Tuesday, May 29, 2007

BB Sand - gone

Don't go twitiching it's a waste of time. Ok so I was only 15 mins away, had to go to Middlesbrough today. Ok so the transporter bridge is worth the trip in its own right - another jolly list, tolls on UK roads I have paid (the transporter bridge is £1 each way and worth every penny). Ok so it had been sluicing it down all night and all day so I couldn't have done "proper" birding really. Ok so it had gone. Nice little Stint, nice Little Gulls, nice Knot etc but no BB Sand. It won't be on Scaling Dam, no it won't ...

Click the link for a live webcam of the transporter bridge.

Bird song/call samples

I am very partial to a tune with a bird song sample / recording within it. There have over recent years been quite a few of these with Kate Bush, Beta Band and The Orb offering some exemplary examples (or exsamples even .... groan). Anyway the new Movie - main feature offers one of my oldest and favourite birds rocking and a rollin' (and probably tripping out) tunes - - Pink Floyd - Granchester Meadows from the wonderous UmmaGumma. I never heard the Floyd play this live - maybe they did a bit before my time - I do remember hearing a roaring Astronomy Domine and a terrifying Careful with that Axe Eugene back at the Brighton Dome in maybe 1971. I do recall that the tickets were 60p (decimalisation came in february that year) for close to the front in the stalls - those were the days my friends .....

Monday, May 28, 2007

Beheaded Fox Moth

Something beheaded this Fox Moth found on the moor yesterday.

I've realised that the small day flying "moths" from last weekend were Dingy Skipper (not a moth). This is not a species I am familiar with. I found two on the heather behind the house in the sun last weekend and in the hope of getting an ID didn't look at them but attempted and failed at photoing them :-( Fortunately the Lewington book has sorted me out as I remembered enough to eliminate the confusion species of day flying moths (unless there are others not included there).

The Mighty Kettleness

Weather was grim this a.m. and I suffered from an uncharacteristic lack of enthusiasm. Eventually arrived at Kettleness just after 11:00 a.m. to seawatch on the rising tide. The sea was well rough and with no shelter on the point watching was tricky but loads of Gannets - most of which were subadult - plenty of Kitts, Razorbills and Guillemots. 12 Manxies and 1 Puffin.

At home a Snipe flew low through the front garden mid-afternoon. And there was a good Toad under a rock.

Photos of Kettleness from Runswick yesterday and vice versa (ish) today.

Sunday morning

A visit to the dale head on Sunday morning brought Tree Pipit x2, Redstart x2, Whinchat x1, Stonechat x1, Spotted Flycatcher (in the same place as last year) + Dipper and Buzzard. There were a couple of nice Hares in the fields as we drove up.

Ash are still not in leaf - the one at the back of this excellent field is coming in but some of the trees in the background still look bare, there are still plenty in the dale not in leaf.

A request for further Trepit shots, bit of a cheat this from Scotland last July with a Mepit. Quality is low as I had only just got the camera and not set it up properly.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Movie (trailer)

The new Movie (trailer) is a modernist, action thriller. At 8 seconds it is minimalist (as usual) but turn the volume up for full effect. The plot - grey sky, parachute descent, a jumble of trees.

Round the dale

Saturday started well with a new species for the garden, Oystercatcher, 2 flew north west. House Martin was heard overhead. Garden Warbler was again singing nearby. 2 pairs of Golden Plover were behaving territorially just to the west of the "home" patch but the one in the area was absent. Lapwing are still present and at least two lots of Curlew appear to have young (they're very stroppy). A Snipe sat very tight and was flushed in suitable habitat. In the afternoon the oncoming rain pushed Swifts before it.

A decent Slow Worm was on show to our guests and a live Hedgehog was seen wandering across the lane in the night, most likely the one found squashed this a.m. in the same area :-{ 2 Hares were across the moor and a male Orangtip was in the garden. A Common Shrew was hopefully already deceased when Mollie put her wellie on with "something squashy in it". And in the rapidly decreasing frog pond a million tadpoles are getting concerned - their world is getting smaller (see top pic).

A Nightjar outing was again unsuccessful - too cold perhaps, or maybe they've yet to get here.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mega moths

On Sunday, sunny Sunday there were some big moths wegging across the moor, fairly erratic flight and looked quite dark. I'm guessing they were Emperor? ... I'll try and have a look this weekend. No sign of the Green Hairstreaks, they seem to be over.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Movie main feature Nick Cave Nature Boy

"You took me back to your place and dressed me up in a deep sea diver's suit"

What more can I say, definitely some kind of a Razorbill moment.

Road deaths

There seems to be a sudden increase in road deaths (birds). The stretch of road I cycle down with the children (about 1 mile) had 4 deaths on Sunday compared with 0 the previous two weeks. 2 of these were adults, Blackbird (m) and Chaffinch (m) 1 was a juv Blackbird and 1 was indeterminate (too little left) Goldcrest. And in the village there was another Chaffinch (age uncheked) this a.m. I wonder if this is the stage of the breeding season (knackered adults, inexperienced juvs, or the high wind on Saturday that might have caused this.

Early morning sortie on Monday located breeding Golden plover near the house, + Snipe displaying. Nice skylarks singing and the frog orgy pond full of a zillion tadpoles.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Home birding

House guests and a growth spurt by everything in the garden - grass and the bramble and bracken - meant a lack of coastal birding. I was also too knackered to be honest. Went to Any Questions on Friday night (listen for the 132nd applauder from the left) and on the way back tried for Nightjar in torrential rain and gale - unsurprisingly failed. However, a new and nearby Tree Pipit, Whitethroat and Cuckoo in the garden, Lesser Black-backed Gull (finally) were all good. Struggling to id the big beggar in the tree though.

Most of the Ash have yet to show leaves, it seems very late to me.

It looks like the sheep was kipping under the horse jump when the supports finally rotted and it collapsed, rather a slow death i would guess.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

John Cale, Chrissy Hind and Nick Cave

Still can't embed a music player successfully - so here's the next best thing. Embedded in the Movie (main feature) item in the panel, listen as you browse. This is kind of a Long-tail Skua thing for me ... well I can but hope and now my phone has a decent mp3 player in it it could be done. (Still not the same as a tape player blasting out of an old Fiat 127 but so it goes.) A song from Fear - Ship of Fools.

Swifts and House Martins

These species arrived yesterday in the town as breeders rather than passage migrants - birds were still present today around the houses and across the playground. This seems late to my mind.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Weather in Whitby

Click the title for the weather station link. This link will give you the actual weather in Whitby (refreshed every minute) via our digital weather station. I will put a link in the links section also. We will put a digicam on the roof soon - then you can see if the sea fret is in or not ...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Want to know where that insect is ...

Here's a wonderful toy. Just key in a species name - e.g. Carabus nitens and then zoom in - magic. Click the link in the header.

Movie trailer

My new minimalist masterpiece of art house cinema requires the volume cranked up. Identify the species.

Carabus nitens

Having searched out my trusty and very dog-eared RES key to Carabids I was pleased that the photo was good enough to key out the carabid Mollie found on Sunday. it is indeed Carabus nitens. The North York's Moors is a stronghold for the species but so far all the references indicate it is very local.

Malta murder

Please follow the link and vote Yes in the poll.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Up t' dale

An early morning sortie to the dale head was productive. 4 singing Whinchats, 2 singing Tree Pipits, at least 3 Redstart singing. Other songsters included Garden Warbler, Blackcap and Cuckoo. Also present were Wheatear (2), Stonechat, a male, and Jay which is a bird I'm yet to see at our end. Serious scanning and listening failed to locate a Rouzel but more effort is required.

Evening was spent in horizontal easterly rain (but what a nice hide it is) at Scaling Dam. Scant reward for the dedication, 2 Dunlin and a light assortment of Sand Martins, House Martins and Swallows.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

RSPB climate change campaign

Click the header to follow the link.

Rare? carabid in garden + Kettleness

Kettleness began with promise with 6 Wheatears by the gardens. An elusive Phyllos? flicked away on the under-cliff. The Stonechats were heard and Sandwich and Artic Terns went by. I didn't go to the point but had a quick look at the sea from the cliff top - loads of Gannets and strangely no auks ....? A few Swallows trickled west with 3 Sand Martins, Swifts trickled west steadily and a further Wheatear was in the cliff top fields but that was it - except for the usual Whitethroats, WWs and Tree Spugs. On the mammal front the usual Roe Deer and Hare (the leveret photo is from last week, distorted through the car screen) put in an appearance, a single Porpoise was briefly glimpsed. Wall Brown with a distorted wing on the x-railway line.

Back home in the garden Siskin is now the commonest and most frequently seen and heard bird - there's even a possible nest in the garden. Garden Warbler is still about. Carefull investigation of a few choice stones found 3 more juvvy Slow Worms. 2 Wall Browns, 1 Peacock, 5ish small/Green-veined Whites and an Orange Tip flittered (is that a word?) round the garden. Mollie found the star of the day Carabus nitens wandering across the shingle back-yard - nice one Molls. Oh yes, and there was a small rat in the compost bin.

Monday, May 07, 2007

100 Years of British Birds Radio 4

Click the title to go to the BBC website to listen online to the programme celebrating BBs 100th birthday.

Turn the volume up

On the Movie (main feature) you should turn the volume up, the garden warbler is at full throttle + Willow warbler and cock Pheasants scrapping in the background.

Kettleness today

A nice bit of vismig today with a steady trickle of Swallows from just before 6:00 a.m. - total over the 2.5 hours probably about 80 or so. Also 4 Yellow Wags, 2 Sand Martins, 2 carrion Crows appeared to come in/off and assorted Mepits, Chaffinch and alba wag.

The sea was dreary with 2 Shelduck, 2 Sandwich Terns and 8 Common Scoter in an hour - auk numbers and Kittiwke numbers had jumped up again, constant streams of Guillemots, Razorbills, and Kits. Very few Gannets today.

A few Willow Warblers were clearly fresh in, Common Whitethroat had increased further but no sound of a Lesser. A pair of Wheatear are now probably resident.

The Stonechats have fledged young as do Dunnock. Tree Sparrow seem to have set up shop in the Ash wood.

By lunchtime at nearby Runswick Bay there was no sign of any vismig most notable was a single Holly Blue in the village.

Slow Worm stuff

Highlight yesterday was finding 3 young slow worms in the garden. Pix a bit rubbish because i had to run to get the camera which was in the house. You can see how small this is by the woodlouse sp to the left of its head. This was in the same area as Louise found an adult in April and I found one last year. The picture doesn't do it justice it was a beautiful metallic pale, golden colour. I should probably put some more cover down here for them, although it is near the road unfortunately.

Scaling Dam produced Cuckoo x2, Garden Warbler x2, LRPs and a Whimbrel. There are still a pair of Wigeon and Teal but the Goldeneye appear to have left.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Garden tick(s)

Nice ticks not blood sucking ones, we get those too. Redstart singing from the Ash tree by the bedroom window was in the garden as opposed just beyond it but Garden Warbler singing in and around the garden was entirely new.

Siskin are up to at definite 4, probable 6 and most likely 8.

Gorse is just going over but is still superb.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

In them olden days

Replying to Darrell's post yesterday reminded me of some birding practices as they were back in the 70's and 80's. Seawatching at Dungeness was either from the seawatch hide over The Patch (mostly in spring) or from The Point. In those days the Obs had a huge binocular telescope that we used to wheel down (it had it's own pram) over the concrete roads to the hide. The bin scope was always going out of align because of bumping it down to the hide (even in its special box and on the pram) but at the time it was an awesome tool so well worth the effort. Occasionally I used to set off to the hide straight after the pub and sleep with the bin scope in the seawatch hide so I didn't over-sleep and miss the seawatch. We never played music in the seawatch hide, however the Point was different. The trick was to reverse a hatchback vehicle or van on the boards over the shingle - these were the fishermen's roads but one went right out onto the point. Then sit on the floor of the van / hatchback with the stereo (or more usually a battery powered ghetto blaster) on warp factor nine. These of course were the days of cassette tape so there was no real selecting tracks, it could not easily be fixed to arrange Pretty Vacant to Med Gull or London Calling to Bonxie.