Posted by: mynaturaldiary | June 23, 2019

Midsummer moths

High summer brings out moths at the RSPB reserve at Saltholme,

First, the amazingly well camouflaged Buff Tips.

Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala)

They are patterned to match birch trees.

Next, an Elephant Hawk Moth.

Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor)

This one was pumping blood back into his wings, prior to flying off.

Then a Figure of Eighty.

Figure of Eighty (Tethea ocularis)

And a Burnished Brass

Burnished Brass (Diachrysia chrysitis)

All these were caught in a trap used to count the species on the reserve before being released back into the wild.

Darters are back in numbers.

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)

The damselfly keeps still (unlike the cameraman).

This chap appears to be lost.

Golden-bloomed grey longhorn beetle (Agapanthia villosoviridescens)

They are normally found in the area of Turkey to Kazakhstan. We appear to have one at Saltholme!

This one appears to be a member of the Cantharidae family.

There are 4072 species of beetle in the UK in 103 families. Globally 25% (400,000) of all animal species are beetles…

There are plenty of plants to feed on this time of year.

Of course, the birds are still on the reserve.

Ringed Plovers were seen, and this video shows both species together.

Ringed plovers have a yellow bill, with a black tip, and no eye ring.

Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)

Little Ringed Plovers have a black bill, with a yellow tip, and a yellow eye ring.

Little ringed plover (Charadrius dubius)

When on the ground they have the habit of keeping still, then running quickly, before stopping and keeping still. This pattern is the same as the one shown by Lapwings.

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)


More soon!


Posted by: mynaturaldiary | June 9, 2019

Staple Island

Time to take another trip to the Farne Islands, courtesy of Billy Shiel.

In the harbour were Eider Ducks, know locally as Cuddy Ducks (after St Cuthbert, who lived on the Farnes in splendid isolation).

Eider (Somateria mollissima)

Out at sea the view to Dunstanburgh Castle is spectacular.

The sea is calm. Closer to the Isles, the birds become apparent.

Cormorants have a colony on the rocks.

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

They are only a small number of the birds on the islands, and are outnumbered by Shags, which we’ll see shortly.

It’s once the boat rounds the islets we see the Grey Seals basking on the rocks and bobbing in the North Sea.

Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus)

The distant Cheviot Hills frame Bamburgh Castle.

As we approach Staple Island the number of birds increases.

On the rocks the Guillemots seem too many to count.

Guillemot (Uria aalge)

Upon landing on Staple Island, you begin to understand that there are 22,000 Guillemots here, as the rocks are covered and the air is full of them.

The colony is vast.

About 1 in 20 Guillemots are the bridled form.

They have a white ring around their eye, compared to the majority which are dark patterned.

The camera manages to freeze their flight pattern well, especially when landing.

They have adapted to fly, but also use those wings to swim underwater up to a depth of 180m in search of its prey, which in these waters are sand eels.

The dark bird in the front of the video above is a Shag.

Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)

Razorbills are another seabird on the isles, with about 200 birds on Staple Island.

Razorbill (Alca torda)

There are a few Arctic Tern pairs on the island, more on Inner Farne.

Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)

There are about 1800 Kittiwakes present.

Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)

And Herring Gulls which also nest on the island.

One leaves its nest temporarily…

… then returns.

Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)

Fulmars are a particular favourite of mine, with their elegant tube noses, and stiff winged flight.


In the far distance was a solitary Gannet.

Gannet (Morus bassanus)

Lesser Black Backed Gulls nest on the island with about 50 pairs. They ‘tax’ the local birds to give up their catches, relying on physical presence to intimidate the Puffins.

Lesser black-backed gull (Larus fuscus)

There was also a Rock Pipit.

Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus)

Puffins are the other great delight on the island, with about 13,000 birds present.

Puffin (Fratercula arctica)

The air is full of them flying overhead, beaks full of sandeels.

The hour allocated to landing is soon up, and the party heads back to the boat. Sailing back to shore gives fine views of the lighthouse.

and Dunstanburgh Castle.

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | June 2, 2019

Swaledale showers

Gunnerside in Swaledale is a pastoral delight this time of year.

The verdant meadow grass is interspersed with wild flowers to provide winter fodder for the cattle.

The grass and flowers blow in the breeze running through the valley.

There is an interweaving of man and nature here, with a patchwork quilt of dry stone walls, interspersed with barns for livestock in the winter.

A shower passes through…

then departs. The path continues on towards Ivelet, heading to Muker along the Swaledale valley.

Above in the skies, Oystercatchers pass overhead calling to each other with their echoing sound.

Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

Passing through Ivelet, a Pheasant sits in a field of flowers.

Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)

Looking back down the valley gives a fine view.

The dry stone walls make their way up Crackpot Side.

Chaffinches were near the woods.

Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

On the road back to Gunnerside a farmer passes by on a quad bike, with a sheepdog passenger.


and sheep

walk past the houses by the road.

Swallows fly above at their fast pace.

Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

A wild rabbit sits very still by the side of a dry stone wall.

European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

Back in Gunnerside

the Swifts scream out overhead as they fly at breakneck speed.

Swift (Apus apus)

and Blackbirds hunt for food.

Blackbird (Turdus merula)

The signs point the way on, deeper into Swaledale.



Posted by: mynaturaldiary | May 22, 2019

House Martins

To Little Ayton to see House Martins fly around their nesting sites in an earth bank by the side of a stream feeding the River Leven.

House Martin (Delichon urbica)

Arcadia indeed.

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | May 20, 2019

Dawn Chorus, RSPB Saltholme

Hear the transition from night, to dawn, thence to daytime. This was recorded at RSPB Saltholme, close to the Visitors Centre.

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | May 19, 2019

Delightful ducklings

The wheel of life has spun fully around again as the ducklings and goslings return to the RSPB reserve at Saltholme.

First the Mallard chicks. A brood sneaks into the grasses


then under the fence beneath the feeders at Wildlife Watchpoint hide in search of fallen seeds.

Other pairs have younger chicks.

And this bird preens itself alone.

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

The Canada Geese goslings have their ever watchful parents over them.

Canada Geese (Branta canadensis)

Note they only have one gosling left.

A more successful pair gather their goslings between them.

The parents are busy, and yet they must still preen themselves.

On the island overlooked by Paddy’s Pool hide is a colony of Black Headed Gulls, again with their chicks.

Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

Greylag Geese were also on the reserve.

These pair were calmly watching out for predators until something provoked them to fly.

Greylag Goose (Anser anser)

The Common Terns have returned to us for the summer.

There are no signs of chicks yet, but they are nesting on the specially prepared islands for them moored in the lakes.

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)

Gadwall, one of our larger ducks were on Paddy’s Pool.

The male has a fine herringbone camouflage pattern.

Gadwall (Anas strepera)

A male Shoveler passed by.

Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

Coots are ever present on the reserve.

Coot (Fulica atra)

as are Lapwings.

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

and Shelducks.

Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)

In front of it was an Avocet, one of many which visit us in the summer.

Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

Finally, by Greatham Creek 2km north of the reserve, Harbour Seals rest on the mudflats.

Harbour (Common) Seal (Phoca vitulina)

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | May 17, 2019

Dusk & Dawn Chorus, Guisborough Moor

Hear the transition from dusk to night,



Then from night to dawn, thence to daytime.



This was recorded on Guisborough Moors, near Sleddale.

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | May 16, 2019

Dawn Chorus, Church Houses, Farndale

Night time and the Moon is low in the sky

At Church Houses, Farndale it is still night.

As the dawn

slowly breaks into the valley and the sky lightens


You can hear a Woodcock calling as it flies overhead in the early part of the recording, when it is still dark and still. Thrushes start to call from 00:53 (HH:MM)


After 01:12 (HH:MM) a Cuckoo can be distinctly heard.

A Song Thrush sings from the top of a tree.

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)

Leaving the valley for Blakey Ridge, the dawn breaks across Rosedale filled with early morning mist.

Further along, a Curlew calls out.

Curlew (Numenius arquata)

It is circling, calling, chiding me for daring to enter its vast emptiness where it lives with its brood.

As the sun rises, the mist retreats.

And the sun struggles to break through it overlooking Beacon Hill.


Posted by: mynaturaldiary | May 14, 2019

Dawn Chorus at Godfalter Hill, Flatts Lane

Hear the transition from night, to dawn, thence to daytime. This was recorded on Godfalter Hill, Flatts Lane Country Park.


Posted by: mynaturaldiary | May 13, 2019

Guisborough Woods Dawn Chorus

Hear the transition from night, to dawn, thence to daytime. This was recorded in Guisborough Woods.

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