Notice Board: the Honey-buzzard Season in Northumberland 2020 as it happens – Nick Rossiter

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This is the current blog for the 2020 season, updated daily, giving recent activity.

Significant events in the Honey-buzzard season as it unfolds in Northumberland are given here. Seeing Honey-buzzard in their breeding areas is facilitated by reading about their jizz, knowing their calls and digesting the three BB papers updating Honey-buzzard identification (bottom of page). Listen to these wise words from a former prophet: “to try and identify them from plumage I think is a loser to begin with ... you’ve got to identify Honey Buzzards from their shape and structure”. The Honey-buzzard is rapidly increasing as a migrant in Britain with particularly major movements in 2000 and 2008. The analysis cited indicates that a continental origin for the migrants is very unlikely, with various studies on the continent all indicating that the Honey-buzzard is not susceptible to drift while on migration. Focus is now on the significance of orographic lift in the choice of migration routes for birds from more northerly areas where thermals are weaker. The breeding status of the Honey-buzzard in Britain is surely less controversial than it was. Migration totals in the UK have risen in the past decade and attempts to attribute these movements to a Scandinavian origin are in conflict with both 1) the underlying physics of broad-winged raptor migration, and 2) the actual details of the movements. However, migration movements are generally thought to be understated because so many observers struggle with the identification of juvenile Honey-buzzard. The status of Honey-buzzard in the UK has been highly politicised, as in the climate change debate. A close examination of the Honey-buzzard review performed by the Northumberland County Records Committee is in progress: start with part 1 and follow the links through to later pages. A worrying development in early 2015 was the modification of migration data in a Scarce Migrants paper in BB; while the Editor has promised not to repeat the manoeuvre, erroneous data in the literature is extremely difficult to erase. Fear is the path to the dark side; fear of not being able to identify Honey-buzzard leads to anger; anger leads to hate of those that can; hate leads to suffering in the UK birding community (with apologies to Star Wars!). For full details of the 2012 season see the study area Report 2012 with hyperlinked Appendix containing all field observations. Full details for other seasons are contained in the annual blogs, cited above, with an overall summary in Population of the Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland.

Some recent publications provide strong support for the thesis above. Forsman (2017) provides detailed information on the prevailing Misidentification of Juvenile Honey-buzzard. Maybe unwittingly the last report on Scarce Migrants in Britain by White & Kehoe (2016) admitted that in general migrant Honey-buzzard in Britain are locally born and bred, finally bringing to an end the idea that they were Scandinavian migrants. Therefore Honey-buzzard Migrants are British Born and Bred. Finally from central Scotland an exceptional breeding season Honey-buzzard was reported by Shaw et al (2017) in 2016, suggesting a continued expansion of numbers in northern Britain (Scotland).

The pattern of fieldwork will continue as in 2019 Season 2019– Summary for the Display phase. The nest site visits are rested this year, concentrating on national Honey-buzzard survey, looking out from vantage points. The book is still under consideration with a catch up on much earlier material underway.

February 26th: beautiful sunny and mild day for the time of year, 8C max, 1C min, light to moderate W breeze, dry. Did make NCL on the train -- on nodding terms with the Travel Security Officer! Had great walk along Quayside to the Ouse, crossing the Tyne over the Millennium Bridge and walking back past the Sage and over the HLB. Had 3 new gulls for the year on the Tyne: a Kittiwake adult (just one, first of many no doubt, lovely to see), an adult Mediterranean Gull and 4 LBBG adult, looking frisky already. LBBG is very scarce in NE England in winter; they move S/W to milder climes, including southern and western England, W France, Portugal, W Spain and Morocco, basically all the way along the Atlantic flyway. From the train had a Goldeneye drake at Newburn and 7 Tufted duck, 2 Grey Heron and 2 Oystercatcher at Merryshields GP. Did some work on Tsavo East 12/1, resizing the animal piccies and uploading them to the web server for indexing tomorrow. Main work today was compiling the overview table for breeding Honey-buzzard in Northumberland in 2020 as below; will add some explanatory text and discussion tomorrow. Funds climbed well this week in spite of worries about rising bond yields spooking the market. The ftse 100 fell 2.5% today, 2.1% on week and 0.7% on ytd; yesterday the NASDAQ tech index fell 3.5% and Tesla is 25% off its recent highs; think EVs are terribly over-hyped – will elaborate soon. The ftse 250 has held up better, but is now just 4.0% up on ytd. PoO has been resilient, closing at $64.5 for a barrel of Brent. Watching closely the CV trends with increases in Brazil, France and Italy but mainly declines elsewhere. India is worth watching as it's a big oil consumer; the monsoon season starts in May, some time ahead still but anyway the current CV does not seem as seasonal as colds; in Brazil for instance it goes on and on. In Germany the states have started opening up after Merkel moved the goalposts again. Own funds were +19k on week, -11k on Thursday's level after today's bloodbath. Gain on ytd is 186k gross (15.1%), 174k net. Today donated £50 to ON in review of one-to-one and £100 to RNS for yesterday. Had good chat with N/D on Skype, straight after return from CRB! Highlight of day was undoubtedly the rendezvous: she's so gorgeous: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

The overall results for the 2020 Honey-buzzard breeding season are given in Table 38.




Area

No. sites

No. adults

No. nests

found

Observed Occupied (no. sites)

Breeding Category (no. sites)

Number young fledged

National Survey

(mainly July-August)


Display

Sit/

Rear

Fledge


Conf

Prob

Poss

S

V

A

J

Devil’s Water

6

12

0

6

2

5


6

0

0

7 (1x2, 5x1)

2

14

4

2

Allen

2

4

0

2

0

0


0

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

Upper South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0


0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lower South Tyne

2

4

0

1

0

2


2

0

0

3 (1x2, 1x1)

0

0

0

0

Tipalt

0

0

0

0

0

0


0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tyne W

8

14

0

8

4

8


8

0

0

10 (2x2, 6x1)

3

13

5

5

Tyne E

7

11

0

6

2

6


6

0

1

6 (1x1+, 5x1)

3

15

6

3

Derwent

8

14

0

7

2

2


2

5

1

2 (2x1)

2

7

5

2

Total

33

59

0

30

10

23


24

7

2

28 (4x2, 1x1+, 19x1)

10

49

20

12

Table 38: Results for the Honey-buzzard Breeding Season in SW Northumberland by area in 2020

National Survey: S sites, V visits, A adults, J juveniles



February 25th: mild and sunny, a rare combination in February, 8C max, 3C min, moderate W breeze, dry. Got stuck into Honey-buzzard returns for 2020, checking the provisional results against the base data; did find a male had been missed from the earlier results so corrected that. Working on table for overall results, which should finalise tomorrow. No work on Tsavo today. Cleaner S came mid-afternoon so into W4bigshop £62, C4c4t and walk down to Tyne Green. Did spy tmsuo and tblfg!! Tyne Green from 16:00-16:50 was good for birds: 5 Oystercatcher, 12 Herring Gull (6 adult, 1 2w, 5 1w) and a magnificent male Peregrine flying high to NW, back to an inland breeding site presumably, from the coast. Fitness is increasing every day with the exercise! More Zoom sessions: Cobwebs hosted a * to good effect; RNS hosted a chat by 2 gurus, TB (chorus director) and MG, under NH as chair. Bought a spoon in the Finial (Silver Spoon Club) auction today: a westcountry George I (1721) dognose silver spoon for £218 (including costs, a bargain!). 2moro it's NCL, same as last week!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

February 24th: mild but damp all day, max 10C, min 5C, moderate SW breeze, no sun. Went for good walk in the damp from 16:00-17:00 from home, by the Devil's Water at Peth Foot. Decided if going to get fit cannot stay at home when it's raining! Restored water to outside tap, as hard frosts probably over, and filling up slowly far pond for frogs. Signs of spring: a Curlew calling, 1400 Common Gull adult flying to roost at Derwent Reservoir, 3 Song Thrush singing, to add to yesterday – single Song Thrush and Blackbird, both singing at Hexham. Two Tawny Owl were again calling from my field at night; think they're setting up territory in the trees surrounding it, marvellous! Did a lot of work on Tsavo East 12/1, labelling the animals and some of the birds. Loved the singing in one-to-one from Opera North, being given 3 folk songs by Amy, in the Chorus at ON, for 15 minutes over Zoom. Admire all in the Arts keeping up momentum if at all possible! Hopefully back to live concerts soon. More action tomorrow evening: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

February 23rd: very mild again by day with max 11C but cooler early morning at 4C min, sunny intervals in morning with showers, becoming wetter later-on, fresh SW breeze. No fieldwork today but did have decent walk in Hexham, down from Elvaston and back in late afternoon, calling in at C4c4t to meet tmsuo!! Completed processing day 1 of Safari as immediately below and put whole clip of the West Dipton Honey-buzzard (12/8 10070) up on vimeo, releasing more disk space on my BT account for additional Kenya material. Next vital task is producing Honey-buzzard breeding totals for last year, obviously available in draft on my home page but to be re-worked from scratch to confirm the totals and published on an area basis as for say the Red Kite. Might get close to that tomorrow as in full flow at moment. Funds continue to rise on better energy outlook: +10k gross in first 2 days of week. Have aria tomorrow, concert and RNS on Thursday evening b4 welcome relaxation on Friday!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Completed processing Tsavo East, Voi, 10/1, on BirdTrack. Kenya running totals: 144 species from 254 records, 9 complete lists, 15 places (all species assumed countable). Groups: waders 23, gulls 5+2 subspecies, terns 6, raptors 30, herons/storks 15. Tsavo East safari park records only from day 1 of 3, 10/1. Add 5 types from Ethiopia for trip running total with groups: raptors +2. So in all that's 149 bird-types with raptor-types 32. Now processing Tsavo East safari, day of return, 3 of 3, 12/1.

February 22nd: mild again by day with max 8C but cooler in evening down to 2C, wet morning was followed by glorious afternoon with bright sunshine on moderate W breeze. Had another good walk, determined to get fitter, making Dipton Wood S from 14:10-15:40. Some more signs of early spring with 3 Common Buzzard up, 2 in active display, over the SW corner of the wood at 15:25, a Raven flying high overhead to N, 4 Stock Dove displaying and 2 Lapwing territories in progress. Total for the trip was 21 bird-types. The large flock of Common Gull near Ordley had reached 1800 at 17:00. Keeping an eye out for Goshawk but just the one seen so far yesterday near home. Have completed running through all the piccies for day 1 of safari (10/1), including uploading and indexing them. So just need to add to BirdTrack now, which doing in the morning. Not that happy with the slow opening up of pubs and theatres. Have created a new folder 'Spain May 2021': looking for investment opportunities in property in Andalucia, after I've had jab 2 in late April. Watched Red Sparrow tonite on Film 4; thought it would be about birds but it was a spy thriller starring Jennifer Lawrence!! Lovely to see the piccies of Budapest; her apartment there, its entrance and lift, were not that different from ours when there for the Wagner Days. It was indeed Wagnerian in length but did maintain the tension, with Russian torture techniques prominent! PoO over $65 this evening for Brent and major rotation (by others) from tech to commodities. Do hope someone is super-fit: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

February 21st: mild with 11C max, 6C min, light to moderate SW breeze, dry, sunny. A great day weather-wise with first watch over Devil's Water from road outside home from 11:30-12:00. Had good range of raptors here with 2 Red Kite at Blackhall Mill, single Common Buzzard at Peth Foot and Juniper, and a male Goshawk over the fields to E, hunting low-down. Also had 65 Fieldfare and 1 Siskin near the Water. Went straight out to Kings Law on the edge of Hexhamshire Common from 12:25-13:50 where could see some signs of spring: a Curlew calling, a flock of 25 Lapwing with 2 further birds in territory already, 5 up-for-it Red Grouse, 210 Common Gull, 30 Black-headed Gull and best of all 5 Black Grouse as a Black Cock and 4 Greyhen in display at a lek. On way back had 20 Teal on Steel pond. Made Hexham from 16:20, going to C4c4t, seeing the early spring run of (Norwegian) Common Gull already under way with 500 on fields at Ordley, building further from 250, 2 days ago. The young Kestrel again roosted in my arch at 18:00 (making a fine mess!) and 2 Tawny Owl were calling outside at 21:00. So that's 5 types of raptor today: 2 Common Buzzard, 2 Red Kite, 2 Tawny Owl, 1 Kestrel, 1 Goshawk. Tech-wise completed transferring video clips 640 to vimeo and completed labelling and indexing of raptors at Voi Lodge on 10/1. So still need to do 'other birds' at Voi on 10/1; delayed a little today by resumption of fieldwork. Really enjoyed the concert – a great tonic with its brilliant programme and performance!! Have some friends going to Centre for Life for jabs on Tuesday and aria on Wednesday; was thinking of Friday for NCL this week!! Have just heard that final version of paper Physical Sounds as Co-limits in the Topos under Monad Control has been published by ANPA; my copy's in the post. Grenville (editor) adds the comment: Happy memories of a few beers in your company! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

February 20th: continuing very mild, 11C max, 6C min, but very wet today on moderate SW breeze. Indeed stayed in! Working hard on safari day 1 at Voi Lodge (10/1) with all landscape and animal shots fully processed now; completed most of raptors and some of the other birds. Expect to finish tomorrow, including addition to BirdTrack. Will then move onto last year's Honey-buzzard breeding season and day 3 of safari (12/1), back from Voi to Sala Gate. Am converting another series of videos, id 640, from 18/06/2010 to mp4 on vimeo; these are in wmv format on my pages and, while still playable, do not score high on compatibility compared with mp4 so decided to go back to the original mts (very high quality, AVCHD, Sony camcorder) and convert them to mp4 for the web. This series 640 contains some very clear and loud alarm, anger and whimpering calls from Honey-buzzard at the local site. Again the converted series will be available from this site as before but also directly through vimeo. Looking forward to concerts tomorrow afternoon and on Thursday: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

February 19th: updated Red Kite page with very encouraging results for SW Northumberland in 2020 (Other Raptors/Population of the Red Kite in SW Northumberland).

More details of the very successful Red Kite breeding season for 2020 are available in Table 14:



Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

No. Juveniles fledged

Post-breeding sites

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

15

23

5

9

1

6

0

Allen

1

1

0

0

1

0

0

Upper South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lower South Tyne

4

4

1

1

2

1

0

Tyne W

13

17

6

3

4

8

0

Tyne E

10

12

3

5

2

4

0

Derwent

17

26

5

6

6

6

0

Total

60

83

20

24

16

25 (5x2, 15x1+)

0

Table 14: Breeding Data for Red Kite in SW Northumberland by area in 2020



No visits were made to the upper South Tyne and fewer visits to the Allen and lower South Tyne owing to the way the national Honey-buzzard survey was conducted with emphasis on the eastern part of the study area this year. Coverage was concentrated this year therefore on the Devil's Water, Tyne Valley W and Tyne Valley E with systematic visits elsewhere mainly to the area to W and NW of Derwent Reservoir. The number of sites found to be occupied climbed strongly to 60 with confirmed breeding at 20 and probable breeding at 24. Quite a number of sites were found occupied in the spring before the Honey-buzzard returned, many holding displaying pairs. The Honey-buzzard survey from July-August concentrated effort on 10 key sites in Devil's Water, Tyne Valley W, Tyne Valley E, Derwent, but obviously reduced the scope for coverage elsewhere so it was not possible to check many of the Red Kite sites found in the spring. Since breeding success was high in the sites actually visited in August, it is likely that many of the sites in the probable category also did go on to breed successfully. The Red Kite has recolonised very successfully much of the lowland habitat in the eastern part of the study area. Next season the Honey-buzzard survey moves to the west of the study area so it will be interesting to see how the Red Kite is faring there in more upland habitat.



Red Kite does appear to be a migratory species in most of Northumberland. Numbers are very low in midwinter in the Tyne Valley and the Devil's Water. In the Derwent area to the E of Derwent Reservoir, numbers are, however, maintained in winter and there is a suggestion that Northumberland birds are a short-distance migrant to County Durham and other areas to the S in winter. Visible migration was observed this year as follows: in spring, 3 NW at the eastern end of Slaley Forest on 31 March, 1 NW at the western end of Slaley Forest on 1 April, 1 W at Ordley (Devil's Water) on 2 April; in autumn, 3 S (2 adult, 1 juvenile) at Bywell on 15 October, 1 adult S at Styford on 15 October. The spring movement may have been detected at Carterway Heads where six birds on 23 March (N&TBC Bulletin).



As in 2019 records were included from the bulletins of the Northumberland & Tyneside Bird Club from March to October 2020. These added 2 sites to Lower South Tyne, 1 site to Allen and 8 sites to Derwent, these last along the Durham border to E of Derwent Reservoir, which I had not visited. So 11 sites in all were added from the bulletins to the 49 sites that I found from my own observations.



The sharp increase in numbers in Northumberland is accompanied by continued success in the species' original area in County Durham as reported by FoRK. Firstly the 2019-20 Winter Roosting survey “produced a fantastic result, a record best ever count of eighty-five kites was achieved, providing further optimism that the fortunes of red kites in the north east are changing for the better. The majority of the kites were noted at the two main roost sites: Forty at Pontburn Wood and forty at Gibside. The UK numbers will be collated and contributed to the European Roost Count held on the same weekend.” https://friendsofredkites.org.uk/2019%2F20winter-roosting. Secondly the 2020 breeding season: “Red kites had their best breeding season ever this year. A minimum of forty two chicks were known to have fledged from nineteen nests with a further five nests that had progressed to the incubation stage, sadly failing. ... The summer’s breeding success continued the story of a steady improvement in our regions red kites' fortunes over the last couple of years. With last winter’s encouraging roost numbers and a significant increase in the number of kite sightings outside the Derwent Valley, FoRK remain optimistic, even though it is disappointing that our birds are still suffering from persecution, that this will continue and look forward to witnessing the spectacular sight of large numbers of these birds coming into roost from September onwards and throughout the autumn and winter.” https://friendsofredkites.org.uk/2020-breeding-summary.

So the FoRKers are doing a lot better in being positive about the success of the Red Kite in the North East. Not sure where the NRG are with their work on Red Kite in Northumberland; their web site appears to be out of date with, for instance, no reference to the death of Brian Little MBE https://funeral-notices.co.uk/notice/LITTLE%20(MBE)/4883160, who was one of my mentors in the early 1980s. I've not mentioned the mixed pairing with Black Kite male x Red Kite female in Prudhoe, which raised one young; that needs to go somewhere in the Red Kite report. At this stage didn't want to distract from the simple Red Kite message: they're thriving. Funds consolidated their good week at +29k after 3.5k of withdrawals. On ytd gain is 167k gross (13.5%) and 156k net, compared to 1.5% for ftse 100 and 4.6% for ftse 250. Energy is the top-performing sector in the US on ytd after being the worst sector last year. Obviously Covid knackers fuel demand so the recovery should be strong once the adverse effects of Covid are mitigated. Some institutions are reluctant to buy oil shares because they're now so woke but are going to be laggards in the performance tables if current trends continue. Have bought some Russian oil shares – Lukoil! Had a real morale-boosting incident in the Sele today while drinking my TA from C4c4ll. A voluntary policeman asked if I'd seen a man who'd got dementia and gone missing, gave his name as Edward and described him. I said no! Five minutes later a voluntary policewomen came along and said: are you called Edward? Had good chat with N/D on Skype: relations fully harmonious now after lapse while in Kenya! Missing my Friday nites at the Welly: Covid is in steep decline now everywhere in the World except apparently in Brazil and France. Even Wales and Scotland are reopening schools for all 3-7 years old from Monday. England needs to get moving! xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx xx

February 18th: mild, max 8C, min 4C, moderate SW breeze made it feel cool, a few showers. Busy day with supplies, making W4bigshop £56 net after using 4 coupons sent me yesterday, receiving 250kg of ovoids (smokeless fuel) and 150kg of small doubles (coal for lighting purposes) for £154, buying peanuts and seed for birds in Shambles for £10. Did try to make C4c4l but closed for maintenance so it was N4c4l for a change, still drank in the Sele where many people out with their kids and dogs! Much later had cabin fever and went for drive, getting a Badger at Houtley and a Barn Owl at Ordley: very invigorating!! Have completed run through of Red Kite data and it's a most encouraging picture with (provisionally) 60 sites occupied in S/SW Northumberland (37 last year) with 20 pairs (17 last year) known to have raised young. Top areas are Derwent, along the border with Durham where reintroduction took place, and Hexhamshire (my home area). 49 sites were found in my studies with a further 11 (8 along the Durham border to E of Derwent Reservoir) coming from N&TBC Bulletins. With the concentration of fieldwork in the E this year with the national Honey-buzzard survey, only 5 sites were noted in areas W of Hexham. Expect to publish the final report tomorrow. It was my granddaughter's birthday yesterday, her 6th; sent her a monster personalised card through Moonpig and 1.5k via FPO towards her school fees. Here's the happy duo! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

February 17th: mild, max 8C, min 5C, light SW breeze, sunny around midday, dry. Moving into spring survey mode now, visiting Stocksfield Mount from 13:05-14:55 while cleaner S at home. As expected Common Buzzard were already active with 3 birds up displaying over Bywell Cottagebank at 13:46, going very high, 1 pale bird up with a Red Kite at 14:23 and 2 flying low-down over Stocksfield Station to N at Bywell Castle as left at 13:50. Star bird was the Red Kite up over Cottagebank with another paler Common Buzzard at 14:23 so raptor totals were 6 Common Buzzard, 1 Red Kite, in total of 17 bird-types. Sightings included 8 Siskin, 6 Greylag Goose W, 27 Herring Gull SW (11 adult, 2 2w, 14 1w), 1 Nuthatch, 1 Greenfinch. Bought some kindling at Stocksfield Garage, £3.10 for 2 bundles, compared to £12.90 in Hexham garages; too many posh people in Hexham are running twee stoves for effect, rather than heat! Completed indexing Jilore piccies (24/1) as below, taking overall totals up slightly to 118 for Kenya. Now onto Voi Lodge safari 10/1 and Red Kite report for Northumberland for 2020 with raw total 1 of 1 species from 104 records, 42 complete lists, 50 places. So enjoying my walks but we surely don't have to wait until April/May for pubs and entertainment to open. With so many people in the main risk groups vaccinated, we should be opening up everywhere on 8/3, when the 3 weeks for antibody build-up have elapsed: get on with it! So satisfying yesterday: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

February 16th: mild again in Hexham with 9C max, 3C min, some brightness, moderate S breeze, heavy shower late afternoon. Did make NCL for great ½ day out. More people travelling by train and extra staff on trains: Safe Travel Officer, Welfare Officer, … just like the Stasi, everyone employed non-productively means ruin for the economy eventually. Had bracing walk along Quayside where plenty of people out but quiet away from there. Do have a bird list! Watch was from 13:00-15:25 and count was 8 types: Mute Swan 2 adult, Feral Pigeon 47. Black-headed Gull 30, Herring Gull 31 (26 adult, 3 1w, 2 2w), GBBG 1 1w, Common Gull 1 adult, Crow 4, Magpie 1. On Tyne on way in/out had 16 Goosander (8 Newburn, 8 Wylam E, 9 male, 7 imm/female), 5 Cormorant adult, and, at Merryshields GP, 14 Oystercatcher, 90 Greylag Goose, 6 Moorhen. Watched return of European soccer on BT Sport in evening, none of my favourite eastern European sides left so watched Leipzig play Liverpool in Budapest. Leipzig is certainly one of the most cultured cities in the world. I'm all set for camping there for a month when they play all of Wagner's works there, originally set for May 2022; Wagner was born in the Jewish Quarter of the City in 1813; JS Bach, Schumann, and Mendelssohn are among other great composers from there. But their football side are a load of bruisers and it was good to see Liverpool prevail 2-0. Funds continue to prosper at +26k in 1st 2 days of week. Sentiment is improving towards oil. The chaos in Texas is not helping renewable energy which, because of the laws of physics, should not be allowed to rise above 40% in the energy mix as it is unreliable:

Texas Freeze Raises Cost Of Charging A Tesla To $900. The electricity shortage in Texas amid the cold snap has sent spot electricity prices soaring so much that the surge in power prices equals a cost of $900 for charging a Tesla. The typical full charge of a Tesla costs around $18 using a Level 1 or Level 2 charger at home, according to estimates from The Drive. This estimate is based on an average price of $0.14 per kWh of power. However, the extreme winter weather this week has sent Texas spot electricity prices soaring, as the wind turbines froze in the ice storms and reduced the wind power generating capacity in the Lone Star State by half. Spot electricity prices at the West hub have soared above the grid’s $9,000 per megawatt-hour cap, compared to a ‘normal’ price of $25 per megawatt-hour, FOX Business notes. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) called early on Monday for rotating outages across the state as extreme winter weather forced wind power generating units offline, while electricity demand set a new winter peak record. At the same time, freezing cold and ice storms cut offline almost half of the wind power capacity in Texas. https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Texas-Freeze-Raises-Cost-Of-Charging-A-Tesla-To-900.html

Texas forced to have rolling black outs. Not from downed power line, but because the wind energy turbines are frozen. https://community.oilprice.com/topic/22677-texas-forced-to-have-rolling-black-outs-not-from-downed-power-line-but-because-the-wind-energy-turbines-are-frozen/

So all set for a good sleep: great to resume relations: she's so gorgeous: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

February 15th: Updated Hobby page with inconclusive results for SW Northumberland in 2020 (Other Raptors/Population of the Hobby in SW Northumberland).

More details of the Hobby breeding season for 2020 are available in Table 15

.


Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

Juveniles

Conf

Prob

Poss


Local-fledge

Also seen

Devil’s Water

1

1

0

0

1

0

0

Allen

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tipalt

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Upper South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lower South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tyne W

2

3

1

1

0

1

0

Tyne E

2

1

1

0

1

1

0

Derwent

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

5

5

2

1

2

2

0

Table 15: Breeding Data for Hobby in SW Northumberland by area in 2020


Coverage was reduced for the Honey-buzzard, and hence for the Hobby, in the upper South Tyne, Allen and Derwent areas, which have been strongholds for the Hobby in woods adjacent to the heather moors. In my own studies 4 sites were found occupied, including Bywell and March Burn in Tyne Valley West, and Prudhoe E and Ryton Willows in Tyne Valley E. As with the Red Kite and Goshawk, additional records were taken from the Bulletin of the Northumberland & Tyneside Bird Club (March-October 2020 searched) with 2 records noted: an adult bird flew over the observer's head at Causey Hill Caravan Park (Hexham) on 20 July; a probable female was at March Burn on 7 August. The area Devil's Water/Tyne Valley W/Tyne Valley E was covered well this year with concentration on the eastern part of the study area for the national Honey-buzzard survey in 2020. Significant effort is required in 2021 to check that the Hobby is still breeding in the western part of the study area and this should be facilitated by the move in fieldwork to this area for the national Honey-buzzard survey next year.


Weather in the US goes from bad to worse with Texas particularly badly affected with power supplies collapsing with wind turbines seizing up with ice. Siberia has also had a very cold winter, even by its standards:


Winter Weather, Record Cold Grips Much of Central-Southern US. More than 150 million people in the central and southern United States were under winter storm warnings or advisories Monday, with record-breaking cold temperatures gripping the nation from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border. The south-central state of Texas may be taking the worst of the winter weather. Hit by ice storms last week that led to a deadly, 100-vehicle pileup on a freeway, on Sunday much of the state saw snow, more ice and unusually cold temperatures. The thermometer at Houston’s Intercontinental Airport early Monday read -8.3 degrees Celsius, the coldest temperature there in 32 years. Officials in charge of the state’s electricity grid said the storms and frigid temperatures locked up wind turbines on Sunday, reducing power output. Meanwhile, the cold weather created excessive energy demand prompting electric companies to implement rolling blackouts. https://www.voanews.com/usa/winter-weather-record-cold-grips-much-central-southern-us



Cold snap from coast to coast. Below freezing temperatures are forecast to affect more than 245 million people in the lower 48 states over the next seven days, with more than 50 million Americans expected to experience temperatures below zero. The cold air is so widespread that you could travel nearly 2,000 miles from the Rio Grande on the Mexican border to the St. Lawrence River on the Canadian border entirely in winter storm warnings or watches. There is the potential for more than 240 cold temperature records to be broken by Tuesday evening, and some records have already been shattered. https://edition.cnn.com/2021/02/15/weather/winter-storms-weather-monday/index.html


Peat Fires Smoulder in Siberia Despite Bone-Chilling Temperatures. Siberian peat fires have continued to burn after a year of record-setting wildfires in and around the Arctic Circle despite temperatures below minus 50 degrees Celsius, The Siberian Times reported Wednesday. Footage showing smoke rising from the snow in January and November offers physical evidence of the “zombie fire” phenomenon, which describes summertime blazes that continue smouldering through the winter, eventually igniting new fires. European scientists have voiced concerns that “zombie” fires could be causing earlier-than-normal wildfires. The republic of Sakha, Russia’s largest and coldest region, is in the midst of one of its coldest winters in years with mercury slipping below minus 59 C. https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2021/01/27/peat-fires-smolder-in-siberia-despite-bone-chilling-temperatures-a72747


Much milder today in Hexham (Racecourse for forecasts) with 9C max, 4C min, bright sunshine in afternoon, light SW breeze, dry. Ground underfoot was greasy with a residual frost layer affecting drainage. Had a Common Buzzard over the road at Loughbrow at 13:40 and from 13:45-15:50 was in Hexham, though some of that was going to C4c4ll; walked along Tyne Green in energetic exercise, seeing a female Sparrowhawk and a Common Buzzard over Hermitage, plus 2 feeding Oystercatcher on the old bunker site, soon to be Travelodge/Lidl, in total of 20 bird-types! Have sorted Hobby records as above; next up is Red Kite in a few days after completing Jilore piccies; these piccies won't affect the running totals for Kenya as have already added the data to BirdTrack. Full list for Tyne Green was made, to be added shortly. Donated £0.5k to RNS as regular 3-monthly payment for pp to MG! 2moro it's CRB ex 12:20, NCL ex 15:23. Looking forward to the big city again: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!



February 14th: max 5C, min -2C, rapid thaw setting in after rise above freezing exactly as predicted at 11:00 but with raw fresh SE breeze, perhaps 5cm of slush by late evening on the grass with the blades, snowdrops and daffodils coming through. Still a lot of snow around on higher ground and could be some floods in the valleys. Star bird was a Jack Snipe at 12:30 , flying over my field, have had them here before in very cold weather; think they retreat from the edge of the moors. Also had in garden a male Bullfinch, 3 Fieldfare, 6 Long-tailed Tit and 8 Tree Sparrow, all very hungry! Have completed processing Hobby breeding data for 2020; final draft will be reviewed in morning before publishing. Made Hexham, visiting a ghostly-quiet C4c4t and a not much busier I4shop at closing time. Planning walk tomorrow along Tyne Green, Hexham, and on Tuesday a trip into NCL by train. Disk space getting tight on my BT site, where have 99 GB stored; it's supposed to be unlimited but think there are some quota limits to serve as warnings (to them!). I'm moving some videos to Vimeo where have a contract for 5 GB a week in uploads, starting with my Wagner fanfares at Müpa, Budapest, in 2018-19 (410 MB). Vimeo handle videos better than my BT site, with facility to add metadata and smooth replay, so it's a good move really. I still have the links on my website, they now just point to Vimeo. Heard from Devon M who's been very poorly with Covid-like symptoms but he's keen to collaborate on a paper for a conference in Gdańsk, Poland, in June, on quantum processing. Very pleased to hear from someone who's gorgeous: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Completed processing Tsavo East, Sala Gate, 10/1, on BirdTrack. Kenya running totals: 116 species from 205 records, 8 complete lists, 14 places (all species assumed countable). Groups: waders 23, gulls 5+2 subspecies, terns 6, raptors 21, herons/storks 13. Tsavo East safari park records only from Sala Gate on arrival on 10/1. Add 5 types from Ethiopia for trip running total with groups: raptors +2. So in all that's 121 bird-types with raptor-types 23. Now uploading wader piccies from Jilore on 24/1 to web site with indexing directly.

February 13th: max -2C, min -3C, moderate SE breeze, sunshine early on becoming cloudy, dry, snow blowing around, level depth 8cm but a few deeper drifts. Not out today. Tomorrow at 11:00 temperature rises above freezing point for first time in 8 days: marvellous!! Birds very hungry with 6 Long-tailed Tit passing through back garden. Did much work on Kenya records, completing labelling and indexing of piccies from Tsavo East, Sala Gate, 10/1. Will add records to BirdTrack tomorrow and sort Hobby for 2020. Bought a ticket for Globe for forthcoming concert for £20: looking forward to it!! Extreme cold weather continues:

UK weather: Another record low February temperature in England as more snow and ice warnings issued. Temperatures in North Yorkshire dropped to -15.3C (4F) overnight - as the Met Office issues snow and ice warnings for the weekend. Temperatures in Ravensworth dropped to -15.3C (4F) overnight on Thursday [11/2], having previously recorded an all-time low of -13.1C (8F) on Wednesday night [10/2]. https://news.sky.com/story/uk-weather-another-record-low-february-temperature-in-england-as-more-snow-and-ice-warnings-issued-12215875

'Snow apocalypse' blankets frozen Moscow, MOSCOW (Reuters) - Heavy snowfalls have buried Moscow in massive snow piles, disrupting transport, delaying flights and making it tough to get around for pedestrians braving strong winds and temperatures of minus 15 Celsius (5 Fahrenheit). By early Saturday, snow depth in the city reached 56 centimetres (22 inches), Fobos said. This was close to exceeding a record high of 60 cm for accumulated snow on a Feb. 13, it said. On Friday Moscow saw record snowfall for a Feb. 12, breaking the previous record set for the date in 1973, Russian news agencies reported citing the national meteorological service. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-weather-moscow-snowfall-idUSKBN2AD0DC

Part of River Thames freezes amid sub-zero temperatures. Section of river at Teddington Lock, west London, transformed into an ice skating rink for local bird life. In scenes reminiscent of the Great Freeze of 1963, part of the River Thames froze over as temperatures in Britain plummeted to sub-zero temperatures this week. The bitter chill from the Baltic led to the river at Teddington Lock, south-west London, partially freezing over, becoming a skating rink for local birdlife. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/feb/12/part-of-river-thames-freezes-amid-sub-zero-temperatures

So do remember what day it is tomorrow: lok 2t gorgeous ones!! Breaking out this coming week!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

February 12th: max 0C, min -7C, light E breeze, bright sunshine most of day, little snow melt even off trees, occasional very light snow showers, accumulation snow moderate 10cm. So cold spell continues and lasts for one more day when absence of sun and strong SE wind will give an extreme chill factor. Not out today. Interesting birds in front garden: 2 Fieldfare, 2 Bullfinch (both female), 6 Tree Sparrow, with a Common Buzzard displaying for 1st time this season over Linnels at 11:30. Working hard on Tsavo East safari day 1 (10/1) in Sala Gate area: brings back the lovely memories! Just labelling piccies at the moment but should upload many images to server tomorrow and index some of them, maybe completing task by adding records to BirdTrack on Sunday. Next task is then sorting Hobby records in SW Northumberland for 2020, which will not take long, before returning to Voi Lodge records on 10/1. Had long chat with N/D on Skype: much more harmonious today now I'm not on holiday! Opera North are very chatty at the moment! Funds had a good week at +10k, giving gain on ytd of 135k gross (10.9%), 127k net. Ftse 100 is +0.9% ytd and ftse 250 +4.6%. PoO now up to $62.5, but oil/gas shares are still only a little off their lows. Thinking of selling some of my large holding in ENQ1 next week after PIK received; need to rebalance the portfolio after big gains in the bonds. May buy some Russian oil stocks; they're thought by some to be positive on the long-term future of oil! And balance them with more European oil majors which are now becoming more ESG compliant. Looking forward to more fun next week: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

February 11th: updated Goshawk page with best results for SW Northumberland in 2020, for 10-15 years (Other Raptors/Population of the Goshawk in SW Northumberland).

More details of the Goshawk breeding season for 2020 are available in Table 14.


Area

No. sites

No. adults

Breeding Category

Juveniles

Conf

Prob

Poss


Local-fledge

Also seen

Devil’s Water

3

5

1

2

0

1

0

Allen

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Upper South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lower South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tyne W

3

4

2

1

0

2

0

Tyne E

1

0

1

0

0

1

0

Derwent

1

1

0

1

0

0

0

Total

8

10

4

4

0

4 (4x1+)

0

Table 14: Breeding Data for Goshawk in SW Northumberland by area in 2020


The revival continued in the study area with the highest number of sites occupied since 2010 and the highest number of broods since 2005. In the core area of the study area in the Devil's Water and Tyne Valley W 6 sites were occupied. Further single sites were occupied in Tyne Valley E and Derwent. No visits were made to the upper South Tyne and fewer visits to the Allen and lower South Tyne owing to the way the Honey-buzzard survey was conducted with emphasis on the eastern part of the study area this year. The Bulletins of the Northumberland & Tyneside Bird Club were searched from February-October 2020: no additional records were found. Four juvenile were seen at 4 sites, with 2 in Tyne Valley W and singles in Devil's Water and Tyne Valley E. However with no young noted at 4 sites where display was recorded in the spring, there are no grounds for complacency.


Max -1C, min -9C, light E breeze, bright sunshine all day, little snow melt even off trees, dry, accumulation snow moderate 10cm. Temperature dived at dusk, car showing -6.5C as drove home at 16:45 and soon after -9C reported for Hexham before rising to -7C at 22:00 and falling again to -8C at 01:00 (12/2). It's very cold over much of North America and Europe:


If You Think It's Cold Now, Just Wait Until Valentine's Day Weekend. Parts of northern Minnesota and North Dakota had wind chills colder than minus 50 degrees. If that doesn't sound cold enough, a reinforcing blast of cold air will surge southward through the Plains late this week into Valentine's weekend. And this time, the cold may smash scores of daily record lows and cold highs, especially by Valentine's Day and Monday. Subzero lows could occur as far south as parts of Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle. Teens below zero are possible deep into Kansas and minus 20s are possible as far south as Nebraska. [temperatures in Fahrenheit] https://weather.com/forecast/regional/news/2021-02-09-arctic-outbreak-valentines-weekend-record-cold


Snow chaos continues in Germany amid temperatures as low as -20C. Arctic polar air continues to cause problems for many people in Germany, as temperatures stayed as low as -20C. Continued cold front. It remains frosty in Germany. "On the edge of a weather front over northern Europe, very cold Arctic polar air is being directed to Germany with a northeasterly flow," the German Weather Service reported Thursday. At the edge of the Alps, an Italian low will initially still provide snowfall. During the day on Thursday, there would continue to be widespread light to moderate permafrost between -1C and -10C around Germany, they said. https://www.thelocal.de/20210211/below-freezing-temperatures-continue-to-hit-germany-hard


Temperature of -23C in Braemar is UK's lowest in 25 years. BBC weather presenter Simon King described the temperatures in Braemar, Aberdeenshire, as "incredible". It was the lowest February temperature since 1955, and the UK's coldest night since 30 December 1995. Mr King said cold air from Siberia and the Arctic - known as the Beast from the East - had sent temperatures "plummeting" over the last week. "While we've all experienced the cold wind, it's over the last couple of nights the temperature has got really low, especially in northern Scotland," he said. "There are three reasons for this: thick snow on the ground, clear skies and light winds." A Met Office yellow snow and ice warning is in place for large parts of the country until 12:00 on Friday. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-56022387


Found this site useful giving masses of information on sea temperatures. Medium-term changes are not so clear-cut as is popularly made out, particularly when looking at troposphere (lowest level of air above the surface). Worth keeping an eye on as it's updated daily. https://www.climate4you.com/SeaTemperatures.htm#Recent%20sea%20surface%20temperature


Cleaner S came out today and I went into Hexham from 14:50-16:50. Made C4c4t where very pleased to meet tmsuo again!! Then out for some birdwatching, getting 21 types, including a Little Grebe and 2 Grey Heron on the Tyne and best of all 2 Oystercatcher around Waitrose roof, where they breed, a sure sign of late winter! Also had 2 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Redwing. Definitely getting hardier in walk down to Tyne Bridge over the River. Had 110 people on Sele toboggan slopes, including 65 kids, 45 adults. Kids went up and down the steep slope, adults chatted, gr8 to see!! In evening attended a quiz from Opera North on Zoom between 2 seasoned teams of opera professionals: difficult questions, got some right and leant a lot; donated £100 towards their funds. So happy to hear from someone: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!


February 10th: max -1C, min -5C, persistent heavy snow showers right up to early evening, accumulation moderate 8-10cm, light NE breeze, some bright sunny intervals but less sunny than yesterday. Thought as roads OK yesterday that weekly mega-shop would be OK today but snowfall got a lot worse and had to wait until 13:20 before ice on road had softened up. So quickly made W where spent £60, coming out to blizzard conditions so no dallying, straight home with climb out of Hexham slippery but new car is very good in the snow, generally autocorrects from wheelspin with its drive controls and ABS. The Beast from the East was in 2018 so that's 2 bad winters out of the last 4. Looks as if there will be a good thaw from Sunday so will soon be out on the fells soon like last year, enjoying the returning waders and kite. Will be going W more this year for part 2 of Honey-buzzard survey. Did cook a mega spag bol (6 portions, 5 for freezer), tasted lovely, much better than ready meals!

Here's the live entertainment from Wasini Island, Mida Creek (19/1):

Then followed the Wasini Island dance troupe in live performance. Here's clips of the preparation and the dance/song with additional stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9. Here's my dance with the troupe in a skirt: clips of the invitation (insistence!) and the actual dance plus some stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9. As sole traveller I was the only funder of the dancing and purchases from the jewellery tables: I did my best, donating in all guises 4k KSh (£30) to local funds.

Some people will think I've gone nuts but have become interested in Tchaikovsky 1812 (full title The Year 1812 Solemn Overture). Did ask Alexa for Tchaikovsky music and over the next couple of hours, 2 versions were played, one with a chorus, one without. Checked Wiki and Tchaikovsky's original does not have a chorus. The tune in question is an Eastern Orthodox chant so does lend itself well to a chorus. The musician credited with introducing a chorus is Herbert von Karajan, the conductor of the Berlin Phil. Here's the story:

In his 1966 Deutsche Grammophon recording, Herbert von Karajan scored the first 02'43" (or 36 bars) for voices instead of strings at the start and the subsequent dialogue between strings and woodwind, adding the Russian Orthodox plainchant God Preserve Thy People text to the melody and slightly rearranging the texture to suit voices rather than instruments. The American conductor Igor Buketoff, son of a Russian Orthodox priest, went a stage further on his 1960s RCA Victrola recording with the New Philharmonia Orchestra. Not only did he deploy voices for the opening chant but he also had a children’s chorus sing the folk tune By the Gates and brought the choir back to bolster the chant and the Russian Imperial national anthem God Save the Tsar!.[Wiki]

You can hear Igor Buketoff's version at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypEJb0HI2kM. The Jerusalem Academy Music and Dance. Mendi Rodan Symphony Orchestra. The Jerusalem Academy Chamber Choir. Conductor: Eitan Globerson. IMHO the chorus makes the work sound much grander with a fantastic climax in the final chant. A certain German composer, much admired by von Karajan, would have liked this! Going to start final reports on the 2020 season for the local raptors as important to get them out the way before the next season starts, which it will very soon for Goshawk. Will also be visiting Toon next week with better weather (by car). xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

February 9th: max 0C, min -4C, moderate E breeze, bright sunshine most of day, heavy snow showers overnight 8/2-9/2 and late on 9/2, accumulation moderate 5-6cm. After C4c4ll TA, went for walk around Sele where a few cm of snow had accumulated overnight. About 40 kids were out tobogganing, not sure whether it's legal but they were having a great time. Also noted Sele First School where quite a few kids as children of key workers. Must be a nightmare for teachers with 3 strands: children of key workers on the premises, children with digital access off premises and children without digital access off premises who need to deal in paper form. Think primary schools should be back 22/2 in the interest of the children, their parents and their teachers. The sun was so bright: staring at it is so good for the optic nerve and feeling of well-being! Don't ask about the latest quarantine rules for travellers: absolutely crazy and the 10-year prison sentence for lying is more than for robbery with firearms, sexually offending with minors and most manslaughter. Laws such as these should be passed by Parliament, not forced on us. Have processed the dancing at Wasini Island, including 4 clips: will publish tomorrow!!

Kenya running totals: 100 species from 179 records, 7 complete lists, 13 places (all species assumed countable). Groups: waders 23, gulls 5+2 subspecies, terns 6, raptors 16, herons/storks 13. No records from Tsavo East safari park are included yet. Add 5 types from Ethiopia for trip running total. The dancing doesn't add any birds!!

Did watch on livestream the Gulls play at home against Wealdstone; our injury list continues to grow and the conditions were bad with strong, gusty wind. We did battle though and after going in 0-1 at half-time finally equalised 1-1 at 90+1 and nearly got the winner 2 minutes later! Our lead at the top is cut to 8 points, over Hartlepool. Opera North are running one-to-one arias in 10-minute slots on Zoom. I signed up for 1 on 24/2, donating £100 + gift aid. Funds are +7k on week to date; PoO continues to rise (Brent $61.11) and Manchester junk bonds have edged up a little. All commodities have risen recently; this is going to be a problem for countries not paying their way, such as the UK. Strong Chinese buying is the main spur. Inflation is likely to rise. xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

February 8th: max 0C, min -4C, moderate ENE breeze, some sunny intervals, heavy snow showers, accumulation low 2-3cm by late afternoon, 4-5cm by 23:00. Much warmer in house with the sun out more! Did not go out today with wind-chill -6C; also road has some ice on it even though being gritted twice a day. Completed indexing Mida Creek 19/1, quite a task, good thing that had labelled many piccies from here while still at Watamu. Need to make minor changes to BirdTrack record, then process the dancing girls (and me!). Think then have done all trips where did the processing while away, except 1st day of safari 10/1 which is next task. Also added records from the RSPB Garden Watch for Ordley (30/1, 24 types). Expecting to make Hexham 2moro at lunch-time when sun at maximum power! Wind is dropping a little 2moro so should be pleasanter. xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

February 7th: snow overnight didn't come to much, 3cm on car, 1cm on yard. Although it's staying cold the normal Valentine's effect looks likely with the longer days and higher angle of the sun beginning to be noticeable. Birds very hungry in raw moderate E breeze, max 0C, min -2C. Spotted the young Kestrel coming to roost in my arch again at dusk, being careful not to disturb it by getting coal in early. Completed processing birds on outside of Mida Creek on 19/1; uploaded results to server but not indexed yet. Finished indexing all piccies from Watamu Marine Reserve on 19/1. Did make Hexham mid-afternoon to avoid cabin fever, making C4c4ll and Sele Park for the TA. Had a Common Buzzard sitting on top of a pole on way in. Someone's very motivating: tmro: fabulous!!! Had good chat with son and daughter and younger granddaughter on fb video chat: good to keep up! No real reaction to jab today, long dreamy lie-in was the cure! To bed early, want to be up for the markets at ko!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

February 6th: mild in morning at 4C but getting colder as day wore on with snow settling a little by late evening at 1C; E wind moderate. It's going to stay very cold until Valentine's Day at least. Had jab, AZ variety, at 11:30, a little late but they were processing an enormous number of people with much record-keeping, in a friendly style. Then went to C4c4c and I4shop; someone is very alluring!! Processed Watamu piccies for 19/1 leaving the much large volume of Mida Creek outstanding; still need to index the Watamu ones but limited progress. Watched the livestream of Southport vs the Gulls, FA Trophy round 5, and we won 2-0, similar game to the Barnet one with us scoring early and late and some nervous moments around ½ time. Southport are NL Northern league and did say they were very pleased with the livestream figures, with plenty of Gull fans tuning in. We're in the quarter-finals, last 8, now. Watched the Martian on Film 4 in evening; have seen it before, interesting watching how Mars might be colonised and exciting in places, particularly the rescue of the guy trapped on the planet. Have arm ache and fatigue as go to bed! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

February 5th: heavy rain in afternoon, max 5C, min 2C, moderate E breeze, rapid thaw at higher levels. Completed processing Mida Creek 8/1, Watamu 9/1 and Addis Ababa 6/1. Results are below:

Final totals from Ethiopia: 8 species from 8 records, 1 complete lists, 1 places (all species assumed countable). Groups: raptors 2. 5 species not found in Kenya visit.

Running totals from Kenya: 97 species from 176 records, 7 complete lists, 13 places (all species assumed countable). Groups: waders 21, gulls 5+2 subspecies, terns 6, raptors 16, herons/storks 13. No records from Tsavo East safari park are included yet. Next up is final compilation and indexing of boat trip off Watamu to Mida Creek and Wasini Island (plus dancing clips!!) 19/1.

Combined totals from Kenya/Ethiopia: 102 species from 184 records, 8 complete lists, 14 places (all species assumed countable). Groups: waders 21, gulls 5+2 subspecies, terns 6, raptors 18, herons/storks 13.

Isolation day 10/10, not out today, jab in 1: liberation approaches!! Had 100 min Skype session with N/D – bit subdued – feel they need to get out. Catching up on a bit of music – Mahler 8 (Symphony for a thousand [voices]), Tchaikovsky 1812 with full choral (Jerusalem Academy), good for the soul! Think the government is becoming ever more nutty: quarantine hotels should have been introduced a year ago, not now, when we've got more cases than almost anyone else; but surpassed by the idea of pubs reopening without alcohol. Funds did have a good week, reaching new high of +125k gross (+10.2%), +117k net, on year to date with gain on week alone of 38k. Ftse 100 is -0.6% on ytd, ftse 250 +4.7%. Lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

February 4th: again damp with rain in morning, max 4C, min 2C, snow melting at higher levels, wind E moderate. Joined in Opera North's From Couch to Chorus Taster Session on Zoom for patrons; did the actions and the singing but probably for the best that we were all muted! Good atmosphere, led by the bubbly JS of the Choral Delivery Team with charming KH as lead administrator and RM doing the introduction as General Director (and ducking the actions!). Cleaner S threw me out at 15:00 until 17:00 for emergency hygiene operations so went into Hexham, walking around, making C4c4ll where pleased to meet Ra/K from the G; we had good chat in the shelter of the Shambles! Then did tour of Sele with my bins, keeping a bird list, getting 12 bird-types, including 6 Herring Gull and a Mistle Thrush. Not feeling the cold now, back to normal! Everything sparkling clean and sterilised on return. Have uploaded to server all piccies from 8/1 and 9/1 (Mida Creek/Watamu) and indexed about ½ of them, rest to do tomorrow. Up early at 07:00 to study results from ENQ and RDSB; former were good, latter were terrible but ENQ equity affected by a deal being struck for a purchase; the same deal benefited ENQ1 the bond, which is my largest single holding (215k nominal) rising c7% to 85 offer. I bought masses in March from 28.50-45 when the oil market went negative. Am waiting for extra PIK bonds (3.5%) to be credited on 15/2 before selling some. PoO now up to $59, so petrol prices will continue to rise. Funds reached record level today. Day 9/10 for isolation, jab in 2. xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xxxxxxxxx

February 3rd: very raw, wet day, with surface water in back garden. But milder than of late with max 2C, min 1C, on moderate E breeze. These piccies show house at Ordley with no snow 1, view to S towards Dukesfield 2 where snow settling heavily at 200m asl, view to SW towards Hexhamshire Common 3 where heavy snow and fog, up to 500m asl. Snowdrops are coming out in my back garden 4  5  6; daffodils are budding well along front wall 7. Flushed a 1w Kestrel at a meter's distance by gate between front and back gardens; here's the signs (poo 1) and this is where it's sheltering 2. Must have taken up residence while I was away. Had a pair of Oystercatcher on the roof at Waitrose, a sign of late winter! Think I've acclimatised back again now, not feeling cold any more, even when outside! Isolation day 8/10, jab day in 3. Cleaner S is coming 2moro.

Completed processing Sabaki Estuary records 16/1. Kenya running totals are: 96 species from 174 records, 7 complete lists, 13 places (all species assumed countable). Groups: waders 21, gulls 5+2 subspecies, terns 6, raptors 16, herons/storks 13. No records from Tsavo East safari park are included yet. Next up is final compilation and indexing of Mida Creek 8/1.

Had to repeat emergency big shop at W for £49 (can't starve) plus emergency buying of bird food, peanuts and seed, £10 (obviously vital), plus C4c4l (?). Very pleased to meet tmsuo again: she did not realise I would be away so long: absence makes the heart grow fonder (or something!!). Think it was the something in this case! Getting hardy again having TA in the Sele.

How tough do our travel restrictions need to be before the fundamentalists are happy? https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/comment/tough-do-travel-restrictions-need-fundamentalists-happy/ . A very good article: there are so many restrictions already in place that surely no more are needed. Travel is reckoned to account for only 1% of cases nationally with hospitality just 3%. The puritans have acted swiftly to take advantage of the pandemic! Delighted that the ever-so-apt opera might be in the offing!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

February 2nd: 5cm of snow at 08:00 but melted during day after heavy sleet; Ordley at 150m asl once again avoided a heavy snowfall with the major fall occurring at 200m asl and above. Max 2C, min 1C, moderate E breeze. Isolation day 7/10, in all day! Last Malarone taken – pleased at that as don't like being on drugs. Uploaded to server and indexed many piccies from Sabaki 16/2 with some still to do. Funds have had a good 2 days at +18k on rise in Ag shares and in PoO; gain on year to date is 105k gross. Pleased at news that AZ vaccine offers good protection against transmission; that's the most positive news for a while with the alarm over the variants dominating recent news. Over ½ cake eaten and almost out of rw!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

February 1st: bright again, 3C max, -3C min, calm, hard frost early-on. Isolation day 6/10. Emergency shopping at Shell garage for kindling for fire (can't freeze to death!), at Waitrose for washing powder (have to keep clothes clean!) and at C4c4ll (??). Had last-named in the Sele Park. Did enjoy seeing the sights of Hexham!! Have vaccination appointment on 1st day out of isolation at Sele Practice, Hexham Hospital, on Saturday 6/2 at 11:00: all arranged by automated system using SMS on Android: impressed! Had long chats on 'phone with both sisters: good to keep in touch!! Big sis says I'll be given the Pfizer jab as it's being done in a hospital: we'll see! Completed indexing of piccies at Hell's Kitchen 16/1 and went through all Sabaki piccies 16/1 with preliminary assignment already made; now need to check unlabelled piccies just to check not missed anything. Appreciate Reddit turning their attention from GameStop to physical Ag; do have some significant interests in Ag mines and more!! Steadily eating the cake, now with rw: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

January 31st: bright again, 3C max, -2C min, light SE breeze, longer daylight is very noticeable now with sunset 62 min later than at solstice. Isolation day 5/10. Went for walk around field and for short distance outside towards Juniper. Still feeling chilled outside but inside is getting comfortable now: stone houses takes ages to warm up but also ages to cool down, once up at healthy temperature. Pressed on strongly with Kenya records: finished indexing Malindi 22/1, compiled bird/animal totals for Hell's Kitchen 16/1 and Watamu 14/1; uploaded Hell's Kitchen piccies to server and indexed some of them. So:

Kenya running totals are: 95 species from 168 records, 7 complete lists, 13 places (all species assumed countable). Groups: waders 21, gulls 5+2 subspecies, terns 5, raptors 16, herons/storks 13. No records from Tsavo East safari park are included yet. Next up is final compilation and indexing of Sabaki 16/1.

Tomorrow will attend Rotary meeting at 12:30 on Zoom. Funds earmarked in next month are for Festival 1.5k (2/2), Opera North 0.25k (11/2), RNS pp 0.5k (15/2), older granddaughter's birthday, now 6 (!), 1.5k (17/2), RNS survival fund 1k (28/2). Completely out of ps!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

January 30th: snow on car in morning but rapidly melted, bright today, 3C max, -2C min, light E breeze. Am beginning to acclimatise back again but still feeling the cold if go outside!

Kenya running totals are: 91 species from 156 records, 6 complete lists, 12 places (all species assumed countable). Groups: waders 21, gulls 5+2 subspecies, terns 5, raptors 17, herons/storks 13. No records from Tsavo East safari park are included yet. Processed some records from Arabuko and Makongeni to/from Tsavo safari and at Msabaha on way to Malindi; uploaded Malindi piccies to server, indexing many of them. A much more productive day than yesterday, interleaving compilations with the football.

Did RSB Garden Birdwatch today from 09:30-14:00, getting 24 species in all, including 8 Chaffinch, 4 Siskin, 2 Yellowhammer, 1 Tree Sparrow, 1 Redwing, 1 Nuthatch, 9 Blue Tit, 1 Kestrel 1w.

Isolation day 4/10, still obeying the rules (almost!) but once get past day 5, think risk of carrying inwards infection is much reduced. Should have vaccination 1st jab soon after end of isolation on 5/2 (Monday, 8/2?); the Sele Practice, Hexham, are aware that I'm isolating on return from Kenya (they rang me up in Watamu!). It's Garden Bird Watch Day today, organised by RSPB; put out plenty of food and duly counted the visitors: results soon! Watched plenty of football today: Everton vs the Toon on BT Sport at 12:30 (Toon won 2-0, much more enterprising, great performance by Callum Wilson); Barnet (bottom) vs the Gulls (top) livestreamed at 15:00 (Gulls won 2-0, now 10 points clear of Hartlepool in 2nd place). The Gulls scored early on and then seemed content to sit back until the last 20 minutes, when we upped the tempo, found hectares of space and finished them off! Delighted to meet someone: she's gorgeous: cake and ps delicious: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

January 29th: max 4C, min 0C, occasional drizzle, dull, light NE breeze. Had long chat on Skype with N/D: bit more relaxed now I'm back in the UK! Watched Sage/RNS annual review on web link; a bit subdued but trying hard to be positive: the Thomas Tallis clip at the end was a good idea, showing a lot of creativity in use of digital media! Not too much done today: still feeling a bit cold; taking Malarone tablets for 7 days after return as per instructions: a bite on the last day could lead to parasite development several days after return; don't suffer any obvious side effects but will be relieved to be off them next Wednesday. In mosquito risk areas, such as Ethiopia, they keep open all the lockers and spray with insecticide the whole plane and passengers before departure to the UK! A terrible week for markets with ftse 100 down 4.3%, giving fall of 1.9% on year to date. Ftse 250 is still 0.6% up on year. Own funds fell 25k but still +87k on year to date gross (+7.1%), +79k net. Have realised 65k cash for trickling back into resource stocks and bonds; bought some of latter today to rebalance portfolio. Think it's a correction, not the start of a major slide; patience is required as the jabs get given out! Going to bed early: still on EAT: will be thinking of someone: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

January 28th: max 2C, min 2C, snow before dawn settling but melting in morning, light E breeze, gloomy. Put out bird food again and soon got some customers, including 4 Goldfinch and a female Brambling. House is a lot warmer. Daughter sent up an M&S pressie, comprising Belgian chocolates, a bottle of red wine and a miniature rose plant – late birthday present, timed well and very nice! People have asked me how much my 3-week trip cost: at least 4k, probably nearer 5k if everything included. But it was well worth it: an ambition realised to see African wildlife in many different beautiful and varied habitats in our winter, when our summer visitors, including the Honey-buzzard, are there in numbers. The Kenya people are such wonderful hosts! The weather is dry, hot and reliable! Watched Spurs vs Liverpool on my BT Sport sub, very entertaining, pleased Liverpool won 3-1. In long wait at Addis Ababa watched from 22:00-24:00 on my laptop the Gulls draw 0-0 with great promotion rivals Sutton on the free WiFi; we went down to 10 men shortly after ½ time so result was OK, keeping us 9 points ahead of them, though they have 3 games in hand. Been busy selling shares this week in a worrying week for the rapid end of the pandemic; the ftse is down on the year now; have 80k cash after taking some serious profits! But trend in funds is down. Have started the serious task of sorting out the piccies from Kenya and publishing them, starting with Jilore (see below 24/1 for the actual photos).

Kenya running totals are: 80 species from 136 records, 6 complete lists, 10 places (all species assumed countable). Groups: waders 20, gulls 5+2 subspecies, terns 5, raptors 12, herons/storks 13.

So just 8 days of isolation left: had a text message from the UK government reminding me of my duties, which didn't get after Portugal! Will get vaccinated against Covid soon after end of isolation. The long journey back temporarily affected my hearing; think my seat being just behind the wings near the engines (noisy), and the restricted breathing through a mask for so long (increasing congestion), may have been the cause. Anyway back to normal today after 10-hours of knock-out sleep and plenty of Vicks! Hope for sweet dreams tonite: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

January 27th: max 6C, min 0C, dull, drizzle, light E breeze. Made it!! It was 29.5 hours door to door, starting at 12:00 26/1 EAT in Watamu, finishing at 14:30 27/1 GMT (EAT-3) in Ordley. London was not so chilly but really felt the cold in Newcastle and Hexham with lower temperatures here, and big winter coat in the car, obviously not taken to Kenya. Journey went well, landing early at 06:09 at LHR; had reasonable sleep with 2 empty seats next to me: could lie on them and get feet off the floor. Got through passport control quickly. I had my phone with the locator form and my certificate all ready in the queue and was instead diverted by an officer to the automatic gates with no checks -- must have looked honest and of course he could see I was ready to present. Everything went smoothly except for the Heathrow Express where a new train broke down for 45 min! All the officials I met everywhere were friendly and supportive, no snide remarks or hassle. Kept Underground to a minimum just doing Paddington – KGX on Circle Line. To NCL, had 1st class seat on train for £48 and travelled on the new Azuma series for the first time, impressive acceleration. I managed to get my car from the airport at Newcastle, even though the airport was closed at the time: it started 1st time in the cold and damp. Finally did a big shop at Waitrose for £70. First thing back home was to light the big fire, which did but still feel cold. But think the house will be really warm after keeping the fire in overnight. So I'm in isolation for 9 more days, shall not bother with 5 days release as attractions are closed. Will undoubtedly crash out tonite: was a gr8 reunion with the fancied one: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

January 26th: max 30C, min 24C, sunny all day, light NE breeze, dry. Up at 9 for last breakfast, same every day of fruit juice (mango/water melon/pineapple), fresh fruit (mango, watermelon, banana, pineapple), Spanish omelette with bacon, tomato and toast, black coffee: my favourite meal of the day out here. Soon back to Shreddies with milk, ½ a grapefruit, cranberry juice, tea with fresh lemon, followed a little later by Marmite on toast and coffee. Fond farewells to all the staff at Villas Watamu; settled my refreshments bill for items not in half-board deal for $360. Had taxi with George from 12:00-14:30 to take me from Watamu to MBA, in very smooth drive, cost $65, plus 2k KSh tip. At MBA you go through security first, then checked-in, having to present my UK locator form on 'phone in the Downloads section (don't rely on WiFi connection!) and my PCR Covid test certificate. Both accepted and boarding cards issued. That was far faster than expected so 2.5 hours to wait in departure area for lift-off MBA-ADD at 17:30 EAT, with no WiFi but did find a cafe, Kwaheri, where spent last 1k KSh. Currently at ADD at 21:25 EAT waiting for 9-hour flight to Heathrow: all going well!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!! 09:30 ex-KGX

Birds noted in Kenya today included: at Kilifi, 12 Bee-eater (European) feeding actively around a clump of trees and 7 House Sparrow; NE Mombasa 2 Fork-tailed Drongo; Mombasa Airport 2 Swallow (ours!), 4 Feral Pigeon, 6 House Crow.

January 25th: max 30C, min 24C, sunny after early morning haze, light NE breeze. Bit of a tense day waiting for Covid test results, which hadn't materialised by 18:00, so contacted manager who 'phoned clinic, retrieving results on WhatsApp in 3 minutes! Results were 'somewhere in the system'! Good thing I asked! Test result was -ve , dated for Sunday. Found pan-African test registration system unusable but gather printed certificate will do. Completed passenger locator form for UK but couldn't check-in for Ethiopian Airlines flights: software problems(in retrospect, blocked as want to see locator/PCR forms). Computers are being used evermore to control us but they don't work well: chaotic interfaces (without proper testing outside of the development team), uncertain reliability (often very poor transaction design), poor focus, mean we'd be better off without them in many cases, and this is from a computing professional. Completed processing of Jilore piccies, getting 27 bird-types, and added results to BirdTrack.

Kenya running totals are: 73 species from 123 records, 6 complete lists, 8 places (all species assumed countable). Groups: waders 20, gulls 5+2 subspecies, terns 5, raptors 9, herons/storks 13. Wader total is going to be remarkable!

Gave out some gratuities to the staff – 3k to head waiter, 2k to cook, 1.5k to cleaner; more to go tomorrow: 2k to reception for arranging James, further 0.5k to favourite cleaner E. Tuned in at 22:00 EAT for the big event: very impressed with the acting and the story line. Such drive to keep the Festival going in this 'impossible' year! Return starts from the hotel at 12:00 EAT: looking forward to it surprisingly enough!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

January 24th: bit cooler today and noticeable, max 30C, min 24C, sunny after early morning haze, light NE breeze. Up at 05:55 for start of trip at 06:30 with James; we drove out Tsavo-way up to Jilore Lake 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19, a large natural lake, for a walk around about 1/3 of it up until 10:30. It was pretty testing, up and down the sides of the lake in the heat, but coped very well. James had brought a chair in case I keeled over but no need: did sit on it for photo of me against the lake which has come out well 1; he was amazed at my fitness!! But am of course used to walks off the beaten track; ants were a problem, learnt new Swahili term haraka haraka (quick quick) when you're standing near a boiling red-ant nest; had a few bites, even up my shorts (!) but am used to wood ant in the Tyne Valley, which are probably more threatening! Added plenty of good wetland species and also found a perched Honey-buzzard (adult female) and 2 flying kite. Much more to follow from a great morning's fieldwork in wild African countryside, outside the parks, cost £100. So finished on great terms with James: he's added a lot to my holiday! He'd wisely employed a local guide from the village to help; gave him 1k KSh; if locals see how people value their wildlife, they'll take more interest in maintaining it. No more trips planned; expect to get test result Monday pm and depart hotel Tuesday lunchtime. Best of luck for the gorgeous one with the great event: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

All times on the time-stamped photos are in GMT. EAT is GMT+3.

Full bird list today for Jilore was 35 types: 1 Little Grebe, 1 Black Crake 1  2  3, 35 Spur-winged Goose 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, 3 African Pygmy Goose (pair plus single 1  2), 1 Glossy Ibis 1, 1 Black Kite 1  2, 1 Yellow-billed Kite 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13, 1 Honey-buzzard (10330 adult female 1  2, a female perched in a 'dead' tree briefly then flew off towards ground), 20 African Darter 1  2  3  4, 5 Intermediate Egret 1  2  3, 12 Cattle Egret 1  2, 1 Black-headed Heron, 17 African Open-bill 1  2  3  4, 1 Squacco Heron 1, 4 Greenshank, 4 Ruff 1  2  3 (last one, 2 birds), 10 Wood Sandpiper 1  2  3  4  5, 4 Three-banded Plover 1  2, 3 Kentish Plover, 1 Ringed Plover 1, 4 Spur-winged Lapwing 1  2 (distraction display), 12 African Jacana 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9, 1 Common Tern, 2 White-browed Coucal 1, 1 Lilac-breasted Roller 1, 4 House Crow, 4 White-throated Bee-eater, 1 Northern Carmine Bee-eater 1  2  3, 2 Emerald-spotted Wood-dove 1  2, 7 Pied Kingfisher, 20 Swallow, 1 Yellow-headed Wagtail 1 (Yellow Wagtail from the Volga, lutea), 12 Village Weaver, 1 Eastern Golden Weaver, 34 Yellow-fronted Canary.

On route had some raptors on the link rough road between Gedi and Tsavo at Arabuko from 10:30-11:00, a Long-crested Eagle up in commanding style over some woodland, a Lizard Buzzard giving great close-up views on some wires 1  2  3  4, and a Red-necked Falcon perched on the wires. So 38 bird-types for trip.

January 23rd: max 31C, min 24C, sunny after mid-morning, light NE breeze. Processed records from yesterday completely, including labelling all piccies and adding to BirdTrack. The gulls were very interesting with heuglini, cachinnans, fuscus. Today had 2 White-rumped Swift up over my hotel at 13:30, together with a Village Weaver in the trees. Have another trip out tomorrow morning, early-on at 6:30 to a lake at the back of Sokoke Forest with James, returning as soon as it gets hot! So it's early to bed, plenty of room in my 4-poster 4 fun: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Running total from smallish subset of records fully processed on BirdTrack for Kenya to 21/1: 53 species from 81 records, 4 complete lists, 6 places (all species assumed countable), with groups waders 16 types, gulls 4, terns 4, storks/herons 10, birds of prey 9.

Ethiopia totals for 6/1 may be the final ones as, on return, arrive there and leave at night. 7 species from 7 records, 1 complete lists, 1 places (all species assumed countable), with groups birds of prey 2 types.

January 22nd: max 31C, min 25C, more cloud extending up to early afternoon before strong sunshine, UV rating here is usually 12 around midday – avoid exposure, light NE breeze. Had nose and throat swabs taken at a clinic in Malindi at 09:20 as part of returning Covid test. Cost £91, compared to that at NCL £99. The samples go to a Wellcome laboratory at Kilifi for analysis with result Monday afternoon by email. If -ve then complete online Kenya exit forms and UK entry forms. Driver George (airport driver) took me and we went on a tour of Malindi afterwards, visiting Vasco de Gama Pillar 1  2  3  4 commemorating his visit in 1498 on a Portuguese boat. I remembered this pillar from earlier visit as a good way to spend 500 KSh to get a great view of the coast both to N and S 1  2  3  4  5  6. Some fishermen were hauling in a net to N, 'helped' by 10 Heuglin's Gull heuglini adult from Russia and a Caspian Gull cachinnans 1w 1  2  3  4  5  6 from eastern Europe (classical structure, as found at Grindon Lough in Northumberland!), plus a LBBG 3w fuscus from northern Scandinavia with SE migratory path. Delighted to see the Heuglin's Gull, from Siberia, mentioned as the main winter-visiting large gull in my guide (Stevenson); they have a more LBBG profile than the Steppe Gull, which are more like Caspian. Here's the piccies for Heuglin's: group of 6 adult with LBBG 3w fuscus 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 (the LBBG is the smaller, more attenuated individual with black tip to bill); group of 3 adult 10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24 (11 shows Lesser Crested Tern and Sooty Gull in flight, 11, 15, 23 shows Lesser Crested Tern in flight; 24 shows bird with wings open and 2 others calling); group of 2 adult 25  26  27  28  29 (25 shows an adult with wings open, 27 shows the Caspian Gull 1w and Lesser Crested Tern in flight, 28,29 show 3 adult Sooty Gull); single adult 30  31  32 (31 shows the bird taking off, 32 shows a distant perched bird with 10 Lesser Crested Tern). Also had great views of the local Sooty Gull (16 adult in all 1  2  3  4  5) and a Tawny Eagle up over the bush at Msabaha as drove N. I also visited the Vasco de Gama Chapel 1  2  3  4  5, built before 1542. Malindi is quite smart in the centre with many boutiques, bars and restaurants, and thriving night life. I had a cappuccino and croissant at a trendy cafe Karen Blixen, where people were sitting around socialising, just like I used to do in Hexham and Newcastle: how nostalgic!! Malindi is dominated by Italian businesses and tourists; the population is mainly Muslim but all kinds of Christianity exist. Cost to driver for 4 hours was 4.5k KSh (£32), including 0.5KSh bonus. Had 1 hour on Skype with mates N/D; they are so sour on my presence here but since both have been housebound now for 11 months, think they've become like institutionalised prisoners. In spite of a faltering in the optimistic outlook for recovery, particularly in air travel, funds did well at +14k on the week, reaching new peak today, +112k gross on year to date (+9.1%), +104k net, compared to ftse 100 +2.5%, ftse 250 +2.4%. Have quite a lot invested in Falklands oil prospects, which are booming thanks to Premier Oil's takeover by Harbour; Harbour has much deeper pockets than Premier and is more likely to advance Premier's Sea Lion prospect, opening up additionally other areas in the region as the infrastructure is developed. Don't hold any airlines or domestic UK stocks. I'm looking forward very much to some aspects of return: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Bird list from Malindi today 09:20-12:00: 16 Sooty Gull adult, 10 Heuglin's Gull adult, 1 Caspian Gull 1w, 1 LBBG fuscus 3w, 12 Lesser Crested Tern, 1 Caspian Tern, 1 Grey Plover, 4 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 2 Marsh Sandpiper, 1 Turnstone, 1 Grey Heron, 50 House Crow, 1 Pied Crow, 1 House Sparrow, 4 Feral Pigeon, 3 Common Swift (ours!). That's 17 types, added to BirdTrack. Birds at Msabaha on way N to Malindi at 09:00 included the Tawny Eagle, 2 Greater Blue-eared Starling, 6 House Crow, 4 Feral Pigeon.

January 21st: max 32C, min 26C, sunny afternoon, cloudy in morning with few spots of rain, light NE breeze. A second day at base enjoying the sunshine, food, drink and setting. Have completed work on boat trip records – pleased with that, all listed below, including another Honey-buzzard juvenile skulking in the mangrove swamp. Have drunk the hotel out of Guinness, now onto Tusker Light! Cannot travel on BA on 27/1 from LHR-NCL as no flights that day so back on train!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

January 20th: max 32C, min 26C, sunny afternoon, cloudy in morning, light NE breeze. Chill-out day by the pool! Had a flock of 8 (European) Bee-eater over hotel at 17:00 calling loudly.

January 19th: max 33C (hottest to date), min 24C, sunny all day, light NE breeze, dry. Had a great day out in the private boat trip (base cost £120), seeing c40 dolphins, doing a close-up tour of the shore of Mida Creek from the seaward-side, having lunch with (yes!) live entertainment and dancing, including yours truly out there in the heat!! Day started inauspiciously with stomach ache followed by the inevitable, so was out with the Imodium, taking 3 capsules in a few hours, which worked so well that was able to do justice to the lunch (steak and kingfish, with rice and toast) and join in the dancing. Now using rehydration techniques – Guinness and some blackcurrant rehydration sachets, made up from tap water with purification tablets added. I have a bag full of medical supplies, including Malo (anti-malarial capsules, one per day), a mosquito repellent cream, vitamin D capsules, Ibuprofen, plasters. The bed is enclosed by a net all round at night and all the windows are covered on the outside by metal gauze. Have the odd cosy visitor though: tree frogs, which hop around the place, and a gecko, which catches flies brilliantly off the lights in the evening. I did put one tree frog outside but think it came back the next day with a few friends (whose place is this really, mate!). Off for breakfast now (09:00 EAT) – more later!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

The Watamu Marine Reserve 1  2  3  4 is fantastic with wide sandy (coral-generated) beaches and a mangrove swamp all along the edge in Mida Creek. The scenery was stunning, including the beech and the sea towards the coral reefs. The team was James (guide), me and catering manager (!). We first sailed c09:30 to the S end of the Reserve where c40 Bottle-nosed Dolphin, same species as at Cromarty in Scotland but different race (Indo-Pacific), were performing well for 4 boats that were out. Here's a clip and some stills 1  2  3  4  5  6; the watchers have their attractions too 1. There were very few seabirds around from 09:30-11:00 but did have an Osprey (sitting in a tree overlooking the harbour 1  2  3  4  5), a Wedge-tailed Shearwater, 7 Lesser Crested Tern, a Sooty Gull, plus 2 House Crow on the beach. A popular sport is kite surfing, particularly with Italian men 1  2  3.

On the outside of the creek we had a flock of 28 Grey Plover (1-6 standing 7 in flight) 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, 2 Kittlitz's Plover (see 3, 7 Grey Plover), 2 Saunder's Tern 1  2 and a Whimbrel (see 7 Grey Plover): every holiday in Africa I see a Whimbrel, even though they are a high-latitude breeder from the frozen N. Also in this area 1  2  3  4  5 we had 3 Little Egret 1, 2 Great Egret 1  2, 4 Intermediate Egret 1, 2 Grey Heron, 5 Sacred Ibis 1, 1 Yellow-billed Stork. So that's 10 types. Inside the Creek we made Wasini Island, where we collected lunch in pans from a hotel and sailed to a beach with covered area, where we had lunch of chicken/rice (course 1) and steak/kingfish/toast (course 2). Lunch is always a very relaxed, sociable and long-drawn out event in Kenya: pole pole (pronounced poley poley) is a very popular saying in Swahili: it means slowly slowly! Then followed the Wasini Island dance troupe in live performance. Here's clips of the preparation and the dance/song with additional stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9. Here's my dance with the troupe in a skirt: clips of the invitation (insistence!) and the actual dance plus some stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9. As sole traveller I was the only funder of the dancing and purchases from the jewellery tables: I did my best, donating in all guises 4k KSh (£30) to local funds.

Birds in this area, well inside the Creek 1  2  3 away from the sea, included: 4 Greenshank 1  2  3  4  5, 1 Marsh Sandpiper, 40 Sanderling (in 4 flocks, going out towards sea-coast 1), 1 Little Stint (with Greenshank, see 5), 2 Woolly-necked Stork 1  2  3  4, 1 African Fish Eagle (adult), 1 Honey-buzzard (juvenile, dark-phase, sitting in middle of canopy in a mangrove tree, refusing to budge, keeping wary eye on us 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11), 1 Yellow-billed Kite 1, 3 Black Kite, 2 Pied Kingfisher 1, 6 Whimbrel 1  2, 1 Curlew 1, 2 Grey Plover, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Saunder's Tern 1, 6 Black-headed Heron 1  2  3  4, 4 Grey Heron 1, 7 Little Egret 1, 1 Great Egret 1  2, 1 Sacred Ibis 1, 40 Crab-plover 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, 2 Intermediate Egret 1, 2 Yellow-billed Stork 1  2, 50 Red-billed Quelea (2 flocks of 30 and 20 1  2). Total for all of Mida Creek was 24 bird-types.

Have changed return plans: now coming straight home on 27/1 by BA flight (very tight) or train; so going to isolate, not visiting daughter! Funds -2k in 1st two days of week, just a little profit-taking, fundamentals remain good. xx

January 18th: lazy day, max 32C, min 25C, cloudy all morning, sunny afternoon, dry. Felt quite hot in afternoon though only 1 degree up! Completed processing of Sabaki piccies, putting 31 species through to BirdTrack, as below: very pleased with that! So little demand for boat trips at present but offered by James £120 private trip tomorrow to see dolphins and visit desert island; so taken up and hope lunch is better! Also got Covid test in Malindi at 09:10 on Friday for return to UK; very pleased with that removal of uncertainty after hotel manager liaised with Indian test centre! Cost is 13k KSh (£90), weekend rate: keep smiling!! 'phoned by Sele Practice, Hexham, today; told them I was away: no problem, get your jab when isolation completed!! So feeling relaxed: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

January 17th: max 31C, min 25C, cloudy all morning, sunny afternoon, quite a common pattern, dry. Busy processing Sabaki data, labelling many piccies and giving provisional totals below: an exciting visit! My room cleaner is losing her job on Tuesday: not enough business with Covid; gave her a bonus to try and cheer her up; people forget the devastating effect of travel bans on developing countries; she will not get any furlough. Entertainment business is also knackered here – no live music! Trying for a more grockle-oriented theme at Watamu on Tuesday: full day in glass-bottomed boat to see dolphins, the coral reefs, fishes and of course birds! Think that might be appealing to some: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

January 16th: max 30C, min 24C, sunny nearly all day, light NE breeze, humidity 60%, sunrise 06:22, sunset 18:41, 3.34 deg S of equator, 40.03 deg E of Greenwich (a little E of Moscow at 37 deg E). Dawn and dusk are very sharp, happening quickly, day length is around 12 hours all year but actual times drift a little to do with the way we measure time. Today's trip was a full day – 08:00-20:00 with driver and guide James, going N beyond Malindi to the Sabaki River Delta, a major international bird reserve. The river has 3 names: Athi in the Kenyan highlands, Galana in the middle and Sabaki at the coast. Vast amounts of silt come down the river so the delta is fantastically rich. The walk there from 09:10-11:10 was a test in the strong sunshine, on the edge of a mangrove swamp and through sand dunes 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 to the beach 8  9  10, far removed from Mediterranean-style, with breakers from the ocean on the wide beach and the only humans a few fishermen 11 with their catch 12  13. Some cattle knew their way to the river to drink 14. We also made the estuary 15  16 with its amazingly rich birdlife. Here's the view of Malindi from Sabaki 17. Here's the gang walking back through the dunes 18: I'm at the rear! Associated with the mangrove swamp was this monster crab 19. The star bird is Lesser Flamingo of which many feeding in the rich mud. But there were also lots of waders, terns and herons, plus a Yellow-billed Kite and a Palm-nut Vulture adult. Most interesting for me were the gulls, just a few, but they are winter visitors with 2 large gulls (1 adult, 1 1w), thought to be Steppe Gull Larus barabensis, with some characteristics of Caspian Gull in small head, long fine bill with uniform-width, long legs. These would be from the N but there was another large very dark gull, an adult Kelp Gull, from the S, maybe RSA. A further large gull was a 2w Heuglin's Gull with shorter legs than the Steppe Gull, standing near the 1w Steppe. Also had 29 Sooty Gull, the main local species; it's a very dark gull so easy to pick out. Next stop was further N again to the Gongoni Salt Pans from 11:45-13:10, a massive area, devoted entirely to the flooding of a pan with salt water, allowing the water to evaporate in the hot sun and then digging out the salt deposits left behind. This area held huge numbers of Lesser Flamingo, waders, herons, darters, terns, and a few gulls: 7 Slender-billed Gull sitting on a sand bank packed with African Darter and Caspian Tern. This gull comes from an area south of the Steppes. So 5 types of gull for the day, well up to expectations, to add to the Grey-headed Gull at Mida Creek on 8/1. At this point we were 250km from the border (the closest ever been; my travel policy excludes areas within 60km of the border) and the countryside is noticeably more arid. We then came back towards Malindi for lunch at a restaurant, which had seen better days, like much of Malindi (most of the trade has moved to Watamu as it's perceived as safer). The Blue Marlin, a hotel where we'd stayed in Malindi as family in the 1990s, is on the edge of closure. Service was so slow and my teeth couldn't handle the tough chicken, obviously from an old bird indeed! Final stop from 15:50-18:20 was the amazing Hell's Kitchen at Marafa (50km inland from Gongoni), a fantastic landscape with very uneven erosion 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18, giving an effect like the Grand Canyon. We had another challenging walk around the whole area, which was great for keeping fit. The scenery is stunning. Here's 2 piccies of yours truly at the site, first solo, second with guide James and driver 1  2. Then we drove back to Watamu, which seemed to take ages as Saturday nite was in full swing in Malindi and Watamu, with all bars and restaurants open until curfew at 22:00. A road block N of Malindi was meticulous, suspect they were looking for Al Shabaab sympathisers. Good to see some nite life again! Cost for trip was £150 (21k KSh), reasonable since it was tailored for me! Feeling a little weary after the trip but very satisfying in all respects. Watching the UK return with interest: certainly a Covid test here 72 hours before departure and 10 days quarantine on arrival but see they're thinking of other measures. NCL may not even be open at this rate! Sele practice, Hexham, has offered me a Covid vaccination from 19/1: will take at 1st opportunity. xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Birds at Sabaki River Delta included: Lesser Flamingo 680+ 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11; Sacred Ibis 1 1, Yellow-billed Stork 3 1  2  3  4, Grey Heron 3, Black-headed Heron 1, Little Egret 6, Great Egret 2; Yellow-billed Kite 1 1  2, Palm-nut Vulture 1 adult 1  2  3  4  5  6; Sooty Gull 29 (23 adult 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17, 2 adult and 1 1w together 18  19, and 3 1w 20  21 see also Steppe Gull piccie 11), Kelp Gull 1 adult 21, Steppe Gull 2 (1 adult 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9, and 1 1w 10; these birds are intermediate between Heuglin's Gull and Caspian Gull in structure and, for the adult, mantle shade), Heuglin's Gull 1 2w (piccie 10 shows a 2w, also 11), Caspian Tern 2, Lesser Crested Tern 32 1, Greater Crested Tern 7 1, Common Tern 2, Sandwich Tern 2; waders 14 types: Bar-tailed Godwit 40, Marsh Sandpiper 6, Greenshank 6, Whimbrel 1, Curlew Sandpiper 8, Ringed Plover 11, Kentish Plover 4, Grey Plover 140, Sanderling 1, Black-winged Stilt 4, Spur-winged Lapwing 2 (distraction display), Senegal Lapwing 3, Redshank 1, Crab Plover 2; White-throated Bee-eater 3 (pair); Lilac-breasted Roller 2; Pied Kingfisher 2; House Crow 4, Swallow 25. So 37 species in all!

Birds at Hell's Kitchen, Marafa, included: Black-bellied Starling 4 1  2, White-throated Bee-eater 8 1  2, European Roller 1 1, Purple-crested Turaco 1, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush 2 (same as in Europe). Animals here included 15 Yellow Baboon 1  2  3  4.

January 15th: weather you've guessed it – same! Made great progress on data 10/1, day 1 of safari, giving some provisional totals below, with still some material to process fully. But no let-up, full day out tomorrow with James, visiting Malindi estuary and surrounding hotspots; should be a great day, exploring the coast, starting at 08:00 EAT. Some more people have arrived in hotel tonight from India: no details yet! Did have Skype call with N/D, most critical of my presence here but unrepentant; they've isolated for 11 months and are showing the strain. But we ended on good terms! Funds continued good start to year in spite of setback today: +98k gross (+8.0%) on year to date, +90k net. ftse 100 is +3.2%, ftse 250 +2.5%. Gain on week 2 was 35k. PoO is driving feature on vaccine roll-out with supporting cast of Manchester BS junk bonds! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

January 14th: max 30C, min 24C, cloudy in morning, sunny in afternoon, light NE breeze. Carried on working on results, wrapping up 8/1 Mida Creek and doing complete run through and labelling of piccies from 10/1, day 1 of safari. I need to upload the piccies and index them when I'm back in the UK, but mentally that's a much less daunting task than starting from scratch. That was one of the ideas for spending much longer out here (as well as escaping the snow and solitary confinement!). Life in the hotel is very relaxing if a little quiet but they've laid on a supply of Guinness, the African variety – 6.5%, not 4.1%, wow! Finding 2 cold showers a day makes you feel fitter! Next day trip is scheduled for 16/1 with a trip to the local marine reserve in a glass-bottomed boat a couple of days later. Did the animals for 10/1 today, doing the birds for 10/1 tomorrow when also hope to have a Friday Skype session with my mates at 14:00 GMT (17:00 EAT); finding being 3 hours ahead of events in the UK is a little weird, since I'm normally trailing events with my late hours! Market-wise there are benefits to being ahead of the UK but the US/Canada is more difficult as they don't even open until 17:30 EAT and close at 24:00 EAT. EAT is Moscow-time! So all's good (or 'well' for better English!): xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Birds at Watamu in short stroll around my hotel grounds 10:10-10:30 included: 2 Hadada Ibis, 1 House Crow, 3 Common Bulbul, 1 African Golden Oriole, 4 African Palm Swift, 3 African Pied Wagtail, 4 Ring-necked Dove (singing), 2 Laughing Dove (singing), 2 Red-eyed Dove (singing), 3 Sombre Greenbul. 10 types.

January 13th: max 30C, min 24C, cloudy in morning, sunny in afternoon, light NE breeze. Anchored to hotel by pool: very relaxing; did a lot of work on 8/1 Mida Creek, labelling the piccies; think this is a good way to work, sorting out id problems while here. Plan to add animal totals for safari next, and piccies when I get back. Regular barman has left, bit irregular in Passengers context (where he's a droid) but await new one tomorrow; no sign of Jennifer Lawrence yet!! Gave him bonus of £20, which he appreciated very much! Very happy with responses to my birthday, particularly one: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

January 12th: max 22C, min 15C, damp with light showers and few glimpses of sunshine in morning at Tsavo, light NE breeze. Finished safari, leaving the park at 11:30 with a puncture, requiring a wheel change, which driver did quickly as if done many times before! Back at hotel at 13:00; they (guide James, driver John) were well pleased with their bonuses of 4k KSh each. Added a couple more Honey-buzzard, plus a Common Kestrel with many Montagu's/Pallid Harrier hunting in the long grass. Had an interesting encounter with a bull elephant, which very reluctantly got off the track in front of us; then he turned to face us 30m away, ears flapping, trumpeting loudly and breaking a branch off a tree in his annoyance (displacement activity!). These lone bulls are the main menace to humans; frustrated without any access to females in a herd and often horny: they are the classical testosterone-loaded young male hooligans! Private safari was brilliant with great opportunities to study the birds, as well as the animals, with just me to satisfy. Back to the coast for a nap; weather here was same as on arrival, 30C max, 24C min. WiFi struggling this evening so late posting. Funds continue to progress at +29k in 1st 2 days of week on rise in PoO and ongoing recovery in Manchester BS junk bonds. Quite a good birthday present but the safari was the best marker!! I continue as a boring Capricornian! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Animals recorded today, all Tsavo East, included: Common Eland 1 ???, Impala 114 ???, Water Buck 5 ???, Grant's Gazelle 1, Plains Zebra 13 ???, Reticulated Giraffe 6 ???, Fringe-eared Oryx 7, African Bush Elephant 20 ??? including a very angry lone bull ???, Cape Buffalo 40 ???, Rock Hyrax 1 ???, Yellow Baboon 12 ???, Nile Crocodile 1 ???.

Raptors recorded today, included: Tsavo East, Sala Gate area 09:40-11:00 – White-headed Vulture 1, Eastern Chanting-Goshawk 1, Black Kite 1 ???, Secretarybird 1 ???.

Raptors recorded today, included: bush after Tsavo East – Arabuko 12:00 none; Makongeni S 11:30 Eastern Chanting-Goshawk 3 (perched high-up on trees), Tawny Eagle 1.

Further birds recorded today, included: Tsavo East, Sala Gate area 09:40-11:00 – Spur-winged Lapwing 1, Hadada Ibis 1, 6 types for all birds.

Further birds recorded today, included: bush after Tsavo East – Makongeni S 11:30 Cattle Egret 25.

January 11th: max 22C, min 15C, damp start after more rain overnight, but became dry and sunny, NE light breeze. Still at Voi Lodge, looked great today in the sunshine. Saw a pride (8+) of lions today mopping up after a kill of a large deer, with vultures soaring overhead; also had a lone male. Masses of other sightings as out from 06:30-13:30 and 16:00-18:30 – long day for everyone. Great result today was finding 6+ Honey-buzzard in the bush of Tsavo E in quite a small area. There are c1-2 million Honey-buzzard over-wintering in Africa but everywhere it's uncommon to rare. The ones today were hiding in the lower canopy of trees and shrubs, walking around on the ground or sitting unobtrusively in the middle of the upper canopy. None were flying, except when flushed and then quite reluctantly. The rangers are much better at identifying African residents than these seasonal arrivals from Russia; but the Honey-buzzard does spend its first 18 months in Africa without a break as 1w birds do not move N so no excuse really. So it's the same problem as in the UK for under-recording of this species: secretive habits and poor id skills!! Fighting talk but exciting discovery! Many other Russian breeders here today: Pallid Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Steppe Buzzard, Common Kestrel, White Stork, and more! Tomorrow is last day of this safari, up at 05:30, breakfast at 6, off at 6:30, back in Watamu for late lunch. This early schedule is not my normal style (!) but results are keeping me going and of course to bed early at 22:00: wish someone was here: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

January 10th: max 21C, min 15C, wet, NE light breeze. Currently at Voi Safari Lodge, Tsavo East, paradise on earth!! In Watamu, breakfast at 7, leave at 7:30, quick trip to bank, then off on private safari with James (guide) and John (driver) in classical Safari tourer. Weather went from damp to quite wet by mid afternoon but everything was really green, in the wet season, and the wildlife was absolutely amazing in abundance. Here's the rocky crags around Voi 1  2  3  4 and the Lodge itself, including views from it 3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11. Not got any cats but long list of animals including elephant, giraffe, crocodile, hippopotamus, antelope; many birds of prey, including migratory, from Russia: 3 Montagu's Harrier (adult male 2, ringtail 1), 1 Pallid Harrier female, 1 Western Marsh Harrier (female), Steppe Eagle, 3 Steppe Buzzard, 1 Common Kestrel, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 6 Black Kite, plus resident Martial Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Secretarybird, Black-winged Kite, and many others. Private safari is really superb as they stop for many birds, which would be unthinkable with a party of more diverse interests, many members indeed of which are only looking for 'exciting' animals. Had late lunch and dinner at lodge, now going to bed at 22:30 to get ready for breakfast at 06:30 and more drives. Staying here 2 nights: it's very comfortable with magnificent views over the Tsavo plains. Entry to the park was through Sala Gate, where the dry bush 1  2 runs alongside the luxuriant vegetation by the side of the Galena River 1  2  3  4  5  6 (1-2 with Large Hippopotamus). So all's good: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Animals recorded today, all Tsavo East, included: Nile Crocodile 1 1  2  3, Water Buck 6 1  2, Impala 78 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, Grant's Gazelle 3 1  2, Plains Zebra 15 1  2  3, Large Hippopotamus 26 1  2  3  4  5  6 (1-4 with Red-billed Oxpecker), African Bush Elephant 14 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, Kudu 2, Reticulated Giraffe 12 1  2  3  4  5, Unstriped Ground Squirrel 1 1  2, Rock Hyrax 12 1, Coke's Hartebeest 4 1  2  3, plus a snake sp 1  2.

Raptors recorded today, included: bush before Tsavo East – Arabuko 08:00 Lizard Buzzard 2; Makongeni S 08:20 Eastern Chanting-Goshawk 1 (perched high-up on tree), Grasshopper Buzzard 1, Pygmy Falcon 1, Augur Buzzard 1, Wahlberg's Eagle 2.

Raptors recorded today, included: Tsavo East, Sala Gate area 09:30-12:50 – African Fish Eagle 1 (adult 1  2  3), White-headed Vulture 1 1  2  3, Bataleur 4 (1 juvenile 1  2  3), Black Kite 2, Pygmy Falcon 1 (male), Secretarybird 1 1  2  3  4  5.

Raptors recorded today, included: Tsavo East, Voi Lodge area 12:50-18:45 – African Harrier-Hawk 2 (both juvenile 1  2  3), Western Marsh Harrier 1 (female 1  2  3  4), Black Kite 4 1, Black-winged Hawk 1 1  2  3  4  5, Martial Eagle 3 1  2  3  4, Montagu's Harrier 3 (2 adult male 1  2  3  4  5  6, 1 ringtail), Pallid Harrier 1 (female 1  2), Steppe Buzzard 3 1  2  3  4, Steppe Eagle 1 1  2  3, Brown Snake-Eagle 2 1  2, Secretarybird 3 1  2  3  4, Tawny Eagle 3 1  2  3, Augur Buzzard 2, Common Kestrel 1, Peregrine Falcon 1. That's 15 types.

Further birds recorded today, included: bush before Tsavo East – Makongeni S 08:20 Vulturine Guineafowl 60 1  2  3  4  5, Great Spotted Cuckoo 1, Grey-headed Kingfisher 3 1. Here's habitat for Makongeni area, showing the lush River Galena (the Sabaki on coast at Malindi) 1  2  3 (on 10/1), and the more arid bush 1  2  3  4  5 (on 12/1). Certainly the river habitat looks good for Honey-buzzard but the arid bush may only support very low numbers.

Further birds recorded today, included: Tsavo East, Sala Gate area 09:30-12:50 – Somali Ostrich 1 1  2  3, Kori Bustard 1 1  2  3  4, Black-faced Sandgrouse 2 1  2  3, Helmeted Guineafowl 4 1  2, Black-headed Heron 5 1  2  3  4, Egyptian Goose 4, Common Sandpiper 1 1  2, Three-banded Plover 1 1  2, Spur-winged Lapwing 1 (on nest 1), Ring-necked Dove 1 1  2, Grey-headed Kingfisher 1 1  2, Pied Kingfisher 1 1, Great Spotted Cuckoo 2, Southern Ground Hornbill 2 1  2, Red-billed Oxpecker 6 1  2  3  4 with Large Hippopotamus, Flappet Lark 3. 22 types for all birds.

Further birds recorded today, included: Tsavo East, Voi Lodge area 12:50-18:45 – Egyptian Goose 6 in pairs 1  2, Black-headed Heron 1, Marabou Stork 1, Helmeted Guineafowl 200 1, White-bellied Bustard 3 1  2  3  4, Yellow-necked Spurfowl 50 1  2, Harlequin Quail 200, Great Spotted Cuckoo 2 1, White-browed Coucal 2 1  2, Speckled Pigeon 1 1, Laughing Dove 2 1  2, Ring-necked Dove 1 1, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater 1 1  2  3, Northern Red-billed Hornbill 2 1  2  3, Spur-winged Lapwing 2 1, Common Swift 20, Red-rumped Swallow 3, Rock Martin 3, Red-winged Lark 100, Lilac-breasted Roller 10, European Roller 5 1  2, Pied Crow 1, White-winged Widowbird 6 1  2, White-browed Sparrow-weaver 3 1  2, Superb Starling 2 1, Red-winged Starling 6 1, Tsavo Sunbird 1, Red-billed Quelea 20000 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9. 43 types for all birds.

January 9th: max 31C, min 25C, humidity 80%, dry, sunny, some low cloud morning, dispersing in afternoon, NE light to moderate breeze (spot the difference from yesterday!). Better application today on web sites and records: acclimatising a little more! Resisting turning on air-conditioning as, that way, you never acclimatise to going outside. Daughter's birthday today with card on Moonpig and 2.5k FPO; her elder daughter woke her up at 6 so she could have more of the day to enjoy! Had trip in morning with James to bank and to Visiwa, a hotel, right on the beach, overlooking the Indian Ocean 1  2  3. Had 2 African Pied Wagtail by the pool 1 and a Long-tailed Fiscal perched on scrub on an offshore island. Will probably return for a couple of day trips by tuk-tuk, which is a very cheap way of getting round. Everywhere is run by Italians, including my place, so plenty of spaghetti in the area. It's very quiet – very few visitors; the atmosphere in the bar is a bit like in the excellent film Passengers!! So really resting today in prep for the safari, which starts at 07:30 tomorrow and finishes 13:30 on Tuesday. Should be amazing!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

January 8th: max 31C, min 25C, humidity 80%, dry, sunny, some low cloud morning, dispersing in afternoon, NE light to moderate breeze. Here's piccies of hotel Villas Watamu with my bungalow 1 and pool 2. After a day of acclimatising decided to get out for walk in morning but guide James hastily assembled by hotel manager! He was superb, organising tuk-tuk to bank, and escorting me on Mida Creek 1  2  3 for a canoe expedition, from 10:20-13:00. Here's yours truly up the creek without a paddle 1.

The boat ride was very interesting giving close-up views of Black Kite (6b, migrants, black bill 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13), Yellow-billed Kite (4b, family group, juvenile seen, all near nest, adult with yellow bill 1  2  3  4  5  6 with juvenile near nest 7, adult near nest 8  9 and the nest itself 10), 1 Honey-buzzard (10331, dark-phase juvenile over nearby mound 1), Pied Kingfisher (6, family group of 3 1  2  3), 4 Little Egret 1  2  3, 6 Grey Heron 1  2  3  4  5, 6 Common Sandpiper (together) 1  2, 2 Grey Plover (with Grey-headed Gull 1w 1), 1 Grey-headed Gull (1 1w, standing in shallows in middle of creek with 2 Grey Plover 1 and in flight 2), 15 Lesser Crested Tern; we had 90 min of the canoe trip, with energy put in by someone else, the punter; some char fish 1  2 were caught by some fishermen in the mangrove swamp 1  2  3  4  5  6  (1-3 boarded walk, 4-5 mangrove trees, 6 a canoe out on water), very hard work. Total bird-types for trip was 10.

We had a drink overlooking a creek, finalising details for a private safari (just me) to Tsavo E from Sunday-Tuesday, for £800, including Voi (out of this world) lodge stays! We are going to the bank tomorrow to sort out the transfer. Critically the hotel recommends James so that increases my confidence! Indeed noticed a marked change in my status today: from a refugee from England to a HNWI!! Had 5 species casually in hotel: 4 Palm Swift, 4 Hadada Ibis, 4 House Crow, 2 Pied Crow, 1 Black Kite. Funds had an amazing week as reflation is certainly coming: own rose 63k gross (5.1%), 56k net (after kids' dues) to new record, in context of a good week everywhere for equities and junk bonds with ftse 100 +5.3%, ftse 250 +4.7%. xxxxx XXX!!!!!

January 6th: made it: 27.5 hours travel from Ordley at 09:00 5/1 GMT to 15:30 on 6/1 EAT. All flights and connections worked perfectly: travel crew so positive in terrible straits. Quite a few people were doing the great escape on Tuesday, BA flight was 60% full, no real checks on entry but they did have 2 genial BA workers scanning us all as we went to board; some boarders were from Scotland where lockdown already in place. Paper work is frightening: not sure that anyone without digital expertise could tackle it. Flight to Addis was pretty full, social distancing was patchy; slept through most of it; route took us through the Adriatic, crossing into Africa at Alexandria, Egypt. Lovely to wake up with East Africa in view at 06:00 EAT; caught 10:10 to MBA no bother. Kenya immigration was a pain taking 2 hours; driver was there waiting and made Villas at 15:30. Pretty quiet here but great service and warmth and have bungalow near pool and dining area. Plenty of raptors: at Addis Ababa Airport 1 had 42 Hooded Vulture 1 around 9:05 and 1 Rüppell's Vulture at 09:30. Total of 8 bird-types here also included 2 Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon 1, 1 Feral Pigeon, 6 Pied Crow, 1 Rufous-naped Lark, 1 Banded Martin, 1 Greater Blue-eared Starling. Weather at Mombasa was 31C max, 25C min, sunny. On drive from Mombasa to Watamu had a Yellow-billed Kite (floating along at low altitude), a Black-winged Kite (perched in a tree at Kilifi), an immature African Hawk-Eagle and 2 juvenile Martial Eagle, last 3 perched along main road in Arabuko-Sokokhe Forest. Funds have had a great start to year at +42k on oil price recovering well. Can indulge a little maybe!! Very sorry to hear of Festival postponement but understand! xxxxx XXX!!!!! xx

January 4th: icy throughout day, max 1C, min -1C, a little weak sunshine, freezing rain in morning, light NE breeze. Did go into Hexham at 14:00 and had a Grey Heron up in the air at Letah Wood and a Song Thrush feeding by the roadside at Loughbrow; latter's a nice sign as this thrush is one of the first returning species in late winter. C was so quiet, may as well be closed, they said! All papers are in order for lift-off tomorrow with boarding passes, health forms, taxi ordered for MBA-Watamu, contact with hotel confirming arrival. After BA1327 NCL-LHR at 12:05, have long break before leave LHR at 20:15 on ET701 for ADD, then it's ET322 at 10:10 ADD-MBA. New lockdown starts legally at 00:00 6/1 when in skies over Africa. Relieved to see digital performances can continue for the arts so streamed performances are permitted. Also prestige football can continue, even at Torquay! Shall greatly miss someone: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

January 3rd: at 11:40 received news that 'Fit to Fly' from NPH: Covid not detected (negative result). Marvellous on all counts! Also good news in that Kenya has today revised CV regulations in the country, including maintaining the curfew from 22:00-04:00, but has not changed the entry requirements for UK citizens. You can actually go out for a meal or a beer, long way to go for that, but sounds great relief from our puritanism. The curfew is quite useful I imagine for keeping crime down and there's also a restriction on crowds gathering. Wonder if there will be any live music: marvellous thought!! Made C4c4ll and actually met a contemorary out, R; we had a coffee with good chat under the shelter of the Shambles. Later I went for walk around the Sele where some very fast tobogganing was taking place on the icy surface (more like bobsleigh!). Had chats on 'phone with P and big sis: thought latter would be telling me off for leaving my station but she's supportive! Finding Alexa very useful as a musical slave: played 2 hours of Tchaikovsky last nite and 2 hours of Prokofiev tonite. Was interested in Classic FM's spring Hall of Fame: in the top 300 Russia was the top country for entries by composer for the 1st time and no.1 was Rach 2 PC! Almost completed RSA 8/11/18, doing the Motlatse Canyon results, just the last bit at the Forever Hotel to do now for this day. Have completed funds compilation for 2020. Overall result on year was +130k gross (+11.9%, compared to ftse 100 -14.3%, ftse 250 -6.6%), +117k net, after 13k of withdrawals. Withdrawals increased by 4k in last 2 months of year, due to new car purchase (2k contribution from me) and extra support (2k) for worthy hard-pressed charities, latter actually significantly more than that but do have an income to put in as well! The withdrawals do not include Xmas pressies! The funds lost 6k in final week of year, mainly on appreciation in £, which reduces values in foreign currencies. xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

January 2nd: Just a little light snow at -2C from 08:00-09:30 was enough to make the 'Shire roads treacherous. Really had to make appointment at NCL for test at 10:05 as time is of the essence! So tested out new car in the ice: braking is much better than on Fox with advanced braking system on all wheels independently, rather than anti-lock on all or nothing as in Fox. So that helped going down the bank to Letah Wood but the other side was hell with the water under the falling snow turning to ice. Managed to get up the Houtley Bank by tacking: steering somewhat sideways from side to side (rather than straight up) so that the gradient is reduced for the drive wheels to get a better grip; does require a lot of concentration and an absence of other vehicles! But made it, took 20 min to go 3 miles, 9 mph! Had set off in good time so arrived early at NCL and was tested early as they do it fifo. Test was a bit intrusive, don't really like my tonsils and nostrils being tickled and the advice not to eat or drink anything for 2 hours before the test was sound (you could be sick if you had!). The male nurse had a good manner: reassuring and efficient; should get result tomorrow afternoon or evening. It was very busy: 4 cubicles each doing say 6 people an hour at £99 a time for NPH: more people flying than thought, most in their 30s I would say; the nurse said Kenya was on his wish-list. So back to C4c4c in HEX where saucy welcome from the tmsuo!! The Sele slopes were packed with families out on toboggans: lovely to see so many people enjoying themselves! So back home for breakfast at 11:30 with tracks on road to make it easier; I could still see traces of my earlier efforts! Not out again; did some work on Festival pages with PayPal (donating 0.30 in all!) and on 8/11/18 in RSA, catching up on Graskop Gorge. Added Fieldfare (1) and House Sparrow (2) to Ordley list with 1 Marsh Tit seen again. On the road had a Common Buzzard sitting on a post at Letah Wood at 08:30, a GBBG 1w at Tyne Green, Hexham, at 09:00 and a Kestrel 1w in a tree at Newton at 10:20. Thinking of someone looking gr8: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

January 1st 2021: Happy New Year to the beauties!!

A little milder, max 3C, min -1C, calm, dull, a little drizzle late in day. Had a great garden birdwatch in own field and front and back garden from 11:00-16:00, getting 22 species without leaving the territory. The trees and shrubs on the side of the field held lots of birds, feeding on berries and mast. Put out lots of peanuts in various forms, which were standing room only. Ordley always does best when it's cold enough for all-day frost further up in the 'Shire but with milder conditions lower down. I live in Hexhamshire Low Quarter (for softies, up to 200m asl) whereas the real toughies live in Hexhamshire High Quarter (200-650m asl). Here's the list entered on BirdTrack: Woodpigeon 28, Collared Dove 5, Common Gull 76, Magpie 3, Jackdaw 126, Rook 47, Carrion Crow 3, Coal Tit 5, Marsh Tit 2, Willow Tit 2, Blue Tit 14, Great Tit 4, Goldcrest 1, Wren 1, Nuthatch 2, Starling 4, Blackbird 4, Robin 2, Tree Sparrow 8, Chaffinch 5, Lesser Redpoll 12, Goldfinch 2. Had loads of tits: 5 types, 27 birds! Did further work on Pilgrim's Rest, RSA, on 8/11, adding 3 more bird-types for the early morning walk there, making total 31, and indexing the piccies. Have Covid PCR test at NCL in morning with NPH at 10:05 (result in 36-48 hours), then back for breakfast and catch-up! Have no symptoms at present but not assuming anything at this stage. Another quiet evening and night but earlier, had 105 min chat with N/D on Skype, which was very good, and dynamic chat with little sis on 'phone. Still enjoying yesterday: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 31st 2020: cold, max 1C in day, min -3C, calm, bright sunshine in day, cloud and drizzle spreading in later with temperature up to 3C. Did get out, making NCL where did bird count on Quayside -- 9 types of bird -- Feral Pigeon 97, Herring Gull 39, Black-headed Gull 33, Crow 4, Magpie 3, Woodpigeon 3, Mute Swan 2 adult, Blue Tit 1, GBBG 1 adult. On way home in car had a single Barn Owl hunting over hedgerows at Newbiggin Farm at 16:15, marvellous sight! Did a lot of work on Pilgrim's Rest, RSA, on 8/11, adding 28 bird-types for the early morning walk there. Up to 146 bird-types now for this RSA trip with still quite a lot to process. Very sad day with Brexit confirmed: cannot believe that it is anything but a disaster, socially, politically and economically! But above all socially, we are part of Europe and it's harking back to Empire days to suggest otherwise. Had a quiet evening and night but earlier, things did stir brilliantly: very intense I thought: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 30th: very cold, max 0C, min -3C early evening, back to -1C at 23:00, bright sunshine, almost calm. Have put out masses of food for birds since back so bought £10 more of peanuts, whole and pelleted, from the market in Hexham (Shield Green) this morning. Completed 7/11 for RSA trip in 2018; will move onto 8/11 tomorrow as much the same birds as on 7/11 at start of day. Did final edits on Festival book. Did get out, making C4c4l, jit for tmsuo who was looking gr8!! Drank c in the Sele, pretty nippy, even in the sun! Bit of a sod being in t4 but think TA can continue at cafes, if they think it's worth opening. Not sure it affects Kenya trip as going for voluntary work -- collecting records for wildlife conservation. 2moro it's 12:00 CRB-NCL!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 29th: cold, max 2C, min -2C, frost early and late, weak sunshine, calm. Had some interesting birds today: a Marsh Tit in the front garden and then on the ground-up peanut at the back, 4 Tree Sparrow, 1 Nuthatch, and Pink-footed Goose overhead, moving S at close of dusk at 17:00, calling, maybe 50 present. The Goose is a new species for the year for me, no. 149, in England. Did a lot of work on the Festival book launch, just need to do final edits and PayPal testing now. Returned to 7/11/18, doing Vaalhoek in RSA, final stop before Pilgrim's Rest, which will complete tomorrow. Did get out, making C4c4t; surely someone's sister was out and about in the Sele!! Tried to pick up 2 parcels from PO at Bridge End but closed until Thursday morning. Cleaner S is coming on Thursday this week so may make NCL then. xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 28th: in Hexham area 2C max, 0C min, light NW breeze, frost late-on, foggy at NCL airport. Journey back was very smooth, arrived at LHR at 13:40, security check at LHR was stringent (on physical side, not motives!), plane took off at 15:00 and we landed a little early at 16:00, completely automatically the crew said with very poor visibility. Plane was 40% full, not good for the one flight a day, and the Airport was deserted with everyone presumably furloughed or redundant. Daughter said, while driving me to LHR, that new contracts make the job much less attractive than before and she's hoping to become a teaching assistant in Kingston. Earlier had relaxing morning with family; sad to wish them all goodbye!! After checking the footy results -- Gulls beat Weymouth 4-3 with winning goal in 87th minute -- made W4shop, spending £45 on basics for the week ahead. Had left house heating on but with no 8kw coal fire lit, the place was cool so a bucket and a half of ovoids (smokeless fuel) have been used up getting the place warm. Next trip to NCL Airport is on 2/1 for PCR test, but may well be in NCL earlier! Will catch up on some vital tasks tomorrow, promise!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 27th: sunny today, max 5C, min 2C, light NW breeze, dry in daytime after heavy rain last night. Had another longish walk from 13:00-14:30 with daughter and toy poodle Leo in afternoon around Latchmere, which holds my younger grandaughter's nursery school. So busy everywhere; son-in-law was not happy with bike ride in Richmond Park -- so many people everywhere. But of course in tier 4 there's nothing for people to do indoors so outdoors is crowded: we can't even go to the pub! Added Coal tit to my Richmond Park list, whcih finally stood at 29 bird-types and 4 mammal-types. Have had a very good stay, back at end of Kenya trip for a day and night! So looking forward to return N, will make the most of it: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 26th: weather in daytime simply dull and damp but Storm Bella, appropriately named, blew in in evening with heavy rain and fresh SW breeze. Had long walk with son and daughter in Richmond Park going in at Ham Gate and coming out at Kingston Gate from 14:00-16:15. Son then left for his hotel and 2moro back to Welwyn. We plan to meet up in spring at his house for catch-up and maybe visit to Kings Place! We retired for more sustenance!! Added 4 bird-species to list: Common Buzzard (1, up at 14:47 hanging over ridge to N of Ham Gate), Grey Heron (1), LBBG (3 adult), Stock Dove (1); plus 1 mammal-type Fallow Deer (3). Had a Kestrel 1w (sitting in tree at 15:45) and 15 Red Deer. Did see livestream of most of second half of the Gulls' rout of Yeovil 6-1; we can really turn on the attacking style with 6 different players scoring, including 1 og! See temperatures have plummeted in NE, good I turned off outside water at inside stopcock before leaving. Granddaughters have been a litte quiet absorbed in their Barbie dolls house but this evening finally went berserk, running round all over the place: cat (Snowy, white Persian) and dog (Leo, toy poodle) join in!! Nice to have some life: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 25th: Happy XMAS to all!! Cool with ground frost, max 4C, min 2C, light NW breeze, dry and sunny. Great day with family in Kingston, 9 of us turned up including daughter's family (4), son (1), me (1), son-in-law's sister's family (3). Presents to me included Alexa from daughter; Wagnerism (weighty book, Alex Ross), 2 CDs Brundibár (opera)/ Music of Remembrance, Terezín (various songs, pieces, with artists led by mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter), from son. All much appreciated! Gave increased amount of 8k to daughter and son (2.5k each) with 1.5k to each grandchild. This is to help with school fees and also acts as a sort of dividend! Lunch went off very well but like the best of operas a darker side surfaced later with Tt having a severe attack of heartburn; she's had an operation through BUPA on her stomach but her stomach is now too small for large meals; she looked terrible as left. So sad! 'phoned big sis in evening as she's on her own; we had good chat! Son went back to his Premier Inn. Had 3 flight-changes for Kenya trip announced today, 2 minor ones on ADD-MBA and MBA-ADD, 1 on return LHR-NCl making connction very tight but think will add another day calling in on daughter to give more breathing space. xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 24th: much cooler, max 5C, min 1C, moderate N breeze, dry. Went for another walk to/in Richmond Park from 12:00-14:00, going in other direction to Ham Gate. It was packed and because of continuous high volume of walker-traffic quite muddy. Did find a quiet spot in Ham Common Woods, could be scope for Honey-buzzard there and in Richmond Park itself, in Isabella Plantation area. Certainly in Berlin in such habitat, you would find nesting Honey-buzzard as in the Tiergarten. Suspect they are attracted to parks and can feed in them in early morning in high summer but like to nest in scrubbier less-frequented (by human) woodland nearby, such as Burnham Beeches/Egypt and the heathland alongside the main park at Black Park. Must have a closer look at the Ham area. Birds today included a Kestrel 1w hovering over a piece of parkland before moving off outside the park. Getting ready for the big day -- 9 of us apparently for lunch. Everyone getting excited!! So am I!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 23rd: mild today 13C max, 4C min, some showers and short sunny intervals, light SW breeze. The 5 of us went for a walk in afternoon from 14:30-16:15 on the other side of Richmond Park, Ladderstile Gate. It was quite muddy and a bit of a stamina test, with my daughter, myself and younger granddaughter leading the way home. The younger one is a bundle of energy and vey sturdy! The older one is settling into her private school, becoming a lot more sophisticated and likes maths. The younger one joins her at the school, near where we went for walk today, next September. Plenty of wildlife in the Park: Red Deer, Fox and Grey Squirrel, and 3 London specialities: all from abroad but now having thriving local populations: Ring-necked Parakeet, Mandarin Duck, Egyptian Goose, 3 new species for the year as this was my 1st birdwatching in the capital in 2020. Really enjoying my visit with further action coming up! lok2t beauty: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 22nd: enjoying stay at daughter's house in Kingston. Journey yesterday was very smooth, plane about 40% full with theoretical maximum of 67% as middle seats not used; cabin crew charming as always. Liked the slightly out of date closing address: "and for those of you visiting London do have a lovely stay". Hardly any staff or officials at either airport but just inside the final exit from T5 at LHR there was a rather officious looking woman, reminiscent of the last checkpoint in Prague in 1982, though she didn't have a revolver at her side. So let some other people overtake me and when she started talking to one of then, nipped past unobtrusively! Met daughter in short-stay car-park and she'd forgotten her credit card so happily paid £4.90 for the parking and £20 for some petrol when the computer was telling her she had 6 miles left! We understand each other! Son-in-law has been promoted again with Gazprom to be trading team manager in their UK office, based in Richmond but some WFH with top floor of their house now master bedroom suite and an executive office. They extended the house to 3 storeys with 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and the office. With views over the adjoining Richmond Park, think they've acted wisely. Went for a walk in Richmond Park from 11:00-13:00 and had Ring-necked Parakeet and 2 types of woodpecker (Green, Great Spotted). Great to meet family again, including of course my 2 granddaughters. The younger one, aged 4.33, has just appeared in a nativity play at her school, a video of which has been posted on YouTube, as parents could not attend in person. She was cast as Mary, complete with cloak; she certainly looked the part, would not stand out in a bazaar. Son is joining us on Xmas Eve and son-in-law's sister and family may be due some time! So lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 21st: a quick note to say that mission accomplished!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 20th: sunshine and showers, mild, max 7C, min 5C, light W breeze. Did make C4c4ll where pleased 2 c tmsuo again!! Spent £62 on books and painting materials for granddaughters in Cognito Books, Back Street, where manageress very helpful in guiding me to what would appeal to girls 5.83 and 4.33 old! Also bought some more cards to be on the safe side and drew out bonus money for cleaner S, which she richly derserves; she comes in regularly while I'm away to keep an eye on things! No more work on RSA, thinking hard on other issues but did do a stepping-stone update for the Festival. So who knows what's going to happen ... xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

December 19th: mild again, 9C max, 5C min, light SW breeze, sunny morning, then showers. Went for brisk walk from 14:50-16:10 up to Dotland, nothing special seen but great exercise. Had total of 16 species, including a Tree Sparrow, 6 Blackbird, 1 Long-tailed Tit. Horrified at t4 restrictions for SE with further clamp down on non-essential shops and travel. They blame it on a new variant but more likely is their keeping London in t2 for far too long, when it should have been moved to t3, like the N; there have recently been some very crowded scenes in the SE. They don't want to admit that so this is a good diversion! Remember the last lockdown was based on modelling, indicating 4,000 deaths a day in November, an alarming total never reached (it's about 500 a day at the moment). As a democratic family we're voting on what to do!! Made good progress on RSA safari data sheets and piccies, sorting all of 14/11/18 and doing most of 16/11/18. It's so satisfying seeing all the amazing wild birds and animals again. Think will slow down work on RSA 2moro and get back to other urgent tasks!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 18th: very mild, 13C max, 8C min, some showers in afternoon, strong SW breeze. Made C4c4ll 4 TA and again made the Sele to drink it. Had 100 min of good crack with N/D on Skype at 16:00 and made Sage for streamed concert Christmas Cracker at 7:30. It was free and seemed, judging by the comments, to have attracted an appreciative Spanish following! Enjoyed it -- good to see the RNS featuring strongly with JG introducing it!! Will give a donation 2moro in appreciation. Wrote 2nd batch of Xmas cards, on last straight, posted them at 22:40 to avoid getting up for local collection 2moro morning! Quite a sombre tone to some of the cards I've received; think a lot of people are very demoralised. Completed Klipfontein and Ohrigstad on 7/11 in RSA Escarpment. Leaving Mount Sheba and moving on to Skukuza (Kruger) tomorrow. Funds finished 5k down with natural resource stocks affected initially by the rise in £ on likely Brexit deal and then suffering from short-term problems with Covid in Europe and North America; but PoO marched on up to $52.30 a barrel so momentum may well return, probably in New Year, as many investors don't like to take new positions at the year-end and there's also tax-loss selling whereby, in countries where 31/12 is the end of the tax year, people sell loss-making shares (often recovery stocks, such as mine) to offset gains made elsewhere, for CGT purposes. Asia is doing very well, boosting commodity demand; when Europe and North America recover in q2, 2021, expect price rises! Gain on year is 136k (12.4%) with ftse 100 -13.4% and ftse 250 -8.3%. xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 17th: nice and sunny and mild, 8C max, 7C min, light SW breeze, dry. Made C4c4ll 4 TA and again met by the inspiring tmsuo, who seems to be doing lots of shifts!! Out to Sele (Park) where quite a gathering of kindred souls, making the most of the welcome weather and some company! Had intruder alarm report, through the post, all OK except for battery not holding charge so that's been replaced. The battery is important as if there's a power cut, that's what keeps the system functional for 24+ hours. Pressing on with results from South Africa trip in 2018, doing some of 7/7 drive from Dullstroom to Pilgrim's Rest at Mount Sheba, on the Escarpment, working out where we went and matching piccies to the route. I'll be able to take a tour there soon. Think will finish 7/11 tomorrow and then speed up progress by finishing the partly-compiled days in the Kruger Park. In touch with daughter quite a lot over my travel plans, both to London and Kenya. Most people don't think I'm serious but need to be able to have a beer out -- long way to go!! Ordered a couple of East African field and place guides from NHBS to get latest on id. Sad to see partners' quiz cancelled for Cracker nite: was going to be light-hearted, nothing to fear: will be there for the main programme: looking forward to it! The Opera North meeting on Tuesday did have its poignant moments; about 75% of their 1,000 employees through the year are freelance, all suffering terribly. They did say their own finances were now secure after winning some big grants. Praying that someone's fit: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 16th: moderate SW breeze, damp and dull but not raining, visibility good, 8C max, 6C min. Did have hair done with Jd at JG: she's so rich on hairdressing tips, she's just bought a flat in Priestlands! Cost me £25, including £5.50 tip. Very enjoyable experience: she's very bubbly! Then home to get things straight for cleaner S, who threw me out so up to Grindon Lough for flying visit! Had 4 types of gull: "a tight group of 4 large gulls, Caspian Gull, comprising an adult, a 2w and 2 1w. They were not present at start of visit at 12:40. They flew in together at 13:43, left to W low-down at 14:10 after spending almost 30 min at E end in the company of 3 GBBG (2 adult, 1 2w) and a Herring Gull adult. Some Common Gull adult (36) were also present. Will add a few photographs." I think that's a club record for Caspian Gull so will have to write them up: have masses of piccies with new camera. Grindon does appear to be Caspian City!! Though any resemblance of the Roman Wall area to the area around the Caspian Sea is not that obvious. Then back to C4c4ll where tmsuo looked after me well!! Back just in time for burglar alarm service by Swansons of Hexham, where they set everything off in turn driving the neighbours mad! Malarone tablets (anti-malarial) arrived -- very quick. Met MD, chair of bird club, we had amicable chat, 1st for ages! Labelled the eagle piccies from Stonecutters Lodge, Mpumalanga Highlands, and uploaded them to web server; will index this part of the trip 2moro and add the records to BirdTrack. Very pleased to hear from someone, hoped she was alright, good to hear of the plans: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 15th: not a bad day, max 7C, min 3C, some sunshine and showers, wind SE light. Completed Rietvlei records from 6/11, just need to check a small part of the indexing. Then jumping onto a couple of Kruger Camp days as have already processed the piccies for them. Made C4c4t where very pleased 2 c tmsuo again: she's keeping well!! Met someone else much later: she's gorgeous!! Not able to make NCL 2moro as have burglar alarm inspection early afternoon to add to haircut: maybe later!! Funds are -1k on 1st 2 days of week with £ strong on feeling there will be a Brexit deal soon; higher £ depresses stocks with $ earnings. Much happier with things this way though than a possibly illusory gain on £ decline in chaotic conditions after a no-deal Brexit. PoO is grinding up slowly, often the best way! Gulls, with masses of injuries, lost their 12-match unbeaten record, losing 0-1 at home to lowly-placed Daggers; watched it on livestream sfter attending a very uplifting festivity programme for an hour on Zoom from Opera North; we even had some carol singing and it was very entertaining and positive with 46 participants, including KH our patron organiser. So keeping focused: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 14th: mild again 8C max, 5C min, moderate SW breeze, showers and sunshine. Did complete compiling Algarve records and now onto last safari trip to RSA in November 2018 where have added records (49 bird-types) to BirdTrack from 6/11 at Rietvlei, near Jo'burg. Have also been through the piccies and labelled quite a few for indexing tomorrow. Did make W4bigshop but toned it down, only spending £42 as think it might be better to shop twice a week with food fresher and more fancied! Have booked my PCR test at NCL Airport in early January (£99) and also booked with BA for return flights NCL-LHR to connect directly with the LHR/MBA flights -- cost £87.45 return -- not leaving LHR either way to see relatives. So 2 risks remain: national lockdown before I leave or testing PCR positive! Have hair cut on Wed at 11:30 in HEX, will delay away trip a little! Festivities at ON 2moro evening!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 13th: dull day, 9C max at end of evening, 5C min, so mild, moderate SE breeze, rain at times. Today's a big day: the darkest afternoon, every afternoon/evening for the next 6 months is lighter than the one before; don't get too excited, the gain by 31/12 is only 11 minutes! Mornings will be 8 minutes darker by 31/12. Did make C4c4ll in HEX followed by longish walk around Sele and Elvaston, good to get out and have some chat with people met. Last night had a pair of Tawny Owl camped around my field; there's a lot of bank voles around and some rabbits and (grey) squirrels so maybe they might settle to breed. Completed checking Lagos results, changing a few AYLG age designations, so can update BirdTrack tomorrow with a couple of minor additions/changes. Amended piccies in book: looks good! Bought some lagging and insulated tap cover for £13 on Amazon for outside tap to guard against frost damage. Bought 30 generic Malarone tablets online for £45 including postage for Kenya trip: Malarone is the anti-malarial drug with fewest side effects but you have to take 1 a day throughout the trip and also a little before and after. They have a shelf-life of 5 years. Markets this evening think we well see a Brexit deal after all but maybe not until 22:59 GMT on 31/12 (transition period ends at 24:00 on 31/12 CET!). Hope someone's fit: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 12th: 6C max, 2C min, mod W breeze, dull and very grey, rain from time to time. Very busy on Lagos data sheets and piccies; completed labelling them, uploading to server and doing indexing; need to check everything 2moro morning and make a few changes to BirdTrack entry on Monday morning when database comes back. There were 32 Atlantic Yellow-legged Gull stills in the collection, together with 11 butterfly snaps. So Faro trip will be wound up on Monday -- very pleasing! Did make Hexham, to PO 4 stamps, Clinton 4 cards, I 4 few groceries. Gulls had a difficult game at the Linnets (King's Lynn) which we drew 0-0; in a sense we could easily have lost this game going down to 10 men in 78th min with Asa given straight red and missing next 3 games. So some relief! Went to Leeds Grand Theatre to see ON's Fidelio, which is a 2-act opera set in a prison where Florestan lies dying after some dirty tricks by the Governor Don Pizzaro. Leonore, Florestan's wife, has smuggled herself into the prison as the errand boy Fidelio and stands between Pizzaro and Florestan, as Pizzaro tries to kill him. At that point the big chief Don Fernando arrives who has suspected the prison is run with evil intent; he orders Pizzaro away to his punishment and releases all the prisoners. There follows a joyous reunion between Leonore and Florestan, once he has seen through her disguise. The music and singing were very good: I was struck at the similarities between the Choral Symphony and the Opera, emphasised in the circumstances by the singers standing around like the soloists in the Choral Symphony. It was vintage Beethoven, maybe pointing the way towards, say, Wagner's works, on a larger scale, with the choral side replaced by intensive musical drama. The opera lasted almost 2 hours; then played again part 2 of the Festival concert from last Saturday. That confirmed the appeal of the Dora Pejačević trio but was most impressed, on second hearing, with the Natalie Klouda piece, Three Glimpses, with the unsettling wind!! Think I'll get out for a walk tomorrow morning before the rain really arrives. No-deal Brexit is looking more likely tonight; most of my assets are $, C$, € denominated or trading in $-priced commodities so should not be disastrous if it comes to pass. Famous last words!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 11th: 5C mac, 3C min, light E breeze, dull, drizzle/rain at times, sunrise (Hexham) 08:23, sunset 15:40, day-length 7 hours 17 min, (1 min off darkest afternoon 13/12, 10 min off darkest morning 26/12, not symmetrical due to the way we measure time), angle of sun 12.0 deg. So almost at darkest afternoon; cause for optimism as the winter solstice arrives, no wonder Xmas was an old pagan festival. Did some work on Lagos piccies, going through them carefully; should finish the work tomorrow but BirdTrack is down for maintenance all weekend so will have to wait until Monday before finalising the Lagos results there. Sociable day, chatting to N/D on Skype for 100 min at tt and to big sis on 'phone for 70 min in evening. Did watch Waterhole, instalment 3 of the study at a Tanzanian reserve of setting-up a new water hole and watching how the animals adapt. Spotted Hyena seem to be top 'dog'! Enjoyed the shots of Steppe Eagle (winter visitor from Russia), Martial Eagle and Egyptian Goose (now feral around London); I saw these in RSA in 2018, talking of which will get the remaining records sorted over the next week. In Mombasa in January average max is 31C, min 23C, rainfall low at 40mm for whole month, sunshine 9 hours a day, sea temperature 29C. It's summer there with June-Sept being winter, all relative of course! Covid cases in Kenya are 21 per 100k over last 7 days, low (Northumberland is 158, Newcastle 116) but not accepted by UK for a travel corridor because of low testing rates of apparently healthy people. 2moro evening it's Fidelio with ON: looking forward to that! Didn't get out today. Funds took a breather today having been 5k up at new record on Thursday. But Brexit malaise spooked the whole market today and finished week -3k, but still +142k gross on year (+12.9%); ftse 100 is -13.2% ytd and ftse 250 -10.6%. Brent PoO held nearly all of the week's gains at $49.98 so no real break in trend. Suspect we'll have a consolidation phase to the New Year when optimism will return and can maybe take some profits! Missed the beautiful playing associated with weekend evenings: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 10th: another rather flat day temperature-wise with 5C max, 2C min, moderate W breeze, steady rain in evening. Quite a bit of Zoom in my life: attended yesterday a session at Opera North in Leeds on how they made Fidelio; Rachel Nicholls in the title role came over well. Have purchased the livestream on Saturday night of the full opera for £15 with £40 donation. Looking forward to that: other than the short Seven Deadly Sins (which my son, who's a Kurt Weill fan, thought was marvellous), haven't watched a full-length opera for a while. Had a long Zoom session on JLAF (county access forum) this afternoon from 2:30-5:00 -- quite an informal session, keeping things going before a more formal meeting in January. Major item discussed was how to control the popularity of tourism in Northumberland, particularly on the coast, without discouraging the tourists from coming. And is it a good idea to concentrate tourists in honey-pots or to spread them out. Basically since many of the new tourists are used to holidaying in the Med, it was thought that they will prefer to be all together! We can then still market the wild side of Northumberland for our more regular clientele. I raised re-wilding as an important topic, with access on foot, bike or horse, and it was agreed that this should be on the agenda in January. With international travel forecast to struggle for a few years, the county is likely to remain busier than usual! So after that long on Zoom, decided that Bird Club meeting in evening could be skipped! Used time profitably: at 23:30 brought bird records for 2020 up to date in England with just one data sheet left for the Algarve at Lagos. Very happy with that as can get onto other things!! The Honey-buzzard totals on the home page are now the final ones for the year, unless Lagos piccies produce a surprise. Completion of Lagos will enable the autumn 2020 Algarve visit results to be finalised. Brent PoO went above $50 a barrel today for the first time since March. Hope someone gorgeous bears up: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 9th: very little wind, max 5C, min 3C, some rain early morning, damp, overcast. Finished Stocksfield E and Whittle Burn W Honey-buzzard sites on 5/9, including all piccies indexed on web and data added to BirdTrack. Added Stocksfield Mount data to BirdTrack for the complete visit that day. So just Bywell records to do for 5/9 (3 raptor types) and 2020 is up to date for Northumberland. Today made Tyneside and had walk along Quayside getting 10 bird-types: Feral Pigeon 155, Herring Gull 22 (adult 19, 1w 3), GBBG 2 (both adult), Black-headed Gull 51 (all adult), Crow 4, Magpie 2, Cormorant 3 (all adult), Blackbird 6, Woodpigeon 5, and last but not least 2 Great Tit! Had a Tawny Owl calling loudly outside my house at 19:10 at Ordley. Had usual good circular walk along the Tyne, good exercise. Kenya have given me a visa and I've printed it out to add to my passport. Good thing I'm not going via Amsterdam as that's off-limits, along with other EU states, after 31/12 on current state of play due to our leaving the EU and our high number of Covid cases. So now need to book internal flights NCl-LHR for each end and arrange for PCR test at NCL Airport, with 36-48 hours turnround, a maximum of 96 hours before I depart LHR for Africa. Simple? Not really but keeps me occupied with some hope while LD2 drags on! Isn't she beautiful: very uplifting: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 8th: dull, rain in daylight hours, light W breeze, 5C max, 4C min. Busy day, 15:00 in EST zone of USA for start of RRF (Raptor Research Foundation) digital meeting. Plenary talk was “Ecology and movement of the newly established resident Oriental Honey Buzzards in Taiwan” by Dr. Lucia Liu Serveringhaus (Retired Research Fellow of the National Academy of Taiwan). So more than passing interest. Took many snapshots of slides. It's thought that OHB (Oriental Honey-buzzard) started breeding in Taiwan after their food supply increased through a new big business of bee farms being established. The farms don't seem worried about the OHB feeding in their yards, mainly on discarded material from the hives. They don't migrate but their wintering ranges are much larger than their breeding ranges. I asked a question about whether the sexual dimorphism in OHB is readily detectable in the field; the answer is yes on eye colour and tail banding. As an aside females being larger than males is rightly accepted in OHB but not in EHB (European Honey-buzzard, the one I study), which I think is plain wrong! There were about 175 particpants. The questions were put to the speaker from the Zoom chat by the chair; this is a much better way than selecting who shouts or waves loudest! The American chair read out my name with traditional Irish pronunciation of my surname: Rahsidder, amused by that; that's how they address me in Wexford! Maybe only the English pronounce it Ross-it-er. Anyway plenty to analyse but no time this evening as off to Plainmoor, Torquay, to watch the Gulls play Maidenhead: 1st vs 4th. After completely dominating the first half, we should have been 3 or 4 up but it was 0-0 until 45+3, when with last kick of the half we finally scored. Lead increased to 2-0 on 59th minute but we were tiring a bit and 3 of our best players are carrying knocks so were substituted. Maidenhead got a goal back in 84th minute from a glancing near-post header from a corner (same as Wrexham goal) and all was set up for a nervy finish but our game management is superb and we bogged the game down where possible and kept 2 forwards up so they couldn't really move upfield as they might have liked. Their team collapsed on the ground at the end; think they'd run out of energy themselves. So we remain top, 5 points clear of 2nd place (Sutton who lost) and 11 points of 3rd place. Completed processing 28/9 Castro Marim (Algarve) and started on last Northumberland data sheet, Stocksfield 5/9, sorting out a family party of Honey-buzzard at Stocksfield E/Eltringham. Quick trip into Hexham to get some money for S who's coming 2moro! Looks like 12:00 CRB-NCL: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! Funds are unchanged on 1st 2 days of week, not unexpected as profit taking balances late rises on more overlooked stocks. Have sold a little of the more volatile stocks to put into latecomers! No-deal Brexit is not perceived as a threat as own very few UK domestic companies. xx

December 7th: cool, max 3C, min 0C, calm for most of day but wind increasing moderate W in evening, giving light rain late-on. Surviving t3 better with some inspiration!! Completed processing data and piccies from yesterday's walk. Also processed completely most piccies from 28/9 Castro Marim with just the heathland to do with the juvenile Honey-buzzard and its habitat. Should finish remainder tomorrow and update BirdTrack entry with a couple of interesting additions -- Blue Rock Thrush, Moorhen. Will then have 1 Northumberland data sheet (Stocksfield 5/9) and 1 Algarve data sheet (Lagos 30/9) to process. After that I'm moving onto RSA safari November 2018 where still some material to add (clearing the decks before more African data arrives!). Did make W4bigshop spending £76, a record but mainly exceptional items such as large jar of good coffee (£7) and dishwasher tablets. See expenditure on spirits soared in November at supermarkets: so the puritans drive to reduce alcohol consumption via Covid restrictions on hospitality seems to be having the opposite effect. Don't drink spirits myself and have given up wine (and chocolate and junk foods) this LD, concentrating on 2 beer a day. Noticed W were discounting g and tribute today, maybe to stop their shoppers going elsewhere! 2moro it's RRF at 15:00 on web link from USA with talk on Oriental Honey-buzzard. Hope someone's still glowing with success after the event. last Saturday!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

December 6th: final entry on home page for National Honey-buzzard Survey: 8 (c) Derwent, Blanchland 31/08/20: a male out foraging to S, 3 sample stills 1  2  3; a female escorting a juvenile, 1 sample still 4 13:40-15:50.

Calm today, 5C max, 0C min, occasional sunshine, dry. Did get out for a good walk on Hexhamshire Common from Kings Law (350m asl) to Westburnhope and back from 12:15-13:55. Very invigorating, seeing the moors with tiny smatterings of snow 1  2. Some windmill well to the N were barely turning 3; indeed at 16:30 this evening wind was contributing (GridWatch) 1% to the Grid and solar 0% with CCGT (gas) 56% and coal 5%; so much for the green revolution! Early snow tends to melt quickly as there is still some warmth in the ground. Always aim for 10 types of bird in a winter moorland walk and today got 14, including 10 Red Grouse (close-up 1), 1 Black Grouse male (Gairshield), 3 Pheasant, 13 adult Common Gull, 1 adult Black-headed Gull, 2 Coal Tit. 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Robin, 2 Crow, 1 Magpie, 2 Chaffinch. Raptors were good, 7 birds of 3 types: 3 hovering 1w Kestrel, 3 Common Buzzard (an adult mewing, 1 sitting on distant fence 1, 1 perched on wood to NE), 1 1w female Goshawk (sitting on fence in distance at Gairshield 1  2  3), presumably because they're feeding up after the brief snow cover. So feeling fitter and relaxed, made Shell garage in Hexham to fill-up tank for first time and collect a bag of kindling. Then onto C4c4ll 4 TA to Sele where met some kindred spirits! Completed all facets of Blanchland 31/8; will provide summary statistics, using the annual spreadsheet for records, of my findings in the National Honey-buzzard Survey as good material for my book. Need to add today's data to BirdTrack, then will start on 28/9 Castro Marim (tomorrow!). Daughter asked me whether she can ask her sister-in-law's family over on Xmas day; I said Yes as not shielding. Must admit that if I was stuck up here in tier 3 until March, I would go stir-crazy!! Really enjoying Chris Packham and Ella Al-Shamahi as presenters and researchers in Waterhole, set at Mwiba Lodge in Tanzania. They actually identify everything and carefully plot how wildlife adjusts to a new waterhole. It's on BBC2 at 20:00 on Friday evening or of course through iPlayer. xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 5th: much better day, sunny, max 5C, min 3C, light NE breeze. Not out today. Completed processing most of Blanchland trip on 31/8 with piccies labelled, uploaded and indexed and National Honey-buzzard Survey results are now complete on the home page. Need to add data to BirdTrack and copy home-page entry to here. Next up is trip to Castro Marim, Algarve, on 28/9 where did have a migrating juvenile Honey-buzzard. Had good day streaming. First up were the Gulls, home to Wrexham, on livestream from Plainmoor, Torquay, all for £9. We won 3-1, keeping us at the top of the NL on 28 points, 2 clear of Sutton in 2nd and 8 clear of 3rd place. We are a strange side, producing exquisite attacking football in spells but also degenerating into scrappy mode, which encourages the opposition. Today we were 2-0 up after 16 min in our best spell of the game and then it was evens for the rest of the game. After the Crawley horror we have learnt game management with final few minutes played in their corner and our goalie taking a long time over each goal kick, having occasional chats with the ref over what he was doing! Next up was the start of Weymouth vs Halifax on BT Sport but not for long as Festival fundraising concert started, again on a livestream in two parts from a church in Newcastle, with donations through pp (gave 2x20). This was really inspiring with works by Lili Boulanger, Ursula Mamlok, Rosy Wertheim, Nadia Boulanger (sister to Lili), Natalie Klouda, Dora Pejačević, played by a trio of violin (AR), cello (SM) and piano (YK). All are female composers, some of whom were well known formerly, at least as conductors, with others rather neglected. There is a big movement to restore some gender balance in composers, after a long period in which females had the odds stacked against them, which I do support. I liked both the Boulanger pieces with their impressionist style, reminding me of Debussy. The Klouda piece was for solo violin, pretty challenging with plucking throughout movement 2, but very exciting. The trio by Pejačević is one of the pieces discovered after her death, gratified that it was with its mellow tones. Wertheim's piece was upbeat and rewarding; Mamlok's I found quite difficult to follow. So this was a great concert, played with marvellous spirit and skill and comments on the media were rightly very supportive!! The upside of the stream technology is that you get an international audience for arts and top-line sports and a national audience for sports away from the top tiers. There's no substitute for a live performance with its close contact but streaming is developing well I believe. 2moro will be much more active, going for walk on moors, followed by C4c4ll. Am in middle of Kenya visa application, 10 forms and 6 uploads, giving away all my life secrets!! You used to be able to get a visa at the entry airport but from start of 2021 you have to apply electronically before you arrive and place a digital permit (the visa) in your passport. Thought the payment had not gone through but checked this morning and they gave me a receipt. Two business days is the time needed for a decision. So well-earned rest: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 4th: very raw, light NE breeze, snow settled overnight on car and roof and on higher ground to S of Ordley at 200m asl (I'm at 150m asl), max 5C, min 2C, snow melted mid-morning in heavy rain giving torrents of water off roof, with gutters overloaded as larch needles caused blockages; pressure of water finally cleared the gutters! Heavy rain/sleet/snow for 24 hours, could be some flooding. Not out today! Have been through all of the piccies from Blanchland on 31/8. Had good Skype chat with N/D for 100 min from 16:00; we emulate a pub chat well! Later watched stream from RNS, enjoying concert with the Farrenc 3 coming over well, could see some influence from Beethoven 3. Pablo Hernán Benedí was a star in the Rêverie et Caprice by Berlioz. Was pleased to see FK, from Ireland, on flute! Looking forward to two important concerts tomorrow!! Funds had another good week, buoyed by OPEC+ (basically OPEC + Russia) being restrained in their increase of supply to the market, while Covid continues to affect demand. Change was +16k, taking gain on year to date of 145k (13.2%) with ftse 100 at -13.2% and ftse 250 -8.0%. Rotation from selected bonds to equities has run its course and will trade resource stocks to maintain momentum; companies needing $55 a barrel of Brent Oil ($49 now) are still out of favour so there could be some rewarding switches. Will be strongly supporting someone: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

December 3rd: Further data for National Honey-buzzard Survey, 3(d) Slaley Forest E 30/08/20: 4 birds up in the air, an adult pair with junior plus a female intruder; 2 video clips 1  2, first of adult pair displaying, second of juvenile soaring below, with 4 sample derived stills of pair 1  2  3  4 and 2 of juvenile 1  2; 2 sample stills of the 2 females 1  2, 14:30-16:30.

Moving into midwinter now, max 2C, min 1C, light N breeze, light sleet falling at 00:30 4/12. Completed the record for the Honey-buzzard on the moors at Pithouse N as can see above with excerpt from the National Survey report on the home page. Only 1 more entry to do for the National Survey (31/8) and 1 more for the regular breeding site check (5/9). Did make Hexham, going to N4c4ll TA but it's quite challenging drinking it outside in comfort with the wintry weather. Have been watching some of the European football matches on BT Sport: they're well presented and quite cultured. It will be back to the Gulls on inplayer this Saturday and next Tuesday: we're still top after winning at Wealdstone on Tuesday with a goal in the 89th minute after being 0-1 down at the interval. We'd be half-way without our late goals. OPEC+ completed their negotiations today on plans for increasing oil production next year as demand improves; fortunately the increase is going to be more gradual than initially set and PoO is over $49, approaching $50 tonight in Asia. Will resume Blanchland 31/8 raptor records tomorrow; would like to clear backlog while LD2 persists, in all but name! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 2nd: bright, 7C max, 1C min, light W breeze, it's becoming colder though with snow coming on the high Pennines! Had 4 Goosander drakes on the Tyne at Newburn, a Teal at Scotswood and a LBBG adult intermedius on the Tyne at Wylam, all around 15:20. Completed Pithouse N 30/8 data sheet in all its facets, except for final compilation in the National Honey-buzzard Survey. Will do that tomorrow morning and then start on Blanchland 31/8, one of only 2 sheets remaining for Northumberland, with 2 more left for Faro. Delighted with Pfizer vaccine news; think they're right in that it will make a major difference by the spring in reducing the Covid epidemic in the UK. Sceptics are already getting up in arms over vaccine passports but in Africa today you need a certificate for Yellow Fever vaccination if you arrive from a country where it's endemic so such a requirement has precedent. I'll be vaccinated at earliest opportunity after Kenya trip. It's good news about NCL's testing for airline travellers at £99 a time; I need a certificate for Kenya entry so will be using their services inside the 96 hours before departure on flight for Kenya. Need to apply on-line for a visa tomorrow: £75 from a website with url close to the official one or $US 51 direct with the Kenyan government -- will go for latter!! These charges are the same, however long you're away, so it's not worth going for a week! Did continue studies in Toon: good walk along Quayside, across Millennium Bridge and back through Gateshead. Didn't think it was that busy, certainly Quayside was quiet and traffic not heavy but building work is with some misgivings everywhere!! Didn't visit Northumberland Street or Debenhams to check on shopping! Paradise is never far away: she's gorgeous: so s.xy: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

December 1st: 4C mac, 3C min, light W breeze, dull, dry, sunrise (Hexham) 08:09, sunset 15:44, day-length 7 hours 35 min, (4-5 min off darkest afternoon 13/12, 24 min off darkest morning 26/12, not symmetrical due to the way we measure time), angle of sun 13.2 deg. Spent a lot of time on data for Pithouse N, 30/8, as part of Honey-buzzard National Survey; had 6-min video of pair displaying and single juvenile soaring and some stills of 2 female circling each other, the more ragged one being a visitor -- that's quite rare in the study area but maybe new camera is enabling me to pick them out more! Have uploaded stills and clips to server but need to index them, revise account and add records to BirdTrack (2moro!). Had long walk to Dotland at dusk. Pleased with rebellious vote in Commons: present tier system is not fit for purpose in the north of England. Delighted to meet someone again!!! Choppy markets at present with vaccine boosting long-term buys and lockdowns boosting short-term sales, so ftse 100 down almost 2% on Monday, recovering loss today. Own funds are +3k. 2moro it's CRB-NCL 12:00!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

November 30th: some bright sunshine today from a low angle, 9C max, 2C min with frost beckoning, light NW breeze, dry. No data sheets processed today, concentrating on another worthy cause!! But do have Pithouse Fell lined up for 2moro, completion of which would leave just 2 sheets to do for Northumberland, same as for Faro. Made W4bigshop £62, normal spend, but did cheat in I4shop yesterday when spent £14: I have much better range of frozen fish than W. Then made C4c4ll where tmsuo was looking good!! Sorted out (I think) insurance for Kenya Trip, taking out single-trip cover for Kenya for 23 days from Staysure for £128, covering everything but Covid-related issues, provided we're not in lockdown on the day I leave; no underlying health issues keeps the cost down. But could still be in trouble if fail PCR test at NCL on way out but Ethiopian Airways, with whom I booked the flights, cover all Covid-related issues for the whole trip (can't travel, repatriation, medical expenses) under their automatically-included Sheba Cover so looking good! Covid is not a big problem in Africa, except in RSA; as said earlier Malaria is the major threat, way above elephants and lions! Do want to support the last remaining true wilderness for large animals on the planet. Worries are:

What will happen to all the people and wild animals? This is the question you hear echoing all over Africa. See: africa-crisis-loss-tourism-threatens-widespread-poverty-extinction with quotes: "But it is in sub-Saharan Africa – the planet’s last true wildlife haven and ecotourism hotspot – that the absence of travellers and hard currency have been most devastating. Tourism is the major factor for conservation and plays a vital role in supporting the local communities on whose land this wildlife resides,” says Gordie Church, a safari guide at Safaris Unlimited in Kenya. “During a recent six-week safari, we came across two dead female elephant, several zebra carrying wire snares around their necks and a hippo that had perished. All a clear indication of increased poaching activities. In addition there were huge herds of livestock, often in core wildlife areas, as the community looses faith in tourism, and turn to alternative revenue sources. Tourism pays for the anti-poaching operations. As tourism continues to dwindle, funds dry up, leading to increased poaching of wildlife, loss of habitat and ultimately, the Masai landowners will change land-use from a wildlife conservancy to large-scale crop production. End result – no more Masai Mara!” Similar to (fictional) Jurassic Park where tourists were a necessity! I'm planning on 2+ safaris when there, plus regular visits to the nearby tropical forest with guides. Our lives, with loss of the arts and of natural ecosystems, because of our hysterical reaction to Covid, are suffering!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

November 29th: gloomy morning, some fog, light E breeze, 8C max, 1C min, frost on car early-on so snoozed on! Completed 27/9 Faro E, had done the wader roost data when out there but the wide marismas data had only been given a light touch; found a Honey-buzzard juvenile, 2 Montagu's Harrier (male, juv) and 2 Bonelli's Eagle (adult, juv). So ran update on summary for trip and result is again on entry for 14/10 with 112 species in total, 10 raptor-types, 21 wader-types. Still provisional as 2 days to polish still! Did stream BC's 4 Seasons from Globe; marvellous -- such enthusiasm and skill from the 4 players BC, JC, GW, JT (last on harpsichord was cheered on by his grandson on comments -- "Go Grandad"!). We also heard William Shield's Overture to Rosina, which included a number of Northumbrian folk tunes, surely Blaydon Races was there! Shield is regarded as an early pioneer of the musical, so fascinating to hear the overture! Had 2 spells of exercise: from Elvaston Drive to Hexham shops including N4c4ll and from house to Dotland at dusk, getting Woodcock at Close House and Tawny Owl at Ordley, both around 16:30. Am keeping exercise up and cut down junk food so only cake is with TA coffee and no crisps or chocolate at home; feeling fitter for it! But do have a g and a Cornish bitter each day! More streaming next Friday and Saturday: looking forward to it!! Hope it gets better quickly (RICE)!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

November 28th: 1st really cold day, -2C early morning, 3C midday, 5C evening, quite gloomy, light E breeze. Working on 27/9 Faro, where studied a large wader flock on the salinas and walked further E along the edge of the marismas. Have labelled fully most of the piccies and uploaded them to server but need to go carefully through the wader flock again and to check the long-range piccies over the marismas where not everything identified yet. There are also some butterfly sightings to go over. May well go back to the Algarve in March to meet our summer migrants coming back to us; another possibility is Gibraltar in spring for migrant raptors. Could do both! Did watch RNS concert streamed as RNS Moves: the Shostakovitch PQ was surprisingly playful; The Vivaldi PC in D minor came over very well as classical baroque; Sally Beamish's Fanfare: for Trumpet, was my favourite, more Scottish atmosphere and amazing Headspace equipment; three pieces by Carl Bergstrøm-Nielsen, Sam Buttler, Joe Cutler, of which the one by the young Sam A Ceiling Full of Stars had incredible harmonies suitable for the Mausoleum subject. So enjoyed that, paid £33 for ticket! TG was the enthusiastic and dynamic leader. Had trip into HEX in Skoda, all going well! xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

November 27th: here's final entry for Stanley Burn in National Survey of Honey-buzzard from home page:

7(f) Stanley Burn, 01/09/20: a family party of 3 birds (male, female, dark-phase juvenile) up for 12 min in display; 6 sample stills 1 female/juvenile; 2  3 male, female, juvenile; 4  5 juvenile; 6 female: 15:10-17:00.

Virtually calm, gloomy, max 6C, min -1C, dry. Out with the old (60) 1  2, in with the new (70) 1  2, but regard Fox with much affection; it was so reliable with only 1 breakdown in 10 years at NCL Airport after 6 months with blocked petrol pump, due to grotty pumps at garage in Hexham, soon closed down! It finished at 92005 miles in just over 10 years, before drive to Darlington from my house with the concierge! Went out in Skoda today: think it's a natural successor to the Fox from the VW stable, which is a good thing! Central locking, electrically controlled windows are obviously useful but technically there's a lot of advances, similar to those in the Polo, with respect to suspension (share same chassis) and advanced braking system. The handling of the new car is very reassuring. 'Shire roads are not too good for opening it up, 60mph is maximum to date on the Ordley straight! Had good chat with N/D on Skype for 100 min; don't think they'll be joining me in Kenya! The villas in Watamu have confirmed my reservation and will arrange transfers from MBA to resort (10,000 KSh, £70); one advantage of Ethiopian Airways choice is that I travel in daylight in Kenya both ways, with the long hauls between ADD and LHR being night flights. NCL Airport are now offering PCR Covid tests for travellers; I need a certificate to get into Kenya and also need to organise insurance covering Covid contingencies (Staysure). Watched the RNS live stream tonight, very impressed, the Debussy pieces were so atmospheric, particularly La Mer, and was quite taken aback by the Sally Beamish piece PC 1 Hill Stanzas, based on experiences in the wilds of Scotland, quite rugged and dramatic; AB played it so well. KH was an enthusiastic leader and very pleased generally to see no notice taken of puritan advice yesterday!! Thought some performances were exceptional!! Funds had a brilliant 1st 2 days of week on Oxford vaccine news but some profit taking then followed (not by me) amidst some questions on the testing regime for the Oxford vaccine. However, vaccination is likely to start soon (8/12?) with Pfizer kit. On week as a whole funds were +22k, taking gain on year to 129k gross (+11.8%), 120k net, compared to ftse 100 -15.6%, ftse 250 -11.3%. Looking gorgeous: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

November 26th: cool today 6C max, 1C min, light W breeze, dry, some sunshine. Completed processing Prudhoe E on 1/9, except for addition to National Honey-buzzard section on home page. That leaves 3 data sheets for Northumberland and 3 for Faro. In brisk walk out at dusk had a Tawny Owl calling at Dotland at 16:30. Very disappointed at the placement of rural Northumberland and of Tyneside in Tier 3, particularly with the harsh restrictions on hospitality and live entertainment. May be a silver lining, have booked 3 weeks in Kenya taking up a good part of January, flying LHR-MBA with Ethiopian Airways with change at ADD for £577, including some alteration facilities. Staying at Watamu Villas, giving bungalow on beach in complex towards the world famous Watamu Marine Reserve and a few km from Arabuko-Sokoke tropical forest. That cost £1111 for 20 nights 1/2 board with free cancellation until 22/12. So basic cost is similar to recent trip to Faro. Skoda Darlington were super efficient: new car duly arrived -- it looks lovely; haven't been out in it yet but did have a wee drive in yard, finding out where everything is; have changed insurance policy paying £61 for the upgrade, including £20 admin fee, with Budget. The Fox was driven away and I did register the sale on the DVLA site as it has been known for the dealer to sell on while it's still in my name; did spend an hour cleaning it inside in interests of hygiene. The Skoda has a real VW feel! Will post a piccie 2moro! The partner Zoom session with RNS was good fun; Kyra and Alasdair were so enthusiastic and it was good to see everyone again; one partner (don't know her) suggested attention should be paid to cleavage -- puritans rule OK! Looking forward to RNS concert 2moro -- should be great!! Had hour long chat with big sis in late evening; she's going down to Cornwall for Xmas to stay with her daughter (and her husband), who are living near Tintagel. xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

November 25th: sunny, quite cool 7C max, 4C min, light W breeze but dry after overnight rain and no frost again. Had a few birds on my travels: at Merryshields at 15:30 a Canada Goose, 10 Tufted Duck and 40 Mallard; a Grey Heron at Widehaugh at 15:40; 3 Curlew at Derwenthaugh at 15:10. Labelled piccies from Prudhoe E on 1/9, uploaded them to server and indexed them, but still to check and add records to BirdTrack. Did attend the Marie Curie web cast; they are one of my principal charities and will continue that way; quite moving how much support they get from volunteers. Trains were very quiet in both directions; Quayside was quite busy, much busier than during LD1 but city (and station) was almost deserted. Cleaner S came midday and left the place looking gr8! Hoover arrived from Argos at 21:00 as promised; as usual driver 'phoned me to ask where (the hell) I lived! Not heard from Skoda Darlington yet: will it arrive tomorrow or not. I think it must arrive by Monday as my temporary insurance with them runs out then; will clean the Fox inside in the morning. Big day 2moro: which tier will we be in: cases are falling rapidly but who knows? After London at Xmas, thinking of a much longer exodus in January with Kenya resurfacing: risk of Al Shabaab seems less than that of going mad! And am missing the Honey-buzzard and the sunshine!! Amazed at budget statement today: cannot believe that in 5 years time, we will only be 3% worse off than if Covid had not occurred. Suspect position will be worse but only consolation is that Europe is in the same place. Asia is not and its better performance is driving up commodity prices. At least with no money to spend we may be spared Boris' 10-year plan! Was a gr8 break: this way will keep me vital until Xmas: she's so gorgeous: xxxxx XXXẋ!!!!!!

November 24th: breezy today from W but mild 11C max, 6C min, dry in daytime, no sun, sunrise 7:58, sunset 15:52 (Hexham) so day-length 7:54, angle of sun 14.4 deg; the solstice approaches 21/12. Had a 1w Kestrel hunting over fields to N of Ordley village at 15:00. Yesterday had a Grey Wagtail on roof at Ordley at 13:00 and found a queen wasp crawling on the lounge carpet, which put outside; got to preserve Honey-buzzard food! Made W again to get some cleaning materials -- so much for once a week! Walked from Elvaston Drive to W to get some exercise. Completed processing 6/9 Dotland in all its facets, now with 4 data sheets left for Northumberland onto 1/9 Prudhoe E, in the National Honey-buzzard survey. Have subscribed to a Raptor Research Foundation virtual conference from 8/12-9/12, based in US (so US times) and free except for $25 donation; it includes a talk on 8/12 on Oriental Honey-buzzard, which should be very interesting; I have seen those in India. Emptied Fox of my things; might be nice to give the Fox a hoover and clean with disinfectant before it's collected; have small portable hoover still working, just the job! Watched on BT Sport Krosnodar vs Sevilla from southern Russia in European Champions League, lost 1-2 by the Russian side, very entertaining game and the Spanish deserved to win! Markets are very buoyant with energy to the fore in the vaccine-inspired recovery after being the worst afffected sector in the Covid crash on travel restrictions (e.g no flying) and downturns in economies in general. Funds +31k in 1st 2 days of week on some limited recovery from disaster-pricing levels in oil shares; still rotating from bonds to equities, not only to take advantage of equity strength but also because fear inflation will rise next year. Feel the rally has further to go as markets typically look 6 months ahead when Covid should be under control ... xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

November 23rd: strange day weather-wise with temperature at 7C most of day, rising to 11C max late evening on moderate SW breeze, dry. Under 8 hours of daylight now, from yesterday, but only 13 min more to be lost from afternoon as move to darkest afternoon of 15:40 (Hexham), 15:38 (Newcastle). Worked hard on 6/9 Dotland (10083) and Ordley (10083a), sorting out all the Honey-buzzard juvenile piccies but still need to add to BirdTrack. Tasks for new car: signing tax document in pdf electronically and arranging 5-day temporary cover with Skoda Insurance from Thursday to ensure transition period is covered. Made W4bigshop, spending £62, and C4c4ll with TA to outside Abbey where it was cold and vacated! Cleaner S told me Hoover had gone wrong -- indeed think it's knackered; ordered a new one from Argos for £94 including delivery for Wednesday evening. Argos is now closed in HEX, which is a sad loss. Marie Curie presentation is at 11 on Wednesday so catching 12:40 ex HEX with usual return!! Covid cases are falling quickly in NE, let's hope we make T2 as Welly could open for meals and some live entertainment allowed, although pubs such as G would be closed. If we're in T3 I'm off for most of January to warmer climes with more nitelife!! Monday's good for magic money tree: new vaccine story each week: +13k! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

November 22nd: nice day for November, sunny, 7C max, 4C min, light W breeze, dry. So completed outdoor tasks: painting the shed (remaining 1/2 of long S side), clearing the metal fitting off the gate so new car does not get scratched (triumph for WD40), dumping much old paper in copse (under grass cuttings to weigh it down and encourage decay). Not out today! Completed all facets of 24/9 Vila Real; next up is Dotland 6/9; when that is done, there are 4 Northumberland data sheets and 3 from Faro; will press on! London trip is a proper family reunion now with son coming in to stay at Premier Inn, Kingston, for 3 nights (£30 a night!). Big day for granddaughter I, riding her bike without stabilisers, and S rides side-saddle 1. This next week sees streaming events from Marie Curie (Wed, another 'will' one), RNS pp (Thursday), RNS concert (Friday), Globe concert with Bradley, donated 30 (Sunday). So quite busy, pleased to see revival of musical events!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

November 21st: bracing day, sunny but cool W breeze, dry, 10C max, 4C min. Bright sunshine was lovely, went to C4c4l and walk in Sele where could stare at the sun and feel the spirits rising instantly (as optic nerve stimulated!). Made good progress in evening on 24/9 Vila Real, completing examination of all the piccies and finding a Black Kite to add to the 4 Honey-buzzard, 4 Osprey and 1 Marsh Harrier found that day. Not quite finished yet although have labelled everything and uploaded to server: need to index the new piccies on this web page. May do another Faro one next as brings back good memories of the break! Did watch the Gulls on the Halifax inplayer: they were p.ssed off with our 83-min winner; we now lead the table by 5 points: will it last? Watched a little later Seven Deadly Sins, streamed live from Opera North in Leeds. Classical Weill -- on the edge of steamy life for ordinary folks with a split-personality a daughter Anna portrayed as a sensible half (Anna I, singer) and a wild half (Anna II, ballet dancer) both making money for their folks back home in Louisiana with maybe Anna I as the banker and Anna II as the temptress!! A chorus of 4 men provided commentary and setting, including raising a board with the current sin and city! Only lasted 40 min but it was very entertaining. This was the last work by the team of Weill and Brecht, premiered in 1933 in Paris, Kurt (a Jew) having already left Berlin that year after the Nazis seized power; he later moved to America in 1935. While composing in Berlin, his works were considered decadent by the Nazis (which they are!) and he saw early-on the implications for artists like himself. New car is arriving on Thursday (with 35 miles on clock from Darlington) and Fox is leaving with same driver (92,000 miles on clock): working on front gate where there's an awkward metal fixture, narrowing the entrance to my yard and risking a scratch. Want to remove it and replace the catch with baler twine, which holds the 'Shire together! Screws have been in maybe 40-50 years so applied masses of WD40 and big nut came loose but small one didn't so hack-sawed the nut. Will apply a heavy hammer tomorrow! Also clearing out filing cabinet of paper long past its sell-by date -- 2 black sacks full already which dump in copse on edge of field to rot down! Very sorry to hear of someone's illness, didn't show: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

November 20th: cold start, warming up later with rain on and off much of day, no sunshine, max 10C, min 2C, moderate W breeze. Working on 24/9 Vila Real de Santo Antonio, in particular the 4 Honey-buzzard juvenile seen moving SE that day. Have labelled 23 piccies, uploaded them to server and indexed them below; so that's good progress! Hope to finish processing the day's photos 2moro including Osprey and Marsh Harrier. Not out today. Had Skype session with N/D where they marvelled at the decisiveness of the car purchase (now all paid for!). Actually found my paper registration certificate for the Fox in my filing cabinet though gather you can do the transfer online. We had good chat! Attended RNS concert on stream in evening: a programme with an Italian flavour brilliantly played, including Stravinsky's fun Pulcinella Suite, Caroline Shaw's Entr'acte (an interval!) and Mendelssohn 4 (such a lively piece, full of energy and joy!). Conductor was Dinis Sousa, who was good at the talk as well as the music! So that was an enjoyable feast, so glad the streaming is working well with the orchestra thriving in the new system. Besides the usual stars, was good to see AY on the flute but 'fraid my allegiance pp-wise has switched to the viola! Funds held gains from earlier in the week, finishing +10k on week, +107k gross on year to date (+9.8%) and +98k net, after withdrawing 1k to help pay for the car. Shares continue mixed with short-term outlook bad on Covid and medium-term looking brighter on vaccine news. ftse 100 is -15.8% on ytd and ftse 250 -11.1%. Asia is the bright spot in the poor current state of the world. So 2 streams tomorrow: the Gulls visiting the Shaymen and Opera North's 7 Deadly Sins. When go to LHR, daughter says she'll do the transfers to/from Kingston, which is great news as don't really fancy the tube. So time for sweet dreams: lok2tgrf: xxx!!!!!

November 19th: sunny, light NW, cold, max 5C, min 0C, too cold for painting! Cleaner S came in morning so scuttled out for trip to HEX, where made C4c4c and had walk around Sele doing a little bird survey from 11:40-13:00; had a Cormorant adult overhead and 9 feeding Blackbird in total of 11 bird-types, plus a Grey Squirrel, increasing in Tyne Valley with one in home garden yesterday at Ordley. Decided to catch up on November records this evening, which managed to do without too much trouble as only 2 complete counts so far. Have 27 species to date in November, compared to 96 in May. Had Zoom session in afternoon from 14:00-15:30 with BTO "A Focus on Core Monitoring" for supporters who have pledged or intend to leave a gift to BTO in their Will. There were 22 participants, including 4 from BTO, one of them their Director. The idea was to continue to convince us they were a sound organisation with a strong commitment to bird recording in all its facets. Their data is vital and I asked what their procedures were for data resilience. They appreciated the significance of the question and gave the right answer: using Oracle at UEA for security and integrity with full disaster recovery procedures including backup daily to an external site. I worked with Oracle, a full-blooded database management system, at UNN, using it for teaching procedural programming for relational databases. My son now uses it for his database management role in central admin at Herts Uni, including all the student records. The BTO run BirdTrack on which I store all my UK and overseas data and run surveys and atlases. Besides birds, we also record dragonflies and mammals, and are soon to record butterflies and amphibians as well. They are also working hard on developing children's inherent interest in wildlife into something more serious and long-term. So was highly encouraged to continue support. At present have 20k in my will for them, with same amount to RSPB, Woodland Trust, Marie Curie and RNS. Think it may be time early next year to review as want charity donations to clearly exceed 10% of taxable amount for IHT (>£1m). Anyway enough of that ... Completed some amendments to Festival site! 2moro will be on Faro 24/9 but do have Skype with N/D from 16:00-17:30 and RNS from 19:30 so some welcome diversions!! Did enjoy yesterday in Toon -- very motivating: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

November 18th: mild today after chilly start but strong SW breeze made it feel a little bracing, few showers in daytime turning to heavy rain in evening, max 14C, min 3C. Completed 8/9 Swallowship, pleased with that as so much data and piccies. Next up is 24/9 Real (Faro). After that will have 3 trips to document fully from Algarve and 5 from the Honey-buzzard season in Northumberland so getting there! Did make NCL: went for good walk from Station to E end of Quayside, across Millennial Bridge, by Sage and back along High-level Bridge; can get a snack at S in the Station. Needed a good walk, painting is exercise but you're fairly static. NCL was busier than in last lockdown along Quayside but traffic volumes were low; MP is reopening in due course as the New Marco Polo: cheers! Train back had quite a lot of students on it but one going in at midday was deserted. Cleaner S is coming 2moro morning at 11 for a change. Didn't think much of BJ's great green plan: it's dirigiste, reminiscent of grand Soviet 10-year plans, so doomed to utter failure. Think the Tories will eject Boris once Brexit is done and put in a more talented cabinet. I also don't like the way the word green has been hijacked to be synonymous with reduction of carbon dioxide levels; what about biodiversity for instance? Planting forests will do nothing for nature if they comprise only one species of tree, harvested for biomass at an early stage. Rendezvous was perfect: she's gorgeous: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

November 17th: very mild, max 13C, min 11C, dry on moderate SSW breeze. Made a lot of progress on 8/9 Swallowship, indexing all piccies and going through them all carefully to ensure nothing is missed. Concluded car negotiations with Bristol Street Motors, securing from Skoda, Darlington, a brand new supermini Skoda Fabia 1.0 MPI SE 5dr Petrol Hatchback for 12.379k difference between the Fabia price and trade-in for Fox. Colour is Blue Energy and some extras are included in the price such as a protection pack, initial taxation fee and road tax for a year. They are delivering the new car by the end of the month to my house and taking away the Fox at the same time. Paid 0.5k deposit on credit card with rest to follow later this week after taking out a personal loan from Lloyds of 11k at 4.9% APR over 4 years (252.29 a month), which took 2 hours to arrive after a simple application process. Why Skoda? Well they are owned by VW and contain some VW parts such as the chassis is the same as the Polo's. They had a terrible reputation and this lingers keeping the price down: "what do you call a Skoda at the top of a hill? a bloody miracle!". Anyway will soon find out!! Why the loan? Interest rate is very cheap, surely can do better than 4.9% in stocks over next 2 years and can then pay the loan back early without any significant penalty. Optimistically booked return flights with BA in late December from NCL-LHR for £96 total (economy plus, including checked baggage and choice of seats); can change flights if travel not possible. Premier Inn, Kingston, is charging £205 for a week but might stay with daughter; will see what things are like in early December. Inclined to just go whatever the dictators say!! Doubt they'll ask any questions at the airports. Painted 1/2 a long side of shed on S side today so c85% done -- looking good! Should finish on Saturday after short cold snap passes. A blast from the past this morning!! A Tawny Owl was hunting in my field at 22:30 on 17/11. Paid 0.5k to RNS yesterday as quarterly payment for pp on MG; have not forgotten my other pleasant obligations!! Funds +11k in 1st 2 days of week: ton up on year!! 2moro it's HEX-NCL 12:00 ex CRB. xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

November 16th: moderate WSW breeze, damp feel but stayed dry until mid-evening, around 8C all day, only a few breaks of weak sunshine. So not a bad day for painting, completing with 2 coats W (short) side and the fiddly bit around the latch and bolt on the E side so 3/4 done now! Put in a lot of work on the Swallowship visit on 8/9 (10084), finding a male and 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard in the piccies and processing a 4-minute clip of the younger juvenile. This is only the 4th site in 2020 that is known to have raised 2 young and the first in the 'Shire; hope to complete this visit tomorrow. Made HEX in between coats of paint doing W4bigshop (£62) and C4c4l where TA made by someone's mum who always looks at me darkly; had snack in the Sele. Car negotiations continue. Very pleased to hear from someone who's done so well!! magic money tree +9k! xxxxx XXX!!!!!! ?

November 15th: appalling weather today with heavy driving rain on moderate SW breeze, mild, 9C max, 6C min, weather going cooler on Thursday so have 3 days to do the 2 remaining sides of the shed before temperatures dip below 5C recommended as minimum temperature for application. Working now on Swallowship Honey-buzzard visit on 8/9, where took a long video of a juvenile practising its flight skills; hope to finish 2moro. Not out today. So pleased with streamed concert: such courage to put this on and such a rewarding result, performing brilliantly with enthusiastic comments online: did recognise the pieces, very pleased to have been involved in one of the rehearsals!! 'phoned little sis and had good chat for 40 min: she's a keen golfer so totally p.ssed off with the current daft ban on the sport. Still pursuing the car and have now made an offer; Lloyds are keen to lend me money offering the max for a personal loan of 25k, over 72 months. Plan to borrow much less for a shorter time. Don't want to sell many shares when trend may well be up! So will see how it all pans out ... Streams this week are BTO benefactors (Thursday afternoon), RNS (Friday evening), Opera North (Saturday early evening). May be a little more adventurous this week, visiting NCL on Wednesday and going for a few walks after shed finished. Will be visiting the Allen and South Tyne much more as moving focus of the National Honey-buzzard Survey next year W and want to do checks on the state of the woods, identifying a further 10 sites for close study. Gorgeous one should be proud: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

November 14th: here's late entry for March Burn in National Survey of Honey-buzzard from home page:

March Burn 6(e) 09/09/20: 2 strong-flying dark-phase juveniles were up over this site with both in view at one time, 4 sample stills of juvenile 2 1  2  3  4, 1 sample still of juvenile 1 5 ; late record for first juveniles suggests that you need September visits to complete the survey at some sites:15:00-16:00.

Windy today from SW but dry until evening, 11C max, 9C min. Spent some time sorting out the National Survey entry above: slowly getting there! Made HB 4 lights, 2 at 100 and 120 watts to brighten up downstairs at this dark time of year; also got 3 small paint brushes, another £33 spent but am improving the living conditions. Made C4c4l and surprise, surprise it was an on-day for tmsuo who was very dynamic!! Switched on for the Gulls' game against Boreham Wood, which was a scrappy, tense affair; we scored first but they deserved their equaliser just before half-time; we almost got a winner at 90+1 but then almost lost it in 90+2 so really honours even. We had a player sent off on 70 min which in past times would have been our death knell but the difference in numbers didn't show. All in all a game we could have lost so 1 point is OK. Had 70-min phone call with big sis in the evening; good to catch up! Spent some time researching the new-car market; have some ideas; it's 10 years since last bought a new car and then chose a VW Fox, not made in Germany but in Brazil, as a cheap way into VW quality. So thinking of same approach this time. Not going to lease, use PCP or take out hire purchase as too inflexible with early repayment or closure; mileage limits on lease/PCP are inhibiting. So likely to pay cash to the dealer but borrow some (cheap) money for part of deal from Lloyds personal finance, which is only 3.9% APR and very flexible. Will trade in the Fox, while it's going and has almost a year of MOT left: no megabucks there! New car will not be diesel (filters are damaged by short journeys) nor electric (too expensive) so will be petrol. Have been invited free of charge (as patron) to ON's livestream next Saturday of Kurt Weill's Seven Deadly Sins from Leeds which is very welcome; have donated £25 as a supporting gesture. Looking forward very much to Sunday afternoon: sure it will go really well: I'll be there!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

November 13th: a fine day with continuous sunshine on moderate SW breeze, dry, 9C max, 7C min. So completed painting shed on E side where the door is placed; quite fiddly and couldn't find a small brush to do the latch and bolt areas so left those for moment; other than this 2 sides completely done now; the colour seagrass is really designed for a beach hut I think but it looks cheerful; K/T who passed wondered when I was going to bring out the beach towels! They brought dramatic news -- a Covid case in Ordley village: wondered why I hadn't seen anyone else in 2 hours work. The village is a development of the old village so houses are close together and the person afflicted has many other relations nearby! I live 400m to the W in a spacious development of 3 houses. So if Ordley as a whole has 100 residents that's 1,000 cases per 100,000!! Didn't go out today -- I am being cautious at the moment. Completed processing of bird records from 9/9 at Dipton Wood S and Ordley, except think will add the 9/9 March Burn to the National Survey report as it shows the importance of keeping observations going into September. Had lively 105 min chat with N/D on Skype; broadband not good so wonder if all neighbours are sheltering on Netflix; had to go audio-only for a bit. The RNS streaming later was perfect technically not to mention the artistic quality; Alina Ibragimova played the Bach violin concerto in brilliant style and Mahler's arrangement for string orchestra of Schubert's Death and the Maiden was also very inspiring. The orchestra seem to be getting more at ease with the streaming medium and the camera work was good, featuring the right people at the right time. Good to see the person I sponsor MG starring on the viola! More streaming this weekend: the Gulls at 3pm Saturday and another music feast at 3pm Sunday. Pleased the Festival fundraising event is going ahead and have updated the home page. Holding over the painting until Monday as need to put on 2nd coat late afternoon to fit in with the instructions (unless I get up really, really early!). Funds had a good week, rising 37k by Thursday to new all-time high before finishing +36k after a little profit-taking today. Oil stocks benefited enormously from the vaccine announcements but are still priced to fail; continuing to rotate bonds into equities. Gain on year is 96k gross (8.8%), 88k net, with rises also in ftse 100 (-16.3% ytd) and ftse 250 (-12.2%). xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

November 12th: grand day for time of year, bright, light SW breeze until late in day, when increasing to moderate S, max 9C, min 7C. So out with the trimmer, cutting back the dogwood about 1m on S side of shed; that's the hardest work with the painting job I think, duly completed. Then put 2 coats of the preservative onto the N long side of the shed; you're supposed to apply 2 coats fairly close together in time so am completing 1 section at a time rather than giving the whole lot 1 coat. Rain not forecast until late in night so should set fine; you cannot apply the paint below 5C so want to get it done before we get into midwinter. Should do the 2 shorter sides, including the door, tomorrow. Attended Bird Club Zoom meeting in evening; greeted back, think my support is welcomed! Talk was on Gough Island, a seabird paradise in the S Atlantic in the Tristan da Cunha complex. Except it's not such a paradise now because mice, introduced by sailors over 100 years ago, are eating the eggs and chicks of albatross, shearwater and other birds, right under the sitting adults. So they've recruited the help of New Zealand, who've overcome similar problems on their offshore islands, by dropping from helicopters millions of poison-baited seeds. Two drops are needed a few weeks apart and the endemic birds, Gough Bunting and Gough Moorhen, have to be captured before the drops to protect them from the poison. It's a hell of a logistic exercise over very rugged terrain and is being scheduled for 2021 after Covid got in the way this year. Fascinating and great to see conservation in action! In my own work, completed processing the piccies for 9/9 at Dipton Wood S (10085) and March Burn (10085a); will add records to BirdTrack tomorrow; then it's onto 8/9 Swallowship. Must get out 2moro b4 Skype session with N/D and RNS stream!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

November 11th: dull, mild, 11C max, 6C min, dry until evening, wind light increasing SW moderate breeze by evening. Finished processing 26/9 for all 3 islands in the boat trip from Faro, very interesting day, leaving just 4 Faro sheets to process. Next up is Northumberland Honey-buzzard 9/9 at Dipton Wood. Did make HEX visiting HB, buying a large tin of green (seagrass) Cuprinol paint for protecting shed; so that's task ahead, starting tomorrow; will need to cut back the dogwood on one side as it's up against the S side of the shed, a hedge trimmer job! Also bought a large paint brush, some heavy-duty screws to replenish supplies after fitting the towel rail and some light bulbs (all for £52). Then made C4c4ll where tmsuo was on, looking good!! Took TA to outside Abbey where talked with SD to other C goers! Then called in on P, we're in a bubble, for a lively chat over yet more coffee! All done while S was busy at home! Had an extensive flock of 150 Fieldfare over Ordley in afternoon. Later did some real cooking, making spag bol with mince, tinned tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, red onions, garlic, marjoram, thyme, paprika, nutmeg; slight blemish was cooked 2 types of pasta and one was too soft, the other too hard; anyway ate 1 portion tonight and put 5 more in the freezer. Amused at Guinness's trouble with their alcohol-free g: for hundreds of years microbial contamination was avoided by the alcohol contained in beer or porter, drunk by the masses to keep healthy. Magic no is +36k. xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

November 10th: not a bad day weather-wise, some brightness early on, duller in afternoon, 11C max, 8C min, little wind. Completed processing Ilha Deserta records from boat trip on 26/9 at Faro, 4 types of butterfly, beautiful light! Could have done more but for call of nature!! Did remount towel rail, took me a while but eventually all done in a slightly different position to take advantage of a wood-based hold; the main purpose of the rail is to provide background heating in case there's freezing weather. Decided this line of activity could keep me purposeful so getting some paint in Homebase 2moro to paint the shed green (second coat since installation) and touch-up the blue area of the upstairs bathroom affected by filling and the removal of the earlier fitting. Keeping to diet: will stop me putting on weight in LD2. Funds continued to rise on the positive vaccine news, now up 23k on 1st 2 days of week to new all-time record: +83k gross and +75k net, after withdrawals, on ytd. Think the ducks are starting to line up in the oil world, and maybe elsewhere!! Did sell my last remaining airline, IAG, today as up 40% this week to almost what I paid initially; LD2 will have mortally damaged airline finances IMHO: I did support IAG's rights issue so did my bit for their survival. Renewed sub for Raptor Research Foundation including sustaining payment to subsidise young members ($100 in all); donated £51 to prostate cancer charity and £20 to British Legion for poppy day; my paternal grandfather, George Rossiter, died of prostate cancer aged 69 and feel it's been a neglected disease, particularly in relation to breast cancer; women are better at health campaigning than men! Not coming into NCL this week, worried about increase in Covid cases in the NE and with vaccine coming closer rapidly can be a little more patient!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

November 9th: Pfizer vaccine imminent and 90% effective -- good for our lives, stock market goes boom -- great news!! Sunny today, mild at 11C max, 8C min, virtually calm. Domestic duties ruled today: into W4bigshop where spent £62, KF for check on slow puncture attributed to bent rim which they fixed FOC (!), C4c4l for TA to Sele while car at KF. Getting ready to remount a towel rail, which needs to be attached to wood, not plasterboard I feel, so going to find where the wooden supports run in the upstairs bathroom, behind the plasterboard, by a little exploratory drilling with filler handy for patching at end. Did though process many piccies from 26/9 on the boat trip from Faro; that brought back great memories! My mood brightened enormously with progress on the vaccine front, not just from Pfizer, but also from UK, Russia and China: hope restored for social life and the music business!! Covid-recovery stocks did well today e.g. oil, airline, and funds were +17k, just 1k short of all-time record on 8/6/20. Many investors were mortified to find that the internet-dealing sites were so overloaded that they collapsed and they could not buy into the boom; even with the sites that stayed up such as II (mine) pricing was often delayed and confusing. I'd bought a lot of shares in the last 2 weeks so no need to deal today. But will rotate a few more bonds (not MBS) into equities over the next few weeks. Have a feeling that 2021 will be stellar for the ftse 100, making 8000, but there's a lot of ups and downs to come before then. xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

November 8th: dull, poor visibility but no more fog and no frost, 8C max, 4C min, no sun. Not out today except for 90 min walk to Dotland at dusk when had on return a Tawny Owl calling to S of house, towards the Devil's Water at 17:00. Finished processing Faro W 23/9 now, including piccies and final adjustments of data on BirdTrack; new camera is worth its weight in gold! Bird food was instantly popular with 8 Blue Tit, 4 Tree Sparrow, 1 Chaffinch, so will carry on provisioning. Did watch the Gulls play Crawley on BBC2/BBC1/laptop; we led 2-0, pegged back to 2-2, 3-2 with 3 min to go (90 min), pegged back to 3-3, 5-3 after 110 min, losing 5-6 (OMG!): we completely lost our heads in the end but Crawley are near the top of Division 2, 1 level above us; our manager despises game management (slow it down when ahead!) but that would have got us through today. Still hopefully some lessons learnt and game was certainly entertaining! Sent off October 2020 records in spreadsheet to Northumberland & Tyneside Bird Club (N&TBC), first for 8 years though have been a member throughout. Did some checks on getting away over next few weeks to maybe the Canaries or Portugal again. There are no flights to popular resorts as the airlines have collaborated with the government in removing the temptation. Did pay special attention to Scotland as international travel from there is allowed, though advised against, but no flights from there either. You can get to a business centre such as Las Palmas in Gran Canaria but you typically have to fly in 3-4 legs via London and Madrid so it takes a day. Best bet is LIS, which can get to from NCL via AMS in reasonable time (1/3 a day!) for £238 return. So could spend days 1-4 in LIS, 5-12 in FAO (via 3-hour train journey), 13-16 in LIS. Would be looking for investment properties, complete with suit, tie and laptop! Will think about it, balancing mental health against the hassle, but would leave booking to last minute as rules change all the time and make full hotel bookings (beyond night 1) only when out there. Q45 would seem adequate on return. All quite speculative but never felt so restless: LD2 is an unmitigated disaster!! Next up is Faro 26/9, speed boat day, touring the outer isles. Pleased to be sent 3 piccies of my granddaughters in Halloween dress: 1  2  3 aren't they sweet? There's only 18 months between them but older one is so much taller: they do though play well together (most of the time!). xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

November 7th: foggy this morning after overnight frost; sun did not break through so murky all day; calm, 8C max, -1C min. Not out today. Finished processing Slaley Forest W data for 10/9, including piccies and addition of data to BirdTrack. Onto Faro W 23/9 now, where many fascinating piccies of an adult Atlantic Yellow-legged Gull (Cantabricans, easily labelled in error as YLG x LBBG hybrid), Caspian Tern and Zitting Cisticola (yes, that is a real name!). Have been through all the piccies for that day now and should complete the processing tomorrow. Trying to follow Isaac Newton's example of working with inspiration through a plague under enforced isolation New Yorker though there is the rider "Or so the story goes"! Will have to get out more tomorrow whatever and the Gulls match in FAC1 is being monitored on BBC2 at lunchtime. While many restaurants are closing, opened my bird table this afternoon with bag of peanuts and on shed roof some assorted seed/ground peanut. No takers yet: berry and apple crop in garden is best ever! Keep being gorgeous: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

November 6th: news flash – no Honey-buzzard today at Stocksfield Mount – is season over? Was there from 12:25-13:55 in perfect November weather with bright sunshine, good light, almost calm, 11C max, 2C min with ground frost at the end of the night, I believe. Saw just 1 wasp there (and 1 at Ordley) Did have a Common Buzzard juvenile climbing up briefly at 12:36 a little over Bywell Castle 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 but that was the only raptor seen today. Total for visit was 18 bird-types, including 4 Bullfinch (male here 1), 1 Chiffchaff, 51 Redwing (flock 50), 4 Fieldfare, 1 Stock Dove, 2 Jay. Hard frost tonight: it surely is the end! Enjoyed concert – very inspiring – thought the Sibelius 5 was brilliantly played:      ?. The streaming worked very well with many camera angles on the players, who all looked up for it! The captioning was useful. Funds had a good week, with Manchester BS junk bonds rising well, overall +15k making gain on year +60k (+5.5%) compared to ftse 100 -21.6%, ftse 250 -18.3%. Will give more details on the junk bonds on Sunday. Have rotated 45k of bonds into equities in hoped for revival in 2021 but have increased holdings of the Manchester bonds as a special case. Covid resurgence in Europe and USA kept a lid on oil. Made C4c4ll after walk and it was open for TA with the tmsuo welcoming me in happy mood!! At 16:00 had 90-min session on Skype with N/D, which was good chat. Using Notepad++ now to edit webpages for wildlife interests! No work today on catch-up on records but tomorrow ... Did some work on the Festival web pages, looking good! ?

November 5th: mild, 10C max, 7C min, light W breeze, dry, good visibility. Did study local area around house at Ordley at dusk, looking for any lingering Honey-buzzard but none seen; did have a Kestrel 1w at 16:30, hunting keenly over area. Completed processing 3/9 Grindon, finding a Pintail in the flock of ducks on the bank, and 29/9 Faro, confirming the wee butterflies as African Grass Blue. Have 6 data sheets to process from Faro, labelling the piccies, uploading them to the web server and indexing them in html. Have only a further 8 data sheets from Northumberland study area to process, so really good progress now. 2moro it's a start at least on 10/9 Viewley and 23/9 Faro. Not out any more today, obeying the lockdown (?) but will be out further tomorrow in the fresh air! Takeaways aren't a very attractive option in November if you've got to drink them outside! Tonight watched football Benfica vs Rangers, played in Lisbon: 3-3, Rangers would have taken that before the match but were not so happy after losing a 3-1 lead late-on against the 10-men Portuguese side; no spectators could be seen; Rangers played like a classy European side: they've really come on! 2moro it's the RNS at the Sage, really looking forward to that! Will change the clarinettist and add the bassoonist! In LD2 have gone on disciplined diet, cutting out all chocolates, crisps, biscuits but am having 2 beers a day!! Hope the gorgeous one is keeping fit: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

November 4th: typical late autumn day, some weak sunshine, 8C max, 6C min, light SW breeze. Last day b4 lockdown so fairly frantic touring familiar haunts: CT4s4l, C4c4t, G4g4t. Trains were again very quiet but punctual and clean; CT was almost full but they're not doing takeaways so not back there for a while; Northumberland Street had 4 Covid marshals, 2 at each end, trying to get people into lanes, one for going N, the other for going S; this street was busy with the air of last-minute shopping; banks had no queues today; main queues were fast food and jewellers: are people selling off their heirlooms or buying pressies for loved ones? C in Hexham was also full and they did not know what was happening tomorrow yet; G was busy with mates all making the most of last orders for 4 weeks. Some people wished me Happy Christmas, only partly in jest; no cut in prices for G regulars. N is doing takeaways from tomorrow and encouraging you to use their app for ordering and paying. So there you go …. Had 2 Mute Swan adult and 5 Tufted Duck at Merryshields gravel pit. Completed processing records from Ordley on 13/9 and 20/9 so outstanding raw data sheets are steadily reducing. Today's football selected by me on BT Sport was again from Russia: Zenit St Petersburg vs Lazio (Italy) in Champions League. Like the other game from Russia the visitors were highly fancied but again it finished 1-1. There was again a crowd with SD. I was fascinated by the presence of Gazprom on the players' shirts and on boards around the stadium; they must provide money: indeed “Since 2005, The Gazprom Group Has Been Both Sponsor to and Main Shareholder of FC Zenit St Petersburg” https://www.gazprom-germania.de/en/sponsorship/sports-sponsorship/zenitstpetersburg.html. My son-in-law works for Gazprom, in their London offices, as a commodity trader. Being Iranian he was praying for Trump humiliation which, whatever the final result, did not happen. Booked up for the 5 streaming RNS events, costing £65 with £40 for stream and £25 donation, and for the Globe, costing £20.45 with £5.45 for stream and £15 donation. Did another moving rendezvous – very touching – will keep a physical presence through the next few weeks: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXXX!!!!!! xx

November 3rd: quite an edge today to the wind at 6C max, 4C min, but too much breeze (moderate W) for a frost, a few sunny intervals in morning. Looked at few remaining issues with 1/10 Faro, checking the wheatear carefully and making sure there were no other overlooked waders in the salinas: there weren't. Also processed 14/9 trip to Warden area where had 12 Honey-buzzard – all added to BirdTrack. Have had 2 Woodcock recently: singles flying across road in front of car at night: 23:30 30/10 Ordley, 20:30 today Loughbrow. A Grey Wagtail was over roofs of Hexham town near Battle Hill at 16:00. Delighted that Sage are being able to stream their performances to us, I'll subscribe to them all. If they had been prevented from doing so, it would have been ridiculous compared to professional sport, particularly when you consider SD is easier to maintain with an orchestra than with a physical sport. Today watched live on BT Sport (European) Champions League – Lokomotiv Moscow vs Atletico Madrid, played in Russia. They actually had a real crowd with some SD and it was entertaining to watch the dogged performance of LM against the highly fancied AM: finished 1-1! Made N4c4t for good social chat. Watched the US election results coming in, don't like Trump and would have been happy with a Biden victory but never seen so many woke commentators almost in tears. Polls again failed as many people are not woke but don't like to admit it. Result is of course not clear as write (03:24) but no state has 'changed hands' yet and it's possible Trump will win again! Anyway have rotated 43k out of bonds into equities, mainly oil, in first 2 days of week, as a little more confident about the future. Overall funds are +4k so far this week. Big day out 2moro, looking forward to it: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

November 2nd: very wet today but mild at 9C max, 6C min, early sunshine but then dull, wind moderate W. Processed piccies for 1/10 Faro W, adding one more species Bar-tailed Godwit, bringing trip list to 110 types and waders to 21 types; still reviewing a bit of material for this day. Seduced by the memories of the sun, must get back to business with Warden 14/9 tomorrow. Made W4bigshop spending £77, including £20 cashback to buy some bird food in the market. Then up to C4c4ll where tmsuo was looking gr8!! Later made G4g4s with P/R; will keep in touch with P after lockdown as can take a couple of g round to his house and have a chat! Had FB video for 50 min chat with son and daughter and 2 irrepressible granddaughters: good 2 c them all; hope we can meet up in London at Xmas! Besides the US election there's an interesting Select Committee meeting tomorrow: Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance called before MPs to explain second lockdown evidence: Chief scientific adviser and chief medical officer to face committee [Science and Technology] amid concern graphs shown were out of date and alarmist https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/11/02/chris-whitty-patrick-vallance-called-mps-explain-second-lockdown/. Pleased to see someone is doing some live streaming, programme I know is good from own experience: will subscribe and donate!! Hope RNS/Sage can do streaming for scheduled concerts: Opera North are attempting to do this from video filming. So 2 more days of relative freedom: will make the most of it!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!! ex CRB 12:00 Wed!! xx

November 1st: strong winds continued with heavy rain, max 12C, min 8C, no sunshine. Night-time temperatures are forecast to fall later this week, getting close to 1st ground frosts; always reckon around 5/11 is when the residual autumnal warmth starts fading rapidly, causing the last Honey-buzzard to leave Northumberland; in Ireland birds linger longer with the milder climate. Have finished processing 28/10 and all of October now, except piccies for 1/10 in Algarve; also processed today piccies from 25/9, a quiet day spent around Faro harbour. Not sure what I'll process tomorrow, depends a bit on mood and today wanted to remember the sunshine! Out for C4c4l where staff relaxed about another spell on furlough and G4g4s with P/R, where more perhaps of a fatalistic atmosphere but had good chat with the lads! In good form was tllld!! Bought some cod-liver oil capsules at Superdrug; think diet is pretty well balanced but such capsules do guarantee a good inflow of vitamins A and D and other vital chemicals. This afternoon played with new toy, BT Sport, watching the Women's FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Everton live on desktop, with the former winning 3-1 aet; it was very competitive and absence of flagging in extra time was a compliment to their fitness; being stocky (certainly not a euphemism for fat) seemed to be a useful attribute! Star player on ratings was Alexandra (Sandy) Elena MacIver, goalie for Everton, giving an idea of the balance of play! This week threatens to be very turbulent on markets with more lockdowns in Europe and of course the US election – tin-hat time – am ready to buy on dips! Will make further studies mid-week to see if any Honey-buzzard are still moving through from Scotland. Hope local concerts continue through streaming. Expecting to make NCL on Wednesday midday!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

October 31st: very windy from W, mild 14C max, 7C min, heavy showers. Completed indexing piccies for 25/10, all 36 of them for the 2 Honey-buzzard juvenile (10307) and added visit to BirdTrack; next up is 28/10. Renewed my bronze patron-ship with Opera North, maintaining payment at £62.50 a month; KH did imply that some people are having to reduce their support. Well the best laid plans sometimes go astray, just have to do workarounds which we did brilliantly: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! So lockdown it is; cannot see why rugby can continue behind closed doors while theatres apparently have to close; maybe have to wait for clarification on streamed events but a steamy rugby scrum is surely more infectious than a group of elegant musicians! Whatever, it's a stupid policy, deeply recursive, and doomed to long-term failure:

Second lockdown 'not sustainable for the next few months', says Prof Devi Sridhar. Devi Sridhar, a global public health professor at the University of Edinburgh, tells the BBC: Unfortunately in the position England's in, they have to slow it down. And although no one wants a lockdown, it seems there's no other choice because the uncontrollable spread will be even worse. I go back to the summer and I say we had a lockdown, we've been living in some kind of restrictions in March, we got numbers pretty low in June. For me there are three things East Asian countries have done - strict border restrictions, voluntary good guidance to the public on avoiding the virus at all ages, and third, a test, trace and isolate system that works well. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/coronavirus-news-covid-lockdown-tier-3-cases-deaths/

Have subscribed to BT Sport for a month (£25, rolling contract) on my desktop and was impressed: they even had a live game on in full from 17:00, Hartlepool vs Torquay, which the Gulls won 5-0 with our 34-year old veteran Danny Wright getting a hat-trick! BT provide great action video with multiple cameras, live commentary and discussion at end. Evidently the 1st task on the long return journey (592 km) to Torquay is to get fish and chips for everyone. Last time I was at Hartlepool we lost by one goal in last game of season and were relegated to the National League; so sorry they said well fu tonite! Gulls are 5 points clear at top after 7 games. Incidentally Hartlepool's name is really Hart-le-Pool, as in Chester-le-Street, meaning pool of the stags (honest, see Wiki!). National League will continue during the lockdown as it's 'elite sport'! Will donate more to music, hoping streaming will progress as will support everything like that during the next lockdown. Pleased I've taken full advantage of recent easing to get out more and take a refreshing holiday; N/D with whom had long enjoyable Skype session today (90 min) have not been out meaningfully for almost 9 months. I think I'm going to start the Honey-buzzard book over the next month to keep positive! But anyway there's still 4 days of fun pre-LD2!! xxxxX

October 30th: still mild by daytime 12C max but decline to 4C min as night progresses, light SE breeze, dry. Was a great day at Sage, witnessing Lars Vogt playing Beethoven PC 5 in incredible style and confidence; did get the feeling that the performance being live did trigger a great response. We also had Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture and a new work by Kristina Arakelyan 'Fantasia on a theme by Ludwig van Beethoven' (World Premiere – Sage Gateshead commission): that was appreciated. So great evening, concluding in Cen4g4s. Pleased to see I'm in the Chronicle in connection with the Sage:reopening https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/whats-on/music-nightlife-news/gallery/see-inside-sage-gateshead-music-19158966 and https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/welcome-back-sage-gateshead-celebrates-19159326; links sent by NHe! I was almost first in so suspect the reporters took quick piccies and wanted to get away. Still proud to be involved in relaunch! Staying over to savour the atmosphere! What a week on the markets – worse since March as Coronavirus 'cases' surge – with ftse down 5% and US indices down 6%. Carnage in tech stocks as investors finally realise that tech does not operate in a vacuum – if your clients are broke, so are you! Had anticipated this: while think reaction to virus is hysterical, have to take into account what other players will do and that's panic! Own funds were -5k (under 0.5% fall) but some signs on last 2 days of week that some rotation from tech to energy might be in progress. So on year are +45k gross, +4.1%, compared to -26.1% ftse 100 and -21.5% ftse 250. In spite of relatively good personal performance, still feel downbeat, as investor sentiment is terrible: doubt whether any future fund-raising will be supplied to desperate companies, unless powers that be acknowledge the benefits of capitalism and provide a framework, e.g. airport testing, that enables investors to feel they are taking acceptable risks. Amazed at visible police presence in NCL: a stream of police cars going past at 22:05 to check on whether venues had closed; 2 officers going through hotel register for at least 30 min, while having breakfast, maybe checking for breaches of household rule; frequent police cars driving around; finally one of the new CV marshals looking very alert. See “Almost 6,000 officers join police as coronavirus enforcement steps up” https://www.gov.uk/government/news/almost-6000-officers-join-police-as-coronavirus-enforcement-steps-up. Well East Germany ran its economy so badly that they had plenty of recruits available for the Stasi. xx

October 29th: milder today at 13C max, 11C min, super-high min suggests high humidity and that's right with rain all day, heavy at times, low cloud and murk, no sun. On instruction of daughter, been told to get some vitamin D tablets as not going to make much in the winter sun and it's supposed to be beneficial against viruses, boosting immune system; will do! Continued to process raptor records from 25/10, labelling all piccies and getting ready to index them; there are definitely 2 Honey-buzzard juvenile present, one with a pale head, the other nearly all dark. Only bird today of note was a Tawny Owl calling as got back from the pub at Ordley at 22:10. The police are checking by inspection that every pub is closed by driving around them individually just after 10:00! Had sociable day, having good chat with Jd at JG who trimmed well my hair and eyebrows; next appointment 16/12, gave her £25 including 5.50 bonus. Met P twice, at C4c4c and G4g4s, for good crack! The NCL concert is a treat: love the Kreutzer last movement but the whole concert is a magnificent achievement!! So back at the S 2moro at 17:45 for drinks with concert at 19:30; will be in well b4; I'm in blue zone again! Skype chat with N/D has been switched to 15:30 Saturday, in between the Black Cats and the Gulls! lok2t the gorgeous one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

A major mystery is unfolding over the Covid data: what is the false positive rate in the results. So many tests are being done now, 300k a day, that a false positive rate of, say, 4% would mean 12k cases a day are not actually a Covid infection, about half of the total Covid cases claimed daily. See:

False-positive COVID-19 results: hidden problems and costs by Elena Surkova, Vladyslav Nikolayevskyy, Francis Drobniewski. The Lancet, Respiratory Medicine, https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30453-7/fulltext#%20.

Impact of false-positives and false-negatives in the UK’s COVID-19 RT-PCR testing programme, Carl Mayers & Kate Baker, 3rd June 2020, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/895843/S0519_Impact_of_false_positives_and_negatives.pdf.

PCR positives: what do they mean? by info@future-synthesis.com , fsdataanalysis@gmail.com , matteo.chiesa@uit.no , sergio.s.hernandez@uit.no, https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/pcr-positives-what-do-they-mean/.

In this last paper, the authors ask: Does a PCR “TRUE POSITIVE” mean INFECTIVITY OR VIRULENCE? What does viral culture tell about PCR positives?

A PCR test might find the virus it was looking for. This results in a PCR positive, but a crucial question remains: is this virus active, i.e. infectious, or virulent? The PCR alone cannot answer this question. The CEBM explains why culturing the virus is needed to answer this question:

In viral culture, viruses are injected in the laboratory cell lines to see if they cause cell damage and death, thus releasing a whole set of new viruses that can go on to infect other cells.”

That is, if the PCR detects the virus in the human sample, this detection might correspond to a virus that is now incapable of infecting cells and reproduce. Biologists can tell if the virus is infectious by injecting it into cells (culture cells). If these cells are not affected by the virus and the virus does not reproduce in them, then the PCR test found a virus that is no longer active.

The meaning is that the PCR positive is a non-infectious positive.

I don't think we do the viral culture check. So many of our PCR 'positives' might be where the person has fragments of the virus in them but the virus is inert and they are not strictly infected. Not sure this is pointed out by our health advisers. These people would be asymptomatic, like so many in the positive category.

October 28th: another cool day 8C max, 6C min, but still no frost, wet in morning, drier in afternoon with just a few showers, light SW breeze. Made N4c4l where good to meet S again. Flu jab maybe making me feel a little jaded so kept fit today by skipping G4g4t, and going for long walk in 'Shire from 15:20-17:30 while S was hard at work. Very enjoyable! Plenty of birdlife around and the wasp nest was just about ticking over; light was so bad for photography that had to use flash, which was a quick learning curve for me and the camera; it was easy to see how to raise physically the light source but you had to select flash from a different program on the dial to that which normally use; the flash is very powerful, giving quite sharp pictures of moving wasps 1  2  3  4 (10309). Highlight of day was a late Honey-buzzard up over W part of Slaley Forest at 15:50, moving slowly over the conifers at low altitude (10308). Other raptors were a rusty-coloured Common Buzzard sitting in a tree at 16:17 near Close House 1  2 and a Tawny Owl calling from Blackhall at 17:10, when it was getting quite dark. Total of 23 bird-types included 45 Fieldfare (42 W, 3 rest), 2 Redwing, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 26 Chaffinch (influx, migrants), 12 Blackbird (influx, migrants), 5 Yellowhammer. Really pleased at the way live music is returning to the NE; booked up straight away for 2 of the new ones added today on 20/11 and 4/12 and looking forward to a certain stream!! Completed processing 22/10 (below), including the wasp nest piccies, and am indexing the piccies for 25/10 in the Stocksfield area. Pleased to hear that JB will not bring in a lockdown in the USA if he wins next Tuesday – hope he does! France commits economic/social suicide tonight; everyone will feel good for 4 weeks, cases drop and then what do you do – try re-entry to normal again in December with a population that has still been insufficiently exposed to the virus? Appointment with hairdresser Jd at JG at 11 2moro: a pleasant meeting! Then C4c4c with P and much later G4g4s with P! Looking forward to Friday: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! RDM ex 15:05. xx

October 27th: a wet and cool day, 9C max, 7C min, periods of rain through day, easing at night. Put a lot of time into processing raptor, dragonfly and lepidoptera data from 15/9 at the Mount, all done now and well worth it! Did have flu jab in a cubicle at Tesco's pharmacy department in Hexham; cost nothing and information on jab is passed to your GP, no effects yet! Met P afterwards at C4c4l; tmsuo looked very fit: she's benefiting from being part of the community again!! Not out again; evening's entertainment was the Shots (Aldershot) at home to the Gulls on Shots TV, costing £9.99. Strange game: Gulls started off with great confidence, but went behind on 8 min and were lucky to not be 3-0 down as approached half-time but then their keeper pushed a cross into his own net on 43 min and the Gulls scored 2 more in the 1st 6 min of H2 with yet another late goal on 90 min, making result 4-1 and putting us top! Their commentators were as biased as ours and were speechless at the end. We're playing at Hartlepool on Saturday but no spectators allowed. Markets are very troubled, particularly after Imperial College's very discouraging report on decline of antibodies in people who've had Covid; the media has been terrible today giving no balance at all; our immune system is based more on T-cells than antibodies, which remember past invaders and set out to destroy them; it would be very wasteful to continue to produce antibodies for every illness we've ever suffered. I'm amazed that more note is not being taken of the Barrington declaration, which recommends that older people shield if they wish with better support and younger people get on with it! Many of the Barrington signatories are top-class professional health workers and some of the abuse hurled at them is libellous. So ftse 100 is down another 2.2% with heavier falls on DAX and, in US, Dow/S&P. Own funds are down 2k; there are some real 'bargains' in equities at the moment but proceeding at a snail's pace in making the transition! Loved the promo – very creative and imaginative, definitely gone up a gear!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

October 26th: another cool day, 8C max, 6C min, some heavy showers but sunshine in between as well. Put in much work on 15/9 trip to Stocksfield Mount, indexing many Honey-buzzard piccies but leaving addition of data to be done tomorrow. Made W4bigshop but only £38.50 as no beer, followed by N4c4t and G4g4s, latter with P, with M on, very entertaining! Looked at PayPal buttons for digital sales today; have secured a template. Also installed the NHS covid app as makes it easier to check into cafes and bars; surprised at how little battery it uses. So big bro can watch over me now! Thought the NC live concerts were brilliant, particularly Finzi's Dies Natalis (birthday) for tenor and strings. It appears you have to have a name beginning with B to star in this Festival! Finzi's work was very warm, just what we want in these troubled times. Looks like another renaissance of creativity, as with the RNS – great to witness! So 2moro it's flu jab at the checkout at Tesco. There's not much flu around at the moment but suspect that they will expect volunteers for the covid vaccine to have already had the flu jab at least a month before. So things are looking up: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

October 25th: sunny with the odd heavy shower, 9C max, 7C min, moderate SW breeze; drop below 10C for max is a milestone for descent towards winter but at least no frosts yet, which keeps insect numbers up; clocks went back today giving an extra hour in bed for sweet dreams!!. Life has been much better since exited quarantine so am delaying Kenya trip, while we stay in tier 2 and finding it difficult to get any reliable accounts of what it's like in Watamu at the moment; can't believe many trip accounts. A cause for delay has been the US tourist advice: “Reconsider travel to Kenya due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Kenya due to crime, terrorism, health issues, and kidnapping. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.” https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/kenya-travel-advisory.html. Am worried that there are more desperate people around and that the police forces are either corrupt or inadequate to keep you safe. Not ruling out a trip next spring before the return of the Honey-buzzard N in mid-April. Made Stocksfield Mount, my favourite Honey-buzzard migration watchpoint, today from 13:30-14:50; was delighted to have 2 Honey-buzzard juvenile present in the area, ranging widely from Hindley in the S to Ovington in the NE and Cottagebank in the NW during the visit; they were so mobile that they were in the air most of the time during the visit, clearly restless and looking to move on; a pale headed bird was seen at Hindley 14:38-14:40 1  2, Ovington 14:15-14:31 3  4  5, Bywell Cottagebank 14:38-14:41 6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13; a dark bird was seen at Ovington 14:13-14:32 (2 visits) 14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  32  33  34, Merryshields 14:24 35, Eltringham 14:25 36 (10307). Piccie 32 shows both birds up. Here's cropped images of pale head and dark with another one combining these two. Also had a Red Kite adult at Ovington at 14:20 and 2 juvenile at Cottagebank at 13:51 and 14:36-14:38, a female Sparrowhawk up over Cottagebank at 13:46-13:51 and 3 Common Buzzard (one overhead at The Mount at 14:49, one over Ovington at 14:16 and 14:33, one over Bywell Peepy at 14:30). So that's 9 raptors of 4 types. Total for visit was 17 species, including 2 Redwing W, 1 Herring Gull adult W. Had this very worn Speckled Wood on the Mount 1. Back at Ordley, after quick trip to C4c4t, had 23 Skylark SW in 5 small flocks from16:10-16:30. Much later made G4g4s with P/R for good crack! So here's to Northumberland for a couple of months!! See there are moves to reduce quarantine period from 14 days: that's long overdue – mental health effects are serious for solitary confinement over such a long time; more people might stick to 7 days. Had long chat with big sis on 'phone for 70 min. The Sage concert hall will receive £1.8m from the Culture Recovery Fund https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-54664097; that seems well deserved! xxxxx XXX!!!!!! love nc xx

October 24th: wet day, staying mild 12C max, 7C min, light SW breeze. Completed processing 17/9 at Beaufront and Dukeshouse Wood, which delivered some good piccies in brilliant weather; latter is highly favoured for dog walking; might be good for a rendezvous with tmbo!! Next up is 15/9 at Stocksfield Mount. Had a Tawny Owl calling today at Ordley on return from concert at 23:30. The Tickell concert was very much a family affair with Kathryn, Mick and Peter performing together, with Holly Clarke's assistance. There were some lovely sounds, particularly the Northumbrian pipes and many familiar songs were performed from NE England. Thought it went off very well; the Hall wasn't quite full but almost so (that's on the current 300 maximum!). Maybe quite a few people went for the live stream! Again arrived early and had some wine with a live folk singer on stage in the foyer. So think the Sage must be very happy with the way the live performances have gone; I'm giving an extra £20 for each performance attended as advised to soften the blow of reduced capacity. How many watch the stream is a big question for finances and think the result of the big application for funds from the government will also be known next week: both are critical! Again made Cen4g4s! Didn't the Gulls do well – into round 1 of FA Cup – after beating Sholing 2-0 in Hampshire. Never heard of Sholing, well they play in Southern League South Division 1: “The Boatmen's historic run in the FA Cup came to an end at the hands of the National League leaders, but it was a game that turned on the officials decisions, not the perceived gap in class between the clubs.” https://www.sholingfc.co.uk/. Someone's so very s.xy: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! Next concert is on Friday, nothing arranged yet: now done!! xx

October 23rd: light SW breeze, some weak sunshine, 9C max, 6C min. Big day today for restart of live music at the Sage; what effort had gone into it and what a great result for culture in the NE. Enjoyed the pre-concert drinks with live music (Mozart clarinet quintet) from JL, IB and others; that was a good idea to accompany the wine! The main concert was conducted with inspiration by Jessica Cottis and we were treated to a double bass concerto, Concerto for Double Bass by Françaix, with the soloist being our new recruit in this area Philip Nelson. N watched on the stream and he said it came over very professionally. He's a great Mozart fan so was very impressed by S39 and Marriage of Figaro. We had a new work – Strum by Jessie Montgomery. Had to make a quick exit before S39 for a comfort break – was rewarded on return with re-siting for a better view!! N commented on my change of pp: well forsaking flighty flautists and seeking scintillating strings!! Was gr8 to meet someone après-concert: sd a little relaxed and couldn't help farewell gesture!!! Trains were again very quiet and Toon was quite deserted by 22:30; on the other hand some places were really busy at 17:00 so maybe the revelry has been brought forward by enterprising Geordies! With Bridge still closed settled on Central on GHD side of HLB; it's very narrow but was welcoming and efficient! Funds had a good week at +9k, taking gain on year to 50k gross (+4.6%), 42k net, compared to ftse 100 -22.3% and ftse 250 -17.4%; the ftse 100 fell 1.0% this week on further surge in virus cases. Besides MBS, of which now hold 2.41% of issue, also had a winner in Irish racehorse Arkle (Zinc explorer in Ireland!) of which sold ¼ of holding today. Am continuing to buy oil and gas stocks, particularly latter, at their very depressed levels; natural gas prices have already had a V-shaped recovery in US and Europe, gas is likely to benefit from the switch to 'renewables' as when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine they turn on the CCGT; gas can also be used to make blue hydrogen. Birds today included 2 Swallow SW at Dilston at 13:50 and a flock of 22 Redshank at Derwenthaugh at 16:30. Had 2 Badger in the Swallowship area on way back at 23:40, loitering on road as so little traffic around; had to stop for them. But today was very much about the return of culture to NE, continuing with Tickell tomorrow, which I'm also attending at S, including pre-concert part. Was a truly memorable day in all respects: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! later 2moro: 17:05 ex RDM, 22:36 ex NCL. xx

October 22nd: mild, some showers, one just as went out for walk, light SW breeze, 12C max, 6C min, no frosts yet. Walked out to excavated wasp nest (see 7/10 for original find) on road to Dotland from 16:25-17:45; it's been substantially rebuilt with a large cone in the shelter of the NW side of the excavation; activity was desultory but a few wasps were coming/going each minute and there were a few sluggish wasps sitting on the cone itself. The original digger, presumed to be the juvenile Honey-buzzard seen on 7/10, is likely to be a long way S now so no possibility of farming the cone; will keep an eye on it; here's piccies 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11 and clip 1 (10306). Also had some feeding winter thrushes to NE: 66 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing. A Barn Owl was flushed from fence N of Ordley village at 20:30. Did complete processing of material from 22/9 Faro, including the AYLG long and mew calls. Met P at G4g4s for good crack, still in suspended animation but just about surviving; landlord J said Covid incidence in local schools was increasing with many ½ term arrangements wrecked. So 2moro's the big concert, return of the RNS: should be gr8. We've moved our Skype meeting (D/N/me) to 14:00 as shall be on the train from 16:05 RDM-NCL. lok: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

October 21st: mild again today at 13C max, 6C min, light W breeze, some showers, little sunshine. Added below (10305) yet another Honey-buzzard juvenile from 18/10 at Ordley; that's the 6th I've seen this year in Northumberland as itemised on my Honey-buzzard Home Page. Add on the 7 juvenile, also itemised on the home page from the Algarve, and that makes 13. Attending a Zoom meeting tomorrow at 18:00 with Sage/RNS to see how they've been coping with the Covid restrictions to put on the live concerts. I admire their determination in going ahead with some great events; the live-music industry as a whole is almost literally being decimated, so terribly sad but will try and help my friends:

170,000 jobs in UK's live music sector 'will be lost by Christmas'. Industry faces 80% decline in revenues this year amid Covid shutdown, research shows. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/oct/21/jobs-uk-live-music-industry-lost-decline-revenues-covid.

Will be completing the piccies for day 1 in Faro tomorrow (22/9) and starting on 17/9 at Beaufront; will definitely get a local walk in as well. Did make C4c4ll where tmsuo looked good and G4g4t where usual crowd of men sat around, 1 per table, laughing and talking loudly to each other: it's good therapy! All the while cleaner S was hard at it at home; not sure what I'd do without her; think she's worried about her hotel job at B! Will reply to the s.xy one 2moro: keep fit: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! 2moro it's N4c4l and G4g4s, latter with P! Might stay over after the Emperor! xx

Have investigated the roadblocks in Kenya; they were introduced at night in April around Nairobi and Mombasa at the start of the Covid outbreak but were removed in June; however, some police were very reluctant to remove them as they'd got a nice little earner at 1000KSh (£7) per passenger to be allowed to pass. I think it's best to avoid travelling at night, especially as there's a curfew, which fits in well with the Ethiopia Airlines flights. Medium/long internal journeys are best done by air. Night is a little frightening in the tropics for some: it's always about 12 hours long, there's very little twilight and it feels really dark because there is not the background light pollution we're used to in most of Europe; it's also when the mosquitoes come out: one of nature's most annoying creatures to us but doubtless a good food source to many animals and birds! The Kenya coast is a hotspot for malaria, by far the most significant threat in reality so will take ample anti-malarial drugs and insect repellent, the latter also deterring other 'nasty' insects; will also take some water purification tablets and various stomach settlers, rehydration agents, plasters, paracetamol, ibuprofen and a torch. There's a curfew from 23:00-05:00 but an earlier anti-Covid regulation banning sale of alcohol in pubs and restaurants has (fortunately!) been rescinded: beer, wine and prosecco are recommended over water for a healthy diet!! I will not be wandering far at night, staying within the village! Masks have to be worn in public. As staying and eating in 'posh' places, don't need vaccinations, other than flu, which have arranged for 27/10 at 11:40 in Tesco, Hexham; Sele Surgery, Boots and Lloyds have all run out of the flu vaccine. Research still in progress ...

October 20th: warmer today with more definite SW airstream, moderate breeze, few showers, sunny midday, 15C max, 9C min. Desk job today, finalising bird, butterfly and mammal reports for the period 23/7 to 29/7 for the Azores visit in 2017, available on NB 2017; good to get that sorted. Also added recent bird data and piccies for 15/10 and 16/10 from Northumberland. Don't think P will be joining me in Kenya: he sent me a link on UK government advice for the country https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/kenya, asking if I'd read it; to which I replied “Of course! Care is needed. On my many trips to Africa I've found that you get adopted quickly by a local driver and they look after you if you look after them! I am looking at Kenya papers -- roadblocks as you said [last night] have been a recent menace with the police expecting bribes for people to pass.” Think I should not take my new 1k camera, which would be inviting trouble; will take my old Panasonic, which is smaller physically, less striking and perfectly adequate for distant raptors and the like. Funds have stirred a little with ironically, on a bad day for the city, my busted bonds in Manchester Building Society rising a little; wonder if there's any leak on their being released from the tightest level of supervision by the BoE or maybe an LME (liability management exercise); bought a few more to join in the action, bringing total holdings across the 2 issues to 337k nominal (2.28% of the total issued): so +6k in all on 1st 2 days of week! Will ease up on the desk stuff tomorrow, hoping to get a walk in and make N4c4ll and G4g4t! Have had joining instructions for Friday and Saturday: very exciting thinking of the live music with drink b4: going by train!! Thinking of the gorgeous one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

Think the virus story has really been manipulated. A very interesting study published today shows that taken together, recent deaths for the 3 respiratory diseases flu, Covid, pneumonia, are broadly unchanged so it looks as if people who would have died with flu or pneumonia may be succumbing to Covid or even being reported as a victim of Covid instead:

'No sign of second wave' as ONS data shows normal level of deaths for time of year. People who would normally be expected to die of flu or pneumonia may instead be dying from Covid-19. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/10/20/second-wave-not-sight-ons-figures-show-deaths-just-15-per-cent/. There is no sign of a second coronavirus wave, experts have said as new Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showed that deaths are just 1.5 per cent above the five-year average and tracking on a normal trajectory for the time of year. Although Covid deaths rose to 438 for the week ending October 9 – an increase of 36 per cent from the previous week, when the figure stood at 321 – overall deaths rose just 143 above the five-year average. There were also 19 fewer overall deaths than in the same week last year. Experts at Oxford University said the number would have to get to 1,200 deaths above the norm before it would usually be considered "excess" above the expected variation in the data. Researchers also found there would usually be around 1,600 weekly deaths from flu and pneumonia for the same week. Deaths from coronavirus, flu and pneumonia are currently running at 1,621, suggesting there is virtually no increase in expected respiratory deaths.

Universities, which were undoubtedly responsible for a substantial part of the recent surge in 'cases', are now getting on top of the virus:

Most of the country's major university towns are now past the peak of the virus, latest data reveals. The number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 is now declining in the majority of the largest universities towns in the country https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/10/19/countrys-major-university-towns-now-past-peak-virus-latest-data/. Most of the country's major university towns are now past the peak of the virus, the latest data reveals. The number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 is now declining in all but four of the 18 largest universities towns in the country, according to an analysis of figures from Public Health England. Major university towns, defined as those with over 20,000 students but excluding London, have generally seen cases begin to fall over the past few days. Cases in Newcastle, where students make up almost a fifth of the city's population, peaked on October 10 at 553.8 per 100,000 but have been falling since [306 per 100,000 in last weekly reporting period to 17/10; 166 per 100,000 in Northumberland, also to 17/10]. Likewise in Liverpool, cases peaked at 691.3 on October 6 and Sheffield where the height was 500.3 cases on October 13. Over 22,000 students across the country have tested positive for Covid since the start of term, according to an analysis by the University and College Union with thousands more forced to self-isolate in halls as lectures move online.

October 19th: bit more breeze today and rain in evening on light SW breeze, 11C max, 8C min. The Fox did pass its MOT at KF after fixing one fairly minor problem, the anti-roll bar, which cost c£70 including fitting. Also had a full service and wheels realigned, all coming to £307 of which £175 paid when making the booking. No warnings or further issues so very pleased with that: it's a nice feeling as the car enters its 11th year at 91.5k miles. Had to take car in early at 8:30, bit of a strain! Picked it up at 16:00 and went to W4bigshop, but not as big at £44 as last 2 weeks' as out of q. Hoped to spend some time at City Library but they'd got restrictive rules so went to CT4c&s4l for 3 hours; they've got good WiFi so added most of my Azores bird records from July 2017 to BirdTrack as had taken those to Faro but had not had time to enter them so they were sitting on my laptop. Waitress said they were struggling still business-wise and NCL, particularly along Quayside, recalled the deserted April scene though Pitcher had some customers. Kwik Tan was very quiet, with students everywhere notable for their absence. Long queues outside banks were the main feature of a fairly quiet Northumberland Street; what's going on there! Very sad to see Crown Posada, Bridge, Marco Polo, all firmly closed. Trains in both direction were desperately quiet. All confidence has gone again. Only busy place was KF in Hexham, where the popularity of clunkers for commuting is obviously boosting trade! Have got an insurance quote from Staysure for 3-week Kenya trip: 140 for basic, including Covid cover and £5m medical expenses, but multi-trip may be a better buy at around 70 more. Important thing is that the trip is insurable as otherwise would be worried; 'kids' last night were dubious about it at first but were more positive at end, perhaps recognising that I was likely to go anyway! Met P at G4g4s and he thought I'd be better flying KLM from NCL-AMS-MBA; he's actually thinking of coming but we'll see whether he can get away! G is just about surviving but long tier-3 closure, without generous compensation, would be very testing, as it would for many businesses and workers. The snowflake W, particularly Europe, is surrendering its economic ascendancy to the E!! Did have 2 great moments today; think it was reciprocated; lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

October 18th: dull day, virtually calm, 9C max, 8C min. Completed cutting leylandii hedge, doing top with the extension gear – feeling very happy after that with all autumn maintenance now done in front – neighbours watching ecstatically! Had shower and complete clothes change afterwards and escaped allergic reaction! xx Did have another Honey-buzzard juvenile up in the air, being mobbed by a Jackdaw to SE over Linnels at 13:17 and soaring to move S and onwards at 13:32 1  2 (10305). A juvenile female Sparrowhawk was up over the burn, also at 13:32. Saw 34 Redwing (4 W, 30 SW) and had 5 Greenfinch SW. Later had 45 min video chat on fb (screen shot of us) with son and daughter discussing everything but in particular Xmas, maybe to be celebrated in Kingston. Did make C4c4ll where tmsuo was very pleased 2 c me and G4g4s where lc was in good form!! Good to get back into routine. Had 80 Lesser Redpoll on birch trees N of Ordley at 16:15. 2moro have my sights on 08:57 in and 15:40 back; keeping my fingers x on the crate!! Could be a little tense: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

October 17th: light W breeze, max 10C, min 8C, gloomy, some drizzle. Didn't leave the house today, very well behaved for last day of q! Completed processing the piccies from 2/10 at Faro including some close-up shots and recordings of Yellow-legged Gulls, both AYLG and MYLG. Was actually able to help with an archive call from the Northumberland & Tyneside Bird Club; they have all the bulletins digitised back to 1964 but are missing November 1982; I found it in a folder and have already informed them of the good news; I had made a few ink marks on it but am sure there's people around still with Tippex skills – not me, will send it as it is! 'Made' the match at Plainmoor from 14:30-17:30, watching The Gulls hammer Dover 2-0, could have been 6-0 with woodwork being hit 3 times and a few goal-line clearances, one unwittingly by a Torquay player; we were top for a few hours but are now no.2 after Stockport won an evening game.

Continued doing research for the Watamu trip; Kenya have strict entry regulations for Covid, insisting on a negative PCR test, not older than 96 hours from flying but currently there's no quarantine for visitors from the UK. Encouraged by that as wouldn't want to go to a place which was completely open to the world. Such tests are not available at LHR yet but are going to be trialled soon; they are available at AMS already and of course I could get the test done privately; going rate is around £125 or €140, which I wouldn't mind paying. And of course I'd have to quarantine again on return. I think can get insurance again from Staysure but need to check that. Can fly LHR-MBA via ADD with Ethiopian Airlines for £434 (15 hours) and stay at Watamu in good-class bungalow for £911 for 20 nights with breakfast from 26/11; free cancellation of hotel is available until just before outward travel; hotel arranges transfers to/from Mombasa airport, 88km away, which take around 90 min and cost c€40. The marine- and forest-life around Watamu is world-class and it's not the wettest season, which is our spring, with temperatures around 28-29C and sun close to being overhead! Would need a full course of anti-malarial drugs and plenty of insect repellent. Nairobi is best avoided as it's a long way from Watamu (423km) and is more risky. Very tempted but am going to sleep on it for a week! In the recent past (2019) the safari parks and the beach resorts of Mombasa, Malindi, Kilifi, Watamu, Diani, Lamu Island and Manda Island have been considered safe for British holidaymakers, with 100k visiting Kenya each year. Looking forward to concerts at the Sage, with NE England virus numbers dropping steadily, except at Durham University; in any event being in Tier 3 doesn't seem to close leisure facilities necessarily. So things are looking up greatly in the short-term: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! Also it's C4c4ll and G4g4s 2moro, being joined by P on Monday, one table away of course.

October 16th: light W breeze, 10C max, 6C min, some weak sunshine, sun is rapidly getting weaker. Did major hedge cutting today: trimming leylandii on sides and most of top, leaving central crown to do next time; use extra long hedge trimmer for top bit but it's heavier so reserve its use for when fresh at start of a session so the crown is the next task, then front is done, maybe Sunday!! Added some piccies to Faro 2/10, including of Honey-buzzard juvenile on the marismas (10210). Did keep an eye out to S while doing the hedge and was delighted to see a dark-phase juvenile Honey-buzzard taking off at 14:00 from the Slaley Forest Dukesfield area and climb slowly for 6 min high in the sky before drifting off to S, a marvellous sight 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 with cropped image of 4 here (10304). A Swallow was hunting a little further N of the Honey-buzzard; 25 Redwing moved S at Ordley where a Mistle Thrush flew W. A Silver Y moth was in front garden. Funds were unchanged on week, a resilient performance with ftse 100 down 1.6%. Suspect dogged rearguard action will need to continue for the next 2 months but maybe then spirits might lift a little with progress on vaccine and on treatment of the virus. Had 2-hour chat on Skype with N/D – good for the morale! Very pleased to hear from someone!! Last day of q 2moro but nothing wild planned! Important to keep spirits up: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

October 15th: moderate NE breeze, cool, 10C max, 6C min, dry with some sunny intervals. Felt a lot rawer out and only made Stocksfield Mount from 13:00-14:20, should have had another layer on! The birds obviously were also responding to the rawer conditions with a mass exodus of Red Kite, very exciting to witness this actually happening. The Goshawk juvenile male put in a fine power flight at 13:07 at the start coming down from Short Wood to Merryshields, flushing everything in his path. From 13:07-13:10 an adult Common Buzzard was mewing from the Guessburn, maybe in response to the Goshawk. At 13:10 picked up a dark-phase juvenile Honey-buzzard soaring low-down over Merryshields, before drifting a little N. Then at 13:15 action increased still further with a funnel of 2 Red Kite (ad, juv) over Ovington with the Honey-buzzard juvenile below 1  2; a cropped version of 1 is here (10303); the 2 Red Kite went to a great height and then started moving S, still at high altitude, followed by the Honey-buzzard at moderate altitude some way behind. At 13:22 with these 3 birds gone, the remaining adult at the Ovington site did some low circling around the site and then flapped across the Tyne Valley, accompanied by 4 Jackdaw, before disappearing to S down a line a little W of the Guessburn. After that it all went quiet, indeed no birds were seen at Cottagebank at any time. But another Red Kite was seen, an adult moving S high-up over the area W of Peepy at 13:39, perhaps following the A68. So that's 4 Red Kite (3 ad, 1 juv) S and 1 Honey-buzzard (juv) S with single Goshawk (juv) and Common Buzzard (ad) also seen. Other migrants were 37 Redwing (16 W, 5 SW, 16 SE), 4 Goldfinch SE and a feeding Chiffchaff. Total for bird species was 17 in Stocksfield area. A Red Admiral butterfly was feeding on ivy flowers with quite a few wasps present. Have done some more work on East Africa trip, maybe take a 14-day (or 21-day) package with Ethiopian Airlines, flying from LHR-MBA, and have main stay at Watamu Beach, on Indian Ocean, near to Sokoke coastal tropical forest, booking a 3 day safari while there. Would get to LHR by flying from NCL with BA. You can get a package with flights, hotel by beach, breakfast for c£1,200 for 14-days. Thinking of late November to mid-December but will not book anything until closer to the time to see what happens in UK (and Kenya!). Sokoke is almost certain to hold wintering (Russian!) Honey-buzzard and it's within sight (1-2km) of the beach for my optics!! You can also have escorted trips there. Have been there before in the 1990s on a family trip, when we stayed at Malindi. Safaris are very easy to book once there; would like to go to Samburu in the Highlands, subject and location of Born Free https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhGeH07lo5M (Out of Africa, John Barry). Anyway need to keep +ve and that means escaping if necessary; quite a few people with the means are in exile now! Lost count of q, think may be out 2moro!! Do hope events go ahead: she's so alluring: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! A more mundane event coming up is MOT for the crate at KF on 19/10 with hairdressers with Jd a much pleasanter event on 29/10.

October 14th: and the Portugal trip-total from 21/9-4/10 is (so far!) 112 species from 400 records, 12 complete lists, 17 places (all species assumed countable). Totals for raptors were 10 types: Honey-buzzard 8 (all juv), Kestrel 6, Osprey 5, Marsh Harrier 3, Bonelli's Eagle 3, Common Buzzard 2, Sparrowhawk 2, Montagu's Harrier 2, Black Kite 1, Goshawk 1, so 33 birds. Gulls were of 8 types: Slender-billed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Mediterranean Gull, AYLG, MYLG, LBBG graellsii, LBBG intermedius. Types of waders were 21, tern 5, lark 4, hirundine 4, warbler 8. Incredible, wish you'd been there xx! The Atlantic fly-way is sensational!

Drier morning on moderate NE breeze with showers increasing in afternoon, becoming heavy and frequent; max 11C, min 6C. Didn't trust the weather with wind from the E and timed a significant gardening session around lunchtime to chop back the shrubs in the front garden with the hedge trimmer – about another hour's worth! Always feel smug when it starts raining! All this is leading up to the annual clip of the leylandii in 2 sessions, one for the sides and the other for the top, to complete the front area. I'm allergic to leylandii so will have to put on extra layers and jump in the bath as soon as done! Completed processing the piccies for 19/9 at Wylam E; will add the records to BirdTrack and the various summaries tomorrow. Waiting with some apprehension on trend in tier 3 impositions; if we do go to that level will stay for Sage concerts if they go ahead but then might b.gger off to Africa for a safari in the highlands and coastal holiday by the Indian Ocean in Kenya to chase the Honey-buzzard! You can fly NCL-AMS-NBO in 16 hours with KLM for £523 return! Any takers? Anyway not relishing lockdown, particularly as it will be for far longer than 2 weeks, but day 11 of q successfully navigated: going out for fieldwork 2moro but will write: lok2t gorgeous one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

October 13th: very wet day, 11C max, 8C min, moderate NE breeze. Completed processing piccies from 3/10 at Vila Real; will compile records into BirdTrack tomorrow and give provisional totals for the trip; still a bit to play for as will be processing piccies for the other days. So that's great progress! Have new diversion: watching the Gulls (Torquay United, National League) on a live stream through Inplayer relayed directly from ground at Plainmoor onto my desktop, for which happily paid £9 for 2 hours entertainment, going to Inplayer through the Gulls' web site on credit card. Thought my broadband might not cope but it did with no whirligigs (technical term?) though the picture was kept fairly small (laptop size?) by them to reduce bandwidth demands. We had 2 jovial, knowledgeable (and biased!) commentators, which is a good idea. Anyway the Gulls won 2-1 getting the winner at 90+4, meaning that all 3 wins this season, out of 4 played, have come from goals in added time at the end. Can see how they win so late: from 80th minute bring on 2 forwards as subs, switch from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2 and force the opposition to play deeper and deeper with vigorous attacking play; Chesterfield gave away more and more free kicks and corners and ultimately cracked conceding from a corner taken by one sub (Andrews) placed onto the head of another sub (Hall) in a massive goalmouth melee! I would happily pay for other events: it's the way to go at the moment: much better than watching the dismal news channels! Also it's a service that is actually better for people not living in Devon than that available before. Helped me get through day 10 of q with a smile! Funds are unchanged on 1st 2 days of week although ftse100 down 0.8%; pleased have sold those stocks that would benefit from easing of virus restrictions in UK. Have been translating Hebrew to English today on Google, peering into a presentation from Navitas Petroleum, which mentions some UK oil companies in a joint venture in the Falkland Islands (Sea Lion!); aware that some young lady might have done it faster! Unemployment figures for NE England released today were little short of disastrous; we need to keep the economy going. As former lecturer would strongly suggest giving students massive assignments immediately to reduce their scope or inclination for social mixing! Party-time soon: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

October 12th: rain most of day, sometimes heavy, 9C max, 5C min, wind W light: a grotty day! But did have 2 Common Buzzard (ad, juv) up by Houtley on way to W4bigshop at 12:30 and 20 Fieldfare W at Ordley at 14:30. No gardening today: too wet! Worked hard on Faro to Vila Real 3/10 sorting out many piccies, not quite ready for addition of data from main visit at Vila Real to BirdTrack but have added all the records from the other sites visited, most on the train. Paid a lot of attention to political debate during day over the virus: relieved that NE England not in tier 3 (yet!). If we do go into tier 3 I'm off!! Spent £60.29 at W, remembering cashing of vouchers and buying soup, biscuits and chocolates this time but forgetting butter so that's another emergency trip tomorrow! Am well stocked on g and Cornish bitter Tribute. Think supplies will last me a week. So that's day 9 of q: surviving!!

Quite a spat between the music community and the Tories over the latest retraining advert, which shows a ballerina called Fatima and an invitation for her to consider retraining in cyber security; see:

Minister criticises 'crass' advert urging ballet dancer to retrain. A Government source has suggested there was no political sign off on the poster. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/10/12/minister-criticises-crass-advert-urging-ballet-dancer-retrain/.

Fortunately the arts community does not lack effective designers, such as this full-of-ridicule poster: Boris's next job could be in Ballet, he just doesn't know it yet! Rethink, reskill, resign (not reboot!). Eton Chums First (not Cyber First!). The Guardian reports on the government advert being scrapped: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/oct/12/ballet-dancer-could-reskill-with-job-in-cyber-security-suggests-uk-government-ad. Loved the comment of one famous professional musician which will not repeat here!! Always admire fighting spirit: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

On BirdGuides since 1/10 3 more records (3 birds) for autumn migration of Honey-buzzard, giving running total of 130 birds (3 July from 31/7, 64 August, 57 September, 6 October):

13:02 11/10 European Honey Buzzard East Sussex Beachy Head one flew over Shooters Bottom this morning

11:36 04/10 European Honey Buzzard Lincolnshire Gibraltar Point NNR one this morning; also 3 Lapland Buntings, 7+ Ring Ouzels and 7+ Pied Flycatchers

10:17 03/10 European Honey Buzzard Suffolk Lowestoft 09:30 one flew south over the beach

October 11th: overcast but good visibility, 10C max, 7C min, light N breeze. First winter thrushes moving in (for me!): 5 Redwing W over Devil's Water at 13:30. About same time had 2 Red Kite up at Slaley W at 13:48, presumed ad and juv, a Kestrel juvenile at Ordley and a Swallow feeding over the Devil's Water in the company of a large bat! Also noted a GBBG 1w and a Grey Wagtail. 4 male Vapourer moths were fluttering around Ordley. Stayed at home doing some more gardening: moved a pile of wood from the centre of the field to the far hedge where dumped for rotting down; cleaned and oiled grass cutter so hopefully it will start up again next April; collected some apples from bumper crop for eating over the next week (7!); inspected fence that was constructed in late spring – brilliant job; you can't do a bad job in a small community like the 'Shire! Had long chat on 'phone with big sis (70 min) in evening: good to catch-up! So day 8 of q passes: will I get out before everything closes again! Completed processing 8/10, very good raptors that day. Next up is 3/10 Portugal to complete the list; if the worst comes to the worst 2moro will seriously consider going back there! Delighted that the new button is appreciated: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

October 10th: cool around 10C max, 5C min, for last 2 days, moderate N breeze, sunny intervals and heavy showers. Doing a lot of gardening as that gives me fresh air while staying put: yesterday cut the beech hedge at the front and today cut the front verge, about an hour for each of moderate exercise with hedge trimmer and steps (for the hedge, not the verge). Like doing all these jobs in October before it gets too cold and wet and after the growth has stopped for the year; the verge is cut back so the daffodils can flourish! Have finished processing 7/10, what a great return trip with the excavated wasp nest, a juvenile Honey-buzzard in flight and a Harris's Hawk. There's a lot of material for 8/10, which has priority. Had long Skype meeting of 105 min with N/D yesterday, which was lively! Have done quite a lot of work on the Festival web pages, including setting up pp for donations: will be very rewarding, I think! Actually think someone is a little distant, so to speak!! Impressed by our mayor Jamie Driscoll on TV today joining in the northern mayors' protest on Zoom against further lockdown without more financial support. He was a member of JC's Momentum group so pretty left-wing but he was talking a lot of sense about the plight of many businesses and people, including those indirectly affected by the closures or simply forgotten (as below). He's Mayor for North of Tyne (North Tyneside, Newcastle, Northumberland) though I actually live 6km S of Tyne, and Hexham, Prudhoe and Stocksfield are all on the S bank of the Tyne. All university cities have seen enormous spikes in the virus, which may be good for the medium term as many students will have caught the virus and we can all relax once the wave passes. So day 7 of q passes; hope the gorgeous one is keeping fit: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! Funds held onto most of gains, finishing week at +9k, +41k gross on year, +3.8% gross compared to ftse 100 at -20.2% and ftse 250 at -17.6%. xx

Finally watch this, musicians on the warpath with Holst's Mars from the Planet Suite at https://www.facebook.com/rebecca.bell.75436/videos/10159073151340774. From Rebecca Bell: 400 amazing freelance musicians playing in Parliament Square to try and persuade the government to either let us work or support us as many have fallen through the gaps. Heart warming to play with so many! Video courtesy of Jo Bell. Only 20% of Holst's Mars was played, representing the maximum 20% salary support that freelancers are eligible to receive from the UK government. Mars was the Roman god of war!

October 8th: nice autumnal sunshine, light SW breeze, 12C max, 6C min. Drove to Stocksfield Mount with visit from 12:55-14:20 looking for raptors from the viewpoint. Plenty seen including Red Kite, Common Buzzard, juvenile male Goshawk up at 13:21 from Short Wood and a migrating juvenile Honey-buzzard high-up at 13:31 in the cloud base, moving higher and disappearing 1 (10301). Details for Red Kite are a family group of 4 (2 ad, 2 juv, 1) over Bywell Cottagebank at 14:08 with 2 (ad, juv) up over Short Wood NE at 13:27. Common Buzzard comprised a family group of 4 birds soaring over Bywell Cottagebank at 14:08, moving to fields to NW, a single heard calling from the Mount at 13:30 and a single at Stocksfield E from 14:14-14:15. this last bird was in aerial play with another dark-phase juvenile Honey-buzzard at 14:14-14:15 1  2  3  4, with cropped version of 2 here (10302). Highlight was 3 Hawfinch arriving from the E as a 1 and a 2, incredible sight seeing the large brightly-coloured chunky finches coming down into local trees. Also had 2 late House Martin S, a calling Chiffchaff but no winter thrushes. A Kestrel was at Dilston at 14:35. Total was 19 bird-types. Totals for raptors were 16 birds, including 6 Red Kite (3 ad, 3 juv), 6 Common Buzzard, 2 Honey-buzzard juv, 1 Goshawk male juv, 1 Kestrel, that's 5 types. At Ordley had 12 Long-tailed Tit and a Coal Tit in a roving flock and a late Small White butterfly. It was good in the bright light, making more vitamin D in the sunshine, helping immune system! Will carry on with the exercise, hardly ever meet anyone at less than 5m in the remote areas I visit! Decided this evening to join the N&TBC (Northumberland & Tyneside Bird Club) live meeting on Zoom with talk by Mark Eaton of RSPB, secretary to RBBP (Rare Birds Breeding Panel). There were 44 members on, quite a lot of familiar faces; I've not been to a meeting since 2012 but am still a member. I was interested in the Recorder's report on latest sightings: over 30 Hobby in September, Caspian Gull becoming commoner while Yellow-legged Gull becomes rarer and look out for Hawfinch: there's an influx on! All of which fits in with my findings! Music is a great diversion: listened last night to an excellent recording of Beethoven 3, one of my favourite symphonies, on Classic FM with Susanna Mälkki conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Good to see a caring dimension: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

October 7th: some sunshine, dry, moderate W breeze, 12C max, 7C min. The Honey-buzzard season continues in style in brisk walk from 15:10-16:45. From 15:34-15:36 had a dark-phase juvenile Honey-buzzard up over SW of Letah Wood in a major argument with a Crow and a Harris Hawk 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 (10300). The Honey-buzzard appeared very strong, presumably a Scottish-born bird on its way to Gibraltar with only 2113km to go! Will have done 321km already if started from Inverness. The Harris Hawk shows well with its massive white bill and stocky appearance as in 3 with cropped version here; on 20th June 2008 also had a Harris's Hawk at Letah Wood. Is it the same bird or another escape; it is a Nearctic species from North America, popular in falconry. A cropped still of the Honey-buzzard 4 is here. Much more amazingly at 15:48 found a freshly dug wasp nest on the verge 10  11 near the lane leading off to 'Motag' perhaps 1km from where the Honey-buzzard was flying; some wasps were still entering and leaving (stills 12  13  14  15  16 with clip), which is a hallmark of Honey-buzzard raids, always leave some comb so they can rebuild the nest for a further raid later! The Honey-buzzard eat the grubs, immature wasps, in the comb, probably very nutritious, and have some adaptions to wasp stings with very tight feathering, particularly around the head and neck, and tolerance of the venom. Total was 16 bird-types with no winter thrushes noted. Was out for 95 min while cleaner S came. Really enjoyed the walk: 2 days of inaction had left me stiff and lethargic. The new 4TB external drive arrived from Amazon, about 1/10 the physical size of the one it replaces but holding 1/3 more data. I've plugged it into the USB 3.0 port on the front of the desktop with no auxiliary power needed and it's rapidly receiving data from the surviving external drive. That's the progress in 6 years!

Disturbed by the authority's lack of understanding of lockdown and quarantine issues. Social isolation is a terrible thing with much work done on the admittedly more severe solitary confinement, often in a cell, on the brain:

Neurobiology shows the need to make solitary confinement more humane. There is a difference between loneliness (the imposition of social isolation) and aloneness (the choice of being alone), and thus the brain reacts in very different ways. Loneliness, or social isolation, affecting a large part of the population as it became an epidemic in the last few years, is known to cause changes in the brain, possibly leading to more serious consequences such as depression and other mood disorders. However, some of those changes can be reversed if the appropriate social interactions are re-established and the person re-engages in social activities https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/brain-chemistry/201902/the-effects-solitary-confinement-the-brain (2019). Solitary confinement is considered to be a form of psychological torture with measurable long-term physiological effects when the period of confinement is longer than a few weeks or is continued indefinitely https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solitary_confinement.

I'm not sure where the recent fashion for lockdowns has come from. It's well known that lockdowns only suppress the virus while the isolation is applied; as the lockdowns are relaxed the virus comes back. Some of my contemporaries have been shielding now for 8 months and their decline mentally and physically is all too apparent. I'm reviewing the various options! Delighted to see the Sage is re-opening; booked for 3 RNS live performances and Kathryn Tickell in person from 23/10-6/11 with appropriate social distancing but drinks before served at tables. Donated £100 to Sage appeal plus further £12 on the ticket purchases. Let's hope they go ahead!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

October 6th: not out today, except to get cash for cleaner S for 2moro, so keeping to rules for the moment on day 3 of q! Spent some time sorting piccies from the Algarve; hope to publish a lot more on the Honey-buzzard found there in the next few days. Did some work investigating PayPal's structures; they're good in that it is simple to set up a simple account and then you can make it as complex as you like if you want complex functionality. Spent a lot of time looking at oil and gas stocks and invested in a few; the sector is down 50% this year, the worst performing on the main stock exchanges with many non-integrated producers (without refineries) down 70-90%. Funds are reviving a little at +10k in 1st 2 days of week, due to gains in resource stocks; Asia is doing relatively well so that is holding up commodity prices. P complained about the isolation in the G, which has stopped him going; he's off to Rhodes 2moro for 8 days. Will play it by ear!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!! Think a ps is called for!! xx

October 5th: running totals for Portugal: 102 species from 338 records, 11 complete lists, 15 places (all species assumed countable), with addition of Cattle Egret; still need to add 3/10. Summary for Honey-buzzard from trip (on home page):

Algarve, Portugal (21/9-4/10): Faro marismas, 1 juvenile off marshes, moving slowly SE 22/9; Vila Real de Santo António wetlands, 3 juvenile off marshes, moving slowly SE; 1 juvenile moving SE further N at Monte Francisco, 24/9; Faro marismas E, 1 juvenile up at moderate height, 27/9; Monte Francisco heathlands, 1 juvenile off heath, moving slowly SE, 28/9; Faro marismas, 1 juvenile off marshes at dusk, moving NE to roost 2/10; Faro marismas E, 1 juvenile soaring high and moving E mid-morning, thought to be same as previous day at dusk 3/10. Summary 22/9-3/10 Faro to Spanish border – total 8 juveniles moving E/SE with marshes a popular feeding area.

Had juvenile female Sparrowhawk over A69 at 10:45 at Newton, then did massive shop at W in Hexham (£58); parked at 8100 for £5 using pbp. 2 problems on return home: one of my 2 3TB external drives will not power up with indeed a whiff of burn-out; ordered a WD 4TB replacement today from Amazon for £86 which will arrive on Wednesday; if desperate the old one could probably be salvaged by removing the casing and accessing the wiring inside so will keep it in the filing cabinet. A smoke alarm was endlessly beeping with battery exhausted; fortunately found a replacement battery. Have finally sorted out progress of funds (or lack of it!) over last 2 weeks, which was a very bad period for risk assets as hopes for a quick resolution to the pandemic crisis faded. Own funds were down 12k, leaving gain on year at 33k (3.0%), compared to falls on year to date of 21.2% and 19.9% for ftse 100 and ftse 250 respectively. Some bonds were affected adversely by decline at its peak but have steadied now; built up cash to 53k. Have lost confidence in UK government: this latest data fiasco in the virus saga with antiquated spreadsheets running out of space is unforgivable: why on earth are they not using relational databases with their integrity checks and query languages for such volumes of traffic. Evidently they were loading from csv (comma separated values in text files, no limit on size) to xls (Excel spreadsheets, size limits on their old versions) and not realising that all the data was not being uploaded: Hancock/Dido should resign as ultimate overseers of this exercise in authoritarianism and amateurism. Oliver Cromwell will be turning in his grave: such worthy ambitious rules for a puritan society executed in a totally unprofessional manner. Did you know that Dido Harding has a namesake in Purcell's opera Dido & Aeneas with the star piece being fittingly Dido's Lament (When I am laid in earth). Do still hold some UK companies but they're ones with assets overseas and am generally being pretty cautious. Will self-isolate as well as a single person can do but the quarantine on return from abroad to northern England is very strange: there's a far higher incidence of the disease here than in the Algarve so who's protecting who. Normally quarantine is used to protect a low-risk area from a high-risk one! See https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/comment/karol-sikora-uk-quarantine-science-proves-ridiculous/. I had no health screening, nor any tests, either here or in Portugal, doesn't particularly bother me though! Anyway that's day 2 of q gone in the cardinal sense. No pub tonite but the dog may be getting restless 2moro. Glow lingers beautifully: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

October 4th: weather was cooler as left, 22C, cloudy, light W breeze but it's going back up to 28/29 in next few days so summer definitely lingering. In fits and starts completed processing 1/10 trip to Faro W, producing in the end 52 bird-types and 7 new species for trip: running total with last 2 days to process is: 102 species from 337 records, 11 complete lists, 15 places (all species assumed countable). Hotel finished sweetly, manager saw me off at 11:30 and reminded me of my credit note if I should book another holiday within next year, directly with them. Had same driver as on arrival but 2€ cheaper in daytime with total cost €20 including €3 tip; he was very courteous; had 10 Cattle Egret on field just W of centre of Faro at 11:30. Left room cleaner €10 as she'd been very diligent. Ryanair were super efficient, taking off and landing 2 min early; 1st sight of England in the mist was Prudhoe! Passport entry was also efficient with locator form read from my 'phone. Gr8 re-entry lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! Hope matters continue but turmoil is everywhere!! Wow waking up from sweet dreams was fantastic!!! She's absolutely gorgeous!! xx

October 3rd: cool pattern maintained at 22C max but very sunny today and dry on moderate NW breeze. The tale of yesterday's Honey-buzzard continued with over breakfast at 10:05 a dark-phase bird seen coming off the marismas well to E (to E of road to Faro port), soaring to a moderate height in a narrow vertical column and moving off E; suspect this was the bird from yesterday evening which had probably roosted in scrub along the edge of the marismas and returned to the marshes for breakfast; it was now resuming active migration so not counting this as a new bird. A flock of 10 White Stork moved E at 12:50 right over Faro City 1  2  3 and a 1w Caspian Tern was off Faro Eva jetty at 13:23 1  2. Took the train again from Faro to Vila Real de Santo António, leaving at 13:55, back on 17:51. Walked along the cycle track that runs N towards the Spanish border, where good numbers of Greater Flamingo, Slender-billed Gull (total 29: 28 ad 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12, 1 1w 13) and LBBG (total 22: intermedius 3 ad, graellsii 12 ad, juv 6, 2w 1). A mixed roosting flock of Slender-billed Gull and Black-headed Gull, mainly former, was on a sandy area 1  2  3  4  5. Total for Black-headed Gull was 9, all adults, 2 Mediterranean Gull (ad, 2w) were seen as were 12 Sandwich Tern and 24 MYLG (13 ad, 11 juv). The mixed nearby flock of AYLG, MYLG, LBBG, is captured in these piccies 1  2  3  4  5 with these 3 piccies showing just AYLG 1  2  3. Had a female juvenile Sparrowhawk here hunting to NE at 16:24 and also finally added Common Buzzard to the list with singles at Fuseta, near a stand of pine trees, and Luz, flying low-down, from the train on the way over at 14:30. Single Kestrel were at Faro E at 13:55 (adult female) and Cacela at 18:04 (on wires) and another Sparrowhawk, an adult male, was at Tavira at 18:23. Water birds at Vila Real included c100 Coot, single Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe 1  2, 9 Pochard, 7 Ferruginous Duck, 1 Tufted Duck; the last 4 are all new species for the trip. Greater Flamingo counts included 62 at Castro Marim W at 15:00, 1 E at Olhão at 14:05, 38 at Vila Real 1  2  3. A flock of 25 Spanish Sparrow was found in scrub 1 with 2 Stonechat fem/imm nearby 1 and 77 House Sparrow, mainly in 3 large flocks. Only 4 Swallow were seen during the day, all moving S. An Audouin's Gull 2w was at Olhão. In total of 36 types, added 8 to the Vila Real list, quite an achievement as visited several times before. Total for day was 41 bird-types. So added 9 bird-types to trip-list today, taking it to 109. No butterflies seen today. Had last dinner in hotel, beef tacos – very tasty. Have enjoyed stay very much, been a great tonic with plenty of good walks and have learnt a little more about the migration strategy of juvenile Honey-buzzard. Flight is FR2341, will be driving afterwards. xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

October 2nd: misty and damp in morning, quite invigorating! We had tail-end of storm Alex, with temperature well down at 23C max, very little actual rain but vigorous NW breeze (moderate to fresh) and disturbed atmosphere 1  2; some sunny intervals which were very bright in the clear air. Sat inside for dinner to show how uncomfortable it was outside. Had 2 walks outside, both quite brief, from 14:30-15:15 and 18:00-19:30. Some birds were sheltering in the town: 11 Red-rumped Swallow and 2 Crag Martin. Gulls were vocal and made some recordings of AYLG adult long-calls and mew calls, squeals clip 1  clip 2. Also had piccies of AYLG adult 1  2  3  4, 2w 5  6, juvenile 7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  and an LBBG ad graellsii 6. Total for AYLG was 11 (5 ad, 1 2w, 5 juv). Total for MYLG was 24 (4 ad 1, 9 2w, 11 juv). Highlight of day was a dark-phase juvenile Honey-buzzard seen from 19:13-19:15, low-down at dusk over the marismas off the Ilha Deserta departure jetty where it had presumably been feeding and gaining height and moving N with powerful flapping against the moderate NW breeze. It then swung to E over me and moved over the edge of the marismas to E at quite high altitude, presumably looking for a secure roost site towards Olhão 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 (10210) with cropped image of 1 here. Dark-phase is the common phase in the UK so nice to think it was one of ours. Also like the other juvenile Honey-buzzard seen, it was behaving with purpose and direction, avoiding any reckless flight out to sea or a night on the tidal marismas, and with a strong sense of direction towards Gibraltar. It may have been drifted initially over the marismas by the strong NW breeze. So that's no.7! Total for day was 21 bird-species, none new. No butterflies seen today. Here's another shot of Eva Hotel and 2 of yours truly 1  2 by the harbour. Had good long chat with N/D on Skype for 100 min from 16:00, better connection in my room. Dinner was in hotel, well looked after by M again!! Had white bass today, very healthy but prefer it cooked in a sauce: beer was good! Have printed boarding pass as directed: keeping to plan: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! 2moro off E again xx

Added records from trip to Lagos on 30/9. Running totals now on BirdTrack up to 30/9: 95 species from 264 records, 9 complete lists, 15 places (all species assumed countable). Some breakdown by families: 18 waders, 6 gulls, 4 terns, 7 raptors, 8 warblers.

Can see thoughts are returning to UK – raptor updates. On BirdGuides since 19/9 17 more records (18 birds with 2 duplicates on Scilly from 19/9 not counted) for autumn migration of Honey-buzzard, giving running total of 127 birds (3 July from 31/7, 64 August, 57 September, 3 October). With birds still on active migration in UK, the corridor at Vila Real is going to be running for quite a while!

21:35 01/10 European Honey Buzzard Cornwall St Ives one flew over harbour

12:58 01/10 European Honey Buzzard Shetland Dales Voe, Lerwick, Mainland one flew towards Veensgarth

10:50 01/10 European Honey Buzzard Surrey Cranleigh one over Summerlands then flew south

13:56 30/09 European Honey Buzzard Kent Chillenden 13:45 29/09 one flew north-west through Beech Grove yesterday afternoon

21:32 29/09 European Honey Buzzard Kent Sandwich Bay one flew north over Green Wall this afternoon

20:06 27/09 European Honey Buzzard Gloucestershire Winchcombe 15:58 one flew over

19:49 27/09 European Honey Buzzard Dorset Radipole Lake RSPB one flew over

08:28 23/09 European Honey Buzzard Isles of Scilly St Mary's one at McFarland's Down

17:04 22/09 European Honey Buzzard Somerset & Bristol Sparkford 16:15 one flew south-west

15:02 22/09 European Honey Buzzard Norfolk Titchwell RSPB 19:15 21/09 one flew east yesterday evening

14:19 22/09 European Honey Buzzard Kent Foreness Point 09:30 one flew south; also Yellow-browed Warbler, plus Short-eared Owl flew south-west

12:14 22/09 European Honey Buzzard Somerset & Bristol West Hatch 12:12 juvenile drifted south-west over Ashe Farm

16:44 21/09 European Honey Buzzard Dorset Durlston CP 09:00 dark-morph juvenile flew south out to sea this morning

13:32 21/09 European Honey Buzzard Isle of Wight Wroxall 10:30 two circled before dropping out of view by Bonchurch Down

17:40 20/09 European Honey Buzzard Cornwall Hayle juvenile flew east over Phillack

16:32 20/09 European Honey Buzzard East Sussex Brighton 16:30 juvenile flew low east over Temple Street

13:31 20/09 European Honey Buzzard Kent Staple12:55 one flew over to west

10:46 20/09 European Honey Buzzard Isles of Scilly St Mary's 10:40 still over Lower Moors [duplicate]

10:27 20/09 European Honey Buzzard Isles of Scilly St Mary's one east of Little Porth [duplicate]

More late Black Kite records, most in the far W:

09:00 01/10 Black Kite East Yorkshire Flamborough Head possible flew north along clifftop

19:40 25/09 Black Kite Wexford Tacumshin one

12:21 21/09 Black Kite Cornwall Nanjizal Valley one in stubble field to north of valley

10:39 21/09 Black Kite Cornwall Polgigga 10:25 one over Ardensawah Farm

19:24 20/09 Black Kite Pembrokeshire Dowrog Common one flew over late afternoon

October 1st: a cold front is going through; down to 27C max today but feeling distinctly fresher on moderate WNW breeze, stayed dry and cumulus clouds disappeared during afternoon. Fresher weather continues for 2 days with 40% chance of a shower tomorrow lunchtime. Had good long walk to W of hotel in afternoon from 13:30-17:30, going to the edge of the salinas by the airport. Birds were much more active in the fresher conditions; final totals were 53 species, very rich habitat. At this stage new species for the trip can be inconspicuous brown jobs – Cirl Bunting (female/1w), Robin (2); mobile finches – Serin; not unexpected migrant – Black Tern, Whinchat 1  2; out-of-the-way local regular – Avocet (14, 1  2  3), Little Stint (3), Bar-tailed Godwit (1). Those were the 8 bringing total to 100+ species, didn't expect to get there with a few days to spare! A flock of 14 White Stork arriving from W with wind behind was inspiring; they disappeared high to E 1  2  3; most have left the local marismas during my stay. There was a mini-fall of wheatear in the park with 4 Black-eared Wheatear 1  2  3  4  5  6 and 2 (Northern) Wheatear 1  2  3. No Swallow were seen today but did have a House Martin E and feeding Crag Martin (2), Pallid Swift (2, around Eva Hotel), Red-rumped Swallow (1). Think there's a total wader roost of 1000 birds in the area of which I've studied closely about ½, including 6 Greenshank, 26 Sanderling, 44 Black-tailed Godwit, plus 44 Black-headed Gull, 5 Crested Lark 1  2, 8 Greater Flamingo 1  2, 11 Black-winged Stilt 1  2 (latter including juvenile). 2 Great White Egret, 2 Stonechat. Had an adult AYLG sitting on a boat 1 plus 220 MYLG (unaged). No butterflies seen today, or maybe too busy counting the birds! Added Castro Marim trip totals (28/9) to BirdTrack as immediately below. Will add Lagos totals tomorrow morning. Had dinner in hotel bistro, which was very quiet; keeping off some of the fish specialities even if they sound OK as they have a habit of sneaking in things like seaweed salad in jelly form. So tonite had Iberian ham, roast potatoes, mushrooms, with olive/bread starter (Spanish speciality!); all washed down with local, cheap rw, and large bottle of sparkling water; getting to know the bar staff well, tonite's was L with M having day off! Staying up better tonite but still think that's it for today: sweet dreams for return: looking forward to it (really!): xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

September 30th: latest totals, up to 29/9, not including today: 88 species from 228 records, 8 complete lists, 9 places (all species assumed countable). Some breakdown by families: 17 waders, 6 gulls, 4 terns, 7 raptors, 7 warblers. Today had long trip W by train to Lagos (pronounced Lagosch, or something like that!). Caught 10:23 there, getting in around 12:10 with return journey 17:23-19:10; cost was €15 return. Weather continued sunny and very warm, in Lagos, at 27C max, dry, one band of cloud moving through at 16:00 but no rain materialised. Lagos is much more orientated to fun on the beach than Faro with many good public beaches, ranging from a broad main beach to lots of coves and stacks and a clear view along coast to E 1  2  3  4  5 with sign indicating path to choice beach Praia de Pinhão 6. There is an old town 1 . It also has much keener salesmanship with long lines of kiosks. I bought some shorts as ones taken were disintegrating embarrassingly! Got 2 pairs of green shorts for €18, so can get back to wearing shorts for last few days. Also had a couple of beers at a cafe overlooking a cliff – idyllic spot. Did a major walk from the station to the cliffs to the SW, which was full of beauty the whole way. Had plenty of interesting wildlife, adding 7+ birds to the list. And of course it was good to be in an area controlled by the Atlantic YLG with just 2 Mediterranean YLG noted (1 juvenile, 1 2w, latter harried by AYLG). Totals for AYLG were 107 birds (55 adult, 2 3w, 28 2w, 22 juvenile). The AYLG piccies comprised single adult 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14 with one including a Sanderling behind: 15. single juvenile 16  17  18  19  20, single 2w 21  22, group of 2 adult 23  24, group of 8 adult 25, group of 7 2w 26, group of 2 adult, 2w and juvenile 27, group of 2 juvenile 28, group of 2 juvenile and a 2w 29, group of 2w and adult 30, group of 3 adult and 2 2w 31, group of 2 3w and a juvenile 32. Other gulls included an adult Black-headed Gull 1, an adult LBBG intermedius in flight 1, an adult Mediterranean Gull and 4 Audouin's Gull W. Other seabirds included a Sandwich Tern W, a Scopoli's Shearwater, 4 Gannet (2 adult, 2 immature), 8 Cormorant (5 adult, 3 immature 1  2  3  4). A White Stork nest was conspicuous along the harbour front 1. The only wader was a Sanderling, lurking in a fountain on the harbour front. In total of 23 bird-types at Lagos also had a Crag Martin S, 2 Pallid Swift S, 1 Red-rumped Swallow feeding, 6 Iberian Magpie, 3 Dartford Warbler, 1 Zitting Cisticola. On way over had 3 Kestrel, at Tunes, Silves, Mexilhoeira; a Quail flushed at Mexilhoeira; 6 White Stork and 22 Mediterranean YLG at Portimão. Total for bird-types for trip was 30. Butterflies were varied with 6 types: Small White 1, Lang's Short-tailed Blue 4 1  2  3  4, Common Blue 1 female 1  2  3, Meadow Brown 1 1  2, Large White 1, African Grass Blue 1 1  2. Bar lass M looked after me well in the evening; she's delightful!! Crashed out as got back to room so update left to next morning: feeling well after good nite's sleep!! Thinking of going E on last main day to check on the Honey-buzzard again; meanwhile may stay local. xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

September 29th: added records from 27/9 and also added Western Bonelli's Warbler (4 birds) to 22/9; BirdTrack account now 75 species from 183 records, 6 complete lists, 8 places (all species assumed countable). Some breakdown by families: 17 waders, 6 gulls, 4 terns, 5 raptors, 5 warblers. Been through piccies from yesterday and looks like 10 bird-types added. Today kept up pattern of local day in between days out. Weather was again hot with 29C max, sunny all day, dry, light SW breeze (E did not last long!). Faro claims to be the sunniest city in Europe with over 3000 hours a year. The islands off the Faro marshes, including Ilha Deserta, are the S most part of Portugal at 36.96 deg N of the equator. The whole country is significantly W in a European context with Faro being around 8 deg W of Greenwich (Dublin is 6 deg W, Cork 8.5 deg W). Kept to town area, visiting the old historical area where took some photos of the cultural heritage 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9; note the 3 White Stork nests in 9 are from the spring/summer! 6-8 are from the town. Here's 2 shots of trees near the old town 1  2, always worth checking for migrants. On the grass underneath them found 4 African Grass Blue butterflies 1  2  3; these little dark blues skulk within the grass. So few people are around today: desperate times. Evidently Faro was junior to Lagos until the1755 Lisbon earthquake, which was followed by a tsunami that devastated the coastal towns exposed to the ocean, including Lagos. Faro was protected by its marismas and became the leading city in the Algarve. Did spot the odd interesting bird including single Greenfinch (male) and Blackcap (female/immature), both new for the trip. Back at the hotel watching the Spotless Starling roost gather around 19:15-19:30, had quite a flurry of activity with 76 Swallow and 5 House Martin S (maybe to roost in the marshes), and 19 Red-rumped Swallow clearly going to roost on some nearby building. The starling roost was estimated at 5,900. Other birds in the urban area were a calling Chiffchaff, 9 Collared Dove (still in their breeding season), 42 House Sparrow, 3 Blackbird, 13 MYLG (7 ad, 2 2w, 4 juv),1 AYLG 2w, 98 Feral Pigeon, so 13 types. Had dinner in hotel -- rare steak in Algarve style – delicious, with some rw to wash it down! Going to Lagos tomorrow on the train; it has recovered well from Faro's dominance with its wide sandy beaches accessible to all and is land of the Atlantic Yellow-legged Gull, with its cliffs, while Faro is that of the Mediterranean Yellow-legged Gull, with its marismas. Newcastle's been a lot on the telly with its new restrictions; see I can drink outside with my mates. Funds little changed this week but in response to the latest chaos have liquidated almost everything relying on the UK government for an orderly market. lok2t gorgeous one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

September 28th: wind did go round to light SE but not a lot of difference to weather which remains sunny, 29C max, dry. Cloud did increase in early evening keeping the heat in so it's 21C as write this at 01:00 29/9. Took the train for a walk, going to Castro Marim, a few km NW of Vila Real, on 13:02 ex Faro, returning 16:46 ex Castro Marim. Then walked whole time there, going N up a gentle gradient for 2-3km through typical farmland with many olive trees up to the motorway going E to Spain. At the top near Monte Francisco could view heathland to E, interspersed with coniferous woodland and posh homes, lying to N of the major road bridge across the river to Spain. At 15:37 struck gold, seeing a juvenile dark-phase Honey-buzzard coming off the wooded heathland, drifting S low-down and then decisively soaring while moving SE 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 (10208). Here's the heathland habitat 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. So this was the area where the 4th bird lifted off on 24/9. Once in Spain the next snack bars are at the famous Doñana National Park reserve and Barbate marshes with good habitat all the way really to Tarifa/Gibraltar. Also here had a male Goshawk patrolling over the heath at 15:46 and at the W end of the wetlands later had 2 Osprey up at 16:20, presumed to be the birds from 24/9. This is a rich area for wildlife, with unintensive farmland 1  2  3. Total was 35 bird-types, including 22 Short-toed Lark, 12 Crossbill, 5 Chaffinch, 8 Crested Lark, 4 House Martin E, 15 Swallow (5 S, 10 E), 3 Red-rumped Swallow (1 E), 2 Red-legged Partridge, 6 Iberian Magpie (in flight 1), 2 Blue Tit, 4 Cattle Egret, 2 Blue Rock Thrush (both 1w/female on wires 1  2  3  4  5), 1 Hoopoe, 3 Stonechat (male, female 1, juvenile), 7 Melodious Warbler 1  2  3, 45 Spotless Starling, 4 Coot on a pond 1  2, with Moorhen 3 and Little Grebe 4 and habitat here 5, 4 Gadwall, 1 Avocet S over the heath. Butterflies comprised 5 Small White. While at the top, must have looked a little dry as an English couple (locals) stopped in their car and gave me a bottle of water – very thoughtful – probably working from home! Had another good meal on harbour-side of Eva hotel in evening; everyone's very matey now, being treated as long-term resident. Everywhere was much quieter today. On hearing news from NE England of latest lock-down restrictions, may be back here in November! Doubt even the Stasi would have contemplated such restrictions on people's mixing: it's completely unacceptable! Pleased to hear the Police saying aloud: how can we possibly enforce all of this! In the German DR the police force was enormous – just one reason for that country's dismal economic performance. Worried about a report on a Sage update with 110 redundancies. Must try and keep spirits up: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

Running total, pretty complete up to 26/9: BirdTrack 68 bird species from 147 records, 5 complete lists, 8 places (all species assumed countable), just missing the leaf warblers from 22/9. Running totals are 15 types of wader, 6 of gull, 4 of tern, 5 of raptor. Some substantial additions to come from last 2 days (27/9-28/9) with new waders on 27/9 and farmland birds 28/9. The high wader total is because once again I'm on the Atlantic flyway!

September 27th: another fine day, 29C max, light W breeze, dry. Went for long walk to E of town towards Olhão from 13:30-17:20, alongside marismas 1  2  3 most of the way. Expected Marsh Harrier and had one distant bird far back in marismas (to S) at 15:53. At 15:15 a ringtail Montagu's Harrier was hunting low-down over the marismas 1 (cropped 2) and at 15:43 a male was up in a similar position 3 (cropped 4). At 15:17 a dark-phase juvenile Honey-buzzard was up over the marismas at moderate altitude 1  2  3 (10206, cropped 4  5  6), having seemingly come out of the sky. At 15:22 2 Bonelli's Eagle (adult, juvenile) were gliding E over the marshes at some height 1 (cropped juvenile 2). There were also 4 Raven there as well with 29 White Stork soaring to moderate height and moving E 1  2, towards Gibraltar, where they cross into Africa. White Stork are more dependent on thermals for migration than any other bird, including Black Kite and Honey-buzzard. When they get to Gibraltar, they soar to an enormous height and then cross the water in a long glide, hoping to reach Tanger in Morocco before they've run out of altitude! There were masses of dragonfly around today (and on other days) but no Hobby seen yet! A large wader roost 1 on the salinas included 180 Ringed Plover 1, 160 Dunlin 1  2, 12 Kentish Plover 1, 4 Knot 1  2  3  4  5, 4 Sanderling, 3 Little Ringed Plover 1, 4 Curlew Sandpiper 1  2, last 2 new for visit. A Great White Egret was in the marshes just to E of road to port 1  2. Another wader roost on marshes held 60 Redshank. Gulls included a solitary adult Slender-billed Gull 1  2  3 on the salinas and 3 AYLG in the harbour, feeding on fish discards; here's piccies of 2 2w 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 and a juvenile 1  2. Trip-total was 39 bird-types, including a Pied/White Wagtail S, 2 Swallow S, 2 Sardinian Warbler. Butterflies were of 6 types: 1 Common Blue, 6 Small Copper, 3 Swallowtail, 2 Large White, 2 Small White, 1 Green-veined White. Told hotel I was leaving a day early and booking has been formally modified; no refund (as expected in current dire straits!) but credit note given for €103.50 for the one night; they understood and supported my view that Ryanair are doing their best to maintain services to Faro under very difficult circumstances; about 1/3 of all flights coming in are Ryanair from all over the place. Return flight is difficult for getting home so have booked a hotel in NCL at what can only be described as a distressed rate: very worrying. Place was quite busy today but some activity is locals enjoying the weekend weather; will see what it's like tomorrow. Again had meal outside Eva on harbour-side, very atmospheric and excellent, charming service: two of the waitresses are Polish!! Had beef tacos today, breaking the run of proper fish meals; think most establishments don't care too much what you eat, just buy something! But some do actually like it if you buy local produce to help the local economy. So pity I'm not into sea-food! 2moro going E again by train as winds turn E; may be interesting but migration is always very difficult to predict, except with hindsight! So delighted to hear the fighting spirit: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

September 26th: exciting day, doing some island hopping by speed boat on the S edge of the Faro marshes (marismas). Weather was again good: sunny all day, 28C max, light to moderate SW breeze. So was on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean with good sandy beaches. Boat run by Animaris was very fast so most of time spent on the 3 islands: Ilha Deserta (11:30 from Faro base), Ilha do Farol (14:30 from Ilha Deserta), Ilha da Culatra (15:45 from Ilha do Farol), return to Faro (17:00 from Ilha da Culatra, arrive 17:45 via other stops in reverse). Went for 2-hour walk on Deserta; Animaris run a regular circular ferry service from 10:00-19:00 so you have flexibility on what you want to do; here's timetable 1 and here's boat in action between Ilha do Ferol and Ilha Deserta on way back, exciting clip. At 11:10 from jetty at starting point had a 1w Slender-billed Gull while at 10:00 at hotel had 4 Red-rumped Swallow S. I was actually out on boat trip from 11:30-1745, all for €30. Here's picture of yours truly at Ilha Deserta, near the lighthouse 1. At Ilha Deserta 1  2 added to trip list: Audouin's Gull (1 adult W), Gannet (14 ad, 11 E, 3 W), Skylark (3, 1  2), (Northern) Wheatear (2, 1), Black-eared Wheatear (8, 2  3), Spectacled Warbler (1); also seen were 3 Mediterranean Gull (2 ad 1  2, 1 1w 3  4), 1 AYLG ad E with much white on wingtip 1 , 138 MYLG (one sample 22 ad, 39 juv; 77 E), 1 Sanderling, 2 House Sparrow 1. Butterflies included 3 Swallowtail 1, 3 Common Blue 1, 3 Small Copper 1, 1 Lang's Short-tailed Blue 1. Here's a Honey-buzzard view to the S from the lighthouse over the long sea crossing to Morocco; nearly all will continue E. At Ilha do Farol had liquid lunch so just 6 House Sparrow, 1 Grey Heron, 20 MYLG (juvenile swim 1, adult swim 2). Reinvigorated at Ilha da Culatra, studied a large gull flock comprising 14 AYLG (12 ad, 1 2w, 1 juv, 1  2  3  4  5  6), 155 MYLG (78 ad, 14 2w, 63 juv), 5 LBBG ad (4 graellsi, 1 intermedius), plus 1 Black-eared Wheatear 1, 1 Sanderling 1  2, 3 Crested Lark 1, 15 House Sparrow (8 types), 1 Curlew seen and heard. The MYLG were spread out in a flock on the mud; some videos were taken but no quality calls were obtained. Here's the stills taken: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8. A very interesting gull was this adult, standing a little apart with strong structure, quite large, dark mantle, dark flecks on head, thought to be southern atlantis, that is a bird from Morocco or the Canaries. Total for day was 18 bird-types and 4 butterfly-types. Had supper sitting on the edge of the harbour at tables run by the Eva Hotel: mackerel today so that's fish 5 days in a row: all very stylish! Nearby live music was again a tonic: Bruno Mars' 'Just the Way you Are' went down well as did a few Coldplay numbers! Will catch up on records tomorrow: other priorities first: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

September 25th: been through Honey-buzzard photos from yesterday, confirms 4 juveniles, all eventually moving SE; completed processing yesterday's records so now up to 59 bird-types on BirdTrack for current trip with a few more to add from photos. Sunny all day, very bright light, 25C max, moderate W breeze, amazing sunset in very clear light. Laid-back day, no long walks, did stroll along to end of jetty and photograph some gulls where also had a Swallowtail butterfly. Had some close encounters with Mediterranean Gull 2w 1  2  3  4 and adult 1  2. Recorded just 9 bird-types as casual records today, including a roost of very roughly 10000 Spotless Starling at 19:20 in centre of Faro 1  2  3  4, a juvenile MYLG feeding on the mud outside the harbour 1  2, a juvenile 1  2 and adult 3 AYLG inside the harbour, a Sandwich Tern 1, and 5 White Stork nests on the entrance to the old town 1. Also had a Swallowtail butterfly from the jetty. Finished processing March 2017 records on the Algarve by adding weather records and 2 records for Silves where needed to add the place to the database; this brought total up to 99 bird species from 387 records, 12 complete lists, 5 places (all species assumed countable); thought I'd got it up to 100 in eBird but may be different view of what is a species; just need to extract the insect records from the data sheets and can then throw them away; don't keep paper copies of anything now once it's on the machine and backed-up. Skype with N/D did work from the sun lounge on top floor of the hotel; had 2 breaks in 95 min when suspect being throttled for excess traffic but simply restarted the program. Everywhere is busy tonite: lots of new arrivals, some probably encouraged by the good weather forecast, going up to 28-29C and sunny over next 5 days; wind is going E on Mon/Tue which could prove interesting as birds drifted W away from Gibraltar. Had good supper again in hotel bistro: salmon, mozzarella and masses of salad so keeping fish series going! Stock market's not been in the holiday mood on increase in Covid cases in UK and general air of chaos; will sort out the wreckage tomorrow but think loss is 1-1.5%. Indeed all areas are in decline, including tech and gold. It's difficult to know what to do as things could go quickly positive if a vaccine programme is implemented or improved treatment keeps the fatalities down or indeed a Brexit deal is signed with EU. Outlook for the National League is bleak; how can teams like Torquay United be classed as elite (so too many spectators for safe spacing)? More seriously music is continuing to suffer severely: Culture in peril – Music – Rishi Sunak's winter economy plan will silence the UK music scene. The successor to the furlough scheme is not fit for a sector still unable to open its doors due to social distancing and curfews – it needs targeted support now https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/sep/25/rishi-sunak-winter-economy-plan-will-silence-the-uk-music-scene. Must concentrate on the birds and the food to keep sane: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

September 24th: cloudy in morning but sun always almost poking through and at lunchtime the skies cleared and it was very warm again at 27C max, light SW breeze, dry; cloud returned in evening but it was very close, indeed 22C at 22:00 tonite. Got closer to Gibraltar at 200km away as caught train from Faro to Vila Real de Santo António; used the CP app for tickets and that all went smoothly; tickets were checked on train in contrast to Northern Rail; I think I was the only person in my carriage with the app. We all wore masks, everyone is very conscientious about that. Journey took just over an hour.

On arrival at 12:35 went straight to Castro Marim on E side, an extensive area of dry heath 1  2  3 with large wetlands to N and W. To the E is the Guadiana river, the natural border with Spain, with a road bridge over to Ayamonte in Spain and a ferry taking about 15-20 minutes. I resisted the temptation to tick off another country but may be back again! Walk from 12:40-15:45 was interesting to put it mildly. As set out sun came out; was really quite blistering on the heath and the birds agreed, all apparently going into siesta! Did pick out 2 Osprey in the heat haze fishing on the N wetland from 13:25-14:21 and 8 White Stork, at the same times, which did a lot of soaring but didn't actually appear to go anywhere, plus 1 feeding on marshland to W. Came off the heath at 14:48 and took the shade of a large road sign. Then everything happened: a Black Kite was hanging low-down over marshland to W at 14:48 1  2; a dark-phase juvenile Honey-buzzard was picked up floating over the wetland to W 1  2  3  4  5  6 (10202); from 14:52-15:03 it was joined by 2 more (dark-phase, ruddy-phase) who also floated over the wetland, having all been feeding there. The loose group of 3 gained height and slowly moved SE, in the direction of Gibraltar 7  8  9  10  11  12  13  (10203) with juvenile 3 lingering a little 14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22 (10204). At 15:13 another juvenile Honey-buzzard, a pale phase, was picked up further N, beyond the wetlands, but also circling at moderate height and moving SE 23 (10205). So that's 4 juvenile Honey-buzzard SE 200km to W of Gibraltar with 2 dark-phase, 1 ruddy-phase, 1 pale-phase. What is interesting is that, despite this being their first migration, they appear to be pretty clued up on what to do: feed in luxuriant wetlands and don't cross to Africa over the Atlantic Ocean, when it is still wide. The sea crossing from Vila Real to Asilah in Morocco (which have visited) is 430km, a long journey for birds that soar over land to travel efficiently. But how do they know? There must be some pre-programming; remember there are few adults around to guide them; on checking piccies carefully the birds seen today are all juvenile. If they are birds bred in the extreme W of their range (W France, N Portugal, UK) they may have a drive to move SSE in their long migration to Gibraltar. While this was going on had a further 2 Osprey fishing over the nearer W wetland from 14:54-15:17 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16 and an adult female Marsh Harrier up over the wetland to N at 15:06 1  2  3  4. Total at Vila Real was 30 bird-types, including Greater Flamingo (51 1  2  3), Little Egret (24 1), Little Grebe (4 together 1), LBBG (4 adult graellsii, 1), Whiskered Tern (2), Swallow (1 SE), Meadow Pipit (1), Ringed Plover (7), Kentish Plover (4, piccies with Little Egret and Little Ringed Plover), Little Ringed Plover (2 1  2), Turnstone (5 1), Stonechat (2, including male on heath 1),

Feeling dehydrated made Sabor de Vila, a wee locals' bar need the station, from 15:45-16:35 where had a welcome couple of beers for 1€ each, price for off the beaten track! Train journey back from 16:40 took about an hour and was very punctual and quite full. Plenty of birds from train: Bee-eater which will cross straight to Asilah; Greenshank on ponds; Common Kestrel near Castro Marim station, perched on wires; Cattle Egret near Faro; 25 Turtle Dove E of Faro on farmland; 2 Hoopoe. Total for day for bird-types was 38. No butterflies were seen today. In evening made restaurant on harbour edge for a meal. Had sardines today, very tasty, choice appreciated by the waiter, following anchovies yesterday and tuna the day before. Love real fish, can't eat shellfish! They had real live music on with numbers by Oasis and Amy Winehouse to name a few; nothing electronic – real players; found that so uplifting. Indeed whole spirit of the place is to try and salvage something from a disastrous season and whole atmosphere is very warm and positive! 2moro's a rest day, just a gentle walk, and will try a Skype session with N/D in late afternoon. But hope to catch up on the piccies: Honey-buzzard mature rapidly from the scruffy, heavy, rather prehistoric-looking youngsters on first flights in England to the fit, elongated and slim individuals well into their long journey. Next obstacles are the Straits of Gibraltar and the Sahara Desert, which many cross without feeding, at 500km a day, using soar and glide on strong thermals. Anyway time for bed: still plenty of space awaiting the fancied one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

September 23rd: sunny with some high thin cloud from time to time, wind light SW, 25C max. Again had enormous breakfast on rooftop of hotel, attended by 2 Pallid Swift. Did add the records from the Algarve for 2017 today to the main BirdTrack database, 385 records added, quite a lot of spreadsheet fiddling but nothing as boring as retyping! Walked out to jetty near Hotel Eva, sticking out into channel and then walked W towards a park and some old salinas from 10:30-15:40. Star bird today was an adult Bonelli's Eagle seen at 14:00 gliding over, the area from the E and then hanging at great height over the slight hilly area to W; didn't see it drop onto some prey but it must have done so as at 14:40 it soared rapidly out of that area and moved back E. Took many fascinating piccies of an adult Atlantic Yellow-legged Gull (Cantabricans type), easily labelled in error as YLG x LBBG hybrid with reduced black on wingtip with no solid triangle from P6 across the tip plus light grey mantle colour, thin band on P5, small size, short legs, small head, fine dark threads around eye and behind, and not bright red orbital ring on eye; this bird is moulting P10 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19. Added 3 more wader-types: Common Sandpiper (1), Sanderling (12, including 1 SE at height), Golden Plover (40) and 1 more gull-type: Mediterranean Gull (2 adult 1  2  3, 1 1w 1  2  3). Terns reached 3 types with Sandwich Tern (1), Caspian Tern (1, 1  2  3  4  5  6, no.4 in a dive hitting the water, both fishing in the channel to SW), Common Tern (2). On passage were Swallow (16 S, 1 E), Meadow Pipit (2 W), 2 Pied Flycatcher (male, female/juv) in park. Also of note were a Purple Heron 1, 6 Grey Heron 1, 5 Greater Flamingo, 2 Redshank 1 (with Sanderling in piccie), 7 Whimbrel 1, 5 White Stork 1  2, 8 Glossy Starling 1, 1 Zitting Cisticola 1  2  3  4. Total was 39 types, making running total 50 bird-types! Had a couple of beers for restoration on the harbour-front and supper at the hotel bistro, all very relaxing. 2moro it's forecast to be cloudy so off to the Spanish border at Vila Real by train, already got my tickets on the 'phone for €10.60 return! So good start: missing the gorgeous one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

September 22nd: autumn equinox, sunny but with high thin cloud for some of day, 27C max, wind light WSW; as usual sun is strong here. Here's piccie of hotel, haven't got a boat yet! After enormous breakfast there went for long walk from 11:20-15:30 along edge of marismas through salinas to the port and back. Perhaps a busman's holiday with star bird of the day a juvenile Honey-buzzard, taking off from marismas and slowly moving SE at 13:59 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, 251 km to Gibraltar to the E and an easy crossing to Africa! Preceding are cropped images; here's the originals 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. From here origin of bird is likely to have been SW France such as Aquitaine where studied them last July, W/NW France (Loire/Brittany) or even southern Britain; think they breed in NE Spain but that's too far to E to end up here; they were not supposed to breed in Portugal but latest news (surprise, surprise!) suggests they do breed in the north https://www.birdinginportugal.com/birds-of-prey/european-honey-buzzard-pernis-apivorus; juveniles from northern Britain are unlikely yet to be this far S. Honey-buzzard would find frogs and all sorts of insects and their grubs in the salt marshes, could be quite a popular snack-bar! Another sighting was of an Osprey flapping over the channels in the marismas at 13:55 1  2  3  4  5  6; preceding are cropped images; here's the originals 1  2  3  4  5  6; also had a male Marsh Harrier over the same area at 13:54, quite a purple patch! So that's 3 types of raptor. Gulls comprised 4 types: Mediterranean Yellow-legged Gull which breed close-by on Ilha Deserta in the sand dunes, 68 total (51 ad, 4 2w, 13 juvenile 1  2  3); Atlantic Yellow-legged Gull, which breed on rocky cliffs to W (Lagos) and E (Barbate, Spain) of here, 1 adult, seen up-close 1  2  3 and recorded calling with long calls on clip 1 (2 calls) and clip 2 (first call) and mew calls on clip 3; clip 2 also contains a slower and more guttural long call of Mediterranean Yellow-legged Gull following the first closer call of the AYLG; LBBG 3 adult (at least 1 graellsii 1, 1 2w 2); Black-headed Gull, 27 adult.

Species total for walk was 35, including some leaf warblers identified later as Western Bonelli's Warbler (4, bright edges to tertials 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8). Had 9 types of wader, including 30 Black-tailed Godwit 1, 11 Dunlin, 8 Grey Plover 1, 8 Redshank, 6 Whimbrel, 4 Curlew, 4 Turnstone 1, 3 Ringed Plover, 2 Oystercatcher. Waterbirds included 34 Spoonbill 1, 8 Grey Heron, 8 Little Egret 1, 3 White Stork 1, 1 Cormorant. Also had a Hoopoe, 2 Red-rumped Swallow (1 E), 6 Zitting Cisticola, 1 Sardinian Warbler, 5 (Barn) Swallow to S. Had one small butterfly, an African Grass Blue. Have brought c400 March 2017 records for Faro area with me that went into a different computer system so started converting them tonight to BirdTrack format (spreadsheet editing, not re-entering them!). I've been here enough to have a useful long-term series of data. WiFi is much better at the hotel than on last visit. Had a couple of beers at a restaurant on the waterfront after the walk and supper in the hotel's downstairs bar: pretty quiet everywhere but welcome and hospitality is superb! After black Monday (ftse 100 -3%, ftse 250 -4%), funds are -5k this week; even with reduction in risk assets the previous week, some holdings fell 10% but fortunately did not have much in these. Uncertainty over how politicians would react to an increase in cases is what is panicking the markets. Might be a while before I get a boat! xxxxx XXX!!!!!

September 21st: sunny today, 16C max, light SW breeze, dry. Did manage to do a bit more fieldwork from 14:00-15:00, stopping off a little E of Horsley on old A69 to watch fields N of the Wylam Horsley Wood site, where the juvenile(s) seem to congregate. Sure enough there was a restless Corvid flock over the fields, always a good sign, and at 14:45 picked up a juvenile Honey-buzzard moving low-down over pasture, accompanied by a swarm of Corvids (10097). Juveniles seem to use the same habitat each year in each site; obviously they're not the same birds so they must be selecting what is favourable, particularly small fields, high hedges, mixture of uncultivated, non-intensive pasture and stubble from recent grain crop, secluded, some small woods and copses. They like to feed on the edge of fields, including the scrubby margin, and retreat into cover readily when flushed, just like an African raptor, which of course is what they are. So Tyne Valley E complete now from point of view of known sites in this breeding season. Season's not over yet, even when get back. Juvenile Honey-buzzard will be passing through from Scotland so can get a measure of the breeding season there. But the Hobby season will be over with only 1 site found occupied (1+ young raised) in 2020 in the more intensively covered areas of Hexhamshire, Tyne Valley W, Tyne Valley E. And the Red Kite will be moving out for their winter holidays, wherever that is! Common Buzzard are on site all year round as are Sparrowhawk, except for those on the edge of the moors, but Kestrel tend to move to the coast.

Main business of day was of course trip NCL-FAO; departing with RYA at 19:10 on time and arriving a little early at FAO at 21:55. Ryanair are efficient if not so charming. People were well-behaved on the plane and they were serving refreshments, contrary to some people's views! You can take your mask off if you buy a drink. Plane was 30-40% full and had a mid-row seat with no one on either side. And the hotel have welcomed me with open arms, business has been bad, they freely admit: free breakfast added for stay once my credit card payment had gone through for the room booking! No health checks on the way despite warnings. And my booked pickup at the Airport was very obliging. Had drink outside at 22:40 at hotel: transfer was that quick. Financial news as left was horrific after the performance of the 2 prophets of doom (W/V): puritanism rules OK! Have a nice double bed: plenty of space: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

September 20th: dull today, 14C max, light E breeze off the North Sea. Solstice is imminent on 22/9. Did have a Honey-buzzard without really trying: the local dark heavy juvenile was in my rough field at 17:45 and over pasture/stubble 200m away at 18:10 1 with cropped piccie here; in the latter case it was putting up many Corvids (not Covids! Generic Latin term for the crow family) (10096). So nice to know they're still around. Wasps are very scarce and have been for a month or so; noticed the same in Tyne Valley W but a few more present in Tyne Valley E. Smartened up the front garden by cutting the grass and doing some shrub trimming. Socially made N4c4t and G4g4s, latter with R/P where we were allowed to sit together in line with should not rather than must not: bravo the G!! We get table service as well, through gritted teeth, but curfew is enforced strictly at 21:50. Booked up parking for £75 at NCL in Short Stay 2, cheaper than normal and closer to runway: pray there are no last minute snags! So will miss the gorgeous one but it's not really for that long and you know where I live: keep it up: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

September 19th: recent addition to Honey-buzzard national survey (full results to date on Honey-buzzard home page http://nickrossiter.org.uk/hbweb/index.html):

9(d) Hexham N, 29/08/20: male up in stiff breeze testing conditions for family flight, which did not materialise, 6 sample stills 1  2  3  4  5  6, 10:10-12:45.

Today was sunny again with light to moderate E breeze, dry, coolish at 15C max. Went to Wylam E from 12:55-15:15. Had good variety of raptors, including a Honey-buzzard juvenile near Close House, seen briefly at 14:20 flying low-down into a copse which was closely attended by Corvids from 14:20-14:26; here are some piccies 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, not sure the dark shape lower down is a Honey-buzzard but they are incredible as disguise in cover and the cropped picture below appears to show a juvenile Honey-buzzard. . It may have gone out the back door as at 14:37 the juvenile was seen up in the air 9  10  11  12  13  14  15, a little more to E; this bird has only recently fledged with feathers, including wing and tail, growing still (10095). This leaves 1 site in Tyne Valley E, Wylam Horsley, where outcome unknown and another site, Ryton, where not sure if any breeding was attempted. Other raptors comprised single Kestrel juvenile at Newbiggin, 'Shire, at 12:25 and Prudhoe E at 13:03, a Red Kite juvenile up over Heddon at 13:10, a male Goshawk juvenile up over Wylam SW at 14:03, a Common Buzzard family party (ad 1  2  3  4, 2 juv with 1 up in middle of Corvid flock at 13:19 5  6  7  8) at Wylam E at 13:19 and 14:13. So 8 raptors of 5 types was the final tally. Here's cropped images of the Honey-buzzard juvenile soaring and thought to be perched. Total for Wylam E was 21 bird-types, including 10 Tree Sparrow, 1 Chiffchaff. Trip total was 24 bird-types. There were a few more wasp around than further W; the only butterflies were 2 Small White. Loads of people around, enjoying the sunshine, indeed meeting R/C from G out for a walk to Newburn and wee refreshment in the BH later! But I came straight home for enjoyable Skype session with N/D from 17:00-18:40. Boarding pass arrived from RYA with 48 hours to spare! Change in flights means I might have to stay overnite in NCL on return. xxxxx XXX!!!!!

Here's the map of my autosomal DNA results, of the kind used by the police and in genetic testing for parenthood (e.g. Jeremy Kyle!). This is more recent ancestor material, maybe 6-8 generations back, unlike the Y-haplogroup (father of father) and mitochondrial (mother of mother) which go back further, maybe 500-700 years. The autosomal is also derived from both the male and the female sides. Mine is really as expected though it's more northerly than predicted when I started on the genealogy many years ago. Although the 2 bookends of father of father and mother of mother are very westcountry, it's not clear their partners were as local. For instance my maternal gt-grandfather married a lass from Derbyshire. Further my maternal gt-gt-grandmother, Sarah Jane Dashper, and subsequent generations were obsessed with the name Lena, which if Norway is correct, means she was a Magdalena from that country. Ireland is presumably the residue of the long history there on the male side. Not sure where the Scottish comes from but may be migrants to the SW in its heyday after the railway opened. The focus in England on Devon and Somerset is correct. Ancestry also give you a list of your closest relatives, who've also taken the test. David Tapper is indeed my first cousin, son of my mother's younger sister. I must contact him to try and get his detailed results as they will reflect differences in the Rossiter/Tapper genes. This evening I was amazingly contacted by Jamie Chambers who I think is a second cousin as claimed; we share a common great-grandfather, Ebenezer Rossiter, jeweller, of Teignmouth. He's actually 4 generations from Ebenezer, via his daughter Rose (Rossiter) Norton while I'm 3 (faster breeding or he's younger!). My line runs through Rose's twin brother George Rossiter, also jeweller of Teignmouth. All the jewellers from the 1790s to 1940s were staunch nonconformists – baptists. Other names in the list include Kennedy and Gillespie and another Chambers.

Since 13/9 11 more records (11 birds) on BirdGuides for autumn migration of Honey-buzzard, giving running total of 109 birds (3 July from 31/7, 64 August, 42 September). Some of these birds may be Northumbrian as coincides with significant pull-out observed at local sites in mid-September. Local birds are Northumbrian as they are born here!

14:19 19/09 European Honey Buzzard Isles of Scilly St Mary's 14:00 one flew NNE over Maypole

12:55 19/09 European Honey Buzzard Kent Worth Marsh one flew west this morning

13:37 18/09 European Honey Buzzard Isles of Scilly Tresco 13:20 one flew over The Roads towards St Mary's

22:50 17/09 European Honey Buzzard Surrey Chipstead one flew east over Hither Field, Banstead Woods

20:50 17/09 European Honey Buzzard East Yorkshire Burton Agnes one flew over to WSW

11:57 17/09 European Honey Buzzard East Yorkshire Sammy's Point one drifted slowly north with 3 Common Buzzards

20:12 16/09 European Honey Buzzard Glamorgan Ogmore-by-Sea juvenile flew over Pant y Cwteri this evening

16:18 15/09 European Honey Buzzard East Sussex Eastbourne one flew over Ocklynge

14:07 14/09 European Honey Buzzard Dorset Portland one over Top Fields before flying north along West Cliffs this afternoon

13:40 14/09 European Honey Buzzard Jersey Noirmont Point 11:30 one flew over

13:25 14/09 European Honey Buzzard West Midlands Erdington 13:00 possible flew east over Pype Hayes

Black Kite continue to linger in SW England:

13:37 16/09 Black Kite Cornwall Polgigga 13:30 one soaring to south of Arden-Sawah Farm

11:36 15/09 Black Kite Dorset Norden possible flew west distantly between Norden and Purbeck mid-morning

September 18th: sunny again, coolish moderate E breeze, 15C max, dry. No fieldwork today, took it easy! Finished processing Hexham N piccies on 29/8. In evening made W4g4s; did place a booking on GK's web site but S 'phoned me to say we'd have to sit on different tables. So we did: D/D on one, me on another. Worked well except get a little hoarse after talking more loudly than normal. Amused at the way the GK app plots my drinking history with a g at 8:02, 8:28, 9:04, each one £4.12; expecting to get a text from the medical officer on drinking safely! Thrown out at 9:45, reminds me of Prague in 1982 when run by Russia; all good people had to be up at 5:00 to further the revolution! Was there then a a lecturer on a summer school on computing techniques for physics; no fee, just free accommodation, food and beer! Beer money also came from a fortuitous meeting on the Charles Bridge! A few of the delegates were really Russian security guys, keeping an eye on us all; you could tell them by their total ignorance of the science! I almost got arrested carrying binoculars near a military airfield; had personal escort back to the conference centre. People are very angry about the new lockdown, particularly in an area with unexceptional cases such as Tynedale; think there's increasing acceptance now that the virus has to run its course, while doing our best to protect vulnerable people and to practise social distancing. Total lockdowns such as practised originally in Israel and Australia simply postpone the time when the population has to develop herd immunity. The way we're trying to exercise fine control over the virus by changing regulations every 10 minutes is ridiculous, making it virtually impossible for anyone to plan ahead, including the running of a business. It's a bit like someone driving a car with constant twitching of the steering wheel: this leads to growing instability, eventually leading to a crash! An important factor in Sweden's success in tackling the virus has been its constancy in regulations and laws. Funds finished -2k, subsiding in final 2 days of the week on the threat of more lockdowns. Had anticipated this to some extent by selling last week much of my airline, building and hospitality stocks. Gain on year is 45k (4.1%) compared to falls of 20.4% and 19.9% in ftse 100 and ftse 250 respectively. All very boring at the moment but preservation of capital in this very difficult year is top priority. Tech stocks continue to ease back, removing one avenue for capital gains for some. Will miss someone: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

September 17th: recent addition to Honey-buzzard national survey (full results to date on Honey-buzzard home page http://nickrossiter.org.uk/hbweb/index.html):

2(f) Dukeshagg 26/08/20: juvenile perched in tree close to nest site, 6 sample stills 1  2  3  4  5  6, 15:45-17:25.

Processed up to 28/8 inclusive now, next up is Hexham N 29/8 car exhaust repair day! Mission accomplished in Tyne Valley W, going to Beaufront S, NE of Hexham, including Widehaugh, for check on local Honey-buzzard site from 12:30-14:15 in brilliant weather: sunny, 18C max, light to moderate E/SE breeze. Had to wait for local Honey-buzzard until 13:16 when a juvenile flew around me at moderate height, moving out to Widehaugh, before swinging back to Beaufront S 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 with cropped image here (10094); later at 13:55 it was seen briefly with a Corvid flock up to E of 20 Rook and 10 Jackdaw, all milling around the raptor. So that means all Tyne Valley W sites have been successful but productivity is lower than usual with mainly 1 young/nest. Also had 2 Red Kite, juvenile and adult, floating around to W and S respectively; 3 Common Buzzard (2 juvenile feeding in small fields to W of Anick Grange, 1 adult over wood to N); 2 Kestrel juvenile up at 12:50 and 12:56 to W and N respectively; 1 male juvenile Sparrowhawk to SE. Had further Honey-buzzard to S at Swallowship site over Dukes Wood, with a (migrant) female up at 13:11 soaring very high and departing to S, and a juvenile below, who decided to stay, all well visible from Hexham E 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11 with cropped images here of female and juvenile separately and together (10093). So total for trip was 3 Honey-buzzard, 3 Common Buzzard, 2 Red Kite, 2 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk: 11 raptors of 5 types! Total for all bird species was 19, including a flock of 25 Skylark on Widehaugh, 21 Swallow, 7 Yellowhammer. Much later at 23:45 had single Barn Owl and Tawny Owl on the road at Ordley. So 7 types of raptor for the day. Did some sterling grass-cutting, doing the area by the shelters including the mint-lawn! Made C4c4ll and G4g4s, latter with P/R for good crack. Last day with 11pm closing time, 10pm becomes the new norm; G was busy with people making the most of it. In Northumberland people are completely p.ssed off with the new virus regulations; we have currently 25.9 cases per 100k, placing us outside the top 100 for 315 local authorities. If Tynedale were a separate entity it would surely have not been included but the county goes over to Blyth and Ashington where most of the cases occur. Anyway the avoidance of social mixing in pubs has the word should not must so may be interpreted liberally! Some of these shoulds or need to like in the quarantine requirements are difficult to enforce because of the wording in the Coronavirus Act. Arbitrary powers since taken such as the infamous 'only 1 walk a day' and 'mustn't drive to a walk' were never in the Act and actually could not be enforced. We will soon learn more! Had a dreaded schedule change message from RYA but could have been much worse; outward flight is unchanged but return flight is brought forward one day. Can live with that, either cutting holiday slightly short or rebooking for £50-100 another flight closer to the time with BA (via LHR) or KLM (via AMS). Important thing is the outward flight is going! Bought some casual shoes in Mountain Warehouse for £25, some £60 cheaper than Clarks. Lunch with A/M at S was cancelled by M in panic reaction!! Another fine day 2moro so may finish Tyne Valley E!! W is the big ?, will try and book 2moro. Must respond to the lovely one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

September 16th: rapid drop in temperature to 13C max, dull all day, light NE breeze. Have processed piccies from 26/8 at Dukeshagg; should complete it tomorrow. Amended the Festival pages! Met M at T4c4c for good chat but so few customers. In afternoon made G4g4t where met T/L for another good chat; that was reasonably busy. Fear for survival of places with new local lockdown https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-54166256; cannot see why Northumberland is included as its cases are far lower than elsewhere on Tyneside and not rising quickly. Graph on the BBC page shows Northumberland cases per 100k at a little over 20 compared to 60 in Newcastle and almost 100 in South Tyneside. So it will be cocoa at 22:00 now – very healthy – and discouraged from public transport, just after Northern increased the service frequency!! Got €100 out of Lloyds in Hexham, which was run rather like a concentration camp though individual staff were friendly enough. Booked car to fetch me from airport through hotel at destination, cost €19. Tempted to stay longer away if this madness persists! 2moro meeting M/A/A at S4m4l for Italian-style lunch and P at G4g4s, last 23:00 finish for a while. Weather's good 2moro so should finish the count of juveniles in Tyne Valley W where just 1 site to cover. lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

September 15th: recent addition to Honey-buzzard national survey (full results to date on Honey-buzzard home page http://nickrossiter.org.uk/hbweb/index.html):

      5(c) Throckley N, 24/08/20: family group up briefly, including a weak-flying juvenile. 1 sample still of the group 1, 2 of male 2  3, 1 of female 4, 1 of juvenile 5, 11:35-12:50.

Now working on juvenile at Dukeshagg 26/8 (Prudhoe S). Weather continued fine today at 24C max, wind SW light, hazy sunshine most of day becoming more overcast by evening with a few showers. So out in the field this afternoon, making Shilford from 14:55-15:15 where not seen any Honey-buzzard since the display phase; stood by the roadside at the lay-by just past the A68 roundabout for the 20 min; at 15:01 had a juvenile Honey-buzzard floating over the field, immediately to SW by 400m of the nest site 1 with cropped image here (10091); that was very obliging but the theme was to be maintained of juveniles being conspicuous, taking the opportunity to practice floating in the good weather. Rather like a swimmer, being able to float is an incredibly important skill for the young Honey-buzzard as they not only save energy when conditions allow but also if they get into danger can avoid using up all their energy reserves by flapping. Moved onto nearby Stocksfield Mount from 15:15-17:00 for a good recce. At Whittle Burn W (Ovington), where only an adult male was seen last time, had a juvenile up at 15:24 and 15:42, floating over the fields 1  2  3  4 with one cropped image of 1 here (10088) it was joined by a juvenile female Hobby briefly at 15:42, the first confirmed breeding this year for that species in the study area. At Bywell Cottagebank and Short Wood, had another juvenile up from 15:27-15:34 floating high 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 with cropped version of 5 here, again with the Hobby mobbing it a little. I thought this one might leave but it didn't returning to ground and coming up again over Short Wood at 15:52 10  11  12  13  14 with cropped versions of 12, 13, 14, respectively here 12c  13c  14c (10089). Did have a Honey-buzzard migrant at 16:06: a female was picked up over the ridge to N of Bywell in power flight at moderate altitude moving E 1  2  3 with cropped image of 2 here (10090); she was steering SE as lost to sight and losing further height; as a Scottish bird, she had probably come down from the 1000m asl at which they typically fly and was looking for a place to spend the night and find some food, maybe the Tyne near Prudhoe! Power-flight is continuous flapping, when can reach 50-60km/hour but it uses too much energy with soar/glide preferred, saving 90% of the effort; she was hungry! As an adult she may know useful stopping places. 11:00-16:00 is a typical flying day for a migrating Honey-buzzard this far N, when thermals still provide some support but they will use orographic (ridge) lift at a wider range of times. As they go S the thermals strengthen and they speed up. Single juvenile Common Buzzard were up over Short Wood at 15:43 and Bywell Castle at 15:50. A juvenile Red Kite was up over Short Wood NE at 16:06, 'greeting' the migrant Honey-buzzard, and a female juvenile Sparrowhawk was up over Guessburn at 16:08. So raptor total is 4 Honey-buzzard (1 female E, 3 juvenile), 2 Common Buzzard juvenile, 1 Red Kite juvenile, 1 Hobby female juvenile, 1 Sparrowhawk female juvenile. So lots of juveniles gaining confidence in the fair conditions and 9 birds of 5 types. Also had a Woodlark S at 15:59. Total for bird-types was 19, including 15 Swallow (5 rest, 6 SW, 4 S), 7 House Martin (1 rest, 6 SW), 1 Chiffchaff, 7 Chaffinch. Dragonflies included 1 Common Hawker, 1 Common Darter. 2 wasp were seen plus 5 types of butterfly: Green-veined White 2, Small Tortoiseshell 1, Large White 1 moving E, Red Admiral 1 moving NW, Peacock 1 moving NW. Was younger granddaughter's (I's) 4th birthday today; she had pony riding party in Richmond Park. Pity I couldn't be there. Did give I 1.5k, up 0.5k from last year, with compensatory amount of 0.5k to S (aged 5.6) – got to be fair! Presents go by FPO to mum but did send a nice card, which got there today! Funds are +4k so far this week; detect a little more optimism that complete lockdowns are going to be avoided in general, whatever happens. Had lovely email tonite and so pleased at the good news!! 2moro it's T4c4c with M and G4g4t with no fieldwork planned as forecast is for dull conditions. lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

September 14th: what a day!! A dozen Honey-buzzard were found in Warden area (mainly lower South Tyne) from 12:40-14:45 in short-lived fine weather at 22C max, light variable winds, strong sunshine; further, thin high cloud gave a perfect backdrop for looking for moving raptors underneath it, much better than a clear blue sky. Honey-buzzard sightings were: a male Honey-buzzard soaring over Warden Hill from 12:59-13:02, going very high and moving S, presumed to be local bird from Warden W; from 13:05-13:07 at Hexham High Wood (Tyne Valley W) had a juvenile Honey-buzzard low-down over the trees with a pair of adults in vigorous display, much chasing (10087c); at 13:25 4 Honey-buzzard up over Frankham, a pair of adults high-up and below 2 juveniles in full display with much diving, good productivity and new site for the season (10087b), stronger flying than the High Wood bird, seen later; from 13:45-13:47 had some action at the local Warden W site with a juvenile just above the tree tops on several occasions 1 with cropped version here (10087), eventually being intercepted by the female to keep a lower profile; at 13:57 over Greenshaw Plain 2 Honey-buzzard drifting SE very high-up, a male and a female, clearly migrants (10087a). So score was 3 family parties of 4 at Frankham, 3 at Hexham High Wood and 3 at Warden W, with 3 migrants, 1 male S, 1 male and 1 female SE. Total is 12 as the male at Warden W appears both as a breeder and a migrant. Also had a family group of 3 Common Buzzard near Fourstones at 13:19, a Common Buzzard juvenile at Warden Hill at 13:29, and a Red Kite juvenile over Warden Hill at 13:13. On way there had a juvenile female Sparrowhawk at 12:30 over Hackwood Park, Hexham. So that's 18 raptors of 4 types. Total for trip was 21 bird-types, including 32 Swallow, 3 House Martin, 1 Sand Martin, 1 Chiffchaff, 6 Siskin, 2 Bullfinch, 1 Goosander redhead 1. Earlier at Ordley had a flurry of small birds at 11:00: 1 Marsh Tit, 16 Long-tailed Tit, 4 Chiffchaff, 6 Wren. Made N4c4t where very chatty sitting outside with further sitting outside at home in my field, surrounded by wildlife. Much later met P at G4g4s where quiet and M not on (economy?). Have made good progress in sorting visit to Throckley on 24/8, expect to publish final picture tomorrow. Thinking of the gorgeous one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

September 13th: today was not a weather window: fresh SW breeze, warmer at 17C max, plenty of sunshine but wind too strong for any serious raptor work. So did masses of grass cutting, doing all of back area in c2 hours, except for area by shelters; it was perfect for such activity with the grass being dry and the breeze keeping the operator cool! Made W4bigshop and C4c4t b4 G4g4s where met P/R for good chat! Did have 2 Red Kite (adult, juvenile) up to SW at 13:18 and a juvenile male Sparrowhawk tearing through the field at 16:00. Total for all bird-types was 15, including 22 Swallow, 1 Pied Wagtail, 2 Canada Goose (heard). So feeling fit but a little knackered! xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

Impressed by Extinction introduced by David Attenborough on BBC1 this evening; much the best recent programme on environmental doomsday with concentration on direct killing of animals, loss of habitat and pollution as main causes of loss of biodiversity. Not nearly so much on climate change, which I very much welcome as I think the crusade there by well-intentioned but naive people has been hijacked by big business and very wealthy individuals to make massive profits on the back of green energy projects which solve little energy-wise but cause enormous damage to the environment by industrialisation of remaining wild areas. Interesting figure: animals on planet by volume: 60% domestic, 36% human, 4% wild. The Covid pandemic was also treated properly as an environmental issue with human incursions into remaining animal domains in Asia becoming increasingly reckless with heavy virus transfers. I've met the old relict female Northern White Rhino in Kenya on a trip there; there's only one younger female on the planet; the two are kept together under 24-hour guard.

Since 10/9 7 more records (7 birds) on BirdGuides for autumn migration of Honey-buzzard, giving running total of 98 birds (3 July from 31/7, 64 August, 31 September):

15:18 13/09 European Honey Buzzard East Sussex Pevensey Levels 10:58 one flew east over Wartling Road

14:28 13/09 European Honey Buzzard Kent Worth Marsh 11:40 one flew west

13:40 13/09 European Honey Buzzard East Yorkshire Hornsea Mere juvenile flew south-west between 10:00 and 13:00; also two Western Ospreys flew south-east, meanwhile Great Egret and Eurasian Bittern still present

13:11 13/09 European Honey Buzzard Hampshire North Baddesley 13:06 one flew south high

12:59 13/09 European Honey Buzzard Kent Dungeness RSPB 12:53 one flew south-east over ARC Pit

13:47 12/09 European Honey Buzzard West Sussex Chichester 13:00 one flew over Tesco car park

10:43 11/09 European Honey Buzzard Kent Fowlmead CP 10:25 one flew high overhead

Black Kite still present in Cornwall, but how many?

18:18 13/09 Black Kite Cornwall St Buryan 12:30 one flew over nearby early afternoon

16:09 13/09 Black Kite Cornwall Porthgwarra one early afternoon

11:34 13/09 Black Kite Cornwall Sparnon 11:25 one drifted low over fields to north at c 50.0623, -5.6359

15:12 12/09 Black Kite Cornwall Skewjack 15:12 again south of Escallis chapel car park and landed briefly in field then circled high and drifted south

13:53 12/09 Black Kite Cornwall Skewjack 13:40 one circling over high

September 12th: moderate W breeze continued and quite cool at 14C max; some sunshine later in day. Had a leisurely day at home, conditioning for quarantine! Couldn't escape the Honey-buzzard; while having some tea outside, at 18:20 the female and juvenile were seen right over the nest site low-down and close together; presumably the female had brought in some food; the male is probably on his way to Africa. Did a fair amount of work on a website and transferred results to web server – needs deep refresh ctrl-F5 to force updated version into view! Otherwise the old cached version may be shown, with the old stylesheets. My autosomal DNA ethnicity has been revised by Ancestry from initial snapshot; England now reduced to 49% (mainly SW England); Scotland, Norway and Ireland have been revised upwards to 13-14% each (41% total); others are Wales 5%, Germany 3%, Sweden 2%. Magdalena is also a Norwegian name, with short form Lena. So more northerly apparently!! Had massive Windows 10 update on laptop today, took 3 hours to install; good that it's come now! Had 100 min with D/N on Skype call and 70 min 'phone call with big sis so sociable in that respect! A 3-day weather window is coming up for concluding Honey-buzzard study in Tyne Valley W. Sorted out some bird records today: casual ones from last few days and Prospect Hill on 23/8. Son thought Aurora's performance of Beethoven 7 was ecstatic! Hope the gorgeous one is fit: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

September 11th: high cloud with intermittent light rain, some brighter spells, light SW breeze, 14C max. Had break from the study area going into NCL from CRB. CT4s4l was good, increased number of staff on, 2 of whom remembered me and I them! Met D/D at W4g4s; used GK app to successfully order g, staff said very few customers use the app so good to see it in use. We had very good chat! Markets were highly stressed this week with US high-flying tech stocks down 10%, unsettling almost everything. UK international stocks were boosted in £ terms by sharp fall in £ against $. UK domestic stocks are under pressure from prospects for what would be a disastrous 2nd lockdown. Own funds were unchanged, leaving them at +47k gross (+4.3%) on year to date, compared to falls of 20.0% and 19.9% respectively for ftse 100 and ftse 250. Sold many UK domestic stocks and airlines, moving funds into cash, bonds and battery-metals! The last is an interesting punt as current supplies of the metals are way below what would be needed for penetration of electric cars into the main market. Zn is of interest as it is the target of active research being more abundant than Ni, Co, Mn and Li, so more scaleable. Was offered a discounted placing in an Australian zinc prospect into which ploughed A$ 7.5k. But main interest is my 1% holding in the unquoted Canadian Manganese https://www.canadianmanganese.com/. Have also bought shares in 2 companies, one in Australia, other in Canada, doing research into Zn batteries. So given up on UK recovery, looking for resilience elsewhere. Was poignant farewell: when will me meet again: gorgeous memories: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Some interesting birds in the last few days: a female Honey-buzzard hanging over Letah Wood today at 12:00, soon going down; a male Honey-buzzard migrant today at 15:40 up very high over Wylam and moving S; a Nightjar, probably a juvenile, hawking over the road at Letah Wood last night at 21:30; a Barn Owl on 7/9 flushed from a fence near Ordley at 23:00. A Speckled Wood butterfly was flitting around at Dunston Station today.

September 10th: bright morning followed by dull afternoon with quite heavy cloud coming in on a light to moderate SW breeze; quite cool at 13C max, abandoning shorts! Made last site in 'Shire, Slaley Forest W, for productivity check from 16:55-18:30, a little late in the afternoon. At 17:11 a male Honey-buzzard came up quickly over the nesting area, hanged for a little while and then drifting a little S before diving back into the trees in the site 1  2 with piccie 1 cropped here (10086). Next action was over an hour later at 18:15 when a grey-brown juvenile was seen pushing its way through the tops of the trees: a brilliant sight confirming all 6 'Shire sites have successfully fledged young this year but only at the level apparently of one each. Another good sighting was a juvenile Red Kite coming up at 18:14 from the SW of Viewley over the burn and then moving NE towards the forest to N of Viewley. A juvenile Kestrel was hunting at Steel Pond at 16:50. Total for bird-types for trip was 19, including 2 Raven (at 17:10, reliable site for this rare bird in study area), 28 Goldfinch (10 S), 16 Swallow (13 S), 15 Chaffinch (all S), 1 Chiffchaff, 6 Siskin. Earlier made C4c4ll and completed processing of material from Hexham N on 22/8. Later made HoN4st4s at 21:30 with M where we had good chat on the demon Boris: we were last in and last out; post-virus we do seem to have become more eastern European – early to rise, early to bed; must remember that! News on Portugal not unexpected, will have to quarantine on return but still going! Still get health treatment on my EHIC card, which expires on 07/05/21 (effectively with Brexit on 31/12/20) and have got travel insurance through Staysure for 49.78, providing some Covid cover, even though travel is not advised. Very pleased the Festival is going ahead, have saved all of last year's material prior to updating; each year is preserved in a separate folder on the Namecheap server, in final form. 2moro it's CRB-NCL as last week. xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Today 3 more records (3 birds) on BirdGuides for autumn migration of Honey-buzzard, giving running total of 91 birds (3 July from 31/7, 64 August, 24 September):

22:28 10/09 European Honey Buzzard Nottinghamshire Welbeck watchpoint one flew over Welbeck Park today

13:53 10/09 European Honey Buzzard East Sussex West Hove Golf Course possible flew over nearby North Hangleton

09:09 10/09 European Honey Buzzard Suffolk Hollesley 08:48 one flew over to south

September 9th: recent additions to Honey-buzzard national survey (full results to date on Honey-buzzard home page http://nickrossiter.org.uk/hbweb/index.html):

1(k) Ordley 22/08/20: female and juvenile up low-down, clip 23 secs long 1, 5 sample stills 1  2  3  4  5; male above and quickly off to forage, 1 sample still 6: 12:40-13:00.

9(c) Hexham N 22/08/20: family group of male, female, 2 juvenile up briefly, clip 52 secs, with the pair going on to display high-up. Sample stills: 1 of the pair 1, 1 of the male 2, 1 of the female 3, 3 of the family group 4  5  6, 13:15-15:15.

Had a brilliant Honey-buzzard day today, one of the ones you dream about! Wasn't particularly warm at 15C max but wind was a beefy moderate W and it was dry with some sunny intervals. Have kept going out in shorts, want to keep my legs weathered until the big move S. Started off well with the local juvenile Honey-buzzard being flushed from the side of the road, c600m to NE from my house at 11:00; this bird is very chunky, not that gainly yet. Made T4c4c with M where we had good chat on everything IT, including the LON app; this app is also potentially in use at the Welly on Friday nites as that's also GK; it's never been compulsory to use it there though I do book a table for drinks only on GK's web page. Think there may be a difference in culture: Jesmond being more willing to conform (and younger), Hexham area being strongly libertarian (and older). We also chatted about unn's IT woes and the VC's desire to always reduce the spend on the 'overhead of IT': lol!! Anyway pt 2 is 2moro at HoN4g4s for anyone who's interested!! So back for lunch and tidy up for cleaner S, then 14:35-16:15 to Dipton Wood S for good walk. Had a juvenile Honey-buzzard almost immediately up quite strongly at 14:48 on stubble field to S of road; it went down quickly but got a couple of piccies 1  2 with cropped piccie of 1 here (10085); they may eat spilt grain but suspect they're keener on the numerous wee beasties that find themselves without cover when the crop is cut! At 14:53 spotted the male Honey-buzzard soaring effortlessly from the site in conifers up to a great height with no flashy manoeuvres before drifting off S to Africa, 1st migrant of the autumn season. At 15:04 a Common Buzzard was up to the W and at 15:23 a juvenile male Goshawk was hunting low-down perhaps 400m to NW of occupied site in the spring, many Woodpigeon around to eat! It then got very satisfying: approaching the SE corner of Dipton Wood you can view the March Burn, the only site of the 10 in the national survey at which I did not see any juveniles. Well from 15:37-15:40 2 strong-flying dark-phase juveniles were up over this site (1-2 juvenile 1, 3-6 juvenile 2, 3 shows both birds with juvenile 1 high above juvenile 2) 1  2  3  4  5  6. Cropped piccies are 4 sample stills of juvenile 2 1  2  3  4, 1 sample still of juvenile 1 5 ; late record for first juveniles suggests that you need September visits to complete the survey at some sites: watch on March Burn was 15:00-16:00 (10085a). At 15:50 the female Honey-buzzard from the Dipton Wood site was seen sneaking back into the nesting-wood so she's still there for junior; she's a new bird for the year! So that's 6 Honey-buzzard (4 juvenile, male, female, at 3 sites with another brood of 2), 1 Goshawk (juvenile male) and 1 Common Buzzard. Total for trip was 21 bird-types, including a Tree Pipit perched on wires, 7 Stock Dove, 6 Goldfinch, 3 Yellowhammer, 3 Chiffchaff. 3 Common Crossbill, 14 Swallow. The only butterfly was a Small White. Have now got productivity count at 5/6 sites in the 'Shire. Onto G4g4t where no B, he's shielding, but joined up with M/T/A for good chat; I'm skilled at sneaking into groups! Have completely finished processing the Ordley 22/8 and gone a long way on Hexham N 22/8. 2moro looks a good day for visit to last site in 'Shire then maybe a 'rest' on Friday in the Toon. So to the gorgeous one xxxxx: XXX!!!!!! xx

Since 6/9 7 more records (7 birds) on BirdGuides for autumn migration of Honey-buzzard, giving running total of 88 birds (3 July from 31/7, 64 August, 21 September):

18:21 09/09 European Honey Buzzard South Yorkshire Thorne Moors NNR one

16:47 09/09 European Honey Buzzard Lincolnshire Far Ings NR 16:15 one flew west over Ness End car park

16:23 09/09 European Honey Buzzard Nottinghamshire Welbeck Abbey 16:20 one flew low overhead mobbed by corvids

15:11 09/09 European Honey Buzzard Kent Ash 14:15 probable flew north-west

08:57 09/09 European Honey Buzzard East Yorkshire Swinefleet 08:30 one flew south

07:27 09/09 European Honey Buzzard Kent Langdon Cliffs NT 08/09 one flushed from clifftop at Fan Bay and flew south-west yesterday

09:57 08/09 European Honey Buzzard Jersey Noirmont Point 09:35 one still

A few very late Black Kite continue to be reported, mainly on Scilly:

18:54 07/09 Black Kite Isles of Scilly St Mary's 18:35 again over Pelistry

21:02 06/09 Black Kite Isles of Scilly Tresco 16:50 one flew from Carn Near towards Abbey Gardens this afternoon

11:52 06/09 Black Kite Hertfordshire Hemel Hempstead possible flew low to north-east

September 8th: some sunshine today but lower angle of sun is now very obvious; raptors need a breeze now to get really mobile; warmer at 19C max and mostly dry but moderate W breeze kept it feeling cool. Had a good afternoon in the field from 15:25-17:40, in the meeting point between Dipton Wood and Swallowship where recently replanted conifers have left a big area for heather to bloom, looking really good 1. It's a Nightjar site, attracting Honey-buzzard from the nearby nest-site in Swallowship overlooking the Devil's Water. Today did indeed flush a male Honey-buzzard from the heather 2  3  4 at 15:36 who moved downhill towards Swallowship Wood where he was again picked up a little later at 15:42 5 after a brief stop at the Dipton Wood/Swallowship intersection area causing a little consternation among other birds. Here's cropped piccie of 2. At 17:00 I moved down to the main Slaley-Corbridge road, picking up a slim juvenile, relatively mature, on N side of the nest over Dukes Wood 6. Finally some evening sunshine at 17:23 and another juvenile Honey-buzzard, a younger bird, started floating around the fields and parkland to W of nest-site in company of a juvenile Common Buzzard from 17:28-17:32. For the younger juvenile, here's a clip, some derived stills from the clip 7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16 and one still 16. The younger bird was briefly preceded by the older juvenile at 17:23 over the W of the site 17  18 so persistence paid off with the finding now that 4/6 'Shire Honey-buzzard sites have fledged young but this is the first to have raised 2 young. Over the N extreme of Dipton Wood, a juvenile female Sparrowhawk was seen at 15:55 and a juvenile Red Kite was up at 17:15. Total for visit was 21 bird-types, including Woodlark (2 flushed together from heather at 16:57), Mistle Thrush (23, large post-breeding flock), Siskin (40, in groups of 7-8), Pied Wagtail (30, single feeding flock), Goldfinch (52, flock of 50), Linnet (6), Bullfinch (1, calling), Chiffchaff (2), Swallow (1 S, 4 family party), Chaffinch (2 feeding, 1 W). Had 9 Silver Y in the heather plus a Peacock. On way back at Dilston at 17:45 had 2 Common Buzzard up (adult, juvenile). Have processed the piccies for 22/8 Ordley with very raw youngster up in the air. Made G4g4s where pleased to have l on again; J is employing bar staff to maintain his sanity which is good to see!! Funds are +1k on 1st 2 days of week; tech stocks are still being hammered and PoO is also in decline; markets are very nervous at what panicky measures might be concocted to try and eliminate the virus as in South Korea. We cannot eliminate it; will have to adjust lifestyles until a vaccine comes along or it fades naturally; latter will not happen in a complete lockdown.

Live music is to restart at Hexham Abbey, with some sponsorship by the three local Rotary clubs (£100 each):

As the Queen’s Hall is likely to remain closed until 2021 at the very earliest, live music making in Hexham will only be possible in the largest building in the town, Hexham Abbey, (maximum permitted, 120 people). A co-operative between the various local promoters for providing top quality professional concerts is in process and the concert diary above is in development. The historical model of giving concerts has had to be significantly altered and for now, shorter concerts will be the order of the day.

The first 2 concerts planned are:

Saturday 24th October, 7.30pm, Abbey…concert confirmed. Jill Hughes, baroque flute, Martin Hughes, baroque violin, Miri Nohl, baroque cello & viola da gamba, John Green, harpsichord JG/MJH. Baroque Concert with music by JS Bach, Telemann, Leclair, Platti, Boismortier. § A first live concert in the Abbey to prove that all arrangements are safe, reliable and workable.

Friday 20th November, Abbey, H&DMS Consone Quartet, BBC New Generation Artists, an outstanding ensemble in a programme to celebrate Beethoven 250 and featuring: Beethoven String Quartet in C minor, op 18, no. 4 and Quartet in A major, op. 18, no.5 Sponsored by The Violin Shop, Hexham

Not sure there's a web link yet as still at the planning stage. Bradley is down for 17/1. So some hope … impatient for more!! lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

September 7th: similar to yesterday, wet morning, brightening up later but wind W moderate, so stronger, 16C max. In evening made WJS, interesting area, arrived a bit early so went to LON4rw4t; took me 10 min to download GK app, install it and run it and 10 min to drink it: in HEX area such app tyranny would not be tolerated: you just order at the bar! The app apparently wanted me to submit a photo of my credit card, I'd never do that: it did though accept a PayPal payment as otherwise I'd have just gone thirsty. App is rated a lowly 2.9/5 on play.google, needs to be less onerous, after all you're only buying a drink. Meal was brill: really enjoyed it and company was gr8: very happy with experience and much appreciated!! Metro CAL-WJS worked well and drive HEX-CAL was easy enough. Earlier made N4c4ll as C full after W4shop. 2moro back in the field, plus more processing of the national survey records and G4g4s. xxxxx XXX!!!!!

September 6th: dull, wet morning, wind light NW, brightening up quite well at 14:00 with temperature reaching 15C max. Winds did not turn E as forecast. So decided to have a go at the Dotland site, just up the road from my home one. At 15:49 on setting out heard a chicken call from a juvenile Honey-buzzard from my field at Ordley, with rough habitat here 1  2 (10083a). The search at Dotland though was very hard work, entered Dotland square at 16:00 and got back home at 18:10, after a major search of the fields, sky and trees all the way from Ordley to Dotland. Finally at 17:35 while making a last scan of the entire area, picked up a large 'Kestrel' perched high on top of a fir tree with russet plumage, small head, thin neck and fine bill: yes it was a juvenile Honey-buzzard, the only raptor actually seen today 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13 with cropped piccie 6 here; it sneaked off its perch at 17:37 back to the ground below for further foraging (10083). It was c200m to the NE of the conifer wood at Dotland in which they nest 14  15; suspect it had been feeding on the ground in a tall-vegetation clear-fell area as Corvids and pigeons were a little jumpy on an adjacent cut grain field. So that adds another 1 to my running totals; have now found single Honey-buzzard juveniles at 3/6 sites in the 'Shire. total for trip was 21 bird-types including 134 Goldfinch (flock 120), a Skylark, 6 Chiffchaff, 15 Swallow (5 S), 2 Stock Dove, 5 Robin, 76 Common Gull adult (6 W), 2 Herring Gull adult. 2 Brown Hare were also seen. Following my stern advice to unn/ncl decided to do a complete backup of all files today on my desktop to 2 external disks: 556,888 files, 80GB under folder 'nick documents', my documents and records files, and 33,438 files 96GB under folder 'web sources', my internet files; latter are nearly all held on my BT web site but good to synchronise. Do an incremental backup each day but doing a whole backup regularly makes recovery easier. Taken ages but 35 min to go at 01:56 – time for bed but will leave it churning away! Did make G4g4s, fairly quiet but landlord J seemed cheerful! So looking forward to evening, probably HEX-CAL: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

Today 6 more records (6 birds) on BirdGuides for autumn migration of Honey-buzzard, giving running total of 81 birds (3 July from 31/7, 64 August, 14 September):

21:56 06/09 European Honey Buzzard Essex Rayleigh one over Victoria Road then flew east late morning

20:11 06/09 European Honey Buzzard Isle of Wight Brading Marshes RSPB 09:47 adult flew south

17:27 06/09 European Honey Buzzard West Midlands Sutton Park NNR 17:22 juvenile flew over being mobbed by crows

14:41 06/09 European Honey Buzzard Gloucestershire Hanham possible flew towards Hanham from Netham Weir area

12:39 06/09 European Honey Buzzard Devon Harleston 11:30 one flew south

07:51 06/09 European Honey Buzzard Lancashire Leighton Moss RSPB 06:45 one flew over to south-east

and Black Kite still linger:

21:02 06/09 Black Kite Isles of Scilly Tresco 16:50 one flew from Carn Near towards Abbey Gardens this afternoon

11:52 06/09 Black Kite Hertfordshire Hemel Hempstead possible flew low to north-east

September 5th: good weather for raptors around lunchtime, bright, moderate W breeze, maybe a little cool at 13C max but heavy sharp showers later. Reverted to old study techniques now national survey completed for this year, making Stocksfield Mount from 12:25-14:15. Have run through all the piccies, plenty of Honey-buzzard: 3 Bywell Cottagebank (male, female, dark-phase juvenile, as found earlier in survey, today all up from 12:54-12:55 in piccie 17 (female above male above juvenile), with male up at start encouraging action, and later trying to prolong the display by hanging over the site low-down 15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22 with cropped image of 15, the male, here 10082c); 3 Stocksfield E/Eltringham (male, female, pale-phase juvenile up from 13:28-13:33, with juvenile appearing first on 1 and then female 2, juvenile 3, 4-10: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11, followed by male again high-up over Eltringham at 13:58 12  13 (10082a); the male appears in 3 high above the juvenile and in 11-13 high up above the foraging area on the stubble field. A cropped image of 1, the juvenile, is available here 10082a); 1 Whittle Dene (male up briefly at 12:45 in habitat 14 (10082b)), total 7; and Red Kite: 3 Bywell Cottagebank (adult 2, 1st up at 13:38, 2nd up a little to W at 13:53, juvenile, as found earlier in survey, playing with Common Buzzard juvenile at 13:53), 2 Short Wood E (adult, juvenile, up from 13:00-13:05), total 5; and Common Buzzard: 1 Bywell Cottagebank (juvenile, as found earlier in season, from 12:55-13:55, playing with a Red Kite juvenile at 13:53), 1 Short Wood E (juvenile up briefly at 13:05), total 2. So 14 raptors of 3 types. Had good variety of other birds, totalling 23 types in all, including a Swift SE, a Woodlark SW, 6 Swallow S, 5 House Martin S, 5 Sand Martin S, plus 4 Chiffchaff. Only 1 wasp was seen. 2 Grey Squirrel was not a welcome sight. Made C4c4l where tbld did the honours, I4shop and had Skype session with N/D for 90 min from 16:00; we had very good chat. Delighted at invitation!! Loved the Viner!! Security disasters at both universities in Newcastle: unn https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/update-on-it-incident (read Staff FAQs), ncl https://www.ncl.ac.uk/itservice/latest-news/, at a very critical time in the academic year. Can suspect poor calibre of people running the IT, sometimes not even with professional IT background; too much WFH with assignment of key tasks physically away from central offices out to people's homes in a much more susceptible environment; furlough of staff that have special skills; lack of face-to-face meetings to raise issues of concern; late running of security fixes and patches; plus others that will surely emerge. ncl at least did take a backup just before things went downhill; unn says no guarantee files will be restored. This is culpable negligence, which will tarnish the reputation of both universities. Financial difficulties may be a major cause. If these were private companies I would press the sell button as companies who experience catastrophic IT failures are often goners within a year; it's a reflection of the way they do business in general! On a pleasanter note, keep looking gorgeous: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Here are some relevant recent records on BirdGuides: late Black Kite, possibly UK bred:

13:50 03/09 Black Kite Isles of Scilly St Mary's 13:38 still over burial chamber at Porth Hellick Down [there were some other records on Scilly and in Cornwall at this time of up to 2 birds together]

11:54 02/09 Black Kite Kent Tunbridge Wells one reported this morning

08:42 02/09 Black Kite Kent Tenterden 08:30 one flew south-west just to east of Smallhythe Road

16:56 31/08 Black Kite Isles of Scilly St Mary's 16:35 two still from Hugh Town quay

Presumably the Eagle I saw at Blanchland on 31/8:

15:02 01/08 White-tailed Eagle Northumberland Derwent Reservoir juvenile flew over dam then lost to view; also Western Osprey and Ruddy Shelduck

Since 31/8 8 more records (8 birds) on BirdGuides for autumn migration of Honey-buzzard, giving running total of 75 birds (3 July from 31/7, 64 August, 8 September):

10:00 05/09 European Honey Buzzard Jersey Noirmont Point 09:55 one still [3 on Jersey in this period is noteworthy, likely 'landing' point from Dorset/Isle of Wight with one bird also at latter]

16:15 04/09 European Honey Buzzard West Midlands Sutton Park NNR one flew over

14:16 04/09 European Honey Buzzard Isle of Wight Ventnor Downs 11:10 one flew low south-west over Hundred Acre Field towards Niton

09:05 04/09 European Honey Buzzard Jersey Noirmont Point 09:03 one still

16:01 02/09 European Honey Buzzard East Sussex Brighton 14:00 30/08 juvenile flew over on Sunday afternoon [1st juvenile reported]

15:02 02/09 European Honey Buzzard Cambridgeshire Godmanchester probable flew over A14 mid-afternoon (seen from a moving car)

10:45 02/09 European Honey Buzzard West Sussex Pulborough Brooks RSPB 10:30 one over North Brooks with 3 Common Buzzards then drifted south

09:02 01/09 European Honey Buzzard Jersey Noirmont Point 08:58 one flew over

September 4th: fresh W breeze, some heavy showers, 16C max, no real sunshine. Did though keep up with the Honey-buzzard: a heavy juvenile was flushed at close range at Farnley from the side of the railway line near where the embankment collapsed and had to be repaired. It was weak-flying, moving up the field low-down to escape, towards its nest site up the hill. So that's site no.11 where young present this year but productivity seems to be low at 1 per nest; are single juveniles heavier than ones raised in pairs? Maybe --- they could be pampered! So did go into the big city, making CT4s4l where it's waiter service now. Northumberland Street was definitely busier and trains are getting on for being full. Metro centre was very quiet, at least not many people using the train to get there. Road traffic is getting heavier each week in NCL but still down a little I feel. In Hexham the road traffic is back to normal or even higher with people not using public transport. In evening made W4g4s with D/D – very good chat, really enjoy evenings with them! The W was much busier tonight even though it was too cool to sit outside. Markets had a traumatic week with tech stocks crashing after some market manipulation by shorters, designed to flush out people betting long on margin; some investors expecting tech stocks to go ever higher have made huge leveraged bets, have been stressed through margin calls, and have had to sell anything else they can lay their hands on to remain solvent! Own funds finished -5k, reducing gain on year to 47k (4.3%). ftse 100 declined 3.0% on week making loss on year 23.3% and ftse 250 is now down 20.9% on year. The tech shakeout may have some benefits: discourage naïve speculation; reduce the apparent good performance of stock markets in the face of the pandemic, exposing the dreadful performance of many sectors; lead to more stimulation and support by government of the ailing areas. It was a very stimulating day: gorgeous she is: hope health restored soon: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

September 3rd: sunny day but with moderate to fresh SW breeze, 16C max, light showers. In demob happy mode, made N4c4ll where sat outside and had a very sociable time! Can see why C staff were a little down 2 days ago; they probably had been told of the lay-offs. Decided to have a complete break from the vale woods, making a windswept Grindon Lough near the Roman Wall from 15:35-16:45. Had yet another raptor-type, a female juvenile Peregrine standing at the E end 1  2  3  4 (cropped image 4 is here) with just 2 gulls and 2 Greylag Goose for company, obviously thinking they were too big for an attack. Need to tot up raptor variety over last 2 weeks, must be incredible. The gulls were adult LBBG and adult GBBG 1, standing close together in a good comparison shot. Also in total of 21 bird species, had a Curlew (on southern grassy bank) 1  2  3  4  5, a Shelduck, 2 Tufted Duck (female/immature), 1 Pintail (eclipse male), 2 Stock Dove and 2 Common Buzzard up to NE (adult, juvenile) in display. Another juvenile Common Buzzard was up over Warden at 15:25. A juvenile Kestrel was at Letah Wood at 17:05. Cleaner S came this afternoon so was out for a while: everything sparkling clean on return! Made R&C4m4s with M/A for good chat; we arrived at 19:45 and were booted out at 21:30 by An – strict discipline, that's closing time unless there's plenty in! Major crash in tech shares today with Tesla now down 25% since Tuesday. Sold my tech stocks too early after making decent profit, never thought the boom would go as far as it has but at least avoided losses today. 2moro it's CRB-NCL at 12:20, return at 15:23. Looking forward to the big city, including CT4s4l and some inspiration!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

September 2nd: much worse weather than forecast, heavy rain starting at midday and still going as write at 01:30 (3/9), wind SW moderate, max 17C. Wasn't planning any fieldwork but don't think it's over because the survey has concluded; will still be out and about – still plenty to learn about Honey-buzzard and it keeps me fit! Added a paragraph below on yesterday's visit in more detail: had 4 types of raptor, including a juvenile Goshawk, a scarce breeder in the study area. Made T4c4c with M; we had very good chat, setting up trip to R&C4m4s tomorrow evening to see A. Amazed 2 c trhwso: she looked terrific!! Made M&S4shop as change from W; bought some socks (cycling emblem!), 4 pink grapefruit, rye bread, 2 ready meals (chicken, beef); haven't been there for almost 6 months but somethings from there do taste good. Finished Mahler 5 with its lovely adagio and stirring finale. Onto Mahler 6 now which is only 3 movements with a very stirring start. I find Mahler addictive, play some parts over and over! Do recommend the latest RNS * offering! Funds -3k on 1st 2 working days in London (3 in New York). Housebuilders are up but oils and travel are down, struggling a little in equities with hysteria over Covid unabating; pleased have so much in stable bonds! Well was thinking hard of someone: she's gorgeous: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

September 1st: great day to celebrate – concluded fieldwork for the 2020 national Honey-buzzard survey. Standing on the edge of Prudhoe Golf Course, near Eastwoods Park from 16:26-16:38, wrapped it all up with a family party of 3 birds (male, female, juvenile) up over the Stanley Burn to the E 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15; here's the habitat 16 (10082). Six cropped images were prepared from the preceding: 1 female/juvenile; 2  3 male, female, juvenile; 4  5 juvenile; 6 female. Honey-buzzard action started from 16:26-16:27 with the male and female reaching moderate height before diving down. The pair then did circling at same level with the juvenile much lower below; all 3 then met in a tight group; the juvenile is the heavier dark-phase bird with rounded wing-tip due to outer primaries not fully grown yet; the male is light-weight and pale, the smallest of the 3 birds; the female is also pale with darker carpal and size similar to juvenile. At 16:29 a Common Buzzard adult and juvenile were up a little to the N of the Honey-buzzard family. The Honey-buzzard were not seen again until 16:35 when the male and female were picked up low-down; the juvenile appeared again well below them with the adult pair going very high; the male came down to give some moral support to the juvenile. Weather was fittingly good today with long sunny spells, dry, 17C max, light S breeze. Was there from 15:10-17:00. Had a Sparrowhawk juvenile female flying low-down to E of Eastwoods Park at 15:41. A juvenile male Goshawk soared very high straight-up from 15:58-16:04, going into the base of the clouds 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9. A Common Buzzard juvenile was up at 16:24. A juvenile female Hobby was seen at the end of the Honey-buzzard display at 16:36, first up with them briefly and then powering S at low altitude; see 14 and 15 above. A pair of Hobby normally nest in the Wylam area so not unexpected. So total for raptors is 5 types: Honey-buzzard 3, Common Buzzard 3, Sparrowhawk 1, Goshawk 1, Hobby 1 (9 birds). Total for bird-types was 19, including 3 Common Gull adult (1 here on fairway, 1  2  3  4  5), 38 Swallow to S, 3 House Martin, 24 Herring Gull (14 adult, 6 2w, 4 juvenile). On return to Ordley at 18:00 had a flock of 15 Tree Sparrow.

I read the instructions for the survey again and they've been revised significantly with a report to be sent to the Country Coordinator, that's Rob Clements for England, instead of to your County Recorder, in my case the Recorder for Northumberland. I really welcome this change: it will enable a uniform policy across each country, to handle the difficulties in identifying Honey-buzzard, particularly with regard to variation in plumage, to the 3 structural types (male, female, juvenile), to what you can reasonably expect to see in the field at some range, and to appreciating behavioural aspects (jizz) and calls. I would hope Rob will liaise with European experts for further input if required.

Did make C4c4l but not feeling very comfortable there; they don't really welcome single people with their shortage of tables and the tmsuo, who did welcome me (!!), has disappeared!! See Portugal may lose its bridge status: don't really care as long as RYA are still flying! Think removing these bridges is a thinly veiled attempt to keep Britons spending at home! I may go for longer if bridge is indeed removed to spite the UK approach! Still think we need to recognise our lack of immortality: good article in Guardian today by Tony Abbott: some elderly Covid patients could be left to die naturally: ‘Health dictatorships’ failing to consider economic costs of crisis, ex-Australian PM says https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/sep/01/tony-abbott-some-elderly-covid-patients-could-be-left-to-die-naturally; think looking at the paper it's published in I'm supposed to recoil at the ideas presented but 'fraid I don't! Think false positives from increased testing and the large number of asymptomatic cases among young people are making a mockery of the statistics; if you're asymptomatic you are not suffering from the disease and should not be classed as an infection. Inclined to support those who are having a rave!! If people who feel vulnerable want to place themselves under house arrest, so be it! 'fraid I've become a libertarian! Up earlier tomorrow after night off the p.ss, would actually like to celebrate with a ps: into Toon on Friday: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

August 31st: recent additions to Honey-buzzard national survey (full results to date on Honey-buzzard home page http://nickrossiter.org.uk/hbweb/index.html):

4 (d) Bywell 19/08/20: male and female up in display, with some dives and chasing, 2 clips 1 2, juvenile emerges briefly at end of 1; another clip 3 showing the juvenile flying low-down and landing in the top of a tree. 1 sample still of male 1, 2 of female 2  3, 2 of male and female 4  5, 1 of male and juvenile 6, 13:00-14:30.

6(d) March Burn 24/08/20: male seen in nesting area from vantage point: 13:00-14:10.

1(l) Ordley 31/08/20: juvenile overhead, low-down above my field: 16:20-17:00.

1(j) Ordley 20/08/20: male coming in fast to the site from the E: 3 sample stills 1  2  3, 12:05-12:50, 15:10-15:40.

Not a bad afternoon out at Blanchland from 13:40-15:50, picking up an immature White-tailed Eagle at 14:45, high up to S, presumably the juvenile reported on BirdGuides on 1/8 at Derwent Reservoir by the dam. 1  2, a male Hen Harrier high overhead moving S at the same time 14:45 1  2, 2 Kestrel (adult male at 14:30, juvenile at 13:54), 3 Red Kite (pair adult up from 13:59-14:09 and 15:00 over moor to N and wood to NE, a juvenile up at 15:12 over wood to NE). 3 Honey-buzzard were seen at the Blanchland site: a male was out foraging to S at 14:17 1  2  3; from 14:49-15:03 a female escorted a dark-phase juvenile high into the sky over moorland to N and wood to NE 4  5  6  7, last 2 of juvenile alone. Cropped images of the Honey-buzzard are here: 3 for male 1  2  3; 1 for female and juvenile 4. So that's 10 raptors of 5 types: 3 Honey-buzzard, 3 Red Kite, 2 Kestrel, 1 Hen Harrier, 1 White-tailed Eagle. Whatever next? Well did have the local juvenile Honey-buzzard fly over my head while sitting in my field eating late lunch, no camera to hand but was all so sudden don't think I would have had time to compose a shot. Migrants today included, at Blanchland, 95 Swallow S, 4 House Martin S, 4 Chiffchaff, 5 Siskin S (12 in all), a Ring Ousel, and at Ordley, a 1w/female Redstart. Also at Blanchland Crossbill numbers reached 69 (2 flocks of 30 and 20) with 2 Lesser Redpoll, a Great Spotted Woodpecker. So exciting times! Total at Blanchland was 21 bird-types plus 2 Common Hawker dragonfly and 3 Rabbit. Weather was sunny, 17C max, few clouds in sky, light N breeze, polar airstream, always good for raptors, indeed favourite weather. Blanchland village was packed; in parking had to block off the textile recycling point at the main car-park! Did make G with P and M on; good chat, one of the former bar lasses there E has just got back from Greece and she and her friend have both tested positive for Covid but are asymptomatic, therefore not suffering from the disease but could pass it on. M had a test today in Newcastle, before coming back to work at G, which was negative. Hope someone's bearing up: thinking of her: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Since 28/8 7 more records (7 birds) on BirdGuides for autumn migration of Honey-buzzard, giving running total of 67 birds (3 July from 31/7, 64 August):

22:47 31/08 European Honey Buzzard Dorset Maiden Castle 30/08 one yesterday

19:28 31/08 European Honey Buzzard Kent Lydd one flew south-west late afternoon; also Common Quail flushed

21:58 30/08 European Honey Buzzard Dorset Lytchett Minster 11:30 pale morph drifted north today over Baker's Arms roundabout

21:09 30/08 European Honey Buzzard Cornwall Breage one today

13:40 30/08 European Honey Buzzard Highland Udale Bay 13:32 one flew south over the Black Isle

10:05 30/08 European Honey Buzzard Jersey Noirmont Point 09:20 one flew over

12:26 29/08 European Honey Buzzard Surrey Binscombe possible flew north-west

In 2019 by 31/8 Honey-buzzard autumn migration from BirdGuides: counts - August total (from 17/8) 73, total for autumn 73. So very different pattern this year with large early departure and less intense departure in late August. There were only 4 birds seen from 31/7-16/8 in 2019 away from breeding areas so this year's pattern is strikingly different with 45 noted for dates 31/7-16/8. Significant total nesting failure is indicated.

August 30th: warmer today at 14C max, still well below average, but some welcome sunshine and dry on light N breeze. Made Slaley Forest E from 14:30-16:30 and enjoyed the sight of 4 Honey-buzzard up in the air, an adult pair with junior and a female intruder. From 14:39-14:40 2 females were up in the air over the moor, mutually circling each other; one was the neat-feathered resident bird as seen later with the male, the other had extensive tail damage, not uncommon in Honey-buzzard because of their arduous deep-digging with the tail flexed against the edge of the hole 20  21  22  23  24; 20 shows only female-2; 22 shows the damaged tail of female-2; 24 shows the male soaring high above both of the females. Female-2 is considered to be a migrant as well as an intruder. The main display was c1km from the nesting area in spruce forest over the open moor from 15:40-15:46; the pair followed by the youngster put in some energetic full display at altitude, all captured on video, a 6 min take clip 1 with videograbs 1  2  3 and screen captures 4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14; some gun shooting was occurring in the distance in the direction of the nest site. The adult pair went very high and were lost to sight but the juvenile was again in view, soaring right below where they had last been seen clip 2 with screen captures 15  16  17  18  19 (10080). Summary for Honey-buzzard is:

3(d) Slaley Forest E 30/08/20: 4 birds up in the air, an adult pair with junior plus a female intruder; 2 video clips 1  2, first of adult pair displaying, second of juvenile soaring below, with 4 sample derived stills of pair 1  2  3  4 and 2 of juvenile 1  2; 2 sample stills of the 2 females 1  2, 14:30-16:30.

Also had 3 Red Kite with a pair of adults displaying at altitude mainly at 15:09, but occasionally also sharing a frame with the Honey-buzzard, and a juvenile at low-level below at 15:11 just above the heather. A Common Buzzard adult was calling as prepared to leave at 16:24 and a Kestrel juvenile was up hovering over the moor at 15:08. So that leaves 2 sites to go for young now out of the original 10; will do 1 more tomorrow. For raptors that was 9 birds of 4 types: Honey-buzzard 4, Red Kite 3, Common Buzzard 1, Kestrel 1. Total for trip was 15 bird-types, including 500 Lapwing in one large flock to E, 16 Meadow Pipit (1 S, 15 feeding on moor), 3 Stonechat (all 3 juvenile), 2 Crossbill, 7 Swallow SE, 1 Chiffchaff. It does look like a poor breeding season for Honey-buzzard with 1 young raised per nest against the usual 2. The sequence of how they end up with 1 young is nature in the raw: the female lays 2 eggs, 2-3 days apart but starts sitting as soon as the first is laid so that hatches ahead of the other. The older chick is appreciably stronger than the younger one and has first call on the food being brought in by the parents. If food is abundant both will grow to fledge successfully. If food is scarce the younger bird may weaken and die; the female then chops the remains up and feeds them to the surviving sibling! There is no gender dependence – it's simply age that determines who's strongest unless of course the elder chick catches a disease. Enough said on this! Made G4g4s with P except it was full so we switched to Cnt4g4s, where they do look after us well. We had good crack! Fascinating email received: will attend to request: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

August 29th: so cool today at 12C max for 2nd day in a row; wind was N fresh in morning declining to moderate by evening; cloudy and dry in morning with some evening sunshine later. Went for walk along Tyne in morning from 10:10 to 12:45, studying the Honey-buzzard site at Hexham N. Only one raptor was seen and that was indeed a male Honey-buzzard from 10:59-11:00, 11:05-11:06 and at 11:12. He was initially up over the same wood as held by the family party on 22/8, then moving a little to E before returning to the home wood. On first coming up in the air, he hanged over the wood testing the breeze (too strong for safe juvenile flight!); later actions were a reluctant acceptance that there was to be no flying practice today 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 with some cropped images here 1  2  3  4  5  6 (10079). Males seem more keen than the females on getting these training flights under way, usually initiating them. The males do have an interest in getting the young fit in the air: they can then leave for Africa! Total for trip was 22 bird-types, including 1 Nuthatch, 2 Chiffchaff, 10 Swallow, 3 Sand Martin, 1 LBBG ad W, 1 GBBG ad W. Sorted Bywell visit on 19/8, coming out with 3 clips and many derived stills (videograbs); will add data to BirdTrack and summary to home page tomorrow morning. Crate was in KF from 10:00-14:30, diagnosis was easy and all fixed for £145, just for the back box as rest of exhaust was OK! It was too cold, even with a gore-tex coat on, to spend whole time by the Tyne so made N4s4l for lengthy visit from 12:45-14:15, where good to meet S again; she thought I'd been shielding rather than sitting in rival C, was a little vague on that! Also read FT there, all very positive for electric cars and precious metals and negative for UK economy so happy to have Mn/Zn/Pb/Ag stocks based overseas. ANPA sessions have been useful in thinking through next paper in the context of other people's work: they're all keen on everything from nothing (aren't we all!); in CT it's the initial object (written 0) that is 'nothing', the colimit (+) of the topos in constructive maths as in our recent paper giving the physical sounds. The construction of the terminal object (written 1) provides the limit (X) on the topos structure, giving the logical specification for the sounds. Another way of looking at it is that 0 is a state of random notes (ignorance) and 1 is a state of logical harmony (wisdom) or, in classical physics, 0 is low entropy and 1 is high entropy! So we are totally consistent in CT with other ANPA workers. Today had Skype session of 95 mins with N/D, who I think are shielding until next spring! We had good chat. N follows it up with another long Skype session with his brother in SFO so he's a hologram now! Completed GA form, will return tomorrow morning with chat!! Will be out in the field 2moro trying to fix one of the 3/10 key sites where fledged young not proven yet. May be back to C in late afternoon and G much later!! lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

August 28th: heavy rain in morning, then drier, max only 12C, incredibly low, 4-5C below average; wind E moderate to fresh, few sunny intervals. Have had some interesting birds over last 2 days: a male Merlin was hunting yesterday over field at 13:25 with 6 Swallow E, in brief watch from 13:10-13:45. How many raptors since 19/8: amazing total I think. Some butterflies were out at the same time: 5 Peacock, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Small White. Yesterday evening had a Barn Owl at Ordley at 21:30. This evening in slow drives had a Nightjar and a Tawny Owl at Swallowship at 20:30 and single Tawny Owl at Riding Mill, Dipton Wood E, Dipton Wood Main at 22:45. A Fox was at Swallowship and a Badger in Dipton Wood Main. Did make ANPA on Zoom and W4g4s for good chat with D/D; we have 2 more of these before departure for Faro, where there were massive people jams today as 9 planes landed 'at once'. Faro has low rate of Covid, no quarantine at present, and it's 30-33C max, sunny all day on moderate NW breeze, pretty tempting for cooped-up northern Europeans! Did get rid of immediate problem with exhaust by lying on ground under the car and hack-sawing through a rubber holding-mechanism for the muffler, which is now in the boot; car is a little noisy but expect KF to sort it tomorrow. Funds finished the week +6k, bringing gain on year to date to 52k gross (+4.7%). ftse 100 lost 0.6% on week, bringing fall on year to 20.9%; ftse 250 was up slightly, now down 18.9% on year. Natural resource stocks connected with electric vehicles have been rising strongly, including manganese ones with Tesla moving to include Mn in its electric batteries. Have 1% (574.5k shares) in unquoted Canadian Manganese from Minco days; could be quite an uplift here if mine, which is proven as to content, is bought out for say $C25m. Oils continue to be depressed, expecting end of world for fossil fuels: don't bank on it! I'm being very contrarian here but most of money is in oil bonds, not equities. Good plan received today: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Since 24/8 6 more records (6 birds) on BirdGuides for autumn migration of Honey-buzzard, giving running total of 60 birds (3 July from 31/7, 57 August). Note all these records are in the deep south:

21:10 28/08 European Honey Buzzard Suffolk Ipswich 12:30 27/08 one flew south between Cliff Quay and Orwell Bridge early afternoon yesterday

16:45 28/08 European Honey Buzzard Isle of Wight St Lawrence one flew low along coast

15:05 28/08 European Honey Buzzard Dorset Portland one flew north over the middle of the island early afternoon

10:11 28/08 European Honey Buzzard Isle of Wight Bonchurch 08:55 one over Bonchurch Down

19:08 27/08 European Honey Buzzard Essex Hatfield Peverel 25/08 one briefly at a nearby lake on Tuesday evening

13:11 27/08 European Honey Buzzard Hampshire Titchfield one flew over Upper Farm at Little Posbrook this morning

August 27th: another foul day weather-wise – quite amazing with heavy rain morning, evening and night on light to moderate E breeze. Afternoon was just dull, 14C max! Feel for farmers who are watching the grain crops rotting in the field; maybe the dry cool weekend will help dry it out. Honey-buzzard are not adversely affected by a wet spell as they spend their lives in the damp – temperate rain forest in the breeding season, tropical rain forest in the winter. But feel wasp numbers are very low this year so keeping a close eye on productivity. The large numbers moving at the start of August in the UK are likely to have been failed breeders, not males from early successful breeding. Would expect successful breeders to start moving this weekend on a fresh N breeze. Noticed car was a little 'throaty' as drove into G, where had a few g with P/R; P is bankrupt, was waiting for me to go in and confessed to having no money. His London property empire is in trouble with Covid (no tenants) and his son is starting a course in Medicine at NCL, with which he is helping. Was not happy with earlier sneaky approach but can find a few £ I think to ease things along in a more open environment; I do need friends after all!! Anyway on driving home there was a loud clatter from behind and exhaust muffler had fallen off, banging along the road while hanging on a retaining strap. Decided to get it home slowly at 20 mph with part banging on the road rather than wait for a breakdown truck at that time of night! Have appointment at 10:00 at KF on Saturday; will detach hanging part tomorrow or strap it up with a coat hanger! The floodwater everywhere had probably been the final straw for a rusty system. Anyway enjoyed nite tremendously: J is desperate for our custom in the G; M was very welcoming; but tomorrow it's W4g4s if car is safe! Did attend ANPA tonight – very interesting talk from JW in Glasgow; have got a few interesting snapshots. So life is never dull: fortified by this week's events: did have an interesting clip to show, will judge when: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

August 26th: tail-end of storm Francis today with further gloom and cold at only 13C max in the 'Shire. Wind was moderate E. So cool and damp that turned on all storage heaters tonight in house! But did get out in the field, encouraged by cleaner S's arrival, making Prudhoe S from 15:45-17:25 and what a good visit it was; it was drizzling at the start but did brighten up briefly with even the sun coming out. Visit secured its objectives with juvenile Honey-buzzard emerging low from the nest site and flying SW to land at the top of a tall coniferous tree from 15:55-15:59 (plus again at 16:19) near its nest site, where it perched for some time surrounded by a few Crow; it was a very young bird with wings and tail still growing, looking like a large stubby Kestrel with its russet tones 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11 with cropped images here 1  2  3  4  5  6 (10078). The Honey-buzzard was also briefly investigated by a dark kite at 16:18, presumed hybrid offspring of the Black Kite x Red Kite pairing 12 (cropped image here). This dark kite does appear not to be migrating but who knows what it will do as winter approaches. Total of 14 bird-types included 52 Swallow (43 W), 1 LBBG (juvenile SW), 3 House Martin, 2 Chiffchaff. Didn't see any action at the Stanley Burn site near the bypass but now up to 7/10 target sites producing young. Earlier made T4c4c with M at 11:15 for good chat; surprised to bump into Mb there (from G); she's a budding economist at NCL! Later sorted the two fruitful visits on 17/8 as immediately below. To bed at 02:00 again; not feeling tired after the great renewal!! lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Additions today to Honey-buzzard national survey (full results to date on Honey-buzzard home page http://nickrossiter.org.uk/hbweb/index.html):

      1(h) Ordley 17/08/20: male out to forage, clip 56 secs long 1; 4 sample stills 1  2  3  4 plus brightened cropped stills 5  6, 12:45-13:30.

      8(b) Blanchland 17/08/20: male patrolling, 5 sample stills 1  2  3  4  5, female up briefly, 1 sample still 1, 15:40-17:30.

Since 20/8 5 more records (6 birds) on BirdGuides for autumn migration of Honey-buzzard, giving running total of 54 birds (3 July from 31/7, 51 August):

12:33 22/08 European Honey Buzzard West Sussex Church Norton 12:24 one flew east

10:50 23/08 European Honey Buzzard East Sussex Weir Wood Reservoir one flew over west end

20:24 24/08 European Honey Buzzard Suffolk Ipswich two flew south mid-morning

20:23 24/08 European Honey Buzzard Suffolk Aldeburgh one flew south this evening

17:11 24/08 European Honey Buzzard Kent Uplees 17:07 one crossed the Swale over Uplees copse heading south

August 25th: what a day: storm Francis struck giving torrential rain most of day, strong variable winds as we were near centre of low, but feeling so good still!! No fieldwork in my line of study – raptors. Made VctCmt for supper where had an ale pie with a few g; pie was 6.25 after discount but g was full price; bar lass V looks after me well! Caught up on sleep, from 15:00-17:00 and 22:00-08:00, never rest like this at home! Co-operation in circumstances very much appreciated: she's so fanciable: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! Funds +4k on 1st two days – small lift in airlines!

August 24th: beautiful day for raptors with light to moderate SW breeze, 16C max, strong sunshine in long sunny periods. Drove to Throckley N where very soon after arrival, picked up from 11:37-11:38 a family party of 3 Honey-buzzard flapping up briefly low-down on W fringe of the big wood, comprising the male and female plus a very weak-flying juvenile 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 (10077). Here are some cropped images of the family group 1, male 2  3, female 4, juvenile 5. Also here had a juvenile Common Buzzard soaring high at 12:03 and from 12:21-12:27 a family party of 3 Red Kite, with the adult pair displaying at high altitude and a juvenile well below them but comfortably above the tree tops, on the E end of the big wood; an adult Red Kite was up at 12:02 foraging to S of wood. Total here was 16 bird-types, including 4 Stock Dove, 1 LBBG juvenile W, 7 Linnet. Then back to Prospect Hill, from 13:00-14:10, where had another family party of 3 Red Kite at 13:40, the 2 adult and juvenile all being high-up over Eastwood Common, where seen earlier in season. A Common Buzzard was up briefly further to the S. Was hoping to pick up a Honey-buzzard in the March Burn, which visited yesterday and did eventually see the male flying around the high trees in the nest site at 13:56 used over many years. So that's great information as count a site occupied earlier in the season and in the fledging period as having succeeded in fledging young; symbol is >0 'more than zero'! Obviously would like more detailed information but sometimes you have to work with incomplete data. Also had a female Hobby up over March Burn, causing consternation in local Jackdaw. Total for Prospect Hill was 12 bird types including a Willow Tit, 1st for the year. So great progress with 6/10 key sites now 'registered' in fledging period for national survey. Had an Osprey moving purposefully E at Hexham Widehaugh at 14:20; a bird had been seen moving E near Haltwhistle, earlier in the day. Back to C4c4l and W4shop; delighted to meet tmsuo again!! Did some grass cutting, tidying up the spring-flowers area where cowslips flourish; no long grass left anywhere now! Much later made G with P/R; P has got car back from son and we bought our own drinks – all much more relaxing and great crack!! Good to have M on with L looking good!! Would say that Hexham is getting close to normality except for the mask-wearing in the shops and spaced-out tables in cafes/bars. Filled car up with petrol at Shell Garage at 23:40. 2moro it's rest time!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!! In NCL: been upgraded -- good news (not!).

August 23rd: promise on Friday was for a nice sunny day today, albeit with cool NW wind. Reality was heavy showers, merging at times, cool at 14C max, light NW breeze with some relief around teatime. After getting it wrong in the daytime they said it would clear-up this evening – wrong again, more persistent heavy rain right up to closing-time! Did make most of it, getting some energetic grass/mint cutting in the morning under threatening skies before it actually started raining and went off to the March Burn from 16:10-17:50 for the promised short ttime break to see if any Woodlark or Honey-buzzard were about; well they weren't and got soaked at end of trip by shower rolling in very quickly from the W. At least I've checked the Woodlark and they've now moved out of the breeding site onto presumably nearby farmland as none seen on the common. The Honey-buzzard can be checked more easily now at a distance from Prospect Hill. Today, in total of 14 bird-types, had single Kestrel juveniles at 16:40 and 17:17, a Jay, 2 Chiffchaff, 8 Swallow, 1 Green Woodpecker; mammals comprised a Rabbit and a Brown Hare. Finished processing the Blanchland trip from 17/8; just need to add the results to BirdTrack and the summary to here. Made G4g4s where had good crack after the € final with Gv/R/Gr!! Booked stay! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

August 22nd: moderate SW breeze, sunny intervals, mild, 17C max, good day for raptors! Getting more relaxed now as picked up 2 more family parties of Honey-buzzard today, meaning that out of 10 target sites this season for the survey, have now had young up in the air at 4 of them. Fledging is very recent with young today all at just above tree-top level! Was very lucky today as didn't spend too long in my field; as set up my watch things started happening quickly. At home site at last had a juvenile (dark phase) up in the air, just 1, accompanied by the female from 12:51-12:52. They were up for a very short time 1  2  3 before the juvenile collapsed back below the canopy; also took a clip with these derived stills 4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12 ; suspect the female had brought some food in and got the juvenile to chase her for the meal, a popular raptor strategy to get the young fit. The male was high overhead during this early training flight and soon after at 12:53 was seen going out to SW to forage 13  14 (10075). Here are 5 cropped images of the female and juvenile together 1  2  3  4  5 and one of the male 6. 2 Common Buzzard were seen in this brief watch, adult + juvenile, up to SE.

The other site was at Hexham N from 13:15-15:15 where noticed male and female Honey-buzzard at moderate height to W of site at 14:24 1  2  3  4; they then both came down and picked up 2 weak-flying youngsters around 14:26 who they tried to keep up in the air but the juveniles soon collapsed into some trees: 52 secs clip with derived stills 5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19. The adults went for some high-up display to show them how it's done (10076)! Here is 1 cropped image of the pair 1, 1 of the male 2, 1 of the female 3, 3 of the family group of 4 birds 4  5  6. There is little sexual dimorphism in this pair, the female being little bigger than the male. Today was really the day the Honey-buzzard came out of the woodwork after 10 week's secrecy: the end of the season is nigh!! At present the juveniles can hardly fly from one tree to the next but in 4 weeks time they'll be off to Africa. Other raptors were a Common Buzzard adult and a Red Kite juvenile, watching the Honey-buzzard action. Total was 14 bird-types, including 14 Swallow, 1 Common Gull adult W, 2 House Martin. Did make C4c4ll where tmsuo was very chatty, think she likes my shorts which have been wearing nearly every day, whatever the weather!! Following ANPA session with DM from smoky CA yesterday, had Skype session with N/D this afternoon at 16:00, which was an enjoyable 105 min. So feel like break and long rest very soon, maybe Toon on Tuesday nite!! Have downloaded my DNA spec (5.7MB, zip file) from Ancestry onto my desktop from where uploaded it to GEDmatch, a master repository collecting as much DNA info as possible from all sources in a standard format; WikiTree, my main repository for family members whether they like it or not, connects to GEDmatch to do its own linking. The DNA databases are getting very sophisticated in complexity and interoperability. So waiting 24-48 hours while processing takes place and then checking for further matches. 2moro it's G4g4s with further site checks earlier!! May go to Devon early September but will have to be by train as Loganair flights don't start to 14/9, which is too close to FAO flights, as well as not trusting the start date entirely. Hope someone's feeling fit: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

August 21st: squally today, 18C max, fresh SW breeze, some sunshine, heavy showers. No fieldwork today. Looked at piccies from yesterday and amazed to see that the 2 juveniles soaring high and going S at Ordley were both juvenile Black Kite. They must have spent the night in the Devil's Water on migration from further N, maybe Scotland. It looks as if we have a significant Black Kite UK colonisation this year with the mixed pair at Prudhoe and 'two juveniles photographed this morning moving west over Swantail' at Wheldrake, North Yorks, on 02/08/20 [BirdGuides]. The first kite came up at 12:31, rapidly gaining height and drifting S until at 12:34 it was into the cloud base and lost to sight 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9. The second kite came up at 12:35 and was lost to sight much sooner as it attempted to catch its companion 10  11  12. Only piccies 1 and 9 show clear field features; piccie 13 shows both pictures in one frame. They are not locally reared. Exciting stuff but in NE England the birding community is still wallowing far behind the curve on Red Kite, let alone Black Kite: keep up!! Sorted piccies and records from 11/8 at Dukeshagg, indicating with earlier records that a mixed pairing of Red Kite and Black Kite has raised one young. Made W4g4s with D/D and D/M joining us later: all very good chat! Portugal is such a popular destination with many flights full there this weekend. Will be keeping the bed warm: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

People do seem to be getting more relaxed with going out, about time too: the Telegraph ran this story this evening:

Coronavirus death rate continues to fall – despite more positive test. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/08/21/despite-positive-tests-coronavirus-death-rate-continues-fall/

Research shows that, if there had been a correlation between rise in cases and deaths, fatalities should have risen to around 35 per day.

Deaths from Covid-19 are continuing to fall and hospitals are "relatively empty", even though the number of people testing positive for coronavirus is rising, new analysis shows. Despite growing concern that rising cases will lead to a new wave of the virus, requiring further local lockdowns, the recent increase in numbers has not translated into hospitalisations and fatalities, even when allowing for the time lag between infections and death. Analysis by the University of Leeds and the University of Oxford shows that, if there had been a correlation between the recent rise in cases (see graphic below for the numbers across Britain) and deaths, fatalities should have risen to around 35 per day by now.

Funds after good run to Tuesday came back sharply later in week as renewed fears of a 2nd wave took hold, particularly affecting oil shares. So gain on week was reduced to 5k, still not bad against 1.5% fall in ftse 100. On the year to date gain is 46k (4.2%) against falls for ftse 100 and ftse 250 of 20.4% and 19.9% respectively.

Received autosomal DNA results from AncestryDNA: these are based on more recent pairings of ancestors, perhaps last 6 generations, rather than the long lines of paternal and maternal DNA. They also check for close matches and my 1st cousin David Tapper, who must have taken the test as well, is correctly assigned as such; he's son of my mother's younger sister Aunty Ann (christened Lena Ann), still going strong at 92! I'm a Devon yokel – 77% from SW England, mainly Devon with some Cornwall and Somerset; 8% from Ireland as residue on father-of-father line; 7% from Sweden so Sarah Jane Dashper, my gt-gt-grandmother on direct mother-of-mother line, was Swedish with the subsequent family name Lena coming from Magdalena; 5% from Germany, maybe Thomas May who married Sarah; 3% from Norway, perhaps linked to Sarah's ancestry. The mtDNA did indicate Sweden as a staging post from the Middle East. So impressed with all of that! Will give more details tomorrow.

August 20th: nice sunshine, quite windy with moderate, gusty SW breeze; heavy rain overnight but dry by day, 20C max. A home-based day desperate to get garden straight after 6 weeks of neglect, ever since the start of the Honey-buzzard survey in late June. So cut and clipped front garden and yard and cut long grass outside back door: some semblance of order restored! Did keep an eye open for wildlife and had 2 Common Buzzard (adult, juvenile) up a little to W at 12:31, followed immediately by 2 further raptor juvenile up in similar area, which still checking (see 21/8 above). No Honey-buzzard in morning session but in very short check mid-afternoon saw the male coming in fast to the site from the E into the breeze at 15:15, almost bouncing off the contours low-down 1  2  3  4  5  6  7, and putting a juvenile Kestrel up 8 (10074). Here's 3 cropped images 1  2  3. So don't think the Honey-buzzard have fledged here yet but will be counting 19/8 as start of fledging period in general with the brood at Bywell yesterday; the 12/8 at West Dipton is therefore an outlier; breeding season is I think running a little late, maybe because of the dry spring reducing numbers of amphibians and making excavation (digging) difficult for worms and grubs. Had 9 types of butterfly in my garden/field – Wall 1, Comma 1, Peacock 6, Small White 9, Speckled Wood 2, Red Admiral 1, Green-veined White 2, Large White 1, Small Tortoiseshell 1 – plus 2 dragonfly (Southern Hawker) and single Flounced Rustic, Large Yellow Underwing and Agriphila straminella moths. Made C4c4t where tmsuo was looking very alluring, followed by shopping in I where again forgot face mask for a bit! In evening made R&C in Slaley with M/A for meal and a few M (Murphy's stout, from Cork); we had great chat, almost entirely on computing, not for everyone! Cost was £30 for my share. Delighted that Portugal is now in the bridge system; have already booked flight NCL-FAO with RYA for £116 but this evening booked 14 nights at the Eva Hotel for €1369, including breakfast and double bed! Can cancel free of charge up to a few days before travel. Last stayed at Eva in March 2017: it's stylish, with roof-top salon for breakfast and good restaurant, and in a great location by the harbour with easy walk to bars, salinas and railway station for day trips; price is for the room. So that's something to look forward to! Mustn't accept any tea from the Russians!! Feeling fit today; suspect the 2 large cups of Americano coffee yesterday at S was too much – going to stick to cappuccino! No ANPA today but will be there tomorrow when DM, from US, who I gelled with at Vichy (UNILOG), is giving the talk. Later it's real W with D/D. How's your Portuguese: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

3 more records (3 birds) on BirdGuides for autumn migration of Honey-buzzard, giving running total of 48 birds (3 July from 31/7, 45 August):

14:44 20/08 European Honey Buzzard Derbyshire Ogston Reservoir 12:35 one flew south-west; also Western Osprey still

10:54 20/08 European Honey Buzzard Suffolk Benacre one flew south-west over Benacre Broad

10:38 20/08 European Honey Buzzard Dorset Wareham adult male flew over Wareham Channel

August 19th: a fair day with plenty of warm sunshine on light SW breeze, dry, quite warm 21C, becoming cloudier at tea-time with wind increasing to moderate SE. Made S4c4c with M for good chat b4 racing off to Bywell for check on another usually early site from 13:00-14:30. This visit was well-timed as the Honey-buzzard were just fledging, with young hardly able to get up much above the tree tops. There was one young in S area, which collapsed into a fir tree after a few skirmishes with the male at 13:28 1  2  3  4; the male was also seen on his own just before this time at 13:25 5  6 checking the scene and the female was up very briefly at 13:28 7 as play began. There may have been another juvenile in the wood to N as the male was over this area in concerned mode at 13:39 8  9 but on evidence can only rate it as 1+. Also had the male and female up in display, with some dives and chasing, all caught on two videos, a) first (1 min 39 secs) at 13:30 with these derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15, the last 15 shows juvenile emerging briefly; b) second (0 min 13 secs) at 13:33, showing the juvenile flying low-down and landing in the top of a tree, with these derived stills 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11; c) third (3 min 57 secs) at 13:38, showing the pair in much mutual circling and floating with one major characteristic dive by female on male at 1 min 40 secs, with these derived stills 1  2  3  4  5 (10073). Here's some cropped stills: 1 sample still of male 1, 2 of female 2  3, 2 of male and female 4  5, 1 of male and juvenile 6. So very pleased with that. Also here had a Red Kite juvenile, a family group of 4 Common Buzzard (2 adult, 2 juvenile) and a male Hobby coming in from the W at 13:53. Total for this visit was only 10 bird-types, including 2 Chiffchaff, 32 Swallow (some locally fledged), 2 LBBG ad S. Only 3 butterflies were seen, all Small White and the only mammal was a dead rabbit. Came home but not feeling too good at this stage as lost appetite; had to get things ready for cleaner S which did but abandoned G4g4t and went for walk on Hexhamshire Common at Kings Law from 15:30-17:15, admiring the heather, which was very relaxing and felt better but still not hungry. Total for Kings Law was 10 bird-types including 6 Red Grouse, 2 Swallow, 1 Stock Dove. Had a juvenile male Sparrowhawk over my house in Ordley at 15:15 and single Common Buzzard (juvenile on a post at 16:33) and Kestrel (juvenile hovering at 17:05) on the Common so day's total was 6 types of raptor: Common Buzzard 5, Honey-buzzard 3-4, Sparrowhawk 1, Red Kite 1, Hobby 1, Kestrel 1, plus 2 Raven over Rawgreen (Slaley Forest W), soaring high. No ANPA. Early to bed for a change: boring with no company!! Editor has cleared the paper for publication in ANPA 40 so here's the pdf: enjoy!! 2moro it's a gardening catchup and a visit to another site. Thinking of someone: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

August 18th: early brightness replaced by a spell of heavy rain at lunchtime becoming showery but with very little sunshine, light wind, 18C max. Did look over local site as Rook were excited early evening but not convinced the Honey-buzzard young have fledged yet. Consolidated results with West Dipton 12/8 visit being added to BirdTrack and Red Kite position up to end of July published. Did attend ANPA session from 17:00-19:00 with JT talking on Evolutionary Biology and Quantum Mechanics. Took a few screen shots: pond-life definition, orgasm definition, evolution with adjointness: all very fascinating!! Not sure that Mike and I are going to get a session; looks fully booked; I had intended speaking at PANPA rather than ANPA this year in a more informal setting to get started on the microtones and Stockhausen; PANPA is not being held this year; I'm not sure I've got enough new material for a full presentation though I could use some older material I suspect without anyone noticing (!); Mike's offered to help but suspect that may be a trap to lure me in. I may prepare a paper instead for UNILOG, 28 March - 7 April 2021, 7th World Congress and School on Universal Logic (UNILOG 2021), Chania/Crete (Greece) where they have a session on logic and music. In ANPA 40 proceedings, will be publishing in a few weeks the culmination of several years' work on logic and music: Physical Sounds as Colimits in the Topos under Monad Control 38pp; have been making final changes under direction of editor this week and will reveal the final manuscript soon. Editor commented today:

I find this paper utterly fascinating. I suspect it could lead to other avenues awaiting your attentions, to do with the Renaissance theories about architectural proportions and their relationships to musical intervals etcetera initiated by the Florentine Architects notably Alberti and Palladio, as explored in “Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism” by Rudolf Wittkower, [`LookInside' on Amazon] and the later book “Architectonics of Humanism”: by Lionel March (an old friend of mine now dead).

Funds have had a good start to week with, out of the blue, junior zinc miners on the march; zinc has a lot of potential in the electric car battery business and could be a 'hot' metal. Gain of 16k here was offset a little by loss of 2k in other areas, particularly travel stocks, so overall gain is 14k raising gain on year to 55k. Some of the zinc mines in which I'm interested are in Limerick, Ireland, where the mining giant Glencore has proven zinc deposits at Pallas Green and is building up interests in some of the prospecting companies in the surrounding area. Others are in Canada where also hold some miners/prospectors for manganese, another battery metal. There's isn't really enough supply, even with Covid depressing demand, so metal prices are rising steadily with the promised move to electric cars. Have about 300k invested in this 'clean' area, c50k more than in 'dirty' oil. Which will win!! Delighted with latest message: welcome back (soon!): xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Latest data from N&TBC bulletin for June 2020

Red Kite Milvus Milvus

Two birds were at Derwent Reservoir on 19th (IFo) and 26th (PRM). Single birds were reported from Airy Holm Reservoir (Shotleyfield). Blanchland Moor, Carterway Heads, Cresswell Pond, Crooked Oak Lane, Dilston (Corbridge), Dipton Wood, Havannah NR, Hazelrigg Moss, Longhorsley Moor, Longhoughton, Low Buston, South Snods (Allensford), Tyne Riverside CP (Newburn) and at Wylam.

Think there is one new site for 2020 for SW Northumberland: Tyne Riverside Park (Newburn). Sites to add from the bulletins from March-June are therefore: Shotley Field, Kiln Pitt Hill, Melkridge, Unthank, Allenheads, Carterway Heads, Derwent Gorge, Snods Edge, Airy Holm, Crooked Oak, Tyne Riverside Park (Newburn): 11 in all.

Latest Red Kite summary: from 9/7-31/7 9 Red Kite at 8 site in Tyne Valley, Derwent, Hexhamshire. Map shows my records from 1/3-31/7: 45 tetrad occupied. Add 11 tetrad in red from N&TBC bull for March-June, giving 56 tetrad total. 2 juv fledged very early 11/7 Hexham, main fledging early August

August 17th: quite an amazing day weather-wise with murk off North Sea continuing until 12:00. Then while sitting at desktop noticed the sky was lightening and checked weather maps to see wind was going to a very light SW breeze and temperature was rising to 19C max. So out quickly to watch local Honey-buzzard site from 12:45-13:30 where had an adult Red Kite up over Dukesfield E at 13:02 and a Common Buzzard juvenile and a Red Kite juvenile up playfully together over Linnels (Peth Foot SE) from 13:24-13:25. Highlight was a male Honey-buzzard rising off the nest site, gaining height with much flapping, drifting N to forage over my head, from 13:13-13:15; took some video 56 secs long 1 as well as some stills 1  2  3  4  5  6 (10071) with cropped stills here 1  2  3  4 and brightened cropped stills here 5  6. It never completely brightened up but the cloud level had risen and for birds kept low-down for some time, this was a clear opportunity to get up in the air! Also had 2 Curlew, a Chiffchaff and a Southern Hawker dragonfly. Made C4c4ll where pleased to see tmsuo back again, looking good!! Then out to Blanchland village from 15:40-17:30 for further check on the raptors. Light was very poor throughout day with swirling cloud at low levels and no real sunny intervals even but the sky was lighter and it was dry. Wind stayed S throughout Blanchland visit, avoiding the dreaded turn to the E! Here had 2 Red Kite (1 adult, 1 juvenile) up at 16:11 to NE of site plus adult coming in from W at 16:59, 3 Common Buzzard (2 adult, 1 juvenile) up at 16:30 and a Honey-buzzard male out to N over the moors, surveying the landscape; the male was out from 16:17-16:24 patrolling over the moors to N and wood to NE keeping fairly low-down before drifting off more decisively to W to forage 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 with cropped piccies here 1  2  3  4  5; the female was seen twice low-down keeping much closer to the nest at 16:18 and 16:23 10  11  12 with one cropped piccie here (10072). At Pithouse Fell S at 17:35 had a juvenile Common Buzzard over the moors close-up. A very worthwhile day with some relief as to progress. Total was 19 bird-types, including 62 Crossbill (one flock 50), 5 Siskin, 6 LBBG (1 juv SW, 3 juv W, 2 ad W), 3 Common Gull adult W, 3 Jay (family party), 6 Chiffchaff, 16 Swallow (some fledged locally). Neither site showed any sign of fledging yet with mainly a lone male Honey-buzzard up at each. Missed ANPA. Did make G4g4s where good to have M on with lively chat to G/R; P is still insisting on full package so no show. My grandmother in her 70s used to walk the 1 mile to her local, the Anchor at Cockwood, every night whatever the weather; she always got a lift back, indeed that was on the pub's agenda: who's getting Mabel home? Her favourite drink was port and lemonade or Mackeson stout! Will watch the weather carefully 2moro! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

August 16th: additions to Honey-buzzard national survey (full results to date on Honey-buzzard home page http://nickrossiter.org.uk/hbweb/index.html):

9(b) Hexham N, 02/08/20: female into site, male out foraging, 3 sample stills 1  2  3, 14:40-17:30.

4(c) Bywell, 06/08/20: none seen, 15:35-17:35.

Another murky day, 15C max, light E breeze, not much rain but humidity 90% – so catching up on records! Processed Hexham N on 2/8 and Bywell on 6/8; up to date except for Prudhoe 11/8 where kites are the main interest. Had long chat with big sis on 'phone in evening, 1 hour 15 min; she is taking great care with the virus, even to the extent of self-isolating again in early September when schools go back; a very amicable chat, realise that many people are still terrified by Covid and, through her polio disability, she doesn't take the view that these infections wouldn't happen to her. She was really impressed by my work on Honey-buzzard this season and on the genealogy documentation and ANPA interest. So thinking of abandoning London part of trip and flying NCL-EXT to see little sis; Devon M's also not in circulation so will forget about joint ANPA presentation from Totnes. Portugal is still very much on, whatever the quarantine situation, and of course have flights booked already with RYA. Did make G4g4s where sat with the Scottish footy contingent; offered P a lift home but he wanted the full inclusive package at a hefty discount so no deal! There's only 2 weeks of the national Honey-buzzard survey season to go so there's light at the end of the tunnel. Did see a music event was on today but sadly was a bit sharp for any action: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

2 more records (3 birds) on BirdGuides for autumn migration of Honey-buzzard, giving running total of 45 birds (3 July from 31/7, 42 August):

16:24 16/08 European Honey Buzzard Glamorgan Gowerton 16:15 probable flew low south

15:53 16/08 European Honey Buzzard Essex Southend-on-Sea 11:35 two probables reported flying east over Thorpe Bay

August 15th: more murk, not so mild, 16C max, light NE breeze. Grounding continues for raptors: there's going to be a lot of pent-up activity when wind/sun return, currently forecast for Tuesday midday. Did watch over the local site from 14:30-18:15 but no raptors seen at all (10071). Although conditions were no good for soaring think I would have detected the tension with the crows if the young were out on the branches. There was some movement of other birds with 21 Swallow seen (2 W, 1 E), 4 Swift (2 S), Black-headed Gull (12 ad E), Herring Gull (1 ad E), LBBG (4 ad (3 W, 1 E), 1 juv W), Common Gull 33 adult (1 E, 4 W, 13 S). 6 Chiffchaff, 1 Bullfinch, 1 Jay, 1 Nuthatch were noteworthy. Total was 28 bird-types, up a bit on recent trips. Did get the exciting records from 12/8 fully processed and commented upon as immediately below under 15/8; need to add to BirdTrack still. Next up to process is 2/8 Hexham Tyne Green. Did make C4c4l where pleased 2 c tbld back on!! Had virtual W with N/D at the new time, good chat and no problems. So productive day: feeling tired!! May need to catchup on sleep again midweek, maybe Wednesday nite or after next concert: thinking about it!! Hope someone is keeping well: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

Additions to Honey-buzzard national survey (full results to date on Honey-buzzard home page http://nickrossiter.org.uk/hbweb/index.html):

10(b) West Dipton 12/08/20: family party of juvenile, female, male up in air together, 3 clips part 1  part 2  part 3, 4 derived stills for juvenile 20  21  22  23, 2 derived stills for all 3 birds 26  29, 1 derived still for male 40 14:55-17:10.

1(g) Ordley 15/08/20: none seen: 14:30-18:15.

1 more record (1 bird) on BirdGuides for autumn migration of Honey-buzzard, giving running total of 42 birds (3 July from 31/7, 39 August):

15:40 15/08 European Honey Buzzard Kent Dungeness RSPB 15:30 one flew west over Galloways

Here's multimedia from 12/8 for Honey-buzzard family party (10070). Clip, giving full record of 6 min 10 sec original; stills taken before the clip started1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19 (piccie 15 shows 4 bold broad tail bars); stills derived from the video (videograbs) 20  21  22  23 from start of clip (mainly juvenile), 24  25  26  27  28 from middle (mainly juvenile and female), 29  30  31  32  33  34  35  36  37  38  39  40 from end (all 3 birds, including male in gentle play with the youngster, cropped piccie 40 is here). I think successful Honey-buzzard identification, in the sense that the right assignments are made, depends on the recognition that there are 3 distinct types structurally – male, female, juvenile – in a trend left-to-right towards similarity to Common Buzzard. The males are the most kite-like with slender build and are the easiest to identify. See for instance 26 and 29 with male on top, juvenile in middle, female below. In certain poses the adults, particularly the males, can look like Peregrine Falcon or Goshawk. The last derived still 40 shows the Honey-buzzard male in a pose which is 100% diagnostic for the species with long narrow tail with rounded corners, small head protruding on long neck (the pigeon pose); quite often the bird does tilt in this pose as in the butterfly display. The first 4 derived stills 20  21  22  23 show very characteristic shapes and posture for the juvenile birds; compared with Common Buzzard the deep amplitude of the wing beats, long narrow tail, long neck and small head, is diagnostic. Not all juveniles are as striking as this; some very young birds may still be growing primaries, looking shorter-winged, and tail feathers, looking shorter-tailed. Holding the wings in a V does frequently occur with juveniles in their first flights, maybe to gain extra lift in their inexperienced flight mode; this can of course lead to a snap incorrect decision that the bird is a Common Buzzard. The females are not as strikingly different from Common Buzzard as the males; for instance they have slightly shorter tails and broader wings compared to the males; in a short view they might look quite similar but in a prolonged view they do show the long neck, small head, long tail with narrow base. Not shown here are birds in dives, with carpal pushed well forward to a sharp point, small head protruding on long neck, long thin tail trailing behind. Recording a dive should facilitate !00% confidence in the identification, as in the female shown in 2 for Slaley Forest E 29/07/20 (home page). Patience is a great virtue in identifying Honey-buzzard, building up slowly an overall impression of the bird, preferably with the help of a camera for analysis later to confirm the initial assignment.

August 14th: more murk, mild, 19C max, light NE breeze. Terrible weather for raptors soaring but the Honey-buzzard broods will be progressing as normal. Murk is forecast to last until at least Tuesday. Got stuck into the juvenile family group found on 12/8, producing 3 clips, 19 stills, 21 derived stills from video. Will publish tomorrow; it's the clearest clip I've taken of a juvenile Honey-buzzard with its parents. Fairly quiet day, did some more on family tree on WikiTree on George Rossiter, jeweller, of Bridgwater and took pre-1700 test, passing it, so can work on 16th-17th century trees but not earlier where further test crops up. Made ANPA 2020 from 17:00-18:45 where Nicola was talking about different mathematical systems; very interesting and week 1 has gone well. Made W4g4s with D/D for very good chat: we get on well!! Had a Nightjar over road at Swallowship on way back at 23:00 with another soon after at Letah Wood. Funds came back off good start for the week to finish +5k after major sell off on Friday on crass quarantine decision for people returning from France. Blow cushioned for airlines by profiteering on fares today: BA Paris-London was £450 against £86 tomorrow; EZJ and RYA will continue to run flights at 20% capacity, probably as the proverbial two-fingers in the latter case! The hype surrounding new cases is ridiculous: many are asymptomatic resulting from increased testing, only a few are ending up in hospital. So funds are +41k on year (+3.7%) compared to ftse 100 at -19.3% and ftse 250 at -19.2%. Cash is only 1k. Sections to totally avoid are retail property, particularly shopping centres, and London property, including domestic, where hollowed out view could lead to a significant slump. In London WFH may turn out to be a disaster financially for those living in small houses/flats, without gardens, near the centre; outskirts may do better but real winners could be country property, not far from good schools and other facilities, with good transport links for the one day a week in the office. Both my daughter and P have empty properties in London; daughter has let hers to the council under some scheme. Having money in bricks and mortar is not as flexible as having it in shares because you cannot sell a brick or two but you can always sell a few shares. Collapse in overseas students will also have a major effect on rentals. 2moro it's C4c4l and virtual W with N/D plus plenty of research!! Thinking of the lovely one: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

2 more records (5 birds) on BirdGuides for autumn migration of Honey-buzzard, giving running total of 41 birds (3 July from 31/7, 38 August):

16:55 14/08 European Honey Buzzard Cambridgeshire Bourn two reported around airfield

14:14 14/08 European Honey Buzzard Kent Dungeness NNR 14:08 three flew west over Denge Road

August 13th: murk today on light NE breeze, cool, 17C max, no heatwave here! So much more like a day to escape from raptors and enjoy the city!! Into NCL where made CT4s4l (Coffee Trader, open again, well organised with formal contract tracing scheme), did some CT (Category Theory) there and on the trains – looking at continuous functions, open sets and real-valued functors, leading into microtones as on violin. Back in time for ANPA talk today from 17:00-19:00 on Zoom by DB (Bologna University), giving good overview of language formalisms. Out at 20:00 to Cnt4m4s with M (computer scientist from UNN); we ate/drank Thursday special, steak for 2 and bottle of red wine for £25, having good sustained chat and tasty refreshment. Joined later by R/P, bit of surprise but think latter was hoping to cadge a lift home; we didn't stay long after that, supposed entitlement to lifts is becoming a major drag as well as growing habit of being a cheapskate on rounds! Virtual W has been rearranged for Saturday at 16:00! Keeping me positive was the passion in the city: she's gorgeous: will come again: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! Great news that indoor music events can take place again but how with social distancing might be the immediate question! Desperate to join a resurgent music scene on Tyneside for a more varied social life. Everywhere was busier today: trains, Northumberland Street (Newcastle), pubs; just a pity if you're on holiday in France. Suspect these quarantines are an unfair trade practice to support the UK tourist industry: they'll disappear when the schools go back! xxx

2 more records on BirdGuides for autumn migration of Honey-buzzard, giving running total of 36 birds (3 July from 31/7, 33 August):

19:06 13/08 European Honey Buzzard Suffolk Barham 18:35 one flew west towards Great Blakenham

12:38 13/08 European Honey Buzzard Jersey Noirmont Point 09:35 one flew over

August 12th: additions to Honey-buzzard national survey (full results to date on Honey-buzzard home page http://nickrossiter.org.uk/hbweb/index.html):

      6(b) March Burn 31/07/20: male foraging, close to site, 4 sample stills 1  2  3  4; later returning to site under cover, 12:45-15:05.

      2(e) Dukeshagg 11/08/20: none seen: 13:55-15:45.

      7(d) Stanley Burn 11/08/20: none seen: 13:55-15:45.

Great day today with first juvenile Honey-buzzard of the season up in the air, at West Dipton in the 'Shire at 15:11. It may have been its maiden flight at height with wings in marked V (to increase lift); much moral support came from female and male, flying round and round the youngster in broad circles. Males can be playful with the young, diving at them, but restraint was the word today, again indicating maiden flight. The juvenile was vocal with shrill flight calls, resembling a very young Herring Gull argenteus. Have c30 stills of the juvenile plus 6 min video of all 3 birds, including the calls. Think there was just the one juvenile; rearing is a little quicker if there's 1 juvenile instead of the usual 2 so that may be why it's the first noted. Here's full series of stills of the juvenile 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19 (10070). Piccie 15 shows 4 bold broad tail bars. See 15/8 for full multimedia and analysis. Lovely to see the fruition of all the dedication and hard work the parents put in! So it was the glorious 12th: but not in the usual sense reserved for the start of the Red Grouse shooting season today! Weather was perfect for a maiden flight: calm, warm at 22C max, dry, very clear with good visibility. The place chosen for the launch of the flight was elevated to gain the benefit of any breeze going and of course to start up with some altitude to cater for the odd dip. 3 Common Buzzard (pair adult, 1 juvenile) were up at 16:08 with another Common Buzzard adult calling at Letah Wood at 17:00. Total for bird-types was 13, including a Common Gull 1s W, 4 Siskin, 5 Chiffchaff. Butterflies comprised 5 types, including 2 Purple Hairstreak on an oak tree and 4 Comma on bramble flowers. A Common Hawker dragonfly was seen.

Made S4c4c with M for good chat. Cleaner S came along mid-afternoon so was 15 min late in connecting to ANPA 2020, with the gifted LK (Chicago) speaking. So was on Zoom from 17:15-18:45; did turn video off for 20 min so I could have a beer! There's going to be a clash with virtual W on Friday; ANPA will have priority; real W is always an option! Having dinner 2moro at Cnt4m4s with M (A's refusing to come into HEX, that's his problem!); earlier it's CRB-NCL at 12:20, back on 15:23! Looking forward to 2moro: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Five more records on BirdGuides for autumn migration of Honey-buzzard, giving running total of 34 birds (3 July from 31/7, 31 August):

22:43 12/08 European Honey Buzzard Lincolnshire Baston Fen 09:00 probable flew SSW mid-morning

17:12 12/08 European Honey Buzzard Wiltshire Deptford 11:00 one flew over A36/A303 junction

13:03 12/08 European Honey Buzzard Somerset & Bristol Taunton 11:30 two reported over Vivary Park late morning

10:15 12/08 European Honey Buzzard Jersey Noirmont Point 10:09 one flew south; also 3 Balearic Shearwaters

10:05 12/08 European Honey Buzzard Norfolk Waxham 09:47 one flew south-east

August 11th: after plenty of sheet lightning around midnight yesterday, did have some heavy rain around breakfast today (08:00-10:00), then a gloomy spell before a brightening around 13:00 when dashed off E to Prudhoe for another look at the kites and a check on the Honey-buzzard with none seen (10069); max 23C, light E breeze. Latter were true to form, no sightings from 13:55-15:45, invisible just before fledging! Kites were more fun. Firstly at 14:19 had a very dark bird soar high, possibly emigrating, think this was a Black Kite, probably an adult, either exiting or going off to hunt; have since (20/8, Ordley) seen Black Kite juvenile locally with obvious white circle on base of outer primaries. The bird today looked uniformly dark 1  2 with cropped piccie 1 here. Secondly at 15:10 had a very clean dark ruddy juvenile with elegant structure flapping through the trees; this last attended loosely by a ragged adult Red Kite, doing extensive tour of farmland to NW from 15:13- 15:21. The adult Red Kite was in heavy moult, looking a bit dishevelled 1  2  3  4  5 with cropped piccie 3 here. So feeling here is we have had a mixed Black Kite (male) x Red Kite (female) pairing which has raised one juvenile. Also had a juvenile Kestrel out hovering to SW. Total of 14 bird-types for trip included Swift (1 E), Swallow 13 (6 family party, 7 E), 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 3 LBBG (all adult). Butterflies included 2 Small Copper and a Southern Hawker dragonfly was seen.

Completed processing of visit to Healey on 31/7 so record-keeping completed up to 1/8 now. Had message from AncestryDNA saying that autosomal DNA test results are scheduled for 1/9: may be arrested soon after: this is Jeremy Kyle territory! Joined ANPA 2020 again from 17:00-18:45 for talk by PR; good to be getting back in the swing of academia. Have studied Mahler 4 over the past week: very impressed with its heavenly atmosphere; there's a good recording at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suWFRYUXvO4 from Scala Milan; the last movement with the singing from 49:20 is particularly moving; indeed I cannot get the tune out of my head; soprano is the impressive Kate Royal from London; libretto is in German with Italian subtitles. You really need to listen from at least 44:00 to get the context, indeed listen to it all! Funds doing better this week with airlines in particular liking the Russian vaccine even if our local health experts do not! So +10k on 1st 2 days of week; cash is now just 6k. Big sis says she does not want to see me early September as she's shielding and she doesn't know where I've been (not put quite so bluntly!): may just go to Devon and see little sis and M! Could go a bit earlier and do our ANPA show from Totnes! So 2moro it's S4c4c with M, ANPA 2020; thinking of coming into NCL on Thursday!! lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

August 10th: additions to Honey-buzzard national survey (full results to date on Honey-buzzard home page http://nickrossiter.org.uk/hbweb/index.html):

1(e) Ordley 01/08/20: male up about 2km to the SW of the site, 2.5km away from observer, floating over forest near a pasture, 1 sample still 1, 13:00-17:05.

1(f) Ordley 09/08/20: none seen: 12:40-16:05.

Busy day compiling all records for 1/8 (Ordley), 5/8 (Wylam, Quayside, Throckley N), 9/8 (Ordley). Next up is last to be done for July – 31/7 near Healey. Weather was sunny, 23C max, light E breeze, dry, a little sultry at times. Made C4c4l and G4g4s, latter with P, where we had good chat, with the sparkling M on. Did join ANPA 2020 Zoom meeting, based at Liverpool University, from 16:30-18:15 with 30 participants; impressed with how everyone involved is coping, think Devon M and I can contribute a talk in early September; there's more of an international flavour with maybe 10 extra attendees from last year, coming from US and continental Europe; Devon M cannot travel far now so another bonus from Zoom! Had a Nightjar at Loughbrow at 23:30 with 2 at Letah Wood soon afterwards. Still feeling exhilarated from the lovely weekend: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Update on recent records from BirdGuides on Honey-buzzard and Black Kite is below, both very encouraging!

Autumn migration for Honey-buzzard seems to have started early on 31/7. The Northumberland breeding season runs significantly later than that in the south of England. Here are obvious migrant records, 28 records of 29 birds from 31/7-9/8, including 1 in Dublin, amazing totals:

18:15 09/08 European Honey Buzzard Gwynedd Morfa Bychan 06:00 adult flew over short patch of sea until disappearing over hills early morning

16:57 09/08 European Honey Buzzard Norfolk Potter Heigham 16:40 one circled low north of St Nicholas Church then lost to view to north-east

12:12 09/08 European Honey Buzzard Surrey Unstead SF12:05 one flew high to south

22:54 08/08 European Honey Buzzard Dorset East Lulworth one flew west

22:53 08/08 European Honey Buzzard Dorset Wareham one flew west over Wareham Channel

18:19 08/08 European Honey Buzzard Norfolk Thornage 17:30 one flew south

18:16 08/08 European Honey Buzzard Suffolk Felixstowe 14:20 one flew south over Morrison's

13:46 08/08 European Honey Buzzard Dublin Malahide possible flew south

11:09 08/08 European Honey Buzzard Suffolk Dingle Marshes SWT 10:04 one flew south

10:16 08/08 European Honey Buzzard Suffolk Walberswick NNR one flew south over Westwood Marsh

10:10 08/08 European Honey Buzzard Jersey Noirmont Point 09:45 one flew over

10:08 08/08 European Honey Buzzard Suffolk Reydon 09:57 one flew south

14:01 07/08 European Honey Buzzard Dorset Holton Heath 13:15 one drifted west along shore

12:54 07/08 European Honey Buzzard Hampshire Totton16:00 06/08 two flew over high to west yesterday afternoon

11:12 07/08 European Honey Buzzard West Sussex Hickstead 11:00 one flew east over A23 c 800m north of junction with A2300

10:24 07/08 European Honey Buzzard Dorset Lytchett Bay pale morph male drifted west past entrance following Wareham Channel

17:48 05/08 European Honey Buzzard Norfolk Hickling Broad 13:15 one flew south over Weavers Way near Waggonhill Plantation

07:02 05/08 European Honey Buzzard Dorset Wareham 04/08 one flew over yesterday

14:43 04/08 European Honey Buzzard Kent Farthingloe 12:10 one flew over

22:02 03/08 European Honey Buzzard North Yorkshire Crossgates 15:15 one flew north-east

19:04 03/08 European Honey Buzzard Devon East Portlemouth pale morph adult male flew over

17:39 03/08 European Honey Buzzard Dorset Portland 12:50 one flew west over Easton

11:34 01/08 European Honey Buzzard East Yorkshire Flamborough Head 11:30 drifted west over Danes Dyke

11:14 01/08 European Honey Buzzard East Yorkshire Bempton Cliffs RSPB one flew ESE

08:11 01/08 European Honey Buzzard Nottinghamshire Bilsthorpe 08:10 one flew west

20:33 31/07 European Honey Buzzard Suffolk Lowestoft 20:00 one flew in off the sea at North Denes then flew strongly north-west

13:52 31/07 European Honey Buzzard Dorset Thorncombe one flew over A35 just north of Hardy's Cottage late morning

13:12 31/07 European Honey Buzzard Norfolk Sutton 12:0 one flew east over Moor Road

There's a likely breeder from Durham near Rowlands Gill, excellent habitat:

13:26 07/08 European Honey Buzzard Durham Derwent Walk CP 13:07 male reported early afternoon

Plus up to 3 each throughout at the 2 well-reported breeding sites of Wykeham Forest, North Yorkshire, and Welbeck, Nottinghamshire.

Interesting late records for Black Kite at end of normal breeding season in UK:

12:03 10/08 Black Kite Cornwall Skewjack 11:45 one flew over late morning

17:56 09/08 Black Kite Cornwall Blackwater possible over A30 late afternoon

21:42 02/08 Black Kite North Yorkshire Wheldrake Ings YWT 08:27 two juveniles photographed this morning moving west over Swantail

20:34 01/08 Black Kite Northamptonshire Stanford Reservoir 09:50 31/07 possible flew distantly south-west yesterday morning

19:46 01/08 Black Kite Warwickshire Earlswood Lakes probable flew east this morning

18:43 31/07 Black Kite Isles of Scilly St Mary's 18:40 still high over Porth Hellick Down

August 9th: extraordinary 24 hours but none the worst for that!! Having had 4 hours sleep on Saturday afternoon, expected a restless night to follow but far from it: slept 9 hours solid from 23:00-08:00 with very vivid dreams taking some current thoughts to their logical conclusion!! Think I have been overdoing it recently with lots of fieldwork and picture/record processing reducing time for rest so was a much-needed catchup. Am going to ease up on the processing side as plenty of time for that in the autumn after the birds have left while the fieldwork needs to be done now while the birds are here. However, am physically fit from the fieldwork (and gardening)! A very exciting morning with so much passion: absolutely fantastic!! Did catch 10:55 NCL-HEX; this was only bad experience of weekend with some pond-life (4 men, 2 women, in their 50s) going to CAR, no masks, drinking vodka out of a bottle and shouting loudly; guard was weak in not warning them, before calling in the Transport Police at HEX as ultimate sanction. Whatever, will come again!! Weather at home was sunny, 21C max, light E breeze, temperatures rising westwards from east coast. Watched local area from 12:40-16:05 with short breaks indoors but did not see any Honey-buzzard (10068) nor any agitated Crows so still to fledge, as expected. Highlight was 4 Red Kite, 2 low-down in the tops of the trees – juvenile – and 2 adult soaring very high, keeping a watch on them. Also had 2 Common Buzzard to S, an adult and a juvenile in much diving from 16:00-16:06. Total for visit was 22 bird-types, including 6 LBBG (5 ad, 1 juv, 3 S), 12 Common Gull adult E, 4 Common Crossbill over area, 10 Swallow, 2 Siskin, Swift 1 S. Made G4g4s with P/R for good chat. So another night of good sleep coming up: preoccupied with the gorgeous one: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

August 8th: did make Summerhill, Newcastle, for RNS concert -- very inspiring -- great effort by players and supporters to keep things moving forward. Concert included Handel's Water Music, Elgar's Serenade for Strings, Finzi's Five Bagatelles and Vivaldi's Summer (from 4S). Jessica lee starred in the clarinet solo. Had some good chats afterwards with supporters. Donated 20 note and 250 online. Missed greatly someone! Did linger in Toon. Checked into hotel, put my feet up on bed and 4 hours later woke up: some overdue relaxation! Went to VctCmt4m4t where had a few g and gammon steak for 26.59 including 3 tip; all waitress service, much more continental and enhanced through that I feel! Walked around Quayside, plenty of Kittiwake young looking almost ready to go standing on their ledges. Quite busy here but main recovering places are the big chains with deeper pockets; no action at MP. Rev was doing well with queue outside most of time but distancing reduced seating inside presumably. Hotel I was in was on upward trend but still very much in recovery mode: bar lad checked wine carefully for freshness! So pleased I came out and will return with a positive glow but there's a lot still to do!! Above all, will be back soon!! Honey-buzzard reporting rate soaring today: will analyse tomorrow! lok2t gorgeous one: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

August 7th: warm day, 23C max, light W breeze, sun early and late but cloudy in between. A social day today, quite leisurely, no fieldwork. Met P at C4c4l for good chat; he's had good news of visit to consultant in a week's time to examine and discuss his shoulder, which was damaged in the skiing accident in Austria. Then had virtual W at 17:00 with D/N – they looked shocked when I suggested that the virus pandemic in the one wave could continue for 2 years more, albeit more easily handled as time goes on with vaccines, improved treatments for sufferers, increased natural immunity; can you shield that long? Made Real W from 20:30-22:45 with D/D where had very good crack; bar lass A is very well travelled, came back from 5 weeks in South America in March (well-timed!). Of course had some bird sightings today: 2 Common Buzzard juvenile up together over Loughbrow at 12:30, a Nightjar across the road at Dipton Wood E at 22:50. Funds had a better week with some support for stocks in the Covid disaster area, gaining 4k so +36k on year gross (+3.3%), compared to falls of 20.0% and 19.7% respectively for ftse 100 and ftse 250. Cash down to 10k. We really need to escape from the second wave fatalism: scientists are split on the issue but a lot of the modelling is based on the Spanish flu pandemic of 100 years ago, which was very poorly studied at the time at the virus level; furthermore Covid is not a rapidly mutating flu virus, it's a slowly mutating cold virus. Getting back into CT next week, attending the ANPA 2020 meeting on Zoom, each late afternoon; may give a talk with Devon M in early September. Such sad news this evening: looking forward to reunion: my thoughts are with her. xxxxx XXX!!!!!

August 6th: getting warmer, 23C max, light SW breeze, quite cloudy. Honey-buzzard survey is in a quiet spell with another blank drawn today at Bywell (10067), where spent 2 hours from 15:35-17:35 looking hard and not seeing any. The birds will have large young in the nest and are very worried about drawing attention to themselves: this is normal situation for the first half of August right up to the actual fledging event when they suddenly become obvious again, in 7-14 days time in the lowland. Did have 2 Red Kite on field to N of lane on N side of area: an adult was closely escorting a juvenile at 15:41 and 16:35. Birds of prey juveniles are drilled very hard by their parents! If there are 2 young, they are often split up, one to be trained by the male, the other by the female. Also had a juvenile Common Buzzard on a field at 15:43, sprayed with dung: lovely!! This field had 29 Pied Wagtail feeding on insects, plus 2 Grey Partridge chicks 1. Swifts are exiting quickly with 17 to SE. Total was 25 bird-types including 14 Common Gull (all adult, 5 W, 9 S), 11 Swallow, plus a dragonfly Southern Hawker and 3 mammals: 6 Rabbit, 1 Brown Hare, 1 Weasel. Did some grass cutting, another go at the mint and a trim of another area, towards the pond; not cutting areas with good clover cover as clover is good for the soil, fixing nitrogen, and for bees. Made Cnt4g4s with P/R; R declined to go to G as thought Cnt was safer! They look after us very well – quiet tonight as no handouts by the Treasury; indeed Thursday they think will be the new Monday! Had good time; I'm still ferrying P from Hackwood Park to the pub and back again! Had a Nightjar at Loughbrow, presumably from Dukes Wood at 21:30, another new site. Timed return from Bywell perfectly: tmbo is looking gr8!! 2moro it's C4c4l, Virtual W, Real W and catchup on correspondence. Saturday is looking good weather-wise so will be at the concert, lingering purposefully!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

August 5th: additions to Honey-buzzard national survey (full results to date on Honey-buzzard home page http://nickrossiter.org.uk/hbweb/index.html):

3(c) Slaley Forest E: 29/07/20: female circling around area for over 8 min; broken down into 3 video clips: 1  2  3, with 6 sample derived stills 1  2  3  4