Thursday, 28 May 2015

Small Blue

An away day for a Butterfly is just one of the best things and I have done this far too infrequently. It has been a few years since we made the short jump over the border to Lamberton and Burnmouth so.. a day off work, met Stewart at Alnwick and off we headed. 
A breezy day but not so bad that it was no good checking out Butterflies, stopped off at Cocklawburn for a brief wander and tea then on our way north, Burnmouth first.

The strip of coast between Lamberton and Burnmouth in this area is wild and exposed. Towering cliffs and rocky shore lines.

Smugglers Bothy

Common Rock Rose

A short and pleasant walk down the steep hillside at Burnmouth. We had Blackcap, Spotted Flycatcher, a few butterflies, Whites, Wall, Peacock and a lovely male Orange Tip. 
I've been trying to get some decent photographs of Orange Tip this spring so when this one settled on Daisy flowers it was time to stalk and have a go.

Orange Tip
Back south to Lamberton, parked up in a reserve car park just a kilometer or two north of the border and followed the narrow path north along a narrow strip of land between the main east coast railway line and the cliff edge. I think this is the longest narrowest reserve I've ever visited. 
Gorse bushes were in full flower, hardly an space without vivid yellow and the sweet coconut smell absolutely filled the air, especially when the sun shone.

We reached the site where Small Blues could be seen after about 30 minutes or so and spent our time sitting and wandering, looking for our quarry.

Wall and Small Heath were seen and eventually Small Blue. 
Fabulous little butterflies, no bigger than a thumb nail, fast flying enough to be really difficult to follow once spotted. At least one individual settled for long enough to allow for some attempted photography.

Small Blue

Kidney Vetch
Common Dog Violet

On our way back along the cliff top to the car we watched a Peregrine patrolling the cliff tops. 

Well what a little trip that was, there is just simply nothing, nothing at all.... like a butterfly day.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Darden Off

A planned wander to Darden Lough was cancelled when we arrived at our parking spot. A nice enough morning but a strong breeze put us off the longer stroll to higher ground. We ended up wandering around Grasslees Burn area just a couple of fields in from where we parked up. An excellent area, small but typical upland Alder lined stream.

Grasslees Burn
A Curlew was bubbling over us as we walked in and a pair of Lapwing were unimpressed and agitated, perhaps they had some newly hatched chicks on the ground.

We didn't take long to locate a fabulous singing male Redstart, we sat, watched and waited, trying to get a photograph. Stewart got some really good pictures so it was worth the patience, and, its just nice to watch and enjoy, and listen and spend the time.

Also in this area we had singing Tree Pipit, Willow Warbler, Chiff Chaff, Cuckoo, Goosander and Treecreeper. Wandering back to the car I decided to roll around in sheep droppings photographing a small Dandelion, wondering what species of Dandelion it could be or possibly one of the Hawkbits, a very small spiky flower and small slender leaves.... sometimes I don't know what gets into me

Un I'd Dandy
This, as first calls often do, sharpened out apetite. Back into Rothbury to stock up on calories and then to Holystone and Yardhope Oaks.

Track down to Yardhope Oaks
This is a great area, easy to access and good to just wander around. Singing male Pied Flycatcher was virtually our first bird, watched and easily viewed as the trees in this area are not leafed up just yet. These are fabulous birds and put on a real show for us.

Track of the day, faint and soft, through the Oak and Birch woodland

Redstart, Tree Creeper, Nuthatch, Buzzard, Willow Warbler, Redpoll also seen, and heard. Spotted Flycatcher and Tawny Owl seen by Stewart but I missed out there. A great few hours though.

A female Crossbill flew up from the track as we wandered back to the car.

Back to Alnwick, we stopped at a couple of sites hoping for some butterflies to end our day on but it really wasn't the weather. 

Lion Bridge, viewed from meadow below
The Pastures area between the Lion Bridge and the Denwick Bridge in Alnwick is an area I have spent a little time in this week. Orange Tip butterflies are just fabulous and during periods of warm sunshine it has been fabulous watching the males patrolling their territories, they are never still. 
Red Campion and White Dead Nettle

I just had to, bottoms up...
I have been trying desperately to get some photographs of Orange Tips for a good blog post but no luck as yet. 

I'll keep trying... its really quite enjoyable and I cant recommend it highly enough...

Monday, 11 May 2015

Spring Sprung and 124

What a fabulous early spring I've had, the patch has erupted with life and birds passing through have added to the interest.

Track along the Coquet to Helsay
I'm still keeping a patch list nicely updated and I have had few visits where there hasnt been something to add. A wintry feel to the new birds at the beginning of March with Water Rail, Peregrine and Jack Snipe on the same morning.
The 'Old Water' and saltmarsh area of the estuary used to be a very good and reliable area for Jack Snipe, back in the day... Water Rail I suspect breed on the patch.

The Goldeneye moved on from The Butts area early in April and Chiff Chaff seen on 22nd March summer visitors began to feature through April; 

Sand Martin 6th
Avocet 6th
Blackcap 12th
Sandwich Tern 12th
Wheatear 15th
Swallow 15th
Willow Warbler 16th
Common Tern 16th
Marsh Harrier 22nd
Common Whitethroat 26th
Grasshopper Warbler 26th
Reed Warbler 26th

Marsh Harrier
Into early May;

I've been keeping in touch with local bird news too, not something I'm normally used too. This helps focus on potential species for the patch and fine tunes, your expectations (and frustrations).
Large numbers of Whimbrel reported from only a few miles down the coast and only a single to report on the estuary on the 4th, Black Tailed Godwit too, reported in numbers but only a single again on the 4th.... so far.

The 4th of May was an excellent morning.. 9 new birds this year

Lesser Whitethroat
Garden Warbler
Sedge Warbler
House Martin
Black Tailed Godwit

 May is really warming up, some good weather patterns and birds still moving through, Yellow Wagtail and Common Redstart added.. 124 species so fr this year...

I'm loving the patch.. 

Colour returning to the dunes