Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More Moth Trapping....

Some variety! Including a new one for me...

0663 Diurnea fagella 2
0672 Parsnip Moth 2
0688 Agonopterix heracliana 3
1746 Shoulder Stripe 1
1750 Water Carpet 4
1917 Early Thorn 1
1862 Double striped Pug 1
2078 Least Black Arches 1 ( new species for me, left)
2139 Red Chestnut 2
2179 Pine Beauty 1
2186 Powdered Quaker 2
2187 Common Quaker 6
2188 Clouded Drab 23
2190 Hebrew Character 24

73 moths of 14 species

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Moth Trapping last night...

Last night was lit by a bright nearly full moon with some clouds, 9 degrees. At 9pm I had a flock of about 350 Barnacle Geese yapping away north only visible very high in the light of the moon. No plumage details but the call was like a flock of Yorkshire Terriers going over!

But back to the job in hand -

663 Diurnea fagella 1
1746 Shoulder Stripe 2
1750 Water Carpet 2
1862 Double striped Pug 1
1917 Early Thorn 1
2139 Red Chestnut 3
2182 Small Quaker 3
2187 Common Quaker 5 (much depleted numbers of these now)
2188 Clouded Drab 22
2190 Hebrew Character 37

Total 77 moths of 9 species.

I have taken them away to the wood as tonight is much calmer and milder still so trap is going on again.

OFFH List 124

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spring has sprung...

Above - Whitethroat and House Sparrow in classic pose.

A few new additions to the on foot from home lists today. The route was from home, obviously, via the long walk to Boulmer and back by the coast path. The weather was pleasant, mostly, except for a short light shower.

First new species were 2 Common Whitethroats along the lane , followed by a Sand Martin down at the beach footbridge. Our first of many today with loads of Swallows. A single House Martin moving north was the only one of the day, and the last new bird was a calling Whimbrel at Longhoughton Steel.

Other birds of note were 8 Sandwich Terns, 1 Yellow Wagtail N,  4 Wheatears, 20 summer plumaged Turnstones and 2 pairs of Red breasted Mergansers.

Not to be outdone, mammals were added to when my first live Red Squirrel of the year skipped over the road at the Lane End, and a Pipistrelle hunted around the moth trap. 

Up near the Hall a fantastic show of daffodils and primroses were in a little visited area of the woods.

Last nighst moth trapping was similar to Friday -

0672 Parsnip Moth 1
1746 Shoulder Stripe 1
1750 Water Carpet 4
1917 Early Thorn 2
2139 Red Chestnut 1
2186 Powdered Quaker 2
2187 Common Quaker 16
2188 Clouded Drab 29
2190 Hebrew Character 52

Total 108 moths of 9 species. No new species added this week.

OFFH List 123

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Moth Trapping...

Garden Moth Survey last night. 7 degrees, Light SSE, misty, cool.

A more respectable total last night after a cold week...

1750  Water Carpet  1
1862  Double striped Pug  1
1917  Early Thorn  4
2139  Red Chestnut  1
2182  Small Quaker  3
2186  Powdered Quaker  2
2187  Common Quaker  15
2188  Clouded Drab  31 ( largest count so far)
2189  Twin spotted Quaker  1
2190  Hebrew Character  46

Total 105 moths of 10 species.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Cold again last night, down to at least -1 possibly -3, clear. Car all frosted up this morning and my brake lights were frozen on! Shades of Speyside there....

Last nights moths -

Suprised to catch any but they were there -

March Moth 2
Clouded Drab 2
Hebrew Character 8

12 moths of 3 species...

This evening another spring migrant appeared to find its way onto my list, a Yellow Wagtail flew over E, calling, towards the Bathing House.

OFFH List 119

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

'Groppers is in...'

...used to be the cry. Often accompanied by the similar 'Sedgies is in...' Now, in more enlightened, grammatically correct, blogging times, I think the phrase should read 'The Grasshopper Warblers have arrived' ( and the Sedge Warblers too?)

This afternoon a couple of walks around the village and coast with Bunty was very pleasant.

This Fieldfare was feeding most of the day in the Rectory paddock alongside the resident Mistle Thrushes.

My first Grasshopper Warbler of the year was reeling away in Village Wood at teatime. I collected the camera and went straight back to get a pic but no sight or further sound was had. New birds are starting to trickle in as spring finally arrives in the north...

The pairs of Gadwall and Tufted Duck remained on the pond and 'our' Swallow has returned to the outhouse...

OFFH List 118

The Joy of Lek...

A pre dawn drive, 30 miles west from home saw me up on the wildest parts of Northumberland by 4.50am. My neighbour, John, works up here and kindly offered to give me a tour of the MOD Otterburn Ranges using his Toyota 4x4. Many of the roads would be impassable in my car, so this was a bonus.

We stopped at a passing place just as the sun broke the horizon and were greeted by the wheezing and bubbling of a displaying male Black Grouse. In the gloaming, this single individual did his dance for a while, but didnt attract any attention and soon moved off.

As the sun rose the temperature dropped to 2 below, with a bitterly freezing NW breeze.

At another spot more bubbling calls could be heard, this time from more than one bird, but try as we might we couldnt see them in the rolling moorland.

John noticed something sitting in the heather not far from the car that soon revealed itself to be a nice female Merlin fresh out of roost. It gave good scope views as it flew up into a birch to catch the early sun. A few Buzzards, a Wheatear, 3 Snipe and a couple of Curlew were also seen.

By 7am John headed off to work and I dropped down to Holystone to eat my breakfast near Yardhope Oaks. From the car, there was plenty of activity from Crossbills, Redpolls and Siskins and a female Goosander flew from a small burn.

After the drive back I was home for 8.30am, and ready to get some shut eye...a much better way to start the day than going to work, cheers John!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Quakers...

Above, from the left - Powdered Quaker (Large), Common Quaker (Medium) and Small Quaker ( er, Small)...

Last night was hopeless for moth trapping, but, its no use just monitoring species in the best weather, so, the light was on. In a cold, blustery NW4 under a starry sky. I had to put a weight on the trap rain guard.

So I was pleased to get -

Small Quaker 1
Powdered Quaker 1
Common Quaker 2
Clouded Drab 1
Hebrew Character 7

12 moths of 5 species.

Tonight we had a cold, windy walk around the coast path. 2 Common Sandpipers fighting to perch on a single rock were the first this year, a few strings of Gannets flew N and 40+ Linnets were in the field.

OFFH List 117

Monday, April 19, 2010

Its Black, its black.....

I hear that there is some controversy over the Cresswell Wagtail? I have taken the 'scissors' to an article to show the bits most relevant to the bird. Its by Andrea Corso, an Italian, for Birding World Vol 14:4...

Please have a read if you saw the bird. If the print is too small just click on it for a bigger image. Have a look too at John Malloy's images to compare... 

In short I think the Cresswell bird is a first summer male Black headed Wagtail. I mean, anything with that 'black' a head will do for me!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

From Balkans to Baltic...

After a morning out on the Alnwick moors with JWR all we had to show was a multitude of Crossbills including several post breeding flocks (yes, already!) and a pair of Ravens.

When I got home, Ian Fisher sent me a text to say that there was a male Black headed Wagtail at Cresswell Pond. After missing last years bird on Holy Island, I decided to have the half hour drive south...

The bird was still present in the increasing rain, and showing very well indeed alongside 6 Yellow Wagtails and a White Wagtail for company. What this bird must be feeling in a cold NE4 with rain when it should be in Yugoslavia, Greece or Turkey we can only guess, indeed the last time I saw this race of Yellow Wagtail was in central Turkey feeding along the roadsides over 10 years ago.

This is only the third Northumberland record and the first to be really twitchable. A really cracking bird too!

Around the patch, two new species turned up - a pair of Gadwall on the pond and the first Willow Warblers about a week late.  7 Crossbills flew E over Village Wood while 3 Redpolls flew N ( a one and a two). The Green Woodpecker was finally seen at the Lane End briefly.

Moth trapping last night didnt produce any new species but it was another century...

Diurnea fagella 1
Shoulder Stripe 1
Water Carpet 2
Double striped Pug 1
Powdered Quaker 4
Common Quaker 34
Clouded Drab 17
Hebrew Character 43
Chestnut 2

Total 105 moths of 9 species. And that was after releasing Friday nights catch into the woods a good way off to prevent duplication / retrapping. 
OFFH List 116 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

One Swallow doesnt make a summer....

...but 3 does. Get in! Our village Swallows are back and onto my list. We saw them last night hawking above the paddock from our garden. Another OFFH list first last night was a Barn Owl that flew along the back field at dusk and over our neighbours house, to hunt. A two tick day, not bad.....

Last nights Garden Moth Survey was quite good, being mild and calm but clear....

Diurnea Fagella 3
Agonopterix heracliana 1
Shoulder Stripe 3
Water Carpet 3, first for the year. Our local Robins like these...oops.
Brindled Pug 1 a new species for me.
Double striped Pug 2 new for the garden
Early Thorn 3
Red Chestnut 2
Small Quaker 1
Powdered Quaker 3
Common Quaker 25
Clouded Drab 26
Hebrew Character 40
Chestnut 4

A total of 117 moths of 14 species.

Top Left, Double striped Pug, Top right, Brindled Pug, Bottom Left Shoulder Stripes, Bottom Right, Water Carpet.

OFFH List 114

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Despite the cool evening ( down to 4 degrees) I tried the trap on after two nights off. Although the catch was less than the two previous sessions it was still ok with -

Agonopterix arenella 1 (new)
March Moth 1
Red Chestnut 1
Common Quaker 12
Clouded Drab 7
Hebrew Character 20
Early Grey 1

Total 43 of 7 species.

This is only my second garden Early Grey ( top right, I didnt take any pics but this is one of the first garden Early Grey from a couple of weeks back).

Bottom Left - Agonopterix arenella

Last night a pair of Brown Hares were grazing the back field in close proximity to each other from our kitchen window. Still no new migrants in though. I suppose there wont be any change until the wind swings away from NNE...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Vice County first!

This little moth from the last posting, Caloptilia stigmatella, is officially the first record for VC68, North Northumberland! Tom Tams, Moth Recorder, tells me he only has 15 records of it in total, all from the south of the county.

Get in!

Its not suprising though, is it really, its not exactly a Great White Egret. I wonder how many have been swatted over the years....

Monday, April 12, 2010

Moth Trapping last night...

Calm overcast, 8 degrees down to 1 degree with frost at dawn.

Another nice session with a few new ones -

288 Caloptilia stigmatella 1 (below) the size of a tiny midge. You could get one of these in your eye! A new species to me.

663 Diurnea fagella 1
672 Parsnip Moth 2
1746 Shoulder Stripe 2 (below)  new to me.

1917 Early Thorn 1 (below) first of the year.

2139 Red Chestnut 5
2186 Powdered Quaker 3
2187 Common Quaker 22
2188 Clouded Drab 26
2189 Twin spotted Quaker 1
2190 Hebrew Character 65

Total 129 of 11 species.

This evening as it was lovely, clear and sunny we took Bunty along the coastal path where my first 2 Sandwich Terns of the year flew North.

OFFH List 112

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lovely weekend...

Out and about locally this weekend in the much appreciated sunshine. On Saturday lunchtime we walked down the Long Walk and back home via the coast path. The smell of gorse blossom and sea-salty air against a backdrop of Skylarks in full song made this the first real summery day. It was fantastic.

On route were -

Bee Fly 3 - No idea what their real names are but these are the first Ive seen in Northumberland.

 Bee Fly on Lungwort.

Our first butterflies of the year -

Left , Peacock and Right, Small Tortoiseshell

2 Grey Seals were easily seen on the mill pond flat sea.
Sparrowhawk 2+
Blackcap 3 singing
Brown Hare 1
But no Willow Warblers or hirundines...

Today, I met up with JWR to do an atlas count at Seaton Point, Boulmer. 3+ Sand martins were at the breeding colony, several Bar tailed Godwits and 2 Grey Plovers were on the beach. 

From here we called at Alnmouth where this was the bird of the day -  

A bright male Yellow Wagtail with a few Meadow Pipits.

Unfortunately nothing to add to the OFFH list, but it wont be long now...

PS A nice sunset from the kitchen window too...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Powdered Quaker...

A big catch for me on GMS night...

663 Diurnea fagella 6
1926 Pale brindled Beauty 1
2139 Red Chestnut 6
2179 Pine Beauty 3
2182 Small Quaker 1
2186 Powdered Quaker 1 (new)
2187 Common Quaker 57
2188 Clouded Drab 27
2189 Twin spotted Quaker 3
2190 Hebrew Character 76

Total 181 moths of 10 species.

Above - Powdered Quaker, a new one for me.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Moth Trapping...

A new garden record last night -

663 Diurnea fagella 1 (new)
672 Parsnip Moth 2
688 Agonopterix heracliana 1
695 Agonopterix alstromeriana 2 (new)
1926 Pale brindled Beauty 3
2139 Red Chestnut 4
2187 Common Quaker 21
2188 Clouded Drab 22
2189 Twin spotted Quaker 2
2190 Hebrew Character 40
2256 Satellite 1 (orange form)

99 moths of 11 species included the two new species above -

Above - Left, Diurnea fagella and right, Agonopterix alstromeriana

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Last nights mothing....

A record garden catch but the species count is still well down. If it wasnt for the usual 3 suspects in the trap, things would be pretty bare...

2139 Red Chestnut 2
2187 Common Quaker 14
2188 Clouded Drab 8
2190 Hebrew Character 39

Total 63 of 4 species.

Something different is bound to pop up soon, I'm sure.

On the bird front, we were woken by a Green Woodpecker yaffling the glass out of the windows at 6.30 this morning. It must have been very close, or even in the garden. I've had a wander around tonight but have still not had a hirundine. Hopefully the weekends high pressure might add a few species to the OFFH list...Willow Warbler surely?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Still breezy last night but not quite as bad.

Caught -

Small Quaker 1
Common Quaker 24
Clouded Drab 2
Hebrew Character 23
Satellite 1 of the white form.

Total 51 moths of 5 species.

Later on I'm going to pop out 'sallowing'. Lets hope I dont get locked up. Watch this space...

Right, I'm back. Sallows need to be staked out before hunting the woods wearing a headlamp for a start. The ones I did know about were all too high really but 3 Common Quakers and a Hebrew Character were knocked into the brolly. ( I wish I had thought of a Hebrew character gag at Easter Weekend, there must have been a few...).

The weather forecast looks good for moths for the rest of the week with temperatures up to 16 degrees in the NE on Thursday ( according to BBC), and settled high pressure bringing barbeque weather for a few days...maybe I'll get something new in the trap....

Monday, April 05, 2010

Small Quaker...

Last night turned quite breezy making the moth trap rattle around a bit, so I only had it on from 8pm until 11pm.

Small Quaker 1 (above)
Common Quaker 2
Hebrew Character 7

10 moths of 3 species.

Oh and  a few more pics from yesterday....

Above - left, Butterbur and right, Opposite leaved Golden Saxifrage. Both in flower at Howick Burn Mouth.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

An overlooked migrant...

Before I start my usual stuff have a look at this. No Great White Egrets, Cranes or Harriers for me, oh no. My migrants are straight off the Christmas card.

This morning along the rocky beach at Howick Burn mouth there were at least two of these chaps...

Continental Robins. Erithacus rubecula rubecula

Very blue grey above, lacking the brownish olive tones we are more familiar with. These were more bluethroat-coloured, very cold looking. 

From the front, the breast is paler, more golden with yellowish flecks. Not as ruddy red as our birds. The belly is whiter as are the flanks. The area behind the eye is very blue grey extending to the nape.

Whilst rubecula is nigh on impossible to seperate from British melophilus most of the time, in times when there has been a good fall of Robins, mixed with more usual foreign stuff , like Black Redstarts, some birds are very distinctive in the field. There were at least 5 Robins in a 50 yard stretch this morning and these two could be easily picked out even in flight.

According to 'The Handbook' and 'Bannerman' even the habitat and behaviour was correct today, with birds hiding in cavernous overhangs then flitting out onto the rocks to feed briefly. You wouldn't find these on your spade! 'BWP' and 'Svensson' state that the races are clinal and slight, but if given a good sample, the scandinavian visitors can be picked out... 

Next time you find yourself knee deep in Robins on the east coast, give them a good look...

Anyway where was I?

The day was bright most of the time with odd cloudy and showery spells.

Of the rest of the morning, my first Wheatear, a male, avoided photography by only showing for 10 seconds before flying back to the Sahel, a nice male Blackcap was sunning with two Chiffchaffs in the dene, 25 Whooper Swans flew N, while a lone Canada Goose swam south at sea.

Moth statistics for last night -

March Moth 1
Pale Brindled Beauty 1
Common Quaker 12
Clouded Drab 1
Hebrew Character 17
Chestnut 1

33 moths of 6 species.

OFFH List 111

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Rain late last night combined with an E4 had me out early for a short wander to the coast path to see if any migrants were around.

The best I could manage was a 1st summer Med Gull, a male Brambling and the Green Woodpecker again in the copse next to our garden. A nice enough cast, I suppose, but not quite what I had in mind.

Only the gull sat for pics and they aren't up to much...

The moth trap had a similar catch to yesterday for the Garden Moth Survey with -

2179 Pine Beauty 1
2187 Common Quaker 6
2189 Twin spotted Quaker 1
2190 Hebrew Character 20

28 moths of 4 species.

Friday, April 02, 2010

They're here...

Despite a white frost and temperatures dropping to zero last night, I still managed to catch 22 moths of 4 species.

Some of the catch above and one of the Red Chestnut.

2139 Red Chestnut 1
2187 Common Quaker 9
2188 Clouded Drab 1
2190 Hebrew Character 11

Mid morning we got a visit from Roger F who had kindly driven 50 miles to find me not one but two Black Redstarts only a few hundred yards from home...

We soon set off and within 15 minutes found them both, very flighty, on the boulder beach at the foot of Cullernose Point. A nice addition to the OFFH list but robbed from the self found aspect!  :)

But, I got an even bigger suprise later on. As we arrived back on our drive this afternoon from shopping, I noticed a movement in a small oak at the end  near the shed. A tiny silhouette, completely unidentifiable, until I saw a shivering tail! A BLACK REDSTART IN OUR GARDEN! 

I sneaked in to get the camera and managed a snap before it flitted onto our roof, then on to our neighbours chimney where it did some flycatching before dashing off into the gardens.

A fantastic garden tick, the weekend is made already.


There it is on our wall...

With another migrant new in along side...

Chiffchaff above our bird table.

OFFH List 109