Sunday, 18 August 2019

18th August


Yesterday I had my first walk along the river for a few weeks. First bird was a Kestrel following the line of the river and then a huge female Sparrowhawk, which spiralled up and then it too followed the river south. A second Kestrel followed and as I was looking at this I almost missed an Osprey, again moving south down the river. By the time I got the camera on it, it was already past (pushed on by a blustery wind)…

Not surprisingly given the recent rain the river was running very high so there was no wader habitat but I did flush five Snipe and later saw a Greenshank flying along the river (my first of the year). A group of four Little Egret were on Big Bend


I also saw my first Sedge Warbler, in rank vegetation on the far bank, and two Yellow Wagtails. A third Kestrel passed over and then small number of Buzzards flying high south. As I watched these birds I picked up two Swift which flew in ahead of the storm clouds. Not a bad morning.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

A short interlude..


Just back from a fortnight in Shetland. Good weather (and much better than North Yorkshire had!) and stayed in a beautiful cottage on the shore…


(that’s a hell of a garden view!)

Lots of highlights - my first visit to a misty and atmospheric Foula was high up there. 1200 foot high cliffs…



Amazingly on this isolated island I had at least 25 Painted Ladies.

… the everyday Shetland wildlife (including Otter)






…Edmonston’s Chickweed, which grows in a little area of Unst and nowhere else in the world…


But pick of it all were our first Orcas, a pod swimming through Yell Sound…


Back to normality next week...

Thursday, 25 July 2019

25th July


Chris K texted to say he had had some Purple Hairstreaks at a regular site near his village. There is an avenue of oaks down Greenhills Lane that I have always fancied for this species but despite walking there literally hundreds of times I have never seen them.


Encouraged by a glorious warm evening on Tuesday I decided to try again.
It was nice to see a pair of Yellow Wagtails and Grey Partridge down here as well as good numbers of butterflies including two Small Skippers, a Wall and at least six 'territorial' Red Admirals.

But as to Purple Hairstreak no luck until I got to the last tree and a movement caught my eye, there they were right at the crown. As I watched more joined in and in total there were ten individuals swirling around each other. I decided to walk back up the lane and check the other trees again and in total I found what I estimated to be 24 of this lovely little butterfly. A first record for the village.
Because they are so hard to spot they must be massively under-reported. As if to prove this point our neighbours Jim and Sue showed me some video this evening they had taken of the Spotted Flycatcher nesting in their courtyard. Guess what it was feeding to its nestlings? Yes, Purple Hairstreak! It certainly isn't travelling to Greenhills for those so they must also be in the oaks in the centre of the village.
Incidentally butterflies are a regular part of these birds offerings to their chicks, although a Red Admiral proved too much and the parent ending up having to eat it. Interestingly Jim hasn't seen them bring any white butterflies to the nest. 
This is some film Jim took of the pair, in this case forcing down a Small Tortoiseshell




Sunday, 21 July 2019

21st July

John set the moth traps in the Magic Garden last night, this is usually the best week in the best month for moths but overnight (and the early morning) were surprisingly cold and the catch was relatively disappointing. 
This was particularly true of micro moths with very low numbers so they must be very sensitive to temperature. Nevertheless we caught just under 300 moths of 67 species. This included just one new addition to the parish list, this little micro Thistle Conch…


It might have been worse as when I got into bed last night my wife said “did you switch the traps on?” fortunately I ‘persuaded’ my son to get up and walk over the fields to go and switch them on!
The catch did include some of my favourites like..
Burnished Brass


Gothic

And Garden Tiger…


I also saw my first hawker dragonfly of the year, a male Southern Hawker…


Sunday, 7 July 2019

7th July


Chris Knight discovered a colony of White-letter Hairstreaks along Myer’s Lane a couple of years ago but this year he found them to be more widespread with the Wych Elms between Thrintoft and Ainderby holding excellent numbers (perhaps the best site now in Yorkshire).


It has also been a good year for Painted Ladies with large numbers arriving on the Yorkshire coast and these have now filtered inland including the first parish ones. These included single insects in the top fields and along Myer’s Lane and five, rather worn individuals, on the river…


It’s been generally a good week for butterflies with a good arrival of Red Admirals, plenty of Commas…


and 30+ Ringlets in the Magic Garden…


Good news that the Spotted Flycatchers have nested again in Jim & Sue’s courtyard. They have been really late this year and I hadn’t seen the female until she started nest building. This was a picture Jim took from their bedroom window…


The only other bird news is Frank saw a Cuckoo this afternoon near Langland’s farm. I haven’t yet managed to see or hear one this year.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

23rd June


I still hadn’t caught up with Little Owl this year so when my wife rang to say she had seen one on her run, I headed down Thrintoft Lane (along with our neighbour Sue who for some reason had never managed to see Little Owl). Fortunately the bird was still there…


This seems to be the last bird/territory in the parish. I’ve mentioned before the apparent catastrophic decline in Little Owl numbers, I’m still not clear what has caused it or whether this is reflected elsewhere.
Nice to hear two Lesser Whitethroat singing down here as I haven’t had them in this area before.  

Elsewhere the Meadow Rue is starting to flower in the Magic Garden…


Just part of this tiny patch of fabulous habitat, and a reminder of how rich this area once was…


I must mention orchids again, a couple of trips this week. First up to a beautiful site in Arkengarthdale where we found these beautiful, and rare, Small White Orchids…


And yesterday I went to see the atrata form of Northern Marsh Orchid….


The only British site for this form is a couple of fields near Hartlepool nuclear power station! A bit of a contrast with the Yorkshire Dales...

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…