Sunday, 2 August 2015

Caspian Gull

For whatever reason I didn't connect with the Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans) last year at Amble but the ringed returning individual was present early afternoon on the sand spit opposite the harbour. It was frightened off by some canoists/kayakers who decided to get out of their crafts and sit on the sand themselves scattering all the Gulls and Cormorants. When the birds did settle again I couldn't pick it up again on the incoming tide. The reliable adult Mediterranean Gull was in its usual place on the grass above the Little shore. The pic of Birch Shieldbug (Elasmostethus intersinctus) was from the garden.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Procumbent Yellow Sorrel

Procumbent Yellow Sorrel (Oxalis corniculata)...Morwick

Yesterday a new plant caught my eye when we called into Morwick farm for an ice cream. There was a carpet of Procumbent Yellow Sorrel growing along the main track near the farmhouse. Earlier in the morning I was walking around the old brickworks at Stobswood and admiring the amount of ground colour and thinking about the recent government decision to give builders the power to have compulsory purchase on brown field sites across the country. I wonder if this is the last time I see this site at its floral best. Along with the plants were hundreds of Butterflies chiefly Ringlets and Meadow browns with good numbers of Common Blue, Speckled wood and a nice Red Admiral. There are three species of Stonecrop at Stobswood with Biting (Sedum acre), White (S. album) and English (S. anglicum) above. All with a dubious origin no doubt but a delight to see in flower. Musk Thistle (Carduus nutans) was also in flower. In 2002 I came across a few flowering plants of Broad leaved helleborine (Epipactis helleborine) growing in Grangewood near the entrance to the brickworks and the following year I counted over 70 at the edge of a pine plantation there. I have noticed these plants increasing over the years and yesterday I counted over a thousand plants in flower all in Grangewood.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Some Menorcan wildlife

Audouin's Gull

Sea Daffodil (Pancratium maritimum)

Some plants I'm still identifying!

Hares tail grass (Lagurus ovatus)

Impressive coastal habitat of Fornells

Female Red-veined Darter?

Hog's Fennel

Traditional farming methods means an abundance of Turtle Doves, Spotted Flycatchers and Corn Buntings

Magnificent preserved dune systems of Son Parc...sea of Sea Holly

I don't know the identity of the above

Track of the week...Cami de Cavalls which circles the entire island

Menorcan gates

Blue Rock thrushes and Tawny pipits were common on the cliff tops

Typical cliff top habitat with Aleppo pine and Holm Oak woodlands in the excellent place to see Hoopoes

Woodchat Shrikes all over the island but wouldn't face the camera

Only butterfly I could take a pic of. Painted Lady's and Clouded Yellows were very common, many Blue butterflies around

Never seen a water spout before..this was just off Arenel d'en Castell; there were two spouts but one lasted just a few minutes while the above lasted about twenty minutes

I was very impressed with the island of Menorca; a UNESCO biopshere island reserve which keeps its traditional farming methods and preserves its rich flora and native woodlands. The mediterranean flora was very diverse and I'm still trying to identify some of the flowers I took pictures of. Although the bird life is less diverse than its larger neighbour I still managed four birds which were new to me; Blue Rock Thrush, Thekla Lark, Chukar and a very impressive Eleanora's Falcon. Booted Eagles are very common here and so were Pallid swifts. We saw Italian wall Lizard plus many butterflies and dragonflies. My highlight was catching the Sand Daffodil in flower. I'm looking forward to returning to this beautiful island.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015


B: 23/04/2002. D: 01/06/ at peace

Sunday, 31 May 2015


Sentinel Red Grouse with Rothbury in the background

Rock Cranesbill (Geranium macrorrhizum) beside River Coquet

I like a walk over the Simonside ridge and at this time of year there is plenty to see (and hear) despite the cold weather at the moment. No fewer than 4 Cuckoo's but apart from a Buzzard and Kestrel it was quiet on the bird front, Between the Heather it was white with Cottongrass and the flowers of Bilberry and Cowberry are out. I came across Rock Cranesbill growing out of a Stone wall near Rothbury on the banks of the Coquet. 

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Rarities at Bothal

After hearing about the Black-winged Pratincole at Bothal pond yesterday I thought I would go down this morning but I just had time last night and went along and arrived at 2055 and there were three birdwatchers there and one of them Mark Eaton put me onto the Pratincole straight away sitting on the North West edge of the pond. After 5 minutes it got up and flew around the pond chasing insects among a large flock of Swifts. About 5 minutes later a Tern was hawking insects towards the North end of the pond and Mark who had been watching it for a couple of minutes said it was a Gull Billed Tern. Ian Fisher arrived and we all were watching the Tern twisting around in the air; its broad wings and uniform grey colour to all upperparts could be seen. The Tern landed quite close to the Pratincole which had landed back where I first saw it. More features could be made out including the black bill and the long black legs which gave the bird a more upright appearance at rest. The bird flew up again but this time we couldn't see it again and it was believed to have flown East. The Pratincole was back in the air again and I watched it feeding on insects until about 2130.

I was back at Bothal pond this morning and the Pratincole was still there but as it was very cold it was just sitting on the edge of the pond again. There was a lot of birdwatchers there and it was good to catch up with a few familiar faces I haven't seen in a long while.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015


I like to go to areas where few people go and it can be quite rewarding at times as you never know what you may encounter. Coming across a Hoopoe on farmland West of Morpeth is now a memory. The above pics are Norwood pool near Widdrington Station. This former area of damp farmland is has been a pond for over 20 years and the woodland around it is well established and some good wetland plants have established themselves here. No rare birds on this visit but Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Coot and Little Grebe have made it their home. Frogs and Newts are in the permanent wet areas and a nice Fox was sitting up in the marshland and a Hare was also resting nearby both appeared unaware that they were so close to each other. I have no doubt the woodland here which stretches over Tute Hill down to the River Lyne at Ulgham will hold breeding Long Eared Owl and Woodcock. The woods were alive with Blackcap song but despite the damp scrubby areas there is still no evidence of Willow Tit which was once so common around here.