Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Above - Green Carpet.

Sunday nights mothing had 25 of 10 species -

Mouse 1
Large Yellow Underwing 2
Silver Y 3
Rosy Rustic 9
Snout 1
Setaceous Hebrew Character 4
Square spot Rustic 3
Common Wainscot 1
Green Carpet
Flounced Chestnut 1

Yesterday on my way home from work I saw a 'dog fight' between a female Merlin and a female Sparrowhawk just north of Warkworth. They were very close to the car and it was hard to see who was chasing who...

News from the north today, the Sandhill Crane is on its way south, surely to be grounded in Northumberland in this rain and mist? Or will its next stop be Cley? I bet it'll be wandering around Holy Island's harbour fields tomorrow...

Monday, September 28, 2009


Some light shines on Northumberland after the disgraceful news that only 5 rivers in England and Wales have been given a pristine staus out of 6,000 surveyed. Yes thats 6 THOUSAND rivers. The only pristine quality rivers in the whole of England are in Northumberland!

The Ridlees Burn, Barrow Burn catchment, River Till (right) and Linhope Burn – have all succeeded in getting a top rating from the Environment Agency. The fifth was in Wales the Afon Caletwr.

I'm not too sure if its good news for us or shocking news overall? Still, its good for us...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just for a change...

Its been a long time since I posted any Dragons on here so today myself and JWR had a look up onto Alnwick Moors and came up with these...Please click on them for bigger images...

Above - 4+ Common Hawkers were being unusually co-operative by landing and allowing shots...

Above - 6+ Black Darters were easier subjects. Great little things, full of attitude...

Above - Brick. Nice moth, shame about the name...See earlier post below for details of what was caught last night...

Other than that, 3 Green Sandpipers, 1 female Goldeneye and a good passage of hirundines at Branton Pits were the days highlights.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Turned out nice again...

Success did not give itself up lightly today. A lovely dawn saw me with a few others waiting patiently at Druridge for the Glossy Ibis to appear out of its roost.

Unforunately for us, it didn't seem to have roosted here at all. Our wait intil 9.30am drew a blank. The only thing of note were the 2 Otters hunting in tandem on the main pool the whole time we were there.

Then as we were regrouping with a view to spreading further afield, the call came - LONGHIRST FLASH!

That was like a starting pistol. We all leapt into our own cars and formed a convoy at breakneck ( though within the speed limits you understand)speed along the next 5 miles. On arrival John Richardson and Alan Hart had the bird staked out in tall vegetation where only its head could be seen. Within seconds it took flight and began circling to gain height before heading due south to Bothal Pond.

Relief and elation as we realised that our dash had been well timed. The bird was seen again at Bothal, this time stopping briefly befor heading back north to Cresswell where it showed well for the rest of the day, allowing those who had taken a lie in to catch up.

Above - My effort at flight photography...

Above - A much better portrait by Roger Forster, cheers Roger...

Above the lads seem intent on showing me up with these excellent shots...top Alan Gilbertson and below Richard Dunn.

Above - Some scribbled notes drawn at the time, coloured at home...

So, that was good then, only my second new British bird this year after last winter's Glaucous winged Gull, and even better it 'unblocks' a historical Northumberland species after a cool 20 years taking me to...

GB - 391 Northumberland - 319.

Back to reality now, and at home 130 Pinkfeet and 17 Skylarks flew S over our garden, and I was pleased to find this worn Pink barred Sallow ( below) nectaring on Ivy flowers last night.

I had read that at this time of year several moth species rely on Ivy flowers for sustainance, so checked some nearby bushes with the torch. This one was taken home and released back in daylight to allow for photos.

Moth trapping tonight had -

Silver Y 8
Spruce Carpet 1
Red Green Carpet 6
Brick 1 a new species, picture to follow.
Frosted Orange 3
Rosy Rustic 5
Setaceous Hebrew Character 2
Large Yellow Underwing 2
Lunar Underwing 1
Snout 1
Dark Arches 1
Grey Pine Carpet 1

32 of 12 species.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Let's keep this brief...

The last Glossy Ibis in Northumberland was in 1989 at Bothal Pond and I missed that, as did every one else except Marty Anderson. This bird later turned up at Fairburn Ings I think. Before that, 5 were at Alnmouth in 1908...

Tonight a GLOSSY IBIS was at Druridge Pools at 5.30pm.

One hour and twenty minutes later at 6.50pm news is released on to the pager, just as it was getting dark.

WHY WAIT TIL DARK?! Sniff, Sob, bleat...

Thursday, September 24, 2009


The beauty of working flexi-time is that you can have a day off work for absolutely no reason whatsoever. So thats what I did today. I loitered around the house and village with Bunty for company and quite enjoyed doing nowt. I even found time to watch 'The Watchmen' on DVD this afternoon...

This morning we walked north to Cullernose and this afternoon, south to the Howick Hillfort. This morning two groups of Pinkfooted Geese flew S, 60 and 31, my first of the autumn. No doubt they will be a daily feature for the rest of the month.

A few smaller migrants made an appearance too - 2 House Martins and 4 Swallows were the only hirundines, sev Meadow Pipits S, 2 Spotted Flycatchers near the Teepee, 3 Wheatears, 3+ Chiffchaffs, 1+ Willow Warbler. 2 Golden Plovers flew W and 3 Buzzards were on show most of the day.

On the insect front, a poor show at the moth trap but 2 Angle Shades were nice and a garden first. A few butterflies still about with 3 Red Admirals and 1 each of Painted Lady and Peacock.

It looks cloudy and mild outside now, I'll go and set the rtap up and hope for a bit more activity...

Above - Wheatear.

Above - Angle Shades.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Good Day, Poor pictures.

Above - Pine Carpet.

A nice sunny day, cool witha light SW breeze.

Last nights moth rapping ( eh!) -

Flounced Chestnut 1
Frosted Orange 1
Large Yellow Underwing 2
Canary shouldered Thorn 2
Setaceous Hebrew Character 2
Silver Y 2
Rosy Rustic 4
Brown spot Pinion 1
Red green Carpet 1
Pine Carpet 1 new for me.
Lunar Underwing 1

18 moths of 11 species.

Myself and JWR ventured into the badlands to do ADMc's WeBs count at Cresswell where we bumped into Roger, Steve, Dee and young Crammy Phil. Although a quiet day we still had a Spotted Redshank (above top), 2 Greenshank, 1 Ruff and an Otter (above), before moving on to Druridge where this Cormorant has never seen such adulation when 4 DSLR toting chaps, two from the list above, practiced their aperture settings etc until even the bird got bored.

Later we wandered up the River Aln at Foxton and were suprised and pleased to find this Curlew Sandpiper well up river with a Dunlin.

On the insect front today, Speckled Woods at Foxton and on the road to Shilbottle, plus Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell on the wing.

Tonight a walk to Howick Pond had a nice patch tick with 3 Gadwall with the usual 15 Mallard, 9 Moorhen, 2 Little Grebes, 2 Heron and a Jay.

I warned you about the photos....

Saturday, September 19, 2009


A cloudy mild night last night was quite productive for the trap. In there this morning were -

Brown spot Pinion 1
Frosted Orange 1

Lunar Underwing 4 three above were the best specimens. An 'orangy' one was with the normal greys. A new species for me.

Rosy Rustic 5
Common Marbled Carpet 3
Grey Pine Carpet 1
Lesser Yellow Underwing 1
Snout 3
Red Green Carpet 1
Large Yellow Underwing 6
Silver Y 1
Mouse 4
Square spot Rustic 12
Common Wainscot 1
Setaceous Hebrew Character 3
Garden Carpet 1

Autmnal Rustic 1 I like this one, a very pale subtle species. Looks very autumnal, like the label, again, new to me.

Canary shouldered Thorn 1 These will brighten any autumn day. I used to catch the odd one when I lived at Stobswood but I haven't seen one for many years. A nice addition to the garden list.
Small Dusty Wave 1

A nice little haul of 55 of 19 species....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Summer past...

Yesterday I only found time for 45 minutes glance seaward from home complete with terrier plaiting the lead around my tripod...

In the three quarters of an hour between 17.45 and 18.30 I had -

Bonxie 2 N
Manx Shearwater 4 N
Sooty Shearwater 1 N
Arctic Skua 8
Common Scoter 6 N
Red throated Diver 1 N

and Kittiwakes looked like a snowstorm but about 2 miles out, there were thousands...

Today I had to breath into a brown paper bag for twenty minutes to alleviate the panic attack at the pager message - TUFTED PUFFIN adult summer River Swale, Oare Marshes, Faversham, Kent.

What is going on with this world. Another pacific alcid on the south coast. If one of these is in the most unlikely auk county of Kent how many yank auks are missed in the north west of Scotland?

Fortunately it flew off after 15 minutes or so hence removing all traces of pressure to plan days off justify two days driving to Kent and back etc etc. See the real photos of the bird HERE.

I was also pleased at the absence of Black headed Bunting on the Farnes the other day too. That saved me worrying about sloping off work again with a lame excuse. Have you ever found relief to have dipped a great bird!!

Anyway, tonight I was dropped back to earth with Buntys coast path walk at 7pm where a Yellow Wagtail, later seen over our house, was a nice late bird up here, a few Swallows still and 16 Wigeon N ( or were they pigeons? :) were the highlights.

It was a nice evening though, the dusk encroaching ever earlier, a nip in the air and leaves colouring up, summer is now a thing of the past...

Monday, September 14, 2009


Tonight I clocked off work an hour early to join the assembled masses on Church Point, Newbiggin. I was once a true regular here but since migrating north, I only visit once or twice a year. Now I like to think of myself as 'an old hand'...no remarks out there please...

Between 4pm and 6pm in a light N3 in ideal viewing dull overcast conditions, we had -

Manx Shearwater 113 N
Arctic Skua 7
Mediterranean Gull 3, 2fw and a 2w
Whimbrel 1 S
Arctic Tern 1 ad N
Red throated Diver 2 on the sea
Bonxie 5 N
Sabine's Gull 1 ad summer N, oh yes, a cracker. Later seen at Druridge by Ipin.
Common Scoter 16 N
Scaup 1 drake N with Common Scoter.
Red necked Grebe 1 in partial summer plumage on the sea close in.
Teal 11 N
Sooty Shearwater 1 N
Puffin 6+ N

Comiserations to RF who missed the Sabine's TWICE in two hours. The call of 'Large shearwater' went up too just as I was scoping the Sabine's, but no one could clinch its id as it was too far north ...

A good way to spend two hours I think...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Seawatching at last!

With a strengthening northerly wind this morning there was only one thing to do - Seawatch.

Viewing from Cullernose Point from 0730 - 0830 I had -

Manx Shearwater 105 N
Sooty Shearwater 3 N its always good to get the first ones of the year...
Red throated Diver 2 N
Wigeon 9 N
Common Scoter 5 N
Teal 9 N
Shelduck 3 N
Bonxie 1 N
Gannet 3000+ N at about 50+ per minute. And unusually, I could hear these birds calling to each other, honking and crowing a bit like like a goose. I cant recall ever hearing Gannets calling ...

Then I had 2 hours from 3 - 5pm. Although the wind was stronger most passage had died off -

Pale bellied Brent Geese 29 N
Dark bellied Brent 1 N
Common Scoter 2 N
Shag 5 N
Lesser black backed Gull 9 N
Bonxie 4 N
Manx Shearwater 15 N
Sandwich Tern 5
Golden Plover 2 N
Auks in good numbers including a few juvvy Puffins, looking very small....

In between these watches I met up with Gail from Lesbury who was interested in learning more about birding the area. Although it was quiet we did manage to see 22 Grey Plover and 9+ Bar tailed Godwits at Seaton Point.

Back home we had some unusual visitors to some fruit left out for the birds...

Above - Firstly this Bank Vole was hyper running in and out between snacks, followed by 2 of these -

Baby Long tailed Field Mice! Tiny, no bigger than a strawberry, they allowed approach down to 4 feet.

I hope the Magpies dont see them....

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Flying Carpets...

Above - The Bathing House on the coast path. Sea flat calm...

A lovely day today, better than most of the summer. Warm, crystal clear and calm.

A sky scanning session from the garden this morning produced very little, but I was pleased with a 'kettle' of 12 Buzzards all together with 2 Sparrowhawks circling then drifting south. Later I had another 2 Buzzards over the back field plus another 3 over Ratcheugh on our way to Alnwick. How come when one raptor is over Gosforth its a Honey Buzzard, but the sky here is full and they are all Commons. I'm still awaiting a Pernis in Northumberland. I need to get out more!

Moth trapping last night was quite slow -

Large Yellow Underwing 9
Lesser Yellow Underwing 5
Square spot Rustic 5
Frosted Orange 1
Mouse Moth 2
Silver Y 1
Red Green Carpet 3
Common Wainscot 1
Flounced Rustic 1
Brown spot Pinion 1
Grey Pine Carpet 1, new for me. Easily overlooked.

Above - Grey Pine Carpet.

And thats it. I'll try again tonight...

While we are on the subject, how do you photograph the Carpet Moths? They're fridge proof. As soon as you touch one after a night in the appliance its up and away like a rocket, thats why my photo above is still in the egg box. After this shot, true to form, it was away.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A couple of days worth...

Above - A nice new moth for me, a Flounced Chestnut. Great name, great moth....

Above - The view from our nearest pub, the Jolly Fisherman in Craster is excellent. This Razorbill called in for a pint, but failed to get served so swam off in disgust....Photo taken from beer garden....

Above - This cute young Bullfinch stunned itself on a friends window tonight, I released it into some honeysuckle with berries where his family were still loitering.

And now for something completely different.

Above - Our tea tonight was on the rocks out front. A BBQ....

Never let your missus have the camera... Actually I AM seawatching...

... and taking part in some terrier scrammaging....

Oh and I had about 10 Porpoises, 4 Arctic Skuas, 1 Manx Shearwater, 36+ Shag N and bizarrely a male Tufted Duck N...

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Let Os-prey....

Another quiet southwesterly day along the coastal path where 16 Sandwich Terns south and 31 Meadow Pipits in one flock were the only things to look at. Back home the Swift was still over the back field.

We decided to go out for lunch today, to Alnwick. On route we were passing the entrance to Howick Quarry then just over the main railway line when Jane said 'Look, there' at a large bird sitting on top of a roadside telegraph pole. This very pole is a favourite with local Buzzards so I was just about to say, its a pale one like some of our county Rough leggeds when as we came to point blank range I realised this was an OSPREY!

As we passed, braking, it looked down at us casually and we came to a stop. Again, here is a lesson to take the camera at all times but mine was at home, so I scrabbled for the mobile phone and came up with these truly terrible shots...

Above - Look at the reflection in the car window...

Above - Zoomed in shots....

Above - From the note book...

And no large water bodies nearby. Just a pole on any bit of country road. The bird was clearly an immature and had buffish tips to the upperpart feathers. I assume it is the radio tagged bird from Loch Garten that roosted at nearby Longhoughton earlier last week. A fantastic local record for me, I'm well pleased.

Above - I couldn't resist this Red Green Carpet from last night. Fresh as a daisy, bright green. Other than that nothing new in the trap, 49 moths of 15 sp.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Photo montage...

... a day at home, mostly in the garden and walking Bunty.

Above - Smooth Newt. Being bothered...

Above - A camouflaged Terrier in there, beware ye who enters...

Above - Red Admiral. Quite a few butterflies in the garden today - Red Admiral 1 Peacock 1, Painted Lady 3, Wall, 1. Small tortoiseshell 2, Large White 4.

Above - The apples are coming on. There was a female Blackcap in here yesterday...

Above - Dahlia. A red theme today. No green or greenish!

Above - This young Woodpigeon was learning flight skills round the garden. Its a good job Bunty didnt see it...

Above - The garden needs some work. I'm on to it...

Above - Several young Moorhens on the pond today. Late broods.

Above - Continuing the Red theme especially for Kent based bloggers....a black tailed tufty....

Above - Yes, the 2 Swifts are still around....

Despite looking around all day, not a sign of my bird from yesterday. I did have Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Sedge Warbler though, all in the same bush at the pond.