Sunday 17 October 2010

Pallas's Warbler at St Mary's

Sorry, no picture here of the bonny little Pallas's Warbler. No pictures anywhere as far as I'm aware as it evaded the cameras of the many birders that came to see it. At least it was seen, though for very brisk moments. So here's some Starlings in the nearby stubble fields instead.

Thursday 14 October 2010

Brierdene - Method in the madness

I've had an email from the ecologist at North Tyneside Council regarding the vegetation removal at Brierdene and it's all good:

The grassland has been managed as any other hay meadow would be, by an
annual cut and rake off, which helps deplete the grassland of nutrients
and diversify the species in the grassland. This is standard management
practice for wildlfower meadows and would normally occur at the back end
of the summer (september/october) depending when it is dry enough to
take a cut.

If you had been to this site a number of years ago, the grassland was
very poor quality with little species diversity, because it was not
being managed appropriately. The group at Brierdene have been awarded
several pots of funding from various avenues and have proceeded over the
last few years to introduce wildflower seed into areas which were
becoming very rank and to then manage these areas (by an annual cut and
rake off) to improve species diversity. (They have recorded a large
increase in wildflower species as a result).

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Brierdene - Nuked!

According to the sign the Brierdene is "untouched".

The Friends of Brierdene have 'nuked' the grassland area along the Brierdene in Whitley Bay. As part of a  conservation project they have cut ALL the grass and understory vegetation and dug out Butterbur (one of the few sites for this plant and the rare Butterbur Moth in North Tyneside), and much of the Water Dock.

I would be interested in hearing the science & reasoning behind this decision. If you are involved, please get in touch.

Ground Zero

Monday 11 October 2010

Red-flanked Blue Tail & a Rare Gem

Red-flanked Blue Tail

This morning had the Red-flanked Blue Tail showing well so I took a flying visit to St Mary's to grab some more pics. Light was still poor so not the quality I had hoped for.

1720 Gem Orthonama obstipata

In the moth trap was a real treat, a Gem. This is a rare migrant, this being the 23rd individual recorded in the county - see for more on moths in Northumberland.

Sunday 10 October 2010

Shore Lark at Tynemouth

Shore Lark

Just when I thought the weekend's bird chase was over a report of a Shore Lark at Tynemouth came in. Of all the birds seen this weekend, this was the most obliging.


The east coast is carpeted with Goldcrests this morning.

Saturday 9 October 2010

Red-flanked Blue Tail, Dusky Warbler & Redwing Tragedy

Red-flanked Blue Tail

When I visited Tynemouth Haven yesterday afternoon it was clearly going to be a matter of time before something rare turned up. Goldcrests, Song Thrushes and Redwings were raining in thanks to the strong easterly winds and low cloud. So why did I pub it last night?

When I rose late Saturday the pager was going mental. A quick breakfast and off to Tynemouth Haven with Tom for the Dusky Warbler. After a short while a brief but good view was made and a lifer duly ticked. A wander round Priors Park turned up a couple of Redstarts but no sign of the reported Great Grey Shrike.

Then Tom got a call of a Red-flanked Blue Tail at St Mary's so off we went. A crowd was already on the case and again brief views were made and a photo obtained to record another lifer. Time to go home.


Sadly, on getting back home a Redwing had smashed into the kitchen window. It's now in the freezer awaiting a trip to the taxidermist, unless I get peckish (pardon the pun)!

Sunday 3 October 2010

This is horse sh*t

Yes folks, it really is!

And the point is that I have always wondered what the yellow/brown flies are that are attracted to these piles of dung. Well, they are Scathophaga stercoraria, known as the Common Yellow Dung Fly . So now you know. They feed on small insects on the dung and lay their eggs within.

Scathophaga stercoraria