Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Punk's Back!

Like Dr Who, Madonna and David Bowie, Dean Stables has a habit of  vanishing and coming back to blogging fully invigorated and revamped. Long timers will remember 'Mostly Macro' and more recently 'Deans Daily Diary' now we have 'Photos as and When'

I'm sure his new incarnation will be every bit as good as his last, so please give him a follow and leave a comment or two to cheer him up.

Hope all goes well in future Dean...

Cheers Stewart.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Barred 1 Booted 0

Well what a day. I spent 5 hours this morning staring at a patch of ragwort and peering into impenetrable bushes, on Hadston Links, seeing several dunnocks, blue tits and willow warblers, but yesterdays Booted Warbler had clearly been booted too far and was not on show today.  Disappointed at missing an excellent county bird I came home with little hope of salvaging anything from the day, other than some good crack with the lads.

After a late breakfast, we took Bunty for a wander, noting how quiet things were and thinking to myself that the village willows looked nice for a wryneck. On our return we walked past our neighbours garden where half a dozen House Sparrows were on her finely manicured lawn, below her bird bath, when I had to do a double take. Sitting with the spuggies was an altogether bigger bird, paler and 'different looking'. Through the bins, my milisecond view registered 'Barred Warbler' before it flipped up and into our garden hedge next to the bedroom window!

Now after last years brief sighting of Barred, I thought that people are going to give me such a stringing tag for this, so I went for a slow look around the garden.

No sign.

Then Jane came out waving for me to come inside. The bird had been sitting about two feet from our bedroom window! I crept through, but, it had gone. I waited half an hour with no further sightings when we had to leave to visit my sister.

Fast forward to 6pm. We came home and I didnt hold out much hope, but ever the optimist Jane went and looked from the bedroom and came back to say, it was still there! Now, my neighbours garden was busy with chatting people so I thought surely not, it must just be the local spuggies, the Barred must be long gone.

I waited for a few minutes when - bang - there it was in the open, four feet away through the window, a tremendous juvvy Barred Warbler!! It flew back and forth along the hedge giving glances before sitting up in the back hedge near the sparrow flock. What a cracker, the best view of my third garden record of Barred Warbler in four years...

As you know my photo skills are not the best and through a small cottage window this is bound to be a disaster but here goes...

A snatched shot as it blundered into the hedge.
Sunning in the hedge
Barred Warbler.
This makes Barred Warbler commoner than Garden Warbler in my garden!

Oh I'm sorry, it cant be seen from public areas so there is no opportunity for a twitch.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Up to the woods...

Well no sign of any Two-barred Crossbills, Crossbills or even birds really, but that doesn't mean there aren't any, they're just hiding for later in the autumn....

So without any rare distractions JWR and myself had to concentrate on other wildlife in the wood.

 A lot of butterflies were around, especially Speckled Woods with 47 seen on a couple of miles walk. To go with them were 9 Wall Brown plus several Whites, Peacocks , Small Coppers etc.

Wall Brown
Southern Hawkers showed well hunting along the tracks, but only a female sat for a pic.
Further up the wood a lovely large female Adder dashed across the track before I could get the camera out of my bag, but a couple of Lizards were more obliging...

Common Lizard
There is no prize but click on the above pic to enlarge and see what is unusual about this Lizard...I've never seen the like. It must have had an injury at one time...

Eyebright sp
 Although they are unidentifiable to the lay person, Eyebrights are always nice to see.

Marmalade Hoverfly
Although sunny and warm , it was quite windy in open places, but the light did have an autumn feel to it. 


Any help with the identification of these would be of assistance and gratefully received.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mystic Meg...

Right, I have my crystal ball out now.

If there isn't a Two barred Crossbill in Northumberland as I write this, I'll put my arse in Fenwicks window...

That's technical term that clairvoyants use. They're rough.

Irony is, there are usually Crossbills around our place at this time, but this year? Not a clip-clip-chip to be heard...yet.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Moth Night 2013

Moth traps into the distance...

Moth Night is not strictly correct, as last nights session was two-part event.

On Saturday night, Alan Fairclough, John Rutter and myself set up 2x 125w MV Robinsons, 1x 160w blended Skinner and a 15w actinic Skinner trap, in a line along the western edge of Howick Village Green. The weather was good, dull and mild with little breeze and hopes were high. On the night a total of 19 guests attended from 9pm - midnight, then on Sunday 23 guests attended from 8.30am until the moths were done.

My partner, Jane, played a blinder providing apple cake, chocolate cream cake, and teas, coffees and hot chocolate for all attendees. In the morning, they were treated to freshly cooked cheese scones for brekkie!

Every one seemed to enjoy the event, more so the beginners who have not seen a moth trap in operation before. I hope some might be inspired to have a go.

Many thanks to all who participated in making it such an enjoyable event.

The final tally is as follows -

Coleophora species (Coleophora sp.) 1
0216 Cork Moth (Nemapogon cloacella) 1
0246 Tinea semifulvella 1
Cherry Fruit Moth
0420 Cherry Fruit Moth (Argyresthia pruniella) 1
0424 Bird-cherry Ermine (Yponomeuta evonymella) 5
0464 Diamond-back Moth (Plutella xylostella) 22
0644 Borkhausenia fuscescens 1
0658 Carcina quercana 2
0688 Agonopterix heracliana 1
Agonopterix angelicella
0713 Agonopterix angelicella 2
0792 Mirificarma mulinella 1
0873 Blastobasis adustella 16
0874 Blastobasis lacticolella 1
0886 Mompha ochraceella 2
Limnaecia phragmitella
0898 Limnaecia phragmitella 2
0937 Agapeta hamana 1
0970 Barred Fruit-tree Tortrix (Pandemis cerasana) 1
0972 Dark Fruit-tree Tortrix (Pandemis heparana) 1
1021 Flax Tortrix (Cnephasia asseclana) 4
1076 Celypha lacunana 2
1126 Ancylis badiana 12
1205 Bud Moth (Spilonota ocellana) 1
1304 Agriphila straminella 3
1305 Agriphila tristella 24
1316 Catoptria falsella 3
1334 Scoparia ambigualis 6
1388 Udea lutealis 45
1390 Udea prunalis 1 NEW
1405 Mother of Pearl (Pleuroptya ruralis) 12
1454 Dioryctria abietella 1
1551 Green-veined White (Pieris napi) 2
1653 Buff Arches (Habrosyne pyritoides) 1
1702 Small Fan-footed Wave (Idaea biselata) 14
1713 Riband Wave [non-banded form] (Idaea aversata ab. remutata) 3
1722 Flame Carpet (Xanthorhoe designata) 1
1728 Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) 1
1732 Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata) 7
1738 Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata) 1
1759 Small Phoenix (Ecliptopera silaceata) 1
1764 Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 3
1765 Barred Yellow (Cidaria fulvata) 2
1777 July Highflyer (Hydriomena furcata) 6
1802 Rivulet (Perizoma affinitata) 6
1803 Small Rivulet (Perizoma alchemillata) 5
Barred Rivulet
1804 Barred Rivulet (Perizoma bifaciata) 1
1834 Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata) 1
1837 Grey Pug (Eupithecia subfuscata) 1
1838 Tawny Speckled Pug (Eupithecia icterata) 3
1906 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) 2
1917 Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria) 2
1962 Barred Red (Hylaea fasciaria) 2
2007 Swallow Prominent (Pheosia tremula) 1
Buff Footman
2049 Buff Footman (Eilema depressa) 1
2050 Common Footman (Eilema lurideola) 2
2107 Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 155
2109 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 7
2110 Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua fimbriata) 2
2111 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua janthe) 57
2112 Least Yellow Underwing (Noctua interjecta) 11
2123 Small Square-spot (Diarsia rubi) 1
2128 Double Square-spot (Xestia triangulum) 5
2130 Dotted Clay (Xestia baja) 18
2133 Six-striped Rustic (Xestia sexstrigata) 14
2134 Square-spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa) 11
2136 Gothic (Naenia typica) 1
2176 Antler Moth (Cerapteryx graminis) 2
2193 Clay (Mythimna ferrago) 1
2198 Smoky Wainscot (Mythimna impura) 16
2274 Sallow (Xanthia icteritia) 1
2318 Dun-bar (Cosmia trapezina) 2
2321 Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha) 22
2335 Slender Brindle (Apamea scolopacina) 4
2337x Marbled Minor agg. (Oligia strigilis agg.) 1
2342 Rosy Minor (Mesoligia literosa) 6
2343x Common Rustic agg. (Mesapamea secalis agg.) 27
2353 Flounced Rustic (Luperina testacea) 7
2360x Ear Moth agg. (Amphipoea oculea agg.) 3
2361 Rosy Rustic (Hydraecia micacea) 5
2434 Burnished Brass (Diachrysia chrysitis) 1
2441 Silver Y (Autographa gamma) 7
2443 Plain Golden Y (Autographa jota) 2
2477 Snout (Hypena proboscidalis) 2
2489 Fan-foot (Zanclognatha tarsipennalis) 2

639 Moths of 82 species.

Friday, August 09, 2013

National Moth Night 2013

Garden Tiger - one of the Moth Night target species

Hello all, 

National Moth Night takes place this year from 8th - 10th August. This is where mothing sessions are arranged for anyone who has an interest to attend, to see how its done and basically meet a few moths. Its ideal for anyone hoping to get into moths to ask a few questions and for local residents who may have seen the bright glow from our house to see what its all about...

So, I'm am inviting anyone interested  to attend a couple of open sessions at  

Howick Village Hall, Howick Village, Alnwick, just down the road
from Howick Hall....

Saturday night 10th August 2013 from 9pm until midnight.

Meet at the Village Hall 9pm sharp. The traps will be in operation, and weather permitting there should be some moths attracted, and maybe some bats too.

Sunday morning 11th August 2013 from 8.30am until 10.30am

Come and see the traps emptied, the catch recorded and (hopefully) identified. There should be some opportunity to get some photos of the catch if you wish.

Feel free to come to one or both. There will be tea and coffee available with biscuits. As we will be using the Village Hall electrics, donations of £1 per head would be gratefully received.

All guests should bring a torch, and suitable clothing for outdoors, Children must be accompanied by an adult, sorry no pets. 

In the event that the weather forecast is for torrential rain ( drizzle is ok) or blowing a gale ( a light breeze is ok) please contact me. 

Stewart Sexton, Howick 

Sunday, August 04, 2013

The Bulls of the Tankervilles

On Wednesday afternoon, as reported last week, I had a thoroughly enjoyable visit to Chillingham Castle and to see the Wild Cattle. This was from a kind invite from Northumberland Tourism to press, TV, bloggers any others who work with the public to come and have a look around for ourselves, and, if we enjoyed it, to get the word out to our readers.

Well, this was my first visit in to this spot in deepest North Northumberland. Previously I had considered the Chillingham Cattle to be 'just farm animals' and a bit of a gimmick, but now after hearing their story from the very personable and learned warden, I have changed my mind.

Firstly about 20 of us spent 45 minutes on a whistle stop tour of Sir Humphry Wakefields castle renovation, where we saw an eclectic ( eccentric maybe, interesting definitely) collection of historical artefacts accumulated by generations of Sir Humphry's family, ranging from Himalayan Buddist Horn Pipes to fibre glass 'stone' fire places from the film set of 'Elizabeth' starring Cate Blanchett and on to devices of torture in a basement chamber.

This whole area reeks of history, from a time of turbulence when the Border Rievers would raid over into Northumberland.A talk in the Haunted room upstairs, didnt give away any ghostly secrets, but I wouldn't want to be here in the dark, that's for sure!

From the castle it was down to the 800 yr old parkland where a herd of 101 Chillingham cattle have remained free from the hand of man and from evolution since the park closure in the 13th century. Oringinally owned by Lord Tankerville and family, the beast, are completely untouched and are now the most inbred mammals on the planet. This is not what it seems though, there are no mutant deformed animals, the opposite in fact is true, they are disease resistant clones, originally kept for hunting and meat, now kept as a living reminder of a time when wolves and boar roamed these lands.

From a safe distance of around 40 yards they happily went about their business, pretty much like a deer herd rather than the cows we know today.

The wardens here are both excellent speakers, but the history of the cattle was the most enthralling for me. I left with a feeling that I had been privileged to meet up with the animals whose genes go back as far as the wild wood. They had a definite aura about them.

Anyway, I now feel that I can recommend a visit to locals and visitors alike. See if you get the same vibes as I did...

All in all an excellent trip out.

The formal gardens
Sir Humphry's rooms.
The Cattle
Torture Chamber  to get informnation from captured rievers)

Bull calling to another to stay away from his cows.
This bull has a new injury from fighting that may end up being his downfall...
For further information please check out - 

1. Chillingham Castle: www.chillingham-castle.com
2. Chillingham Wild Cattle: www.chillinghamwildcattle.com
3. For visitor information: www.visitnorthumberland.com