Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Not doing the predictable...

 A long weekend this week to try and finish up the decorating business, but before that, as it was JWR's birthday, we had a full day out birding.

Whilst others did the twitching thing down at Teesside where the Isabelline Wheatear put on a show, despite looking a bit sickly in some photos, we headed up on to the moors to look for raptors.

Red Grouse
It was a lovely early winters day and despite being typically quiet on the raptor front we enjoyed the wilderness experience. Up at the Harthope Valley, the only Buzzards seen were local birds, but there were loads of Redpolls and Siskins, 6+ Crossbills and 10+ Red Grouse. At another moorland site, the hunt and its band of merry men ensured that the whole area for miles around was largely devoid of any wildlife other than a scattering of Fieldfares and a flock of 20 ish Yellowhammers.

A late Pale Pinion in the moth trap the other day.
 Today was spent painting windows and skirtings. What a task!

I managed to get out for an hour with Bunty this morning and for a shorter time this afternoon. The female Stonechat sporting an albino throat patch showed well along the roadside. This bird has been around for the thick end of 6 weeks now.

Stonechat female with a hint of albinism...
Down the long walk a few good patch birds were seen - a pair of Gadwall and a female Shoveler on the pond, not annual here, 17 Whooper Swans and masses of Pinkfeet flew S and a Red Squirrel was chewing on some acorns for breakfast.

If that wheatear had been up at Musselburgh for example I might have gone, but down there to the smoke...no thanks, not this time, maybe I'm starting to get away from twitching rarities?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


This weekend has been spent doing something I should have done ages ago - decorating! What a chore that is, too, but I took yesterday and today off work to get the living room blitzed  and I'm glad to say its almost done. When you work all week, its hard to fit in stuff like this at a weekend when you are busy doing important stuff like birding or mothing for example!

Whilst I have been covered in emulsion, up a ladder, I've missed a load of Poms, Little Auks, Rough legged Buzzards and a showy Richards Pipit up at Newton Point, but at least I've got a chore done.

So what have I seen during dog walks. Not a lot really. A lone Little Auk sat on the sea this morning, thousands of Pink footed Geese over the garden on Sunday ( all day), the white throated Stonechat on the coast path, and two very late Red Admirals this afternoon in our village. When winter comes we are in for a shock...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Don't Panic!

After some long hard pondering, 'From the Notebook...' is no more. Not the blog. The name.

There is a reason behind it though.

A good while back, a company that is producing wildlife themed beers made contact. They liked my 'notebook style' sketches and some were used for the labels on the bottles and packaging etc but it came from left field when they trademarked my blog name (or copyright or something legal sounding that I forget).

Now, I don't mind really, I didn't have the copyright on it, but ever since then it has niggled. I feel like its me who is copying and I don't want that.

I have been blogging as long, if not a good deal longer, than most, and changed my name to 'From the Notebook... ' years ago when I stopped visiting Boulmer regularly ( remember Boulmer Birder) but now that its not original I think its time for change.

So, please welcome the one, the only (so far) -

 Its half me, half bird and insinuates there will be some crac to be had either on here or on Twitter. I cant see anyone taking on a stupid name like that, can you?

Oh and if you want some beer see From the Notebook. I don't sell ale. Good luck lads.


Sunday, November 09, 2014

Late moths.

Red Sword-grass. Pic taken in poor light this morning.
Although we are hovering around the end of autumn, November can still provide some interesting species in the moth trap. A small catch of 5 moths this morning included a nice fresh Red Sword-grass. This is my third garden record, but my first in the autumn. The other two were spring records, as the moth winters as an adult. The only other time I have met with it is on holidays in Scotland where it seems to be a bit more common favouring upland moor and birch forest edges.

Not much else was seen today, having spent the best daylight hours in Newcastle shopping for furniture. On return, Bunty flushed a Woodcock from the corner of our garden, a Chiffchaff was in the village pond willows and 250+ Pink feet flew SE over head.

Saturday, November 08, 2014


Not much doing today, but two moths in the trap were interesting. One,a December Moth was straight forward, but the second, a little brown micro had me confused. At first I thought it was Ypsolopha ustella, but closer examination showed the shape to be wrong for this species. After further investigation it turns out to be a common Diamond-back Moth, without the diamonds!


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

A Field Day...

Rainbow over the sand flats north of the causeway.
A day off work midweek is never an opportunity to be missed so when JWR said he had to use up some annual leave before the end of the month and we should have a trip out, my flexi day was booked in pronto.

Just like the old days, we decided to have the full day out birding up the coast, rather than just grabbing at a Sunday morning, and headed off to Holy Island early doors. The morning was fine and cool with a light NW breeze, but an ominous looking front could be seen further north in to the Scottish Borders, and it was heading our way.

The island was mainly tourist free, as the crossing would be closed mid morning, so we enjoyed an uninterrupted wander around the village for a couple of hours. Chiffchaff and Blackcap with a few Redwing, Fieldfare and Blackbirds were the only migrants, probably lingering from last week. Masses of Pale bellied Brent Geese and assorted waders fed and flew around the flats either side of the causeway.   As the rain arrived we decided it was time to out run it by heading south.

A few Pale bellied Brent Geese.



The Bamburgh and Seahouses area was our next stop, taking in several sites in the area. At Budle Bay the tide was almost up and had pushed thousands of birds up together. Highlights here were a powerful immature Peregrine that narrowly missed catching a Redshank before continuing south to let the birds relax until the next 'sortie'.  At Stag Rocks, there was little on the sea other than a Slavonian Grebe but a late Sandwich Tern sat on the rocks with waders was a surprise find at this time of year.
A quick check of the castle wood for migrants was quiet apart from a Woodcock flushed from the leaf litter.
A small feeding station just outside Bamburgh village held the usual woodland species including Marsh Tit, Nuthatch and Great spotted Woodpecker. 

Stag Rocks, Bamburgh

Imm Peregrine.

Marsh Tit
 A final stop at Beadnell and Low Newton where the rain was now becoming irritating turned up a single Long tailed Duck, 3 Red throated Divers, another Chiffchaff and a scattering of Goldcrests.

A quick tally showed that we had recorded 81 species of bird, not a bad total with out really trying too hard. We might start and make this a habit....

Sunday, November 02, 2014


Craster from the south
This morning we took a walk north from our house up to Craster along the coast path. I was looking for a Snow Bunting or Black Redstart but both remained unseen.

Still it was pleasant walk, checking the shore, the harbour, the Heughs and the Arnold Reserve. The area was quiet generally and migrant free. While in the village we were buzzed by a drone that may have been operated by CIA but I'm sure they have better targets to spy on. 

28 Golden Plover, 16 Turnstone, 1 Purple Sandpiper and a few Redshanks were along the rocky shore. A few Blackbirds, Redwings and Goldcrests were in cover, while both Harbour Porpoise and Grey Seal were offshore.

Golden Plover
High flying Long tailed Tits.

On the way back, a party of 11 Long tailed Tits looked a bit odd, high flying north across the coastal strip and for the second night running a new species of macro moth for me was in the trap. A Streak. A scarce species up here probably blown into the garden from further inland after tonights gales. 

The Streak.
Persistent Waxcap Hygrocybe acutoconica or persistens, thanks to Nigel for the id.
We also found a single large waxcap fungi growing by the path. Nothing in my book was like it but on line I noticed a similarity to Persistent Waxcap, but I find fungi so difficult. I was pleased when Nigel ( Abbey Meadows) confirmed this for me. Its name comes from the way it keeps its conical cap shape rather than it flattening out like some waxcap species.