Thursday, 20 August 2009

The past few weeks..

On the 31/07/09 I headed down for the Holywell Pond moth trapping event, I left early planning on checking the Public Hide and the dene, at the Public hide I picked up 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Dunlin and a Wood Sandpiper. I stayed moth trapping til about half 10 so I was prepared for the early morning.

On the 01/08/09 I left Newcastle at 8 heading for Milngnavie, and the start of the West Highland Way. We arrived at lunchtime and began the 95 mile walk. Only birds of interest were a pair of Hooded Crows at Loch Lomond, but there was a large number of Scotch Argus butterflies in most areas along the way, we also had a few sightings and close encounters with Red Deer. The train arrived at Fort William at 11:40 and we got on for the long ride home.

I got home on 07/08/09 at about 7 ish, emptied my bag had a shower and ate a take away and then went to bed. At 10:00 on Saturday the 8th I was travelling up to Scotland again, this time in a car, with the Family heading for the Kyles of Bute. We were staying at Tignabruaich, I kept a list of birds we seen whilst at the chalet and on our travels, it came to a toal of 54 and included, Hooded Crow, Red Breasted Merganser, Shag, Turnstone (summer plumage), Sandwhich Tern, Siskin, Raven, Twite, Manx Shearwater and Rock Dove.

When we arrived a noticed that there was a family of Hooded Crows in the area, at first I seen 1 Adult and 3 Juveniles, but then a noticed the other adult bird was a Carrion Crow. This got me thinking about my A level biology, I knew the birds were known to hybridise, but I didn't know whether if either subspecies had a dominate allele, which allowed the offspring to be either pure corone cornix or frugilegus. After digging around on the Internet the general outline is that the birds prefer breeding with there own subspecies, but they do hybridise in some localities producing hybrid birds.

We got back from Scotland on the 15/08/09, the next time chance I got to visit Holywell was on the Tuesday lunchtime (18/08/09) where I was glad to find that the Black Necked Grebe which was reported earlier was still present adding another species to the list for this year.

Today, 20/08/09, it was results day, I was ecstatic to find that I had managed to get my place to do a degree in Wildlife and Media at Penrith this year :D. After the excitement wore off I checked Bird Guides and headed to Cresswell for the Semipalmated Sandpiper. I arrived at about 11:00 to find a group at the outflow point, although it had just moved. I hung around for about an hour and noted, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, and Sanderling. Joining other birders I took a walk down to the tide line, where after a quick scan the bird was located, a life tick :D.

On the way back I checked the Beehive Flash, and was rewarded with a Bar-Tailed Godwit.

I'm disappearing for a couple of weeks again, leaving for Switzerland on Saturday with the Explorer's, I return on the 06/09/09 which gives me a few days to get down to Holywell until I leave for University on Sunday the 20th, I can't wait!


  1. Great that the results where what was required. Well done. I'm surprised you have time to blog:-) I reckon you were up in Scotland at the peak time for the Scotch Argus Butterflies. Nice one with the Sandpiper. Brian

  2. Of course Hooded Crow is now treated as a separate species ;-)

    It's all a whole lot more complicated than just one or two alleles (as you'll no doubt discover in your uni course!) - mating seems to be fairly random in the contact zone, but for some as-yet-unknown reason(s), hybrid young are less fit and have poorer survival, which is why the hybrid zone doesn't get steadily broader with time

  3. Thank You for that information, cheers Cain