Thursday, 11 September 2014


Blackstonia perfoliata (Yellow Wort)

Frosted Orache (Atriplex laciniata)

Blackstonia perfoliata, Yellow wort is at its Northern limit in Northumberland and is hard to come by except at Hauxley nature reserve where it grows in their hundreds. A late flowerer there were still a lot of flowering plants last week. On the beach was a clump of Atriplex laciniata, Frosted Orache growing in a precarious position on the shore at Hauxley. I first came across this plant growing at the Chibburn mouth in 1974 and then again 10 years later at Chevington burn mouth in Druridge bay but not seen it since. I believe the plant shows itself some years as it grows on the foreshore and is vulnerable to shifting sands. 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Garden Wildlife

In the last couple of years the garden has accounted for over 90% of species that are new to me. The moth trap has been responsible for many of these and I'm finding new species of moths which are quite common almost every week but without the moth trap I would never knew they existed so close to home. I'm also looking more carefully for insect larvae and yesterday morning I found a lovely Grey Dagger (Acronicta psi) caterpillar on one of our cushions in the summerhouse. It appears to be spinning itself a cocoon. 
The ladybird was in the moth trap yesterday morning. According to the UK Ladybird survey website it is an Orange Ladybird (Halyzia 16-guttata) which has between 12 and 16 cream spots. They were thought to be scarce and were an indicator of ancient woodland but since 1987 they have taken a liking to Sycamore and Ash and are now widespread. They are attracted to light and are often found in moth traps!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Plants common and rare

Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) the radiate variety is common on the outskirts of Morpeth

Chicory (Cichorium intybus) frequent on disturbed ground

Lady Clermont's Spleenwort (Asplenium x clermontiae) only site in UK on Northumberland coast shown to me by Stewart last month

Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) East Mill, Morpeth

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Strange caterpillars in the garden

Elephant Hawk moth larvae defoliating the Fuschias

Buff Tip 

On Sunday there were 7 Buff Tip (Phalera bucephala) caterpillars walking around the garden beneath the Birch tree. It was very windy so they may have been blown out. While looking for more my son spotted the Elephant Hawk moth (Deilephila elpenor) larvae on on of our Fuschias.  Strangely this year I have had the moth trap running weekly but not caught any of these as adults but I have caught an adult Puss Moth and John Hall (Howden Blogger) has a nice Puss moth larvae photo on his blog. A larvae which I would love to find.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Some holiday photos

Two views of Ben Rinnes form Glen Livet

Family shot on Ben Macdui on August 4th...I don't think Bennyboy likes his picture taken

Elgin...City of Gulls

Dyers Mazegill

Scotch Argus

Views East from Ben Macdui

Monday, 30 June 2014

Some new plants

Dotted Loosestrife

Biting Stonecrop

Wood Sage

I'm still adding plants to the lengthening plant list of the Stobswood area. Dotted Loosestrife was not a surprise as it is a common garden throw out but Biting Stonecrop and Wood Sage were more surprising. There are lots of Alchemella plants but I'm not skilled at telling them apart. At the tip area there were high numbers of Orchids and butterflies. On June 26th I counted over 1200 Ringlet butterflies within the confines of the old tip and the plantation opposite. The opposite plantation has over 10,000 Common spotted Orchids and I have counted over 4000 Northern Marsh Orchids here this year. Large skipper numbers have been 54 and 32 Common Blues all within the confines of the two plantations. No Mother Shipton moths this year but dozens of Common Wave and Yellow Shell. On Saturday a fine male Marsh Harrier was quartering the plantation before casually making its way North via the East side of Widdrington Moor Lake.
Around Morpeth Speckled Wood butterflies have been numerous in June and I counted 12 basking on the footpath down Abbey woods. On the bike I have noticed several Bird Cheery trees covered in the webs of the Bird cherry Ermine moth near Mitford. A Little Owl has been sitting on one of the stunted Beeches between Meldon and Molesden.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

The rewards of mothing

This magnificent Puss Moth was sitting just outside the trap went I went up at dawn this morning to check the trap following a warm night. There were other nice moths in the trap like Small Angle Shades, Common Swift and Clouded Silver. The Puss moth would have made a nice breakfast for the birds feeding young in the garden had I checked the trap any later. 
Mothing is also a part of my social life as me, Heather and my daughter Amber were having a drink in the summer house last night watching the first moths flitting around the light. Amber commented on her friends dads who like football and beer and its embarrassing when they ask 'what does your dad do in his spare time'?
No matter which path I have taken in life it has always been unsociable hours from dog walking before school, long hours working at opencast coal sites, shift work at hospitals, early rising children, birding/ringing/twitching, Badger and Bat watching and now Mothing to add to the 'baggy eyed' list of hobbies. Only Wild Flowers and Butterflies like 'sensible hours'. This morning was rewarding not only for the quality species of moths that were attracted to the trap but the beautiful morning that dawned over Morpeth. many birds feeding young, Fox running along the path, Grey lag Geese and Cormorants flying overhead. A nice group of young recently fledged Great spotted Woodpeckers waiting to be fed by their parents. No human voices or the noise of motor traffic just bird song. The first hour after dawn is undoubtedly the finest hour of the day no matter where you are in the country.