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.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Shining Cranesbill

Yesterday I was walking around Stobswood and parking the car opposite Widdrington Moor lake I usually walk through the woodland towards the old tip avoiding the often flooded farm track. Walking back towards the car I decided to walk along the track to save time and I'm pleased I did as I came across a large clump of Shining Cranesbill (Geranium lucidum) growing along the trackside. This is the eighth Geranium species I've come across in the Stobswood area. Shining Cranesbill is a native but at this location it is likely to be a garden escape. At Widdrington Moor lake there was a variety of wildfowl including 19 Pink footed Geese and 66 Tufted Duck.
Today I was at Pegswood Moor. Some improvements taking place here and a few birds as well with 2 Wheatears among the stones and a drake Goosander on the pond. Still worth keeping an eye on this site. 

Sunday, 27 April 2014

False Oxlip

Still finding new plants as I walk around the woods around Morpeth. False Oxlip (Primula x polyantha) is a hybrid between Cowslip and Primrose and occurs occasionally where both plants grow. I found this small clump flowering in Postern woods near Morpeth castle. 

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Highland Perthshire

Schiehallion from Loch Tummel

Carn Gorm summit in Glen Lyon

Ben Vrackie

Carn Liath from Ben Vrackie summit

Showers approaching Ben Vrackie

Loch Tummel on a misty morning


Loch Tay at Kenmore

Spent a few days in Perthshire. Weather not good for getting on to some of the mountain tops but plenty of walking and some wildlife to look at. On the summit of Ben Vrackie there were 4 Ring Ouzels and a Wheatear, plenty of Wheatears on some lower ground and Common Sandpiper at Kenmore. A fine Golden Eagle was viewed from the Schiehallion road and more surprising was a Green Woodpecker at Strath Tummel. A bit early for alpine flowers but the first flowers of Purple Saxifrage were out on the mountains of Glen Lyon, both Fir and Alpine Clubmoss were easy to find near summit of Carn Gorm.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Bumper crop

Yellow Star of Bethlehem and Creeping Comfrey

Last year the flowering of Yellow Star of Bethlehem at Scotch Gill woods Morpeth was 18th April with 26 flowering plants. The cold early spring meant they were a month late. This year on 18th March there was also 26 flowering plants but by 29th March there were 42 flowering plants the most I have seen so far at this site. Creeping Comfrey is also spreading through the woodland around Morpeth. The above flowers are growing in woods near the castle and there is another large clump growing in woodland near East Mill.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Harwood Forest

Ruby Tiger moth caterpillar

First butterfly this year...Peacock in Harwood forest

A good walk around Harwood forest today. Fairly quiet on the bird front with a pair of Grey Wagtails deep in the forest which was a bit unusual. Only 2 Crossbills were seen and a female Goshawk was hunting low over a clearing near Hummel Knowe despite it being good displaying weather today. Looking for Shrikes in Harwood is becoming increasingly difficult as there are now huge areas of clear fell and the acreage seems to be getting larger each week and more mileage is needed to cover some of these areas.
Peacock butterfly on the wing among the Heather was my first butterfly this year and a Ruby Tiger moth caterpillar was crossing over the track near Redpath cottage.