Sunday, 12 September 2021

12th September 2021

Another rather quiet week bird wise with one exception; Chris photographed what seems to be a small flock of Grey Plover flying south over the river. I’m just waiting to see the actual images but this would be unprecedented (although surprisingly this wouldn’t be a new species for the parish as I had a single fly-over bird more than a decade ago).

Otherwise signs of departure with more than 100 Swallows gathering on the top wires and around the house on the ridge…


I assume the birds in the second picture (part of a group of over 20) are sunning themselves?

Walking along the river yesterday I had only my second sighting of Kingfisher this year plus a Snipe, four Little Egret and six Goosander.

A small movement of Jays over was noticeable and seems to be an increasingly regular feature of autumn now.

This lovely patch of ivy in the village was absolutely alive with insects this morning,

there can’t have been less than 500 bees/wasps/flies on here, a fantastic sight and sound.

The hoverflies here included Common Flower Fly (Syrphus ribesii)…

And Death’s Head Fly (myathropa florea)

Named for a supposed similarity of some of its markings to a skull.

I’ll finish with this huge, and rather splendid, fungus, the Giant Polypore…

Sunday, 5 September 2021

5th September 2021

I’ll start with this picture from last weekend, a Little Egret perching ahead of a storm, just because I like it! Seeing them against the corvids really shows how small they are…

I photographed the same tree yesterday and it still had plenty of crows…

but this time their focus was a buzzard. I thought they were preparing to mob it but it seems they were just after the offcuts!

Migration doesn’t feel as though it has got into full swing yet but there were one or two decent sightings since I last wrote. On the wader front I had Whimbrel flying over the Swale and Andy heard a Greenshank calling as it followed the course of the river. Curlew numbers are also starting to rise and John and Anne had more than fifty birds in one of their meadows on Langlands.

Andy had a Hobby last week and Chris was lucky enough to spot a Red Kite over Warbler Corner this morning. It’s perhaps surprising, given the growing population not that far to the south of us , that this is only the second record for the year (less surprising that I have missed them both!)

Chris also found, and photographed, this young Redstart on the path to Thrintoft this morning. 

That stretch of fence and bushes seems to be the place for migrant chats…

Lots of phylloscs on the move during the week and I had double figure counts of both Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers in the Magic Garden…

Along with at least one Sedge Warbler (depressingly my first of the year).

It has also been a relatively good week for dragonflies with Brown and Southern Hawker in the Magic Garden along with at least half a dozen  Migrant Hawkers…

And I also had at least ten Common Darters, making the most of the sun…

It seems to be a particularly good second period for Speckled Woods this year and I had 40-45 in the Magic Garden this morning. For some reason they really dislike Migrant Hawkers!

Finally, at one site along the river the farmer has put up a single strand wire fence, to stop the cows swimming across the river to eat the willows and Giant Hogweed(!), but this protection from grazing has meant the plants have had a chance to grow. There are no rarities here but compared with the usual bankside vegetation of a few nettle and thistles it is much more interesting. Amongst the plants were Common Restharrow , masses of Tansy, Water Forget-me-Not…

...Marsh Woundwort, Amphibious Bistort, Goldenrod, Yellow Loosestrife and Soapwort. This is the only place I have seen the latter two species in the parish. It feels quite heartening that a small change in management can have this effect. 

Sunday, 15 August 2021

15th August 2021

No blog for the last couple of weeks as we have been on holiday in Shetland so I thought I would share one or two sightings from this wonderful place. We stayed again in the Taing, on the west side of Shetland, where the cottage is almost on the beach. This meant sightings of Otter from the living room and birds like this in, or from, the garden…

Red-throated Diver

Arctic Skua

Twite

Despite it being a far from ideal time for scarce birds I found Black Tern, a Shetland rarity, and also saw Bonaparte’s Gull…

A beautiful Long-tailed Skua…

And an albino(?) Great Northern Diver…

But undoubted pick of the birds was a Black-winged Pratincole, only my second British sighting. We had booked the ferry for Fetlar before the news came through of its discovery so the birding gods were smiling on us and whilst waiting for the boat we had Otter running around the wharfes.

The bird showed exceptionally well, hawking for insects literally above our heads, so it’s a little disappointing this is the best I managed!!

But just to show what an amazing place Shetland is this wasn’t the best species of the day! As we enjoyed an ice cream in the sunshine the news came through that a Fin Whale had been seen from the Fetlar ferry. It was reported moving south out of Bluemell Sound. We headed off to that end of the island and spent a fruitless 20 minutes looking for it.

As we were quite near the terminal we decided to take the next ferry back rather than our booked one. We were scanning half heartedly as we sailed back when I spotted it! An impressive blow and then a great rolling back. It was huge!  Only the Blue Whale is bigger.

We then watched it moving across the sound and then turning back north. Thanks to my daughter’s excited squeal every time it reappeared everyone on the ferry was alerted and managed to see it. This was one of four species of cetacean we saw on this holiday.

We also went on a boat trip to Noss, third largest sea cliffs in Britain and home to a large Gannet colony. We had the stunning spectacle of 100s of birds diving for fish within inches of the boat

Add in a couple of new plants - the lovely, and scarce, Oysterplant…

And a target for this holiday, Bog Orchid…

Despite having a very precise grid ref. and supposedly 300 plants at the site, it took the two of us an hour to find this single tiny flower but well worth it!

Needless to say we will be back…   



Sunday, 25 July 2021

25th July 2021

Well after managing to stay free of covid for so long it finally arrived in the house (unsurprising given the free for all which seems to be government policy now) and the consequent extended period of self isolation was not conducive to great discoveries in nature but I did see my first Ruby-tailed Wasp in the garden plus this rather handsome leafcutter bee, Megachile centuncularis…

My release coincided with John setting a moth trap in the village. A fantastic catch with 531 moths of 90 species which must be the highest single-trap catch we have ever had in Ainderby. This included three new species for the parish: Gold-ribbon Argent, Double-striped Tabby and this Chequered Pearl…

This is a really scarce moth in VC65 (North-west Yorkshire) and was a new species even for John.

Always nice too to get your first Garden Tiger of the year…

And Ruby Tiger…

Later that day we went down the river at Morton bridge to try out two pheromone lures. This targeted two species associated with willows and there are a couple of good patches of them here. I wasn’t expecting anything to happen but within five minutes of putting the lure up a cracking Lunar Hornet moth flew in! Looking, and sounding, just like a very large wasp it was surprisingly disconcerting even when you knew it was a moth. Unfortunately it was extremely difficult to photograph so my only image is through a dirty pot lid which hardly does it justice…

The second target was Red-tipped Clearwing and two of these striking little moths also responded immediately to the lure...

A magic half hour.

Sunday, 11 July 2021

11th July 2021

Another largely birdless week but John bought two moths trap over on Friday evening for an excellent catch. One was in our neighbours’ Tom and Kirsty’s garden and one up at Ladyfield. We recorded 449 moths of 101 species. This included six new species for the parish: Marbled Beauty, House Groundling, Yellow-oak Button and (four)  Beautiful Hook-tip…

This used to be very much a southern species but is another one that has been moving progressively further north and Alan Miller caught his first in his garden in Northallerton on the same night.

The other newbies included Bordered White…

And this micro, White-backed Marble…

This is a scarce moth in this area and was actually a new species even for John.

We also caught only the second parish record of Tawny-barred Angle

Some commoner, but stunning, others included Antler...

 

And Buff Arches...


To finish off I also had a Hummingbird Hawkmoth in our garden this week feeding, as always, on Red Valerian.

Sunday, 4 July 2021

4th July 2021

After  an incredibly quiet period for birds there have been a couple of records of interest this week, unfortunately none of them were seen by me! Chris texted to say there was a Cuckoo calling near Thrintoft on Monday. Depressingly this is only the second sighting this year.

Five minutes later he rang back, Turtle Dove calling there too! I heard it purring on the phone and dropped everything and ran along there (alright walked briskly). Typically no sight or sound by the time I arrived. Turtle Dove used to be a regular breeder in the parish but, like many parts of Britain, it disappeared more than thirty years ago. Intriguing to think where this bird has come from? To finish off birds I didn’t see my wife had a Hobby low over the garden yesterday.

We have managed two sessions moth trapping since I last wrote and added a couple more species to the village list. Pick of these for me was this beautiful Map-winged Swift.

Not sure where this will have come from as it is a bracken specialist.

We also had a couple of these brilliant Spectacle moths, only the second and third records we’ve had here…

Noticeably more butterflies about in the last week or so including my first records this year of Large Skipper and Small Copper…

But the most interesting butterfly was this aberrant Small Tortoiseshell with much restricted black and no dark spots on the forewing.

I don’t think the photo really captures how striking it looked but it was noticeably different even in flight at distance.

I’ll finish off with a couple of cracking species from my travels. First is ‘Albert’ the Black-browed Albatross which graced Bempton Cliffs for a couple of days this week. Not a great picture but a brilliant bird.

I saw this on the 30th June, exactly 33 years after I failed to see one on Unst (on our honeymoon!)

And these are Military Orchids…


restricted to just a handful of sites in Britain we saw this in Suffolk on a surprise weekend away for my wife’s big birthday.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

13th June 2021

Best sighting this week was a Broad-bodied Chaser in the Magic Garden. This was my first sighting of this dragonfly in the village, although there were a couple of records from other people in the parish last year. It is another of the species which has been progressing northwards in recent years so hopefully records might become regular in future. Unfortunately it never settled to allow me to take a photo. Another chaser, Four-spotted, was also here along with my first Banded Demoiselle of the year…

And at least 50 Azure damselflies, many doing what comes naturally...

In the village Common Blue damselfly definitely doesn’t live up to its name but I did find a couple a long way from water on the path along the railway…

A few minutes after taking this picture I tripped over a hidden strand of fence wire and crashed down heavily on to my binoculars. Typical birder the first thing I did, whilst still lying on the floor, was to check my bins were still working but by the time I got home the pain was starting to build and got much worse over the next couple of days. I eventually ended up in hospital as I was struggling to breath. Fortunately it was only a broken rib and severe bruising of the sternum but it was the worse pain I have ever felt.  The only silver lining was the order from the doctor to rest just as the Euros started!!  (if my wife ever reads this it was an accident honestly…)

We also managed our second moth trapping session of the year catching a very creditable 114 moths of 41 species. This included six new species for the village: Brindled Flat-body, Yarrow Conch, Grey Pine Carpet, Scalloped Hazel, Rustic Shoulder-knot and Least Black Arches.

A few pictures from the catch…

Grey Poplar

Elephant Hawkmoth

Chinese Character


Poplar Hawkmoth


Scalloped Hazel

I mentioned in my last post the conditions had really suited Cowslips, another plant which, in the village at least, has done remarkably well this year is Ragged Robin with plants in many new areas and in much greater density than I have ever seen before.