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.