Monday, February 13, 2023

A cornucopia...

 Out and about yesterday seemed pretty much standard fare with one or two bits of interest thrown in.

Lets begin with the moth trapping.

For the first time this year I put the small bucket trap out in the Village Wood on Saturday night. The evening was calm, overcast and quite mild at 8 degrees so despite the early date I was hopeful that a few moths would show.

On collection yesterday there were a reasonable 32 moths of 6 species - Agonopterix heracliana/ciliella 1, Acleris cristana 1, a nice form I have not seen before, Tortricodes alternella 1, Dotted Border 3, Pale brindled Beauty 8 and 18 Chestnut. As usual in early spring, this outshone the more powerful garden Robinson trap that could only muster 1 Hebrew Character and 1 Dark Chestnut.

I always feel a bit guilty entering the wood at first light as I feel I am disturbing the locals - Roe Deer. The tactic is to make a small amount of noise as I walk so as not to overly surprise them when I round a corner. On this occasion, one stood only about 10 mtrs away watching me walk past, so I kept eye contact to the ground and quickly went on my way.

Acleris cristana

 Catch counted and released by 7.45 I met John and we headed down to Birling Carrs to have a look at the sea. This is the southern boundary of John's patch and there has been a Red necked Grebe in recent weeks so it was worth a look. On route, a short pause at Lesbury for singing Dipper resulted in a blank.

At Birling the track is now closed to all traffic like a lot of places here since covid, but in some ways at least there is less disturbance on the walk. First off, 100+ Linnets looked promising on a seeded rape field but there was nothing with them, not so much as a Tree Sparrow or Reed Bunting. Only 2 Grey Partridges added variety. A few yards further on, a distinctive call stopped us. A Willow Tit was buzzing away in low brambles and flat bracken close beside the track. It soon popped out giving good views but briefly as it flew off to thicker cover to the south.

We finally took position in the caravans to scan the sea in good flat grey viewing conditions. To be honest we were a bit disappointed. Over a vast area all we had were 17 Great crested Grebes ( 15 in one flock), 4 Common Scoter and about 20+ Red throated Divers way out 'on the edge of science'.

Back at the car, a good count of 62 Whooper Swans were in the field west of the road.

From here, a short half mile journey south to twitch a plant! At least the Mistletoe was still present and showing well. A rare plant in the county and only my second sighting up here and it looked like it was doing well.

Mistletoe, maybe the first time on this blog?

Back north now, to Alnmouth where we had our tea and sausage rolls while scanning the estuary. There were a lot of birds on a falling tide - 1 Black tailed Godwit,  200+ Lapwings, 18 Ringed Plover and  a pair of  Red breasted Merganser and an adult Mediterranean Gull the highlights. The Med was colour ringed but just too far to read.

Mediterranean Gull, Aln Estuary

We took a walk along to the Golf Course Pond to check for wintering Chiffchaff maybe. As often happens, that plan failed, but a nice Water Rail showed itself at our feet before vanishing again leaving me wondering if it had been there at all! A female Bullfinch and 2 Goldcrest the only passerines of note.

Alnmouth GC Pond, just the spot for Northumberland's first Penduline Tit!

This weekend has been like a taste of spring, but I'll not be putting my big coat away just yet, there could be snow before the Swallows return...

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