Friday, July 25, 2014

Bedstraw Hawkmoth!

Bedstraw Hawkmoth
I got up this morning at 4.20am to cover the moth trap to prevent spuggie incursion, and found this chunky foreigner sitting on the top egg tray! Judging by the size of the abdomen I assume its a female Bedstraw Hawkmoth. I hope it can find somewhere to breed, but it may be futile as our winters are too cold for the pupae to survive.

This is a first for me, and was much larger than expected. I thought maybe a bit larger than Hummingbird Hawk, but it was about large Elephant Hawkmoth sized. Shortly after the top photo was taken it rose up into the air and off at great speed west...

According to Northumberland Moths this is the 26th adult in the county, but only the 10th in the last 35 years!

The best moth of the year by a long way.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Its great being on holiday at home...especially on a day like this. After I cut the grass today, the garden looked well so here is a snap off my phone in panorama mode...

The local Blackbird is still around though he is keeping low due to the moult. The sun brought him onto the lawn, contorting into all sorts of shapes...

A couple of large moth catches this week with over 600 moths and up to 90+ species a night have included a new macro species - 

White Satin
With no recent VC68 records, this may be only the third or fourth record up here.

Lets hope the good weather continues, as I'm not back at work til Monday...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Aye aye....

Above - all Small Skippers
A lovely evening outside now. A stroll along the newly cut back field behind our drive produced a few Meadow Browns, and 2 nice Small Skippers. The Small Skipper is a relatively new addition to North Northumberland, and are only here in small numbers, so it was pleasing to see these so close to the garden. One day one will hop the wall...

Oh and I've just looked, this blog is now 8 years old. An 8 yr old blog! Not many of the local blogging masses can boast that longevity ;)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Nothing to Crow about...

What a bird...
 A very humid night continued through the day. The morning was misty and drizzly, but warm. Not weather we are used to here in Northumberland. By lunchtime it was hot and sunny.

We decided to check the coast between Amble and Boulmer for waders at various sites. First stop was Amble braid, where 3 Common Sandpipers, 2 Knot and 3 Sanderling were with 100+ Redshank feeding on the estuary. In the car park, rubbish was strewn everywhere and we wondered about the mentality of the litter louts responsible, then this handsome Carrion Crow appeared. Clearly the guilty culprit, I suppose he is to be forgiven, when he was just looking for breakfast.

From here it was on to Warkworth Gut where the highlight was a group of 3 Little Egrets on the new pools. How long until they are a regular breeding bird here I wonder? Its only a few years since one would have caused a twitch!

Foxton Bends  only produced singles of Greenshank and Whimbrel early on, and two Common Sandpipers later. 50+ Swifts were screaming over the village.

Top - Merganser, bottom, Goosander. 

 At Boulmer, a day flying Barn Owl was at Seaton Point, but holiday visitors made the waders flighty. Summer plumaged Turnstones, Dunlin and Knot mixed with Redshanks and Oystercatchers on the shore.

A few Goosanders flew past the point alongside a single eclipse Red breasted Merganser for comparison.

A similar selection plus a few Ringed Plover were in front of the Fishing Boat Inn. Later this afternoon I popped down to Craster for a short seawatch, my first of the autumn(?). A hour produced 17 Manx Shearwaters, 4 Roseate terns plus the usual auks and Gannets. A Porpoise looked unusual lying like an alligator on the surface for a while before diving out of sight. Maybe it was eating something?

So, this week I am at work on Monday and Tuesday then off for a few days. Cant wait...

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Nothing much to report today, because of very heavy rain all morning, but I'm sick of seeing that spleenwort below so here are a few from recent days to brighten things up.

New moths for the garden list -

Pyla fusca

Evergestis pallidata
When I look at these two moths they are about as good as the spleenwort!

So this is better -

Small Copper
Six-spot Burnet
Meadow Brown

Friday, July 04, 2014

Very rare indeed...

Lady Clermont's Spleenwort.
Plants don't come much rarer than this one, or much more underwhelming either. This is Lady Clermont's Spleenwort Asplenium x clermontiae. This is the only one in the UK and is visited by keen botanists from across the country. While it is only half a mile along the road from our house, this is the first time I've seen it, despite looking. It has taken a local expert to show me its exact location, on a wall along the coast road. To its right is the much commoner Maidenhair Spleenwort, one of its genetic parents. The other one is the Wall Rue. Apparently these natural hybrids are so rare as the parents are a different genus, or something? [Apparently not - see comment]

Unlike hybrid birds, I think plant people can tick this one without guilt, so its now on my list.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

It terned out just 'fine'...

We had a plan this morning to go up to Newton and the Long Nanny to search for Dark Green Fritillaries, but the weather put paid to that. It was overcast with irritating heavy little showers, overcast with a cool northerly wind blowing, hardly ideal for butterfly watching.

Still, we were out, so make the most of it.

At Newton Pool, a single Little Gull was the highlight plus an array of post breeding warblers including Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat.

Along Beadnell Bay, the wind cost me £25 when it blew my car park ticket into the grass, unbeknown to me, so we came back to a nice yellow plastic packet stuck on the windscreen. its ironic, I actually paid this time and got a ticket. Must be some divine justice there somewhere...

The Arctic Tern colony gave a good show, as well as shelter from the rain, in the lee of the wardens hut, but there was little else of note. It seems to be a good season for them with over 2000 nests. The grass in front of the hut was full of chicks running to be fed. Pity the sun didn't shine to bring the butterflies out...

Sea Swallow...
and Land Swallow....

Pyramidal Orchid