Monday 27 July 2020

No-mig, the Post and the Pec

I've been away gallivanting inland again this weekend with a trip to Holystone on Sunday so have neglected the patch again.

I was there first thing on Sunday morning. I started with a bit of viz-mig and a look on the sea - all quiet, the bushes were very quite too, almost everything other than the wrens and the odd Chiffhcaff singing. Reed Buntings sang in the dunes and Grasshopper Warbler was reeling, which is quite late for them. A couple of Little Egrets went north  - all of a sudden there seems to be lots of Little Egrets on the coast, where have they all come from? Other than the resident Redshanks and Avocets still nurturing their young, the only wader was a single Black-tailed Godwit but the mud looked very dry.

On Saturday lunchtime I returned to 'The Post' and a look for some hovers. At the post I had a leafcutter bee coming and going with bits of leaf, never stopping longing to photograph and the Fork-tailed Flower Bees were going about their business. The wasp which I think is Ancistrocerus scoticus showed briefly, enough for a photo or two and intriguingly the ruby-tailed wasp I saw last week was back and I got a very poor record shot. Two species of Chrysis ruby-tailed wasps are known to be a kleptoparisite of this species - I need better photos of them both.

Ancistrocerus scoticus?
Record shot of Chrysis species of ruby-tailed wasp

Another wasp species headed for the post
I had a look for hovers and found some wasps, all of which I need to identify if possible, but I think they might be tricky. No new hovers but these were interesting:

Eupeodes corollae (m)
Cheilosia illustrata (f)
I found this Four-banded Longhorn Beetle Leptura quadrifasciata which is new for the patch for me.

Four-banded Longhorn Beetle Leptura quadrifasciata
My first Small Copper of the year rested briefly for a record shot and this Drinker moth was in the dunes. I always think drinker moths are more like a small bat than a moth.

Small Copper butterfly
Drinker moth
 These fine beasts all need ID...

Possibly Turnip Sawfly - Athalia rosae

Possibly Dusona sp?
I think that this is the female digger wasp that i have seen before?
Ichneumonid of some species? 
This morning a Pectoral Sandpiper was reported on the Budge fields. As I had to work and it was chucking it down with rain at lunchtime, I waited until this evening and the rain to stop to go and have a look. When I arrived another birder pointed it on the mud amongst the Dunlin. 'Pecs' are near annual at Druridge these days. The resident Avocet adult wouldn't let the Dunlin flock settle, chasing them as soon as they came near her so it was difficult to keep track of the Pec. She was even chasing the Pied Wagtails of which there were at least 30.

As I headed for home, I got a call from Ian Fisher to say that the Cattle Egret that had been at Cresswell Pond for a couple of days head just landed on the Budge fields. I had seen an egret flying north as I passed Hemscotthill. I should stopped for a closer look. I went back but couldn't see the egret, so headed home to make tea. Seemingly it was seen later roosting in the bushes.

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Lunchtime look

No updates from the patch over the weekend - I actually headed inland, which is a rare thing. Janet and I visited Kimmer Lough on Saturday - no photos from that day as I forgot to put a card in the camera and had to lug it all the way round our walk and take no photos. That'll teach me!

I din't make the same mistake on Sunday when we headed to Kielder via Harbottle Woods,  upper Coquetdale, the Otterburn Ranges and the forest Drive. We spent an hour or so at Harbottle, along the forest track, looking for hovers and other insects.

I popped down to the patch in my lunch-break yesterday for an hour, to have a look at 'The Post' and for hovers. I bumped into a local bee expert and we saw the flower bees coming and going and a very brief glimpse of one of the Megachille leafcutters carrying a large piece of leaf into the post. I got one chance of a photo just when the wind blew a stem of grass into the way.

Megachille sp obsured by grass
There were a few interesting hovers along the track

Eristalis tenax (f)
Eupeodes corrolae (m)
Syritta pipiens
I also found this Colletes bee - likely to be Davie's Collete (Colletes daviesanus) but not sure... and some other bits and bobs

Colletes bee - Colletes daviesanus?
Blue-tailed Damsels in 'mating wheel'
Arty shot of 7-spot ladybird
Potato Mirid again - Closterotomus norwegicus
Noon Fly - Mesembrina meridiana - my first of the year

A look offshore for an hour last night produced nine manx shearwaters north and a single arctic skua, on the beach roost there was single Mediterranean Gull, but it was early and the roost was only starting to build.  Tonight, a bit later, I counted at least 12 Med gulls! But nothing else of note.

Friday 17 July 2020

The post that doesn't stop giving

Thought I would mix things up on Thursday evening.

I started at 'The Post'  - and had frustratingly brief views of both Coelioxys elongata and Megachile versicolor but not long enough to photograph them, the latter is going into the back of the post and there is a collection of 'leaf bits' to signify this.

I also had a new wasp on the same post which I think is Ancistrocerus scoticus, intriguingly I also had a ruby-tailed wasp species on the same post which I also failed to capture. The ruby-tailed wasp species Chrysis ignita parasitises on A. scoticus - the plot deepens!. The Fork-tailed Flower Bees were still going about their business. The post that never stops giving.

Ancistrocerus scoticus?
I had a wander up the path to the hides and found some hoverflies and an interesting cranefly, spider and ladybird.

Syrphus ribesii (female)
Platycheirus albimanus (female)
Melanostoma mellinum (male)
Melanostoma mellinum (male)

Spotted Cranefly Nephrotoma appendiculata -  I think
Spider - ID tbc
14-Spot Ladybird  - Propylea quatuordecimpunctata
I had a wander through the bushes and disturbed a family of roe deer. The 'youths' were funny - making a sneezing, yet squeaky noise to the female who was close by, I made some squeaking noses back and one of the youngsters came a bit closer before scampering off. I also disturbed a roosting Asio owl species, presumably on of the short-eared owls that have been seen regularly recently?

Young Roe deer
The clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped so I dropped the macro lens -  for the 400mm and scope and headed for the dunes (still fantasising about that albatross) . Offshore there were a few hundred common scoter - they seemed disturbed and were constantly on the move, a single drake velvet was among them. I was just about to go home for tea when the clouds parted and the light was superb. Terns were feeding close to the shore so I went for a closer look...

Sandwich  tern
Arctic Tern
Arctic Tern
Common Tern 
Passing eiders
Sanderling - still showing some breeding plumage
Thousands of jellyfish on the beach

Tuesday 14 July 2020

Sunday - bee twitching, naturists and new hoverflies

Sunday morning - not an early start but at 8am, it wasn't that warm and I thought it was too early to look for some bees that Chris Barlow has been seeing lately on the patch (I was wrong it seems) - Sharp-tailed Bee Coelioxys elongata and a leafcutter bee Megachile versicolor, both of which have been hanging around the rotten post where I've been seeing the Ectemnius wasps. He also found Fork-tailed Flower Bees Anthophora furcata nesting in the post.

So instead of going to check out the post,  I had a look at the sea. There was a gang of folks camping on the beach and a handful of them were in the sea - butt naked! Each to their own I suppose? One of the juvenile Cuckoos was still by the road with a hoard of 'toggers' on it.

I retreated to the post and track and left the nudists and the toggers to their own devices.

The Fork-tailed Flower Bees were busy excavating holes in the rotten wood and my Ectemnius wasp was briefly on the post - I don't think it is identifiable to species.

Fork-tailed Flower Bee Anthophora furcata Investigating a nest hole
Ectemnius wasp sp
Chris had seen the sharp-tailed bees further down the path to the hides so I moved between the post and the brambles looking for them as the sun came and went. I didn't see them but there was plenty of other things to keep me occupied.

There were a few hoverflies out, mostly black and yellow wasp mimic types of the genus Syrphus and Eupeodes - both tricky to ID. I did find a new species for me and for the patch Platycheirus rosarum.

Platycheirus rosarum. - new for the patch
Syrphus sp (male)
Helophilus pendulus (male)
Eupeodes corollae (female)
Syrphus ribesii (female)
Platycheirus albimanus (female)
I also found these Gorse Shield Bugs nymphs hatching from their eggs - amazing little things.

Tiny Gorse Shield Bug Piezodorus lituratus nymphs hatching from eggs 
And this strange fly -Sicus ferrugineus - It's larvae are endoparasites of bumble bees, they pupate and overwinter in their victims - nice!

Sicus ferrugineus
Back to the post and still no sign of the bees but I did find a Blue Shield Bug nymph and a looper caterpillar which remains unidentified.

Blue Shield Bug nymph (final instar) Zicrona caerulea
Looper caterpillar to be ID'd
I bumped into Bob Biggs who told me about wood and common sandpipers from the Budge screen. Commons Sands are tricky these days with no edge to the big pool so I headed south through the bushes to see it.

On my way back to the car I saw these two interesting beasts in the grass.

Non-biting midge species
Sciara hemerobioides -  one of the dark-winged fungus gnats seemingly. Bonny thing!
Chris was at the post when I got back, typically just as I headed off he had the sharp-tailed bee briefly on the post. I'll try for them again during the week.

Louise Hislop came up to see them and confirmed the Sharp-tailed Bee as new for the vice-county and the leaf cutter as new for the County. Well done Chris!