Thursday, 25 October 2012

Seal of approval

It's been rather quiet on the moth front all month, and even the other night when I thought things might improve, only a single Spruce Carpet  was caught.
This morning a few birds seemed to be on the move with a flock of 15 Grey Lag Geese over, followed by 2 Redwing, then 5 Curlew.

I had a spare hour this afternoon and popped down into the Riverside Park. The water levels are still high and the play area is still flooded.  Within minutes of getting to the river I noticed an animal's head in the water. My immediate reaction was Otter even though I haven't seen one down here for a while but it was too large. A better look when it resurfaced confirmed by second thought of a Common Seal. I assume it must have come up with the levels being so high enabling it to get over the weirs  and upstream. Whilst I was watching it I was told it first appeared last Wednesday, this seemed to be confirmed by other first sightings on that day, though a fisherman said there were three present and have been for a year!  It appeared quite tame and certainly curious. As I walked along the river it followed me down for several 100 metres with its head out of the water, watching me all the time. With it's labrador-like head it was like taking a dog for a walk.

The not camera-shy Common Seal

Also present today and I suspect in this case, this is the first sighting of the winter, the Whooper Swan that winters here with the Mute Swans and summers near York where it was rung.

The Whooper is back again with his rusty head

A few Goosanders also present including a young male with the green head feathers just starting to appear, swimming with the Mallards. A party of Long-tailed Tit and 2 Goldcrest were in the riverside scrub on the far bank.


Sunday, 21 October 2012


A Red Admiral on Friday flew over the street and it or another was in the front garden this morning. No bird passage today, only a couple of Redwing, a Meadow Pipit, a Grey Wagtail  and 4 Skylark flew over the fell.  Though it seemed a good day for raptors only 2 sighting of a Kestrel were had. Indian Balsam was still in flower in a few sheltered spots where the frost had not hit.

With it being so quiet I spent the rest of the time looking at Mosses and Liverworts and after a good while looking at them magnified when I got home and going through that excellent field guide to mosses and liverworts of Britain and Ireland by the  British Bryological Society I added 9 species to my Waldridge List.
Bifid Crestwort & Blunt-leaved Bog-moss in the Felledge Wood
Great Scented Liverwort in Hermitage Woods
Supine Plait-moss, Pointed Spear-moss, Common Cord-moss Wall Screw-moss in the garden
Capillary Thread-moss on Waldridge Fell
Hart's-tongue Thyme-moss in the South Burn Wood

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Snapping at my heels

Still got cold and a walk around the fell didn't clear it but it's still nice to get out. I say that but to be honest I'm getting really cheesed off with the amount of uncontrolled dogs allowed to run free on the fell at the moment. I had three horrid things barking, leaping up and snapping at my heels and the owners just aked where my dog was and acted surprised when I didn't have one, saying they had never done that before. Like I believe that and anyway is that an excuse? Quite simple, if you can't control it don't let it off it's lead and I think that applies to the majority of dog owners these days. Also a). please pick up your dog &%^* and b). if you do, please don't hang it from the nearest tree. Right that's today's moan over with.

Most of the morning was over the back of the fell, in the SW corner. The little pools still held a number of Common Darter, with 2 pairs in tandem egg-laying and several un-mated males.

Common Darter on my camera bag

Pair Common Darter in tandem before egg-laying

There's still a surprising number of  Speckled Wood getting the last of the autumn's heat where it's sheltered and sunny around at the moment.

Speckled Woods

Two small groups of Lesser Redpoll were seen and in the Felledge Wood my first Fieldfare (3) and Redwing (5)  together with a suprsing number of Song Thrush were in the trees. It's unusual that I saw my first of the autumn in this manner as opposed to them flying over having heading west.

One of the hedges held a nice mixture of birds which kept darting into the adjacent stubble field and flying back up again. Amongst the House Sparrow, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting and Starling were 4 Tree Sparrow, my first on the fell since 2009. Several Sparrowhawk were seen today and Skylark were the most conspicious in some time.

Tree Sparrow (top bird with the black cheeks) with House Sparrows

Flora-wise, a few still in flower including both Red and White Clover, Hogweed, Wild Angelica, Common Ragwort, Foxglove, Red Campion and my latest ever Upright Hedge-Parsley.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Man flu & butterflies

A big dose of Man Flu has kept me in house for days. 

The only things of note were 3 butterfly species in the garden seen from the house window, Comma, Red Admiral and Speckled Wood, plus the odd Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail flying over. Both the Red Admiral and Comma flew into the greenhouse, presumably looking for a safe spot to hibernate. I dragged by weary body and camera out to get a quick shot of the latter.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Another Hawkmoth scare

There was a late House Martin over the Front Street this morning, and 2 Sparrowhawks there this evening hunting the Pied Wagtails going to roost.

I remember last October I had a hawkmoth scare when a friend said they had taken a photograph of a Hawkmoth. After the panic I realised they had taken the photograph in Turkey. Disappointment. Well I had another hawkmoth scare today when a neighbour said there was a Hawkmoth on the wall. It's got to be a Convolvulus at this time of year, surely or even a Death's-head, panic again. Then I saw the very nice but common Angle Shades moth sitting there. Was it smiling? .. I sort of did, despite another disappointment.

A nice moth but not a Hawkmoth