Tuesday 31 May 2011

The quickest of updates

The Safari took the Young Ones over to the South-side but there had been a wader clear-out over night and our two main target species weren't to be found.

Very briefly (might be back later with some pics) AC found a Little Stint (184) at both sites we visited.

Find of the safari was the removed wing of a Peach Blossom moth (never seen a 'whole' one), along with a nice variety of other moths wings, which hasd been left in one of the hides by an 'out of hours' visiting Little Owl.

Where to next? Back to work tomorrow so the patches will feature once more. We need to confirm some breeding species on Patch 1 and see what the tide is bringing up at Patch 2.

In the meantime let us know whose remains have been left to rot in your outback.

Monday 30 May 2011

Left one behind but bumped into another here

The Safari enjoyed the Barcelona training match, just desserts for the others sending 'Pool back to the Championship - serves them right!!!
On the way back to Base Camp we had planned to bunk in to Kielder, a place we've not yet been, for a quick blimp round but bad weather put paid to that idea. On home we found out about a Terek Sandpiper on the Northumbrian coast which had we known about it before we left Temporary Base Camp we could probably have twitched it.

Ahh well never mind...

Today we weren't expecting to get out on safari but a morning full of 'txts' had us heading down the motorway to he newly opened but long-time hotspot not far from our fomer home, Brockholes. The attaction being a summer plumaged Spotted Sandpiper, all the way from North America.
As soon as we arrived we were very kindly put on the bird (182) by a young lad who's name we ought to remember but embarrasingly don't - apologies to you if you're reading this.

2011 is turning out t be a bumper year for lifers...at this rate we be joining the 400 club by the year end...or maybe not :)...

The supporting cast of other waders included a few Little Ringed Plovers, Redshanks with chicks and Lapwings. Over the water a good number of Swifts, easily the most we've seen so far this year, hawked for insects along with a smallnumber of Sand Martins and House Martins. Suddenly there was a buzz of excitement amongst them as they called anxiously and bunched together. The reson was soon clear as a Hobby (183) dived through them a couple of times before circling off to upset those over another of the ponds behind the trees. Marvelous stuff.

A few minutes later we were joined by MJ and young ones, AB generously allowed us to use his scopefr some digipics.

On the way back to the new floating visitor 'village', which has a sort of Iron Age crannog feel about it, AC's eagle-eyes spotted this large Froghopper trying to hide in the Nettles. It's a distinctive little chappy which we should know the name of.

The visitor village had some interesting interpretation including recordings of some of the birds found on site...however the Water Rail did sound more like a gang of Chimpanzees to us.
The reserve has been developed from a former gravel quarry and on of the exhibits explained very well the different rocks brought to the site by the last Ice Age.

And then we found a typo...very last line...not sure if anyone has spotted that and we hope we havn't upset any of our many mates who work for L(etc)WT

Where to next? News has just broken of another Yankee wader, this time on the South-side but not another lifer, so we will be heading off over the river with the young ones tomorow morning - a reward for their info today.

In the meantime le us know who has trouble with the keyboard in your ouback.

Saturday 28 May 2011

Fun and culture

The Safari was out at 05.30 this morning and we didn't get far before the rain started but we did get a Tawny Owl which we accidentally flushed from a well vegetated Horse Chestnut tree.

By mid-morning the rain had eased and it looked like the sun was going to come out so we took a chance and headed down to the river.

The sun did come out and was warm out of the fierce wind. We went further downstream than we had done previously and came across a Sand Martin bank. Finding a comfy seat not too close to some holes we sat and waited...and waited...and waited.

We waited and waited and waited some more but still the Sand Martins wouldn't come in to the holes, pwerhaps we were a little too close or at least too conspicuous. Fly-by pics were hard to get
A Pied Wagtail collected flys from the riverside in acrobatic flurries over the water.

Our hour was up and we had to leave the Sand Martins and head back to temporary Base Camp. On the way we saw the first cuckoo spit of the year - hidden within the bubbles is the larva of a Froghopper sp. It is on Tansey, a plant we used to see on the nature reserve back home but which seems to have been lost due to being outcompeted by encroaching scrub - will have to check it out next week.

The fisherman we'd chatted to on the way out hadn't caught anything then but with a Sainsbugs bag (arrowed) in his back pouch it was evident that in the intervening hour he'd enjoyed success. He was too far out in the river to call to to find out if it was a Salmon or a Sea Trout.
After lunch it was back to the beach for a bit of Franky fun. The strong offfshore wind blowing spray off the incoming waves was quite spectacular at times. And several Gannets were picked out 'Daz' white against the distant squalls that raced through. The Safari never gets tired of watching them cruise effortlessly on the wind and of course their diving is spectacular, although way too far out for pics this arvo.

He really is half Hippo half Water Buffalo! He simply loves getting wet...and add a ball into the mix and he's in heaven.

After an ice-cream...Frank had one but he snatched it and didn't savour it instead it lasted about half a millisecond - we had a mooch around the dunes and found several Early Purple Orchids.

A cultural visit followed as we stopped at Norham Castle, which we have passed several times this week. It is built on the English side of the river atop a high knoll. There are two walls defended by two moats, the inner one had a clever mechanism to keep it filled with water which we really ought to have taken a pic of.
The castle appears to have been built in stages or at least added to over the centuries. Most of it is in bad ruins.

Sadly we were seeing lots of stuff but didn't know what it was we were looking at as there was nothing in the way of interpretation.

Then it was on to the world's oldest suspension bridge - a work of exemplary early 19th Century engineering.

Wifey drove over it for us and it didn't move an inch, even after nearly 200 years.

Almost home we nearly ran over a Robin which had flitted into the side of the road which as it lifted past the car window was a male Redstart (181)...Wow!!!

Where to next? Back to familiar territory tomorrow.

In the meantime let us know how much culture is to be found in your outback.

Friday 27 May 2011

Back on dry land

The Safari is back on terra firma today but we have a couple of 'left-overs' from yesterdays nautical adventures. A first summer (2CY) Kittiwake in abysmal light. Anyway on with today's safaris. Out on the estate early doors we found White Dead Nettle.

And one of the species of Solomon's Seal. Anyone know how it got its name? We haven't got a clue!

A plumbing malfunction enforced latrer than anticipated venture out gave us the oportunity to walk up the drive in sunshine. This remarkable event had brought out four butterflies, two 'whites' a male Orange Tip and this Red Admiral.

Frank was even treated to a mid-morning game of ball, which he seems to have enjoyed. An afternoon safari to look for Red Squirrels was unsuccessful but we did finfd this strange beast. It was grwing under dense Yew canopy with a very limited ground flora of suckers of White Poplars...point us in the right direction someone...a Broomrape?

Further round the nature trail we saw these leaf mines on Hogweed - over to you Dean...

The Red squirrel feeding station was mammal-less but the birds were very busy. Here we have an acrobatic Nuthatch.

Followed by a Blue Tit and Coal Tit.

Wooly bullies come in colours other than 'standard' brown...

And finally the obligatory view of the old bridge (still in use - been over it several times) at Coldstream, complete with Salmon fisherman and his Ghillie...wonder how much that's costing him a day...could be as much as a grand or so!!!

Where to next? Last full day tomorrow and the weather is set to take a turn for the worse...for a change...again!!!

In the meantime let us know whose fishing for what in your outback.

Blogger is doing our fruit - anyone else suffering?

Thursday 26 May 2011

On the beautiful briney

The Safari was out later this morning and probably missed a few moths at the light but yet agan a White Ermine was on the windowsill. Last night we took the net and torch out and got three nice ones. Green Carpets are always good value moths, Silver Gound Carpets are common back at Base Camp but the Rivulet was a new species for us, we also came across a Hedgehog.

A walk down to the river gave us a Spotted Flycatcher singing away at the top of a tall tree, but better was a Roe Deer swimming across the river away from us, perhaps we'd flushed it without realising it. Yellowhammers were singing in the hedgreows across the road, we saw a crackin male yesterday...a real stonker. A Brown Hare set off at 100mph alokng the track in front of us on the way back.

Then it was time to hit the road back in to England and more specifically the Farne Islands. Unfortunately because we had to take Frank with us we were unable to land and had to plumb for ther round the island Seal Tour instead. Whilst waiting for the boat we had a mooch round the habour where the Eiders were taking bread like Mallards!

On the water it was cold, we could see our breath for most of the voyage, and choppy enough to get Frank worried and Wifey queazy, as fror the safari at one point we were concentrating on a pic when the boat turned round hit the swell and nearly pitched us overboard! The light was weird too so many of these pics are washed out - sorry.

But what did we see? A Manx Shearwater (178) just as we arrived at the first island was a big surprise as they aren't that numerous in the North Sea in spring. Fulmars on the other hand were hard to miss! Kittiwakes were everywhere as were auks, Guillemots being the most numerous, followed by Razorbills and then the site speciallty, the Puffins (179).

Arctic Terns are presnt in huge numbers.

Both Common Seals and Grey Seals were on offer too.

Nice castle on the way back to admire.
Where to next? Back to the more mundane tomorrow.

In the meantime let me know what's swimming around in your outback.