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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Lindisfarne-Botany

A run up to Holy Island, Lindisfarne  with a start at the Snook the object to look at some of the  Botany  especially those plants new to me  apart from the obvious such as Viper's Bugloss , Ragwort etc: the first plant of note was Autumn Gentian thought to be very early but it seemed fairly common once you got your eye in and could spot the flowering plants with ease, plenty of Centaury which is also a Common  plant noted at many sites this was the Seaside Centaury  , a few Orchids with the Common Spotted going over and Pyramidal Orchid coming through , and Marsh Helleborine  in the thousands with literal carpets of them  probably the only place in Northumberland you will see them in such profusion. The one most people travel to this area to see is the Lindisfarne Helleborine  several where located its an attractive  flower in it't own way but not the spectacle of the sheer number of Marsh . A couple of glimpses of Dark Green Flittilary  with none  settled was the only sighting instead of it being a nice sunny day as forecast there was a strong cool breeze , so I had wasted my time with the sun screen and luckily had a heavy fleece in the car , rain seemed to threaten for most of the day but did not fall till much later.  I decide while I was up North I would call in again at The Long Nanny to see how the Little Terns where progressing , unfortunately it's not as if you can pull up in the car and have a quick look and by the time I got to High Newton it was about 5 so I went straight along the beach to the site by now as I was right on the coast it was decidedly chilly  arrived at the HUT and set my scope up still a few visitors there , Little Terns chicks in various stages of growth a few had apparently fledged  but I could also see a huge age difference in the chicks I observed , the wardens had trouble with a raiding Badger taking many of the Arctic Tern & Ringed Plover Chicks it could be the same individual that took so many eggs and chicks last year and will no doubt return year after year to this easy source of food , the tide coming in and by now quiet high so nothing settled on the beach not sure where they all go at high tide .This was a fairly brief visit as by now the rain was on the way  and I was dressed for the earlier forecast of sun, sun sun, I had the forethought of picking up the brolly from out of the boot more to keep my camera and scope dry than me , I was also glad I had not driven up just to come here for such a short visit and on the walk back I was the only person along the entire beach !!!
 Autumn Gentian
 Seaside Centaury
 Brookweed
 Fairy Flax
 Pyramidal  Orchid
 Marsh Helleborine
 Bog Pimpernel, in carpets and actually seemed to thrive on the numerous paths trodden through the area
 Lindisfarne Helleborine
 A few plants located in the tall thick grass
 Round-leaved Wintergreen
 Lesser Water Plantain
 The Smallest flower I have ever seen the Marsh Pennywort  luckily it forms in clusters with one out and numerous others to follow the whole group is only a few millimetres across
 and the same shot with the flowers in the centre
 A walk along the dune /shore Edge turned up Sea Rocket
 And Grass Leaved Orache
There was distinct zones along the dune is it came to meet the sea , this common on the edge

Friday, 11 July 2014

Dragonflies

The start of July saw the emergence of Emerald Damselflies  only one at one site then a few more at another till by  the end of the day there where many resting in the tall grass as it became overcast , Common Blue also out in good numbers , Four Spot Chaser 's now a common sight at  most suitable ponds first Emperors seen at East Cramlington but only briefly as it flew off high , have seen numerous sightings of them since and got some photos of them resting , Banded Demoiselle still not common I have seen them as early as the startof June  but wanted to try and get some video of the male dancing over the water, Butterflies in the form of Meadow Brown's & Ringlets seem to just appear with clouds of them in suitable long grass areas , typical the council decides to cut the grass at East Cramlington just as they emerge , you would think they would have someone that advises them just on the basics , the pond is visited on a regular basis by dog walkers who insist there dog takes a swim one day a guy with 5 dogs had them all in, one or two he threw in as they declined to volunteer , this is my cue to leave and go somewhere else . The weather is a bit hit and miss I leave in sunshine to arrive at a site and it's overcast, this is to some extent an advantage if you are there when the larger Dragonflies decide to hang up if it's just cloud they may settled on a Rush or Reed stem but if its overcast and cool they fly off  usually into tree cover . There is something about looking for Dragonflies and Butterflies you get right into it totally absorbed by the quest to find them going about there daily life , trying to learn something about their behaviour or  capture that elusive shot .

 Large Red Damselfly
 The Emergence of Emerald Damselfly
 Drinker Moth
 Common Blue Damselfly
 Banded Demoiselle  a male alights on the water to impress a female
 It's gone overcast and cool this Banded Demoiselle rests to await the suns return
 I had this as Common Darter but thinking now its perhaps Ruddy Darter  I should have looked closer at the time , I can't see any yellow on the legs and there seems a  black stripe down the abdomen which also looks slightly waisted
I put this down as a female  Common Blue ? will have to check my books for this colour form

Monday, 7 July 2014

Dunstanburgh Castle

towards the end of last Month we had a run up to Dunstanburgh Castle ,now I have been here many times while camping nearby , but today we actually went inside for a look around , I was very surprised at how large the site was and with some access to one tower the views are fantastic. walking around the North side at the top of the cliffs the smell from the kittiwakes etc: drifts over the top and the occasional bird would lift up on the thermals and the typical noise of a seabird colony and I wondered the castle inhabitants must have harvested these birds at this time of year , also it seems a popular site for fishing one chap I talked to had a nice 31/2 lb Pollock  he had hauled up from the sea below you need a head for heights as its a hell of a drop to the sea  or rocks below .  The walls are only low now but they enclose a huge area of grassland and I thought what an opportunity to create a wildflower meadow much better than just grass, I did find a couple of flowers as yet no I.D.   

 Common Blue seen on the walk from the car park to the north end of the Castle
 This is the cliff with the castle up on the right
 In The castle I noticed this Pied Wagtail with food and I watched as it hung around the well and sure enough it dropped down inside and popped back out a few seconds later , I looked in no sign of a nest but wondered how would the young fare as they tried to fledge from here !!
 Up on one of the towers with views towards Craster
 Looking East
 West
 And looking North towards Beadnell a wall blocks most of the view
 Looking down & North from the wall
 Scentless Mayweed  a stunted growth in a tiny rock crevice there was much more and very much  taller plants further around
 A ledge for a nest site oddly  some ledges looked much larger but with nothing on and yet some where on the most thinnest  of  ledges
 I could not see any young unless thats one to the right
 Razorbills are common I  always thought they liked to nest in between rocks etc: a few Guillemots also around
 Looking from the top of the cliff this is as near as you can get and would want to go !!
 Kittiwake ,Razorbill & Fulmar from the cliff top
 A couple of Puffins on the water I don't think they breed here but if they could find a nest site I don't see why not
 Sitting on the East wall having a coffee three Velvet Scoters passed I was only quick enough to get two and a bit of them
 Looking back up towards the tower you can access it would seem an ideal site for puffins , although I saw no Rabbits or sign of  them .to perhaps start them off
 The East Wall
 Another cut in the rock has a very small colony of Kittiwakes giving good views
 This is Pellitory on the Wall it took some time to I.D. apparently it's not common
 Looking down the cut from the castle , there are some fantastic views to be had all over the site
 Swallows where numerous and lots of fledged young , another thought crossed my mind the castle inhabitants would have enjoyed these birds in the summer no doubt , but would have had no idea of even the existence of their South African winter quarters
 Waiting for a feed
The entrance or in this case the exit

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Rat Smoker

This apparently is a petrol driven "RAT SMOKER" on an internet site  and yours for a mere £50  , I  don't think it's the same sort of smoking as in Kippers, the modern world in  which we live  !

Monday, 30 June 2014

Little Bittern-2



I could not get back last Tuesday to try for the Little Bittern so at 05:45 on  Wednesday Morning I arrived at the hide to hear that it had been seen again some birders had to leave for work so I was able to get a seat this time just got the camera out of the bag when the call of  "flying left" so rather than try to get some shots I just got a very good view of the bird flying a semi circle over the lake and disappear to the left , well that's it I thought  it's in the bag and not even 6 in the morning. I decided to stay around for the day why not as it was being  seen albeit a flyover , the warden sitting on the left could hear the bird calling it was rather feint but you could hear the bird change direction as it called and with the distant rush hour traffic and the odd plane taking off and the gulls constantly screaming it was a wonder it could be heard at all. We sat patiently the the bird could be heard off to the west and a couple of minutes later MN picked it out sitting up in the reeds , not visible from my position so he kindly let me into his seat and I got some hasty shots before in went . I did manage to see it another 4 times from then on , the first time no one else saw it  as it dropped down well over the far side , again I picked it up as it came nearer only one other person saw it , it was getting frustrating with the hide full and many not yet having seen it , again I picked it up as it broke cover some 30yds from where it had dropped in yet again no one saw it and I think they thought I was getting it wrong all the time . Well I said at least we know where it is and being on the edge of the wood at that side it would most probably fly back across the pond , one or two people seemed to think this was going to be a very large bird one remarked we should be able to see the reeds move as it walked through. Anway after only ten minutes I picked the bird up again and indeed it did fly around in another arc and everyone got onto it at last .I left and went to the west hide where it was much quieter staying there an hour or so from where i walked the circular route and returned to the main hide it had just been seen but I never heard or saw it again for the next hour or so before I left. 
Could I please make an appeal to those that are not Northumbrian Natural History Society Members  to at least think about joining it's from £30 per annum , with lectures, meetings, the reserve to visit , and a fantastic library access it's a small price to pay , without the society's  management this site would be lost.
 Grey Wagtail drops in near the hide there is no wader area as such
Unable to access the flight shots as yet but on the back of the camera they are all distant , this is one as it sits in the reeds and I posted one on Birdguides, not much for all day but at least I saw it many had to leave without getting even a glimpse