Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Garden swamp

The lower part of the garden is littered with the small ditches we dug to get the water away from the house and debris brought down by the stream that flowed down the garden. Disaster was averted just by a rapid return home and 40 minutes digging. I returned rather muddy and bedraggled to my work evening meeting.

Whitethroat again singing from the garden briefly yesterday. Today there were 6 Lapwing and 17 Curlew in the fields below the house that have been cut.

During the rain several small frogs were found. The moles didn't seem to like all this water. A day or two earlier when there was also a lot of rain i found one dead on the lawn. The cats could have been the culprits but there was an angled hole out of the ground nearby, not the usual heap of soil. In the past moles have proved resilient to the kittens attentions and they have failed to kill them so I suspect this one either was ill or had too much water.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Butterflies return

Not much field time today as in charge of offspring. The butterflies have returned to the Valerian but they're Red Admirals - there were at least 14. This despite a fair bit of rain this pm. The ladybird is 11-spot from work yesterday and the bee is as yet unidentified - I'll sort the key out later.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Garden Moth Count weekend

It's garden moth count weekend -

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ladybird madness

Ladybirds all over the shop at work today. Pix taken with SE 800 phone - not the Canon.

The "nature reserve" proving to be hugely attractive but Adonis ladybird found at the side of the main car park.
Counts were 73, 7-spot (actual number easily double this I would estimate). Children were catching these all day, or having them land on them.
2, 14-spot these found mating. 1 Eyed ladybird, 1 Adonis ladybird and 1 Cream streaked ladybird. All ladybirds were released back into "the wild".

First butterfly for days in the garden at home, Red Admiral.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Garden and moor

All the finch broods have increased the number of birds at the kitchen feeder threefold, especially Chaffinch. Willow Warbler are now "heweet"ing on the moor, in the bracken mostly, indicating the young have fledged from a brood or twenty ... The Curlew have taken up residence in the silage fields that have been cut, about 15 or so in view from the garden. Lapwing seem to have disappeared.

Not a butterfly was seen all weekend, presumably killed off by the torrential rain of Friday (check the weather station data look at the rain rate over a week in one hour on Friday there was 25mm).

There were 16 7-spot ladybird larvae on the bank by the outhouse.

Yellow-necked Mouse was feeding by the bird feeders and two were found in the sunflower seed bin (the lid was left off the other day). It looked as if one mouse had cannibalised the other as the dead one had been severely chewed. Presumably this was the only water available.

There was a newt in the moor pond which is now full again - not ided with any certainty. Most of the remaining tadpoles are small and black and undeveloped, there are a few near frogs and we found one tiny froglet. Will it be the cold that has stopped these developing? They can't be a later batch of spawn I presume.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Movie (main feature)

What's this got to do with birds? Eh, they're flying.
Definitely a Bonxie moment. The mighty E.

Scaling Dam

50 species (of bird) at Scaling this morning (excluding the zoo collection - Fulvous Whistling Duck x2 and Swan Goose x2 :-(

Short-eared owl carrying food, a pair of Whinchat, an extra Whitethroat, 5 male Reed Buntings, LRP with chicks and various tufted duck broods amongst the highlights. A Brown Rat in the hide was disconcerting, memo - close the door on entry.

The lovely field at the back was full of Chimney Sweepers (day flying chocolate coloured moth) but i couldn't get close enough to them for a pic. However a confiding Common Bue Damselfly made up for such shyness (this pic repays a click as it's uncropped).

At home Chaffinch, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Yellowhammer and Goldfinch all have fledged juvs (rubbish pic of Goldfinch brood through kitchen window). The Siskin hoards continue to deplete the Nyger at an alarming (financially) rate and another 14-spot ladybird was in the garden.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Close to the Edge

I've changed both movies. The "short" gives Yellowhammer hunger/juvenile contact call. The main feature is another bit of bird song sampling this time by the wonderful Yes from the stunning Close to the Edge. The piece is too long for one movie so follow the link to YouTube for pt2. It's a rubbish recording that doesn't do the musicianship justice and a bit of an acquired taste to boot - search out the album for a bit of perfection. Common with the Floyd piece is a Nightingale sample and river references.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

What's this?

This looks like a ladybird larva but it doesn't match with any on my larvae id chart, any ideas anyone?

The Yellowhammer below was uncropped so click on the image for full value.

Another lazy day

Yesterday's Whitethroat reappeared and sang early a.m. and at midday from the middle of the back garden - I failed to get a pic though. The first Yellowhammers have fledged and one spent the afternoon in the backgarden - new movie -. Blackcap was singing across the road.

There were a stack of Painted Lady again, up to 20 at one time, Red Admiral, Brimstone, Wall, Small Tortoiseshell (2) and the usual whites. Small Copper up on the moor again but not around the garden. 7-spot ladybirds around, 5 or so adults and this larva (above) (click on the image for big).

At the dale head lateish afternoon not much was in evidence except a bunch of juvvy Stonechats, only 1 Whinchat and a single Tree Pipit.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Insects and birds

Whitethroat singing from the garden this morning and two Redpoll sp flew over and into the plantation. The Blue Tits are fledged, Great Tits still feeding young in the box. Coal Tit behaviour still suggests they're feeding young in the nest. Fog early a.m. + musical entertainment and beer last night has led to a decidedly slothful day. Grey Heron in the field below the house. Silage is being cut so Bl-h Gulls are more in evidence - feeding on insects in the cut fields or following the tractors.

Painted Lady appeared the day before yesterday and there were 8 yesterday evening, 18 at lunchtime today - there appears to be movement of insects from the north on the wind. Small Heath in the garden today. Yet again Dingy Skipper eludes me, another possible winged through at high speed earlier on.

The before and after pictures of the roadside verge show how the herbicide has clobbered the Cow Parsley. Leaflets arrived as promised from the park authority today. They are ok but despite the leaflets and the bit on the park website I'm not convinced the park authority sees this issue as very important. Looks like I'm going to have to go along to the parish council if I want to get the current mowing timings changed.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Guardian of our countryside in action

The roadside verges here are lovely at the moment (except where NYCC Highways dept have mown them flat). However, this farmer didn't like the one opposite my house much.

He's spraying using Thistlex which does for the dicots as far as I can see - three days after spraying the Cow parsley is looking very unwell. His excuse was he wants to keep thistles and nettles out of his fields. I can't understand why he won't just spray his side of the wall. The national park don't seem very interested in this activity, I have had a reply to my email but it isn't very wildlife friendly. I was rather hoping they might have quite a strong position on this kind of environmental destruction.

Anyone out there seen much evidence of farmers behaving like this? - I can't recall when I last saw a farmer do this and have seen little evidence of it elsewhere locally.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Nice insect guide

This is a good guide to garden insects.

Must rush want to see the ISS go by

Oops ladybird id wonky

Reidentified the ladybird below and corrected the blog it's 14 spot not 16; correct id Propylea 14-punctata. Rubbish reference I'll blame ....

I've put a link to the Ladybird survey id sheet. But their home page is handy too.

Why not contribute to the survey? There's some useful maps on the website.

Stroppy Curlew

New Movie (trailer) Curlew agitation display "Bog off, I've got chicks".

Late arrivals

A cycle around the dale brought my first Red Admirals of the year. Pterostichus cupreus (medium/large ground beetle bright green/metallic) is everywhere, in my dry traps mating and running along the road as we cycled.

The girls found Propylea 14-punctata (14-spot Ladybird) on me.

Redstarts were singing where there were none a fortnight ago - three different sites. And an extra Tree Pipit was singing at one of these sites. I always think of Redstart as quite an early arrival so it is interesting that they are continuing to arrive in breeding territory as late as mid/late May. The female Whinchats mentioned yesterday appear to have arrived over the last week, unless they were cunningly hiding of course. A Lapwing was making "I've got chicks" noises by one of the farms, but the chicks were most likely hiding in the Juncus as I couldn't see them.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Breeding birds

Several sessions hunting out breeding birds for BirdTrack sites. Thursday, at the head of the dale brought even more Whinchats with 5 pairs - plenty of females now in. Tree Pipit, Redstart and Stonechat also in evidence.

Scaling Dam yesterday morning found Tufted with 3 chicks and Teal with 5 chicks. Also Spotted Flycacher, Whinchat, Cuckoo and a bundle of waders including possibly breeding Common Sandpiper and Oystercatcher. The Roe buck wandered down the hill.

Last night a third go for Nightjar was finally successful with at least two birds present, one singing. It was cold though and they weren't exactly performing brilliantly. Also 2 Woodcock. The wildlife spectacle I'd promised Louise was rather a disappointment.

A return to the Nightjar area was interesting this morning with lots of waders and Teal on the moor. Heard Merlin (and at one point I was certain I heard Hoopoe !!!) Redstart, Stonechat, Tree Pipit. Lots of Field Tiger Beetle - probably saw 250+.

The fields around the ruined house were beautiful but I always find these places eerie. Something about life's labours come to nought.

In the garden yesterday's suicidal Swallow is still contemplating nesting in the house (Louise took it off one of the cats yesterday after it had flown into the kitchen), Brimstone - first for the year. Pterostichus cupreus in the live traps and a 2 spot ladybird found by Ellen.

Nikon brilliant product support

The rain guard had broken on my 8x32 HG bins. PG suggested some time ago I phone Nikon UK which I did on Wednesday. A new rainguard arrived Thursday morning, no charge. That is excellent product support on an old model (I've had these 5 years I reckon). Manfrotto and Focalpoint please note this is how it should be done.

I strongly advise readers to never purchase Manfrotto tripods because spare parts seem to be unavailable - I've made this mistake twice now, never again. My 190 will be on ebay soon if anyone is interested - maybe you need the spares? I've also got a lot of bits of a very expensive carbon fibre model - offers? I reckon the Slik (Bill's favourite tripod) looks good - any comments?

Other folk claim to have had good service from Focalpoint, they very badly let me down over a (Manfrotto) tripod that was still within one year of purchase. I will not use this company again and suggest some caution.

Pete, thanks for the tip. Nikon, thanks for the brilliant service, reckon my next bins will be Nikon too.