South Tyne and finally BH4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

September 15th: a wild day with gale-force W winds, but faired up in afternoon and made visit to last site to check in ‘Shire – Dipton Wood S. This is normally a difficult site, one where the left wing doesn’t know what the right wing is doing, but went well today. Arrived at 17:05 and just 10 minutes later at 17:15 had a melanistic juvenile trying to control its flight to feeding areas to E in the high wind; did a little hesitant flap-flap-glide and came down in a spectacular panic-driven dive! Other juvenile was more conventional: they like small stubble fields and found one off the road on S side of the wood. A paler but still quite dark juvenile Honey-buzzard got up at 17:45; it had difficulty in controlling its escape and got some superb video as it battled against the wind. It eventually flew off W very low-down to another field, further from the road. Left at 18:15 having seen just 13 species, mainly the big boys in the wind, including Swallow (25), Chiffchaff (2 calling), Lapwing (15 feeding). So that’s 33/51 sites visited now for juveniles, with all successful and productivity of 20×2, 12×1+, 1×1; that’s 53+ in all. Have completed work in 3 areas: Tyne Valley W (7×2, amazingly high), Devil’s Water or Hexhamshire (2×2, 4×1+, maybe don’t spend enough time at home), South Tyne upper (4×2, 1×1+, 1×1). Tomorrow afternoon going to try again for the 2 remaining sites in Tyne Valley E (Throckley N/Callerton Grange, Whittle Dene Wood/Nafferton) to attempt to complete this area; then it’s only upland sites left. Earlier caught up with a lot of tasks in morning, including clear-out of some books for Oxfam and a few drawers of long-forgotten clothes! Then went to N for quiet cup of coffee and read of FT Weekend. Battle with Co-op goes on and we have gained allies among institutional investors: see TMF for my post today, recommended by quite a few! I’m not disinterested in the outcome, holding a few CPBB and CPBC which I don’t plan to tender! It’s dinner in Richmond this Friday evening, with daughter, son and fiancé: should be fun!! Did go out this evening – with P to G where very pleased to see j doing the honours again: lady footballers do have appeal!! Gr8 to re-acquaint with the mgo: very mysterious but that can be an attraction!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, followed by N4c4ll and the trip out E!!

September 14th: much brighter day. Sunny spells but fairly lengthy cloudy periods in between, mild, dry, light SW breeze. Fantastic day out! Good for raptors and really scored in South Tyne with 20 birds of 5 species: 9 Honey-buzzard, 3 Hobby, 3 Sparrowhawk, 3 Kestrel, 2 Common Buzzard. In total of 33 species for trip had 82 Swallow (31 S), 15 House Martin (all S), 82 Goldfinch, 22 Siskin, 3 Goosander (redheads), 2 Raven 2 Grey Wagtail. Looking at records elsewhere, Honey-buzzard migration has started in earnest, according to secret sources in south Pennines, but juveniles and some females will still be on site for a while. Much more to say, will update in the rain 2moro!! Made Featherstone from 12:05-13:10. Waited until 12:18 for female Honey-buzzard to appear at moderate height over a wood on a hillside to N, making occasional calls and peering down looking for her young. From 12:22-12:25 she was joined by 2 juvenile keeping much lower below. They all drifted off the S to feed on fields to S of the Castle. At 12:43 the weaker juvenile, with only 3 primary tips protruding (P5, P6, P10), shortish tail and yellow bill; the less time the juvenile Honey-buzzard has been flying, the more closely it resembles Common Buzzard; the characteristic long tail and full wing tip can take 2 weeks to develop. At 12:52 the weaker flying juvenile moved N again. At 13:03 a juvenile was calling to W. An angry Common Buzzard got out from under the Honey-buzzard troupe, calling angrily at 12:23. Two juvenile Sparrowhawk were up over wood to N with female at 12:18 and male at 13:05. Made Lambley from 13:15-14:20. Had to wait a while, until 14:03 before a juvenile Honey-buzzard was seen floating low over nearby moor to SW and moving back towards nest site; it disappeared into trees with a second juvenile visible further back. A juvenile male Sparrowhawk was up vigorously over wood to W, out hunting. Brief stop at Parson Shields where at 14:28 juvenile Hobby (female-size) was up with another juvenile (male-size) over edge of heather moor in active diving and chase. These 2 were briefly joined by another juvenile (male-size) and further display followed, including kissing. It’s a site that has been used before successfully by Hobby so expect at least one of the young to have been raised here. Not sure though that all 3 were, that would be a record for the study area for one nest. So maybe a post-breeding concentration of juveniles. One juvenile was fledged this year a few km downstream at Towsbank. A group of 7 Red Grouse was raised by beaters on edge of moor and an adult male Kestrel was hovering high over moor (and beaters!); the Hobbys also didn’t seem to be bothered by World War II a few hundred metres away!

Made Barhaugh Hall from 14:40-16:45. Not long to wait, picnic lunch interrupted! At 14:50 saw very dark juvenile just above the ground flying out NE to where there was no shooting. As view improved by climbing up my vantage point a little, could see 3 birds up, 2 high-up and the juvenile much further below. The juvenile did climb to get closer to the adults. It had not been fledged for very long at this high-altitude site, showing short wings and tail. All 3 birds stayed up for about 5 minutes, in the base of a dark cloud (great for thermals, lousy for photos!). The male then peeled off to move N into the Barhaugh Burn while the other 2 went back towards the nest site. At 15:40 the juvenile came through going N at moderate altitude, its yellow bill showing well against its dark plumage; had an air of defiance about it: my parents are so clueless at raising young!; hope it didn’t stray onto the grouse moor to N where shooting continued. Common Buzzard kept a low profile throughout today with just an adult in heavy moult here. The Honey-buzzard and Hobby seemed oblivious to the shooting parties. Have actually seen a juvenile Honey-buzzard fly low right over the guns, nothing happened, expect head keeper would normally order all guns to stop firing while in such public circumstances with a raptor. A very scruffy (moulting, not shot at) adult Common Buzzard was up at 15:38. A Red Grouse was calling in lower fields at Barhaugh, perhaps a deserter from the battle higher-up and, overhead, local move N of 2 Raven. Finished up at Towsbank from 17:10-17:45 where juvenile Kestrel was perched on a telegraph pole. On way out at 11:50 a juvenile Honey-buzzard was flying downstream at moderate height over lower South Tyne, SE of Haydon Bridge, losing height to feed in trees in valley to NE of Wood Hall. No butterflies in South Tyne but 3 Small White still at Ordley. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

Raptor totals in study area for the 5 days present from 1/9-14/9 (1-2, 12-14): 25 Honey-buzzard, 6 Common Buzzard, 4 Kestrel, 3 Hobby, 3 Sparrowhawk, 1 Tawny Owl. So 42 birds of 6 species. Again target was very much Honey-buzzard.

September 13th: weather on the slide, very grey day, light rain in morning, light NE breeze, cool. Still managed 2 sites, one – Hexham Tyne Green – before lunch, the other – Blanchland – after lunch. Results were good with 2 Honey-buzzard juveniles at the former, meaning all 7 known sites in Tyne Valley W have produced 2 young, and 1+ juvenile perched on a tree at the latter. At the Hexham site at 13:14 a juvenile Honey-buzzard approached the site from SW at moderate height; as it crossed site another juvenile got up just above the canopy briefly while the other carried on losing height to the NE of the site. At the Blanchland site at 16:55 a juvenile was perched on top of a tree to NW of site, looking long in its horizontal pose, for a full 4 minutes, before drifting off low-down to NE. An adult female Kestrel was hunting at Blanchland at 17:20. Total for day was 36 species, including Red Grouse (1, calling on lower field, deserter from action on fell near Blanchland), Lapwing (46 E, at Hexham), Marsh Tit (1 at Ordley), Swallow (47), House Martin (12), Chiffchaff (6, mini-fall of 4 at Ordley), Willow Warbler (1 at Ordley), alba Wagtail (5 at Hexham), Meadow Pipit (7, including 5 S at Blanchland), Goldfinch (45, single flock at Blanchland). Timed ll well for 14:00, coming upon the mbo unawares in vivacious mood!! Met P at N for good crack; declined walk on Sunday, it’s going to rain for the Run! Much later made W where further good crack with 5 of us; N was back on boat today to Poole and was pausing in S. Then E where the mbo was in gr8 form!!! Think she’s so sensuous!!! lokttmbo!!! Up just 1k this week, realise it’s not very exciting on the surface but slowly re-jigging funds to increase yield and perhaps generate larger gains in the future; don’t think market as a whole is going to go much higher in near future while worries persist about premature tightening. Going down to London in a week’s time: want to meet the fiancé and discuss the dowry!

September 12th: back to the main project in Northumberland!! Fine morning, sunshine becoming hazier in afternoon, rain by evening, mild, moderate SW breeze. Passing Oakpool at 14:35, had 2 Common Buzzard up in air (adult, juvenile). Onto Whitfield Monk where had immediate success with Honey-buzzard at 14:40 with much calling from nest area, ascribed to female and 2 juveniles. Calls were typical chat between adult and young; this was repeated more briefly at 14:55, 15:39, 15:44, 16:06. The only sight of the birds was the adult female rearing up at 14:50 from the nesting area and then equally quickly diving back down again; maybe put poshly a reconnaissance manoeuvre, or (more likely!) where the hell’s my f… mate! The male eventually came into the site from the E at 15:16 but no scene materialised so he must have brought in some food! Also had a juvenile Kestrel hovering over the moorland edge. Star of the day though was another Honey-buzzard, a male, showing how to creep into the adjacent site (Parmently) unnoticed. They were grouse shooting on the adjacent Whitfield Moor so watched how he would tackle it, arriving from the SE at 15:06. He came in low over a wood c1km from the nest site on the blind site from the action and, coming over the open moorland edge, flew very close to a ditch with an earthen bank, just clearing the ground: very crafty! Parmently is site no.51 for the year and total for adults goes up to 78 (42 male, 36 female). Now had juveniles at 26 sites, 16×2, 10×1+, 42+ fledged, brilliant! Left at 16:20 after getting 12 species in trip, with 8 raptors of 3 species: 5 Honey-buzzard, 2 Common Buzzard, 1 Kestrel. Did make N4c4l where met J/C; gr8 to see mbo again, exactly what I’ve been missing!! Work-mates not out so drifted along to G for a couple: nice to have c on! Early hopes not completely realised!! 2moro it’s N4c4ll with hoped-for fieldwork before and after and much later it’s out E, including W4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

September 11th: while still on island, made visit from 11:10-13:25 to SE corner at Grouville Bay and La Rocque with weather: hazy sunshine, light NW breeze, mild, dry. We walked along Grouville Bay at high tide with the sea right up to the top of the beach; at low tide there’s an enormous amount of sand exposed and it’s a long way to reach the sea. Had 2 Wheatear, 2 Rock Pipit, 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Grey Wagtail, and new waders for trip of single Sanderling and Ringed Plover. Butterflies were still fairly common with 5 species: Small White (3), Green-veined White (3), Common Blue (1), Large White (1), Red Admiral (1). La Rocque was more dramatic with spectacular numbers of birds in the high-tide roost, including 175 Sandwich Tern, 141 Oystercatcher, 48 Curlew, 42 Grey Plover, 17 Little Egret, 8 Redshank, 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Common Tern. So dropped N in St Helier (later, to get bus back to Bouley) and drove car back to Airport. Driving in Jersey is quite a challenge: the country roads are narrow, just room for 2 smallish cars, and are very busy with high local ownership; the sides of the roads are usually walls and the junctions often have very sharp edges, not staggered at all. But the local drivers seemed pretty calm and generally kept to the blanket 40 mph limit. Hire cars have a large H on the number plate to warn locals that you’re probably a menace! Practice in the ‘Shire is definitely useful but won’t help with the volume! Ka is very appropriate for conditions; only really large vehicles are English imports via the ferries! Car was handed back as given except for a little ding on the boot, which some dog-walker had given me on 1st afternoon at Noirmont Point (honest!). Thought the man at the depot would not notice it, particularly as I’d lifted the boot quickly on arrival, but he did, then looked at my contract and said no problem! Car hire was cheap at £189 for 8-9 days, including excess waiver. Earlier checked out of Water’s Edge Hotel where been looked after very well by the army of eastern European workers; cost was around £600 for 8 days b&b and 3 dinners, not bad at all; gave them further £20 tip! So did the Honey-buzzard say goodbye? Yes the breeding female near our hotel certainly did the honours: at 08:45 female Honey-buzzard was up over hill above Bouley W site, hanging for 10 seconds looking down; she then moved off NW to forage at moderate altitude. Same bird as seen earlier in week (8/9). So she’s continuing to care for the youngsters; the male has probably left. Flights back with Flybe from Jersey-Soton and Soton-Ncl were both on time and the Ncl automatic car-park airport barrier actually worked for pre-paid tickets. Partially emptied the suitcase, put my feet up and went to sleep! Very much enjoyed the trip: island has gr8 atmosphere, good weather and brilliant nature. Almost forgot, did buy the screwdriver in quick nip-out from the museum at 13:10 on 10/9: more sultry than I’d anticipated!! 2moro it’s back to N4c4l, Honey-buzzard check in afternoon and G4g4s in evening. Will update on 12/9 2moro morning: catch-up still to come!!

Final raptor total for Jersey is 55 birds of 7 species: Kestrel 30, Honey-buzzard 9, Marsh Harrier 7, Peregrine 5, Sparrowhawk 2, Common Buzzard 1, Hobby 1. Total number of bird species for trip stands at 85, including a deranged Greylag Goose near the hotel and a ‘white’ duck flying over the seashore.

Final butterfly total for Jersey is 15 species. The complete records are here. Piccies include: Clouded Yellow 1, Common Blue 1  2  3, Grayling 1  2  3, Green-veined White 1, Hedge Brown 1, Holly Blue 1  2, Large Skipper 1  2, Little Blue 1  2, Small Copper 1, Small Heath 1  2, Speckled Wood 1, Wall 1. Others recorded: Large White, Red Admiral, Small White.

September10th: fine sunny day with brisk NW wind, backing W in afternoon, dry, but looks downhill over next week. Into St Helier in morning for visit to Maritime Museum – very good individual displays with plenty of gadgetry but not the same coherent feel as at other 2 visited (Gorey Castle, Jersey Museum). A juvenile Marsh Harrier over, while sitting on pavement café: at 11:53, moving slowly SE over centre of St Helier, circling and holding position against brisk NW breeze, at moderate altitude! Also today had 4 Peregrine from Water’s Edge (pair adult, 2 juvenile (both large, female-type)) and 2 Kestrel juvenile at Corbiere, on extreme SW of island where also had 10 Wheatear and a Whimbrel S. On St Helier seafront had a dark-bellied Brent Goose, an early arrival for the winter. So getting ready for return: missed greatly the lovelies!!!!

September 9th: weather quickly recovered – overcast with showers until early afternoon, then brilliant sunshine on moderate NW breeze, cool at start becoming warmer in the sun. Fieldwork done late afternoon in NW of island at Cueillette de Millais from 15:40-17:40. At 17:00 2s male Marsh Harrier picked up on edge of race course up in air, mobbed by Carrion Crow; he was seen in same area several times over next 10 minutes. At 17:05 an adult Marsh Harrier was seen to the N on edge of cliffs quite low-down; he continued descending and was lost to sight. Also here had 5 juvenile Kestrel hunting, probably from 2 broods. In St Helier area had a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Grey Plover in the rain. Migrants today included 8 Wheatear, 3 alba Wagtail, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Tree Pipit. On the heath in NW had 2 Stonechat with 2 Serin on edge of cedars and 5 species of butterfly: Wall (5), Green-veined White (2), Small Copper (2), Small Heath (1), Red Admiral (1). So did make St Helier in morning, going to Jersey Museum, where could study how the inhabitants developed from living in caves to living in dealing offices! Very well laid out, particularly liked the art gallery where could see portraits of life in 19th century and the stories of how the commerce developed. Walked along the road out to Esplanade, where massive new finance centre planned. So many big names in finance/law and so many people walking around in suits! Just like Hexham really. Liked the contrast with the zany yellow of another company: couldn’t buy a screwdriver there!! Back in G 2moro nite (11/9), all going smoothly!! Looking forward to the *!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

September 8th: luck with weather finally ended: heavy showers particularly in morning, a little sunshine in between, moderate NW breeze, much cooler. But still scored with the raptors in the short interludes in the morning. At 11:05 an adult female Honey-buzzard was flying W low-down over fields towards Platons from Bouley Bay W; presumed to be mother of 2 juveniles found yesterday at Bouley Bay W, on feeding trip; nice to know they’re being looked after, but not for long! At 11:45 an adult Common Buzzard flew over low going N, in moult, soon after we’d arrived at the Jersey War Tunnels (St Lawrence). The Tunnels was a very impressive museum, we spent 3.5 hours there including coffee before and sandwich after. The museum gave a very detailed account of life under German occupation from 1/7/1940-9/5/1945. Raised so many questions: as an islander, would I have stayed or remained to try and get on with the occupiers. Suspect the latter as I bet you lost everything if you left. Might have ended up in a camp on the continent for insubordination! Young ladies who stayed had some difficult choices: fraternise with the young German soldiers, when known to islanders as jerry-bags, or resist and risk trumped-up charges and deportation. Whatever, the extravagant occupation of Jersey by Hitler as part of the Atlantic Wall was a massive miscalculation, with the enormous garrison and fortifications all being by-passed by the Allied invasion, mirroring how Hitler himself had invaded France by bypassing the Maginot Line of fortresses. With clearing weather went on to Noirmont Point again, where had great views of an adult male Ortolan Bunting on a bush by dog-walkers’ car-park (different to earlier one, slim-line bunting, sitting up straight, with grey head, chestnut breast, brown back). Also here had 4 Whinchat, 1 Wheatear, 4 Dartford Warbler and a juvenile Kestrel hovering over headland: Noirmont Point is full of enormous bunkers and old guns, all part of the Atlantic Wall, none of which were actually used in anger! Day ended with another great raptor in Bouley Bay: at 19:05 an adult female Hobby came flying along the cliff, about half-way up, and landed in trees behind the Water’s Edge Hotel! Raptor total now is 43 birds of 7 species: Kestrel 23, Honey-buzzard 9, Marsh Harrier 4, Peregrine 3, Sparrowhawk 2, Common Buzzard 1, Hobby 1. Much better than I’d expected. Raining again next morning (9/9) so going to St Helier again for more culture! End of stay is in sight!! Looking forward to return!! Hope the gorgeous ones are keeping fit!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

September 7th: weather was again good with warm sunshine, cool moderate NW breeze, dry. Another great day for Honey-buzzard, finding a 2nd breeding site and seeing 1 further migrant. At 09:00 adult male offshore, to N of Bouley Bay, some way beyond the breakwater, languidly drifting E, gaining height when at NE edge of island and going in direction of Normandy. Suspect it had spent the night on Guernsey or Herm, done a bit of feeding and was moving towards mainland for faster passage S to Gibraltar. If it had spent night on western part of Jersey, would have expected it to go out S over Noirmont Point. Walked through wood at back of Water’s Edge Hotel, Bouley Bay, from 10:35-12:20. Yet more success with breeding Honey-buzzard in La Rue de L’epine area. Thought Magpie and Carrion Crow were very agitated. Then at 11:15 a juvenile dark-phase Honey-buzzard came up above the canopy briefly before disappearing over a high hedge, giving a very angry call, as N said: rather like a cat when you’ve trodden on it! A Crow had pinned down another juvenile Honey-buzzard in the wood but this one managed to retreat through the canopy. Certainly not migrants – far too weak a flight and migrant birds don’t call; the first juvenile was aggressively territorial. So 2 juveniles bred here, no sign of the adults but they may have both left or more likely the female remains and is out on a feeding trip. Purpose for visiting the wood was to find Short-toed Treecreeper, which did: one seen in the wood in La Rue de L’epine area on oak tree; it also called – very different from the Treecreeper found in Northumberland, like a cross between a Coal Tit and a Wren. Main focus of day was visit to Mont Orgueil (Gorey Castle), a spectacular castle, constructed around 1204 by Duke of Normandy. This connection with Normandy is critical to understanding the wildlife. The Channel Islands are not an extension of the south coast of England: they’re part of Normandy! From the Castle, had brilliant views of a Purple Heron, feeding in rocky bay below castle, to E. Very characteristic structure with long fine bill, thin snaky neck; overall little plumage contrast with predominant colour brown with a purple tinge. Then on to La Rocque, the incredible rocky area to SE of St Helier, looking quite like Scotland: good place to re-introduce Sea Eagle and Otter. Finally made St Helier at 17:00, where had stroll around town centre and the port. Very smart, lots of money around, per capita income from Wiki is $57,000 per person (6th highest in world) and many houses are £1m+; don’t think they’ve got their eye on me! Had meal at Pizzeria Romana, very reasonable in food, service and price; suspect per capita income is skewed by a relatively small number of very rich people. Hotel full tonite, presumably as it’s the weekend: some nice talent around! That’s all for now! lokttmbo!!! Will make it up when get back!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

September 6th: after yesterday’s excitement, back to plodding along the N coast, visiting a series of headlands and highest point of island (c134m asl). Weather was sunny but with cooler moderate W breeze than last few days, very good for striding out! No Honey-buzzard today but did have a remarkable 10 Kestrel, a female Sparrowhawk and a female Peregrine; thought heard a Hobby calling but not convinced enough to credit it. Did manage a pair of Serin in tall trees in a village, another Normandy/Brittany speciality; also found a family party of 5 Raven and 6 Chough on the cliffs at the very worthy re-introduction scheme; they’ve cleared bracken off the cliffs and put sheep in on 45º slopes to encourage short grass. Very friendly in the hotel and in the villages of the north of the island; does remind me a lot of south Devon, though think there’s some very real money here; N made a challenging remark about hedge funds which had quite a few necks swivelling around! A lacklustre week on markets for fixed interest stocks and down 2k, but will be surprised if interest rates take off as much as some think, as that would bring back the depression with a vengeance! Raising Standards is the theme of the island, such as in this advert in today’s Jersey Evening Post by the local firm Normans. 2moro going for walk in local wood to look for Short-toed Treecreeper, followed by Gorey Castle in afternoon and the big metropolis for dinner. Lots of thoughts about the super fit ones!!!!

September 5th: misty to NW at times, warm, dry, light NW breeze. Went to W of island, starting in NW corner on top of Atlantic beach, where surf height was about 6 inches! Weather had started out sunny at dawn but a mist bank had rolled in; this began to clear at 11:10 shortly after our arrival. Amazing events followed! At 12:05 an adult male Honey-buzzard took off from the main cedars and gained height steadily, soaring to S, and disappearing eventually in the haze. Then things became complex: another male Honey-buzzard soared at 12:30, joined at 12:40 by a female and 2 juveniles; strange as the 2 juveniles were fooling around and the adult pair did not move off. The juveniles perched in the Cedar tree-tops at 12:45 and the female then took one of the juveniles for flying practice c1km S of the main Cedars, towards the Airport (appropriately), on and off for the next hour. It became clear that this group of 4 birds was a family party, with the adults having bred in the vicinity. Picked out on the video clips was the adult male, the adult female and 2 dark-phase juveniles, which spent some time perched in the tops of tall trees, in horizontal mode, showing small heads, long tails and game-bird impressions. Amazing discovery – don’t think Honey-buzzard is registered as a breeding species in the Channel Islands, though they’re frequent enough breeders in Normandy and Brittany, having colonised the area in the last 30 years. The migrating male was much more likely of British origin. Honey-buzzard arriving over the Channel to the W of Normandy, might initially be attracted to Guernsey but the habitat on the first bit of Jersey they reach is ideal for roosting with tall trees and for feeding with rough vegetation in area. Some Marsh Harrier were noted with the Honey-buzzard: a melanistic juvenile (full-winged cream-top) was in the trees at 11:20 and an adult male had a dogfight with the male Honey-buzzard at 13:10, which was won by the Honey-buzzard. Later at the lake near Les Mielles had 2 more Marsh Harrier (dark juvenile, adult female (in moult)) with a male Sparrowhawk soaring above the wood to the NE. By end of day raptor total is 22 birds of 5 species: 11 Kestrel, 5 Honey-buzzard, 4 Marsh Harrier, 2 Peregrine (further juvenile in Bouley Bay), 1 Sparrowhawk. Didn’t expect it to be this good! Added Little Blue (4, rather worn) and Green-veined White (maybe overlooked in 1st 2 days) to butterfly list, bringing total to 15 types; also had 1 more Clouded Yellow. Having a luvly time! Could do with a bit more talent in the area. Exciting news from daughter: she’s getting engaged!! Lots of WiFi problems this morning (6/9) but much better tonite. lokttmbo!!!

September 4th: very hot day with bright, strong sunshine, light N breeze. We did walk in morning in Bouley Bay E, going on to White Rock. Then lunch at top end of St Catherine’s Bay, walk along breakwater, more tea, walk S along St Catherine’s Bay and quick spin to Gorey to see the castle, to which we’ll come back for longer visit (inside) later. Top bird of day was a small brown job, a Zitting Cisticola, coming out of a short-grass field, rising up a little and plunging into the nearby hedge. This was near the car-park at the top of the cliff at E end of Bouley Bay at 12:50. The bird was tiny, with very short tail, short rounded wings and dark with prominent streaks. This species breeds on the nearby continent and has been proven to bred in Jersey in recent years as well. Migrants included 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Whinchat (all calling). Raptors comprised 4 Kestrel: 1 near Water’s Edge, 2 in Bouley Bay E and 1 at the quarry at St Catherine’s Bay. Other features were a flock of 63 Linnet in Bouley Bay E, 12 Sandwich Tern, 3 Little Egret, and 1 Greenshank and a Mediterranean Gull juvenile in St Catherine’s Bay. Good start, see Honey-buzzard passage has not really started in UK yet so not surprised none seen here. A Honey-buzzard migrant in Pembrokeshire today may well have been an Irish bird getting ready to leave. Butterflies were brilliant today with 11 types: Speckled Wood (27), Holly Blue (14), Wall (13), Small White (8), Hedge Brown (4), Common Blue (3), Large White (1), Red Admiral (1), Small Copper (1), Clouded Yellow (1), Large Skipper (1). Add in Grayling, Small Heath from yesterday and up to 13 types overall. 2moro it’s cliffs to the NW. Hope the gorgeous ones are keeping fit!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

September 3rd: out of bed at 05:40, off on early flight to Jersey, with change at Soton, all went well, getting there at 11:50. Flybe have very friendly staff, needed with my large carry-on luggage! Collected car, a Ka, bit more modern than my old crate! Weather was perfect for early September: sunny, warm, light NW breeze. Went out to Noirmont Point on SW of island to twitch the Ortolan Bunting(s), that have been reported recently. Got one in a dried-out short-grass field, only seen once but it was calling fairly regularly. They don’t breed there but the French coast does lie on the main migration route. Also had, in total of 16 species from 12:45-14:45, 3 Balearic Shearwater on the sea, 8 Swallow S, 3 calling Chiffchaff, 1 Little Egret, 2 Kestrel (both juvenile, hovering over headland, presumably bred locally). Had 8 types of butterfly, including Grayling and Small Heath. Then went for a spin around St Helier to fetch N who’d come by boat from Weymouth. Sign-posting not bad but would have been nice to say that you need to turn left for the Waterfront, not right when you join the main dual carriageway and get wound up! Anyway N was also on time so that was gr8! Off to Hotel, Water’s Edge, in Bouley Bay on quieter N side of island. Peregrine seem to breed in this area with adult calling. Regional TV includes SW England so bit bizarre: might even get some glimpses at the Gulls! WiFi doesn’t work in bedroom but directed to the Games Room where it’s very fast. Missing the lovelies already!!!!

September 2nd: fresh and gusty breeze still but much warmer and the birds came out again. Didn’t have much time after R so covered 3 Honey-buzzard sites in ‘Shire. Checked briefly on local one around 16:10 but nothing showing. Moved on to Slaley Forest site where knew occupied on 15/8 but no young in view yet. They must have fledged very soon after as a strong-flying brood today was confidently on the wing on NW corner of Blanchland Moor. From 16:22-16:31 2 juveniles were up first of all hanging fairly low-down over the moor; they were joined by the female near the end which did a bit of diving with them. One of the juveniles landed on a wall where good views and photos of its horizontal pose and slender profile. At 16:35 the male arrived from the NE and all 4 birds were up in the air together – great sight! No time to celebrate – on to Dotland where a much weaker flying juvenile was seen briefly above tall conifers to NW of nesting area, harried by corvids, with the male up also briefly at 17:00. So quick smash and grab! As pause have found juveniles at ½ the sites with 40 young in total (15×2, 10×1+). Might miss a few but confident I’ll get most of them! It’s interesting how many adult males are still around; associate this with slightly late season but also with 2 young being fledged per nest; it all takes a bit longer with 2 young rather than 1! Lasses also showing brilliantly today: z (twice!!) and the meo (it’s difficult to concentrate!!). Early start 2moro: bit of a shock! Missed seeing the mbo!!

September 1st: wind increased to fresh breeze, cool but dry, quite abrasive! Not an easy day at all for fieldwork. Did go E, starting at Wylam, near Stephenson’s Cottage, the most easterly known site in study area, from 14:40-16:25. Here know where the nest is, so just walked into the site eventually and got 2 anxious juvenile Honey-buzzard calling at me at 15:40. At 16:06 there was chaos at back of wood on N side, presume a Honey-buzzard was using the back door. The wind was so strong that no raptors were up in the air at all and it didn’t look as if this lot were going to get up either. Knowing where the nests are is invaluable at this stage of the season for speedy checking. From 16:35-18:10 went onto a prospective site even closer to Newcastle – Throckley N – where had a male Honey-buzzard displaying earlier in the season (26/5) plus a Red Kite in April (18/4). Located a promising stretch of woodland around Heddon Birks, both a conifer block on northern side and a line of mature trees, including Scots Pine, on the southern side. Found a track to get closer, running along the top of the bank on the N side of the A69, perhaps a motorway access point. But no raptors! Looks promising habitat though and Heddon Birks is 3.5km from the Wylam E site so well outside the normal 2.5 km limit; much of the land is intensive arable but there are marshes in the area and rougher pasture; the arable land of course attracts Woodpigeon, a favoured prey item. Total for Tyne Valley E was a respectable 31 species, including Tree Sparrow (38, surprisingly common), 38 Swallow, 26 House Martin, 3 Snipe, 1 Curlew. Will try again in better conditions; will be very interested in result as it is very different habitat to that further west. On way back had quick stop N of Ovington by Whittle Burn but everything keeping low in the wind so back home! Finally had 2 raptors up in the air: 2 Common Buzzard at Thornbrough on A69 near Corbridge, just about keeping afloat! Made G with P for nite-cap: gr8 to see z on!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l and N4c4ll!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

August 31st: quite windy today with moderate to fresh W breeze, cooler particularly in morning, but staying dry; testing conditions for practice flights for the growing-in-strength young Honey-buzzard. Good start with juvenile Honey-buzzard up low over Hexham West Wood at 11:55 near nest site. Was on way out to Morralee from 12:15-13:35 at base of Allen Valley; had to wait until 12:28 for a male high up over Ridley E hanging in the air with a juvenile below just above the trees. This didn’t last long with the juvenile finding conditions too tough and collapsing back in to the trees. Could see the opposite side of the valley, technically lower South Tyne, at Whitechapel, which was the 13th site last year for close study. At 13:10 a warm buff juvenile was up on own low-down flying tolerably well into the breeze, getting the hang of gliding into the wind. They need to cope with the wind, the Straits of Gibraltar and the Sahara Desert can both be very stormy. At 13:25 a darker juvenile was up for about 20 seconds further E towards Lipwood; it was presumably the younger of the two and collapsed back into the canopy. Had civilised lunch at A’s after really enjoying the sights!! Then out to Beaufront, Egger’s own Honey-buzzard site! Stayed here from 15:10-16:25. Action was a little confused but sorted from video. At 15:37 a juvenile came out of a dense wood to E of nesting site (in Scots Pine) calling and struggling in the breeze; it persevered though, managing to hang for several spells of 10-20 seconds, punctuated by retreats to the canopy. At 15:40 the male came over to try and get it to fly higher, which it tried briefly. At 15:42 the female also came over. From 16:05-16:11, there was much effort with 2 juveniles now up in the air (one pale, one dark), with the pale one perching at the top of a tree, giving good views of plumage and profile. They were clearly struggling but the adults were continually encouraging them up in the air with some calling. Unlike with Common Buzzard juveniles which have several months to become strong fliers, Honey-buzzard juveniles don’t have this luxury. They have to be off to Africa in 2-4 weeks so it’s a steep learning curve. The males want to be off now so are particularly keen to see the young capable of fending for themselves. The females stay a little longer but still leave before the juveniles go. Breeding success looks very high with 35 juveniles found to date in 22 broods, 13 of 2 and 9 of 1+. In Tyne Valley W from Hexham to Bywell, it’s phenomenal with 6 out of 6 broods of 2 and just one to check. Success here I think is based on high numbers of Woodpigeon (they eat the squabs!) and lack of rain, which may chill the young. Other raptors today were a juvenile female Sparrowhawk and 2 juvenile Common Buzzard at Beaufront, all in the same wood as the Honey-buzzard, but the Common Buzzard did not take-off, maybe wind too strong. Total for trip was 26 species. Back home for a long grass-mowing session, not helped by fitted plug at end of lead losing a connection; re-fitted with another plug and sorted! While ‘working’ had 20 House Martin S, flock of 16 Long-tailed Tit and a calling Chiffchaff. lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s a trip E to Tyne Valley E, to try and mop up there. Maybe out in evening!!

Raptor totals for the week from 25/8-31/8: 36 Honey-buzzard, 16 Common Buzzard, 10 Kestrel, 4 Tawny Owl, 4 Red Kite, 3 Hobby, 2 Sparrowhawk. So 75 birds of 7 species. Again target was very much Honey-buzzard.

August 30th: made 2 sites in Tyne Valley E from 15:55-18:50 in cooler, overcast weather with brisk NW breeze; sunnier and warmer earlier! Had to enter both sites into nesting area to make contact. At Dukeshagg had 2 Honey-buzzard, a juvenile giving an anxiety call at 16:35 and an adult male stridently displaying over the area at 17:01; also had post-breeding flocks of 150 Goldfinch, 72 Swallow and 53 House Martin with 2 calling Chiffchaff. At Hyons Wood had 3 Honey-buzzard, single juvenile giving anxiety call to NW of nesting area at 17:57 and to SE of nesting area at 18:15 with female sneaking in at 18:07 from W to lurk on S of nesting area. Great bonus here was sight of family group of 3 Red Kite (2 adult, 1 juvenile, with very close attendance of latter by one of the adults) at 17:40 over pine copse to S of wood; also here had 600 Common Gull adult feeding on a field, which was being ploughed. Total was 23 species for the 2 sites in Prudhoe S. CCP closed so went with P to Garden House for a change, very civilised! Didn’t make quiz, too early in evening in end, but did make W4ra4s with D&D for good crack! Had Nightjar over road in Dipton Wood at 21:40. 2 interesting butterflies were at Ordley in morning: single Wall and Painted Lady; only butterfly in Prudhoe area was a Speckled Wood at Dukeshagg. Trek E later was very stimulating: very pleased to renew contact with the bathing msolokttmso!!! Didn’t quite make the party!! Market malaise finally caught up with me this week with -3k, removing chance of new record. Losses in € bank shares (BNC.L) and pt/pd shares were only partially offset by gains in French CRC issues. Trimmed some positions today in case September lives up to its poor reputation. 2moro it’s the South Tyne (lower) and Tyne Valley W to check for further Honey-buzzard broods and should make A’s4l in between!!

August 29th: at 18:10 finished round 2 of site visits, celebrations all round! Did not finish with a bang: in last site at Swallowship from 15:45-18:10 had just a few chicken calls and one plaintive anxiety call, from 1+ juvenile, to show for my efforts. But that confirms 12/12 sites occupied at this late stage in season. Also here in 19 species of birds had a female juvenile Sparrowhawk, a Common Buzzard primary feather P4 (290mm), a single flock of 36 Mistle Thrush, 8 calling Chiffchaff, 18 House Martin S, a Redstart, and 2 species of butterfly: Speckled Wood (8), Green-veined White (3). Walk-in’s very arduous through overgrown glades, took a break coming back through the fields, no public access but didn’t meet anyone! Weather was mainly cloudy but warm and dry on a light NW wind. Earlier in day made Warden from 12:55-14:35 where had many more raptors: 6 Common Buzzard (2 calling juveniles Greenshaw Plain E, family party 4 Warden Hill), 2 Kestrel (both juveniles, over Warden Hill) and 2 Hobby (adult pair) mobbing a family party of 4 Honey-buzzard over Warden Hill. Last-named not bred there with nest nearer Greenshaw Plain, but impressive show from 14:00-14:06 of all 4 birds up in air, with attention also from 2 Common Buzzard (adult, juvenile). Got further good snaps of a juvenile Honey-buzzard with the new camera; the yellow bill and broad, sparse wing-bars are a reliable id feature. Earlier at 13:30 at Greenshaw Plain the male Honey-buzzard had given his whistled command for the family to get up in the air but it had taken them this long to get assembled on the hill! In evening had single Tawny Owl calling at Ordley at 20:40 and Sele at 20:55. So good day with 18 raptors of 6 species: 6 Common Buzzard, 5 Honey-buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 2 Hobby, 2 Tawny Owl, 1 Sparrowhawk. At Warden had 21 species of bird, including Common Gull (1 adult W), GBBG (1 adult W), 17 House Martin, 4 Sand Martin, 15 Swallow (10 W), 1 Chiffchaff (calling). 5 species of butterfly were noted: Small White (5), Wall (4), Small Tortoiseshell (2), Speckled Wood (1), Large White (1). Did make N4ll and 3 of us from unn were at T&S but earlier than usual. Results from CPB were as bad as expected but lots of informed discussion on TMF suggested that they were massaged to produce as bad a picture as possible without bringing the whole group down, so as to encourage the bondholders to surrender! One coup was that an error of £500m was discovered in the accounts by the forum in balance of equity! The CPB had the embarrassment of having to publish corrected accounts at mid-day. Pretty revealing really: put in the figure you want and then adjust everything else to fit! Not really any rest on the Honey-buzzard front: need to cover 33 sites in 4 days to look for juveniles! Well there’s actually more time than that but need to sort out lowland sites pretty soon. 2moro might well make CCP4c4c, N4c4l, Tyne Valley E and much later quiz at SCC!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

August 28th: decided to leave last site visit until tomorrow. Another good late August day, warm, generally overcast with a few sunny intervals, on light W wind. Had laid-back day in ‘Shire making local site from 12:20-14:30 in early visit and one to N in West Dipton Burn from 16:00-17:20 in late visit. All’s well! At local site could hear some subdued calls including the chicken call at 13:20 (with agitated Jay in attendance as so often happens) and female was floating overhead, watching me closely (here’s trouble!), at 13:30, again giving reasonable shots showing one inner tail bar and sparse wing-barring. Was not sure how many juveniles so it’s down as 1+ for the moment. On 17/8 young had not fledged at this site so the juvenile(s) are clearly out of the nest but still very dependent on adults. In West Dipton, had a juvenile Kestrel as soon as entered the area. Some Crow were mobbing a raptor in the dense copse on N side of Burn and at 16:09 it became obvious that the victim was a juvenile Honey-buzzard, which flew weakly W up the Burn, showing just 3 primary feathers protruding on left wing; the feathers are still growing but the gaps provide very good mimicry of adult Common Buzzard, which are typically up to P8 missing now. At 16:21 a female Honey-buzzard, with ruddy-brown plumage, was up in the air downstream towards Linnels Bridge; she flew N over the Burn and then turned left to sneakily come upstream on the blind side of the copse; secrecy knows no bounds for this species. Total for ‘Shire was 28 species of bird, including 5 calling Chiffchaff, 5 Bullfinch and 11 Robin, which are becoming more conspicuous. A Small Copper butterfly was sitting up well on a grass stem in West Dipton; 5 species of butterfly at Ordley included 30 Small White and 11 Peacock: poor outlook for cabbages: don’t grow any vegetables now! Did make Britannia – they were very helpful, examined my passport with some interest (it’s got a lot of stamps in it) and gave me a security code for contacting their operations; they let me do this on their ‘phone to set up the questions and was then put through to the anti-fraud office who checked that I could quote some recent transactions and that was it: account restored and full on-line access. I suppose my business isn’t too bad for them – probably spend 1k a month on average. So they passed this test, both in customer service and in technical competence, wonder what their (CPB) results will be like tomorrow: expecting a lot of red but how much equity will they have left? Did make N4c4ll where met S; much later made G4g4s with P/J where good crack. Rather spontaneously took turning N where kept up the meo!!! She’s fantastic: lokttmeo!!! 2moro it’s early visit, N4c4ll, site visit no.12 and T&S4ra4s!!

August 27th: brilliant day! Out in the upper South Tyne from 14:15-17:50 where had 3 Honey-buzzard (female, 2 juvenile) at North Wood, Haltwhistle and 4 Honey-buzzard (male, female, 2 juvenile) at site no.11 near Eals. The ones near Haltwhistle were reluctant to get up in the air, calling a lot from dense woodland, although the female got up and circled the wood briefly at 15:00. Also had, at North Wood, 3 Common Buzzard (2 adult, juvenile), and a juvenile female Hobby circling S of the wood. Thought the wasps were a little aggressive here near the bank of the South Tyne, then realised I was sitting close to a wasps’ nest. Total was only 9 species of bird here, including 12 Swallow. Those near Eals displayed very well and got some great photos, mainly stills, of the juveniles with the new camera. The male came up at 16:12 with a Common Buzzard, followed by the female at 16:17 and the 2 young at 16:20; as usual the male flew highest, with the female as a go-between the male and the 2 weaker-flying juveniles in vigorous display from 16:24-16:32; a juvenile Honey-buzzard vigorously mobbed the adult Common Buzzard. Near Eals, had 2 Common Buzzard (adult, juvenile, mixed up in Honey-buzzard display) and 6 Kestrel (family party of 4, 2 single juveniles). Total was 15 species in Eals area, including Raven (1), Chiffchaff (1), and a few late waders: Lapwing (2), Curlew (1). Butterflies becoming scarce in this area but 4 Purple Hairstreak was good, found at this late stage near top of wood by road. A Common Buzzard adult was circling over W end of Hexham bypass at 18:10. Weather was best of late summer: warm, almost continuous sunshine, light W breeze. Very pleased to see the dynamic duo at lunchtime!! Made BH4ra4s where good to meet the cyclists again! Scintillating and very fitting end with the mbo: lokttmbo!!! Have to visit Britannia Bank tomorrow in Hexham to try and sort out my Co-op credit card (RSPB affinity), which is blocked! Evidently my spending pattern is far from typical – too many overseas bills – and they want me to bring my passport along and to update my security questions! If you’re into conspiracy theory you might think that it’s my prominent role in SoB (Save our Bonds!) that’s motivated them into revenge but not sure they’re that well organised. See TMF for 3 of my recent attacks (41369, 41393, 41408); maybe they’re going to apply thumbscrews! 2moro it’s out in the field before late lunch and after it, so N4c4ll, and G4g4s (t-time doesn’t fit with diet!). News below from FoRK and from the Med Raptors group.

Report by the FoRKers now available as North-East Red Kite breeding report 2013 http://www.birdguides.com/webzine/article.asp?a=3913 (may need subscription but it’s probably on the FoRKers’s website). I’ve made a comment (no.2) and the RSPB are a little peeved by comment no.1!

Extracts: Friends of Red Kites (FoRK) have released the latest figures regarding the species’ success during the 2013 breeding season in the North-East. For some reason — probably the loss of kites to illegal persecution in winter when they wander around — the population is failing to expand on the pattern of other reintroductions. FoRK are currently looking at this problem.

Once again all but two of the nests found were in the Derwent Valley. The exceptions were one in the Causey Gill [Beamish], and one at a site near Wylam, close to the Northumberland boundary, which was used for the first time in four years and which produced at least one chick. Birds were also prominent during the season around the Derwent Reservoir, Blanchland, Edmundbyers, Muggleswick and the Derwent Gorges but once again, despite extensive searching, no nests were found.

Next year will mark the tenth anniversary of the start of the Northern Kites reintroduction project. FoRK is planning to increase the size of its monitoring teams in an effort to ensure that all potential areas are fully covered. The aim will be to recruit volunteers from the Durham and the Northumberland and Tyneside bird clubs, RSPB and other groups to ‘adopt’ potential areas and survey them for displaying birds in February and March and for evidence of breeding in April and May. This will aim to build on a one-day survey carried out during March 2013 when, despite appalling conditions with freezing winds, icy roads and heavy snow in upland areas, more than 30 volunteers turned out to search for kites.

Comments on webzine:

1. As stated above, “…probably the loss of kites to illegal persecution in winter when they wander around”. The whole situation as regards raptor persecution in Co Durham (and mirrored in surrounding counties) is very disturbing. The ‘disappearance’ of Hen Harrier breeding pairs, almost total desertion of upland crags by Peregrines, no breeding at all by Ravens (despite flourishing elsewhere in England), illegal killing of Buzzards. It’s sickening and little seems to be changing. The work done by FoRK is superb, and you just hope that the RSPB, Natural England, Police Service and other parties involved follow suit and show some real commitment to putting a stop to illegal persecution. There is no reason why the Red Kites shouldn’t expand significantly in the north-east, if they are allowed to. (Mark Newsome, 20/08/13 16:10)

2. Maybe the survey techniques should be re-examined. Red Kite have made considerable progress this year in Northumberland, both along the county boundary just north of the Derwent and in the main Tyne Valley. From my observations this year over 100s of hours out in the field, there was successful breeding, 6+ young, at 5 sites (Ovington NW, Wylam S, Wallish Walls, Shotleyfell, Steel) with continued occupation over summer at 3 sites (Horsley Wood, Eltringham, Prudhoe S) where may still find young, and occupation in spring at 3 sites which still to check in late summer (N Throckley, Corbridge, Haydon Bridge – Hexham (Keepershield)). August is a very good time for finding family parties of Red Kite in the air and the birds are still on territories occupied in the spring display; further the juveniles can be readily identified in the field. So that’s 10 sites, with only Wylam S found in both the main survey and mine, to add to the 27 found this year in the core area. Add in a few more in vicinity of Derwent Reservoir, south of the core area and north of the Tyne Valley and we’re not far off the 50 expected. Maybe suggest that spring fieldwork be done more in April and early May and that late summer fieldwork be introduced in August to locate family parties on the wing. Final point: title of page should be North East England Red Kite, not North East Red Kite. (Nick Rossiter, Wednesday 20:20).

3. Mark, I am surprised to read your plea that the RSPB “… show some real commitment to putting a stop to illegal persecution …”. BirdGuides regularly contains articles articulating the good work of the RSPB in this area and the latest edition of Birds magazine contains an article describing the work of their team. (Chris Wooff, today 10:35).

Also published is another paper on raptor migration across the Mediterranean. Added below are its comments on Honey-buzzard observations. In autumn it looks as if they prefer to cling to islands when moving S across the Mediterranean; in spring they just fly straight across.

Michele Panuccio, Nicolantonio Agostini, Christos Barboutis, Raptor migration in Greece: a review. Avocetta 37 1-7 (2013). http://www.raptormigration.org/Panuccio_review_Greece_Avocetta2013.pdf

Abstract: The western honey buzzard performs a loop migration strategy concentrating over the island of Antikythira in autumn but bypassing it in spring.

Text (p.3): Western honey buzzard Pernis apivorus. Between 1000 and 2000 breeding pairs of this species are estimated in Greece (BirdLife International 2004). The most important watch-site for this species is the island of Antikythira, where up to 1300 individuals were observed (Lucia et al . 2011). At this site the peak of migration occurs during the last ten days of August, when almost all adult individuals were observed. In September the passage over the island is less intense and involves mostly juveniles (Agostini et al. 2012). At Mount Olympus observations in the peak period of adults are lacking, however in September the passage of 177 individuals, mostly juveniles, was reported (Panuccio et al 2011a). The comparison of the autumn movements of the species at Mount Olympus and at the island of Antikythira suggests a correlation between the two sites. Probably, at least some of the individuals migrating through continental Greece, once reached the south Peloponnese follow the fingers of the peninsula and cross the sea via the islands of Kythira, Antikythira and Crete en route to Libya (Panuccio et al 2013b). A similar migratory behaviour of juvenile birds was suggested between Central Italy, Malta and Libya (Agostini et al 2004b). Differently from the autumn, only few individuals were observed migrating in spring at all the Greek watch-sites. This fact could reflect a stronger tendency of western honey buzzards to migrate over a wider front in spring rather than in autumn across the Mediterranean sea (Agostini et al. 2012).

Conclusion: funnelled migration: the western honey buzzard migrates over the Mediterranean Sea but is attracted by geographical features like the island of Antikythira, which represents a natural springboard in autumn but not in spring (Agostini et al 2012). Honey buzzards are expected to undertake longer water-crossings in spring than in autumn, probably to reach as soon as possible their breeding grounds as it has been observed in the Central Mediterranean and confirmed by the mean of satellite tracking (Agostini & Panuccio 2005, Meyburg et al 2010).

August 26th: made site visit no.10 from 14:25-17:20 to site on edge of Derwent area (near Slaley Hall) in brilliantly sunny, warm weather on light E wind. Had a few chicken calls from a juvenile Honey-buzzard, being mobbed by a Jay at 15:25, with another juvenile on other side of presumed nest being picked up by a passing Rook; female angrily scolded me as I retreated at 16:50! In total of 18 species had 6 calling Chiffchaff, an alarm-calling Green Woodpecker, Swallow (10 with 1 S), Coal Tit (16). 2 types of dragonfly were seen: Black Darter (5), Common Hawker (1), latter bringing total at this site to 6 species, best site for me in area. 5 types of butterfly were seen: Peacock (12), Small White (11), Small Tortoiseshell (3), Comma (3), Green-veined White (2); there were Silver Y moths all over the patches of heather, presumably newly-arrived migrants. Went on to Stocksfield Mount from 17:50-18:50 where had continuation of good raptors. An adult Red Kite was floating over the fields NW of Ovington at 18:10 before drifting E to hunt. 2 Honey-buzzard juvenile were up over Short Wood, Bywell, at 18:25, one clearly a stronger flier than the other being able to climb with much flapping. At 18:33 the female was trying to correct this by escorting the weaker juvenile for a bit of flying practice; she kept close above the bird and did one or two playful dives but the juvenile did look very tentative. Both females were new for season today, only had males at these 2 sites before. Butterflies at Ordley were again incredible with Peacock (43), Small Tortoiseshell (5), Small White (5), Speckled Wood (3), Large White (1), Comma (1); and that’s just on the buddleia at the front! Did make Hexham for lunch; met St/Ma but declined an invitation to a bar, as wanted to get out in the field! Then met Si at N where we had very stimulating chat. 2moro it’s N4c4l followed by visit no.11 in upper South Tyne – we’re almost there!

August 25th: great walk with the group from Alston – Garrigill and back, 15km in all, with restoration at the Angel in Alston. There were 15 of us out and with P as leader, I acted as back marker keeping the stragglers in order, natural position really as I tend to drift back, keeping an eye open for raptors. Weather was misty and warm at start, then becoming sunny on a fine day with light E wind. The area is right on the edge of my study area, which extends to the county border at Gilderdale Bridge and Clarghyll. So well worth a peek to see whether any Honey-buzzard on S side of Alston. Didn’t find any but there is one promising long wood by the South Tyne from Low Sillyhall to Low Craig, c320m asl so not that high in altitude but habitat is broad dale-land without large woods so not ideal. I didn’t find any Honey-buzzard in the Yorkshire Dales in quite similar habitat. There was one major disturbance of corvids and Starling, while walking along the wood but it was on the way out in the mist and couldn’t see any cause. Raptors numbered 2: juvenile Common Buzzard and juvenile Kestrel, both near Garrigill. Birds totalled 28 species, including 33 Lapwing, 10 Curlew, a Raven, 78 Swallow (good season), 109 Starling, 20 Meadow Pipit. A Golden-ringed Dragonfly was sitting on a path, warming up. Butterflies were common, once the sun came out, with a few more migrants – Red Admiral, Painted Lady – plus Comma (unexpected) and many Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Green-veined White, with a few Large White (total 8 species). Lonely hearts board at Angel had the tender message: are ewe the one! Met z later: she looked terrific!! Had late Tawny Owl at Ordley and the Sele. 2moro it’s N4c4l (no R) followed by trip out to Derwent for site visit no.10 and maybe then down to Tyne E for continuing search for kites. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

Raptor totals for the week from 18/8-24/8: 23 Honey-buzzard, 21 Common Buzzard, 7 Kestrel, 6 Hobby, 4 Tawny Owl, 2 Goshawk, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Little Owl. So 66 birds of 8 species. Target was very much Honey-buzzard.

August 24th: murky day after heavy rain overnight, dull on light S wind, light rain moving in again at end of visit. But in spite of gloom decided to visit, for site no.9, a large wood a little W of Hexham from 12:30-15:25 as really cannot afford a day off! Decided to wear wellies, instead of walking boots, and this was justified as much of wood was a complete mess underfoot with recent brashing having left the lopped branches all over the place and the machinery having left large trenches full of water – lovely! Visit was actually quite successful, finding adult female Honey-buzzard and 2 juveniles, with good range of anger/alarm calls (the feeling of success was not reciprocated by the birds!). Also had an adult female Hobby flying out of the wood NE to hunt and a distant-calling juvenile Common Buzzard. Total of 23 bird species included Swallow (24), House Martin (8), Wren (12). A few butterflies braved the conditions when the sun almost broke through: Green-veined White (6), Speckled Wood (1). Swallow are gathering with 40 on wires at Houtley at 12:20. Published below weekly totals of raptors for the week 11/8-17/8. DP reported yesterday that they’d found some wasp comb scattered on a track at Allen Banks last Sunday (18/8); sounds as if the Ridley pair have been busy. Gulls actually won today: stunned comments on their fans’ updates after going the more familiar 0-1 down “oh sh*t” after 30 min — (getting hopeful, 60 min) “its been pretty much all torquay this half”; (goal 1, 72 min) “YESSSSSSSSSSSSS! Come on Utd”; (goal 2, 78 min) “we’re winning!!”; particularly like last, sounds like disbelief! 2moro it’s out on the Pennine Way for some more straight-forward and sociable exercise, should be good! So far this year I’ve not met a soul on the site visits, sometimes wonder whether I’ll find anything untoward, the places are that deserted! Even Woodpigeon don’t breed close to Honey-buzzard, as the raptors eat their young. Understandable perhaps but it does make the nesting areas eerily quiet, unless of course you rouse the raptors to the shrieking stage! Any volunteers? Indeed I use sudden absence of Woodpigeon as a sign that you’re getting warm in a search for a Honey-buzzard nest. Booked car for Jersey, fairly cheap at £189 for 8 days including Damage Excess Refund (after Azores!); not looked up big sis yet!! rfaswtbo!!!

August 23rd: bright start, rain threatened all afternoon, finally emerging with a vengeance after dark. Did make site visit no.8 to burn some way above Riding Mill from 15:00-17:40; yet another one occupied by Honey-buzzard (8-0 now) with 2 juveniles heard calling to N of nesting area with anxiety calls at 15:44. Had another Honey-buzzard, a male, flying due W towards Dipton SE site at 15:20. Earlier a juvenile Common Buzzard was soaring over Letah Wood; they’ve been fledged over a month now and are rapidly gaining strength. The young Honey-buzzard have to get up to speed faster: many will be on their way to Africa in 3-5 weeks. Total for site visit was 20 species, including post-breeding flock of 52 Linnet, 11 Yellowhammer (both preceding like gorse), 10 Chiffchaff (8 calling, 2 seen), 18 Swallow. Butterflies included Small Copper (2nd for year), Speckled Wood, Peacock, Small White, Green-veined White. Tawny Owl are very conspicuous: 2 were calling loudly at Ordley just as the rain was starting at 21:15; feeling smug as had just finished cutting the grass with security light as floodlights! Lunchtime was good, meeting J at N; later met magical musical c at library for very good crack!! Pleased to see the very cold c again!! 5 of us out at W, good chat, next week we’re at Stocksfield for a quiz! It’s walk time on Sunday with group led by P in Alston/Garrigill area; forecast is good. 2moro out in morning with clearance for site visit no.9, before A’s4s4ll. Steady progress on markets continues with +2k, the 8th successive week of gains, albeit mostly small; so just 2k off all-time high. Irish stocks made up the whole gain, confidence is rising in Dublin. Next week CPB reports on Thursday its half-yearly results, which will be as bad as they can make them to try and force bondholders to accept a lousy swap into CPB equity! I’ve only bought them (for example CPBC.L) since they crashed so am just a carpetbagger, looking to hold out! lokttmbo!!!

August 22nd: muggy, dry, light SE wind. Good conditions for flying ants and gulls flying high to feed on them. But raptors not so motivated, low cloud base and light wind probably a discouragement. Went into Newcastle, walked along Quayside where last of Kittiwake on ledges, surprised at how many still to fly with 54 juvenile and 2 adult present; also had locally-fledged Herring Gull and LBBG. Surprised to meet c on train on way back; used to work in a cold place, now a mum!! Took opportunity from being so far E of doing site visit no.7 in Wylam area from 16:15-18:55, with earlier quick look at 12:25-13:10 on way in. Masses of signs in area, situation very similar to that at site near Eals on 20/8. Listening for calls not helped by being on flight path to Newcastle Airport and by a farmer deciding to do some work on a field, both activities rather more important than mine, no doubt! But did have some anxiety calls from Honey-buzzard juvenile(s) at 16:55, mainly distant ones, so they’d clearly retreated on my arrival; there was some interaction between corvids and the female Honey-buzzard. A Common Buzzard juvenile was calling at 16:46; a Tawny Owl was calling in daytime at 16:18; 2 Oystercatcher moved E, calling loudly, at 17:51; 2 Lapwing flew W; 82 Black-headed Gull chased the ants; 51 Common Gull (50 adult, 1 juvenile) were keener on ground feeding; 3 LBBG included 2 juvenile; 11 Herring Gull adult were chasing the ants; 2 adult GBBG brought gulls to 5 species, and with Kittiwake earlier to 6. Total was a high 33 species. Had 5 species of butterfly: Peacock, Small White, Large White, Speckled Wood and, best of all, a Purple Hairstreak flying high over an Oak tree. Met up with work-mates from unn at T&S for good crack after short break. Went for walk around Sele afterwards, finding 3 calling Tawny Owl (and z!!). Lots of i’s around later: lokttmgo!! Total for raptors for day was 7 birds of 3 species: 4 Tawny Owl, 2 Honey-buzzard, 1 Common Buzzard. 2moro it’s N4c4l, site visit no.8 in afternoon and W4g4s!!

August 21st: not much of a break! Walked to Farnley from Corbridge, 14:30-16:40, in warm weather with sunny intervals on moderate W breeze. This was not a site visit, but Honey-buzzard was still very much the target. First raptor seen, at 15:00, was a female Honey-buzzard moving NW over the E edge of the rugby field and crossing the Tyne to forage. Then at 15:44 the male was spotted up high, obviously ordering a bit of flight practice. Almost immediately a heavy juvenile got up above the canopy and collapsed back down again; a lighter juvenile then moved perhaps 200m looking very unsteady and wayward before it also went back into the canopy. Meanwhile the female had joined the male high up in the sky; short and sweet, all over by 15:49! Other raptors included a Common Buzzard juvenile on E edge of Corbridge, N of the Tyne, and at Farnley,a juvenile Kestrel, a juvenile Sparrowhawk and an adult male Hobby, last going out to hunt to SW at 15:50. So 8 raptors of 5 species, pretty good for a short visit. Had an interesting lark in uncut grain field on N side of Corbridge Station: thought it was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at first but it became more like a lark as it landed in the middle of the field. Flight was very undulating and bird looked dark with short broad wings, long neck and short tail. It was a Woodlark: 1st I’ve seen in northern England but have had them abroad and in Devon. Prospect Hill or Dipton Wood would probably be reasonable habitat. Maybe this will be next colonist moving N! Another good butterfly day with 6 species on walk: Comma, Speckled Wood, Small White, Peacock, Large White, Green-veined White. At home at Ordley, mainly on buddleia, had 7 species (41 insects): Peacock (19), Small White (11), Large White (5), Comma (3), Green-veined White (1), Speckled Wood (1), Small Copper (1). Last was in field and was 1st seen this year, bringing total for August to 16 types. Caught up with some ‘paperwork’ (really electronic record-keeping!), completing details up to 16/8 and checking clips and stills up to today. Did make CCP4c4c with P and back to old habits with G4g4t: gr8 to meet the t-time gang again; got some recent reports: a Red Kite over Ovington on 16/8 and a Honey-buzzard in ‘Shire near Slaley Forest this afternoon. Good to see the mbo!! 2moro it’s L&P, Bt4s4l and T&S4g4s. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

August 20th: mainly sunny, moderate W breeze, high cloud level; another great day in the field going out for site visit no.6 in the upper South Tyne near Eals from 14:40-18:20. Activity at targeted Honey-buzzard site was pretty muted but they appear to have fledged; some contact calls were heard from both N and S of site; thought to be 1+ juvenile on N side and presumed female on S side. It was overall result for raptors which was outstanding in the Eals area: 6 Kestrel (3 adult, 3 juvenile, 3 sites, mainly found last few weeks on moorland edges), 5 Common Buzzard (family party 4 at Towsbank, up over crags at back of wood), 4 Honey-buzzard, 3 Hobby (family party up in air over Towsbank, pair adult, 1 juvenile, 15:45), 2 Goshawk (pair juvenile hunting down the valley together at 14:50), Sparrowhawk (adult female hunting). One of the Honey-buzzard was an adult female, soaring over Towsbank and moving off SW to forage up the valley at 17:40. So total of 21 birds of 6 species. Total for all birds was 30 species, including 18 Coal Tit, 14 Swallow, 10 Robin, 7 Bullfinch, 4 House Martin (nests with young on Knarsdale Viaduct), 3 calling Chiffchaff, 2 Song Thrush, with lingering waders of 19 Lapwing, 3 Curlew. Back late, no time for Grindon Lough, may relax somewhere else!! Made BH4ra4s where had a tasty couple of golden cockerel! Pretty quiet until end when ½ of W came in, having attended local musical! Thought the mbo was absolutely brilliant, all angles explored, fitting close: lokttmbo!!! 2moro think break needed from round 2, not because need a rest, but because the paperwork backlog has become far too high; got to catch up with sorting out clips and stills, and final analysis. So more relaxed: maybe CCP4c4c and G4g4t with more casual quick visit in afternoon to an early fledging site, not on intensive list, sort of busman’s holiday! Thinking hard of trip for next February/March: Dubai is one of leading runners at the moment, at least as a base; it’s very good for wildlife as many birds (gulls, raptors) from Siberia and Steppes over-winter there; also like the Arab’s style as hosts!

August 19th: keeping up the pace by visiting another site (no.5 round 2) on Allen at Oakpool from 17:50-20:05 in bright, dry conditions on moderate SW breeze. Soon after arrival had female Honey-buzzard going into the site at 18:05, arriving over fields to SE at low altitude, and coming in very close to the ground (sneaky!). Later at 18:30 the male was over the site, being snapped through a gap in the canopy, and at 19:00 2 juveniles were found on a field near the wood with one perched on a lone hawthorn tree, giving superb views, and the other juvenile practising flying; not fledged long perhaps 3 days, fitting in with guesstimate! Unlike adult Honey-buzzard, juveniles will readily perch on walls and trees in the open, and can then be very easily identified by their pose, looking rather Pheasant-like with horizontal pose, attenuated rear end, small head and long neck. So that’s bl..dy marvellous! Had other raptors: 3 Common Buzzard (2 juvenile, 1 adult, continually mixed up in action at the start of visit, before moving off W to other side of valley) and a female Hobby, arriving overhead and diving into the wood in spectacular fashion, as if visiting a probable nest site, in Oak, not far from where the Honey-buzzard thought to be. In total of 20 species had a family party of Grey Partridge (2 adult, 9 young), 1 feeding Swift, 15 House Martin S. R could have been solemn with our leader present from NE region but he cracked some good jokes! Made N afterwards with P. Very much liked the look of the mbo!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and another site visit, followed perhaps by Grindon Lough in the evening!! Ordered along to G4g4t on Wednesday by t-time mates!! lokttlo!!!

August 18th: not sure that 4 site visits in 4 days is permitted by the union! Anyway given the run-around a bit today by the birds not a million miles from Stocksfield: nothing new there!! In vicinity from 12:25-15:40 on another dry day with moderate SW breeze and sunny intervals, particularly late-on. Got fairly close to site when heard adult Honey-buzzard give an alarm call at 13:06 followed by a great commotion with 3 juvenile Common Buzzard getting very excited; presumed female Honey-buzzard had backed out of its own site into where the Common Buzzard were parked, quite often happens, always listen for commotions as the adults flee. Waited for long time but nothing happened except for one softer Honey-buzzard alarm call about 50 minutes later at 13:54 and very agitated Jay at 14:45 on way out. So after more patience exercised, decided to get back to car and drive to the lay-by on the A695 where you are quite close to the action. I though the birds had moved to a Sitka Spruce plantation adjacent to the nest and this was the case. At 15:28 the male Honey-buzzard appeared above the plantation and commanded the family to take exercise. So up they all went in far too strong a breeze for the 2 youngsters who had probably only had their first flight this morning. They were up 10-20 seconds before crashing back into the canopy, accompanied by the female. The male, unfazed and clearly ‘in charge’, sat on a branch in the open (horizontal, elongated shape great for id) cursing their wimpishness but nobody took any notice. In the end at 15:32 he did a little climb and plunged, calling loudly, back into the canopy. Of course the male is already packing his bags for Africa and so is very keen for the young to progress before he sets off! Pretty impressive though seeing 4 Honey-buzzard up in the air together; same at Welbeck today [BirdGuides]:

         18:50 18/08/13 Honey Buzzard Notts Welbeck watchpoint 13:15 four showing west of monument this afternoon SK583721

So fledging date overall has been set as 16/8; it’s arbitrary but gives some idea of when the young start to leave the nest. Common Buzzard have done very well in Tyne Valley W – besides brood of 3 above, another family party of 5 (2 adult, 3 juvenile) today at Cottagebank, Bywell. Also present on walk in total of 22 bird species were 6 calling Chiffchaff, 3 Jay, 3 Bullfinch. There were plenty of Speckled Wood butterflies (12) and 2 types of dragonfly: Southern Hawker and Common Hawker. Had a rare visitor in lane outside house at 21:45, a calling Little Owl; think habitat in area with rough fields might suit them! Did make G with P, gr8 to have z on and c in assist!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l with N4c4c b4; then out to site visit no.5! Looking forward to seeing the super-fit ones: lokttfo!!!

Raptor totals for the week from 11/8-17/8: 18 Common Buzzard, 11 Honey-buzzard, 9 Red Kite, 8 Tawny Owl, 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Long-eared Owl. So 49 birds of 7 species. Red Kite was the main target early in week, moving to Honey-buzzard by the end.

August 17th: hit the ground running with round 2! Made local site in ‘Shire from 14:45-16:30 for visit no.3 in cool, blustery weather with sunny intervals and occasional showers. Thought they might have fledged but no! The female Honey-buzzard was clearly very attentive to the nest. No sign of the male, presumably away hunting. So not prepared to call start of main fledging period yet in spite of positive signs yesterday. Also had 3 hunger-calling Common Buzzard in area, a Common Gull adult SW and 2 calling Chiffchaff. Visit to another site tomorrow in Tyne Valley W may shed a little more light. Did massive clear-up of papers and books around desktop computer at home: quite profitable really, locating system DVD for the laptop, which need to reload the original sound drivers, and finding CD of Mosa’s PhD thesis, which need to print to put on the shelf, along with Dimitris’s. Cue for tidy-up was attempt to wrap-up Azores trip report, which want to put up on my gull pages and use as basis for next IGM talk; added some stills of AYLG from 6/3 visit to Lagoa de Fogo; completed master spreadsheet indicating 46 types of bird found; now going through the daily recording sheets, checking everything’s been added. Butterflies won’t take long, think there’s just 2 types. Overall thrown out masses of paper; if it’s in digital form, that’s the way to go, even if it means photographing, or scanning, it. Looks as if it’s going to be a long football season! Didn’t make A’s, wondered whether weather was going to hold. Still inspired by the mbo!! lokttmbo!! 2moro will be a bit more sociable after site visit no.4, maybe N4c4t and most certainly G4g4s!!

August 16th: well great news — we have the first 2 results! At the 2 Staward sites today, in site visit no.2 round 2, from 14:30-19:00 had: at S site at 15:05, a juvenile Honey-buzzard up for 20 seconds, below its mum, before collapsing back into the canopy; at N site, a juvenile Honey-buzzard out of the nest, giving the chicken calls, with both parents in attendance! Both down as 1+ as certainly 1 juvenile fledged, possibly a 2nd lurking. Common Buzzard comprised a juvenile calling at Staward S and an adult up over Staward N. Very good surprise was Long-eared Owl breeding at Staward N with a juvenile hunger-crying twice at 18:08 from the track near Brünnhilde’s rock, before being mobbed by Coal Tit. Also, in total of 22 species, had 3 Raven (did they breed? presume yes, present through season), 3 Common Gull adult SW, 161 Starling moving SW to roost at 18:45, 16 House Martin S and 6 Sand Martin, late breeders by the Allen. Sunny intervals on a light NW breeze was the weather theme with no rain. Much later at 00:20 (17/8) had a pair of Tawny Owl calling from main part of Dipton Wood. Loved visit to N4c: the mbo is perfection!!! Later joined by J and C; all women at N are leaving in next few weeks. Made W4g: good crack with 8 of us there, a record! N brought along 5 tickets for next season of New York Met at the Tyneside Cinema. OS Map for Jersey has arrived: looking forward to the trip. Markets still struggling with end of qe and main indexes down again; however ise.junk prospered along with €trash and quite a respectable gain of 5k taking total to within 4k of all-time record on 15/3. Could say a bit more on LBG’s tidying up operation. After last year’s strong rises in LBG debt on resumption of interest payments, moved some funds within the group from perpetuals to short-dated to lock in the gains. Now have 93k nominal in LLPF.L/LLPG.L, cost 64k, current value 77k, income 5.7k pa. The 2 issues are small rumps left over from liability management exercises in 2009. The hope is that if the issues are tidied up (bought out), will receive the nominal (par) value of 93k; if LBG want to tidy up, they will need to pay a premium over current prices to encourage holders to participate! Anyway that’s the theory! 2moro it’s A’s4s4l and maybe site visit no.3, weather permitting. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

August 15th: bright and warm morning, becoming cloudier in afternoon with rain in evening. Started round 2 of site visits, not sure I’m going to get through them all but here goes! At the one site in the ‘Shire visited from 15:55-18:20 (including approach), they’ve not fledged yet with the pair of adults in close attendance to the nest and no juveniles on the wing; some sharp alarm calls were heard. There was also a juvenile Common Buzzard in the same area and another juvenile c2km to the W. A Tawny Owl made a few calls in daytime. So total raptors for visit was: 2 Honey-buzzard, 2 Common Buzzard, 1 Tawny Owl. Total for visit was 18 species, including 29 Swallow and 2 calling Chiffchaff. A Southern Hawker was the only dragonfly seen. Also had a pair of Tawny Owl calling persistently at Ordley this evening around 21:30; it’s that time of year when they claim winter (and next year’s breeding) territories. Made N4c4ll, very pleased to meet c&i there with good lively chat!! She’s very arty (and well-presented!!). Also made BH where had a couple of Coalface – very nice! Very satisfying finish to the evening with the mbo: she’s so beautiful!!! lokttmbo!!! Watched another programme on BBC 2, this time on the futility of exercise for losing weight. Diet control is only way evidently to lose weight. Put myself on diet in early July after last of spring trips abroad when 13 stone 7 lbs and 44 inch waist; bmi was too high for 5 ft 11 inch height. Cut out all chocolates, biscuits and cakes and reduced alcohol intake to 20 units a week. Slow but sure progress, now 12 stone 13 lbs and waist down to 42 inches, with bmi 25.2; have had to punch new holes on belts and re-tie shorts. Keeping going until 12 stone 7 lbs and 39 inch waist. Well that’s the plan anyway! 2moro it’s N4c4l and W4g4s with a trip out in afternoon!

August 14th: with weather going downhill, decided to put in a whole day outdoors to try and keep up with events. Today was sunny and warm in the morning, with cloud increasing in the afternoon and dull by evening. Cut grass this morning at home, but couldn’t resist counting the butterflies which were everywhere: Peacock 33, Small White 18, Large White 9, Small Tortoiseshell 6, Meadow Brown 2 (very much end of season), Speckled Wood 2 (new to garden, 1st record today), Comma 1, Wall 1, Green-veined White 1. Total 73 of 9 species, even with no Red Admiral or Painted Lady. As well as buddleia you need a scruffy field to score with butterflies as they need somewhere to rear their caterpillars! Also couldn’t resist looking out for the local Honey-buzzard and, yes, the male was floating high-up to E of site at 12:36; very promising sign for imminent fledging as the adults get very anxious prior to the young leaving the nest, patrolling the area looking for any signs of danger (Goshawk, foxes or dogs (which might pick up a young bird that’s crashed onto the ground), humans, or whatever, they’re paranoid!). One local Crow was apoplectic. A juvenile Common Buzzard was hunger-crying from wood to N (Lairds Wood). Finally got out at 15:00 and checked for Red Kite in Steel but no signs by 15:30. Went onto Greymare Hill (near Kiln Pit) from 15:45 to check for Red Kite and was there until 17:15 with no joy when picked up a juvenile Red Kite doing some mock hunting over Shotleyfell; it was moving around the fields N of the plantation and wasn’t taken too seriously by anything around! Also had a Common Buzzard juvenile SE of Greymare. So result secured, left at 17:25 and again checked Steel. This time had instant success at 17:45 with an adult Red Kite moving over Rye Hill and dragging up a very flappy juvenile in its wake; they floated together for a while quite high-up before coming back to ground. Still not sure where they’ve nested but it must be on the S edge of the woods by the Devil’s Water between Steel and Shield Hall. It’s 1st breeding success for Red Kite in the ‘Shire, no more than 2km from home. Better still now have successful breeding, 6+ young, at 5 sites (Ovington NW, Wylam S, Wallish Walls, Shotleyfell, Steel) with continued occupation at 3 sites (Horsley Wood, Eltringham, Prudhoe S) where may still find young, and occupation in spring at 3 sites which still to check (N Throckley, E Corbridge, Haydon Bridge – Hexham (Keepershield)). The Red Kite has truly arrived in Northumberland! Other sightings included 4 calling Chiffchaff at Ordley and 11 Mistle Thrush at Shield Hall. Total species for day was a respectable 35, considering most passerines are keeping a very low profile at this time of year. Again made G late-on rather than at t-time: 6 of us there and good crack! Nice to have l on!! Good news from LBG press conference today (if you hold sizeable amounts of rump issues!): “The combinations of legacy issuing entities and liability management has left us with over 130 capital securities, and it’d be great to simplify this over a couple of coming years”. Hexham’s busier at nite while the students are home!! lokttgo!!! 2moro looks like rain, with N4c4l and BH4ra4s!!

August 13th: continuing cool with brief sunny intervals on light NW breeze but persevering with shorts to maximise vitamin D production! Another double-billed day making Wallish Walls from 14:20-15:30, Nookton from 15:45-17:00 and Steel for quick stop around 17:25-17:35; first 2 sites are in Derwent area, last in the ‘Shire. Brilliant day for Red Kite with total of 5 seen – family party of 3 on common near Wallish Walls, Derwent Reservoir, with pair of adults high up and youngster struggling below from 14:35-15:10; an adult S of here near Coat Gate, Durham, floating over woods on W side at 14:30 (out of study area); an adult in territory on Devil’s Water near Steel at 17:25, floating around high trees on S side, mobbed by Jackdaw, 2km from home (very much in study area!), only seen twice before during season. Common Buzzard also starred with family group of 4 on common near Wallish Walls with 2 more birds in another brood (adult, juvenile) near the Durhamfield farm, plus a family group of 2 at Steel (adult, juvenile) from Peth Foot site up just before the Red Kite was seen; total is 8. A juvenile female Sparrowhawk was hunting near Durhamfield farm. Bringing up the rear was a male Honey-buzzard, gliding out from site in Scots Pine at Nookton at 16:21, moving N onto rough fields in the valley; so that’s the 50 up, absolutely fantastic! Had a Tawny Owl calling at Ordley at 00:15, much earlier in the day, when looking for more shooting stars; none of latter were seen, low cloud further E polluted the sky with an orange glow and it was not nearly as dark and clear as the night before. Total of raptors for day was 16 birds of 5 species: 8 Common Buzzard, 5 Red Kite and single Sparrowhawk, Honey-buzzard and Tawny Owl. Plus 2 Tawny Owl somewhere else! Other interesting sightings at Nookton were a group of 3 Twite flying over the meadows N, a Raven calling, 4 Curlew, 2 Oystercatcher, 26 Meadow Pipit, 8 Wigeon coming from S and returning S after gun shots, 13 House Martin S, 2 Common Gull adult SW; at Wallish Walls 3 Chiffchaff were calling. Total bird species for day was 35 species. Sociable @ N4c4l with both J/P. Just watched on BBC 2 “The Cruise: A Life at Sea”; think I’d rather cut an artery! Completed survey of pubs in A: SI definitely lacked vibrancy, surprisingly little character, boring customers including 1 from G, watching TV seemed to be main pastime! So ranking is QA > MA >> SI; will return to the matey QA!! Superb action elsewhere with the lovely one being very sensuous: lokttmeo!!! 2moro it’s N4c4t and G4g4s with another trip out for kite at lunchtime, before settling down on 15/8 for more site visits.

August 12th: more showery today and still a little cool. Went to R @ B4m4l as usual but preceded by Vocational WG meeting at 12; talk was on production of Noilly Prat by CM and we even had a sample afterwards for the final toast! For those like me who’d never heard of it before, Noilly Prat is a French vermouth; not sure it’ll take off at the G! No fieldwork today but caught up completely on recording field visits. 2moro it’s N4c4l followed by trips out to a couple of sites around Derwent Reservoir for Red Kite and Honey-buzzard. Out in the evening perhaps continuing research into pastures new!! Changed on Honey-buzzard home page the juvenile counts for breeding success from N/A to 0: will soon see a young bird out of the nest; will start a few more site visits around 15/8; obviously cannot set the boundary for when rearing finishes until have the data. Booked tickets for Puccini’s La Bohème at New York Metropolitan Opera next mid-January for birthday celebrations with ‘kids’ – in balcony prime for $330 (for the 3 of us!) but flights on Virgin will almost be free. Quite a lot of people don’t imagine I’m a typical Capricorn, but I am! lokttfo!!!

August 11th: late back from exhilarating day in north of county with walking group and on own to the seaside! Lots to report – will do so tomorrow. Walk was from Belford through Swinhoe Farm to St Cuthbert’s Cave, going N to Greensheen Hill (205m asl) and then returning via Swinhoe Lakes, taking a more northerly route around Swinhoe Farm. Total was 13km, which we did in little under 4.5 hours (10:30-15:50), a little brisk for the likes of us who tend to dawdle more! Weather was cool, with moderate NW breeze but dry with sunny periods. Company was very good, rounded off with a chatty hour in the Blue Bell Hotel in the town! Then went of on own to Budle Bay from 17:00-18:00 and Seahouses from 17:10-19:30, where not so dedicated, going into favoured f&c there, the Pinnacle, which has had some bad reviews but was so hungry that it all went down brilliantly! Birding was pretty good with 49 species of bird on the day including 3 raptors (1 Honey-buzzard, 1 Common Buzzard (Swinhoe Farm, adult), 1 Kestrel (Greensheen Hill, juvenile)); the Honey-buzzard was seen at 12:10, an adult female flying W over Holburn Grange out of St Cuthbert’s Wood in N area; flight was powered flap-flap-glide action. There were many Scots Pine trees in the wood, a favoured nesting tree. Also on the walk had 12 calling Chiffchaff, 2 Tree Sparrow, 1 Common Crossbill, 28 Swallow, 3 Little Grebe (family group at Swinhoe Lakes). Dragonflies were found near Swinhoe Lakes: 10 Common Blue Damselfly, 1 Southern Hawker. Butterflies numbered 8 species: Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Wall (15th species for month in county), Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood (near Swinhoe Lakes), with in general glades in Cockenheugh the best. In Budle Bay 19 Shelduck included 16 juveniles and there were 2 small broods of Mute Swan (2,1); Redshank were the most obvious wader with 88 feeding on rising tide. At Seahouses had a brood of 2 Gadwall (plus female) on the pond N of the town; 44 Kittiwake juveniles were on the cliffs S of the town and 41 moulting Eider on the sea. Got back just in time for G, where met P, with the chesty c doing the honours!! Had short watch around midnight (11/8-12/8) at Ordley with brilliantly dark sky from 23:50-00:10, where had 6 shooting stars (honest!) from the Perseid meteor shower. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

Raptor totals for the week from 4/8-10/8: 9 Common Buzzard, 8 Red Kite, 6 Kestrel, 5 Hobby, 4 Tawny Owl, 3 Long-eared Owl, 2 Honey-buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl. So 39 birds of 9 species. Red Kite was the main target this week.

August 10th: cool NW wind, dry, cloudy with occasional sunny interludes. The interludes won it and went out in the field! Made Grindon Lough again, from 15:05-16:30, where some interesting waders: 2 Little Stint, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Curlew, 88 Lapwing. Common Gull juvenile was still there, with 10 adult. Walked over to Muckle Moss from 16:30-17:55 for experience of walking in wet bogs, infested with adders. Dragonflies were good here, near the big pond, with 2 Golden-ringed Dragonfly (1 laying eggs), 2 Black Darter and 1 Emerald Damselfly. Looked hard for Large Heath butterfly but none seen, maybe a little late in season. Star bird on the moss was a juvenile Cuckoo, which flew in low from N, perched in a birch tree, and flew off to feed in S part of reserve. Hope boots dry by tomorrow! Then onto Featherstone Common from 18:10-19:10 to check for any Honey-buzzard movements from here to Greenhead Bank site, which I’m still struggling to track down. None seen but did have a Common Buzzard juvenile calling, to add to the 2 Common Buzzard (adult, juvenile) seen S of Grindon Lough. Total for afternoon was 29 species of birds. Did make A’s – looked as if Friday nite might have been heavy, gents partially closed and no cc facilities! But no problems with the lunch! Disappointed to find the meo is not always a Saturday girl!! Early to bed, for a change! 2moro it’s 13 km walk based on Belford with the group, then I’m off to seaside at Budle Bay and Seahouses for f&c before coming back to G4g4s!! lokttbo!!!

August 9th: out to Allenheads Byerhope from 14:40-17:30 for highest Honey-buzzard site in study area at 450m asl. Beginning to get withdrawal symptoms with lack of Honey-buzzard since 4/8: spell broken with a few seconds of a female Honey-buzzard in view at the top site at 15:30 as she reared up, clearly wondering where her mate was, and quickly subsided back into the wood again (Henry was clearly nowhere to be seen!). Anyway sighting was much better than nothing, taking site tally to 49. Three further highlights for trip. A family party of Hobby was up over the Scots Pine shelter belt at 17:15 for about 5 minutes, in wild careering display, including kissing; 4 birds were up chasing each other, 2 adult + 2 juvenile. A post-breeding flock of 16 Twite was feeding on rough grassland towards Dodd Reservoir; sounds a lot but no more than 3-4 family groups. A female Greyhen had 7 young in the heather: flushed her and young followed in dribs and drabs; never had a brood this large for Black Grouse. Other sightings, in total of 20 species, included 8 Red Grouse (female + 7 young, ‘glorious 12th’ in 3 days), 20 Lapwing, 3 Curlew, 2 Oystercatcher, 19 Meadow Pipit, 14 Swallow, 10 House Martin. Four Kestrel were seen, with a family group of 3 (adult female, 2 juvenile) at Byerhope and another juvenile at Dodd Reservoir. Butterflies comprised Small Heath, Green-veined White, Meadow Brown. Weather was quite poor on the whole: while the sun shone steadily on lower ground, a line of black clouds with one lot of rain moved through steadily over the high ground. However there were 2 modest spells of sun, when the moors were magical! First Honey-buzzard young could be fledging in a week’s time in favoured areas: tension mounts! Overall, markets down 1% but positive week for €trash, pushing up funds 4k, not far off all-time high! Looks as if B&B are now recognising they are going to have to pay their remnant sub-debt holders accumulated interest as well as nominal capital, when they’re finally wound up in estimated 7-10 years time. Hold 91k nominal in 3 different bonds (BBM.L, BBN.L, BBS.L), cost 30k, current value 66k, interest accumulated but not paid 44k (since 2009) and increasing at £25 a day, current notional value 135k but have to be patient before cleaning-up! Lively walk through Hexham – glad she didn’t do it – most s.xy!!! Good turnout at W with 6 of us there and good crack! Had yet another Nightjar, hawking over edge of Swallowship at 00:30 (10/8); it’s a good year for them as well. 2moro it’s A’s4s4l, then depends on weather – ‘gardening’ if cloudy, out in the field if sunny. Early start on Sunday for drive N. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

August 8th: weather pretty similar to day before but a little warmer. Made L&P early afternoon where continued research into early Honey-buzzard records by looking at Ussher & Warren’s The Birds of Ireland (1900); all records in 19th century were on eastern side, including 3 in Wexford, 1 in Waterford and 1 in Kildare. Took back recent fantastic-quality avifauna Birds in Durham (2012) and bought a copy tonight from Subbuteo Books, along with Micro-moths by Richard Lewington. Kittiwake colony on Quayside is still very active with 193 birds present (176 juvenile, 17 adult) and Herring Gulls are still fledging young with 16 juvenile noted, plus 29 adult. 10 LBBG adults were seen but no young yet. 86 Black-headed Gull included 30 juvenile, presumably bred at colonies in the NE. Only other birds, in total of 6 species, were 261 Feral Pigeon and 2 Greenfinch. Went back to Hyons Wood (briefly) and Dukeshagg from 17:10-18:25 where had amazing hunger cries from 3 Long-eared Owl, in the copse near where the dog walkers park! Good record, no other raptors though very aggravated Crow suggested a hidden Red Kite brood in the nearby Bradley Burn; must go back! Total was 20 species, including 43 Swallow, 2 Swift (migrants) and a calling Chiffchaff. Will resume weekly summaries of totals for raptors this week, starting with those from last Sunday through to Saturday. Made W for shopping, good check-out with r! Went E again to BH4ra4s where some excellent Consett Stout on tap. Gr8 end to day with the mboshe’s fantastic – lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l followed by trip up the Allen to the high moors looking for Honey-buzzard sites and maybe Twite; much later W4g4s!!

August 7th: another bright, slightly cool day on light E breeze, very comfortable. Good news for Red Kite in the Tyne Valley continues with 5 birds seen from Stocksfield Mount from 15:40-17:40: a family party of 4 birds (2 adult, 2 juvenile) at the NW Ovington site at 17:20 and a single adult low-down at the Eltringham (garage!) one at 16:35. Other raptors included 2 Kestrel at Bywell S, adult female and a juvenile, and 2 Common Buzzard adult at Cottagebank on W and E extremes at 16:55. In total of 19 species also had 6 LBBG (5 adult, 1 juvenile), 1 Swift E, 14 Swallow, 8 House Martin, 1 calling Chiffchaff. Had busy day also making Grindon Lough from 20:15-21:40 where had a Short-eared Owl over the Lough at 21:20 with diverse waders, including 5 Lapwing, 3 Curlew and single Green Sandpiper and Whimbrel. A small gull roost comprised a Common Gull juvenile, 17 Black-headed Gull (16 juvenile) and 3 LBBG adult. A total of 118 Wigeon includes surely a substantial local post-breeding population. No Honey-buzzard in last 2 days: they’re very secretive with young still a little way from fledging. Butterflies at Ordley on buddleia included 4 Comma (site record) and a Red Admiral (first for year I think, bringing species total for month to 14). Booked up Jersey trip with N, staying at Water’s Edge Hotel on the wilder north coast; going to hire a car, also will visit Guernsey and St Malo. Met P twice, 1st at CCP4c (liked the lady in green!!) and 2nd at G4g4s; latter is a switch to later in evening, which enables more to be done; very good to see l again! Going on walk with group on Sunday in Belford area, followed by detour to Budle Bay. 2moro it’s L&P, Bt4s4l, trip to back of Prudhoe for fieldwork and to the E 4ra4s!! lokttbo!!

August 6th: did make the Spetchells from 14:30-17:55, weather was dry and fairly warm with a lot of cloud at start, becoming sunnier later on with light and variable breeze. Target was Red Kite and 3 birds were seen in encouraging result: at Wylam S/Prudhoe E site at 15:30, an adult flying off E to hunt and a juvenile close to the Tyne on S side causing a bit of chaos with the pigeons; at Horsley Wood, an adult was floating over the tree tops at 17:35. So 2 sites occupied with 1+ juveniles fledged at one site. Highlight was a male Hobby very high up in sky over Horsley at 15:45, plunging down to a wood on NW side of the main Horsley Wood; so it appears the successful pair from last year have moved c1km, such moves give problems in keeping track of them! Final raptor was a male Sparrowhawk up over western side of Prudhoe, circling prior to an attack. So 5 raptors of 3 species: 3 Red Kite and single Hobby and Sparrowhawk. Also had family group of 6 redhead Goosander, 2 Oystercatcher E, large numbers of gulls (143 Common Gull including a juvenile, 28 Black-headed Gull, 5 LBBG including the 1st juvenile of the year, 1 GBBG, a very worn 1s), 1 Swift (feeding migrant), 1 Green Woodpecker (alarm calling), 11 Sand Martin (finishing at colony), single Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff calling. Butterflies included Small Heath (just one, bringing species total for month to 13) and Speckled Wood. Met J at N4l; the meo is very, very stylish!! Mystery venue was MA in A, rather more sedate than QA but archetypal pub in many respects! aqotnf!! 2moro it’s CCPc4c with P, R subcommittee meeting at 13:00 in Elvaston, trip out to Stocksfield for (hopefully) more kites and G4g4s (not a mistype)!!

August 5th: wettest day for a while, very heavy rain all day. Sorted out report on trip up the upper South Tyne on 2/8. About to book up trip to Jersey, staying on N coast with me going by air via Soton and N going by boat. Having finished 1st round of site visits, going to leave 2nd round until mid-month so going to see how the Red Kite have done, starting with Spetchells tomorrow afternoon. Gr8 to see the 84-paces apart lovelies!! 2moro besides the kites should make N4c4l and a mystery venue in the evening!! lokttgo!!!

August 4th: very similar day to yesterday weather-wise so very good though rain moving in, in evening. Made site visit no.12 – all is well with summary – Scots Pine, pair! So completed 1st visits now, not doing anywhere in lower South Tyne this year, can’t be a.sed! Visit was actually to Swallowship in the ‘Shire, a horrendous walk through overgrown glades, but maybe best butterfly trip ever in Northumberland with 10 species found: Comma, Green-veined White, Small White, Large White, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Small Skipper. 20 years ago, 4 of these were not established in Hexham area: those in italics. Also had 3 Southern Hawker dragonfly, another recent colonist. In total of 20 species, other birds of interest included 30 Common Gull (all adult), 6 Chiffchaff (all calling), 5 Jay (family group 4), a calling Tawny Owl, 3 Swift S, 6 Bullfinch. Later had a Swift over Hexham at 17:15, think there’s one very late brood in Elvaston, calling Tawny Owl young at Ordley (2 of them) and a Nightjar hawking over road near Letah Wood. Very high numbers of moths around this year as well so good for insectivores all round! Expecting a good Honey-buzzard and Hobby result. Butterfly total in August to date is 12 with the Painted Lady on 3/8 and Purple Hairstreak on 2/8. Also had a Comma at Ordley in the morning. Did make G, 6 of us there, decided to camp out on bar and chat-up z when heart by-passes became favoured conversation! Gr8 end to day with the gorgeous one, think umbrellas do have phallic properties!!! lokttmgo!!! 2moro it’s N4c4c with N to chat about Jersey, R @ B4m4l and maybe somewhere for afters.

August 3rd: yet another good day with almost continuous sunshine on moderate W breeze. In recent days have added to annual local butterfly list, through sightings on buddleia in front garden, two species: Comma yesterday (2/8) and Painted Lady today (3/8). There were masses of Purple Hairstreak on the oak trees at Towsbank yesterday; think this is main site in the county for the species. Today was dedicated to the garden, cutting 2 of the 3 grass areas plus the verge, feeling quite virtuous! Apples are growing rapidly in size: perfect weather I would think with lots of sunshine and spells of heavy rain. Did make A’s4l: good to meet B there; evidently it’s been quiet in the daytime and very busy in the evening during the past week; not surprised at that from yesterday’s experience!! Good to see the very s.xy meo!! Caught up with processing records in evening, all of July’s now sorted! Seeing N on Monday for chat on Jersey trip, which is looking more definite now, with early September the favoured period; might find Short-toed Treecreeper and Serin, pick up the odd Honey-buzzard migrant and see some interesting seabirds; I’m flying through Soton as much quicker and cheaper while N may go by boat. Did listen to the football: Gulls equalising in 90+3 was good, shows a bit of spirit! 2moro may do final site visit over lunchtime if rain is holding off, followed by N4c4t and G4g4s!! lokttbo!!!

August 2nd: beautiful day with strong sunshine and moderate SW breeze, dry except for a few spots of rain in upper South Tyne from an enormous black cloud, rising initially over Cross Fell. Pretty hard day in Slaggyford area from 15:25-20:05, visiting first Barhaugh Hall area where in walk around area had to wait until 17:02 for a very brief glimpse of male Honey-buzzard, powering his way through the tops of Scots Pine into a wood. That completed the set for upper South Tyne, which joins Tyne Valley E & W, Devil’s Water in all sites occupied last year found to be occupied this year. Up to 48 sites now. Gaps remain in Derwent (1), lower South Tyne (1), Allen (2), Tipalt/Irthing (1) but most of these not checked properly yet. There are new sites already in lower South Tyne (1), Tyne Valley E (1). Then onto site visit no.11 – all is well with summary – Oak, female! A very productive day with 36 species of birds, including raptors: 16 birds of 4 species with 8 Common Buzzard, 5 Kestrel, 2 Honey-buzzard, 1 Hobby; waders: 85 Lapwing, 4 Oystercatcher, 2 Curlew; chats: 2 Whinchat, 1 Wheatear; other summer visitors: 28 Swallow, 3 Swift (appeared to be feeding young locally), 2 House Martin, 1 Spotted Flycatcher. Butterflies included abundant Purple Hairstreak at Towsbank with 20 on one tree alone, dashing around the higher branches; also had Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Green-veined White and Large White, so 5 species in all. Very good to see the mbo looking very fit!! Another week of slow progress on markets with +2k but as my mother would have said, it’s better than a kick up the b.m! Made W much later where full house with 8 of us present! Beautiful pair!! Finished with the alert gorgeous one: lokttmgo!!! 2moro it’s A’s4s4l and more catch-up with garden I think. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

August 1st: hot and humid by afternoon after heavy rain overnight; did make Newcastle – made Lit&Phil for couple of sessions, looking at old bird books on Honey-buzzard nests and anything else that took my fancy, including a poignant new book on the great composer and his 1st wife “The Love and Wars of Lina Prokofiev: the Story of Lina and Sergei Prokofiev”, which was very sad; she was deserted by him and tortured in the Gulag camps but did survive to a ripe old age. Had lunch on Quayside at restored venue of Bt and made a bird count, getting just 6 species: Kittiwake (295 total, 30 adult, 265 juvenile on ledges, reasonable season), LBBG (4 adult), Herring Gull (31 total, 18 adult, 13 juvenile), Black-headed Gull (15 total, 5 adult, 10 juvenile), Feral Pigeon 9, Goldfinch 4. A few Swift remain with 1 at Ordley and up to 4 at Hexham, with Oystercatcher and Tawny Owl also at latter. Made N4t4t: very good to see the meo!! Later out to T&S with M/M: fancy the dynamic c being there again!! 2moro afternoon it’s upper South Tyne for site visit and check on another potential site; should make N4c4l before and much later W4g4s!! lokttgo!!!

July 31st: slept well with good dreams!! Decided to have another go at Blanchland village site for Honey-buzzard, following last failed attempt on 30/6. So had a lazy sit-down on the top of a field near the main car park from 14:10-15:45. And success! At 15:03 a female Honey-buzzard was moving in flap-flap-glide from the site onto the moors to SW of the village. In total of 15 species had 30 Swallow, 16 House Martin, 3 Willow Warbler. Weather was very good at the start with strong sunshine but it rapidly became overcast and rain was threatening by time left. Only one site not found occupied yet in Derwent area – Nookton. Total for sites is now 47. Had 4 Swift moving S at Ordley at 11:40; no more seen all day in Blanchland or Hexham suggests a major exodus has taken place – first sign of autumn! Pretty lazy day really with long stay at N4c4l with P/J and lengthy visit to G4g4t, where very good crack! Would agree she looks stunning in turquoise!! 2moro it’s busier (well in some sense!) with CT4c4c, L&P, Bt4s4l, N4c4t, T&S4g4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

July 30th: bright warm day with light W breeze but some heavy showers around, which dodged! Made site visit no.10 – all is quite well with summary – Scots Pine! But no sign of the birds! Think there are sufficient signs to suggest they’re just rather shy! Had 2 types of dragonfly (Southern Hawker, Emerald Damselfly 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 (had these in Fens last year but they are 1st for me in NE)) and 6 of butterfly (including Small Heath, Small Skipper), plus many warblers (9 Chiffchaff, 12 Willow Warbler), 7 Tree Pipit (presumed 2 family parties on trees in large clearing), a Green Woodpecker, 2 Common Crossbill, 2 Common Gull (both adult); total was 23 species of bird. Very rough approach through 2m high bracken in places, must check for ticks as can get Lyme Disease! My younger sister got that on Woodbury Common, east Devon, from dog-walking through bracken; her doctor was very switched on as to the symptoms and, to minimise delay, prescribed treatment before the test results came back 5 days later, confirming the disease. Met P at N4c4c for good crack; didn’t quite make Colt Crag as back too late from trip up Derwent. So continued random selection of rural pubs making QA in A for a couple: thought it was a bit of a dive on entry and still thought that when left but it was very matey. Lots of jokes about Haltwhistle (where lived for 7 years), such as: why was Jesus not born in Haltwhistle? Well they couldn’t find 3 wise men and they couldn’t find a virgin! Bitter was £2:50, pretty good value: might even go back! Beautiful end to day with the most sensuous one: lokttmeo!!! No longer hold any BARC, down 6% today, might be interested with a further 15% off. 2moro it’s N4c4l with trip out to Derwent in afternoon, checking for new site for year, followed by G4g4t!!

July 29th: well, talk to R went very well; used ppt (with pdf copy), starting with rather dry definitions of wildlife charities, going on more personally to charities with which I’m involved and finishing more passionately with own bird of prey studies. Got lots of congratulations, was important for reputation. Next time can show videos; need better speakers for laptop and codec for WMP in Vista to play clips in MP4, which is preferred format now. Had long N4c4ll before going back for siesta. Much later went out to Derwent Reservoir from 21:10-22:10 to check on the gulls; weather was very clear but rather cool on light W breeze. Had just 14 species so quality was limited but quantity was certainly there: 1,540 Common Gull, 230 Black-headed Gull, 5 LBBG, all roosting at Hunter House; 202 Greylag Goose, 32 Canada Goose, 50 Lapwing, 10 Oystercatcher, 5 Curlew. On way back had a Nightjar over road at Kellas at 22:20 and a Tawny Owl calling S of Steel at 22:30. 2moro it’s N4c4c, trip out to Derwent for Honey-buzzard and late nite scene up at Colt Crag!! lokttfo!!!

July 28th: did make it with the walking group; we went to Rookhope doing extended tour in immediate area before lunch from Lintzgarth to Chestergarth, then went N via E side of Bolts Law to Sikehead Dam before returning S via Cuthbert’s Hill; we were walking from 10:30-16:30 doing in all about 16 km and reaching 640m at top of Bolts Law. Decided to go for shorts, even though raining at start, but weather forecast was spot-on with rain stopping at 11:00 and sun coming out from 14:00 in moderate SW breeze. There was the odd hiccup: kept resolutely at the rear following rough terrain over the moors, maybe off-piste, on way N to Sikehead but decided needed to join the leader when it looked as if we might be heading for Boltshope on way back; way out was to climb right to top of Bolts Law and pick up the old drovers road heading SW; some very tired walkers near end but spirits picked up once the return route was clearly defined from Bolts Law and good atmosphere at Rookhope Inn! Some of the old moorland footpaths are becoming difficult to follow. With right-to-roam, walkers can of course go anywhere but there is a risk if the footpaths are lost for practical purposes in that scheduled closures, for rearing of young Red Grouse and the shooting parties, will make any access very difficult; this is because when scheduled closures are made under the CROW Act, rights to use statutory footpaths are unaffected making them the more durable alternative. Walkers with dogs may only get footpath access under CROW so they are also at risk. Anyway great day out and feeling very fit! Total for bird species was 28. Raptors numbered 4 birds with 2 Common Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine; last was the star, a juvenile male up at 14:25, flying around moors to N of us, that is S of Nookton; much alarm in remaining Curlew and a few Woodpigeon; not sure bred here though did have adult Peregrine in Derwent Reservoir area on N side earlier this month (13/7). Waders comprised 13 Curlew, 9 Golden Plover (1 pair still breeding, near Bolts Law), 6 :Lapwing, 2 Redshank, 1 Oystercatcher; very much end of season here. Red Grouse totalled 38 with on lower area near Rookhope 5 females with 32 young, giving 6.4 young per female, just above the magic figure required for big bag shooting of 6.0; of course left to themselves they raise more like 2-3! Easily the commonest passerine was Meadow Pipit with 39. An Adder was found dead on the road but in apparently perfect condition. Made G4g4s for recuperation where met P who’s injured. Good to see the pleasing z on!! aqotwf!! To bed very late at 03:00 as finalising talk for 2moro!

July 27th: serious assault on garden today, doing much mowing in sunshine before rain gives the grass an enormous boost; also some shrub trimming though leave that mainly to winter. Orchard has tremendous apple crop on the way – best for years. With end of hay fever season, did check my field for butterflies with 8 types spotted: Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Large Skipper, Small Skipper – pretty good! Birds locally included 4 Common Gull adult flying S to Derwent Reservoir to roost, 22 Swallow, 4 Swift and family group of 4 Spotted Flycatcher. Spent some time in evening on talk for R – almost finished now, could say has to be! Made A’s4s4l: very pleased to see the fit meo!!! 2moro looks like rain will clear late morning so will go out with the walking group: hope to get a sighting of the Nookton birds. xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

July 26th: a great afternoon up the Allen from 14:10-17:30 in ideal mid-20s temperatures and bright sunshine with light W breeze. Made site visit no.9 – all is well with summary – Oak, pair! Went on to Studdon Park where no success in visit earlier in the season. Today success was instant; arrived at 16:30 and at 16:40 noted a male Honey-buzzard coming in at great height form the W, hanging over the site and then diving quickly into the woodland. As he popped in the female Honey-buzzard came out almost immediately, she floated around the site for a while presumably checking that her mate was actually going to feed the young, and then came over speedily, quickly moving 2-3km to the SE on to the moorland edge. Early indications are of a bumper season for Common Buzzard: 5 (2 adult, 3 juvenile) were at one site on the East Allen with 2 (adult, juvenile) at Studdon Park. Kestrel comprised a juvenile at Stublick, 2 juveniles at one site on East Allen and an adult female at Studdon Park. So total for day was 15 raptors of 3 species: 7 Common Buzzard, 4 Honey-buzzard and 4 Kestrel. Had 3 Common Gull adults (1 on field, 2 SW) so immigration picking up a little; going to check Colt Crag next Tuesday for further signs of breeding activity in North Tyne!! Also in valley had 21 Swallow, 2 Swift, 1 House Martin (poor year), 6 Oystercatcher (still with young, latest wader to breed), 2 Curlew, 8 Mistle Thrush and a Spotted Flycatcher. Earlier made N4c4l, which was sociable, seeing c and J. Quite a poor week for markets, probably no more than profit taking after rise over last month. Managed to stagger up 1k, mainly due to rise in LON:BNC outweighing losses in pt/pd; ½ year results for the bank on Tuesday, hope the market has got it right or is it: buy on the rumour, sell on the news! Did make W where a select 3 of us: good to see j/s on – make a nice pair!! Re-united later with the gorgeous one: lokttmgo!!! Should be long walk on Sunday in Rookhope area with walking group; not absolutely committed yet, depends on whether heavy rain tonite really clears in the morning.

July 25th: busy morning discussing with P application of natural transformations to comparison of visualisation techniques: think we sorted it in end, just before P goes off on leave! May keep up Thursday tradition of Newcastle though; made L&P in afternoon and borrowed amazingly heavy Birds of Durham for a couple of weeks. There are other sources there well worth studying. Got back to Hexham late afternoon in time to see the delectable meo!! Another good summer-day with heavy rain early morning giving way to long sunny spells before rain returned in early evening: just like the tropics! Swift numbers still high with, from 21:15-21:30, 6 at Ordley, 18 at Elvaston and 10 at Abbey, all giving low-level screaming display. Did make T&S – very chatty with good crowd out though M was only other one from unn. Good to see c there!! Left late – aqotwf!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, up the Allen for Honey-buzzard and much later W4g4s!! lokttfo!!!

July 24th: made site visit no.8 – all is well with summary – Scots Pine, one adult (male)! It was just like jungle exploration – steamy, brief heavy shower, bracken, brambles and nettles blocking the path in places (no shorts there!). Weather outside was very sultry with a few, random heavy showers but not much to wet the ground. Incredibly warm when the sun came out! Heard from J of 6 Common Buzzard up above Juniper today, sounds like family party with maybe brood of 4 raised – amazing! Had 1st passage of Swift with 1 W and 6 S in Tyne Valley W but still, in evening, 18 over Hexham and 2 at Ordley where also had family party of 4 Spotted Flycatcher. Made Hexham at N4c4t for swift visit; G was really packed with good crowd out! 2moro it’s into unn to see P, Bt4s4l and T&S4g4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!

July 23rd: good catch-up with P at N – CCP was closed for the morning! Did some work on talk for R and for Access Forum in afternoon. There was brief heavy rain around 10:30 in Hexham but it never came to much. At Ordley 2 Swift were continually flying low over the roof at 10:30 and a Spotted Flycatcher was hawking insects later. At Hexham near the remaining petrol garage (N part of town), 18 Swift were going berserk at 20:30! Later made Grindon Lough from 20:50-21:50 and here had a proper brief storm with lightning, thunder and increased winds (from SW). Water level was very low, with much algae and weed. Purpose was to check on the gulls and it was interesting with roost totals of130 Black-headed Gull (120 juvenile, presumably fledged from nearby Plenmeller Common,10 adult), 3 LBBG (all adult) and 5 Common Gull (2 adult, 1 1s, 2 juvenile); last was very interesting with the 2 juvenile huddled together and being watched over by the 2 adults, suggesting they’ve bred in the vicinity. Ducks included 19 Teal, 14 Wigeon and 8 Mallard; the totals may well include birds bred locally this year with the Teal and Wigeon of most interest. Geese included just 39 Canada Goose and waders comprised 2 Oystercatcher (adult, juvenile) and 3 Curlew. Making up the list of 14 species were 1 Great Crested Grebe, 4 Coot, 33 Rook, 9 Carrion Crow and 6 Meadow Pipit. Then moved on to TB4g4s where a bizarre quiz was in progress: never mind, everyone seemed in a good mood! Finally it was a very sensuous rendezvous in the N with the exciting one!!! lokttmeo!!! 2moro it’s work preparing for meeting in unn on Thursday and another Honey-buzzard site visit followed by G4g4s!!

July 22nd: not much time for Honey-buzzard today with long lunch for R and lengthy meeting in evening with WG2; next Monday I’m giving the weekly talk at R – Wildlife Charities, perhaps also with a view of wildlife in SW Northumberland to add a bit more of a personal perspective; haven’t written it yet but will be in ppt, using own laptop and data projector to deliver it. WG2 of Access Forum went well, got some superb experience in the group; we were discussing IT application and issues, particularly with respect to presentation of GIS data to the public. Paraphrased: how can we encourage Northumberland CC to improve its mapping facilities for the public over the internet! So spent almost 5 hours at B 2day. Came out of 2nd meeting and there were all the Swift flying around Elvaston: 34 counted with wild display just over the roof tops, marvellous! Back at Ordley at 21:50, while watering plants of neighbours, the 2 local Swift were also doing their best to create some atmosphere and one bird entered a nest hole, showing not fledged yet. Swallow are fledging well now; obvious success of insectivorous species bodes well for Honey-buzzard and Hobby breeding seasons. 2moro it’s CCP4c4c with P and maybe N4c a little later (in the rain?); still plotting the evening session!! lokttfo!!!

July 21st: good day out in the field, visiting site near Hexham; weather much cooler again with sun only occasionally breaking through, wind E light. Cannot say all is well as Common Buzzard have pinched last year’s Honey-buzzard nest in Scots Pine, forcing the latter to make a new nest in Norway Spruce! Common Buzzard have raised 2 young, leaving a quite disgusting vacated nest. Also had a Sparrowhawk female hunting the valley below the wood so day’s raptor total was 6 birds of 3 species: 4 Common Buzzard, 1 Honey-buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk. New camera is performing well; strong plus point is the speed with which it warms up enabling must faster response as a bird comes into view; zoom up to 12-15 is easy to use, but bird needs to be in view for a while with higher zooms as it takes some time for autofocus to lock on; video is very sharp and playback confirms its HD quality, including clear sound recording; software package handling video is easy to use and very competent. Will post some shots from today soon! Think new Panasonic camera does replace camcorder as well so well pleased. Did make G: ladies handling our needs very well, with j&z on tonite!! Weather’s supposed to be warming up again at start of this week so may be last opportunity for getting your kit off!! aqotwf!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l, N4c4ll and WG2 @ B4g4s: quite busy and keeping B going!! Good start to day, having a Nightjar hawking over road, just N of Letah Wood, at 00:10. xxxxxxxxxx!!!

July 20th: a lot cooler today with low cloud off the North Sea, no fieldwork but did do a major catch-up on web pages with completion of report on visit to Ireland in November 2012 (in 2012 blog), including more on Bargy Castle, Wexford, as below. Also put in some stills for Cape Verde for 27/3, last day at Santa Maria, Sal, and indexed most of the stills for the walk from Cova to Paul at Santo Antão on 19/3 (this blog). Completing Cape Verde report is important continuing task. N wants to know whether I’d like to join him in Jersey for a week in September; he’s not having a cruise this year as getting sunshine at home. Think I probably will, never been to the Channel Islands and it’s on the Honey-buzzard migration route from Hampshire to Normandy; also gives a chance to catch up with big sis! After A’s4l continued my random tour of country pubs, making BA4g4s where chatted up an 84-year-old – ShRbs (ShHw) – who was brought up in the ‘Shire, even going to Ordley School! Pretty amazing afters with the meo: certainly calls for a repeat!!! lokttmeo!!! 2moro will make a site visit, followed much later by G4g4s!! lokttfo!!!

July 19th: out in the wilds today around Greenhead and Gilsland from 14:30-18:10 in sweltering hot weather, as early cloud burnt off at lunchtime. Hardly anything moved in the heat! Had no raptors at Greenhead from 14:30-16:10 but at Gilsland Spa (Irthing Gorge) was finally rewarded at 17:05 with 5 seconds brief view of a male Honey-buzzard rising up into the sky at low altitude, circling once and then descending slowly back into the canopy. No more raptors here by 17:50 so back to Greenhead where had a female Sparrowhawk up hunting shortly after arrival. No Honey-buzzard here so further visit necessary – basic problem is that don’t have very good idea where the nest is located so more research needed. At Gilsland have very good idea where nest is located so can zoom in more on that area. On way back things livened up with a male Honey-buzzard flapping over the fields E of Bardon Mill at 18:15, moving S of the site before turning around to come back N, and a Common Buzzard over the A69 at extreme W end of A69 bypass at 18:30 (long queue led by 2 tractors!). So maybe in the heat 4 o’clock soar has now become 6 o’clock soar! On way out at 14:15 had 2 Common Buzzard in mutual circling at Lipwood at 14:15. So day total was 6 raptors of 3 species: 3 Common Buzzard, 2 Honey-buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk. Total for trip was 34 species, including 1 Oystercatcher (most left now), 2 Common Gull (adults migrating S and SW), 28 Swallow and 7 House Martin. Outstanding feature today was how excited the Swift were. They were screaming over all colonies: Hexham (20+), Greenhead (6+), Gilsland (3+), Riding Mill (16+); young screaming back from nests at Hexham and Riding Mill. Think they’re trying to entice the almost-fledged young out into the sky; very sobering thought that in 2-5 days the Swift will fledge for 2013 and almost immediately move off S. Meanwhile some Honey-buzzard will still be on eggs! Pretty quiet week on markets but confidence is building slowly: gained 2k, mainly on Irish stocks with market there at highest for 5 years. Lunch at N was long with J turning up; felt good after seeing c!! Made W where pleased to say 5 of us present for good crack! 2moro it’s A’s4s4l and perhaps another site visit in late afternoon. lokttgo!!!

July 18th: hot today, it was 28ºC at Newcastle Airport by 13:50 dropping to 28ºC in next 30 minutes as big black cloud came over; Hexham stayed sunny throughout. Busy day, seeing P at unn from 11:00-13:00, sorting our master category theory diagram for the visualisation process. Then Quayside to enjoy the sights with Bt4s4ll!! Made N4c4t, again enjoying the sights!! Then onto Access Forum meeting on edge of Hexham from 17:00-21:10; WG2, which chair, is to look into IT issues including presentation of Northumberland CC definitive maps and GIS on the web; we’re meeting at B at 19:00 next Monday for 2nd visit (for me) that day. Had male Kestrel getting up rather tiredly from trees at Eastburn, Hexham. Finally met M at T&S, which quieter than usual despite it being live music nite! Perfect end to day with the mgo: lokttmgo!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, out in the field in afternoon to far W and maybe W4g4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

July 17th: another very warm day, pleasant with light breeze and strong sunshine. Did spend most of day at home (getting Large Skipper in garden), working up some diagrams for unn tomorrow to discuss with P and sorting out some of the Ireland material from 8/11 and 9/11 last year, including clips of Great Northern Diver, pale-bellied Brent Goose, Grey Plover, Common Buzzard, Wheatear, Rock Pipit and Herring Gull, all now available in 2012 blog; virtually wrapped up this trip now with just some stills from Ardmore and a few titbits to add. Data cards (16 GB) arrived yesterday, inserted one today and tried out the video; it looks promising with x24 optical zoom (current camcorder is x10 optical, x20 digital) but need to check quality on playback. With stills the Panasonic gives x24 optical and x48 digital zoom and is quite usable on latter. Did make N4t and G4t (in shorts!): good to see z (twice!) and j&l served us well in the G, while ju is away! 2moro should make N4c4t in between unn and Access Forum meeting at Eastburn, Hexham, with T&S4g4s much later!! lokttfo!!!

July 16th: great day out in the upper South Tyne doing site visit no.6: all is well with summary – Norway Spruce, one adult (female)! Also visited Featherstone Castle where no birds yet this year and had a male up at 14:45, doing a circuit low-down, then climbing to moderate height, doing another look around and coming back into nesting area. So that’s 44 sites now! Genders are not balanced at all with 37 male and 25 female: that’s a consequence of much of the fieldwork being done relatively late in the display season when the males are much more active. Out altogether on sites from 14:10-18:25 in very warm, sultry conditions with light breeze and strong sunshine. Also had a female Hobby at Featherstone, sailing across the sky at 14:43 right over the Honey-buzzard nesting area, maybe that was the trigger for the male Honey-buzzard getting up. The Hobby did some deft insect catching at one point. Total for day was 4 raptors of 3 species: 2 Honey-buzzard, 1 Hobby, 1 Kestrel (juvenile, 1st of season); resident raptors probably knocked out by the heat! Total for trip up upper South Tyne was 37 species, including a Woodcock (flushed from ground in wood), 18 Long-tailed Tit and 4 Treecreeper. BH4ra was very sociable – music nite with local bands – good to have ch back again!! Gr8 climax to evening: lokttmbo!!! Nightjar hawking insects over road in SE Dipton Wood at 00:10. 2moro it’s N4c4t/G4g4t with work at home before on CT paper and some video. Keep fit!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

July 15th: very warm again with strong sunshine until late afternoon when became much cooler. Decided to do some work on CT for Thursday instead of further field work: raptors are very poor performers in this heat! R was very sociable; am giving them a talk in 2 weeks on wildlife charities – how to sponsor a Honey-buzzard! Think they’ve accepted me now, particularly as no problems with the YEDT competition last week. Afterwards made N4c4ll: very pleased to meet the vivacious c, would like to know her better!! 2moro will get out in the field but it’s N4c4l and BH4ra4s!! lokttbo!!!

July 14th: good day for a long walk with continual strong sunshine but more breezy, with light to moderate W wind. We did 5 hours in ‘Shire, starting at Dipton Mill, going to Letah Wood, Lee, Travellers Rest, W end of Slaley, Dukesfield, Juniper, Blackhall and Dipton Mill, about 15km in all. Good turnout with 17 members walking. In 1st trip to TR, we were entertained well by the Tyne Bridge Morris Dancers, a female troupe from Newcastle; think one’s a cracker!! They must think I’m a right boozer because (and they remembered me!) I saw them perform at the BH a few weeks ago! What’s the chance of that happening? Anyway made TR again at end, at least some of us did, a few failed to keep up as I showed them the way and ended up in Hexham. No raptors seen but difficult to scan too much and still be sociable; total for all species was 35 with 2 Redstart (1 juvenile, 1 adult alarm calling), a singing Reed Bunting and 42 Goldfinch (including a flock of 40) of interest. Butterflies included Small Tortoiseshell (quite common in places), Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood (3 in Letah Wood) and Wall. Very welcome recuperation at G later with the fit j&c in charge!! 2moro it’s R @ B4m4l and another site visit early evening. xxxxxxxxxx!!!

July 13th: another very warm and sultry day with 25ºC maximum in Hexham; lack of breeze is unusual in Northumberland but next week is supposed to be a little fresher, which would personally welcome – that’s why I like the Atlantic Islands (Canaries, Azores, Cape Verde, Madeira). Became a twitcher today, visiting Derwent Reservoir to try and see the Temminck’s Stint! Started at Cronkley at 15:30 where had masses of geese (220 Greylag, including some young), some late duck broods (Mallard, 7 and 6 young), grebe (2 Great Crested), 6 species of wader (20 Oystercatcher, 20 Curlew, 4 Common Sandpiper, 4 Redshank (1 juvenile), 3 Little Ringed Plover (family group), 1 Temminck’s Stint) with other interest in gulls (Common Gull (adult, 1s), Black-headed Gull (9 adult, 2 juvenile), LBBG (adult), GBBG (2s, 1s)), 12 Pied Wagtail (all juvenile), 1 singing Reed Bunting. So did get the TS, an adult; it was walking midway along the shore soon after arrival, moving to spit near end at 17:10. Onto Ruffside part of Reservoir where had more geese (250 Greylag, 70 Canada), more grebe (2 Great Crested), a brood of Teal (just 1 tiny duckling), more waders (16 Lapwing, 9 Curlew (bringing wader total to 7 species), 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Redshank), another Common Gull adult and a Yellow-legged Gull adult. Couldn’t neglect the big one, so at 17:30 moved close to Ruffside plantations where had to wait until 18:00, before noticing a commotion to the N where Curlew were going berserk and Woodpigeon were flying around wildly. Eventually a female Honey-buzzard emerged, climbing to moderate height and then moving W by c2km, before looking to cross back to the Durham side. She had obviously seen me and decided to gain height, offering Curlew a final mobbing chance, before gliding overhead, giving a greeting call to her mate and descending into the plantation. So that’s site no.43 for the season! Other raptors today were a female Sparrowhawk hunting at Ordley at 14:40 and very unusually for area a Peregrine (adult female) hunting on N side of Derwent Reservoir at 17:40. Total for Derwent Reservoir trip was 41 species. Earlier made A’s for good lunch and after field trip celebrated in style at SC4f&c! Not out 2nite, saving energy for walk! So that’s main scene 2moro but expect we’ll make Hexham for a bit of restoration!! lokttmbo!!!

July 12th: made 5th site visit in evening; all is well with summary: Norway Spruce, one adult (female)! Collected new camera from Waitrose in Hexham, where delivered on time, an efficient operation! Got it working but need some new data cards and ordered 2 x 16 GB to give some hope of running video; the internal (in-built) memory only holds about 16 stills! It will certainly replace the Canon for stills – very good quality even on high zoom and easy to use; will continue to take Sony camcorder into field for a while I think until Panasonic proves it can cope. Very hot today, reaching 27ºC in Hexham, very light W breeze, quite humid. Have had a few raptors over Hexham recently: a female Hobby over the centre today at 12:15 with feeding Swift above and a female Sparrowhawk over Fore Street on 8/7 at 14:25 hunting pigeons and the like, causing mass consternation. N4c was very chatty with J, did make W4g4s but no-one turned up (slippers/armchair syndrome!) so b.ggered off to Dipton Wood for a crepuscular visit, where had 3 Tawny Owl, 2 Carrion Crow, 3 Black-headed Gull and a Robin. Day’s total for raptors was high at 9 birds of 5 species: 3 Tawny Owl, 2 Common Buzzard, 2 Honey-buzzard, 1 Hobby, 1 Sparrowhawk. Markets again more positive and gained 8k, everything moving forward including pd, pt, sub-debt including unethical cpb and €trash! Good to see the gbs!! Park was quiet!! 2moro it’s A’s4s4l and a trip out to Derwent Reservoir later; evening’s looking a bit speculative!! Hope the super-fit ones have a gr8 weekend!!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

July 11th: into unn for 2 hours 30 minutes of CT with P, mainly discussing what = sign means. In programming languages and CT, = sign is used very precisely and use of ‘the same’ is banned! Another meeting next week to progress things further. Made B4s4l, must return there as regular as staff very friendly and good choice of light meals; brilliant atmosphere on Quayside today. So, much later, it was T&S with M and D; joined by the lively a, late of A’s, who’s got a degree in Linguistics, including compL, from ncl!! Good to meet the dynamic (and noisy!) c again!! Later still, gr8 catch up with the marvellous mgo!!! lokttmgo!!! 2moro picking up camera and hope to try it out, quite exciting! Should be at N4c4l and W4g4s. Promises to be super hot on latest weather chart (26ºC maximum, forecast).

July 10th: cooler and cloudier today, pleasanter for fieldwork, particularly as it remained dry. Made 4th site visit late afternoon; all is well with summary: Scots Pine, one adult (female)! Ordered new camera from John Lewis, a Panasonic Lumix FZ200 with 24x optical zoom, which is supposed to work well even in poor light, and HD video, so should replace both my current Sony camcorder and Canon still camera. We’ll see but reviews look very promising! Had very sociable N4c4c with 4 of us there (+N, P, H), going on into lunchtime; made G a little late but good to meet B again, who’s had an operation on his eye. 2moro it’s CT, unn with P, lunch on Quayside (B?), maybe back to N4c4t and much later T&S4g4s. Sunday going for walk with Walking Group so back in old habits! lokttgo!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

July 9th: pretty busy day, up at 06:30, in on 07:40 train and occupied up until 14:30 with YEDT, taking on front-of-house role. All went well, everyone thought it was a very worthwhile event! Really hot today, up to 27.4ºC in Hexham on Weather Underground; Newcastle was particularly soporific. Got back home for siesta! Out much later, bit of shopping at T, and then E to BH4ra4s!! Had a male Honey-buzzard crossing A69 low-down from Egger to Beaufront at 22:05, with 6 very agitated Oystercatcher mobbing it: they don’t get on well at all! Shows crepuscular nature of Honey-buzzard, particularly in fine weather. Gr8 to meet j there off last train!! In the mood with the mbo!!! lokttmbo!!! She’s irresistible!!! 2moro it’s N4c4c with N and P and G4g4t. Hope to catch up on a few things!!

July 8th: another gr8 day weather-wise, even warmer it appeared. Made 3rd site visit early evening; all is well with summary: Douglas Fir, one adult (female)! Prelude to R was very moving: think the mbo looks really delicious!!! 2moro it’s morning and early afternoon in Discovery Museum for R YEDT competition for schools; I’m in overall charge; wonder what can go wrong: it most certainly will! Not sure what doing after that, depends on the troops to some extent; back at unn on Thursday morning in any event. But out on the prowl in the evening, somewhere!! lokttfo!!!

July 7th: another fantastic day weather-wise with continuous sunshine and very warm! No more fieldwork: catch-up on garden and in house, after absences – think done now! Bunked off R lunch function, made N4c4t and most importantly G4g4s!! Really enjoyed last, very good crack with the super-fit j in absence of regular mates!! Had 31 Swift over Hexham at 21:45: 18 over Elvaston and 13 over Battle Hill, with a very excited Oystercatcher overhead. Gr8 rendezvous with the mgo!! lokttmgo!! 2moro it’s N4c4c, R @ B4m4l and a field trip in afternoon!

July 6th: great weather continues with hardly a cloud in the sky and warm on light W breeze. Went for long walk up the Beldon Burn, Baybridge-Riddlehamhope, and back from 15:05-19:15. Car park at Baybridge was busy but not a single soul on the moorland walk. Raptors comprised: 3 Honey-buzzard, 1 Common Buzzard and a Goshawk (adult male). Most luck for Honey-buzzard was in the middle section where had an alarm call at 15:49, a male flying down the valley at 15:58 and then an amazing dogfight between the male and a Common Buzzard over most of the valley from 16:04-16:15; the birds came out of the valley quickly, circling each other and then climbing to fly on the ridge up to Middle Plantation; there was some vigorous diving by one bird on the other, the Honey-buzzard trying to keep above the Common Buzzard; they then continued the skirmish all the way back down the valley, the male climbing higher and higher until the Common Buzzard finally gave up. Nothing at Riddlehamhope at top but then from 18:00-18:05 had a male Honey-buzzard flying over the heather like a harrier (Marsh) with different feather damage to one seen earlier, hunting to a chorus of wader disapproval. Indeed that’s how I picked him up, through Curlew alarm calls. He eventually moved off W towards the high-altitude site. Finally at 18:20 had another Honey-buzzard alarm call at the middle site, this time presumed from the female. Total for walk was a high 43 species, including waders: Curlew 12, Lapwing 4, Golden Plover 3, Oystercatcher 2; other moorland birds: 3 Red Grouse, 16 Meadow Pipit, 1 Whinchat; selected summer visitors: 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 9 Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Tree Pipit; also 1st Swallow juvenile in air of season; a very rich day, species-wise! Did some research mid-evening on Haughton Castle site – very interesting, might have another go Tuesday!! Back for a swift ½ and the very sensuous attractions of the mbo!!! lokttmbo!!! Buying a new camera, hope to collect it 2moro!! xxxxxxxxxxx!!!

July 5th: fantastic weather continuing with warm sunshine, hardly any clouds, light W breeze! Made 2nd site visit this afternoon; all is well with summary: Norway Spruce, pair adults (male, female)! Better week on markets with interest rates to be held down in €land/£land for a while, so £ falls against $ and bonds rise a bit as yields fall. Overall +7k on the week! Meeting for R was hard work: have lunch function on Sunday, normal lunch on Monday and young engineer competition at Discovery Museum on Tuesday! Made N4c for break – do think the gbs is very fit!! Later it was W4g4s – good crack, good to have h on!! 2moro it’s A’s4s4l, Honey-buzzard field-work in afternoon, some more on 2008 movement and whatever takes my fancy in the evening!! xxxxxxxxxxx!!!

July 4th: busy day! Into unn to see P; we soon picked up the ct/vis paper from where we left off in January and am having another meeting next Thursday to sort out 1st 3 sections; last week’s energetics in ct were very useful at being up to speed! Made CT and S with stimulating observations in between!! Picked up car from VW dealers in Hexham, no problems, 30k miles up now but warranty is 3 years up until October; they did a good job, not sure how the car will respond to washing! Made N4c4t and much later, since gang were away, went on prowl to T&S and G, with c doing honours in latter! j has 6 young lady helpers now and no men: he says that’s what we like!! Good end to day, to put it mildly!!! She’s fantastic: lokttmgo!!! 2moro it’s R meeting at 10 in Elvaston, N4c4l, out for a walk in Derwent and W4g4s!!

July 3rd: made 1st site visit this afternoon; all is well with summary: Scots Pine, pair adults (male, female)! Had long chat with N at N4c, pleased to see gbs in good form!! N wanted some financial advice as he’s finally abandoned btl: recommended CPBC currently yielding 23.2% at price of 56 (coupons deferrable but then cumulative); not sure he’s going to follow that racing tip! G4t was dominated by a certain tennis match, with h back again doing the honours! 2moro it’s car service, seeing P at unn in morning, lunch at Quayside, maybe CT at some point, will be quite nostalgic! Should be back for N4c4t and much later T&S4g4s!! lokttfo!!!

July 2nd: started compiling total numbers for 2008 movement; had to go back to data to work one or two things up a bit more, e.g. relative size of streams into Benelux from NE and W and whether any rippling effect in UK totals. Made N4c4l, met J and g! Dull weather with some showers so no fieldwork but we’re on an upward path evidently and 1st site visit 2moro afternoon sandwiched between N4c4c with N and G4g4t with the gang!! Did make BH4ra4s, music nite so good company. Call-in out W really rewarded with the mgo: we’re very harmonious – lokttmgo!!! xxxxxxxxxxx!!!

July 1st: at last consolidated work done in spring on the Honey-buzzard movement in 2008. Update on index page says: “For major movement in 2008, added Regional Reports and other Original Sources for the Honey-buzzard Movement, analysed ages of the birds with updates of Summary and The Honey-buzzard did Cross the North Sea: from England to Benelux. Added further details for Timing of Honey-buzzard Movement in Benelux from 13-14 September“. Brought much together with ages of birds, pincer movement on Benelux and importance of Pennines for orographic lift all included in Summary now. Still a bit to do: total numbers (not difficult now to make an educated guess), timings within UK to help with calculations of numbers, congeners (what was moving with the Honey-buzzard, all material now in the Regional Reports) and maybe extract material for 2 more counties, Essex and Kent, to complete the regional picture. Started to look at 1993 movement of Honey-buzzard in Suffolk and maybe elsewhere: got weather picture off YouTube and Stephen Moss’s book Birds and Weather is supposed to have something on it; was small-scale as Honey-buzzard only just started to re-colonise UK but could add more useful perspective. Busy time with R today: not only lunch meeting, including group photo in Sele, but also planning meeting with R at 16:00 in Elvaston for Discovery Museum event on 9/7. By time I’d sorted out notes for latter, too late for any fieldwork but did do a lot of grass cutting; garden’s almost looking managed in places! Car service 30k on Thursday 4/7 at Benfield (Hexham), may go into Newcastle then to see P. Good to see the mbo in business-style!! Made N4c4ll where c was the star!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, more work on 2008 movement account and BH4ra4s!! xxxxxxxxxxx!!!

June 30th: quite cool on moderate W breeze, cloudy, rain threatening from W did not materialise. Made Blanchland village in Derwent area from 17:20-19:00 where had one raptor, a male Hobby at regular site. He was very active but the female was not seen, presumed incubating. Four sightings in total: 18:03 off from nest site, patrolling through tops of trees, panic in House Martin; 18:14 starting a run over nearby heather moor, Curlew agitated, maybe not only raptor around; 18:21 careering into nest site with rapid final plunge; 18:38 doing several loops over nest site, before again rapid plunge. Had high total of 33 species, including potential Hobby prey of 8 Swift, 6 Swallow and 14 House Martin. Also had 4 Willow Warbler (family group), 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Common Crossbill, 3 Siskin, 2 Grey Wagtail (adult, juvenile) and 8 Grey Partridge (pair adult, 6 tiny young). No Honey-buzzard though very agitated Curlew on nearby moor at one point made me hopeful; we’re into difficult period now! Belatedly calculated funds, -1k in the past week, not expecting any significant rise in short term as market sentiment is more cautious; dealing costs don’t encourage any further selling. Did make G4g4s: good to see z on again!! Even more pleased with the mgo: lokttmgo!!! 2moro it’s R at B4m4l, followed by N4c4ll and another trip to Derwent.

June 29th: well that was great event at the Sage: think Opera North are improving with each one. Hall was completely packed so 1,800 present to see a brilliant performance by everyone involved. Star Mati Turi who sung Siegfried so well literally from start to finish was actually born in Estonia: he played the part very much like the brave but arrogant spoilt brat which probably underlies Wagner’s intention but is against the early 20th century tradition, which lives on in US such as the New York Met, where he’s the perfect Aryan. Annalena Persson from Sweden, had played Brünnhilde in this production of Walküre, and here she helped carry the action to the fantastic orgasmic climax of the final act. Seems like the Baltic is producing many opera stars at the moment! N was really taken by it: 1st Wagner opera he’s been captivated by! It gets you in the end! Elapsed time for opera was 16:30-22:15. Bought subscription for Sage for 20 concerts next year, plus Götterdämmerung, last part of the Ring. Caught last bus back at 11:10 from Central Station to Stocksfield, took ages as so many people out: looks as if it’s an unofficial midsummer weekend celebration, like in Estonia the weekend before I arrived. Straight home: no ‘instructions’!! Had a Nightjar hawking for the many moths over a lane in SE Dipton Wood at 00:10.

June 28th: made sure got to Airport really early: there by 09:10 for 11:20 flight (EEST)! Had Hobby on drive to Tallinn Airport over pine wood adjacent to city; sound strategy for this raptor as so many Swift in city for them to hunt. Ryanair flight was very efficient: right on time. Got out of Manchester Airport T3 car park at 12:50 (BST), all roads clear, plenty of spray in rain, and once in study area at 15:20 stopped at Greenhead for a few minutes, rather damp, no raptors in sight. Onto Langley where amazing success at 15:45 as drizzle came close to stopping, a female Honey-buzzard lifted off a wood, hung in the W breeze for a few seconds and drifted off E to hunt. So change in weather again profitable and Elrington is a new site with new birds this year and not a move as Langley remains occupied. Made N4c4t in haste, gr8 to see the mbo!! 2moro it’s back to the great one, Wagner, with Siegfried, 3rd part of Ring, concert performance at Sage, starting at 16:30. Meeting N before at MP; Act 3 should put me in appropriate mood!! lokttbo!!!

June 27th: gave talk ppt  pdf Typing in Information Systems (title slightly changed to make it more general) to American Mathematical Society Graph Operad Logic meeting with details at Tallinn Technical University. Took 1 hour 30 minutes from 11:30-13:00. Very well received with loads of questions. It’s not often Mike and I go to the same meeting but it worked well here with Mike doing the philosophical side and me the applied aspects. We’ll get 3 papers out of it. All local expenses paid including academic hostel and all meals so very pleased with that (as invited speaker). Mike’s going onto Vilnius in Lithuania to give another 2 joint papers; I’m back very soon!! Not any time for getting out in the field but on way back at 21:10 from banquet to hostel had a female Honey-buzzard Herilaseviu flapping over the park area to N, causing quite a lot of chaos. Might make airport with a little more time to spare! Looking forward very much to return!!! Missed the lovelies!!!

June 26th: they work us hard here, talks until 18:50. Then a group of us went into the old town of Tallinn for a meal and a few beers. Somewhat like Riga but appears to be on a larger scale with more old merchant-style buildings. The local lasses are quite tall with gr8 legs!! Evidently everyone gets depressed here for 3 months in winter when it’s almost dark the whole time but now with 18.5 hours of daylight, everything is very exuberant! Finished writing long talk this afternoon – all ready to go tomorrow morning from 11:30-1:00. It’s good it runs up against lunch as everything stops for that! Wish me luck!! lokttgo!!! xxxxxxxxxxx!!!

June 25th: well Mike did a good job of presenting our position at the meeting today; 4 hours in total against some fast bowling was pretty good; we emerged unscathed! Looked after well – coffee, lunch, dinner, all good. Continuing to work hard on my side of story, in between a few unfiltered beers! 2moro hope to escape in afternoon to the port! Missing the lovelies, but not for long!!! xxxxxxxxxxx!!!

June 24th: well got up at 04:50 after sweet dreams, left home at 05:20 and next thing I knew at 10:10 was ‘Last call for [Ryanair] flight to Tallinn at Gate 51’. Bundled aboard and we took off at 10:25! Had arrived at Lancaster Services at 07:20 and seen on iP on traffic news that there were problems southbound just before M56/M6 interchange. On rejoining motorway M6 it was clear it was bad from the signs with queues now spanning 4 junctions southbound. So decided to take M61 from Preston-Manchester and then the Manchester Ring Road (M60). Fine until close to Ring Road then absolute chaos with another motorway blocked, the M66, and stuck for ages. So when got chance took N/E/S route on M60, 20 miles longer than W/S route but almost trouble-free and just about got there in time. Cause of trouble: lorry on fire and lorry overturned; must have cost millions in delays! So now in 2nd Baltic country in a month, Estonia, not having visited the area at all before. Now at Tallinn Technical University (TTU) with Mike giving keynote address tomorrow; I’m speaking on Thursday morning for 90 minutes (2 papers), when also chairing a session; return not long after! We went out for walk to discuss strategy. No raptors yet. Studying the local argentatus Herring Gull on roofs around the campus. Not surprisingly, very similar to those at Riga, maybe subtly darker but also with limited black and much white on wingtip; leg colour will be interesting if get closer as a few might be yellow ‘omissus‘ types; got some piccies of adults and some calls. Common Swift are everywhere, even feeding right up to 23:00 when starting to get dark. The local lasses are darker than those in Riga, perhaps Finnish influence: very attractive! lokttfo!!! Keep looking lovely!!!

June 23rd: incredible weather with really heavy showers just like a tap being turned on. No fieldwork: concentrated on paper for next week and sorting out a few things. Did make G4g4s – good to fit it in, people like that! Good rendezvous for afters: gr8 to know we’re on same wavelength!! lokttmgo!!! xxxxxxxxxxx!!!

June 22nd: out from 17:15-18:15 to another site on fringe of Derwent area – Minsteracres. Thought my luck, this late in the settling-in phase, might run out in cool, showery conditions on a moderate SW breeze. But no! From 17:55-17:59 had a male Honey-buzzard up over a pine wood, floating just over the canopy with occasional wing beats, no doubt with a female sitting on a nest inside the wood. Later complete secrecy reigns but at this early stage in incubation, the males are visible close to the nests, no doubt making clear the territory is occupied but it is a bit of a give away! In the display period this year I found 35 sites occupied as against 43 last year, which is far less adrift than I expected seeing I’ve been away so much; now up to 39 sites. Also in visit had a female Kestrel hunting and at 17:40 a Red Kite floating over Greymare Hill through the windmills, where had a juvenile last year. You can see the Derwent from there so not particularly adventurous for the birds. Total of 23 species included Skylark (3 singing), Chiffchaff (1 anxious bird), Lapwing (1), Curlew (1) and very interestingly an adult Common Gull moving SW, which surely has a nest in Derwent area somewhere. Did make A’s4l, very matey! Writing talk for next week into early hours: bit last minute! Title is Contravariancy in Information Systems; think partner Mike will star more than me in this event as he’s better at the philosophical side while I concentrate on the maths; he’s got 2 papers including keynote address at start so we’ve 3 joint publications in total; we’re both invited speakers, not bad! 2moro hope to finish talk, get out to another site and may make G, but have got a very early start next day, perhaps take a siesta! Love travelling but really looking forward to July when no trips away!! lokttmbo!!! xxxxxxxxxxx!!!

June 21st: midsummer: every day is shorter now for next 6 months – perish the thought! Sis and brother-in-law really pleased with stay: we’re not all savages! Visit today from 16:50-18:10 in sultry conditions on light S breeze was to Wylam E, only remaining site at which no birds recorded in Tyne Valley E. This was successful with a male Honey-buzzard up in the area from 17:31-17:35, flapping over the Tyne and moving W, coming NE to hang over fields near site, floating over me for a while (sizing me up!) and then gliding off rapidly to S to feed on S side of Tyne. Also had a female Kestrel up hunting at 17:15 and a female Sparrowhawk over the Tyne, mobbed by Swallow, at 17:50. Total was 25 species, including 3 Grey Heron, 7 Sand Martin and single Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Garden Warbler. Feeing very sleepy as write this! Did make N4c, finally got outside where met R&A and enjoyed the sights in the warmth: the mbo‘s very hot!! Markets terrible this week, down 8k, think sharpest slide since 2011 will stop soon and we’ll go up and down rather wildly for a while as investors speculate on end-qe (-ve point) and recovery hopes (+ve point). If things get worse, then qe will have to be continued. Made W much later where 5 of us out (only me next week perhaps); s is definitely fanciable!! 2moro it’s A’s4s4l, maybe site visit in afternoon (but heavy showers forecast) and a wee drink later!! xxxxxxxxxxx!!!

June 20th: bit of a hectic morning, getting out from 11:25-13:05 in Allen with longer visit to Oakpool from 11:25-12:25 in sunny, warm and hazy conditions on moderate SE breeze. Here had a Honey-buzzard giving a single alarm call as closed door on arrival, that was it! Taken as male because they often are the look-outs but cannot be sure of gender assignment here. In total of 23 species also had warblers: 6 Willow Warbler, 2 Garden Warbler, 1 Blackcap; waders: 4 Curlew, 1 Lapwing. Then visited Monk from 12:25-13:05 where had a male Honey-buzzard hunting over the fell to SE at 12:52, hanging briefly twice over the horizon before sinking low to the ground, about 1km from nest site. In total of 14 species had waders: Curlew 5, Oystercatcher 1; moorland birds: Twite 1, Skylark 4, Meadow Pipit 4. Elusive behaviour today suggested that we’re into sit/rear phase now with much reduced visibility. So closing display phase on 19/6 at 35 sites (30 male, 22 female, 52 birds). Then rushed to N4c and shopping at B before dashing back to meet sis at 14:30. Their satnav took them on strange route and they were a little late. While standing on road saw female Honey-buzzard take off from local site at 14:40, soar to moderate height and go off W to feed. So that’s 3 sites on 1st day of middle phase! Very pleased to see sis and D again; had good crack and then made W4m4s; excellent meal, served by s!! 2moro I’m cooking breakfast so if we survive that, will be at N4c4l at normal time, then maybe trip out if weather clears and W4g4s!! lokttgo!!!

June 19th: almost hot today and sunny, very nice! Went out to Unthank from 15:20-16:30 where had to wait 31 minutes until 15:51 before a Honey-buzzard was seen: a male out of the site, doing flap-flap-glide over the South Tyne moving NW over Haltwhistle town and coming back SE to the river on SE side of the town; he landed again at 15:54. This site is Haltwhistle’s own; no raptors there at all, except for Kestrel and Merlin, when lived there in the 1970s so hope they’re proud of them! Another male Honey-buzzard was soaring high over North Wood at 16:00 (bang on 4 o’clock soar!) while presumably his mate sat on eggs below; already had the pair of birds at this site. So up to 35 sites now and full occupation in Devil’s Water and Tyne Valley W. Lower South Tyne, which visited today, is up to strength for now as Haughstrother W was only a possible last year and think that the birds at Langley may have moved to Elrington. A Common Buzzard came out of a wood on W side of road at 15:45, circled and went straight back in. Waders were very good, all with young: 25 Lapwing (high number of chicks, bred well), 4 Curlew, 3 Oystercatcher, 2 Redshank, in total of 18 species at this moorland edge site. Caught up a lot with records from just before left for Riga (in particular 30/5) and finished write-up of Götterdämmerung (9/6). Did bit of shopping and washing before sis’s arrival 2moro afternoon: think we might go to W now! Did make G: another new ‘maid z from Riding Mill, j has chosen wisely again! Got my daily fix of the mbo!!! Could do with it being longer: lokttmbo!!! 2moro will be out in morning before making N4c4l and greeting sis, who’s driving up from Ormskirk where stopped at nephew’s on way from Devon!!

June 18th: very warm and muggy day, quite amazing in context of recent summers! Honey-buzzard responded well with a female (new bird for year) up over Loughbrow on way into Hexham at 12:10, presumed to be from West Dipton site. A Common Buzzard was calling from West Dipton Burn near Letah Wood on way back at 14:15. Out to Bardon Mill E from 16:20-17:50 and instant success with a male Honey-buzzard in butterfly display over the site just after arrival at 16:25; he soon went down. At 16:49 a female popped up form the site and began moving N in flap-flap-glide low-down up to the meadows just S of the moorland edge at Thorngrafton Common; she came back and from 16:43-16:48 was exploring her territory, moving N again, then returning to SE of nest site and SW of site before coming down into the trees. At 17:15 the female flew more decisively to N, moving onto the moorland edge at Thorngrafton Common. At 17:20 the female was soaring at moderate height over the moors, presumably hunting. At 17:40 she was up much lower down in same area, as the male flew in flap-flap-glide mode over the meadows S of the moorland. Nest site located quite closely and easy access so think will make this my lower South Tyne site for closer study, replacing Whitechapel where access is a little tense! A Common Buzzard was up just before leaving at 17:45. Total of 23 species included Chiffchaff, with family party of 4. N4l was gr8, particularly the legs in the sunshine!! Did make BH4s where good to meet j again who’s gone local, N from CH and smart new ‘maid!! Gr8 end to day: the mbo is very motivating, like the pace!!! xxxxxxxxxxx!!! In Dipton Wood at 00:20 (19/6) a Nightjar flew across the road in front of the car at same clearing where churring bird last week (15/6 report); also had a shooting star. 2moro it’s out W for fieldwork followed by G4g4t!

June 17th: also wrapped up Tyne Valley W today for display period with Honey-buzzard found at last site; mind you this pair were clearly incubating but the periods have some flexibility! Went to Broomley West/Roe House area to get a closer look at Shilford from 17:35-18:35 in hazy, warm weather with little strong sunshine. At 17:50 spotted the male Honey-buzzard sitting on the top of the Scots Pine tree used last year, perched completely vertical with long tail, small head and long neck showing clearly; after 10 minutes at 18:00 he dropped into the upper branches of the same tree. At 18:01 the female Honey-buzzard was seen flapping over the River Tyne moving E towards Bywell Hall. So this looks like swap-over for the incubation duties, which males share in quite fully. Only other raptor was a hunting female Kestrel. A pair of Tree Sparrow was interesting in total of 22 species. Good to be back at R, patchy attendance lately through trips away, giving talk to them on 29/7 on wildlife charities. Did make N, just missed c! Thought the mbo looked sooo scintillating!! lokttbo!!! Younger sister and her husband are staying over on Thursday night on way to holiday in Scotland; think they’re intrigued as to what is going on up here (or what attractions are stopping me retiring to Devon); well maybe we’ll go to TR! 2moro it’s N4c4l, trip out to lower South Tyne and much later BH4ra4s!!

June 16th: wrapped up ‘Shire today for display period with Honey-buzzard found at last 2 sites. Weather was sultry and dry with quite overcast conditions at times. Didn’t actually visit Dotland but got a ‘lawnmower’ tick by spotting a male floating effortlessly at 15:45 over wood to N of Blackhall in a break from massive amount of grass mowing and cutting. When finished ‘gardening’ did go out to Slaley Forest W from 17:05-18:10 and here had a lot of action. Male Honey-buzzard was seen up low-down over the canopy at old site at 17:11; from 17:15-17:20 he flew a little to S, then in flap-flap-glide flew W with periodic slow soars to ease the energy burden. At 17:25 the female soared up high over same area, before moving off SE; at 17:45 she was back, looking like an eagle (regular female here is a big bird), moving through the tops of the trees to a large pine wood a little to NW of normal site. From 1747-17:50 the male was back over the pines, where he was briefly joined by the female, before doing some butterfly display on his own. The site may have moved slightly but sometimes they appear to move in display and then quickly return to the old site for the actual business! Other raptors were a male Hobby up with the male Honey-buzzard at 17:15, a pair of Red Kite floating over the old site at 17:30 before drifting off N and S to feed (maybe they’ve taken it over, the bird seen at Shield Hall earlier in spring was presumably one of these birds), an irate Common Buzzard up with the Red Kite soaring near it and one more carrying a young Pheasant kill across the road when leaving, plus a soaring female Kestrel. So that’s 10 raptors of 6 species since midnight! Total for visit to Slaley Forest was 24 species. At Ordley had 2 singing Garden Warbler and 1st Spotted Flycatcher of the year. Made G later – very good crack, always like Sunday nite there, new smart barmaid c! 2moro it’s back to R @ B4l, N4c4ll. lokttgo!!!

June 15th: scored with 30th occupied site today – getting there! Quite a cool day with fresh NW breeze and some sunny intervals. Decided to start on higher moorland sites so after A’s4l made East Allen upstream of Allendale from 15:05-17:50. Major session was at Sinderhope where walked from near road up to edge of heather moor. In time here from 15:50-17:20 had quick success with a male Honey-buzzard up over wood to N at 16:05 hanging in breeze for quite a while before drifting over the nest site, trying to look casual; he went out over moors to E at 16:10 presumably to feed. His behaviour is typical of lowland birds on first arrival back: float slowly over territory seeing how it’s changed and where the likely feeding areas are situated. Moorland birds were flourishing on in-bye land: 24 Lapwing, 19 Curlew, 5 Oystercatcher, 5 Redshank, 4 Snipe, 7 Meadow Pipit, 3 Skylark, 1 Ring Ouzel. Total was 23 species. Less luck at lower site, Studdon Park, where watched from 15:05-15:45 and 17:20-17:50, with no raptors at all. Waders comprised 11 Curlew and 2 Lapwing, in total of 14 species. Very satisfying later on with the mbo: she’s absolutely gorgeous!!! Maybe the feeling was mutual!!! Think she needs to trim her garden: maybe we’ll manage!!! xxxxxxxxxxxx!!! Stopped in Dipton Wood at 00:10 (16/6) and had a Nightjar churring and a Tawny Owl calling. 2moro it’s attempt to catch up with paper-work, visit to 2 local sites in ‘Shire, perhaps N4c4t and much later G4g4s!

June 14th: overslept, racing out of bed at 08:35 for hair cut at JG at 09:00, which made 2 minutes late; pleased with l’s efforts and gave generous tip! Out on Tyne Green from 09:40-10:30 looking for Hexham’s own Honey-buzzard and had quick success. At 09:57 a male came over Hermitage, gliding smoothly through the tree tops while a Crow called, before suddenly gaining height to medium level and gliding off to W to feed near the A69 bypass. At 10:09 the female was seen hanging over a hillside to NE, near Anick; she drifted back until over nesting area into which she dived quickly, mobbed by another Crow. So this pair are not on eggs yet, though the birds are in definite nesting territory. Total of 22 species also included 18 Swift, 2 Garden Warbler and single Blackcap and Chiffchaff. Weather was a lot better than forecast, very bright early on becoming cloudier during afternoon with just one shower in early evening. Wetter overnight and, in the rain, female Badger appeared with 2 young in the garden at home at 01:15 (15/6). Pretty laid-back day with CCP (with P), N (with J later on), P&M for supper and W with the gang! Did masses of grass cutting in afternoon. Sights were brilliant with the mbo, gbs, ghs looking really gr8 and later-on the s.xy sn arriving in W!! 4th week in a row that markets on slide and down another 4k; took ruthless action mid-week chopping most of global JPM funds, whose performance has been dismal recently; global funds include a lot of emerging markets stuff, which has fallen rapidly on fears qe will be cut back in US. Think correction will run for a while, maybe until September but risk exposure now right down and bonds and the like up to 80%. 2moro it’s A’s4s4l, a trip out for Honey-buzzard and maybe a ½ much later!!

June 13th: another productive day for Honey-buzzard and other important matters! In humid cloudy conditions on moderate SW breeze, went out to edge of Derwent area for 1st time, going to Kellas from 15:30-16:35 where had a male Honey-buzzard up low-down over nesting area from 15:52-15:55, looking very territorial, before descending back into the canopy; cue for getting up seemed to be my presence though I was quite a long way away. Onto Slaley Forest E at Trygill from 16:35-17:25 where had a female up over nest site, mobbed by a Crow at 16:56; she kept low down and also quickly descended back into the canopy. So the Honey-buzzard are keeping close to their nest sites as incubation starts. Other raptors were a female Kestrel hunting at Kellas and a Tawny Owl calling at the Sele, Hexham, at 23:45. So day total was 4 raptors of 3 species: 2 Honey-buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 1 Tawny Owl. Total at Kellas was 22 species, including 6 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 2 Garden Warbler and 4 Yellowhammer. Total at Trygill was 20 species including 3 Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler. Common Crossbill were relatively prominent today with 2 at Kellas and Trygill and one at Ordley. Made CCP with P and later, as still raining, drifted to N, where very pleased to see the most beautiful one!! Ought to join the big tent!! Made T&S where good end-of-term crack with 4 of us out; lively chat on the opera festival with the dynamic c!! aqotwf!! 2moro it’s JG for hair cut, CCP4c4c with P and supper with P&M before going to W4g4s!! Weather forecast is problematical! lokttbo!!!

June 12th: piling up the Honey-buzzard totals now but need to, as the end of the display period, at least in lowland areas, is nigh! Today’s raptor total was 3 male Honey-buzzard, nothing else! This afternoon at 16:30 had a male Honey-buzzard flying over the nest site near my house, in flap-flap-glide giving an intermittent squeaky call to encourage his partner, who was presumably sitting on the nest; suspect this early site now has eggs in the nest. Earlier weather was not bad, being humid with moderate SW breeze and some sunny intervals. Went to the back of Prudhoe from 12:40-14:00 where had quick success at 12:51 with a male in power-glide, against the wind, going up the Bradley Burn to fly low through the trees at Hyons Wood. Another male Honey-buzzard was circling over a field just to the west of Dukeshagg at 13:30, presumably hunting. The fact both sightings here were of males may also suggest that incubation is happening or imminent at these sites. The males carry on with display for up to a week after incubation has started, giving an extra window of opportunity. Whatever, I’ve got a lot of time in July to catch up with things. If you know where the nests are, you can still pick them up then. Total of 22 species included Garden Warbler (3), Chiffchaff (2), Willow Warbler (2), Blackcap (1). Highlight of day was visit to dentists where had filling in tooth in corner of mouth; young female dentist was from Somerset, a happy Yeovil supporter with their promotion to the Championship League via the play-offs this year. Don’t actually enjoy dentistry very much, don’t like being pinned down, but the treatment was good! Made G4g4t, good to see the beautiful one!! 2moro it may be CCP4c4c with P, followed by trip out and much later T&S4g4s!! lokttgo!!!

June 11th: getting more settled after fantastic trip to Riga! A lot to do at home in washing and ‘gardening’ but making progress. Booked flights for next shorter trip from Manchester-Tallinn for ct meeting near end of month; strange never visited Baltic countries before, now in one month make 2 of them! Did get out in the field, making March Burn from 16:45 -17:50 in very muggy weather with sunny intervals on moderate SW breeze. A hunting female Kestrel raised hopes and there she was: from 17:03-17:05 female Honey-buzzard, with ruddy-brown plumage, floating up and down low over the nest site mobbed by a Crow; she disappeared but at 17:17 the male also appeared more briefly over the nest site, mobbed again by a Crow. This sort of behaviour, highly territorial and mobile activity close to the nest site in June, is normally associated with nest building! At 17:35 had a Red Kite hunting over the fields to the S of Prospect Hill. So that’s 3 raptors of 3 species, not bad for a quick visit. Went on from 17:50-18:05 to Broomley West Farm to look at Shilford site but no luck here (again). March Burn has much gorse so 13 Linnet and 5 Yellowhammer was no surprise; also in total of 23 species had 2 Willow Warbler and single Tree Pipit, Lesser Whitethroat (singing, rare this far W), Chiffchaff and Whitethroat. Gorse-loving birds included Linnet (13) and Yellowhammer (5). Did make BH – had a stout called WBA, no connection to the football club; good crack! Trees are growing well this spring!! Very glad to see the beautiful one again: lokttmbo!!! A Tawny Owl was in trees near Guessburn at 23:45. 2moro it’s dentist for filling in Corbridge late morning, followed by trip out E and G4g4t!!

June 10th: wizzed back to Luton slightly ahead of time, said goodbye to son, caught express train to St Pancras, walked to Euston and hopped on 15:30 to Glasgow, well ahead of schedule! It’s been an amazing week, seeing the whole Ring (19 hours 10 minutes, including 6 intervals) and exploring Riga’s history and bars (mainly latter it feels!). No Honey-buzzard but should see some tomorrow. Well that was written at 17:40; got 19:41 from Carlisle to Hexham and was back home by taxi at 20:50; quite a long day, getting up at 08:00 EET, that’s 06:00 BST. Weather was sunny as came through Irthing/Tipalt/lower South Tyne/Tyne Valley on train, passing many Honey-buzzard sites and there at one, Blenkinsopp Hall, at 20:08 was a pair of Honey-buzzard up low over their nest site, surrounded by mobbing corvids; this is normally a difficult site at which to find the birds so delighted! Also had a Common Buzzard at Bardon Mill E. The Irthing Valley, downstream in Cumbria from Gilsland (to W), has a few wild, wooded, craggy areas, which may well hold further Honey-buzzard, but I’m not looking for them. Made T for essential shopping, GR for a takeaway and couldn’t resist seeing the ghs!!! lokttgo!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, field trip in afternoon and BH4ra4s!!

June 9th: well we sailed through the final stretch of the Ring from 15:00-21:10 in one of the most brilliant operas ever written: Götterdämmerung! Pretty drained but managed No Problem for a couple before getting back to bed! Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods) has many high spots: dawn (after the Norns’ grim opening), Siegfried’s passionate farewell to Brünnhilde (in more ways than one), Hagen’s brooding gloat over how things were going so badly for the Gods, calling the banns for the happy couples, the bitter trio calling for Siegfried’s tod, Siegfried’s final tryst with the Rhinemaidens, Siegfried’s funeral march and Brünnhilde seeing the whole lot off, including herself and her horse, with a burning torch! Will take a while to get over it! All leading parts were sung very well: Lars Cleveman as Siegfried (Swedish), Catherine Foster as Brünnhilde (English, born Nottingham, meteoric rise to fame, playing this part at Bayreuth this summer in special bicentenary Ring; before taking up singing she was a nurse/midwife!), Marcus Jupither as Gunther (Swedish), Elisabet Strid as Gutrune (Swedish, also sang well as Sieglinde in Walküre), Johan Schinkler as Hagen (Swedish, very brooding) and Lyubov Sokolova as Waltraute (Russian). In spite of the switching of singers, the whole Ring held together very well, with firm control by Cornelius Meister, the overall Music director (German), who produced a dynamic von Karajan approach by the Orchestra. 3

June 8th: feeling a bit banged on the head am so we took it easy! I went out to River Daugava (W side of estuary) at Ķīpsala from 13:00-17:30 in continued glorious sunny weather and got to grips with the local gulls: argentatus Herring Gull are the ones of interest, saw 30 (28 ad, 2 1s) all with pink legs where colour visible and in general reduced black and increased white in wing-tip compared to argenteus; have some close-ups of wing-tips showing very little black on P6 and much white on P9/P10, which will publish; mantle shade looked as pale as argenteus in most birds, but a few did look a little darker grey; some calls recorded from apartment as they nest on roof above, all like argenteus or even shriller. The young 1s gulls appeared quite pale, paler than argenteus, but no shots of them yet. Will be interesting to compare with St Petersburg gulls next year in eastern Baltic area, where they’re supposed to have yellow legs (omissus). Also had 3 Common Gull (1 ad, 2 1s), 1 Little Gull (ad) and 25 Black-headed Gull (24 ad, 1 1s), so total of gull species now up to 4. Terns reached 2 species with 55 Common Tern and a Little Tern. Raptors remained at 2 birds of 2 species! Other counts were 18 Starling, 15 Swift, 15 Feral Pigeon, 7 House Sparrow, 5 Swallow, 4 Tree Sparrow (on edge of park by River), 2 House Martin and a Hooded Crow. Yesterday in the parks had 2 Blue Tit and a singing Goldfinch. WiFi is cr.p in 2nd apartment, was OK on Friday but think they need to reset the router and all the offices below have b.ggered off for the weekend. Never mind, Costa Coffee almost below has good signal with not bad coffee either! Can’t get over convenience of living right in the city! Bad week in markets as possible end of qe is anticipated: ftse down 2.7% even after rally on Friday. Personally down 7k to lowest since 19/4, but still up 27k on year, with brothers and sisters not yet playing ball (though income up 3k pa if payments continue!), £ rallying against $ and € (devaluing foreign holdings) and general malaise (affecting trust holdings, which under backward pricing are at Thursday’s levels)! Feeling rather cautious until autumn except for the possible CPB opportunity: good thing I’m not a gambler! Important World Cup football match yesterday: Latvia vs Bosnia, in Riga. Result – Latvia lost 5-0 but all bars in Riga very welcoming for victorious visitors with even playing of Bosnian music; real result, much profit for Riga tourist industry! 2moro the action starts at 15:00 and we’ve pencilled in 13:00 for initial refreshments! The soothsaying Norns could be in No Problem by 15:30! As Blackadder said, on finding himself behind German lines: “be careful, they have operas here which go on for days”. Wish us luck!! xxxxxxxxxxxx!!!

June 7th: part 3 (Siegfried) kept up the pressure! Started at 17:00 and finished at 22:45 with 1 short and 1 longish interval. Although I’ve seen each part of the Ring a number of times, this is the first complete Ring cycle that I’ve seen done in about a week as Wagner intended. Most companies space it out more now, often doing one a year, like Opera North, putting on Siegfried at the Sage at the end of this month, following Walküre in 2012 and Rheingold in 2011. The advantage of having it in all in a week is you get completely immersed, the problem for the opera companies is the pressure on singers and producers. Solution here is to have a different director for each part and to vary the lead singers, pretty controversial to some purists but it does seem to work! The final act of Siegfried was very moving, with the love scene between Brünnhilde and Siegfried reaching its orgasmic climax just as the curtain came down and he was removing his trousers! Plenty of bird interest in Act 2 as the Woodbird sings to Siegfried, telling him of Mime’s plans to kill him and of the beautiful lady waiting for a hero on the rock above! The Woodbird guides Siegfried through the forest towards the rock but has to pull back in the open countryside due to habitat constraints and Wotan’s fierce ravens! Indeed Act 2 is the most natural one in the Ring, that is if you believe in dragons, one of which gets killed (by Siegfried) in open combat! Act 1 is not for the faint-hearted, full of absolute hate between Siegfried and Mime, culminating in the famous forging scene of the sword Nothung. We again visited Pica in the park near the Opera House for food and some wine before, had sparkling wine in the intervals and a few dark beers in a square to round things off! You get a boozy lot in here on Wagner nights, is a well-known industry refrain! Earlier went to Natural History Museum where saw 1st Honey-buzzard Ķīķis; there are some very good reserves in Riga which cannot fit in this time. So all this romantic opera is putting me in the mood!!! Can’t wait to get back home!!! lokttgo!!!

June 6th: down to the seaside at Jūrmala by train in hot sunshine on the Baltic coast in the Bay of Riga; beautiful sand, very cold sea, rather like Bamburgh but much flatter! Coast is lined with pine trees extending c50m back with much low ground vegetation as canopy was fairly open; some birch trees were also growing to quite a height. So did a bird count here, in between the odd bar, getting in 5 hours from 13:20-18:20: 80 Black-headed Gull (feeding everywhere on shore-edge and further out), 35 Common Swift (common over all buildings), 22 Hooded Crow, 12 Herring Gull (argentatus, 11 adult, 1 1s, calls very like argenteus, limited black on wingtip, pale mantle), 10 House Sparrow, 6 Blackbird, 5 Chaffinch, 4 White Wagtail, 4 Feral Pigeon, 3 House Martin, 2 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler (both singing), 2 Starling, 2 Woodpigeon and single Icterine Warbler (singing from tree tops), Black Redstart, Great Tit, Mallard (drake), Redwing (singing), Common Redstart and Nutcracker. So that’s 21 species for day-trip with, aside from subspecies, the Icterine Warbler, Black Redstart and Nutcracker being of special interest, because of their scarcity in the UK; hearing Redwing sing is also a bonus. Just one raptor was seen, a Sparrowhawk drifting over the trees from train a few km before Jūrmala at Jūrmala Pilsȇta. Good atmosphere down by the sea with many elegant Latvians and Russians on parade! It’s evidently popular with the Russians, whether resident in Latvia after the occupation (40% of the total population) or from Russia itself. In evening we went to an Armenian restaurant in Riga, amazing amounts of food, absolutely stuffed! Armenia looks a reasonable bet for a trip – very old Christian remains, its own gull – Armenian Gull (Yellow-legged Gull complex) and many raptors! Currency here, the Lat, is actually worth more than a £, which is unusual, but next January they join Estonia (next shorter trip!) on the €. Getting ready for another big one!! Thinking of the s.xy ones at home!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

June 5th: part 2 (Walküre) showed they could also do grand opera brilliantly! Started at 18:00 and finished at 22:50 with 2 shortish intervals. It’s a very young cast without any international big names so a great opportunity for those playing the leading roles. Sieglinde (Elisabet Strid, Swedish), Brünnhilde (Olga Sergeyeva, Russian) and Wotan (Jürgen Linn, German) all must have done a lot for their reputations. Indeed their nationalities give a good viewpoint of where Latvia stands – in between Scandinavia, Russia and Germany. The women in the audience seemed more moved than some of the men: Walküre is the most romantic of the 4 parts with the rapturous love scene between Sieglinde and Siegmund (ending in simulation!) in Act 1 and the more tender loving relationship between Wotan and Brünnhilde in Act 3. Former is actually incest but the latter is more normal as father-daughter. Act 2 requires a lot of concentration with many brooding premonitions but the Latvian National Orchestra, conducted by Andris Nelsons (local boy, Latvian), held it all together which is very promising for the last part (Götterdämmerung). Act 3 was gripping throughout, starting with the best known of Wagner’s music – Ride of the Valkyrie – and ending with the fire music as Brünnhilde, for disobeying her father in trying to help Siegmund in battle, is sent to sleep on a rock, surrounded by fire, waiting for a hero to break through and take her for his wife. That hero will be her nephew (next part, Siegfried, product of Act 1!). The conflict between power and love is the preoccupying theme of the Ring. Anyway all washed down with plenty of red wine, before, during and afterwards, and we’re now in our originally-selected apartment, which is larger and more central. Strange living like this, quite a change for a country-dweller, amazing how close the shops and pubs are! Bit like living over the G!! Here’s a White Wagtail clip 1 from today in the park. Coming back very quickly after it ends: looking forward to seeing the lovelies again!!!

June 4th: part 1 (Rheingold) went off brilliantly! Started at 19:05 and finished at 21:30, without a break. Opera House was quite intimate and we had a box, giving great views. Sung in German with super-titles in Latvian and English, style was very much pantomime with larger cast than usual and much clever gesturing (not sure what the serpent really was!) and movement. Rhinemaidens were very appealing and band kept everything together well with moving climaxes. Had some Merlot before at Pica, near opera House, and finished with a couple of g at Donegan’s! A Thrush Nightingale was singing from a park on the way back, very loud and clear, with a singing Chaffinch and 2 White Wagtail also present. Weather continued sunny but a little fresher, except it’s threatening to thunder again now at nite! Visited the Museum of Occupation 1 this morning, illustrating problems with both German and Russian occupations since 1940; Jewish extermination accounts were harrowing. But now it’s in the EU! Here’s some more piccies of city sights 1  2  3  4  5 plus clip 1 and stills of Herring Gull adult 1  2  3 and stills of Hooded Crow 1  2. lokttbo!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

June 3rd: very sultry and hot again, ending in spectacular thunderstorm as started supper in the Square, with dramatic thunderbolt at start; some people got soaked in moving 5 metres across a bit without cover. Good relaxing day with further walks through old city 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 including visit to Opera House 1  2  3  4  5, together with the publicity board outside the Opera House for The Ring 6. Here’s another shot of superior flat 1. Raptors list climbed to one with a female Hobby up soaring over river area to N in tea-time walk from 16:50-16:55 (clips 1  2). Also had 2 singing Lesser Whitethroat (singing on clip 1 with still 1), a singing Icterine Warbler, 2 breeding Fieldfare, a singing Greenfinch, a Coal Tit and 2 calling Common Gull adult in territory. Walk along river took from 16:00-17:45. Missing the gorgeous ones!!!

June 2nd: settling in well in smart apartment 1  2 in centre of City, not one we ordered, which has a ‘water problem’. Good thing we’ve arrived a little early as could take it easy, though maybe that’s the beer by the waterfront and the wine in the restaurant! Here’s a few shots of the centre of Riga 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. Weather hot and sultry! No raptors yet. Other birds include Black-headed Gull (20), Herring Gull (20), Common Tern (5), Mallard (2 drake), House Sparrow (35), Starling (15), Feral Pigeon (35), Hooded Crow (3), Blackbird (1). Hope to get a bit more organised and do a bit more sightseeing 2moro! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

June 1st: train journey through lower South Tyne/Tipalt/Irthing from 14:55-15:30 produced one Honey-buzzard sighting, a male E of Haydon Bridge, confirming that we have a new site here and that there is a question as to whether Langley is also occupied (could be a move from the tenuous site identified there last year). He was floating at moderate height over the A69, near Pasturehill Wood, at 15:05. Also had single Common Buzzard near Brampton and at Oxenholme. Earlier in Hexham, good to meet the lovely c(&i) again!! Now at N’utol with early start tomorrow, meeting son at 06:30. Bit sad being in a Conference town but suppose someone has to be there! lokttgo!!! Last chance to be a nubile Rhinemaiden, as in link!!

Weather warning for tomorrow (sultry conditions quite appropriate for this!):

Description: Extreme high temperature 02.06. atsevišķos rajonos dienas vidū gaidāms stiprs karstums – gaisa temperatūra paaugstināsies līdz +27…+29°. 02.06. locally in the middle of the day heat is expected – air temperature will increase up to +27…+29°.

May 31st: did get out in one of my favourite areas, the Allen Valley, in good weather: moderate NW breeze, strong sunshine, dry. Made Staward S from 13:10-14:35 and Oakpool from 14:35-15:55. Birds still seem keener on food than sex! Had a pair of Honey-buzzard up at 13:25 over Staward N, floating effortlessly but quickly coming down again to N of regular site; these birds are new for the year but occupying one of longest held sites. Nothing at Staward S while there but, as seen from Oakpool, male up here at 15:03, soaring to medium height, then drifting down quickly to feed in the valley. No birds seen at Oakpool; maybe should have moved out a few km! Total for trip to Allen was 29 species, including summer visitors of 15 Swallow, 5 House Martin, 5 Willow Warbler, 5 Swift, 1 Redstart, 1 Tree Pipit, with a Raven still in the Gorge and 3 Lesser Redpoll displaying. Markets again going down but not a bad week at +3k with moves to help my brothers and sisters in the Co-op paying some dividends today (at 13-15% yields). Went to P&M for tea to look at a laptop problem: it had been compromised, by a trojan! Much later, made W where good crack with 7 of us there: nice scenery!! Very pleased to find her home: gr8 end to nite!!! lokttmgo!!! Hope it keeps us going for a while!!!

May 30th: the Honey-buzzard are becoming more visible as we move towards the peak display before they settle down to nest! Sitting in Hexham at lunchtime, prospects did not look good with very murky weather. But as soon as started moving W noted brighter skies in distance and in the upper South Tyne it was dry, with light NE breeze, bright intervals and mild. First visited Lambley from 14:15-14:35 where on arrival a female Honey-buzzard was over to W of the river, doing flap-flap-glide at low altitude; as left a male was doing butterfly display right over last year’s nesting area. Main walk was at Softley from 14:40-17:30 where had to wait until 15:32 for a male Honey-buzzard to go hunting over the moors at Asholme Common from the Towsbank site, causing mass consternation among the nesting waders; at 16:02 a female came up from near the river gained some height, flew over the site at Softley and also went out over the moors to feed, doing flap-flap-glide action. Finally on this trip visited Featherstone Castle where no luck but did have a female Honey-buzzard soar effortlessly at 17:50 to a moderate height over North Wood and then glide off SE, again to feed on the moors. To show pent-up enthusiasm, and crepuscular nature, at Bywell at 20:40 had a male Honey-buzzard flying towards the A69 and Mowden Hall, also in favoured flap-flap-glide action for display (jizz is very important!!). So no birds actually seen doing it together but they’re beginning to get frisky! Day total was 6 Honey-buzzard (adding 3 sites, 2 male, 2 female to year’s running total), plus a female Kestrel out hunting at Softley. Many other birds seen with comfortably over 40 species at 44 in total, including waders: Oystercatcher 17, Curlew 11, Lapwing 9, Snipe 2, Common Sandpiper 1; warblers: Willow 11, Garden 4, Wood 2, Blackcap 1; other summer visitors: Cuckoo 2, Tree Pipit 2, Redstart 1. Work-mates had field trip today in M’s car, down to BH4ra4s to meet former colleague who lives at Walbottle, then back to G for a quickie! BH was good as usual: lady Morris dancers complete with band and j!! We didn’t visit the fb celebrity!! 2moro might explore the Allen a little more. Beginning to get the wander-lust again! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

May 29th: added below (23/5) Table 8: Counts of Raptors in Ireland 14 May – 22 May 2013. Final total of all bird types for trip was 85 from Liverpool docks to Dublin to Killarney and back again. Probably going back in late October to Wexford, staying in centre of Wexford Town for convenience for pub (folk) action and library! Very dull today and gave Honey-buzzard searching a break. Did have one raptor, a female Kestrel hunting at the hot spot N of Throckley at 12:20. Had seen daughter off earlier, very good to meet up with her again! Did make dentist in Corbridge, one filling to be sorted in 2 weeks time. So made N for late lunch; thought rhb looked very gorgeous!! Back home for bit of book sorting before G4t where lots of good crack; seems to be livelier now than a few months ago! Popped down to BH4ra4nc: lokttmso!!! Certainly very fit!!! 2moro it’s CCP4c4c with P, followed by N4c4l and trip out to upper South Tyne for raptors, in expected better weather.

May 28th: sorted out the house plants today, including removal of a deceased avocado pear which was entangled in a mass of other plants – what a b….y mess! But did not neglect the Honey-buzzard, visiting Haughstrother area in lower South Tyne, near Bardon Mill, from 16:25-17:30. Weather was mild, dry and overcast with light SE wind. Had 10 seconds of Honey-buzzard in view but that was 2 birds at 2 different sites, so progress! First bird was a ruddy-brown female flying SW towards Elrington over A69 at 16:20; she was low-down, skimming the trees and hedgerows; she’s presumed to be from Langley site (but could be at a new site at Elrington), which visited yesterday; obvious tactic is to visit a site, see nothing and then drive through it the next day! Also scored at Haughstrother E site where had another female Honey-buzzard gliding between woods at low-level in typical pose at 17:25; again brief sighting but no doubt! Only other raptor today was a Common Buzzard at the Linnels at 15:30, on way for brief visit to N4c4t! Total of 31 species in Bardon Mill included 6 agitated Oystercatcher, 2 Lapwing and 2 Curlew; summer visitors included 18 Swallow, 12 Sand Martin, 7 Swift and single Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Garden Warbler. Increase in coats today! Had dinner with daughter at Diwan-E-Am: good service, food and company! 2moro it’s dentist for check-up mid-morning and then off to Airport; will make N4c4ll and G4g4t!! Weather forecast is not good for fieldwork but may try somewhere. lokttfo!!!

May 27th: did a lot of gardening this morning and rewarded with 2 Honey-buzzard and a Kestrel. A Kestrel female twice flew over the house, hunting. The Honey-buzzard female from the local site came floating over the house, moving S at 11:05; she went over the Devil’s Water to feed on the other side; she’s of course been seen before. A male Honey-buzzard was up, rather friskily, over fields to SW of Dipton Wood at 11:20, where I’d spent 85 fruitless minutes the day before. It was windier today with full cloud cover and rain threatening, but it stayed dry. This was a new site for Honey-buzzard for the year, up to 16 sites and 23 birds now! While daughter went for look round Hexham, popped over to Langley from 15:55-17:05 to prospect the area a little more; no luck with any raptors but did see a mixed deciduous wooded area, which looked ideal for Honey-buzzard; in the site’s 1st season of occupation last year, this was where the birds were seen. Total was 19 species, including summer visitors: 7 Swallow, 4 Swift, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap. Added below (22/5) a table, Table 7, of the seabird counts, by sections, on the Liverpool-Dublin route. Tonite we had spag bol, some wine and port, and sorted out some lots! 2moro more of the same except we’re going to the Diwan-E-Am for a closing meal in the evening. A trip is being planned next January to New York for a few days! lokttgo!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

May 26th: a typically bizarre day for sightings of Honey-buzzard. Highlight at 13:55 was a male Honey-buzzard in butterfly display near Throckley, just N of the A69, where had a Red Kite on 18/4. This is a new site (to me!), but any apparently new site occupied relatively early in the season must have a question mark over it as to whether it is really new. My feeling is that new sites are claimed by birds in their 3cy (2s), returning late in the inward migration looking for vacant slots. If 3cy birds returned earlier, they would take up prime sites, running into battles with last year’s occupants when they returned. This site near Throckley, the 6th in Tyne Valley E, is 3.5 km from nearest site up the Tyne Valley near Close House, 3 km from the Tyne W of Newburn and only 10 km from the centre of Newcastle. Inter-site spacing is 2.5 km in optimal habitat but it’s obviously more difficult to find a decent wood in which to breed on the edge of the conurbation. Was on way to Airport to collect daughter: only few minutes late! Say bizarre because earlier from 12:10-13:35 had been looking in known breeding area of Dipton Wood S/March Burn (2 sites) and seen no Honey-buzzard at all in great weather with almost continuous sunshine on a light W breeze. Suggests more birds to arrive and some of these appear to be on way with 4 reports on BirdGuides in southern England today:

22:22 26/05/13 Honey Buzzard Norfolk Holme next the Sea dark morph flew over the golf course early morning; also ringtail Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl

14:30 26/05/13 Honey Buzzard Cornwall Pendeen one over the beach then drifted inland at Portheras Cove just before midday

14:14 26/05/13 Honey Buzzard Hants Pennington Marshes 11:00 one flew west late morning

13:48 26/05/13 Honey Buzzard Dorset Portland 12:10 one reported north over Southwell early afternoon

Only raptor at Dipton Wood was a Common Buzzard in territory in Scots Pine by road, flying close-by overhead into the wood and then taking off again shortly afterwards. Summer visitors, in total of 30 species, included 12 Swallow, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap and 1 Willow Warbler. As many as 10 Yellowhammer were in territory and a pair of Tree Sparrow in a hedge indicated their continued reoccupation of sites W of Wylam. We shopped well in W and had roast lamb tonite, well washed down by g and red wine! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

May 25th: 2 site visits today, bit against regulations, but made most of a gloriously sunny day with very few clouds and light SW breeze. First visit was to Spetchells from 11:35-13:35 where walked to end on the top of the heaps and had 4 types of raptor: Goshawk (male soaring high at 12:30 from Horsley Wood, then drifting off SE), Honey-buzzard (at 12:43 female up close to nesting area, moved S at low altitude and climbed to some height over Hagg Bank), Kestrel (adult male up at 12:48) and Common Buzzard (pair up rather stridently at 12:52 over Hagg Bank, moving to nest site, closer to Sled Lane, perhaps reacting to the Honey-buzzard). Could see another 4 Honey-buzzard sites but no action today, suggesting that return to the Tyne Valley E sites is later than to Tyne Valley W sites, perhaps because of the greater effect of the North Sea. Summer visitors included 16 Swift, 13 Sand Martin, 6 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 5 Blackcap, 3 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Garden Warbler, 1 Whitethroat. Butterflies included Green-veined White, Wall and site speciality, a Dingy Skipper. So that was good start. Went to A’s for break for lunch, good chat with b, and saw a bit of the Folkworks! Then walked along Tyne from Tyne Green to open area by the A69 bypass from 15:45-17:55. Here Honey-buzzard site was apparently not occupied yet but had more action at the neighbouring Beaufront site, the ‘Egger’! Here at 16:28 had the female up very high over site, hanging fairly motionless, with at 16:29 the male flying low through some trees below; at 16:30 the female descended quickly; at 17:40 the male was high-up over W extreme of territory and dived down spectacularly to the ground. No other raptors here so day total was 7 birds of 4 species: 3 Honey-buzzard, 2 Common Buzzard, 1 Goshawk, 1 Kestrel. Summer visitors at Tyne Green included 28 Swift, 10 Swallow, 7 Sand Martin, 6 House Martin, 4 Blackcap, 2 Garden Warbler, 2 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff. Looking up at the sky, it was the day of the Swift! A Little Ringed Plover in breeding habitat, a sand bank, on Tyne Green was a welcome surprise. Butterflies included Green-veined White, Wall and Orange Tip. High totals of bird species at both sites: 36 at Spetchells, 31 at Tyne Green. Later went E for a couple; very chatty, they’re a friendly lot! Plenty of inspiration as sequel!!! lokttmbo!!! 2moro daughter’s arriving from Gatwick early afternoon: shall be very pleased to see her!

May 24th: another tea-time raid in the study area from 15:55-17:45 and again successful! Weather was very bad this morning with heavy showers on a fresh and cool NE breeze but improved steadily through the afternoon to occasional drizzle on a still cool, moderate NE breeze with the occasional brighter interval. Went just W of Hexham to Warden where walked along the lower South Tyne. Had to wait 38 minutes for Honey-buzzard action: 16:33 relatively heavy female up just over oak trees, in the drizzle, doing some hanging with deliberate flaps before subsiding back into the canopy; 16:45-16:50 just before brighter spell, female up again with much lighter male above her, both low-down, male went high, mixture of hanging in sky and deliberate slow wing-flaps, waiting for female to join him, some limited interaction, male glided off NW, presumably to feed; 16:54-16:57 female up high over site, hanging with deliberate flaps, finally diving back into canopy. 2 agitated Common Buzzard were in territory nearby. At another site in view, Hexham High Wood, a male Honey-buzzard was up at 17:28 mobbed by 2 Rook c200m S of nest site. There were many hirundine and Swift feeding over the lower South Tyne in the cool weather: 120 Swallow, 70 Sand Martin, 14 Swift and 12 House Martin; other summer visitors included 3 Willow Warbler and single Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and Blackcap. Total of 31 species also included a Green Woodpecker and 7 noisy Oystercatcher who called loudly every time a Honey-buzzard got up in the air; they don’t get on, think Honey-buzzard try and eat their young, seems a little intolerant! Made N4c4ll; love the style of the mbo!!! Unchanged on markets this week, which is not bad seeing market advance came to a shuddering halt; with 76% of funds in bonds and the like, I’m prepared to opt out largely of any further equity advance to preserve gains this year of 12.3% (that’s the theory anyway!). Off to W4g4s now (nothing new there!), but nice new ‘maid! 2moro it’s Spetchells before lunch at A’s, then walk near Hexham and maybe a ½ later!! lokttso!!!

May 23rd: out in the field again in study area from 16:00-17:25 in cool but dry spell on moderate N breeze with occasional sunny intervals. Made Morralee, where Allen meets lower South Tyne, and had some spectacular Honey-buzzard display: 16:15 female up very briefly in quick rear followed by a dive; 16:25 female up a little higher and flapping rather deliberately N before coming down in parkland; 16:28-16:33 male up in butterfly display with repeated coming almost to a stop and beating wings very deliberately; 16:35 pair up together, low down over the hill at Morralee, with heavy flapping in moderate breeze; 17:14 male up very high, hanging over site, before drifting off to W, losing height. At neighbouring site, Whitechapel, on other (northern) side of valley at 16:45 had a female Honey-buzzard, rising at low-level between trees, and gliding into wood near last year’s nest site. Also had 2 Common Buzzard, one hanging over Morralee, the other in display over Lipwood. Summer visitors included 11 Swallow, 8 Swift, 7 Willow Warbler, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Blackcap. A Whitethroat sang once at Ordley this evening and a Tawny Owl was at Dipton Wood at 00:45! So day’s total was 6 raptors of 3 species: 3 Honey-buzzard, 2 Common Buzzard, 1 Tawny Owl. Did some grass cutting in evening; spring flowers in the grass are brilliant this year with many Cowslip and Cuckoo Flower; leave mowing all the Cowslip and some of the Cuckoo Flower until they’ve set seed; not sure that goes down well with tidy gardeners! Bit short of coats at the moment with just one in Ordley and as many as 3 in Killarney; they’re coming back, at a cost of €39! Good to be back at N4c4l, where met j; very pleased to see the mbo hard at it!! Made G tonite with work-mates: j scores again with choice of new ‘maid! Good crack and entertainment with 2 men having a bit of handbags near closing time! Sadly aqotwf!! lokttgo!!!

Species/County Kildare Offaly Tipperary Kerry Limerick Laois Total

Dates

15/05/13, 20/05/13 15/05/13 15/05/13 16/05-19/05/13 20/05/13 20/05/13
Honey-buzzard

1

1

White-tailed Eagle

1

1

Common Buzzard

2

1

3

Kestrel

1

1

2

1

1

1

7

Long-eared Owl

2

2

Total

4

1

2

5

1

1

14

Table 8. Counts of Raptors in Ireland 14 May – 22 May 2013

May 22nd: day of return! Up at 06:00 in hotel to fetch car from park and travel short distance to P&O dock in Dublin, where checked in at 07:30 for departure at 09:00. Our boat European Endeavour was smarter than the Norbank on the outward trip. Decided to book a cabin for this leg so could be refreshed for drive up M6, very comfortable – lay on bunk at 10:20 and woke up at 14:00, always sleep so well on boats with the gentle roll! This was mainly a truckers boat so we had 2 good ‘free’ meals: cooked breakfast when we got on and roast meal just before getting off at 17:00. Truckers get priority for cabins so they can eat and sleep and drive a long way after disembarking. Weather was strong sunshine on a very cool moderate N breeze with sea slight at start becoming moderate nearer Liverpool. So what on earth were we doing on this boat! Well it gives very good seawatching with 2 harbours full of birds, particularly Dublin, and stretches of sea not too far from the land, good for someone who spends much of their time inland and much better than say a cruise where you’re often a long way from land. So plenty more good birds. Drove up M6/A69, dropped off N and made G at 22:30, just in time to meet Wednesday evening gang. Welcome ecstasy further E: lokttmbo!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

Date Time Boat/direction Species

Count

Liverpool docks Rhyl NE Great Orme Country Park Llanbadnig N Anglesey NW Dublin Howth Dublin docks Total
14/05/13 09:30-17:30 Norbank/Liverpool-Dublin Manx Shearwater

4

8

5

17

Gannet

5

3

8

Cormorant

10

13

23

Shag

1

4

5

Oystercatcher

4

4

Pomarine Skua

1

1

Kittiwake

23

1

17

116

157

Black-headed Gull

7

7

Common Gull

1

1

LBBG

1

1

Herring Gull

260

1

8

269

GBBG

3

3

3

Sandwich Tern

11

1

1

13

Common Tern

3

2

21

26

Guillemot

5

1

10

1

17

Black Guillemot

8

8

22/05/13 09:00-17:00 European Endeavour/ Dublin-Liverpool Great Northern Diver

1

1

Manx Shearwater

2

2

Fulmar

1

1

Gannet

4

6

5

15

Cormorant

10

1

11

Shag

1

1

Kittiwake

9

20

59

88

LBBG

1

1

Herring Gull

2

12

14

GBBG

1

4

5

Sandwich Tern

4

4

Common Tern

69

69

Roseate Tern

2

2

Guillemot

2

116

118

Razorbill

8

8

Black Guillemot

1

6

7

Table 7. Counts of Seabirds on Return Voyage from Liverpool to Dublin 14 May – 22 May 2013

May 21st: much brighter today with long sunny spells, mild, calm. Trip around Dublin started with Christ Church Cathedral, the protestant (Anglican) cathedral of the city, with a named tomb of Strongbow, leader of the conquering Normans c1170; some very impressive 17th century silver plate, must be worth well into 6 figures, and lots of protestant propaganda! Then we went to the National Museum, which was commendably very objective, nothing fanciful, all statements based on archaeological findings. City Centre is very impressive, no very high buildings and many grand structures such as Trinity College, Law Courts and National Library of Ireland. Bought 3 books at Eason, a large book store in O’Connell Street, including: Finding Birds in Ireland; Atlas of Irish History; The Norman Invasion of Ireland. The last was very interesting, not read so much detail before of what actually happened at the time. It contains (p.108) the origins of most of the invaders (Normandy, Pembrokeshire, Devonshire, Flanders) but frustratingly says:

Of uncertain origin are Harper (…), Sutton, Stafford, Rossiter, Loundres, Esmonde, French (ffrench in south Wexford today), Lamport (…), Peppard, St John and Turner.

At p.208 (Aftermath) the Norman system of settlement is explained:

The colonisation of south Wexford, particularly the so-called ‘English baronies’ of Forth and Bargy, may be taken as a fair example of the system at work. Strongbow granted these two baronies to Hervey de Monte Marisco who colonised his holdings with Norman, Flemish and Welsh soldiers and followers, dividing the lands between the Suttons, Prendergasts, Roches, Sinnotts, Rossiters, Furlongs, Hays, Keatings, Cheevers, Codds and others.

Or something like that!! Had dinner at Toddys, where plenty of interest, with someone looking very much like the ghs!!! 2moro back on the sea to home!! Looking forward to seeing the gorgeous ones again!!!

May 20th: not every day you add a new potential breeding species to a country’s list! At 15:16 a Honey-buzzard female was seen floating for 10 seconds over pastures in the afforested area near Monasterevin, Co Kildare; 15 minutes later she came higher, while languidly exploring her territory, mobbed by a corvid! Fantastic discovery and latter action captured on video! All centred on spectacular woodland at Moore Abbey near the town, which spotted from motorway on outward leg of trip! Here’s shots of the wooded area 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 and of the information boards 1  2  3  4. The area around is quite rough pasture and scrubby woodland, which is another major plus for Honey-buzzard. Weather did not help: dull today with drizzle from time to time but fairly mild on light E breeze. Much more action over Pembrokeshire than suspected over last 4 years: think the Irish population has been building up for a while, crossing the 70km from Pembrokeshire to Wexford with ease (from BirdGuides):

12:53 18/05/13 Honey Buzzard Pembrokes Tresinwen 12:18 one flew over high early afternoon

18:47 26/05/12 Honey Buzzard Pembrokes Skomer one flew in from the west mobbed by gulls and continued towards the mainland today

21:59 23/05/12 Honey Buzzard Pembrokes St. David’s one flew in off the sea this afternoon and flew towards St. Davids

12:16 19/04/11 Honey Buzzard Pembrokes Ramsey Island one on the ground

11:31 22/05/10 Honey Buzzard Pembrokes Skomer one over

18:53 25/09/09 Honey Buzzard Pembrokes Dale one over Dale Airfield late morning

22:07 20/09/09 Honey Buzzard Pembrokes Freshwater West flew through today

14:36 19/09/09 Honey Buzzard Pembrokes St. David’s Head 11:15 one over late morning

21:15 13/08/09 Honey Buzzard Pembrokes Strumble Head one over

22:24 07/08/09 Honey Buzzard Pembrokes Strumble Head one flew over

Maybe the juvenile I had in Wexford in early November last year was Irish-bred – exciting prospect! Also today had 2 Kestrel hovering over motorway near Limerick and at meeting of motorways M7 and M8 and 2 Common Buzzard, one at the Moore Abbey (in fields on SE of the woods, flying low into trees) and another near Castlewarden Golf Club on M7, closer to Dublin. Added a pair of squeaky Long-eared Owl near hotel last night after nocturnal survey at 23:30! So running total for raptors is now 14 birds of 5 species: 7 Kestrel, 3 Common Buzzard, 2 Long-eared Owl and single White-tailed Eagle and Honey-buzzard. Not so bad after all! Also not so bad was my favourite waitress!!! Now in the big city for cultural infusion where staying at Academy Plaza! Looks like will just miss G4g4t!! But hope to hit the ground running!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

 

May 19th: another peninsula today, the Ring of Beara, a much less commercialised route but still through some pretty wild scenery, but on narrow roads, reminding me of Devon or the ‘Shire! Most poignant moment was seeing the end in the distance at Mizen Head, the extreme SW corner of Ireland where a few (at least) Honey-buzzard juvenile from western Britain must have ended up, following the land going WSW from Wexford; a long trip over the ocean beckons unless the winds are westerly when hopefully a landing can be made in SW England or Brittany. Weather was more settled and warmer with sunny intervals on light W breeze and completely dry. Still processing data but star bird of day was a gull in Castletown Bearhaven, a 2w Iceland Gull in the fishing port, along with 28 Herring Gull, 6 GBBG and 2 Common Gull. Had some spare bread and got very close snaps as it was lured in! No raptors today, disappointing but not unexpected after Ring of Kerry. Also had Black Guillemot in most inlets, Sedge Warbler in old crofts near the end on SE side and a Whitethroat near Dirreencallaugh, where good café with great views over the lough to north. We were in County Cork for part of today, Murphy’s land to the initiated, g is a swearword! Killarney and hotel have been amazingly busy during stay, not what we expected: tourist trade is booming apparently! Some very nice deciduous woods near Kilgarvan on drive in to Kenmare: habitat is certainly not a problem for Honey-buzzard. S.xy waitress is very much of a turn-on!! We’ve reached the outer limits, starting leisurely journey back soon: looking forward very much to seeing the lovely lasses in N again!!! lokttgo!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

May 18th: not such a good day weather-wise – cloudy, moderate N breeze, cool, occasional light rain – but had good walk around Ross Island on Lake Killarney from 11:15-14:15 and raptors took a much-needed turn upwards. Intercepted by hotel manager, who must have seen my bins! He told me where WTE are nesting, not far from here and said they’d got chick(s) now in nest; they come fishing on the lake every other day. Or at least that’s when they’re seen, might be every day in reality. So delighted at 10:45 to see a White-tailed Eagle flying high-up on S side of the lake, gradually moving lower and lost to sight in the mist. They are incredibly large – 8 foot wingspan (almost 2.5 metres) with long broad wings and short white tail – manager was delighted to see them back in Ireland after an absence of over 100 years. Be good for business hopefully! Other star was a Common Buzzard near Killarney Race Course, almost 2km E of Ross Island; came flying towards a row of trees with stiff wing beats at 14:05, wings held slightly up, went down for a minute then came back up and repeated move. The bird looked as if it was in territory and was certainly not a Honey-buzzard. Looking at BirdTrack records for 12/5-18/5 in Ireland have had 5/7 reported Kestrel and 1/11 reported Common Buzzard so some influence! Migrants today included a Swift and 3 Sand Martin; summer visitors included 4 Blackcap and 7 Swallow; a female Siskin was collecting nesting material. Total for Ross Island was 23 species. Booked up flights in early June from Luton-Riga with Wizz for Wagner festival (18 hours of the Ring in 4 operas over 6 nights, complete sell-out, punters are even paying to go to final dress rehearsals) which going to with son; we’ve booked an apartment there (wonder who’s paying!); it’s 200th anniversary of Wagner’s birth this year. Going back to Vilnius for few days near end of June to an applied category theory meeting where invited to give a paper; Mike and I are major European contributors! Hotel continues to please, particularly one Irish lass, reminds me of someone!!! lokttmbo!!!

Interesting BirdGuides report today:

12:53 18/05/13 Honey Buzzard Pembrokes Tresinwen 12:18 one flew over high early afternoon

Following in path of Strongbow! Irish breeder?

May 17th: very sunny, light NW breeze, cool, dry on the coast but came back to torrential rain and thunderstorm at Killarney around g-time! Drove around the Ring of Kerry – a very popular grockle trail – and scenery was fantastic, with many rugged islands in the sea lough in which Kenmare sits at the head. Hoped to see the odd White-tailed Eagle but none seen; did though have a Kestrel, 5th for trip, at Sneem while having lunch at a pub. Seabirds were pretty good with 3 Red-throated Diver, 2 Great Northern Diver, 32 Common Tern and 1 Sandwich Tern. Migrants included 2 Whimbrel (1 NW, other calling), 3 Swallow N and 1 House Martin E. Total at Catherdaniel was 18 species and at Rossmore Island 23 species. Near Rossmore Island there were a few Orange Tip and c20 Common Seal, and 8 Red Deer were feeding in the hotel grounds at dusk. Down a little bit on markets this week, by 2k, but good recovery today from 5k down by yesterday. Have bought a few more CPBC.L, yielding 16% at best, but holding fire on big push until position becomes clearer; forced sales by investors who cannot hold junk bonds (by regulation) will continue for a while; political issues abound as some of paper is held by unions. Almost lit-up the hotel tonite: had fish and chips, served in paper to make it zany but there was a candle on the table which set the paper alight! Smothered it quickly with a plate before it took off! Hope hot stuff in N is keeping fit!!!xxxxxxxxxx!!!

May 16th: humid, sunny late morning, followed by heavy almost continuous rain, cool in rain. Walked around the lake in area around Muckross Castle from 10:45-16:00, mopping up lovely sunshine am and getting soaked pm! Still, made 29 species, including summer visitors of 8 Swallow, 5 Blackcap, 4 Willow Warbler and a Chiffchaff. This is a Hooded Crow area with 9 seen. On the Lake had 5 Mallard, 2 Mute Swan, 3 Moorhen, 3 Cormorant, 6 LBBG (5 ad, 1 1s), 2 Grey Wagtail and 2 Reed Bunting. But no raptors so total remains at 4 Kestrel. A few butterflies were out in the sun: Green-veined White and Small Tortoiseshell. Everywhere is very green and everyone is very friendly; some nice Irish lasses work in the hotel! Interesting Norman castle, McCarthy Mőr Castle, near hotel built by the Roche family c1214, when called Castlelough Castle, and lost to the natives c1261 (http://www.theroseoftralee.com/kenmare-demense-and-lough-leane/):

When Henry 2nd came to Ireland many English Nobles who were land hungry came with him. Many years passed before the English Nobles invaded South Kerry. A war broke out in 1214 between two McCarthy kinsmen and soon after amid the confusion many Anglo-Norman Castles were built. The Fitzgerald’s built those of Dunloe and Killorglin, the Fitzmaurices at Molahiffe, the Carews at Ardtully near Kilgarvan and the Roches at Oirbealach. The Castle on the Lake was probably first erected by the Roches as Oirbealach extended along the shores of Loch Lein. In 1261 and 1262 an army led by the McCarthy’s from West Cork invaded Kerry and slew Gerald Roche.

So occupied by the wave of invaders into Ireland that included the Rs, all coming over with Strongbow c1169. But not so easy to hold this particular (wild!) area and lost to the natives not long after. No indication of R participation. Also visited the Muckross Friary, more on this later! Eating very well and enjoying the g! Really missing the gorgeous and beautiful ones!!! lokttso!!!

May 15th: drove from Naas, Co Kildare, to Killarney today, where staying at the Lake Hotel with great views over Lake Killarney and surrounding mountains. After checking out of Osprey, did short trip to Lake Blessington, Co Wicklow, where had 16 species in timed count from 11:30-12:30 in bright cool weather with sunny intervals, moderate NW breeze and occasional showers. This is on edge of Red Kite release area but none seen. Did have 4 Kestrel, 1 near Naas and 3 more in central part of journey, all hovering over side of motorway M7. One wood, just S of Monasterevin, Kildare, looked ideal for Honey-buzzard. In spite of doubts over viability of an Irish population of Honey-buzzard will check on way back. Doubts concern extra trip over water for adults over Irish Sea to get to Ireland, and tendency for juveniles to drift off into Atlantic because of extreme western position in Europe and the unhelpful orientation of southern coast, pointing to SW for juveniles. No problems with habitat; many of the currachs (carrs) look ideal. Further ideal habitat is around hotel where now staying. Had lunch at Obama Café in Moneygall, Co Offaly, village where one of his mother’s ancestors William Kearney lived; Moneygall is a tiny backwater, transformed by the genealogy! Hope to catch up with things 2moro as forecast not too good! lokttbo!!!

May 14th: got P&O LIDU boat, setting off at 09:30 and getting in at 17:30; free quality meals on board, breakfast and dinner, went down well; found out quite a lot about the city by trail and error driving around the southern part (no signs, we were lost!) but finally made the Osprey Hotel at N’arse for the nite and a few excellent G; this hotel is not bad!! Big race meeting 2moro, but we’re moving on after look for Honey-buzzard in morning! Seabirds, on fairly flat sea; were very good today, including Black Guillemot, Pomarine Skua, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Guillemot, Gannet, Manx Shearwater and Kittiwake. Had a White Wagtail in Liverpool Docks. It was cool with sunny intervals, on a moderate NW breeze with occasional showers. Hope the fancied ones are keeping fit!!! lokttgo!!!

May 13th: Young Employee awards by R went well: good showing by SCA (formerly Kimberley-Clark) at Prudhoe who took top prize (cup and £500 cash, plus of course CV boost) and one other prize in top 4. Was sitting next to winner who’s in BH from time to time! Straight off with N afterwards, now in Le Toob waiting for a vessel! Wish u were here!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

May 12th: a little smug after early nite (with much regrets!), up early to cut grass and do a quick visit from 11:00-12:05 to Swallowship in the ‘Shire. Intermittent rain duly arrived at 11:30 but stayed on a while before going to N4c4c for a fortifying coffee! Wind was a light SW breeze. At 11:20 had encouraging signs with 9 Woodpigeon catapulted out of a wood and angry Crow up in the air. Held on while it started to rain and noticed a female Honey-buzzard up low-down above trees at Dilston at 11:35. As she climbed slowly higher with minimum effort, spotted the male above her and they floated up to quite a height in the rain before diving down on E side of Dilston. Just before the rain had a female Sparrowhawk up above Swallowship, looking very frisky. So quite a profitable business as the weather changed! Also, in total of 22 species, had a female Goosander flying low-down over Devil’s Water below Dilston, 2 singing Chiffchaff, a Swallow and 14 Siskin (crop of cones on pine trees is much more regular from year to year than on Sitka Spruce). Love the comment by Kielder proponents that it’s a more natural environment than SW Northumberland. Yes it is, if you ignore 2 million alien Sitka Spruce trees with no natural insect predators in the UK and an ability in the middle of their lives, through canopy closure, to smother every native insect trying to feed on anything else to death! The only insects that survive are the midges and mossies in the ditches, which then take on plague proportions. It’s a great place for camping though: don’t let me put you off! A little insect repellent will see you right! Weather forecast for today is cr.p – sun out at 17:00! Went with N to Sage for the more intimate music in Hall 2, featuring an octet made up of NS members; we were treated to more Bruce Dean but the highlight for most I think was the Mendelssohn Octet, a marvellous piece of music brilliantly played! Drove in as last train back is 20:15. Made G jit for a quick couple, served so well by j!! Good atmosphere as the Toon sealed their place in the Premier for next season. Said goodbye to the very fanciable one in style: lokttmgo!!! 2moro it’s R @ B for Young Employee of Year awards!!

May 11th: weather forecast was pretty accurate with heaviest showers at midday and much lighter showers later, at least in east of area, with some bright sunshine on moderate SW breeze. So did make Stocksfield Mount from 15:55-17:50 and had some success. At 16:32 a male Honey-buzzard was seen low to the ground moving slowly W against the breeze in the area to NW of Short Wood; he then disappeared but resurfaced at 16:37 much higher-up almost over the site; he dived into the area to the east of the site and then glided through the trees into the site itself. So that’s Bywell Cottagebank occupied! At 16:44 another male Honey-buzzard was seen rising quickly high up over Ovington before diving down again into the Whittle Dene; at 17:12 he was seen doing almost exactly the same manoeuvre. So that’s Whittle Dene occupied; worth looking now for Honey-buzzard over A69 near Nafferton Farm! Only other raptor was a Red Kite up for 5 minutes at the Garage from 17:07, mobbed by corvids from time to time. In total of 27 species had 11 Swift (presumed local breeders, feeding), 4 Swallow, 3 Chiffchaff and 3 Siskin (3 more than yesterday in the long Border Forest walk!). 5 LBBG were seen (3 ad, 1 2s, 1 1s). 4 Tree Sparrow, gathering nesting material, on edge of Guessburn was an interesting find; they seem to be slowly colonising the fringes of the Tyne Valley villages. Nostalgic walk in area, then home!! A’s was good at lunchtime: do think it’s a better place than some people acknowledge. 2moro not going on all-day Teesdale walk but may get down to Spetchells around lunchtime (or local ‘Shire site if rain looks imminent); in evening it’s S4con with Nick, including meal there, before return to regular nite-cap at G4g4s!! Pity in some important respects I’m away so much!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

May 10th: had long walk of 6 hours in Wark Forest in the damp with very low bird numbers in BBS, partly because the Sitka Spruce is not seeding this year; every few seasons they have no cones at all, so today not a single Siskin, Common Crossbill or Lesser Redpoll! There was very little sun and a moderate cool SW wind dominated proceedings, with pulses of rain coming in off the Solway. Total for whole walk of 6 hours was a very low 12 species – can list them all – 19 Willow Warbler, 18 Meadow Pipit, 15 Chaffinch, 8 Wren, 6 Robin, 4 Song Thrush, 3 Coal Tit, 3 Green Woodpecker (a positive surprise), 2 Raven (pair) and single Common Buzzard, Blackbird and Woodpigeon. Not planning to make this my study area! Walked in from the road to Whickhope Nick doing 12km in all, so good exercise! Whole trip in all, including drive, took 8 hours. Made W: 5 of us there tonite so good chat; admire manager’s taste in staff! On way there at 21:30 had a Tawny Owl on road near Ordley village and a Long-eared Owl at Lamb Shield. Not a bad week in markets but a few hiccups dented returns, ending +2k, just 6k short of record. Going physical meant now have 15 oz pd and 7 oz pt, not under bed, in a fund! Amplats duly announced cuts today and strikes now threatened. Didn’t hold any CPB debt but bought a small quantity today to show solidarity with brothers (and sisters!). 2moro it’s A’s4s4l and will try Stocksfield Mount for raptors in late afternoon when rain supposed to be easing. lokttgo!!!

May 9th: busy day!! But no serious further work on Honey-buzzard as cloud and rain moved in, in afternoon. Think 5 sites, about 10% of total, is right for now as no major influx into UK yet. The same sites are occupied early each year; these are rich sites, occupied early-on in colonisation, so well worth making a dash for! N was good – love the style!! Well served in MP as befits regulars! Concert was brilliant with Australian composer, viola player and conductor Brett (Bruce) Dean conducting a Beethoven adagio and his own work Testament and, viola in hand, conducting Beethoven 3, which was played superbly. Good to have you on board Bruce! The coda was a fantastic climax: think she’s soooo s.xy!!! lokttmbo!!! 2moro may do Wark Forest for BBS, depends a bit on weather; much later it’s W4g4s!!

May 8th: a lot wetter today in the morning but faired up a bit in the afternoon so made a quick trip to West Dipton Burn in the ‘Shire from 14:50-15:50. This site is usually an early one for returning birds and had a male flying between the tops of trees in a Scots Pine plantation at 15:17, again as yesterday’s bird: lightweight and grey-brown in colour. Out of the plantation very quickly came 5 Woodpigeon; Honey-buzzard seem attached to them, their eggs and their young! No other raptors today. So up to 5 sites now for Honey-buzzard and 2 for Hobby. In total of 25 species, also had 1st Pied Flycatcher of the year, singing. Goldilocks strategy still working in markets: not too hot (when interest rates rise) and not too cold (when companies go bust). Long-awaited Amplats announcement now expected tomorrow: could be RSA’s Scargill moment; whatever continued to sell RSA pt this week and not much left now; going physical for a change!! Made Hexham in time for some shopping at W, left car there and went to N4c4t and G where best turn-out for months of the lads so that was very good. 2moro it’s my favourite symphony Beethoven 3 at the Sage with N so running order looks like N4c4l, Stocksfield Mount for raptors, MP4m4t, S4con and BH4ra4s!! Irish Sea is forecast to be a little rough 2moro. xxxxxxxxxx!!!

May 7th: a brilliantly sunny and warm day on light SW breeze, the best day so far this year. Did return to Staward Gorge (S site) in the Allen from 15:35-17:35. Immediately noticed great agitation with continual alarm calls from Carrion Crow, Rook dipping rather menacingly over the Gorge and Woodpigeon very mobile. So the great nest robber, the Honey-buzzard, had returned! Had a few thin squeaky Honey-buzzard calls at 16:00 and 16:50, along with particularly agitated Crow calls and one glimpse of the Honey-buzzard as it dived into a tree at 16:37: it was a male with grey-brown plumage and lightish build. Another welcome sight was a male Hobby to the SW, rapidly climbing higher and descending N up the Gorge towards the site regularly used in the last 2 years at least. Also had single Kestrel at Ordley and W of the Gorge, a Common Buzzard over Loughbrow and a Tawny Owl at 24:00 at Newbiggin, so that’s 6 raptors of 5 species: 2 Kestrel and single Honey-buzzard, Common Buzzard, Hobby and Tawny Owl. In total of 24 species in the Gorge had 2 Swift E and 10 Swallow. N4c was very rewarding: gr8 to see the most stylish one in action!! BH was again a little quiet but good to see j&c there; j’s got a pair of bins and is looking the part!! Gr8 end to day: think she’s marvellous!!! lokttmbo!!! 2moro it’s another trip out if not too wet and definitely G4g4t!!

May 6th: out to Haltwhistle North Wood, in upper South Tyne area, from 12:00-15:00. Weather was overcast and mild for much of visit on light SW breeze, but eventually the sun broke through at 14:20, preceded at 14:15 by a pair of Honey-buzzard up in the air near their usual site; the female was floating low-down and was eventually ambushed in a dive by the male. The local pair of Common Buzzard then got up briefly to assert their rights before the pair of Honey-buzzard appeared again at 14:40 floating high-up; the male did some active flap-flap-glide in the direction of the female, who eventually drifted off in an effortless float with occasional stalls looking hard down at the ground; maybe she was looking for manure heaps or other stores of tasty grubs! So that’s 3 pairs in occupation but no singles; the latter may be keeping a lower profile until their mate arrives back. Another highlight today was a Red Kite, mobbed by corvids, floating over the high fields between Hexham and Haydon Bridge (occupied last year, 1st sighting there this year) at 15:20 and 2 Tawny Owl calling at Ordley at 01:15 (7/5). So raptor total today is 7 birds of 4 species: 2 Honey-buzzard, 2 Common Buzzard, 2 Tawny Owl and 1 Red Kite. In total of 36 species in visit, had 13 Willow Warbler, 1 Garden Warbler (singing), 3 Common Sandpiper (displaying) and 17 Sand Martin (at colony). Made tremendous progress on 2008 movement, completing a 30-page document on Regional Reports and other Original Sources for the Honey-buzzard Movement in September 2008, updating The Honey Buzzard did Cross the North Sea: from England to Benelux, Timing of Honey Buzzard Movement in Benelux from 13-14 September 2008 on Trektellen and the Summary. Also developed a new section Honey-buzzard Movements down Eastern Side of UK on 13-14 September 2008 with data on numbers, ages and timings for comparison with the Benelux data and to check for ripple effects within the UK. It’s all in my head now, must press on but frenetic period over! 2moro it’s N4c4l and BH4ra4s!! Hope to get out in afternoon to the Allen again (they must be back there now!).

May 5th: better day than forecast with long sunny intervals, moderate W breeze and again dry. Did walk from Ordley to Dotland from 14:40-16:40 as gives good views over a number of ‘Shire sites; met G&J, former from Exmouth, for good chat including raptors, castles and football teams; G lives at Dotland, is well up in local history circles but is an Exeter City supporter! No new Honey-buzzard but did have the pair at Ordley up again from 15:10-15:15 soaring together very high in the sky and doing a bit of diving and mutual circling; so their season is well under way! Only other raptor was a female Sparrowhawk, near Close House, mobbed by a Rook. 3 LBBG adult flew W, waders included 5 Curlew at 3 sites and a displaying Lapwing, and summer visitors included 7 Swallow, 3 Willow Warbler and 3 Chiffchaff. Total was 29 Species. Dedicating this long weekend, with few distractions, to completing the 2008 movement write-up. Made a lot of progress today in finalising what happened in Flanders, finishing review of Mark Newsome’s paper (and hence of Lees’!) and sorting out timings in UK for 14/9. The 1st Honey-buzzard movement in UK in recent times was in 1993 and have started collecting information on that; there seem to be close parallels with the 2008 movement. 2moro out to upper South Tyne to check this route for Scottish migrants and any early returns. lokttmgo!!!

May 4th: bracing day with amazing visibility on fresh, cool W breeze; sunny afternoon with some high cloud from time to time. From 14:55-17:10 went to Stocksfield Mount where had more exciting raptors. First the residents with, at the Stocksfield Garage site: 2 Red Kite up low down over a wooded outcrop at 15:20, 1 remaining up until 15:30, strongly suggesting a nest site; a female Sparrowhawk up at 16:00, mobbed by corvids. At 15:40 another Red Kite floated E over the Tyne towards the Wylam Horsley site. 2 Kestrel were up, hovering, at 16:12 at Bywell Cottagebank and at 16:20 at Ovington. Honey-buzzard action started at 15:30 when a male appeared flapping hard against the breeze, initially on the Bywell side but moving SW to go over Shilford and carry on W; definitely a migrant, perhaps going to a site further up the Tyne or one further to W/NW (Lakes, Galloway). I remember well being told in Finland that a few returning birds are so desperate to reach their homes when close-by that they carry on flying when they should rest; a few shun the usual detour by land, coming down in the sea in the Gulf of Finland, where they usually do survive by being able to float for a while and then flap to a small island to recuperate! Finally at 15:45 near Farnley noted a Honey-buzzard female (not the male noted on 2/5) lifting off quickly and adopting a territorial pose; soon after another female came from the SE over Guessburn and flew powerfully NW over to the N bank of the Tyne at Styford to avoid the Farnley female; she carried on to NW so presume she’s going further N but she’s not on the A68. So the eye-sight of the Farnley female was incredible, picking out the potential intruder at 6-7 km; just a bit of hand-bags really! Physics appears to be: females repel females, males repel males, females attract males! This bird was less frantic than the male migrant; if the target is Inverness then it was 3º there yesterday so can relax! So now have 5 migrants and 2 sites occupied by 2 pairs. We’re well underway! With a Kestrel hovering at Ordley at 19:40, final total for raptors today was 10 birds: 3 Honey-buzzard, 3 Kestrel, 3 Red Kite, 1 Sparrowhawk. In total of 29 species, migrants at Stocksfield included: 3 Arctic Tern NW (most unusual), 15 Swallow (10 N, 5 W), 9 House Martin (1 N, 8 W), 2 Swift N. 2moro looks cloudier so back to the 2008 movement and latest very interesting BB paper on Common Buzzard. lokttmbo!!!

May 3rd: up early (08:30!) for walk out with P&M in Upper Teesdale, doing about 8 km in area above High Force as preparation for walk P’s leading there on Sunday week. It stayed mainly dry but was cool with little sunshine on fresh SW breeze. However, good bit of exercise from 11:30-15:10 including break for a beer at the Langdon Beck Hotel! Birds were amazing with 7 species of wader, some very plentiful, with totals of 74 Lapwing, 23 Oystercatcher, 20 Redshank, 16 Curlew, 4 Snipe, 3 Golden Plover and 2 Common Sandpiper; other moorland birds included 1 Black Grouse (cock at Langdon Beck), 1 Ring Ouzel (Cronkley), 2 Skylark, 2 Stock Dove and 27 Meadow Pipit; no raptors seen; total of 32 species over 3 tetrads totalling 15, 22 and 21 species respectively. Back in time to catch 16:54 train into Newcastle with N to have meal at MP and get to Sage for concert Fiddle Fantasia. Combination of fresh air, walk, meal, wine led to good snooze in the Albinoni/Giazotto Adagio for Strings, sorry Remo! Really enjoyed Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons: played with great enthusiasm by the Sinfonia and very satisfying to hear whole piece, instead of the many short excerpts which are played more often, particularly on ‘phone lines while you get transferred or wait for a task to be performed! Back on last train to W4g4s for good crack; evidently there are many Lesser Redpoll at garden feeders through the Tyne Valley at Prudhoe, Stocksfield and Riding Mill; this is unprecedented, suspect their normal food on birch/alder trees in spring is delayed by frosts and they’re very hungry. Another good week on markets with +5k; French bank certificates did well and mining stocks had some recovery at last; next Monday 6/5 is critical for trends in RSA pt/pd miners – how much will Amplats be allowed to prune unprofitable shafts? If Amplats forced to keep them open by unions and government, then exit will continue. Pleased to make the weekend for a break and it’s a long one as well!! 2moro it’s A’s4s4l and Stocksfield Mount for raptor watch. xxxxxxxxxx!!!

May 2nd: what a day with brilliantly strong sunshine on light SW wind after low hazy cloud early on and later with maximum temperature 16º. Action started at 02:00 with Tawny Owl calling at Ordley. As having leisurely breakfast on patio at home at Ordley at 10:30, 2 birds of prey floated over high-up, a male Honey-buzzard and an adult male Goshawk, moving warily in mutual circling mode. Didn’t know we had Goshawk breeding in the area but main display period is March, when away much of time. When leaving for Hexham at 12:00 had the pair of Honey-buzzard up in display over the site with the male doing a fast glide and some calling. Drove off and on edge of Linnels at 12:05 had a male Sparrowhawk and a Common Buzzard up together. So that’s 5 species of raptor before lunch! Had long session in Tyne Valley W walking from Riding Mill, almost to Corbridge and back, from 13:55-17:15. Had an incredible total of 53 species of bird in visit, think this is the highest to date for me in BirdTrack; plus in addition 4 species of butterfly: Peacock (common), Small Tortoiseshell, Orange Tip and Green-veined White. At Farnley had a Honey-buzzard male up in butterfly display at 14:30, with the same bird at 15:15 floating over its nest site. Also here had a female Hobby up briefly at 15:25, a pair of Kestrel, a male Sparrowhawk and 3 Common Buzzard. At 15:53 a female Honey-buzzard was soaring over Corbridge, steadily moving N, gaining height and joined by a male Honey-buzzard at 15:54. They disappeared into the distance, perhaps to follow the A68 to the W of Edinburgh and then the M9 to Perth, over the next day or two. When first seen, think the female was at the end of a power glide and about to start the soaring phase. In May the sunshine is a lot stronger than in September, giving more thermals and favouring soar-glide over orographic (ridge) lift. Migrants included 8 House Martin and 3 Swallow N; summer visitors included a Cuckoo, 7 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 3 Swallow and 52 Sand Martin. A Kestrel was seen on way back at Dilston. Total for raptors was 17 birds of 7 species: 5 Honey-buzzard, 4 Common Buzzard, 3 Kestrel, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Goshawk, 1 Tawny Owl, 1 Hobby. Fantastic! Also on the hot side were the gbs and rhb, both looking very beautiful!!! Did make T&S for good crack with work-mates and good to see the vivacious c there!!! Brill afters with the most gorgeous one: very inspiring!!! lokttgo!!!

May 1st: mainly cloudy with some showers this afternoon, just when planning to go out so no fieldwork today. Still working on 2008 movement, updating comments on Mark Newsome’s paper in light of recent thoughts and the 2009 paper by Desmet & Faveyts on the same movement in the low countries. My Dutch is not too good but can get the gist from Google Translate! Think it’s very supportive for my case. Lees’ paper is so similar to Newsome’s that think can almost say: see comments on Mark’s paper. The web page on BirdGuides, giving a London perspective on the movement, is also useful and will update that; can then publish all the work on the analysis of the movement as documented in regional reports, which is up to 25 pages in conventional printed style. Made CCP4c4c with P; we’re going for walk in Upper Teesdale on Friday. Later it was G4g4t where good crack!! 2moro it’s a more conventional day with N4c4l and much later T&S4g4s!! Hope to get to Corbridge area in afternoon. Think it’s 3 in a row and a bonus mark!!! lokttgo!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

April 30th: at 15:13 today the Honey-buzzard season kicked off in style in Northumberland at Staward, on the River Allen, with a male overhead in typical power-glide mode, moving NE at speed. He came down to near the ground and then in the distance began soaring again to do another soar-glide cycle. A pair of Oystercatcher piped below as he flew over: they don’t get on at all! He will have crossed the South Tyne at Haydon Bridge, presumably heading for Scotland. Absolutely bl..dy marvellous!! It was a grand spring day with strong sunshine in sunny periods, a light NW breeze and dry throughout. Indeed had an amazing 7 species of raptor today (all Staward unless given otherwise): 2 Common Buzzard and single Sparrowhawk (male, Loughbrow), Kestrel (male), Goshawk (1s female soaring, then in active dipping and rising display mode), Tawny Owl (calling at Wylam), Merlin (hunting over Yellow Rigg) and Honey-buzzard. Total of all species for Staward, in lengthy visit from 12:35-16:05, was 38, including 5 species of wader – Oystercatcher (1 pair), Curlew (4 sites), Lapwing (1 pair displaying), Snipe (drumming bird), Common Sandpiper (1 pair on Allen) – 2 Swift at 15:40 (almost arriving with Honey-buzzard), 2 Singing Willow Warbler, a calling Redstart, a soaring Raven, and a migrant Wheatear. A Small Tortoiseshell was at Staward N. To cap a very good day had a Cuckoo calling overhead, moving N at Wylam at 23:50. Cracking results from LBG: raised the value of my 100k holding in its debt by £30 (that’s right, thirty quid!) but at least it’s more secure! Did make BH: very quiet, sadly minus j!! Very exciting climax to day: lokttmso!!!

April 29th: arrival of Honey-buzzard in study area looks imminent. 3 birds in Suffolk over last 2 days on BirdGuides:

17:27 29/04/13 Honey Buzzard Suffolk Knodishall 28/04/13 one over yesterday [28/4]

14:55 29/04/13 Honey Buzzard Suffolk Felixstowe 14:35 two flew over Felixstowe Dock from 14:29-14:35

Heavy passage over Straits of Gibraltar:

8:00 – 12:00 & 12:01 – 13:30 29 April 2013 Honey Buzzard Punta de Calaburras (Esp) 395 E with wind SW3, cloud-cover 2/8, visibility 1500m, 11º C a 16º C

27 Apr Gibraltar: Mainly cloudy skies with sunny intervals. Winds strong to gale force south-westerlies. Very strong winds hampered the raptor migration but some species managed a crossing amongst which were 246 Black Kites, only 4 Honey Buzzards, 5 Egyptian Vultures, 6 Sparrowhawks, 11 Booted Eagles and a single Marsh Harrier.

26 Apr Gibraltar: Mainly clear skies with some high cloud. Winds moderate south-westerlies. After an extended period of easterlies, raptor passage resumed with the first Honey Buzzards of the season for a total of 723 birds. Also counted were 730 Black Kites, 7 Griffon Vultures, including one rescued by the Dolphin Adventure boat that was taken into care, 2 Egyptian Vultures, 22 Short-toed Eagles, 10 Marsh Harriers, 5 Montagu’s Harriers, 38 Sparrowhawks, 15 Booted Eagles, 2 Ospreys, 8 Hobbies, and single Common Buzzard, Hen Harrier and the third Pallid Harrier of the season, the second female. There was also a steady passage of Common Swifts.

Light arrival in Scandinavia (Bivråk, Sweden; Hvepsevåge, Denmark):

Bivråk 1 2K Hultet, Harg, Upl 28.4 kl. 14:30 Robert Bünsow (Sågs från väg 76 ca 3 km S angiven lokal sittandes i en torraka på ett hygge. Skulderfjädrar nästan helt vita. Samtliga täckare med breda vita bräm samt tertialer med vita spetsar. Buk och kind nästan helt vita. Gav ett mycket ljust intryck.)

Bivråk 2 ex Rosenkällasjön, Tinnerö Eklandskap, Ög 27.4 kl. 14:30 Björn Eriksson

Bivråk 1 ex förbifl. Penåsa, Öl 27.4 kl. 09:30-12:45 Kjell Johansson

Bivråk 2 ex förbifl. Rosenkällasjön, Tinnerö Eklandskap, Ög 25.4 kl. 09:45 Janne Moberg

Bivråk 1 ex str Habo dagvattendamm, Munkaskog, Habo, Vg 24.4 kl. 09:45 Sven V Johansson

Hvepsevåge 2013-04-29 1 AD OF Tornelund [Orla Jakobsen]

So excitement is rising! Weather is improving tomorrow and going out to the Allen, as well as keeping an eye on local site, where none seen today in very strong and cool W breeze. Meal with R at Boatside, Warden, was good and it was a lively evening with a fantastically funny speaker, a vicar from the centre of Newcastle! Gr8 to meet one of former staff at A’s who’s there on a free transfer!! Rumours are growing that Costa have bought the closed Greggs shop in Fore Street: makes a good story anyway to wind up the N staff! Major profit warning by Greggs today sunk their share price (don’t hold any!). Gulls duly sacked Ling as manager last nite: what a relief! Should be back late at N4c4t followed near the close by BH4g4s!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

April 28th: pretty raw day with a lot of cloud and occasional showers, no sign of Honey-buzzard at local site, which kept an eye on from time to time. There was one migrant reported on BirdGuides, but as far away as can get to the south:

16:12 28/04/13 Honey Buzzard Guernsey Barras Lane 11:30 one circled briefly before heading off east late morning

Did a lot of catching up with the house – washing, shopping, cooking, burning paper from clear-out! On 2008 movement, finished processing Cambridgeshire and Sussex bird reports, now onto last of mainstream reports, that for Durham. Did make G, absence from Thursday noted with plane cancellation. Not many Toon supporters there! Gulls of course are safe after spirited 7 points from last 3 games with emergency management team of Knill/Brass. I want to see the ultra-cautious Ling given the boot before returning to wholehearted support but very pleased that at least we’re still in the League! The G was very chatty, with star j getting the winning goal today in a ladies football match!! Felt inspired later: very sensuous – lokttmgo!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l and R much later for dinner in the evening at Warden as it’s 5th Monday in the month. Next up is Ireland with N, not long!

April 27th: on Ovingham-Prudhoe bridge had 6 Sand Martin and 4 Swallow, so spring slowly stirring! Out with N for meal at MP and last opera of season at Tyneside Cinema. New York Met’s staging of Handel’s Giulio Cesare was quite zany in parts but seemed a little chaotic after Act 1; at times it was almost like Gilbert & Sullivan; however, star Cleopatra (Natalie Dessay) sang brilliantly, her Charleston-style dancing was impressive and she was vivacious throughout! Next year’s programme looks very good, including operas from Russian composers Shostakovich, Borodin and Tchaikovsky, 2 operas by Puccini, and one by Dvorak. Very much enjoyed refreshment and the brilliant action afterwards: lokttmbo!!! It’s gr8 to be back!!! 2moro it’s a check for early Honey-buzzard and much later G4g4s!!

April 26th: made it back on time on CrossCountry train from Exeter to Newcastle at 16:29, actually going from Plymouth-Aberdeen but halted at Newcastle as signal troubles at Berwick. Took 6 hours 6 minutes, quite relaxing really and found time to process Devon and nearly all of Cambridgeshire reports for the 2008 movement. Brother-in-law dropped me off at Exeter St Davids station to make things easier. At other end took Metro to Airport and reclaimed car; did pop into Flybe office to try and find out why the flights yesterday had been cancelled but she must have thought I was daft as she said: what cancellations! Anyway picked up Euro compensation form as think can claim €250 from the airline for non-performance, in addition to a refund which is supposed to be in hand. Had female Kestrel at Nafferton and a Common Buzzard near Farnley on A69. Got back into Hexham and got a takeaway, which was inspired, as hail all over the place and power cut in ‘Shire from 17:30-22:30, through a thunderstorm; decided to go to W4g4s early rather than sit in the dark! Made W, very impressed with sights, think NE girls are s.xier than Devon ones!! Very positive week on markets and +7k, with gains across the board; good week for Lloyds debt and offloaded c7k of RSA pt stocks at small profit. 2moro it’s MP4m4t, TC4con (all the way from New York, Julius Caesar opera starring Cleo!) and quite possibly a ½!! lokttbo!!!

April 25th: one more Honey-buzzard reported today, from London:

14:08 25/04/13 Honey Buzzard London Walthamstow Reservoirs one flew [sic] Lockwood Reservoir today

Trek N has been delayed by difficulties at Flybe with the single flights from Newcastle-Exeter and Exeter-Newcastle both cancelled today; what a shambles! It will be Easyjet Newcastle-Bristol in future with train from Bristol-Exeter. Would sell any Flybe shares if had any: their computer system is almost in as bad a way as their ‘planes (making very poor prognosis for survival); care for passengers is zero; and they support Exeter City. Coming back tomorrow on train!! Had good day in Sidmouth with sis, coffee in Costa and walk along both ends of sea-front, grandly called the Esplanade. Had 20 species from walk in Sidmouth including 1st Sandwich Tern of year. Caught up with some admin work for R., trying to put right some back-seat drivers Quite misty today and temperatures of 16-17º of last few days are about to slump to 10º. But it’s been a great break with tan refreshed, links restored with Mike, catch-up with many relations, return to genealogy at Devon end and interesting birds! No more raptors in last 2 days so final total is: 11 birds of 4 species: 6 Common Buzzard, 2 Tawny Owl, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel.

April 24th: with such a burst of warm weather in the south, no surprise that 1st Honey-buzzard reported on BirdGuides today (with 1st bird actually yesterday in Essex):

21:24 24/04/13 Honey Buzzard Essex Copford 8:45:00 one flew low and north over Swan pub at 18:45

18:58 24/04/13 Honey Buzzard Essex Thurrock Thameside Nature Park 11:50 23/04/13 one yesterday at TQ689805

14:19 24/04/13 Honey Buzzard Lancs Martin Mere WWT one reported over Tarlscough Lane/Curlew Lane junction ESE of Martin Mere

So great news and look forward to seeing 1st very soon at home! Did make Devon RO today, spent c4 hours looking at R records in Tiverton around start of colonisation in 1700. Starting point is marriage:

Rossiter, Thomas & Mary Townsend 5 Feb 1711-1712 (Tiverton Bishop Transcripts)

followed very quickly (5 days) by:

10 Feb 1711-1712 Bishop of Exeter v Thomas Rossiter and wife Mary of Tiverton, case for pre-nuptial fornication (AE/I/6)

So she must have looked quite large at the wedding! Sadly their first child Margaret dies as a baby and was not baptised so we don’t know the birth date. Not really relevant but evidently Tiverton is incest capital of Devon at the moment! Checked current baptisms of children of Thomas and last one is a little puzzling: child baptised as Rossiter, Bernerd, daughter Thomas born 2 Dec baptised 8 Dec 1722-1723 and buried one year later as Rossiter, Barnabas, son Thomas 20 Dec 1723-1724; think it’s the same child, unusual to get a gender difference! Suspect baptism is more accurate for name and gender as baby would be clearly in view. Note how at that time all the credit for the child goes to the man; this did change in the next 50 years! The year then started on 25 March so a range quoted above like 1722-1723 refers to the period 25 March 1722-24 March 1723; the current year system (Gregorian with New Year on 1 Jan) did not start until 1752. Confirmed that no significant earlier records exist for R, going back to 1685, nor for Townsend but Pingstone, a family involved in a few R marriages, is an older Tiverton family. With Somerset also exhausted as a source from earlier work, need to go back to Wexford! Well that will be pleasant. Great family reunion this evening, forgot had all these lovely relatives in Devon at Teignmouth!! Joining Honey-buzzard on trek N tomorrow in the air. Looking forward to seeing the gorgeous ones again!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

April 23rd: out with sis for lunch from 11:30-14:40 at Turf Hotel, Exminster, which inevitably involves a walk along the RSPB reserve, Exminster Marshes, and along the banks of the Exe! Weather was very warm and sunny, perfect spring day. Had amazing total of 43 species, including new for the year: Shoveler (11 birds), Whimbrel (2, seen earlier in CV), Cetti’s Warbler (4 singing), Cirl Bunting (2), Sedge Warbler (7 singing). Also of interest was 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Wheatear, 5 Swallow and 5 Little Egret. Raptors today were 4 Common Buzzard, 2 Tawny Owl, 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk, giving running total of 11 birds of 4 species: 6 Common Buzzard, 2 Tawny Owl, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel. Butterflies included Peacock and Small Tortosieshell. 2moro it’s Devon Record Office at Exeter in morning to look at some R material for Tiverton from 1696-1713. Evening sees big reunion with nephew from Teignmouth, his partner and 6 more! Missing the lovelies!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!

April 22nd: very good to see Mike and Liz again at Totnes, travelled down by train from Exmouth–Totnes, getting views of both sides of Exe Estuary and the N bank of the Teign Estuary. Never met so much encouragement to move down to Devon; certainly collaboration on category theory is much better when we can meet; virtually sorted the paper on Einstein in 6 hours stay, including tasty dinner at Royal Seven Stars Hotel! Planning on another visit in July to stay in a Dartmoor hotel and visit everyone from there (and perhaps look for the odd Honey-buzzard!). Not actually planning to move down! Cloudy today with occasional drizzle; added 8 species to annual total, mainly from train: Shelduck, Little Egret, Grey Plover, Turnstone, Brent Goose (dark bellied), Black-tailed Godwit, Fulmar, Shag (but note 3 of these, Little Egret, Grey Plover, Turnstone, seen in CV). Raptor total is 3 birds of 2 species: 2 Common Buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk.

April 21st: had Common Buzzard over Beaufront and displaying male Kestrel N of Throckley. Good reception by younger sister and hubby; nephew and 2 sons also dropped by, good to see them. A few Honey-buzzard have been reported already in Denmark and Sweden but none at Gibraltar or in UK yet; slightly quizzical about these very early Scandinavian records. Having documented everything in multimedia for the 2012 season and published it in the Appendix to the 2012 Report, not planning to do the same this year as it’s obviously diminishing returns for an enormous effort. Will still publish multimedia from nest visits to be able to compare one year with another and interesting close-up material but otherwise will concentrate on analysis and writing up of results in study to date. Need to create some space!! 2moro seeing long-time co-publisher Mike. lokttgo!!!

April 20th: another grand day with trip out to Hyons Wood, lovely birch/oak wood S of Prudhoe, from 14:50-17:50 in bright sunshine on a cool SW breeze. No more Red Kite but did have a female Goshawk out hunting and a Common Buzzard in territory. Total of 27 species also included 5 displaying Curlew (4 sites), 7 Lapwing (4 sites, one bird clearly sitting), 5 Chiffchaff (3 singing), 4 singing Willow Warbler, 5 Swallow (3 N, 2 feeding) and masses of Blackbird, Robin, Blue Tit and Carrion Crow. Had a Wall Butterfly on a track, 2 fast-flying Orange Underwing moths and increased numbers of queen Bumble Bee. Made A’s4l where very friendly! Sorted Northumberland reports for 2008, including BIN, Farne Islands Report and my own observations on critical day (13/09/2008). Next up is Devon!

April 19th: sorted Suffolk bird report for 2008, quite a big job but all done now. Had good walk out in lovely spring sunshine from 15:25-17:30, from home at Ordley out to Dotland. Star bird was again a Red Kite, think now have a potential ‘Shire breeding site! At 16:00 watched a distant raptor coming N over Dukesfield; that could be a Honey-buzzard but surely not yet, no it looks more like a Red Kite. It disappeared from sight, then at 16:05 saw a raptor very high up, floating around under high fair-weather cumulus cloud over Shield Hall. This was definitely a Red Kite with long forked tail and effortless float, latter feature very much like Honey-buzzard. Suspect this is a male, floating over nest occupied by female; that would be the Honey-buzzard situation anyway! Very punctual for the 4 o’clock soar! So up to 10 sites for Red Kite now: Tyne E 3, Tyne W 4, Devil’s Water 2, Derwent 1, with still some checking to do. In total of 31 species had 1st Willow Warbler singing, 4 Chiffchaff (3 singing), 2 Swallow N, 15 adult Black-headed Gull NE, 5 Curlew displaying at 3 sites and 1 Skylark singing. This week saw major break in markets with slump in gold price and other commodities; although mining was only 10% of assets, effect was noticeable with overall fall of 6k, half of which in funds managed by JPM; so slide since peak on 15/3 is 18k, about 3.4%, slightly less than fall in ftse of 4% over same period. Moving, as the opportunity arises, pt equities from RSA into North American pd/pt + physical metal etf pd/pt as unrest looks likely to return to RSA later this year. Increased bonds, cash and the like to 74% as stance becomes more defensive! Made N4c4l – pretty quiet; W4g4s was very lively with 5 of us out! Good to see m there, + a few other beauties!! 2moro it’s A’s4s4l and trip out to back of Prudhoe at Hyons Wood, an unchecked Red Kite site at which the species bred successfully last year.

April 18th: good day out with LAF. Had lunch at Snowy Owl to celebrate our 10th anniversary – I was founder member in 2003, then lapsed around 2007 before resuming 2009; a very positive event! Field trip was to visit Northumberlandia, a sculpture made out of mining spoils between Shotton opencast (now called surface workings!) and the Snowy Owl. The enormous sculpture represents rather schematically the figure of a woman lying down and some parts are fairly easily visualised! Counted 19 bird species in very rough weather: cool, squally W winds with frequent heavy showers. Then back to Snowy Owl for tea, sandwiches and cake, before going on to Stannington Village Hall for our quarterly meeting. I raised the question of closure of Black Grouse lekking areas in spring and summer on open-access land: how were these selected, how often were they reviewed, who was consulted? Support idea of closures in rich Black Grouse areas but want to make sure closures do not persist when no longer needed. Back to G4g4s with work mates; good crack enlivened by few late arrivals!! Another massive bear raid on gold last night in Hong Kong, knocking price by $40 in 20 minutes but this time it recovered quickly; certainly some major forces at work, beware! Had single Tawny Owl today at 01:00 at Ordley and 21:10 at Newbiggin, and best of all a Red Kite battling against the wind low-down over a field just N of Throckley on Ponteland road at 12:20. That’s another new site for the year for the kite. lokttbo!!!

April 17th: Chiffchaff singing at M&S car park, Hexham, at lunchtime! Worked through a couple of reports from Norfolk today; a consistent picture is coming together on the congeners of the Honey-buzzard; it’s Suffolk’s turn tomorrow where a peek ahead looks supportive! Made N4c4c with P as CCP closed for kettle repairs! Later had good crack at G with the gang! 2moro it’s the Cramlington area for most of day. May be back to G with work-mates later, not clear yet. lokttgd!!!

April 16th: further good progress on county bird reports for 2008; aim is to get it virtually sorted by Sunday except for Lees commentary, which will be line-by-line and take a little longer! It’s all coming together very well to provide evidence for wrapping up the 2008 movement report as a whole. Sunshine is getting stronger, shirt-sleeves today and lunch on (sheltered) patio outside. Met j at N for good chat; he drinks at Crown Posada on Quayside, where j from BH has a double life!! Had some good beer and chat at BH much later!! Trip home was very inspiring with the mbo!!! Think she’s lovely!!! xxxxxxxxxx!!! Will respect MT’s memory tomorrow; not sure that many of her critics lived through the 1970s with its power-cuts, uncollected street rubbish and near hyperinflation. Further she did win 3 general elections and nobody’s reversed her major achievements such as stopping trade unions being above the law, encouraging collapse of the iron curtain and the right to buy for tenants. I did think she went on too long: 2 terms were enough for me! I was moving to the left at the end of her time in power. Might be at CCP4c4c, definitely will be at G4g4t!!

April 15th: Chiffchaff have reached Hexham with one calling at 11:40; also had a female Kestrel at Ordley. Steadily working through county reports from 2008, checking what I’d written and looking for additional information in annual summary and accounts for other raptors, hirundines and pipits. A few reports have been looked at for 1st time as arrived just as last season took-off! Lincs bird report 2008 has a paper on the Honey-buzzard influx of that year by Alexander Lees (Zander of BirdForum fame!). Beckmesser and the Meistersinger come to mind! Full analysis in progress. Situation with au is very tense, as indicated on 12/4: evidently some hedge fund has placed a short bet of $20×109 with margin payment of 5% ($1×109); battle of the gladiators, can see some real blood being spilt here by hedge funds which turn out on the wrong side! Made N4c (sitting outside in sunshine for 1st time for a while!) and R, where got task of sending out 2nd letter to schools on YEDT; quick walk around Sele and then time to admire the mgo!!! 2moro it’s N4c4l, more work on county reports and BH4ra4s!! lokttmbo!!!

Interesting paper on the lack of success Peregrine Falcon have in grouse moor areas. Since none now breed in my study area this is not a surprise but good to see it made official in Legal Eagle no. 66 p.12 (2012):

And it’s not just hen harriers. A recent RSPB study, based on data collected by raptor study groups across northern England, has been published in the journal Biological Conservation, 145 (1) 2012, The authors suggest peregrines can now be added to the species where illegal persecution is affecting the population. More than a thousand nest histories were studied in the north of England between 1980 and 2006. The study found peregrines on or close to intensive grouse moors bred much less successfully than those in other habitats. … Performance was so bad, the paper indicated that populations on grouse moors were not self-sustaining.

April 14th: Chiffchaff have reached Ordley with one calling at 15:30. Very bracing walk at back of Haydon Bridge in Langhope area from 15:40-17:50 with strong SW breeze and little sunshine, but dry and continuing mild. In total of 20 species, had 4 Common Buzzard including a bird building a nest in Larch to NE of Wood Hall. Waders included 6 Lapwing and 6 Curlew, all displaying. Migrants W were 3 LBBG adult, a Pied Wagtail male and another welcome Swallow. Highlight was a wild gathering of Scandinavian-bound birds having a party near a copse at 17:30, all chattering and very excited; q