Friday, March 30, 2012

A Garden tick and a lifer!

Last year I had a brief glimpse of a bumble bee that I fancied may have been Tree Bee, Bombus hypnorum. By the time I grabbed the camera it had gone.

So, while checking the moth trap this morning I was surprised to see this one cuddled into the bottom of an egg tray. They are quite a new arrival up here but Nigel, Tom and Tim have had them in their gardens at Morpeth, Tynemouth and Whitley Bay respectively, so I kind of expected one soon...

This bee was new to the UK in 2001 around the New Forest area, but in recent years its spread has gone on unabated.

A great little creature.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Well, long time no see.

I have struggled to get blog motivated in recent weeks, despite some lovely days and a few off work too. I'm not sure what the problem is, but please bear with me. Maybe its because I'm not seeing a great deal, enough to keep me happy, but not many photos or exciting migrants for readers.

Its great just pottering around looking at whatever appears. I'm enjoying it so much, milling about my patch in a zen like state, that I have taken a big step. The pager is on its way out. Contract terminated and after 13 years it will be returned at the end of May. I hope the new bird club info emails will keep me up to date with new county birds!

What have I been seeing? A few butterflies locally with Small Tortoiseshells and Peacocks and my first Small White of the year in the garden on Monday. A Bee Fly evaded the camera as it patrolled our plant pots outside on the same day.

Its nesting time in the garden and locale. A Blackbird has eggs in the ivy on our wall, a Wren is building a 'cock-nest' in an old Swallow's in the outhouse while not three feet away a Robin is filling up a nook with leaves. A pair of Grey Partridges are prospecting along the edge of the field next to our drive too, but I dont suppose I'll find that one.

The moth trapping is coming along fine with last nights highlight being a Pale Pinion, only my fourth. While checking the moths in the morning, some migration has taken place overhead with 5 Lesser Redpolls, 8+ Meadow Pipits and 30+ Linnets this week. A Fieldfare was heard chakking in the fog the other day but remained unseen. I wondered if it was a Ring Ouzel briefly...

Brown Hares have been showing well with three in the back field the other night and, tonight, a bull Grey Seal was loafing offshore.

Further afield, on my way home from work last night a pair of Short eared Owls were squabbling over the road next to Boulmer radar base. they were only feet above the car so I stopped and watched for a while.

I'm sure a Wheatear is just around the corner...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Even more string...

While I'm on about records more dodgy than an MPs expenses I cant help but notice an eerie silence about a reported Alpine Accentor for Bamburgh Golf Course in September last year. Needless to say the description is still outstanding....

Is it a coincidence that the Harlequin and site of Alpine Acc can be seen by standing on the same spot?

Waiting to Tee off...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mega! Mmmm...

Probable female Harlequin off Stag Rocks this afternoon before flying off to Holy Island.

I wonder?

Who knows, maybe it will be relocated....

[ Word is, this might be the real deal. A good known observer is the reporter]
[PPS Nope it wasnt the observer we thought, just same initials! Looking like a mile of string]

Monday, March 19, 2012

Moors and Moles...

 Up on the moors yesterday morning, sunshine and cloud shadow made for a dramatic landscape. Unusually no birds of prey were seen at all, not so much as a buzzard.

A while back I mentioned how common Moles are around here. Well, they have been thinned out a little on the higher pastures. There were 63 on the fence. They mustn't taste very good because they are never picked at by crows or magpies or anything.


While we walked up a nice gulley in the moor, a Raven came right overhead chasing a crow off its territory. Look at the size difference, the Raven cronking while the crow gave a panicked chatter...

On the walk we flushed a Woodcock from the burn side, maybe a bird back on territory, 5 Stonechats in one area was good and a scattering of Reed Buntings were feeding on heather seed. A few pairs of Curlew were displaying overhead. All this to a throng of singing Skylarks and Meadow Pipits.

While nothing too special was seen, just being up there, on a spring morning, made it good to be alive...

Saturday, March 17, 2012


A lovely clear sunny spring day with blue skies all round.

This mornings dog walk was to woodland along the lane to look to see if any Chiffchaffs had arrived. They had! Three males to be precise, all singing away. One seen well in yellow sallow catkins looked typecast for the part.

At the lane end, a Stoat risked death by coming towards me along the main road. Luckily I flushed it into cover before a vehicle came along. Last weeks Long tailed Tit nest is almost finished now, with one bird adding extra lichens to the outer crust.

Elsewhere, a singing male Reed Bunting, a singing male Siskin and a ( you get the picture) singing male Nuthatch made for a pleasant stroll out.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Go wild, go wild, go wild in the country...

A belter of a day today, with the temp at 16 degrees at lunchtime.

This morning was spent at Branton doing the WeBs count with John. Before we started, a casual stroll checking a sunny hedge bottom produced 8 Adders basking in the early morning sun. All seemed to be females (They are males, see comment below). A selection of individuals are above, with one pic containing a pile of three!(Count the heads).

[See note below. Thanks the Greenie for his comment on the Adders. I found it a good help, so maybe it will come in handy for you too...
Stewart ,
Males are very variable in colour and when first out of hibernation as they are now , and can be very dull having spent several months under ground . When they 'slough' their skin , they will be much brighter . They also emerge 2/3weeks before females , and can be found lying around in numbers just outside their hibernacular , as your 3 were . In the past I have found up to ten animals lying together . Females tend to have a light brown/ginger ground colour with darker brown zig zag marking , which is less defined at the edges than the black , more defined zig zag of the male . The 'silver' colouration you mention occurs when a female in season , just every other year for them , is found , then hormones in the male go to work to produce that silver and black phase . Of interest , on all four occassions that I have witnessed 'the dance of the Adders' the combatants have always been silver/black males .]

Lots of Coltsfoot was in flower (top) and on the Sallows -

Small Tortoiseshell
Of the birds, a darvic ringed Mediterranean Gull ( ring was Red PJJ1), 3 Great crested Grebes and lots of returning upland breeders such as Oystercatchers, Redshank, Curlew, Lapwing and Lesser black backed Gulls were the highlight.

Back home, it was warm enough for the first grass cut of the year. Time in the garden produced Small Tortoiseshell, Red tailed Bumblebee and Buff tailed Bumblebee and the resident Tree Sparrows. 

Friday, March 02, 2012

On my way to work this morning a large skein of about 70 Whooper Swans flew north, low, over Longhoughton. Before the end of the month new visitors will have replaced them....

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Reporting In...

After seeing Mr Malloy's post about his cover of the Durham Bird Report, I forgot to show this. A  fine report with a fine cover by a little known artist... ;)

In Annual Reports Top Trumps, I think Northumberland beats Durham...