Wednesday 5 December 2012

Four Candles

With snow today, and Robins in the garden, the trusted garden fork was strategically placed to get a classic Christmas card shot. They landed everywhere but!

Sunday 2 December 2012

Mystery bird - test your ID skills!

Okay then folks, here's a feathered friend having a preen. But can you tell what he/she is?

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Gone Murmuring

Heading West along the A69, just before Brampton, there's a small reed fringed trout lake a 100 metres or so to the North of the road, just before the A6071 turn off to Gretna. Here's a video I took passing here a couple of years ago. Last year a couple of friends of mine went fishing here in a boat. At dusk they were blown away, becoming part of the murmuration

Friday 16 November 2012


A trip to Maud Terrace in West Allotment, to photograph Waxwings, was a chilling experience. I arrived to find 25 birds in a ringer's mist net. After assisting in extracting and bagging them, I stood with a couple of photographers waiting for the birds to return to feed on the Rowan berries. It was a fruitless wait, and only prolonged by a kind resident who popped out with a much needed cup of coffee.

The birds kept promising to land but a Mistle Thrush was on guard, and after two hours I was  hypothermic.

As a consolation I snapped a few garden visitors before beelining for a hot lamb casserole.

Thursday 15 November 2012


Here's a couple of pics of Mottled Umber moths recently caught in the garden. Both specimens are males, females are flightless, but with very different markings. Nothing unusual about this, but it adds to the headache fun in identifying them correctly.

Monday 12 November 2012

Monday 5 November 2012

East of Eden

A late afternoon wander along the local track at East Holywell was very quiet, with just a couple of dog walkers, a burberry of chavs, a Woodcock fly-by, and good numbers of Blackbirds raiding the Hawthorn berries. It was, however, quiet a worry to see just how many Ash trees there are around here. If the dreaded die-back fungus gets here, it's going to change the landscape.

Bullfinch was my first sighting here, but better still was a garden tick as I returned to find a Willow Tit on the peanut feeder!

As a distant storm headed for Teeside, a skein of Pink-footed Geese flew over into the sunset. Nice :)

Sunday 4 November 2012

Aerial View

This European Bee-eater should be in sub-Saharan Africa, but after a wrong turn it's now in Seaburn feeding on wasps. Let's hope it sorts it's GPS out before winter closes in.

Saturday 3 November 2012

Pest control.....

Agonum dorsale
This bonny looking beetle is often seen in my garden. A voracious nocturnal predator with a sweet tooth - aphids are one of their favorite meals.

Thursday 18 October 2012

Garden Worrier

Feeders were deserted this morning, quite eery with the mist rolling over the fields. Then I spotted this male Sparrowhawk on the fence, before he spotted me.

Friday 28 September 2012


After six weeks confined to 'analogue world' I've now got broadband back on courtesy of Belated Telecom. Still, their old poles come in handy.....

Little Owl box

In that time I've been busy settling into my new home, building an ever longer garden list with Golden Plover, Jay, and Barnacle Goose the latest additions. Kingfisher has to be the highlight so far (neighbour has a big pond!).

Moth trapping has given me some good records too, with highlights of Northern Deep-brown Dart  and Orange Sallow.

2231a Northern Deep-brown Dart
2271 Orange Sallow
And after the big storm, plenty of migrants on the coast. Here's a couple of pics taken at St Mary's Lighthouse yesterday:

Reed Warbler
Common Redstart
Spotted Flycatcher

Friday 31 August 2012

Great Spotted Garden List

Great Spotted Woodpecker
The bird species at my new gaff are still throwing up a few surprises. How about Kingfisher flying through the garden yesterday, on it's way to poach a few Sticklebacks from my neighbours pond.

The Greenshank flyover was probably less of a surprise!

The garden list keeps growing:

Black-headed Gull
Carrion Crow
Collard Dove
Feral Pigeon
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Tit
Grey Heron
Grey Partridge
Grey Wagtail
Greylag Goose
Herring Gull
House Martin
House Sparrow
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Little Owl
Mistle Thrush
Pied Wagtail
Tree Sparrow
Willow Warbler

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Peeping Tom

Little Owl
On entering the bathroom this morning, this wee chap was staring back at me from the window of the disused barn opposite.

Thursday 16 August 2012

Cheeky Mare!

Put the bird feeder out in the garden of our new home yesterday and this morning the first visitors arrived. First off Tree Sparrows, then a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch....then this afternoon.........................

Friday 10 August 2012

Hard to say goodbye

How many Sparrows?
When we moved home 11 years ago, our garden was of little interest to wildlife; no pond, nowhere to nest, no wild flowers, no nest boxes, no bird table, and few birds.

Some strategically planted Ivy (Hedera Helix) and Clematis (Montana Rubens), was the big step in creating nesting habitat, cover and food.

For those who worry about Ivy damaging their homes, think again - it protects! Read this article.

As we box our possessions for moving to our new home, it's not without a worry for the garden inhabitants. The new owners have small children (goodbye pond), a fear of nature (splat), and commented negatively about the climbers (evictions inevitable).

The only consolation is that our new home is crying out for a nature makeover. And with Barn Owls, Little Owls, and Tree Sparrows as garden visitors, I think a few nest boxes, climbers, and a pond will make some interesting species quite at home.

Friday 27 July 2012


Nothing beats an evening cruising around the North sea looking for dolphins. We found up to 10 White-beaked dolphins on a trip out of Tynemouth this evening.

Regular trips are run by Northern Experience Wildlife Tours.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Verging on the ridiculous

North Tyneside Council love to mow.............

£558,777 is how much of our council tax in North Tyneside is spent on destroying wild flowers..............for absolutely no reason other than ignorance.

Sunday 15 July 2012

A square metre of life

After getting the go-ahead from the 'head gardener' a square metre of turf was removed and the area sown with wild flower annuals. Quite pleased with the results :)

Friday 22 June 2012

Vanity Kills

Mowing grass verges is an English condition that is detrimental for the plants and insects that live there. The overwhelming attitude is 'you can't let the grass grow, it looks untidy'. Our urge for tidiness sadly means that we are mowing plants, and hundreds of different species of insects, moths, and butterflies, out of existence. And birds, mammals, and amphibians are deprived of food and shelter.

There are some high profile campaigns coming to the fore looking to change this. Hopefully, through education, we can encourage an approach that is less about us and our visual perception of what looks good, but what science tells us is good - life in all its diversity, thriving.

Next time you see the council mowers, spare a thought for all the butchered inhabitants....and if you feel strongly then support Plantlife's Campaign.

Cinnabar Moth
St John's Wort Beetles
Bee Orchid
Grass Veneer
Xysticus cristatus
Tenthredo arcuata

Sunday 17 June 2012

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Try this at home

Pointed my small refracting telescope at the Sun today. Yes, it's still there! And with a filter in place, of course, I took a couple of photos showing some sunspots using a canon DSLR and a macro lens, focusing on the image as seen through the eyepiece.