Sunday, 15 October 2017

15th October

John came down for the last mothing session of the year last night. In the end it was colder than forecast but still a reasonable catch of 23 different species. The commonest were November moths and Red-line Quakers…


The total included five new ones for the parish. Blair’s Shoulder Knot, Acleris sparsana, Dark Chestnut, Brick…


And Sprawler…


On the birding front it has been a quiet week. Two late Sand Martins were seen over Ainderby last weekend along with at least 50 Pied Wagtails and the first Snipe since the spring. The first Redwings were seen on the 7th…


But they have remained very scarce, in fact significantly outnumbered by Red Admirals which are still around in exceptional numbers. Even more surprising was this Comma seen today, the latest I have ever had one in the village…


In fact birding at work was better than in the village this week with a Grey Wagtail in the car-park, three skeins of Pinkfeet over and a cracking adult Yellow-legged Gull on the playing field.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

24th September

A drake Wigeon on the Manor Pond today was the first I’ve seen this year and pushed the year list up to a measly 101 species. I am really missing the wader habitat of last year!


Yesterday the Manor Garden was alive with Blackbirds with at least two dozen around the lake. They were very jumpy and active so I assume they were fresh arrivals (from the continent?). They also spotted a Tawny Owl in a weeping willow on the island and eventually drove it out, sending it flying low across the water. They had all gone by today.
Other sightings included Woodcock over the Magic Garden, Little Egret, 200 Goldfinches and two Grey Wagtails by the river and a flock of 45 Meadow Pipits in the Bottom Fields. I also spotted this Stoat running along the railway…


Earlier in the week I went bat detecting with our neighbour Jim and friends of his, Phil & Lynda, from the Nottinghamshire Bat Group. Phil had a very sophisticated bat detector which recorded the calls. They were then put through a piece of software which turned them into sonograms. Not great pics but they were on my phone (and in the pub!)…


This one shows the ‘hockey stick’ shape of pipistrelle bats (in this case Common Pipistrelle)


Another pip but this time at a higher frequency (between 50 & 60khz) - this is a Soprano Pipistrelle.


This one shows some species of myotis bat (possibly Natterer’s) with a second species, Noctule, shown in the short straight sequence at 20khz. We also recorded another myotis bat but this time near the water so presumably Daubenton’s bat.


and this one shows  pip again but the effect of different habitats. The flatter, deeper (and therefore further carrying) calls are when the bat is in the open and the higher pitched are when it was hunting around the tree canopy (this was recorded at the top of Greenhills Lane).

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…