Tuesday, October 12, 2021


 12th October and no blog posts. Anyone would think it has been a busy bird filled autumn but no, the first part is correct 'busy' but bird filled, no. I just haven't had much time to blog so here is a potted catch up.

Rather than birds keeping the Adrenalin flowing in October it has been invertebrates that have provided several lifers over the last few days.

To start with, an arachnid came as a surprise. When the Wild Guides 'Britains Spiders' book came out I was intrigued by a small spider that was almost only found on the smooth grey trunks of old Beech trees. We have a few good candidates in the arboretum beside us so thought I would look sometime. That project slipped my mind until 29th Sept when walking Peggy after work. We came down a steep woodland bank ending up face to trunk with a massive tree. As I looked at the bulk of the timber, a small creature ran across. A spider! Could it be the one from the book? By now I had forgotten its name and didnt have my camera so tried to see any marks on the long legged money spider. It had an obvious white band on the abdomen and thin striped legs. As described there were strands of web across the trunk too.

Sure enough back home a browse of the internet and check of the book showed the spider to be Invisible Spider Drapetisca socialis. Since then I have checked and found another couple on different trees, so it must be quite widespread.

Invisible Spider.

Several visits to Boulmer have been slow for birds but a colour ringed Bar tailed Godwit in a flock of 29 was a male bird of the year ringed in Norway.

On 5th October a Northerly storm rattled some torrential rain along the coast. I walked the north end at Boulmer hoping to find grounded migrants but returned to the car with rain running down my armpits under my clothes and a single Wheatear in the notebook. The following day the morning had a good passage of wildfowl with 2,139 Wigeon, 5 Pintail, 2 Shoveler all heading North.

On 7th a warm plume of air from the Azores bathed us in an unseasonal 20 degrees, and also dropped some migrant moths in our village. A Gem was only the second here after one in 2010 plus Dark Sword-grass, Rush Veneer, Silver Y and Diamond back. Our neighbour along at the farm did even better and caught a  , only the 15th for Northumberland.

The Delicate

The Gem

Rhigognostis incarnatella 

Another new species for me was a Diamond back look-a-like Rhigognostis incarnatella. The moth fest wasn't over just yet however. There was a bigger surprise waiting. Overnight on 10th it was cooler and there didnt seem much activity around the lamp. The next morning it only took a few minutes to identify and count the 20 moths of 16 species in the egg trays. That is until I noticed a single moth lying in the bottom of the trap. A long looking, Setaceous Hebrew Character shaped 'flame shoulder'?

Straight away I sort of knew what was instore here. The moth was soon processed, photographed and discussed with Tom Tams. We agreed it was Northumberlands first and most unlikely Radford's Flame Shoulder, a rare migrant of the south coast and around 400 miles north of its main known range!
Tom had it confirmed by Steve Nash and I was commented on by Dave Grundy and Les Evans-Hill.
What an amazing record! 

Radford's Flame Shoulder, centre, with a Flame Shoulder from the summer on the right to compare. 

Check out the distribution. We are at the top line, 5 squares above the Isle of Wight.

 Now, all was not lost on the bird front either. On Friday 8th a visitor to Holy Island found Northumberland's 3rd and only twitchable Red eyed Vireo along the Straight Lonnen. The previous two were only seen by the finders so all county birders were interested in this one. I can remember being in awe of the first in 1988 and again racing to the scene in 2014 to no avail. However this latest blood shot yank was much more polite and is still present on day 5.

I went up on Saturday morning and managed a lot of short glimpses in thick cover then two longer more open views. We went back on Sunday for another look but the breeze made it impossible so we left empty handed. Not to worry I was please to update Bubo with my 357th county bird.

Above - Red eyed Vireo, Holy Island. 


  1. Action-packed post there Stewart! I’ve only seen one Radford’s, at Dungeness, but the way things are going I might hold out hope for one here in Banstead.

  2. Cheers Steve, yes they are having a good year, its a matter of time before you get one...