Sunday, 10 August 2014

Fenham Flats

Today was my monthly trip to Fenham Flats to do a WeBS count. The day started well with a flock of 7 Little Egrets just east of Elwick hide, the weather seemed to be holding as I headed in the direction of Guile Point, by the time I got there the sun was out and I spent well over an hour counting birds, the highlight being 17 Little Terns secreted amongst the larger group of 43 Arctic Terns and 3 Common Terns. Numbers of waders really have increased since my visit last month and included 172 Bar-tailed Godwits, 30 Ringed Plover, 96 Curlew and smaller numbers of Grey Plover, Sanderling, Knot and Redshank. No sign of any early Geese but a Peregrine was seen hunting over the dunes.  

Wader Sightings..

If you are out and about this month, now is the time to go looking for waders starting their southbound migration.

Ruff, left and Spotted Redshank.

Today, the ponds around Druridge Bay held a nice selection-

Cresswell Pond -

Stilt Sandpiper 1 still, present now for 2 weeks.
Spotted Redshank 1
Greenshank 3
Ruff 4
Avocet 4
Common Sandpiper 4
Snipe 30
Dunlin 20
Lapwing 50


Druridge Pools -

Snipe 20
Wood Sandpiper 2
Green Sandpiper 1
Common Sandpiper 2
Greenshank 2
Ruff 1

Amble - Warkworth R Coquet -

Redshank 200
Dunlin 100
Curlew 20
Spotted Redshank 1
Turnstone 3
Sanderling 3
Grey Plover 1

Other places to try are - Hauxley Nature Reserve and Beach, Aln Estaury and Foxton Bends, Bothal Pond, Bells Pond ( between Cresswell and Druridge), Castle Island, Newton Pool, Monks House Pool, Hoppen Kiln Pool, Branton Gravel Pits, R Tweed Estuary, Holy Island Rocket Fields and Harbour...

From now until mid September is best with a regular turn over of birds with each tide. Changeable weather will ground more interesting species too...

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Green-veined Yellows??

In the grazing fields at Titlington Mount yesterday we came across these two Green-veined Whites, presumably mating.  They sat still to be photographed, but what I liked was the nice distinction between the quite yellow underwing colour of the female with the 'normal' colour of the male.

Long-eared bats

Last week I went into the large roof space of a house near Alnwick and came across this huddled group of day-time roosting Brown Long-eared Bats.  If you carefully count the ears there are six individuals here and they didn't react at all to the camera's close presence or even to the flash.  There were two other individuals flitting about.

I've seen occasional individuals before in flight, but never come across them roosting.  Really quite exciting, even though the species isn't uncommon according to the Northumbrian Mammal book published last year.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Cheviot at its very best

Yesterday, 23rd of July was spent on the top of Cheviot.  All around us was a carpet of low lying cloud on the landscape below but above the clouds it was clear and bright - an unbelievable experience.

Wildlife highlights included a golden plover with at least 2 young, merlin, snipeperegrine, and red grouse.  There was a good selection of moths and a lot of small tortoiseshells and red admirals on the wing.  Stiff sedge, cowberry and cloudberry were in abundance and velvet bent could be found in patches.  The most extraordinary find was a patch of common cow-wheat on a peat hag quite close to the plateau.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Moths and waders.

A thundery weekend produced a good selection of moths in two locations in Glanton.  Friday night at Front Street generated interest in the form of 1 Elephant hawkmoth, 1 Poplar Hawkmoth, 1 Swallow-tail moth, Heart and Dart, Willow beauty to name but a few.

The Saturday night was spectacular in numbers.  A trap was set in Playwell Lane and there were over 350 moth - mainly Large yellow underwings and Dark arches but species of interest included a Broad bordered yellow underwing, Iron prominent, Pebble prominent, Barred straw, Poplar hawkmoth, Lesser broad bordered yellow underwing, The clay etc. etc.

George and I spent Sunday afternoon on the coast looking for birds.  Cresswell held 4 Spoonbills, 5 Little egrets, 10 Avocet, 2 Ruff, 12+ Black-tailed godwits and a number of Common Sandpipers. Druridge Pools held a Curlew sandpiper, 30+ Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper and a good selection of other birds.  East Chevington was relatively quiet but there were 2 Marsh harriers and a Barn owl carrying a prey item.

N.B.  Saturday evening produced a flock of 19 Common Sandpipers at Branton Ponds!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Black Darters

This afternoon I wandered up to the shooters' decoy ponds near our house to check out the bog vegetation while the water levels were fairly low.  I didn't find anything startling botanically - in fact nothing I've not seen here before - but the margins of the ponds were almost buzzing with small damselflies.  The ones that settled so I could get a clear view were like the one in the photo (not mine, I'm afraid).  A bit of internet searching suggests that I was looking at immature Black Darters (Sympetrum danae or, previously, Sympetrum scotica).  If I've understood the info correctly the adults lose the golden colouring on the abdomen.

I've no idea how common these are in our area, but I don't recall having noticed them before.