Saturday, April 29, 2017

April Moths...

My moth list for the garden during April...

  Agonopterix heracliana/ciliella (Agonopterix heracliana agg.)  2
12.034  Brown-dotted Clothes Moth (Niditinea fuscella)  1
18.001  Diamond-back Moth (Plutella xylostella)  1
29.001  a moth (Diurnea fagella)  2
32.017  a moth (Agonopterix arenella)  2
45.010  Beautiful Plume (Amblyptilia acanthadactyla)  1
49.087  a moth (Acleris literana)  1
70.066  Shoulder Stripe (Earophila badiata)  7
70.067  Streamer (Anticlea derivata)  1
70.079  Spruce Carpet (Thera britannica)  1
70.103  Water Carpet (Lampropteryx suffumata)  14
70.141  Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata)  2
70.237  Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria)  10
70.240  Scalloped Hazel (Odontopera bidentata)  1
70.245  March Moth (Alsophila aescularia)  2
70.247  Pale Brindled Beauty (Phigalia pilosaria)  1
71.021  Coxcomb Prominent (Ptilodon capucina)  1
73.032  Nut-tree Tussock (Colocasia coryli)  4
73.194  Chestnut (Conistra vaccinii)  3
73.241  Pine Beauty (Panolis flammea)  2
73.242  Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta)  65
73.244  Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi)  92
73.245  Small Quaker (Orthosia cruda)  5
73.247  Powdered Quaker (Orthosia gracilis)  45
73.249  Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica)  243
73.250  Twin-spotted Quaker (Anorthoa munda)  2
73.325  Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta)  1
73.327  Dark Sword-grass (Agrotis ipsilon)  1
73.336  Red Chestnut (Cerastis rubricosa)  12

525 moths of  29 sp

Friday, April 28, 2017


A short lunchtime walk into a childhood stomping ground has this glorious show of Bluebells today.  Bothal Woods doesn't seem to have changed too much in the intervening 35 years...

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A lovely day...

Met John down at Alnmouth this morning ( well, he had gone to my house before hand forgetting the arrangements :) . A short wander around had my first ( well, my first countable after the tape luring debacle a couple of weeks ago) Sedge Warbler of the year. A single bird was parachuting from a small phragmites patch near the cricket nets. Also here a single Black tailed Godwit was on the flood meadow nearby.

Sedge Warbler in habitat.
Yellow Wagtails new in, like animated dandelions...

From here we headed south to Chevington to see the summer plumaged Black Tern that has been around since Friday. I saw it on Friday on my way home from work, but we don't get too many looking like this so it was well worth another look. Too distant for photos but nice in the scope.

A close Grasshopper Warbler singing to another bird across the ditch was nice, again my first for the year was here on Friday night after being hoodwinked by an arse with a tape machine two weeks ago.

Grasshoppper Warbler.
We decided that the fleshpots of the bay were too much for us anti-social types so we made off slightly inland to some old stomping ground by Widdrington Tip / Felton Lane.

We didn't see much, but a male Orange Tip was  my first this season along with 2 Speckled Wood, 1 Peacock, 2+ Green veined White, and a couple of Small Whites. This was a very pleasant area to wander around looking for insects and plants. There aren't any decent brown field sites in the north of the county, so this was like returning to my roots...we will be back on another warm day for sure...

Green veined White on a yellow wagtail...
Cool nights have quietened the moth trap, but this Streamer was nice to get...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Yesterday, a walk with Bunty to the pond field produced a patch tick for me, 2 drake Mandarins.

Mandarin Duck has occurred here before just not long enough for me to see it, so I was quite excited at seeing these two shiny lads skulking at the back of the pond. I have been along tonight to try and get a photo, but there was no sign. I wonder where these exotics go?

Last night was mild, calm and overcast ideal for moth trapping. This morning there were 55 moths of 13 species, including some other than the obligatory Orthosias...

Best was this first for the garden, Acleris literana, a nice pale mint green and black tortrix, only the 7th for VC68.

Nut Tree Tussock is always good to see and marks the way out of winter into the proper mothing season.

This Coxcomb Prominent was a surprise and is the earliest Northumberland record by 9 days.
   Today I was looking around Google for some more tips on moth photography and noticed that some of the first results of the search were hopeless. Photos of moths face on or from almost below, pics in pots etc...I think I'll do a post on here after I take a few set up shots of my methods.Its not rocket science!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Shorelark heaven...

On Sunday Ben Steel found these four Shorelarks at Boulmer. They are probably the least twitched Shorelarks in Northumberland birding history after the Magnificent 7 that have wintered at East Chevington have provided such fantastic opportunities for birders and photographers.

So, why did I bother after seeing the Chevvy birds? Well, +tonight at Boulmer, I was alone, with no tape lures, no Brian Blessed rehearsals, no Timpani solo from the steel hides and the only 'togger there was me. The wind was blowing and the sound of Oystercatchers provided a suitably wild backdrop to the evening. Just me and the Shorelarks. Bliss....

A struggle to get all four in shot...

Mostly three was the best...

While the fourth played hard to get...

Monday, April 10, 2017


A Spoonbill, wondering what the hell an Evening Chronicle seller is doing at Druridge...

Its an education these days, visiting our birding hotspots in Northumberland.

At lunchtime I managed to pop out of the office and up to Druridge Pools for half an hour to see the Spoonbill that had arrived this morning. Unfortunately I missed a Common Crane, a Red rumped Swallow and a Red Kite that had all gone through, but, one Spoonbill in work time is better than nothing.

As I arrived  and left the car, I could hear a bellowing, a bit like a Red Deer during the rut, as I wandered the road down to the Budge Screen. When I got there, there was no rutting stag, just a chap with a polite Tyneside accent who sounded like Brian Blessed rehearsing for Flash Gordon II . Loud? I cant imaging it could have gotten any louder, exacerbated by the acoustics of the sheet steel and iron framework of the hide. The Alnwick Town Cryer was put to shame here by a person birding, not at a football match!

Don't get me wrong  as most will attest, I am not a shy, retiring, wall flower and have been guilty of having a laugh in the bay hides with mates, but this was on a different level. It would have easily drowned out an ipod gropper at full volume.

I was about to leave to get some headache pills when Jimmy Steel and Colin Bradshaw arrived. I stayed a little longer for a catch up, but could barely hear them so headed back to work...I'm not used to this, you'd never find it happening at Boulmer or Howick...

Still, out on the fields were the nice adult Spoonbill, a Little Egret, 3 or 4 Herons, 56+ Shoveler, many Teal, Wigeon and Snipe plus a few displaying Lapwing, all with heads up ready to flee in alarm at the racket going on in the tin box.


Sunday, April 09, 2017

Spring songs and fakes...

The day began at first light with a Brambling calling next to our garden, the first here this year.

I met up with John and went down to Cresswell to look for the Garganey that have been around for a couple of days. We didnt see them, but we did see 10 cars of  'toggers waiting patiently for the most photographed Barn Owl in Europe....

Of note here were a dozen Avocets, a male 'Greenland type' Wheatear , 2 White Wagtails and 2 Bar tailed Godwits.

Next stop was the bird filled Budge fields at Druridge. The Great White Egret seems to have departed, so I'm pleased to have seen it last week. Amongst a field guide plate full of wildfowl on offer were 2 Pintail and 2 Pochard, but it was the resident Great crested Grebes that stole the show. Two and a half pairs were involved in some handbags at dawn out on the mirror calm pool.

Great White Egret last week...
Tufted Duck

Great crested Grebe

Great crested Grebes 'laying 'ern'...( fighting to those not from Northumberland)

In the distance a Sedge Warbler could be heard singing, my earliest ever. Or is it. Read on...

Also here was an injured Russian White fronted Goose grazing with Greylags. A Green veined White was new for the year too.

We made our way along to East Chevington for a tea stop overlooking the pools.  Marsh Harrier could be seen occasionally while the air was filled with the songs of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. After a while a reeling Grasshopper Warbler could just be made out, so we had a walk to investigate and maybe get a photo.

Well, this is why I will not be year ticking my earliest Sedgie just yet...

As we wandered closer to the Grasshopper Warbler, the song got louder until, there, on the small footbridge, was a great view of our songster.... a Shiny Shoed DJ wielding an ipod of British bird songs! I wonder how many times this bloke has to be chastised to get into his nugget that tape luring birds in the breeding season for a year tick is just plain bad form? Why not just wait a week or two when they will be singing all along the dunes? Its beyond me. But now, whilst I may have had an early Sedge Warbler, I cant very well have it, in case it was this tosser with his sound machine! Twat. Thanks for that!

Right, breathe. In the warm sun today were a few butterflies, including Peacocks, Speckled Wood, Large White, Small White and Green veined White...

As the migration picks up apace this week, Yellow Wags and real Groppers might be seen...

Monday, April 03, 2017

Moths in March...

A garden update for March. Not a bad month really...

From top left clockwise - Twin spotted Quaker, Small Quaker, Pine Beauty and March Moth

  Agonopterix heracliana/ciliella (Agonopterix heracliana agg.)  30
17.011  a moth (Ypsolopha ustella)  1
18.001  Diamond-back Moth (Plutella xylostella)  4
28.009  White-shouldered House-moth (Endrosis sarcitrella)  1
29.001  a moth (Diurnea fagella)  8
32.039  a moth (Depressaria daucella)  1
70.066  Shoulder Stripe (Earophila badiata)  1
70.095  Red-Green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata)  1
70.101  Mottled Grey (Colostygia multistrigaria)  2
70.103  Water Carpet (Lampropteryx suffumata)  2
70.141  Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata)  2
70.237  Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria)  3
70.245  March Moth (Alsophila aescularia)  10
70.247  Pale Brindled Beauty (Phigalia pilosaria)  23
70.251  Oak Beauty (Biston strataria)  6
70.255  Dotted Border (Agriopis marginaria)  6
73.069  Early Grey (Xylocampa areola)  5
73.194  Chestnut (Conistra vaccinii)  8
73.210  Satellite (Eupsilia transversa)  3
73.241  Pine Beauty (Panolis flammea)  1
73.242  Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta)  54
73.244  Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi)  126
73.245  Small Quaker (Orthosia cruda)  9
73.249  Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica)  295
73.250  Twin-spotted Quaker (Anorthoa munda)  1
73.336  Red Chestnut (Cerastis rubricosa)  28

Sunday, April 02, 2017


Inland today started off cold, like winter really, with a few Fieldfares and Redwings, plus 4 Crossbills between Alnwick Moor, Thrunton and Calally, before we headed down to the River Breamish near Powburn. This is a lovely area and on a glorious spring day like today, it made for a pleasant morning out.

Along the river, 30 Sand Martins had returned to a breeding colony, whilst on some gravel pools, a Ringed Plover narrowly missed going in the book as Little Ringed, until we took a closer look. Never make assumptions, son.

Lots of wildfowl were quite active, squabbling for territories, but the highlights were a brief Green Sandpiper that flew in for a while then off again, lit up in the bright sunshine. Shame it was too fast and distant for a photo.

The local Dippers were not quite so reticent, so a few minutes were spent watching them nest building in a regular spot...Oh, and few Red legged Partridges were my first for 2017...


Pre-Fool Ducks.

On Friday, after work, April Fools Eve, I felt it appropriate to call in at DBCP to see the pair of Mandarin Ducks at the boat ramp. Just like the Ferruginous Duck, these were fully wild birds, timid and unringed and as such they will be cheerfully added to the year list. No fool here...

While carefully stalking such wild quarry, my first two Sand Martins of the year twittered over head...

Likely, the colourful little tree ducks will be gone now, to continue their spring passage, somewhere.