Thursday, 31 July 2014


Perhaps even more alluring than the banded demoiselle, this is the beautiful demoiselle.  As far as I know it is not found in the North East although it is recorded in Yorkshire.  The photos of the males were taken on Tuesday on the Tove at Greens Norton and the female was on the Nene at Nether Heyford, both in Northamptonshire.  They are obviously not afraid of spiders!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

The young ones

There are lots of birds in the kitchen garden now, mostly youngsters.  The commonest are great tits while others include blackbird, blue tit, tree sparrow, robin, dunnock, wren, pied wagtail (pictured on the lawn) and chiffchaff.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Borage for forage

The bed in front of the hives is planted with borage and phacelia.  In the summer the honey bees seem to take less notice of flowers in the garden but they are very keen on these.  I hope they don't get lazy.

The bees have been collecting pollen from the borage and the phacelia.  Borage pollen is blue/grey and phacelia pollen is navy blue.

It is said that honey bees forage from only one flower type at a time, unlike bumblebees and solitary bees. However, the bee shown above moved directly from the phacelia to the borage, presumably because the borage nectar was irresistible.

The honey bees are sharing the flowers with bumblebees, hoverflies and leaf-cutter bees.  Bumblebees also collect the pollen while the hoverflies seem to eat it.  The leaf-cutters are noticeably faster and noisier foragers.  They have pollen baskets on their abdomens but I didn't see any evidence of them collecting borage pollen.

Friday, 25 July 2014


Even at the height of summer the bullfinch is still a regular on the feeders, preferring sunflower hearts.

In the spring this year bullfinches were visiting up to seven at a time.  I noticed that two of them were ringed - one male and one female - and I could read part of the numbers.

Over a series of visits and multiple photos I could complete the numbers - the male was L996431 and the female L996434 (her ring is upside down, hence the inverted photo).  

I submitted the numbers to Euring who confirmed that the birds were ringed by NHSN as juveniles of unknown sex on 12th August 2012 in Gosforth Park, 2km from here.

I have also seen ringed greenfinch, chaffinch, goldfinch and blue tit well enough to read part of the numbers but haven't been able to complete them - a project for next winter, perhaps.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

The return of the pheasant

The pheasant turned up this afternoon - the first time I have seen him for five weeks, shortly after the previous post about him.  He stood in the porch crowing and demanding food.  I guess he has been keeping a low profile while moulting.  He looks thin and a bit shabby but he probably thinks the same about me.  It's good to see him back.

Emperor in flight

The best few shots from Banks' Pond yesterday.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Muckle Moss

And so this morning I went to Muckle Moss, a National Nature Reserve 2 km south of Housteads Fort on Hadrian's Wall, as the dragon flies.  Unfortunately just after arriving I fell in, or rather sank in up to my waist.  I managed to get out with some difficulty.  Could have been dodgy.  I saved both cameras from the water but the iPhone was in my pocket and is u/s.  I decided to stay but it was a soggy enterprise.  At least the water was warm.

Muckle Moss is a beautiful place and is dragonfly heaven.  There are several deep ponds surrounded by a unique peat bog.  There were darters, hawkers, chasers, damsels and an emperor.  Lots and lots of common blue damsels, large red damsels, emerald damsels and four-spotted chasers.  The male common hawkers were on constant patrol at the water's edge but never paused for a photo so this was the best I could manage.

The females were more helpful when ovipositing.

The male black darters were happy to pose.

This is a female black darter ovipositing.

I'll be back another time, with only one camera, a waterproof case for the phone, and a change of clothes!