Wednesday, 27 July 2011


The weekend just gone proved to be an extremely busy one for me at Whitburn Coastal Park. Both Saturday and Sunday had early 5.30am starts but it was very quiet both mornings on the mound and we only Ringed a handful of common birds. I Ringed another Wren on the Saturday which is usually an absolute nightmare but this one was as good as gold! This species remains the only one that has escaped from my grip so far. If the nets weren't coming up with the goods, the birds passing out at sea more than made up for it. There was a superb variety of birds going past the coast, and we had some excellent close up views of some of our scarcer species. A steady stream of Manx Shearwaters were joined by a handful of Sooty Shearwaters, and a couple of Arctic Skuas were joined by a single Great Skua and even a superb Long Tailed Skua (below). It was only the second of these majestic birds I'd seen. Maybe even better though was the small flock of Storm Petrels that were feeding just offshore. As small as they are, at times they were surprisingly easy to pick up.
The bird nets may have been disappointing, but the moth trap was absolutely terrific. It had the largest amount of moths that I'd seen in the few months that I'd been visiting. There were over 100 Dark Arches alone! There were over 20 different species, my favourite being this Orange Swift Moth (below).
Paul Hindness from the Durham Bird Club had asked if our Group would be willing to help him out with a task he'd been meaning to do for a little while, so on Saturday afternoon 6 of us found ourselves giving the Whitburn Bird Observary a much needed makeover. It was a couple of hours of good honest hard work, but after a good clean and a lick of paint we had that place looking fantastic (below).

And finally, because there had been such a good passage of sea birds over the weekend we decided to have a try to catch some Storm Petrels on the Sunday night. We started to put the nets up at about 9.30pm and for the first couple of hours got nothing but a cold! Then eventually we started to see a bit of activity, and before long we had our first catch of the night. Its incredible to see these remarkable little creatures so close in the hand. They look so delicate yet must be so robust to survive all their life out at sea. Despite only Ringing two birds there were quite a few flying around and a few near misses. I'm sure in the coming weeks we'll Ring a lot more birds.

Thanks to Steve for the photo's!

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