Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Shibdon/ Thornley/ Derwent

Arrived at Shibdon Pond hide early on Sunday morning and was greeted by both the Green Sandpiper and Spotted Redshank in amongst the massed ranks of mainly Black-headed Gulls. Other notable birds on the pond included Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Cormorants 7 of which were on one of the rafts and 3 in the island tree,14 mainly juvenile Redshanks and 100+ Teal. I had spent the first 30 minutes or so on my lonesome and was alerted when all the gulls lifted and had a smile on my face when a juvenile Peregrine Falcon entered stage right, flew over the water briefly then turned and headed towards the A1. A couple of minutes later one of the local birders joined me in the hide and immediately asked if i had seen the Peregrine which in turn put a large grin on his face. It was needed by a few of his pals and himself for a patch tick and i was the witness he required and was used for verification as he told a couple of his mates as they joined us over the next hour. He was having a bit of a gloat, to say the least.
I left to go to Thornley Woodlands hide to meet Simon from Durham, a guy i had met a few weeks earlier and had arranged to team up with to do some mainly Odonata photography. This meeting had already been put on hold a couple of times and conditions weren't the best so after a brief, almost birdless spell in the "bird" hide we left to see what the clearing pond had in store. I wasn't very hopeful as there was a slight chill in the gusty wind and the sun wasn't much in evidence. At the pond however the wind wasn't too bad and we had 2 female Southern Hawkers ovipositing and a little later a male made a brief appearance. Our views were good but too brief to be honest and a few times had to rely on a pair of Speckled Wood butterflies battling for supremacy of a patch of the woods  which included long bouts of spiralling. It was a fierce encountered i reckon by butterfly standards and could not pick a winner. Kibblesworth had been our destination of choice but we decided not to bother and took a walk along the River Derwent, first in the direction of Clockburn Pond (nothing much seen, except people) then back along to the weir and bridge on the way to Swalwell Visitors Centre. No hoped for Sand Martins by the shingle island but we did get a much expected Dipper and a lone female Goosander under the bridge. That was it while i was out with Simon and as the weather wasn't going to improve i suggested we curtailed our meeting so as to watch a bit of footy. After Simon had left i decided to return to Shibdon as i hadn'y been out much recently and the football could be watched another time. I did miss 10 goals but i did bump into and have a good craic with Morgan, whose images i've seen before on birdguides, and shared views of a Sparrowhawk that set up shop in a tree at the edge of the pond for a good 10 minutes. The light was at a premium all day so photographic opportunies were limited even though the birds came reasonably close at Shibdon. Below is the only image worth showing here, and guess what ? IT'S A DRAGONFLY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Female Southern Hawker having a break from ovipositing and taking in the rays on the odd occasion the sun managed to break through.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

A bird

Very rare on this blog these days.
St. Marys Calidris Alpina 

Tell y what.........here's a dragon
Sympetrum striolatum.................
.................at East Chevington.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Utterly Butterly

With decorating ruling my life at the minute i decided to give it a miss on Sunday and drag myself out for some fresh air and a stretch of the legs. On arrival at Druridge Pools the weather was very pleasant and i was blown away with the activity going on all around on the walk to the Oddie Hide. The walls of the embankments were alive with insects, it seemed to be that everything had decided to take advantage with the warmer conditions. There are large numbers of Teasel here and they were awash with butterflies mainly Peacocks and Red Admirals but i did pick up a lone Painted Lady, my first this year. Large numbers of Wall Browns were not only on the vegetation but scattered around on the ground favouring the bare patches of earth with huge numbers of Whites, mainly Green-veined occupying the smaller flora. Other notable insects included various species of Bees, Hoverflies and Moths. The occasional Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damselfly along with a couple of Common Darters represented the Odonata.
It was a bit quieter however looking out from the hide. On the water there was nothing exceptional, but i was enjoying a Little Grebe going about its business immediately in front of the congregation of four. It was Sunday, after all. A couple of Common Sandpiper were keeping one of the avian disciples entertained as they periodically chased each other about on the rocky foreshore. One of which would fly off briefly and land on a rock on the edge of the water to our left before coming back onto the ground and searching in the vegetation before the process would repeat. The guy in question letting out the occasional mild expletive as he had missed his target again. A Snipe was close by having its Sunday morning lie in and was not at all disturbed by these antics.
A Peacock, the most striking of butterflies in my opinion.
Red Admiral, there were some "prettier" examples i captured but the folds on the rear wings caught my eye.
Red Admiral again, this time showing the fantastic under wing markings.
........and finally a Painted Lady. This specimen looked almost washed out compared to the other species about but it is that long since i last saw one i can't remember if that's how they do actually look.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Emerging Southern Hawker.

Howdon Blogger had an almost full sequence of images of an emerging Hawker at Big Waters. I have posted a few at different stages of the metamorphosis showing the development of the wings.This dragonfly is a Southern Hawker which was taken at Thornley Woods pond which is a fantastic place to get close to dragons due to its compact location. This species is very inquisitive and will fly close to investigate you. This species will be on the wing until late September possibly so if you are in the area head for and go past the bird hide,  having gone up and over the mound using the stairs, turn left at the bottom and follow the trail into the woods. At the second trail marker( a white figure on a blue background) bear left and there is the pond. Even if there are no dragonflies spend 30 minutes in the peace and quiet of this clearing in the woods.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Something for everyone.........except birders

Having turned off the A1, we passed through Belford and continued on for a couple of miles before parking outside Old Hazelrigg right on St. Cuthberts Way. This was my first walk out with Mr. Cheviot for some 5 weeks following a couple of lower body infirmities. It promised to be tough even though we were only covering just over 15 km. and ascending less than 300 metres it was hot and humid. Instead of the usual waffle i will just include some images of the flaura and fauna we saw on our walk which was a circular which took in St. Cuthberts Cave.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The love affair continues................

............with the Anisoptera and  Zygoptera of our region. I spent nearly 5 hours yesterday afternoon with an emerging Southern Hawker after seeing the nymph exit the pond and crawl up a stem to begin the lengthy operation. I now think of emerging dragonflies in terms of drying washing. Yesterday was not a great "drying day" as the sunshine was intermittent but more importantly in the secluded clearing in Thornley Woods there was no wind. The stunner still hadn't taken to the wing when i had to leave, this being far longer than described in all the accounts i had read.
Below are some images from Saturdays visit to the bog in Cumbria.
Common Hawker
Female oviposting around edge of pool. Male/s were patrolling the pools continually, checking for other males and searching the vegetation around the edges for the females. I never saw a male come to rest once and they were very difficult to capture in flight.
 Black Hawker
Gorgeous female taking in the rays away from the commotion of the pools.
Handsome young male striking a pose. They start turning darker with age and only the old specimens turn almost all black.
 Emerald Damselfly
The 4 sub species of Emeralds are noticable straight away by the way they hold their wings. The only damselflies that do not hold their wings along the length of their bodies. Look at those blue eyes.......much better than Paul Newmans'.