Monday, 6 July 2020

6th July

Living in an area of intensive agriculture you have to work hard for your fill of nature. In particular it has a very diminished flora so discovering  (thanks to Chris) this fantastic area of Kidney Vetch yesterday, less than a mile from home, was a real surprise (after all I’ve only lived here for thirty years!!).

A superb spot and interspersed with Zigzag Clover, Bird’s-foot Trefoil and knapweeds. 
Nearby I added a few more flowers to the parish list including Agrimony and Common Centaury…


The whole area also looked fantastic for insects so I walked there this evening in the late sun. Excellent numbers of Red Admirals and Small Tortoiseshells…


and the first of the new generation of Commas was on the wing but the pick of the sightings was this lovely Six-spot Burnet moth…


Not by any means a rare species (although more local in the north) but this was the first record for the village.

Monday, 29 June 2020

29th June

Another quiet week for birds although I did see a Reed Warbler collecting nesting material in the Magic Garden, potentially the first breeding in 75 years. I also watched a day flying Tawny Owl here. Elsewhere two early Green Sandpipers were on the Swale and a Red Kite was reported by an angler near Morton bridge.
Given the lack of any interesting bird photos I’ll pop in this portrait of a Chiffchaff taken near the river…  


It was insects again which provided the most interesting sightings. This tiny micro moth, Pammene regiana (which sounds like a rather upmarket cheese!) , was spotted by my wife on the garden path. A new record for the village and only the fourth sighting in north-west Yorkshire…


This smart Mullein caterpillar was, perhaps surprisingly, also a new species for the village. Appropriately enough it is feeding here on Great Mullein…


And the third new species is this poorly photographed beetle, a Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn. Until recent years this was very much a southern/eastern species but has progressed north at a significant pace…


I also added a few new flower species to the parish list with a nice patch of Common Restharrow…


Greater Knapweed…


And Tutsan, a shrubby relative of the St John’s-worts…


And I’ll finish with this…


Showing Bournemouth Beach wasn’t the only place the social distancing rules were ignored.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Ingleborough

A bit of a different post this week. It’s been very quiet in the parish but I have had a chance to visit my son who has been in lockdown.  He has recently been appointed as a warden at Ingleborough National Nature Reserve, this is his ‘office’


And this is some of his patch…


with some amazing landscapes. Limestone pavement...


and ancient almost Tolkienesque ash woods on the limestone…



and flowers with fields full of orchids including the scarce Small White…


And in the woods plants like Baneberry, Lily of the Valley, Bloody and Wood Cranesbills…


And down in the deep ‘grikes’ between the limestone slabs plants such as Herb Paris


Few birds to report other than seeing Ravens on the nest, a Barn Owl hunting the roadside, a handful of Cuckoos and this nesting Tree Pipit…


And pick of the invertebrates, because lack of sun kept the Pearl-bordered and Dark Green Fritillaries down, was this Latticed Heath moth…


I can see a few more visits coming up…

Sunday, 14 June 2020

14th June


It was down to the insects to provide the best sightings again this week. On the railway yesterday a tiny butterfly proved to be a, rather nibbled, Brown Argus. This was the second new butterfly species for the parish in a week.


They are very similar to the female Common Blue although you can just make out the two dark spots on the upperwing which help to distinguish them. The more reliable distinction is in the under wing pattern of spots…  


I also saw a Cinnabar moth here yesterday, only the second I have seen in the village (although this probably reflects the lack of habitat rather than its rarity).
Today in the same area I had my first Common Blue of the year, a distinctly battered individual but still nice to see.

And there was also a significant arrival of Silver Y moths.


These are regular immigrants to Britain but occur in much higher numbers on a cyclical basis. When I was at university good Silver Y years meant a trip to the local moors as there was then a good chance of seeing Hobby hunting these moths.
Other butterflies here included my first Meadow Browns of the year, three Large Skippers, a couple of Red  Admirals and around a dozen Small Tortoiseshell. The latter in absolutely pristine condition…


Bird highlight this week was a marked arrival of Reed Warblers into the Magic Garden. I have never had more than the odd single bird in the village before but yesterday evening there were at least three singing birds and four or five more birds flying around the small reed bed here.
The only other sightings of note were a Barn Owl hunting yesterday in the bright noon sunshine by Morton Bridge and a Red Kite that Chris saw heading over Thrintoft towards Ainderby.

I will also mention one handsome flower found on the railway yesterday, Goats-beard…


This flower is also known as Jack-Go-to-Bed-at-Noon as its flowers are only open in the morning sun.

Sunday, 7 June 2020

7th June

Another exceptionally quiet week for birds, Reed warbler was still singing in the Magic Garden and a Hobby was seen over the river but that was about it. Even the House Martins have abandoned our house. They even took down the partially constructed nest they had already built!

Instead it was insects that again provided the highlights. I photographed this Four-spotted Chaser in the Magic Garden…


It’s a relatively common species but only the second one recorded in the parish.

Rarer were the two species found by friends. Peter photographed this superb Broad-bodied Chaser on his garden pond in Warlaby.


This was a first record for the parish. This species used to have a uniquely southerly distribution but has been expanding northwards in recent years. I walked along to Peter’s garden when it reappeared but unfortunately missed it by a couple of minutes but did see my first Banded Demoiselle of the year and was shown one of the young garden residents…


In some ways even more unexpected was this Green Hairstreak photographed by Hazel in her garden…


Another first parish record. I have never seen Green Hairstreak locally away from the fringes of higher ground, typically spotting them on Bilberry at Sutton Bank or on the old racecourse at Richmond. So this great sighting means we have added three species of hairstreak to the parish butterfly list in the last four years.

I’ll finish with this little through-the-window clip of Bullfinch doing an impression of a hummingbird…

It spent a good half hour dropping to hover in front of the flowers, picking seeds with surprising delicacy given the size of its bill.

Sunday, 31 May 2020

31st May


Bird highlight this week was Reed Warbler singing in the magic garden but unfortunately there was no chance of photographing it as it stayed hidden deep in the small reedbed here. This is the third singing bird in the last four years and there must surely be a chance of breeding soon. The last definite record of nesting in the village was back in the 1940s so it’s been a long wait…

The other more personal highlight was to have House Martins starting to nest build on our house, this is the first time in all the years we have lived here, and this despite it seeming to be a rather poor year for the species

Otherwise it was insects which dominated the sightings. Yesterday Chris and I found a reasonably impressive total of 13 species of butterfly along a couple of hundred yards of the railway. None of them were rare but included the year’s first records of Common Blue and Large Skipper…


Up to half a dozen Wall butterflies…

And my second Small Copper after seeing one down Greenhills Lane on Tuesday…


I also had this Small Tortoiseshell…


But the more significant part of this is the flower it is on, a Cornflower. These were once a common arable weed but they are effectively now extinct in north-west Yorkshire. The likelihood is this is an ‘escape’ from a garden but there is just a chance, particularly as this field has alternated between pasture and crops, that this is a remnant genuinely wild flower.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

24th May


My only bird record of note was my first Little Owl of the year, heard calling from the footpath which runs alongside the railway. They have become sadly difficult to find recently and I only recorded a single bird last year. I’m not clear what has driven this apparent decline but on Langlands, which held up to three pairs, John thinks the very heavy flooding of a few years ago is the cause because it killed all the earthworms. Certainly when I went down there after the floods the tracks were covered in a sludge of dead worms.   
On the insect front I saw my first Red Admiral and three Brimstone, a good count for this species in the village. I also saw my first damselflies with Azure damselfly in the Magic Garden and a Large Red Damselfly down Greenhills Lane…


The railway running through the parish acts as something of a wildlife corridor and I have seen birds orientating on and following the line (including once a flock of Common Terns). It used to hold Common Lizards, still the only reptile I have seen in the parish, and because it has often been less disturbed has held on to a different mix of plants than much of the rest of the parish.
Obviously you are not allowed on the railway but where the Morton-Thrintoft path crosses the line you can see many of the typical mix of plants with masses of Forget-me-Nots…


And mats of the low growing, yellow-flowered Black Medic. These are backed by White Dead-nettle, (or Adam and Eve in a Bower from the little figures, stamens, lying next to each other under the petal) and the pale green of Crosswort. Amongst this there are patches of Dove-foot Cranesbill,  Prickly Sow-thistle and Herb Robert …


As well as the attractive little Wood Avens…


And where an undisturbed slope remains they have retained  Cowslips and a few violets…


The railway also has Common Liverwort, fascinating plants that are also known as Umbrella Liverwort for obvious reasons…


These ‘umbrella’ ones are female with the male in the form of flattened leaf-like discs.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

20th May


A very quiet week for birds, it feels as though migration is over before it has really got started and some species numbers, such as Swallows and both martins, still seem particularly low (although I did have a dozen House Martins feeding and gathering mud from the muck heap down School Lane). The only records of note were both Tracey and Chris having calling Cuckoos this week. Tracey heard hers in the bottom fields at Ainderby and Chris in Thrintoft. The latter bird was still calling today. This shouldn’t really be news but it is a very long time since we had them regularly in the parish.
As I don’t have a picture of these birds then Cuckoo Flower will have to substitute…


Incidentally this is the main food plant of the Orange Tip butterfly and if you look very closely on the flower stems you can sometimes find their tiny bright orange eggs.
My very slow progress on botany continues. As a whole the parish, with its intensive agriculture, has a really poor flora but even here you can find tiny pockets  so over the last few days I have added a handful of (common!) species to the parish list including:
Winter Bittercress…


Bird’s Foot Trefoil...


Common Fumitory…


And Dove’s Foot Cranesbill…




Sunday, 10 May 2020

10th May


A much quieter week, migration seems to have slowed but numbers for some species such as Swallows still seem well down. I did see my first Swifts though with a single bird over the village green on the 5th and a dozen birds screaming over the house the next day...


I also finally ticked off my first House Martins with singles in Thrintoft and Morton. The only other birds of note this week were a Peregrine circling very high over the village on the 4th and my second Sedge Warbler of the year singing vigorously away from thick vegetation in a field ditch on Langlands.
So photos will have to be restricted to common species like Yellowhammer…


And Reed Bunting


The other regular bunting, Corn, seems to be having a relatively good year with a total of 14 birds heard singing over the last couple of weeks. 
In contrast it seems to be a particularly poor year for Lapwings, I have only seen two displaying birds so far. I don’t know if this is a feature of the very dry weather, lack of food, different crop regimes or what but it’s worrying.
In lockdown garden birding what we have had are regular garden visits by corvids. It started with Jackdaws who have learned how to feed on the fat balls. Up to half a dozen have visited, one to hang on the feeder and break up the fat balls and the others picking the pieces up below. A couple of Magpies and the odd Carrion Crow have joined them and even small numbers of Rooks who are normally notoriously wary…


I have also been joining the many lockdown birders sitting in their gardens scanning the skies for birds of prey. Buzzards are regular and I have had Sparrowhawk and Kestrel over but no hoped for Osprey. Mind you cloud watching was quite enjoyable in itself…  


Night sky wasn’t too bad either…


Elsewhere this Shelduck was still zealously guarding his ‘pool’


Someone is going to have to tell him…

Hares again have been almost constant companions including this one doing a reasonable impression of a young Wallaby…


Other mammal watching this week has turned up three Roe Deer, a Stoat and a Fox which popped out of a hedge about three feet in front of me. I don’t know who was more surprised but instead of bolting away it loped along the path watching me over its shoulder as it went and then as soon as there was a slight bend in the path it shot off like a rocket. By the time I had switched my camera on this is all I managed...


I will finish with one word of warning. If you walk into a small piece of woodland following the sounds of what you think are deer just ensure it isn't actually a couple of people undertaking their lockdown exercise in a distinctly non socially-distancing form!