Friday, 30 October 2015


I haven't posted for a week having had a half-term break in Goswick in north Northumberland. A marvellous spot near the shore although it was fairly quiet on the birding front. Highlights were a mass arrival of winter thrushes, three Black Redstarts together just by our holiday home…

And each evening this wonderful sight and sound as the Pinkfeet flew in to roost on the mud flats around Lindisfarne....

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Patchwork Challenge & Wonder of the Day

John Edwards had planned another mothing session in the Magic Garden last weekend but in the end couldn’t make it. We were especially interested in any migrant or late autumn moths as no-one had trapped in the parish at this time of year. My particular target was Merveille du Jour (or Wonder of the Day). John did manage to catch one of these in his garden this week so I can’t resist including his photo of this stunning moth.

I’ve mentioned the Patchwork Challenge before - a national competition to encourage people to really watch their own local patch. Thanks to September’s Osprey and Redpoll I’ve crept into first place in the Inland North mini-league, a fraction of a % ahead of another North Yorkshire birder, Steve Ward. Will the Pinkfeet and Peregrine I’ve added in October be enough to hold on to top spot?

Sunday, 18 October 2015

18th October

Still lots of Redwing about today but not such an obvious northwards movement with many birds feeding around the village. The large area of elderberries and hawthorn in Sanderson’s wood alone held upwards of 200 birds this afternoon.

There were many more Fieldfares coming in today too along with small numbers of Skylarks and Redpoll moving over.

However, despite the cool, grey conditions this Southern Hawker was still actively hunting in the Magic Garden.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

17th October

As I drove out of the village this morning the Rooks around the church suddenly exploded into the air, the cause was soon apparent - a fine Peregrine. This was my first of the year and one of only a handful of parish sightings. It may well have been the same bird seen near Scruton last week.

There was also a marked movement of Redwing today with knots of 50-100 birds almost constantly moving north-west over the village this morning, I also saw my first Fieldfares of the autumn too.

On the lake a couple of Kingfishers have taken up residence for the winter but it is always a surprise to see them flying low over the neighbouring meadow. One today actually veered to fly under a cow’s body!

It reminded me of another anomalous link between cattle and birds when I stayed with John Holloway on Stronsay some years ago. The shipping forecast had predicted exceptionally strong winds and we ended up using an old Ford Escort as a hide overlooking a raging sea and picking out a great range of seabirds including a Leach’s Petrel right over the house.

The next morning, with the storm blown out, we toured the island and I spotted a group of birds flying around a field, they turned out to be Storm Petrels, looping and swooping around the cattle as though they were House Martins in an English meadow.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Mind The Gap

The day started promisingly with a small group of Goldcrests in our garden but thick fog meant little was moving. I managed just over 50 species in a morning walk to Morton returning  via Back Lane to home. A large arrival of Redwing was the most notable sighting with good numbers of bird dropping out of the mist into the elderberry bushes in Sanderson’s wood. A late Blackcap was also here and two unidentified swans flew over in the fog.

By the lake Chiffchaff was still present along with two Cormorants, Jay, Redpoll and Little Owl and two Snipe towered out of a small patch of floodwater in The Bottoms. Three more Cormorant and a large flock of Golden Plover flew over.

Both of these latter groups flew through The Gap, the couple of fields which is all that separates Ainderby and Morton. I have often noticed that birds will re-orientate to fly over here rather than the adjacent village areas and there was an example tonight with this mixed flock of Black-headed Gulls and Lapwings switching from a north-easterly to north direction apparently to avoid over-flying the village.  

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Geese, Figs & Fighting Admirals

A nice skein of around 100 Pink-footed Geese flew south-west over Ainderby this afternoon, the first I've seen in the parish this year. Three Golden Plover and around 40 Pied Wagtail were in one field down Back Lane along with a smattering of Meadow Pipits.

Back at home a Migrant Hawker was in our garden and one of the figs on our neighbour’s tree must have split as it was the focus of a number of insects. A Red Admiral on it was shuddering with the apparent effort (or ecstasy?) of feeding. 

A second admiral landed on the tree and then surreptitiously crept towards the fruit.

Every time the ‘resident’ insect made an aggressive lunge towards the newcomer it would freeze with its wings closed but after a few moments carried on

Eventually it reached the fruit and a ‘battle’ ensued with the victor eventually driving off its rival. 

Presumably Figs must be virtually irresistible as there were a number of apples and other fruit around in various states of decay.

A Speckled Wood also landed on the fig but the Admiral didn’t react to this butterfly (or to any of the wasps and flies on here).


Another ringing session yesterday in the Magic Garden but on a cold day in which the fog never lifted and it was very quiet, only nine birds! Pick of the (tiny) bunch was this smart male Lesser Redpoll.

I haven’t seen a Treecreeper in the parish since May so a bird trapped here was nice. Then, just like buses, two come along at once and I spotted this second bird in the tall pines of The Bottoms yesterday afternoon. 

Friday, 2 October 2015

2nd October

Things are pretty quiet at the moment but a quick walk along the river this evening turned up Little Egret, Little Grebe, three Kingfishers, this family of Swans (the first Mutes since early May),

a couple of Buzzards and still half a dozen Speckled Wood butterflies.

Yesterday evening in the Magic Garden there were three Little Owls. As I walked back home four Pipistrelles were feeding around the trees at the top of Warlaby Lane. More surprisingly, given the sharp drop in temperature, I saw a couple of Red Admirals flying high south.
This reminded me of a birding trip to northern Finland some years ago. We were walking on the frozen sea when I spotted a distant movement, it turned out to be the incongruous sight of dozens of Camberwell Beauty butterflies migrating over the ice.

Parish year list to end of September - 107 species.