Open Farm Sunday

by on Jun.08, 2009, under Birdwatching, Family and friends, Lee Moor Farm, Northumberland

After spending Saturday at the Rising Sun Country Park, where the Newcastle RSPB Member’s Group were celebrating their 40th birthday, Sunday saw us spending a long day in the field. As part of Open Farm Sunday we were helping Ian Brown at Lee Moor Farm. We started with a (not quite the) Dawn Chorus Walk followed by breakfast at the Black Olive Cafe and then guided conservation tours were on offer right through the day. As we wandered through some excellent wildflower habitat, marvelling at the amount of Ragged Robin Lychnis flos-cuculi, lots of birds were in evidence. Buzzards were seen on each walk, Willow Warblers were singing their descending scales, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat were both seen as were Siskin and Goldcrest. The recent influx of Painted Lady butterflies was mentioned by one walker, who had witnessed the huge numbers of this beautiful insect arriving in Sussex in late May…and Sarah’s sharp eyes soon picked up one as it raced by. Eventually 3 were seen as they settled on the track in front of us, and we all pondered on the fact that, although we may regard butterflies as delicate, they had travelled the distance from North Africa and the middle-East to be in Britain for the summer. As shadows lengthened, guests began to arrive for the evening barbecue and Bat & Moth walk. Just as the sun slipped below the horizon, the bat detector crackled into life and our first Pipistrelle of the evening appeared close by, hunting insects over a small pond. Everyone, young and old, was able to see this tiny mammal, which was soon joined by a 2nd, then a 3rd. A dispute between two of the bats saw a high-speed chase, before one returned to swooping and diving just feet away. As a spectacular moonrise illuminated the fields around Lee Moor, attention turned to the moth trap and it’s first ‘customers’ of the evening. After close study they were released unharmed into the vegetation, and we left Lee Moor after a long and successful day.

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