Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Seaham - Ryhope

Yesterday was one of those days when I thought I shouldn’t bother, then changed my mind and regretted the latter. It was bitterly cold and a strong cold wind had just blown the mist away when I set off for the coast. I decided to walk the 4 miles from Ryhope to Seaham along the coastal path but with the wind blowing strongly from the south, opted to do it in reverse.
The temperature was -4C and according to the weather forecast the wind chill would make it feel like -8C - I believe it. Of course what I foolishly didn’t check was the tide situation and it had just hit high tide. That together with the high seas confirmed I had made a lousy decision.

Nonetheless, off I set, if nothing else, to get some fresh air. Most of this stretch is on top of 15m high coastal cliffs, with the high watermark not far from the cliff base,  so I at least had 50m of clifftop grassland to check as I walked along. This should be helpful in getting the final species total up later in the year and due to the tides it was the really the only option to check for anything today. This proved correct and did give me a couple of birds not normally associated with the seashore,  namely a covery of 8 Grey Partridge in a piece of arable and a hen Bullfinch at the entrace to Ryhope Colliery Dene, as well as my first mammal, even if it was only a Rabbit.

Phragmites australis (Common Reed) on the cliff top

Tortula muralis (Wall screw moss) at the entrance to Ryhope Colliery Dene

So another 35 species so up to 118 species  (1882 to go)

Falco tinnunculus            Common Kestrel
Troglodytes troglodytes indigenus    British Wren
Pyrrhula pyrrhula             Bullfinch
Motacilla alba yarrellii        Pied Wagtail
Corvus monedula                Jackdaw
Columba livia                 Feral Pigeon
Vanellus vanellus             Lapwing
Sturnus merula                Common Starling
Turdus merula                Blackbird
Perdix perdix                Grey Partridge
Columba palumbus             Wood Pigeon
Oryctolagus cuniculus              Rabbit
Ensis ensis                  Common Razor shell
Modiolus modiolus              Horse Mussel
Lophocolea bidentata              Bifid Crestwort
Brachythecium rutabulum            Rough-stalked Feather-moss
Tortula muralis             Wall Screw-moss
Marchantia polymorpha subsp. ruderalis  Common Liverwort
Eupatorium cannabinum              Hemp-agrimony
Juncus effusus                 Soft-rush
Deschampsia cespitosa             Tufted Hair-grass
Phragmites australis              Common Reed
Teucrium scorodonia             Wood Sage
Dipsacus fullonum              Wild Teasel
Holcus lanatus              Yorkshire-fog
Pteridium aquilinum             Bracken
Sambucus nigra                 Elder
Fraxinus excelsior              Ash
Heracleum sphondylium              Hogweed
Trifolium repens             White Clover
Dactylis glomerata             Cock's-foot
Vicia sativa                 Common Vetch
Vicia sepium                  Bush Vetch
Cerastium fontanum              Common Mouse-ear
Urtica dioica                  Common Nettle

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Seaham harbour

Popped into Seaham Harbour for an hour yesterday. More wind and rain and heavy seas, quite bracing.
Added another 27, common bits and pieces  but couldn't see anything in a few rockpools. Need to invest in a net and bucket me thinks.

 Amongst what I did see were -

Centranthus ruber (Red Valerian)

Petasites fragrans (Winter Heliotrope)


Rock Pipit
Pelvetia canaliculata (Channelled Wrack)

Dilsea carnosa (Red Rags)
Ulva lactuca (Sea Lettuce)

Most interesting thing was probably a Black-headed Gull. Well, it did have a colour ring on. A Dark-green inscribed in white JM67 and seems to have been recorded quite frequently. It had been rung at Mølledammen in Norway in April 2015 and seen there till July, seen here at Seaham in September & November 2015, back in Norway April-May 2016. Seaham again November 2016 and again now.

New species for the list  were

Tringa totanus             Common Redshank
Charadrius hiaticula         Common Ringed Plover
Petasites fragrans          Winter Heliotrope
Veronica persica          Common Field-speedwell
Sonchus oleraceus          Smooth Sow-thistle
Geranium molle          Dove's-foot Crane's-bill
Rumex obtusifolius          Broad-leaved Dock
Sisymbrium officinale          Hedge Mustard
Malva sylvestris          Common Mallow
Agrostis stolonifera          Creeping Bent
Agrostis capillaris          Common Bent
Centaurea nigra          Common Knapweed
Cirsium vulgare         Spear Thistle
Plantago maritima         Sea Plantain
Honckenya peploides           Sea Sandwort
Senecio cineraria          Silver Ragwort
Sagina maritima         Sea Pearlwort
Tripleurospermum maritimum      Sea Mayweed
Festuca rubra             Red Fescue
Potentilla reptans          Creeping Cinquefoil
Dilsea carnosa             Red Rags
Pelvetia canaliculata          Channelled Wrack
Ulva lactuca             Sea Lettuce
Enteromorpha intestinalis      Gutweed
Semibalanus balanoides         Common Barnacle
Xanthoria parietina         a lichen
Ceratodon purpureus          Redshank
Bryum dichotomum         Bicoloured Bryum

Now at 83 species (1917 to go)

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

My first day at the coast and the excuses have started.

OK then, I've started my challenge for 2018 in trying to see 2,000 species in a year and all within 100 metres of the Durham coastal high water mark.

My first trip to the coast was yesterday, 2nd January and it looks like I've already started with  the excuses. I went down to South Shields and had a look around the Pier and Littlehaven area. It rained really heavily and I got a right good soaking. Due to other commitments, I had to leave after lunch which wasn't a bad thing due to the rain.

I did see  a few birds just offshore and within my 100m target even if they were on the sea, such as Eider, Common Scoter and Red-throated Diver. Better still were the couple of good ones that flew over, namely an adult Mediterrean and a large first-winter Glaucous Gull but the rain really did hamper my progress.

Male Common Eider - 1 of a pair just off shore

Female Common Scoter,this one was very close inshore,  two others were further out

Red-throated Diver. Like the Scoters one was within limit but others were further out.

Purple Sandpiper - 1 of a group of 10

I was at the seaside of course so managed a few seaweeds

Oarweed and Serrated Wrack seaweeds

though mostly the species I saw were plants, including  Red Valerian and Tall Melilot both still in flower.

Tall Melilot

 In the end I saw 19 species of bird, 1 mollusc, 3 seaweeds, 30 plants and 2 mosses giving a total of 55 species.

I suppose in theory if I check once a week throughout the year and see about 40 new species each time I'll do it but I know it's certainly not going to be that easy.

The species I saw at South Shields (all within 100m of the HWM remember) were -

Anthus petrosus petrosus Rock Pipit
Arenaria interpres Ruddy Turnstone
Calidris alba Sanderling
Calidris alpina Dunlin
Calidris maritima Purple Sandpiper
Chroicocephalus ridibundus Black-headed Gull
Corvus corone Carrion Crow
Erithacus rubecula European Robin
Gavia stellata Red-throated Loon
Haematopus ostralegus Eurasian Oystercatcher
Larus argentatus argenteus Western Herring Gull
Larus canus Common Gull
Larus hyperboreus Glaucous Gull
Larus marinus Great Black-backed Gull
Larus melanocephalus Mediterranean Gull
Melanitta nigra Black Scoter
Phalacrocorax aristotelis European Shag
Phalacrocorax carbo carbo Great Cormorant
Somateria mollissima Common Eider
Patella vulgata  Common Limpet
Fucus vesiculosus   Bladder wrack
Fucus serratus   Serrated wrack
Laminaria digitata  Oarweed
Achillea millefolium Yarrow
Armeria maritima   Thrift 
Artemisia vulgaris Mugwort
Bellis perennis Daisy
Blackstonia perfoliata   Yellow-wort
Buddleja davidii Butterfly-bush
Capsella bursa-pastoris Shepherd's-purse
Centranthus ruber   Red Valerian
Cirsium arvense Creeping Thistle
Cochlearia officinalis Common Scurvy-grass
Cytisus scoparius   Broom
Galium aparine Cleavers
Hedera helix Common Ivy
Hippophae rhamnoides Sea-buckthorn
Hypochaeris radicata Cat's-ear
Lathyrus latifolius Broad-leaved Everlasting-Pea
Leymus arenarius   Lyme-grass
Linaria purpurea Purple Toadflax
Melilotus altissimus    Tall Melilot
Plantago coronopus Buck's-horn Plantain
Plantago lanceolata Ribwort Plantain
Poa annua Annual Meadow-grass
Rosa rugosa Japanese Rose
Rubus fruticosus agg. Bramble
Senecio squalidus   Oxford Ragwort
Senecio vulgaris Groundsel
Stellaria media Common Chickweed
Taraxacum agg. Dandelion
Trifolium pratense Red Clover
Ulex europaeus Gorse
Brachythecium albicans Whitish Feather-moss
Syntrichia ruralis var. ruraliformis  Sand-hill Screw-moss

Total to date - 55 species- only 1,945 to go

Sunday, 17 December 2017

A new challenge

My challenge for 2018 is, I'm going to ease off on checking Waldridge and try and see more elsewhere but still local. Also Waldridge Fell has really sickened me with the amount of dogs now allowed to roam and do their mess everywhere. I was continually treading in it or being bothered by them and on occassion attacked. I do bump into a number of nice, considerate dog-walkers but they have now become the minority.  So I'm generally going to look for stuff elsewhere next year.

I need to improve on my overall pan-list (British list of all species - plants, insects, fungi, everything!) which is sorely lacking things with marina, maritima etc in the vernacular   After some thought I'm going to try for 2,000 species but all within VC66 (County Durham) and all within 100m  of the high water mark and not venturing more than 100m inland at the Tyne/Wear/Tees estuaries. It could get a bit frustrating not being able to count many of seabirds or cetaceans that are too far out but I've seen most of them I could expect to see so it will not be a big problem. I have no idea whatsoever if it's its possible to get 2,000 or if in fact it will be dead easy but certainly different from what I'm used to.

The more I think about it, the harder I think it is going to be but it's nothing ventured....

I finished the challenge of this year which was to see 1000 species in the same 1km square - Waldridge in my case. Below is a breakdown of my final totals

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

End of July Report

I've been busy with the DWT Botany group, helping with surveys etc as well as checking my square . Last week I did the write up of the final compartments at Blackhall Rocks on the Durham coast, so as I wrote it, I've  copied it verbatim here.

Five intrepid members of the DWT Botany group met in the car park at Blackhall Rocks to survey the final six wet flushes on the slopes of this wonderful site. The weather forecast was showers, some heavy, but we bravely carried on, and as it happens on this coast it decided to have its own weather system, a bit breezy but dry throughout. There were two members of the group on their first outing with us so we all introduced ourselves, ran through the Health & Safety checks and off we set. The cliff slopes where we were surveying at the southern end are quite steep and care had to be taken. Often the easiest way was to slide down on your bottom!
The first of the six areas to be checked was just south of the car park. Initially it did not look very good with considerable encroachment from Great Horsetail, Bramble and Creeping Thistle throughout and a large, spreading patch of Ground-elder at the top. However, when we got to work we discovered it held a good population of Saw-wort. This plant initially looks like a spineless thistle but has saw-toothed leaves from where it gets its name. Though nearly all had finished flowering there were many Common Twayblade on these slopes too and Tom found on a little outcrop, the only Small Scabious of the day.
The second area was wet on the lower slopes as shown by the patch of Common Reed and Great Willow-herb but rather dry nearer the top allowing the grasses to be quite rank. Much of this was False Oat-grass but a number of other species were present both here and at the other spots, allowing us to test our grass and sedge identification skills throughout the day. Our first Fragrant Orchids, again many having finished flowering, were found, some still giving off a strong sweet orangey perfume. Notable here was the amount of Agrimony, which was scattered throughout the survey area. The yellow spikes smell of apricots and it is a member of the rose family, unlike Hemp Agrimony, also present here but not being a thug like in the northern part of the reserve. 

Agrimonia eupatoria (Agrimony)

Gymnadenia conopsea (Chalk Fragrant-orchid)
The third area was very dry and dominated with False Brome (we all had our eye in now for this species with its hairy yellow-green leaves and drooping inflorences) and Field Horsetail. The latter was scattered throughout but not creating thickets like its relative Great Horsetail to the north. More, and the last, the Saw-wort plants were seen and the only Kidney Vetch of the day.
We had completed half by 12:30 so it was time for our lunch which we ate on the slopes out of the wind, before we carried on with number four or Flush Compartment #38 on our map. Here more Common Reed but half way up the slope this time. At the top the water seeps out and trickles to the depression where the stand of reed is but the nature of the geology here means bits of the slope are always slipping down leaving bare wet areas. This creates ideal habitat for Common Butterwort with 20 plants here, together with Flea Sedge and some Wild Thyme on the dry area just above. There were also some tiny Common Centuary plants here that were scrutinised in case they were something rarer but unfortunately were not. 

Leontodon hispidus (Rough Hawkbit)

We were here to examine slippages and the next was near the steps to the beach known locally as Green Stairs. When we arrived there was a slippage and it had carried away some of the stairs and the steps were closed off for safety. This is a new slippage and should go on the map. We however using the 10-figure grid reference were to survey the one slightly to the south and the lack of steps wasn't going to stop us, none of the others had steps anyway.  There were 50 more Butterwort here and the largest patch of Common Rock-rose of the day. With there being steps to the beach,  the adjacent path had been well used and it was interesting to note the number of ruderals (plant species that are first to colonize disturbed ground) that were here compared to the other areas.
With our final survey area in sight we moved on to number 6 of the day (or 40 on the map). This was a rather small area in the middle of the slope but there was evidence of recent slippage. A large population of 80+ Common Butterwort were seen together with the only population of Common Milkwort in these southern sections and a large area dominated by Zigzag Clover. This latter species was looking particularly showy with its reddish-purple flowers and easily identified from its Red Clover cousin by its 'zig-zag' stems, and thin, narrow leaves.

Trifolium medium (Zigzag Clover)

We were all rather pleased when we had finished as the climbing up and down the slopes is very tiring on the old legs. 110 species were recorded with the populations of Common Butterwort probably being the highlight. No Bird's-eye Primrose could be found again despite some very suitable spots and lots of diligent searching but there were many other interesting sightings instead. Hard work but enjoyed by all.

Of course I'm still progressing with the square, now up to 870 though still relying heavily on the moth trap and moths in general. Amongst these since last time were two new for the garden (and the square) Hypsopygia glaucinalis, a  distinctive micro moth and Clay Triple-Lines.

Clay Triple-Lines.

Hypsopygia glaucinalis

 In addition to these a few more plants were found, most of them beginning with 'E', two Willowherbs, 1, Hoary Willowherb,  in Wanister Bog together with Common Spike-rush and a few Marsh Horsetail well away from the big patch of Water Horsetail, and the other Willowherb, American, an increasing species, found as a pavement weed. The latter I've had in the garden before but not this year. The other plant is another increasing alien, Cut or Fern leaved Bramble (Rubus laciniatus)

Rubus laciniatus (Cut-leaved Bramble)

Throw in a fungus fly and thats my lot for July.

The new ones
854. Autographa bractea (Gold Spangle)
855. Mythimna impura (Smoky Wainscot)
856. Macaria liturata (Tawny-barred Angle)
857. Cyclophora linearia (Clay Triple-lines)
858. Gymnoscelis rufifasciata (Double-striped Pug)
859. Mesoligia furuncula (Cloaked Minor)
860. Rubus laciniatus(Cut-leaved Bramble)
861. Sciara hemerobioides (a fungus Fly)
862. Mesapamea didyma (Lesser Common Rustic)
863. Hypsopygia glaucinalis (a micro-moth)
864. Argyresthia goedartella (a -micro-moth)
865. Spilonota ocellana (Bud Moth) 
866. Litoligia literosa (Rosy Minor)
867. Hoplodrina blanda (Rustic)
868. Noctua interjecta (Least Yellow Underwing)
869. Cosmia trapezina (Dun-bar)
870. Cydia fagiglandana (a micro-moth)
871. Epilobium ciliatum (American Willowherb)
872. Epilobium parviflorum (Hoary Willowherb)
873. Equisetum palustre (Marsh Horsetail)
874. Eleocharis palustris (Common Spike-rush)

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

A new flower, bird and moth and the butterfly set complete

I'm carrying on with the list for the Waldridge square but I haven't been in it much soI  have been relying mainly on the contents of the moth trap.

Away from the square I had a nice walk along the Durham coast to Hawthorn Quarry last week. A look around the grassland just north of the quarry revealed 132 species including 6 sp.of Orchid the best being Coeloglossum viride (Frog Orchid) and 11 species of butterfly. Some nice patches of Genista tinctoria (Dyer's Greenweed) and Betonica officinalis (Betony) plus a few Silaum silaus (Pepper-saxifrage) and Hypericum montanum (Pale St John's-wort) made a very enjoyable afternoon.

The moth trap has continued to produce a few new moths for the year on nearly every occasion I have put it out. As well as some pretty species such as Swallow-tailed Moth and some of my garden specialities like Slender Brindle I caught my first ever Pinion-streaked Snout.

Swallow-taild Moth

Coxcomb Prominent

Slender Brindle

Pinion-streaked Snout

A few dusk walks gets me some strange looks with my net and headlight but it too has given me a few including a Badger on Waldridge Lane at last.

On Monday whilst checking the trap I saw a Ruff flying over. This was a first for the patch but fortunately I always have my binoculars at hand when doing the trap so got very good views as it flew SW over the garden. Spurred on by this and what others are doing in the 1000 species in a 1km square challenge,  on Monday I had a good look around the fell and got some additional species including a patch of Marsh Ragwort - another new species for the fell. An Elder has started to grow in a hollow bit of the still living Black Poplar. It's the first time I've seen an epiphyte Elder though a Hawthorn is doing the same in an old Crack Willow nearby.

Senecio aquaticus (Marsh Ragwort)    

Sambucus nigra as an epiphyte on Poplar nigra

Lots of young birds about and I saw fledged Common Whitethroat, Swallow, Dunnock, Linnet and Goldfinch as I wandered. It looks like its been a decent breeding season despite the weather. There were 21 young Swallows on the wires with adult birds still going to some nests and at least 1 pair was sitting on it's presumed second clutch.

Common Whitethroat


Young Swallows
It took a long time to get the two Hairstreak butterflies I was missing. Managed some semi-descent Purple Hairstreak views at the usual oaks after a fair wait. The White-letter Hairstreaks have never been that co-opertative at the only site on the fell (well within the square). Partly, because unlike I think all the others I've seen in Durham, they don't come down to feed on thistles. That's because there aren't any, so when they do come down to feed, usually early afternoon, they feed on a clump of Tansy. Like a few other species of plants Tansy is having a late year so is not in flower yet so I had to make do with a few glimpses at the top of the Elms nearby.

Phyllonorycter harrisella

Leucozona glaucia

Sericomyia silentis

So the list has moved on to 853, with the new species listed below. The full list on the right of the page I've got way behind in updating, but I will at some point

The new ones since last time

814. Crocallis elinguaria (Scalloped Oak)
815. Camptogramma bilineata (Yellow Shell)
816. Catoptria falsella (a micro moth)
817. Hoplodrina octogenaria (Uncertain)
818. Ourapteryx sambucaria (Swallow-tailed Moth)
819. Eudonia lacustrata (a micro moth)
820. Noctua janthe (Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing)   
821. Autographa jota (Plain Golden Y)   
822. Xestia baja (Dotted Clay)   
823. Ptilodon capucina (Coxcomb Prominent)   
824. Mompha propinquella  (a micromoth)   
825. Apamea scolopacina (Slender Brindle)   
826. Lycophotia porphyrea (True Lover's Knot)   
827. Ochropacha duplaris (Common Lutestring)   
828. Schrankia costaestrigalis (Pinion-streaked Snout)   
829. Philomachus pugnax (Ruff)
830. Favonius quercus (Purple Hairstreak)
831. Satyrium w-album (White-letter Hairstreak)
832. Blastobasis adustella (a moth)   
833. Senecio aquaticus (Marsh Ragwort)   
834. Stachys palustris (Marsh Woundwort)   
835. Lotus pedunculatus (Greater Bird's-foot-trefoil)   
836. Viola arvensis (Field Pansy)   
837. Betonica officinalis (Betony)   
838. Lestes sponsa (Emerald Damselfly)
839. Aeshna cyanea (Southern Hawker)
840. Udea lutealis (a moth)   
841. Eurithia anthophila (Tachinid Fly)   
842. Omocestus viridulus (Common Green Grasshopper)   
843. Carduus crispus (Welted Thistle)   
844. Meles meles (Badger)
845. Leucozona glaucia (a hoverfly)   
846. Sphaerophoria scripta (a hoverfly)   
847. Rosa caesia subsp. vosagiaca  (a Dog-rose) 
848. Mompha raschkiella (a moth)   
849. Aceria pseudoplatani (a gall-mite)   
850. Phyllonorycter harrisella  (a moth)
851. Lagria hirta  (a Beetle)
852. Rhagonycha fulva (a Soldier Beetle)
853. Leiobunum rotundum (a Harvestman)