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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 14th: and the Portugal trip-total from 21/9-4/10 is (so far!) 109 bird species from 390 records, 12 complete lists, 17 places (all species assumed countable). Totals for raptors were 8 types: Honey-buzzard 7 (all juv), Marsh Harrier 6, Kestrel 6, Osprey 5, Common Buzzard 2, Sparrowhawk 2, Bonelli's Eagle 1, Goshawk 1, so 30 birds. Gulls were of 8 types: Slender-billed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Mediterranean Gull, AYLG, MYLG, LBBG graellsii, LBBG intermedius. Types of waders were 20, tern 5, lark 4, hirundine 4, warbler 8. Incredible, wish you'd been there xx! The Atlantic fly-way is sensational!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Algarve, Portugal (21/9-4/10): Faro marismas, 1 juvenile off marshes, moving slowly SE 22/9; Vila Real de Santo António wetlands, 3 juvenile off marshes, moving slowly SE; 1 juvenile moving SE further N at Monte Francisco, 24/9; Monte Francisco heathlands, 1 juvenile off heath, moving slowly SE, 28/9; Faro marismas, 1 juvenile off marshes at dusk, moving NE to roost 2/10; Faro marismas E, 1 juvenile soaring high and moving E mid-morning, thought to be same as previous day at dusk 3/10. Summary 22/9-3/10 Faro to Spanish border – total 7 juveniles moving E/SE with marshes a popular feeding area.

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

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

October 3rd: cool pattern maintained at 22C max but very sunny today and dry on moderate NW breeze. The tale of yesterday's Honey-buzzard continued with over breakfast at 10:05 a dark-phase bird seen coming off the marismas well to E (to E of road to Faro port), soaring to a moderate height in a narrow vertical column and moving off E; suspect this was the bird from yesterday evening which had probably roosted in scrub along the edge of the marismas and returned to the marshes for breakfast; it was now resuming active migration so not counting this as a new bird. A flock of 10 White Stork moved E at 12:50 right over Faro City 1  2  3 and a 1w Caspian Tern was off Faro Eva jetty at 13:23 1  2. Took the train again from Faro to Vila Real de Santo António, leaving at 13:55, back on 17:51. Walked along the cycle track that runs N towards the Spanish border, where good numbers of Greater Flamingo, Slender-billed Gull (total 29: 28 ad 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12, 1 1w 13) and LBBG (total 22: intermedius 3 ad, graellsii 12 ad, juv 6, 2w 1). A mixed roosting flock of Slender-billed Gull and Black-headed Gull, mainly former, was on a sandy area 1  2  3  4  5. Total for Black-headed Gull was 9, all adults, 2 Mediterranean Gull (ad, 2w) were seen as were 12 Sandwich Tern and 24 MYLG (13 ad, 11 juv). The mixed nearby flock of AYLG, MYLG, LBBG, is captured in these piccies 1  2  3  4  5 with these 3 piccies showing just AYLG 1  2  3. Had a female juvenile Sparrowhawk here hunting to NE at 16:24 and also finally added Common Buzzard to the list with singles at Fuseta, near a stand of pine trees, and Luz, flying low-down, from the train on the way over at 14:30. Single Kestrel were at Faro E at 13:55 (adult female) and Cacela at 18:04 (on wires) and another Sparrowhawk, an adult male, was at Tavira at 18:23. Water birds at Vila Real included c100 Coot, single Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe 1  2, 9 Pochard, 7 Ferruginous Duck, 1 Tufted Duck; the last 4 are all new species for the trip. Greater Flamingo counts included 62 at Castro Marim W at 15:00, 1 E at Olhão at 14:05, 38 at Vila Real 1  2  3. A flock of 25 Spanish Sparrow was found in scrub 1 with 2 Stonechat fem/imm nearby 1 and 77 House Sparrow, mainly in 3 large flocks. Only 4 Swallow were seen during the day, all moving S. An Audouin's Gull 2w was at Olhão. In total of 36 types, added 8 to the Vila Real list, quite an achievement as visited several times before. Total for day was 41 bird-types. So added 9 bird-types to trip-list today, taking it to 109. Had last dinner in hotel, beef tacos – very tasty. Have enjoyed stay very much, been a great tonic with plenty of good walks and have learnt a little more about the migration strategy of juvenile Honey-buzzard. Flight is FR2341, will be driving afterwards. xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19:40 25/09 Black Kite Wexford Tacumshin one

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

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

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

October 1st: a cold front is going through; down to 27C max today but feeling distinctly fresher on moderate WNW breeze, stayed dry and cumulus clouds disappeared during afternoon. Fresher weather continues for 2 days with 40% chance of a shower tomorrow lunchtime. Had good long walk to W of hotel in afternoon from 13:30-17:30, going to the edge of the salinas by the airport. Birds were much more active in the fresher conditions; haven't worked out final totals yet but looks like 52 species, very rich habitat. At this stage new species for the trip can be inconspicuous brown jobs – Cirl Bunting (female/1w), Robin (2); mobile finches – Serin; not unexpected migrant – Black Tern, Whinchat; out-of-the-way local regular – Avocet (14), Little Stint (3). Those were the 7 bringing total to 100+ species, didn't expect to get there with a few days to spare! A flock of 14 White Stork arriving from W with wind behind was inspiring; they disappeared high to E; most have left the local marismas during my stay. There was a mini-fall of wheatear in the park with 3 Black-eared Wheatear and 3 (Northern) Wheatear. No Swallow were seen today but did have a House Martin E and feeding Crag Martin (2), Pallid Swift (2, around Eva Hotel), Red-rumped Swallow (1). Think there's a total wader roost of 1000 birds in the area of which I've studied closely about ½. More to follow … Added Castro Marim trip totals (28/9) to BirdTrack as immediately below. Will add Lagos totals tomorrow morning. Had dinner in hotel bistro, which was very quiet; keeping off some of the fish specialities even if they sound OK as they have a habit of sneaking in things like seaweed salad in jelly form. So tonite had Iberian ham, roast potatoes, mushrooms, with olive/bread starter (Spanish speciality!); all washed down with local, cheap rw, and large bottle of sparkling water; getting to know the bar staff well, tonite's was L with M having day off! Staying up better tonite but still think that's it for today: sweet dreams for return: looking forward to it (really!): xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

September 30th: latest totals, up to 29/9, not including today: 88 species from 228 records, 8 complete lists, 9 places (all species assumed countable). Some breakdown by families: 17 waders, 6 gulls, 4 terns, 6 raptors, 7 warblers. Today had long trip W by train to Lagos (pronounced Lagosch, or something like that!). Caught 10:23 there, getting in around 12:10 with return journey 17:23-19:10; cost was €15 return. Weather continued sunny and very warm, in Lagos, at 27C max, dry, one band of cloud moving through at 16:00 but no rain materialised. Lagos is much more orientated to fun on the beach than Faro with many good public beaches, ranging from a broad main beach to lots of coves. It also has much keener salesmanship with long lines of kiosks. I bought some shorts as ones taken were disintegrating embarrassingly! Got 2 pairs of green shorts for €18, so can get back to wearing shorts for last few days. Also had a couple of beers at a cafe overlooking a cliff – idyllic spot. Did a major walk from the station to the cliffs to the SW, which was full of beauty the whole way. Had plenty of interesting wildlife, adding 7+ birds to the list; more to follow on this. And of course it was good to be in an area controlled by the Atlantic YLG with just 2 Mediterranean YLG noted. Bar lass M looked after me well in the evening; she's delightful!! Crashed out as got back to room so update left to next morning: feeling well after good nite's sleep!! Thinking of going E on last main day to check on the Honey-buzzard again; meanwhile may stay local. xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

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

September 28th: wind did go round to light SE but not a lot of difference to weather which remains sunny, 29C max, dry. Cloud did increase in early evening keeping the heat in so it's 21C as write this at 01:00 29/9. Took the train for a walk, going to Castro Marim, a few km NW of Vila Real, on 13:02 ex Faro, returning 16:46 ex Castro Marim. Then walked whole time there, going N up a gentle gradient for 2-3km through typical farmland with many olive trees up to the motorway going E to Spain. At the top near Monte Francisco could view heathland to E, interspersed with coniferous woodland and posh homes, lying to N of the major road bridge across the river to Spain. At 15:37 struck gold, seeing a juvenile Honey-buzzard coming off the wooded heathland, drifting S low-down and then decisively soaring while moving SE. So this was the area where the 4th bird lifted off on 24/9. Once in Spain the next snack bars are at the famous Doñana National Park reserve and Barbate marshes with good habitat all the way really to Tarifa/Gibraltar. Also here had a male Goshawk patrolling over the heath at 15:46 and at the W end of the wetlands later had 2 Osprey up at 16:20, presumed to be the birds from 24/9. This is a rich area for wildlife, much more to report. Total was 30 bird-types, including 22 Short-toed Lark, 12 Crossbill, 5 Chaffinch, 8 Crested Lark, 4 House Martin E, 15 Swallow (5 S, 10 E), 3 Red-rumped Swallow (1 E), 2 Red-legged Partridge, 6 Iberian Magpie, 2 Blue Tit, 4 Cattle Egret, 1 Hoopoe, 3 Stonechat, 45 spotless Starling, 4 Coot, 4 Gadwall. While at the top, must have looked a little dry as an English couple (locals) stopped in their car and gave me a bottle of water – very thoughtful – probably working from home! Had another good meal on harbour-side of Eva hotel in evening; everyone's very matey now, being treated as long-term resident. Everywhere was much quieter today. On hearing news from NE England of latest lock-down restrictions, may be back here in November! Doubt even the Stasi would have contemplated such restrictions on people's mixing: it's completely unacceptable! Pleased to hear the Police saying aloud: how can we possibly enforce all of this! In the German DR the police force was enormous – just one reason for that country's dismal economic performance. Worried about a report on a Sage update with 110 redundancies. Must try and keep spirits up: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

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

September 27th: another fine day, 29C max, light W breeze, dry. Went for long walk to E of town towards Olhão from 13:30-17:20, alongside marismas most of the way. Had some (4+, bit vague!, 2 up displaying or fighting at 15:17 over centre of marismas to E, another one moving E at 15:28, one further back in marismas at 15:53) Marsh Harrier over the marshes to SE with 4 Raven there as well with 29 White Stork soaring to moderate height and moving E, towards Gibraltar, where they cross into Africa. White Stork are more dependent on thermals for migration than any other bird, including Black Kite and Honey-buzzard. When they get to Gibraltar, they soar to an enormous height and then cross the water in a long glide, hoping to reach Tanger in Morocco before they've run out of altitude! There were masses of dragonfly around today (and on other days) but no Hobby seen yet! A large wader roost on the salinas included 180 Ringed Plover, 160 Dunlin, 12 Kentish Plover, 4 Knot, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, last 2 new for visit. A Great White Egret was in the marshes just to E of road to port. Another wader roost on marshes held 60 Redshank. Gulls included a solitary adult Slender-billed Gull on the marismas and 3 AYLG in the harbour, feeding on fish discards. Trip-total was 35 bird-types. Told hotel I was leaving a day early and booking has been formally modified; no refund (as expected in current dire straits!) but credit note given for €103.50 for the one night; they understood and supported my view that Ryanair are doing their best to maintain services to Faro under very difficult circumstances; about 1/3 of all flights coming in are Ryanair from all over the place. Return flight is difficult for getting home so have booked a hotel in NCL at what can only be described as a distressed rate: very worrying. Place was quite busy today but some activity is locals enjoying the weekend weather; will see what it's like tomorrow. Again had meal outside Eva on harbour-side, very atmospheric and excellent, charming service: two of the waitresses are Polish!! Had beef tacos today, breaking the run of proper fish meals; think most establishments don't care too much what you eat, just buy something! But some do actually like it if you buy local produce to help the local economy. So pity I'm not into sea-food! 2moro going E again by train as winds turn E; may be interesting but migration is always very difficult to predict, except with hindsight! So delighted to hear the fighting spirit: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

September 26th: exciting day, doing some island hopping by speed boat on the S edge of the Faro marshes (marismas). Weather was again good: sunny all day, 28C max, light to moderate SW breeze. So was on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean with good sandy beaches. Boat run by Animaris was very fast so most of time spent on the 3 islands: Ilha Deserta (11:30 from Faro base), Ilha do Farol (14:30 from Ilha Deserta), Ilha da Culatra (15:45 from Ilha do Farol), return to Faro (17:00 from Ilha da Culatra, arrive 17:45 via other stops in reverse). Went for 2-hour walk on Deserta; Animaris run a regular circular ferry service from 10:00-19:00 so you have flexibility on what you want to do. At 11:10 from jetty at starting point had a 1w Slender-billed Gull while at 10:00 at hotel had 4 Red-rumped Swallow S. I was actually out on boat trip from 11:30-1745, all for €30. At Ilha Deserta added to trip list: Audouin's Gull (1 adult W), Gannet (14 ad, 11 E, 3 W), Skylark (3), Wheatear (2), Black-eared Wheatear (8), Spectacled Warbler (1); also seen were 3 Med Gull (2 ad, 1 1w), 1 AYLG ad E, 138 MYLG (one sample 22 ad, 39 juv; 77 E). At Ilha do Farol had liquid lunch so just 6 House Sparrow, 1 Grey Heron, 20 MYLG. Reinvigorated at Ilha da Culatra, studied a large gull flock comprising 14 AYLG (12 ad, 1 2w, 1 juv), 155 MYLG (63 juv), 5 LBBG ad (4 graellsi, 1 intermedius), plus 1 Black-eared Wheatear, 1 Sanderling, 3 Crested Lark, 15 House Sparrow (8 types) .Plenty more to follow …. Had supper sitting on the edge of the harbour at tables run by the Eva Hotel: mackerel today so that's fish 5 days in a row: all very stylish! Nearby live music was again a tonic: Bruno Mars' 'Just the Way you Are' went down well as did a few Coldplay numbers! Will catch up on records tomorrow: other priorities first: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

September 25th: been through Honey-buzzard photos from yesterday, confirms 4 juveniles, all eventually moving SE; completed processing yesterday's records so now up to 59 bird-types on BirdTrack for current trip with a few more to add from photos. Sunny all day, very bright light, 25C max, moderate W breeze, amazing sunset in very clear light. Laid-back day, no long walks, did stroll along to end of jetty and photograph some gulls where also had a Swallowtail butterfly. Had some close encounters with Mediterranean Gull 2w 1  2  3  4 and adult 1  2. Recorded just 7 bird-types as casual records today, including a roost of very roughly 10000 Spotless Starling at 19:20 in centre of Faro. Also had a Swallowtail butterfly from the jetty. Finished processing March 2017 records on the Algarve by adding weather records and 2 records for Silves where needed to add the place to the database; this brought total up to 99 bird species from 387 records, 12 complete lists, 5 places (all species assumed countable); thought I'd got it up to 100 in eBird but may be different view of what is a species; just need to extract the insect records from the data sheets and can then throw them away; don't keep paper copies of anything now once it's on the machine and backed-up. Skype with N/D did work from the sun lounge on top floor of the hotel; had 2 breaks in 95 min when suspect being throttled for excess traffic but simply restarted the program. Everywhere is busy tonite: lots of new arrivals, some probably encouraged by the good weather forecast, going up to 28-29C and sunny over next 5 days; wind is going E on Mon/Tue which could prove interesting as birds drifted W away from Gibraltar. Had good supper again in hotel bistro: salmon, mozzarella and masses of salad so keeping fish series going! Stock market's not been in the holiday mood on increase in Covid cases in UK and general air of chaos; will sort out the wreckage tomorrow but think loss is 1-1.5%. Indeed all areas are in decline, including tech and gold. It's difficult to know what to do as things could go quickly positive if a vaccine programme is implemented or improved treatment keeps the fatalities down or indeed a Brexit deal is signed with EU. Outlook for the National League is bleak; how can teams like Torquay United be classed as elite (so too many spectators for safe spacing)? More seriously music is continuing to suffer severely: Culture in peril – Music – Rishi Sunak's winter economy plan will silence the UK music scene. The successor to the furlough scheme is not fit for a sector still unable to open its doors due to social distancing and curfews – it needs targeted support now https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/sep/25/rishi-sunak-winter-economy-plan-will-silence-the-uk-music-scene. Must concentrate on the birds and the food to keep sane: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

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

On arrival at 12:35 went straight to Castro Marim on E side, an extensive area of dry heath with large wetlands to N and W To the E is the Guadiana river, the natural border with Spain, with a road bridge over to Ayamonte in Spain and a ferry taking about 15-20 minutes. I resisted the temptation to tick off another country but may be back again! Walk from 12:40-15:45 was interesting to put it mildly. As set out sun came out; was really quite blistering on the heath and the birds agreed, all apparently going into siesta! Did pick out 2 Osprey in the heat haze fishing on the N wetland from 13:25-14:21 and 8 White Stork, at the same times, which did a lot of soaring but didn't actually appear to go anywhere. Came off the heath at 14:48 and took the shade of a large road sign. Then everything happened: a juvenile Honey-buzzard was picked up floating over the wetland to W; from 14:52-15:03 it was joined by 2 more who also floated over the wetland, having all been feeding there. The loose group of 3 gained height and slowly moved SE, in the direction of Gibraltar. At 15:13 another juvenile Honey-buzzard was picked up further N, beyond the wetlands, but also circling at moderate height and moving SE. So that's 4 juvenile Honey-buzzard SE 200km to W of Gibraltar. What is interesting is that, despite this being their first migration, they appear to be pretty clued up on what to do: feed in luxuriant wetlands and don't cross to Africa over the Atlantic Ocean, when it is still wide. The sea crossing from Vila Real to Asilah in Morocco (which have visited) is 430km, a long journey for birds that soar over land to travel efficiently. But how do they know? There must be some pre-programming; remember there are few adults around to guide them; must check piccies carefully to see if there's an adult female! If they are birds bred in the extreme W of their range (W France, N Portugal, UK) they may have a drive to move SSE in their long migration to Gibraltar. While this was going on had a further 2 Osprey fishing over the nearer W wetland from 15:10-15:20 and an adult female Marsh Harrier up over the wetland to N at 15:06. Total at Vila Real was 29 bird-types, including Greater Flamingo (51), Little Grebe (4), Whiskered Tern (2), Swallow (1 SE), Meadow Pipit (1), Ringed Plover (7), Kentish Plover (4), Little Ringed Plover (1), Stonechat (2, including male),

Feeling dehydrated made Sabor de Vila, a wee locals' bar need the station, from 15:45-16:35 where had a welcome couple of beers for 1€ each, price for off the beaten track! Train journey back from 16:40 took about an hour and was very punctual and quite full. Plenty of birds from train: Bee-eater which will cross straight to Asilah; Greenshank on ponds; Common Kestrel near Castro Marim station, perched on wires; Cattle Egret near Faro; 25 Turtle Dove E of Faro on farmland; 2 Hoopoe. In evening made restaurant on harbour edge for a meal. Had sardines today, very tasty, choice appreciated by the waiter, following anchovies yesterday and tuna the day before. Love real fish, can't eat shellfish! They had real live music on with numbers by Oasis and Amy Winehouse to name a few; nothing electronic – real players; found that so uplifting. Indeed whole spirit of the place is to try and salvage something from a disastrous season and whole atmosphere is very warm and positive! 2moro's a rest day, just a gentle walk, and will try a Skype session with N/D in late afternoon. But hope to catch up on the piccies: Honey-buzzard mature rapidly from the scruffy, heavy, rather prehistoric-looking youngsters on first flights in England to the fit, elongated and slim individuals well into their long journey. Next obstacles are the Straits of Gibraltar and the Sahara Desert, which many cross without feeding, at 500km a day, using soar and glide on strong thermals. Anyway time for bed: still plenty of space awaiting the fancied one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!

September 23rd: sunny with some high thin cloud from time to time, wind light SW, 25C max. Again had enormous breakfast on rooftop of hotel, attended by 2 Pallid Swift. Did add the records from the Algarve for 2017 today to the main BirdTrack database, 385 records added, quite a lot of spreadsheet fiddling but nothing as boring as retyping! Walked out to jetty near Hotel Eva, sticking out into channel and then walked W towards a park and some old salinas from 10:30-15:40. Star bird today was an adult Bonelli's Eagle seen at 14:00 gliding over the area from the E and then hanging at great height over the slight hilly area to W; didn't see it drop onto some prey but it must have done so as at 14:40 it soared rapidly out of that area and moved back E. Added 3 more wader-types: Common Sandpiper (1), Sanderling (12, including 1 SE at height), Golden Plover (40) and 1 more gull-type: Mediterranean Gull (2 adult). Terns reached 3 types with Sandwich Tern (1), Caspian Tern (2), Common Tern (2). On passage were Swallow (16 S, 1 E), Meadow Pipit (2 W), 2 Pied Flycatcher (male, female/juv) in park. Also of note were a Purple Heron, 5 Greater Flamingo, 3 Atlantic Yellow-Gull adult (studied closely!). Total was 38 types with some piccies still to study, making running total 49 bird-types! Had a couple of beers for restoration on the harbour-front and supper at the hotel bistro, all very relaxing. 2moro it's forecast to be cloudy so off to the Spanish border at Vila Real by train, already got my tickets on the 'phone for €10.60 return! So good start: missing the gorgeous one: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black Kite continue to linger in SW England:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black Kite still present in Cornwall, but how many?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 8th: some sunshine today but lower angle of sun is now very obvious; raptors need a breeze now to get really mobile; warmer at 19C max and mostly dry but moderate W breeze kept it feeling cool. Had a good afternoon in the field from 15:25-17:40, in the meeting point between Dipton Wood and Swallowship where recently replanted conifers have left a big area for heather to bloom, looking really good. It's a Nightjar site, attracting Honey-buzzard from the nearby nest-site in Swallowship overlooking the Devil's Water. Today did indeed flush a male Honey-buzzard from the heather at 15:36 who moved downhill towards Swallowship Wood where he was again picked up a little later. At 17:00 I moved down to the main Slaley-Corbridge road, picking up the male now on N side of the nest over Dukes Wood. Finally some evening sunshine at 17:23 and the juvenile Honey-buzzard started floating around the fields and parkland to W of nest-site in company of a juvenile Common Buzzard. So persistence paid off with the finding now that 4/6 'Shire Honey-buzzard sites have fledged 1 young each. Also had Woodlark, Mistle Thrush, Siskin, Pied Wagtail, Goldfinch, much more to follow … Have processed the piccies for 22/8 Ordley with very raw youngster up in the air. Made G4g4s where pleased to have l on again; J is employing bar staff to maintain his sanity which is good to see!! Funds are +1k on 1st 2 days of week; tech stocks are still being hammered and PoO is also in decline; markets are very nervous at what panicky measures might be concocted to try and eliminate the virus as in South Korea. We cannot eliminate it; will have to adjust lifestyles until a vaccine comes along or it fades naturally; latter will not happen in a complete lockdown.

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

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

The first 2 concerts planned are:

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

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

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

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

September 6th: dull, wet morning, wind light NW, brightening up quite well at 14:00 with temperature reaching 15C max. Winds did not turn E as forecast. So decided to have a go at the Dotland site, just up the road from my home one. This was very hard work, set out at 15:30 and got back home at 18:10, after a major search of the fields, sky and trees all the way from Ordley to Dotland. Finally at 17:37 while making a last scan of the entire area, picked up a large 'Kestrel' perched high on top of a fir tree with russet plumage, small head and thin neck: yes it was a juvenile Honey-buzzard, the only raptor seen today. It was c200m to the NE of the conifer wood at Dotland in which they nest; suspect it had been feeding on the ground in a tall-vegetation clear-fell area as Corvids and pigeons were a little jumpy on an adjacent cut grain field. So that adds another 1 to my running totals; have now found single Honey-buzzard juveniles at 3/6 sites in the 'Shire. Following my stern advice to unn/ncl decided to do a complete backup of all files today on my desktop to 2 external disks: 556,888 files, 80GB under folder 'nick documents', my documents and records files, and 33,438 files 96GB under folder 'web sources', my internet files; latter are nearly all held on my BT web site but good to synchronise. Do an incremental backup each day but doing a whole backup regularly makes recovery easier. Taken ages but 35 min to go at 01:56 – time for bed but will leave it churning away! Did make G4g4s, fairly quiet but landlord J seemed cheerful! So looking forward to evening, probably HEX-CAL: xxxxx XXX!!!!!! xx

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and Black Kite still linger:

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

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

September 5th: good weather for raptors around lunchtime, bright, moderate W breeze, maybe a little cool at 13C max but heavy sharp showers later. Reverted to old study techniques now national survey completed for this year, making Stocksfield Mount from 12:25-14:15. Have run through all the piccies, plenty of Honey-buzzard: 3 Bywell Cottagebank (male, female, juvenile, as found earlier in survey), 3 Stocksfield E/Elrington (male, female, juvenile), 1 Whittle Dene (male up briefly), total 7; and Red Kite: 3 Bywell Cottagebank (adult 2, juvenile, as found earlier in survey), 2 Short Wood E (adult, juvenile), total 5; and Common Buzzard: 1 Bywell Cottagebank (juvenile, as found earlier), 1 Short Wood E (juvenile), total 2. So 14 raptors of 2 types. Had good variety of other birds, including a Swift SE, a Woodlark SW. Only 1 wasp was seen. 2 Grey Squirrel was not a welcome sight. Much more to follow … Made C4c4l where tbld did the honours, I4shop and had Skype session with N/D for 90 min from 16:00; we had very good chat. Delighted at invitation!! Loved the Viner!! Security disasters at both universities in Newcastle: unn https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/update-on-it-incident (read Staff FAQs), ncl https://www.ncl.ac.uk/itservice/latest-news/, at a very critical time in the academic year. Can suspect poor calibre of people running the IT, sometimes not even with professional IT background; too much WFH with assignment of key tasks physically away from central offices out to people's homes in a much more susceptible environment; furlough of staff that have special skills; lack of face-to-face meetings to raise issues of concern; late running of security fixes and patches; plus others that will surely emerge. ncl at least did take a backup just before things went downhill; unn says no guarantee files will be restored. This is culpable negligence, which will tarnish the reputation of both universities. Financial difficulties may be a major cause. If these were private companies I would press the sell button as companies who experience catastrophic IT failures are often goners within a year; it's a reflection of the way they do business in general! On a pleasanter note, keep looking gorgeous: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 1st: great day to celebrate – concluded fieldwork for the 2020 national Honey-buzzard survey. Standing on the edge of Prudhoe Golf Course, near Eastwoods Park at 16:38, wrapped it all up with a family party of 3 birds (male, female, juvenile) up over the Stanley Burn to the E. Still some analysis of results to do but a lot has been accomplished. I read the instructions for the survey again and they've been revised significantly with a report to be sent to the Country Coordinator, that's Rob Clements for England, instead of to your County Recorder, in my case the Recorder for Northumberland. I really welcome this change: it will enable a uniform policy across each country, to handle the difficulties in identifying Honey-buzzard, particularly with regard to variation in plumage, to the 3 structural types (male, female, juvenile), to what you can reasonably expect to see in the field at some range, and to appreciating behavioural aspects (jizz) and calls. I would hope Rob will liaise with European experts for further input if required. Weather was fittingly good today with long sunny spells, dry, 17C max, light S breeze.

More information on Prudhoe E visit. Was there from 15:10-17:00. Had a Sparrowhawk immature female flying low-down to E of Eastwoods Park at 15:41. A juvenile male Goshawk soared very high straight-up from 15:58-16:04, going into the base of the clouds. A Common Buzzard juvenile was up at 16:24. Honey-buzzard action started from 16:26-16:27 with the male and female reaching moderate height before diving down. The pair then did circling at same level with the juvenile much lower below; all 3 then met in a tight group. At 16:29 a Common Buzzard adult and juvenile were up a little to the N of the Honey-buzzard family. The Honey-buzzard were not seen again until 16:35 when the male and female were picked up low-down; the juvenile appeared again well below them with the adult pair going very high; the male came down to give some moral support to the juvenile. More to follow ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much more to follow. Indeed not a bad afternoon out at Blanchland, picking up a juvenile White-tailed Eagle, a male Hen Harrier, 2 Kestrel (adult male, juvenile), 2 Honey-buzzard from local site (male, juvenile), 3 Red Kite (pair adult, a juvenile). Whatever next? Well did have the local juvenile Honey-buzzard fly over my head while sitting in my field eating late lunch, no camera to hand but was all so sudden don't think I would have had time to compose a shot. Migrants today included, at Blanchland, 95 Swallow S, 4 House Martin S, 5 Siskin S, a Ring Ousel, and at Ordley, a Redstart. Also at Blanchland Crossbill numbers reached 69 with 2 Lesser Redpoll. So exciting times! Weather was sunny, 17C max, few clouds in sky, light N breeze, polar airstream, always good for raptors, indeed favourite weather. Blanchland village was packed; in parking had to block off the textile recycling point at the main car-park! Did make G with P and M on; good chat, one of the former bar lasses there E has just got back from Greece and she and her friend have both tested positive for Covid but are asymptomatic, therefore not suffering from the disease but could pass it on. M had a test today in Newcastle, before coming back to work at G, which was negative. Hope someone's bearing up: thinking of her: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 30th: warmer today at 14C max, still well below average, but some welcome sunshine and dry on light N breeze. Made Slaley Forest E from 14:30-16:30 and enjoyed the sight of 3 Honey-buzzard up in the air, an adult pair and junior. The pair put in some energetic full display at altitude, all captured on video, a 6 min clip. The juvenile was escorted up at the start by the female with the male well above but when it came to the display the juvenile had sunk back to the heather moor; the display was c1km from the nesting area in spruce forest over the open moor; some shooting was occurring in the distance in the direction of the nest site. Also had 3 Red Kite with a pair displaying at altitude and a juvenile at low-level below just above the heather, plus a Common Buzzard adult calling as prepared to leave and a Kestrel juvenile up hovering over the moor. So that leaves 2 sites to go for young now out of the original 10; will do 1 more tomorrow. More to follow … It does look like a poor breeding season for Honey-buzzard with 1 young raised per nest against the usual 2. The sequence of how they end up with 1 young is nature in the raw: the female lays 2 eggs, 2-3 days apart but starts sitting as soon as the first is laid so that hatches ahead of the other. The older chick is appreciably stronger than the younger one and has first call on the food being brought in by the parents. If food is abundant both will grow to fledge successfully. If food is scarce the younger bird may weaken and die; the female then chops the remains up and feeds them to the surviving sibling! There is no gender dependence – it's simply age that determines who's strongest unless of course the elder chick catches a disease. Enough said on this! Made G4g4s with P except it was full so we switched to Cnt4g4s, where they do look after us well. We had good crack! Fascinating email received: will attend to request: lok2tgrf: xxxxx XXX!!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latest data from N&TBC bulletin for June 2020

Red Kite Milvus Milvus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's multimedia from 12/8 for Honey-buzzard family party (10070). Clips part 1  part 2  part 3, giving full record of 6 min 32 sec original; stills taken before the clip started1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19 (piccie 15 shows 4 bold broad tail bars); stills derived from the video (videograbs) 20  21  22  23 from part 1 (mainly juvenile), 24  25  26  27  28 from part 2 (mainly juvenile and female), 29  30  31  32  33  34  35  36  37  38  39  40 from part 3 (all 3 birds, including male in gentle play with the youngster, cropped piccie 40 is here). I think successful Honey-buzzard identification, in the sense that the right assignments are made, depends on the recognition that there are 3 distinct types structurally – male, female, juvenile – in a trend left-to-right towards similarity to Common Buzzard. The males are the most kite-like with slender build and are the easiest to identify. See for instance 26 and 29 with male on top, juvenile in middle, female below. In certain poses the adults, particularly the males, can look like Peregrine Falcon or Goshawk. The last derived still 40 shows the Honey-buzzard male in a pose which is 100% diagnostic for the species with long narrow tail with rounded corners, small head protruding on long neck (the pigeon pose); quite often the bird does tilt in this pose as in the butterfly display. The first 4 derived stills 20  21  22  23 show very characteristic shapes and posture for the juvenile birds; compared with Common Buzzard the deep amplitude of the wing beats, long narrow tail, long neck and small head, is diagnostic. Not all juveniles are as striking as this; some very young birds may still be growing primaries, looking shorter-winged, and tail feathers, looking shorter-tailed. Holding the wings in a V does frequently occur with juveniles in their first flights, maybe to gain extra lift in their inexperienced flight mode; this can of course lead to a snap incorrect decision that the bird is a Common Buzzard. The females are not as strikingly different from Common Buzzard as the males; for instance they have slightly shorter tails and broader wings compared to the males; in a short view they might look quite similar but in a prolonged view they do show the long neck, small head, long tail with narrow base. Not shown here are birds in dives, with carpal pushed well forward to a sharp point, small head protruding on long neck, long thin tail trailing behind. Recording a dive should facilitate !00% confidence in the identification, as in the female shown in 2 for Slaley Forest E 29/07/20 (home page). Patience is a great virtue in identifying Honey-buzzard, building up slowly an overall impression of the bird, preferably with the help of a camera for analysis later to confirm the initial assignment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3(c) Slaley Forest E: 29/07/20: female circling around area for over 8 min; broken down into 3 video clips: 1  2  3, with 6 sample derived stills 1  2  3  4  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 (10066) 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; 410 Kittiwake were counted of which c70% (300) were juvenile/chick; 19 Herring Gull were counted of which 12 were juvenile on Tyne, 7 were adult. A further 5 species were noted: 1 LBBG adult, 1 Cormorant adult, 2 Black-headed Gull adult, 1 Magpie, 25 Feral Pigeon. But also didn't see any raptors from 13:00-13:35 at Wylam Bridge, though did here have 1 Grey Heron. 1 GBBG adult, 1 Sand Martin. At Throckley N, found 20 bird species, including 12 Goldfinch (some fledged), 10 Swallow (some fledged), 2 Swift (1 E, 1 S), 3 Chiffchaff (family group), 25 Herring Gull, 2 GBBG (ad, 1s), 1 LBBG adult. 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 http://nickrossiter.org.uk/hbweb/index.html):

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 http://nickrossiter.org.uk/hbweb/index.html):

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 (adult and juvenile up at 15:36 in chase, adult coming in at 16:20) and single adult up over ridge to N at 17:05, Red Kite just fledging young to N towards Acomb E with adult up high from 17:04 with strong-flying juvenile in tow and a weaker juvenile flapping hard low-down above a treetop in the breeze practising flying at 17:19, a female Honey-buzzard seen coming into the site low-down at 15:42 and the male Honey-buzzard seen later out foraging to W of site at 16:32 1  2  3 with cropped versions here 1  2  3 (10065). Total of 26 bird-types included 18 Swift W, 37 Black-headed Gull (36 ad, 1 juv), a Lesser Redpoll, 3 Sand Martin, 5 House Martin, 7 Swallow, 3 Chiffchaff. 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. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/08/01/britain-unlikely-use-russias-untrustworthy-covid-vaccine/

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. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-01/russia-plans-to-roll-out-mass-covid-19-vaccinations-from-october

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 from 13:00-17:05 as no records from there for 10 days. So spent a little over 4 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, from 16:57-17:04. 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 1 with cropped piccie here 1 (10063). total for day was 21 bird-types including 15 Common Gull W (14 adult, 1 1s), 1 Black-headed Gull W (adult), 12 Swallow (with fledged young), 3 Tree Sparrow, 1 Chiffchaff. 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 at 12:47. Got some piccies as he surveyed the ground below, looking for a foraging opportunity 1  2  3  4  5  6 (10064); here's 4 cropped pictures from the preceding 1  2  3  4. Saves a lot of pi..ing about when you get such cooperation! Later had the same bird coming into the site from the other side at 14:03, 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 1 and 3 sightings of single Woodlark, 13:26, 13:35, 14:01, 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. A female/immature Wheatear was on the common on arrival 1. Total of 18 bird-types included 6 Chiffchaff (fledged), 3 Common Gull adult (2 S, 1 W), 10 Linnet (with young), 2 Yellowhammer, 3 Mistle Thrush. Mammals comprised 2 Brown Hare. 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 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/29/one-big-wave-why-the-covid-19-second-wave-may-not-exist-coronavirus:

'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 https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/28/europe/russia-coronavirus-vaccine-approval-intl/index.html. 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 http://nickrossiter.org.uk/hbweb/index.html):

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 http://nickrossiter.org.uk/hbweb/index.html):

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 https://metro.co.uk/2020/07/23/stunning-pictures-show-comet-neowise-stonehenge-13026493/) 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 http://nickrossiter.org.uk/hbweb/northumberlandrk.html 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. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/20/red-kites-thriving-in-england-30-years-after-reintroduction

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAQQSs4P2Rs. 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. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/investing/shares/stocks-avoid-case-coronavirus-second-spike/

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 public@campaignforthearts.org 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. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Denial

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUiWQwviE_4. 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!] https://www.chefandbrewer.com/pubs/northumberland/wellington-hotel/

Good news on fb from https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Pub/The-Globe-Inn-1277146812302527/ :

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 http://travellersrestslaley.com/

Message from Bridge Hotel today is too long to put in here, procrastinating!. https://www.facebook.com/BridgeHotelSJF/

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

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. https://www.facebook.com/marcopolonewcastle/

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. http://www.noeticadvancedstudies.us/index12.html#top

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.

Area

Sites occupied

Male

Female

Total birds

Possible Breeding

Probable Breeding

Confirmed Breeding

Hexhamshire (Devil's Water)

6

6

3

9

1

5

0

Tyne Valley W

8

8

4

12

1

7

0

Tyne Valley E

6

3

3

6

1

5

0

Derwent

7

5

5

10

2

5

0

Allen

2

2

2

4

0

2

0

Lower South Tyne

1

1

1

2

0

1

0

Upper South Tyne

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tipalt/Irthing

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

30

25

18

43

5

25

0



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. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/17/pandemics-destruction-nature-un-who-legislation-trade-green-recovery

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 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_Great_Depression 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!!!!!

1929

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.

1930

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.

1932

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 nextday.co.uk, 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 https://www.birdguides.com/reviews/cameras/nikon-coolpix-p1000-digital-camera/.Think 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 https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/8919151/rise-people-hay-fever-first-time/, maybe exercising the prostate!! The same source also says today that we're in a bad year https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/11864398/hay-fever-worse-coronavirus-lockdown-triggers-pollen-bomb/. 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. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Rossiter-854

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. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=R2QdAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA322&lpg=PA322&dq=thomas+rossiter+obituary+gentleman%27s+magazine&source=bl&ots=WvDvGED7Jo&sig=ACfU3U0VRQ4tcNiC18MPh-rUB6RLN0gVRA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjRp_2L_P_pAhWGZxUIHYnODjEQ6AEwAXoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=thomas%20rossiter%20obituary%20gentleman'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 https://www.cambridgescholars.com/science-and-mind-in-contemporary-process-thought 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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk11vI-7czE

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. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/may/26/michael-moore-film-planet-of-the-humans-removed-from-youtube.

You can still though see Planet of the Humans. It's been posted by someone else on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeKBBzFxTHE and on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/423114384. 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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDqZVjAiAvs 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 http://nickrossiter.org.uk/climate/nr%20many%20shades%20of%20green%202.pdf. 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 http://newsletter.deutscheoperberlin.de/ov?part=landingPage1&mimeType=text%2Fhtml&_uid=309265267386&m2u=3Y2OVO8Z-3Y2OJZJU-Z6LL4A&mailing=3Y2OJZJU-HRZMQT

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, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_ChqaZxLT4. Given $50 to Artist Relief Tree https://artistrelieftree.com/. 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. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/06/01/no-evidence-suggest-coronavirus-second-wave-coming/

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 https://www.londonstockexchange.com/exchange/news/market-news/market-news-detail/MARS/14551057.html. 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 https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/05/21/pubs-restaurants-could-reopen-now-without-risking-public-health/:

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. https://weegingerdug.wordpress.com/2018/09/11/the-battle-of-braveheart/

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 http://www.leafmines.co.uk/html/eriocraniidae_mine_key.htm. 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. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/05/14/nissan-talks-move-renault-production-uk/

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 subMarime 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 https://www.heartwoodcharity.org/, 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 ...” https://www.hexham-courant.co.uk/news/18421112.red-kite-disappears-suspicious-circumstances/

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!' https://secure.avaaz.org/page/en/. 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). http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/pallid-harrier-circus-macrourus/text

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.” https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/05/03/rival-sage-committee-make-case-use-facemasks-quicker-end-lockdown/

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”. https://www.ft.com/content/86d9807e-2a47-47b2-8dff-8ab50b16e036. 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” https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/04/18/stockholm-will-reach-herd-immunity-within-weeks/. 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.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-23/new-york-finds-virus-marker-in-13-9-suggesting-wide-spread. 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” https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/04/23/coronavirus-dies-within-70-days-no-matter-tackle-claims-professor/. 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”. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/04/25/public-health-englands-plan-coronavirus-totally-negligent-says/. 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 https://eurobirdportal.org/. 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 https://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/stuart-england/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 https://www.holycrossprepschool.co.uk/, 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