Sunday, 30 September 2012

Too busy for nature

A busy couple of weeks resulting in so little time to wander around. Last weekend I didn't even get around the patch but a skien of 48 Pink-footed Geese over in the morning was a little compensation. Heavy rain early this week flooded the riverside park again but it wasn't as bad as earlier this year.

Only one attempt with putting the moth trap out and even that I abandoned after midnight as there was a risk of it blowing away! Only one brave Light Brown Apple Moth dropped in before I switched it off.

This weekend was not much better and a short walk in the blustery wind and light showers produced 3 Chiffchaff, all singing in some way or another, a Willow Tit and despite the weather, a Speckled Wood butterfly. Small numbers of Meadow Pipits and a couple of Skylarks over were the only signs of migration.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Hoverfly ticking under the microscope

Rain this morning but it was dry, though cold, overnight. 3 migrant Silver Y were amongst the resident Lunar Underwing (first of the year), Pine and Red-green Carpets, Large & Lesser Yellow Underwings, Brown-spot Pinion, Flounced and Rosy Rustic, Light Brown Apple Moth and Mouse Moth in the trap first thing this morning.

Pine Carpet

Silver Y

Also a Common Green Lacewing

Common Green Lacewing

Stayed in early morning and checked a few of the specimens and photographs of Hoverflies from the Fell the last couple of weeks, under the microscope. And I added three new species for Waldridge, the latter was new for me - Myathropa florea (seen only yesterday by the river), Eristalis interruptus (now called Eristalis nemorum I think ) and Platycheirus scambus, the latter two both on the fell. My training weekend from the spring eventually being put to proper use.

Eristalis interruptus 

Myathropa florea 

A Zebra on the window

 Too windy last night for the moth trap so I'll leave it until tonight, though I did see a couple of moths today as a Silver Y was found lurking in the greenhouse and a Nettle-tap amongst the nettles by the riverside. A few butterflies were out in the sun including 8 Speckled Wood, a few Peacock and a Wall.

Speckled Wood


A brood of Mallard ducklings with their mum on the Wear were late as were singing Chiffchaffs (4) and a Blackcap.  Only one Swallow flew over compared to several hundred last weekend.

Late brood of Mallard

Creeping Yellowcress was still in flower but the flat heads of Tansy and Yarrow were attracting most of the insects around.

Creeping Yellow-cress

Back home a Zebra Spider (Salticus scenicus) on the windowframe was enjoying the afternoon sun. This is a small  spider but with big attitude. It's said they have the best eyesight of all spiders and they will turn they head to look at you if you get close. This one did just that.

Zebra or Jumping Spider  Salticus scenicus

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Herald the passage of Swallows

A sunny day spent in the garden.  The problem with a wildlife garden is it gets wild if left untouched, so today was spent tidying it up a bit.
The Herald moth is quite common but despite it's food-plants of Poplars and Willow, both very close to the garden I have only ever has a couple here. Of course I'm mentioning this because I had the trap out overnight and caught one. A smart thing it was too.


Also caught were  Ruby Tiger,  Canary-shouldered Thorn and Dusky Thorn amongst the usual  commoner moths such as Yellow Underwings (Large & Lesser), Square-spot Rustic and Riband Waves. Both Common and Red Wasps and a Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale (Hawthorn Shield Bug)  were also trapped.

Hawthorn Shield Bug

Red Wasp Vespa rufa

The Buddlejas in the garden are still flowering well and held Comma, Red Admiral, Peacock and Large White Butterflies.

Red Admiral on the Buddleja

Swallows were streaming past today heading south, I counted 198 flying over the garden in an hour, together with 6 House Martin and 3 Siskin.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Emeralds in the sun

A nice sunny day and a previous mild night with the minimum temperature of 12.4C.
The moth trap produced just the early autumn species but with the largest counts of the year for both Large Yellow Underwing and Lesser Yellow Underwing. Both these species are very common but the numbers have been way down this year until the last couple of days. A White Plume moth was my first in the garden for some time and a Tortix either Acleris laterana or salicifolia, was probably the former due to the date and their liking for Spiraea which I have in the garden. Both species have occurred here before however. The single Angle Shades trapped spent a lot of it time with it's wings raised despite it not being threatened, unlike their normal position with it's wings flat and exhibiting it's cryptic camouflage.

Angle Shades - Wings up and wings down
My walk started off well with a Greenshank, the second this autumn flying over calling.
The sun brought out the butterflies with Red Admiral and Comma joining the Peacocks on the Buddleja in the garden and good numbers of Walls and Small Heaths and a few Speckled Wood,  along with the other species I saw yesterday, on the wing.

Wall and Small Heath on the Fell

I walked over to the back end of the fell today after getting the Sunday paper from the petrol station via the footpath between there and the hostel at Plawsworth and flushed a party of 5 Grey Partridge at the end and watched a Siskin fly over. The small pools further on at the Scroggs had a number of Common Darter, a buzzing Southern Hawker and best of all, at least 25 Emerald Damselflies.

Emerald Damselfly - 1 of 25_ today

Though in the past they have suffered from both pollution and litter, these acidic ponds are looking good these days with a marsh vegetation establishing itself including Marsh Ragwort, Water Mint, Jointed Rush and Bog Pondweed.

Jointed Rush

Marsh Ragwort

Sitting down photographing the Damselflies I heard a Common Buzzard calling for quite a while before it appeared over the trees in the distance. 3 juvenile Kestrels, probably young from the local pair were playfully screeching and playing overhead. A constant stream of Swallows were going overhead, southbound and a single Sand Martin flew with them. The finch flock is building up nicely again, at the moment it's in the stubble by Beany Lane and contains 80+ Linnet and 34 Chaffinch.

2 of the Kestrels

Saturday, 1 September 2012

My first Migrants

It was my first walk around the fell for a week and despite the shortage of sun that was promised it was still 19C after lunch. A lot of Swallows were hawking insects over the fields but there was little else in the way of birds around.  The butterflies were better with both Large and Green-veined White on the wing at several spots, single Meadow Brown and Small Copper were flushed and 5 Peacocks were on a Buddleja shrub in one of the gardens nearby.

Green-veined White

2 Common Darters on the fell were quite a way from water but the best were my first Migrant Hawkers that I have seen in the Waldridge area, that twice buzzed me by Wanister Bog. Unfortunately they came no way near to alighting for their photograph to be taken.

Common Darter

Still a number of hoverflies on the wing, including more Helophilus pendulus, which have certainly been commoner than usual this year.

Helophilus pendulus

The last of a number of species of flora are still in flower including Creeping Cinquefoil and Dame's Violet.