Monday, December 15, 2014


Atropos will be 9 weeks old on Friday. This equals the oldest I can find on the internet, and that one was in captivity by a breeder who sells the eggs to the public to breed through. The photo above is a phone shot in artificial light but its shows our man feeding on a honeycomb solution. This he gets every other day. You can see that he no longer has the striped stockings and neat white tips to the antennae, but most obvious are his squared off wing tips.  I wonder how long he will continue? He is being added to Christmas card greetings now!

Monday, December 08, 2014

A challenge...

After my post the other day saying I was planning what to do in 2015, Mr Gale of Surrey threw down a gauntlet. He suggested a friendly competition between us doing a birding patch list for the year. To make it fair, we have each set a base line - Steve has 110 species while I have 146. A percentage will be taken of any species over this total to decide the winner.

Our two local patches could scarcely be more different, his being an inland site in the south east while I am on the north east coast over 300 miles away.

I have already thought of a basic strategy to follow. Dont say owt, but here goes. If this info fell into the wrong hands it could be curtains for me.

In the new year it is a birders instinct to get out there and hammer his patch mopping up as many species as possible. I've done this myself many times and can get over 90 in the first month of the year, but I am taking a 'tortoise and hare' approach this time. During each month I am going to actively seek out the scarcer targets in my area, and hopefully the common stuff will fall into place naturally.

My first quarter goals are mainly all at sea- white winged gulls, divers, grebes, Long tailed Duck and Little Auk with Grey Plover, a biggie, out on those rocks. This is a common coastal wader here, but not on my patch. 2 miles south and I can get a flock of 40 no bother, but our rocky coast seems to repel them...and there is a tree in our village still laden with apples in case a scandinavian fop drops by.

Remember keep schtum.

Saturday, December 06, 2014


There has been a bit of a blog blockage on here lately. There are a few reason for this, no time during the week  (I never see daylight at home!), Christmas shopping, visits etc and most days even at weekends are scarcely light enough to see much ( dull Red Squirrel, left, illustrates the point).

Mainly though, it is a lack of motivation at this time, we always seem to be busy!

If we get a spell of snowy, cold, sunny weather between now and Christmas I might just awake from my pseudo hibernation.

I am planning what to do in 2015 now. So far I think there might be a notebook resurgence and I'll try and give myself a right shake up on the patch birding front. We'll see.

Anyway, don't fear, I haven't jacked it all in, normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Not doing the predictable...

 A long weekend this week to try and finish up the decorating business, but before that, as it was JWR's birthday, we had a full day out birding.

Whilst others did the twitching thing down at Teesside where the Isabelline Wheatear put on a show, despite looking a bit sickly in some photos, we headed up on to the moors to look for raptors.

Red Grouse
It was a lovely early winters day and despite being typically quiet on the raptor front we enjoyed the wilderness experience. Up at the Harthope Valley, the only Buzzards seen were local birds, but there were loads of Redpolls and Siskins, 6+ Crossbills and 10+ Red Grouse. At another moorland site, the hunt and its band of merry men ensured that the whole area for miles around was largely devoid of any wildlife other than a scattering of Fieldfares and a flock of 20 ish Yellowhammers.

A late Pale Pinion in the moth trap the other day.
 Today was spent painting windows and skirtings. What a task!

I managed to get out for an hour with Bunty this morning and for a shorter time this afternoon. The female Stonechat sporting an albino throat patch showed well along the roadside. This bird has been around for the thick end of 6 weeks now.

Stonechat female with a hint of albinism...
Down the long walk a few good patch birds were seen - a pair of Gadwall and a female Shoveler on the pond, not annual here, 17 Whooper Swans and masses of Pinkfeet flew S and a Red Squirrel was chewing on some acorns for breakfast.

If that wheatear had been up at Musselburgh for example I might have gone, but down there to the thanks, not this time, maybe I'm starting to get away from twitching rarities?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


This weekend has been spent doing something I should have done ages ago - decorating! What a chore that is, too, but I took yesterday and today off work to get the living room blitzed  and I'm glad to say its almost done. When you work all week, its hard to fit in stuff like this at a weekend when you are busy doing important stuff like birding or mothing for example!

Whilst I have been covered in emulsion, up a ladder, I've missed a load of Poms, Little Auks, Rough legged Buzzards and a showy Richards Pipit up at Newton Point, but at least I've got a chore done.

So what have I seen during dog walks. Not a lot really. A lone Little Auk sat on the sea this morning, thousands of Pink footed Geese over the garden on Sunday ( all day), the white throated Stonechat on the coast path, and two very late Red Admirals this afternoon in our village. When winter comes we are in for a shock...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Don't Panic!

After some long hard pondering, 'From the Notebook...' is no more. Not the blog. The name.

There is a reason behind it though.

A good while back, a company that is producing wildlife themed beers made contact. They liked my 'notebook style' sketches and some were used for the labels on the bottles and packaging etc but it came from left field when they trademarked my blog name (or copyright or something legal sounding that I forget).

Now, I don't mind really, I didn't have the copyright on it, but ever since then it has niggled. I feel like its me who is copying and I don't want that.

I have been blogging as long, if not a good deal longer, than most, and changed my name to 'From the Notebook... ' years ago when I stopped visiting Boulmer regularly ( remember Boulmer Birder) but now that its not original I think its time for change.

So, please welcome the one, the only (so far) -

 Its half me, half bird and insinuates there will be some crac to be had either on here or on Twitter. I cant see anyone taking on a stupid name like that, can you?

Oh and if you want some beer see From the Notebook. I don't sell ale. Good luck lads.


Sunday, November 09, 2014

Late moths.

Red Sword-grass. Pic taken in poor light this morning.
Although we are hovering around the end of autumn, November can still provide some interesting species in the moth trap. A small catch of 5 moths this morning included a nice fresh Red Sword-grass. This is my third garden record, but my first in the autumn. The other two were spring records, as the moth winters as an adult. The only other time I have met with it is on holidays in Scotland where it seems to be a bit more common favouring upland moor and birch forest edges.

Not much else was seen today, having spent the best daylight hours in Newcastle shopping for furniture. On return, Bunty flushed a Woodcock from the corner of our garden, a Chiffchaff was in the village pond willows and 250+ Pink feet flew SE over head.