Thursday, 31 July 2014

Seems a bit late

Since last autumn, the Goldfinch have been one of the most regular visitors to the back garden feeders. Over the last couple of weeks the visits have become less frequent so I thought they will be taking advantage of the thistle seed crop out in the hedgerows.
So I was surprised to see this one making repeated trips, this morning, to gather some sheep's  wool which I put out in the spring

Monday, 28 July 2014

Can't be bad

Despite there being no sign of Painted Lady butterfly in my wanderings up the coast today, there were some uplifting glimpses of others along the way.

There is a Grayling in this last image, a master of disguise in rough ground

Friday, 25 July 2014

Here and there

A couple of days drifting around brought a few nice sightings.
Green-veined White taking minerals on board

Lizard taking solar gain

Swallow sitting tight

Dunlin pit stop as they move south


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

At Last

Since I first spotted Holly Blue in Jesmond Old Cemetery over a couple of months ago I have been revisiting in an attempt to get a close view without success. Yesterday I had half a dozen sightings but no resting, today I returned as soon as the sun came out and after even more sightings I was rewarded with this.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Out and About

A visit to my Daughter in Leeds presented the chance of adding to my Quest total. I thought it would be worthwhile to see something which I had little or no chance of seeing further North so Gatekeeper was the target species.
I had visited Brockadale NR earlier in the season and it looked just right for butterflies in general. Steep sided, south facing, limestone couldn't go wrong. So when I arrived just after 10am and reversed the car to park I was greeted by the sight of the target before I got out of the car.
The site was a short walk away but there was a small triangle of land beside the car park  only about 20 square yards in area. It was absolutely alive with butterflies, Red Admiral, Gatekeeper, Marbled White, Small Tortoiseshell, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Skippers and Gatekeeper. I was standing in the middle with them flying all around, a sight never to be forgotten.


Onto the reserve and it was no less populated with the addition of Dark Green Fritillary and whites.

A small stream runs through the reserve which supported dozens of Banded Damoiselles

Although now getting toward the end of the Marbled White (a recent count stopped at 350) and Dark Green Fritillary, anyone interested in this subject must consider a visit.

The temperature at midday was to hot to  watch so I decided to move on but how best to improve my count. Knowing Golden Acre Park, Leeds has a good range of trees I thought there will be oaks and possibly Purple Hairstreak which I had dipped four times back home. I was lucky enough to stumble on an avenue of young oaks and within a few minutes something silvery flickering in the tops. Result. Number 34 in the bag.
There were 4 to be seen but only when the sun shone.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Causey Arch

I continued the Hairstreak hunt today and was successful both at Wingate Quarry and Chester le Street with White-letter Hairstreak.
However it was another Purple blank. I ended up at Causey Arch which was part of my first 'patch' more than sixty five years ago - struth, I wish I hadn't reminded myself.
However standing on the arch walkway I got interested in watching a bird regularly flying from its perch out to try and catch flying insects down near the burn. It met its match when it tried three times to take a Comma butterfly and failed.
It was only when it perched at a point much nearer to where I stood that I managed to see what I believe is my first Spotted Flycatcher.

Its a lang way doon. View from the Arch.
Sobering thought that when this arch was built, they forgot to insert a keystone. Just thought I would mention it before you decide to walk across.

Causey Arch

So I didn't get what I planned for but it was a fair swop

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Alive, alive-O

Following on from my last post I decided this day would Hairstreak hunt day so mid morning the plan was Chester le Street A1 roundabout then onto
Wingate Quarry
Causey Arch.
It sounds like just about everybody and his dog were at the first location today although I was on my own when I got there about 10.30am. I bumped into 3 others who had beat me to it and Twitter confirms there were others.
However I managed my sighting which is a big improvement on previous post.

As a result Wingate was cancelled and to cut a long story short I drew blanks at the other two for the Purple Hairstreak but as somebody once said 'I'll be back'

Thursday, 10 July 2014

You couldn't make it up

You might have gathered that butterflies are consuming most of my waking hours currently. With 31 recorded on my Quest so far there are not many more remaining  in this part of the world. Maybe another 4 or 5 if I'm lucky.
Bumped into a friend of mine on Gosforth High Street this morning and he foolishly enquired what I was up to. I gave him a brief rundown on the Quest and concluded by saying that my current target is White-letter Hairstreak which I have never seen before, but had gleaned information of possible sites at Winlaton Mill and Milkwellburn Woods where I had spent the previous day without success.
So walking home up Salters Road my eyes settled on something on the pavement. Small, brown, butterfly shape.
Can't be!
It is!
White-letter Hairstreak.
Hairs standing up, I reached down to pick up the expired butterfly.

So the hunt is on for Wych Elms around Gosforth

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Quest for Grayling

I had read in a previous years butterfly sightings report that the site of now demolished Blyth Power Station was good for Grayling.
Knowing that the original security fence still existed I thought I'd have a wander around the perimeter and hope for a bit of luck.
I got it in bucketloads.
I stumbled upon an area a bit larger than a football pitch which was crushed brick and concrete with a few plants, and which held a couple of dozen Grayling.
Number 31 in The Quest.

The Grayling are in the area to the right of where I took the pic below and on the banking in view

Then for a walk along the cliff top north where despite a northerly breeze there were Grayling in the shrubs. Then I spotted a buddlea in full prime bloom across the road which entertained Grayling and Small Tortoiseshell.

Two of the Grayling seemed to be doing a bit courtship which involved rapid opening and closing of wings so I took shots as quick as possible and luckily got an open overwing picture

Monday, 7 July 2014

Butterfly Quest

Today I went up to Steng Moss adjacent to Harwood forest to find a Large Heath, and there they were.
The Quest total stands at 30, and now its getting difficult to progress.

I had not quite established that this one below was Large Heath as it took flight just as I pressed the button, so will seek some confirmation or otherwise. ( UKButterflies confirm this is Large Heath)

For those familiar with the area. The gibbet is no longer there!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Marbled White

The Quest continued today with a visit to Wingate Quarry and the spotting of the target species-
Marbled White.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Holy Island

Dark Green Fritillary butterflies were the target species  for today, to add to the Butterfly Quest total, so after a couple of blank sorties nearer home I decided to go for a banker venue and it came up trumps.
Holy Island dunes north from the Straight Lonnen.
Before I got to the end of the lonnen I saw my first two

In the first hour from 10.30am I counted at least 50 of these cracking butterflies and then stopped counting as they were spotted over all the areas I covered.

This little group were seen along the lonnen

and this was a small group of a much greater gathering of seals on the east side of the island

Wednesday, 2 July 2014


A little wander through the East Chevington dunes, where I failed to see my target species, but was pleased with the sight of these which I believe to be Dune heleborine. If I have this coreect, I would be pleased with any more detailed info about which one they may be.
This species might be a good choice for next years 'find out about' Quest.