Sunday, 26 August 2012

Some butterflies at last

Sunny spells today so a walk around the fell was more pleasant than usual, but just as muddy. Small numbers of butterflies were around, but the most for some time thanks to the weather. 8 species were seen consisting of Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Wall, Small Copper, Small Heath, Meadow Brown and Small Tortoiseshell. 

Green-veined White


Two more Common Swift flew over, proving I was wrong to say the single the other day was my last. A few other summer visitors were still around as well as over 30 Swallows on the wires outside the village.

Swallows on the wires

4 House Martin and a Sand Martin also flew over and the scrub held several Chiffchaffs, 2 Blackcap and a lone Common Whitethroat. One of the Chiffchaffs was singing, though rather half-heartedly and was probably a youngster practising.  Certainly one of the Blackcaps was this years bird. A Red Kite in the distance rounded off my little walk and another Small Tortoiseshell was waiting for me on the patio table when I got home.

Small Tortoiseshell

Friday, 24 August 2012

Nasturtium Goings-on

The wet weather has continued all week so finding things of interest has been difficult at times.
3 Siskins in the Hermitage woods are possibly local breeders or early wintering birds. A Common Swift on the other hand was on it's way south on 23rd and most probably my last of the year.

My last Swift of the year?

The moth trap has been out a few times but nothing really noteworthy except for a species of micro Limnaecia phragmitella. This is an uncommon species in the NE and frequents Bulrushes where the larvae feed all winter inside the fluffy seedbeds. It was a first for me.

Limnaecia phragmitella

It's been an awful year for butterflies and the few periods of sunshine have not brought out many. Green-veined & Small Whites have been the commonest, with a few Meadow Brown, Wall and Peacock.  2 Southern Hawker dragonflies were on the fell during the wing, but even those spent most of the time perched up rather than flying as did a single Common Blue Damselfly.

Hoverflies have not fared much better and even the usually very common Marmalade Fly (Episyrphus balteatus) has been on the scarce side, with me only seeing a few on fell during the week. The Drone Fly Eristalis tenax and its close relative Eristalis pertinax were by far the commonest during this period together with a handful of Helophilus pendulus and a couple of Eristalis horticola.

Eristalis horticola

Helophilus pendulus

In the pasture above South Burn Woods a few garden Nasturtium plants have appeared. Looking closely they all seem to have been planted, with loose soil and compost around them. Though why plant these in the middle of a horse field I'm not sure why. More strangely in the woodland by Brass Castle Pond there are some more but it's very difficult to tell if these have been planted too. Strange goings on by the looks.

Nasturtiums in the horse field and amongst the
bracken in the nearby woodland.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The mini wader passage continues

The mini wader passage over the fell continued with a small group of 7 Golden Plover heading north-east. The usual early autumn finch flock has started to assemble with about 50 Greenfinch, Linnet and Goldfinch present this morning. A Speckled Wood was feeding on the Buddleja forrestii in the front garden when I got back from work together with a Large White and a Green-veined White yesterday was roosting in the Greenhouse when I last looked.

The moth trap was out overnight and I checked it this morning in quite a bit of mist first thing. 124 moths of 59 species were present including Early Thorn, The Phoenix and the large-ish micro, Udea lutealis.

Udea lutealis

The Phoenix

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Youngsters abound despite the weather

August is a poor time in the woods with many birds either in moult or preparing for migration. Still, decent numbers of warblers were flitting about and somehow, despite the weather have produced broods of fledged young. This weekend produced adult and young Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap together with a young Garden Warbler. The resident birds were also showing off their young with fledged Nuthatch, Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits in the trees and Meadow Pipit, Linnet and Bullfinch on the fell. A few young Swallows and House Martins were already gathering on the wires but no Swifts about, so they, like the Cuckoos are already on their way back to Africa.
Following on from the other days's Greenshank, a Redshank flew over today, not as rare as the former, but still a good bird.
Snatches of sun appearing from behind the clouds allowed Speckled Wood, Large & Green-veined White, Ringlet and Meadow Brown to fly.

The moth trap had 42 species, with nothing new but some nice moths.

Mother of Pearl

Clouded Border

Playing around with the camera in the garden I found a Comb-footed Spider Enoplognatha ovata. This is a common spider in the garden with a red stripe and translucent legs. It's quite small but tackles prey many times it's own size.

Comb-footed Spider 

Friday, 10 August 2012

Some birds at last and mothing away

It's ages since I've added a new species of bird to the Blog but I managed one last night. I heard it first, calling several times and getting closer, a 'teu-teu-teu',  then I picked up the Greenshank in my binoculars and watched it fly over and head south-east.  This is the first Greenshank I've had here since one at Tribley farm ponds in April 2003. With the 3 Crossbills the other day, at long last there are some decent birds around. Obviously the weather hasn't helped and probably most species have had a very poor breeding season. One species I thought would have had it bad was Willow Warbler, as they were generally late in this year and came straight into the bad weather. However, there were still a few singing in the woods today and a surprisingly amount of young birds, easily outnumbering Chiffchaffs.

I deserted Waldridge last night to do some mothing (and bat-watching) at Westfield Pasture SNCI. This is a damp pasture and wet alder woodland on the Tyne with similar moth species to the fell. The best of the night were Dingy Shell, Blue-bordered Carpet, Small Wainscot, Eudonia pallida, Brown China-mark and star of the evening Acleris holmiana.

Blue-bordered Carpet - showing both upper & underwing markings.
This is a local species in the NE but does occur in the
 Felledge Alder Wood on the fell.

Dingy Shell - another rather local species but does also occur on the fell.

A few bats were seen (many more were heard on the bat-detector) of course and included Common & Soprano Pipistrelles, Noctules and probably at least two species of Myotis bats. A couple of the latter, looking particularly pale grey underneath swooped over my head on a couple of occasions, giving excellent views.
It's coming up to the weekend and Sunday at least should be nice weather-wise so with a bit of luck maybe I can find something good at Waldridge the next two days...  Heres hoping.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Seven Suspected and a Waterless Boatman

Another decent night with the moth trap overnight, 165 moths of 51 species, having a couple of species later after I had tidied up everything.

New species for the year included -
Gold Spangle
Small Dotted Buff 
The Snout
Slender Brindle
Ruby Tiger
Mother of Pearl 
Garden Pebble
Orchard Ermine
Orange Swift.

Four of last nights moths, from the top
Orange Swift, Garden Pebble, Slender Brindle and Gold Spangle

Though not the first this year the best was a record count for me of seven Suspected. Though annual in the garden, this moth is generally regarded as local not only in the north-east but throughout it's UK range.

One of the Suspected

A few other invertebrates in the trap included a couple of Common Sexton Beetle (Nicrophorus vespilloides) and considering it did not rain and the garden was relatively dry, a surprise visitor to the trap was a Lesser Water Boatman (Corixa sp.).

A Lesser Water Boatman in the trap

Three Crossbill flew over the garden very early morning, not long after the local Tawny Owls had stopped calling, the latter having been particularly vocal since 22:30hrs the night before

Butterflies have been rather scarce on the ground due to the weather so a Speckled Wood by the main road was nice to see this tea-time.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Highflyers, Ys, Wainscots and Underwings

An excellent night with the moth trap in the garden and 184 moths of 68 species was awaiting for me this morning. It took me ages to sort through them, especially as there was a good number of micro-moths. Best of all was that one of the latter, a dull brownish-grey thing with the name of Cydia  fagiglandana was new for me and another moth, a Red Carpet was new for Waldridge.

Also in last night's trap were a single Poplar Hawkmoth, a July Highflyer, a trio of Y's (Silver Y, Plain Golden Y and Beautiful Golden Y), a trio of Wainscots (Common, Smoky & Shoulder-striped) and a quad of Yellow Underwings (Large, Lesser, Broad-bordered & Lesser Broad-bordered).

Some of last night's moths from top to bottom - Honeysuckle Moth,
Carcina quercana, Acleris forsskaleana,
 July Highflyer,
Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Dun-bar and Straw-dot

With the garden to sort out, no time for anything else, so the only things of note were a Curlew and a Sparrowhawk that flew over as I pottered about.