Monday, July 31, 2023


 I used to enjoy Twitter. Now that a billionaire Bond Villain has taken over, Twitter has gone the way of so many free birds and died the death. the blue bird is no more,and the site is now called 'X'. It has basically gone down the Xitter so to speak.

I've taken a few days out over this weekend and I'll see how it goes from there. It'll be a shame to drop it all together as I have enjoyed engaging with like minded people I've never met. Time will tell.

After the seawatching of a week ago abated my attention was drawn again to the garden moth trap.  Looking back I see Ive not mentioned it for a few weeks so here are some pics of what has been occurring...

Gold Spangle, always nice to catch. I get single figures each year. Not a rare moth in the county.

Large Twin Spot Carpet. Zero to Hero. No records prior to 2018 here, now I have 49 records of over 70 individuals.

Ash Pug.

Crambus perlella barely annual.

This moth, Dingy Footman has a more meteoric rise than the Large Twin spot Carpet. Still very scarce in the county as a whole but not here. No records before 2018 now its common with 33 individuals this month alone!

Still catching a few Garden Tigers.

Sand Dart is a scarce species in the county, this is my second this year.

Cream bordered Green Pea. An unbelievable first for Northumberland in my trap the other day, found nowhere near the north East of England.

Dark Spinach, just about annual here, scarce generally.

Yellow Tail. Used to be rare in the county but also on the move. 5 individuals in the garden since the first in 2019.

An upside down Brown China Mark. Not a rare moth but always adds some interest, especially when the prefer to hang upside down like this.

Brown Line Bright Eye. Used to be much commoner but only singles in 22 and so far in 23.

Burnished Brass a common bread and butter species but it was nice to get one feeding for a change.

Dingy Footman of the pale form. Only about 1 in 10 here look like this.

Least Yellow Underwing, used to be quite scarce but now a late summer regular.

The Old Lady rarely enters my trap so few records but as soon as the old fruit and sugar mix is out she loves it.

I believe this is Brown Plume, only caught the other day, a garden first.

Monday, July 24, 2023


 This post might seem a bit austere as there are no photos. The main reason for this is that yesterday it poured with rain most of the time we were out. 

With a NE breeze blowing we could only do one thing - seawatch. The first of the autumn. 

In situations like this a fishing brolly is a godsend so we carted the gear down the track to tuck in behind a ridge and watched from 0720 - 0920 before deciding the day was just about a write off...

Still, a few reasonable local patch birds made it into the notebook - 

Sooty Shearwater 1N always nice to get the season off with a July Sooty. 

Manx Shearwater 23 N

Roseate Tern 4ad 1 juv N

Arctic Tern 15 N

Common Tern 3 N

Sandwich Tern 20+ N

Puffin 25 N

Common Scoter 18 S 13 N

Goosander 4 on sea

Common Sandpiper 1

Golden Plover 50+ 

Lesser black backed Gulls 7 N 

Swift 1

The rain eased off by 3pm so when news of a Cory's Shearwater past Newbiggin it was time for a double shift. This time at Cullernose, no brolly required. Another 2 hours 3.35 - 5.35pm was not lucky with Cory's but was pretty much a copy of this morning with

Sooty Shearwater 1 N

Manx Shearwater 21 N

Roseate Tern 5 ads N

Arctic Skua 2 dark phase N

Puffin 8 N

Turnstone 25+ N

The wind is still quite brisk today so I might get an hour later on...

Arctic Skuas


Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Coming soon...

 Mid July here and its ages since we've done any proper birding. But, fear not dear reader, there are some northerly winds forecast for the weekend so the seasons seawatching will begin...

In the meantime its back to creepy crawlies, flappy things both day and night and green stuff to keep us entertained.

When you drill down and take notice of the little things, there are never any quiet days. Lifers tend to call by every week, or day if you are a more diligent observer.

Last week I was about to leave our village hall and realised I was trapped. The wheelchair thresh outside had split and sprung up keeping the door shut. So, not being one for finesse a big push with the shoulder knocked the thresh into next week and I made my escape. Then I noticed a tiny creature jumping about on the concrete ramp, having been disturbed.

It was a small jumping spider that was duly captured for some pics then released back to its place.

The images showed it to be Euophrys frontalis a scarce spider up here. The males are even smaller but more colourful with red 'goggles' and black and white 'gloves'...

Euophrys frontalis, female, only about 4mm long. A scarce spider up here and a first for me. 

A calm mild night last week seemed a good time to start sugaring in the garden. Results were pleasing and by 11.45pm there were 1 Old Lady, 2 LYU, 2 Dark Arches, 1 Light Arches, 1 Double Square Spot, 1 Common Rustic agg. Since then its been cold windy and raining so that activity is on hold.

There was a good flurry of activity on Peggy's morning walk last Friday. The calling Quail that has not been heard for 10 days was singing up towards the Hips Heugh on Thursday then on Friday it or another was down beside the village in the coast fields. As I scanned around for it ( yes I know) almost as surprising was a sharp whistle alerting me to a Kingfisher darting past me over dry grass fields and into the village. It had come from the shore and was likely heading in to the ditches just inland.

Then as we walked along a nice adult Mediterranean Gull still in summer plumage flew over with some Black headeds.  

Not much happened over the weekend other than decorating, so on Monday when the sun shone I took a cuppa into the garden at lunchtime. A few nice bees on the Boarge looked interesting. They were male and female Willoughby's Leaf Cutter Bees, Megachile willughbiella. New to me and another example of how you can keep things fresh just by broadening your horizons a bit.


Willoughby's Leaf Cutter Bees, Megachile willughbiella Male

Monday, July 10, 2023

The Summer doldrums?

 Mid- summer can often appear to be a relatively quiet spell for watching wildlife, and my lack of blog posts seems to reflect that, but that really depends on whether you can keep an open mind to observation opportunities.

 Sunday morning dawned misty after a day of showers. It was quite warm and humid with little wind.

 We decided on staying local beginning by meeting up at Alnmouth Football Club car park at 7am. With a high tide of 4.9 mtrs peaking at 8.15am our first stop was a wander along the cycle path to the wooden bench seat that overlooks the Aln estuary. Although it is only July, for many wading birds autumn has already begun. The breeding season is over and flocks of birds begin to gather at traditional wintering spots or make short stop overs on their way to these spots.

 On the Aln, there was a nice gathering of birds roosting out the tide, waiting until it recedes enough to allow them onto the muddy margins to feed. There were 19 Black tailed Godwits, half of which were still in brick russet breeding plumage, a loudly calling Greenshank from high northern moorlands dropped in to sit with 50 more local Redshanks. Further down near the sea, a large gathering of gulls and terns sat out on the sand bank. It was a mixed flock of Sandwich, Arctic, Common and a brace of Roseate Terns beside our larger gulls. While watching the birds, they all lifted in a ‘dread’ when a female Marsh Harrier flew low overhead and away to hunt the rougher edges of surrounding fields.    

As the tide began to drop and the mist was burnt off by the sun, we changed tack and headed off to Alnwick on a butterfly hunt.

 The bridges at Denwick road and Canongate are good vantage points to look for a newer addition to Northumberland’s butterfly fauna, the White letter Hairstreak.   At the Denwick Bridge facing the castle, one Hairstreak was flitting around the tops of some sucker Elms just below eye level from the high vantage point. Across the road another three were in a territorial dispute, spiraling and spinning off the higher canopy only to drop back again to the leafy tops.

White letter Hairstreak

Along at the other end of town, Canongate is usually a good stop for them but a lot of Elms here have been chopped so we didn’t see any. Hopefully there are still a few small trees to allow a population to breed unseen.

While here, a brave Common Sandpiper outstood passing cars and caravans and even a pelaton of shouting cyclists from the bridge wall itself. It called a loud piping tone to its mate on the river rocks below. As we watched a family of fledged Kestrels called high up above us and a few tardy tropical looking Banded Demoiselles danced along the river edges.

Common Sandpiper on Canongate Bridge

All to soon it was lunch time, and for us our excursion was over until next week. 

The garden moth trap has done well this past week with three species new to VC68! On the socials you see trappers further south cock-a-hoop if the catch a new species for the tetrad or 10km sq where they live. Up here, with few moth traps working, it is perfectly reasonable to expects new VC or even County species each year. Ive no idea on the 10k breakdown. Im not even sure anyone else traps within that range! Maybe one or two?


Brown-tail . Very few county records since the influx year of 1991. 

Hedya ochroleucana only a couple of modern Northumberland records but historically Bolam suggested it was common along the Tweed.

Acrobasis repandana a rare moth in Northumberland and a first for VC68. 

Eudonia truncicolella another garden first . Quite a distinctive Scop.