Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Since my last post I have managed to get in a few short seawatch sessions at Craster at the north end of my patch. There are a few common species I can add to my year list if I persevere and am blessed with a little luck. My very reasonable targets were - Common Tern ( I've had Sandwich, Arctic, Little and Roseate!), Dunlin ( I live 300 mtrs from the sea yet this is a tricky species to get here due to the rocky coastline) and Arctic Skua.

You've guessed it. I am still waiting for them. Truth is I have managed a few Manx Shearwaters, lots of Puffins, odd flocks of Common Scoter, 10+ Turnstone in breeding plumage, 2-3 Whimbrel, 40+ Arctic Tern and a pod of 12 or so Bottle-nosed Dolphins.

Now many of you with landlocked patches will be salivating at these records ( especially the dolphins!) but really there is nothing there to get the pulse going. There were Gannets, Kitti's and Fulmars too, but they rarely make it into the notebook in summer or autumn unless there is some remarkable passage taking place.

I wont despair though, dolphins are always nice to see, even through fog (photoshop has removed this from the pics) and it wont be long before something of patch interest flies into view over the waves. After all its just the start of the seawatch season...

Friday, July 24, 2015

Despicable him...

Here is a little drab micro moth I caught the other night in the garden. Its 1365 Pyrausta despicata. Most of its relatives in this country are pink and purple with gold and black flashes, but here we make do with despicata. Even its name sounds poor.

Regardless of image, this little fella is a very rare species in Northumberland with only four records in total, the last away from my garden was in 1976. This is my second after one in 2013.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Rusty red and the mud hoppers.

My route to and from work drives right past a nice, medium sized, Northumberland estuary. Complete with mini mudflats and saltmarsh, the river Coquet at Amble is an excellent spot for migrating waders. Best of all, not having any hides, it hardly gets a look at by birders compared to the Druridge Bay reserves only a few miles south.

For me, this is its main attraction. You don't have to put up with 'birders' saying 'is the blackwit showing' or queues of cars waiting for the Barn owl to be papped a millionth time.

Right enough of that. Yesterday and this evening, on my way back from work I stopped for a quick scan of the mud for new arrivals. I've promised myself a White rumped Sand on here this year, even though its not strictly 'my' patch. I visit here with John regularly on a Sunday as he is doing a low key year list on the site. As he is busy elsewhere this week, I feel obliged to check the area on his behalf.

Last night there was a nice party of Dunlin, 40+ at least, all sporting neat black bellies and 11+ Common Sandpipers. Not earth shattering, for sure, but promising.

Tonight I only had about 20 minutes to spare, but straight away I could see the numbers had increased as the tide shuffled the birds backwards. Dunlin had upped to 80+ and a tidy Black tailed Godwit brightened things up. A very distant little wader scuttled through the Dunlin in a stint-like fashion so I left the car and walked a good 100 yards closer for a better look. No sign of anything resembling a stint, but Bingo! a lovely breeding plumaged Curlew Sandpiper stood heads above the Dunlin on the opposite shore. Occasionally the flock would lift and do a 'murmuration' around the edge before pitching in again. One stop had Common Sand, Curlew Sand, Dunlin, Redshank and Black tailed Godwit all in a line. Nice.

So, no sign of any peeps this evening but the one from arctic Russia was just as pleasing. Lets hope there are more nice waders over the coming weeks.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A hint of winter....

This afternoon I decided to brave the throngs of Robson Green disciples and head off down to Craster to see if I can add Common Tern to my flagging patch list.

I sat for a while in the sun overlooking a nice blue calm sea. A few Sandwich Terns, Fulmars and Kittiwakes loitered about while a Gannet or two passed by on their way back to Bass Rock.
The tide was full, making the long skeer off the harbour into an island. On here, a Whimbrel called briefly as it jostled for space with a few Oystercatchers, then a Common Sandpiper fluttered across the channel onto the the rock. Patch year tick No 1. As the waves lapped, a smaller bird appeared with the Eiders. A Goosander redhead. We get a few moulting birds in the area at this time, so this was Patch year tick No2.

As I casually scanned about wondering if the seawatching would be any good this year, a gull roosting on the rock caught my attention. An odd colour that, I thought, and went to get the scope from the boot. As suspected, it was a first summer Glaucous Gull roosting in the sun!  Not exactly what you want to be seeing in July, but its a full on patch tick, year tick No3 in half an hour, so it would be churlish to complain. Get on the list.

Now, where are the waders....

Thats it, bang centre. Click on it...

First summer Glaucous Gull, surprisingly, my first on patch since moving here 6 years ago. 
124. Common Sandpiper
125. Goosander
126. Glaucous Gull.

More Moths...

A good catch last night, the full list is on here, of 458 moths of 86 species.

More with one trap than  the night before's two! Best of the bunch was a new species for the garden and one I haven't seen for over 15 years, since we lived at Stobswood - Figure of 80. I like these moths, shaped like another fave of mine Yellow Horned. Lilac Beauty was also nice but it wouldn't really sit for a pic, whilst Cydia splendana  was new for the year Cydia fagiglandana was anew species for the garden, 2nd for VC68 and only the 4th for Northumberland. Thanks to Tom for spotting my photo...

Figure of 80

Cydia splendana fagiglandana

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Moths last night.

For the first time, last night I ran two traps in the garden, my usual 125w Robinson plus one on loan from Roger Forster, a 125w Skinner.
Highlight last night was Evergestis pallidata, my second record here, and a Clouded Brindle.

Evergestis pallidata

Dark/Grey Dagger ( Do Dark Dagger really exist?)

A purplish looking Pale shouldered Brocade perhaps? Unsure....

0018  Map-winged Swift (Hepialus fusconebulosa f. gallicus)  1
0464  Diamond-back Moth (Plutella xylostella)  1
1011  Pseudargyrotoza conwagana  3
1020  Grey Tortrix (Cnephasia stephensiana)  1
1021  Flax Tortrix (Cnephasia asseclana)  1
1076  Celypha lacunana  8
1201  Eucosma cana  2
1294  Crambus pascuella  1
1304  Agriphila straminella  2
1316  Catoptria falsella  1
1334  Scoparia ambigualis  2
1338  Dipleurina lacustrata  7
1358  Evergestis pallidata  1 NFY
1376  Small Magpie (Eurrhypara hortulata)  4
1405  Mother of Pearl (Pleuroptya ruralis)  1 NFY
1439  Trachycera advenella  1 NFY
1653  Buff Arches (Habrosyne pyritoides)  5
1708  Single-dotted Wave (Idaea dimidiata)  1
1713  Riband Wave (Idaea aversata)  1
1713  Riband Wave [non-banded form] (Idaea aversata ab. remutata)  2
1732  Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata)  1 NFY
1738  Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata)  3
1758  Barred Straw (Eulithis pyraliata)  6
1776  Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria)  1
1777  July Highflyer (Hydriomena furcata)  3 NFY
1809  Twin-spot Carpet (Perizoma didymata)  2
1862  Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata)  1
1906  Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata)  1
1922  Swallow-tailed Moth (Ourapteryx sambucaria)  2 NFY
1937  Willow Beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria)  1
1941  Mottled Beauty (Alcis repandata)  1
1981  Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi)  1
2003  Pebble Prominent (Notodonta ziczac)  1
2008  Coxcomb Prominent (Ptilodon capucina)  1
2057  Garden Tiger (Arctia caja)  1
2089  Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis)  22
2098  Flame (Axylia putris)  14
2107  Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba)  82
2120  Ingrailed Clay (Diarsia mendica)  2
2122  Purple Clay (Diarsia brunnea)  4
2123  Small Square-spot (Diarsia rubi)  2
2126  Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum)  4
2128  Double Square-spot (Xestia triangulum)  6
2158  Pale-shouldered Brocade (Lacanobia thalassina)  3
2160  Bright-line Brown-eye (Lacanobia oleracea)  9
2173  Lychnis (Hadena bicruris)  1
2176  Antler Moth (Cerapteryx graminis)  1 NFY
2192  Brown-line Bright Eye (Mythimna conigera)  1
2193  Clay (Mythimna ferrago)  13
2198  Smoky Wainscot (Mythimna impura)  15
2199  Common Wainscot (Mythimna pallens)  34 2284x  Dark Dagger / Grey Dagger (Acronicta tridens/psi)  1
2306  Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa)  3
2321  Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha)  44
2322  Light Arches (Apamea lithoxylaea)  8
2326  Clouded-bordered Brindle (Apamea crenata)  1
2327  Clouded Brindle (Apamea epomidion)  1 NFY
2330  Dusky Brocade (Apamea remissa)  3
2334  Rustic Shoulder-knot (Apamea sordens)  1 2337x  Marbled Minor agg. (Oligia strigilis agg.)  9
2340  Middle-barred Minor (Oligia fasciuncula)  2 2343x  Common Rustic agg. (Mesapamea secalis agg.)  18
2345  Small Dotted Buff (Photedes minima)  1
2382  Rustic (Hoplodrina blanda)  15
2387  Mottled Rustic (Caradrina morpheus)  5
2434  Burnished Brass (Diachrysia chrysitis)  7
2441  Silver Y (Autographa gamma)  3
2443  Plain Golden Y (Autographa jota)  7
2450  Spectacle (Abrostola tripartita)  6
2477  Snout (Hypena proboscidalis)  1

421 moths of 69sp

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A late post...

At last, a blog post in July!

What afew weeks we have had with IT problems here. It all started in June when the broadband connection collapsed for  week, then our PC was blown by a storm making it unsuable for a week, then the broadband dropped again for another week. What a performance. The trials and tribulations of contacting BT to get things fixed were up there beside climbing the north west face of the Eiger, or swimming the channel!

So here is a short, mainly photographic post from a couple of weeks ago.

John and myself took an unscheduled trip over the border into Scotland for a change where we visited Gordon Moss, near the Black Adder ( yes really).

Here we wandered for a good way seeing a good few butterflies in the process.

Small Heath

Red Admiral


Small Tortoiseshell

Meadow Brown
Small Pearl bordered Fritillary
A big hoverfly - Volucella bombulans

Heath Spotted Orchid
 Our next stop was up on the coast at Burnmouth where we saw good numbers of Northern Brown Argus, at least 10+.

Northern Brown Argus