Friday, 19 October 2012

The Bumpy Road

A mid afternoon stroll along the bumpy road at Prestwick Carr was very peaceful. We spotted four or five dragonfly hawking along the berry laden hawthorn bushes.
For several minutes we were entertained by a flock of Long-tailed Tits who seem to be still for only only a fraction of a second before being on the the move again.

Bullfinch, Great Tit and Coal Tit were present also. Without bins I was unable to decide which geese were at the top of the horsey fields, although I think there was Canada amongst them, along with a good flock of Lapwing
The water levels are not far below the road level and it seems that the least shower of rain will top it up again but a very enjoyable visit.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Holy Island

Judging by some recent blog posts I am the only one to visit Holy Island recently and not see any owls despite being in the right place, but, it appears at the wrong time.
However we did see some nice sights.
Just like  this pair of Snow Buntings who were very partial to having people around them

On the beach in the harbour area were Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Redshank and Bar tailed Godwit

with Eider and a few Guillemot  just offshore
In the garden behind the castle was a lone Goldcrest and on the wall just outside a Stonechat

There were huge numbers of birds  adjacent to the causeway, with the large number of  Brent Geese being very vocal.
Large flocks of Golden Plover and Godwits provided exciting flying displays

Although past its best flowering season the castle garden is still a place of peace. It is planted out as planned by its designer, Gertrude Jekyll.
Nice one, Gertrude!

Linnet and Goldfinch were regularly seen

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Town Moor

After all of the recent rainfall the Town Moor is swamp like in large areas
Together with the mud making cow herd still on the moor there are a couple of well muddied ponds which I hoped may hold some birds. Late this afternoon I set off to check them out.
The first distant target I could see had birds flying over it but then they were flying off. By the time I was in binocular range I was just in time to see a Sparrowhawk flying away - so no more birds there for a while.
My second target was being approached by a couple with six dogs - another blank.
Being almost there I set off for Exhibition Park pond setting a Snipe to flight from one of the numerous wet areas.  The pond held six Goosanders.

On the return over the Moor I could hear the calls of Golden Plover overhead where a flock of many hundred wheeled about prior to settling into their night time roost. I understand that this Town Moor roost has been going on for many years.

Pied Wagtail and Black headed Gulls were populating the many wet and muddy patches
across the Moor

Saturday, 15 September 2012


An open day at Northumberlandia presented to chance to have a look around.
There were loads of visitors in the same mind. The extensive pond areas will no doubt provide some wildlife interest in the future.

Spotted only Pipits, Grey Heron and Magpie but, once the number of visitors settles it will be interesting to see what turns up. The scrub area adjacent will no doubt provide good cover for the local bird population.

 We did have a Common Darter come to rest on the path in front of us so it hasn't taken them long to find the place.

I understand that it will not be open to the public fully for another few weeks but we will then have another location to have a wander and watch - can't be bad.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Blagdon Estate

A Plant Heritage plant sale at Blagdon Estate last Sunday  provided the first opportunity for me to have a look around the estate. Google maps had shown that there were some stretches of water so I hoped to spot a dragonfly or two.

First port of call was the lake south east of the hall.

Walking around the east side we came upon a sun soaked glade at the edge of the lake. Dozens of Common Darter and  3-4  Migrant Hawkers soaking up the sun

After an extended wander we walked down to the old walled kitchen garden

 We were confronted with a sight I had never dreamed possible in the North East. Wherever you looked there were 10-12 dragonflies on the wing. I'm guessing that the numbers were so high as a result of the preceding 7-8 days of fine weather. It was unbelievable to me having scratched around this area looking for dragonfly often with meagre and at times zero results.
More Migrant Hawkers on the south facing garden wall

Just in case anyone is interested the next Blagdon open day is 21 October. Probably a bit late for dragons but you never know since it is a really sheltered area.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

North Yorks Moors - Tranmire Bogs

Another sunny day provided the chance to visit Wheeldale Moor and in particular Tranmire Bogs.
Its is located adjacent to one of the the three fords which cross the road and as soon as I stepped out of the car there were dragonfly on the wing.

Once again many Black Darters and Hawkers patrolled back and forth.
However the highlight was the opportunity to grab some pics of Golden-ringed Dragonfly.

There were many Migrant Hawkers in this same area

Monday, 10 September 2012

North York Moors - Goathland

A few days in Whitby presented the opportunity to check out moorland dragonfly.
First location was The Tarn,  Goathland. I was fortunate enough to have a brilliant sunny day with little wind and after only fifteen minutes walk, arrived at the tarn. I was encouraged to see a couple of hawkers skimming across the the heather which was in full colour

It was so still that the clattering of dragonfly wings could clearly be heard as they flew amongst the reeds.

Common and Migrant Hawkers patrolled the waters edge and
there were dozens of male and female Black Darters, many of them coupled as well as Emerald Damselfly

Red Grouse were on show amongst the heather and a Sparrowhawk hunted over the ridge

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Summer day - almost

A wander around Wallington and Kirkharle brought some interesting views.

There were a lot of white butterfly about and for the first time this year for me a group photo

around the lake at Kirkharle were a large number of Common Darter lifting off the walkway as we walked forward

Friday, 10 August 2012

Cragside Dragons

A recent visit to Cragside lakes produced many Black and Common Darter dragonfly

Also came across this which when I zoomed in on the image, I suspect has passed onto the great pond margins in the sky. The wings are discoloured and the eyes are dull. I didnt want to get too close at the time. I believe this to be a Common Hawker

Monday, 23 July 2012

Rodley, Leeds

Sunday afternoon we visited Rodley Nature Reserve where there are half a dozen pools designed to attract damselflies and dragonflies. When we arrived it was breezy and no sun so not the best conditions but soon the sun appeared as did Brown Hawkers and Banded Damoiselles
This female was just catching the sunlight in an otherwise shaded area

The reserve run by volunteers is open Wed, Sat and Sun and the dragonfly ponds attract a huge number of visitors

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Great Park

With the threat of a thin slice of sunshine this afternoon I visited Newcastle Great Park  ponds to check out dragonfly.
The water levels have just about dropped to normal levels and there are still plenty of Azure and Blue-tailed damselfly and I saw my first Emerald in this location.
The only representatives of the dragonfly family were a couple of Common darters and a Four-spotted chaser

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Foulshaw Moss

Monday afternoon presented the opportunity to visit Foulshaw Moss. I had seen a brief reference to it on Cumbria Wildlife publication regarding dragonflies but was not sure what to expect.
The weather was warm but dull and rain spots but arriving at the pond gave me hope,

what a cracking spot with loads of damselfy over the pond and in the vegetation around the margins. Soon there was Four-spotted Chaser and a blue bodied Hawker. In my haste to get to the pond I had ignored the information board - just typical.

However I  was advised by another visitor that there was another pond at the other end of the boardwalk, and now the sun was trying to break through.
So we set off along the boardwalk and could not believe the numbers of Common Lizard trying to absorb what heat there was. Every few steps there was another and another.

At the end of the walk was the highest viewing platform I've seen looking over a vast area of recently cleared raised mire

Just below was this teneral Emperor dragonfly.

Then the rain came so we set off back the way we had come.
More lizards then as though it were a gift this corker landed at our feet

 for 30 seconds and then was off. Didn't know what it was at the time but after a bit of research we had seen a female White-faced Darter. I later found out that this site was one of the re-introduction sites for this darter
Back at the pond teneral Black Darters were on the wing. The white pterostigma being a common sign of being recently emerged. They will later turn black

Three of these Migrant Hawkers (I believe) buzzed about our heads before one came to rest briefly on the back of a rickety shed

Emerald damselfly were in abundance. This being a male

and I believe this to be a female

All of these in poor weather conditions. What would it be like after a couple of sunny days?
Magic, just magic.
and on other matters here are some of the remarkable sightings of a couple of days

not by me I should add, otherwise I would still be there.

Just one word of caution. For anyone driving to  Foulshaw Moss I recommend approaching it along the A590 from the east. A local I spoke to described attempting from the west as a death trap. I tried, took one look at the traffic speed, in both directions, and carried on till I could turn around.