Sunday, 16 June 2019

16th June


Hard work at the moment particularly with the wet weather which has vetoed most trips out but a brief spell of brighter weather got me in to the Magic Garden.

I first saw these cracking Longhorn Moths last year…



but this year the numbers are amazing with probably around a hundred individuals seen including a group of 40-50 dancing males in a patch of sunlight.

The little fen area in the magic garden was alive with insects including this Wasp Beetle


Clouded Border moth...



And on the Flag Iris, Pellucid Hoverfly…


And Snout moth…


And talking of moths, the trapping from a fortnight ago left a few unidentified moths John has added a further three to the parish list with Bud Moth, Marbled Minor and this little micro  Epermenia falciformis… 

    .
This is only the second ever record for VC65 (North-west Yorkshire).

Finally, I know this is against my policy of just covering the parish but I did get out to photograph some more orchids, in this case a veritable swarm of Bee Orchids at Nosterfield...


Sunday, 2 June 2019

2nd June


Back to mothing in the Magic Garden last night with what looked like being ideal conditions. It turned out to be a good catch with over 370 moths of 52 species (with another half dozen still to be determined). There were also record number of Cockchafers in the traps.

New species included this Seraphim…


Lime-speck Pug and five new micro-moths including a superb little Twenty Plume…


And it’s always good to get these brilliant Eyed Hawkmoths in the traps…



Monday, 27 May 2019

27th May


It has been a very quiet period in the parish hence the lack of recent posts. The only 'highlights' have been the Swifts returning in numbers since I last posted and Jim and Sue ringing to say the Spotted Flycatcher had reappeared in its regular haunt down Vicarage Lane on the 20th. I managed to see it but have failed so far to get anything other than a distant dot on the camera. This now looks to be the only pair in the whole village.  
Jim and Sue also had this Red-legged Partridge on their garden wall…


A species I have unaccountably failed to see myself so far this year.

I also saw my first odonata this week in the Magic Garden with Blue-tailed Damselfly, Banded Demoiselle and Large Red Damselfly…


Including this one happily munching a gnat on my son’s t-shirt…


Otherwise I’ve been out of the village on the trail of plants again with Lady’s Slipper orchid in the Dales…


this rather primitive Herb Paris in a lovely piece of ancient woodland near Rievaulx Abbey…


And these Burnt Tip orchid flowering near Leyburn… 



Sunday, 12 May 2019

12th May

I took a foray out of the parish today to go and look for a couple of Yorkshire rarities. I very rarely go twitching these days but I do keep my Yorkshire bird list active so the chance of adding species number 359 and 360 to my county list was too tempting. These should have been a Brown Shrike and a Collared Flycatcher which were both seen on the Holderness coast yesterday. So an early start with Frank and we were over on Cowden Ranges by 7am but to cut a long story short the birds had flown. In fact every rare/scarce bird on the east coast seemed to have cleared out overnight!
A fruitless search did at least turn up a Barn Owl which flew right over our heads, a Cuckoo and an astonishing density of singing warblers including half a dozen Cetti’s and huge numbers of Whitethroats…


Later, back home I went with my botanist friend Helen to look for Green-winged Orchids at a lovely site near Leyburn….


Beautiful plants…



Particularly this single white-variant we found…


Monday, 6 May 2019

6th May


A cold, breezy weekend was not conducive to birds (or birding) but today dawned a little calmer and I went down to the river. Starting off on the Thrintoft path, no real signs of migrants on the move although there were definitely more Whitethroats singing.
As I headed back up towards Morton a big female Sparrowhawk drifted across carrying a prey item and then moments later a superb Hobby flashed in. It landed briefly in a distant tree where I took this awful picture in very low light…


And it then powered off over towards the river. Very unusual here to tick off Hobby ahead of swift.
On the river itself there were three Little Egrets, three Mute Swans, two Yellow Wagtails and amongst the dozens of Sand Martins (including these immediately using a fresh area of erosion)…


were my first House Martins of the year…


Any chance of discreet birding ended when I became the Pied Piper of Hamelin (Lamblin?)!


Earlier in the week a sunny evening gave me a chance to catch up with one or two butterflies In the Magic Garden…
Comma, Orange Tip and Speckled Wood…




Year list to end of April: 88 Species

Sunday, 28 April 2019

28th April


Chris rang yesterday to say he had seen a drake Mandarin on the river near Thrintoft and it had then flown downstream. Torn between listening to Rovers critical survival game against Fleetwood or looking for this bird I opted for the latter. Unfortunately there was no further sign (but Rovers did manage a draw, guaranteeing League One football next year!) but I did see my first Common Sandpiper of the year…


And a nice bonus in the form of a (rather distant) Little Ringed Plover. It has been three or four years since the last LRP in the parish…


This morning I walked along the river downstream of Morton bridge. Disappointingly quiet but I did see my first Yellow Wagtails with a pair on the fence near Swalefields. Other birds included a pair of Shelduck on the river, three Grey Partridge, a Green Sandpiper, one Little Egret and a total of around 20 Goosander in small (non-breeding?) groups. The first Greylag goslings have also hatched…


I also watched this Pike in ambush mode…



Poor picture given the light and no polarising filter but interesting to watch its technique, it faced upstream with just enough movement from its tail to hold its position. It didn’t catch anything whilst I watched but a huge Barbel, bigger than the Pike, swam very close to it at one point.  

Sunday, 21 April 2019

21st April


My mothing friend John has happily recovered from his back injury so we had the first village mothing session for over 18 months last night. As usual we set the traps in the Magic Garden. April is still early so we weren’t expecting a bumper catch, and so it proved with only 40 moths of eight species caught. However, this did include two new species for the parish, Red Chestnut and this rather handsome Early Tooth-striped…


Commonest species was Hebrew Character…


But also had five of these Powdered Quakers …


Generally it’s been a good weekend for insects with the unseasonably warm weather. Butterflies were prominent with at least six Speckled Woods in the Magic Garden yesterday…


Plus ten Orange-tip, two Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone and my first Comma of the year.
I also photographed this rather striking Dark-edged Bee Fly (see the long proboscis)…


And a reminder how little I know about beetles!


Birdwise the highlight was my first Whitethroat of the year singing near our house this morning, three Lesser Whitethroat along Greenhills Lane and another flock of summer-plumaged Golden Plover with 250 near the river on Friday evening. 

Incidentally I was speculating in my blog of 30th March about whether the flock which behaved differently was composed of two different populations of Goldies. I recently had an email from a researcher who has written a paper on moult in Golden Plover and she confirmed that both ‘local’ and Icelandic birds would be moving through our area at this time of year so that may explain the difference between the two groups.  Otherwise it’s been pretty quiet although migrants are drifting in and nesting is in full swing…



The Treecreeper was collecting sheep wool from the barbed wire fences.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

14th April


The most intriguing sighting this weekend was a pipit seen very briefly flying over the river yesterday, it seemed to have plain underparts and my first thought was Water Pipit but despite searching by Chris and I the bird wasn’t seen again.
Although the weekend was generally sunny it was distinctly cold and this seems to have slowed migration so it was a pretty quiet period. Only one more Swallow record this week; a single over the church seen by Andy J as he came out of the pub. Sand Martins are well established back now…


With around a dozen Chiffchaff in total seen/heard...


A couple more Blackcaps were singing near the river and I had my first Willow Warbler yesterday with a second bird singing behind our house this afternoon.

Winter thrushes were still around with a flock of 50+ Fieldfares by the river on Friday and small numbers feeding in the fields on the Thrintoft path yesterday…


More surprising were three Redwing seen over Ainderby today, the first sightings for almost a month.

The only other sightings of note were six Snipe on the oxbow and a pair of Teal, six Goosander, two Little Egret and a flock of around 75 Golden Plover on the river by Swalefields.

I also photographed this Goldcrest in the Magic Garden, a relatively common bird but for once showing relatively well as it tried to out-sing a rival…



Sunday, 7 April 2019

7th April


A relatively quiet weekend but I did visit the river north of the bridge yesterday. This is one of the best parts of the patch with willow and hawthorn near the water (affectionately known as Warbler Corner) and a small oxbow pool.
I saw my first Blackcap of the year along the old railway line but as I tried to photograph it there was a temporary distraction…


Lots of Chiffchaffs were singing, a Grey Wagtail was near the waterworks along with the first Marsh Tit that I've seen for two or three years. As I approached the oxbow I flushed two pairs of Teal and a Green Sandpiper. Over the river there were good numbers of Sand Martins but feeding very high, on the water itself around 100 large gulls (mainly Herring), two pairs of Oystercatchers, three Little Egret and two pairs of Goosander…


I met Andy J down here and he had had two Swallows around Morton Bridge earlier. No sign as we walked back but as I was about to leave a single bird flew in to feed around the old barn, always one of the highlights of spring.

Year list to end of March: 78 species       

Saturday, 30 March 2019

30th March


All of the floods have drained now but on a gloriously sunny day yesterday I walked along the river anyway. Pick of the birds were my first Sand Martins of the year with a couple of dozen seen in total. This is early for significant numbers to arrive and Chris Knight also reported around 40 birds excavating at the big river colony near Thrintoft.
In a large ploughed field near Swalefields I saw a small group of Golden Plover drop in, as I walked up to the field there were obviously bigger numbers there and I tallied up almost 350 birds, a really good count for the parish…




Quite a few were in near full summer plumage. It was interesting when they were flushed later around 300 flew off but a group of 50 remained on the ground. This latter flock had a much higher proportion of summer-plumaged birds. Was this group from a separate population with different moult timing? Perhaps from further north with less contact with humans hence their relative ‘tameness’?

Also along the river were three Little Egrets (which now outnumber Grey Heron sightings on the patch) and two Green Sandpipers…



I photographed this tiny bee (together with around 20 others) on a small bank along the river. It’s a species of Miner Bee and it could be seen excavating small holes in the bank. Unfortunately there are 67 species of miner bee in Britain so identification is not easy but I think its appearance (and the fact it has emerged in March) point to it being a Gwynne’s Mining Bee, one of the commoner species…


Not surprisingly given the sunshine and warmth there were some early butterflies around with a smart Brimstone in Ainderby, Peacock and also at least half a dozen Small Tortoiseshells…