Keep an eye out for butterflies fluttering by as count continues

I took this Photo of a Small White Butterfly at Whittle-le-Woods nr Chorley,  Lancs.
I took this Photo of a Small White Butterfly at Whittle-le-Woods nr Chorley, Lancs.

As the month progressed, the breeding season was well under way for our resident birds and summer visitors alike.

There were numerous young birds in the area, and some post-breeding flocks began to form.

The roadsides and dunes were a feast of wild flowers, but butterflies remained scarce after the weather of the previous month.

Summer visitors were seen throughout the month. There were two sandwich terns fishing on the Tweed at Berwick on June 1.

On June 4, blackcaps were heard in the Harthope Valley and at Bolton. Willow warblers were in the valley, at Carey Burn bridge, in Crawley Dene and on Wooler Common.

Chiffchaffs were most widespread, with single birds at numerous localities and four on Wooler Common.

June 4 also saw pairs of common sandpipers and spotted flycatchers in the Harthope Valley, as well as a singing whitethroat.

A chiffchaff was at Lordenshaw on June 6, and both they and willow warblers were said to be common at Cragside on June 13.

A blackcap was along the railway line at Rothbury on June 13, and a willow warbler was on a fence post at Riverside, Rothbury, the following day.

Chiffchaffs, blackcaps and willow warblers were along the Carey Burn on June 15.

On June 17, chiffchaffs and a common sandpiper, together with a willow warbler, blackcap and a female wheatear, were at Lewisburn in the North Tyne Valley.

An Arctic tern, probably from the Coquet Island colony, was fishing in the river Coquet at Amble weir on June 19.

At the end of the month, only the chiffchaff of our summer visitors was regularly heard singing at dawn.

Song thrush, woodpigeon and greenfinch, however, continued to herald the sunrise.

On June 4, two pairs of greylag geese with goslings were in a flooded field beside the A697 at Middleton. On June 6, a female pheasant with two young was near Lordenshaw, while a female pheasant with three chicks visited a Craster garden on June 7 and 10.

A pair of moorhens had five tiny chicks on the Coquet at Rothbury on June 7. Moorhen chicks are first fed by their parents, but when another brood comes along, the older youngsters help to feed them.

On June 11, three female eiders with eight juveniles, probably from the Farne Islands, were in Budle Bay.

At Hedgeley Pools on June 15, the little grebe pair had two young, and among the 60 Canada geese, there were families of four and five goslings.

Viewing Bakethin reservoir from Kielder viaduct on June 17, a female mallard had seven juveniles, and seven Canada geese were with three juveniles.

In Chapel Lands, Alnwick, on June 20, a family of greenfinches were feeding, and the following day a family of goldfinches were being fed by their parents.

On June 24, a dipper chick appeared on a garage roof at Riverside, Rothbury. It was bobbing and then it flew off away from the river direction.

There were 18 adult and juvenile house sparrows in a Chapel Lands garden on June 26, while an adult and three young wrens visited a Craster garden on June 30.

A song thrush was in full song beside the Cow Port, Berwick, on June 1, and there was lapwing distraction or display at Ottercrops on June 29.

There were two swallows at Bolton on June 4, and 10 were in Widdrington Village on the same date. There were 10 house martins at Bolton, 12 at Cresswell and 20 over Widdrington Village, while 20 sand martins were at Langlee on June 4.

There were two active house martin nests at Leaplish on June 17.

At riverside, Rothbury, a bullfinch and two goldfinches were feasting on grass seed early on June 5. A juvenile great spotted woodpecker came to the feeders on June 8.

A yellowhammer visited a Craster garden on June 11.

A marsh tit visited Rothbury’s riverside peanut feeder on June 24, and a bullfinch visited a Craster garden on June 30.

Some large flocks of post breeding birds built up in the area. On June 1, there were 110 mute swans on the river Tweed at Berwick, and 12 were on the Coquet estuary.

On June 4, 50 rooks were in Widdrington Village and 30 greylag geese flew over Alnwick.

There were 50 rooks at Ewesley on June 6, and on June 11, 150 adult and juvenile starlings were on Holy Island Snook.

A group of long-tailed tits, together with a large flock of other tits, were in the trees along the old railway at Rothbury on June 13.

There were 200 rooks at Wooperton, together with 50 jackdaws, on June 15. On June 15, 100 black-headed gulls were in the fields near Kirkharle.

On June 17, 150 rooks were at Mirlaw House, and 50 were at Knowsgate. There were 10 crossbills at Low Cranecleugh.

Along the region’s water courses on June 4, grey wagtails were at Coldgate Mill, Carey Burn and Harthope Burn. A pair of grey wagtails were feeding by the Coquet at Rothbury on June 9.

Grey herons were at Amble weir, Warkworth bridge and the Carey Burn on June 4. A mandarin duck was on the River North Tyne at Smalesmouth on June 17.

In the hill valleys, red-legged or French partridges were frequently observed around the Harthope and Carey Burns. In wild populations, the female lays two clutches of eggs, with both parents sharing the incubation. There were three ravens in the Harthope Burn Valley on June 15.

A barn owl flew past Lynemouth power station on June 4, and it remains to be seen how successful the breeding season has been for these birds.

Kestrels were seen at nine widespread localities including Codger Fort, Monkridge Hall and Raylees. These birds are most often spotted perched on a suitable viewpoint or hovering over prey.

One of the success stories since I have been writing these articles, starting in 1980, has been the rise of the buzzard population.

Buzzards were seen at 14 localities in June, and this is probably an underestimation of the total population.

On June 4, there were two at Hadwins Close, two on Wooler Common and four in the Harthope Burn Valley.

A short-tailed field vole was on Wooler Common on June 4. If there has been an explosion of this species, it will be good news for species such as short-eared owls.

A female roe deer visited a Craster garden on June 8, and a buck was present on June 9.

Stoats were seen in a Craster garden and along the Carey Burn. A female stoat with kittens to feed caused havoc at the Long Nanny tern colony in June.

In a rather poor month for butterflies, the commonest species by a long way were the small whites. There were two at Summit Cottages on Alnwick Moor on June 5, five in the Carey Burn Valley on June 15 and two at Kielder viaduct on June 17.

An orange tip was on Wooler Common on June 4. An early migrant painted lady was in a Craster garden on June 7.

A cinnebar moth was on Holy Island Snook on June 11, and a further orange tip butterfly was by the Carey Burn on June 15.

A large red damselfly and a common blue one were at a Craster garden pond on June 9. This day also saw the first appearance of cuckoo-spit produced to protect the nymph of a froghopper.

Bumblebees were described as being everywhere at Cragside on June 13, and a bilberry bumblebee was at Low Cranecleugh on June 17.

This latter date also saw a pine weevil and an Ann’s gall on water avens in the North Tyne Valley.

On June 3, small toad flax was located in the Cawledge Burn woodlands.

Readers are reminded that this feature relies upon reports received each month. In particular this month, readers are requested to take part in the Big Butterfly Count running until August 9.

The next field meeting of the society will be held on Holburn Moss on Thursday, August 6, starting at Holburn Grange car park at 2pm, to look at moorland and woodland flora and fauna. Visitors will be most welcome.

Red campion was especially conspicuous at Coldgate Mill Ford on June 4. Alkanet was noted at Yearle, and broom was luxuriant on Wooler Common on the same date.

The bluebell was voted the favourite flower in the UK by Plant Life readers, followed by the primrose and poppy.

Bluebells were common in woodland and hedgerows throughout the month, and a few primroses continued into June. Poppies were conspicuous in many fields, particularly at Bamburgh Castle.

Hedgerows abounded with flowers in June with gorse, hawthorn, horse chestnut and rowan in flower. At ground level ramsons, white campion, germander, speedwell, greater stitchwort, cow parsley, ox-eye daisy, birdsfoot trefoil, bush vetch and foxgloves were in flower.

On a visit to the Holy Island dune slacks on June 11, the conditions were dry but early marsh orchid, butterwort, coral root orchid and round-leaved wintergreen were present. Sand sedge, spring sedge, commons sedge, sweet vernal grass, cocksfoot grass and quaking grass were present. Viper’s bugloss, thrift, lady’s smock, sea milkwort and houndstongue were also present.

Along the Carey Burn on June 15, typical moorland plants such as tormentil, heath bedstraw, bell heather, thyme, heath speedwell and rock-rose were observed. Cottongrass was in profusion at Rimside Moor on June 15, and Ottercrops on June 17.

In the Kielder area on June 17, heath cudweed, trailing St John’s Wort, thyme leaved speedwell, heath milkwort, crowberry, cowberry, bilberry, globe flower, marsh valerian and piri-piri-bur were observed. These were in addition to brown sedge, oak fern, hard shield fern, filmy fern and star sedge. Looking under the other vegetarian lesser twayblade was found.

The flowers in the meadow behind Chapel Lands in Alnwick on June 23, included common knapweed, pignut and hogweed.

Readers are reminded that this feature relies upon reports received each month. In particular this month, readers are requested to take part in the Big Butterfly Count running until August 9.

The next field meeting of the society will be held on Holburn Moss on Thursday, August 6, starting at Holburn Grange car park at 2pm, to look at moorland and woodland flora and fauna. Visitors will be most welcome.