Saturday, 22 April 2017

Where does the time go?

 I keep forgetting to add the Apple (Malus pumila) in flower which I have now seen a couple of times by the main path on the fell above Wanister.

On Thursday I had a very early, though briefer than I planned walk,  around a bit of the fell and one of the first birds I heard was a Cuckoo. I watched it fly off continuing to call being mobbed by a couple of Meadow Pipits. Not long after I heard and watched anoth summer visitor singing, a fine cock Common Whitethroat. I did not pick up anything else that was new and had to get back home as I had promised to help out at Rainton for the Durham Wildlife Trust Botany Group.

I'm glad I did really because even though not in the monad I found another summer visitor, a Garganey. I also got very distant views of a raptor over the back fields which I thought may have been a Marsh Harrier but was too far away to be certain and I was only going off 'jizz'.  However not long after,  Twitter announced via Mick Heron that he just seen a Marsh Harrier going though the very same area where I had seen that bird and he had photographed it. Well done Mick.  I didn't find it but I'm having that :-)

The temperature overnight only dropped to 9C so it was one of the best nights of the year so far for moths with 10 species, three of them being new.

Yesterday again I didn't have much time (where's it all going to?) but in the short walk picked up a few more including Green Tiger Beetle and finally a Spider on the outside of the patio door.
This morning four more moths so things are starting to liven up.

393. Malus pumila  (Apple)
394. Cuculus canorus (Common Cuckoo)
395. Sylvia communis (Common Whitethroat)
396. Lampropteryx suffumata (Water Carpet) 
397. Pheosia gnoma (Lesser Swallow Prominent)
399. Nola confusalis (Least Black Arches)
400. Cicindela campestris (Green Tiger Beetle)
401. Ajuga reptans (Bugle)
402. Anemone nemorosa (Wood Anemone)
403. Anthoxanthum odoratum (Sweet Vernal-grass)
404. Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale Cress)
405. Conopodium majus (Pignut)
406. Salix cinerea (Grey Willow)
407. Veronica chamaedrys (Germander Speedwell)
408. Prunus laurocerasus (Cherry Laurel)
409. Myrrhis odorata (Sweet Cicely)
410. Steatoda bipunctata (a Spider)
411. Anticlea derivata (Streamer)
412. Thera obeliscata (Grey Pine Carpet)
413. Thera britannica (Spruce Carpet)
414. Eupithecia dodoneata (Oak-tree Pug)

I've got quite a few pictues on the camera I must find time to upload them. Where does the time go?

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

It's been a week since my last confession

I have sinned. It's been nearly a week since my last confession (update) of the blog. The reason is I haven't been in the square much. I have being doing bits of birding and botany here and there but not in the square and even when I have been here, its generally just been in the garden.
I did see my first ever Polypodium interjectum (Intermediate Polypody) in the county at Flass Vale in Durham City the other day. It's in the same 10Km square but not in my monad unfortunately,

Polypodium interjectum (Intermediate Polypody)

Whilst in the garden  I did manage to pick up my first House Martins of the year, three of them bombing around the estate but I haven't seen them the last couple of days since it got frosty.  A few 'weeds' in the garden showed themselves for the first time this year too, and I had forgotten to add Lesser Celandine, probably because I still cannot get used to it now being a Ficaria instead of a Ranunculus.
Finally a few moths but the catches have been very poor of late in both numbers and species, and a couple of nothing at all too. And finally a Hedgehog crossing the street outside the other night.

370. Delichon urbicum (Common House Martin)
371. Epilobium obscurum (Short-fruited Willowherb)
372. Ficaria verna (Lesser Celandine)
373. Trifolium dubium (Lesser Trefoil)
374. Cerastium glomeratum (Sticky Mouse-ear)
375. Cerastium fontanum (Common Mouse-ear)
376. Orthosia gracilis (Powdered Quaker)
377. Depressaria radiella (Parsnip Moth)
378. Diurnea fagella (a micro moth)
379. Erinaceus europaeus (Western Hedgehog)

Mosses and Liverworts are much harder, if not impossible (for me), to identify later without their reproductive parts, which are usualy present only during the wetter, winter months.  So I made a really concentrated effort to get some more found and identified before it's too late. Off I went and checked trees, streams, banks, fields and bog around the fell for several hours. I came back with 10 mixed polybags of bits of moss and spent a ridiculous amount of time checking and keying them out. It was probaly worth it with another, unlucky 13 species in (or out) of the (poly)bag. Unlucky because all that effort and I didn't find even one new species I haven't seen the the square before.

The thirteen were

380. Bryum capillare (Capillary Thread-moss)
381. Dicranella heteromalla (Silky Forklet-moss)
382. Fissidens taxifolius (Common Pocket-moss)
383. Hypnum jutlandicum (Heath Plait-moss)
384. Barbula convoluta (Lesser Bird's-Claw)
385. Lunularia cruciata (Crescent-cup Liverwort)
386. Orthotrichum affine (Wood Bristle-moss)
387. Orthotrichum diaphanum (White-tipped Bristle-moss)
388. Polytrichastrum formosum (Bank Haircap)
389. Eurhynchium striatum (Common Striated Feather-moss)
390. Polytrichum piliferum (Bristly Haircap)
391. Sphagnum fallax (Flat-topped Bog-moss)
392. Brachytheciastrum velutinum (Velvet Feather-moss)

I've got a few hours spare tomorrow so I'll see if I can get the 400. I've just rembered something else I got but it's getting late so I'll keep it up my sleeve until next time, one closer to 400.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

A new Waldridge bird then avoided the fun

Monday saw me setting off for a wander the fell on a rather cold and very windy day and I wasn't really expecting anything. Even after only five minutes or so I was thinking of how long I should give it. Then, drum roll please, I heard a three-note whistle, 'twee-see-see' and turned around and got my bins on a Common Sandpiper flying over heading north-west. Presumably it was heading to Tribley Ponds, which unfortunatelylie in the adjacent square.  This was my first ever for Waldridge and not expected to be my next summer migrant. Apart from that I saw nothing of note but checked a few lichens and picked up my first Nipplewort of the year.

It's been poor for moths now the weather has changed with nothing new and even a zero catch on Monday night.I did have a Nicrophorus humator (Common Sexton Beetle) in the trap on Tuesday night however.

There's been a bit of sun during the day on Tuesday and today with temperatures hovering around 11C and I picked up three hoverfly species in sheltered spots here and there which all helps.

A breakdown of the latest additions in no particular order

358. Nicrophorus humator (Common Sexton Beetle)
359. Daedaleopsis confragosa (Blusing Bracket)
360. Phytomyza ilicis (Holly leaf miner) larvae
361. Lecidea grisella (a lichen)
362. Lecidella elaeochroma (a lichen)
363. Cladonia portentosa (Reindeer-moss)
364. Evernia prunastri (a lichen)
365. Cheilosia pagana (a hoverfly)
366. Melanostoma scalare   (a hoverfly)
367. Syrphus ribesii (a hoverfly)
368. Lapsana communis (Nipplewort)
369. Actitis hypoleucos (Common Sandpiper)

Popped outside the monad to the riverside park at Chester-le-Street this afternnon after doing a few messages, not realising there was a Fun Fair on. I'm not into this fun malarkey so rattled off a few pictures (of course not of the fair) and made a hasty retreat.




Grey Heron

Orange-tip male

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Gardening for species

Nice and sunny but a gardening day,  so it might be surprise you (it did me) to get nine new species for the year, all in the garden.
I had the moth trap out overmight and apart from twenty or so Orthosia moths of various species and another five Early Greys,  there also was  a small black-marked micro-moth Semioscopis avellanella, a rather local species of birch woodland.
So after breakfast and popping to the bookies [not to collect my winnings but my money back] as the darn horse didn't even run!, it was gardening time.  Tidying up the front border amongs the 'weeds' there was a well-grown but unhealthy Goat's-beard aka 'Jack go to bed at noon'.

Tragopogon pratensis (Goat's-Beard) -
this is an old photo of a seedhead as the specimen in the garden was certainly not worth photographing

A bit of digging unearthed not one but two caterpillars. These were the larva a couple of common moths, both I'm almost certain to see soon in the case of the Angle Shades or around June in the case of a Lesser Yellow Underwing. 

Noctua comes (Lesser Yellow Underwing) caterpillar

Phlogophora meticulosa (Angle Shades) catepillar

Also un-earthed were a few worms that all keyed out as the common Earthworth or Lob Worm, a White-legged Snake Millipede and a small brown and white spider that I later got under the microscope to confirm its id (before it ran off and is probably still in the house somewhere). A White-lipped Snail was on the Cistus and I caught one of many small hoverflies buzzing around the Dandelions in the lawn,  Platycheirus albimanus, another common species.

Tachypodoiulus niger (White-legged Snake Millipede)

Platycheirus albimanus (a hoverfly)

Quite a good day.

349. Semioscopis avellanella (a moth)
350. Tragopogon pratensis (Goat's-Beard)
351. Phlogophora meticulosa (Angle Shades) larval
352. Noctua comes (Lesser Yellow Underwing) larval
353. Platycheirus albimanus (a hoverfly)
354. Tachypodoiulus niger (White-legged Snake Millipede)
355. Metellina mengei (a spider)
356. Lumbricus terrestris (Lob Worm)
357. Cepaea hortensis (White-lipped Snail)

Sun and butterflies go together

Only a few species picked up the last couple of days but today (yesterday 8th as I write this) the sun was shining and it was hot. This brought the insects out and no less than 5 new butterflies for the year were around, togther with 2 of the three I've already had..

Nothing new and in fact very little in the moth trap this week as though the day temperatures have rising it has meant no cloud cover at night and the temperatures plummeted. Last night it dropped to -0.8C.

I've not had much time to write stuff up so here is just a list of the new species to date.

333. Phylloscopus trochilus (Willow Warbler)
334. Cardamine amara (Large Bittercress) 
335. Cardamine pratensis (Cuckoo-flower)
336. Anthocharis cardamines (Orange-tip)
337. Pieris rapae (Small White)
338. Pieris napi (Green-veined White)
339. Pieris brassicae (Large White)
340. Pararge aegeria (Speckled Wood)
341. Bombus hortorum (Small Garden Bumble Bee)
342. Andrena fulva (Tawny Mining bee)
343. Deschampsia flexuosa (Wavy Hair-grass)
344. Asplenium trichomanes (Maidenhair Spleenwort)
345. Sinapis arvensis (Charlock)
346. Galium saxatile (Heath Bedstraw)
347. Hypochaeris radicata (Cat's-ear)
348. Holcus mollis (Creeping Soft-grass)

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Bumbles and Bee-flies

Helping Durham Wildlife Trust with some heather monitoring in mid durham so the six new species listed  were four left over from yesterday and a Snail and a Fly in the garden today.
But also a few photos from yesterday and today too.

Common Carder Bumblebee - Bombus pascuorum

Buff-tailed Bumblebee - Bombus terrestris

My first Bee-fly of the year was in the greenhouse not the open garden, It's a wierd looking fly, all furry with black patterened wings and a great big proboscis. It uses the latter to drink nectar and is totally harmless so don't panic but it may be visiting your garden soon.

Bombylius major (Large Bee Fly)

Bombylius major (Large Bee Fly)

Two lichens - Melanelixia fuliginosa subsp. glabratula (brown) and Lecidella elaeochroma (grey-green with spots)

Ramalina farinacea  - another lichen

From yesterday, the brilliant blue of Myosotis sylvatica, the wood forget-me-not

327. Narcissus poeticus (Pheasant's-eye Daffodil)
328. Cepaea nemoralis (Brown-lipped Snail)
329. Ramalina farinacea  (a lichen)
330. Lecidella elaeochroma (a lichen)
331. Melanelixia fuliginosa subsp. glabratula  (a lichen)
332. Bombylius major (Large Bee Fly)

Monday, 3 April 2017

Signs of spring

There were some good signs of spring today with more plants coming into flower, the first Swallow and two more butterflies.

Spent a good few hours on the fell picking up a few more species.
Lots of bird song and I counted  24 Chiffchaff and 2 Blackcap, the latter was new for the year here as was the Swallow  and 52 Fieldfare were seen heading east. However, unlike many sites there were no Willow Warblers present yet and no sign of any Stonechat or Green Woodpecker for that matter.

307. Turdus pilaris (Fieldfare)
308. Hirundo rustica (Barn Swallow)
309. Sylvia atricapilla (Eurasian Blackcap)

Three species of butterfly (2 new) despite the wind but they were relucant to do much flying and just sat down in the grass.

310. Polygonia c-album (Comma)
311. Aglais io (Peacock)



But the moth trap had nothing new, 23 moths of 5 species, though nearly half of those were Early Greys who are having a very good season.

A couple more very common invertebrates were seen (I've got a few more in the fridge to sort out later)

312. Meligethes aeneus (Pollen Beetle)
313. Oniscus asellus (Common Shiny Woodlouse)

And some more plants

314. Alopecurus pratensis (Meadow Foxtail)
315. Caltha palustris (Marsh-marigold)
316. Dactylis glomerata  (Cock's-foot grass)
317. Daucus carota   (Wild Carrot)
318. Dryopteris borreri (Scaly Male-fern)
319. Filipendula ulmaria (Meadow-sweet)
320. Juncus articulatus (Jointed Rush)
321. Rumex acetosa (Common Sorrel)
322. Ranunculus acris (Meadow Buttercup)
323. Luzula campestris (Field Woodrush)
324. Vicia sepium  (Bush Vetch) 

Luzula campestris (Field Woodrush) aka Good Friday Grass

and a couple of fungi

325. Exidia glandulosa (Black Witches Butter)
326. Hypholoma fasciculare (Sulphur tuft)

Exidia glandulosa (Black Witches Butter)

Hypholoma fasciculare (Sulphur tuft)

Sunday, 2 April 2017

A relaxing weekend

The pressure was off a little with me hitting the 300 last time so a relaxing weekend was had. I put the moth trap out as usual on Friday night and when I checked on  Saturday  it held 37 moths of 8 species,  including one new moth for the year, The Engrailed

301. Ectropis crepuscularia (Engrailed)

Remember all species are countable, and I remembered that when I noticed the green mould on an old orange and another rust on some Lesser Celandine in the garden. Two more species.

302. Penicillium digitatum    (Orange Mould)
303. Uromyces dactylidis (Celandine Clustercup Rust)

Sunday I got a three new invertebrates out in the sun, the Common Marmalade Fly, my first Early Bumble Bee of the year and some larvae I'm very familiar with in the garden, the grubs of the Viburnum  Beetle on the - you guessed it,  my Viburnum (V. tinus)

304. Episyrphus balteatus (a hoverfly)
305. Bombus pratorum (Early Bumble Bee)
306. Pyrrhalta viburni (Viburnum  Beetle)

Had a few bees in the garden I have already seen this year too, all thanks to that bit of sun, namely Tree, Buff-tailed and Large Red-tailed Bumblebees all which  visited the garden as did a nice female Andrena haemorrhoa.

Siskins have been fairly scarce in the garden this winter but there was one on the feeders yesterday and three there first thing this morning. Mid morning three Common Buzzards drifted over high, heading west. I suspect these were migrating birds and not my local ones.

Friday, 31 March 2017

300 by March achieved

Overnight  Wednesday/Thursday  the moth trap contents included a Conistra vaccinii (Chestnut), a common over-wintering moth and perhaps surprising that I did not have one until now. I needed to do some more jobs in the garden and I caught a fly in the greenhouse which keyed out as the common Calliphora vomitoria aka the Bluebottle.
I still had a few mosses from the other day to check out and new were new for the year and finally a Himalayan Cotoneaster seedling  was hiding in the garden, presumably bird sown as there are a few bushes around, I just can't remember exactly where. I'll probably trip over them now.

284. Calliphora vomitoria (Blowfly)
285. Conistra vaccinii (Chestnut)
286. Lophocolea heterophylla (Variable-leaved Crestwort)
287. Plagiomnium rostratum (Long-beaked Thyme-moss)
288. Cotoneaster simonsii (Himalayan Cotoneaster)

I checked last night's moth catch this morning, up before dawn but still after a pesky male Blackbird had started doing his rounds to see what was on offer. What looked very much like another Acleris logiana was on the outside of the trap but flew off before I could pot it up. If it was, then a small colony may have become established nearby and I should catch more.. heres hoping.
What I did catch

Yellow Horned   1
Red-Green Carpet  1 *
Brindled Pug   2 *
Early Tooth-striped   2 *
Early Thorn   2 *
Early Grey   6
Pale Pinion   1 *
Pine Beauty    2
Clouded Drab   4
Common Quaker  8
Hebrew Character   5
Oak Nycteoline   1 *

35 moths of 13 species (plus 1 that got away), 6 of them (marked *) were new for the year

Red-Green Carpet

Early Tooth-striped

Pale Pinion

Oak Nycteoline

289. Selenia dentaria (Early Thorn)
290. Trichopteryx carpinata (Early Tooth-striped)
291. Nycteola revayana (Oak Nycteoline)
292. Lithophane socia (Pale Pinion)
293. Eupithecia abbreviata (Brindled Pug)
294. Chloroclysta siterata (Red-Green Carpet)
The thing about doing the 1000 in 1 ksq i,  though it's not competitive, you still give youself targets and  about 3 weeks ago I was hoping to finish March on 300. There a chance I could catch something in the trap overnight, but unlikely 6 more. As I was going 'off-piste' mid-morning it seemed that 300 was just a hope, nothing more. However after such a good moth trap catch I talked myself into thinking it was still possible so I had a quick saunter onto the fell to look for some more plants. It wasn't too difficult to find some new ones, even if most were just showing a few leaves. 25 minutes later I had found the six new species which made me finish March on 300. 
The new ones were

295. Blechnum spicant (Hard Fern)
296. Anisantha sterilis (Barren Brome)
297. Lolium perenne (Perennial Rye-grass)
298. Senecio vulgaris (Groundsel)
299. Menyanthes trifoliata (Bogbean)
300. Rumex crispus  (Curled Dock)

 I'm happy.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Is that a funny Bird's-foot?

Yesterday in the garden again but I did manage to identify  my first worm, a Brandling Worm but much better was a Sand Martin that flew over, my first for the garden since 2011.
A good day for bird song by the sound of things as a Pied Wagtail sang from the compost heap briefly and a Yellowhammer from the wires at the end of the street.

A rare garden bird here, Pied Wagtail

and becoming rare but still fairly common here - Yellowhammer

Best catch of the year so far in the moth trap for both numbers and species but nothing new for the year.

276. Eisenia fetida (Brandling Worm)
277. Riparia riparia (Sand Martin)

I got a message from Stevie Evans later that he had just had a Tree Pipit on the Fell as well as a report of a Green Woodpecker. There was no chance of getting out then but the next day I was out and about sharpish.

The grid reference I got was inside my square, only just but there was no sign of it. It took about an hour to find it but it was outside the square by a good 200 metres, perching on a Rowan but flitting down and out of sight before appearing the other side. This meant having to walk around the burn to the other side to view. I ended up doing this several times getting some decent but very brief views and no photo. After about 15 minutes of this,  it just disappeared. I then walked back into NZ2549 and continued walking around for bits and bobs but it was rather cold and there was virtually nothing in the way of invertebrates about.  A few Buff-tailed Bumblebees and that was virtually that. I picked up a few flowers including Red Campion in flower and nearby some Bird's-foot-trefoil. In one area there were what I initially took as a yellow flowered plant but on further inspection it appeared that all the leading leaves of thyis plant were a pale lemon colour. I think it must been more Bird's-foot-trefoil and think it may have been covered over and become pale and straggly, though none of the other plants and grasses amongst it seem to be affected. A quick look online hasn't revealed anything so more research needed.

I can only think this is Bird's-foot trefoil, the leaves are identical to normal Lotus corniculatus nearby

278. Silene dioica (Red Campion)
279. Lotus corniculatus (Common Bird's-foot-trefoil)
280. Myosotis sylvatica (Wood Forget-me-not)

I have a good idea where the border of my square is and a patch of birches on a small slope are just inside (I have checked). There perched on top was the Tree Pipit. Again it kept flitting down but twice rose up and song-flight, unfortunately away from me. When it landed the second time I lost it and didn't see it again.
I headed over to Wanister Bog and found the Sphagnum moss I hadn't found last time - Spiky Bog-moss.  It is one of the easy ones to identify but I took a little bit home to confirm it's identity.

Sphagnum squarrosum

 As I headed back 1 Common Carder Bee flashed past and I followed it to some Deadnettles where it fed.

Bombus pascuorum (Common Carder Bee)

281. Anthus trivialis (Tree Pipit)
282. Sphagnum squarrosum (Spiky Bog-moss)
283. Bombus pascuorum (Common Carder Bee)

Three days in March left and another 17 to get to 300 by the end of the month is just about possible I hope

Sunday, 26 March 2017

.... and a Baker's Dozen more

Spent most of the weekend in the garden so I was never going to see much but with the glorious weather a few invertebrates started to make an appearance.
Three species of Bombus (Bumble-bee) appeared at some time during the weekend, but no B. pratorum (Early Bumblebee) yet. Also the first Andrena haemorrhoa (Early mining bee), which is quite regular in the garden in early spring and a record-breaking queen Vespula vulgaris (Common Wasp) which couuld be my first ever one seen in March.

A Small Tortoiseshell arrived in the garden mid afternoon today, the first butterfly.

The Small Tortoiseshell in the garden
Also in the garden Aira praecox (Early Hair-grass) which has been present since we moved here and probably long before that, as well as lots of Elytrigia repens (Common Couch)

I had gathered some moss (I'm no Rolling Stone ... sorry) the other day and spent a good while checking them out and another seven species were identified,  so another dozen for the list.

263. Aira praecox (Early Hair-grass) 
264. Elytrigia repens (Common Couch)
265. Andrena haemorrhoa (Early mining bee)
266. Vespula vulgaris (Common Wasp)
267. Mnium hornum (Swan's-neck Thyme-moss)
268. Plagiomnium affine (Many-fruited Thyme-moss)
269. Polytrichum commune var. commune (Common Haircap)
270. Campylopus introflexus (Heath Star Moss)
271. Marchantia polymorpha subsp. ruderalis (Common Liverwort) 

272. Bombus lucorum sens. lat. (White-tailed Bumble Bee)
273. Aglais urticae (Small Tortoiseshell)
274. Pseudotaxiphyllum elegans (Elegant Silk-moss)
275. Pseudoscleropodium purum (Neat Feather-moss)  

Saturday, 25 March 2017

A dozen bits and pieces

Not much more than a list today as only a few photos despite it being 9C and beautiful bright spring day, My main camera I usually carry around with me had to stay indoors as the outer cover became detached and I left it sticking together with a bit of superglue, which should do the trick.

A good day for raptors with 4 Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrel and 2 Sparrowhawk seen over the fell. There's been a serious increase in Chiffchaffs overnight as I counted 18 singing during my walk around.

Chiffchaff - not too bad considering this was with a macro lens

Picked up a dozen bits and pieces including my first Seven-spot Ladybird at long last.

Seven-spot Ladybird 

Also got my third Bumble-bee of the year, a large Red-tailed but only the one and that was in the garden. A single Buff-tailed was also seen and lots of Tree Bumblebees feeding mainly on the sallows.

Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum).
This one was feeding low down, unlike most of the others whiuch were high up in the sallows.

If you look at the Mostchatel picture from the previous post you can see that some of the leaves are covered in blackish/ dark brown spots. This is a rust fungus  Puccinia adoxae and tends to deform the leaves and sometimes the whole plant. It is apparently common in places where this plant grows. I also found another rust fungus - Uromyces junci on Hard Rush

Uromyces junci on Hard Rush

251. Bombus lapidarius (Large Red Tailed Bumble Bee)
252. Eristalis pertinax (a hoverfly)
253. Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. argentatum (Garden Yellow-archangel) - a well-established escape
254. Scilla siberica (Siberian Squill) - ditto
255. Oxalis acetosella  (Wood-sorrel)
256. Myosotis arvensis (Field Forget-me-not)
257. Hyacinthoides non-scripta  (Bluebell) 
258. Coccinella septempunctata (7-spot Ladybird)
259. Arianta arbustorum (Copse Snail)
260. Arion ater (Large Black Slug)
261. Uromyces junci (Rush Rust)
262. Puccinia adoxae (Moschatel Rust)

I've got a few Bryophytes and a spider to id and 2 days of warm weather forecast so with a bit of luck .

Friday, 24 March 2017

Town Hall Clocks and Jews-ears

2 days of wind, rain and even snow,  not the weather for boosting my list, but I needed to get out so yesterday I nipped out of the square to Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve. The reason - it has a hide, so somewhere to sit and drink coffee while its tipping down. Dry but not warm, the stone-built thing is always freezing whatever the weather, even in summer. It was worth it as I also got my first Little Ringed Plover of the year, it flew in while I was halfway through my sandwich.

Little Ringed Plover at Rainton Meadows.  My and the reserve's first of the year but sadly not in my square

The moth trap was only out the once and wind & rain stopped play,  so I haven't caught a thing the past couple of days.

A few days ago I caught a couple of small(-ish) bees both feeding on Dandelions while I was out on the fell. They have been in pots in the fridge, so as it was still raining this morning I got the Microscope out amd Falk's Field Guide to Bees of Great Britian and spent an hour or so keying them out. I managed to identify them down to species, both of which I have seen on the fell previously and had been confirmed by an expert,  so I'm fairly confident I've Id'd them correctly. They were

236. Andrena scotica (Chocolate Mining-bee) - male  
237. Lasioglossum cupromicans (Turquoise Furrow-bee) - female  

I popped ou mid afternoo for a couple of hours and picked up a couple more common mosses

238. Grimmia pulvinata (Grey-cushioned Grimmia
239. Amblystegium serpens (Creeping Feather-moss) 

Whilst out this afternoon in Felledge Wood I watched a Wren wanting to enter the brickwork of a viaduct over the stream but I was putting it off. I scrambled down the bank for a quick peek when presumbably it's mate flew out of the fully formed nest, well advanced for so early. Not really exciting but I cover this square often so know most of the plants and their whereabouts, but I found I was standing in a large 6 square metre patch of Moschatel ,  all in flower. The flowers are green, and in groups of  of five, and is also known as 'Town Hall Clock' because the flowers face out in four directions, like the four faces of a town clock. .Not a rare plant but new completely ,not just for the square,  but I've just checked,  and its new for the tetrad.

Adoxa moschatellina (Moschatel)  - a new tetrad record

240. Adoxa moschatellina (Moschatel)  

When I was a young birder first starting I remember reading and being told about identifying Crows. If there's more than two they are Rooks, as you never see Carrion Crows in groups, they prefer the solitary life. And it was true, but how things change. Rook numbers have dropped by 17% since 1995 where as Carrion Crows have increased by 13% in the same period. Now if you see a group of crows it could be either. On the fell late this afternoon I had a bit of a smile as little groups of Carrion Crows started arriving in a few trees by one of the paths. Eventually there were 63 in these trees, flying around, cawing and doing what crows do. A young woman was walking her dog along the path when the crows all took flight but instead of flying away they circled above her making quite a bit of noise. Her dog ran back and she must of thought it was Hitchcock's 'The Birds' all over again and she turned around and rapidly went back the way she came following her brave doggie.

The Birds

I wandered through the woods for a while picking up a few more plant species including the old boy,  the famous Black Poplar, the leaves are beginning to burst so there's still life in the him yet.

Look at the bark on that! Black Poplar -  Populus nigra subsp. betulifolia

241. Pinus nigra subsp. laricio  (Corsican Pine)       
242. Plantago lanceolata (Ribwort Plantain) 
243. Cirsium vulgare (Spear Thistle)
244. Rumex sanguineus (Wood Dock)
245. Impatiens glandulifera  (Himalayan Balsam) 
246. Mercurialis perennis (Dog's Mercury) 
247. Salix x fragilis (Crack Willow)
248. Aegopodium podagraria (Ground-elder)
249. Populus nigra subsp. betulifolia (Black Poplar)

Nearly every Elder around the edge of the wood has Auricularia auricula-judae (Jew's-ear Fungus) on some of their branches. Not just here but everywhere I go I'm seeing it at the moment  I've never as much as this year.

Auricularia auricula-judae (Jew's-ear Fungus)

250. Auricularia auricula-judae  (Jew's ear Fungus)

There' a few more but it's getting late so I'll finish on a nice round 250

Monday, 20 March 2017

Mainly Moths

I mentioned the the day about that moth.  It was a small white Acleris moth, one of the micro-moths and I really wasn’t sure at all as to what it was. Anyway it turned out that after its bits were examined by the county recorder it was identified as Acleris logiana and the first for County Durham (VC66).  

231. Acleris logiana (Grey Birch Button)

That moth - Here she is (its a girl) A. logiana
 aka Black-headed Birch Leaffolder Moth or Grey Birch Button

The moth trap overnight produced three new moth species for the year in the way of 

232. Perigrapha munda  (Twin-spotted Quaker) 
233. Alsophila aescularia (March Moth )
234. Achlya flavicornis (Yellow-horned Moth)  

Twin-spotted Quaker

March Moth

Here's the Yellow-horned head on showing his antennae 'horns'

Otherwise I went off-piste on an outing with the Durham Wildlife Trust Botany Group to Gainford in the south of the county today. The aim, which was successful, was to see Gagea lutea (Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem) in one of it’s few county sites. A nice day out with 70-odd species including much of the early spring woodland plants in flower.

Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem

Returning,  I walked from the A167 into the square and in one of the fields I picked up a Curlew feeding. Not a year tick but the first that wasn’t just flying over. Better still and only metres away from it were two Oystercatcher. Tick #235. I only had my macro lens with me so here is a very distant shot of them.

235. Haematopus ostralegus (Oystercatcher)