Sunday, July 24, 2016

Creatures of the night.

It seems like ages since I've done any proper birding, but I make no apologies. There will be plenty of time for that after mid-August when things start to pick up. Then it'll be all eyes to the weather forecast and keeping fingers crossed. In the mean time, I like to spend mid Summer with the insects, in particular, lepidoptera. 

We have had a pretty poor summer this year so far but this week has seen an increase in temperature and a rise in moth activity to match. Without much time to trap during the week these days, I used two traps in my garden on both Friday and Saturday nights with excellent results. I used my own Robinson trap and a Skinner on loan from Roger Forster for the first time this year. Both burn 125w MV bulbs, so the place was well lit.

On Friday I had 415 moths of 91 species, of which 137 were in the Skinner, and this trap also accounted for 13 species not in the Robinson. Whether they would have found their way in had only the usual trap have been used, remains to be seen. Saturday was the same set up with even better results. This time I had 518 moths of 104 species, my first treble figure count of species this year.

So without further ado, here are a few from this weekend...

Double Lobed

Lime speck Pug

Gold Spangle 

Lempke's Gold Spot

Only my second ever Small Yellow Wave.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Floral Interlude.

First of all a Starling roost update. We have a mystery. On Thursday night at about 11.30pm I was taking the dog out, when a Barn Owl came from one of the conifers where the starlings roost. It flopped onto another tree across the track, flushing one or two birds, but there were thousands in there. Later, I was woken by the dog at 3.45am, wanting me to take her out. As we walked around the corner near the trees, it was silent. Not a bird in there. And that was about it. They've not been back. I am amazed that a visit by a Barn Owl can move on 4000 Starlings so easily. Its probably for the best, but we are quite sad to see them go, their chattering calls through the night was quite reassuring.

This morning began wet breezy and cool, more like October than July.

I met John at Homebase and noted that all three plans for today were scuppered by the weather. Plan 1 was to go over the south Cumbria looking for butterflies, the weather there was too poor. Plan 2 was to go looking for Large Heath butterfly in Northumberland, but again, weather too cool. Plan 3 was to go up to Holy Island looking for Orchids with the off chance of a butterfly. Not worth it.

In the end we just pottered around our usual haunts at Warkworth. Before that, we did a quick check of the pond next to the A1 at Charlton Mires where a Green Sandpiper was the highlight.

Then down to the Coquet Estuary. Here waders are on the increase, but its just a shame that so far it is nearly all one species -Redshank. We did dig out 35 Dunlin, 5 Common Sandpipers, 1 sum plum Knot and 2 flyover sum plum Grey Plovers.

As it was getting brighter and warmer we popped along to the dunes to check out the flora. This can be lovely at this time, and today was no exception. There were various species of hawkbits, harebells, maiden pinks, ladies bedstraw, birds foot trefoil, wild thyme, meadow vetchling, restharrow and vipers bugloss all over. Attracted to the floral scene were a good range of butterflies with 4 Dark Green Fritillary ( our first at this site), 25+ Small Skippers, 3 Small Heath, 2 Common Blue, 10+ each of Ringlet and Meadow Brown. Added to a few Narrow bordered 5 spot Burnet Moths, Latticed Heath and Yellow Shell moths, the day was salvaged quite admirably I think...

Narrow bordered 5 spot Burnet Moth

Dark Green Fritillary

Latticed Heath moth

Maiden Pinks

Small Skipper on Thyme.

Wild Thyme

Floral dunes at Warkworth

Warkworth Dunes.

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Decade of BB...

Just in the nick of time I remembered that my blog is 10 years old today!

A decade of wildlife in Northumberland and beyond.

Social media has diluted the blog somewhat but it has an unbroken record so I am keeping it up, who knows where it will go ( not far I expect) but you never know. When I started this, the whole social media / blogging thing was in its infancy. I was inspired by Graeme Catleys. 'Pewit' Blog ( and still am), but best of all its having contact and conversaions with total strangers who become 'friends'. Some people knock this friends theory but I genuinely do enjoy the contact with people I would never have met as they live in far flung corners of the UK.

So, if you are thinking of commenting or asking me something, don't hesitate, I really do like the contact!

Thanks all for all the kind comments and advice over the years, here's to the next 10...

Kingfishers at Boulmer taken in November 2006.
A Corn Bunting at Boulmer in 2006, my very first blog post. How many new birders need that for the County?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Some moths...

Its a while since I've had some garden moths on here so here goes...

The view from the garden as night falls...

True Lover's Knot

Ingrailed Clay

Green Pug

Buff Arches ( you have to take its photo every year...)

Clouded Brindle
Its been a poor mothing year in the garden. I cant get the trap on as often as usual due to morning work commitments, then we've had cool wet and windy weather since early May, but its still nice to see some old favourites returning again...

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Garden Starlings...

Our neighbour has 3 conifers in her garden. From mid summer until late autumn they attract a small roost of up to 500 starlings with numbers decreasing as winter arrives. I wonder if they move off with continental starlings coming in from the east?

Anyway, this year the starling roost has gone mad! There are thousands of them. I like them but wonder what will happen if numbers continue to increase in the winter? If they get moved on during a cold spell it wouldn't do the poor things any good...

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I lied...

Les has commented on my Spicebush Swallowtail shot below so its encouraged me to put out the other butterflies I managed to get shots of . All of these are from Michigan...

Northern Crescent Phyciodes selenis a tiny small copper sized butterfly.

Pipevine Swallowtail Battus philenor has less orange spots than Spicebush Swallowtail. You were right all along Les.

Like our Holly Blue, this is Spring Azure Celastrina ladon. Probably.

We have nothing like this. Silver spotted Skipper Epargyreus clarus, a very unusually shaped butterfly.

Like Dingy Skipper but this is a guess as there are a lot of similar species. Could be Horace's Duskywing Erynnis horatius or Wild Indigo Duskywing E. baptisiae ?
It would have been nice to find an easy one!

Monday, June 27, 2016

And finally...18th and 19th May...

Well it will be sad to sign off. While I have been bombarding you with photos of our nearctic adventure, I have really enjoyed reliving the experience. It was really fantastic you know. I've never been to the states before, so you can imagine how good it would be.

On the 18th we had a long drive back south as far as the Allegan Dam on the Kalamazoo river. Our target here was quite easy to locate - Cerulean Warbler. We soon found a singing male and female that showed well eventually but very briefly and I was too slow for a decent pic, but what a bird.

Allegan Dam
Allegan Dam with hundreds of Cliff Swallows flying around.

Male Cerulean Warbler
Nesting Yellow throated Vireo.

Cliff Swallow
Spicebush Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Also here were a pair of Yellow throated Vireo nest building and 350+ Cliff Swallows nests on the dam itself.

Before calling it a day we checked in to our hotel then came back out to have a look at a parkland and wooded area called Al Sabo Park. We found 1 male House Finch, 1 male Pine Warbler, 2 White breasted Nuthatch amongst the more usual garden species.

Our final day was the 19th. We managed to get in a couple of hours at a place called the Kleinstuck Preserve. A mature wood surrounding a marshy area. Even at the final whistle we still found several new species -  Barred Owl seen well high up, 2 Wood Thrush with their haunting song and a male Pileated Woodpecker seen several times, my biggest woodpecker to date, even bigger than Black. A good selection of other species here included Great Horned Owl, Swainsons Thrush, Rose breasted Grosbeak, Green Heron, Magnolia, Chestnut sided, Tenesee warblers, Downy, Hairy and Red bellied Woodpeckers plus a few mammals - Fox, abundant Chipminks, Fox Squirrel, Red Squirrel and Grey Squirrel and 5 White tailed Deer.

Kleinstuck Preserve, Kalamazoo

American Red Squirrel

Pileated Woodpecker

Red bellied Woodpecker raiding a chickadees nest by making its own back door.
 An Eastern Kingbird was waiting for us back at the hotel as we packed ready for home, This concludes a superb trip. We saw 31 Warblers ( I saw 29 of them), 13 Sparrows, 8 Woodpeckers, 3 Owls and 2 Grouse to name a few with over 130 lifers for me.

So its back to blighty and the real world...

Great Horned Owl chick.