Sunday, 10 September 2017

10th September

I’ll start with this magnificent beast, a Convolvulus Hawkmoth. Unfortunately not in the parish but close by in Scruton found in a friend’s garden…


It has still been fairly quiet on the bird front. A very late Swift was still over the Magic Garden on Friday (8th)...  


...and three Green Sandpipers were on the river. A Jay was in the Magic Garden yesterday, the first I’ve seen in the village since April.  I wonder where they go in summer? Today over 100 hirundines were feeding over Warlaby Lane, most were Swallows, flying almost at head height, along with a few Sand Martins. Above this were 20 odd House Martins.
In terms of migration Blackcaps seemed to be ‘tacking’ from nearly every bush yesterday but didn’t see, or hear, a single one today. Instead there seemed to have been a strong arrival of Goldcrests overnight. Buzzards were also on the move with up to ten seen over the village yesterday, including a tight ‘kettle’ of seven birds. This one attracted the attention of the local corvids...


They followed it up until they were all almost invisible to the naked eye.

John, my resident moth expert, did a search for leaf mines in the Magic Garden yesterday and added a remarkable 13 species of moth to the parish list. This included  Phyllonorycter esperella, the first record for North-West Yorkshire (Vice-county 65).

He also came across a number of galls including this striking Oak Artichoke Gall, caused by a tiny wasp Andricus foecundatrix...


Monday, 28 August 2017

27th August

A few signs of birds on the move this weekend – warblers passing through our garden…


And the first Meadow Pipits re-appearing in the parish…


In the Magic Garden there were at least half a dozen Blackcaps today with none seen yesterday…


A feature of recent days has been an evening movement of Curlews over the village with 60 odd birds moving north-east (to Teesside to roost?) . We found the flock today in the sheep pasture on Langlands…


Nearby there was a flock of 120 Lapwing and around 2000 Starlings feeding in a freshly turned field

Along the river yesterday there was a single Green Sandpiper…


A Little Egret…


And at least four Kingfishers…

(One day I will get a good shot of this species!)

Other sightings in recent days have included a Hobby over the village, four Swifts still present and evening gatherings of hirundines above the Magic Garden including over 50 Sand Martins.

I’ll finish with this striking fungi photographed on Langlands Farm…



...according to Mal, the very knowledgeable mid-Yorkshire fungi recorder, this is Ganoderma resinaceum or the Laquered Bracket. Looking this up it seems to be a very rare species this far north. 

Sunday, 20 August 2017

20th August

Bird-wise it’s been very quiet. A Kingfisher has taken up its usual late summer residence on the Magic Garden lake. A Swift was over the village yesterday (along with three Buzzards) and around 50 Swallows were feeding low over the village green.

On the insect front the pick of the sightings was this Small Copper butterfly in the Magic Garden. This is the first I’ve seen in the village for many years…


Also there today, along with the usual whites, were half a dozen Speckled Woods…


Red Admiral, Peacock and two Walls.

The first Migrant Hawkers were seen last week. Both female…


and male...


But this Common Darter was the only other dragonfly seen today…



Sunday, 13 August 2017

Shetland

We’ve just come back from a fortnight in Shetland, almost thirty years since our first visit (our honeymoon!). We were blessed with amazing weather…


It even got mentioned on Radio 4 that we had more sunshine than Cornwall!
This wasn’t conducive to great birding (the only migrants I found were four Crossbills, a couple of Swifts, Chiffchaff and Grey Wagtail) but really showed these beautiful islands at their best…



And even their commonest birds are interesting…










And one of my favourites, the Shetland race of Wren…


Chunkier and with quite a distinct song.

Mammals included both Common and Grey seals (the latter almost climbing into the replica Viking ship we were sailing in!) pods of Risso’s and White-sided dolphins and this little cracker ‘nesting’ in the cliffs at Eshaness…


Unfortunately the list didn’t include Orcas with several sightings whilst we were there but we were always just a little too late…

We will be back...


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

19th July

Perfect conditions on Saturday night meant it was a record-breaking moth catch in the Magic Garden. We caught a total of 876 moths of 115 species (plus six still to be identified/confirmed with the county recorder). This included 14 new species for the parish including this rather worn Blackneck…

Pebble Hook-tip…

Iron Prominent…


Southern Wainscot (a good record for this area and reflection of placing a trap near the reed bed)…


Note the John McEnroe headband!
And this locally rare micro Rose Tortrix…


Together with the strikingly named Dotted Oak Knot Horn, Summer Rose Bell, Two-coloured Bell, Brown Elm Bell, Spruce Bud, Purple Argent, Poplar Cosmet, Small China Mark and Hawthorn Ermel.   
It’s not been a bad few days for birds either. Chris Knight rang me to say he was listening to a Quail by The New Inn. I dashed round to hear at least one calling from a cornfield by the road.

John and Ann from Langlands then rang to say they had seen a Red Kite on the farm. I dashed down but no sign (although there were seven Curlew and three Oystercatcher here).


Then a couple of days later a villager said he had seen what he thought was a kite near the solar farm. Another fruitless search but as I was looking I got a call from a couple of friends who were watching it circling over Thrintoft! To rub it in even further my wife and son spotted the bird down Back Lane and had excellent views of it circling low over the fields here yesterday.
My only compensation was in looking for the kite I stumbled across a Hobby hunting in the fields to the east of the church. It gave excellent views, at one point even turning over on to its back as it stooped after a Swallow.  

I’ve had to go in for an emergency operation for a torn retina this week so not sure how long until I can use binoculars/camera again so might be a gap to my next blog. 

Thursday, 13 July 2017

13th July

The only ‘guaranteed’ bird I hadn’t seen this year was Spotted Flycatcher so when Jim and Sue rang to say they had one in their garden I shot round. There was no sign but after a slightly nervous wait it reappeared…



It was later seen singing in a tree in the rectory garden. This is my 100th species of the year – well behind last year (mainly reflecting the drying up/draining of the remaining wader habitat in the parish).

On Tuesday evening the Magic Garden was alive with Willow/Chiffs and I counted at least 20 very actively feeding in the trees around the lake. I presume these were migrants passing through and yesterday evening I only found a single bird.


More surprisingly I had a singing Reed Warbler. Was this a bird singing on passage or the one from earlier in the year?
Talking of warblers we have now received details of the French-ringed Blackcap trapped in the Garden in May. It was caught in October 2016 in Villeton, a small community in south-west France down towards the Pyrenees. 

Insects continue to fascinate/frustrate but here’s a couple of identifiable hoverflies. Great Pied or Pellucid…


And Episyrphus baltreatus…



Sunday, 9 July 2017

8th July

It’s inevitable when you are known as 'the birdman' that you get calls at this time of year. Last night it was a friend in the village ringing about a young Swift that had fallen down their drainpipe. I’ve never seen Swift in the hand before…


We tried relaunching it a couple of times but it wasn’t quite developed enough to take flight so we ended up fetching a ladder from the church and heroically Tracey, who has no head for heights, slipped it back in to the nest…


Then last week there was an envelope slipped through the door containing this…


This Treecreeper had flown into a neighbour’s window. It’s doubly unfortunate because they are so scarce in the parish these days (although I did see one in the Magic Garden today and another prospecting the lime trees on the village green).
The week before that it was the guitar group knocking to say one of the young Swallows had fallen out of its nest in the church porch. I only had a pair of step ladders but thanks to a particularly tall member of the group we were able to put this back too and it has now happily fledged.

There seems to be the first early signs of birds on the move this week. I added Hobby to the year list and a Yellow Wagtail and a small group of Curlew flew high over the Magic Garden. Four Oystercatcher flew over the house and I had a brief glimpse of a chat down Back Lane today, most likely a young Stonechat. There were also four young Yellow Wagtails along the lane.

It’s been a productive week on the dragonfly front too adding Southern Hawker, Common Darter…


Common Blue Damselfly and this ovipositing Emperor to the year list ….


All of these were in the Magic Garden.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

25th June

Only time to visit the Magic Garden today. There were two Sedge Warblers singing and I saw the Little Grebe for the first time in a while. It appears to have lost its only chick…


A Grey Heron was catching frogs in the shallows of the lake but also made an opportunistic attempt to catch a Large White butterfly as it flew past


I also thought I had seen my first distant Hobby of the year yesterday but it was just a wind-blown, aerobatic Kestrel which eventually flew right over to perch in the Garden…


Given yesterday’s conditions it wasn’t entirely inappropriate that a Hurricane also flew over…


Seven species of butterfly were seen. The first Ringlet was spotted on Monday…


And yesterday I ticked off my first Meadow Browns


There was also a ‘fall’ of Red Admirals. I hadn’t seen any as I walked around the village green and down Greenhills Lane but on the way back up (half an hour later) I tallied up 14 individuals.

Other insects included this hoverfly…


Which is distinctive enough to identify as chrysotoxum bicinctum (or at least distinctive enough for my youngest son to identify!). I was also trying to photograph another fly when this wasp flew in and made short work of it…


The more you look the more you see and there were about 50 of these tiny creatures on the surface of a beech tree. Not sure what they are…


And this caterpillar which, given its host plant might have been a Valerian Pug moth…


Actually turned out to be from a Valerian Sawfly. I didn’t even know that’s what sawfly larvae looked like but you can apparently tell by the number of prolegs, six for sawflys, never more than five for moths.
Finally, the talk on Wednesday went well and more than 50 people turned up, we almost ran out of chairs!