Saturday, 31 December 2011

And that's it for another year

Christmas is over and hopefully so is the stress. The weather, as well as my Mother getting taken into hospital with pneumonia just before Christmas,  together with the lousy weather resulted in a very poor end to the year. It was also very sad to learn that a local birder, Brian Unwin, died two days ago after a long fight with cancer. I have known him for a very long time including finding the county's only Collared Pratincole together,  me seeing my first Bonaparte's Gull  following a message left by him  of a 'Napoleon Gull' at Teesside and working together on the local Newspaper.

But hopefully things will get better, tomorrow is another year and hopefully a good one for natural history observations here at Waldridge. The plan is to be up early in the morning, walk down to the riverside, check along the river and then the Chester Dene and Hermitage Woods, walking over the back of Plawsworth to the south end of Felledge Wood, over the Fell, checking the Tribley farm ponds, back through the Cong Burn Woods and the village then South Burn Wood and home.

So the Waldridge lists finished at -

Flowering plants    339
Birds            106
Moths            246
Butterflies        20
Dragonflies        8
Hoverflies        14
Mammals            10
Bumblebees        6
Fungi            13

Plus I scraped together 31 species of plant in flower in December.

Tomorrow - its start again

Collared Dove on the bird table  
The only things of note the last few days were a dark Common Buzzard seen on 27th by the A1(M) Chester slip road and regular visits by a pair of Collared Dove to the bird table.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

On the icy riverbank

Icy and cold,  not much chance of anything on the fell so I had a little wander down to the river at the park. I hoped there may be a plant or two where it could be a bit milder on the riverbanks, but they were just as fozen as the fell. In fact the footpath there was so icy it was treacherous. No new plants were noted so I had a play with the camera. The Whooper Swan from last winter which had been rung at York [see my note] has returned and if anything is tamer.
all the way from ... York
Last winter's Pink-footed Goose has also returned but there are only 2 Canada Geese present which he (or she) associated with so this year it's on it's own, on the grass bank on the park side of the river.
Pink-footed Goose
The river also held 41 Tufted Duck including a particulary noticable male with some grey in its flanks. It's normal Tufted Duck bill and head colour I think rules out any hybrid origins.

Usual and grey flanked Tufted Ducks
12 Goosander, 120 Mallard,
Grey Heron in riverside Willow
a Grey Heron and a couple of Cormorant  made up the rest of the birds present,

Common Gull
though  there there were in excess of 350 Black-headed Gull, plus a few Common, Herring and Great Black-backed Gull also there.

Herring Gull

 On the path by the nearby sewage works (which had 25 Pied Wagtail and a single Grey Wagtail) , 5 Bullfinch were hopping around or feeding on the adjacent weeds, with 5 Goldfinch and a couple each of Goldcrest, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tit in the adjacent trees.

Pair of Bullfinch 
Great Tit

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Car parks and flowerbeds

Frost in the mornings and the days continuing to get shorter (for another week) so not much chance of seeing anything of note. If however you see some strange soul with his head down looking in empty council flowerbeds and cracks in the pavement in the half-light, then its probably me. If it's not then they need locking up. So I'm still looking for more plants in flower and even managed another two today thanks to those said pavements and flowerbeds. The two in question, both very common species -
Black Medick  Medicago lupulina
Creeping Buttercup Ranunculus repens

The list creeps on to 31 for the month 

More Hogweed, with a few flowers
Black Medick
Creeping Buttercup

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

It's as Bjork said

As Bjork sung in her 1995 hit 'Its Oh so quiet' - at least on the Natural History front in the Waldridge area it is. Admittedly I have not put in much time but even so, I have seen very little.
A flock of 40 Curlew was the best of the birds, again probably coming from their roost at Washington to feed on the fields between the village and Hett Hills.
Only managed to find another 2 species of plant in flower these past few days -Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
White Campion (Silene latifolia)
The list goes to 29 for this month

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Rain, hail, frost, snow and wind

Bit busy on the weather front and had one or more of rain, hail, frost, snow and wind the last few days, though none lasted very long, one of the others soon followed. I have seen no birds worth mentioning at all.

Desperately trying to add a few plants in flower to the list and managed, with some determination I may add, five new species -

Cow Parsley   Anthriscus sylvestris - in full flower but with a flowering stem of only about 9 inches.
Herb-Robert   Geranium robertianum - flowering in both a sheltered hedgerow and along the main East coats railway line
Sticky Groundsel Senecio viscosus- under a wall in the town centre
Common Field-speedwell  Veronica persica - on a field edge 

White Deadnettle  Lamium album - obvious very near the house, don't know how I missed it here earlier.

Herb-Robert (top) and Sticky Groundsel

The total now 27 species.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Record breakers

Managed to get another three species of plant in flower today, all very common, but they all count.

Knotgrass Polygonum aviculare
Oil-seed Rape
Brassica napus subsp. oleifera
Common Chickweed 
Stellaria media 

Which puts me on 22 species.

Despite the nasty weather, there was even had a little snow flurry today, there are still a few things in flower in the garden, uncountable of course, but also in one particular case rather unusual. This is Spring Starflower Ipheion uniflorum, as it's name suggests,  it flowers in spring but this year, two clumps are currently flowering, and  have been for about a month, for the first time ever at the back of the year.

Spring Starflower in winter

Very little bird wise but still a a fair few Fieldfare and a couple of Redwing in the hedges and Robins seemed to more noticable than usual. 3 Golden Plover flew over were the best birds.

Robin - particularly noticeable today

I heard via another birder that the county recorder has said that the White-fronted Geese I got yesterday were the largest flock ever seen in the county. This species, together with Bean Geese and Short-eared Owls and to a lesser extent, Hen Harrier and Bewick's Swan have  have all been part of an unusal influx of birds from the near-continent into the noirth-east. With flocks of 40 and 60+ White-fronted Geese hanging around in the county, and more birds appearing (arriving?), I don't think my record will last for very long all the same.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Mr. Grumpy gets some White-fronts

Had some light to look for some wild flowers today but today's excuses are that there was a 23mph hour westerly wind with heavy rain showers and even some sleet and hail that covered everything for a few minutes. With 2 days of frost I was never going to see much so foolishly left my camera in the house. What's a grumbling old sod I am these days!

A walk around despite everything I just said did find me some flowers, 11 to be exact, these being -
Ivy-leaved Toadflax    Cymbalaria muralis
Hogweed                    Heracleum sphondylium
Autumn Hawkbit            Leontodon autumnalis
Oxford Ragwort            Senecio squalidus
Common Groundsel    Senecio vulgaris
Feverfew                    Tanacetum parthenium
Common Dandelion    Taraxacum aggregate
Scentless Mayweed    Tripleurospermum inodorum
Wild Angelica            Angelica sylvestris
Hairy Bittercress    Cardamine hirsuta
Meadow Buttercup    Ranunculus acris

Which puts me on 19 species.

Bird-wise it was very quiet and the light was going fast but then at 15:10 I was looking back over the fell towards Nettlesworth when I picked up a skien of geese heading slowly into the wind, generally WNW  in my direction. The long V skien contained about 85 birds and I was wondering if they might be White-fronts when I saw the black lines and patches on the belly. They were indeed White-fronted Geese, new for Waldridge.  With no new birds for the year for ages, two in two days.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Plus one Peregrine = minus one Pigeon

The main corvid roost around Waldridge is at North Lodge between here and Birtley and I suspect most of the local Jackdaws and Rooks go there. I usually see a couple of hundred Jackdaws and a smaller number of Rooks at dawn or dusk on route to or from that direction. This morning, in the town centre however, there were many more than usual, mainly Jackdaws but well over 1000 birds in total, over the town centre at first light. They were soaring around, as opposed to heading to their usual feeding grounds.  Then the resident flock of Feral Pigeons took off followed by a fair few of the Pied Wagtails that roost on the Morrisons (formerly Co-op) building. A few seconds later I saw the reason as a Peregrine swooped down from the gloom, hit a pigeon in mid-air, grabbed it in one talon, stalled and then consolidated it's hold with the other foot and shot off southwards.  Nice little start to the day.
Still botanising in the dark but managed another 4 species, now on 8!

Shepherd's-purse Capsella bursa-pastoris
Nipplewort Lapsana communis
Smooth Sow-thistle Sonchus oleraceus
Petty Spurge Euphorbia peplus

Oh for the daylight of the tomorrow.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Flowers in the dark

Dark when I left for work and dark when I came back so not unexpectedly my start for my wild flower winter month's count was pretty rubbish. Having said that I don't recall ever looking for flowering plants in the dark before! I could have added some more but I am going to stick to my patch, so the list just managed to get going with the grand total of 4 species in flower -  
Daisy    Bellis perennis
Common Ragwort    Senecio jacobaea
Gorse    Ulex europaeus
Red Clover    Trifolium pratense

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Winter months count preparation

On strike today so had a bit of time to get out on the fell except a), it was raining and b). by the time it stopped the light was fading.  I did manage to have a walk through the woods but the light really was very poor and after being out a short while I realised that most of the birds had gone to roost.
Earlier this the week I was tiding up the empty plant pots that had accumulated in one corner of the garden and out flew from one of them was a  Peacock butterfly, no doubt disturbed from its hibernation.
Back to today, I did find a roving tit flock with Blue, Great, Coal and a single Willow Tit, 2 Goldcrest, 8 Long-tailed Tit, 1 Lesser Redpoll and 2 Bullfinch.  Walking along Waldridge Lane, a Woodcock flew over and a Jay called in the woods. It was nice to see the Highland Cattle back on Wanister Bog, they did a grand job last winter, the bog looked better this summer than for many years.

A few fungi seen today including Birch Polypore, Turkey-tail (variable-coloured) Bracket Fungi, Beefsteak fungi and a couple still to identify.

Beefsteak Fungi

Turkey-tail Fungi

I have been a member of the Wild Flower Society for many years now and one of the things they encourage is the Winter Months Hunt. This is to see how many plants you can see in flower in the months of December, January and February. Being in the bleak north of course you cannot compete with the southern half of the country and even less with those in the Channel Islands. Never the less I usually have a go though with all the snow last year I obviously did not bother. I saw a few still in flower as I walked around today so used the walk as a bit of reconnaissance and will give it a go this winter, starting tomorrow. Wild Angelica was still in flower in South Burn Woods so hopefully will remain in flower for me to count it, probably at the weekend.

Wild Angelica

Friday, 25 November 2011

The first but I'm not that chuffed

Bird-wise, several groups of Redwing continued to fly over but yesterday's reported group of three White-fronted Geese  at Great Lumley were not reported until after dark and there were not a sniff of them this morning. 2 Goosander flying over was the best, A Winter Moth was on the window on Wednesday night and several more were seen in the headlights along Waldridge Lane lats night.

My records of Grey Squirrel at Waldridge have been gradually getting closer and closer to the house, so it was only a matter of time when the first was seen in the garden. I was off work today and there sitting on the bird table first thing, stuffing himself with the birdseed, Mr. Grey Tufty himself, the first Grey Squirrel for the garden. Right, how can I deter him?

Grey Squirrel  - My first (but not the last)  for the garden

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Flowers and Hoverflies in the mist

My little stroll today was in a rather cold 6.8C, it was sunny but I wasn't out too long before the fog rolled  in and and visibility so poor I had to turn around. However sightings started early, becauae as I left, on the south wall of the house I found a Eristalis pertinax hoverfly, sunning itself, my latest ever.

 Eristalis pertinax - a late one on the house wall

A few species of plant continue to flower, today I saw Feverfew, Hogweed, Ivy and of course, Gorse. The Ivy was still attracting a few insects that were hanging on, mainly flies but also 2 more Eristalis pertinax. Not many birds about, but more small groups of Long-tailed Tits, Lesser Redpoll and Siskin and a Grey Heron flew over. The former seem to have not only survived last winter but have had an excellent breeding season subsequently. They are commoner around Waldridge than their Blue and Great cousins at the moment. Raptors don't like the mist and cold particularly, so a list today of 2 Kestrel, a Sparrow-hawk and a Common Buzzard was somewhat surprising. A Goldcrest by Brass Castle Pond and 6 Redwing overhead in the mist on my way back were seen before I called it a day.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Nothing but a foriegn moth ... probably

I'm haven't been dead, ill or even lost, this is my first post for a while simply because I've had so little time and subsequently seen virtually zero. Admittedly I was tempted away off-site into Northumberland to see a Greater Yellowlegs and a Grey Phalarope last weekend but that wasn't Waldridge so it does not count. Yes I confess I went twitching
I had a half hour walk last week but saw very little, it was early afternoon and it was already getting dark. The bit of sun earlier had produced a Red Admiral (this was the 12th November) and others were seen in Gateshead the same day. The walk itself produced nothing better than a Goldcrest, a few Siskin and Lesser Redpoll and three small groups of Long-tailed Tit. A few plants were still flowering with Dame's-violet and Cow Parsley being particularly late.

The best thing of the past couple of weeks was actually seen by someone else, goes back to September and wasn't even in Waldridge, but I think it's very interesting. So if you like detective stories, read on.

A lady from Low Fell in Gateshead sent a photograph of a moth found inside her house and this was passed to me to see if I could name it. Apparently "15-20mm from nose to end of wing and the 'almost crimped edges to the wing were lovely'". My attempts to identify it failed completely - I couldn't even get it down to a family. Was it some accidental import or was I just rubbish? 

The mystery alien moth

To answer the question I posted it onto the north-east Moth Forum to see what others thought. Everyone seemed stumped so the county moth recorder emailed Martin Honey at the Natural History Museum and other county moth recorders.
Investigations are continuing but it appears to be a species of Cryptolechia probably the 4th for the UK, (another from Durham, one from Hampshire and one from Suffolk most likely from South Africa imported on flowers, possibly dried. The lady finding this one confirmed she had bought some dried flowers originating from South Africa weeks earlier.

The tale of the Suffolk specimen (which looks very similar indeed) was re-told by Tony Pritchard, the Suffolk County Recorder that was reported to him by the finder -
However, the biggest piece of news to come out of Woolpit stems not from the trap but from the lounge curtains. A strange place to look for moths you might think? It all dates back to the 21st October when I stumbled across a rather strange looking moth sitting on the mat below said curtains. It looked nothing like any moth I had ever seen before. It was duly photographed and the image sent to a few group members who were equally stumped. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the moth was exhibited at the BENHS Exhibition in London where at first it generated little interest. That was until someone suggested that it could be a 'micro' moth from Asia or Australasia. Martin Honey from the Natural History Museum was invited to have a look and he recalled having seen something similar but couldn't place it. After a quick chat both the moth and pupal case were donated to the NHM in the hope that a positive identification could be secured.
That evening I tried to thing of anything unusual that had been in the house. All I could come up with was a somewhat 'woody' bouquet of flowers that had been given to my wife a few weeks before hand. Further investigation the next day revealed that the flowers had come from Marks & Spencer's where they had been sold under the name of 'Cape Flora'. The news was quickly relayed to Martin who replied by saying that he had already come to the independent conclusion that my moth was, indeed, South African in origin. Further more, he had narrowed it down to a species of Cryptolechia (a rather large family of micro-moths).
Sadly, that's where the story ends at the moment. Martin's still waiting to hear back from colleagues in South Africa and I still don't know whether I have an 'adventive' first for Suffolk and the UK. All I can say is "Stay Tuned Folks"”.

Today, still quiet but a very late queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee was flying around one of the flowerbeds in town.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

A November Spring day

Still not much about either this weekend nor during the week. Two groups of Pink-footed Geese flew over heading south, with 300 last Tuesday and 100 or so the next day. These are most likely birds moving south from the east coast of Scotland where they arrived and fed up from Iceland and are now heading to the Sugar-beet fields of Norfolk where they will spend the winter.
Apart from that, a few small groups of Meadow Pipit and Redwing and a couple of Skylark was really all that was moving.
Quite sunny but cold today, perhaps too cold for any late Red Admiral or any other invertebrate. In fact there was a bit of a frost this morning. The moth trap had nothing in it again so I've put it away and will use it only occasionally until March. To make up for it I put the bird table back up and spent a small fortune on food. A dozen Grey Lag Geese flew over, but unlike the Pink-feet, were probably from much closer to home and feral birds.

Grey Lags flying over

 Two Kestrel were on the Fell, they seem to be getting a bit commoner again and for many years I am seeing more of this species than Sparrowhawk.  A Skylark here was singing it's heart out, together with the sun in a cloudless sky made the day seem rather spring-like.


A single Siskin was in an Alder at Chester Moor and 30+ Golden Plover were in one of the adjacent fields for the first time this winter.

Golden Plover

A few fungi were found in the woods but with all the rain, most have already rotted off, however, Fly Agaric, Birch Polypore, Butter-cap and Fleecy Milkcap were found.

Fly Agaric

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Wagtail Hawk melee

A very quiet week but small flocks of both Redwing and Fieldfare were passing over most days including 12 of the former and 20 of the latter this lunchtime.  2 Goldcrest paid a short visit to the back garden on Wednesday morning. Red Admirals were still on the wing when the sun came out, the last being seen on Friday. Also on Friday, I was watching the Pied Wagtails coming into roost in the town centre, I counted 80, when the all went quiet. As I suspected I looked up to see a Sparrowhawk soaring overhead, followed by a 2nd bird. Then out of nowhere shot a third one, over the carpark and out the other side. This forced all the wagtails to take flight and then the other two hawks joined in the melee. I great spectacle for me, though not for a least one Pied Wagtail.
Not much showed itself on my walks around the fell but 3 groups of Lesser Redpoll, including a flock of 45 and 2 tribes of Long-tailed Tit were seen.  A Carrion Crow, which certainly could fly hopped about 4 metres in front of for a good while and even changing direction onto the same path as me when I veered away. looking around frequently to ensure I was following it.....strange.

Carrion Crow
A few plants still in flower including Bladder Campion, Wood-sage and the Hawkweed, Hieracium vagum.
Bladder Campion
 Bilberry was fruiting well all over the fell but not much in the way of identifiable fungi due to the rain.

Birch Polypore

Sunday, 23 October 2011

A lonesome Teal

Out and about for a short walk, it's still raining, its windy and though 14C and a southerly it still felt a lot cooler. A Seven-spotted Ladybird agreed for it sought shelter in the house instead of outside.

A few plants remain in flower, with Herb-Robert, Wild Carrot and Oil-seed Rape noted as well as the more common ruderals like Shepherd's Purse, Field Speedwell  and Hairy Bittercress. The woods and fell, not surprisingly, were quiet except for a few resident birds. In South Burn and Cong Burn woods this included a Great spotted Woodpecker, 3 Goldcrest and a party of 12 Long-tailed Tit and 3 Reed Bunting and 5 Siskin flew over the fell. Small groups of both Redwing and Fieldfare continued to head west and I suspect the 60 odd Starlings in a few small groups were also immigrants doing the same. One of the pools by Tribley farm produced the best thing of the day in the form of a drake Teal.

My lonesome Teal

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A pip in the wind

Very windy yesterday and it's starting to pick up again today. Few birds were managing to fly and most seem to be just getting blown around. A flock of 65 Curlew in V formation the largest so far this autumn, flew over, as usual probably from their roost to the fields beyond the fell to feed. Five Redwing also went over, heading west, though very very slowly, into the strong westerly wind. Late afternoon yesterday just as I was about to go into the house, something caught my eye as it was blow past. It was gone before I could make out what it was and as I was still thinking what it could have been when it flew past again. A Pipistrelle bat was doing it best at flying around the trees nearby. It made a few passes then was gone. I assume it had been blown out of it's roost.
Far too windy and cold for the moth trap overnight  (it went down to 4.3C), so I was surprised to see a Red-line Quaker on the wall by the outside light this morning, especially as it had not even been on. Two Meadow Pipit and two more Redwing flew over as I left the house. With the temperature continuing to drop, but not the wind, and a frost forecast tonight, I'm expecting very little the rest of this week.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

October?, no November & December

With nothing in the trap 24hrs earlier, there was no chance of re-traps and a bit more cloud cover, so I put the trap out again last night.  Present this morning, as well as 2 Light Brown Apple Moths and 4 Blair's Shoulder-knots  were a December Moth and one of the Epirrata November Moths.

December Moth -but it's only October!
I didn't bother checking the latter with the microscope but having examined a number of these over the years here at Waldridge, the one that is generally unbanded, and poorly marked like this individual invariably prove to be November Moth Epirrata dilutata. 

November Moth, probably
Also in the trap this morning was a Seven-spot Ladybird, perhaps looking for a hibernation spot.

A few butterflies were on the wing today were 3 Red Admiral, a Small Tortoiseshell and a Speckled Wood all being seen. A Garden Orb Spider Acleris variegana had it's web across the patch of Penstemon 'Garnet' still in flower  and which just failed to hold one of the former butterflies in it's trap.

Garden Orb Spider
About 15 Meadow Pipit flew over, together with a couple of single Redwings, a male Sparrowhawk and a flock of 35 Curlew.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

A few birds on the move

Again nothing in the moth trap overnight, the temperature dropping to 5.6C due to the lack of cloud. A few birds were on the move however, this morning passing overhead whilst I was in the garden were, three small groups of Redwing, 9 Skylark, 3 Blackbird, a Song Thrush, 5 Meadow Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 2 Goldfinch, a Great spotted Woodpecker and a small flock of 9 Golden Plover.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

An Oleander scare

It's been raining for 36 hours now though its mostly that fine drizzle that gets everywhere but doesn't threaten to flood. The wind is now a South-easterly so things will begin to move despite the weather I reckon. It's already started this morning with small groups of thrushes, both Redwing and Fieldfare flying over and a few Chaffinches which I suspect are also immigrants. There were 3 Goldcrest now by the railway station so perhaps these are also non-local birds.
I heard that a friend of a friend had photographed a big moth last week and would I like to see the picture to see if I knew what it was. I said yes why not but nearly fainted when I saw the photo of a superb Oleander Hawkmoth. Then the penny dropped. 'Was this taken in Turkey where they were last week?' I asked. 'Yeah of course, you don't get big moths around here' was the reply. Oh b@**£&

Oleander Hawkmoth - not something you get in Waldridge [But I can dream]

Quite a few of the Aqueligias are sporting leaf-mines at the moment in the garden. After keying them out, they belong to a Leaf-mining Fly, the Columbine leaf miner (Phytomyza minuscula), a common species but not something I have noticed before.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Still nowt

A Silver Y and two Light Brown Apple Moth was all that bothered to enter the moth trap overnight.  The birds were only slightly better with another Grey Wagtail and 3 groups of Redwing flying over this morning and a Goldcrest in the trees by the railway station tonight.

Last night's Silver Y

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Nowt about

I've seen very little the past few days, more to do with the weather than anything I suspect. The moth trap was out on Friday night but was completely empty when I checked it the following morning. The complete zero.
A Red Admiral in the garden on Friday was the best thing of the last few days. Today all I did was have a watch from the garden. The wind and rain put paid to most things but a few birds were seen flying over. The few that did brave the conditions were, little groups of 11 and 12 Redwing flying over, my first of the autumn, together with 10 Skylark, a handful of Meadow Pipit and a Grey Wagtail. That was it.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Not quite at Waldridge

Last Sunday I left my patch, even if it was only a few miles away, to have a scout around Ravensworth Fell in Gateshead. I was lucky enough to flush a Short-eared Owl which gave good views and I managed to get a few pictures. It's been a while since I had one in Waldridge but this wasn't far away and seems to be a good year for them, so fingers crossed. In fact I could see the fell in the distance  as I watched this  bird, but that still doesn't count.

A nice Short-eared Owl at Burdon Moor

The weather has deteriorated dramatically and so as the natural history. Very little around for the last few days and last night it was cold and windy so not surprising that this morning there was only 10 moths of 5 species in the moth trap. Luckily, included was my first Red-line Quaker of the autumn (and year) but the rest was the usual late autumn fare.

My first Red-line Quaker of the year

Saturday, 1 October 2011

A nibbling spider

October arrived during the night but it was uncharacteristically warm, never dropping below 17.3C. It was a clear night and the time of year was never going to produce a big count. 20 moths of 12 species was the result including my first Garden Rose Tortrix of the year (I never get many), my latest ever Ypsolopha sequella, the first of the autumn's Chestnut, a Silver Y and another Flounced Chestnut. A couple of 7-spotted Ladybird also their way in.

A late Ypsolopha sequella
Garden Rose Tortrix

Single House Martin and Skylark flew over and Nuthatch and Great spotted Woodpecker called just outside the garden. In the garden a couple of Syrphus ribesii hoverflies and more Seven-spot Ladybirds were around the last of the Lilies.

Indoors a very large Giant House Spider (Tegenaria duellica) was caught, a female by the size of it. The latter can have body lengths of up to 18mm. A 1p piece has a diameter of 20.32mm so as can be seen this one was at the upper end of the range. This species is the only one of its family that can bite through human skin. I could just feel her biting but she did not get through my callously fingers.

Giant House Spider

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Which flies faster - Sandhill Crane or Cory's Shearwater?

The moth trap was out overnight and I had 16 moths of 9 species, nothing new and probably just what could be expected on a late September night. The full list was

4 Light Brown Apple Moth
3 Spruce Carpet
1 Pine Carpet
1 Garden Carpet
3 Red-green Carpet
1 Blair's Shoulder-knot
1 Rosy Rustic
1 Green-brindled Crescent
1 Silver Y

A Great spotted Woodpecker bounded over the garden as I cleared things up.

On the way to work 4 juvenile House Martin were over the Front street in the town, feeding over the shop roofs and not showing any sign of heading south.

Off patch, a very rare Sandhill Crane that had been present in Scotland earlier in the week headed south and was seen at various spots on the Northumberland coast. I perched myself up on the roof at work waiting for it to fly over. Though a bit of a heat haze, there was an excellent panoramic view where I was, and if (when) it went past,  I should see it well.  After 5 minutes it was reported at Marsden heading south, I had made the right decision, it wouldn't be long ....... wrong.
One hour, thirteen minutes later it came on the Rare Bird pager, it was going over Hartlepool Docks, 17 miles to the south! I have no idea how it managed to sneak past me, or other people at spots down the coast. Apart from the resident birds, all I had was one lonesome Swallow heading south.

It was a bit like 2 weeks ago  when I was at Saltholme, Teesmouth and a Cory's Shearwater was heading south past Marsden/Whitburn. We reckoned it would take about an hour to get to Hartlepool but by the time the message had appeared it was going to be tight. A mad dash got us there 51 minutes after it had been seen at Whitburn, but we had missed it by a minute, it had just gone 'round the corner'.

So what have I learned, basically Cory's Shearwaters fly faster than Sandhill Cranes.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Quality not quantity

Though not the 'Indian Summer'  they said it was going to be, it was quite warm yesterday so I stuck the moth trap out again last night. The temperature dropped to single figures, just, 9.7C so wasn't surprised to see only a few moths in the trap. In fact there were only seven, of six species,  but three rather nice ones with

Canary-shouldered Thorn - one of the most photogenic of UK moths

Flounced Chestnut only ever caught about half a dozen of these

Green-brindled Crescent - with only a hint of green, but also new for the year.
together with a single Sallow and Garden Carpet and two Red-Green Carpet,  I was well pleased as it was certainly quality as opposed to quantity.