August 2016

1st, Woldgarth / Beverley Parks – A Copper Underwing (Amphipyra pyramidea) was found within my bedroom this morning, the sudden appearance of this large species of moth giving me quite a start as I dressed. Meanwhile the harvest continues apace in the local area with a good percentage of the winter barley now safely collected, whilst the hedgerows are now dominated by those typical late summer wildflowers such as the Willowherbs and the Bindweeds. However the blackberries are not ripe yet and it would seem that they are a little late this year, an observation reflected elsewhere in the country.

Copper Underwing (Amphipyra pyramidea)

2nd, Woldgarth – The Yew berries have begun to ripen in the past week and I have even noticed a few birds already starting to have a nibble. Autumn is most definitely just around the corner!

4th, Woldgarth – A large number of White butterflies were in the garden this afternoon, whilst the flowering buddleia also attracted a few other species including Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral. However the continuing low number of butterflies in the garden this summer is very worrying.

5th, Woldgarth – For the first time this summer a good variety of butterflies were in the garden, most being seen around the buddleia once more. Vanessa species of butterflies dominated the scene with at least four Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta) and two Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui), both having good years this summer, whilst other species included two Peacocks, a single Small Tortoiseshell, three Large Whites, and one each of Small White and Green-veined White. Elsewhere in the garden a single Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) was also noted, as was a Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina), and all in all nine species was a good count in what has otherwise been a poor year for garden butterflies.

However the best observation of the day was the stumbling upon of a Hornet Mimic hoverfly, the specimen looking like a Volucella zonaria, a brand new species for me. This species has been spreading north in recent years but nevertheless records from VC61 are few and far between. Perhaps the recent heat has helped the species to spread a little further north this year. Another new species of hoverfly was also encountered later in the afternoon, this proving to be an Eristalis arbustorum, a rather squat species of Eristalini, whilst a pair of Bacha elongata were also found.

6th, Woldgarth & Beverley – As I cycled past Beverley Minster this morning I could hear one of the Peregrine Falcons calling from one of the western towers which rise high above this East Yorkshire market town. Indeed the Falcons have been heard almost daily back at Woldgarth. Back at home a number of flying ants were noted in the garden, though unfortunately the fresher breeze today meant that fewer butterflies were about. However a few Red Admirals and Peacocks were noted among the more numerous Whites.

7th, Woldgarth – My father came across an interesting species of beetle in the house this morning, and after examining it I was able to confirm it as my first ever record of a Stag beetle species up here in Yorkshire. The beetle in question was a female Lesser Stag Beetle (Dorcus parallelipipedus), a species which is common in the southern half of the British Isles but is relatively uncommon north of the Humber. However a number of other local naturalists and wildlife lovers have been recording it more and more in recent times so it would seem, in common with many other species of invertebrates, it is spreading north. Hopefully this impressive beetle will become a regular part of the local fauna in future years.

In other news a species of dragonfly was noted briefly in the garden, the specimen in question looking like a female or immature Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum). Unfortunately I was unable to confirm the ID but if it was a Common Darter it would be only the second ever record of this species at Woldgarth and the first for a few years.

9th, Woldgarth – A Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) was hunting around the garden this afternoon, whilst a Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) was briefly spotted this morning. Unfortunately neither stopped for a photograph! Meanwhile the majoram was attracting its usual variety of honey and bumble bees, though the highlight was a lovely Mint Moth (Pyrausta aurata), a species of moth I haven’t seen in the garden for a few years.

13th, Woldgarth – An interesting species of Crabronidae (Sand Wasp) was discovered in the kitchen this afternoon, this proving to be a Field Digger Wasp (Mellinus arvensis), a brand new species for the garden list. It was a rather active specimen but it did eventually settle down which allowed me to grab a few quick photos of this striking and rather attractive species of black and yellow Hymenoptera.

14th, Woldgarth – The number of Swifts (Apus apus) in the sky above Woldgarth has been steadily decreasing during the past week and today I failed to spot anything other than Swallows and the odd House Martin over the old homestead. Meanwhile a male House Jumping Spider (Pseudeuophrys lanigera) joined me at my desk this afternoon, this endearing species of Salticidae having become increasingly common during the past year. Whether this is because of a genuine increase in numbers or just because I have become more aware of their existance is difficult to sure, but whatever the case they are very much a welcome part of the households fauna and one which I am always happy to see.

15th, Beverley Parks – The winter wheat harvest is now underway in the Parklands with the field north of the Parks Plantation now 80% cut and the field opposite the kennels also partially cut. Hopefully the weather will remain fine and dry for the rest of the week.

16th, Woldgarth – A species of spider caught my eye in the Stevenson screen this morning, this proving to be a species of the always tricky to ID Philodromidae family. It was a rather small specimen, no more than 10 mm in length, and on balance I think it was probably a Philodromus aureolus, a common and widespread species in much of the country. However data from the British Spiders group suggests that this species quickly fades in frequency after its June peak, with the number of records in August being surprisingly low (link).

In the afternoon a look for Swifts (Apus apus) in the sky above Woldgarth turned up at least three individual birds, these all seen heading southwards, though it was also interesting to note the increasing number of House Martins (Delichon urbicum) joining the more abundant Swallows. In the garden itself Large Whites were observed in good numbers, with Small & Green-veined Whites being somewhat less frequent, whilst other species included Peacock & Holly Blue. A Hawker species of dragonfly was also spotted, this most likely being either a Migrant or Southern.

Philodromidae species (Philodromus aureolus ?)
Philodromus aureolus ?

17th, Beverley Parks – This time of year can be a great time to look for passage warblers and other migrants on my East Yorkshire patch, especially around what I call Old Hall Hedge, this thick and mature hedgerow being primarily made up of Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Elder and Willow. On some early autumn mornings it has been almost alive with warblers, with the odd other treat such as Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart or Chat also turning up in the past 10 years. However this morning was one of the quieter mornings with nothing quite so spectacular, though nevertheless some good birds were about including at least four Willow Warblers (Phylloscopus trochilus), three Common Whitethroats (Sylvia communis) and three Blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla). At least half of these warblers were actually juveniles, the Willow Warblers looking attractively yellow as they searched for food amongst the Elders, whilst young birds of other species were also noted including Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) and Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus), two species which are continuing to do well here despite declines elsewhere in the county and the rest of the country.

Willow warbler
Willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)

At Old Hall Farm a large quarrel of 50+ House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) were on the edge of the yard, again more than half of this number being juveniles, whilst in the fields opposite the farm a trio of Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus) were gleaning in the stubble fields. In the willow scrub a Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) was flushed out of the trees, and as I made my way back along the lane both Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and Buzzard (Buteo buteo) were noted, the Buzzard feeding on some sort of carrion in the field (the carrion was also attracting a few Magpies as well). At the small lagoon little was about apart from a trio of Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), two Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus) and Swallows (Hirundo rustica) skimming the water, though a Stoat (Mustela erminea) running along the lane was an extra bonus.

Tree Sparrow
Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)

18th, Woldgarth – The first mothing at Woldgarth for almost a whole month brought a nice variety of species last night, the mild and latterly cloudy conditions being almost perfect for nocturnal flutterers. As one would expect at this time of year the catch was dominated by the Yellow Underwings, with 32 Large Yellow Underwings (Noctua pronuba), 12 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwings (Noctua janthina), and 4 Lesser Yellow Underwings (Noctua comes). However the best moth of the night was found on the outside of the trap and was a lovely fresh August Thorn (Ennomos quercinaria), this being the first record of this attractive species at Woldgarth since 2013.

Other macro-moths recorded were as follows; Copper Underwing (x3), Common Rustic agg. (x6), Dark Arches (x7), Flame Shoulder (x2), Flounced Rustic (x2), Square-spot Rustic (x2), Brimstone (x1), Straw Dot (x1), and Willow Beauty (x1). Micros meanwhile included some interesting specimens, including a new addition to my lifetime list in the shape and form of a rather attractive Pied Smudge (Ypsolopha sequella), whilst others included Grass Veneer (x8), Garden Grass Veneer (x4), Mother of Pearl (x2), Garden Pebble (x2), Garden Rose Tortrix (x1), Grey Knot-horn / Acrobasis advenella (x1), Dingy Dowd / Blastobasis adustella (5+), and Grey Tortrix / Cnephasia stephensiana (5+).

A few other interesting creatures beside moths were also found in the trap this morning, including a trio of Red-legged Shieldbugs (Pentatoma rufipes) an attractive species of Shieldbug which is also known to some as ‘Forest Bugs’, a much smaller and largely green species of Hemiptera which I have cautiously identified as Neolygus contaminatus, and finally a species of Scarabaeidae (Dung Beetle) in the shape and form of a probable Night-flying Dung Beetle (Aphodius rufipes). A couple of Common Wasps (Vespula vulgaris) were also removed from the trap this morning.

The pitfall trap also produced a new species of Rove Beetle this morning though identifying it, as always with this group, is proving very difficult indeed. It was a large specimen measuring approx. 16 to 17 mm in length and I think it was possibly a species of Quedius, though narrowing it down to exactly which species is probably impossible without a thorough examination by a proper expert.

19th, Beverley Parks – An hour on the home patch shortly after dawn this morning proved largely quiet, though it was nice to see plenty of iconic farmland species such as Linnets, Goldfinches and Yellowhammers feeding in the stubble fields and along the hedgerows. At Old Hall Hedge a large gathering of Greenfinches also contained a juvenile Bullfinch, whilst the hedge itself hosted at least five Whitethroats, a single Willow Warbler and a lone male Blackcap. In the horse grazed pastures at least eight Pied Wagtails, mostly juveniles, were running around the fields, though a quick check for any White or indeed Yellow Wagtails amongst them proved fruitless. Further notes of interest included the first ripe Elderberries of the year, whilst the Haws are also continuing to redden as summer moves into autumn. The Blackberries are also now plentiful enough to gather in the usual favoured spots.

19th, Woldgarth – Back at home a new species of moth was discovered in the house, this turning out to be a Vapourer moth (Orgyia antiqua). Whilst this species is relatively common in much of the country, especially in the south, it is far less so here in East Yorkshire with just 308 records for VC61 (link). However this may be partly because the species if primarily a day-flyer rather than a species that is attracted to light, and it could be that the unidentified species of copper/orange hued moth which I keep seeing in the garden, especially around the Yews, could well be this species. Mystery solved perhaps?

Vapourer Moth (Orgyia antiqua)
Vapourer Moth (Orgyia antiqua)

20th, Woldgarth – The Horse Chestnut on the hill above the homestead is now beginning to show signs of tint, this particular tree always being amongst the first to show colour in this area.

21st, Beverley Parks – A dawn wander around the home patch in the hope of maybe a migrant bird or two brought the usual suspects, Old Hall hedge once more hosting the largest diversity of warblers in the area, albeit in low numbers this morning. In total birds included a single Willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus), a couple of Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita), and one each of Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) and Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis). In the same area it was nice to see the family of Bullfinches once more, at least three juveniles being spotted this morning, whilst the tree hosted a single Stock dove (Columba oenas) amongst the far more numerous Wood Pigeons.

In the pea fields the gulls have begun to return with at least thirty attractive Common Gulls (Larus canus) and about 10 Black-headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) observed from near White Hall Farm, the BHG’s having now lost their black heads for yet another year. Up to 5 Pied Wagtails were also spotted, again mostly juveniles, whilst beside the railway line a single Buzzard (Buteo buteo) was repeatedly calling, presumably to another bird somewhere in the area. Finally the pond again disappointed, my hopes for a Green or Wood Sandpiper dropping in remaining a fanciful hope, but it did host 6 Mallards, an adult Moorhen and a Linnet drinking by the water’s edge.

23rd, Woldgarth / Beverley Parks – A large number of Willow warblers (Phylloscopus trochilus) were in the area today with a few spotted and heard in the garden. Indeed a large fall was reported along the East Yorkshire coast this morning with hundreds being caught and ringed at Buckton, Flamborough and Spurn. A good fall of Spotted Flycatchers was also reported, whilst at wetlands near the coast the last few days have seen large numbers of Curlew Sandpipers moving southwards.

Meanwhile the Skinner moth trap was full of lepidoptera this morning, the muggy weather last night meaning that conditions were near perfect. The Large Yellow Underwings were particularly numerous with a minimum count of 168, whilst Lesser Yellow Underwings numbered 10 and Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwings totaled 17. Other numerous moths included Silver Y (x5), Copper Underwing (x6), Straw Dot (10+), Willow Beauty (9+) and Square-spot Rustic (x5), whilst other macros were Flame Shoulder (x3), Shuttle-shaped Dart (x2), Dun-bar (x3), Six-striped Rustic (x1), Flounced Rustic (x1), Pale Mottled Willow (x1), Mouse Moth (x4), Dark Arches (x2), Marbled Beauty (x1), Riband Wave (x1), Poplar Hawk-moth (x1), Brimstone (x1), Garden Carpet (x2), Flame Carpet (x3), Double-striped Pug (x1), and Lime-speck Pug (x1). However the highlights were my first Gold Spot (Plusia festucae) of the year, this richly coloured moth being an old favourite, along with a fresh looking Dusky Thorn (Ennomos fuscantaria), and my first ever Vine’s Rustic (Hoplodrina ambigua), a species which has become increasingly common up here in the East Riding (VC61) during the past decade.

Micros included a few new specimens with a pair of Dark-triangle Buttons (Acleris laterana / comariana), one of the always tricky to separate Ermine species (Yponomeuta padella / malinellus / cagnagella), and a Yarrow Conch (Aethes smeathmanniana), whilst others were represented by Grass Veneer (x5), Garden Grass Veneer (x1), Light Brown Apple Moth (x8), Maple Button / Acleris forsskaleana (x3), Garden Rose Tortrix / Acleris variegana (x2), Grey Tortrix / Cnephasia stephensiana (x1), Beautiful Plume / Amblyptilia acanthadactyla (x1), and Mother of Pearl (x2).

Extra notes included a single Red-legged Shieldbug (Pentatoma rufipes), a pair of Night-flying Dung Beetles (Aphodius rufipes), a species of Corixidae (possibly Sigara dorsalis) and a large number of both Bradycellus harpalinus and Bradycellus verbasci, these small red species of Carabidae often turning up in large numbers at this time of year.

24th, Beverley Parks – A strangely quiet morning on the local patch with very few warblers around, this especially surprising considering the influx yesterday, though it was nice to catch up with a handsome Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca) on the western side of Old Hall Hedge, this particular species having been quite scarce this year, at least on my patch anyway. Good flocks of mixed finches, most of which were juveniles, were also spotted in this area, whilst the stubble fields on t’ other side of hedge hosted a dozen Lapwings gleaning with the Corvids and Starlings.

Moving on to the pond near the livery yard I noted again a good number of Pied Wagtails in the horse grazed pastures, and as I arrived at the pond I heard the distinctive flight call of a Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) overhead, the bird in question eventually being spotted as it circled above me. As I observed the pond I heard another Yellow Wagtail pass over, though as for the pond itself little was about apart from seven Mallards, the resident Moorhen, feeding Swallows & a trio of Linnets whom dropped in for a drink.

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

25th, Beverley Parks – Despite the rain I headed out for a morning stroll around the local patch, this kind of weather at this time of year often bringing in the odd passing migrant to this otherwise unpromising and largely arable corner of the East Riding of Yorkshire. I started at the pond, hoping the small patch of water had encouraged a wader to drop in, but as has been the case all summer all to be seen were Mallards and a single Moorhen. However the count of 11 Mallards was the largest at the site for several weeks. In the pea fields the gulls were back again with a good variety on show, including the usual Common and Black-headed Gulls, along with a large number of Lesser Black-backs (Larus fuscus), a few Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus), & at least one Great Black-back (Larus marinus).

However the highlight of the morning came as I was preparing to depart the pond area as a small bird on the distant boundary fence caught my eye. With binoculars trained upon it I was able to identify it as a juvenile species of Chat, though due to the distance I was unable to confirm the exact identity with 100% confidence. However going by my rather limited experience as regards behaviour, as well as the general ‘jizz’ of the bird in question, I think it was probably a juvenile Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra), but I could well be wrong (I often am). Still either species is a great record for my inland patch so it was definitely worth getting a bit wet on this muggy and murky early autumn morning!

25th, Woldgarth – Back at home the garden was alive with birds, as is often the case during damp and overcast weather at this time of year, though apart from both a male and a female Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) nothing out of the ordinary was noted. Still it was great to see just how many juvenile birds are about this year, with Goldfinches, Greenfinches and Chaffinches all having great years judging by the number of scruffy youngsters gracing the garden currently, whilst a few young Bullfinches were also noted.

26th, Beverley Parks – It was an excellent morning on the old patch today with some good birds about on what turned out to be a clear and fresh early autumn morning, the ground rather wet after nearly an inch of rain yesterday. Starting at the pea fields it was interesting to note that the larger species of gull which were observed yesterday were largely absent this morning, though in saying that the odd juvenile Herring Gull was noted among the 100+ Common Gulls and the dozen or so Black-headed Gulls which graced the fields today.

Moving on to Old Hall Hedge brought a few warblers feeding amongst the hawthorns and elders, including two Willow warblers, a trio of Blackcaps and at least five Chiffchaffs, though the best bird by far and away was a single Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata), by no means an annual tick at my small inland patch these days. As I watched these a red-headed juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker caught my attention high in the tree, whilst a passing young Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) was having to put up with constant mobbings by Swallows, Crows and Magpies as it searched for its next meal. In the stubble fields to the south a few Stock doves (Columba oenas) were feeding in the vast expanse of golden bristles, further interest also being provided by a young Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) making its way across the vast arable field.

Yellow Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava)

Finally I finished at the pond where a pair of Teal (Anas crecca) were immediately spotted on the far side, their presence obviously not welcomed by the resident Moorhen whom frequently tried to see them off. Teal are only occasional visitors to the home patch, indeed prior to the construction of the pond the only records I had were of birds flying over, but I am hoping that as the pond matures it will begin to attract more such birds in the longer term, especially in the autumn and winter months when birds are on the move. Who knows maybe a Smew might turn up one day!

As I continued to wander around the pond area a single Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) dropped in and stayed for around quarter of an hour, fishing for small fry from its perch near the edge of the water. Whilst fleeting sightings of kingfishers are a fairly regular occurence along the local drainage ditches, it is nevertheless always great to see them when they do indeed actually stop and perch. However as I enjoyed the view of this wonderfully colourful bird I heard the distinctive call of a Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) from somewhere nearby, the bird eventually being spotted along the gravel track which allows access to the pond. Through the binoculars I was able to confirm it as a juvenile Yellow Wagtail, the third in as many days, the new pond once more just going to prove how important water is if you want to attract more birds, wildlife and nature in general to an area.

Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

27th, Woldgarth – The Stevenson screen and the instruments within were given a thorough cleaning this morning, a job I never particularly enjoy. Still it did provide some interesting observations including a variety of different spider species which call the Stevenson screen home. Most were of the ‘Garden Spider’ variety, ie. species of Orbweaver such as Araneus diadematus (Garden Spider) and Nuctenea umbratica (Walnut Orb Weaver), both attractive species which I don’t actually mind handling (despite my interest in spiders I am actually an arachnophobe). One particular N. umbratica has been constructing its web across the door of the Stevenson screen every night during the past week, the web having to be broken by me when I read the instruments every morning. I always feel a little guilty about doing this but apparently the species actually builds a new web every evening anyway, this giving the spider its alternative name of ‘The Evening Spider’.

In the afternoon I did a half an hour survey of the garden birds with the results as follows; Blackbird x2, Blue tit x6, Bullfinch x4, Chaffinch x11, Coal tit x2, Dunnock x2, Goldcrest x2, Goldfinch x9, Great tit x3, Greenfinch x10, Robin x1, and Wood Pigeon x3. A rather nervous Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) also made an appearance along the edge of the woodland.

27th, Beverley Parks – On the local patch the hedgerows and fields were much quieter today with only a handful of Common Gulls in the pea fields, and a few warblers along Old Hall Hedge, including a single Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca), two Common Whitethroats (Sylvia communis), an immature female Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) and a few Willow warblers (Phylloscopus trochilus). However down at the pond a juvenile Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin) was a nice find, especially as the last one on the home patch was way back in May, but otherwise it was very quiet with a half dozen Mallards, 10+ Lapwings in the fields, and at least five Mistle Thrushes (Turdus viscivorus) in the vicinity.

Garden Warbler
Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin)

28th, Beverley Parks – Another largely quiet stroll around the local patch on what was a particularly dull and drizzly early autumn morning, this kind of muggy and damp weather being fairly typical at this time of year. The pea fields held only the smaller species of gull, with c.60 Common Gulls and about a dozen Black-headed Gulls, whilst at the pond the number of Mallard has now increased to 15, this being the largest count so far this year. Around Old Hall Farm warblers included a lone Chiffchaff, 3 Willow Warblers and a single male Blackcap, whilst a family of Wrens also kept me entertained. Indeed the hedgerow seemed full of these diminutive mouse-like songsters this morning. Further interest was provided by a Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis) near Model Farm and a Buzzard (Buteo buteo) in the fields of the livery yard.

28th, Moorgates – On what was a very dreek afternoon up on the moors with low cloud enveloping the tops and drizzle being swept in from the nearby North Sea, I headed out for a short stroll in this always productive and interesting corner of the National Park, this shallow moorland valley probably being my favourite area for birding around Goathland. As one would expect the dominant bird was the always numerous Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis), with dozens of these moorland LBJ’s being counted, though more interesting (perhaps) were at least two Wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe) around the rocks and boulders which cover the eastern slope of this valley. Further sightings included a lone Curlew, a single Kestrel, a few Swallows, and at least one Willow warbler, whilst it was also interesting to note the now near ripe Rowan berries which were abundant on some trees, this years crop certainly being much heavier than last years. The Ling heather is also now at its best, the Bell heather having now concluded for yet another summer, with other flowers on the moorland floor including Tormentil and lovely little Eyebrights. The ground was also alive with Craneflies, these clumsy fliers lifting up almost constantly as I wandered forward through the flowering heather.

29th, Beverley Parks – A gorgeous early autumn on the home patch brought some nice sightings, including a single Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) at Long Lane Pond and a Teal (Anas crecca) among the 12+ Mallards. In the fields of the livery a pair of Buzzards (Buteo buteo) were sitting on the fence posts, these same fields also attracting Pied Wagtails, Starlings and Mistle Thrushes. A few more Swallows (Hirundo rustica) were around this morning, probably passage migrants heading south for yet another year, while at the Old Hall hedge warblers included just 2 Chiffchaff and a single Blackcap. In the pea fields 41+ Common Gulls were counted, along with a solitary Black-headed Gull, with other sightings worthy of mention this morning including a yaffling Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis) along Long Lane and an Oyster-catcher (Haematopus ostralegus) passing unseen overhead. I wonder when the first Golden Plovers will arrive on the patch this autumn?

Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

29th, Woldgarth – Back at home I gave the top of the Stevenson screen a new coat of paint, this once me giving the perfect excuse to check on the spiders currently inhabiting the weather station. Interestingly the number of Walnut Orb Weavers (Nuctenea umbratica) were fewer than they were just a couple of days ago with just three being found this afternoon, whilst a new species has arrived on the scene, these either being Araniella opisthographa or A. cucurbitina (aka Cucumber Green Spiders). Both these yellowy-green spiders are almost impossible to tell apart without a very close examination by an expert but whichever they were it was nice to add yet another species to both the ‘Stevenson Screen’ list and the Woldgarth list.

Cucumber Green Spider (Araniella opisthographa/cucurbitina)
Cucumber Green Spider (Araniella opisthographa/cucurbitina)

29th, North Cave Wetlands – Finally I managed to pop down to the local wetlands this morning, a variety of events and circumstances meaning that I had been unable to do so until today. Obviously my main reason for visiting was the long reported SPOTTED CRAKE (Porzana porzana), a bird which until today I had never previosuly recorded, but after a short wait I, and a number of other birders, were rewarded with good views of this skulking species along the western edge of Reedbed Lake. The bird itself was surprisingly small, this being especially apparent whilst it fed beside a Common Snipe, whilst in appearance it looked across between a Water Rail and a small juvenile Moorhen. However after showing well for 10 minutes it became more elusive again, the bird retreating to the safety of the reeds by the time we decided to depart shortly before midday.

Spotted Crake hiding behind a Snipe
Spotted Crake (L) hiding behind a Common Snipe (R)

However apart from the Crake it was a very quiet morning at North Cave with not that much about, though when we arrived we did manage to spot a pair of Green Sandpipers (Tringa ochropus) in the far south-eastern corner of Dryham Ings, as well as a lone Grey Heron and quite a few Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago), the usual autumn build-up of this species now seemingly underway. On the western most part of the Ings (near Crossland Hide) the Greylag and Canada Geese were joined by a Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus), this escaped bird being one of a few which turn up regularly at East Yorkshire nature reserves from time to time. A few whistling Wigeon (Anas penelope) were also heard, the return of these birds being most heartily welcomed by myself as its means that autumn is just around the corner, and Pochard (Aythya ferina) showed well with at least 20 being counted in Main & Carp Lakes. Finally quite a few Curlew (Numenius arquata) were also about, another sign of the changing seasons, whilst to the east four Buzzards (Buteo buteo) circled above the ridge.

Away from the birds a decent variety of dragonflies were about, especially considering that we just days away from September, with the Common Darters (Sympetrum striolatum) dominating for the most part. However Brown Hawkers (Aeshna grandis) were also quite apparent, especially around Carp and Reedbed Lakes, whilst both Southern and Migrant Hawkers (Aeshna cyanea & A. mixta) were also added to my notebook. As regards the damselflies just Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) was recorded, these as usual being most apparent in the brambles down beside Carp Lake, these same brambles also hosting a few species of lepidoptera including Large White, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood and Mother of Pearl. Undoubtedly more could have been recorded but since we were in a hurry to get back home we had to rush around the reserve, the Crake obviously being the main purpose for our visit anyway.

30th, Beverley Parks – Hopefully the forecast spell of fine weather will mean that most of the cereal harvest can be done and dusted before the weather does inevitably turn once more, the unsettled weather of the past week meaning that things have become somewhat delayed after what had otherwise been a good start. Yield-wise the winter-wheat is looking good, the quality of which is also slightly above normal, this following on from the somewhat disappointing winter barley yields which were generally a little below par. However spring-barley is looking very good this year, the quality being especially good in some parts of the country.

Just a half hour visit to ‘Long Lane Wetlands’ this morning with the main highlight being a couple of visitations by a Kingfisher, this showing well enough for a few distant photos, and a single Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) in the main drainage ditches which run either side of Long Lane. Grey Wagtail is always a good tick on the home patch and the last week has brought all three British breeding species at various times, good stuff for my otherwise barren inland patch. Other notes included 11+ Mistle Thrushes (Turdus viscivorus), 15+ Mallards, 32+ Common Gulls and Swallows moving southwards in noticeable numbers.

31st, Beverley Parks – A few fields of winter wheat which had been standing after being partially combined more than a week ago were finally finished off today, the moisture levels finally low enough to get the combines rolling once more. The forecast for the weekend is looking a bit iffy at the moment so hopefully all, or at the very least most of the cereals, can be gathered by the end of the week.