Appendix 1. Detailed Reports on Survey Work in 2012 for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland (Italics new sites)


Site-code (as used from 2001)


Site-name


Area

Occupation phases display=1 rear=2 fledge=3

post-nuptial=4 (total no adults seen)

Courtship/Display



01/05/2012-

18/06/2012

Sitting/Rearing



19/06/2012-

19/08/2012

Fledging



20/08/2012-

16/09/2012


Post-nuptial (all autumn migrants, late breeders)


17/09/2012-

25/10/2012


Nesting activity

Disturbance permit

Breeding category


Outcome


Migrants

B2


Staward N


Allen

1, 2, 3, 4 (2)

26/5 a male at N site, which is due a nest visit next month. At the N site the pattern was repeated with a male Honey-buzzard up at 16:08 over a group of trees surrounded by conifers and quickly subsiding back into the vegetation. It's possible the female is incubating here but not convinced as season seems to be at least 2 weeks late.



See nest activity (2 birds 7/7)






See nest activity (4 birds 27/8)


22/8 trip out to Staward Gorge (1072) from 12:15-16:15!! Weather was dry, sunny and breezy with moderate W wind. Honey-buzzard provided some close-up action above the canopy, starting with a male calling and flying N down the valley to N site at 12:54 (clip with derived stills 1  2  3); at 12:59 he was picked up again in the air, doing muted display, when another male flew S down the valley very close-up into S site (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27). The 2 males seemed to ignore each other. Fantastic action at 15:00 in N site where family party of 4 birds up in vigorous chasing flight with some calling (to be analysed); looks like both adults and their 2 juveniles involved (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23).


22/8 Finally at 15:57 yet more action, with male up again this time with female, and doing a muted display over site with rises and falls but without butterfly action at top of rise; the birds come very close together in touching farewell and the male starts moving S, gliding fast overhead before being lost in the sun (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4). Always nice when speck in the distance is 100% confirmed when bird comes much closer! Think the male was actually emigrating, starting journey back to Africa, after seeing young gain confidence in air and making space for the brood in terms of food resources (good strategy!).

7/7 did make site #6 Staward 1 on Allen from 15:20-18:15 with time on site 16:20-17:30, in humid conditions with weak sunshine after recent heavy rain. Piece of p.ss really, walked into wood and found nest very quickly in Norway Spruce 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10. The heavy rain has made finding the current year's nest easier as last year's nests and even this year's nests from spring are already looking pretty worn. The downside is that the splash is washed away so quickly and other remains on ground quickly get waterlogged and rot; just one feather 1 and one bit of splash 1 found. On arrival in site at 16:20 had single alarm call from the nest area but no more action until 17:05 when sitting on beach 1  2  3 at Costa d'Allen! Female came swinging out low down from trees giving great views and photos with male briefly seen in background, more retiring (1044, clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12, 9-12 show male). Then at 17:10 the female was up overhead with a Common Buzzard in close attention (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17, 1-6 show Common Buzzard alone, Common Buzzard call can be heard), but she returned towards the nest after a little while. Two of these birds are fairly ragged. The Honey-buzzard female is missing P1/P3 on left wing, P1/P4 on right wing and a central right tail feather; the Common Buzzard, more compact than the Honey-buzzard, is missing P4/P5 on left wing, P3 on right with P1/P2 new, a central tail feather and a left outside tail feather; the Honey-buzzard male on the other hand is not missing any feathers. At 17:15 the male was off through the trees, out to forage to W, so they'd decided danger was over. I had thought this site might pose problems this year as the birds in spring were up the valley more on W side. But as so often happens, they've gone for same area as last year in the end. Bit like those tourists who every year speculate on going somewhere different but in the end say: “Oh let's go to Tenerife again, we know that'll be nice!”.

27/8 Visited nest site #7 from 13:30-15:15 and located nest in Norway Spruce 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19, which did have a recently vacated look about it; found some downy feathers 1, a Woodpigeon kill 1  2, splash 1  2  3 and chewed wax comb 1  2  3 in vicinity.


CONF- FL

2 juv


NEST found – Norway Spruce


Migrant

1 male

(1 S)


B1


Ridley


Allen

1, 3 (2)

27/5 Then female Honey-buzzard came right overhead patrolling her territory from 13:48-13:51, quite low-down with Curlew giving alarm calls (1019). She drifted back towards Ridley at the end. Here's video 1019 of close-up of effortlessly-floating female Honey-buzzard from Morralee on 27/5 with one clip and many derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16.



21/7 Here's a shot of foraging area over other side of valley at Morralee.



4/9 The decamped birds at Morralee (1087) included the male and a weak-flying juvenile; the male was seen first moving W low-down at 14:47 (clip); the juvenile followed in laboured fashion at 14:50 (clip with derived stills 1  2  3); the male came back E at 14:53 realising the shooting was continuing (clip); a juvenile, presumed the same as seen earlier, was up briefly at 15:15, before collapsing back into the canopy. Morralee has got this nice tarn, which should be good for dragonflies in fine weather.



CONF- FL

1 juv



I5


West Dipton Burn

Devil's Water

1, 2, 3, 4 (2)

13/5 pair of Honey-buzzard back in full display in very breezy conditions at West Dipton Burn in 'Shire, seen from 15:20-16:20 up most of the time (1008). This is also an early-return site and it's good to see the female back so early after the start of their partnership last year. Honey-buzzard were intercepted by both Sparrowhawk (male) and Common Buzzard so it's useful having them there as 'bait' for other raptors. Here's video for pair of displaying Honey-buzzard in 'Shire on 13/5 (1008): clip 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11, clip 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, clip 3 with derived still 1, clip 4 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, clip 5 with derived stills 1  2  3  4, clip 6 with derived stills 1  2, clip 7 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9, clip 8 with derived stills 1  2  3  4. The birds were very active but did not perform the butterfly display. Rather the birds spent a lot of time wheeling around, occasionally coming together for a little floating above each other. It was probably too breezy for the birds to soar and perform at higher altitude. The birds looked very fit: this is the usual situation on return after the long migration. Both birds are grey-brown in plumage so the female lacks the more common ruddy-brown colour. The female is distinctly larger than the male as shown in the stills with both birds on.


21/6 Did actually have a Honey-buzzard today: flushed a ruddy female from road near Newbiggin in the murk at 21:45 on way into Hexham. I've found in the past that they're crepuscular at this time of year, maybe hunting frogs and other creatures of the night!



29/8 family party of 4 (adult pair high-up, 2 weak-flying juvenile, hardly able to get off the ground) up at West Dipton from 13:00-13:02 (1080).



21/9 At 11:27 had a juvenile Honey-buzzard powering its way down the West Dipton Burn (1106). These birds looked restless and might even have left but rain came on.



CONF – FL

2 juvs



I2


Ordley


Devil's Water

1, 2, 3 (2)

1/5 AND THE SEASON BEGINS!! At 16:45 a pair of Honey-buzzard was displaying at my home site in the 'Shire for a few minutes. Here's clip 1001 of the display with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12; stills 1-4 show birds in flight and 5-12 show the female landing in a tree. The gunshots near the end do put the birds off and they dived immediately: the shots were from crop protecting gas-guns so not regarded as a threat. Perched Honey-buzzard have a very conspicuous pose and shape: note the attenuated rear end (as both wings and tail long), the horizontal stance, rather like a Pheasant, and the small head. There are 2 flight calls at 10 and 20 seconds. They seemed very pleased to see each other! Last meeting was probably 15/9/11 so that's 228 days apart! Why do I think they're last year's pair? Well they're very early back and so are experienced birds, almost certainly the same pair that's bred successfully here for years. If one of the birds was missing, then the remaining bird of the pair would seek a new partner as happened at West Dipton last year, where the male recruited a new chick later on in the inward migration! Weather was gloomy and cool today on light NE wind but had 38 species from 16:35-18:45 including 5 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 3 Swallow, and a Common Buzzard at Dotland. The countryside looked quite bleak for the return of the Honey-buzzard 1  2  3  4. All fits in well with increased tempo on continent



19/5 Raptors as so often anticipated the change in weather. A male Honey-buzzard was up at home site at 13:45, floating up to some height before gliding down into last year's nest site, hovering a little before final plunge (1012a). Here's clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4.


24/5 The pair of Honey-buzzard at Ordley were displaying from 14:50-15:05, mainly mutual soaring or the male floating over the female, so clearly no eggs laid yet; I generally reckon this pair lays just before mid-May (1018). Here's video 1018 for Honey-buzzard display at Ordley on 24/5 – clip 1 (male up) with derived stills 1  2  3; clip 2 (male up) with derived stills 1  2; clip 3 (female up, pair together) with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5; clip 4 (male dash down valley, returns) with derived stills 1  2; clip 5 (pair display, male gives flight call at 1:35) with derived stills 1  2  3  4 and excerpt of call 1; clip 6 (pair up, more distant); clip 7 (pair up, more distant). So the male comes up first, circling low-down over the site; he is soon joined by the female; they do some mutual circling then the male dashes down the valley and returns back up; they do some more mutual circling and follow-me until the male gets more skittish, including making a flight call; they continue with more mutual circling drifting higher to the S; the male stays up on his own after the display has finished. This display is fairly restrained; they're an experienced pair and have probably only just got back into breeding condition after the migration and poor weather on return to UK. Mind, mustn't get too anthropomorphic: how do we know that experienced pairs of Honey-buzzard are less enthusiastic than new ones?


2/6 Another dull day with no sun and pretty cool as well on light NE wind. But did see 2 Honey-buzzard. On driving into Hexham from home at 13:55 noticed a commotion over Lairds Wood and picked up a male Honey-buzzard mobbed by 4 Jackdaw. The raptor climbed above the fray by soaring effortlessly even with lack of obvious thermals, moved a little way to E and then circled back towards site on Devil's Water. He may have been intrigued by the pa system at the Hexham Horse Trials at the Linnels, which was so 'good' that you could hear every instruction to Fiona/Sarah from my garden!



3/6 Earlier in the murk had the male Honey-buzzard high up over the house hanging in the moderate NE breeze (1025). Here's the clip with derived stills 1  2. I watched him hang there from 13:09-13:13 before he started gliding E, still at height. This type of display by the male in June – high hanging – I associate with the start of the incubation period. That is the female is sitting on eggs and the male is declaring that the site is occupied to any late migrants. Males do incubate as well but the females don't seem to do this type of display.


4/7 See nest activity (1 bird)


28/7 followed by Honey-buzzard (bed-time tick!) giving 3 wailing calls at 08:00 in response to some light gunfire!


29/7 Interesting observations today included Honey-buzzard male up for a few seconds over home site at 14:00 to show he's still alive!


8/8 See nest activity (1 bird)

20/8 and finally we have it! The first young of the season fly! Somewhat secondary evidence at Ordley where usually eat lunch outside at 15:00, keeping a weather eye on the local pair. On Saturday 18/8 all very peaceful, today lots of continual anger cries from Crows, which normally indicates the young Honey-buzzard are out on the branches and the Crow are suffering some sort of sci-fi crisis imagining the world is about to be taken over by the kites!


29/8 Didn't make N, went for walk to Dotland from 12:20-14:05 as sun came out after morning murk and had 6 Honey-buzzard up, comprising male patrolling at Ordley at 12:27 (1079).


3/9 2+ Honey-buzzard at local Ordley site; made this last-named site as wanted to see what was going on; a little wiser as the male came in from the E at 15:43, stalled slightly (probably seeing me) and then glided into woods N of site going deliberately behind some trees for cover (1085). Here's clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. It's unusual to have so many males still on site; suspect it's combination of late fledging and high brood numbers (that is 2!). A little bit later, heard some calls, confirming presence of juvenile(s) at this site but still don't know whether it's 1 or 2 fledged!




4/7 made site visit #4 from 14:30-16:20 to local site from home, crossing burn at higher level than before, but with sticks so reasonably safe but very wet feet! Flushed male off tree as entered site when camera equipment still in rucksack: good close views but no piccies. Nest continues in same Norway Spruce tree as in previous years, now enormous and clearly a very productive tree 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24. Found a number of feathers, including 12 white down 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10, 2 brown tarsal 1  2 and 1 long grey 1, and some (8) splash 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 (1042). Alarm calls by Black-headed Gull on entry and Carrion Crow near end, showed Honey-buzzard were in residence. As is practice this year, anyway for 1st visits, kept time in site to around one hour, from 14:55-15:55; this is to avoid undue disturbance in the poor weather. Today was not so bad though with warm muggy sunshine and no rain until evening.


8/8 Entered local site from 13:10-14:15 with usual fording of burn and climbing up a steep bank; nest 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  in Norway Spruce looks enormous and is well-maintained (1066); small amounts of splash 1  2 were in vicinity with one large amount 1 below a nearby Larch tree; a few small feathers included at least 3 white down 1  2  3  with one down feather seen to fall from nest while videoing it. 4 large white down feathers 1  2  3  4 were found. Small amount of down would suggest that the young are progressing well but fledging is still some time off. Had a series of adult piped alarm calls at 13:45 and a single such call at 13:55 but no adults seen. Wood Ant have built some enormous nests 1 this year.



CONF – FL

1+ juv


NEST found – Norway Spruce

I1


Dotland


Devil's Water

2, 3, 4 (2)






24/6 Then onto Dotland 1  2 from 15:20-16:30 where no records this year yet: arrived just as torrential rain finished and up came a male Honey-buzzard flying steadily out to E at 15:45; he was seen a little later flapping over a field at 16:00. So, for the year, that's 1st nest and one new site: marvellous!

19/7 Here's a still taken today from Dotland, showing ideal Honey-buzzard habitat in the 'Shire with mosaic of meadows, valleys and woods; 6 pairs forage over this area, including one in Tyne Valley.



8/8 Beautiful warm sunny weather today and went out for local walk from 12:45-14:45 doing nest visit 2 in final round. Just setting off at 12:50 had male Honey-buzzard up over Lairds Wood, floating over wood a little while, before climbing and gliding off NW to Dotland site (1065); so he was from neighbouring site! Here's clip 1065 of male Honey-buzzard going to Dotland from Ordley yesterday (8/8), with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5. This clip shows how breeding Honey-buzzard travel between feeding and breeding areas in good weather: they soar, gaining height, and then perform a long glide before diving down into the nest site.

29/8 A female (new bird for year) returning from hunting trip just over tops of trees at Dotland at 13:26-13:27 (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4, 1080a).


13/9 Earlier did do some Honey-buzzard work; made Whitley Mill with good views of Dotland site from 10:10-11:20 but spent most of time in SC's house in lively catch-up over a cup of t! Did though get a juvenile Honey-buzzard up over nest-site for a few seconds at 10:15 before collapsing quickly back into canopy (the bird, that is).


21/9 at 11:43 another juvenile was up floating over the fields S of Dotland, giving reasonable views before coming down into an oak tree (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, 1107).


CONF – FL

1 juv



H1


Bywell Cottage-bank


Tyne W

1, 2, 3 (2)

23/5 Made Stocksfield Mount from 14:45-16:30 and at 15:53 had a male Honey-buzzard fairly high-up over back of Short Wood, Bywell, on a foraging expedition, but again no mate in view (1017).


27/7 Today had distant views of male Honey-buzzard circling over Bywell Cottagebank at 16:24 (1061),

26/8 much better weather this morning with long sunny spells on light winds but surprising downturn in afternoon with drizzle turning to quite heavy rain late afternoon: weather forecasters tried to make light of it but think it was a significant cock-up! Whatever, good weather days between bad ones are marvellous for seeing birds of prey as the times in which they can perform are reduced, increasing their visibility. Honey-buzzard details for Cottagebank (1075) were fairly typical for post-fledging display: male was up first at 12:09 (clip), followed by female and juvenile at 12:23 (clip); female slowly returning towards nest site in stages at 13:11 and 14:04 (clip).




26/8 the male was up floating over area from 12:28-12:31, moving SE at altitude and was presumed to leave (clip).



CONF – FL

1 juv


migrant

1 male (1 SE)



R2


March Burn


Tyne W

1, 2 (2)

2/6 out to March Burn from 16:15-17:40 where had another male Honey-buzzard doing almost the same thing, effortlessly soaring from 16:24-16:27 in the murk, accompanied by 4 Jackdaw, before gliding down into a wood. Also had an agitated Common Buzzard in same area, not happy with the Honey-buzzard presence.


See nest activity (1 bird 1/7)


See nest activity (2 birds 15/8)




1/7 another day, another Honey-buzzard nest visit, going to March Burn site from 17:05-19:10 in damp, mild, showery weather. This is normally a very difficult site and today was no exception with the only signs of occupation alarm calls from 7 Carrion Crow as came near to site and a quick series of 3 Honey-buzzard alarm calls at 18:19 in total intrusion from 17:35-18:45; the crows would be reacting to the Honey-buzzard leaving the nest and the alarm calls might be given as the displaced bird (presumed female) sees its mate returning. The nest has moved from high in a Norway Spruce to high in a Douglas Fir 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11, probably the highest from the ground in the sample of 13 sites surveyed for nests (1041). Only 2 bits of splash 1  2 were found and 2 large pellet collections 1  2 were found, not necessarily from the Honey-buzzard.


15/8 Today, site visit #3 to March Burn from 12:50-15:05 was rewarding with large nest confirmed in Douglas Fir 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11, young again heard calling a few times from nest with chicken calls (recording, 2 calls at 4 and 29 seconds) and adult (presumed female) making some alarm calls as left immediate area of nest at 14:35, where arrived at 13:15 to alarm calls from Crow, presumably in response to retreating Honey-buzzard adults (1067). Wood Ant have had a good season and they were all over the place, pity Honey-buzzard don't eat them; never any signs of attacks on the bulky nests; know the ants remove much material from below the nest including feathers as in these shots 1  2  3  4. Did still find 2 white downy feathers 1  2 below nest, plus some splash (6 lots) 1  2  3  4  5  6 and goo as 2 kill remains 1  2. Had lunch with the ants below the nest tree and they got everywhere – literally – a few were still crawling out in the G later!


CONF – NY

1+ juv


NEST found – Douglas Fir (was Norway Spruce)

A1


Towsbank


upper South Tyne

1, 2, 3, 4 (2)

28/5 [Softley/Eals] at last the b.ggers are up in the air! Yet another very fine day, indeed quite frazzling when stuck out in strong sunshine looking for raptors! Great day in Eals area of upper South Tyne from 12:30-15:40 with 4 Honey-buzzard seen from 2 sites, starting with female up near Lambley Viaduct at 12:20 on drive in, followed in same locality by male up at 13:45, before moving to Towsbank at 13:53 (clip 1 male up to N of site, 1020). Preliminaries to display followed from 13:58-14:10: clip 2 male up over E side of valley, mobbed by male Kestrel, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9; 3 male hanging E side, with derived still 1; 4 male hanging and gliding E side, with derived still 1; 5 male glide onto W side valley, with derived stills 1  2  3  4. Full display of all 4 birds was seen both high-up and low-down for best part of about 50 minutes from 14:12-15:05. These clips are as follows: 6 pair display, female below, male above, gliding N down valley, low-down, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5; 7 three birds (2 male, 1 female) up in display, floating around together, with derived stills 1  2  3  4; 8 two males displaying, then male shown floating and gliding, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5; 9 two males, diving and rearing up, then floating around, with derived stills 1  2; 10 female up low-down, chases other female, male appears at end, floating high, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10; 11 hd  ld four birds up floating around with some follow-me display, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6; 12 hd  ld four birds up together floating, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9; 13 hd  ld male doing rudimentary butterfly display, rising up and diving but no flutter at top, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5; 14 hd  ld male doing rudimentary butterfly display, rising up and diving but no flutter at top, with derived stills 1  2; 15 hd  ld four birds up together floating but now more as 2 pairs, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8; 16 hd  ld male more strident, interacting with other male, both hanging more aggressively, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5; 17 hd  ld Curlew calling below, 2 males still interacting, one glides up the valley, is chased by the other male and they skirmish before floating together, they then join the females and all 4 birds engage in vigorous rather chaotic interaction with some chasing, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19, 1,2 showing female Hobby attacking a Honey-buzzard; 18 hd  ld male flap-flap-glides up valley, with derived stills 1  2  3  4; 19 hd  ld male glides up valley, with derived stills 1  2  3  4, 1 showing male Hobby gliding behind at a distance; 20 hd  ld female floating around, with derived stills 1  2  3  4. It can be seen that males chase males and females chase females.






See nest activity (1 bird 12/7)










See nest activity (4 birds 1/9)


1/9 From 15:35-15:40 another male Honey-buzzard, a presumed migrant from Scotland, was gliding to S at moderate height on E side of valley using orographic lift on the moderate W breeze in the sunshine; he was actually intercepted by the resident local pair, who shielded their site from the intruder: keep away you forker!! Suspect he was tired and looking for somewhere for half-board: he moved on towards the higher end of the upper South Tyne where he should find the natives more amenable! Here's the migrant male when first seen by me with local male getting ready to intercept (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5); the intruder was obviously seen much earlier by the resident pair; here's the migrant moving S trying to give the area a miss but intercepted and chased off by the local male (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7); here's the local male celebrating his success in seeing him off (clip).


10/10 good trip out to Eals in upper South Tyne from 13:20-16:05 in sunny, mild weather on light SW breeze. As expected saw more Honey-buzzard: 2 juveniles up together, one of which was tracked down to a field grazed by sheep and photographed at close range, calling in flight (1121). These birds are also presumed to be Scottish-bred migrants: local birds will have left some time ago. Towsbank is an incredible magnet for Honey-buzzard: combination of moorland, deciduous woodland, river and rough sheep pastures seems to be ideal.


20/10 Made Towsbank this afternoon from 14:00-16:45 in beautiful sunny, mild weather on light SW wind. Total for raptors in trip was 12 birds of 5 species, pretty amazing for mid-October, including 7 Honey-buzzard (all juvenile, 1123).The 1st Honey-buzzard was up at 14:25, joined by a 2nd at 14:32 floating together; various further sightings were made over the next 50 minutes and it was going to be difficult to get an accurate total; then at 15:30 6 birds got up in the air together, 3 very high-up and 3 at moderate height, and proceeded to glide off slowly SW to disappear completely from sight. Meanwhile at 15:20 another bird had arrived from the N over Lambley Bridge and was presumably the bird left at the end on its own, last seen at 16:05. So Towsbank is a bit like a café, a place to stop and refresh, for Scottish-bred Honey-buzzard. Clips of Honey-buzzard juvenile comprised: 1 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5 (bird up mobbed by Carrion Crow, white head, pale underwing, small carpal, ruddy body, hanging over wood); 2 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2 (bird up, dark head, full-winged, hanging over wood); 3 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12 (bird up with looser outer tail feathers, grey head, very pale underneath, uneven trailing edge on right wing, one dive); 4 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6 (2 birds up at same time, one relatively slim); 5 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2 (at least 2 birds very high up, one pale bodied); 6 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5 (bird up high, very pale); 7 hd  ld (bird up very high, a speck); 8 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 (bird up, dark underwing coverts and small carpal,grey head, broad dark subterminal tail band, landed on wires where perched); 9 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5 (bird perched on wires, horizontal stance, attenuated appearance with long wings and tail, small head, like large Cuckoo, compare with much stockier Common Buzzard on wires); 10 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 (bird on wires mobbed by male Sparrowhawk, overall dark grey appearance); 11 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 (3 birds up, floating higher, gliding to S, one bird pale body, grey head, small dark carpal, another similar but ruddy body, last similar to 1st but with greyer body and transverse bar on remiges); 12 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4 (same 3 birds up, very high, one tussle between 2 birds, becoming specks); 13 hd  ld with derived still 1 (2 more birds in view, part of 2nd contingent of 3 birds leaving, 1 bird gliding S); 14 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 (bird up, dark body with ruddy tinge, grey head, partial transverse bar across remiges, very recent arrival from N, resting).


12/7 On to Towsbank where saw 2 raptors up in air from car at 13:00 just before reaching site itself. Stopped car and picked up a male Honey-buzzard below a soaring Common Buzzard. Just as well that stopped as did not see any more Honey-buzzard during visit, lasting until 15:40, but in nest site examination from 14:05-14:55 did find that last year's nest in a fork in an Oak tree is being re-used with build-up of fresh foliage on top 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, a few spots of splash 1  2  3 (even after recent heavy rain) and 2 white body feathers 1  2 (1051). This is an enjoyable healthy site for field-work – steep climb in and out and lots of sliding around on sodden ground; but ended up with sneezing fit in Hexham from grass pollen! I must be allergic to a very late flowering grass, always suspected Cocksfoot.


1/9 did nest visit #12 today to Towsbank, where it all began in the early 1990s, from 15:15-18:10 (16:20-17:15 near nest). Honey-buzzard were very conspicuous, having adult female and male up, followed by extensive flying practice for 2 juniors; would say this was a relatively early fledging site like its neighbouring Eals site, perhaps around 20/8. Recordings as follows: 1) at 15:23 the ruddy-brown female came drifting into the site (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6, 1083); 2) at 15:26 the male comes in from high-up and hangs briefly (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10); 3) at 15:31 juvenile no.1 (dark head) comes up from the canopy and floats around, including some hanging (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11); 4) at 15:54 juvenile no.1 flying over towards me (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4); 5) at 15:57 juvenile no.2 (paler head and neck with dark eye mask) up over wood, hanging for a while (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10); 6) at 15:58 both juveniles up briefly together (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4); 7) at 16:08 juvenile no.2 up again for more hanging (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6); 8) at 17:29 juvenile no.1 up again for more hanging (clip with derived stills 1  2); 9) at 16:36 the female was actually keeping a sneaky eye on me when I was checking out the nest, maybe from habit! (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4). Clips 4-8 have intermittent shimmer on them, as the camcorder overheated. Visited the nest in area of oak/birch woodland 1; the nest was well-covered with oak sprays 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11 and looked occupied until recently. Some chewed wax comb 1  2  3  4, presumed from wasp nest, was found under a tree about 200m from nest. There were no signs below nest,and ground was very slippery.

CONF – FL

2 juv



NEST found – Oak



migrant

1 male (1 S)

9 juvenile (6 SW, 1 S, 2 rest)




V1


Slaley Forest Viewley


Devil's Water

1, 2 (2)

5/6 with weak sunshine on light SW breeze, out today from 10:50-13:10 in 'Shire making Slaley Forest site, on 2 poles. Birds did not keep me waiting long, the pair coming out to greet me at 11:20, even though I was not that close to the nest. They might have recognised me, actually hanging over me looking threatening (and giving close-up video 1028). The female Honey-buzzard stayed up at moderate height, floating over the site, until 11:30 before gliding back into the site; not sure where the male went, he may have been up much higher in the sky. Interpret the anxiety and focus on nest site as indicating that the female is about to lay. As soon as she lays the 1st egg, she will start incubating so the 1st young hatched will be bigger than its sibling. This is common in raptors: if food is short the younger bird may be fed to its older sibling – nice!

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









See nest activity (2 birds, 24/6)


See nest activity (3+ birds, 6/8)








24/6 Did make 1st nest visit to site in 'Shire from 13:55-15:15. Allowed no more than hour for presence near nest and this was reduced to 40 minutes from 14:15-14:55 by a heavy shower coming on, after earlier warm sunshine. But in this time found nest from last year in Scots Pine 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21 was being re-used and had good views of female and male Honey-buzzard up above the canopy (1038). Clips were: 1 (female, stills 1-3, overhead followed by male, stills 4-7) hd  ld, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7; 2 (female overhead) hd  ld, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5; 3 (female overhead) hd  ld, with derived stills 1  2; 4 (male overhead) hd  ld, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5; 5 (female overhead, heavier than male with gap in central tail feathers, sparse broad bars are shown on still 3) hd  ld, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10. Stills taken directly include 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12 (female 1-4, 7-9, 11; male 5-6, 10, 12).


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


CONF – NY

1+ juvs


NEST found – Scots Pine

F1


Haltwhistle North Wood


upper South Tyne

1, 3, 4 (1)

22/5 a male up low-down near Bellister (1015), mobbed persistently by a Jackdaw. Here's clip 1015, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, of male Honey-buzzard flying out to feed at low altitude near Bellister on 22/5 from 13:30-13:31 mobbed by a Jackdaw.






8/9 good visit out to upper South Tyne from 12:20-17:10 in warm, sunny weather with light S wind, clouds clearing as passed Haltwhistle. Visited 3 sites just up from Haltwhistle: North Wood, Featherstone and Lambley. At North Wood (1091) had a juvenile Honey-buzzard up, just after arrival at 12:23, floating over wooded pastures to W; it went down into fields after a short period (clip 1). Next sighting was not until 15:09 when a weaker flying juvenile, also thought to be from North Wood, was floating over the large wood near Park Village (clip 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6); it was in the air for about 3 minutes without a flap just above the trees, before uncertainly going back into the canopy; weak-flying juveniles remind me of people who are out in a small boat for the 1st time: don't move at all, don't try anything dynamic in case the boat capsizes!

8/10 in continuation of fine autumn spell with all-day sunshine after early frost, in the afternoon made Haltwhistle North Wood from 14:50-16:50 where had 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard, presumed Scottish, feeding up in area, before setting off high into the sky and S from 15:15-15:35 (1120); one typical juvenile flight call was heard. Clip 1 at 15:16, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, shows 2 juveniles floating up slowly without a wingbeat, escorted by a flock of Jackdaw; one juvenile disappears, the other flies high then quickly comes back to their base in a wood; clip 2 at 15:18, with derived stills 1  2, shows one bird coming out of the wood in which they have been feeding and doing a circuit before returning; clip 3 at 15:26, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, shows the 2nd bird again slowly ascending and this time it appears to depart to S; an irritating dog and equally wining owner are prominent in clip 3, a few expletives might have been in order! A sheep almost expires in clip 1. By the way Scottish birds normally carry a wee hip flask attached to their tarsal!




CONF – FL

2 juv


migrant

2 juvenile (2 S)



T1


Oakpool


Allen

1, 2, 3 (2)

4/6 in lovely sunshine on light, cool N wind had very productive day out in East Allen getting lots of video of a pair of Honey-buzzard (1026) at Oakpool. Here's video of Honey-buzzard from visit to Oakpool from 11:40-12:40 on 4/6 (1026): clip 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7; 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7; 3 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8; 4 with derived stills 1  2; 5 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6; 6 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. In clip 1 at 11:56 the pair are in active display with mutual circling and follow-me; in clip 2 at 12:01 the male is high-up performing the rear and dive display with a pause at the top; in clip 3 at 12:09 the male performs a fast glide in one direction before flapping and stalling and returning in fast glide in opposite direction; in clip 4 at 12:10 the male is briefly seen overhead to the accompaniment of much anxiety calling by Curlew; in clip 5 at 12:12 the female appears overhead, hanging briefly; in clip 6 at 12:25 the female appears over the site again and slowly moves to the S soaring and gliding. At 12:40 on leaving the site by driving S, the female was still slowly circling over the countryside about 1.5km S of nest site.



See nest activity (2 birds 20/7)








See nest activity (3 birds 28/8)





20/7 made site visit #12 to Oakpool on the East Allen (1057) from 15:45-17:15 with time near nest from 16:05-16:55; thought this might be difficult as birds spent all their time on the opposite side of the valley to normal side when displaying; but no problem, conservative as usual, they've returned to area of usual wood closer to road and built a lovely new nest in a large Oak tree 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17. Last year they retreated further into the wood, following a new track being driven through the wood, but this track is very little used and has been eroded in places by heavy rain. So they've really reverted to their favourite position in the wood, right in the middle with a large adjacent clearing. Weather was sunny and mild with light SW wind. Had male up near the car on arrival at 15:45 for about 3 seconds but he disappeared quickly; he reappeared in distance 1 to W soaring at 17:03 perhaps coming back to nest on my departure; only other sign was an alarm call at 16:30 when leaning on the nest tree (always a good trick!); this is presumed to be from the female, generally more protective near the nest. Ground was saturated and very slippery after recent rain and no signs below nest.


28/8 So onto Oakpool on East Allen from 15:20-18:10 for site visit #10. Unlike at Wylam where people very cordial, slight altercation here with local family who obviously think they're squires! Anyway what about the birds? Honey-buzzard nest in Oak (1078) was in fine fettle 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17 with a number of fresh sprays of oak on the rim, could have still been in use. Found some small feathers 1  2, some fresh down 1  2  3  4  5 and quite a lot of splash 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 in vicinity. Wondered where the birds were; then at 16:50 heard at least 3 Honey-buzzard calling from the N end of wood for about 30 seconds. The calls were the normal interchange of family parties, very soon after fledging (as at Staward on 22/8), so took it that nest had been vacated in last 1-3 days and that at least one juvenile had fledged. If the nest had still been occupied, the birds would have been more anxious. The wood is difficult enough to traverse in its southern part 1  2 but gets much worse on its northern part with lots of prickly low-growing shrubs like Hawthorn and Holly; so I left them to it!

CONF – FL

1+ juvs


NEST found – Oak


Moved back to tree used in 2011



S2


Swallowship


Devil's Water

1, 2, 3 (2)

23/5 Still made Dilston from 13:20-14:35 and at 14:03, 14:10 and 14:14, had a female Honey-buzzard floating over the wood, but no mate in view (clip 1016). Near the end, although it's a distance shot, she does do the butterfly display with undulations and heavy flapping at the top of the rises.

18/6 Earlier at 12:10 had a male Honey-buzzard up over Loughbrow, gliding back into Swallowship; that's an extra bird as only saw female here earlier.



See nest activity (2 birds 13/7)





See nest activity (1 bird 26/8)


2/9 While sitting out at D at 13:36, had a pair of raptors up in the stratosphere over Dilston – almost certainly male and female Honey-buzzard from the Swallowship site; they may well have had juvenile(s) below but they would have been shielded by the trees; jizz looked right for Honey-buzzard with flat wings, effortless floating and slow movements.



13/7 well, site visit #9 achieved from 17:25-19:30 at Swallowship with time actually on-site from 17:55-18:50, in cool, dry conditions on light NE wind. The walk-in was through glades with waist high long grass, full of pollen, fallen branches and soaking wet patches. Made return across the fields, keeping a wary look out for any keepers! Absolutely chaotic (but exciting!) with family party of 5 Common Buzzard (2 adult, 3 newly-fledged juvenile) actually residing in Honey-buzzard nest area. So screamed at for over an hour by 5 Common Buzzard with birds sometimes coming as close as 20-25m. Here's 6 clips of Common Buzzard juveniles calling, flying and perching (all ld) 1  2  3  4  5  6. The Honey-buzzard male came off his nest and moved into an adjacent shelter belt, clip ld  hd with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, where he spent over 30 minutes while the battle raged! Honey-buzzard do sometimes seem to do this: just move out and let the Common Buzzard do the hectoring; not a bad strategy really as long as you don't think the Common Buzzard will take your small young. They don't seem to do this – some non-aggression pact perhaps! Found the Honey-buzzard nest 1  2  3  4  5, in the crown of a very tall Scots Pine overlooking the Devil's Water – re-use of last year's nest. No point in looking for Honey-buzzard splash as the masses around were probably mainly from the Common Buzzard. Retreated to field outside nesting area and mobbing continued. The male Honey-buzzard floated over high-up keeping an even lower profile than the female (quite normal!). When out a bit more the female Honey-buzzard came back towards the nest and one of the birds, the male, proceeded to do what old field guides call the butterfly display clip ld  hd with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14. Accompaniment is by family party of Jay (with Crow-accent, another congener of Honey-buzzard) and juvenile Common Buzzard. I've observed this display a number of times but would describe it better as a series of glides, each one ending with a slight rise and a spell of hovering. The same guides sometimes even say that the Honey-buzzard does not hover; of course it hovers, not only in the butterfly display but also in simple variants of it such as when floating around the nest site. Spring-time display more often involves mutual circling and follow-me than the butterfly variant. Honey-buzzard accounts in field guides have been copied from book to book with no adaption to modern terminology or what is feasible to see in field conditions, rather than in shot specimens. Anyway all appeared to end well and I've got over 4GB of videos (1052) in the field of a Honey-buzzard male and a Common Buzzard family party. Will need to update the jizz pages!!


26/8 Then onto nest visit #9 at Swallowship from 15:25-17:50 with time on site from 16:00-17:10. This site has quite a rough approach 1  2, sometimes but not today stroll across the fields on way out! Dipton Wood is nearby and is a popular foraging area. When weather was good, thought would get some more raptors here but soon disillusioned: Honey-buzzard nest (1076) was looking good in Scots Pine 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22 with tremendous drop from it to Devil's Water below, perhaps 50m, but no signs below; these 4 shots 1  2  3  4 show the ascent to the nest from the burn to the top, any takers! There's at least one bit of down on side of nest. In popular loafing area for juveniles, on edge of copse, did have more signs with waterlogged down 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 and a little splash 1. Thought I was being watched and on exit from site at 17:10 a single long call from an adult Honey-buzzard confirmed continuing occupation!


CONF – FL

1+ juvs


NEST found – Scots Pine



R3


Shilford


Tyne Valley W


1, 2, 3, 4 (2)

May 14th: another pair of Honey-buzzard together in same general area, if not actually displaying, at Shilford this afternoon during visit from 14:20-15:20 in somewhat quieter weather but still pretty breezy (1009). Compiled material from Shilford on 14/5 (1009). Birds were not as close as on 13/5 and were less active. The 1st clip shows a female and the 2nd and 3rd show a male; both are feeding about 1km to NW of main site and seem to be slowly returning S; they are extensively mobbed by Jackdaw, against which the Honey-buzzard look enormous, showing their large size. So here's clip 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6, clip 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4, clip 3 with derived stills 1  2  3.







See nest activity (2 birds 30/6);


See nest activity (1 bird 18/8);




26/8 The juvenile at Shilford was low-down over edge of Broomley Woods and much closer (1075a); here's clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21; the structure and jizz are very much Honey-buzzard like and sparse broad barring shows on stills 19-21.


25/10 Down to Stocksfield Mount from 12:05-14:05 in mainly cloudy, cool conditions on light N wind with just a few brief sunny intervals near the end; good enough to check for Honey-buzzard juveniles which are typically active unless weather really bad! On passing woods E of Shilford had what looked like a Honey-buzzard juvenile being harassed by 2 Common Buzzard but nowhere to stop so drove on and hoped the action would move my way. Had to wait a while but at 12:57 a juvenile Honey-buzzard came over Broomley Woods low-down flying E on what looked like a feeding trip and continued over the Guessburn still at low altitude. Here's the clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5 (1124).


30/6 Today made 2nd nest visit, to Shilford, between Stocksfield and Riding Mill, from 16:55-19:25 with actual time at nest from 17:35-18:45 in warm conditions with occasional sunny intervals on moderate SW wind. Very rough wood underfoot: good for keeping fit! Action was confused with 2 angry Common Buzzard defending their nest in Larch 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 and a Honey-buzzard nest in Scots Pine 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18 being less obvious. Honey-buzzard nests are less of a platform-shape than Common Buzzard's with the woven sticks more obvious; Honey-buzzard nests are usually circular when built into the main trunk and more boat-shaped when built along a bough. Honey-buzzard avoid Larch as a nesting tree, while Common Buzzard appear to regularly use Larch, building the nest on sturdy lower beams which would not suit Honey-buzzard. Two body feathers 1 were found below the Honey-buzzard nest, together with 7 lots of splash 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. The female Honey-buzzard flew into the wood, giving anger calls, as shown here hd  ld, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16 (1039); her mate, the male, can be heard calling in the distance as she comes in. The dark bill, long tail with narrow base, relatively long P10, small head and long neck are all evident. That was the only clear view of a Honey-buzzard but had many plaintive anxiety calls, for instance at 2, 6, 12, 19, 24 seconds on clip 1, as recorded on these clips: 1 hd  ld, 2 hd  ld, 3 hd  ld; clip 4 hd  ld contains a single sharper, shorter Honey-buzzard alarm call at 5 seconds followed by a Common Buzzard anxiety call. In the next 3 clips the Honey-buzzard continued to make anxiety calls in the distance but the main bird in view and calling loudly was the Common Buzzard: 5 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4, 6 hd  ld (loud anger calls from Common Buzzard and thinner, quieter calls from Honey-buzzard), 7 hd  ld with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15. The exception is in clip 5 (1:48-1:54) where the female Honey-buzzard appears again on the edge of the wood 5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14. The yellow bill, short tail with broad base, relatively short P10, heavy head and short neck are all evident in the Common Buzzard. The Honey-buzzard calls are less strident and more fluty than the Common Buzzard calls. Clip 5 shows you need to be suited to jungle exploration to undertake this survey!

Relieved but not very surprised that birds had weathered the storm: no recorded cases in study area of failure of Honey-buzzard due to stormy weather yet. Presumably in a storm the female will cover the young or eggs and just sit tight, taking all the elements can throw at her. While the nests are not on the highest branches, they're still pretty exposed and hail stones must be painful! They have to sit also through thunder and lightning: Thursday will have given very testing conditions. Of course bad storms are commoner in central Europe where both Common Buzzard and Honey-buzzard thrive and are an everyday occurrence in the rainy season in the tropics where the Honey-buzzard over-winter. So could say they've had to adapt to handle storms. Critical thing is to avoid human disturbance in bad weather as adult may then be flushed off nest and small young or eggs quickly perish in the conditions. Suggest the female covers the nest in a storm, rather than the male, as she's larger so giving better protection. Further work over next 2-3 weeks will show whether any pairs have been adversely affected.


18/8 visit #5 in steamy conditions to Shilford from 15:50-18:35 with sunshine, moderate W breeze and high humidity; vegetation is very lush everywhere this year and this site was no exception, being good example of temperate jungle! Where parked had good view over March burn and Dipton Wood to W. Starting walk towards site had the male Honey-buzzard up briefly to S of wood but he quickly came back to the wood. Was in site from 16:30-17:40 with the male moving away from me, flying NE low down on entry. If any site should have fledged by now, this was it, but large nest in Scots Pine 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22 was still in use with some down below 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 and small amounts of splash 1  2  3  4 in vicinity (1070). Other feathers included possible tarsal 1  2  3  4, tarsal with ruddy tip 1, pointed 1 and grey body 1  2. So we are looking definitely at a late fledging season now, which is not unexpected in view of the monsoon in May and June, with display going on until 18/6. But still expect some dramatic action over next few days.


CONF – FL

1 juv


NEST found – Scots Pine


Migrant

1 juvenile (1 rest)



K1


Greenshaw Plain


lower South Tyne

1, 3 (2)

19/5 Near Warden a male Honey-buzzard was up at 16:15, hanging in the distance and he was joined by a female from 16:16-16:22 in high altitude display, mostly with birds hanging near each other; this was too high in the haze to be captured on video and the birds at the end went even higher, totally out of sight from ground. Kept the camcorder active and at 16:30 the male was picked up at low altitude flapping into the site from the W and at 16:35 the female was floating over the site low-down; piccies to follow (1012). Here's clips from Warden area on 19/5 (1012); first male flying pass, clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6; second female floating over area, clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10.


22/5 single female soaring and hanging over Warden site on way over at 12:05


31/8 did make Warden this morning from 11:20-13:05 and had very close views of a weak-flying juvenile Honey-buzzard (1082), one of 2 present from 11:38-11:43 on N bank, both in flight and perched – marvellous! The 1st juvenile seen was flushed from a recently cut hayfield with the cut grass still lying; seen them in such habitat before, think this is a popular feeding habitat for other raptors because of the disturbance to voles, mice and even slugs. The juvenile landed in a tree and whined at me for a little while, before moving further along the trees with its sibling and finally retreating to the S bank of the river. Here's clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22. Would have expected the Honey-buzzard young at this site to be flying high by now as it's normally an early one. But whatever it's so very important that in the wettest spring on record and the 2nd wettest summer on record, Honey-buzzard are still able to breed successfully in NE England. Too early to say much on productivity overall except no failures found yet and some 2s on the wing but the season is about 10 days late and as late as I've known it. After sightings above had a series of the Honey-buzzard juvenile anger calls at 11:44, as recorded on this audio clip.





CONF - FL

2 juv



Z1


Lambley


upper South Tyne

1, 3 (2)

6/6 At Lambley had to wait a while before the male came floating down from the N at 15:50, hung above a wood giving a few heavy flaps (display-style) and then went into the trees at 15:52. It looks as if they've moved a little to the N but the site is still occupied so the adjacent site at Featherstone is a new one. Here's the clip (1029), with derived stills 1  2. Note the anxious calls from the Curlew as he descends: Honey-buzzard may prey on wader chicks, I feel.




8/9 At Lambley, from deciduous woods to W closer to moors, the only signs were a series of long calls at 16:40, normally used for communication between adults and juveniles so presume at least one adult (female) and juvenile here. The birds often switch the young on fledging out of the nest site to a nearby wood. There appear to be a number of reasons for this: better elevation so that the young birds can get greater uplift in a breeze, improved sanitation away from nesting area and not giving the nest site away when the young are practising flight.




CONF - FL

1+ juv


N1


Softley


upper South Tyne

1, 2, 3 (2)

28/5 4 birds up at Eals, see Towsbank site A1







See nest activity (1 bird 9/7)








See nest activity (2 birds 20/8)




9/7 quick strike on site #7 Softley in upper South Tyne as saw lightening skies on the W horizon at tea-time. Visit was from 18:40-20:45 with time in vicinity of nest from 18:45-20:00. There was even some blue sky for a while and it was dry throughout the walk but the rain was returning as soon as I got in the car to return home: a real opportunist trip! Not an easy site as the nest is in an overgrown Norway Spruce plantation with not enough space between the mature trees. In addition everything was soaked so little splash 1  2 around. Decided to look at all trees in the wood, which took quite a while, finally settling on the active nest 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 in the Norway Spruce tree occupied last year (1045)! It increases your confidence if you have a look around the area, rather than just looking at last year's tree. At 19:25 a Mistle Thrush gave an alarm call, a Curlew cried and there high up in the sky, visible through a gap in the canopy for 2 seconds, was a male Honey-buzzard. He was obviously trying to keep an eye on me but did not see him again. Feathers were few, including 4 white down 1  2  3  4, a tarsal 1 and a barred larger one 1. This snare 1 was across a glade near the nest.


20/8 Better evidence later for fledging at one of the Eals sites where visit #6 from 16:15-19:30 in sunny, rather fresh conditions on light W breeze. The nest in Norway Spruce 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11 looked much the same as before with 3 pieces of down on the side and a number of feathers (11 in all, white downy 1  2  3  4  5  6, possible tarsal 1  2  3, long white 1, white body 1) and a small amount of splash 1  2 on the ground (1071). Also on ground was a dead Red Squirrel 1 (probably not due to Honey-buzzard) and remains of Jay and Woodpigeon 1  2  3  4 (which might well be prey items). Made 1st search of site from 16:45-18:00 before moving to Whitwham for a general scan of the area. On way back, passed site at 18:55 and heard chicken (hunger) cries of 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard from the copse adjacent to their nesting area. So these young have flown the nest but are still close-by and of course totally dependent on parents for food. So fledging date goes down as 20/8 though of course a few pairs may have fledged young before this. Good to see productivity of 2 though sample is rather small!


CONF – NY

2 juv


NEST found – Norway Spruce



J4


Unthank


lower South Tyne

1, 3 (1)

6/6 Had lucky break on way out getting a female Honey-buzzard at 14:30 flying very close to side of road on S side where there's an extra lane going down to Haltwhistle. Pity can't do all sites like this! Will still do survey of Plenmeller Common for waders and maybe seeing the male.






15/9 still quite breezy from NW but the cool wind dropped to moderate strength; sunshine became veiled in afternoon but it remained dry. So better for raptors! Made N edge of Plenmeller Common from 11:35-12:35 where had to wait until 12:06 before 2 Honey-buzzard, female and juvenile, got up for a bit of practice; the female kept above the juvenile,which periodically tried to collapse into the canopy but was stronger-flying than some recent efforts (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, 1097a).



CONF - FL

1 juv

F2


Blenkinsopp


Tipalt

2, 4 (2)




12/7 a sunny dry day on light NW wind and brilliant progress out W. Made Blenkinsopp from 11:50-12:50 and at 12:23 sighted a male Honey-buzzard soaring high to SE; he was coming home, doing a powerful glide right into the site, which is a Norway Spruce clump; from 12:27-12:29 the female was up low-down a few times with the male in view also as she evidently was relieved of nest duties by the returning male. Piccies (1050) are here: clip 1, with derived still 1, shows male high-up in distance; 2, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10, shows male gliding in to site; 3, with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9, shows female and male up above the site.



17/9 Next was another male over Blenkinsopp at 13:30, high up but coming rapidly down again as it started to rain. Later here from 16:10-16:14 he was again up in rather typical end-season display over nesting area with undulating flight, a subdued version of butterfly display (clip, 1100a). So as usual the Blenkinsopp pair are nesting very late with no young up in the air yet.



2/10 Finally made Blenkinsopp and had instant success here with a juvenile Honey-buzzard flying into the exact nest site at 15:52, where it was attacked by an adult Common Buzzard (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13, 1115): the juvenile gave way! Still 10 shows the juvenile being attacked from below; stills 11-13 show its retreat below the strident Common Buzzard. At 16:00 the juvenile briefly got up over its nest site again. So it looks as if these sites are simply very, very late rather than being failures!


CONF –

FL

1+ juv

J1


Staward S


Allen


1, 3 (2)

4/5 out in really quite bitter weather for the time of year from 14:25-17:15 to Staward 1  2  3  4  5 on the Allen; but no sleet or snow, just a very cold N wind, a few showers and little sunshine; primroses were out well 1  2. Had a male Honey-buzzard flying out from the gorge at 14:48, high to the W towards the moors (4-5km flight), mobbed by corvids (clip + derived stills 1  2  3  4, bird looked grey-brown when seen closer initially)

26/5 The Honey-buzzard comprised a pair at S site (where male noted earlier). t S site a Common Buzzard was swearing for several minutes around 15:25 and finally picked up a female Honey-buzzard hanging over the Common Buzzard's site; the Honey-buzzard quickly came down to a group of trees near her site. At 15:55 a male was briefly up over the same site. Neither bird spent long in the air suggesting feeding rather than display is the current priority.



27/8 [2 males, 1 from Staward N, 1 from Staward S] trip out to Staward Gorge (1072) from 12:15-16:15!! Weather was dry, sunny and breezy with moderate W wind. Honey-buzzard provided some close-up action above the canopy, starting with a male calling and flying N down the valley to N site at 12:54 (clip with derived stills 1  2  3); at 12:59 he was picked up again in the air, doing muted display, when another male flew S down the valley very close-up into S site (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27). The 2 males seemed to ignore each other.


6/9 did make Staward S in Allen from 15:45-17:10 just as rain belt approached from W; right on edge with flurries of heavy rain and a little residual sunshine on moderate to fresh W breeze. Honey-buzzard obliged (1090): a juvenile gliding over from S suddenly turned towards me, where I was standing by a pheasant release pen at 15:56, and did the unexpected, attacking without success a Pheasant chick (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14, stills 5-6 show the large yellow bill, 6 the broad sparse barring, 12-13 usual structure with long neck, small head and long tail with narrow base); the adult pair then appeared from 16:00-16:03, entering into vigorous display over a nearby copse (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, stills 1-3 show the usual elegant, lightweight appearance of adults, particularly males); they disappeared to the W side of the valley and were quickly followed at 16:04 by the juvenile seen earlier (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5); the juvenile was more independent than most, suggesting that it was an early-fledged bird (c20/8).



CONF –

FL

1 juv



M1


Monk


Allen

1, 4 (2)

17/6 Downstream from Monk had a pair of Honey-buzzard up low-down in restrained display from 15:05-15:08; they were not that far off the ground, quite unusual, perhaps influenced by the weather (1037). Whatever the birds are still settling down here with a pair at the lower site but obviously not on eggs and at lower altitude than their breeding station.





22/9 what a day! Spectacular pull-out of Honey-buzzard with 4 migrants (all juvenile) out of Allen and 2 (adult female, adult male) out of West Allen during visit from 11:25-15:55. If repeated over northern Britain, then quite a lot will be moving. Weather was beautiful with almost continuous bright sunshine, incredible visibility and wind light and variable. In more detail, action started at 11:44 with 3 juvenile Honey-buzzard coming out of the Allen valley from the Staward area, disappearing into thin grey cloud, taking about 8 minutes to get out of sight; count here matches 3 young raised in this area (2 Staward N, 1 Staward S). At 12:40 another juvenile Honey-buzzard came out of the Allen valley, from the Ridley area, matching the one young raised at this site. All the juveniles appeared to be moving S at high altitude; these fledged around 20/8 so, after one month of getting their strength up, are now ready for the journey to Africa. Was of course also looking for signs of fledging at Whitfield Monk, the upland site where first started the watch. At 12:59 picked up 2 Honey-buzzard juveniles over in-bye land to S, in argument with some corvids (1109). The stronger bird came back towards Monk (clip 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13) but the weaker bird sank back towards the ground, appearing to be too unsporting to interest the corvids. Shortly though at 13:01 the weaker bird did fly pass me, low down and fairly close-up (clip 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8). So 2 young raised here but only recently fledged. From 13:40-13:44 the female Honey-buzzard at this site decided to leave, soaring rapidly as usual into the base of a grey cloud (where thermals are strongest) and moving off S, high-up; she must have thought the young could now fend for themselves; here is the clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6.


CONF – FL

2 juv


migrant

1 female (1 S)

4 juvenile (4 S)

K2


Hexham High Wood


Tyne W

1,2,3 (2)

19/5 At Hexham High Wood a male Honey-buzzard was floating low over the trees from 15:38-15:46 (1011).

28/5 Honey-buzzard female at Leazes, Hexham (completes pair, up fairly low-down over wood in majestic effortless floating)

See nest activity (2 birds 18/7)




See nest activity (3 birds 24/8)










18/7 in between rain in morning and evening made site visit #11 to Hexham High Wood (1056) from 14:30-16:55 with time on site itself 15:00-16:15. Weather while there was mild on moderate SW breeze, with a few outbreaks of drizzle and occasional brief sunny intervals (muggy!). Walk-in was so muddy, met a group of walkers who were floundering! As entered site a very irate adult Common Buzzard started hectoring me and continued to do so for 30 minutes, backed up in the distance by 2 calling juvenile Common Buzzard. As is usual in this type of case, the Honey-buzzard kept a back seat with the only sighting a male hiding behind the trees 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 and then disappearing through the trees to E at 15:10. The Honey-buzzard nest is a re-use of last year's one in Scots Pine 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21; a few white small downy feathers 1  2  3 and a longer white feather 1 were found below the nest indicating that the nest contains growing young. Splash 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16 was widespread but some may have been due to Common Buzzard; this pellet 1 and rabbit fur 1 may also have been come from either species.


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

CONF – FL

1+ juv


NEST found – Scots Pine



R5


Farnley


Tyne Valley W

1, 2, 3 (2)

2/5 Scored again with Honey-buzzard, getting a typical ruddy-brown slightly heavy female flying out of site at 14:59 and flapping over Tyne to N to feed; no male seen but then didn't see him through all of last year so maybe it's virgin birth! The female is presumed to be the holder of site over last few years: she always gets back very early and is slightly on the large side. She didn't try any soaring or display in the sunshine so suspect she's got back very recently (yesterday?) and needs to rebuild her fat reserves after the long trek. Can speculate on what she's eating: frogs, slugs and young birds come to mind; certainly not wasp or bumble bee larvae. She came up very briefly again on N side of Tyne at 15:10 below 2 Common Buzzard in energetic display. But in neither case was the view long enough to take any snaps


30/6 On way back, passing Farnley at 19:30 just before houses on S of Corbridge, had a male Honey-buzzard carrying some large item of food, perhaps a wasp cone as it looked light. He was being persistently mobbed by a Jackdaw. Stopped in someone's drive (thank you!) and took these 2 clips: 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6 (1040). He's a new bird for the year (only female here before) and bringing food in suggests they've got small young and they've also weathered the storm! Last bit of video showing him descending into a wood is withheld: gives away too much on location of nest.

23/8 Went out to Farnley from 13:35-16:15, looking for juvenile Honey-buzzard at a site, which is normally one of the first to fledge. Had to be very patient! At 14:44 given hope with adult Honey-buzzard call heard to W of pond; this indicates young out in the open so is almost proof of successful breeding on its own. But getting damper all the time had to wait for more evidence until 15:55 when male seen up in air over Tyne to W of site; great sight 2 minutes later at 15:57 when a juvenile Honey-buzzard -- more compact than adult, but still longer tail and flatter wings than Common Buzzard – soared rather hesitantly up a short distance (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, 1073) with weak calls at 0:53 and 0:56; not up long but as 1st bird uneasily went back into the trees saw a 2nd weaker-flying juvenile up just above the canopy. So great result but could have just arrived for 4 o'clock soar!


2/9 Pretty hectic walk with N from Riding Mill to Corbridge return, managed to do 9km in roughly 6 hours from 10:45-16:55 but was a grand day for dawdling with strong sunshine on light W wind; we did have a break in D4ra4l! On last visit on 23/8 the 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard were very weak in flight and no adults were seen; today the pair of adults were up together briefly at 12:17 and 2 much stronger juveniles (similar to those at Towsbank on 1/9) were flying below them; the female was seen up on her own again at 15:50, soaring to moderate height and then gliding down. Here's the clip (1084) with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19; 1-10 show the adults, 11-17 a juvenile; there's a Honey-buzzard long call at 1:15, the end of the clip shows the female up on her own at 15:50. At 12:26 this brief but very close-up view of a 2nd juvenile Honey-buzzard was obtained: clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8. This 2nd bird has longer P10 and more fully-grown secondaries.






CONF – FL

2 juv

C3


Blanchland

village


Derwent

2, 4 (2)




15/7 New site for year for Honey-buzzard at Blanchland with pair of adults changing-over at nest from 14:45-14:50 (1054, clip 1 hd  ld of female up with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, clip 2 hd  ld of male relieving female at nest).



18/9 Main visit of day in bracing NW breeze but with some sunshine was to Blanchland village from 15:35-17:00. The juvenile Honey-buzzard came up just after 4 o’clock soar time at 16:02, but only stayed up a minute (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13, 1102). At the end of its flight it was mobbed by the juvenile Hobby (stills 9-13); so maybe Hobby have done a little better here than in upper South Tyne; still 7 shows 3 broad bars across the bird's left wing.


CONF – FL

1 juv

C6


Kellas N


Derwent

1,2,3 (2)

9/6 managed to continue raining up until late evening with drizzle but there were breaks and it was quite tropical with the temperature soaring when the sun came out, even though the winds were N; earlier, rain was anything but drizzle with very heavy showers. Visited Derwent area from 13:10-16:30 getting total of 9 raptors of 4 species: 3 Honey-buzzard, 3 Kestrel, 2 Common Buzzard and a Red Kite, so pretty good considering the conditions, but think the birds were hungry. First made Kellas where they'd cut down the tree in which the Honey-buzzard were nesting just before fledging last year, as part of thinning in forest management. The young survived and the adults seemed unperturbed just moving about 200m to SE into un-thinned wood (good idea?). Arrived when it had just stopped raining, walked to a vantage point close to the site and waited. After about 20 minutes the sun came out and immediately at 14:03 the male slowly climbed up in the grey sky, going out of sight at 14:05. Then at 14:10 the female suddenly appeared low-down over the site in brief interaction with the male, who must have come down again. She spent the best part of the next 10 minutes (8 minutes in fact) circling around overhead giving good views (and clips 1031) before drifting off more decisively S at 14:18. She was certainly eyeing me up – wonder if she thought I was the b.stard who chopped the tree down! They've certainly not laid any eggs yet and the behaviour of the female suggested this is still a few days off. The male reappeared at 14:31, circling overhead before disappearing NE.

Here's 2 clips (1031) of male Honey-buzzard at Kellas from visit on 9/6: 1 (with derived stills 1  2  3) overhead at 14:31 circling, he's missing P2 on his right wing; 2 taking off from E and soaring effortlessly over site at 14:03. Here's 3 clips of female Honey-buzzard: 3 (with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7) gliding past at speed from E at 14:10, floating around to W; 4 (with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7) coming back from W, then overhead at 14:14 floating and circling slowly; 5 (with derived stills 1  2) still overhead at 14:17, floating and circling slowly, before moving off S. The same female is involved in clips 3-5: she's missing an inner secondary on each wing. She's a heavy Honey-buzzard, indeed had to look at the stills carefully before being happy with the assignment. Clip 3, showing her gliding, is convincing. Slide 6 of clip 3 shows all the expected structural features for a Honey-buzzard: angular carpal pushed well-forward, long neck, small head sometimes raised a little, bulging secondaries, long (at least 90% of wing width), thin tail with rounded corners when folded. When she starts floating though she looks much more like a Common Buzzard and this is a recurrent theme with Honey-buzzard identification: they look more kite-like in glides and more buzzard-like in soars/floats. On the jizz-side Honey-buzzard float more effortlessly than Common Buzzard and with flatter wings and this does hold here. Indeed she doesn't make a full flap through latter half of clip 3, all of clip 4 and start of clip 5, only flapping fully when moving a longer distance to S in clip 5. That's 6-7 minutes without a full flap.


See nest activity (1 bird 14/7)



See nest activity (2 birds 30/8)


14/7 made Kellas for site visit #10 from 15:10-17:30, close to nest from 15:45-16:45, in cool, mainly overcast conditions with showers threatening all afternoon, one of which actually arrived as leaving. Last year the Scots Pine nest tree was chopped down just before the young fledged, which must have been a little tense but the 2 young survived. The tree was felled in a thinning exercise so the birds could have returned to the old tree's neighbour but perhaps wisely did not do so. I'd seen where their interest was in the display phase, in the same wood but in a taller part to the S so went there first. I got well into the trees, found some splash and a few feathers, put my saw down and was just working out a strategy for walking the wood when looked up and there was the Honey-buzzard nest in a fork in a Scots Pine tree right overhead: piece of p.ss! It's about 100 metres from last year's nest, in an already thinned area (very smart!). Ten minutes later at 16:05 the male flew right overhead low over the canopy, moving off NE, so that was good: always useful to see a bird! Here are some stills (1053) from yesterday 14/7 of the nest 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19 in Scots Pine at Kellas, taken with the camcorder, and of site 1  2. Also found in vicinity of nest was splash 1  2  3  4, possible tarsal feather 1 88mm, small brown feather 1 52mm, long thin brown feather 1 130m and Magpie primary feather 1 (P2/P3) 160mm.


30/8 made Kellas, near watershed between Tyne and Derwent, from 13:00-16:05 in very cool, dry, mainly overcast conditions on moderate N wind. This was nest visit #11 and was actually on-site from 13:30-15:25. The nest in Scots Pine was built up (stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14, 1081) and could have been in occupation still, with plenty of down in immediate area and a little splash. These stills 1  2  3 show the area around the nest and this one 1 shows the difficult approach through waist high bracken! Soon after arrival, at 13:53, there was a great commotion in the trees just on N side of the nest, with angry Crow dive-bombing the tops of the trees and a weak-flying juvenile was seen flying off through the tops of the trees. Could have been another juvenile somewhere; this one was certainly very recently fledged perhaps 1-2 days only, considering its weak flight, proximity to the nest and the amount of down around (18+ white down in stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18). The male was overhead at 14:11, coming in from high-up to W and disappearing from view (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6). At 14:18 a series of adult anxiety calls was heard from wood to S, presumably from him. Other feathers near nest included 3 possible tarsal feathers 1  2  3, a thin dark feather 1, a dark body feather 1 and a larger ruddy brown feather 1  2  3. There was little splash 1  2, presumably because of the continual heavy rain. Visit was valuable in that it confirms just how late Honey-buzzard can fledge, particularly after this very wet summer (wettest since 1912).


CONF – FL

1+ juv


NEST found – Scots Pine

(moved tree as last year's felled)

C8


Minsteracres


Derwent

1, 2, 3 (2)

24/5 Tour of Derwent area from 15:35-18:40 produced only 1 Honey-buzzard at 4 sites, so they've still not arrived back in any numbers in upland areas; the one Honey-buzzard in this area was at Minsteracres at 18:18 where a female floated over a wood and swept agilely down near the ground, to much admiration from a group of Crows. Actual site here may be nearer to SW of area than previously thought, where young birds tend to concentrate. It's always wise to note popular areas for the young birds as these can often be in vicinity of nest.


15/7 male Honey-buzzard at Minsteracres was new bird for year (1055, female only here before). Here's the clip (1055), with derived stills 1  2  3, for the more distant male Honey-buzzard, at Minsteracres from 16:28-16:31; he floats effortlessly around the sky perhaps enjoying the better weather and making one clear dive as in display; at the end he is joined by 2 Common Buzzard, latter looking heavier as expected for male Honey-buzzard versus Common Buzzard. There's not really a skirmish but the Honey-buzzard disappears back to the ground. The Common Buzzard displayed for another 9 minutes, presumably to celebrate fledging of their (non-visible) young!

16/9 Fascinating trip out to Kiln Pit Hill from 15:55-17:45, in a continuing moderate NW breeze with sunny spells; showers were around but missed them. Some good raptors and flocks of farmland birds were seen. Striking feature was the new windmills, towering above the stubble fields. Not sure what a couple of men were doing on field above Minsteracres. They fired off some light-guns and generally looked a little shifty, obviously not wanting me around. Still I persisted though eventually found the 2 Honey-buzzard juvenile from 16:56-17:12 around large stubble fields to SW (1098), where the adults had taken them earlier presumably for flying practice on the top of the ridge. The juveniles were weak-flying, or at least hugging the tops of trees in a shelter belt, causing the local Crow to go mad and also worrying many of the birds feeding on the stubble. There was no sign of any adult but the way that the juveniles rose up periodically from the trees for a few seconds before going down again suggests that they were looking out for a returning adult (and a feed!). So Honey-buzzard are still being very reticent and hard to find: need knowledge of nest site and of transfer site for fledged birds to be able to monitor them when they're like this. But today in retrospect marked end of phase 3!





CONF – FL

2 juv

X2

Barhaugh


upper South Tyne

1,3 (2)

18/6 trip out to upper South Tyne area from 14:35-17:10 included highest Honey-buzzard site in area at Barhaugh, Kirkside, Williamston and Parson Shields, with final diversion to Blenkinsopp in Tipalt. Weather was perfect for spotting raptors with strong sunshine, thin veil of high cloud (to make them more visible) and a light W breeze. The Honey-buzzard, also a male, was soaring very high S of Barhaugh from 15:19-15:22 eventually being lost into the high thin cloud; maybe his mate is on eggs; well that’s progress for an upland site.



15/9 Was at Barhaugh Hall, the main target for the day, from 13:20-15:45; raptor total was 3 Honey-buzzard. The Honey-buzzard comprised a male up over a wood to S of the Crags at 14:07, eventually dragging a very weak-flying juvenile up into the air for a few seconds (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5, 1097); if the youngster had fledged yesterday (14/9) at this high altitude site then subtracting 80 days for incubation and rearing would give a laying date of about 26/6, just after the solstice. From 15:13-15:18 was 'buzzed' by a female Honey-buzzard (new individual bird for year) who was behaving as if her nest was still occupied; some very good views here; lateness suggests that still have a bit of time to cover other high-altitude sites. Here's the video from 15:13-15:18: clip 1 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, clip 2 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 (stills 2 and 3 have been brightened as 8  9 respectively, contrast also reduced, both stills show clearly the inner tail band on an outside tail feather), clip 3 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8; the female has her neck hunched up with small head on top pointing upwards, a classical pose; she's also a little scruffy missing a few feathers on both wings.




CONF – FL

1+ juv

I4


Dipton Wood S


Devil's Water

1, 3 (2)

16/5 very cool today but billed as best day of week! Made Dipton Wood S from 15:05-16:25 and had a male Honey-buzzard twice, 1st at 15:15 and 2nd at 15:50, flying around low-down in Slaley woods which contain a lot of oak (1010). It is quite usual for birds to feed several km from their ultimate nesting sites at this stage of the season. No sign of the female so she may still be on her way or off feeding several km in the opposite direction from the nest.



13/9 Went on to Dipton Wood SW from 11:20-11:40 where had immediate success at 11:26 with a juvenile Honey-buzzard low-down over the wood and a female higher-up, ambushing the young bird in playful attack (1096). So the 2 sites where no joy yesterday, quickly produced dividends today, in the mild, sunny weather with moderate SW breeze of the morning.




CONF – FL

1 juv

C4


Ruffside


Derwent

1, 4 (1)

9/6 Then onto final stop in County Durham at Ruffside from 15:20-16:20. Curlew, calling anxiously at 15:24, alerted me to a female Honey-buzzard overhead moving N to feed on edge of moor NW of Acton; she was also seen around 15:57 on N side of valley in wood NE of Blanchland (clip 1 1032 with derived still 1) from where she moved with incredible speed E before being mobbed by a Jackdaw (clip 2 with derived stills 1  2); she turned S and came right over-head low-down in very diagnostic flapping style (when jizz like a kite). See clip 3 of video 1032 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17; still 15 even shows the 3 tail bars! By 16:06 she was moving S over the moors to SW of Ruffside (clip 4 with derived stills 1  2). So apparently no male here yet, indeed site is almost 4 weeks behind lowland sites such as Shilford in Tyne Valley W.






26/9 strange day weather-wise with frequent heavy short showers on light NE wind and brief drier spells in-between, reminding me of snow flurries in colder weather in spring. Did get out, making Derwent Ruffside from 15:00-16:25. Thought visit was going to draw a blank in dull conditions but then at 15:52 spotted 2 Honey-buzzard juveniles over N side of W end of Reservoir, mutually circling and moving at low altitude S towards trees at Ruffside on the Durham side (clip with derived stills 1  2  3, 1113).


CONF – FL

2 juv

R9


Dukeshagg


Tyne E

1,3 (1)

12/6 Next visit was to Dukeshagg, S of Prudhoe, where had a session from 15:20-17:05. At 15:32 caught just in time a male Honey-buzzard drifting slowly E towards site at high altitude. Walked around the area and captured the male Honey-buzzard up again, diving quickly down to a wood at 16:16 (clip 1 of 1033 with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6) and being mobbed by 2 Carrion Crow at 16:18 (clip 2 with derived stills 1  2). Looks as if he might not have a mate yet: shows how late these sites towards the North Sea can be.



11/9 a cool day with fresh NW breeze and the occasional heavy shower, passing quickly. A great trip out to Dukeshagg (12:00-14:00) and Hyons Wood (14:15-16:00), both on S side of Prudhoe towards the Durham border. The 1st Honey-buzzard was a dark juvenile flying fast into the wood E of Dukeshagg at 12:47; managed to catch a few frames before it disappeared, not to emerge again (clip with derived stills 1  2  3, 1094).




CONF – FL

1 juv

K5


Hexham Tyne Green


Tyne W

1,3 (2)

25/5 Made Hexham Tyne Green from 13:30-15:30 and had a male Honey-buzzard dipping over a wood near St John Lee at 14:05, close enough to the site near the golf course.



9/9 Things got even better during the afternoon at nearby Tyne Green (1093) from 15:05-17:55 where had total of 3 Honey-buzzard (female, 2 juveniles). The first Honey-buzzard was a juvenile (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8), effortlessly floating on N side of Tyne near bypass from 15:47-15:55, it did not ascend quickly (inexperience with thermals) but kept aloft well before drifting off to NE, doing a dive and coming back towards me SW at lower altitude; this juvenile was up again for a shorter spell at 16:02 (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6), this recording has breaks in concentration by photographer, had been sitting on a red meadow ant nest and they got their own back!); at 16:14 the female and juvenile were up together to the NE towards St John Lee (clip) and the female was up on her own at 16:22 in the same area (clip). Finally at 17:35 when near Tyne at Hermitage, a weak flying-juvenile mobbed by Carrion Crow came quite close and gave good views (clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6).





CONF – FL

2 juv

S4

Beaufront S


Tyne W

1, 3, 4 (2)

29/5 Today made Beaufront in sunny weather from 15:50-17:10 and, after yesterday's riches, had a male Honey-buzzard up for all of 5 seconds at 16:24 floating over ridge to N before disappearing into the clouds (1021).




9/9 Another long day in the field on N side of Hexham from 11:55-17:55 in beautiful late warm summer sunshine on light SW breeze; very rewarding! At Beaufront from 11:55-13:10 had a juvenile Honey-buzzard up very briefly at 12:18. At 12:25 could hear juvenile Honey-buzzard calling from scrub. At 12:37 the female and juvenile were up together, with some follow-me and chasing; the juvenile was a weak-flier and did not stay up long (clip 1092 with derived stills 1  2  3  4). Finally at 12:40 the female was up alone.



9/9 Then at 12:20 a male Honey-buzzard was spotted very high-up moving S and quickly lost in haze; not sure whether it was the local male or one from further N but definitely a migrant.


CONF – FL

1 juv


migrant

1 male (1 S)

R6


Hyons Wood


Tyne E

1, 3 (1)

1/6 So made back of Prudhoe at Dukeshagg from 15:55-18:30 and was just giving up for day when a male Honey-buzzard was seen climbing slowly at 18:24 over Mickley Moor before turning and gliding down into Hyons Wood. No other raptors were seen but this was good enough!


11/9 The 2nd one at 14:40 was more obliging; another dark juvenile was flushed from near its nest site in Hyons Wood and instead of just flying away it did make a loop out of curiosity so was able to get some more frames (1095). Here's clip with derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9; stills 4 and 7 have been brightened as 10  11 respectively, contrast also reduced. Not a lot of plumage is visible even at close range; the tail bars appear to be fairly broad; the primaries are still growing; the tail is fairly long and the small head is pointed. It looks as if the pairs in Tyne Valley E have nearly all raised just one juvenile; productivity does seem to decline as the coast, or maybe the conurbation of Tyneside, are approached.




CONF – FL

1 juv

R10


Wylam Horsley Wood


Tyne E

1,2,3 (2)

18/5 very dreary weather continued, must be worst spring weather from early April to mid-May on record! Maybe we're converging with Newfoundland as Arctic continues to thaw. Had good trip to Tyneside with all its lovely views!! On way in had male Honey-buzzard up in the drizzle at 14:10 E of Ovingham in flap-flap-glide mode, mobbed by a single Jackdaw; suspect it's a bird from Wylam site as they do tend to feed over a wide range at this time of year. Of course it may be an occupation of the Whittle Dene which looks OK habitat-wise but less good disturbance-wise; however would expect that to be done later in the season as first-time breeders migrate later than established birds.




See nest activity (1 bird 5/7)


See nest activity (1 bird 16/8)


5/9 The Honey-buzzard comprised a male up over N end of Horsley Wood at 12:38 and a juvenile up at 13:40 in same area very briefly (1088): they don't give much away when the young have not been fledged long!


5/7 did another site visit #5 to Wylam in steamy but dry conditions as sun finally emerged, from 17:25-19:00 with 17:45-18:35 close to nest (1043). Birds are very obliging, re-using last year's nest in Scots Pine 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8