Thursday, December 30, 2010

FTN Hootenanny!

Except without Jools Holland. Most are doing 2010 summaries so why should I be different -

2010 - That was the year that was....

22nd May....


Began snowed in up on Speyside. Temperatures down to -17 degrees and a metre of snow didn't do much for the tourists. 

First highlight of the year at home was the Ravens return on the 3rd. The pair roosted nightly in the Village Wood, a situation that seems not to be repeated this year. The coldest winter for 30 years ensured that Woodcocks were aplenty, and hard weather movements were the order of the day.

Up to 17 Wrens roosted communally in our shed, and on 17th 2 Shorelarks were all too brief at Longhoughton Steel, just down the coast.

My first local Water Rail turned up on 9th and 10th.

Only one moth trapping evening on 17th had 3 December and 1 Chestnut Moths.

On a sad note, Marsh Tit on 7th was to be the last one recorded here. They were a common bird here years back.


Finished off some atlas tetrads in this, the quietest, month. On 16th my only local Shoveler of the year was on the pond.


The Garden Moth Survey started on 5th with a blank session. On 8th a Green Woodpecker was a nice garden tick. The first Pipistrelles and Toads appeared on 13th. My first reasonable moth catch came on 17th with 47 moths of 8 species caught.

The first spring migrants arrived on 20th when 2 Chiffchaffs were singing in Village Wood.

A male Snow Bunting was quite late on 21st at Howdiemont Sands. 

On 27th a 2nd Summer Mediterranean Gull was in the back field. Garden tick. 


After being pipped to 2 Black Redstarts at Cullernose in the morning of the 2nd, I was more pleased with one on our drive and roof in the afternoon. Good Friday indeed.

Another Med Gull was present on 3rd this time a fw on the shore.

Wheatear and Blackcap arrived on 4th, though it was the 10th that brought the first proper sunny summery day. Bee-fly, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies were on the wing. It took until the 11th for my first hirundines of the year with 3 Sand Martins at their Boulmer nest colony. Sandwich Terns and Swallows arrived on 12th and 16th respectively, with Common Sandpipers on 19th..

Red Squirrel was present along our lane on 25th.


Started off quite cold with a  NE wind on 3rd, Bank Holiday Monday. This didnt deter my first Orange Tip on the year in the garden.

The first of several patch rare species proper turned up on 16th with a Quail singing in the back field. 

Garden moth trapping was now in full swing with some nice catches and species. On 19th a cracking female Emperor was the best.

What must be the absolute highlight of 2010 arrived at 9am on Saturday 22nd May. A singing Common Rosefinch toured the village before ending up in my garden on a niger feeder!


The early part of June was spent in Scotland near the Ardnamurchan peninsula seeing Golden and Sea Eagles, Pine Marten, Chequered Skipper and various moths new to me.

Most of my time was now spent catching identifying and photographing moths. Away from the trap though in Village Wood it was nice to see 3 male Gold Swifts 'lekking'.

On 22nd June, an evening gardening was made much better when an adult Hobby flew low over the garden.  


The busiest time of the year for moth trapping. Catches consistently over 200 moths take time to sort out, but the peak date was 24th when 688 moths of 95 species were caught, all in one Robinson Trap!

On 22nd a Roseate Tern was fishing offshore.

On 24th July 11 spikes of Broad leaved Helleborine were in flower in Village Wood.


Started off with a bang when an Osprey flew low over our garden in the evening of the 3rd.

Seawatching began too on 8th when Arctic Skua, Bonxie, Sooty Shearwater and another Roseate Tern were seen. On the same date the first Merlin of autumn flew south along the coast path.

Moths began to take on an autumn flavour now with Sallow, Frosted Orange and Brown spot Pinion all being taken on 22nd.

More seawatching on 30th, Bank Holiday Monday, found a winter or imm Black Guillemot flying north at dawn, closely followed by a Little Egret. A strange combination.


Traditionally a well anticipated month for migrating birds....

A fall on 7th added 3 Spotted Flycatcher, male Redstart and 2 Whinchat to the list. A seawatch on 25th was busy with 735 Barnacle Geese going north.

Another fall on 28th was better with 2 Yellow browed Warblers, one nearly in the garden, 2 Pied Flycatchers and more Redstarts. Bramblings and Redwings hinted of darker days to follow. On the 29th further arrivals included a stunning Hawfinch flushed from the back hedge. 

An unwanted arrival was at the lane end on the same date -  a Grey Squirrel, a county first for me. Also on an eventful day, a tiny plant new to me was growing on our drive, Sweet William Catchfly.

New moths included Heath Rustic, and 2 Butterbur.


Began well with a Barred Warbler lumbering around the sloe berries on the coast path on 2nd. A Lapland Bunting flew north on 5th. Red Squirrels made an appearance too with a dead road casualty on 2nd followed by a live on at the same spot on 5th.

More falls of migrants occurred on 8th - 11th. Highlights on the patch during these few days were 4 Ring Ouzels in the back hedge, and a Raddes Warbler along at Craster.

A good seawatch on 16th had Pomarine and Long tailed Skuas, Black throated Diver and more Sooties all north.

A massive early Waxwing invasion began for me when I bumped into 40 of them at Asda in Ashington on 24th... 

The month ended as it began with another Barred Warbler on 29th, this time in the garden, feeding on elder berries. Possibly the same bird as before?

November ....

More Waxwings at various locations but none on the home patch...

A quiet month was enlivened by a male Northern Bullfinch in the Long Walk on 21st. Maybe he was a harbinger of bad weather to come, because on 24th the first snows came and stayed around until the year end.

On 26th our village was largely snow bound. At last 7 Waxwings flew around the Village, adding to the OFFH list.

Woodcock, Water Rail and Bramblings all arrived locally on 28th.


Thanks to the hard weather, early December was full of birds. On 2nd 2 Twite, a Kingfisher and 2 Woodcock were a starter for the birds on 3rd...

Bitterly cold weather and deep snow resulted in an excellent hard weather movement - 355 Skylarks, 2 Lapland Buntings, 1 Twite, 2 Brambling, 525 Pink footed Geese, 5 Barnacle Geese, 1 adult Ross's Goose, 1 male Hen Harrier, 17 Woodcock, 400 Dunlin all in an hour at our road ends.

After this bird numbers dwindled as they moved out, leaving 2 Water Rails on 12th and 2 Peregrines on 21st along with odd Woodcock to add interest..

Species totals - 

On foot from home, in reality means Howick south to Boulmer pub, and North to Craster, but mostly the 1km sq around Howick Village.

Birds - 161
Mammals - 15
Amphibians - 2 and no frog!
Butterflies - 12
Moths - 12, 161 of 332 species
Plants - Didnt really count them!

Happy New Year!


Warren Baker said...

Interesting read Stewart, good luck with the frog next year :-)

Unknown said...

Happy New Year Stewart and good birding for 2011.


Anonymous said...

A good year was had then Stewart and i hope you have a good if not better one next year.
All the best mate.

PS - Many thanks for accepting the award.

Stewart said...

Warren - There has to a frog out there somewhere....

BE - And the same to you Dave and good luck with the ringing..

Dean - Yes, I think so, maybe too good to be bettered? Have a good 2011 Dean and keep blogging!