Monday, 20 July 2015

Waders on the move

July starts seeing large numbers of waders starting to move.  This was the case yesterday on the WeBs count at Fenham le Moor.  The first flocks of summer plumage Knot, Dunlin and Bar-tailed godwits were present on the mudflats.  The Knot and Dunlin were particularly vociferous - calling Knot is not something you hear everyday.  There were even some Dunlin display calling - obviously confused by the cool Northumbrian weather!  There were also reasonable numbers of local breeders such as Lapwing, Curlew and Oystercatcher.

Supporting cast included 2 Whimbrel, 2 Pale-bellied and one Dark bellied Brent, 1 Little egret, 2 Goosander, 2 Great crested grebes and three Grey partridge.  Good views could be had of Tree sparrows around the hide.

Two Yellow wagtails were on wires on the west side of Chatton.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Double trouble

Red Squirrels are cute at the best of times but when you get a glimpse of them really going crazy it is something very special. Today very early I was walking to start work at the school and on rounding a corner in the village I was confronted by 2 Red Squirrels chasing each other, this activity saw them end up in some shrubs and I thought that was the end of the entertainment. Wrong, as I reached the school gates they re-appeared and began chasing each other once again, this time however I was caught up in the middle as they ran in circles around my legs, through the gate then back around me.
Eventually common sense prevailed and the one with the pale coloured tail ran off into a nearby tree, the one with the dark tail leapt onto a wall next to me and from a distance of about 2 metres stared at me before also making it's exit into a nearby garden. The whole episode lasted only a couple of minutes but seemed to last much longer and it made me think how lucky I was but also how lucky they were that I wasn't a predator.

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


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.