Monday, 27 April 2015

Saxifrage

The warm weather of last week has be replaced by a much cooler air from the north.  Not a lot to report from the weekend but the majority of Swallows appear to have arrived in the last 4-5 days.  A Cuckoo was seen on the south side of Longframlington Common on the 26th April.

Tthe first flower heads of Meadow saxifrage have appeared on lowland acid grassland next to the Wooler Water today (27th April).  A pair of Common sandpipers have also taken up residence.  Numbers of Sand martins appear to have dropped since they first arrived.  Buff-tailed, Red-tailed and White-tailed bumblebees were much in evidence visiting the flowers of Lesser Celandine.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

cuckoos and tigers

Walking in the fields near the cottage this morning I came across a small caterpillar with a bright orange head and very long, silky- looking hairs on its back.  I hadn't a camera so had to look it up when I got home and it identified as the larva of a Garden Tiger Moth.  These moths have a wide distribution in Britain but it was a first for me.  The other first was a cuckoo calling in the wood beside our cottage.


Saturday, 25 April 2015

Peking Duck...


Two lovely Mandarin drakes have been present on the small pond at Warkworth Lane Caravan Site, Ellington over the past few days. They looked really stunning on the calm water in yesterdays morning light...

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Migrants start to appear

Little to report from the WeBs count on Sunday but for a passage Whimbrel, two Pale-bellied brent and a female Pintail.  Waders were scarce and there were few migrants lingering in the scrub.

Monday morning was spent on the moorland edge just south of Blanchland.  It was an idyllic morning with displaying Lapwing, Curlew, Golden Plover, Snipe, Redshank and Oystercatchers all within three or four fields.  Added extras were a female Black grouse, a Short-eared owl and a very dapper male Ring ouzel.  Leaving the farm a Red kite was hunting close to some farm buildings in a horse paddock.  The first Green-veined white butterfly was seen close to Riding Mill.

This morning was spent carrying out the last of the tree planting on the banks of the River Pont. There were several male Redstarts in song as well as Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs.

An Orange-tip butterfly flew across the A697, in the Wooperton area.

Black and White

No this isn't going to be a rant about the current failings at Newcastle Utd, it will be about much more watchable creatures. First thing today we decided to take the dog for a walk up the Hawsen Burn, we did have an ulterior motive in the form of Ring Ouzels. We weren't disappointed, as soon as we left the car a female was seen flying up the burn, further on chacking alerted us a further 4 Birds, we didn't go very far up the Hawsen as they appeared to be spending most of their time in the lower fields nearer to the car. Our other black and white sighting was much less expected, on crossing a small burn something moved in the water, closer examination gave us views of a Water Shrew as it hunted the burn, looking silvery in the water but black and white when it emerged on the bank.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Upper Teesdale in spring

A fairly early start saw us at Langdon Beck at the sensible hour of  7.00 am, some may say that is too late but a showing of 24 Blackcock and 6 Greyhens proved that the early bird doesn't always catch the worm. The noise was incredible on a very still, crisp and sunny morning, not only were there Black Grouse but also Curlew with their beautiful "bubbling" call, Redshank and even a Woodcock which looked totally out of place. We then headed to Cowgreen Reservoir where more Black Grouse were to be found ( the total for the day was 43 Blackcock and 11 Greyhen), overhead Common Snipe were "drumming"as the air vibrated against their outer tail feathers, the Wheatears were almost too numerous to count as they "chacked " away on the hillside. The next to appear on the stage was a Short Eared Owl, silently quartering the moor, setting up nervous Red Grouse and all to the constant, plaintive whistling of Golden Plover. The day ended as it had began with a Black Grouse, this time a very impressive male standing on a picnic table near the reservoir, a great end to a stunning morning.
 

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Branton Ponds 15th May

It's that time of year when everything seems paired up, at Branton Ponds this morning Tufted Ducks were sorting out their pairs for the season, the Grebes were still displaying and a pair of Shovellers kept in close contact as they swam across the pond. Of more interest was a sight we hadn't seen before and that was a pair of Weasels chasing each other, the one behind exactly mirrowing the one in front in much the same way Brown Hares do,until finally they were lost from sight.