Thursday, April 09, 2009


A post on Mostly Macro by Dean the other day showing a nice Brimstone butterfly set me thinking about how our areas differ in such a small country. In Northumberland we are in a dry but very cold area of the UK. The geology is mostly hard rock based so we have relatively short, fast flowing rivers, few marsh lands and very few mature woodlands. We do have a lot of upland bleak landscapes and a mainly farmland coastal strip.

So what is different?

We dont have Brimstone butterflies. They have been recorded but are about as rare as a Camberwell Beauty here. We have only just started getting Speckled Wood in the past couple of years and Holly Blue is a Mega.

Of the dragonflies you can count records of Broad bodied Chaser on one hand and Brown Hawker is a myth.

We don't get Privet, Eyed or Pine Hawkmoths.

We have no Grass Snakes, Slow Worm is very rare and I have never seen a Grey Squirrel in the county!

Corn Bunting is about extinct, Turtle Dove and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker are both rare and crowd pullers when the odd one turns up.

So, what do we get?

Plenty of seabirds. Terns, Gannets, Kittiwakes and auks get swiped over while looking for better stuff on seawatches. They are everyday birds. Merlin is an easy bird on the coast in late summer / autumn. We do alright for scarce migrants such as Pallas's and Yellow browed Warblers who both reach 'year tick' status. Coastal waders are abundant. There are Red Grouse and Black Grouse though Black is getting quite rare.

Back amongst the seabirds, Roseate Tern breeds in good numbers and are easy to see after mid summer. Glaucous and Iceland Gulls are regular and every other year ( or even more regularly) Waxwings arrive in good numbers, Snow Buntings are quite widespread too.

In the forests such as Kielder, Goshawks show well in early spring display flights.

Red Squirrels are still seen regularly.

Of the insects, Black Darter is common on moorlands and Emporer moth widespread.

So I suppose it balances out in the long run...with maybe the line south of the Wash to the Severn just clinching it for variety!


Steve Gale said...

What us north/south divide bloggers should do is house swap for a year and report on the many differences. I'll bagsy your rather fine new abode Stewart!

Anonymous said...

I knew that both Speckled Wood & Holly Blue were scarce in the North, Stewart. But the former is making routes North, year after year.

We were on about that last year, weren`t we Stewart. What either of us take for granted ( species wise ), the other would get much pleasure from seeing.
Funny old world, aint it.

Warren Baker said...

Thats why our islands hold the best wildlife spots in the world, all crammed in such a small area!

Greenfingers said...

Hi Stewart, I think the problem with the Brimstone in Northumberland is lack of buckthorn/alder buckthorn foodplants north of Yorkshire - without those it's never going to extend its range northwards, unless we start planting the requisite shrubs. I enjoy your bog.

Greenfingers said...

I meant, of course, your blog. Never had the pleasure of using your bog.Must learn to type.

abbey meadows said...

North/south divide has always interested me. It's amazing how neighbouring counties like Durham and Cumbria have a rich variety of different flora and butterflies as us. It's swings and roundabouts sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Count your blessings!

Down here in land-locked Bucks most wader species won't reach double figures in a year and auks haven't made double figures in a century!

Red Kite is however a garden bird; we are overrun with exotics like Muntjac, chinese Water Deer and 'glis glis'.

Lots of Edible (roman) snails and plenty of chalkland butterfiles.

Ed Griffiths

PCF said...

If you want the dubious tick of Grey Squirrel try Dipton Mill.
Did Atlas surveys there last year and couldn't miss the tykes.
Could make up though with Pied Flycatchers toward the west end of the burn. If it's wet take some good boots!