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