Tuesday, May 03, 2022

May begins..

 In the week since our paths crossed, there has been a flurry of wildlife sightings but not many birding highlights. Lately I've been subdued with my birding for some reason. Maybe its the cold spring ( again)? There is another niggling reason but I won't trouble you on here...

On this Bank Holiday weekend, I have been keeping an eye on the City Nature Challenge, North east, that was co-ordinated by the Great North ( Hancock) Museum Team to great effect.  The purpose was to carry out a 4 day bioblitz across our North East region, boosting records of natural history in all its forms via the iNaturalist platform. A bit of fun , with a purpose, so it seemed like a good idea.

Last year the North East ( I didn't join in as I didn't realise the North east is now a 'City' apparently) entered something like 1500 observations of 600+ taxa by 97 observers! Not bad in 4 days. Now fired up, I thought I might contribute something to the party...

Some observers went at it hammer and tongs recording all in their path, but I decided to be a bit more selective in my approach, trying to report a few things that might not be as obvious as Red Campion or Hawthorn. Over the challenge, I added some 70 records and species to the tally. Of these, my personal highlights were Palmate and Smooth Newts, Common Backswimmer, Mountain Bumblebee, Ring Ouzel, Cuckoo and Brambling the contents of my moth trap including a garden first, the long hoped for Lunar Marbled Brown, Engrailed and Eriocrania semipurpurella.

As this app runs by uploading photos so your peers can confirm the identity of the organism on show, I left out a lot of things, like the male Peregrine that flew over our pond on Saturday or the first House Martin and Whitethroats of the year in the village also on Saturday.  

Unbelievably, last years recording effort was well and truly trounced. This time over 150 observers submitted almost 4000 records or, wait for it...... 1,015 ish species! 

I used this weekend to trial the app to see if it would suit my purposes. It was very easy to use, and I'll continue to see if it matches up to iRecord. I was amazed at how the AI could identify the objects you have photographed even some quite complex species with ease. For example Grey Pine and Spruce Carpets posed no obstacle when I have to look at them twice! 

One of the funny sides was that no matter how crap your photography is, you can usually drag out something that will do to form the record, as you will see below...some shots are pretty much dire...

Of the 9 Smooth Newts seen, this male was netted and tanked up for a photo shoot, but was back in the pond in under 9 hours of captivity.

Now see this Palmate Newt. Sorry about the phone shot but I was lucky to find it at all as he was creeping through the grass near our village pond. Note, clean white throat, thread like tail tip, finer spotting and black hind feet. This is my first close up of this species, and its a blog debut.

Mountain Bumblebee Bombus monticola really fast, almost impossible to get a photo.


Eriocrania semipurpurella

Lunar Marbled Brown, a site and blog first.

Common Backswimmer

Grey Pine Carpet

Purple Thorn

Small Phoenix



Ring Ouzel female

Brambling female

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