Monday, 30 May 2011

OIL STRIKE ! melae proscarabaeus

              Black Oil Beetle.                  
There are four species of Oil Beetle in Britain. Two are common and widespread the others are very rare and not found in our region. Buglife are surveying this threatened species in an OIL BEETLE HUNT so if you see one please contact them. Keep an eye out particularly along paths or on bare ground and like all of us they prefer warm sunny conditions.
I found this specimen on the path on the hillside above Hawsen Burn, spotting it at some 10 metres initially. My beetle must have been around 30 mm long so there is a good chance it was a female. They live for a short period as an adult and can be seen between March and June.
Right, i'll get off and make my submission to Buglife now.

You must double click these images.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Common Lizard

Friday had Mr. Cheviot and i heading northwards out of Bellingham on our weekly walk. We covered 15.9km. with a total ascent of 351metres. Having left Bellingham we quickly picked up the Pennine Way and followed this for the rest of the outward journey. To the left Hareshaw Burn and on our right Highstead Hill and then Callerhues Crag.
On the birding front it was relatively quiet. As you would expect,  loads of Meadow Pipits lifted and we pleasingly had quite a few Skylarks. Pied Wagtails made appearances twice, a large rookery in the wooded area close to Hareshaw House and a very late showing by a small flock of Lapwings was about it. A lack of Curlews today was a surprise after the numbers we have had over the last few weeks.
No Adder sightings again but we had a few fleeting views of Common Lizards underfoot,  mainly in and around the heather, until the guy pictured was spotted by Jeff just before he stood on the tread of the stile right next to the B6320. Obviously basking in the changeable conditions and grabbing what heat that was being given out by the sun when it penetrated the clouds.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Farnes battered.

Spare a thought for the lads and lasses and of course the poor birds on the Farnes. Their blog reckons they have been battered by force 10 winds. We all know what it's been like walking around the streets so imagine what the exposed islands have been like.
My thoughts have been with you all day. Lets hope the winds keep decreasing.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Grabbed by the fuzz.......................ouch!

While having an amble around Richardson Dees Park for a change a police officer approached as i stumbled about in the undergrowth. "Do you have a camera?" he asked. I guided him through my photo gallery. " Thats a Mistle Thrush, a Willow Warbler..........thats a Butterfly (i smiled) and we have a Red -necked Phalarope also." 
He wasn't too impressed by the birds i had captured but was happy with the content. Some moron obviously saw my taking pictures of birds or bugs and thought......................." i had better phone the polis, binoculars and a camera, i mean" Personally i'd be more concerned by people taking pictures on camera phones in and around the "wrong places". I NEVER EVER get my camera out in or around know what i mean.
I didn't warn the copper that he might have a speight of calls when the RSPB have their walk there soon. Loads of blokes wandering around with cameras, binoculars and SCOPES............OH MY GOD!!!!!
Here are a couple of the images i showed MR. PLOD so i thought you guys might enjoy also.

This beautiful Speckled Wood was sitting in a clearing in the trees soaking up the sun hidden from the gusty wind. Just thought, when i saw this stunner i did start rubbimg the top of my thighs and going "corrrrrrr" a la Packham. Thats possibly why i had my collar felt.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Holywell East Pool..........a little gem?

A cracking couple of hours spent standing in the undergrowth just off the wagonway being entertained by our avian friends. This might just turn out to be a nice little spot if it stays as it is. I remember this as just a flash that dried up in the summer and held water during wet spells. Considering the lack of rainfall for the last 3 months i was flabbergasted when i called past a couple of weeks ago. This was 3 or 4 days before the Temmincks Stints were sighted and i had a female Ruff. I remember telling a couple of the lads at Swallow Pond on the Friday about this area and predicting some nice waders turning up. I went down last Monday for the Stints which although not reported, were still there along with a Common Sandpiper. Today was my third visit and as with previous visits i had sightings of Lapwings, Canada's, a pair of Shelduck, and a Little Grebe. Today's newbies included a male Shoveler, a couple of Pied Wagtails, another pair of Shelduck dropped in but were quickly dispatched by the resident pair, the Common Sandpiper was again evident with today's bobby dazzlers being a  couple of Dunlin dressed in their summer apparel. Overhead a number of Swfts were zipping about in the still gusty conditions. It was nice to see Swallows and House Martins dropping down not only to feed over the water but land to collect mud, of which there is plenty of wet stuff available. Another bonus of the site is the surrounding undergrowth aside the wagonway which various Warblers kept popping out of and belting out in song, my highlight,a Whitethroat soaring doing a Skylark impression.

I understand this is private land and there is a cereal crop growing in the field. Cain (Holywell Birding) reckons this pool has come about by mining subsidance and i can see now he mentioned it that the area around does look to have sunken somewhat. Whatever the cause lets hope it remains as the potential is there for a nice birding spot.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

A couple of birds make two old(ish) blokes very happy.

Mr. Cheviot and myself set off only our weekly walk in Northumberland. Not long after setting off we picked up the call of a Cuckoo, first of the year for both of us. Happy with that we approach the wooded area in front of us but there were a number of felled trees so we had to skirt the woods and as we did we saw the Cuckoo sitting on a stone wall with a Meadow Pipit in close attendance. One very quick shot before it flew off.
More than happy with that sighting we continued our walk in changeable conditions with a nice number of sightings of Curlew, a few Skylarks ( haven't seen too many in the last couple of weeks) and loads of Mipits and Chaffinches.
We were interrupted about halfway around when we unfortunately had to take to a road for a short distance by two police cars pulling over another car with a third unmarked car backing up. We were some what concerned when the police officers removed the person from the car and two of them trained firearms (rifles) on him. Our walk was to take us back off the road before we were going to reach the incident but Mr. Cheviot insisted he wanted to find out what was going on. A police officer approached us as we got closer and told us not to worry and that we could pass as it was only a training exercise.
Quite a way into the walk by now and a piercing call alerted us to a Peregrine Falcon overhead. As we continued on the bird kept circling and calling. A second bird appeared very much higher and seemed to keep watch at a distance. The first bird, a female, continued for another 10 minutes or so, calling and observing in between landing above us briefly a couple of times before both birds disappeared from view. Absolutely breathtaking!.That piercing call made the spine tingle.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

West Hartford, Wheatear.

Double clicking would be advantageous
All Wheatears MUST be photographed on this burnt tree stump.


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

I'm a sucker................

.............for a nice male Pochard image, so here are two taken at Killingworth Lake a couple of days ago.

With its lovely rich colours at this time of year this diving duck always catches the eye in my opinion. Classed mainly as migatory i think slightly more numbers are being seen in the area during spring and summer. I have certainly been more aware of them at Killingworth and Swallow Pond in the last couple of years.
Double click on image to get close up views of detail.