Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I know you're in there...

This morning dawned foggy and very autumnal. It was cool and quiet. After I took Bunty for her walk I put her back in the house and took a wander over to the back hedge to see if there were any migrants about. There weren't.

As I strolled back trying to take photos of fog and dew, it dawned on me that there was some frantic calling going on, coming from the sycamores behind our shed. 'Tiissswissp!' was the cry, again and again for maybe a minute. Yellow-browed Warbler! I tried to get some bearings on it, but as I approached my usual watching spot it went quiet. So, I moved back into the garden where some thin sunshine was warming to garden edge of the trees. Surely this would get the siberian active?

I waited for maybe an hour, checking not only the garden but neighbours gardens too, but no joy. The Russian had slipped the net, leaving only a female Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests in the wood. Overhead 2 Redpolls and a Grey Wagtail with 10+ Skylarks flew south....

It might be still around here somewhere....

The calls came from those trees on the far left....

Monday, September 28, 2015


While sitting in protecting the painters from terrier attack, a few Chiffchaffs were still loitering around the garden with the female Blackcap. Plenty of Redpolls around too with 9 S and another 6 in the village wood.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


I'll split this post in two halves, firstly I started out here at home for an hour, then popped down to Warkworth to meet John, then back here to loiter around the garden again as yesterday. A lovely sunny day, a bit cooler, but a cracker of an autumn day all the same.


This morning was out before sunrise down to the Bathing House area just to see if there was any viz mig and to get a sunrise photo.

70 Golden Plovers were roosting in Tommy's field, while 300 Pinkfeet flew south over head. 3 Swallows, a few Skylarks and Meadow Pipits also moving south shortly after it got light.

At 7.30am I headed off to Warkworth, see below, returning at 12.30pm.

This afternoon I spent a lot of time just watching what was going on around our garden. There were loads of butterflies again as well as many Silver Y moths. As the sun was quite bright, I kept the camera handy to get some shots of the butterflies as they appeared....


Small Tortoiseshell


Red Admiral

In addition to these four, there were Speckled Wood, Large White and Small White.

The roving party of Long tailed Tits came back, this time bringing a Treecreeper and 8 - 12 Chiffchaffs. Two Blackcaps fed in the yew and elder bushes. Still no striped sprite...


The time spent at Warkworth was equally lazy but this time sitting at a picnic bench drinking tea and scoffing Bakewell Tarts while watching the birds pass overhead. We had a steady stream of Skylarks ( 50+), Meadow Pipits, 9 Redpolls, 6+ Pied Wagtails, 3+ Swallows, 250 Pink-footed Geese, a few Linnets, Goldfinches and Tree Sparrows. A Snipe bucked the trend by going North.

In the scrub were 4 -5 Chiffchaffs, 2+ Blackcaps, 1 Reed Warbler, 10+ Blackbirds.

Reed Warbler
  We ended down at the estuary where things seemed a bit quieter. The juv Black tailed Godwit was there but there were only 2 Knot with the masses of Redshank, Dunlin, Curlew and Lapwing. Two Little Egrets and 18 Teal were above the weir.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Around the garden and village.

Long-tailed Tit feeding on aphids below elder leaves.

Grey Dagger caterpillar.
I'm off work now for a couple of days for no reason really, I just fancied it.

As the weather has been quite nice yesterday and today ( yesterday best, today was a little bit dull) we've been catching up on some gardening and just generally mooching around the village with Bunty.

On Thursday at dusk my first Pink footed Geese of the autumn flew south over the house, about 100 birds in total.

Yesterday arrivals continued with 30, 65, 70 all going south. I thought that the low cloud today would bring a better count but I only saw one party of 60 all day.

A few phylloscs have been hanging around, with 8+ Chiffchaffs and a single bright Willow Warbler associating with 13+ Long tailed Tits, 2 Goldcrests and the usual commoner garden dwellers. Long tailed Tit is not that common in the village, usually being found in the wooded areas along the road. I've been grilling this flock until I am boss-eyed trying to find a Yellow-browed Warbler. Maybe next weekend...

Over head some viz mig has produced   a few Redpolls, Skylarks and Grey Wagtails with one or two Song Thrushes newly arrived from the east.

This mild summery weather has brought a lot of butterfly activity to the garden. There have been Red Admirals, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Large and Small White, Speckled Wood and Wall Brown. Two Painted Lady were along the coast path.

This lot is all well and good but its not adding to the flagging patch list. Hows about a hint of easterly in the weather forecast please?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

When its dark...

Howick Village Hall in the moonlight.
 On Friday night, for the garden moth scheme, I had two moth traps running in the garden.

What I failed to realise was that the skinner I had positioned out to the front in a more open, south facing, aspect to entice a Convolvulous Hawk-moth, was also perilously close to a heavily fruiting yew tree. These soft red fruits has attracted the attentions of hundreds of Common Wasps, that were, in turn, drawn to the light from the MV bulb.

When I came to check the traps in the morning I found not only a few moths in this one, but about 500 groggy wasps! As it was cool early on I managed to gingerly lift each egg tray out and rescue some of the moths. The trays were replaced and the trap left for the squatters to escape in due course.

Illegal occupants of trap 1.

Luckily the other trap around the other side was less like a bomb disposal, containing only a few wasps from the ripe brambles, so I managed to get a few nice autumn moths. Who would have thought there would be danger in moth trapping?

Black Rustic, looks like a vampire's curtains...

Pink barred Sallow.

Great camouflage from the Angle Shades.

New for the year, 4 Canary shouldered Thorns brightened things up a bit.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Bill

An old sketch done in the field at Harwood Forest....

On Friday morning as I left the house for work, a familiar call greeted me. Several calls actually, with lots of chip, clip etc sounding like an aviary, I glanced up to see a nice party of 13 Crossbills circling and bobbing in flight overhead. It looked like they had come from the pines near the village hall and were moving off North. Crossbills are seen most years on the patch here, except for 2014. The best time is from around June and I fancied this would be another blank due to this late date, but they can occur at any time.

141. Crossbill

Sunday, September 13, 2015

It was still quite dark as I arrived at the top car park at Warkworth this morning to meet up with John.

After yesterday's heavy rain and SE winds hopes were high of something interesting in the car park scrub, but, like with Craster yesterday, it was very quiet. Still as the sun came up birds started to get active. An immature Marsh Harrier came from its reed bed roost, circled for a while then headed off north towards Alnmouth.

It soon became apparent that there were some birds on the move over head - VizMig...
Whilst we didn't do an accurate timed count quite a few birds were involved. From 7am - 10am we had -

Meadow Pipit - The main species involved - over 125 birds S.
Redpoll - 16
Grey Wagtail 3
Yellow Wagtail 1
Skylark 5+
Siskin 1
Swallow - began a bit later -  a slow passage south in small groups.

Skylark on the move south....
 Near the golf club  we got a surprise when a Roe doe and two yearlings ran past us. The adult cleared the fence without a problem but the youngsters weren't as athletic and  ran in the opposite direction. The doe was soon searching for them, so we left her in peace. I hope they were reunited...

The Roe Doe, the family ran in the opposite direction...

Little Egret
Down on the estuary, fewer waders than lately were on the flats. 1 Grey Plover, 7 Knot, 14 Ruff and a Black tailed Godwit, all juveniles, were the highlights here. A Sparrowhawk flushed everything including this Little Egret into a close fly past.

Up river, 6 Wigeon were of note.