Thursday, September 27, 2018


September and October are the peak months for bird migration in the UK.

Here in Northumberland, August through to November is THE best time of year for birding. We are ideally positioned to recieve migrating birds from the North and East along our hundred miles of quite underwatched coastline. This is all well and good until you consider the one factor that acts as referee, judge and executioner in deciding whether the autumn has been a classic or a damp squib. The Weather.

Most years fall somewhere between these extremes with years like 2016 being top of the shop and, er, so far, 2018 being bottom!

So far this autumn, from, say, 10th August my local birding highlights have been -

Long tailed Skua 1ad tracked N along the coast, actually seen passing my patch.
Sooty Shearwater 1.
Spotted Flycatcher 2 ( yes, really, it is that bad)
Whinchat 2
Merlin 1
Med Gulls 2 ad winter together, my first multiple occurrence on patch. 

What a fine array, thanks to the relentless series of Westerly or Southerly winds. If I had driven to some of the hotspots, there has been Barred,Greenish and Arctic Warblers during a narrow window of easterly weather, but as a rule this year needs to come up with a radical move in the jetstream to stop 2018 becoming the antithesis of 2016!

As for falls of common migrants or good seawatches, these have been non existent. I remember when every autumn would see me taking holidays from work to fit in with seawatching or fall conditions. The way things are going, I'll still have leave to use up through to spring...

This weekend, calls for a change. I think we might head north in search of shrike, starling and seaduck...if they haven't done a bunk by then.

No birds, but a Blusher from Suffolk.

Monday, September 17, 2018


Just back from a nice week in Westleton, Suffolk. We have stayed in the village, about 2 miles from Minsmere, about 8 times now over the years in 5 different houses. Its a nice spot, equidistant between Soutwold and Aldeburgh, nice seaside towns. The area has good heathland, woods coast and reedbeds so there is always something for the naturalist away.

This time, in line with most of 2018, little deliberate birding was done, but I still managed 2 Stone Curlew near Minsmere, 2 Hobby together at Thorpeness, several Green Woodpecker ( scarce birds at home), a dozen Little Gulls at Sizewell, 8 Whinchats at Aldeburgh, but generally I was unsettled at the general lack of small birdlife around the countryside. Place were quite literally silent. No woodpigeons, crows, robins or dunnocks. Not a sound. I did see the odd passing tit flock but that was about it really.

Other forms of wildlife added interest for this Northerner -

Munjac in several areas, Grey Squirrels ( not annual at home), Adder, Migrant Hawkers, Ruddy and Common Darters and of course, the moths. Bringing the trap down here is always gauranteed to get new species for me and this week was very good indeed, with a couple of very localised species that would never have been on my radar.

 Hopefully we will be brave enough to face that bloody horrendous A1 for a return visit next year, but in the mean time here are a few pics...


Moth Trap fired up.

About 200 yds away from the digs lies the heath.
Dusky Thorn

Oak Hook-tip

Least Carpet

Archers Dart

Gold Triangle

Cypress Pug

Tawny Wave

Heath Rustic

Lunar Yellow Underwing

Mullein Wave

Meal Moth

Wax Moth

White Point

Beaded Chestnut