Sunday, 21 May 2017

21st May

This Reed Bunting which we caught in the Magic Garden last week was already carrying a ring...


John assumed it was one of his own but when he entered the details it had actually been ringed at Silt Fen Farm in Norfolk, 230 kms away. A good movement for this species. Perhaps one or two of Norfolk’s rarities can make the same journey?!
Otherwise it has been a very quiet week for birds so fortunately insects have stepped in to the breach. These included my first damselflies of the year, a single Large Red on Wednesday and around 20 of these Blue-tailed damselflies yesterday…


Three or four Common Carpet moths were in the Magic Garden today…


Along with this Red-headed Cardinal Beetle…


and this striking hoverfly Heliophilus pendulus (also known as The Footballer because of its stripy thorax)…


Sunday, 14 May 2017

14th May

Over the last week the highlight has been Reed Warbler in the Magic Garden. This is the fourth year in succession there has been a singing bird here and it was still present at the time of writing. Surely breeding must be on the cards soon?
Down Potter Lane in Morton I saw seven Yellow Wagtails…



And more surprisingly a Sedge Warbler singing from a hedge here in the middle of arable fields.
Nice too to have a shot of Linnet at eye level rather than a silhouette against a bright sky..


Insect interest is rapidly growing. I thought this was a solitary wasp when I first saw it patrolling the edge of a half-dug rabbit hole but it’s actually a nomad bee, I think either a Panzer Nomad(!) or a Fork-jawed Nomad…


this is a fresh Green Carpet moth…

And this is the earliest Wall I’ve recorded in the parish (seen today)


And this was the scene over the Magic Garden lake on Tuesday evening . There was surprisingly little coming to feed on this vast feast…




Friday, 12 May 2017

12th May

I met John for some bird ringing in the Magic Garden this morning. It was cold again despite the overnight cloud and there was little sign of movement. Nonetheless a reasonable catch. The most interesting bird was this female Blackcap which was carrying a French ring…


It will be interesting to get the details of where and when this bird was ringed.

We also caught two Sedge Warblers…


A bird has been singing consistently from the Bog Area all this week so there must be a chance of breeding this year.
Other summer migrants included just a single Willow Warbler, four Blackcaps and two Whitethroats…


And also five Chiffchaffs including this one showing why you shouldn’t rely on leg colour in identifying them..



Sunday, 7 May 2017

7th May

A Garden Warbler, appropriately enough in the Magic Garden, along with a singing Sedge Warbler were new birds for the year and the first Swifts were also reported in the village yesterday. This only leaves Spotted Flycatcher as a  ‘guaranteed’ summer migrant yet to make an appearance. Things are still slow though and the Swallows that breed in the village hall have only returned this week…


On the river this Grey Wagtail was carrying nesting material, the first potential breeding record for some years…


It's also noticeable that every hedgerow seems to have a pair of Long-tailed Tits this year, including this gravity-defying one…


Presumably this is an effect of the mild winter. And talking of commoner than usual this seems to be the case with Lords and Ladies…


I’ve always been interested in this faintly exotic plant, not least because of Rosemary & Clifford Ellis’s brilliant New Naturalist dustwrapper…


The even commoner name is of course Cuckoo Pint although I’m sure it should be pronounced Cuckoo ‘Pinnt’ rather than ‘pynt’  given what it refers to! Certainly in the Magic Garden it is definitely more widespread than I have ever seen it. This is one of the plants in front of a rather fine collection of Dryad’s Saddle fungi.


Despite the sunny weather the winds have kept the temperature down this week but there were occasional warmer spells and this led to double figure counts of Green-veined White and Orange Tip butterflies in the garden, plus Red Admiral, Brimstone and my first Holly Blue of the year. This individual was particularly compliant as I took this on my phone (which doesn’t have a zoom).


I also photographed this moth which I think is a Silver-ground Carpet, although this seems quite early for the species..



Tuesday, 2 May 2017

2nd May

It’s been a bit of a tradition of mine to take the day off after the May day bank holiday and have a good walk around the patch, often turning up a goodie or two. This year however, a combination of a dodgy Achilles tendon and a cold, foggy morning meant it wasn’t exactly a classic! Nonetheless, I notched up 58 species including my first Yellow Wagtail of the year..   


Together with Little Egret, two Kingfishers, a late Snipe and at least five singing Corn Buntings…


As well as this Grey Heron standing ten feet up the bank, not sure what it was after!


And in the odd moment when the sun broke through I snapped these Sand Martin at one of their nesting sites…


This colony held over 100 nests last year but only around 20 now because of bank erosion. This means the largest numbers have shifted downstream of Morton bridge. They are a very adaptable species and I even heard of them nesting in a pile of wet sawdust in a Masham saw-mill some years ago. Not always sensible though with this group of nests looking a little vulnerable being low down and well back from the river.



Monday, 1 May 2017

1st May

Summer migrants are still making their slow way in. The first Whitethroat was in the Bottom Fields on 26th April and quite widespread by the following day…


The first Lesser White was also in the Bottom field hedgerows yesterday and I heard three singing birds today. These latter individuals were all in Warbler Hedge, a lovely mature hedgerow to the north of the village which usually holds all six common species of warblers…


Talking of warblers Blackcaps seem to be present in really good numbers this spring although this is the best shot I have managed so far…


Otherwise it remains distinctly quiet with very little to excite the local birders. But plenty of time yet…


Year List to end of April – 93 species

Sunday, 23 April 2017

23rd April

Summer migrants continue to drip in (albeit slowly) with a single House Martin over the village yesterday and the first Common Sandpipers on the river…


The Willow Warbler population seems to be in better shape than last year with around ten singing birds between Morton bridge and Thrintoft beck but no Whitethroats seen yet.
The excellent pools in the Bottom Fields have been reduced now to a tiny puddle but still attracted Green Sandpiper (with a second bird on the river yesterday). They also pulled in this female Pied Wagtail doing a good impression of a White…


A Little Egret has taken up virtual permanent residence on the river by the railway bridge…


Funny how quickly you get used to birds, I don’t give it much more attention than I would a Grey Heron these days but I can still remember the excitement of seeing my first bird in the parish only a handful of years ago.
And talking of semi-resident, this Cormorant has been present virtually every day this year in the Magic Garden…


On the mammal front I saw my first Stoat of this year in the Bottom Fields yesterday and today this Fox on the railway (it’s behind you!)


On an entirely different subject my wife spotted a dent in our car bonnet yesterday and found this caught in the wiper trough..


It’s magnetic and contains metallic flecks. Is it a meteorite?!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

16th April

Despite the sunshine it has been a really cold weekend so not surprisingly migration has slowed to a trickle. My only new bird for the year was a single, rather distant, Wheatear in the Bottom Fields today…


And although there are now three Willow Warblers singing in the Magic Garden…


(along with two Blackcaps) Swallows remain distinctly scarce throughout the parish.

In the brief warm spell yesterday afternoon I found my first Small white butterfly for the year and my first Peacocks..



Slim pickings for a long weekend in April!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

9th April

Despite the recent beautiful sunshine the mornings have been really cold…


So it’s perhaps not surprising that summer birds have been a bit slow in arriving but today Sand Martin numbers were almost up to summer levels, my first Willow Warblers  and at least five singing Blackcap were in the scrub near the river at Morton and I had my first Swallow over Greenhills Lane.

The sun also meant insects were more noticeable, these included my first Green-veined Whites of the year…


And half a dozen male Orange Tips along the railway line.  


And continuing my painfully slow entomological education, I think this is Bombylius Major – the Dark-edged Bee-fly…


This is the only half-decent shot I have ever taken of Treecreeper. A pair of birds looked to be prospecting a potential nest site over near Sanderson’s wood…


It wasn’t until I downloaded the picture that I saw the bird was carrying a ring. I can just make out a 2 and what looks like a 7 so this is almost certainly HJA 472, a bird which was ringed in the Magic Garden in October 2015.
This Chiffchaff was also carrying a ring but unfortunately it is on too high a zoom and is not crisp enough to make out any characters. This bird was behaving strangely, stretching up on long legs, its wings half-cloaked and its mouth open as though panting.


Another distant photo taken today of a Kingfisher with a fish which it has brought back to its nest hole. It wouldn’t enter until I had gone (despite being a considerable distance away and on the opposite bank)


I should also mention the 'big bird of prey' which a few villagers have mentioned to me. Not a great picture against the sky but this bird was distinctly large (and was hovering at one point) but I can’t make it into anything other than Common Buzzard…


Talking of sightings by other people, recent ones have included a remarkable ‘kettle’ of at least 20 Buzzards over the north fields  (seen by Tracey Palmer), John and Ann Coxon saw Red Kite at Scruton Lane ends (a couple of days before my sighting in Ainderby) and Alex Martin had a fine flock of 50 Waxwings feeding along Greenhills Lane. 
I also saw six Waxwings in the Magic Garden last week and Andy Johnston had a dozen at Warlaby. Presumably the last remnants of what has been a fantastic winter for this species.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

1st April

Bird of the day was undoubtedly Red Kite. As the cloud rolled in today I picked up what I thought at first was a large gull flying in from the east but soon realised it was a kite. It was heading straight for the village but the local crows then intercepted it and drove it off to the south-west out over Langlands/Greenhills direction hence this distinctly distant shot…


Yet another bird that would have been missed if I’d been a minute later walking up the lane.

Despite them breeding relatively close to here they are still a real rarity in the parish as they don’t seem to have made the leap from their breeding  sites around Harrogate over the sterile arable prairies to the south of us.

Yesterday I walked along the river again, very quiet with no further sign of the Dipper. Sand Martin numbers had increased and I saw Little Egret, two Kingfishers, a pair of Oystercatchers and four pairs of Goosander…


A pair of Red-legged Partridge were on Langlands farm and there were twelve singing Skylarks between Morton Bridge and Ainderby (via Langlands)…


I also had good views of this young Hare grooming (Hare-styling?)



Today I had Siskin in the garden, unfortunately I had forgotten to fill up the nyger seed holder so it made only the briefest of visits. I also saw my first Brimstone of the year at the top of Greenhills Lane…