There's nothing quite like a fresh frog. A small, young frog is just so glisteningly 'new' and jewel-like.


I don't usually see the male of this species. You see the female Garden spiders in the autumn, often hanging in the middle of their big orb webs on your bushes, or hiding at the edge with one foot on a special strand of silk to detect vibrations.

The male has a much smaller abdomen and long, gangly legs compared to the female (or so it seems to me). This one was guarding my front door from the porch and actually pounced on my finger when I prodded its leg. It gave me quite a fright! The body is actually not much more than a centimetre long but those legs make it fairly intimidating. Here's a picture of a female for comparison purposes.


I think I mentioned previously that the terns on Farne were surprisingly small once you got up close and personal. This photo perhaps helps judge their size a little bit and demonstrates how many of them were nesting directly on the ground amidst the long grasses. That meant you often couldnt' see the chicks at all, but made for good photos as the parents flapped and hovered just above.

So far all my pictures were Arctic terns (or maybe Common – the differences are minor) but this is a Sandwich tern – markedly different without the red accents, and just a yellow tip to the bill. This ones demonstrating that it eats Sand eels, the same as the puffins.

Having mentioned in my last post the dearth of butterflies, I've managed to find another one. This time, a Ringlet, with an unfortunate blurry blade of grass slightly ruining the photo. It's actually the more striking ringlet markings on the underwings that give it the name, so not visible in the photo above, but a good example is available if you follow the link.


Amidst the birds on Farne I also saw just the one butterfly – a Red admiral. For some reason I don't see so many of these, and in fact it doesn't seem to have been a great year for butterflies in general, at least based on the number I've seen in my own garden.

OK, I give up. I've been endlessly reading up on how to tell the difference between a Cormorant and a Shag and I swear this bird demonstrates features attributed to both. To me the head shape says Cormorant so I'm going with that, but it's lacking the colouration on the face that would really confirm it. As seen on Farne, where both are definitely resident.

Another shot from the recent visit to Farne. I really rather like this, for its stark simplicity and art. What do you think?

Next up from my recent trip to the Farne Islands – a Puffin, its bill laden with Sand eels (as required by law for any attempt at an iconic image of the bird). Those of you who watched the last series of Springwatch will know that it can keep on packing those fish in because it has an unusual hinge and backward pointing bits inside the mouth to hold them in place.

UKNB has been on tour to Northumberland, which included a boat trip to the Farne islands at the height of the breeding season. Whilst being dive-bombed from all directions I managed to get some great pictures of Terns, Puffins and other seabirds.

First up is a couple of Arctic terns in flight. I'm pretty sure these are Arctic rather than Common terns as the bill is pure red. The terns were nesting right by the path and often I had to back off in order to photograph them as my big lens has a 6 foot minimum focus!

More pictures to come.

The Our Rivers campaign is running a national survey about local rivers. The survey is online and only takes a couple of minutes to complete (I just did so).

If you've not come across this organisation before, which I hadn't, they were apparently formed in 2009, led by WWF-UK, RSPB, the Angling Trust and the Salmon and Trout Association. They are on a mission to take up the slack left by the government in its ambitions for Britain's rivers.