Sunday, 23 July 2017


Family holidays are always a compromise and generally everyone gets a little time to themselves as well as having some joint activities and ours was no different. We took a holiday let of a converted barn a couple of miles outside Rothbury in the Northumberland National Park for a week which, whilst not long enough for me, provided plenty of good birds and a ready made excuse to return as I was unable to get across to the Farnes!
Birding was limited to an hour or two on most days so the nearest I got to any islands was this view of Coquet Island on the 19th just outside Amble. Whilst most were distant I did manage many Puffin both on the island and fishing in the channel between the mainland as well as Common, Sandwich, Arctic, and Roseate terns, Gannet, Razorbill, and Guillemot.

Our let held fishing rights for a mile on the river Coquet however it was near the town centre on the
18th that I saw the Dipper pictured above and right as well as the Grey Wagtail below. Dipper has to be one of my favourite birds with their ceaseless search for water invertebrates in fast flowing water.
A family wander around the coastline on the 20th included a brief stop at Seahouses. This enabled me to wander down to the harbour where the inevitable Eider creche clocked me before I had even wandered down the slipway. These sea duck really are quite enchanting and incredibly confiding!

The same evening I took a wander up to the top of the beacon above Simonside with Hazel and along with an unexpected Cuckoo managed to see a couple of coveys of Red Grouse, a 3 and a 7, including the bird pictured below.
Other sightings around Simonside over the week included Tawny Owl, Spotted Flycatcher, Crossbill, numerous Siskin and Redpoll, Bullfinches, Treecreeper, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, and Raven. More worryingly given the recent highly publicised failures of the Crown Prosecution Service to do their civic duty in bringing cases to court, was the almost complete absence of raptors. My only sighting of a bird of prey across the entire week was of a single Buzzard on the evening of the 18th near Simonside. In case anyone is unaware the address below will demonstrate the exact level of corruption / incompetence / disinterest that the CPS clearly places on raptor persecution.
As I mentioned earlier family holidays are a compromise so I compromised on the amount of clothes I took to enable me to fit a portable Heath trap (supplied by ALS) in my rucksack! I managed to run the trap for 3 nights and as a result picked up 4 macro ticks and 3 micro ticks. Nothing startling with probably the most desired of the macros' being the Antler moth pictured above although the Plain (?) Golden Y below was also very attractive.
In all my trapping sessions produced a total of 125 macros of 23 species and 12 micros of 12 of 12 species, the most attractive of the new micros for me being Ypsophola dentella.
A variety of other insects seen included the hoverfly Volucella pelluscens (Great Pied Hoverfly) pictured above. Mammals were limited to Brown Hare, Roe Deer, and Stoat. Take care.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Eats Bees and Breeds

It would have been rude not to take in the Bee-eaters at East Leake in Nottinghamshire on the 14th since I had tickets for the first two days of the Trent Bridge test match. As a result Amber had to endure a slightly earlier than scheduled start in order to humour me by paying a visit to the site, about twenty minutes from the ground, before play. The birds put on an exemplary display feeding on bees and other insects from their favoured perches around the quarry, often calling as they flew short sorties for prey items.
News has subsequently been released that the birds have nested and that at least 2 young are being reared, not totally surprising given that we witnessed courtship / pair bonding behaviour (pictured above) where one of the birds is offering a bumble bee to another, and the location and the length of time the birds have been present.
The cricket was very enjoyable albeit that England were hammered by a strongly motivated Proteas' side. Joe Root pictured below on the way to a cameo fifty.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

M is for Meds' and Macros'

The early part of July has continued with warm sunny weather which has, in turn, resulted in plenty of moths. Birds on the other hand remain quiet with the highlights being 5 ad Med Gulls in Normans' bay on the 9th and an Osprey over Hankham level today (11th).
So too the moths. I have been trapping regularly in the garden since 2005 and, whilst I have a period from 2007 to 2009 where I have lost the records, I cannot remember a week with 5 new macros' for the garden since those very early days. Pride of place has to go to the two Nb species, the male Festoon trapped overnight on the 6th pictured above, and the Kent Black Arches trapped overnight on the 8th pictured below.
The macro list for the UK, while larger, bears some comparison to the bird list in terms of overall numbers so to get 5 ticks in my garden in a week really is surprising! What is even more surprising is that 3 were on the night of the 8th, Large Emerald and Shaded Broad-bar the extra 2, and the other was also on the night of the 10th in the shape of a long wanted species, Blackneck.
In addition the night of the 9th July supplied a new micro, Phycitodes binaevella, pictured above. Keep it real!