September 2016

1st, Beverley Parks – Whilst it was a strangely quiet morning around Old Hall Hedge, indeed not a single warbler was recorded, things were much productive down at ‘Long Lane Wetlands’ with a few good birds about, at least for my patch anyway. The best of the lot was a pair of Gadwall (Anas strepera), a bird which I have never previously recorded in the Parks, the year list now up to 86 and the patch list up to 104. Mallard were also recorded in good numbers this morning with 16 present in the area, a new 2016 high, whilst as I watched these I noted that the resident Moorhen have another chick, this being fed regularly amongst the reeds which are now becoming established at this new site.

As I wandered around the pond I could hear a mewing Buzzard to the south-east, though better yet was the somewhat melancholic call of a dozen Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria) flying over, these seemingly dropping into a field just west of my home patch. Only the other day I was wondering when the first Golden Plovers would arrive back in the area. Other passage migrants heard passing over included a number of Martins and Swallows, though most interesting was the sound of Skylarks (Alauda arvensis) high in the sky, this being the first time this autumn that I have noted them passing over. No doubt they will become a regular sound during the next few weeks.

Additional notes included 25 Common Gulls in the pea fields, a dozen Lapwings in the stubble fields near Old Hall Farm, at least five Mistle Thrushes in the horse grazed pastures, a couple of Pied Wagtails overhead, and finally two Chiffchaffs sub-singing near Keldmarsh.

Common Gull (Larus canus)
Common Gull (Larus canus)

2nd, Beverley Parks – A walk around the local patch on what was a mostly cloudy and cool autumn morning, the ground wet underfoot after a short period of heavy rain last night. Bird-wise things were on the quiet side once more, but in the horse grazed pastures up to 20 Pied Wagtails (Motacilla alba) and at least one Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) were feeding with the Starlings. The pond meanwhile was almost devoid of bird-life this morning, apart from a half dozen Mallards and a Moorhen, though overhead good numbers of Swallows (Hirundo rustica) and the odd House Martin (Delichon urbica) would occasionally drop in and feed whilst the majority continued on southwards. In the pea fields the Common Gulls (Larus canus) continue to dominate with 31+ counted through my field-scope, though a few Black-headed Gulls, a juvenile Herring Gull and one Lesser Black-backed Gull also joined them this morning. The LBBG was a particularly fine specimen as well.

3rd, Beverley Parks – Little new to report from the Parks though a good count of c.100 Common Gulls in the pea-fields was worthy of note, these being complimented by 11-12 Black-headed Gulls, and at least one Stock dove as well. Mallard too were numerous with 28 being counted, a new high for 2016. However the best sighting of the morning went to the 8 Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) which flew over heading north, this incredibly being the first record of this impressive species of Anserinae on my home patch this year! Speaking of Ansers a small group of 11 Greylag Geese were gleaning in the far western stubble fields, the first I have seen in the area for a few weeks.

Additional notes which I at least found of interest included a single Grey Wagtail flying over heading south, a Buzzard in the stubble fields opposite the new kennels, a singing Chiffchaff and at least three Willow warblers in the hedgerows. A Roe deer was also seen in the pea-fields.

Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

4th, Beverley Parks – A series of unfortunate events meant that my perambulation around the home patch was rather frustrating this morning, a parked taxi at my usual pond viewing point being the first, whilst the landowner at one of the farms was also conducting pigeon &/or corvid control (I presume). With his first shot the gulls in the pea-fields took flight and were not to be seen again during the rest of my visit, though from what I saw it looked like most were Common Gulls again with a few Black-heads mixed in as well. However I harbour no ill will against the gentleman, the control of such birds being a necessary evil sometimes, and as I said previously it was just unfortunate that I arrived when I did.

Back at the pond 32 Mallards were present, yesterday’s 28 proving to be a short-lived record, though otherwise it was very quiet down here with just a few Pied Wagtails being additionally observed. However I thought I did hear some distant Golden Plovers to the west but unfortunately I was unable to confirm this. In the livery fields 7+ Pied Wagtails were among the horses, these fields also hosting a pair of Buzzards and a single Kestrel. Finally at Old Hall Hedge a few warblers were about including 4 Chiffchaffs, 2 Willow warblers and a lone female Blackcap, though it has been a few days since I have seen a Whitethroat of either species on the home patch. A Goldcrest was also noted among the scrub, whilst overhead a small passage of Swallows made their way southwards.

Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)
Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)

4th, Yorkshire Wolds – We enjoyed a short walk around the top of Pasture Dale and over into Nettle Dale this morning, my eldest sister and her lovely red fox Labrador joining us. The weather was cool, cloudy and breezy with occasional blustery showers sweeping in from the west-north-west, though every now and then a break would appear in the cloud allowing a short burst of early autumn sunshine. The countryside is certainly looking pretty tired now with most flowers now gone to seed and red haws abounding in the hedgerows, and whilst much of the cereal crops have been harvested some still remain up on these high Wolds, including some wheat, and what I presumed to have been spring barley. Indeed the barley up towards Cobdale Farm was lying flat in the field in places, though hopefully the forecast settled and warm weather for the coming week will allow most of the Wolds farmers to get the last of their crops in before the weather does inevitably turn for the worse.

Due to the poor weather it was unsurprising that things were pretty quiet on the nature front, sheep-grazed Pasture Dale producing just a few Meadow Pipits, finches (mostly Goldfinches) along the field edge, the odd Linnet in the gorse, and Swallows feeding on the flies attracted by the sheep. A Red Kite soared above at one point, this being mobbed by a few Common Gulls, and in total three Kites would be seen during the duration of our walk. Meanwhile the recently ploughed fields west of Mill Farm hosted Common Gulls and 30+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls, the LBB Gulls being of varying ages & plumages. Finally just one species of butterfly was noted, this being Meadow Brown, with about half a dozen being spotted fluttering around the top of Nettle Dale.

5th, Beverley Parks – The local patch proved fairly quiet once more this morning, the passage of various passerines a week or two ago now becoming a distant memory, though it was nice to see another Grey Wagtail down at the wetlands, this passage and occasionally wintering bird once more favouring the drainage ditches which flow beneath the new bypass. In the northern most pastures a Fox was spotted making its way across the field, a Roe Deer also being observed nearby, whilst a single Buzzard was spotted drifting over the fields of the livery. In the pea-fields up to 60 Common Gulls were joined by c.20 Black-headed Gulls and at least three Lesser Black-backed Gulls, whilst the cereal fields hosted up to 33 Mallards, their heads comically standing above the golden stubble as they watched me walk by.

5th, Woldgarth – The moth trap was put last night and once more it was the Yellow Underwings which dominated the catch, though numbers were nowhere near as high as last time. Nevertheless 85 Large Yellow Underwings, 16 Lesser Yellow Underwings and one rather late (and very worn) Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing were recorded. However the best moth of the night proved to be a new addition to the Woldgarth list, a rather large and interesting Old Lady (Mormo maura) being found tucked away deep within the egg boxes. this moth being relatively uncommon here in the East Riding of Yorkshire (VC61) with less than 250 previous records. Indeed the moth is generally most common in western parts of Yorkshire but it seems to be becoming more widespread.

Another nice moth was a single Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum), a moth which I never record in particularly large numbers despite the fact it is very common here in VC61, whilst others included a fresh looking Garden Carpet, a single Common Marbled Carpet, a rather late Dark Arches, a nicely marked Flounced Rustic (unfortunately it flew off just before I got a photo), three Square-spot Rustics, and a very worn Willow Beauty. Indeed a few moths were so worn & tatty that identification was impossible, something which can be rather frustrating at this time of year.

Old Lady (Mormo maura)
Old Lady (Mormo maura), a new species for the garden

5th, North Cliffe Wood – We spent a few hours wandering around this Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve on what was a mostly cloudy and somewhat breezy early September morning, the sun only managing to occasionally break through the extensive stratocumulus layer. However despite the cloud a very pleasing variety of dragonflies were noted, especially out on the heath, with three species of Darter, four species of Hawker and a single species of Damselfly, numbers as follows; Emerald Damselfly 20+, Migrant Hawker 5+, Southern Hawker 2+, Brown Hawker x1, Emperor Dragonfly x1, Common Darter 50+ (including oviposting pairs at the heathland pool), Black Darter x2 & Ruddy Darter x1. Interestingly the Emperor was my first ever record of this species at North Cliffe.

With autumn now here the hedgerows are now laden with haws and blackberries, whilst rowans are covered in bright red berries and the oaks are covered in green acorns. The acorns seem particularly large and plentiful this year, and it would seem that most plants are producing a good crop of berries and nuts this year, with the possible exception of the Elderberries which are, at least in comparison, rather poor. The brambles themselves were a major draw for the Speckled Woods, this often abundant species at this location proving to be indeed rather numerous with at least thirty being recorded. However otherwise butterfly numbers were very poor once more with just a few Whites being additionally noted, though a few orange coloured day-flying moths were flittering around the birches at the edge of the heath as well, possibly Vapourer moths (Orgyia antiqua).

Further signs of the season came in the greater diversity of fungi now evident on the woodland floor, with species of Russula, including Ochre Brittlegills (Russula ochroleuca), numerous attractive Tawny Grisettes (Amanita fulva), what looked like Brown Roll-rims (Paxillus involutus), and a variety of other types well beyond my woeful mycological identification skills. An all white variety of what looked like a possible species of Amanita was also found, this so far proving awkward to identify with any great certainty. I really do wish I could better identify fungi as it undoubtedly would open up a whole new world of discovery, especially when wandering around the autumn woods.

On the bird front a hunting Hobby (Falco subbuteo) just south of the heath was a welcome sighting, these summer visiting birds of prey undoubtedly attracted to the large number of dragonflies in the area, whilst other birding notes worthy of mention included a calling Jay (Garrulus glandarius), at least two Marsh Tits (Poecile palustris) amongst a group of more typical woodland tits, and a good number of ‘tsweep-ing’ leaf warblers throughout the wood and heath. Further notes included a handsome Hornet amongst the blackberries and the discarded skin of a Grass Snake on the heath.

6th, Woldgarth – A noticeable movement of House Martins was noted above the old homestead today, this species of hirundine being at its most common and frequent at this time of year, at least here at Woldgarth. The movement of Martins and Swallows was also noted in other parts of the county today, especially along the coast where thousands were reported at places such as Filey and Flamborough.

On the butterfly front the garden is still pretty quiet, something which has been all too familiar throughout this summer, barring a few days in early August (which coincided with my birthday) when we had both Red Admirals and Painted Ladies visiting frequently. However since then it has been very quiet again, sightings largely restricted to Large Whites, Small Whites, Green-veined Whites, the odd Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood, and a handful of Holly Blues, even usually common species such as Peacock and Comma proving elusive. This poor year for butterflies is also reflected in many other parts of the country, the year on year trend for disappointing numbers in recent summers certainly being of great concern to those of us whom love the natural world.

7th, Beverley Parks – Very quiet this morning, even by recent standards, with little worthy of note on the old home patch, though the pea-fields continue to attract a few species of gull, including c.70 Common Gulls, 5-10 Black-headed Gulls and 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. A flock of 10+ Mistle Thrushes was roving around the area as well, calling their distinctive rattly call as they did so, whilst overhead a few Skylarks were heard heading inland, presumably migrants arriving for the autumn.

8th, Woldgarth – The moth trap was emptied this morning after what had been another warm and muggy night for the time of year here in the East Riding of Yorkshire, the continuation of the summer-like weather reflected in the species of moth being caught at the moment. Indeed very few ‘autumnal’ species have been turning up in the trap so far this month, though hopefully this will change as the nights continue to get ever longer as we approach the autumn equinox in a fortnight’s time.

Unsurprisingly the trap was once more dominated by the Large Yellow Underwings with 73 counted this morning, whilst Lesser Yellow Underwings numbered seven in total. A couple of lovely fresh Angle Shades were welcome guests of my home-made skinner trap, whilst fresh generations of both both Common Marbled Carpets (x4) & Garden Carpet (x9) were noted. However the best moth of the night would be a diminutive Small Dusty Wave (Idaea seriata), this almost pug-sized species of moth having only been recorded at Woldgarth on two previous occasions. Another Old Lady (Mormo maura) was also great to see, though the specimen caught last night was a very tatty specimen indeed with the right wing almost reduced down to its mere ‘skeletal’ structure, whilst a single Marbled Beauty (Bryophila domestica) was a surprisingly late record for this species.

A lovely little new species of micro was also added to the garden list, this coming in the shape and form of a Golden Argent (Argyresthia goedartella), the tiny little moth rewarding close examination with its golden bands of colour reflecting beautifully in the morning light. Additional species of moth recorded were as follows; Grey Pine Carpet (x1), Straw Dot (x2), Willow Beauty (x1), Mouse Moth (x2), Square-spot Rustic (x3), Flounced Rustic (x1), Small Square-spot (x1), Flame Shoulder (x1), Light Brown Apple Moth (x8), Grey Tortrix (x1), Diamond-back Moth (x1), and Dark Triangle Button agg. (Acleris laterna / comariana) (x1). In total 122 moths of 21 species were recorded.

Further notes whilst emptying the trap included a single Red-legged Shieldbug (Pentatoma rufipes), a 10-spot Ladybird (Adalia decempunctata) of the octopunctata form, a couple of Night-flying Dung Beetles (Aphodius rufipes), a dozen or so Common Wasps, and a species of Hemiptera which I have cautiously identified as an Alder Spittlebug (Aphrophora alni). A large movement of hirundines was also noted overhead, with upwards of a hundred or so Swallows drifting southwards.

9th, Beverley Parks – A fresh and breezy visit to the patch this morning with things remaining very much on the quiet side. Hopefully when the autumn weather does finally arrive things will get moving again! At the pond the Mallard count is now up to at least 35, whilst out in the pea-fields the Common Gulls numbered 63 with at least 5 Black-headed Gulls and a juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gulls joining them. These same fields also hosted a good number of Mistle Thrushes, whilst the teasels and burdocks along the weedy egdes played host to roving bands of Goldfinches and Linnets, a lovely autumn sight and sound. Meanwhile only a few passing hirundines were noted this morning, though both Skylarks and Pipits were heard passing overhead, the Pipits being the first I have heard this autumn. Finally a Cormorant was also spotted heading eastwards towards the nearby river Hull.

9th, Woldgarth – Back at home a lovely fresh looking Comma (Polygonia c-album) was sunning itself outside the kitchen window, this species having been quite scarce at Woldgarth this summer. This is also the time of year to enjoy the rather beautiful creations of the Garden Spiders (Araneus diadematus), though the spiders themselves are no less beautiful, especially when studied up close. Indeed these spiders have always been a favourite of mine despite my mild arachnophobia, whilst the shape of the cross upon their abdomen has also meant that they have been looked upon favourably by many naturalists, especially those eminent Georgian & Victorian “parson-naturalists” to whom we owe so much.

Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus)
Garden/Cross Spider (Araneus diadematus)

10th, Beverley Parks – With dull and damp conditions overhead I headed down to the patch in the hope that something may have turned up, such weather often bringing in the odd migrant at this time of year. Although initially all seemed quiet, I eventually picked out a small bird perched on the southern boundary fence of the pond, this turning out to be a juvenile Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra), the second to have graced this particular location this autumn (see 25th August). In the pond itself the Moorhen pair still have two chicks which they feed regularly amongst the reeds and bull-rushes, whilst the Mallards this morning numbered in excess of 30. In the pea-fields c.48 Common Gulls, 5+ Black-headed Gulls, a juvenile Herring Gull & 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (1 adult & 2 juveniles) were counted, these joined by a mixture of Wood Pigeons, at least one Stock dove & several Mistle Thrushes. A Mistle Thrush was also heard singing this morning, albeit somewhat distantly, a reminder that winter is not that far away. Further notes included a juvenile Fox in the rough pastures at the north end of Long Lane, a Kestrel (this putting the gulls to flight), very few hirundines and at least three Chiffchaffs.

Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)
Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) record shot

10th, Woldgarth – I conducted one of my occasional garden bird counts today, the rules as always being that only birds within the garden itself can be counted, whilst all numbers quoted are minimum counts to avoid the danger of double-counting. The weather was near perfect for bird-watching at this time of year with steady rain, drizzle and light easterly winds, and this was confirmed by a small passage of leaf warblers through the garden during the half-hour I conducted the count. Birds recorded were as follows; Blackbird x2, Blue Tit x6, Bullfinch x2 (1m. / 1f.), Chaffinch x5, Chiffchaff x1, Coal Tit x1, Dunnock x3, Goldcrest x2 (1ad. / 1 juv.), Goldfinch x8, Great Tit x3, Greenfinch x12, Robin x2, Willow Warbler x2, and Wood Pigeon x1. In total 50 birds of 14 species were counted.

11th, Yorkshire Wolds – We had the pleasure of enjoying another Sunday walk with my eldest sister and her Red Fox Labrador this morning, my eldest niece also joining us this week. The walk of choice was around the attractive and sheltered dry chalk valley of Deepdale, this deeply cut and winding dale being located near the highest point of the Yorkshire Wolds. It is often a good place to look for wildlife, including redstarts, butterflies and wildflowers in the summer, rare waxcap fungi in the autumn, and birds of prey in the winter, though today things were somewhat on the quiet side.

Nevertheless a few species of butterfly were noted, including at least five Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta), a fresh Small Tortoiseshell, at least six Speckled Woods and a few species of ‘White‘. In the grassy downlands of Cot Nab a few species of Grasshopper were noted, including what appeared to be Meadow Grasshoppers (Chorthippus parallelus), one of which was happy enough to sit on my nieces hand for a few minutes. Overhead a pair of Kestrels performed over the east-facing wood and two Buzzards were also noted, but apart from a nice flock of Bullfinches along the ‘Bence’ little else of interest was noted on the birding front. Still it was nice to see a few Swallows up here still.

13th, Beverley Parks – Little of note in the Parklands surrounding our home this morning, indeed even the gulls were absent in the pea-fields when I arrived around dawn on what was a gorgeous morning with golden autumn sunshine and shallow mist hanging over the pastures. However as the sun continued to rise above the eastern horizon the gulls would begin to slowly drift in from the south, and by the time I departed the area 28 Common Gulls and 5 Black-headed Gulls had arrived. In the pond the Mallard count still continues to rise with a new 2016 high of 37 this morning, other birds noted in this area including a lone Moorhen, a few “tsweep-ing” leaf warblers and “rattling” Mistle Thrushes. Finally one of the resident Peregrine Falcons was heard calling from atop Beverley Minster as I rode past.

13th, North Cliffe Wood – On a very warm mid-September afternoon we headed over to this lovely little wood for a bit of fungi hunting and blackberry picking, a perfect way to spend an early autumn afternoon really. Despite the heat today (temperatures were above 80 degrees for a time) a good variety of fungi were noted once more, including an abundance of Tawny Grisettes (Amanita fulva), Birch Milkcap (Lactarius tabidus), another species of Milkcap which I yet to identify, a few Birch Brittlegills (Russula betularum) and Ochre Brittlegills (Russula ochroleuca) in the birch part of the wood, whilst around the oak woodland I found my first Blushers (Amanita rubescens) of the year. A single just emerged Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera) was also found beneath the large lime tree which grows in the NW corner of the heathland, whilst common species such as Common Earthball (Scleroderma citrinum), Birch Polypore (Piptoporus betulinus), Artist’s Fungus (Ganoderma applanatum) & Hoof Fungus (Fomes fomentarius) were easy to find.

However the find of the day was several Parasitic Boletes (Pseudoboletus parasiticus) in two quite separate parts of the wood, the first clump fruiting from old earthballs near the boggy part of the wood along the southern perimeter path, whilst the others were discovered fruiting from earthballs in the area where the rhododendrons were removed a few years ago in the eastern part of the wood. I have never recorded this fungi before and a little research online suggests they are pretty rare in this part of the country, indeed their national status is uncommon to rare (link).

Other notes from the walk included a good view of a hunting Hobby (Falco subbuteo) just to the south of the heath, the handsome raptor cutting through the sky like an over-sized Swift, whilst other birds of note included a calling Jay, a few Marsh tits and numerous “tsweep-ing” leaf warblers. A few species of butterfly were noted, most numerous again being Speckled Woods (though noticeably less numerous than last week), as well as a few ‘Whites‘, a couple of Red Admirals and at least one Comma, the latter seemingly having a late flourish to the year despite being almost absent through-out most of the summer. Dragonflies meanwhile included Common Darter, Migrant Hawker and Southern Hawker, though unfortunately we didn’t have time to check out the heathland lagoon this afternoon. Finally the heath-land heather has now finished flowering for yet another year.

14th, Woldgarth – Lots of moths (and craneflies) were once more attracted to the home-made 125W MV Skinner trap last night, though well over three-quarters of the 221 individual moths belonged to just one species. Of course this species was Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba), 174 of them being found in or around the trap at dawn, though other species of “Yellow” Underwing are now in decline with just four Lesser Yellow Underwings (Noctua comes) today. More welcome was a single Lunar Underwing (Omphaloscelis lunosa), a species I do not record that frequently here, whilst Copper Underwings (Amphipyra pyramidea) were also quite numerous with 8 being found this morning.

One new species was added to the garden list, this once more being a species of micro in the shape and form of a Grey-streaked Smudge (Plutella porrectella), a rather attractive little moth which has has been recorded fewer than 50 times here in VC61. At first glance I assumed it was a species of Crambid but in fact it is close relative of the far more common Diamond-back Moth. Other moths recorded were as follows; Garden Carpet (x7), Common Marbled Carpet (x4), Brimstone (x1), Green Carpet (x1), Burnished Brass (x2), Silver Y (x1), Angle Shades (x3), Mouse Moth (x2), Square-spot Rustic (x2), Turnip Moth (x1), Light Brown Apple Moth (x6), Garden Rose Tortrix (x2), Common Marble (x1), and one, as yet, unidentified species of Pug.

Grey-streaked Smudge (Plutella porrectella)
Grey-streaked Smudge (Plutella porrectella)

Also attracted to the trap were a dozen or so Wasps (these thankfully all pretty dozy), along with a single Birch Shieldbug (Elasmostethus interstinctus). This rather diminutive species of Shieldbug is always nice to see in the garden, and to my eyes at least it always looks rather similar to the otherwise far more common Hawthorn Shieldbug, albeit only about half the size.

18th, Grosmont – An interesting species of beetle was encountered on the outside of our small Victorian terraced cottage this afternoon. The bright-red colour and black head and legs meant that initially I thought it was a Black-headed Cardinal Beetle (albeit exceptionally late!) but upon closer examination I soon realised it was something new and previously unknown to me. After a bit of research I think I have identified it as a species of Net-winged Beetle (Lycidae), possibly Platycis minutus, a scarce species of beetle nationally and particularly uncommon north of the Humber. However the North York Moors is a northern outpost for the species (at least according to NBN data). with nearly all Yorkshire records of the species coming from VC62.

21st, Woldgarth – A few species of butterfly are still being observed in the garden including the odd Red Admiral, a couple of Small Tortoiseshells, a single Comma and a few ‘Whites‘. The Small Tortoiseshells are particularly pleasing to see as apparently this colourful and usually common species is having a poor year in other parts of the country, though thankfully here at Woldgarth this has not been the case.

23rd, Woldgarth – The number of Swallows in the skies above our home has noticeably reduced in the past week with most hirundines spotted in the heavens above now being species of Martin, the vast majority of which are House Martins. Meanwhile at the bird feeding station we have recently been invaded by large numbers of Goldfinches and Greenfinches, indeed they have pushed out many other birds including the Bullfinches. Such large numbers means that disease is a real threat and I may stop feeding the birds for a week to allow some of the finches to disperse elsewhere, especially as I have noted at least two poorly birds amongst the Greens. I will also take this opportunity to give all the feeders and the feeding station a good scrub clean, especially with autumn proper being just around the corner.

25th, North Cliffe Wood – A late morning visit on what was an improving late September day brought plenty of interest as usual at this lovely little reserve situated just beyond the western edge of the Yorkshire Wolds. Fungi once more provided a good variety of interest with locally common species such as Tawny Grisettes, Birch Milkcaps, species of Brittlegill and Brown Roll-rims being encountered frequently throughout the majority of the wood, whilst the Parasitic Boletes found on our last visit (see 13th) were also once more noted, all be it now past their best. However a few new species were also found today, including a good showing of Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) fruiting from a decaying fallen birch, some Sulphur Tufts (Hypholoma fasciculare), as well as a couple of rather limp looking Stinkhorns (Phallus impudicus), the first I have noted this year. The so called ‘egg’ of one of these easily identifiable fungi was also found in another part of the wood. Finally at least six Parasol Mushrooms were fruiting at the usual spot, two of which were at their best, two of which were already past it, and another two of which were still just emerging.

The number of Speckled Wood butterflies on the wing continues to dwindle with only a few seen today, through a brisk south-west breeze meant that conditions weren’t ideal anyway, this also proving to be the case as regards dragonflies. Nevertheless a few Common Darters were noted, as well as an unidentified species of Hawker. Around the blackberries, which are now nearing the end of their season, a Comma was noted, whilst around the birches what appeared to be a Vapourer moth was seen flittering around, this species of day-flying moth having a good year in 2016. Another observation around the blackberries was an impressive Hornet, this taking flight as soon as it spotted me, whilst out on the heath the gorse was covered in what appeared to be Four-spotted Orbweaver spiders (Araneus quadratus), an attractive species which is at its most frequent in early autumn.

Finally on the ornithological front it was a fairly unremarkable morning with just the usual array of typical woodland species, though for an east of the Wolds birder such as myself I always take some satisfaction from the sightings of species such as Marsh tits and Jays, both species being uncommon in my neck of the woods. On the heath ‘tsweeping’ leaf warblers were once more heard in good numbers, with other sightings including a yaffling Green Woodpecker and yet another Hobby, this summer visiting falcon proving to be a frequent observation at North Cliffe this summer.

28th, Woldgarth – A few Swallows were noted in the sky above the homestead this morning, these being the first I have seen over Woldgarth for a few days. Meanwhile a Chiffchaff was in the garden for much of the day and was seen visiting the bird bath on a number of occasions, whilst a species of White butterfly and a probable Red Admiral were also noted on what was an unseasonably warm and muggy afternoon.

30th, Moorgates – A quick stroll around this area above Goathland brought a few interesting observations, including quite a few leaf warblers, numerous thrushes (no winter ones though), a couple of Jays in the mixed birch, alder and oak woods, an abundance of rowan berries, and turning bracken up on the higher slopes. Most of the heather has now finished flowering through the odd bit can still be found here and there in sheltered spots. Meanwhile the fly agaric clump near the parking area is not up to much so far this year, though one rather old specimen was found beneath the birch tree.

30th, Grosmont – Not much to report from the village, the still green and almost summery countryside comparing interestingly to the notably more autumnal landscape up at Goathland. Indeed the relatively warm afternoon sunshine encouraged a few butterflies on to the wing, including ‘Whites‘ and Speckled Woods, though the lack of dragonflies in the village this summer has been disappointing. Another observation of note was a single Brown Long-eared Bat (Plecotus auritus) seen along the river, the bat possibly emerging from the caves on the opposite river-bank. This is a species I would expect to see here, the slow flight (at least compared to Pipistrelle) and almost silvery-brown appearance helping to identify this common British species.