Nature news from the Chairman
Until the last week, the weather has been very warm with little precipitation. This has seen an explosion of insects. A new species to me was a Birch saw-fly. This is the size of a bumblebee, if not bigger and has a serious set of jaws. Another highlight was the discovery of a Portland mothin a moth trap at Akeld on the 11thAugust. This is a nationally scarce moth that favours sand dunes and heaths. Small numbers are regularly found on the Northumberland coast. Further investigation needs to be made over the coming years to determine whether this was an immigrant or part of an unknown breeding population. Other highlights of the night included a Brindle green, Copper underwingsp. and a Sallow kitten(all relatively rare moths in Northumberland).
Bad news from the House martins nests. It had been presumed that the paired birds had started to lay after a two or three days of the males singing. Unfortunately, this has turned out to be a false dawn. There has been very little activity from both nests over the last four weeks. It would appear that both pairs have deserted the nests after successfully raising three chicks each. Hopefully, the birds will return in 2019 and breed again. Literature research would suggest pairs will desert nests if there is a build-up of parasites.
What to look for in September: Darter dragonflies
There are two darter dragonflies that can be seen in September; Common darterand Black darter. Both species are relatively common but in different habitats.
Flight Period:July to October
A summer and autumn species, this dragonfly can be found well into November and may be one of the last on the wing in the UK. The thorax in both sexes is brown above with poorly defined stripes and yellow panels on the sides. The eyes are brown above and yellow below. The legs are black with a diagnostic yellow stripe along their length. Malesbecomes a bright orange-red as they mature. The female is pale, yellowish-brown abdomen often developing red markings along the segment boundaries and medial line as they age.
Flight period: June to October (occasionally early November)
This small heathland and moorland species is the only UK black dragonfly (males). The legs are entirely black. There is a constriction of the abdomen giving a club-shaped appearance. The male becomes extensively black with maturity. Some yellow markings remain along the sides of the abdomen and thorax. Females and immature maleshave a yellow abdomen and brown thorax marked with a black triangle on top. The side of the thorax and the lower part of the abdomen is strongly marked in black.
Send all sightings to: Ian & Keith Davison, The Bungalow, Branton, Powburn, NE66 4LW Or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have wildlife queries you can email them to redsquirrel@alnwickwildlife group.co.uk – and they will be forwarded to an appropriate member who will try to answer them. No promises, mind – none of us are great experts!