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

Back to: Honey-buzzard Home Page 

2019  2018  2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012   2011   2010   2009   2008   2007

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 for 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 achieved.

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 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. More to follow … 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, 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. 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, sprayed with dung: lovely!! Swifts are exiting quickly. More to follow … 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

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  5  6, 15:10-17:05.

5(b) Throckley N: 05/08/20: none seen: 16:00-17:40.

So as you can see above, yet another negative return from Throckley, indeed not a single raptor seen there from 16:00-17:40 in rather oppressive conditions, poor light, light SW breeze, occasional few drops of rain, mild 18C max. But overall survey is going better than expected as usually find Honey-buzzard difficult to see in the rearing phase. Enjoyed seeing the fledged Kittiwake and Herring Gull at the Quayside from 14:00-15:30. But also didn't see any raptors from Wylam Bridge from 13:00-13:35. Trains from WYM-NCL and back were much busier and there were more people around Toon. RBG was open (got shares in them!) but MP was still closed; there's a feeling that there were too many Italian restaurants before the virus struck and a general shake-out is in progress. Wore mask on train but breezed into W4shop with no mask on at 18:00 and suddenly realised I was getting strange looks: I did comply but they wouldn't have stopped me if I'd insisted on a libertarian stance! Had good time at S4c4c with M; we had a lot to catch up on and next week it's meetings 4c and 4ra. Didn't make any pubs4t, straight home for some real food! And over Letah Wood 1.5km from home, there were the only raptors of the day at 18:30, 4 Common Buzzard up – 2 adult, 2 juvenile – a marvellous sight! Oil broke $46 a barrel for Brent today – the world economy is looking up! Feeling very good about someone: she's so motivating: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

August 4th: wet and windy day with SW fresh breeze in afternoon, almost gale force; quite cool at 16C max. For Slaley Forest E trip on 29/7 processed 3 clips and derived some stills, which further processed with cropping; all available now below; tomorrow will formally include them in national survey section and on BirdTrack. Also in the wet compiled a lot more on the Tucker/Rossiter jewellery consortium on Wiki in London, Devon and Somerset; I have 4 successive generations of jewellers/watchmakers on my paternal line from the 1790s through to the 1940s. Markets a bit calmer this week and commodity prices are firmer suggesting underlying world-wide demand is still recovering. Funds are +3k on 1st 2 days of week! Main event today was hair-trim, which was done very well IMHO at JG by Jd; price up to £19.50, gave her £25 including tip! Don't want to look scalped! Next appointment is in October. Made C4c4c but not out in evening. 2moro it's Salute4c4c (Italian style, 11:00-12:30) with M, for major catchup. Then into NCL from WYM 13:38, maybe TR4g4t. Am doing research on Saturday nite!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

August 3rd: mostly sunny today, moderate W breeze, 16C max, dry. Caught up with some past fieldwork today, processing completely visit to Prudhoe S on 26/7 and adding to BirdTrack the visit to West Dipton on 24/7. Started on Slaley Forest E visit on 29/7, extracting part 1 of lengthy clip lasting about 3 min, 2 more parts to go. Worth mentioning that in background also adding genealogical data to WikiTree on both paternal and maternal sides; want to get my substantial data into the public domain. Today added a lot on the Tucker/Rossiter liaison, dominant jewellers and watchmakers in Tiverton/Bridgwater areas c1850 with a few cross-marriages to keep things in the family! Desktop computer has frozen twice today, on each occasion accessing worldometers site for virus statistics; have disabled this web site, which is Chinese; there may be attempts to download code onto my machine with Defender going into panic mode. Have been accepted for RNS concert on Saturday 8/8 in Newcastle with possibility of move to 9/8 if wet; think it will be 8/8 as weather settling down over weekend; could stay over afterwards for research purposes on city centre prospects!! Did make C4c4t and Cnt4g4s with P/R, latter had been overwhelmed with trade on the cheap offers via the Treasury subsidy; at 21:30 just easing off but most tables piled up with glasses and plates; that's very encouraging! We had good chat and we've enjoyed the change but it will be back to the G on Wednesday as J returns from holiday. It's Jd at JG for trim 2moro! Feel there's a new force in the land: maybe check on Kittiwakes this week a bit later than usual after seeing M again: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Additions to Honey-buzzard national survey (full results to date on Honey-buzzard home page

2(d) Dukeshagg: 26/07/20: female up briefly, 1 sample still 1, 15:55-18:30.

7(c) Stanley Burn: 26/07/20: none seen, 15:55-18:30.

August 2nd: additions to Honey-buzzard national survey (full results to date on Honey-buzzard home page

1(d) Ordley: 21/07/20: male moving into site, 1 sample still 1; female out of site and moving back in, 5 sample stills 2  3  4  5  6, 10:30-12:40.

10(a) West Dipton: 24/07/20: male out to forage, 4 sample stills 1  2  3  4, female out later, 2 sample stills 5  6, 14:45-16:30.

New camera is worth its weight in palladium: look at the West Dipton male above! I'm getting queries now regularly about Honey-buzzard on an international basis! Today made Hexham Tyne Green from 14:40-17:30 in typical recent weather, 16C max, moderate W breeze, dry. Still processing results but looks like a Common Buzzard family party, Red Kite just fledging young, a female Honey-buzzard seen coming into the site low-down and the male Honey-buzzard seen later out foraging to W of site. Much more to follow … Have completed processing piccies from West Dipton on 24/7, need to add trip to BirdTrack. Next up is 26/7 Prudhoe S. Incidentally piccie at 2.5km of male Honey-buzzard to SW of Ordley yesterday has come out: amazing potential for camera's use in espionage, except its large size makes it a bit obvious!! Before walk made C4c4ll where they were very pleased to see me and much later with P/R made Cnt4g4s, where we had good crack. Had some full emails with sisters: nephew A and wife are driving to Marciac from Liverpool at the moment but are flying to Turkey as next holiday. lok2t gorgeous one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Russia's vaccine is making good progress but looks as if it might be spurned world-wide:

Britain would be likely to reject a potentially game-changing coronavirus vaccine from Russia amid strong reservations about the trial process there, the Telegraph can reveal. That approach chimes with the US, where Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease official, raised doubts about the testing regimes for potential vaccines in both Russia and China. There are strict international protocols governing the development of new drugs.

Russia has claimed it is close to rolling out the world’s first vaccine against Covid-19, the key development in beating the global pandemic. Moscow has boasted it is a ‘Sputnik moment’, when the Soviet Union astonished the US by making it into space first with its 1957 satellite. Russia’s health minister Mikhail Murashko said on Saturday that the Gamaleya Institute, a state research facility, had completed clinical trials. Doctors and teachers would be the first to be vaccinated. "We plan wider vaccinations for October," Murashko was quoted as saying.

Bloomberg also has the story:

Russia plans to start mass vaccinations against Covid-19 in October, with health workers and teachers first in line to get the inoculation against the disease, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said. A drug developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute and the Russian Direct Investment Fund has completed clinical trials and the authorities are preparing to register it with regulators, Murashko was quoted as saying by the state-run Tass news service.

I think I would try it in say November after a lot more willing triallists have done their good work!

August 1st: much cooler today, 17C max, moderate W breeze, few sunny intervals, dry. Decided to watch the local Honey-buzzard site as no records from there for 10 days. So spent a little over 2 hours on reconnaissance in 2 major spells. Evocative was the sight of 7 Swift screaming around the area all day: it will include young of the year and they'll all be off very soon to Africa, maybe tomorrow, to return next May. The local raptors came up singly, accumulating 3 Common Buzzard (1 adult, 2 juvenile) and 1 Red Kite adult, gliding down into Scots Pine on S side of the Devil's Water. Honey-buzzard were less conspicuous, quite secretive with fledging 2 weeks away; will know when the young are out of the nest as the Crow go berserk! However, finally picked the male Honey-buzzard up about 2km to the SW of the site, so 2.5km away, floating over an area of conifer forest near a pasture. Did get one piccie, which will check tomorrow. Think will go into Hexham 2moro to C4c4ll and for walk at Tyne Green. Sorted out Ordley 21/7 today and have prepared West Dipton 24/7 piccies. Someone is indeed looking gr8: lovely piccies: trip a marvellous tonic: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

July 31st: heatwave today, sunny up to late afternoon, 29C max at Hexham Racecourse (nearest local weather site), highest for year to date but just for one day only! Wind was a very warm moderate SE and it was dry except for a few heavy drops around 18:00. Did get a good walk in, to a common near Healey around lunchtime. Honey-buzzard were very obliging with a male up over woodland a little to N of site as drove up the lane. Got some piccies as he surveyed the ground below, looking for a foraging opportunity. Saves a lot of about when you get such cooperation! Later had the same bird coming into the site from the other side, the SW, circling low-down over woodland before plunging down out of sight into the burn for a secretive return to the nest. On the common had 2 juvenile Kestrel and 3 sightings of single Woodlark, presumed to be different birds, flushed from the ground or from cover; none were sitting on the tops of bushes so presume they've finished breeding. More to follow … After walk made C4c4ll and I4shop, b4 making home for virtual W with N/D; we had good chat from 17:00-18:30 but not sure they realise how long they might not be going out if they wait for the virus to disappear! Real W from 20:30-22:45 was with D/D; W was reasonably busy and staff very friendly as we all try to make a go of it! On drive back through Dipton Wood at 22:45 had 2 Nightjar over the road: one at Dipton E, the other in the central part, near where I recorded the bird earlier in the season. Markets had a major relapse this week on fears of a second wave, in reality a second spike, in cases. The UK market continues to underperform nearly everywhere else, partly because policy is so incoherent; how can the furlough system start to be wound down when so many businesses are struggling to reopen. Own funds fell 10k, leaving gain on year at 32k (2.9%). ftse 100 was down 3.7% to below the 6000 mark again, -21.8% on year to date, with ftse 250 -22.8% on the year. Besides airlines, other domestic equities were under pressure; saving grace was that don't hold a great many of them with majority of holdings in bonds, which were relatively steady, unlike in March/April, with commodity prices recovering and less sense of total desperation. No topping up or averaging down as that can accentuate losses in current febrile mood. 2moro will be in catch-up mode after good social life today. Hope someone's looking gr8 as usual in the sunshine: missing you: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

July 30th: dull day, quite humid, light W breeze, 16C max. Tomorrow it's going up to a fluky 28C on strong sunshine – just for 1 day! Processed piccies for 21/7 at Ordley and ready to update BirdTrack and the home page with the data for the national survey. Not out until evening when met 3 mates (P/R/R) at Cnt4g4s – all very civilised, our tab went to £38.15 so we called it 40 and split it 4 ways. Back to C4c4l and the field tomorrow with virtual W and real W later on: busy life! Feel like the gorgeous one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

July 29th: long sunny spells, 16C max, moderate W breeze, dry. Good raptor weather so made Pithouse Fell N from 15:10-17:05 with some anticipation and not disappointed. Had 3 Common Buzzard over the clear-fell (a very strident adult, 2 juvenile) and a juvenile Kestrel over the fell. The star was a female Honey-buzzard, which captured on an 8 min 33 sec MP4 clip, 825 MB from 16:39-16:48 (10062); she first circled close to some tall conifers keeping largely out of view but then came over the clear-fell area several times, moving SW slowly into the wind and then returning more decisively; eventually the strident Common Buzzard re-emerged and the Honey-buzzard quickly disappeared from view. She's a new bird for the national survey but was recorded earlier in the season in the display phase. The video is of high quality on the new camera and screenshots for a single frame are 3MB, so can pick up detail very easily. The camera also seems to 'concentrate' better focus-wise in video mode. I'll process it into 3 smaller clips, still in MP4, but with smaller storage requirements, maybe 35% of that recorded, though of course keep the original on my desktop and in archive. Here's the whole recording. broken into 3 video clips in MP4 (Apple iPhone): 1  2  3, with derived stills from clip 2 4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14. Here are selected cropped images (videograbs) from the derived stills: 1  2  3  4  5  6. In total of 15 bird-types also had a fledged Stonechat, a Siskin, 5 Chiffchaff (family party), 4 Coal Tit (family party), 4 Mistle Thrush (family group). Made C4c4l where tmsuo in gr8 form and TR4g4t, latter a bit rushed as wanted to attend webinar of ON, which will report on tomorrow. Have asked for a ticket for RNS on 8/9 August at the Summerhill. Rain's forecast for most of tomorrow so it's processing Ordley Honey-buzzard on 21/7. In evening making Cnt4g4s with P/R! lok2t gorgeous one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Politicians are very fond of forecasting a second wave of the Coronavirus, maybe to try and scare us into compliance, but some health experts are not nearly so sure. The virus is not a flu bug and is not seasonal at all. So some experts think it will be just one big messy wave, lasting for a while (2 to 2.5 years is typical) with flare-ups from time to time and no clear time structure. Too many scientists are modelling Coronavirus behaviour based on the Spanish flu pandemic of 100 years ago, but the flu virus is from a different family and was anyway not well studied at the time from an epidemiological point of view so a lot of the studies are guesswork. See the Guardian at

'One big wave' – why the Covid-19 second wave may not exist. With no evidence of seasonal variations, the WHO warns the initial coronavirus pandemic is continuing and accelerating. Amid continued debates over what constitutes a second wave, a resurgence or seasonal return of the disease, Margaret Harris, a WHO spokesperson, insisted that these discussions are not a helpful way to understand the spread of the disease:

People are still thinking about seasons. What we all need to get our heads around is this is a new virus and this one is behaving differently,” Harris told a virtual briefing in Geneva, urging vigilance in applying measures to slow transmission that appears to be accelerated by mass gatherings. She also warned against thinking in terms of virus waves, saying: “It’s going to be one big wave. It’s going to go up and down a bit. The best thing is to flatten it and turn it into just something lapping at your feet.”

“‘Second wave’ isn’t a term that we would use [in epidemiology] at the current time, as the virus hasn’t gone away, it’s in our population, it has spread to 188 countries so far, and what we are seeing now is essentially localised spikes or a localised return of a large number of cases,” said Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh.

Meanwhile in Russia a vaccine is imminent: CNN at Quite a lot of scepticism but there are very good scientists in Russia! I bet the frontline health workers are looking forward to their jabs! Earlier happy collaborators were soldiers from the Army.

Exclusive: Moscow CNN. Russia claims it's on track to approve Covid-19 vaccine by mid-August. But speed of process raises questions. Russia intends to be the first in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine, in less than two weeks -- despite concerns about its safety, effectiveness and over whether the country has cut essential corners in development, CNN has learned. Russian officials told CNN they are working toward a date of August 10 or earlier for approval of the vaccine, which has been created by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute. It will be approved for public use, with frontline healthcare workers getting it first, they said. "It's a Sputnik moment," said Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund, which is financing Russian vaccine research, referring to the successful 1957 launch of the world's first satellite by the Soviet Union. "Americans were surprised when they heard Sputnik's beeping. It's the same with this vaccine. Russia will have got there first," he added.

July 28th: remaining autumnal with strong cool NW wind continuing, fairly dry, some sunshine, 15C max. In next 4 days we have nice tomorrow, then wet, then heatwave, then back to autumn! Again no fieldwork – pointless! But did complete butterflies for South Tyrol (22 types) with whole trip done now and Dukeshagg trip on 18/7. So only 3 trips left to analyse for 2020, which is not bad at this stage of the season. Did some serious grass-cutting so that nice days can be spent out in the field. TR4g4t will wait until 2moro. Decided to go mad and booked NCL-FAO 25/9 and FAO-NCL 5/10 with RYA, cost for round trip 116.19 including all cheeky extras; no accommodation of course, will leave that to closer to time; may flip around a bit! Might have to 'quarantine' on return but need to have a break!! Whatever it's option money if everything goes pear-shaped! Earlier in September will go down on train to London and Devon to see relatives. Caught up with the music scene, playing and liking the 2 lively Gliere pieces recorded with L in London; Gliere was a Russian composer who Stalin liked because of his lack of 'formality'! Also continued with Mahler, playing S3 a couple of times; not familiar with this piece but it's quite a challenge: at 1 hour 10 minutes it's the longest of his symphonies and movements 4 and 5 are both supercharged with singers, alto and choirs respectively. It has a satisfying ending with the 'song' of love! Attending a zoom event with Opera North tomorrow at 18:00 – When the Stage and Technology Collide: An Exploration into the Power of Digital at Opera North. So mustn't spend too long at TR! Funds -4k after airline debacle on Monday with mixed picture today giving no recovery; pessimism certainly rules at the moment with Covid-sensitive stocks back to lows of the spring; still I'm in at not much more than these levels. Could become a bit more creative writing-wise tomorrow morning!! Keep looking gorgeous: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

July 27th: autumnal today with blustery, fresh W breeze, rain much of time, few sunny intervals, 17C max. No fieldwork! Made good progress on Seahouses/Bamburgh visit, processing all data except that for the Lepidoptera. Also processed the butterfly records for Seis am Schlern (South Tyrol) on 30/8/19, leaving just the afternoon visit to the lake to do. Made C4c4ll where entertained by tmsuo; really pleased 2 c her again!! Later made Cnt4g4s with P/R, latter joining us as his mates J/P of Lions are shielding! Same set-up for Thursday! Amazed at decision of the people supposed to be running the country to impose quarantine on travellers returning from Spain, and under prior arrangements on Portugal. The virus can only be accommodated, not eliminated; normal life should be maintained as far as is possible. Anyway pleased that RYA, EZJ, IAG, are continuing flights to Iberia. Lost 4k today on paper on bloodbath in airlines; didn't sell any and bought a few RYA. Wonder whether they're trying to prop up the UK holiday business but weather outlook is poor, many people want to get away! Markets are very oversold in general on doom and gloom associated with the persistence of the virus. I'm intending to go to the Algarve for 2 weeks towards the end of September for a luxury holiday after doing a tour of relations in early September in London/Devon, all after 31/8 when the Honey-buzzard survey finishes for 2020. Any takers!! Back to the field 2moro afternoon with maybe TR4g4t! RNS are going to perform outside around 8/9 August near the Central Station: look forward to that! And there's another * performance scheduled for Basil!! Hope the gorgeous one is enjoying the south of France: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

July 26th: additions to Honey-buzzard national survey (full results to date on Honey-buzzard home page

8(a) Blanchland: 16/07/20: male out to forage, 6 sample stills 1  2  3  4  5  6, 15:15-16:55.

2(c) Dukeshagg: 18/07/20: none seen, 15:05-17:40.

7(b) Stanley Burn: 18/07/20: none seen, 15:05-17:40.

Busy this morning processing the Blanchland data for 16/7 and re-checking the Prudhoe S piccies for 18/7. Weather was unsettled today with rain early-on on moderate SW breeze but there were spells of sunshine in afternoon and mild at 17C max. Went to Prudhoe S again from 15:55-18:30, quite an uncomfortable stint in the breeze, but results in the end were worth it with a Honey-buzzard seen briefly, a female at Dukeshagg 1  2  3 at 16:38, coming up quickly for a look around before quickly going down again; I suspect she's looking for her mate, wondering where he is! Here's a cropped image of piccie 2 1 (10060). The female at Dukeshagg was new for the national survey but none were seen at Stanley Burn (10061). Also had a Black Kite over the usual site for a few seconds at 16:22 when a small plane flew over the wood – that's par for the course! 2 juvenile Kestrel again hunted over the cleared hayfield and 2 Common Buzzard, adult and juvenile, were up to the N over Prudhoe E where a Red Kite adult was also seen in the air at 17:10. Total for visit was 19 bird-types, including 4 Siskin (family party), 2 Swift, 2 adult Common Gull feeding on cleared hayfield, 7 LBBG (6 ad, 1 2s), 22 House Martin, 6 Swallow. Made G with P/R, latter from dommies team, only one coming out at moment. He's driving to Germany soon for a holiday, said cross-Channel fares were up and all routes were very busy; they're going from Dover-Dunkirk, then through Belgium to Aachen and onto Heidelberg; if you want to avoid quarantine, just drive! Delighted to meet A again and L looked good!! G is closing for 8 days for landlord's break in the Lake District so it's Cnt4g4s 2moro, again with P/R. Picked up P and drove him home! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

July 25th: additions to Honey-buzzard national survey (full results to date on Honey-buzzard home page

4(b) Bywell: 11/07/20: male up briefly, 4 sample stills 1  2  3  4, 16:00-16:45.

9(a) Hexham N: 22/07/20: none seen, 13:15-15:30.

So that's some progress. Next up is Blanchland 16/7 and Seahouses/Bamburgh 20/7. Weather today was rain early-on, followed by long sunny spells on moderate W breeze, 18C max, back into shorts. Aiming for some more fieldwork tomorrow late afternoon as so important to keep that moving with the limited season. Gr8 event today: Costa opens inside so it was C4c4ll followed by P4shop, W4shop; spending less at W as not drinking very much at home! Hexham definitely busier everywhere! Did some grass cutting on the outer limits: the suppressed mint bed, the edges of the pond, the path up to the chair in the field, the path into the orchard. The apple crop is going to be fantastic: some branches are drooping into the grass! It's been a good mixture of sunshine and rain for the crop. Cooked a massive spag bol sauce (mince, red onion, mushroom, tinned tomato, garlic, marjoram, paprika) – 6 portions, ate one leaving 5 for freezer. Think going with P to G4g4s 2moro; he didn't make last Thursday but I will go anyway! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

Saw the comet Neowise on 24/7-25/7 night at 00:30 from garden at Ordley in very clear weather, rather faint in N sky, picked up with bins initially but then could readily relocate it with naked eye as a bright light with a long diffuse tail. Too faint for my photographic techniques but here's similar view taken night before 1 over Stonehenge (Metro with picture on left showing naked eye view and one on right showing binocular view. The comet is 64m miles away at its closest approach to Earth. But don't worry if you miss it: another chance in 6,800 years!

July 24th: additions to Honey-buzzard national survey:

1(c) Ordley: 12/07/20: male flying out to W doing butterfly display, 16:45-17:00.

3(b) Slaley Forest E: 14/07/20: male floating around trees, out to forage, 6 sample stills 1  2  3  4  5  6, 15:20-17:10.

Yesterday (23/7) drove family back to NCL at 09:15 for journey back to LHR on the one flight per day at 11:45. Was a poor day weather-wise with rain up to 16:00, then became much brighter. Has been a great visit, thoroughly enjoyed by all. Here's some piccies 1  2  3  4 of granddaughters S aged 5 and I aged 3. They're all flying to Corfu in early August for a holiday. Dishwasher is now working again. I pulled it out from the wall and that bumpy action has presumably cleared an airlock in the water supply, which I had suspected as a problem as the plumbing system is not that well connected. I topped it up with salt and water, cleaned the floor and put it on a trial run, no problem. So that saves some hassle. Made N4c4t in afternoon and pleased to see 4St busier. Made G in evening where pleased to have A on, all very matey and gr8 reunion!! Today had walk in West Dipton from 14:45-16:30 in fine weather with some sunshine, light W breeze, dry, warmer at 19C max. Plenty of raptor action with male and female Honey-buzzard seen with male up initially from 15:36-15:38 over the site with Common Buzzard adult in attendance; he moved off S decisively in long glide 1  2  3  4; later from 15:56-16:04 the female was at the E end of the site into the next Common Buzzard territory, floating above the trees; again she was intercepted by an adult Common Buzzard 5  6  7  8 (10059). Here's cropped piccies of Honey-buzzard for the national survey: 1st 4 for male, last 2 for female: 1  2  3  4  5  6. There were 2 family parties of Common Buzzard – 2 adult + 2 juvenile at E end, 2 adult + 1+ juvenile at W end. Total for bird-types was 16, including single Redstart, Siskin and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Now switched new camera to burst mode, continuous shooting when shutter depressed with fast autofocus. Had the 2 usual W sessions, virtual with N/D from 17:00-18:35, real with D/D from 20:15-22:15. All very good crack! Real W is getting much busier with its large outside area proving to be an attraction; met JG's leading hairdressers (J/L) there. On way back stopped at Lamb Shield at 22:30 and had 2 Quail calling from a cereal field; also had 2 Barn Owl on the fence at Ordley at 23:00. Funds finished the week -1k (+42k, that's +3.8%, on year to date). Shares were on the slide from Tuesday with some significant falls today of Covid recovery candidates. Rescued by large holdings in bonds and strong performance of Uranium miners. Cash is down to 37k, with further bond purchases. ftse 100 is down 18.8% on year, ftse 250 -21.3%. We seem to lack animal spirits in London, investing more and more overseas, particularly in US and Canada. For instance today the UK economic data showed a V-shape recovery in progress but the facts were immediately rubbished by most commentators. Hope the gorgeous one is keeping fit: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

July 22nd: damp day until early afternoon with sunshine returning at ttime. Earlier light SE became light SW mid-morning with max only 14C. We made Hexham Tyne Green from 13:15-15:30 where spent some time at the playground, which was fully open. Good time was had by all! Plenty of piccies to process! We did walk along the Tyne as well getting a family party of Kingfisher (2 adult, 1 juvenile), a Moorhen, 15 Mallard, 18 Black-headed Gull (17 ad, 1 juv), 1 Common Gull (ad S), 4 Oystercatcher, a Grey Heron, 14 Swift, 8 Sand Martin, 1 Pied Wagtail (juvenile). At the Hexham N site no Honey-buzzard were seen (10058) but a Red Kite adult was floating over the area at 14:32. Total for trip was 19 bird-types. Early nite again 01:00 to bed: have to be up a bit earlier to get them off to the airport and days are quite busy! So lots of love … xxxxx XXX!!!!!

July 21st: strong sunshine today, good day for raptors, 16C max on light to moderate W breeze, dry. We went for local walk in morning down to the Devil's Water from 10:30-12:40 on a circular, in the lovely weather. Very sociable meeting all the residents of The Peth and the delivery man, who used to be a member of the bird club! Also met the local Honey-buzzard with the male up around the tall trees on the SE side of the nest-site at 11:10 1, then taking over nest duty as the female took off vertically above the site and hanging over it from 11:14-11:16, giving some reasonable views before disappearing to N to forage 2  3  4  5  6; later she returned from the E at 11:59 7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14 (10057); here's cropped piccies 1 (male) 2  3  4  5  6 (female). They should have 2 small young now, maybe not so sweet as they're raptors! A Common Buzzard adult was very conspicuous and an adult Red Kite also put in an appearance, circling over mound to N at 11:59. Total for trip was 17 bird-types, including 6 Swallow, 2 Jay, 4 Swift, plus a Southern Hawker dragonfly. Had 8 types of butterfly including a Small Skipper. Dishwasher decided to pack up overnight, with water inlet problems, in a totally drained condition. Since it was installed on 18/12/2009 that's about a normal life expectancy of 11 years, so not planning any repairs but will leave it to Friday to re-order just in case it has a change of heart! We went to Cnt4m4t for f&c+mp with kids having burger and chips and just chips; with a few bevies total was £49 + 5 tip; service was very good and food wholesome! We had quiet evening with visitors going to sleep: this fresh Northumberland air is very tiring!! They leave on Thursday morning NCL-LHR and I'll be taking them there in the Fox. So it's proving to be a great reunion! Funds had a good day on € agreement on stimulus package and on promising vaccines: Brent oil up to almost $45 a barrel at one stage but fell back later on higher US stocks of oil than expected. Went from -2k on Monday to +4k on week so far today. Will be G on Thursday and W on Friday. lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

July 20th: lots of activity on my Red Kite page today, possibly linked to article in Guardian:

Red Kites thriving in England 30 years after reintroduction: Three decades after 13 were flown in by jet from Spain, there are nearly 2,000 breeding pairs of red kites across the country.

In July 1990, 13 red kites had to be flown by British Airways jet from Spain before they could grace the skies of the Chilterns. Thirty years on, nearly 2,000 breeding pairs of red kites display their distinctive forked tails as they soar over virtually every English county, in what has been hailed as one of the most successful reintroduction projects in the world.

Only in the warped minds of the FoRKers does Northumberland not count as part of this success story! And what are the motives for their shady story?

To the bracing seaside today: drove the family the 140 miles round trip from the 'Shire to Newcastle Western Bypass to Seahouses to Bamburgh to 'Shire, from 10:45-17:30. 90k mileage (in 9.75 years) came up on way back for the crate! We had good time on the sands just N of Seahouses, including picnic lunch and paddling, before going to Bamburgh for a walk around the amazing castle (and an ice cream!). Water was freezing: S's ambition is to have a wet suit! Weather was not as good as predicted but mainly dry with sunny intervals on light NW breeze before mid-afternoon when showers arrived, 16C max. Did take the bins and camera so much more to report … Had spag bol in evening at home plus a few bevies. tmbo's changed direction today!! Visit is going very well! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

At Seahouses was on beach to N of town from 12:05-14:50. Waders included 15 Oystercatcher, 4 Dunlin, 18 Sanderling (in summer plumage, briefly on shore line 1), 2 Curlew N. Terns included 7 Sandwich Tern 1, 3 Arctic Tern. Had 1 Swift S and 2 Garden Warbler in scrub in the dunes 1. Gulls included 5 Black-headed Gull (all adult 1), 3 LBBG adult, 2 GBBG adult, 6 Herring Gull adult. The sole raptor was a juvenile Kestrel. Added 5 species to my year list: the 2 terns, the Sanderling, plus Shag (1), Eider (4); shows what a secluded life I lead away from the coast! At Bamburgh from 14:55-16:00 had a Grasshopper Warbler and 3 new species for day-trip. On the road, had single Common Buzzard at Morpeth Tranwell and Morpeth Hebron with also 1 Kestrel at the latter. So total for trip was 4 raptors of 2 types: Kestrel 2, Common Buzzard 2. For all birds the day produced 26 species. Had a Humming-bird Hawk-moth at Ordley in the evening at 18:30 in front yard. Report on butterflies and moths to follow ...

July 19th: fresh day, cool moderate W breeze, 15C max, dry; cool night coming up at 6C min. Daughter and the 2 girls arrived early after plane touched down 20 min ahead of schedule and NCL Airport was very quiet; plane was 20% full (80% empty!). They got a taxi from Airport to my house. Great to see them again, all very excited and things have been taken out of cupboards that I'd forgotten about, including some of my daughter's cuddly toys! We made TR4m4l, so quiet, what a disappointment for them for what would normally be one of the busiest weekends of the year. Had a good meal, cost £51 plus 5 tip, which I paid. Rest of day spent exploring the house and garden!! P did 'phone about G next 2 nights but declined. Going to bed a little earlier than usual at 00:30, think lie-in may not be so easy!! Thinking of the gorgeous one: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

Have updated national survey data to 8/7 on Honey-buzzard home page as below. Note how seeing a Honey-buzzard is not easy at this stage of the season with 4/9 visits giving nil return.

National Honey-buzzard Survey 2020-2021, 21/06/20-08/07/20:

  1. Hexhamshire, Ordley

    1. 21/06/20: male in and out of site, 6 sample stills 1  2  3  4  5  6, 1 clip, watch: 12:45-13:20.

    2. 06/07/20: male in and out of site, 3 sample stills 1  2  3, 15:10-17:00.

  2. Tyne Valley E, Dukeshagg

    1. 23/06/20: male in and out of site, 4 sample stills 1  2  3  4, 11:20-14:10.

    2. 08/07/20: none seen: 15:55-17:10.

  3. Derwent, Slaley Forest E

    1. 25/06/20: perched male, 6 sample stills 1  2  3  4  5  6, 15:35-17:35.

  4. Tyne Valley W, Bywell

    1. 30/06/20: none seen, 11:20-13:15.

  5. Tyne Valley E, Throckley N

    1. 04/07/20: none seen. 15:00-16:30.

  6. Tyne Valley W, March Burn

    1. 07/07/20 none seen: 17:05-19:00.

  7. Tyne Valley E, Stanley Burn

    1. 08/07/20: female up, 5 sample stills 1  2  3  4  5, 15:55-17:10.

July 18th: fresh day after murky start, 15C max, moderate W breeze, strong sunshine in afternoon. Had long afternoon in field from 15:05-17:40 at Dukeshagg, S of Prudhoe. Again no Honey-buzzard at the Dukeshagg site showing that it's not easy confirming their presence in July (10056); the female I had here last time was from the Stanley Burn site to N. which was also quiet today. But did have a family party of 4 Common Buzzard (2 adult, 2 juvenile), a fledged juvenile Kestrel with an adult male from 16:14-16:24, a Red Kite close-up over a cut hayfield at 17:09 (see piccie below) and just as walking out at 17:27 the Black Kite came up as a Common Buzzard flew over the kite nesting area. Last time the Black Kite came up to challenge 2 LBBG so maybe need a drone to fly over! Taking parallels with Honey-buzzard behaviour the Red Kite part of the pair is presumed to be the male as he soars high over the nesting area from time to time and hangs there, watching over the nest. The Black Kite keeps much closer to the nest and performs active defence at close quarters so the Black Kite is the female part of the pair 1  2 with crop of piccie 1 here. This comparison is surely valid: the Honey-buzzard is more of a kite than a buzzard. Did have some kite calls as walked up the road fairly close to the site at 15:48 and some owl calls; latter were the hunger cries of young Long-eared Owl at 16:19, recorded here. The Red Kite after surveying the hayfield 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 (with crop of piccie 3 here) did return to the area the Black Kite was guarding. The butterflies were incredible: best I've seen for a long time; still to process. It's an insect-rich area, favoured once by a vagrant Red-footed Falcon. Total for trip was 25 bird-types, including 2 Curlew, feeding on a newly cut hayfield, 4 Chiffchaff (fledged), 8 House Martin (fledged), 11 LBBG (10 adult, 1 2s), 2 Stock Dove.

Did write a substantive reply to M on CT; think we could collaborate on at least 2 papers. Loganair will shortly fly from NCL-EXT but they've doubled the prices from Flybe's. Might go by train via London and see everyone! Looking forward to seeing details of plans for limited opening of some indoor theatres in September (announced by Boris on Friday). Nothing beats a live performance: still glowing after the Recital!!

So inspection tomorrow! Hope flights are OK. Looking forward to visit which starts appropriately in the local pub TR, with lunch in a big outside play area for kids. Weather forecast for next few days is good so they can explore the jungle in my field! Hope everyone is keeping fit, particularly the gorgeous one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Red Kite running summary to 8/7: From 18/6-8/7 6 Red Kite at 6 sites in Tyne Valley, Derwent, Hexhamshire. The map shows my records from 1/3-8/7: 43 tetrads occupied. Add 10 tetrads in red from N&TBC bull for March-May, giving 53 tetrads total. Cropped piccie is of an adult Red Kite near Prudhoe on 18/7 (today).

July 17th: muggy day, 17C max, no real sun, no real rain, moderate W breeze. Caught up in morning with all records up to 8 July, which was very satisfying; still need to update Honey-buzzard survey entries up to this date and produce Red Kite report from 18/6-8/7, which will try and do tomorrow. Busy day socially: N4c4ll, W4t virtual (Skype) 17:00-18:30 with N/D, W4g4s (real) 20:15-22:15 with D/D. Good to have some chat: Friday's a great day on recent form!! 'phoned up JG for appointment to trim hair; answerphone said leave message and we'll get back to you. Sure enough at 19:55 Jade called, nearing end of shift, and booked me in for 10:00 on 4/8. I like Jade, all her stories of life in Haltwhistle sound so familiar from when we lived there! Tempo on return for hospitality sector is increasing with more people around everywhere today, including at N and real W. Amused at the virus testing centre in Wentworth Car Park; I parked near it and think they thought I was a spy. They didn't seem to be doing much and at 15:30 – end of shift – you couldn't see them for dust as they scurried away! On way back from W, stopped at Lamb Shield and had a Nightjar at 22:31 hawking moths over the grass, possibly Swift moths. Suspect Nightjar here come from nearby Swallowship. Funds recovered from midweek -4k to finish all-square; prolonged pause persists; catalyst for move upwards would be tangible medical advances (looking more likely by the day) or a natural waning of the virus (Florida and Texas are still out of control). Funds are +44k gross on year to date (+4.0%) compared to ftse 100 -16.6% and ftse 250 -20.9%. Cash is 68k so funds largely deployed. Anyway a grand day, made better with an informative WA chat. lok2t gorgeous one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

July 16th: dry, bright day but humid with much cloud around, warmer 18C max, moderate W breeze. Went to Blanchland in afternoon, picking up 2 Red Kite at 2 sites plus a juvenile Kestrel on the way at the E end of Slaley Forest. Once there from 15:15-16:55 walked up to a good vantage point and immediately had 2 juvenile Kestrel. After a bit had a male Honey-buzzard coming over 15:53-15:54 over drifting SW at moderate altitude, gained using the orographic lift over the wood; he then went off SW to forage; got some decent piccies with the new camera 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 (10055). This is a regular site but is new for the year. Total for trip was 28 bird-types, including 1 Redstart (female/immature), 9 Siskin (1 fledged brood), 16 Meadow Pipit (2 present, 14 W), 7 Curlew (1 present, 6 W), Common Gull (1 ad SW), 4 Chiffchaff (fledged); mammals comprised 11 Rabbit. Total for raptors was 6 birds of 3 types: 3 Kestrel, 2 Red Kite, 1 Honey-buzzard. Noticed that a Honey-buzzard site on Buckshott Fell to S on Durham side is not really usable any more with much of the wood being felled so there's a dispossessed pair somewhere! Decided to support TR4g4t where sat out in beer garden in glorious isolation; booked family in for Sunday lunch there as flight gets in mid-morning: there's only one per day in each direction at the moment. In evening got stuck into raptor records from 6/7-8/7, completing their processing. So that's a good catch up. Added recital to home page: comes over very well!! Listened to Mahler 2 'Resurrection' on new CD box tonight; very moving, particularly like movement 4 Urlicht 'primaeval light', part of Des Knaben Wunderhorn, which contrasts so well with the raging music all around. The alto needs great presence to deliver the plaintive song, in what you might call a crazily exposed position! Here's Nathalie Stutzmann showing how it should be done: marvellous So 2moro is a big shop at W/P and will return to N4c4l. Have the 2 Welly like last week – virtual and real! Hope the GT is well under way: should be a marvellous tonic: enjoy xxxxx XXX!!!!! I might make NCL for a stopover directly!!

July 15th: dull throughout with drizzle in afternoon, cool 14C max, moderate W breeze, in shorts still but act of defiance: where's summer gone? Sorted results for Hexham area on 12/7, converted recital recordings to mp4 and uploaded them to server. Will index them tomorrow! Cleaner S came this afternoon; she says the B is very busy, which is good news. Went out to C4c4ll, taking drink away again to outside the Abbey in the drizzle. Then thought might as well go to G4g4t at 16:00 as B not coming anyway; that worked out well as got a seat near the bar with plenty of crack with people nearby; good to have M on again! Left G at 17:00 so time there same as usual (so correct!). Daughter's arriving with the girls on Sunday 19/7 (not 25/7 as originally planned), flying from LHR-NCL with BA (IAG, big rise in their shares today!, suspect daughter is still an employee of VA so may get cheap tickets though not for long!) and getting taxi from NCL-ORD; she said she could drive up but was worried about the 'are we nearly there yet?' starting as they navigated the M25! They left some car seats for the girls last time they were here so we will all fit in the Fox for subsequent trips; husband M is doing some work on the heating system at their house and minding dog and cat, if latter is possible! Will visit TR again soon as we can go for a meal or 2 there! Need to catch up on recent Honey-buzzard and kite records – tomorrow!! lok2t gorgeous one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

July 14th: dull in morning, brightening up in afternoon, some sunny spells but cool moderate W breeze, 16C max. Made C4c4l with weather good enough to sit out by the Abbey and think about all that's gone on there! Later had brilliant trip to Pithouse Fell N from 15:20-17:10 where had good views of the male Honey-buzzard, captured on new camera. He floated around the tops of trees on the edge of the clear-fell (Nightjar) area from 16:04-16:06 1  2  3  4, having minor aggravation with the juvenile Common Buzzard, before flying across the cleared area low-down to SW, to forage in the young spruce at 16:35 5  6  7 (10054). There were 2 Common Buzzard (adult hunting over moor at 15:41, fledged weak-flying juvenile, perched on a treetop 16:06-16:24 1  2  3  4  5  6  7) and 3 Kestrel (adult female, 2 juvenile) so 6 raptors of 3 types. Conditions were good for raptors with the breeze giving them a useful uplift. Studied a gamekeeper sat on the fell for 90 min, wondering what he was up to. Total for visit was 12 bird-types, including 9 Meadow Pipit (1 carrying food), a Common Gull adult SW, 4 Coal Tit (family party). On way back stopped off at TR4g4t, need to support the Slaley pub closest to my home!! Had long chat to big sis (70 min) on 'phone in evening, putting the world to rights! Funds down 4k in 1st 2 days of week on worries about the virus affecting travel and oil stocks. But this evening we saw that oil physical stocks in US are trending lower and Chinese imports are at records levels so unless we have a major relapse with the virus, oil stocks are undervalued. Son sent me today a present instead of a card for father's day: the complete symphonies of Mahler by Simon Rattle played with “the two ensembles most closely identified with Rattle’s name: the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Berliner Philharmoniker”; it's compensation for our aborted Vienna trip, can't wait to hear them! Will put up some recent recordings on my home page! Hope the grand tour has started well: feeling a little flat! lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

July 13th: cloudy with some showers, 16C max, moderate W breeze. Completed butterflies details for Seis, South Tyrol, on 29/8; one day to go, then can do the French butterflies found in July 2019. Had much more positive email from Devon M, with some ideas on exploring colimits at a future ANPA meeting which is to be distributed over a number of Zoom sessions, coordinated by Liverpool University. He's had Covid, diagnosed as cause of irritable bowel problems, now alleviating; long-term damage to organs seems to be very possible for an individual. Think we should adopt face-masks now, not in 2 weeks; that may be one reason why Asian countries are faring relatively well and the US badly. Thinking of a lengthy trip somewhere in September – getting restless! Fetched P from his house in Hackwood and took him to the G for a couple – very good crack, pub a little busier than normal Monday with the warm M on! Also took him home; he's waiting for NHS work on his shoulder, damaged in skiing accident in February, all delayed sadly. Had a Barn Owl at Ordley at 24:00. Things are looking up!! lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

July 12th: nice day, shorts on: dry, long sunny spells, light W breeze, 18C max. Relaxing day, made HEX in afternoon from 15:00-16:40, going to C4c4c for take-away to Sele, where lay on the grass for an hour, counting a few birds! Had 15 bird-types, including 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker (1 juvenile), 14 Swift (probably nesting in Abbey), 3 Oystercatcher (family group). A Common Buzzard was up over Acomb at 16:29. Going in had 2 fledged Song Thrush at Hexham Loughbrow at 14:55. Coming home, did a short stint overlooking the Honey-buzzard site from 16:45-17:00 and had the male in butterfly flight, disappearing to W at 16:46 (10053). Finished compiling records for visit to Healey on 7/7 and added details for birds at Ponta Delgada, Azores, on 23/07/17, as part of catch-up on foreign trips. Watched Bournemouth-Leicester game on Pick in early evening; amazing turnround from 0-1 to 4-1 in a little over 20 min; bet you could have got 1000-1 at 60 min on Bournemouth winning by that score: amazing! Made G4g4s and sat with the Scottish contingent G/G, chatting mainly about football, good to have some crack! Obsession is the theme of the last few days, think that's our tune: it also makes an excellent distribution in the Festival series (hope not last!). Very sleek: impressed with scale of trim: so s.xy!!! lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

July 11th: a dry day! Sunny spells, light NW breeze becoming moderate later, 16C max. Went in on train and Metro SKS-NCL-WJS, all punctual and clean with nearly everyone wearing a mask on both services. Cannot be too judgmental on the small minority not wearing masks: they may be asthmatic for instance. So it was on the surface a much better day weather-wise for the street scene in WJS but the wind was very gusty and numerous clothes-pegs were used to pin the scores down! Music was again brilliant, including Eugène-Auguste Ysaÿe's Sonata no. 2 'Obsession' for solo violin (as played yesterday, very polished!), the Vivaldi concerto for 4 violins, 2 songs from LH, and 'If you knew Susie'! All appreciated by the gathering crowd with good showing by my ex-colleagues at NCL CS/EE – Alex Y (Schwarzenegger (!), with partner), Maciej K, Marta K – all strong mathematicians with whom I used to gel! Computer scientists are not the philistines we're made out to be! Encouraged LH to admire her namesake Lotte Lenya, partner to Kurt Weill and star singer in his American operas. Am processing clips from yesterday from mts to mp4 format, which saves a lot of space and is the standard; they're very impressive! Been a great couple of days music- and company-wise!!!

Was a good day in other respects. As drove up the hill in the 'Shire past Houtley at 11:10, noticed a Common Buzzard perched on a post, looking up into the sky. And up there fairly low-down were 2 juvenile Red Kite from West Dipton, with small fork to tail and paler underside, floating effortlessly; so that's marvellous, 1st fledged brood for Red Kite seen this season. The Common Buzzard did not look happy but stayed put: even more of those newfangled kites: whatever next! On way back off train at SKS to check on Bywell Cottagebank from 16:00-16:45 and as approached picked up a bulky Common Buzzard over the wood at 16:00. A few minutes later at 16:03 a lighter-weight bird came up for 5 secs which judged as a male Honey-buzzard. A few minutes later he made another brief reconnaissance at 16:09 and I captured this flight on the new camera 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. He was up once more briefly at 16:25. Think these flights are caused by anxiety about what is around, like the 2 Goshawk seen here earlier (10052)! Also had a Red Kite adult up briefly at 16:21 and a Hobby male coming up quickly at 16:25 and then going out to hunt towards the Tyne. A Common Buzzard adult was up at 16:37 to SW. So that's 4 types of raptor in a flying visit! Total of bird-types was 15, including 8 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 4 Swift, 3 Chiffchaff,. Back in Hexham missed C4c4t as closed but did make P4FT, rw, beer. Opening a new stockbroker account, with Saxo, as they're supposed to offer the widest range of bonds to buy of any of the retail brokers. This will augment, not replace, my Interactive Investor (trading, isa, sipp) and Lloyds (trading) accounts. Am only using the account for going long (normal trading, buying bonds with cash you've got), bypassing all the options, leverage, margins, and contracts for difference, which can easily bankrupt the retail investor if the wrong call is made. Bon voyage: continue à être magnifique: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

July 10th: frequent showers with bright sunshine in between on light NW breeze, still cool 14C max, evening fine with clearing skies. Tomorrow (11/7) sunrise is 04:42, sunset 21:42, so day length is 17 hours exactly; loss of 22 min since solstice on 20/6, -13 min sunrise, -9 min sunset. Very inspiring day with brilliant recital in living room: such talent and well judged programme!! Continued later with good crack with N/D at virtual W from 17:00-18:30 and with D/D at real W4g4s from 20:30-22:20. W had strict hygiene controls but staff were friendly with it so pleasing experience; back next week! Stopped on edge of Dipton Wood S from 22:25-22:55 and had 2 species: a Nightjar flying over the clear-fell immediately to N at 22:35 and 2 Crow calling at 22:45. So that's 3 sites for Nightjar in Dipton Wood now. Earlier in day at 13:30 had 8 Common Gull adult on cut hayfields indicating start of return from Norway. Last night from 21:45-23:00 had a Common Buzzard at Letah Wood, on a post, a Tawny Owl at Loughbrow and a Barn Owl near Ordley Village. 2moro it's RDM-NCL-WJS for more musical delights!! Funds finished the week -1k after continued concerns over the virus in S USA but nerves a bit steadier by today. On year to date gain is now 44k gross (4.0%) with ftse 100 -19.2%, ftse 250 -21.7%. UK hospitality stocks had a particularly poor week on reports of very slow trading on restart but housebuilders were up on slashing of stamp duty; hold very few of former and bought some of latter. Cash is 95k with reinvestment mainly in bonds. Do feel a lot happier: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

July 9th: quite a bright day but still cool at 14C max; heavy rain late evening, light W breeze. Completed indexing the piccies for the Woodlark and the Brown Hare on 7/7 (below!) but still need to add the results to BirdTrack. Did make C4c4ll where directed by tmsuo in the q: good hostess!! Much later made Cnt4g4s on own, as IT mates not quite ready yet. Not bad, staff said business was picking up particularly on the staying side and the B looked quite busy; roads in Hexham town are a lot busier now but 'Shire still seems quiet. Lots of excitement for 2moro: busy day!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Did comment on a depressing DT article: The stocks to avoid in case of a coronavirus second spike. Investors have been buying up airlines, banks and oil majors but analysts say they will be the first to suffer in a second wave.

Nick Rossiter 10 Jul 2020 12:27AM

The assumption in this article is that in a second surge in Covid cases we would have a total lockdown as before. I think this is very questionable as the sacrifice to the economy would be so great as to put in doubt our future ability to maintain the standard of living and public services to which we are accustomed. We might try more local lockdown measures but basically I feel we would have to battle through any resurgence without resort to a total lockdown. Our treatment of the disease has improved with steroids, anti-viral drugs and blood thinners, now we realise it's as much a disease affecting circulation as respiration. The death rate is therefore being reduced and the surviving population is likely to be fitter in general. Of course a mutation in the virus to a more severe form could occur but on the other hand we could have a vaccine. I don't think we should be too fatalistic!

July 8th: bright morning, becoming duller as day wore on with rain around midnight; cool again at 14C max, light W breeze. A busy day out, making NCL Quayside around lunchtime, wooded area S of Prudhoe at ttime and G4g4t, leaving there just as the Toon began to go downhill against Man City! Also processed the Woodlark piccies and some for Brown Hare from yesterday's trip, which will post tomorrow morning. At Quayside from 13:00-15:30 had 11 bird-types, including Kittiwake 571 (all adult, partial count, with 34 on High-level Bridge), 11 Herring Gull (10 ad, 1 2s), 11 LBBG (all adult 1), 1 GBBG (adult), 1 Cormorant (adult), 22 Black-headed Gull (21 adult,1 juvenile 1), 4 Magpie (family party), 27 Feral Pigeon, 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Blackbird (juvenile), 1 Dunnock. So 5 types of gull. Had 2 types of butterfly on Quayside: 2 Large White, 1 Red Admiral. A Redshank was at Derwenthaugh. The light was very poor for the Prudhoe trip from 15:55-17:10 but visit was very rewarding, strongly indicating that there's a mixed pairing of an adult Red Kite up at 16:28 hanging over a wood 1  2  3  4  5  6 with cropped piccie 3 here and an adult Black Kite up at 16:18 hanging over same area 1  2  3  4  5 with cropped piccie 1 here (as in Scotland a while back) and up low-down anxiously at 16:38 as 2 LBBG flew over. Looking to the N from my vantage point had a female Honey-buzzard up at the Stanley Burn site (new for year) from 16:39-16:42 in interaction with an adult Red Kite 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 with cropped piccie 4 here (10050). Total for Prudhoe area was 14 bird-types, including 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 16 Swallow, 4 LBBG (3 ad, 1 2s), 1 Chiffchaff. So no 'old' raptors at all, just the new ones: 2 Red Kite, 1 Black Kite (very new!), 1 Honey-buzzard. At the G was told about Red Kite 'swarming' at the top of Causey Hill and in the West Dipton Burn; these are known sites but good to see the species now becoming obvious to more casual observers; Wylam area was also mentioned as good for Red Kite and can confirm that from my records this year. Interested to see on BirdGuides that after a gap from 18/6-5/7 with no Black Kite records nationally, 2 appeared to be emigrating on 6/7 as below; wonder how many of the large spring influx are lurking/breeding on the E side of the country; and if they're breeding are there any pure pairs or are they making do with our native Red Kite! Was a great day: a bit of variety always helps: will miss her: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

21:07 06/07 Black Kite Essex Roxwell probable flew over

12:32 06/07 Black Kite Norfolk Hopton-on-Sea 12:10 one flew south past cliffs

July 7th: in morning cool, little light rain, 13C max, light W breeze, then amazing transformation at 16:00 as wind went NW, cloud cleared and the sun came out. Quickly went to the Healey area for a walk on a common from 17:05-19:00, where had 3 Woodlark: 2 together as entered area around some gorse bushes and an adult perched on a small birch tree carrying food, some caterpillars, for its young, confirming breeding c100m away; have some good piccies with new camera on this 1  2  3  4  5  6  7! A resize of 1 is available here, for loading onto BirdTrack where 1MB is the limit. The only raptors were 2 Goshawk soaring high, adult female 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 and juvenile female 8  9  10  11  12, with a cropped piccie of 8 here (but a good one!) though a Crow was calling for c15 minutes at the trees where the Red Kite are breeding, so that's promising for the kites' success. No Honey-buzzard seen in 2 hours in a regular site. Also in total of 17 bird-types had 2 Tree Pipit, 19 Linnet, 5 Yellowhammer, a family party of Chiffchaff, 2 family party of Swallow, 4 Swift. Had 2 Brown Hare, one of which was close 1  2. Earlier had another rampant Common Buzzard near Letah Wood at 11:00, clearly another site where fledging of young is imminent. Did meet P at B4c4c where we had good chat for 75 min; did check on C and glimpsed tmsuo so may be worth a visit (!), though takeaway only; not out in evening as computing mates shielding. Not surprised, looking at own mates, that things are taking a while getting back to normal! Funds are +2k with Uranium doing well and airline stocks not so well; oilies did well on Monday but lost most of the gains today. Over last few months have built up a total of 13k nominal in PIBS of NBS (local building society), costing about 23k, yielding c7%. 2moro going E, back to S of Prudhoe, then G4g4t!! xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

July 6th: NW breeze, moderating, quite sunny, 14C max, scattered light showers. Did get out on the verge by the road outside to scan for Honey-buzzard again from 15:10-17:00 and did connect with the local male twice, getting one decent piccie. Also had 2 Common Buzzard, clearly annoyed with the Honey-buzzard presence and of course nervous now with young getting ready to fledge. The first connection at 15:30 was classical, the male coming in low from the E and looking for a low approach close to the Devil's Water was interrupted by an aggressive Common Buzzard 1, which forced the male back up 1  2 with cropped piccie 2 here but once past the danger area the male dropped again quickly out of sight and was not seen as he neared the nesting area. There were then angry Crow calls, indicating he'd reached the nesting area. In the second sighting at 16:52, he was going SE from the nesting area, moving high in the sky as he left; the rapid gain in altitude gave him an inconspicuous exit 3 (10051). So good to be back in contact with the secretive one! Also noted single Green Woodpecker and Jay plus 4 Swift. Did some more gardening, getting fit! Highlight of day was return to G for a couple of g; high hygiene standards were maintained with both doors open, customers encouraged to keep apart, sanitising gel available at several points, contactless payment, no leaning on the bar. P didn't want to go and no-one else out of normal Monday crowd there but plenty of crack with others I knew and good to see A/M/E again!! So evening was very rousing: excitement returns to Hexham nite life!! Email from Sage appointed me as Affiliate in their fund raising scheme (£500-999, donation total is £860); not sure I'm going to compete that aggressively for higher accolades but with further £140 would become Advocate! Meeting P 2moro at B4c4c; don't think my Tuesday evening mob will be operating: still worries abound! lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

July 5th: heavy rain late in night, but mainly dry today except for some very heavy showers, one of hail; max 14C, very windy, fresh W breeze, not quite gale force as forecast. So NBG for raptors, indeed BirdGuides is still to record its 1st Honey-buzzard record from anywhere for July. So caught up on gardening, data and coffee shops. There's a brood of Wren just fledged in one of the pony shelters, where a Blackbird has also successfully nested. Bank Vole are very common all over the property, particularly in the field; they look like hamsters and are not vermin in the recognised sense; they're very popular with raptors and other carnivores! Since it's become wetter, the moles have disappeared. Completed adding piccies for South Tyrol on 28/08/19, just 2 days to go on the trip. Made N4c4ll where could sit in – marvellous – met K who like me loved getting out again for coffee; we had long chat on the virus (what else!). Did support, with 150k others, the petition being sent to Sunak on the Arts: hope we get somewhere: indeed an email has just popped up at 00:49 from saying extensive support is on its way (great news if it's true but as usual the devil is in the detail!!). Following up on grandchildren yesterday, it's sad in my view that my daughter has lost her job with Virgin Atlantic. While life is undoubtedly a little easier and her husband is very well paid, she'll lose some independence: women are in danger of going back to the 1950s in their role in the family (housewife). Much help preserving employment is desperately needed from the government up to the end of the year when the economy should be recovering. On the bright side, she will get a decent redundancy payment as she's worked for them for over 15 years and maybe she'll get preferentially re-employed with VA in 18-24 months' time when air travel is recovering (that's their stated policy towards the sacked Gatwick staff; Heathrow staff have been largely protected so far). 2moro it's G4g4s, at last, with P and on Friday have booked at the real W4g4s from 20:30 for drinks only with D/D! Cleaner S is coming Tuesday morning and going E on Wednesday! An exciting week beckons: lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

Here's May 2020 section on Red Kite from N&TBC bulletin:

Red Kite Milvus Milvus

Encouraging number of sightings especially away from core area. (sic!)

Two birds were at Derwent Reservoir on 24th (IFo) and at Carterway Heads on 31st (IFo). Single birds were reported from Crooked Oak Lane on 1st (IFo), Dipton Wood on 5th (AA), Wooler Common (DRi), River South Tyne (Melkridge) (SJH) and Crooked Oak (Derwent Reservoir) (IFo), all on 8th. A bird was in the Harthope Valley on 21st (STH), Low Buston on 23rd (CSa), Humshaugh on 24th (SW), Longdyke (Shilbottle) also on 24th (MKi), Allenheads on 25th (MH), Wylam on 27th (PMHa/RMHa) and at Blanchland Moor on 29th (PCI).

Think Crooked Oak and Allenheads are new sites for 2020. Will need to update my running totals soon. Think 'A bird was' should be 'Singles were': they don't move that fast! Sites to add are therefore: Shotley Field, Kiln Pitt Hill, Melkridge, Unthank, Allenheads, Carterway Heads, Derwent Gorge, Snods Edge, Airy Holm, Crooked Oak, 10 in all, with Minsteracres now included through own observations.

July 4th: muggy day, heavy rain early on, becoming lighter, 17C max, light SW breeze. At last some live music in the street in Jesmond with a few members of the RNS and family performing. Really enjoyed it, such good performances by all concerned, particularly the Bach double concerto (violin, viola, cello) and the songs. Shall readily attend the sequel next week! Certainly admire the fighting spirit and the talent! Gave £20 to the collection for good causes, Food Bank in Jesmond and St Oswald's Hospice. Chat was good afterwards with the musicians and with AY, professor in EE at NCL, who I knew well when he was in CS; he started his career in St Petersburg and in NCL, with his rugged features, was known as Schwarzenegger by the students! Drove to CAL and caught Metro from there to WJS; all very clean and nearly everyone wearing a mask. Did pause on way back at Throckley N from 15:00-16:30 where with a little brightness, saw 3 Common Buzzard adult, a Red Kite adult (hanging over arable land to N of big wood at 15:24) and a Kestrel. The Common Buzzard are near fledging now, 4-5 weeks ahead of the earliest Honey-buzzard and the Kestrel was a fledged juvenile. No Honey-buzzard, didn't have another 3.5 hours to spare! Total for bird-types was 22, including 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Blackcap, 2 Swift, 5 GBBG (4 ad, 1 1s), 2 Yellowhammer, 9 Swallow. Did loads of grass cutting when home, taking advantage of a little dryness in a very wet spell overall. Disturbed a toad from a patch of grass! Not been in a pub yet with G not opening until Monday when will be there; read the long list of rules this evening! Still thinking about 2moro but will definitely be in N4c4ll while the forecast strong winds reach their peak. Latest piccie of grandchildren shows them collecting a row of snails in their gated estate in Kingston; the younger one hardly ever wears a coat; the older one is getting so tall; good to see the nature interests! Shall sleep well tonite: very satisfying day: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

July 3rd: warmer at 17C max on light W breeze but overcast with rain at times. Think the raptors will be getting restless! Things are looking up with N open for takeaways now, where took out a grande cc and a pain de chocolat to the Bandstand in the Sele; it's good surroundings but was a little damp! Then made P4FT, HC, rw, twix. Had long Skype session with N/D for 90 min, our W virtual pub. D/D want it to be the real W next Friday, which I'm up for but it closes at 22:00 (sign outside says open 02:00-22:00, don't think they really mean that!). So we'll need to go 2 hours earlier than usual and book and will they let us just have a drink. Whatever as N/D not going to real W, I said we should keep the virtual W going in any case! Caught up on Lepidoptera records for this year and moved back onto butterflies in South Tyrol last August for 27/8; always something to do! Funds +1k on week, making gain on year 45k gross (+4.1%) compared to ftse 100 -18.5% and ftse 250 -21.1%. Not quite as static as it looks, with cash down to 171k and another 15k in the pipeline for investment in high-yield bond funds. Moved back into airline stocks after they've come back to earth and into Uranium as it is at last stirring with the US declaring it a strategic metal for their power needs going forward (joining the Chinese). Think (hope!) that the virus is in its death throes for the time being in Brazil and S/SW of the US. A second wave is not inevitable, it's not a flu with propensity to mutate and so far nowhere has had a true second wave. All the modelling is based on Spanish flu, which may be an imperfect guide. Whatever, treatment in hospitals is improving all the time with the new drugs and some vaccine may be available before the year is out for those rich enough to buy it! One of the recent discoveries is that cv is as much a blood disease, affecting circulation, as a respiratory one. Friday afternoon is becoming a good time to buy stock as all the new traders like to close their positions for the weekend, selling out of everything! 2moro on the music trail in WJS: really looking forward to it!! Not sure where and when my 1st drink will be!! lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

July 2nd: damp, grey day, not very stimulating for going out! Cool, max 14C, light SW breeze, occasional light rain, more decisive heavy rain tomorrow. Not good weather for seeing raptors! Up to date with bird observations, adding Quayside and Bywell to BirdTrack. Made W4bigshop £41. In past July I've been actually entering the Honey-buzzard sites to see the birds as this is the time of year, in between display and fledging, that they are so secretive. However, I am going to go along in an open mind with the national Honey-buzzard survey as some sort of control. My own opinion is that Honey-buzzard go from being a 90-minute species in May and most of June to a 5-hour species in July, that is if you visit a known site for 90 minutes in spring you stand a very good chance of seeing one; you need to increase this time to 5 hours in July! I break this seasonal structure down into display phase (up to 17/6, 30 sites occupied this year, 25 male, 18 female) and rearing phase (18/6-mid-August, 3 sites occupied this year, 3 male, 0 female). They can actually be very secretive up to the actual point of fledging, so early August is still around the 5-hour visit time. Their most devious trick is to enter the site some way from the nest below the canopy level, down perhaps a glade, and arrive at the nest without being seen from a vantage point, unless you see the bird's initial approach. Very cunning, but that's how they've evolved to survive! The preceding is for a single pair with no tensions with intruding Honey-buzzard without a territory of their own. In some parts of the country, these intruders seem to be more common and you do get more aerial confrontation, increasing their visibility in July. Had a great 'phone conversation today: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

July 1st: damp day, particularly after wind went from W to light NE at lunchtime; some drizzle in daylight hours, turning to heavy rain in evening, cool 14C max. Completed analysis of Common Buzzard, with a long tail, from Bywell yesterday (below). Did make NCL; quite a lot more people travelling of which 1/3 no face covering; on way back there were not enough seats eligible for use but all worked out pragmatically with cohabiters sitting together and others keeping as much distance as possible. I did actually wear my mask on the train and in the station as did all younger people. Don't think all the English are happy with mask wearing! So in the drizzle visited the Quayside from 12:55-15:30, watching the Kittiwake (partial count 460) going to and fro; picked out 2 1s birds today; also had 10 LBBG (9 ad, 1 1s), 12 Herring Gull (11 ad, 1 2s), 1 GBBG ad, 1 Black-headed Gull ad; so that's 5 types of gull but no Common Gull, who may of course be loafing on another part of the river. One 'Herring Gull' adult had pinky-yellow legs, perched on a jetty, lots of piccies, but think it's just a Herring Gull -- more tomorrow! Total was 9 bird-types with additions to gulls: 1 fledged Blackbird, 2 Woodpigeon (1 singing), 31 Feral Pigeon, 2 Mute Swan 1s. There were 3 LBBG adult on the Tyne at Ovingham at 12:30. No trip out this evening, far too wet but 2moro may be better! Have sent off a saliva sample for an autosomal DNA test with AncestryDNA; it's another way of testing relationships, in addition to Y-haplogroups (father of father …) and mtDNA (mother of mother …); cost was £85 and results will take 6-8 weeks to arrive. I believe this was the test used on the Jeremy Kyle show and currently by the police in their inquiries!! I'm intending to incorporate the test in the WikiTree I'm building. Very stimulating company: the gorgeous one's in good form: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

June 30th: wind dropped to light w breeze, still cool and no sun, 15C max, almost dry. Day length tomorrow is 17 hours 15 mins (04:35-21:50) so lost 5 min on sunrise and 2 min on sunset since 23/6. Added details of yesterday's exciting crepuscular visit. Here's levelled mint patch – quite big but the meadow grass in the field will be keen to reclaim. Have some (Northern) Marsh Orchids on the grass this year 1  2. Had interesting trip to Bywell this morning from 11:20-13:15, looking for Honey-buzzard at Cottagebank Wood. First up was a Common Buzzard at 11:51, hanging briefly over the wood before coming back down again. At 12:03 another Common Buzzard was spotted to S over the fields W of Sod Hall (that's its actual name!) hanging in the breeze, almost hovering at times. It drifted E towards the site, out of my sight because of an intervening wood. At 12:13 it finally arrived at the site, disappearing into the canopy. Being quite restless at 12:39 the same bird went for a longer flight of almost 10 min, not going physically far from the site but gently rising to NW before coming back to S and diving into the wood; a clip was taken of this flight; light was poor throughout. No Honey-buzzard seen today, must try again in better conditions but they keep low in July. A Common Buzzard was up over Bywell Castle at 13:20. Total for trip was 20 bird-types, including a family party of 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Redstart, 8 Swift. Funds are flat as is cash, playing a waiting game, very boring I know; commodity prices are moving up a little, maybe on resilience of Asian economies! Oil stockpiles are declining as car usage accelerates! Looks as if the virus outbreaks in S and W USA are mainly affecting younger people, bored out of their minds by the lockdowns; that could be a buy signal as their fatality rate is much lower than that of older people; but the latter might then be infected as well. Think the local lockdown in Leicester is a bit crazy; they need to sort out the garment factories in Leicester E with people working on top of each other for poor uncertain wages. So some straws in the wind. Coming into NCL 2moro!! lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

Here's the Common Buzzard seen today, an interesting bird with a particularly long tail, 90-95% of the wing width. Did analyse some of the piccies 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12. 1-3 are stills, without processing; 4-5 are cropped images from stills; 6-12 are snapshots from the video taken. 3 shows the long tail but it's broad and with even width; 2 shows the hint of a pale breast band; 4 shows the bird hovering, emphasising the long tail, but again the tail is broad and wide; 5, although head-on, fails to show the yellow cere of a Common Buzzard; 6, 7 show hint of a pale breast band; 8-10 emphasise the long tail; 11-12 show the bird in a dive with a very thick neck and in general a much less streamlined appearance than a Honey-buzzard would show. Don't think this bird is immature: it's been around for a few years. It didn't call so quiet for a Common Buzzard and showed no signs of moult, which can be another useful guide at this stage of the season as Honey-buzzard show very little moult on the breeding grounds. All very illustrative!

Becoming interested in Critical Theory, a development from Marxism, which is being used in attempts to undermine the West. Critical Theory is a sociological force, originating in the mid-19th century with philosophers such as Adorno and updated in the 1930s in the Frankfurt School. It's a unification of social sciences, somewhat like metaphysics in the hard sciences but there the similarity ends: logical reasoning is not its aim; it's also not a theory in the hard science sense. Rather it is used to identify power structures and undermine them through reducing confidence in, say, institutions. They don't like to call it neo-Marxist as that suggests revisionism! My son studied Adorno for his PhD at York University in Political Philosophy – I'll ask him or read the thesis! One of their aims must be to encourage (incompetent) populism: Trump, Johnson, the Brazilian Guy, what respect can you have for them! And encouraging hysterical and extreme reactions to the virus and climate change may well suit their agenda. Still reading …

June 29th: pretty wild day, 14C max, fresh W breeze, even small twigs blown down, some sunny intervals but not weather for raptors. So did finish compiling the Honey-buzzard aggro from 25/5, including piccies and commentary (10030). So completely up to date now on the record keeping for birds with just a few butterfly records left outstanding. Did visit Hexham in evening to get out £40 for S for her cleaning 2moro morning. Decided to turn it into a crepuscular trip to Dipton Wood SE from 21:30-22:50; wind had dropped a little and there were plenty of moths and bats around; highlight was another Little Owl (at 21:50 and 22;08 single pi-yu calls from a deciduous copse), 2nd of year, this time an adult calling twice. Did listen to 4 clips of 5 minutes each, adding a Song Thrush singing! Final list was 8 bird-types: 1 Little Owl, 2 Bullfinch, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Blackbird, 1 Great Tit, 1 Swallow, 27 Rook, 3 Jackdaw. A Brown Hare was in main part of Dipton Wood at 21:30. R was a little dull, people complaining that Zoom is OK as a stopgap but there's a lack of spontaneity and humour, at least in the way we're using it. I thought I'd get away with 40 min but they added a 2nd session of 20 min for induction of 2 new members: bit underhand! And worse: Regional R has got hold of the pro version of Zoom which has no time limits! Personal view is that you need a Zoom leader who's relaxed and has a good sense of humour. So crepuscular trip was brilliant, maybe another later in week; hope to be back on Honey-buzzard trail 2moro morning with the big lens!! Very impressed with the street scenes; sure Kurt Weill would have approved: love the fighting spirit, just like Rose Maurrant!! lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

June 28th: cool, 13C max, moderate to fresh SW breeze, damp all day with few heavier short bursts. Not out in the field, but met T&K while cutting some ivy back on the verge and they'd just seen at 16:00 a Red Kite hunting close to the Devil's Water so local pair progressing, probably with medium-sized young now in the nest! Did some more gardening, clearing out stones and wood from the old mint patch (earlier failed attempt to smother it!), snipping off any remnant pieces of mint, attacking the ivy to stop it growing up the house wall and trimming in general, particularly around windows. New strategy is to incorporate all of the the mint and a surrounding strip into a mowed grass area for a couple of years; think the meadow grass will beat the mint with frequent mowing (well that's the theory!). Not keen on using chemicals. I do have a well-behaved mint bed, forced into a narrow area by the patio with no escape route! Did do a lot of work on 25/5 Honey-buzzard aggro: labelled the piccies, uploaded them to server and added a story for most of them by close of play. Do find Sundays a little dull under lockdown but some very welcome stimulation arrived late-on with some street scenes!! 2moro it's R Club Assembly on Zoom at 12:30 (fortunately 40 min limit!) and hope to get out later for a walk, perhaps also a crepuscular trip! lok2t gorgeous one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

There have been a lot of sightings of Honey-buzzard nationally since my (arbitrary) close on spring migration on 17/6: 31 from 18/6-28/6 as shown on the map [BirdGuides]; the number in Kent suggests continuing immigration and the number in Yorkshire suggests some of these are going far to the N to NE England and Scotland; some will also be breeding birds already in their territories. Maybe younger birders are not the SoDs of my generation!! Certainly my generation has been in a persistent State of Denial on the status of Honey-buzzard in the UK, still 'living' in the times of Gilbert White (1720-1793). To be fair to Gilbert White, he did though know how to readily separate Honey-buzzard and Common Buzzard (below). Two well-known examples of SoD are the deniers of the Holocaust and of the full implications of the slave trade.

Denial consists of the refusal to accept a past or present reality and is most commonly employed to protect the host from their own negative traits; to protect them from the repeated memories of the negative actions of another or to avoid recognising their own guilt for past actions, thoughts or feelings.

Gilbert White's Selborne (The Natural History of Selborne 1788) – a book of letters updated by JE Marting for a second edition with illustrations by Thos Bewick (1884). p.130. Letter XLIII to Thomas Pennant, Esquire.

A pair of honey buzzards, Buteo apivorus sive vespivorus, RAII, built a large shallow nest, comprised of twigs and lined with dead beechen leaves, upon a tall slender branch near the middle of Selborne Hanger, in the summer of 1780. In the middle of the month of June a bold boy climbed this tree, though standing on so steep and dizzy a situation, and brought down an egg, the only one in the nest, which had been sat on for some time, and contained the embryo of a young bird. The egg was smaller, and not so round as those of the common buzzard; was dotted at each end with small red spots, and surrounded in the middle with a broad bloody zone.

The hen bird was shot, and answered exactly to Mr. Ray's description of that species; had a black cere, short thick legs, and a long tail. When on the wing this species may be easily distinguishable from the common buzzard by its hawk-like appearance, small head, wings not so blunt, and longer tail. This species contained in its craw some limbs of frogs and many grey snails without shells. The irides of the eyes of this bird were of a beautiful bright yellow colour.

State of play on intended submission to National Honey-buzzard survey:

  1. Hexhamshire, Ordley, 21/06/20: male in and out of site, 6 sample stills 1  2  3  4  5  6, 1 clip.

  2. Tyne Valley E, Dukeshagg, 23/06/20: male in and out of site, 4 sample stills 1  2  3  4.

  3. Derwent. Slaley Forest E, 25/06/20: perched male, 6 sample stills 1  2  3  4  5  6.

June 27th: threatened with lots of heavy showers but actually dry most of time and fairly warm at 17C max on moderate SW breeze. Did some heavy-duty gardening in afternoon, cutting off some high branches on the flowering cherry in the front, which were getting close to a telephone cable, and finishing the attack on the mint. Nearly up to date on processing of bird records with Slaley Forest E visit on 25/6 sorted. Some butterfly records to add and Ordley 25/5 male Honey-buzzard combat still to do, maybe tomorrow if it's wet. Only trip out was a quickie to P4FT,HC,rw,twix. Looking forward to G reopening and seeing favourite bar-lass A again!! Important musical event scheduled for Ordley: that will be magical!!! Enjoyed the latest Bach: very stylish!! Glad that BBC2 are showing some old Glastonbury; tonite was 2016 with Coldplay the stars and even Barry Gibb (ex-Bee Gee) turning up. Here's the flavour: A Sky full of Stars Live at Glastonbury 2016 HD It is exciting, even if CM's piano does go wonky at the end! Much prefer the Beyoncé and Coldplay OTT to the more restrained, say, Adele. Again lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

June 26th: weather going downhill with one brief, heavy shower mid-afternoon and a longer, heavy one early evening. Still warm and some sunny spells with max 24C on light SW breeze. No fieldwork today, concentrating on past records and the garden, where seriously attacking a large patch of feral mint in the field! Had virtual pub with N/D for 100 minutes, very enjoyable chat about anything! W is open on Friday 10/7, but none of my mates will be there, all shielding! So virtual pub may well continue into July and August. Here's update from W:

WE'LL BE OPENING OUR DOORS ON MONDAY 6TH JULY. We’re really looking forward to welcoming you back and we’ve been working hard behind the scenes on the new Pub Safe promise to make sure you and our teams are as safe as possible in the pub environment you know and love. As part of our social distancing promise we’ve reduced the number of tables available, this means we need you to book ahead of visiting to guarantee availability. [not sure I want to book a pint of g!]

Good news on fb from :

The Globe Inn. Yesterday [25/6] at 07:58. Fresh beer has just been delivered to us !!!! So we are now ready to go on Monday 6th July!! Woo hoo壟

See P's liked it as well on fb: we'll both be there on opening nite! Might go back to Travellers Rest, nearest pub to me as the Honey-buzzard flies and large beer-garden with occasional raptor passing by!:

Coronavirus Update. June 22, 2020. We are currently preparing to reopen and will post regular updates

Message from Bridge Hotel today is too long to put in here, procrastinating!.

And Victoria & Comet is opening on 4/7 for bookings. Do eat there so not so crazy and 25% discount offered for 1st visit!

No news from MP – Marco Polo – but N say he's not eating out for months! Hope they've not folded, quite a number of restaurants will.

And of course no live music – a major tragedy – but can have 2 parts of wine, women and song!!

So there are some important updates! Did some shopping at W, £38, gone down a bit as pop into I and Peggs in between bigger shops. Watching Glastonbury (2019) on BBC2 at the moment; amazed at Beyoncé and her dancers, such precision; she's a very exciting entertainer! Of course I remember her more as Destiny's Child with Kelly Rowland! Finished nite watching 4S: sweet dreams!! Will be sorting out yesterday's visit tomorrow. Funds had a quiet week, ranging from +3k to -3k, finishing at -2k. So on year to date funds are now +44k gross (+4.0%) compared with ftse 100 -18.3% and ftse 250 -22.0%. It's been a bad week as markets are anticipating (priced for) a V-shaped recovery and this is looking increasingly unlikely; US markets had a very bad Friday afternoon, after Europe's markets closed, so quite likely more pain ahead. Reduced equity exposure by selling GYM and CINE at a loss as now think restart could be very messy. Sold tech stocks the previous week at healthy profit as can see their relative advantage in the current crisis (already priced in?) but are they going to perform absolutely well, when their business and some personal customers are short of money. Cash is now 258k and maintaining large holdings of bonds and bond funds. Tense times! c u around: lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

June 25th: another amazing 26C today on light SE breeze, strong sunshine, dry. Nearly finished processing Prudhoe S on 23/6, a brilliant trip indeed with the Black Kite lingering (breeding just possibly?). Too hot for raptors to be flying midday so out from 15:35-17:35 at a moor N of Derwent Reservoir, when getting a bit cooler. Plenty of raptors: a male Honey-buzzard perched at the top of a tall spruce near the end from 17:06-17:16 on the edge of a large clear-felled area 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11 (10049); single Red Kite over the moor from 16:16-16:43 and at Minsteracres at 16:16, both hunting; 4 Common Buzzard at 2 sites, 2 pairs, 1 quite agitated, over clear-fell and on E side of moor, a Kestrel hovering in the haze, a pair of another raptor from 15:52-15:55, so that's 10 raptors of 5 types, very good! Also had a Twite bouncing over the heather at 16:16, a male Stonechat 1 on the edge of the clear-fell at 16:53, a family group of 3 Curlew, 10 Meadow Pipit, and more to follow … New camera died on me, battery exhausted, as taking shots of the perched Honey-buzzard so ordered tonite spare battery from Duracell for £14.99. Already had enough shots so nothing lost but could have been serious!

Well shorts arrived but in pickup, driven by inhabitant of Ordley Village, so delivered poorly again. Just got out in time to thank him! Don't use Hermes as your delivery option if you can possibly help it: just look at Hermes rating on TrustPilot – 1 – since you can't give 0, that's rock bottom! Shorts are fine: here's NR modelling them with old pony shelters as background, Russian Vine on my right and Honeysuckle on my left, bit overgrown you might say; my big Scots Pine is the backdrop. I built the shelters in the late 1980s from timber supplied by Hollybush, Dipton Wood, so quite proud of them really: still standing, surviving mega-gales, snow and the odd falling branch! Daughter and family are coming to stay with me for a few nights from 24/7; might be able to get S a ride on my neighbour's ponies, since we're on such good terms after the fencing! Been a bit maniac the last 2 weeks, pushing the Honey-buzzard survey at the end of the Display phase and keeping up with one or two rarities; planning to ease off a little and catch up with some vital correspondence!! Forgetting PC and social distancing: lots hugs 2t gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

June 24th: up to an amazing 26C today on light S breeze, strong sunshine, dry. Still to process Dukeshagg material but have done yesterday's evening visit. Today went to Quayside to check on the gulls! Caught 12:24 RDM-NCL, coming back on 15:23 NCL-RDM; all very hygienic with trains far cleaner than normal, loos inside NCL station immaculate, no social touching as tickets on 'phone are scanned automatically from a distance; SB have cubicles now for self check-out in their shop in the Station; wore mask on trains and inside stations. Had an amazing year-tick going in: a Coot at Merryshields GP at 12:30! That's species 127 for the year; suspect many birders will have it on their list on 1/1 but the only pond I visit is Grindon Lough. Also on travels had a Common Buzzard on a pole at Loughbrow at 12:10, another over the Tyne at Ovington at 12:30 and 3 Tufted Duck at Merryshields. Had 2 Painted Lady butterflies at RDM and a Holly Blue at Blaydon Station. On the Quayside from 12:55-15:25 had 7 bird-types: 9 Herring Gull, 3 LBBG (2 adult, 1 2s), 12 Feral Pigeon, 470 Kittiwake (partial count), 4 Canada Goose (pair of adult, escorting 2 large young, bred here), 2 Mute Swan (both immature, 1s), 4 Common Gull adult. This last record is very interesting; they were in a small group together with some Kittiwake, 'bathing' or chilling out on the Tyne off HMS Calliope; have had occasional juvenile Common Gull in late July/early August around Quayside so looks as if they are breeding nearby, on some roof, but where? One adult I followed off the water flew up the Tyne low-down towards the Redheugh Bridge and beyond on the Gateshead side. Will bring the optics in next time!! On return went in HEX to Peggs 4 rw, chocs, FT, HC, beer, spent £17, think I'm a valued customer! Markets down heavily today by c3% on protectionism surfacing in US, another powerful ingredient in the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Decided to have a more human-orientated evening. Watched on BBC2 the poignant film On Chesil Beach, set in Dorset, Oxford, London, which have seen before at TC, telling the story of a sad romance between a gifted musician, leading her own string quartet, from a well-off background and a bright history student, who's maybe too belligerent and impatient for his own good, from a relatively poor background. They get married but the honeymoon misfires disastrously and their marriage is annulled; she then marries the cellist! Much later when the quartet is giving a farewell concert at the Wigmore Hall, he attends and their eyes meet in a very sad climax to the film. On Newsnight there was an impassioned, eloquent plea for the government to take the performing arts more seriously. But not convinced they will; I would go to a concert, which was restricted to 50% capacity, and pay a voluntary top-up to improve the viability (like Das Rheingold in Berlin). Also watched the documentary on the killing of Stephen Lawrence film, still on BBC2. What a problem the Met Police had with racist officers in the 1990s and 2000s. Very relevant to Black Lives Matter, showing how maybe it is only recently that we have started to put our own house in order. So square eyes! Finally 90 min of music on Classic FM! So good day, with the sensuous highlight: she's gorgeous: lok2tgrf xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

June 23rd: up to 21C today, moderate SW breeze, sunny spells, particularly in afternoon and another fine, warm evening at 16C min. No tangible difference in day length yet with sunrise 04:30, sunset 21:52, both times 1 min later than on longest day of 20/6. Made area S of Prudhoe in morning from 11:20-14:10: quite a few raptors over Dukeshagg, none over Hyons. First up was a male Honey-buzzard low-down over the Dukeshagg site 1  2  3  4  5  6 at 11:46 (10048). Amazingly the Black Kite was still present but was now up over Dukeshagg; it first appeared at 12:56 over a recently-cut hayfield on W side of Dukeshagg 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10; not sure it's breeding, either with another Black Kite or a Red Kite, the latter having been recorded before in Scotland; it's a very strident bird, moving powerfully over the hills in a very commanding manner, even making Honey-buzzard look sluggish; see clip taken at 13:26 where it appears with a pair of Common Buzzard; here's derived stills 11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19 of Black Kite from the clip, including a cropped copy of 13; the Black Kite seems to have a knack of rousing other raptors; here's the Honey-buzzard male up again from 13:20-13:30 7  8  9  10 (10048); did study many Black Kite closely in SW France last July and the behaviour seems right, looking slightly more compact and robust than Red Kite; think it's an adult bird as uniformly dark with no pale feather edges; the moult seems early but anything can happen with birds out of place! On way back through Humbles Wood Farm had a juvenile Little Owl at close range; at this point found the camera wouldn't zoom in on the inviting target so took piccies at low magnification 1  2 with this as a cropped version 3 of 1 – came out OK; later found had moved a switch from AF (automatic focus) to MF (manual focus) – still learning! Total for trip was 24 bird-types, including a Whitethroat, 10 House Martin, 6 Swallow, 2 Curlew, 6 Linnet, 16 Swift, 4 Mistle Thrush, 3 Skylark, 2 Lesser Redpoll.

Here's contribution to national Honey-buzzard survey, site no.2 (10048):

    Tyne Valley E, Dukeshagg, 23/06/20: male in and out of site, 4 sample stills 1  2  3  4.

Crepuscular trip was absolutely fantastic!! Went to E end of Slaley Forest from 21:35-22:45 on a beautiful evening, getting 3 Nightjar at a clear-fell, 2 males churring from 22:20-22:30 and a female flying out of site to N (churring at 22:20 close, 22:22 distance, 22:26 close (best recording), 22:30 distance with one bird (presumed female) flying low over clear-felled woodland; no Woodcock or Tawny Owl here but survey was disrupted a little by a constant stream of tractors taking grass for silage from Slaley Hall S towards Blanchland -- keep smiling! On way back, had a Nightjar hawking and a Tawny Owl over the road at Colpitts, followed by another Nightjar hawking on NW edge of Dipton Wood (almost certainly from the site located on 21/6). Had another Tawny Owl at Ordley on arrival home. So that's 5 Nightjar and 2 Tawny Owl for the nite! At Slaley Forest E, besides the Nightjar, had 8 more types: 2 Red Grouse, 1 Curlew, 1 Meadow Pipit, 2 Mistle Thrush, 2 adult Black-headed Gull, 4 Common Gull 1s moving S together at dusk to roost at Derwent Reservoir, 1 LBBG adult, 2 Woodpigeon, so 9 types in all. Funds are +3k at this stage of the week, mainly due to counting the value of the RBG rights and excess applications, now it looks as if a premium is secure. Seeing verge being cut at TR gladdened the heart, for 4/7 reopening. Have bought some high-yield bond funds (30k) so back to ideas at start of the year; still have 243k cash, keeping options open, in case of fresh weakness. So nite was a great success: reunion with a shining lite!! 2moro it's into NCL by train for the temptress!! lok2t beautiful ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

June 22nd: weather on the edge between rain to the W and drier weather to the SE, so a little rain, moderate SW breeze, much cloud, 17C max. It's going to get warmer … Plenty of hay being cut but think the worst of the hay fever is over. Concentrated on catch-up today, sorting out nearly everything from last 2 days. But cleaner S said she's like to come tomorrow morning so rapid visit to HEX at 21:00 for £40 cash. Amazed to find 3 Common Buzzard sitting on telegraph poles, 2 at Loughbrow, 1 at Letah Wood, more like in SW England than up here with the stronger tradition of gamekeeping. One of my near-neighbours who lives very close to the Honey-buzzard site stopped yesterday when I was on the roadside for a chat; he was worried as all the 'buzzard' had gone very quiet: had they been done in! I get this every year; raptors can be much less visible when on eggs and with small young. Anyway I saw 2 'buzzard' while we were chatting! Then tonight as arriving back home a Woodcock came roding overhead, 1st for a while here. The new shorts took a poor turn: told they'd been delivered at 14:21 by Hermes but picture of delivery spot was not my house nor anywhere else in Ordley (I did a quick check by walking into the village). So 'phoned up Cotton Traders and delivery of another 2 pairs scheduled for Friday, free of charge, while they check what's happened. While the 'Shire is a bit of a maze it's not really excusable as it's been delivered outside the postcode, without any attempt to 'phone me. Had long chat on 'phone with big sis of almost an hour; speaking like that is good for the morale! Found the Messiaen fascinating; part III is the abyss of the birds 'Abîme des oiseaux'; with a reputation of being a devilishly difficult clarinet solo; JL did very well! Nightingale and Blackbird feature, but of course they're symbols of something much darker! 2moro going back to Prudhoe in morning to look at the kites, followed later by another crepuscular trip! On Wednesday going into NCL, same as last time! lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

There's hope in the metaphysics world, may well be in Liege at the end of October:

Dear Colleagues; for reasonable assurance that there will no longer be travel restriction or worse any two week quarantines we have moved the date of the Vigier Centenary from Monday 26 October to Thursday 29 October 2020. Hope to see many of you in Liege.

June 21st: warm in morning with some brightness on moderate SW breeze, then becoming more showery in afternoon, max 17C. Evening was perfect with wind dropping, showers ceasing and such brilliant clear light at 11C min. Loved the Rachmaninov piano duet, as 2 soloists unified by Zoom; lifts the spirits: very motivating!! Had 2 fieldwork sessions, the first from 12:45-13:20 on road outside house viewing the local site. New camera did its job, taking very sharp photos of a male Honey-buzzard seen from 12:56-13:15, first coming into nest site from E with crop full and then moving back E 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13 with some flamboyant display, much of which was captured on video in this clip with vigorous diving and rearing at the end (from 2 min 18 secs), such as at 2 min 31 secs where 'pigeon' silhouette captured (10047). A Common Buzzard was up from 12:49-12:51, presumably annoyed at the Honey-buzzard's presence over its territory. The camera has a superb viewfinder so you can pick up a distant object easily while looking through the eyepiece. It also has a very convenient red button, which enables you to switch from still to video in one push of a button, very thoughtful in the stressed circumstances of keeping on a bird.

Can now reveal the shape of the Honey-buzzard season this year. The pattern of fieldwork has continued 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 achieved. So the session today is the first for the national survey. On the Honey-buzzard home (index) page have reorganised the content so that the last column is dedicated to my accumulating results for the national survey. Six piccies were selected from above (10047) for submission for the national survey 1  2  3  4  5  6, and together with a resizing of the original clip, are in this last column.

The second visit was crepuscular from 21:30-22:50, out in the beautiful evening to Dipton Wood N. Took old camera out for this as think it will be useful where light not so good and where walk is fairly long; new camera requires good light to drive the large zoom and is considerably heavier. Plenty of action, report to follow after processing the clips. Had 12 bird-types, including 3 Jay (fledged young), 4 Blackbird, 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Siskin, 1 Redstart (agitated), 1 Crow, 1 Pheasant, 4 Swallow, 1 Chiffchaff. Birds of the night included a Nightjar, churring at 22:38 in the distance to NW so new site for the wood this year, making 2 sites in all; 2 Woodcock (roding from 21:53-22:23); 4 Tawny Owl (from 22:27, 2 adult, 2 juvenile in nearby tree, all calling). Things may be looking up I think: determined fieldwork is finally producing results: lok2t beautiful ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

Red Kite running summary: from 30/5-17/6 12 Red Kite at 10 sites in Tyne Valley, Derwent, Hexhamshire. The map shows my records from 1/3-17/6: 39 tetrads occupied. Add 9 tetrads from N&TBC bulletin in red for March/April to give 48 tetrads total. Photo: Black Kite in Tyne Valley on 15/6: next colonist!

June 20th: fine sunny day with occasional cloudy intervals, light to moderate SW breeze, 19C max. Longest day of the year: sunrise 04:29, sunset 21:51, so that's 17 hours 22 minutes. If you like to look on the dark side, every day is shorter now for the next 6 months: but really we've got 2 months of lovely summer ahead! Made Grindon Lough from 14:05-15:40 to check on progress. Gulls were very interesting with 4 types: 46 Black-headed Gull adult, 3 LBBG (1 ad, 2 2s), 6 GBBG (1 ad, 1 2s, 4 1s) and 1 Caspian Gull (1 1s). The first-summer Caspian Gull (1s), was one of the duo present on 14/5 (bird B) and today present throughout the visit, very pale underwing, long pale grey-yellow legs, dark eye, fine and long black bill with even width, no gonydeal angle, snouty appearance due to flat forehead, as well as other cachinnans structural features given earlier. Was at the E end initially, then flew W before returning to E side; like other cachinnans here, actively feeding within the (pond) weed, not just loafing around. Plenty of piccies 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18; 1-8 show the bird in flight, moving from E to W, 9-18 show it foraging back at E end; in moult the bird has P10-P6 old, P1-P2 new, P3-P5 growing. Here's a cropped copy of 12.Further notes to follow … Star of the ducks was a female Garganey with 2 tiny ducklings 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8, with piccie 1 cropped. Other ducks included 26 Wigeon (3 drake), 10 Teal, 2 Shoveler (pair), 6 Mallard, 1 Tufted Duck. Waders included Dunlin 2, Redshank 8, Lapwing, 7, Oystercatcher 4, Curlew 2. Had one butterfly, a Green-veined White. New camera performed very well, taking all the shots above at c200-300m range, including the ones in flight; think it will completely replace the old one! Came back to Shell Garage in HEX, where bought petrol (111.9p a litre), FT. Later made W4shop where spent £36. FT was pretty downbeat really on equities, saying 4% a year is likely return over next 10 years; on bonds it reinforced my view that you've got to be selective as not all companies will be able to afford to pay back all their debt: pretty obvious really: shouldn't have to pay £4 for that! Sectors to favour are technology, health, renewable energy, but these already trade at a substantial premium so don't suit my contrarian instincts! Hay fever is on the wane so may venture out a bit more in the coming week: some rain overnite will help!! Thinking of the gorgeous one: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

June19th: still murky on light E breeze, 17C max, heavy rain showers in afternoon and early evening. Indeed had just got into pole position for trying the camera out at 14:10 when it started to rain after 30 seconds, in which had spotted the male Honey-buzzard moving low-down S from the territory (10047): 1st record for the rearing part of the season. Had to abandon shoot quickly in the circumstances as new camera not waterproof! 10 Swift were wheeling around at the same time, flying low. Completed records for 15/6 with the mystery bird being a Black Kite. I hadn't realised how many were in England this spring with, on BirdGuides, 8 June, 72 May, 28 April, 3 March, total 111. Not sure what the Black Kite was doing, will keep an eye on it. Black Kite look a very likely colonist of the UK. Table below shows the state of play at the end of the Display period on 17/6. The totals are the highest since 2017 when: Display period: 7/5-17/6 32 sites (26 male, 19 female: 45 total) Season 2017 – Summary. Am achieving more coverage through not going away! Areas further W have not been visited much, can remedy that in next stage.


Sites occupied



Total birds

Possible Breeding

Probable Breeding

Confirmed Breeding

Hexhamshire (Devil's Water)








Tyne Valley W








Tyne Valley E
























Lower South Tyne








Upper South Tyne
























Did buy some shorts today online from Cotton Traders: 2 pairs of 'Ultimate Chino Shorts', colour light stone, size 40, for £50 plus shipping £3.99. Like lounging around in shorts at home, even if weather not so good outside, and of course good for walks. Funds rose 1k even after a lot more selling incurring costs, making gain on year 47k before withdrawals of 8.4k, +4.3% gross. Ftse 100 closed the gap, now -16.6% with ftse 250 -19.4%. Cash is 284k. Certainly not out of the market though: hoping young people will want to go to the GYM to keep in shape, to the CINEma for an exciting experience and to RBG vodka palace for some refreshment! Also have quite a lot in oil still, particularly in junk bonds, which are slowly being run down into a steadily rising market. With the virus we're still very much in uncharted waters! Had a sociable day: call from MG of RNS, my new PP, 'what does the punter think!'; chat with P on possible walk next week; virtual pub on Skype with N/D, good chat for 105 min but no drink!; another call, most stimulating, that was brilliant!! So feeling invigorated for the weekend!! lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

June 18th: another muggy day on the persistent light E airstream from the continent. A little brighter at 14:00 but effect rapidly faded and heavy rain showers occurred in evening, max 17C. Added records from yesterday in West Dipton Burn to BirdTrack; still have a little more to add here. Studying the raptors at Hyons Wood carefully and have identified a Red Kite adult, a female Honey-buzzard and one other raptor, a Black Kite. Hope to complete this tomorrow morning. Did make HEX4shop, going to Mountain Warehouse to secure 30L rucksack (suitable for laptop carriage as well as outdoors) and a waterproof cover for it, all for £36 in sale, reduced from £73; pleased with that. Discarded old rucksack which contained some useful items: 2 cans of insect repellent, a soft folding seat for sitting on the ground, some hand sterilising cream, freezer bags for specimens and some containers for live insects; transferred all these to new rucksack. Was going to buy some shorts in M&S but queue outside put me off; will check online! So almost fully equipped for next phase of Honey-buzzard season; what am I going to be doing? Caught up on a bit of correspondence but sending was a little problematical: hope it got through!! Think worst of hay-fever season may be over; did some grass cutting this morning with minor symptoms. Lots of hugs to the gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

No more national Honey-buzzard migrants on BirdGuides since 14/6 so closing spring part of season yesterday 17/6 at 103+ total: 5+ April, 75 May, 23 June. Total for 2019 to 18/6 was 83: 3 April, 57 May, 23 June. Total for 2018 to 14/6 was 106: 1 April, 69 May, 36 June. So 2020 is similar to 2018 with both being significantly better than 2019. Some birders think we count them all; well I could laugh at that as it's a fantastical idea for a raptor that migrates 1km up in the sky over land where there are very few birders except at popular stretches of water, not to mention the identification problem. My guess is we count 1 in 10, meaning that about a thousand Honey-buzzard migrate into the UK each spring to breed. Even that assumes that the vast majority of sightings go onto BirdGuides, which I doubt, certainly mine don't go on. So the multiplier could be comfortably more than 10; think we're talking about a UK Honey-buzzard population of 1000-2000 birds of which c100 (50 pairs) in SW Northumberland Study Area, which is ideal habitat.

June 17th: humid day but brighter than yesterday, reaching 19C max on light E breeze but with little strong sunshine, dry; ground is quite arid again and grass yields when cutting are lower than usual. New camera arrived when S was smartening the place up; later took it out of the box and, with some battery still left, set time and date and a few other settings; then recharged it with the provided USB cable connected to an adapter; unlike my current camera you can charge the battery while it's still in the camera. At 17:55 could have tried it out on the ideal target, a high-circling male Honey-buzzard over local site, but was out in the field and didn't have it to hand; the male did not circle for long before drifting off W to forage. Anyway here are some shots: Chaffinch at 80m on top of tree 1, Magpie at 80m same area 2, pony in neighbour G's field 3, bog iris by far pond in my field 4, all taken on normal quality, which have since raised to fine. All looks promising and easy to run with button functions in same place as on Panasonic; going to try it out more widely tomorrow. Earlier from 11:00-13:20 went for local walk from Letah Wood westwards along West Dipton Burn, where had already had a female Honey-buzzard this season. Today had the male Honey-buzzard flying low-down across a clearing, going out to forage, just managed to get a single burst, on old camera 1  2  3 (10046). A Common Buzzard was soaring at 12:36 in the same area. A Red Kite was seen circling briefly low-down over wood on top of ridge to N, overlooking Causey Hill in Hexham, at 12:56. Ash dieback is everywhere now, have some piccies; younger trees and lone trees in arable areas are worst affected; in my field 2 young trees are dying but the rest and those mature trees on the road on S side, owned by a farmer, are looking OK still. More to follow … Did indeed donate 0.5k each today to RNS and Festival, good causes which need to continue! Have MG as my RNS buddy but missed his call today; will chat tomorrow! Missed visit a lot today but probably for best in current social climate: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

Interesting article in Guardian today on pandemics' links to abuse of nature:

Pandemics result from destruction of nature, say UN and WHO. Pandemics such as coronavirus are the result of humanity’s destruction of nature, according to leaders at the UN, WHO and WWF International, and the world has been ignoring this stark reality for decades. The illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade as well as the devastation of forests and other wild places were still the driving forces behind the increasing number of diseases leaping from wildlife to humans, the leaders told the Guardian. Coronavirus is a warning to us to mend our broken relationship with nature. They are calling for a green and healthy recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular by reforming destructive farming and unsustainable diets.

Have closed display part of season today, so tomorrow we're into the rearing part. It's all a bit arbitrary because of the 3-4 week variability in timing of the season but it does help to break the season into 3 components: display, rearing and fledging. Need to sort Hyons Wood totals (15/6) before can release the final figures for the display period. The pace will now slow in preparation for the next stage of the season, which is going to be very different from recent years in format; will explain soon!

June 16th: grey day with glimpses of brightness but no clear sunshine as in 2 proceeding days, 17C max, light E breeze, been in shorts the last 2 days. Decided to stay in except for short trip to W4minishop to get some cleaning materials and reduced items; quite a lot of food left, maybe affected by other retail shops opening. Also did a bit of grass cutting to keep it at bay: volume was again light, even after recent rain. Hay fever improved a bit by mostly staying indoors and keeping all windows and doors closed! Have been through the piccies from yesterday; the strange kite is not a Red Kite juvenile! Will run through the series again tomorrow. The Dukeshagg records have been finalised so it's just the Hyons Wood ones that are outstanding! Funds edged up 1k on 1st 2 days of week; still selling equities into this week's rise with 228k in cash now. Studied the Great Crash of 1929 as one of my 'bibles' in the 1970s and there are some similarities now. Below is the timeline of the Great Crash from Timeline of the Great Depression; there's a strong similarity between the major bear rally after the initial Great Crash (my bold) and the current rally. Of course things are never the same. But the psychology behind the current buying (look what bargains shares are now!) may be similar. At least we don't have the gold standard as a major deflationary force but levels of debt going into our current crisis are very high with 1 in 8 households having no savings and 8m households deep in debt. Let's hope things turn out better!! I think I'd rather sit the next few months out than chase the current elevated levels; big question is what to do with my larger bond holdings? 2moro cleaner S arrives with some birthday cake for me (her 50th!). I shall be out for a walk. Oh for a library or coffee bar to collapse into!! Keep fit! lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!


September 3rd: The Dow Jones Industrial Average peaks at 381.17. The stock market would not regain this peak until November 23rd, 1954.

October 24th: Wall Street Crash of 1929 begins. Stocks lose over 11% of their value upon the opening bell.

October 25th - 27th: Brief recovery on the market.

October 29th: 'Black Tuesday'. The New York Stock Exchange collapses, the Dow Jones closing down over 12%.

October 30th: one day recovery

November 1st: The Federal Reserve begins lowering the discount rate from its 6% level.

November 13th: The stock market bottoms out at 198.60, followed by a bear market that would last until April 1930. Commodity prices, however, continue to decline steeply.


Year: recession deepens. US GDP contracts by 8.5% and nominal GDP falls to $92 billion. Prices decline slightly but wages hold relatively steady. US annual inflation rate is -6.4%. Unemployment reaches 9%. 1,350 banks fail.

April 17th: Dow reaches a secondary closing peak (i.e., bear market rally) of 294.07, followed by a long stagnation until a severe decline began in April 1931. This peak matches early-1929 levels, but is 30% below the September 1929 peak.


July 8th: The Dow Jones Industrial Index bottoms out at 41.22, the lowest level recorded in the 20th century and representing an 89% loss from its peak in September 1929.

Finally here's the slave trade note from the FT: UK economic history: slavery; 13 June 2020, p.22 Lex.

Until recently the UK marginalised its past as a financier, trader and owner of slaves.... A growing body of evidence proves them wrong. The proceeds of this iniquitous business were huge. ... Klas Ronnback of Gothenburg University has estimated the scale of of slave-related business during the 18th century. The "Triangular Trade" between England, Africa and the Caribbean peaked at 6% of GDP, he found. Total output dependent on slavery was double that [through leverage].

It is clear slavery was integral to to the UK economy for more than a century with proceeds enjoyed at home and misery parked offshore. Britons received £20m as compensation after slave ownership was abolished in 1833, £2.6bn in today's money. Recipients put a chunk of the cash in the Industrial Revolution, says Nick Draper, ex-director of the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave Ownership at UCL. ... The amounts of UK capital sullied by such origins cannot be quantified precisely. But we can be sure it is large. It surrounds us alongside banks and businesses whose forerunners profited from slavery.

[comment NR. So the slave traders then turned their attention to exploiting UK workers in the 19th century factories and mills; much of the wealth generated and its underpinning social framework such as public schools, continues to dominate our society today; the moral authority of the wealthy can be questioned to put it mildly; sorry this sounds like a Socialist Workers rant but it was the inspiration in the mid-19th century for Marx and for Wagner in his deeply Marxist Rheingold].

June 15th: similar day to yesterday, dull in the morning, sun out at 14:00 and then becoming clearer up to 18:00, when dull again; warm 17C, light E breeze, not enough to drive wind turbines, which contributed 0.4% to our electricity supplies today but, on plus side, birds minced = 0! So catch-up inside in morning, processing records from yesterday, before dashing out again at 15:30, this time to S of Prudhoe near Dukeshagg, near the site of the old Prudhoe Hospital where present from 16:00-17:25. In spite of the lack of wind, did have some slow-paced action, including 3 Kestrel up (adult male 16:40, adult female 16:25, juvenile 17:10: a bird of the year!) and a Red Kite and male Honey-buzzard over Dukeshagg N at 16:32, with the kite circling low over pasture, hunting, and the Honey-buzzard doing some high circling as yesterday (10044). total for Dukeshagg was 21 bird-types, including 1 Curlew, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Whitethroat, 2 Skylark, 3 Stock Dove. Walked along the track to Hyons Wood, where had the same 2 raptor-types from 16:45-16:47 but the Honey-buzzard was a female and the Red Kite appeared to be 2 birds, an adult and a juvenile. Never noted them breeding this early; it's 80 days from start of incubation to fledging so late March would have been the laying date. Will study the piccies carefully; the juvenile Kestrel present had probably fledged in the last few days so it's an early season maybe. On further study the Red Kite was an adult, floating constantly high-up above the other 2 raptors (Black Kite, Honey-buzzard) from 16:45-16:47. The Honey-buzzard, a female, was up very briefly, only noted in one burst at 16:47, below both the Black Kite and the Red Kite 1  2  3 (10045). The Black Kite, present from 16:45-16:47, hanged over the E end of the wood with Red Kite above and Honey-buzzard female briefly below. The Black Kite was in primary moult on both wings, missing middle primaries; it had a pale head and underside of tail but otherwise looked uniformly dark; its long narrow tail was only slightly forked; the outer wing appears narrow because of the moulted middle primaries 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12; a few piccies include the Red Kite flying above the Black Kite 13  14  15  16. Like any kite its ability to hang was great and effortless. Had a Redstart female over the road between Swallowship and Dipton Wood at 15:45. Total for trip was 23 bird-types, including 1 Curlew, 1 Whitethroat, 2 Skylark, 3 Stock Dove. Raptor total was 8 birds of 4 types: 3 Kestrel, 2 Honey-buzzard, 2 Red Kite, 1 Black Kite. Who'd have dreamt say 40 years ago that we would have such raptors, apart from Kestrel, in the county!

Ordered new camera, a Nikon COOLPIX P1000 Digital Camera, from, for £800. It's supposed to be the best super-zoom bridge camera on the market; it even has a special presetting for wildlife, with a bird-icon (honest!); it's suitable for distant subjects with x125 zoom and anti-shake so can be hand-held. It weighs 1.4kg compared to 0.99kg for current camera so quite heavy. Here's a review on BirdGuides I'm in my 5th year with current Panasonic camera, also of bridge-type, but of course the technology advances all the time. I may still take the old one out with me as a reserve as the Nikon goes through batteries very quickly with its high use of power. The new one has WiFi and GPS capability plus ability to link to a smart phone for storage and editing, none of which are available on my 5-year old model. Bad hay fever today, sneezing everywhere and itchy eyes with the high humidity and strong sunshine; think best not to visit NCL this week as, with people concerned about the virus, I'm going to be treated like a leper if I have a sneezing fit. I'll stick to quiet retreats! I don't like taking antihistamine pills: they make me drowsy and also affect the prostate (!!); 80% of men over 50 have BPH and should be very careful in taking antihistamine or decongestant drugs; bet you didn't know that!! Best cure for hay fever is to have a steamy bath but you can't do that in the street; the authoritative Sun says, that to relieve the symptoms, you should have more sex, maybe exercising the prostate!! The same source also says today that we're in a bad year Anyway, enough of that: found Reich's Different Trains to be very exciting (and terrifying) as a musical piece; think it's so poignant in gaining an insight into those dreadful journeys that the Jews endured to the death camps; great though to hear of the subsequent success of the Czigany (now Echea) Quartet, showing the value of the Festival. So lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

June 14th: warm today, 18C max, light E breeze, very dull in morning but brightened up and strong sunshine from 15:00. Had been to W4bigshop (£51) and was just finishing lunch when noticed the brightening. Out like a shot in the car to Stocksfield Mount from 16:00-17:30 where keenly scanned the horizon. Had 2 Honey-buzzard males up, doing their high circling or hanging above the nest site, as a warning to latecomers: this site is occupied! One was at Whittle Dene at 16:38 (10042), the other over Eltringham at 16:41 1  2  3  4 (10043), a new site for the year, bringing Tyne Valley W up to its full quota of 8 sites. Hexhamshire is also fully occupied at 6 sites. Had 3 Red Kite, a pair up in close contact over a wood to NE of Short Wood, Bywell, at 16:32 and a single up over Eltringham at 16:42 and 17:23. A female Kestrel was up hunting energetically over Stocksfield E at 17:06. So 6 raptors of 3 types, well worth the dash! Total for visit was 23 bird-types, including a yaffling Green Woodpecker, 12 Swallow, 5 Swift, 4 Sand Martin, 2 House Martin, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Stock Dove, 3 Magpie (fledged, also fledged at Ordley today). Had a Speckled Wood butterfly at the Mount and a Silver Y at Ordley. A BA plane coming into NCL was a rarity! Timed return perfectly: looking gr8: xxxxxx!! Gave son 2k by FPO for his birthday; he says he's going to get some prints of works by Hieronymus Bosch to make his flat more arty! Loved the recording of Bloch's Cello Suite 1, composed in Oregon in the 1950s; congrats to LU! Did visit HEX yesterday to check on the shops: looks like we'll have 2 'outdoor' stores, Milletts and Mountain Warehouse, a bookshop Waterstones, a fish and chip shop Paxtons; think I'll get a new rucksack. Work on slave trade was put aside when the sun came out! Earlier did add a lot of Rossiter family from Tiverton in the 18th century to WikiTree; think my information should be held publicly for others to use and comment upon; when I've got it back to me the DNA can be brought into play as well; intend to add the mother-of-mother side as well and use the mtDNA. So nervousness in the markets as we go into a new week: basically how long are we going to take to recover from the virus! lok2t gorgeous one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

2 more late Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides; running total is 103+ this spring:

12:19 14/06 European Honey Buzzard Suffolk Kirton Creek 12:10 dark morph drifted over high towards Falkenham Marshes

11:49 14/06 European Honey Buzzard Suffolk Minsmere RSPB 10:34 one flew south over South Levels

June 13th: very dreary day, warmer at 17C but very humid and virtually calm so clinging mist. Processed the Derwent Reservoir visit on 9/6 so up to date except for 25/5 Ordley, 2 male Honey-buzzards cause trouble, and 9/6 N of Derwent Reservoir. Did make Hexham to go to Peggs4 FT, HC, rw, twix. FT was good read, supporting upward trend in bond prices but cool on equities, particularly the value stocks, such as cyclicals. Attended RNS closing concert of the season on YouTube and Zoom. Music was good, particularly TG's duo of the Bartók 'Selection from 44 duos for 2 violins', where he played both parts, seamlessly connected by digital editing; son & I went to Bartók's house in Budapest last June; Béla would have been very impressed by TG's wizardry as he was keen on technology, recording folk music from all over SE Europe on emerging (primitive) technology. Also had Brahms' Rhapsody in E-flat major played with great variety by LV, F. Strauss (father of Richard Strauss) Nocturno op.7, played hauntingly by PF, and Brahms' Finale from Trio synchronised superbly over Zoom for violin, horn and piano. We had a pre-concert talk and a more select Zoom session, 12 of us (fundraisers, LV, TD, musicians (TG, KH), partners) at 20:45 where chatted freely for 35 min on how we were all coping, what we liked in the music and hope for the future; KH told us about her street concerts! So a good evening all-round! Arranging donations for Wednesday! So lots of hugs to the gorgeous ones: keep fit: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

Amazing late influx of Honey-buzzard across the Channel, noted on BirdGuides, as the depression over southern England moved NE; 7 were seen in Kent from 08:09-13:45 with singles in Wiltshire and South Yorkshire, probably reaching Northumberland in 2 days time and desperate for action! Running total is 101+ this spring:

16:15 13/06 European Honey Buzzard Wiltshire Trowbridge 13:30 one flew north

14:01 13/06 European Honey Buzzard South Yorkshire Tickhill 13:35 one flew west over Apy Hill Lane

13:52 13/06 European Honey Buzzard Nottinghamshire Welbeck watchpoint one still this afternoon [+0, breeding site, already known this year]

13:45 13/06 European Honey Buzzard Kent Samphire Hoe CP 13:00 one flew in off the sea between here and Shakespeare beach then flew west below cliff

11:23 13/06 European Honey Buzzard Kent North Foreland 09:45 two flew south (one at 07:50 and the other at 09:45)

11:15 13/06 European Honey Buzzard Kent Lydden NR 11:10 one flew east towards Whitfield

11:02 13/06 European Honey Buzzard Kent Dover 11:00 male and female over Coombe Valley, then male drifted west and female headed north-east

08:09 13/06 European Honey Buzzard Kent Foreness Point 07:45 one flew south-east towards North Foreland then high out to sea

Raising awareness of our past role in the slave trade is a very good idea, not least because so much money was made in it and the wealth of many rich/super-rich families today can be traced back to the dreadful business. In the Westcountry with Bristol at the centre and a long-established swashbuckling style of international trade (piracy, ship wrecking!), investing in slaves was done by many people. One of the Tiverton Rs, 4 generations in from Ireland, was heavily involved:

Thomas Rossiter (1772-1839) was the son of Thomas Rossiter and Elizabeth Phillips (m. 26 Aug 1771 Halberton parish near Tiverton - in the County of Devon). He was baptised on the 24th of May 1772 at Tiverton, Devon, England. He was a planter of "The Retreat" St Thomas in the Vale, Jamaica. He married firstly Elizabeth Sophia, daughter of Charles Jones and Elizabeth Meacham on the 8th of December 1796 in Spanish Town, Jamaica. He married secondly Catherine Whitter by licence on the 26th of June 1810 at Tiverton, Devon, England. He died aged 67 on the 21st of July 1839 at Tiverton, Devon, England and was buried there in St George's Churchyard. Will of Thomas Rossiter of Tiverton Devon proved 08/02/1840. He said that the most part of his present property had been subject to prior settlement by him and that whereas he had felt justified in making that settlement 'yet from the untoward circumstances since happening' he hoped that his wife and children would be satisfied therewith. The property over which he retained power to will he left in trust for his five daughters by his first wife.

He even had an obituary in the Gentleman's Magazine:

Obituary in the Gentleman's Magazine: Devon 1839. Jul 24, at Tiverton, aged 67, Thos Rossiter esquire, late of Jamaica.'s%20magazine&f=false

Fortunately I am not a descendant of his though come close with Thomas being a nephew to John Rossiter (Tiverton, 1755-1842), 6 generations back from me. John was a miller and corn factor, had 2 wives, 11 surviving children and died well-off but the money was split evenly over each child so very dispersed. John's 1st wife was a cousin Margaret Rossiter, daughter of George R, another Irish emigrant so had the Irish ingredients topped up there! Thomas only had surviving daughters. The most interesting section above is 'yet from the untoward circumstances since happening': since his marriage settlement the slave trade had been abolished, he'd lost his Jamaica estates and his family from his 2nd wife were going to struggle to keep up appearances as remaining assets had already been pledged to the first wife's family. Cannot say I'm sorry though it was wife 1 who was the slave trader! The FT under LEX has a very revealing section on where slave-trade monies now reside; will give a couple of quotes tomorrow.

June 12th: another wet day, not welcome when cannot lounge about in coffee bars! Mild at 14C max, moderate NE breeze, murky tomorrow but drier, not good weather for raptors! Have finished processing Tyne Green on 8/6 and am well under way on Derwent Reservoir Ruffside for 9/6. Took car into KF for check on suspension bedding in and they said it was fine so no worries! Got home to find brake light not working so fixed that in 5 minutes myself from stock of rear light bulbs; also saw why reversing light's not working – the bulb's gone – so ordered 2 on the web for £8.95. Ordered a book from Cambridge Scholars containing a very 'interesting' paper in Part 1: Towards a Science of Process: Chapter 1: Formal Representation of Space, Michael Heather and Nick Rossiter pp.6-18 (2019)! That cost £62.59 including postage. The paper comes from the Whitehead series of conferences, that M particularly likes; we actually went together to one in the Azores. Really miss the travelling, should be in Vienna now with son going to 2 Mahler concerts but they were cancelled. It's his birthday very soon. I checked on the conferences in Belgium and Germany scheduled for late July/early August; the Liege one is being rescheduled for 2nd half October this year, the Baden-Baden one for 2021, when may hold a double event. Not sure about PANPA yet in Scotland but could go in August to ANPA in Liverpool as well now that Vigier has moved later. We'll see: neither have been publicly advertised yet so obviously some doubt! The ANPA 40 paper, culmination of a couple of year's work on music in CT, is being published this August. As indicated earlier in week thought equity prices were too high for the current Covid situation so not surprised by this week's slump of 5.9% in ftse 100. Took a lot of profits in sales but still some losses overall on week at 15k (1.3%), reducing gain on year to 45k gross (+4.1%). Over year to date the ftse 100 is now -19.1% and the ftse 250 -22.2%. Since recovery now looks as if it will not be V-shaped (U-shaped at best), suspect that shares will fall further but bonds should stabilise provided the businesses issuing them do not go bust! Have 181k in cash and a lot of bonds! So where's it all going: no precedent: best to be cautious, sad to say! Had 90 min virtual pub with N/D, very enjoyable! Looking forward to a relaxing weekend: lok2t beauties: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

June 11th: gloomy day, rain early on and in evening, slightly warmer at 14C, wind E moderate; lit fire properly i.e. more than just a couple of quick shovel fulls to cheer the room up! Display period for Honey-buzzard is nearing its end, expecting a final burst when this wet spell finishes, next Sunday-Tuesday perhaps, after which will open the books on the rearing period on Wednesday, 17/6. The display period has been monitored very successfully this year because I've not been away: interesting trade-off! Did go into NCL on the trains, 12:16 ex HEX, 15:23 ex NCL. All pretty weird with most of the seats blanked off with 'Do Not Use' signs. On way in 0 passengers from CAR-HEX and 5 HEX-NCL; coming back 5 NCL-HEX so plenty of space; wore face mask on both journeys and within station, where good washing facilities in the Gents on Platform 4. Wanted to see how NCL was faring and the answer is not much better than HEX with Intu Eldon closed and not much open at all. Did go into WHS in Northumberland Street where bought a card for son's birthday + FT and into SB at Station for a Tuna sandwich and some milk. Bought train ticket and car-parking ticket digitally, both working fine. So still in disaster movie mode! Made good progress tonite on the Tyne Green visit on 8/6, writing up the YLG account and documenting the perched male Honey-buzzard; just need to add to BirdTrack in the morning. 2moro it's brief visit to KF, virtual pub with D/N and catchup on records from 9/6 at Derwent Reservoir. We won against adversity: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

June 10th: very wet day, SE light breeze with low to S of Channel, cool at 11C max. Working on Tyne Green 8/6, mainly on Yellow-legged Gull piccies; also analysed male Honey-buzzard perched on tree; hope to publish tomorrow. Did get car sorted; drove it to KF at 09:00, got taxi back home (£11) and driver said he could collect me in the afternoon for the return journey; looking at the dire weather forecast agreed and he did turn up on time at 15:30 (another £11!); the taxi driver said he'd had 9 weeks off and was just starting up again and things were desperate. We both wore face masks, his a medical one, mine a cloth one. The crate had a change of priority as they found a broken spring on front suspension and decided that was more important than renewing the brake discs, which they stripped down instead and lubricated (less use has increased corrosion on brakes in many cars); they actually replaced both front springs as the other was corroded. The ABS and window problems were solved. And they replaced the 2 front side lights. Total cost was £701.18, seems a lot but last repairs were MOT on 15/10/2019 (£350) so that's about £90 a month since. On Friday they want me to bring it in for a quick check on the tracking to see how the suspension is bedding in. Think they appreciated the business as did the taxi driver! Also returned to I4shop as more convenient for a few items than W. 2moro going E, think will try out train (12:16 ex HEX) with mask!! Attending the Sage concert on Saturday with Zoom; think initial donation of 0.5k each might be appropriate for vital music such as RNS and the Festival. Completely out of airlines/travel today and of brewers: taking profits while they try and work out how they can be run profitably again! Have 53k cash and may sell a few more things as market seems a bit frothy (sorry!). So lok2t gorgeous ones: maybe we could form a bubble: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

3 more Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides in a trickle over last 5 days with poor weather, a depression over England, for migration across the Channel; running total is 92+ this spring:

12:04 10/06 European Honey Buzzard Orkney Papa Westray 11:40

20:01 08/06 European Honey Buzzard Cornwall Lamorna Cove 13:35 one flew over

18:36 08/06 European Honey Buzzard Bedfordshire Tempsford probable from concrete road beside Aerodrome Farm this evening

June 9th: dull day, cloudy nearly all the time except for a slightly brighter spell around midday, max 14C max, dry, almost calm, no wind-power! Completed processing Prestwick Carr records from 3/6 and last night's Dipton Wood visit. Thrown out by cleaner S so went to Derwent Reservoir at the Ruffside end from 10:55-13:20. Stopped until 11:30 at a moorland N of the Reservoir, which was again very interesting with a strident pair of Common Buzzard up from 11:17-11:19, in aggravation with a pair of another raptor, adult male and female 1s, from 11:17-11:18! Also here had 21 Greylag Goose flying around and 3 fledged Mistle Thrush. Reservoir had a good range of bird-species, including raptors Honey-buzzard, Common Buzzard. The Honey-buzzard comprised a pair, seen on each side of their coniferous wood depleted through felling with a male up at 12:11 foraging over the moorland to S and a female coming out of dense woodland to E at 12:46, climbing a little and then moving W through the tops of the trees 1  2  3 (10041); she's getting ready for breeding season secrecy but cannot have laid eggs yet. A Common Buzzard was moving through the tops of the trees at a spruce wood on N side at 11:50. Gulls comprised 2 Common Gull (adult moving NW maybe to a nesting site on the moors 1, 1s landing at W end of Reservoir 2), 8 BHG (6 ad, 2 1s) and 3 LBBG (2 adult, 1 2s). A pair of Great Crested Grebe were resting 1. Greylag Geese have had a good breeding season with many crèche noted 1  2  3 in total of 73, including 31 chicks. Total for bird-types at the Reservoir and moorland was 34, including a Common Sandpiper, a yaffling Green Woodpecker, a Siskin, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Garden Warbler, 21 House Martin, 2 Grey Heron, 1 calling Cuckoo. In evening had a Barn Owl hunting over my field at dusk at 22:00; there are plenty of Bank Voles around. Fencer arrived to drive away the tractor; quite pleased really as was getting in the way of turning the car round in my yard. Funds had a flying start on Monday +17k on the OPEC+ cuts when sold a few but heavy profit-taking today in airline and some oil stocks reduced gain on week to 8k by end of today. Market background is weak with ftse 100 down 2.3% in the 1st 2 days of the week. Some dismay in the market for UK domestic stocks on the ineffectiveness of the government in lifting lockdown with the decision to delay opening of the schools until September taken particularly badly as it will delay a return to any sense of normality (short term) and damage the credibility of our education system (long term). Don't have a lot of domestic UK stocks but have acquired a few GYM shares this week, not that I'm going to participate! Judging by comments on opinion articles in the Telegraph, there is a mass rebellion building in the Tory party against the dithering Boris Johnson; expect some action soon, maybe even moves to replace him! And teachers are becoming public enemy number 1 in such circles. So 2moro is car fix day, going home by taxi after dropping car off and walking back in (5 km) to fetch it; going E on Thursday!! Would normally go to cafe/library while car is worked on but nothing is open: what a drag this lockdown is!! On the bright side, thinking of the gorgeous one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Latest counter to renewable energy comes from an item in the Raptor Conservation mailing list:

Renewable Energy Development Threatens Many Globally Important Biodiversity Areas. Climate saved, planet dead? A new study shows how renewable energy destroys biodiversity. Actually, it is not surprising that the immense land consumption of renewable energies, their directly deadly impact on birds, insects and other animals, the extensive sealing of soil does NOT have a positive effect on biodiversity.

A recently published study by Rehbein et al., published in the March issue of the highly respected journal Global Change Biology: Rehbein, José Andrès, Watson, James E., Lane Joe & Sonter, Laura (2020). Renewable Energy Development Threatens Many Globally Important Biodiversity Areas. Global Change Biology 26(5): 3040-3051.

(extract) The authors show that the renewable energy industries are not afraid to place their inferior technological scrap in nature reserves, even those with strict prohibition of any kind of change, in the last remaining wildernesses on earth and even in areas of outstanding importance for biodiversity on earth, so-called Key Biodiversity Areas. What is even more frightening than the fact that wind and solar parks and hydroelectric plants are being set up in protected areas is the extent to which this is happening. Even the four authors, who strive for political correctness, cannot help but note that the expansion of renewable energies, which the UN believes is necessary, would inevitably lead to the destruction of biodiversity on this planet.

June 8th: grey morning, then sun came out and everything much brighter in strong June sunshine, max 13C, light W breeze; had lovely late lunch out on the seat in the field. At 09:00 took the crate in for its exam: had pencilled in 500 for the repairs and not a bad estimate as KF priced it at 520 for the door repair (window mechanism), replacement of some ABS (Advanced Braking System, anti-lock) wiring, new front discs and pads on the brakes, 2 side lights at front. All to be done on Wednesday from 09:00. They are a little busier but have reduced the number of vans skipping around with spare parts so not completing jobs in a day if they need the parts. They seemed very pleased that was going to get everything done as they're obviously in recovery mode. In a sense it's the duty of people with income unaffected by the virus to keep spending; saving surplus money is very deflationary in the current circumstances; so diverting coffee and beer money to fencing and cars is OK. Anyway spending money on the brakes can't really be argued with!

The exam apparently lasted all morning so had a walk along Tyne Green from 09:00-12:15, which was very rewarding getting a perched male Honey-buzzard to NE of the Hermitage (new site for the year) and a 2s (second-summer) Yellow-legged Gull of the Atlantic type in a small flock of large gulls on the Tyne. The male Honey-buzzard was perched on a branch in a prominent position from 11:19-11:24; have had more birds perched out in the open this spring than usual; not sure why but think the habit of not perching in the open comes after their first winter in Africa where they are sitting ducks for the many eagles if they are not careful; juveniles perch more in the open than adult because they haven't met any eagles yet! The perched bird shows tail longer than wings at rest, a pale underside, a grey head and bold tail barring; the plumage is a dark ruddy colour on the upperside; the head is small 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 (10040). Also had a Common Buzzard up in truculent form over the Hermitage at 11:45.

Had a decent photo session with the YLG from 10:51-11:12: here's some piccies 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16. The bird is generally on the left of a 2s LBBG or in between 2 2s LBBG, which gives useful comparisons. Both have yellowish legs but the LBBG's are a darker yellow; the mantle shade of the YLG is significantly paler than that of the LBBG; in shape the LBBG is more attenuated and not that different in size from the YLG, which I think is of the lusitanius type, from Atlantic coasts of Iberia; the bill of the YLG is shorter and stubbier than the slender bill of the LBBG, mainly yellow with dark tip; the conspicuous tertials are old brown feathers with white tips; the mantle is a well-developed blue-grey; the head shape is fairly rounded, closer to lusitanius, slightly boxy in some poses; the tail band, shown in flight, is broad and solid; the outer primaries P5-P10 are dark with pale tips; the eye is becoming paler; it appears to have started moult of the innermost primaries; the wing tip has P9 close in length to P10, P8 not far behind and then a bigger gap to P7 – bunched primary tips as in lusitanius. A Mediterranean michahellis would have been clearly larger than the LBBG, more attenuated and more robust generally. A Herring Gull argenteus 2s would have had a paler mantle with many dark markings and flesh legs; the YLG mature faster so a 2s YLG is closer to a 3s argenteus, which would have obvious flesh legs. Other gulls were 11 Black-headed Gull (8 adult, 3 1s), 6 LBBG (3 adult, 3 2s), Herring Gull 8 (2 ad, 1 2s, 5 1s). Total for bird-types was 33, including single Dipper, Common Sandpiper, female Goosander, Grey Heron, Moorhen.

Later made Dipton Wood, central part, from 21:40-22:45 in very clear air and magnificent red sunset to N at as late as 22:15 as we're only about 2 weeks from the solstice. Had 3 roding Woodcock (21:52-22:13), a Tawny Owl calling at 22:41, 2 Blackbird, 2 Crow, 1 Pheasant, a male Nightjar flying overhead low-down and churring from 22:26-22:27 so 6 bird-types for the crepuscular visit. Here's a clip taken on my mobile of the churring Nightjar; it's a very evocative experience hearing this noise from a heath in the gathering gloom! No velociraptor tonight: did see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom last nite on ITV and really enjoyed it; loved the bloated eco-capitalists' attempts to buy the genes of the dinosaurs and their come-back, sometimes by being eaten! Cleaner S is coming 2moro morning so must plan a trip out then! Wednesday is tricky with car in for the repairs; after dropping it off may get taxi back to home and then walk in later to retrieve it; forecast is damp and don't want to be hanging around outside; would then come E on Thursday with shining crate!! lok2t beauties: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

June 7th: still cool, 12C max, light E wind, very damp with light rain in morning. Finished processing the moorland trip on 2/6, which produced masses of data, including a pair of Honey-buzzard in protracted display. That morning was the end of the fine spell, seems a long way away now but the poor spell in between has enabled me to catch up with just Prestwick Carr 3/6 and Peth Foot Honey-buzzard territorial aggro on 25/5 to do. Did a lot of tidying-up of front garden today (around the tractor!), with the hedge trimmer, cutting the verge, the beech hedge and various shrubs which have been growing well. Rewarded with a male Honey-buzzard up over Peth Foot at 15:30, having climbed up high right above the nest site before drifting off S (10039). He may have done a bit of high circling before I spotted him; that's a popular activity for declaring 'this site is mine' at this stage of the season. The tractor is a good topic of conversation with passers-by when in garden so may keep it! Enjoyed the latest Bach!! lok2t gorgeous one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

A big stir in the green energy world over the last 6 weeks has been the documentary film Planet of the Humans, made by Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore, and premiered on 21/4/20 the eve of the 50th Earth Day. The film posted over 8.3 million views on Michael Moore’s Rumble Media YouTube channel in just over four weeks and quickly became one of the most-watched and talked-about documentaries of the year. But the film was controversial; it was made by left-wingers who had previously supported green energy and now they poured scorn on all the renewable energy initiatives, including solar, wind and biomass. The message was there are too many humans for the planet to support and ineffective green energy is promoted by exploitative capitalists with the naïve support of environmentalists. On 25/5 the film on link below was censored by YouTube, officially because of a copyright infringement of a 4-second clip of a train carrying dirty chemicals, taken by Tobias Smith, a UK environmentalist:

Video unavailable. This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Tobias Smith.

But Michael Moore gives the likely real reason on his Facebook page:

At 10:24 am on Memorial Day 2020 [25/5] – a day meant to honor those who died defending our freedoms – my freedom of speech was taken from me by people who disagreed with me, people who, rather than join me in discussion or debate over our political differences, instead decided the best way to win the debate with me was to silence my voice and prohibit the public from seeing a film I executive produced, a documentary that sought to ask a question—“Have we lost the battle against the climate emergency?”—and show the public how this happened, how our environmental “leaders” failed us by aligning themselves with Wall Street and Bloomberg and the “green energy” chiefs of Big Oil & Gas. This is the movie—“Planet of the Humans”—they don’t want u to see. For 36 days they’ve bullied streaming services like YouTube to take it down. They inaugurated a vicious smear campaign, warned people not to watch our film, called it “dangerous” and “full of lies”—which was the biggest lie of all. Their greatest fear was that people would watch our movie. They were right—8 million watched it & saw the truth. Still, the “green capitalists” got our livestreams canceled & convinced liberal sites to drop us. It was like nothing I’d ever seen, an unhinged part of the left employing the tactics of fascism to deny a filmmaker the right to ask questions and expose the truth. They found 4 little seconds in a 100-min movie that they would say violated the copyright law & used this lie to have our film yanked off YouTube. The screen went dark.

The Guardian, a big supporter of green energy, has an article on the matter:

Michael Moore film Planet of the Humans removed from YouTube. British environmental photographer’s copyright claim prompts website to remove film that has been condemned by climate scientists. The movie, which has been condemned as inaccurate and misleading by climate scientists and activists, allegedly includes a clip used without the permission of the owner Toby Smith, who does not approve of the context in which his material is being used.

You can still though see Planet of the Humans. It's been posted by someone else on YouTube at and on Vimeo at It's one hour 40 min long. There is also a counter to Planet of the Humans, called Planet of the Humans: DEBUNKED | In Depth, by 2 people called Zac and Jesse at which is 59 min long and has had 130k views. I've watched both twice in full.

This is an area close to my heart. Indeed my last talk to Rotary on the Many Shades of Green was exactly on this matter In many ways Planet of the Humans vindicates much of what I said at my talk on renewable energy: it takes up too much space, it is intermittent, it uses a lot of resources (extractive capitalism) and invades wild areas. I hate the term debunk as it is not symmetrical in terms of an argument; it suggests you are the 'correct' authority and you've seen off impertinent queries. The debunk did suggest that the future of solar was in roof-top not in open fields and I agree with that. But I did not agree at all with their defence of the siting of wind farms, which is usually on the tops of hills, where they act as bird mincers. Biomass was absolutely hammered by Gibbs/Moore and the debunk ignored the whole issue – very telling. The tone of the debunk was arrogant and cringe-worthy at times with its mocking tone.

Neither side addressed the value of nuclear power as a scalable, dense, low-carbon source of energy, which could support our current human population with far less adverse effects on the planet. But then both sides are green and they do not understand physics! I don't have any uranium shares now – given up that we'll ever see sense! The documentary film as a whole could be very damaging to so-called green energy. It has been likened to the admission in Russia by leading communist party members in the late 1940s that their system was not working; criticism by outsiders could be brushed off but when your own side says it's a failure, that's much more serious!

June 6th: bit warmer, 13C max, as more strong sunshine, but cool in showers, wind variable, light. At 03:00 when looked out of bedroom window, the car, yard and roof light were all covered with 2cm of soft hail. Finished processing records for 1/6 and well stuck-in to those for 2/6. So after that date, just records for 3/6 at Prestwick Carr to sort. I'm classifying the carr as SE Northumberland, a new area. No walk out today but did some gardening, cutting front grass and applying some weedkiller from £Land to the weeds on the tarmac. Some shopping featured as well with Peggs for tt (no FT), rw, Twix and W4bigshop of £45. Withdrew £40 from Lloy for cleaner S; at one time the ATM were mostly not working. Had a Barn Owl flying out from Ordley village, where evidently nests, in daylight in evening 19:30. Didn't wear mask in Hexham, even in W; you're thought of as a sissy if you put one on! Paid Matthew £860 for the fencing and have still got his tractor so possible bargain there! OPEC+ agreed new oil production deal this afternoon, keeping a tight lid on output, so that's good news. Saudi and Russia are now good mates (of a kind!). Hope the gorgeous ones are keeping fit: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

June 5th: cold, 11C max, moderate to fresh N breeze, heavy hail showers in daytime with sunny spells in between and longer spell of rain in evening. Have done a good catch-up, completing all records up to 31/5 and some from 1/6-2/6. Up to 23 Honey-buzzard sites now with 33 birds seen: 19 male and 14 female. Mask arrived early; think it's a good industry to be in! Had good virtual pub chat with N/D for 90 minutes on Skype late afternoon. Funds had one of their best weeks ever at +51k, making new all-time record 24k clear of the last set on 20/2 this year, before the virus melt-down. Reason was strong recovery in some stocks badly affected by the lockdowns, now seen to be easing. So oil, airline and some hospitality stocks are rising from the lowest valuations in a generation. Brent oil reached $41.86 a barrel this evening. Keeping clear of finance and property. Haven't sold anything yet as think rally has some way to go with all the liquidity sloshing around the system and many stocks still being not much more than 50% of their February valuation; junk oil bonds may be first to go as their rise will slow the closer they get to par and I've got rather a lot of them. So change on year to date is +61k gross (+5.5%), +53k net after withdrawals, with ftse 100 now 14.0% down on year to date and ftse 250 16.9% down in same period. Decided I will use some of the windfall to support musical causes, which are doing their best to survive! Quote of the day from a share chat-room: I used to be indecisive but now I'm not so sure! Must get out 2moro for some exercise: lok2t beauties: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

Das Rheingold on the parking deck. Yes, Wagner's Rheingold, with its pantomime flavour, surfaces again as an innovative continuity piece:

Dear friends of our opera house, Friday 12th June was to have been the day of the premiere of THE RHINEGOLD and with it the launch of our new production of THE RING, directed by Stefan Herheim. We are delighted to announce that we are now able to present a smaller, open-air version of the Vorabend, the first part of the tetralogy. At 7.30 pm on 12th June we will be showing OPEN OPERA: DAS RHEINGOLD ON THE PARKING DECK, a 90-minute, semi-staged version of Wagner’s work, orchestrated by British composer Jonathan Dove. In our elevated car park (Parkdeck, open-air) General Music Director Donald Runnicles directs 22 musicians and 12 singers in this impressive and dramatic distillation of Dove’s work, directed by Neil Barry Moss – a summer experience with a difference. Further performances are scheduled for 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st June, likewise on the parking deck of the Deutsche Oper Berlin. With the distancing and hygiene rules as they are, seats at this event are limited and tickets will be issued on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. Purchase your tickets (€5) online, by phone or in person at the box office. There will be no evening box office. After the performance you will have the opportunity to increase this amount according to the motto “Pay what you want”. We are greatly looking forward to welcoming patrons back to live events.

Best wishes, Your Deutsche Oper Berlin

April N&TBC bulletin is out with report for Red Kite Milvus Milvus:

Two birds were at Carterway Heads on 1st (IFo) and at Linden Hall (Longhorsley) on 1st and 8th (NFO). Two birds were also seen flying SW at Tynemouth on 11th (DRW), Fulbeck (Morpeth) on 15th (TD) and at South Snods (Allensford) on 29th(IFo). Single birds were seen at Corbridge, Derwent Reservoir, Dinnington, Gosforth Home Farm, Heaton (Newcastle), Kiln Pitt Hill, Longhoughton, Melkridge (South Tyne), Monkseaton, Shotley Field, Slaley, Snods Edge, Stobhill Manor (Morpeth),Unthank (near Haltwhistle) and Weetslade Colliery CP.

New sites for study area, not yet found by me, this breeding season are Shotley Field, Kiln Pitt Hill, Melkridge, Unthank, to add to Carterway Heads (confirmed April), Derwent Gorge, Snods Edge (confirmed April), Airy Holm, Minsteracres, from March bulletin. So will add those to next map.

5 more 'new' Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides in last 3 days; running total is 89+ this spring:

22:02 05/06 European Honey Buzzard North Yorkshire Wykeham Forest three from raptor viewpoint this afternoon; from A170 at Wykeham take minor road north to Highwood Brow for 6.4 km to T-junction then left for 500m to car park at SE936887 [+1 on previous reports]

18:04 05/06 European Honey Buzzard East Sussex Wivelsfield 17:40 probable flew over station yesterday evening

13:16 04/06 European Honey Buzzard Cornwall Bodmin one over

10:46 04/06 European Honey Buzzard Dorset Portland one flew north over Verne Common

08:52 03/06 European Honey Buzzard Somerset & Bristol Henbury 02/06 one reportedly flew over Kings Weston Down yesterday

June 4th: cold, 10C max, cloudy in morning, lengthy spell of rain later on moderate N breeze. Sorted Farnley and Hexham sightings on 31/5 with progress on Shilford from same day, completing id of piccies! Stayed in the warm today with coal fire giving a lovely glow! Booked the crate into KF, Hexham, for next Monday: new discs on front, ABS warning light to be investigated, driver window mechanism broken. Last item is mechanical, quite nostalgic! Up to 89k miles now. KF sounded a little out of practice in taking bookings, think they have some staff on furlough and may have been very quiet. Had hour-long chat with big sis: gr8 to keep in touch! Ordered 1 face mask from Amazon for 9.98, arriving Monday, sis thought I'd need 3 really so may have to re-enter the market!

Had url for a hilarious clip on YouTube sent to me by son: Das Rheingold: Coronadämmerung (Twilight of Corona!) with American stars Jamie Barton, Mezzo Soprano, as Fricka; Ryan McKinny, Bass Baritone, as Wotan; Kathleen Kelly, Piano, #KeeptheMusicGoing, Given $50 to Artist Relief Tree Links in well with what I said below about the plot of The Ring (30/5). It's done in a very decadent manner with skilful use of media, including SMS from the giants Fafner ($$) and Fasolt (more nuanced as he fancies Freia in lieu of money!), Donner (god of thunder, aggro), Loge (attorney, let's plot on Zoom) and Freia (who are these lovely big bros who've just arrived). So the giants have arrived for their money for building Valhalla, Fricka is worried, Wotan is complacent, how will it all end; you'll have to hang around for that! Freia is an attractive young goddess, responsible for growing the golden apples which give the gods immortality so she could be taken hostage awaiting payment. Loge has a cunning plan to rob the Nibelung Alberich of his newly acquired gold. And we've just started Scene 2 of the single-act 4-scene Rheingold, lasting 2.5 hours, played without a break. These superb efforts by musicians everywhere to keep their vocation going, in such difficult times, are truly inspiring!! lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

June 3rd: much cooler, 11c max, mostly cloudy with a few weak sunny intervals, moderate N breeze. Sorted Kellas visit on 30/5, including 2 Honey-buzzard calls, and butterfly piccies for 26/8/2019 in South Tyrol [NB 2019]. Trip E started with Quayside, parking at the wee Forth car park, 60p an hour, not bad, can pay on the mobile! Then drove up western bypass to A696, Airport and Dinnington, where visited the edge-lands of Prestwick Carr, a longstanding nature reserve with damp areas and some woodlands on the edge. It's somewhat like Blagdon at the carr there where have found Honey-buzzard, another good place to re-visit. This time at Prestwick Carr from 14:50-16:15 I struck gold with a new site for Honey-buzzard in my study with a female up circling low-down twice, probably to keep warm, firstly briefly at 15:10, then longer from 15:41-15:42, getting some piccies the 2nd time 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28; this bird with a dark ruddy upperside has a full crop (10038). Also had a good range of warblers, including 3 Whitethroat, 2 Willow Warbler, 1 Blackcap, plus 5 singing Skylark, but didn't linger: it was perishing! Total was 23 bird-types and a Roe Deer. On the A69 had a Common Buzzard at Beaufront, a Kestrel at Rudchester and a Common Buzzard E of Throckley c12:30 going out and a Common Buzzard and male Kestrel on the high ground N of Horsley coming back at 16:10. Raptors total for day was 6: Common Buzzard 3, Kestrel 2, Honey-buzzard 1. Very satisfying day: think we've re-engaged: she's gorgeous: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!! More serious catch-up 2moro, maybe another crepuscular walk. Bought some RGB (Revolution Bars!) today: live in hope!! The other major club group Deltic is private. xxxx

June 2nd: sunny in morning but becoming more hazy, very warm at 22C max, light W breeze, dry; cloud increasing in afternoon and light (very welcome) rain later. Still making hay while the sun shines, out looking for raptors this morning in the field, instead of sorting out the piccies and records from recent visits. There will be time for record-keeping over the next week as the weather deteriorates. Went to moorland N of Derwent Reservoir from 11:00-13:15 and had a pair of Honey-buzzard in a lengthy full display from 11:54-12:06, mainly in mutual circling, getting close at times 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  32  33  34  35  36  37  38  39  40  41  42  43  44  45  46  47  48; the short legs are often dangling throughout the piccies in both the male and the female; 34 shows the birds very close together with slender silhouettes; 37 shows the male in a mini-dive; 40-43 shows the male diving as he starts on a little butterfly display; 44-48 show the female diving as well but looking heavier than the male in this pose as well as in the others (10037). 2 Red Kite territories were within the Pithouse tetrad, 1 to N at 11:14, 1 to S from 11:55-12:01, below the Honey-buzzard displaying pair. 2 Kestrel were seen: female hunting at 11:35 to N, male hunting at 11:49 to S, 2 sites. A Common Buzzard was seen: a single on Pithouse Fell from 12:26-12:31, initially perched and then moving S overhead where leg length visible 1  2  3  4. As Common Buzzard have longer legs and shorter tails than Honey-buzzard, the legs stretch further down the tail in flight (piccies 2,3) in Common Buzzard than in Honey-buzzard. Another pair of raptor was up at 11:13, an adult male and female 1s, so an amazing 5 types. A further Red Kite was up to the SW over Millshield, Derwent Reservoir, at 11:42. Another Honey-buzzard, a female with dull ruddy upperside, was up on the S side of Slaley Hall as left from 13:10-13:11; she was slowly gaining height at low altitude 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10; this is a new site, maybe reflecting quite a lot of forest clearance in the last year; note the short legs relative to tail length, lack of yellow cere, no pale breast band; small head, indent on trailing edge next to body. Total for bird-types was 25, including 2 Stonechat, a male 1  2  3  4 and a juvenile, 7 Mistle Thrush, 25 Meadow Pipit, 1 Skylark, 3 Lapwing, 4 Curlew, 2 calling Cuckoo, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker. Butterflies included 2 Small Heath 1  2, 2 Green-veined White, moths included 4 Common Heath, and 3 Green Tiger Beetle were also seen 1. In evening did do trip to Dipton Wood N from 21:15-22:15 in the light, steady rain; great experience with the smell of the damp atmosphere over the thirsty vegetation; complete crepuscular species list was 6 bird-types – Woodcock 4 (2 roding, 2 display together, from 21:20), Tawny Owl 1 (calling 22:08), Blackbird 2 (singing), Woodpigeon 3 (singing), Crow 3 (agitated), Robin 1 (singing); many bats around everywhere but don't know how to count them; had a Common Buzzard close-up at Lamb Shield on way there at 21:10. Visited Hexham afterwards; things are looking up!! So big catch-up needed now!! 2moro it's trip E with Kittiwake at normal time and edge-land later. lok2t beauties: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

Funds doing well on steady recovery in PoO, for Brent up to $39.66 by close. Gain is 13k on 1st 2 days of week; strong demand from SE Asia, easing of lockdown in W Europe/N America, cutbacks in production everywhere, shunning of public transport, even restart of flights, all indicate the recovery will continue, maybe at a slower pace as stockpiles assembled during the glut in April are liquidated at a handsome profit. Support for the view that there will not be a major 2nd wave of the virus comes from Hugh Pennington (not just anybody but emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen):

There is no evidence to suggest a coronavirus 'second wave' is coming. Misleading models based on the Spanish flu cannot be allowed to dictate our policy on lifting lockdown [my bold]. The functions of a Covid-19 press conference seem to be to transmit information, praise the indefatigable, and brandish a doom laden cudgel at the public. A common theme is that if virus-control measures are not observed, or are relaxed too soon, there will be a second “wave” or “peak” of infections. In the UK, an often-repeated prognostication has been that this second wave might be more virulent than the first and that the NHS would be overwhelmed. The message from Geneva during the World Health Organisation’s press briefing on May 25 was more nuanced, but of the same ilk. The point was made that the decline in cases in many countries has been due to the control measures, rather than to the virus running out of steam of its own accord, and that relaxing them could lead to an immediate second peak for which we should get ready. I am a second-wave sceptic. I said so in evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s health and sport committee in April, and was criticised by Nicola Sturgeon for it.

2 more 'new' Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides today; running total is 84+ this spring:

20:07 02/06 European Honey Buzzard Cumbria Kendal 19:35 one flew over Carus Green

17:08 02/06 European Honey Buzzard Guernsey Guernsey Airport 16:58 pale morph flew over this morning

June 1st: sunny all day, warm at 20C max, light E breeze, dry. Went to P's for coffee in his garden before going to Warden Church to park for a circular walk around Warden Hill (too hot for hay meadows, P ruled!) from 12:45-15:15. Very good, nice to have some company and got 2 Honey-buzzard at the Greenshaw Plain site, new for the year: a pair soaring at 14:20 over a hill a little to the W of the site in active close quarters display 1  2; a male was soaring high above the site on SE side at 14:42 before turning N towards the nesting area and doing a brief butterfly display before disappearing into the site 3  4  5  6  7. Here are some habitat shots 1  2  3  4  5. A Red Kite at Hexham High Wood W was floating low over the trees at 14:42 maybe watching the male Honey-buzzard nearby and 2 Common Buzzard were at Warden, one coming off the hill at 14:45 to hunt to S, the other moving E at high altitude at 15:03 to hunt. Total for Warden area was 26 bird-types, including 3 Song Thrush, 2 Bullfinch, 2 Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff, 4 Goldfinch, 4 Linnet. A mole was above ground on the footpath 1  2, desperate for insects with ground too dry to burrow. Earlier at Hackwood Park, Hexham, had a female Sparrowhawk soaring high; a Large Red Damselfly male was also in his garden. 2 Grey Wagtail juveniles were on road by Letah Wood at 15:30. So 4 types of raptor for the day! Attended R session later on Zoom at 18:30 where P was the speaker, introducing videos by Jubilee Sailing Trust; attendance was 24. Tractor's still on 'lawn' but no invoice received yet! Made W4bigshop where spent £53 on about 4 day's supplies and also bottle bank, with St Austell Brewery and Rock Brewery featuring from Cornwall. Think I need to be getting out in the evening more, starting with tomorrow, checking for crepuscular species, such as Woodcock and Nightjar in Dipton Wood. So social life will increase: lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

2 more 'new' Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides today; running total is 82+ this spring:

14:27 01/06 European Honey Buzzard Dorset Portland 14:04 one flew north-east over the Bill

11:03 01/06 European Honey Buzzard Guernsey Le Gouffre one flew north

May 31st: sunny all day, warm at 19C max, light to moderate E breeze, dry. Had a Red Admiral butterfly at Ordley, 1st of season. Went out to Tyne Valley W and had a piece of luck as drove past Farnley with a pair of Honey-buzzard up over the hill, in low-level display from 12:22-12:23; they quickly sank back again; here's piccies of the pair with the female being considerably heavier than the male 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12 (10033). The main visit was to Broomley where went for a walk from 12:40-14:10. A Red Kite flew some distance at 13:21 from N to Hindley, where it came down into what was presumed to be its nesting area. At Shilford a female Kestrel was up at 12:50 and a male at 13:35 to NE, both hunting for presumed young in a nest. From 13:27-13:42 there were a succession of raptors up in some contention to NE of Shilford, including a Red Kite looking in territory hanging high-up throughout this period with a Honey-buzzard male below at start and end of this period 1  2, presumably placing himself between the kite and his nest (10034). A Common Buzzard was briefly below both of them at 13:42. Total for visit was 23 bird-types, including 2 Whitethroat, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 singing Cuckoo, 5 Linnet, 3 Swift. Butterflies were of 5 types, including a Large Skipper. 3 Leaf mines were found of Dyseriocrania subpurpurella on oak leaves 1  2  3  4, one occupied with pale larva with pale brown head. Had a Common Buzzard up over Hexham Loughbrow, both going at 12:00 and coming at 15:00! Stopped off in E Hexham on way back looking at Beaufront and Dilston for any signs of raptors; fancy the N side now at Anick!! Had a Garden Warbler singing at Kitty Frisk at 14:35. Total for raptors for day was 9 birds of 4 types: 3 Honey-buzzard, 2 Common Buzzard, 2 Red Kite, 2 Kestrel. Signed off fence after all debris and equipment removed; here's final piccies 1  2  3  4  5  6. 1,2 show the trees/shrubs that we planted on the N boundary, including alder, ash, birch, spruce, beech, blackthorn, hawthorn; 3, 5, 6 show the new fence; 4 shows my field through a gap in the vegetation from G's land with the cut-off shrubs and lush pasture beyond; if you look closely you can see a seat where I eat my lunch in the sunshine! I run the field for wildlife to suit my own ambitions but have always appreciated that for sale purposes would be useful for a buyer to keep the trees on the edge and adapt the field back to a pony pasture: having land such as that is a useful selling point so the new fence is a good investment! Still have the tractor: tanks on my lawn may be appropriate! Indexed piccies of butterflies at Seis am Schlern on 25/08/2019 and identified and labelled the butterflies at Seiser Alm on 26/08/2019 [NB 2019]. 2moro celebrating end of lockdown by going to P's for coffee, followed by a walk for the 2 of us in a hay meadow in Allendale! This week cleaner S is coming on Tuesday and my trip E is on Wednesday!! Had a quiet weekend action-wise, missed that!! Delighted at the new vimeo production: comes over brilliantly!! lok2t beauties: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

Think the puritans are losing control, people have had enough! If we get more cases again, which is not guaranteed, then more social distancing measures short of lockdown may have to be applied. All the scientific modelling is based on the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1920 but the current virus is not a flu bug so we have no idea on mutation rates as it stands. Further the documentation of the Spanish flu is patchy, so quite a number of assumptions have to be made by the modellers. The scientific advisory committee should have included people outside of epidemiology, particularly computer scientists and mathematicians to have advised on the efficacy of the models and people such as chemists with strong analytical skills.

3 more 'new' Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides today; running total is 80+ this spring (75+ this May 2020, 57 last May 2019, 69-70 May 2018 so an increase this year, need to check on April and Eurobirdportal figures)

18:33 31/05 European Honey Buzzard Jersey Sorel Point17:30 one

18:33 31/05 European Honey Buzzard Norfolk Norwich17:05 one flew high to north-east over Trinity Street

17:12 31/05 European Honey Buzzard Nottinghamshire Welbeck watchpoint 12:35 one showing well [+0, already noted]

14:24 31/05 European Honey Buzzard North Yorkshire Wykeham Forest two still from raptor viewpoint; from A170 at Wykeham take minor road north to Highwood Brow for 6.4km to T-junction then left for 500m to car park at SE936887 [+0, already noted]

14:19 31/05 European Honey Buzzard West Sussex Knepp Castle Estate 09:15 one flew over to east

Red Kite running summary: from 17/5-29/5 8 Red Kite at 5 sites in Hexhamshire, Tyne Valley. The map shows my records from 1/3-29/5, indicating 32 tetrads occupied. Add 5 tetrads from N&TBC bulletin for March to give 37 tetrads in SW Northumberland. Here's a picture of habitat in Tyne Valley E.

May 30th: sunny all day, warm at 17C max, light SE breeze, dry; ground is now very dry, cut some more grass and yield continues to drop; moles are concentrated around soak-away where it's a little wetter; never had so many! Fence is complete; here are some piccies 1  2  3  4  5 showing a professional job with remains of old fence scattered around, now completely removed, and piles of cut-off branches on the wild side of the fence (mine!) resulting from my scrub clearance. The tractor is now parked in my front yard: looks impressive 6! Best to remember that the second incident in Wagner's Ring is the gods declining to pay the giants for the work they've done in building Valhalla; the first is the Nibelung forswearing love in order to get his hands on the Rheingold! 17 hours later …. !! Think I'll pay! Here's neighbour J with an orphaned lamb 1! Went to Kellas from 15:05-17:05 to check whether the Honey-buzzard were back yet; no action from afar so decided to walk into the site and check whether anyone was home; last year's nest in Scots Pine looks as if it might be being restored 1  2  3 and got a scolding guik call on exit from the wood, maybe from the male; on checking the clips found a single mating call at 16:11 at 12 seconds clip 1 and a single anxiety call at 16:14 at 42 seconds clip 2; no signs were found on the ground (10032). Total was 21 bird-types including Green Woodpecker (1 yaffle), Willow Warbler (6), Garden Warbler (1), Blackcap (2), Chiffchaff (1), Skylark (1), Siskin (1). Butterflies comprised 3 Orange-tip male 1, 1 Speckled Wood, and there was one dragonfly, a female Large Red Damselfly 1. Had to go into Hexham for FT, rw, chocs from Peggs and petrol from Shell garage, now priced at 108.9p per litre; buy while you can! FT was a little surprised at resilience of share markets but did say valuations could be justified if recovery goes according to plan. Working on butterfly records from Seis, South Tyrol, last August, 14 types on day 1 so not a light task. 2moro going into the Riding Mill area followed by stroll around Hexham!! Feeling like it's time for bed: sweet dreams: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

5 more Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides today; running total is 77+ this spring:

20:55 30/05 European Honey Buzzard North Yorkshire Wykeham Forest two still from raptor viewpoint; from A170 at Wykeham take minor road north to Highwood Brow for 6.4km to T-junction then left for 500m to car park at SE936887 [+0, already known]

19:55 30/05 European Honey Buzzard Isle of Wight Ventnor 11:40 one flew north-east over Upper Ventnor

17:13 30/05 European Honey Buzzard Somerset & Bristol Kingston St Mary probable flew north-east

15:08 30/05 European Honey Buzzard Kent Staple11:00 one flew west

10:24 30/05 European Honey Buzzard Dorset Ferndown one flew over

08:10 30/05 European Honey Buzzard Isles of Scilly St Martin's 11:30 29/05 one reported late morning yesterday for second day then flew towards St Mary's

May 29th: very fine day, 23C max, light S breeze, dry (almost same as yesterday), shorts on, shirt off. Did some more grass cutting with again low yields. Fencer M is doing a grand job, he arrived about 15:00 but was still out there at 21:45; think he likes it cooler; he has a tractor attachment which acts as a post driver and a tensioner; not sure whether he's finished but suspect there's very little left to do. The fence has a top and a bottom wire plus stock-proof metal square fencing to keep out sheep as well as ponies; there's no barbed wire as it's bad for ponies; he put in new strainers at each end as you cannot rely on the old ones, which remain in place for the fences they serve. Think he might want to be paid quickly!! Had long phone call with P in morning and Skype call at the virtual pub with N/D at ttime for 80 min; good for social life! Advanced my moth records by adding all my records from 2018 since early June to my current mapmate database; this involved saving the 2018 records from an excel spreadsheet into a tab-delimited text file, which was then imported by mapmate into the main database holding 2019/2020 records. Could add all my records this way back to 1980 and produce pretty distribution maps! Have almost completed looking at the piccies from Healey on 26/5 and should publish result tomorrow. Funds finished a good week on a disappointing note with a major slide today of 2.3% in ftse 100 on fears of what Trump might say tonite on China at a well-publicised news conference; well he certainly doesn't like China but trade agreements stay in place so some relief but London market closed well before. Brent Oil tonight is the highest since the crash at $37.7 a barrel but you wouldn't think so looking at stocks today! Funds finished the week +8k, after peaking at +15k yesterday, making gain on year to date 10k gross (0.9%), 2k net, with the ftse 100 and ftse 250 down 19.6% and 22.3% respectively. In the panic today did pick up some TUI as well as some American short-haul airlines (SAVE, LUV) and some CINE; think younger people (and me!) will be very keen to go to the cinema again in a month's time; they're planning to use a compulsory booking system to space groups out but suspect this will only really work if we have 1m spacing; nowhere else in the world has such a ridiculously high social distance as 2m! This model could be applied to concerts but the prices would have to double to make it economical. NCL airport reopens tomorrow apparently with 6 services starting in June. Freer tomorrow again so might go looking for Honey-buzzard as well as some exploration!! lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

5 more Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides today; running total is 72+ this spring:

13:28 29/05 European Honey Buzzard Kent Pegwell Bay 12:40 one flew south-west over clifftop

11:45 29/05 European Honey Buzzard Lancashire Fleetwood 11:25 one flew north over Rossall Lane

11:01 29/05 European Honey Buzzard Nottinghamshire Welbeck watchpoint 10:50 two flew south over [+2 as apparently migrants, in addition to breeding male noted earlier]

09:55 29/05 European Honey Buzzard Borders St Abbs Head NNR 09:50 one flew high north-west

09:19 29/05 European Honey Buzzard North Yorkshire Wykeham Forest male still from raptor viewpoint; from A170 at Wykeham take minor road north to Highwood Brow for 6.4km to T-junction then left for 500m to car park at SE936887 [+0, already counted at this breeding locality]

May 28th: very fine day, 23C, light SW breeze, dry. Caught up with records and piccies from yesterday but still plenty to do on 26/5 and 25/5. Fencer M arrived, set up territory and G moved the ponies out but old fence is still intact! Enjoyed lunch in the garden, shorts on, shirt off, quite lazy really! Had a Cuckoo call once! Cut some grass – yield was poor with 3 bags as against 6-7 normally, caused by dry spell. By evening getting restless and decided to twitch the phalarope at Grindon Lough; it's not really twitching as it is in my local area but it is chasing a rarity. So visited from 18:40-19:55. Here are a few piccies of the adult female Red-necked Phalarope 1  2  3; phalarope are unusual waders in that they swim freely and there is role reversal in the sexes: the female is more brightly coloured and the males do the incubation and raising of the young; utopia some might say! This one is headed for the Arctic so hasn't reached the breeding grounds yet. Also present were 11 Dunlin, 5 Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel, who are also headed for the far north except for a few of the Dunlin who might be local breeders. No interesting large gulls were present with water levels low after dry spell. Wigeon totalled 6: a flock of 4 drake and 2 female. Other waders were 1 Curlew, 4 Lapwing, 3 Redshank so 6 types present. A Cuckoo was calling so after none before today -- 2 records in 8 hours. Total was 22 types of bird. Amused at latest lockdown relaxation: after golf courses being reopened we can now meet in private gardens; welcomed enthusiastically by Rotary members but maybe not so good if you live in a tenement! Drove back through Newbrough, Fourstones and west Hexham after Grindon trip; very few people outside their doors, clapping the NHS! Ordley's no better! Actually do think the NHS staff have performed brilliantly, in the face of serious gaps in support and preparedness. See Cineworld, with 20% of the market, is opening all its cinemas in July; will be well worth seeing how they do it. The first signs of dawn are appearing in the sky at 02:15, time for bed I think: lots of hugs to the gorgeous one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

3 more Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides today, including one in Morecambe Bay; running total is 67+ this spring, compared to 56 in 2019 and 59 in 2018 at this point:

22:15 28/05 European Honey Buzzard London King George VI Reservoir (Permit Only) 17:35 pale morph reported between King George VI and Staines reservoirs then lost over ridge of North Basin

20:11 28/05 European Honey Buzzard Hampshire Acres Down 19:55 two from raptor viewpoint this morning; also Hawfinch flew over

18:43 28/05 European Honey Buzzard Cumbria Foulshaw Moss15:30 27/05 one flew low over A590 heading north towards Lyth Valley yesterday [a breeding area for Honey-buzzard near Morecambe Bay]

May 27th: got sunnier as day progressed but warm throughout at 16C max and continuing dry, ground is quite hard, relevant for fencer who is starting tomorrow afternoon – great stuff! He actually said posts put in in dry weather bed in better than those put in in the wet: so now you know! Had an interesting time at Ryton Willows from 11:45-13:30, studying the edge-lands, which are often good for wildlife as they contain many small fields managed in a relaxed manner and some waste ground from earlier industrialisation. It's a nature reserve run by Gateshead Council; they had a very bad fire there recently, the results of which are still clearly visible. The reserve runs up to the banks of the Tyne to the N and on the opposite side is Newburn Riverside Park 1 and the eastern and a wooded area west of Newburn 2, which the Honey-buzzard like to visit. Honey-buzzard do breed here regularly but none seen today; that was the only downside! Around 12:00 twice had one Red Kite up low over the canopy well to E of Church Steeple, looking as if it had a nest there; later at 12:20 and 12:38 another Red Kite was up a little to W in an argument with a Crow; a Kestrel was hovering in the distance to SE at some height at 12:26; as leaving a 13:21 had a male Hobby drifting to S overhead at moderate altitude over the E part of the wood 1  2  3  4  5  6, looking in territory; Hobby is a classical species of edge-lands. Total was 27 bird species, including 7 Swift, a Jay, 6 Magpie, 15 Herring Gull (4 ad, 3 2s, 8 1s), a Chiffchaff, a Grasshopper Warbler, 2 singing Blackcap. The wood at Ryton is where the raptors breed: here's the central part by the church steeple 3 and the eastern part 4. Had a different strategy at Quayside, parking in Skinnerburn area by the Tyne and walking from there so incomplete Kittiwake count but a few interesting birds on the mud by the Tyne from 13:50-15:20. Had 11 types of bird, including Kittiwake 285, Cormorant 1 adult, Shelduck 4, Oystercatcher 5, Black-headed Gull 3 (1 ad, 2 1s), Crow 1, Feral Pigeon 12, Magpie 1, Swallow 1, LBBG 6 adult, Herring Gull 39 (12 ad, 8 2s, 19 1s). Had a Common Buzzard over the A69 at Rudchester at 15:35, making 4th type of raptor for the day. So after 3 days in succession in the field, need a catch-up day tomorrow on the records, which fits in well with the need to be on hand for the fencing. Went to W4bigshop spending £57 on groceries, bottles and cans plus £40 cashback for cleaner S next week. Very welcome reunion with the gorgeous one: so good to have some action: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Another good day with 5 more Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides today, including singles at Newcastle and Grindon lough; running total is 64+ this spring:

16:12 27/05 European Honey Buzzard Dorset Pymore 16:03 one flew north

14:23 27/05 European Honey Buzzard North Yorkshire Wykeham Forest14:07 two flew over [breeding site, +1 birds]

13:27 27/05 European Honey Buzzard London Bexleyheath 11:00 one flew south-east

12:17 27/05 European Honey Buzzard Northamptonshire Islip 11:42 one circling slowly north

09:37 27/05 European Honey Buzzard Leicestershire and Rutland Markfield 09:22 one flew north-east over M1 j22

May 26th: cloudy start, brightening up at noon, then becoming very sunny and warm at 19C max; out in shorts and top-off for lunch in the garden. Went to a lowland common near Healey for good walk from 11:05-13:45 while cleaner S hard at it! Had 3 sightings of Kestrel, 2 of female, 1 of male, and took this as a pair taking it in turns to feed young in the nest. Had a pair of Common Buzzard in similar vein and a Red Kite slipped off to the W low-down to forage at 12:07. The local pair of Honey-buzzard had a brief soar together from 11:55-11:57, displaying over March Burn to W, some close contact but typically mutual soaring with male higher (10031). Honey-buzzard in the study area at sites that were occupied early will be laying eggs around now, giving them 80 days of breeding action until fledging around 15 August. Some upland sites will not even be occupied yet: there's a very wide spread time-wise between earliest and latest of 5-6 weeks. Had good numbers of heathland birds, including Linnet (24), Tree Pipit (2 pairs), Meadow Pipit (pair), Woodlark (2 adjacent territories were occupied with single birds looking on guard, sitting on gorse bushes. One did a display flight climbing up vertically and plunging down again. This is a minimum count), Yellowhammer (3 birds together), Lesser Whitethroat (1 feeding on insects in a bush), Willow Warbler (2 singing), Chiffchaff (1), Mistle Thrush (family group 7). Total for visit was 26 bird-types. Completed scrub clearance along old fence, session 5/5: been quite strenuous but very encouraging that no problems fitness-wise at all; just need the fencer now! Funds started the week well today after the Monday break in the UK (late spring) and in the US (Memorial Day). Managed +10k today in markets more positive about recovery, at least in certain areas; airline stocks did indeed take-off today, just managed to catch the landing gear of IAG to add to EZJ, RYA holdings but dipped on TUI which soared away. Baffled how the most important issue today, in the middle of an economic crash, is the fine distinction for one family between what was in the legislation and in the guidelines/catchphrases put out in pamphlet form. DC's actions were probably within the strict letter of the law but outside the guidelines, which went for a more severe lockdown than that in the legislation. Anyway put DC in the stocks and throw eggs at him: we're well on the way to becoming a puritan centre of excellence, with 17th century economy to match! Watching very little TV news now: never seen so many indignant self-righteous people on display. The mental health of the nation is deeply disturbed. Keeping when indoors to the web (under my control), films and Classic FM. Had long phone call with younger sis at ttime; all's well in Devon with golf restored! 2moro it's Ryton in morning looking at an urban-edge Honey-buzzard site on W extreme of Tyneside conurbation, maybe turning E later to look at the Kittiwake!! lok2t gorgeous ones!!!!!!

Yet another bumper day with 7 more Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides today, including singles at Newcastle and Grindon lough; running total is 59+ this spring:

18:16 26/05 European Honey Buzzard Northumberland Newcastle upon Tyne 14:28 one flew north over Paddy Freeman's Park [no local site, migrant]

18:10 26/05 European Honey Buzzard Cleveland Skelton 12:50 one flew west over New Skelton

18:08 26/05 European Honey Buzzard Northumberland Grindon Lough 21:00 25/05 dark morph female flew west yesterday evening [no local site, migrant]

13:09 26/05 European Honey Buzzard Kent Cliffe 12:30 one flew high south over Rye Street

10:35 26/05 European Honey Buzzard North Yorkshire Wykeham Forest 10:24 male displaying from raptor viewpoint; from A170 at Wykeham take minor road north to Highwood Brow for 6.4km to T-junction then left for 500m to car park at SE936887

08:30 26/05 European Honey Buzzard East Sussex Firle 19:00 25/05 one flew south yesterday evening

08:01 26/05 European Honey Buzzard Wiltshire Cotswold Water Park 24/05 one flew north-east over CWP West on Sunday

May 25th: warm, 18C max, light W breeze, sunny but with thin high cloud at times. Continued with the marathon project to clear scrub from the fence, doing session 4/5, yes total has gone up 1! Looking good though now with all branches above the fence cut off and much of the tenacious blackthorn scrub removed. Aim to finish it tomorrow but will have to be afternoon as cleaner S is coming in the morning. While doing fence around midday nothing much up in the sky though it was warm enough. Went for walk around Hexham, finding nothing has reopened in the last week! Sat on top of bank at Sele for almost an hour from 14:45-15:40 but very little up except 15 Swift, 3 LBBG (2 ad, 1 2s), 2 Collared Dove. As left though noted that the 4 o'clock soar time was approaching so stopped off at Swallowship on way home from 15:55-16:05 and up in the air already were a pair of displaying Red Kite and a male Honey-buzzard. After hanging at moderate altitude at the start the Honey-buzzard eventually soared very high in the sky and was lost to sight in the milky sky from 15:56-16:01 1  2  3 (10029). That's a new site for the year bringing the 'Shire up to its normal quota of 6 sites; will need to check what's going on at Dipton Wood as possibly an extra site there.

Real action started when got home at 16:20. The pair of resident Honey-buzzard came up off a nearby field with a Common Buzzard above them at 16:21 1  2  3 (incumbent male on left with nick in middle of each wing, female in middle, Common Buzzard on right); then noticed a 2nd male Honey-buzzard, which was quickly chased by the incumbent for a little while at 16:21 (Common Buzzard above, incumbent screaming loudly chasing cleaner-winged intruder) 4  5  6; following chase, at 16:21, the incumbent is on the left, looking to rejoin the female, the intruder is on the right, the Common Buzzard is in the middle (like a referee!) 7  8  9; the intruder disappears to the right (NW) while the incumbent climbs high in celebration at 16:22 10  11  12  13  14; reunification of incumbent male and female, including display with female chasing male, pair then moving higher at 16:28 15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22; female in territory low-down over nesting area at 16:30 23  24  25 (10030). Pleased to get another piece through the Festival site: read in FT from psychologists that in social deprivation cases, it's ¾ of the way through that's the worst. This figure comes from studies of expeditions, prisons and other restricted areas. There may of course be new data from the lockdown soon. Anyway we may be around that point with the consolation that spirits rise as the end of the lockdown materialises. So have to keep positive: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

Another bumper day with 6 more Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides today, including 4 in Kent; running total is 52+ this spring:

15:25 25/05 European Honey Buzzard Isles of Scilly Tresco one flew east towards St Martin's

14:57 25/05 European Honey Buzzard Norfolk Downham Market 14:30 one flew east over Ryston End

14:24 25/05 European Honey Buzzard Kent Folkestone 13:45 one arrived in off the sea

13:41 25/05 European Honey Buzzard Kent St Margaret's at Cliffe 13:20 one arrived in off the sea at the monument

10:42 25/05 European Honey Buzzard Kent Walderslade 10:25 adult Male flew high to south-east

09:37 25/05 European Honey Buzzard Kent South Foreland 09:36 male flew north at lighthouse

May 24th: stayed windy at fresh SW and dull with a little drizzle in morning and early afternoon, then became brighter with a slowly decreasing moderate W breeze. Walked along the 'Motag' road, the old lane between Slaley, Peth Foot and Dotland, going almost to Dotland from home and back from 15:40-17:40 so quite energetic! Had 3 Honey-buzzard: a female bouncing around over Letah Wood from 16:32-16:34, really riding the strong wind with abandon, going up high and then coming down rapidly again 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 (10026); a male at Dotland at 17:02 gliding straight into the breeze, looking very impressive strength-wise and a little falcon like with his compressed structure 1  2  3 (10027); a female at Ordley patrolling over the nesting area from 17:29-17:30, looking down much of the time 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 (10028). The first 2 of these sites are new for the year, bringing up total to 24 birds (13 male, 11 female) at 18 sites. So anticipating end of Honey-buzzard's lockdown (through adverse weather) paid off! Was a good walk in general, more to follow … Earlier in the rough weather did session “3/4” clearing a lot of blackthorn scrub from the existing fence; masses of debris created, all deposited on my side of the fence to rot down. Not sure when Matthew will start, just possibly this Thursday/Friday but more likely next Monday/Tuesday or whenever. Final session is tomorrow morning: making me very fit!! Think will go into Hexham in the afternoon to see where the action is!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

Highlight of day was completion of the Lepidoptera records from Shilford for 8/8/19, also finishing the entry of 2019 records. Here's the entry from NB 2019:

Butterflies were again fantastic with 12 types in the walk, including Wall Butterfly, Small Skipper, Comma, Holly Blue 1  2  3, plus flavour of the month 5 Painted Lady. Photographed masses of leaf mines for id later. Indeed by 24/05/2020 had identified 18 species of Microlepidoptera from leaf mines and spinning plus 3 carpet moths, making 33 species of Lepidoptera altogether; this was the last data sheet to be analysed from 2019.

Bumper day with 7 more Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides today; running total is 46+ this spring (very similar to 44 by 24/5 last year):

21:25 24/05 European Honey Buzzard Nottinghamshire, Newstead & Annesley CP returning Welbeck male this evening (19:30)

21:01 24/05 European Honey Buzzard Highland, Inverness one flew over

19:57 24/05 European Honey Buzzard Lincolnshire Bardney village possible flew high west between here and Fiskerton (18:35) [?]

19:05 24/05 European Honey Buzzard Kent Lade GPs 10:00 one flew north

15:34 24/05 European Honey Buzzard Cornwall St Austell one flew east over Carclaze

13:10 24/05 European Honey Buzzard Wiltshire Brinkworth 12:54 one flew north-east

12:54 24/05 European Honey Buzzard Suffolk Westleton one flew over

May 23rd: wild and windy, fresh SW breeze, light rain at times, drizzle in the air, 14C max. Catch-up day, submitting all information from 20/5 including the Red-footed Falcon, and getting other records up to date for 2020. Also ½ way through last data sheet for 2019 moths, which hope to finish tomorrow. Had another energetic hour clearing overgrowth from the fencing in the W corner: possibly still 2 sessions to go but want to do it in poor weather and reserve the better weather for some raptor chasing! Did go shopping to Peggs to pick up FT, some rw and other indulgences! May be back on the trail tomorrow afternoon, still plenty to do and the raptors will be enthusiastic after their lockdown. lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

May 22nd: what a change in the weather today, started at 01:00 when out looking at moth catch with wind rapidly strengthening from SW and rain a little later. Had 12 types of moth in the trap: not bad for mid-May. Have sorted the Wylam E purple patch: the dark bird present is a 1s male Red-footed Falcon; there's been an influx recently with a few in the NE (single female at Holy Island and East Chevington on 21/5). The photos are below (20/5) and will add to BirdTrack tomorrow; had 7 types of raptor from 16/5-20/5. Weather today was sunny intervals with blustery showers on a fresh W breeze, 14C max. Neighbour G phoned to say that the shrub encroachment on to the fence is too much for them to handle so spent an hour with the saw and branch loppers removing masses of overhang; very good exercise, will need 2 shorter sessions to finish it but obviously important to get it cleared so the fencing can be done efficiently. Funds had a sterling week at +28k moving into the green on year to date at +2k (+0.2%) gross compared to falls of 20.5% and 25.2% in the ftse 100 and ftse 250 respectively. Some recovery in junk oil bond ENQ1 over the week was a strong + point and today MARS (Marston's) doubled on a forthcoming deal with Carlsberg Have almost 24k shares in MARS, my only mainstream UK domestic equity, but did fancy it because it seemed to be valued post-Covid as only a disastrous pub group, whereas it also has a big brewery, the subject of the deal. Nice to make money out of beer; my holding is post-Covid, not sold any yet though! Am taxiing on the runway with airline stocks! Own funds are -6k net on year to date (still slightly negative) after withdrawals of 7.7k. Cash is 0.5k (fully committed!). Had 80 min virtual pub with N/D on Skype, very satisfying! lok2t beautiful ones: hope they're feeling fit: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

2 more Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides today; running total is 39+ this spring:

17:42 22/05 European Honey Buzzard London Brompton Cemetery 16:40 pale morph flew west

08:08 22/05 European Honey Buzzard South Yorkshire Wombwell 07:50 one flew WNW

May 21st: cooler today at 18C but after dull opening with a light shower it became very sunny again. Didn't do too much today; raptors are never so good in day 2 of a fine spell; always better after a a day or 2 of lockdown due to bad weather! Had a Lesser Swallow Prominent at the MV light 1. Have though sorted out most of yesterday's results, up to 16 Honey-buzzard sites now in the study area compared to 19 in the whole display period last year, running up to 19/6/19, when I was away ½ the time! So data collection is impressive this spring. But getting increasingly fed-up with the cautious attitude towards opening up the economy again; the precautionary principle can be taken far too far. The Oxford camp on the virus, led by Prof Gupta, is suggesting today that restaurants could reopen now without risking public health. Professor Sunetra Gupta says coronavirus epidemic 'on way out' and urges rapid exit from UK lockdown

In an interview, Prof Gupta called for a "rapid exit" from lockdown and said the coronavirus epidemic was already "on the way out". Much of the UK population may already have been exposed to the virus before the Government ordered people to stay at home, she added.

I'm increasingly amazed at Nicola Sturgeon's tone. She comes over like John Knox, a Calvinist and founder of Presbyterian Church, speaking against anything people might enjoy and loving the imposition of petty rules. She's a puritan through and through. A blog item The battle of Braveheart by weegingerdug sums up her approach:

I try very hard to keep out of disputes between independence supporters. They’re unproductive, all too often puerile, and only serve to benefit opponents of independence. But sometimes you just want to scream at people. There is a strain of puritan middle class self-righteousness within certain sections of the Scottish independence movement which would make John Knox seem like a louche libertine. They say that they want independence in order to improve the lives of working class people in Scotland, but they are sneery and dismissive of any manifestations of anything that working class people actually enjoy.

Had long chat with 'kids' on fb video; encouraging son to take Bedpan (Thames Link!) to Kingston to have a day in Richmond Park with daughter and family. The 'girls' are restarting school on 1/6 in Kingston at the private school and nursery. In Scotland the schools closed in March and are reopening in mid-August – 5 months without education – what sort of concerned policy is that? I'm worried about the mental well-being of a number of people I know. I think concerts could be staged outside in the summer to improve our happiness: wine, women and song, so the hedonistic saying goes, detested by puritans but a good motto for some!! Moth trap on tonight and it's humming: they're all let go in the morning! Great trading update from North Sea oil producer ENQ today, in the sense they're not going to go bust: pushed price of equity and bonds up anyway! I'm getting ready to support any business that offers a half-legal mechanism for socialising!! lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

3 more Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides today, including as far N as you can get in UK; running total is 37+ this spring:

15:21 21/05 European Honey Buzzard Shetland Foula one

08:41 21/05 European Honey Buzzard Essex Holland Haven CP 17:50 male perched in bush yesterday evening

08:39 21/05 European Honey Buzzard Surrey Thursley Common 17:00 20/05 one flew west over south end yesterday evening

May 20th: hottest day so far with 25C max on light W breeze; sunny from dawn to dusk, amazing day: good for shorts and top off later at home, making more vitamin D! Made Wylam E by Stephenson's Cottage, a good viewpoint over several Honey-buzzard sites, from 11:15-13:00. Had a purple patch when a male Honey-buzzard was up with male 1s Red-footed Falcon 1  2  3  4 and a Red Kite 5  6 (10025), with a Common Buzzard also up with the Red-footed Falcon 7  8  9  10  11  12, all in rapid action from 12:09-12:10 with much mutual circling, diving, close attendance and showing of talons. Alerted to the display by 3 Crow simultaneously giving alarm calls. The Red-footed Falcon is missing a primary on its left wing, leaving quite a gap. The Red Kite and Common Buzzard are breeding here, with a pair seen of each; here's a Red Kite presumably entering its nest site area at 12:13 1  2  3 and a piccie of the habitat 4; here's a Common Buzzard exiting its site at 12:18 1  2  3. Also had a male Kestrel up over Wylam Horsley, climbing high at 11:47. So that's 7 raptors of 5 types, all in the immediate area except for the Kestrel. Total for Wylam area was 33 bird-types, including 4 Goosander drake, 3 Cormorant adult, 2 Grey Heron, 1 Mute Swan adult, 1 Moorhen, 2 displaying Oystercatcher, 10 Swallow, 7 Sand Martin, 1 yaffling Green Woodpecker, single singing Blackcap and Chiffchaff. Had 4 types of butterfly: 7 Small White, 4 Orange-tip (3 female, 1 male), 3 Green-veined White, 1 Small Tortoiseshell. The BH pub was open, with elaborate spacing procedures; didn't visit but a police car was parked there, maybe the officers having a pint but more likely doing a Calvinist patrol! Drove through Ryton to link up with the A695 in Blaydon and then followed same route as last week. Traffic was heavier outside the City but still very light around Quayside and the Centre. Kittiwake numbers and area occupied were very similar to last week. Total for all birds was 6 types from 13:15-14:50: 880 Kittiwake, 59 Feral Pigeon, 11 Herring Gull, 4 LBBG, 3 Crow, 1 Blackbird. Had 2 types of butterfly on Quayside: 3 Small White, 1 Small Tortoiseshell. There were more people walking and cycling by the side of the Tyne but way below normal levels. Came back along A69 and there over the road, just W of Throckley, at 15:10 was a female Honey-buzzard, high in the sky, looking quite skittish. Could add a 3rd Honey-buzzard for the day in the study area: the Muggleswick Common bird below is almost certainly a male breeding bird on the county boundary with Durham. Why male – because many birders seem to be able to identify 80-90% of males, but only 20-30% of females and 5-10% of juveniles. People need to read the literature: certainly the juveniles are in many respects a different 'species' to the males and the females are quite distinct. Got home at 15:30, had lunch, sunbathed in field, came back in and had a sleep: seemed the thing to do!! Place is spotless. Had an hour's chat with big sis on 'phone, which was good for the morale. The attraction is still there: she's gorgeous: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

3 more Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides today, running total is 34+ this spring:

16:01 20/05 European Honey Buzzard Cornwall Week St Mary one then flew north-east

13:56 20/05 European Honey Buzzard Dorset Radipole Lake RSPB one flew north

11:24 20/05 European Honey Buzzard Durham Muggleswick Common 09:40 one flew west [presumed male from Derwent Gorge breeding site patrolling the area]

May 19th: milder at 16C but keen W breeze and quite muggy though stayed dry in afternoon after early rain in the morning; some sunny intervals. Fencing progressed; neighbour GS said go ahead, accessing from our side, and we'll even do the cutting back of the shrubs; we have another field for the ponies while work is done; brilliant scheme she said!! Fascinating encounter – 2 dogs now --- she looks gr8: home for leggy birds!! Had a brief recce from 13:00-13:20 over the Devil's Water from home, picking up a male Honey-buzzard going out to hunt to S at 13:13, a Red Kite, hanging over the woodland edge at 13:14, and a Common Buzzard up towards the E at 13:18. Also had 4 displaying Swift, a singing Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Tree Sparrow (3 nest holes in my house), a pair of Greylag Geese. In afternoon went to Prospect Hill from 15:10-17:25, looking out for Honey-buzzard at Farnley but none seen again; cannot be back yet. Did though have some success to S with a pair of Honey-buzzard up over Eastwood Common fairly low down in active display in the breeze from 16:28-16:29 1  2  3  4; they're presumably from the March Burn; pairs will sometimes display in sheltered hollows even, just to get rid of pent-up energy (lockdown relief!); the male dashed up and dived down again at the start of the display (10023). From 16:44-16:49 a lone female Honey-buzzard was up high to E of Minsteracres, moving W to come in over the ridge to the site here; could not see a male here but she was flying strongly 1  2 (10024). So up to 13 sites now holding 10 male, 9 female. Total for trip was 18 species, 17 of which in main tetrad, including 2 Whitethroat, 3 Yellowhammer, 2 Goldfinch. Made a short visit to the local Honey-buzzard site at dusk keeping to the lane from 21:00-21:50 but no sounds or views: quite subdued! Funds are doing well on mixture of new and old – tech and oil – at +15k in 1st 2 days of week, reducing loss on year to date to 11k (1.0%). Need to be selective in tech, for instance Airbnb and Uber not a good idea, and some like Zoom may be overpriced! Oil is benefiting from switch from public transport to private car for perceived safety; airline fuel is way down but that's only 7% of the total market; production has been heavily cut to balance the market. Wasp sting having almost faded away flared up today and used copious amounts of TCP to bring it under control; must have been some toxins injected; anyway more comfortable now. So 2moro is another exciting Wednesday: xxxx XXX!!!!!!

May 18th: a dull day with light rain at times but ground is still rock hard, max 13C, light W breeze. Today was the day of the 70m fence on the N side of my field: 'phoned up MJF and he came round an hour later to inspect; recommended completely new posts with stock-proof wire fence to repel ponies and sheep. The 38-year old fence is to be taken down and scrapped. He 'phoned up later with quote of £860 including VAT for the whole job, which I accepted. It will be done in c14 days time and will take 2 days to complete. I need to contact neighbours to ask for access for him through their field as it will be easier that way; also I need to clear some scrub encroaching on the existing fence and give them a few days notice of the start of the job so they can organise their 2 ponies. It will improve the appearance of the area – good for both parties (and MJF)! Completed compilation of moth records for Oakpool 3/8/2019 so onto last data sheet now for last year, that for Shilford 8/8/19. Indexed and uploaded to server the Honey-buzzard piccies from 16/5 at Bywell below; they show aggression to Common Buzzard by Honey-buzzard. Watched Abigail talk about the plight of the Sage at lunchtime; quite sobering really; thought the section on the abandoned trip by the RNS to Asia which took 3 years to plan was heartbreaking. Delighted to be getting more highlights from the Festival!! 2moro will be out for Honey-buzzard in the afternoon; on Wednesday cleaner S is coming in morning so will be going E again for varied fare!! Keep fit and safe: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

Latest thoughts on virus. There have not been any 2nd waves yet in the world so maybe they are not inevitable. All the modelling is based on Spanish flu, where observations and data were quite muddled at times and the world was in a dilapidated state at the end of WW1 with much enforced movement of weakened populations. The virus may not be that viable in the long run; in the natural world it's well known that organisms can run riot for a while before their numbers collapse; the virus will itself be open to attack by other viruses and chemicals: that's nature! In any event treatment will improve all the time and there may even be a vaccine this autumn. The infectivity of the virus seems to be similar to TB with prolonged close exposure really dangerous; incidentally expect an upsurge in TB cases in deprived areas over the next year where people have been crammed far too close together for a long time in the lockdown.

The computing techniques used at Imperial College for the modelling are amateurish; the coding structures would fail a computing science exam. Testing has been rudimentary and when real computer people got hold of the code they found it was non-deterministic, giving different results under different computing environments. Should we really be basing decisions that cost/save lives and billions of dollars on such flimsy modelling. Sweden used a much more relaxed version of the lockdown and does not have the severe issues of how to exit a drastic lock-down. Epidemiology is not a hard science; it's a soft science more akin to economics as behavioural aspects are a large part of the modelling. The NHS app on which they are basing a lot of hope should be scrapped and replaced by Apple/Google apps, written by professional software people with no centralised database to be used for spying purposes. The NHS app will not be interoperable with countries using the Apple/Google apps, such as most of Europe. Politicians who used to boast about being innumerate have had their inadequacies exposed, particularly when relying on The Science: there's no such thing with alternative theories and ideas in abundance.

4 more Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides today, running total is 31+ this spring:

21:17 18/05 European Honey Buzzard Kent Sandwich Bay 17/05 one flew over Green Wall yesterday evening

15:15 18/05 European Honey Buzzard Cornwall Rame Head 09:35 one flew in off sea and headed west

11:47 18/05 European Honey Buzzard Kent Kingsdown 11:30 one flew north

11:44 18/05 European Honey Buzzard Kent Walmer 11:35 one flew north-west

May 17th: bit warmer than yesterday at 13C with keen edge taken off the moderate W breeze, dry, mostly cloudy. Did a lot of gardening, mowing down the outer grass bed near the shelters and a substantial feral mint outcrop; also cleared a path through to my seat in the middle of the field so can still get there when grass grows; like eating my lunch there! Have a few piccies of the garden, which will post tomorrow, including lots of mole hills; I think the dry weather has forced the moles into damper areas such as where there's a soak-away. Saw the mole-poisoner today at my neighbours; think they've done a few in! I'm too soft really: got stung by a queen wasp today when put my hand on the arm of the sofa; it didn't come to much with prompt cold water and soothing cream; I then let the wasp go outside alive to make, in due course, lots of lovely wasp grubs for the Honey-buzzard! Am planning to have the whole of my almost 40-year old fencing on the N side (70 metres) replaced by a contractor, who could also look at the roadside where there are a few gaps. The W side is an impenetrable jungle so no action needed there.

Documented below the 3 YLG at Grindon on 14/5, quite a task but saves a lot of time in long run if do it when memories are fresh. Produced up-to-date Red Kite data (also below) – very encouraging results. Finished going through moth piccies from Oakpool 3/8/2019 and completed id and labelling; need to add results to MapMate, then just 1 data sheet to go. Will join Sage presentation tomorrow lunchtime; expecting ideas for revenue and getting performances underway again. Did donate 500 last week as regular 3-monthly payment as principal partner and 100 the month before in response to appeal. Enjoyed the Bach adagio very much: the series must continue!! Weekend was not so bad: some rousing moments!! lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

Red Kite running totals and map: since 4/5, 6 Red Kite at 6 sites in Hexhamshire, Tyne Valley. The map shows my records from 1/3-16/5 in study area, in green. Have added 5 tetrads (in red) from N&TBC bulletin for March. So altogether 35 tetrads occupied in SW Northumberland: now settled down to breed!

4 more Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides in last 2 days, running total is 27+ this spring:

19:56 17/05 European Honey Buzzard Suffolk Felixstowe16/05 one reportedly flew south yesterday afternoon

12:37 17/05 European Honey Buzzard Anglesey Amlwch possible flew high west over Amlwch Port

18:50 16/05 European Honey Buzzard Somerset & Bristol Yeovil one flew north over east side

09:55 16/05 European Honey Buzzard Norfolk Sidestrand female flew over and continued inland over Northrepps

May 16th: it wasn't too nice from the human point of view, sunny up to early afternoon but a very cool moderate NW breeze keeping the temperature down to 11C max, remaining dry. But the raptors loved the polar air: went to Bywell Cottagebank from 12:35-14:25, walking the lane alongside it, rather than do the distant watch from Stocksfield Mount. In a fantastic day had a total of 6 raptor-types (13 birds), only get that a few times a year and more is just about unheard of. Being closer to the site was an advantage as could get piccies at shorter range. Totals were Common Buzzard 4 (3 in N part of wood 1, 1 in S part), Honey-buzzard 3 (pair display, plus a male migrant, moving NW from 13:35-13:38, towards A68), Hobby 2 (pair in brief but very active display at 13:06 1  2  3  4, 1st of year), Kestrel 1 (adult male at 13:02 out to huny 1), Red Kite 1 (up briefly at N extreme of wood at 13:30, new site for tetrad this year, but used last year), Sparrowhawk 1 (adult male flushed from copse 1  2). Did look out for Osprey, which moving today along the Tyne, but none seen; that would have given 7 types! Total was 28 bird-types, including 10 Swift, 2 Garden Warbler, 4 Oystercatcher, 4 Goldfinch. Did feel cold by end; made Peggs4shop at 14:50 and W4shop at 19:00, latter had enormous queue at 15:00 so decided to go home to warm up and come back later when no queue. And lit fire this evening to make it cosy! Watched film Disturbia on Film 4, following The Martian last night; enjoyed both but particularly tonight's. So plenty more to follow … But time for bed … could do with some lovely company: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

Here are some piccies of the action at Bywell: Honey-buzzard – Female up at 12:49 1  2  3. Male up at 13:12, floating over the site; he's missing inner primaries on both wings, not moult 4  5  6  7  8. Pair up at 13:15 with brief interaction 9  10. Male challenge Common Buzzard at 13:18 11  12. Male attack Common Buzzard at 13:20 13  14 (10021). Male moving through NW at high altitude from 13:35-13:38; he's looking down a bit so maybe admiring the territory 1  2  3  4  5  6; getting ready for the A68 into Scotland (10022).

Here are the exciting leaf mines (blotches) on birch of the Eriocrania micro-moths that I've been studying recently: Eriocrania semipurpurella at Dipton Wood, 3 on 8/5, 2 on 10/5 1  2  3  4  5  6, Eriocrania unimaculella at Grindon Lough, 2 on 14/5 1  2. The larvae are hyaline (glass-like) presumably to reduce their predation by birds. The key for their id is at The unimaculella have a darker head than the semipurpurella; well that's what it says! .

May 15th: weather very similar to yesterday; cool breeze but sun was good and out sunbathing on the patio for an hour at lunchtime in shorts and with top off! Spent a lot of time looking at the masses of gull piccies from yesterday at Grindon Lough. Sleeping on the idea that the (darker) cachinnans on 29/4 there was present again, joined by a paler 1s cachinnans, with a michahellis 1s (Mediterranean-type) also present. It's a very good Lough for YLG in general. The cachinnans come from eastern Europe. We (N/N/D) had our virtual pub meeting from 17:00-18:30 on Skype; lots to talk about so a good exercise; line quality wasn't too good for the 1st hour but then improved as presumably work pressures abated. We did wonder whether the W will actually ever re-open; sure quite a lot of pubs will close for good. Interesting that the NE now has the highest rate of Covid infection in the UK but there was some good news for the region:

A flagship Nissan plant in Sunderland could be used to make Renault vehicles as part of a deal between the two car-making behemoths - boosting to the fortunes of thousands of British workers. The two companies - which operate under global strategic alliance - have opened talks to transfer production of the Renault Kadjar and Captur models from Spain to the North-East as part of a wider shake-up of global operations. Renault is mulling plans to dramatically cut its vehicle range, axing its Espace minivan in a €2bn (£1.8bn) cost-saving plan to be unveiled later this month. Moving production of Renault models to Britain’s biggest car plant would send a strong signal over Nissan’s commitment to the UK as the Japanese carmaker prepares to cut global production by a fifth.

Resuming Honey-buzzard work tomorrow and need to go shopping and do some gardening; expecting weather to remain on the cool side but dry. Funds fell back after rise at start of week, finishing -1k after a torrid day for markets on Thursday. The ftse 100 was down 2.3% on week. Oil is recovering as a commodity but the shares still seem shell-shocked! So loss on year is 26k gross (2.3%) compared to falls of 23.1% for ftse100 and 28.6% for ftse 250. The £ is weak on doubts about our competence in handling the virus and on Brexit worries (again!). Have 23k cash for opportunities! Expecting to be out more this weekend and in the week ahead: life needs to be stepped up: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

May 14th: warmer yes at 13C max through strong sunshine and continuing dry but still a cool NW breeze and occasional cloud; still did get the shorts on, knees are quite tanned! Looked at piccies from yesterday and the male Honey-buzzard at Wylam gave a good series (10020), particularly at the start when he was mobbed by 3 Jackdaw; they're published below. Today made Grindon Lough from 14:15-16:25, a long visit here because there were a remarkable 3 1s YLG (2 cachinnans/ 1 michahellis) present and they each needed to be documented (see below). Other gulls were 5 LBBG (4 adult, 1 2s), 2 Herring Gull adult, 9 Black-headed Gull adult. A Common Buzzard was up over the conifers to S and the waders were interesting with 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank, 1 Turnstone, 3 Redshank, 2 Dunlin, 5 Lapwing, 1 Curlew, that's 7 types; ducks included 2 Wigeon drake, 2 Teal, 6 Tufted Duck (3 pair), pair Shelduck; another brood of Canada Goose was noted with 4 young 1; total for bird-types was 29. Another Common Buzzard was up over Greenshaw Plain at 14:05 and a Yellow Wagtail was at Houtley, in the 'Shire, on the way out at 14:00. Hexham was much busier with more cars and people about. Season-wise we're up to 10 Honey-buzzard sites, not bad and with few distractions from trips away should get some good coverage this year. Cleaner S made the place sparkling; think the extra payment is well worth it in the current circumstances. Was gr8 yesterday to visit the big city; might study the Kittiwake once a week!! lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

Here's piccies and notes for the YLG:

First the Caspian Gull first-summer, bird A, same as one here on 29/4, active at W end, maybe doing some feeding on bugs and small fish in the submarine weed. Notes: bill: all black, long, thin, no gonydeal angle; eye: dark with no mask; tail: white except for some mottling and wide subterminal band, narrower on sides where whitish; head: almost pure white; belly: protruding in flight; underbody: some mottling; legs: yellow tinge, very long including tibia; head shape: small and rounded; hind neck: a few mottled markings; scapulars: grey with dark brown-black diamonds; saddle: extensive grey coming through the brown moult: P10-P4 intact, P2, P3 missing, P1 growing; 2y complete; wear: carpal, tertials and primaries are only dark parts on bird at rest; primary tips: almost uniform dark brown but paler brown on inner primaries; tertials: solid dark brown with white tips; secondaries: strong dark 2y bar; greater coverts: obvious greater coverts bar but not as dark as 2y bar, some grey emerging, white tips; median coverts: white tipped; underwing: not much contrast though slightly darker on carpal side of wing, fairly plain. 1  2  3  4  5  6  7

Second, the Caspian Gull first-summer, bird B, not here when I visited on 29/4; at rest on middle of N bank most of the visit but did do one foray to NW side in flight before returning so also feeding within the Lough. Notes: compared to bird A, this bird has a completely pale underwing, paler plumage overall with weak greater coverts bar but still strong 2y bar; standing alongside LBBG adults, showing similar attenuation but bird B is larger with much longer legs, flesh legs with a slight yellow tinge, more boxy head in some poses. 1  2  3  4  5  6  7

Third, the Mediterranean Yellow-legged Gull, bird C, not here when I visited on 29/4; at E end perched throughout, no flight action. Notes: stocky, protruding chest, legs long but tibia not so strikingly lengthy, short stubby bill with gonydeal angle, eye is dark within a mask, quite pale grey plumage on mantle, yellow tinge to legs. Shows same advanced plumage for the season as the Caspian Gull but bird C has different structure with heavier, shorter bill, dark eye within a mask. Would have liked to see it in flight, looking for marked contrast but it looked very settled. 1  2  3  4

Another Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides, running total is 23+ this spring, 1st for Scotland in this reporting series:

14/05 20:20 Highland : European Honey Buzzard, Kingussie one flew over Gren Tromie

I was very surprised when I checked the BT stats to see what the most downloaded item in volume (bytes) was from my web site as a whole over the last 6 months: Rheingold (The Müpa Ring, Budapest, 20-23 June 2019, Wagner: Fanfares before each Act: clips) on Home Page for whole site. Brings back such memories of the excitement of concerts everywhere!! This is of course the start of the Ring, tension and anticipation everywhere! F..k the Honey-buzzard: arts rule OK!!

May 13th: another perishing day at 8C max, some sunshine late afternoon but grey earlier, light to moderate NE breeze. Got stuck into Tyne Valley E. In reduction in area covered did downgrade this section but it gives an interesting contrast with the 'Shire and Tyne Valley W, with its proximity to the Newcastle/Gateshead conurbation and ultimately to the North Sea. Started a little late at 11:30 in WA Prudhoe, where great views over Whittle Dene but no action; moved onto the footpath by the bridge that goes over the bypass in Prudhoe E where have good views over 3-4 Honey-buzzard sites. There were just a few walkers around but quite a few cyclists, on balance quite quiet; Prudhoe Golf Club was packed! Did have some action in this watch from 11:45-12:50. Had a Honey-buzzard female coming out of Whittle Dene, drifting to E and soaring high from 12:05-12:07; she was up again at 12:18 but keeping to the W side of her territory this time 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 (10019). A Honey-buzzard male was up over Wylam Horsley Wood from 12:38-12:41 arriving from the Prudhoe direction in the company of 3 Jackdaw who were mobbing him; he came straight up over the Tyne riding the orographic lift from the Tyne banks, going to considerable height and hanging there 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19 (10020). So we have a female at one site and male at another and it appears their mates have not returned yet: so do they behave – think they do, never seen any display in such circumstances! Suspect courtship outside the external display in the air carries on at greater intensity close to the nest so the 'pair' would have to be close to the nest for mating to occur. Of course if their mates do not return they may amalgamate but Honey-buzzard have a cunning ploy for filling vacancies: a wave of younger birds without territory flying at lower altitude is the final stage of the spring migration and they will be recruited by lonely males and females, possibly in their natal area but also elsewhere to keep the gene pool turning over!! Also had a Red Kite up on the N horizon NE of Horsley at Rudchester, a well-established site, at 12:28. Total for bird-types at Prudhoe E in the tetrad was 17, including 6 Swift, 1 Chiffchaff, 6 Herring Gull, 3 Linnet. Drove into GHD via A695, Skinnerburn, Swing Bridge, parking at South Shore where CP was free and I was only car for a while; roads in the city were quietest I've ever known them but more traffic on the major routes outside, particularly long-distance freight. Stayed from 13:15-14:45. Quayside was really quiet, no problems with social distancing! Found main adjustment was to keep fingers away from face and mouth in absence of washing facilities: think achieved with some extra concentration! Sad to see the Sage arts building locked down; the IT company Sage produced excellent ½ year results today: hold 2059 shares of these. Kittiwake seem to have taken on a few new buildings with the lack of people, counted 820 birds, mainly sitting on ledges. Also had 3 other species of gull: GBBG 1, LBBG 3, Herring 17, plus a Cormorant. Passerines comprised 28 Feral Pigeon, 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Crow, 1 Blackbird, 2 Goldfinch, so total of 10 bird-types. On way back on A69 had a Red Kite up over Anick, NE Hexham, gliding down from a dot in the sky at 15:15 reinforcing the idea of this place as a regular breeding site. Egger are running again or at least smoke was coming out of the chimneys at its chipboard factory in Hexham. So great day, really enjoyed getting back into exciting parts: she's gorgeous: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! 2moro afternoon at 14:00 is actually when cleaner S is coming this week, so will be out then, it's getting warmer (not difficult!).

May 12th: well 7C max is not good for May with frost at dawn (allegedly!); some sunshine but heavy showers with hail in evening, which stopped my grass-cutting just as getting going! Not out today, processing all recent records as below so up to date, even including the 5 Eriocrania semipurpurella larvae found in the blotches on birch in Dipton Wood. Lit the fire for 2nd time this week in the evening – very cosy, makes the house very welcoming! 2moro out and about again – certainly want to be a Lert as planned yesterday: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! Funds still recovering gently, +4k in 1st 2 days of this week, sold a few high-flying tech stocks this afternoon as profits too tempting, bought small amounts in a couple of short-haul airlines EZJ, RYA in the morning.

Another Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides, running total is 22+ this spring:

12/05 16:04 Kent : European Honey Buzzard, Sandwich Bay one flew north

May 11th: again very cool at 8C max but sunny in afternoon, dry, moderate NW. Lovely polar air, very popular with raptors, can see for miles (km?). With sun fully out it felt just about OK but even the smallest cloud would send the temperature plummeting. Made progress with Eriocrania leaf mines, actually finding a few larvae in the box in which I collected them so think I've sorted 1 species now this spring, to add to another last summer. So back (not too long away) to the Honey-buzzard today, finding the male perched from 15:30-15:37 in a tree top at the local site 1  2  3  4  5  6 (10016) as left to go deeper into the 'Shire. Like before he just dropped off the perch when ending his sentry duty; the Crow have obviously been subdued for now. Target for walk was a Slaley Forest site where had a Red Kite hanging high over the site in hunting mode from 16:08-16:15 and again around 16:37, followed by a female Honey-buzzard up in display from 16:33-16:37, a new site for the year but a familiar one as it's one where I locate the nest. The female was quite frisky in the stiff breeze 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 (10018); she's a ruddy colour with dark primary tips; evenly-spaced tail bars are visible on 4,7,8. Total for tetrad was just 15 bird-types in stiff, cool breeze, including a Whitethroat (migrant?), 2 Curlew. Coming back towards home stopped at Steel for a look down the Devil's Water from the W and soon had my local pair up for a bit of display form 17:00-17:01, the male just above the female who drifted off S on her own at moderate altitude 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 (10017); piccies 1,2 show the pair, 4 the male alone. Polar air is good: 3 Honey-buzzard and a Red Kite!! Also at Steel looked at the pond and had a pair of displaying Redshank, 2 anxious Lapwing (with chicks probably), 7 Mallard with a duckling, a Moorhen adult with chick, 1 Grey Heron. So plenty to document, which leaving for tomorrow. Joined in a Rotary meeting by Zoom where talk was from Heart Wood, a local charity supporting men with depression by bringing them to a woodland setting where they can talk to each other openly about their problems; one of them (shown on a film) was a birdwatcher I've known for years, pretty shocked by that, we've always been good buddies! We had 22 members for the meeting; thought some looked pretty terrible and 2 non-appearers have had serious illness in the last 2 weeks. Made W4shop at 19:00, spending £37, and had stroll around Hexham; some shops don't look as if they're going to reopen: stripped of everything. Very pleased that any solo outdoor exercise is permitted from 13/5: that's fine with me: think on Wednesday will stick to Wylam (11-1) and Quayside (1:30-) as plenty to do there and can leave the coast for a later trip, maybe further N. So looking forward to that: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

Another Honey-buzzard on BirdGuides, running total is 21+ this spring:

11/05 13:27 Isles of Scilly : European Honey Buzzard, St Mary's possible flew over Hugh Town towards quay [?]

May 10th: temperatures plummeted overnight from 13C at 23:00 9/5 to 4C at 06:00 10/5. Had MV moth trap on until midnight when it went very quiet! Had a little rain in the morning on a very cold fresh NE breeze. It brightened up in the afternoon but still only 5C and went for walk from 16:20-17:35 on S side of Dipton Wood. It exceeded my expectations with the male Goshawk up over the site already established this spring from 16:55-16:56, soaring high in the breeze, such powerful fliers 1  2  3  4  5  6  7. A little earlier at 16:49 a Common Buzzard was chased by a Crow over the Goshawk site and a little later at 17:00 a Honey-buzzard male was up over a wood to NW of the Goshawk's, going high just once but generally keeping low behind some power cables 1  2  3  4  5 (10015)! Hope they get on: Goshawk sometimes eat young Honey-buzzard though no evidence for this in the study area where masses of easier prey available for the Goshawk. Total was 24 bird-types including a singing Skylark, a displaying Greenfinch (rare now in 'Shire), 8 Yellowhammer, a displaying Curlew, 5 Goldfinch. On way to Dipton Wood S stopped off briefly at Dipton Wood N to collect some samples of blotches on birch leaves, attributed to Eriocrania micro-moths, as wanted to see if any larvae were present and have found 5 -- Eriocrania semipurpurella! Actually completed processing another moth data sheet from 2019, that for 17/8 at Kellas, so just 2 more to do now for last year. Think my tidy-garden neighbours (not VE ones) are going crazy: he wants to cut my verge but it's got daffodils and wild flowers on it so I said just cut the very edge if you must. He's trying to treat it as a shared resource but I put him right on that: the verge alongside my house and garden is my freehold though of course the highway authority have loads of powers over it. There's a regrettable rancher mentality in parts of the 'Shire with verges mowed, not for safety, but to keep things neat. Fortunately Juniper the next village still has verges full of flowers, including masses of daffodils, so I'm siding with them! He's also put little windmills on the molehills on his lawn: not for fun I suspect but getting ready for the mole-poisoner! I think they've been locked down too long and I bet there are simmering tensions like this all over the country, which in its effects will rival Covid-19 in illness by the summer and autumn. So some relief from lockdown outside is very welcome: will celebrate on Wednesday by visiting, in the car, Wylam, Quayside and the coast at St Mary's Island, leaving here at 10:30 just before cleaner arrives and taking a picnic, with nothing indoors. Fancy a change!! So maybe more fun: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

From BirdGuides 3 more Honey-buzzard migrants in the S, bringing running total to 20+ this spring:

10/05 14:00 Hampshire : European Honey Buzzard, Sarisbury Green circling with Red Kites before drifting west (12:59)

10/05 15:02 Devon : European Honey Buzzard, Exminster Marshes RSPB one flew over this morning

10/05 17:02 Oxfordshire : European Honey Buzzard, Dix Pit probable flew north (15:08) [?]

May 9th: yet another fine day, last for a while, max 19C, light NW breeze, polar air, popular with raptors; shorts on, shirt off! Not too much happening at base so decided to go into Hexham for little shopping and walk around. During the walk as moved into the Shambles looked W towards the Abbey and there high up just below the cloud base over to the W of the Sele were 2 Honey-buzzard, a male and a female, moving slowly and deliberately N against the light NW breeze. I followed them from 13:50-13:59 until lost in the sky to NW as they climbed through a large clearing in the cloud to go even higher 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19 (10014). 12-14 are the clearest; as they moved close to the S side of the Abbey (in profile) was able to boost magnification with the field area clearly defined; the female is above the male at the start but in 12-14 the male is the higher bird. On the last 5 slides (15-19) the birds are just faint dots, moving to a colossal height. My guess is that they are losing height as they cross the Tyne with slight wind against, few thermals and no orographic lift, but are then picking up thermals and orographic lift over Acomb and rapidly regaining height, probably moving up the North Tyne and Redesdale on their way to Scotland; think some follow the A68! So that was inspiring! Decided to have a look at Letah Wood on way back from 14:10-15:10 where can view 2 Honey-buzzard sites but no birds seen at either. Did have a Red Kite soaring high over Swallowship at 14:37 and 15:07, a Common Buzzard up strongly at Letah Wood at 14:48 and a Tawny Owl calling at daytime from Letah Wood itself. Total for visit was 21 bird-types, including a yaffling Green Woodpecker, 3 House Martin N, a Mistle Thrush carrying food, a Sand Martin, single Blackcap and Willow Warbler. Sat in the chair in my field from 15:15-16:00 having lunch but no further action seen. So quality today with 5 raptors of 4 types. A Cockchafer beetle was caught at the MV light 1 along with a Pale Tussock moth 1. Very pleased to receive another email: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! Had long chat with big sis on 'phone: it's good to keep in touch.

A Red Kite suspected tragedy in the Hexham Courant for 03/05/20 – Red kite disappears in suspicious circumstances:

Fears that a red kite could have been illegally killed in the North Pennines have been raised by wildlife experts. The young bird had been fitted with a satellite tag at Rowlands Gill in June 2019 and had since been monitored by the RSPB. The bird, nicknamed ‘KK’, toured northern England, making it as far as the Peak District, then returned north and has been faithful to the Derwent Valley region ever since. KK’s tag had been functioning normally until it suddenly and unexpectedly stopped transmitting. The last fix came from an area of driven grouse moor near the Derwent Reservoir on April 17. It has not been heard from since. Inspector Ed Turner, the lead for wildlife and rural crime for Durham Constabulary said: “The fate of this red kite is not yet clear, we are working with the RSPB to establish what has happened since its transmitter unexpectedly stopped on April 17, 2020. Until we can rule out the possibility that a crime has not been committed, then we will be taking this matter very seriously ...”

A very sad tale if persecution has occurred but not sure that I would have gone in so prominently on this one as it's not entirely clear what's happened; the Derwent Gorge/Carterway Heads area is attracting a lot of Red Kite as per N&TBC March bulletin below and may be becoming a flashpoint; think some discussion with the landowners would be a useful exercise. While the FoRKers are good in getting publicity from missing kites, it would be useful to see them taking survey work more seriously; they have not published any recent population data or estimates; if they published up to date figures we would have more perspective on how the Red Kite is doing in NE England – very well! About 80% of Red Kite born in 2019 should still be alive in summer 2020 according to RSPB data for England in general so first-winter mortality is usually quite low. Certainly with the Hen Harrier, which is so hated by the shooting fraternity, circumstantial evidence such as that for the missing Red Kite is nearly always to be believed; question is – does the same situation hold for Red Kite.

More records from BirdGuides, this time from S/SE England. Running total is April 5+ [BirdGuides 4, Eurobirdportal 1+], May 12+ [BirdGuides 11, Eurobirdportal 1+], total 17+ [BirdGuides 15, Eurobirdportal 2+] compared to 9 by 09/05/19 [BirdGuides only].

09/05 15:18 Surrey : European Honey Buzzard, Capel one flew east (15:05)

09/05 15:21 Suffolk : European Honey Buzzard, Aldeburgh possible flew north-east over golf course then dropped out of view (14:45) [?]

09/05 16:01 London : European Honey Buzzard, Woodford Green one flew south-east (12:43)

09/05 18:00 Kent : European Honey Buzzard, Whitstable one flew over

May 8th: another fine day, 18C max, light W breeze, sunny nearly all the time; definitely shorts-time and top off as well for a while. Did a lot of gardening, sprucing up front and cutting some branches in the back to make it easier to mow. Honoured to receive some cake from a VE family party being held nearby: very thoughtful and appreciated!! Had trip out to N tip of Dipton Wood from 15:10-16:40; marvellous view over to confluence of Devil's Water with Tyne at Swallowship – isn't Northumberland wonderful! Was checking on the butterfly Green Hairstreak in a new site that I found last year. Great to find 12, mostly worn females laying eggs, at this late date 1  2  3  4  5. Also had an Orange-tip female. Birds included this male Kestrel 1  2, a singing Curlew and 9 other types, 11 in all. There is a Honey-buzzard site nearby but none seen. The b.....d landowners have put barbed wire across the path at its entrance: it was easily circumvented! The path lacks legitimacy but it's not as if users are doing any harm in the expansive woodland. Had 75 minute chat on Skype as virtual W pub visit with N/D: good for the morale! Very pleased to hear from someone!! lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

Funds had a good week at +10k on continued rise in techies; oil, which is major interest, mostly in junk bonds, is in recovery mode from a very low level; also building up a stake in global healthcare. The oil wars between US, Russia and Saudi Arabia took a new Trumpain twist yesterday with the US removing some Patriot anti-missile devices from Saudi, designed to shoot down Iranian missiles attacking Saudi's oil infrastructure. So the US may be looking for higher oil prices to save its fracking industry through a war in the Middle East: this is real politic of the highest order, revenge for Saudi trying to destroy the US shale industry! The Saudi prince MBS is facing the bankruptcy of his country, not only with the oil wars, but also through the pilgrimages to Mecca having had to stop with the virus. Own position on year to date is now -24k gross (-2.2%) compared to falls in ftse 100 of 21.3% and in ftse 250 of 25.9%.

BirdGuides had some very interesting records with a Honey-buzzard at Prudhoe (!), 2 more in Durham and a Hobby at Corbridge!!

08/05 14:02 Durham : European Honey Buzzard, Waldridge Fell one reported flying north-west (13:51) [R]

08/05 15:00 Durham : European Honey Buzzard, Whickham one flew north-west (14:50)

08/05 16:09 Northumberland : European Honey Buzzard, Prudhoe one drifted west (16:06)

13:05 08/05 European Honey Buzzard Guernsey St Peter Port one flew over

08/05 19:00 Northumberland : Eurasian Hobby, Corbridge one hawking over bridge across River Tyne (17:15)

May 7th: fine day, 17C max, light W breeze, dry, quite cloudy midday after sunny start. Stayed home today for birdwatching. Main action was from 14:15-14:25 when cloudier. Two Crow dislodged the male Honey-buzzard from his lofty perch again at Ordley at 14:15 1  2  3 (1011). Well to the south, at Slaley Forest Dukesfield, a male Honey-buzzard was caught on camera in a massive dive at 14:18 with a pair of Common Buzzard below 1  2 (1012); this is a new site for the year. At the local site the female soared high from 14:21 to 14:25 1  2  3  4  5 (1013) but her mate didn't join her, maybe taking it easy after all the Crow aggro! She appears to have a damaged/missing P9 on her left wing since arrival; obviously flying well and no problem having got here now; it will re-grow, irrespective of normal moult routine. Went for walk down lane from 20:00-21:00 to spy on the site but no action detected. This Crow was unusually easy to catch close-up 1 maybe also shattered after war with the Honey-buzzard. The migration map for Honey-buzzard in Europe from 30/4-6/5 is interesting; large counts over 1000 are now in Eilat (Israel), Straits of Messina, Gibraltar, eastern Pyrenees. From the eastern Pyrenees there are 2 routes, the larger one to NE along the Rhone Valley and a smaller one to NW to the Loire Valley and then towards Normandy, giving potential springboard to the UK. There are many sightings of small numbers of birds in Belgium and the Netherlands and the 2 squares occupied in the UK are mine. BirdGuides don't contribute to the Eurobirdportal, otherwise there would be more dots in the UK. The birds in Israel will move overland to N, then NW to the Bosphorus to cross into eastern Europe and the Ukraine or N/NE to cross into western Russia. The Pallid Harrier map shows birds settling to breed in Finland and Sweden. There are scattered records elsewhere including my dot in UK. The recording unit for Eurobirdportal is 30x30 sq km. Did go shopping late afternoon, to Peggs 4 FT, HC, rw, twix; Dale Garage 4 petrol, only £44 to fill up, 109.9p a litre; W 4 shop, £35. Had gone into Co-op on 4/5 where spent £17 so less needed at W today. More people and cars around, garage said things were picking up but mixed messages from government. Renewed domain for Festival. Good thing is that car journeys are not being monitored much now, at least in daytime. Oh well time for bed: it's 01:51: lonely vigil will continue: but feeling more upbeat really: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

From BirdGuides 1 more Honey-buzzard migrant:

07/05 13:00 Cheshire : European Honey Buzzard, Congleton male flew low over A54 at Buglawton (11:40)

May 6th: wind round to light W so away from the North Sea; warm 16C max, dry; back to shorts and even shirt off for 30 min at home. Repeated walk from 11:05-13:25 along Tyne Green of 21/4 as wanted to check on Red Kite and for Honey-buzzard returns. A Red Kite was up at back of Anick hanging briefly at short intervals from 11:26-11:28. 4 Common Buzzard were up over hill overlooking the A69 roundabout at 12:19, 2 having come from the Hermitage where up initially at 12:15 and showing well. Star of the day was a distant male Honey-buzzard over Beaufront, appearing at 11:25 high in the sky where floating well for 2 minutes after a long soar and at 11:37 lower down but no mate seen so a single bird at present (10010). No Honey-buzzard appeared above the Hermitage. In total of 26 types in tetrad had 7 Swift, 2 Blackcap, 5 Oystercatcher, 2 Moorhen, 3 Sand Martin. Total for visit was 28 bird-types. Butterflies were good, getting 6 types: Orange-tip (11, 6 male, 5 female), Speckled Wood (1), Peacock (1), Green-veined White (1), Small White (1), Holly Blue (1, increasing in Tyne Valley, piccies 1  2  3). Had a long chat with a fit runner while she was doing the stretches: she was interested in the bird watching as her father was into falconry with Harris Hawk: we kept our 2m distance!!

Large numbers of Red Kite reported in March in N&TBC bulletin:

Red Kite Milvus Milvus

Nine sightings involved at least six birds on 23rd at Carterway Heads (IFo), with three birds there on 21st and two on 4th and 16th (IFo). Single birds were noted near Whittle Dene on 4th (PCF), Derwent Reservoir on 8th and 31st (IFo), Snods Edge and Weetwood (Wooler) on 9th (IFo/DF) and one flew South over the estuary at Alnmouth on 10th (MH/AA). On 12th birds were seen at Minsteracres and Low Waskerley(AJ/AJN/IFo), Carterway Heads on 13th (IFo), Slaley Forest on 13th -15th (PCl/RMH), Holburn Moss on 16th (RA), Chain Bridge (Horncliffe) on 18th (MHu) and Blanchland Moor on 20th (PCl).Singles were also observed at Causey Hill (Hexham) on 21st (PRC) and at a confidential site in the north of the county (EHa); one flew S along the promenade at Whitley Bay on 23rd (IJ) and at Airy Holm Reservoir (Shotleyfield) on 27th (IFo).

It looks as if there is a significant gathering around Carterway Heads, near Derwent Reservoir, in early spring, maybe getting ready to move further into Northumberland in the 'Shire and Tyne Valley. Perhaps Carterway Heads is a staging post This adds c5 sites in the Derwent area to my current running total of 29 sites, making c34. New sites for me for the year are Carterway Heads, Derwent Reservoir (Derwent Gorge?), Snods Edge, Airy Holm, Minsteracres, all clustered to SE of the areas I've surveyed. Wonder what the April bulletin will show: that's probably the peak month. My latest summary is for 4/5:

Since 25/4, 10 Red Kite at 8 sites in Hexhamshire, Tyne Valley, South Tyne, Allen picture. The map shows all records from 1/3-4/5 in study area. 28 tetrads occupied in SW Northumberland: not finished yet!

Spoke to 'kids' on fb video link: daughter's genuinely not too worried about losing her job with Virgin; it was a lot of hassle driving from Kingston to Gatwick and she can concentrate more on the girls! Her husband's working at home at the moment: he's an oil trader with the Russian oil company Gazprom (based in St Petersburg) and is progressing well with them! Son who works for Herts Uni says that applications for computing science and engineering are sky-high for next year, with many international candidates. He's also working from home, his recently acquired flat in Welwyn. So life sort of goes on: happier when the weather is really nice like today: miss social life, especially the concerts: hope the gorgeous ones are keeping fit: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

With Prof Neil Ferguson's misdemeanour the saying from comedian Robin Williams seems relevant (to us all!!): “The problem is, God gave man a brain and a penis and only enough blood to run one at a time.” If we judge him by the company he keeps: Antonia Staats, 38, is a left-wing campaigner who works for US-based online network Avaaz. One of the hot topics at Avaaz is to secure 'A Green Corona Recovery!' So maybe that's the agenda! Have to say that women around her age are incredibly s.xy!!

From BirdGuides 2 more Honey-buzzard migrants:

06/05 12:00 Dorset : European Honey Buzzard, Poole one flew over garden late morning

06/05 12:01 Hertfordshire : European Honey Buzzard, Whempstead one over Chapel Farm then flew east (11:15)

May 5th: cool 12C max, cloudy in morning, sunny in afternoon on moderate E breeze, dry. Spent a lot of time on the Pallid Harrier finding there was actually a pair together in one piccie with a female circling the adult male. The female also showed up in a few other piccies. Wonder if they arrive paired-up or do they look for a mate when in suitable habitat. Have they over-wintered in Africa? They nest on the ground in cereal fields or on moorland. Well we've got plenty of the latter but the 'keepers hate harriers though the smaller species, such as Pallid, feed on small mammals and birds, probably not taking many grouse chicks. Pallid Harrier is of course fully protected at all times as a Schedule I species. All pretty mind-boggling!! Have an idea of suitable moorland for them further W! Here's a map for 23-29 April 2020 from Eurobirdportal showing them in large numbers in Finland, reasonable numbers in southern Sweden, Belgium and Netherlands with some in Italy maybe migrants out of Africa. Russia is not in the scheme. Found this information in the literature:

Distribution and population [of Pallid Harrier]

This species breeds primarily in the steppes of Asiatic Russia, Kazakhstan and north-west China. Small populations breed in Azerbaijan, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine. A minority winter in south-east and central Europe, north Africa and the Middle East but most migrate to the Afrotropics and the Indian subcontinent (Thiollay 1994). The global population is estimated at 9,000-15,000 pairs (Galushin et al. 2003). Records in northern and western Europe have increased in recent years, with regular breeding now taking place in Finland and wintering records in several other countries (Ollé et al. 2015).

Completed processing another data sheet from 2019 for micro-moths, that for Swallowship on 21/8, 3 to go! Funds had a good first 2 days of the week, with strong oil price – Brent +15% today from a low base, and continued support for tech stocks, on feeling that the digital world is set for further dominance in our lives. So +6k reducing loss on year to 28k (-2.5%). The oil price is rising on lockdowns being eased almost everywhere in the western world, with Asia and Australasia getting back to some normality and massive production cuts. Avoiding UK domestic stocks, other than techies, with Brexit cliff-edge coming up on 30/6 and the incompetent handling of the virus. Had long phone call with P; cleaner S is coming 2moro morning so will be out then for walk; giving her regular £10 a week bonus now while scare is on for the extra trouble she takes in sterilising surfaces. Sadly daughter may well be losing her job at Virgin Atlantic as she's based in the Gatwick division, which is to be closed entirely. Talking to her tomorrow on fb video along with son so will find out more. So gloomy times for the human species contrasting with the natural world's bubbling enthusiasm in the middle of spring. Three nice days weather-wise coming up: lok2t beauties: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

May 4th: cool 10C, light to moderate E breeze, sunny, occasional misty patches in sky, dry. After big catch-up on bird records in morning, made Warden for a walk by the South Tyne from 15:50-17:45. Was an interesting walk to put it mildly: the 1 rarity as a male became a pair on closer inspection of the piccies! Had 2 Common Buzzard: over Warden Hill briefly at 16:20, another by South Tyne, plus a Red Kite on top of Warden Hill at 16:58, coming low into presumed nest. No Honey-buzzard were seen at Greenshaw Plain though this is a most regular site. Hirundines were common with 33 Sand Martin, 17 Swallow, 5 House Martin, plus 2 Swift. Goosander featured well: one female with 5 young on her back and 1 nearby 1, another female 2 with 2 larger young, an adult drake. Other riverine birds included a Grey Wagtail, 2 Pied Wagtail, 11 Mallard, 3 Grey Heron, 4 Oystercatcher, plus target for day a Common Sandpiper 1, caught on a stone at the death! Total for the Warden square was 31 bird-types, including the first singing Whitethroat for the year.

The vital action was further to the S towards Hexham High Wood (Westwood) where there is a Honey-buzzard site. At 16:05 I picked up a male Honey-buzzard over High Wood moving N. At 16:06 the male was joined by the female and, over the South Tyne, they circled rather quickly around two more birds, which appeared to be flying W at moderate altitude just under the misty cloud. However, these 2 birds didn't just sail on, they circled with the Honey-buzzard for 2 minutes before slowly drifting off W; there was no real aggression by anyone but the Honey-buzzard did appear to have intercepted them. The extra 2 birds were strikingly different from each other: pale and dark. The pale bird had a wingspan similar to that of the Honey-buzzard but was very much lighter in weight and with narrower wings with just 4 primary tips protruding. The wing tips were raised above that of the inner wing, which was flat. The plumage at the long range appeared all white, no grey, except for a small black wedge on the wing tip, coming to a point on the middle of the outer wing. The head was small. I think it was a male Pallid Harrier, a species from the Russian steppe, which has been spreading W and is forecast to breed in the UK soon. I have seen them before in Ethiopia and in South Africa. Honey-buzzard and Pallid Harrier both overwinter in Africa but they only compete partially there with the harrier usually preferring open steppe-like countryside and the Honey-buzzard more wooded areas but in some scrubby areas they do meet so maybe there is a little history here (species-wise)! The dark bird was very similar in structure and size to the male Pallid Harrier and is identified on this basis and their association as a female Pallid Harrier. Here are the piccies of the Honey-buzzard pair alone from 16:06-16:08 1  2  3  4  5, the Honey-buzzard and the Pallid Harrier male together from 16:06-16:07 6  7  8  10  11 (8 shows the upperside of the harrier's left wing), the Honey-buzzard and the Pallid Harrier pair at 16:07 9, the female Pallid Harrier on its own drifting W from 16:07-16:08 12  13  14 (no plumage features discernible except possibly on 14 with hint of white rump and a reddish-brown hue to underside) and the Honey-buzzard male up on his own at 17:20 15  16  17 (10009). Without having both the male and female harriers in the same frame on 9 would have been apprehensive in claiming a pair with the different lighting on each picture. Have added sighting of the harriers to BirdTrack as a sensitive species in a remarkable encounter. At the end of the visit the male Honey-buzzard was back over Westwood again to the S. We have another Honey-buzzard site and maybe the Pallid Harrier pair are prospecting the County of Northumberland! Total for trip was 33 bird-types. So that was a superb tonic: another seems to be that the lockdown will end after Sunday or it will just disintegrate!! lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

Pleased that the shadow Sage has got under way. Its members said on Monday that the government needed to make clear whether its objective was to suppress or manage infections of Covid-19, saying the two required very different processes and it was unclear which the government is pursuing. Boris is very fond of treating the virus like a war, looking to defeat the virus absolutely, but this is unrealistic: the virus is likely to be part of our environment for a number of years and we've got to learn to live with it. Not very keen on the NHS app being marketed. It uses a centralised database and could in practice be used to spy on people, for instance sending you a message that you've been out too long. It's also not compatible with the Google/Apple app competitor so lacks interoperability if say you go to the continent in the future. The Google/Apple app only stores information on the phones so privacy is better. The NHS app has all the hallmarks of the abandoned NHS EPR (Electronic Patient Record) which cost billions, reinvented the wheel and was not interoperable with other systems. There are also worrying parallels with smart meter software; we do have very good software engineers in this country but they always seem to be sidelined in procurement processes with cheaper solutions that are not durable being adopted by the managers. BTW I do have a few shares in GOOG/AAPL!

May 3rd: dull, quite gloomy at times, heavy slow-moving showers, some sunshine early-on, 11C max, light N. So not a great day for soaring raptors! Decided to check the local site from 13:40-15:40 and again found standing on the tops of tall trees to be a popular pastime with a Red Kite just after the start of the walk at 14:10 1  2, a Common Buzzard at the end of the walk, and the male Honey-buzzard again from 15:20-15:30 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 (10008). The Honey-buzzard was mobbed heavily by 3 Crow who eventually knocked him off his perch but he was fairly resilient. Who's the king of the castle? Also had a male Sparrowhawk in display overhead 1  2 at 15:05 so that's 4 raptors of 4 types, quality not quantity. Total for session was 31 bird-types, including Dipper (1), Tree Sparrow (4), Chiffchaff (3). Cleared one of the 5 outstanding sheets for moths in 2019, that for 18/08/19 with leaf mines in garden at Ordley, so 4 left to do. Backlog is disappearing rapidly and keeping up with new records: would rather be in the pub though or at a concert!! Thinking of the gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

Very pleased that The Science is now to be tested more in the open:

Rival Sage committee to make case for use of facemasks and quicker end to lockdown. Chaired by Professor Sir David King, the group will stage a press conference to be broadcast on YouTube before the Government's briefing. A rival Sage committee will on Monday back the public use of facemasks in a live-streamed meeting designed to embarrass the Government for its alleged lack of transparency. Chaired by Professor Sir David King, the chief scientific advisor from 2000 to 2007, the group will stage a press conference to be broadcast on YouTube just before the daily Downing Street briefing, in which it will present the evidence for a quicker end to the lockdown. The committee has been established following criticism that the membership of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies [Sage], and the advice it gives to ministers, is broadly secret. The rival group will include experts from countries that are beginning to lift restrictions while keeping the virus at bay, as well as a former World Health Organisation director and a sitting advisor.”

May 2nd: mild, 12C max, light W breeze, some sunny intervals with strong sunshine but mostly cloudy. Great trip to Staward on the Allen, adding 2 displaying pairs to the year's total so up to 3 already. Staward and Ordley usually have the birds arriving at the end of April or in the 1st few days of May so it's as expected for these prime sites. Visit was from 12:10-14:45. On arrival at the farmland (not the National Trust property) besides the usual OTT anti-dog sign there was another sign: Stay at Home, Footpath Closed! Well the sign's illegal: there's no such action indicated in the Covid-19 emergency act; further the path only goes through fields so there's no risk of infecting a farmyard. So went through gate and only met 2 other people, a young couple, on entire walk: surprisingly quiet, they said! When finished walk there were 2 people lurking near the gate; I was thinking of photographing the sign but decided that might be provocative so just breezed past them; they looked shifty, said nothing, not seen them before, not the usual shepherd who I know well, maybe 'vigilantes'! The Honey-buzzard put on a brilliant display. From 12:28-12:40 3 Honey-buzzard were floating just under the cloud, moving just into the mist at times, comprising a male and 2 female some 1.5km to the E of Staward S so at long range. You cannot do a Honey-buzzard survey without picking them up and identifying them at long range. The pair mostly kept apart from the female who behaved more like a gooseberry! Display included follow-me, when one of the birds follows the other's manoeuvres, floating close together and mutual circling, nothing too energetic 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15 (10004). Should comment on the photography; same camera but developed a programme which on aperture priority (maximise depth of field at expense of shutter speed) and autofocus takes a burst of 3 shots on each press of the shutter, each shot slightly later in time; further the exposure varies through the 3 shots, from standard, through -1 underexposed to +1 overexposed. So it gives more chance of the birds being captured in a diagnostic position at an appropriate exposure. It means that the apparent darkness varies through the shots. I've made no attempt to adjust the photos further through software. Zoom goes up to x60 (optical) and x300 (digital) on this programme. The only drawback is that you have masses of photos to sift through: 311 today, 1.75 GB. After the display the pair drifted off N so presume they were from Staward N and the female came back a little towards Staward S so presume she was from there. Walked down to the Staward N site, wondering where they might nest after last year's forestry operations nearly destroyed their nest. 10/10 for felling operator who realised the tree had an active nest in it so late in the season; the nest in the lone surviving, highly exposed tree, was successful against the odds! The birds' movements did indicate the new position; never been in that area before; might need ropes! Here's the male flying just above the trees at 13:16 and 13:50 16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31 (10005) and the female likewise at 14:04 32  33 (10006); relative size and darkness is consistent with the pair seen high in the sky earlier; the female is significantly heavier than the male as in most birds of prey (sexual dimorphism); but such dimorphism is relatively weak in Honey-buzzard compared to say Goshawk. Finally starting walk-out picked up the missing male Honey-buzzard at Staward S from 14:08-14:10 34 (10007). Maybe he had a headache earlier or he has just arrived! Other raptors were 7 Common Buzzard (3 Staward S, 4 Staward N), 1 Sparrowhawk (female at low-altitude, hunting at 13:00 at Staward S), 1 Red Kite (soaring out of wood at Plankey Mill at 13:40, so kites moving now into Allen). Total for trip was 13 raptors of 4 types. 3 Raven were prominent in the gorge 1  2, clearly nesting there. Also had, in total of 27 bird-types, a singing Pied Flycatcher, 3 singing Willow Warbler, 9 House Martin, 4 Meadow Pipit, 7 Curlew, 3 Lapwing, 1 Swift. 2 butterflies were seen: a Green Hairstreak (new site at Staward N, anyway for me) and a Small Tortoiseshell. A Wheatear was on a wall at Stublick.

Did do quite a lot of shopping: Peggs for FT, HC, Twix, crisps, rw; W for medium shop £42 including some discounted steak and milk, which read about in FT. So had steak, chips and peas for supper, very tasty, with rw! More steak in the freezer. FT was very gloomy about prospects; think everyone agrees in short term, debate is over pace of recovery, remembering that parts of Asia are already in much better shape. The US with its inadequate health service for the poor and the UK with its inadequate care system for the elderly look now as if they'll be the worst affected in the world. Both countries also have very high rates of obesity, which is evidently a key indicator for survival prospects. Hexham is quite a lot busier and so are the roads. 2moro will stay local but there's always plenty of interest up in the sky!! lok2t beauties: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

From BirdGuides: 02/05 11:14 Hampshire : European Honey Buzzard, Casbrook Common pale phase flew west (10:50) [later deleted by observer apparently]

May 1st: warmer than expected at 12C max, particularly in bright sunshine around lunchtime; heavy showers in late afternoon, light W breeze. And then there were two!! From 12:57-13:00 a pair of Honey-buzzard were up over the Devil's Water, the male (yesterday's bird) was way above the female who was accompanied by a Common Buzzard 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 (10002); the male went considerably higher with the female some way behind but still climbing as well and the Common Buzzard struggling to keep up; I eventually lost sight of both Honey-buzzard, first the male and then the female. At 14:10 the male decided to put on the butterfly display, doing some wild diving and rearing high up to the W of the site; at the top of each climb the male clapped his wings behind his back. This didn't last long but certainly impressive 1  2  3 (10003). Total for birds was 21 types. So that's marvellous: no time wasted!! Finalised my butterfly records for 2019 and sent them to the Recorder. RN thought the Green Hairstreak and Purple Hairstreak records were very interesting – new sites in Dipton Wood N and Oakpool respectively. Changed the home page for Honey-buzzard so that 2018 results are covered by a link, 2019 is moved over a column to left and an almost blank 2020 comes in on the extreme right. Need to initialise the spreadsheet, that is the basis for my data, for 2020 records. Had good chat with N/D as virtual meeting at the W pub, again 75 minutes! So Honey-buzzard scene is very exciting: after 2 days at home will be away 2moro checking another site and drifting into Hexham! It's the best I can do in the circumstances: lok2t gorgeous ones: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!

Funds had a reasonable week, rising strongly at the start and losing a little in last 2 days of market attrition but still +13k overall, mainly on rises in junk oil bonds and tech stocks. On year now -34k (-3.1%) compared to falls of 23.6% in ftse 100 and 26.4% in ftse 250. Oil is interesting: it's been the worst sector affected by Covid to date because of the lockdowns on movement and cessation of air traffic and the automated oil pumping, meaning Covid doesn't affect the supply; but forced cutbacks in production are now very large and the lockdowns across the world are being relaxed gradually. Suspect more people will use their cars than take public transport for a while so that could increase fuel usage. So oil could be FIFO in the crisis!! That's what you want as you can then move on into recovering sectors, later in the cycle such as housebuilding and pubs. Air travel will not recover quickly at all but it's not a big user of fuel, compared to cars. Have concentrated on North Sea oil companies, which are very competitive, can easily transport their oil by sea and are not big enough to have to participate in cuts at the world level. Have 100k in tech now, including investments this week in some UK digital game companies; suspect Covid will give a further long-term boost to e-commerce. Advising N on his flat in NCL which he wants to keep until the Covid crisis is over but no longer. The agency today sent him an email in response to his email of a week ago ordering him out by 11/5 when AST finishes. I reckon they need to issue a Form 6A with minimum 3-month's notice from date of issue under Covid-19 regulations so suggested he responds, pointing this out and requesting some (sensible) negotiation!

April 30th: we have a new force in the land!! Continuing cool at 10C but wind lighter and a few sunny intervals, showers. Stayed local today, don't want to get a reputation as roving too far! Had a male Sparrowhawk floating over garden, looking in territory at lunchtime at 12:40 and a Common Buzzard soaring twice at Dukesfield at 12:35 and 16:45. Then the big moment: the male Honey-buzzard returned to site in Devil's Water, sitting on a tree at 16:49 where stayed until 17:00 before dropping off the perch 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 (10001). He's the same bird as occupied the site last year and looked as if he'd just arrived, perusing the site from the E, unusually inactive, maybe needing a rest after all that flying from equatorial Africa. A Crow was on top of a tree immediately, watching every movement of the Honey-buzzard 11. This male Honey-buzzard has a Kestrel-coloured plumage with uniform underside having no pale breast band, a grey head, sparsely-barred tail extending beyond primaries with protruding tip, short legs, small head. The neck is thick, suggesting his crop is full with a recent meal. Indeed he looks in fine fettle! It's great to have the season underway!! Earlier had spent an hour from 15:45-16:45 overlooking last year's actual site and had concluded it was unoccupied before arriving home, doing a final check and seeing the male c1lkm from last year's site to the E in the tree. Near last year's site had a Jay calling, obviously warming up for the aggravation ahead! At dusk the Crow were calling angrily in last year's site so the male was presumably going to roost there! I next need, on the home page, to archive the 2018 year, now complete with Baden-Baden records, and introduce the almost blank 2020 year, a pleasant task!! Also today did final check of data sheets for 2018 looking for missed records and found a batch for 18/11 from Burnham Beeches, Bucks, of bird records, just after I'd returned from Colorado – bit jet-lagged maybe. Added these. Transferred all butterfly records for 2019 from my Northumberland database held under MapMate into a spreadsheet for submission tomorrow to Recorder. Moth records for 2019 will be complete after I've processed 5 outstanding data sheets, with micros and leaf mines records, which need to be handled with care! But I'm way ahead of last year, timing-wise! Here's migration map across Europe for Honey-buzzard from 23/4-29/4, showing hotspots as Straits of Messina (both sides), Israel and Gibraltar [Eurobirdportal]. Had long chat with little sis from Devon; the SW has been the least affected of any region by the virus, even Bristol is largely unaffected. Might be low pollution since rural areas in general seem to be less affected but Bristol has illegal pollution levels. Have virtual session in the W 2moro at 5; lok2t beauties: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

April 29th: cold, 8C max, cloudy all day, moderate SE breeze, spell of rain late afternoon. Went to Grindon Lough, alongside Stanegate, near Roman Wall, an upland lough. It was very bracing today so out in full winter battledress. List was impressive – 30 bird types – Caspian Gull (1), Yellow-legged Gull (1), Pheasant (2), Canada Goose (24), Greylag Goose (5), Mute Swan (1), Shelduck (2), Mallard (7), Teal (7), Wigeon (10), Tufted Duck (12), Little Grebe (3), Oystercatcher (2), Lapwing (3), Golden Plover (25), Curlew (3), Dunlin (5), Redshank (6), Greenshank (2), Black-headed Gull (14), Great Black-backed Gull (1), Lesser Black-backed Gull (3), Rook (2), Carrion Crow (7), Sand Martin (8), Swallow (10), Willow Warbler (1), Blackbird (2), Song Thrush (2), Meadow Pipit (3). Total 30 types. A pair of aggressive Canada Goose were escorting 2 chicks 1. The gulls were the most interesting with a Caspian Gull 1s 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11 : typical 1s bird structurally with long, fine bill, long pinky legs with yellow tinge; head very white, pale underwing, grey upper back (this species seen well in Bulgaria); and a Yellow-legged Gull 3s 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 : similar size to 3 LBBG with which it was associating (2 adult, 1 2s); darkish mantle but much paler than the LBBG; pinky-yellow legs, large mirror on P10, solid black area on wing-tip with band on P5; quite possibly an Atlantic bird rather than Mediterranean (this species seen well on many Atlantic holidays). The GBBG was a 2s, the LBBG 2 adult and a 2s, the Black-headed Gull were all adult. Grindon's a great place for gulls, must go there more!

Have completed butterfly record compilation for 2019; need to check all entered by running through the data sheets and then will send to Recorder. For moth records for 2019 have just 5 data sheets left to finish. Shows what can be done without a social life but feeling a bit dull! Did have chat with B (from G) on 'phone in morning; he and his wife cannot go out at all so are really suffering! Decided to do a little shopping in Hexham on way back getting razor blades in Boots where only a few allowed in at any one time and an assistant who was helpful but was really making sure you didn't dally too long to keep the pace up! Also made Peggs for FT, 2 Twix and more SB rw!! Hexham looks like a film set for a disaster movie! Re-insured car from mid-May for another year with Budget again at £250, 9 years NCD with protection, fully comprehensive. Saga were offering £226 but without NCD protection so too little in it to be worth the trouble! Sure someone will be scornful!! The crate of course is not really worth anything but if get a new car would like to switch over a fully comp policy. So hope others are having a better social life than me: not difficult: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

Another Honey-buzzard from Yorkshire [BirdGuides] so keeping an eye open but all peaceful in their local nest-site this evening. Total 5+ migrants for April.

29/04 19:01 North Yorkshire : European Honey Buzzard, Ulshaw one reported flying south [R]

April 28th: distinctly cool today but staying dry, mostly cloudy, almost calm, 10C max, lit powerful coal fire (8kw/h) and turned back on one storage heater! Thrown out by S, went for walk in Kellas N a little to E of Slaley Hall, from 11:05-13:05. Star bird was a male Goshawk, circling at moderate altitude moving W at 11:48; this is presumably the bird seen at Slaley Hall earlier this season. The other raptor was Common Buzzard with 3 separate birds hanging high over the young wooded areas, clearly hunting. Had a Green Woodpecker alarm calling, 1st for year, a Lesser Redpoll, 13 Willow Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff with single Skylark and Curlew singing. Total for bird types was 20, with 1 Roe Deer on the mammal side. Had long 'phone call with P while in the forest, which was good for morale! Wonder when G and C are re-opening!! xxxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

This record on BirdGuides today looks very promising, coming my way:

28/04 16:00 West Yorkshire : European Honey Buzzard, Leeds one flew north-east over Leeds Ring Road by Weetwood (15:00)

Funds +11k on first 2 days of week, reducing loss on year to 36k (3.2%) and best level since 6/3. General markets recovering well; think oil market is bottoming out at a desperately low level; good pickings on a 6-month view here IMHO. Have cash of 63k which feeding slowly into more speculative issues as we appear to be risk-on!

April 27th: cooler today 12C max, sunny intervals, big dark clouds at time but stayed dry, light W breeze. Some sort of record for Red Kite today with 4 birds visible from my house at roughly the same time from 14:27-14:41 at 3 local sites: 2 displaying over Blackhall Mill and singles soaring at Dipton Wood S and Slaley Forest Dukesfield. Had one more Honey-buzzard report in UK: Dorset/Hampshire border on coast from map, April 23-29, count 1-5, noted first on portal on 26/4 [Eurobirdportal]. Over 1000 have been recorded in the same period (counts for April 23-27) at the Straits of Messina (Italy) and 100-1000 in Israel and at Gibraltar. So the Honey-buzzard are pouring N out of Africa into Europe and western Asia at the 3 main entry points; the longest sea crossing is from Tunisia to Sicily. See map here. Did join the R Zoom meeting, 27/40 present, quite a credit. We had a talk about the effects of coronavirus on refugee camps, particularly in Somalia and Syria. Had lengthy 'phone chat with big sis and a shorter one with P. Made W4medshop, cost £46, much better as food fresher. Delighted to get some more Bach: marvellous!!! Signed up for 3 more years as pp at RNS at 500 a quarter, sponsoring MG as viola section leader. Said would add to appeal donations on a monthly basis. Not sure if some lasses realise it but slightly wild look is a great turn-on: morning after!! Cleaner S is coming tomorrow so another walk in the morning. Keep fit: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

April 26th: cooler, 14C max, settled, moderate W breeze. Went for moderately long walk at Prospect Hill from 12:20-14:05. Quite bracing there as exposed with good views over Tyne Valley and March Burn. Right by a Honey-buzzard site, indeed 2 in view, but none seen: getting a little on tenterhooks! Did have some good action on wooded ridge to S: at High Plains with Common Buzzard up to E (2 birds, 13:30) and W of tetrad (1 bird, 13:04); 1 bird chasing off a Red Kite on E side, at 13:31; 1 bird on W side up at 13:04 in display. Red Kite: at High Plains: 1 bird chased by a Common Buzzard on E side at 13:31; a pair of Red Kite up on E side in display at 13:15. Also in tetrad being visited: Red Kite single seen near end just on S side of ridge near mast at 13:42, chased by a Crow. So that's Common Buzzard 3, Red Kite 3; both the sites for Red Kite are new for season but were occupied last year. Total for Prospect Hill tetrad was 22 bird types including Skylark (3), Lesser Redpoll (1), Chiffchaff (2), Cormorant (1 SW), LBBG (3 adult), Lapwing (1). Did some more gardening when got back, cutting off more dead wood from that Flowering Currant, which is not well but there are strong shoots to its side so I'm making space for them. We have a Rotary meeting by Zoom tomorrow, which will join. Also need to return a couple of 'phone calls! When will it all end: the sooner the better: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

The cv debacle seems to be taking a decisive turn with more countries and states opening up, sometimes against the advice of health 'experts' with the economy being given greater prominence. The FT was scathing in its weekend edition on the long-term underfunding of UK care homes “Inside UK care homes: why the system is failing its coronavirus test. Frail residents in overwhelmed sector emerge as the hidden victims of the Covid-19 crisis”. The staff are paid so poorly that they have to carry on working even if they believe they've caught the virus. The Conservatives have completely failed the sector in their 10 years of austerity, establishing no unification with the hospitals in the NHS and no proper career structure and training. Sweden remains the hate-child of every country which has employed total lockdown. The more relaxed policy there is still not guaranteed to be the way forward but social life and the economy have benefited so far. See: “Stockholm will reach 'herd immunity' within weeks: Claim comes amid bitter debate over success of Sweden's relaxed approach” Interesting test findings came from New York State “New York Finds Virus Marker in 13.9%, Suggesting Wide Spread: The weighted results showed more than 1-in-5 New Yorkers testing positive, as well as 16.7% of those in Long Island and 11.7% of those in Westchester and Rockland counties. The estimates showed 3.6% testing positive in the rest of the state.” So herd immunity may be more easily achievable than some experts reckon. A radical viewpoint came from Israel: “Coronavirus dies out within 70 days no matter how we tackle it, claims professor. Prof Isaac Ben-Israel claims that his analysis shows that the virus is self-limiting and peaks at 40 days before entering a rapid decline” Sounds far-fetched but some diseases do behave in this way, for instance cholera where a virus attacks the bacteria as the outbreak develops, eventually controlling the cholera. Finally in the Oliver Cromwell comparison: forgot this extract from the cited text “Despite all these rules, Cromwell himself was not strict. He enjoyed music, hunting and playing bowls. He even allowed full-scale entertainment at his daughter’s wedding.” The word hypocrite comes to mind! So lots of ideas. There is no such thing as the science; put 10 scientists in a room and in difficult areas like this you get 3-4 schools of thought. That's better than economics where you'd have 10 schools of thought! Above all though is the UK's lack of preparation for a pandemic: “Public Health England's plan for coronavirus 'totally negligent', says leading specialist”. The article quotes on the Cygnus exercise: “ministers were informed three years ago that Britain would be quickly overwhelmed by a pandemic amid a shortage of critical care beds, morgue capacity and personal protective equipment (PPE). Codenamed Exercise Cygnus, the three-day dry run for a pandemic carried out in October 2016 tested how NHS hospitals and other services would cope in the event of a major flu outbreak with a similar mortality rate to Covid-19. Dr Ashton said the ongoing failure to prepare was "totally negligent".”

April 25th: fine day, light W breeze, max 18C, cloudier late afternoon, continuing very dry. Had a good birdwatch at lunchtime 13:00-14:00 from my garden seat in the middle of my field. A single Red Kite glided into Blackhall Mill at 13:39; at 13:45 a pair were up floating around effortlessly; this site is 1km from my house, a new site for Red Kite and the closest yet! Summary for Red Kite (last 2 statements):

Since 15/4, 18 Red Kite at 11 sites in Hexhamshire, Derwent and Tyne Valley, where found regularly around Bywell with its mixed woodland and farmland (pictured). The map shows all records from 1/3-25/4 in study area. 24 tetrads occupied in SW Northumberland: more to do!

Since 5/4, 9 Red Kite at 7 sites in Hexhamshire. Moorland edge is popular as in piccie. Also shown is map for all records from 1/3-15/4 in study area. 15 tetrads occupied in SW Northumberland, plenty more to find!

A single Lesser Whitethroat 1  2  3 was on top of tall far hedge from 13:00-13:45, rattling call given once, may be a migrant but habitat is good. Also had a pair of Garden Warbler and a dark-bellied Brent Goose flying N at 13:10 at moderate height. 2 Tawny Owl were calling loudly at 22:00. Stayed at home today except for brief trip to Peggs for FT, HC, Twix and rw. No Honey-buzzard locally or in the UK generally! But looking at Eurobirdportal 1 from 16-22 April this year shows that Honey-buzzard are well into France and Belgium and Hobby into England up to Humberside. Anyone can look at the portal at Newcastle Quayside looked busy on the Daily Mail's web pages: time for a visit soon in the daytime; could drive in: would be stimulating: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Another Honey-buzzard on its way [BirdGuides]:

16:01 25/04 European Honey Buzzard Jersey Jersey 10:55 one flew over Beaumont

April 24th: perfect spring day today with sunshine from dawn to dusk, 16C max, light E breeze; have to say when look out of bedroom window at dawn for 30 seconds that the car has had a frost on it for the last few days so almost certainly a ground frost; then back to sweet dreams! Haven't had any more vivid nasty dreams since commented on them; decided to go to bed at 2 as usual and the old routine seems to work better (as said in the article!). Decided to do some serious birdwatching at Stocksfield Mount from 10:55-13:10, where fine views across the Tyne Valley to Bywell and had best birdwatching of the year. Had 5 Swift moving through NW (1st of year), 7 House Martin N (plus 1 at rest), 7 Swallow feeding, 2 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff. But it was the raptors that starred. Top of the list was a pair of Goshawk up at 11:57, circling over the Tyne high-up, with the male up again on his own at 12:04, presumed from Short Wood area. Never seen so many Sparrowhawk in Northumberland: a female at Shilford, a female at Whittle Dene, a male over Cottagebank, a male over Short Wood, a female and male over Guessburn, that's 6 birds (3 female, 3 male) at 5 sites, all adults in display. A male Kestrel was up over Merryshields. Red Kite totalled 5 birds at 4 sites, all on the ridge to the N of the main Tyne Valley: 1 soaring at Mowden Hall, 1 flying low-down at Short Wood, 2 soaring together to NE of Short Wood at Whittle Dene, 1 soaring to E of Whittle Burn at Horsley W. Common Buzzard totalled 10 birds at 6 sites: 1 up at Shilford, 1 up at Peepy, 1 up at Cottagebank, 2 up at E end of Short Wood, 2 up at Bywell Castle, 2 soaring, plus single bird, at Whittle Dene. So that's 24 raptors in the area of 5 types: 10 Common Buzzard, 6 Sparrowhawk, 5 Red Kite, 2 Goshawk, 1 Kestrel. The lighter breeze enabled thermals to form, encouraging the birds to soar. There were 4 Honey-buzzard sites in view and no birds back yet, same applies at the home site at Ordley. The car park at Stocksfield Station had just 2 cars in it, including mine; my drive was 15km! There were far less walkers than usual presumably because the main car park for the local woods has been cordoned off. Back home did a little gardening and then had 75 min chat with Welly mates on Skype; all worked well and good to have a proper discussion. So feeling more upbeat in general after the good day!! Something missing though: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Funds have required a lot of attention this week as wonder whether the partial rebound in markets is justified as Covid drags on. So have been selling some stocks, vulnerable to a further downturn, raising 67k in cash to increase flexibility. If there is a further leg-down you need cash to be able to capitalise. Have retained all tech stocks, indeed adding AMZN, and bought a few more health ones. Decided to take the opportunity to ditch housebuilding stocks after they rose 10% on the resumption of activity; worried about Brexit transition cliff-edge at end of year (yes, again!) and ability of homebuyers to be able to go ahead with purchases. Overall result in a slightly negative week for markets was a drop of 1k, making loss on year 47k (-4.2%) compared to -23.7% ftse 100 and -28.5% ftse 250.

April 23rd: not quite such bright sunshine today but a little warmer at 15C with lighter E wind. Still no Honey-buzzard back but would be early, I've got 28/4 as a more likely date. Did have 1st Garden Warbler singing from far hedge in field today; lovely, associate the long Sylvia-type Garden Warbler song with Honey-buzzard as they both like small unimproved fields with high hedges: they co-occur! Did go into Hexham town today for a look around and a bit of shopping at Peggs. It looks bad with so many shops shut already; how many will reopen is a serious question. Planning to go further afield tomorrow morning to Stocksfield to check on the local raptors! Then have Skype session with my mates from Stocksfield later. Meanwhile plenty of xxx from the 'Shire: thinking of you: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

April 22nd: another fine day, same as yesterday, but 1C warmer so 14C max. Again not any thermals but an incredible blue sky. Took it easy, no trips out today. Kept a close eye on the local Honey-buzzard site but no tension in the crows yet. Funds by end of today were -2k on week; don't hold any oil futures such as USO; the dramatic negative prices for WTI grade (West Texas Intermediate) resulted from holders of what they thought was virtual oil (futures) finding no buyers as the time came to convert to physical oil on 21/4 as storage was full; the ETF USO has lost 80% of its value in 2 months. There's been some very serious money lost in the oil crash, tens of billions of $. Can the losses be absorbed without dislocation? Had great chat with son and daughter on fb video call: lovely to see and speak to them, plus a few cheeky interruptions from granddaughters! lok2t fancied one: xxxxxx XXX!!!!!!

One thing surprisingly not commented on more is the resemblance of life under the lockdown to life under the Puritans c1650. These excerpts come from History Learning Site: Life in England under Oliver Cromwell Sections in bold have relevance for today; those in bold are very relevant for the history of Ireland and for me! The 'Climate Emergency' alarmists are also puritans: no wonder I don't like them!

Cromwell was a Puritan. He was a highly religious man who believed that everybody should lead their lives according to what was written in the Bible. The word “Puritan” means that followers had a pure soul and lived a good life. Cromwell believed that everybody else in England should follow his example.

One of the main beliefs of the Puritans was that if you worked hard, you would get to Heaven. Pointless enjoyment was frowned upon. Cromwell shut many inns and the theatres were all closed down. Most sports were banned. Boys caught playing football on a Sunday could be whipped as a punishment. Swearing was punished by a fine, though those who kept swearing could be sent to prison.

Sunday became a very special day under the Puritans. Most forms of work were banned. Women caught doing unnecessary work on the Holy Day could be put in the stocks. Simply going for a Sunday walk (unless it was to church) could lead to a hefty fine.

Cromwell believed that women and girls should dress in a proper manner. Make-up was banned. Puritan leaders and soldiers would roam the streets of towns and scrub off any make-up found on unsuspecting women. Too colourful dresses were banned. A Puritan lady wore a long black dress that covered her almost from neck to toes. She wore a white apron and her hair was bunched up behind a white head-dress. Puritan men wore black clothes and short hair.

Cromwell banned Christmas as people would have known it then. By the C17th, Christmas had become a holiday of celebration and enjoyment – especially after the problems caused by the civil war. Cromwell wanted it returned to a religious celebration where people thought about the birth of Jesus rather than ate and drank too much. In London, soldiers were ordered to go round the streets and take, by force if necessary, food being cooked for a Christmas celebration. The smell of a goose being cooked could bring trouble. Traditional Christmas decorations like holly were banned.

Despite being a highly religious man, Cromwell had a hatred for the Irish Catholics. He believed that they were all potential traitors willing to help any Catholic nation that wanted to attack England (he clearly did not know too much about the 1588 Spanish Armada).

During his time as head of government, he made it his task to ‘tame’ the Irish. He sent an army there and despite promising to treat well those who surrendered to him, he slaughtered the people of Wexford and Drogheda who did surrender to his forces. He used terror to ‘tame’ the Irish. He ordered that all Irish children should be sent to the West Indies to work as slave labourers in the sugar plantations. He knew many would die out there – but dead children could not grow into adults and have more children. Cromwell left a dark stain on the history of Ireland.

By the end of his life, both Cromwell and the 11 major-generals who helped to run the country, had become hated people. The population was tired of having strict rules forced onto them. Cromwell died in September 1658. His coffin was escorted by over 30,000 soldiers as it was taken to Westminster Abbey where he was buried. Why so many soldiers? Were they there as a mark of respect for the man who had formed the elite New Model Army? Or was there concern that the people of London, who had grown to hate Cromwell, would try to get to the body and damage it in some way?

Can elaborate on the effect of Cromwell on the Irish Catholics. The Anglo-Norman Catholics, who had gone native, were the main landowners in Ireland within the Pale, from 1169 when Strongbow invaded the country; beyond the Pale were the marauding Irish tribes led by wild chieftains! The Rossiters were one of these landowners, holding significant estates in Wexford, based on Rathmacknee. After the massacre at Wexford, Cromwell dispossessed the Catholics of their lands, transferring them to English protestant mates. There was some restoration under Charles II but then along came William of Orange, who was even worse than Cromwell (Battle of the Boyne for instance, another vindictive massacre of Catholics, still celebrated today by the Ulster Orangemen), leading to the final confiscation of the Irish Catholics' lands after the Treaty of Limerick 1691 was not ratified by the Irish protestant parliament. My lot a Thomas Rossiter, grandson of John & Margaret (née Slevoy) Rossiter, last definite holders of the Rathmacknee lands as Catholics, appear to have settled in Tiverton, Devon, after the Treaty but had obviously secreted some assets as they soon became quite wealthy. They were Church of England now, no more religious affairs! But there was an early brush with the Church Court in Exeter: Thomas Rossiter and his wife Mary were found guilty of premarital fornication in 1713! Thomas was born in Wexford c1685 and probably had a good turn in Irish phrasing to describe these charges!

April 21st: weather same as yesterday but 1C warmer for max. Cleaner S came to spruce me up and home is a lot smarter! We didn't meet purposefully; I went on enjoyable long walk from 11:00-13:50 by the Tyne on Tyne Green in Hexham, meeting quite a lot of people I know for brief chats: good for the soul! The wind was a little too strong for raptors as it stopped thermals forming on which they soar so just had a Common Buzzard up over Hermitage N and a female Sparrowhawk hunting over the Tyne. Had 2 Red Kite sites in view but no action: either they've gone down on eggs when go quiet or were keeping low; not many birds were up in the air today. Common Buzzard are now seen in ones so they're onto eggs; Red Kite are still seen in pairs so nesting a little later, at least the migrant birds. Hirundines included Swallow (7), Sand Martin (5, 1st for year). Surprise star was Treecreeper of which had 3 1  2  3, 1st seen this year amazingly. Migrants comprised 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap and 5 LBBG adult to E. A pair of Goosander just downstream from the bridge showed well 1  2. More to follow … Made W4bigshop at 19:00, spending £60 this time; only planning for it to last 4 days as want a bit more spontaneity as to what I eat/drink! My cousin Steve posted on fb today to say that “Auntie Ann [92, had Covid-19] is back at the Care Home and doing very well, defying all the odds!”. Great news! Having a video chat session with son and daughter tomorrow early evening on fb; granddaughter S starts at Holy Cross prep school, Kingston, tomorrow in their online school; wonder if she'll be taught the catechism on day 1! So just about surviving and gradually breaking out: thinking of the gorgeous one: xxxxxxxxx!!!!!!

April 20th: fine, not a cloud in the sky, moderate cool E breeze, max 12C. Did some more gardening: clearing more dog rose around inner pond, snipping encroaching scrub on field, knocking off sides to old pool table and moving them to far hedge, cutting down some dead flowering currant branches, mowing grass around shed. So garden is looking better than for a long time. It's lovely to have a view of the pond from the N side of the house. The local Common Buzzard was up again at 13:40 looking quite truculent; they are on eggs now as only one bird up at a time and are nesting close to where the Honey-buzzard always nest: so expect some aggravation! Made Peggs again to overcome cabin fever, buying Times, 2 Twix, another Secretary Bird. 2moro cleaner S is coming in morning when I'll be out for walk; going to give her £50 (usually 30) as there's more to do! W4bigshop follows in evening, gone a whole week since last one. Gave Sage £100 for their cv appeal; worked out I'm giving them over the next month £290 for unused tickets, £20 for monthly donation, this £100 and £500 for principal flautist sponsorship so that's £910. Played the birds several times: very appealing: let's have some more!! Not convinced by government handling of cv: thought yesterday when Gavin Williamson was on the briefing slot, how do we have someone like him as Education Secretary when we have a population of over 50m adults; of course being a 100% Brexiteer is qualification no.1 for the current cabinet and what an ineffective bunch they are: no science and no engineering: all PPE (not protective gear: Politics, Philosophy, Economics) or Classics, worst government ever, totally out of their depth!! Anyway let's hope love finds a way: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

April 19th: another fine day, moderate ESE breeze, max 13C, dry. Today went further afield for a longish walk from 12:10-14:30, going to Baybridge on the Beldon Burn, a little upstream from Blanchland. It's actually only 10km from my house but the drive is significantly longer. Added 4 bird species to the year list: House Martin (1), Grey Wagtail piccie (2), Kingfisher (1), Willow Warbler (2). Also had two more sightings of Swallow (total 3) and single Blackcap and Chiffchaff were singing. Raptors recorded were 3 Red Kite (at 2 sites, both new for year), 2 Kestrel (at 2 sites), 1 Common Buzzard. Much more to follow … Parked near the Baybridge picnic site, which was closed, but not too near; 2 families enjoying a picnic there had left with police out in force in the area; I parked near someone's house to make it look as if I was visiting them but anyway I was out for a decent walk (8km)! Back at Ordley at 15:00 had a Common Buzzard in an angry exchange with a Crow: an endless war soon to be joined by the Honey-buzzard. Varied TV fare in the evening: Jurassic World (fantastic film about dinosaur development on an island off Costa Rica, going wrong again!), Midsummer Night's Dream (hugely entertaining adaption of Shakespeare's play in a digital setting with natural woodland!), Saker Falcon conservation (Siberian Steppe, RT, valiant efforts by ornithologists to boost Saker numbers in the wild by placing young bred in laboratories in nests in the wild). Loved some other birds – very impressive: keep it up!! Wait will be worth it: xxxxxxxxxx!!!!! As a sign of misleading statistics people were asked whether they would go to a pub if they opened again. 16% said yes and 84% said no but many people never go to pubs anyway; if say 40% of people go to pubs at all regularly then that means almost ½ (including me!) will be back asap!! Just had a strange animal growling outside; might be a Velociraptor but more likely a Badger! See a Wolf has been seen in northern France for first time in a century: a wolf has reportedly been seen and photographed in Normandy, near France’s Channel coast, for the first time in a century.

April 18th: very fine spring day at 11C max, sunny nearly all the time, light E breeze, quite a Scandinavian feel with such clear air. Went out at 11:35 to scan the local area and had 2 Red Kite up over Linnels in display, a Common Buzzard up over Peth Foot and again a Goshawk male flying powerfully downstream and looking the part but this time saw it lower down against the trees and it is a 1s (first-summer, one-year old) bird so may not be breeding, particularly as no female has turned up yet! Female raptors tend to prefer older males as they're better at provisioning, vital for bringing food for the small young which the (larger) female has to guard; if the female is forced to leave them to get food at this stage the young are vulnerable to attack and to becoming chilled! Also had from garden a Grey Heron, a Curlew singing, a Chiffchaff singing and a Yellowhammer female in the garden again. The only butterfly was a Small Tortoiseshell. SW stopped for a chat when I was scanning the area and he said JC has 4 birds (2 pairs) of Red Kite in the Dukeshouse Wood area (in the 'Shire) so will add those to the total. The sites occupied total for Red Kite is now 19 and major areas outside Hexhamshire remain to be searched. There's a population explosion this year! Did a lot of work in garden: removed the 2 arms on satellite dish to make it easier to mow the grass around it, mowed front grass and another portion of grass at the back, cut down ½ of dog-rose around inner pond and mowed cleared area to improve the light for the pond plants, smashed sides off old pool table removed to field to rot down and carted them off to the far hedge for final rotting. Got out a little more, going to newsagents Peggs News in Priestpopple to get FT, HC, 2 Twix, a bottle of red Merlot wine from South Africa called Secretary Bird (named after an African raptor, seen on last visit!). Only 1 person allowed in at a time; pleased to see the screen surrounding the lass working there; cash is not wanted anywhere, paying with contactless card is much preferred. Hexham was busier, think people are coming out a bit more. We'll know when the Honey-buzzard are back: the Crow stand on the very tops of the trees, complaining loudly! Same happens when the young Honey-buzzard first fledge. So hopes rising a little that things are easing: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

April 17th: and we're off (nationally!), courtesy of BirdGuides:

17/04 10:32 Kent : European Honey Buzzard, Monks' Wall NR (permit only) one flew north; no public access to the reserve at present (09:45)

Cool today at 9C max on moderate E breeze; sun in afternoon made it feel pleasanter. Had a very good walk on Eastwood Common, near Healey, from 13:20-15:05. Raptors were good with a local pair of Red Kite: on N side of heath had 1 Red Kite up at 13:50, rising a little then going NW through tops of trees; from same place at 13:55 a second bird took off and flew SE, being briefly joined by a Common Buzzard. Also had from 13:59-14:01 a pair of Red Kite soaring very high over Shilford. While studying the latter pair, picked up an Osprey floating around over W side of Shilford near River Tyne at 14:03; this bird has also been reported on BirdGuides by someone else: “17/04 15:25 [time of submission] Northumberland : Western Osprey, Riding Mill, one drifting east along River Tyne”. Common Buzzard entry read: at 13:55 one dark bird briefly joined the Red Kite on its exit; from 14:12-14:16 a second bird came out of the S side of the heath, soared high over area before drifting off N. Another Common Buzzard was up over Dipton Wood E at 14:26. Besides the Osprey another surprise was an adult female Merlin, which flew fast at 13:40 across the heath, going into trees on NW side of heath; normally they breed at higher altitude so most likely a bird in process of moving to the higher ground. In total of 20 bird-types also had Linnet (15), Yellowhammer (1), Meadow Pipit (1) but summer visitors yet to arrive mainly. Raptors comprised 9 birds of 4 types: Red Kite 4, Common Buzzard 3, Osprey 1, Merlin 1. My type of trip now appears to fall within the latest guidance, which emerged last week; this tells officers that people can drive to the countryside for walks, when far more time is spent walking than driving, and can also stop to rest and eat lunch while on a long walk. It also made clear that it is 'lawful' to drive somewhere to exercise. So that's gratifying! I normally drive 10 minutes each way for at least 1.5 hours exercise and rarely meet anyone at all.

Hope you like the catch-up to 2020! Will now be watching carefully my local Honey-buzzard site for an early arrival. They don't work their way slowly up the country: they make 250km a day in favourable weather as they near their breeding grounds, so under 2 days travel from the south coast. Weather is favourable now with great visibility and no strong winds to reduce thermals, though think it's cloudier in the S tomorrow and clearer in the N. Had Friday nite chat with N/D again on Skype (75 min); it's good to keep up our tradition from the W. Markets were shaky this week until today when clawed back some of the losses. Own funds were -5k, making loss on year to date 46k (-4.2%) compared to losses on ftse 100 of 23.3% and on ftse 250 of 27.7%. Volatility is declining, normally a good sign. Now have 77k in technology, including US leaders -- AAPL, GOOG, MSFT, TSLA, APTV; UK leaders – SGE, AVV; and investment trusts – PCT, POLR. Also started picking up a few health stocks. Oil is now 'said' to be cheaper than water in the US: absolute disaster for the shale (fracking) industry in the Permian, Texas. Russia and KSA are also suffering very badly, even after their agreed production cut. As they say: the cure for low prices is low prices (by high-cost producers going bust so production is cut!). Hope the gorgeous one is keeping fit: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

Recent relevant references: (more reading here)

Shaw, KD, McInerny, CJ, Little, A, Little, K, Nadin, JS, & Goater, R, An exceptional season at a central Scotland Honey-buzzard study area, Scottish Birds 37(1) 3-13 (2017).

White, Steve, & Kehoe, Chris, Report on Scarce Migrant Birds in Britain in 2014: Part I: Non-passerines, British Birds 109(12) 724-748 by, including Honey-buzzard account at pp.735-736 and in Abstract p.724 (2016).

Forsman, Dick, Separating Common Buzzard and European Honey-buzzard, at p.302, in: Flight Identification of Raptors of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, Christopher Helm (2016).

Panuccio, M, Chiatante, G, & Tarini, D, Two different migration strategies in response to an ecological barrier: Western Marsh Harriers and juvenile European Honey Buzzards crossing the central-eastern Mediterranean in autumn, Journal of Biological Research - Thessaloniki 19 10-18 (2013). pdf

Panuccio, Michele, Across and around a barrier: migration ecology of raptors in the Mediterranean basin, PhD thesis abstract, Scientifica Acta 5(1) EEG 27-36 (2011). pdf

Panuccio, M, Agostini, N, Lucia, G, Mellone, U, Ashton-Boot, J, Wilson, S, Chiatante, G & Todisco, S, Local weather conditions affect migration strategies of adult Western Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus) through an isthmus area, Zoological Studies 49(5) 651-656 (2010). pdf