Monday, August 27, 2012

Holy Island.

Yesterday was a nice clear sunny early autumnal day, so we had an early crossing on to Holy Island, beating the tourists across the causeway before getting cut off by the tide. This is how to experience the island at its best. It seems to go very quiet even though there were still a good few visitors, there is no traffic sound.

We walked the Chare Ends, to the Excavations and back via the Straight Lonnen.

Unfortunately birds were very thin on the ground, but we did manage a fleeting glimpse of a Barred Warbler as it up ended into some tall willows. ( It was also seen by a visitor from Scarboro and by Mike Carr later on). A few Willow Warblers and a Wheatear were the only other migrants seen.

While wandering the dunes checking sallows we found these -

Grey Dagger
Fox Moth
 There were over a thousand Buff Tip moth cats on one bush in webs. They had stripped some branches bare. They varied from very first instars to pre-pupating finger sized monsters.

Grass of Parnassus
There were swathes of Grass of Parnassus in flower in the damp flatter areas. A Common Hawker sounded like a wind blown bag of crisps as it tried to get free from some marram grass. We gently helped it up and on its way.

Common Hawker

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The wind of change...

Wasn't that a song from the Scorpions? Anyway, autumn is slipping around us almost unnoticed. The nights are definitely getting darker earlier, the hirundines are moving away and what may be the last of my Swift sightings were 8 over the garden yesterday...

I need a blogging plan for 2013. It seems that just like the autumn, I have had a change online too, with the blog slipping away like the summer...

I'll ponder it.

Monday, August 06, 2012


Stilt Sandpiper, from memory, after snapping my pencil in last nights panic...

When you get a phone call from Gary Woodburn at 8pm on a Sunday evening, its best to hope that you haven't started that second glass of wine...

Tonights call from a plainly incredulous Gary, said that I should get in the car and head to Newton...why? I asked...Stilt Sandpiper...on the scrape....NOW!

I hung up first, and made excuses to my brother, sister-in-law and Jane who was making the dinner and legged it to the car. I managed to call a few interested parties before the off and arrived at Low Newton about 10 minutes later. That jog from the Tin Church to the scrape is just the job in a state of panic, dragging scope and the weight of a county first with me.

No need for haste though, Gaz was cool, standing glued to the bird, now feeding a hundred metres away with Greenshank and Redshank. Apparently it had flown off twice, only to do a lap of the area an drop back in again.

With still good light, we enjoyed the bird to a backdrop of wheezing as myself and a few other arrivals gathered our breath back ( birders are getting older). The bird, an adult in breeding plumage, probed around in a relaxed manner before having a preen and settling down for the evening.

I wonder if this is the same individual that was at Lodmoor RSPB same week last year? I bet it is you know...Regardless, this, the bird of the year in Northumberland so far, will take some beating. A county first, as you would expect, and a fantastic one too.

Takes me to 327 for the county, the first new species since last years Greater Yellowlegs...

Cheers Gary!

[Tuesday edit - Looking at videos of the bird it is much paler from the front than I depict here. My impression was of a much darker bird, but it was excuse anyway...]