Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Arrows and kites

A red kite was seen flying along Glanton main street yesterday morning.  This is the second record of a kite in the area with another/same bird seen at the Bridge of Aln about two weeks ago.  The Glanton bird was wing-tagged but unsure of colour.

Vegetation surveying in the College Valley produced a number of species of interest.  A small wet flush on the side of St Cuthbert's Way held Quaking grass and Marsh arrowgrass.  The latter looks more akin to a grass than a flowering plant.  Other species of interest included my first small pearl bordered fritillary butterfly of the year, at least 3 whinchats, a wide range of micro-moths and a good range of beetles including a very large click beetle (unfortunately no photo)

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Winged Wonders


In spite of the non summery weather and particularly the lack of sunshine, Banded Demoiselle damselflies have emerged on the River Aln near Lesbury, at roughly the same time as last year

Having spent 2 years as Larvae living in water and breathing through gills, there are now adults of both sexes, who have emerged from the water and taken on wings to breathe the same air as us

Their life expectancy as adults is between 2 and 8 weeks, just enough  time to breed and continue the cycle of life

They truly are winged wonders

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Nocturnal

A late evening visit to Beanley Moor proved very productive,as I sat taking in the sounds of Owls hooting and Grey Herons croaking as they flew over like something out of Jurassic Park, I slowly began to hear other things 3 Cuckoos calling from different places at the same time, the calls were mainly he familiar "cuckoo" but also a bubbling trill which would indicate a female. This went on for sometime before silence reigned once more, then as a final flourish just as I was about to leave came the unmistakable churring call of a Nightjar, all was silence apart from this one weird yet wonderful sound. 

Friday, 22 May 2015

Iceland Gull in summer!

This out of season Iceland Gull is frequenting the QEII Lake, Ashington. Just view from the car, it is attracted to people feeding the ducks with other gulls. Its timings are a bit erratic but I finally caught up with it on my 5th visit on the way to work this morning...

First summer Iceland Gull, centre.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Shear joy........

An hour and a half was spent sea watching off Boulmer last night.  There were a large number of auks (Puffins, Razorbills and Guillemots), Kittiwakes, Gannets and terns (Sandwich, Arctic, Common and a few Roseate) feeding offshore.  Dunlin and Ringed plovers were also moving north.

The joy of the evening was watching small parties of Manx shearwaters ease their way north.  The count was 57 over the period.  The evening sun shining on the small flocks, moving close inshore, was very special.  One wonders where these birds were coming from and where they are going to at this time of.  With no breeding colonies in the North Sea, are these birds non-breeders or breeders taking a tour of North Sea waters?  Do they look have a look for potential breeding sites around the Farnes and other suitable islands?

Unfortunately there were no skuas.  The only other species moving was two Tufted ducks moving north (male and female).

Late news from Monday (15th May) was a Quail calling at West Fenton.  Cow parsley, Herb bennet, Tufted vetch and a number of grasses are just coming into flower.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Spring Waders

We decided on an early visit to Low Newton scrape to check out the reported waders. On our arrival a Greenshank flew off with another, smaller wader, when we checked the scrape a bird with a small group of summer plumaged Dunlin turned out to be the Pectoral Sandpiper. At that moment the Greenshank came back in with it's smaller companion, this soon revealed itself to be the Lesser Yellowlegs, as we scanned further along we came across another small wader, this proved to be a Wood Sandpiper which had just flown in. The high point was to have Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpiper and Wood Sandpiper all together in the same scope view. Whilst there we could hear Reed Warbler calling in the reedbeds, Wheatears ran about in the wet meadow, two Yellow Wagtails were having a scrap and a Little Tern flew past on the tideline.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Groppers and otters

After the rain on Sunday, a strategic walk from Embleton to Low Newton was required on Bank Holiday Monday.  Fortunately we left it late and missed the hordes of visitors.  The tide was high and there was little on the sea apart from a few Shags, auks and a party of Sandwich terns feeding close into shore.  A small party of waders dodging the dogs and people included summer plummage Dunlin, Turnstone and 'northern' Ringed plover.

Low Newton flash produced a female Pintail, Snipe and good numbers of Teal were of note.

There was very little on Newton Pool but a group in the hide said they had just seen two Otters.  After 10 minutes they re-appeared and gave great views.  Two Roe deer gave further interest.

A walk back along the dunes produced at least two Grasshopper warbler, several Sedge warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, and a good passage of Swallows.

A Swift welcomed us home to Glanton