Wednesday, 24 May 2017

A Waldridge Naturalist in Corfu - the first two days.

I'm back at last. I've been to Corfu for 10 days and even though I came back last week, time seems to have flown by and I've done nothing with this blog. Since I came came back I've been doing a fair bit of birding and botany outside my square. I've done  a few bashes inside it and some moth trapping in the garden but I've haven't  wrote anything up yet together bd I've got quite a few things I need to check regarding their identity.
So what I thought I'd do is over the next few days as I catch up,  is to show what I was up to in Corfu. It's mainly a bird report, buy you never know somebody out there may have been before or find it interesting. So here goes - the firs two days of -
A Waldridge Naturalist in Corfu - the first two days.

5th May
Arrived at Corfu airport mid afternoon after a trouble-free flight.  No time to look at the airport lagoon as we were soon off heading north west to Sidari where we would be staying for the next 10 days.

House Sparrow (1)
Barn Swallow (1)

As we drove though Corfu Town,  quite a few hirundines and swifts were wheeling about including 3 Red-rumped Swallows, two of which were over the canal on the east side of town.

Corfu Town -
Feral Pigeon (5)
Alpine Swift (6)
Common Swift  (16)
House Martin (3)
Red-rumped Swallow (3)
Hooded Crow (3)

We headed off to Sidari and for the next hour and a half drove past  mile after mile of Olive trees (Olea europaea) interspersed with apparently 4 million Mediterranean Cypress trees (Cupressus sempervirens). More hirundines, Feral Pigeons and House Sparrows on route together with the first Yellow-legged Gulls and a single finch and bunting on wires

Corfu Town - Sidari
Yellow-legged Gull  (2)
Feral Pigeon (2)
Alpine Swift (6)
House Martin (5)
Barn Swallow (15)
Serin (1) a male on sitting on telegraph wires
House Sparrow (1)
Corn Bunting (1) on telegraph wires

Arrived at the Stamma apartments at 16:30hrs. The balcony had a view of lawned area and the pool with a wooded hillside to the right in the distance. The front porch however looked much more promising as just across was a dusty track (the path into town) and behind that some scrub and overgrown gardens. Behind, more mature gardens including two small clumps of poplars and some tall cypress trees. We quickly settled in and I was birding from the porch or on the track several times until dusk. There was a surprising amount of bird song and the odd birds were moving north overhead, obviously on migration. European Glow-worms (Lampyris noctiluca) aka to most as Fireflies,  put on a great show in the evening, flashing away well into the night.

 Common Kestrel (2) both male and female seen overhead several times and appeared to be hunting. I suspect local birds.
Yellow-legged Gull  (19) mainly soaring around on thermals
European Scop's Owl - one heard calling from gardens to the end of the dusty track at 21:30 hrs.
Collared Dove (6) singing and displaying all around the area.
Turtle Dove (2) flew north overhead
Blue-headed Wagtail - a male landed in front of me on the dirt track. Definitely M. f. flava. 
House Martin (1) a single flying around the apartments 
Sand Martin (25) headed north in one flock
Red-rumped Swallow (8) nesting in the hotel buildings and regularly   resting on the overhead wires.

Barn Swallow (16) Some probably nesting nearby but difficult to tell and the majority may well be passage birds.
Golden Oriole (2) birds singing and calling from both poplar clumps opposite. Tried but failed to see either bird.
Blackbird (1) heard singing in gardens
Whinchat (1) a female seen feeding from telegraph wires as we had our evening meal
Great Tit (1) heard in scrub, not seen
Fan-tailed Warbler (1) flew over scrub, 'zipping' as it went.
Cetti's Warbler (2) heard, blasting out their song every five minutes or so. One in the boundary hedge of the hotel. The other, in the scrub opposite I briefly saw.
Serin (1) a male on sitting on telegraph wires
Greenfinch (3) 
Goldfinch (3) flew over / on wires
House Sparrow (24) very common, nesting in the surroundings and feeding in the gardens 
Black-headed Bunting (1) a male, flew onto the wires with  a group of House Sparrows

Magpie (5) two almost permanently outside the apartment

6th May
Spent first thing and late afternoon checking around the apartment. After breakfast we walked into town and then beyond to Canal de Amour and back again. Most of the birds seen again at Sidari with a few extra ones on the move but nothing of note at the latter.

 Common Buzzard (2) 1 flew over apartments and another soaring over the wooded hill nearby

 Honey Buzzard (1) A single bird north over the apartment
Common Kestrel (1) Presumably the female of yesterday's pair over the apartment 
Red-footed Falcon (1) a female or immature north
Yellow-legged Gull (40)
Common Swift (4) 
Collared Dove (6) 
Turtle Dove (2) another two north
Blue-headed Wagtail (8) a group of 8 perched up on wires then all took off  together
House Martin (32) a couple of pairs found nesting but many heading north
Sand Martin (29) headed north
Red-rumped Swallow (15)
Barn Swallow (9)
Golden Oriole (4) Made the day. 4 birds, all males constantly chasing each  other between the poplars, singing and calling. Watched for 40 minutes. One bird took up residence in the nearest clump and at least 2 remained in the other one. 
Spotted Flycatcher (2) feeding from wires and bushes in the overgrown gardens
Stonechat (1) a male on wires in one of the gardens
Whinchat (2) Yesterdays female still present, and a male in the scrub.
Great Tit (2) heard in scrub, again not seen
Cetti's Warbler (3) heard. Yesterday's two birds and a third a bit further up  the track. Again a brief view of one. 
Sardinian Warbler (2) - a singing male in the scrub opposite and a male seen well down the track
Icterine Warbler (2) in the scrub seen well looked spot on for Icterine 
Greenfinch (3) 1 singing from wires
Goldfinch (2) flew over / on wires
House Sparrow (24) 
Hooded Crow (3)  Three singles flew over
Magpie (4)

Canal de Amour
Yellow-legged Gull (1)
Alpine Swift (1)
House Martin (10)
Red-rumped Swallow (6)
Barn Swallow (8)
Greenfinch (1)
House Sparrow (10)

Amongst the common european plants we also get back home, the scrub had a fair selection of  the Mediterranean flora such as Spanish Broom (Spartium junceum) .

 A larger and darker 'Tufted Vetch' was very common.This is Purple Tufted Vetch (Vicia benghalensis).

A few common 'British' butterflies were seen , but more a little later. Thats all for today

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Lack of admin

Had a few issues with this blog when trying to update it but it looks like I've found a work around to stop it hanging.
Spring is in full swing now so the Admin and paper (or on-line) work has taken a bit of a back seat at the moment. I'll try and catch up but it will have to wait until I return from Greece. I forgot how much time doing this listing takes.

In the meantime here is a list of the new species recorded this year in the monad ie NZ2549, together with a few pictures I've got to hand. The first on this list, Emperor moth, was my first on the fell for three years. But another moth enthusiast brought a female over and it attracted several males. I couldn't get there that day but I looked around myself the following day and saw several flying around, low over the heather. Maybe that sexy female hads woken all the lazy boys up!

The list consists of  a few moths (its uusally quiet for them now until the end of the month) and other inverebtrates, a few mammals and lots of flowers now that they are beginning to show themselves and I haven't got to id them vegetatively. I made a bit of an effort on the latter so that when I get back I can concentrate on some of the other stuff. And I'll update the sidebar lists too.
Heres a few random pictures and the list in no particular order.

Purple Thorn


Not insect eggs but Puccinia sessilis Wild Garlic Rust

Tree Sparrows

415. Saturnia pavonia (Emperor Moth)
416. Puccinia violae (Violet Rust)
417. Locustella naevia (Grasshopper Warbler)
418. Valerianella locusta (Common Cornsalad)
419. Agrostis stolonifera (Creeping Bent)
420. Geranium dissectum (Cut-leaved Crane's-bill)
421. Bibio marci (St. Mark's Fly)
422. Agrostis capillaris (Common Bent)
423. Arrhenatherum elatius (False Oat-grass)
424. Artemisia vulgaris (Mugwort)
425. Asplenium scolopendrium (Hart's-tongue)
426. Barbarea vulgaris (Common Winter-cress)
427. Brassica napus subsp. oleifera (Oil-seed Rape)
428. Callitriche stagnalis (Common Water-starwort)
429. Cruciata laevipes (Crosswort)
430. Dactylorhiza fuchsii  (Common Spotted Orchid)
431. Dactylorhiza purpurella (Northern Marsh Orchid)
432. Equisetum arvense (Field Horsetail)
433. Erica cinerea (Bell Heather)
434. Eriophorum angustifolium (Common Cottongrass)
435. Eriophorum vaginatum (Hare's-tail Cottongrass)
436. Eupatorium cannabinum (Hemp-agrimony)
437. Euphorbia helioscopia (Sun Spurge)
438. Fallopia baldschuanica (Russian-vine)
439. Festuca ovina (Sheeps Fescue)
440. Festuca rubra (Red Fescue)
441. Cynosurus cristatus (Crested Dog's-tail)
442. Geranium pratense (Meadow Cranesbill)
443. Hesperis matronalis (Dame's Violet)
444. Medicago lupulina (Black Medick)
445. Phleum pratense (Timothy)
446. Primula veris  (Cowslip)
447. Sonchus oleraceus (Smooth Sow-thistle)
448. Trifolium pratense (Red Clover)
449. Veronica beccabunga (Brooklime)
450. Veronica montana (Wood Speedwell)
451. Rumex conglomeratus (Wood Dock)
452. Populus alba (White Poplar)
453. Glechoma hederacea (Ground-ivy) 
454. Forficula auricularia (Common Earwig) 
455. Meligethes aeneus (Common Pollen Beetle) 
456. Allium ursinum (Ramsons)
457. Puccinia sessilis (Wild Garlic Rust)
458. Limacus flavus (Yellow Slug)
459. Bufo bufo    (Common Toad)
460. Vulpes vulpes (Red Fox)
461. Mustela nivalis (Weasel)
462. Rattus norvegicus (Brown Rat)
463. Myodes glareolus (Bank Vole

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Where does the time go?

 I keep forgetting to add the Apple (Malus pumila) in flower which I have now seen a couple of times by the main path on the fell above Wanister.

On Thursday I had a very early, though briefer than I planned walk,  around a bit of the fell and one of the first birds I heard was a Cuckoo. I watched it fly off continuing to call being mobbed by a couple of Meadow Pipits. Not long after I heard and watched anoth summer visitor singing, a fine cock Common Whitethroat. I did not pick up anything else that was new and had to get back home as I had promised to help out at Rainton for the Durham Wildlife Trust Botany Group.

I'm glad I did really because even though not in the monad I found another summer visitor, a Garganey. I also got very distant views of a raptor over the back fields which I thought may have been a Marsh Harrier but was too far away to be certain and I was only going off 'jizz'.  However not long after,  Twitter announced via Mick Heron that he just seen a Marsh Harrier going though the very same area where I had seen that bird and he had photographed it. Well done Mick.  I didn't find it but I'm having that :-)

The temperature overnight only dropped to 9C so it was one of the best nights of the year so far for moths with 10 species, three of them being new.

Yesterday again I didn't have much time (where's it all going to?) but in the short walk picked up a few more including Green Tiger Beetle and finally a Spider on the outside of the patio door.
This morning four more moths so things are starting to liven up.

393. Malus pumila  (Apple)
394. Cuculus canorus (Common Cuckoo)
395. Sylvia communis (Common Whitethroat)
396. Lampropteryx suffumata (Water Carpet) 
397. Pheosia gnoma (Lesser Swallow Prominent)
399. Nola confusalis (Least Black Arches)
400. Cicindela campestris (Green Tiger Beetle)
401. Ajuga reptans (Bugle)
402. Anemone nemorosa (Wood Anemone)
403. Anthoxanthum odoratum (Sweet Vernal-grass)
404. Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale Cress)
405. Conopodium majus (Pignut)
406. Salix cinerea (Grey Willow)
407. Veronica chamaedrys (Germander Speedwell)
408. Prunus laurocerasus (Cherry Laurel)
409. Myrrhis odorata (Sweet Cicely)
410. Steatoda bipunctata (a Spider)
411. Anticlea derivata (Streamer)
412. Thera obeliscata (Grey Pine Carpet)
413. Thera britannica (Spruce Carpet)
414. Eupithecia dodoneata (Oak-tree Pug)

I've got quite a few pictues on the camera I must find time to upload them. Where does the time go?

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

It's been a week since my last confession

I have sinned. It's been nearly a week since my last confession (update) of the blog. The reason is I haven't been in the square much. I have being doing bits of birding and botany here and there but not in the square and even when I have been here, its generally just been in the garden.
I did see my first ever Polypodium interjectum (Intermediate Polypody) in the county at Flass Vale in Durham City the other day. It's in the same 10Km square but not in my monad unfortunately,

Polypodium interjectum (Intermediate Polypody)

Whilst in the garden  I did manage to pick up my first House Martins of the year, three of them bombing around the estate but I haven't seen them the last couple of days since it got frosty.  A few 'weeds' in the garden showed themselves for the first time this year too, and I had forgotten to add Lesser Celandine, probably because I still cannot get used to it now being a Ficaria instead of a Ranunculus.
Finally a few moths but the catches have been very poor of late in both numbers and species, and a couple of nothing at all too. And finally a Hedgehog crossing the street outside the other night.

370. Delichon urbicum (Common House Martin)
371. Epilobium obscurum (Short-fruited Willowherb)
372. Ficaria verna (Lesser Celandine)
373. Trifolium dubium (Lesser Trefoil)
374. Cerastium glomeratum (Sticky Mouse-ear)
375. Cerastium fontanum (Common Mouse-ear)
376. Orthosia gracilis (Powdered Quaker)
377. Depressaria radiella (Parsnip Moth)
378. Diurnea fagella (a micro moth)
379. Erinaceus europaeus (Western Hedgehog)

Mosses and Liverworts are much harder, if not impossible (for me), to identify later without their reproductive parts, which are usualy present only during the wetter, winter months.  So I made a really concentrated effort to get some more found and identified before it's too late. Off I went and checked trees, streams, banks, fields and bog around the fell for several hours. I came back with 10 mixed polybags of bits of moss and spent a ridiculous amount of time checking and keying them out. It was probaly worth it with another, unlucky 13 species in (or out) of the (poly)bag. Unlucky because all that effort and I didn't find even one new species I haven't seen the the square before.

The thirteen were

380. Bryum capillare (Capillary Thread-moss)
381. Dicranella heteromalla (Silky Forklet-moss)
382. Fissidens taxifolius (Common Pocket-moss)
383. Hypnum jutlandicum (Heath Plait-moss)
384. Barbula convoluta (Lesser Bird's-Claw)
385. Lunularia cruciata (Crescent-cup Liverwort)
386. Orthotrichum affine (Wood Bristle-moss)
387. Orthotrichum diaphanum (White-tipped Bristle-moss)
388. Polytrichastrum formosum (Bank Haircap)
389. Eurhynchium striatum (Common Striated Feather-moss)
390. Polytrichum piliferum (Bristly Haircap)
391. Sphagnum fallax (Flat-topped Bog-moss)
392. Brachytheciastrum velutinum (Velvet Feather-moss)

I've got a few hours spare tomorrow so I'll see if I can get the 400. I've just rembered something else I got but it's getting late so I'll keep it up my sleeve until next time, one closer to 400.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

A new Waldridge bird then avoided the fun

Monday saw me setting off for a wander the fell on a rather cold and very windy day and I wasn't really expecting anything. Even after only five minutes or so I was thinking of how long I should give it. Then, drum roll please, I heard a three-note whistle, 'twee-see-see' and turned around and got my bins on a Common Sandpiper flying over heading north-west. Presumably it was heading to Tribley Ponds, which unfortunatelylie in the adjacent square.  This was my first ever for Waldridge and not expected to be my next summer migrant. Apart from that I saw nothing of note but checked a few lichens and picked up my first Nipplewort of the year.

It's been poor for moths now the weather has changed with nothing new and even a zero catch on Monday night.I did have a Nicrophorus humator (Common Sexton Beetle) in the trap on Tuesday night however.

There's been a bit of sun during the day on Tuesday and today with temperatures hovering around 11C and I picked up three hoverfly species in sheltered spots here and there which all helps.

A breakdown of the latest additions in no particular order

358. Nicrophorus humator (Common Sexton Beetle)
359. Daedaleopsis confragosa (Blusing Bracket)
360. Phytomyza ilicis (Holly leaf miner) larvae
361. Lecidea grisella (a lichen)
362. Lecidella elaeochroma (a lichen)
363. Cladonia portentosa (Reindeer-moss)
364. Evernia prunastri (a lichen)
365. Cheilosia pagana (a hoverfly)
366. Melanostoma scalare   (a hoverfly)
367. Syrphus ribesii (a hoverfly)
368. Lapsana communis (Nipplewort)
369. Actitis hypoleucos (Common Sandpiper)

Popped outside the monad to the riverside park at Chester-le-Street this afternnon after doing a few messages, not realising there was a Fun Fair on. I'm not into this fun malarkey so rattled off a few pictures (of course not of the fair) and made a hasty retreat.




Grey Heron

Orange-tip male

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Gardening for species

Nice and sunny but a gardening day,  so it might be surprise you (it did me) to get nine new species for the year, all in the garden.
I had the moth trap out overmight and apart from twenty or so Orthosia moths of various species and another five Early Greys,  there also was  a small black-marked micro-moth Semioscopis avellanella, a rather local species of birch woodland.
So after breakfast and popping to the bookies [not to collect my winnings but my money back] as the darn horse didn't even run!, it was gardening time.  Tidying up the front border amongs the 'weeds' there was a well-grown but unhealthy Goat's-beard aka 'Jack go to bed at noon'.

Tragopogon pratensis (Goat's-Beard) -
this is an old photo of a seedhead as the specimen in the garden was certainly not worth photographing

A bit of digging unearthed not one but two caterpillars. These were the larva a couple of common moths, both I'm almost certain to see soon in the case of the Angle Shades or around June in the case of a Lesser Yellow Underwing. 

Noctua comes (Lesser Yellow Underwing) caterpillar

Phlogophora meticulosa (Angle Shades) catepillar

Also un-earthed were a few worms that all keyed out as the common Earthworth or Lob Worm, a White-legged Snake Millipede and a small brown and white spider that I later got under the microscope to confirm its id (before it ran off and is probably still in the house somewhere). A White-lipped Snail was on the Cistus and I caught one of many small hoverflies buzzing around the Dandelions in the lawn,  Platycheirus albimanus, another common species.

Tachypodoiulus niger (White-legged Snake Millipede)

Platycheirus albimanus (a hoverfly)

Quite a good day.

349. Semioscopis avellanella (a moth)
350. Tragopogon pratensis (Goat's-Beard)
351. Phlogophora meticulosa (Angle Shades) larval
352. Noctua comes (Lesser Yellow Underwing) larval
353. Platycheirus albimanus (a hoverfly)
354. Tachypodoiulus niger (White-legged Snake Millipede)
355. Metellina mengei (a spider)
356. Lumbricus terrestris (Lob Worm)
357. Cepaea hortensis (White-lipped Snail)

Sun and butterflies go together

Only a few species picked up the last couple of days but today (yesterday 8th as I write this) the sun was shining and it was hot. This brought the insects out and no less than 5 new butterflies for the year were around, togther with 2 of the three I've already had..

Nothing new and in fact very little in the moth trap this week as though the day temperatures have rising it has meant no cloud cover at night and the temperatures plummeted. Last night it dropped to -0.8C.

I've not had much time to write stuff up so here is just a list of the new species to date.

333. Phylloscopus trochilus (Willow Warbler)
334. Cardamine amara (Large Bittercress) 
335. Cardamine pratensis (Cuckoo-flower)
336. Anthocharis cardamines (Orange-tip)
337. Pieris rapae (Small White)
338. Pieris napi (Green-veined White)
339. Pieris brassicae (Large White)
340. Pararge aegeria (Speckled Wood)
341. Bombus hortorum (Small Garden Bumble Bee)
342. Andrena fulva (Tawny Mining bee)
343. Deschampsia flexuosa (Wavy Hair-grass)
344. Asplenium trichomanes (Maidenhair Spleenwort)
345. Sinapis arvensis (Charlock)
346. Galium saxatile (Heath Bedstraw)
347. Hypochaeris radicata (Cat's-ear)
348. Holcus mollis (Creeping Soft-grass)