Monday, 27 December 2010

Total Lunar Eclipse


On Tuesday 21st December 2010 they was a total lunar eclipse of the moon. It had been 3 years since the last lunar eclipse and 400 years since it last occured on Winter Solstice. Usually on Teesside we miss out because of cloud or bad weather, but not this time. What an amazing drive to work watching the moon turn from silver to dark red, before disappearing as the morning light grew stronger. I have posted two pictures which unfortunately aren't great, but do record the event. When taking these photographs the temperature was -8C, so after a while it was difficult to control numb fingers and shivers!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Garden Birdwatch Update

Week staring 19/12/10

4 Blue Tit
2 Coal Tit
1 Great Tit
5 Goldfinch
2 Chaffinch
3 Greenfinch
6 House Sparrow
3 Dunnock
1 Robin
2 Blackbird
4 Starling
3 Collared Dove
2 Woodpigeon
1 Jackdaw

Food: Sunflower Hearts, Peanuts, Seed, Fatty Balls & Suet
Water

Mammals: 2 House Mice - cheeky late afternoon visitors picking up bits from under the feeders.

The recent low temperatures (-10C) make you wonder how the birds survive the night outside.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Nosterfield Nature Reserve

Today, I went to Nosterfield Gravel Pits Nature Reserve and the temperature was an icey -2C. The lakes were frozen and so were the local Rabbits who appeared from their burrows. Scanning around from the observation hide / visitor centre I found a Common Buzzard siting on a fence post surveying the area. Over the hedgerow and flock of about 80 Lapwing were feeding amongst the remains of a crop along with loads of Woodpigeon. A cry from overhead was heard and I looked up to see 20 Greylag Geese and 2 Pink-footed Geese. As toes and fingers started to freeze a couple of Curlew flew by and along the bottom of the hedgerows Fieldfare, Song Thrush and Blackbird were feeding.

After leaving the hide, we went to Flask Lake near the village of Nosterfield following a report from a local that a female Ring-necked Duck was present. Two small areas of unfrozen water were all that was available to about 100 birds of various wildlfowl species such as, Coot, Little Grebe, Mallard, Wigeon, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Teal and Goldeneye. In amongst the frenzy of swiming birds was the female Ring-necked Duck - success. The day was finished with a warm by the fire in the pub at Masham.

Garden Birdwatch Update

Week starting 12/12/10

2 Blue Tit
1 Coal Tit
1 Great Tit
6 House Sparrow
3 Dunnock
2 Greenfinch
8 Goldfinch
3 Chaffinch
1 Robin
2 Blackbird
6 Starling
3 Collared Dove
2 Woodpigeon
3 Jackdaw
1 Magpie

Mammals: 1 House Mouse

Food: Sunflower Hearts, Peanuts, Seed, Fat Balls and Scraps.
Water

The temperature dropped to -8.7C in the back garden and this morning the snow had returned.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Garden Birdwatch

Week starting 5/12/2010

3 Blue Tit
1 Coal Tit
1 Great Tit
5 House Sparrow
1 Dunnock
14 Goldfinch
3 Greenfinch
1 Chaffinch
1 Robin
2 Blackbird
2 Starling
3 Collared Dove
2 Woodpigeon
1 Magpie

Food: Peanuts, Sunflower Hearts, Seed, Fats and Scraps
Water

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Garden Birdwatch Update

Week Starting 28/11/10

3 Blue Tit
1 Coal Tit
2 Great Tit
5 House Sparrow
2 Dunnock
19 Goldfinch
3 Greenfinch
1 Chaffinch
1 Robin
1 Blackbird
4 Starling
1 Collared Dove
2 Jackdaw

The Goldfinch total was our highest to date.

During the week we had about 30 cm (1 foot) of snow and despite our back garden being quite sheltered surrounded by large trees the temperature did fall to -8.7C.

Food: Sunflower Hearts, Peanuts and Seed.
Water

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Garden Birdwatch Update

Week Starting 21/11/10

1 Wren
4 Blue Tit
1 Coal Tit
1 Great Tit
14 House Sparrow
1 Dunnock
1 Robin
1 Blackbird
13 Goldfinch
6 Greenfinch
2 Chaffinch
4 Starling
2 Collared Dove
3 Jackdaw

Mammals: 1 Cat

Food: Sunflower Hearts, Peanuts, Fat Ball and Seeds
Water

Winter Wonderland


A snowy back garden this morning with temperatures dropping to -2C overnight on Teesside. The House Sparrows woke at 6.40 am when the sunrise temperature was a chilly -0.3C. The noisy Jackdaws were next up chattering about the cold as they flew around the houses. This photograph was taken at 8.30 am and already the small birds such as Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Goldfinch and House Sparrows were using the feeders.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Garden Birdwatch Update

Week Starting 14/11/10

1 Wren
3 Blue Tit
1 Coal Tit
1 Great Tit
7 House Sparrow
2 Dunnock
1 Robin
1 Blackbird
14 Goldfinch
3 Greenfinch
1 Chaffinch
7 Starling
2 Collared Dove
4 Jackdaw
1 Magpie
1 Sparrowhawk

Mammals - 1 Cat

Food: Fat Balls, Sunflower Hearts, Peanuts & Seeds.
Water

Garden Birdwatch 24/11 - 14/11/10

On Sunday 24th October 2010 I subscribe to the garden birdwatch managed by BTO. Recording and/or watching birds in your garden is good fun with plenty of feathered entertainment around the feeders. It is important to feed the birds and also provide water for drinking.
Each week, starting on Sunday you recorded the maximum number of each species seen over the course of the week. So, each week I will post my records, including anything of interest.

Week Starting 7/11/10
1 Wren
4 Blue Tit
1 Coal Tit
2 Great Tit
6 House Sparrow
1 Dunnock
6 Goldfinch
1 Greenfinch
1 Robin
1 Blackbird
5 Starling
4 Collared Dove
1 Woodpigeon
4 Jackdaw

Mammals recorded - 1 Fox, 1 Cat and 1 House Mouse.

Week Starting 31/10/10
1 Wren
2 Blue Tit
2 Coal Tit
1 Great Tit
10 House Sparrow
2 Dunnock
9 Goldfinch
1 Chaffinch
2 Greenfinch
1 Robin
1 Blackbird
13 Starling
2 Jackdaw
3 Collared Dove
1 Woodpigeon
1 Magpie

Week Starting 24/10/10
1 Wren
3 Blue Tit
2 Coal Tit
2 Great Tit
6 Long-tailed Tit
6 House Sparrow
1 Dunnock
14 Goldfinch
1 Greenfinch
1 Robin
1 Blackbird
30 Starling
3 Jackdaw
4 Collared Dove
1 Woodpigeon

The only mammal recorded was nextdoor's cat!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Roosting Starlings

Here is a short video of the Starlings arriving at Dorman's Pool to roost for the night. As the light started to fade the flocks of Starlings arriving was constant with approximately 2000 counted as I videoed. Over the next few nights it was estimated that about 12,000 Starlings were coming to roost in the reedbed. What a magical sight!



video

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Waxwings

On Saturday 6th November 2010, a flock of approximately 40 Waxwings were seen in Middlesbrough. They were feeding on the berries in Skippers Lane Industrial Estate not far from the town centre.

Waxwings are such a beautiful bird and a welcomed winter visitor to the UK. I didn't manage to see any Waxwings during January - March this year, so these birds were a year tick for my list.

video

Friday, 12 November 2010

Teesmouth Field Centre Bird Feeder

On Sunday 7th November 2010, I opened the Field Centre for a Bird & Seal Watching Session in the Hartlepool Power Station Hide overlooking Seal Sands. We had a great session in the hide watching Common Scoter, Little Egret, Red-breasted Merganser, Peregrine and 20 Common Seals.

Back at the Field Centre the bird feeder was very busy. The short video shows Great Tit, Blue Tit and Tree Sparrows feeding on the seed mix. After spending 7.5 hours on site looking for birds, I wasn't disappointed with good views of a pair of Blackcap eating Elderberries together with two Mistle Trush and three Blackbird. A beautiful Grey Wagtail showed briefly which was a first site record for me, so I was very pleased.

video

Monday, 25 October 2010

Rough Seas at Hartlepool

video

Sunday 24th October 2010 will be a wildlife day to remember. On the morning I had a Seal Watch at the Teesmouth Field Centre, so 20 members of the general public came to see the Common (Harbour) Seals of Seal Sands. As we arrived at the hide about 15 seals were already present resting on the sand bank, but just in front of the hide a Common Seal had caught a 10 inch fish. Instead of swimming off to eat in peace the seal gave our visitors the most amazing view as it devoured its prize in front of our hide. Then another Common Seal porpoised up Seal Sands with tremendous speed, obviously late joining the group. After two hours we returned to the Field Centre for a nice cup of tea to help us to defrost our fingers. As I was explaining to our visitors about the wildlife present around the centre, our female fox appeared for everyone to see. Everyone went home very happy and the children were eager to tell friends about their trip.

In the afternoon, it was reported that due to the north winds there was to be a particularly big swell in the North Sea. So, off I went to Hartlepool Headland in the afternoon to watch the waves crash into the sea wall. Common Scoter and Eider ducks sheltered in Hartlepool Bay, but despite the rough sea Gulls were still flying between the waves. Watching each bird as it passed by the Headland was enjoyable despite the cold chill. When just off one of the last flocks I watched pass by was a juvenile Sabine Gull to finish a great time at Hartlepool.

A quick call on the way home to the Field Centre rewarded me with 13 Grey Partridge in the last bit of sunlight as it set.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

A little drop of golden magic

video

Having just flown across the North Sea, this Goldcrest is frantically trying to find food to survive the night. Hundreds of Redwing, Robin and Siskin reached Hartlepool Headland.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Today's Moths




A few autumn moths found at work this morning.
7 November Moth agg
1 Red-line Quaker
2 Feathered Thorn

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Lapland Bunting

video

A very tired Lapland Bunting was found at South Gare on 11/9/10. There were good numbers of Wheaters present too.

Firecrest Video

video

I spent a few hours searching for migrants at Hartlepool Headland and was rewarded with very close views of Firecrest and Yellow-browed Warbler.

Moth News 8/10/10

8 species trapped overnight and the temperature was a mild 13.6C.

464 Diamond-back Moth 2
998 Light Brown Apple Moth 5
2240 Blair's Shoulder-knot 1
2441 Silver Y 1
1764 Common Marbled Carpet 2
1768 Grey Pine Carpet 1
1795x November Moth agg 1
2452 Red Underwing 1

Moth News 2/10/10

5 species trapped overnight, despite a chilly 6.5C.

2240 Blair's Shoulder-knot 7
464 Diamond-back Moth 1
998 Light Brown Apple Moth 6
1048 Garden Rose Tortrix 1
2109 Lesser Yellow Underwing 1

Moth News 25/9/10

3 species trapped overnight, but 2 new records for the garden.

2240 Blair's Shoulder-knot 3
2441 Silver Y 1
2266 Brown-spot Pinion 1 (see below)


Moth News 17/9/10

5 species trapped overnight and the temperature dropped to a chilly 5.8C in the garden.

2364 Frosted Orange 1
2353 Flounced Rustic 1
998 Light Brown Apple Moth 3
464 Diamond-back Moth 1
1048 Garden Rose Tortix 1

The Frosted Orange (see below) and Flounced Rustic were new for the garden.


Moth News 10/9/2010

12 species trapped overnight.


1524 Emmelina Monodactyla 2
998 Light Brown Apple Moth 10
1764 Common Marbled Carpet 6
1728 Garden Carpet 6
2109 Lesser Yellow Underwing 1
2441 Silver Y 1
648 Brown House Moth 1
2474 Straw Dot 1
2107 Large Yellow Underwing 3
2126 Setaceous Hebrew Character 1
2110 Board-bordered Yellow Underwing 1
2306 Angle Shades 1

Friday, 3 September 2010

Portsmouth to Bilbao Ferry Trip Highlights

27/8/10 Portsmouth to Bilbao (Day 1)
Northern Gannet 147
Manx Shearwater 3
Storm Petrel 8
Cory Shearwater 4
Fulmar 2
Great Skua 3
Sooty Shearwater 1
Pomarine Skua 1
Sabine Gull 1
Willow Warbler 1
Northern Wheater 1
Robin 1
Kestrel 1

Bottle-nosed Dolphin c23
Common Dolphin c80
Long-fin Pilot Whale 12
Fin Whale 5

28/8/10 4 hours in Bilbao (Day 2)
Giffon Vulture 14
Black Tern 1
Red-backed Shrike 1
Spotted Flycatcher
Pied Flycatcher
Common Buzzard
Cirl Bunting

28/8/10 Bilbao to Portsmouth (poor conditions)
Northern Gannet 26
Sooty Shearwater 1
Manx Shearwater 1
Storm Petrel 2
Arctic Skua 2
Sandwich Tern 2
Grey Pharlope 8

Bottle-nosed Dolphin 5
Common Dolphin 4
Tuna 1
Fin Whale 1
Sunfish 1

29/8/10 Bilbao to Portsmouth (Day 3)
Northern Gannet 187
Great Skua 10
Manx Shearwater 1
Fulmar 1
Sooty Shearwater 1
Storm Petrel 24
Common Tern 4
Sandwich Tern 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull 3

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Argiope bruennichi

This spider is found across most of Europe and the south of England. It builds a vertical orb web with vertical zig-zag band of silk in which it catches insects such as grasshoppers.

Bilbao Beauties

A few Bilbao Butterflies - Tree Grayling, Adonis Blue and Speckled Wood. Also seen Long-tailed Blue, Small White and Wall Brown.




Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Flounced Rustic

Another new species for me recorded at work.

Moth Update - Work

The species count for work is now at 89 which I find amazing because they have all been found on the walls of our building and the one next door.

The photograph below of the Red Underwing is distant, but shows the overall size of this moth in comparison to the brick work. Those big wings hide a beautiful red colour on the underwing.



Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Gold Spot

Found at work this morning.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Moth News 14th August 2010

I had an amazing Moth Night in my garden with 32 species of 184 individuals.

I spent a few hours watching the moths flying into the garden attracted by the light. Just like birds, you can 'roughly' guess the species by the flight pattern. In the case of the Large Yellow Underwing's it is how many times they bang into things on the way to the light. Saturday night was no different, although I did spend a few minutes watching a Canary-shouldered Thorn fly around the garden flowers occasionally stopping for nectar. As I sat watching, a small moth appeared and a guessed it might be a Silver Y, but as it approached the light I could see a golden sheen. I assumed it was a Gold-spot because in August 2009 I had my first Gold-spot for the garden. Having already noted 15 species in the trap, I headed off to bed ready to wake up at dawn.

Half asleep, I wandered to the trap and peered in to see a large number of Large Yellow Underwing's scattered all over the egg boxes. I started to count the individuals noting down the species as I went through each egg box. Then I came to the box with the 'presumed' Gold-spot, but as I looked closely something didn't seem right, so I popped the moth into a jar and put it to one side. About half-way through the egg boxes I found another moth of similar shape to the first, so rather than disturb it I put a jar over the top, so the Large Yellow Underwing's wouldn't knock into it as they were getting quite active.

After all the moths were counted, then I started to with ones I had put to one side for identification. I picked up the Golden Y-type moth and it was not a Gold-spot, so I opened my copy of the Field Guides to Moths of Great Britain & Ireland at page 334. My unusual moth was there in the second row labelled Golden Twin-spot, but no surely it can't be - can it - no! I again put the moth to oneside and id'd a couple more, but I still couldn't believe my eyes that I had a Golden Twin-spot in a pot next to me! I went back to my trapped and collected the other moth which to my amazement was exactly the same as the first. What two in one night!

I checked my other books and the internet but my conclusions were still the same, so I bit the bullet and posted my GMS records on the North East Moths forum. Our recorder Tom, sent an email to query my record because this moth is a rare migrant to the North East. I posted by pictures and waited with crossed fingers that I had correctly identified the moth. A loud 'Ping' from the computer and his replied was there waiting for me to click. A brave move of the mouse, followed by a click and there it was confirmation that I had two Golden Twin-spot moths in my garden - WOW!

I had won the Moth Lottery - a 1st record for Durham (VC66) and yes like buses two came at once!



Butterfly Day - 15th August 2010

Six species of Butterfly recorded in the garden today.
Comma 2, Red Admiral 2, Peacock 3, Small Tortoiseshell 4, Large White 10 and a Holly Blue.








Saturday, 14 August 2010

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Moth News 4/8/10

Another two new moths this morning at work.


More Moth News 31/7/10

Two more new moths for the garden. I had two good moth nights this weekend.

Garden Moth List = 164
Life Moth List = 183


Midnight Caller - 31/7/10

On the stroke of midnight a White Satin Moth arrived in the garden. I couldn't resist a few photographs.


Moth News 30/7/10

New moths for the garden, including a "one-eyed" Spectacle.



Moth News 30/7/10

More new moths at work this morning!


Moth News 29/7/10

Three new moths at work this morning.





Sunday, 25 July 2010

Wood Sandpiper


I visited RSPB Saltholme this afternoon and there was a good number of waders present on the reserve. Wood Sandpiper (see photo), Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Little-ringed Plover, Ruff and Lapwing.

Moth News 25/7/10



A much cooler night in Stockton. 22 species - 48 moths.
Garden Species List: 149

Small Tortoiseshell


I had a good weekend watching butterflies. Small Tortoiseshell, Large White, Small White, Meadow Brown & Peacock.
1st Big Butterfly Count (near Newburgh Priory, North Yorkshire) = 21 Large White & 1 Meadow Brown.


Friday, 23 July 2010

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Grayling & Small Skipper

A brief rest for a Small Skipper.


A secret Grayling butterfly enjoying a rest in the sunshine.


Monday, 19 July 2010