Thursday, 20 May 2010

WAGS in the Sun!

Industrial Beauty.

Small Copper Butterlies aplenty.

No, no, not those orange fake tanned things that attach themselves to the arms of over paid Premiership footballers and appear in that rag that has the cheek to call itself a newspaper. No, I mean Wags with class, Yellow Wagtails. I was birding in the sun today, best not complain about the heat I suppose, and there were numbers of Yellow Wagtails still around. I’m confident that I saw a female blue headed (flava) too. It had been seen by a member of the staff also. Not the numbers I had seen on my recent epic visit but still good numbers and some good sightings.

The sun had brought out lots of butterflies and I managed to list Large White, Small White, Green Veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Wall Brown, Common Blue and Small Copper. I’ve never seen the latter in such numbers and it was the only species that settled long enough for me to photograph today.

Several warblers were heard. Blackcap, Common Whitethroat (seen in display flight), Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler. The pools on the reserve were in the main very quiet but I ticks did include Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Shelduck, Pochard and Gadwall, the latter in some numbers..

The Sand Martin colony was what first took the eye. It was apparently being invaded by a Weasel. Staff were busy trying to flush it out. I remember being at North Cave in East Yorkshire a few years ago and being told that the entire colony of Sand Martins had been wiped out by a Weasel.

Common Terns were numerous. Such graceful birds. Waders seen were Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Lapwing and Redshank. Reed Bunting was another bird seen.

I seem to remember the guy on the desk who I discussed the Yellow Wagtails with mentioning that there had been 200 people through the doors up to that point which was mid afternoon. He reckoned it had been a quiet day. The class room was certainly being made good use of by groups of youngsters. The first Green Veined White Butterfly that I found flew into a group of the kids and I thought I was going to have to push them out of the way. Bit tough looking some of these six year olds so I thought better of it.

Industrial area that it may be, I never fail to be impressed by the look of it, especially in the sun.

After leaving the reserve I counted at least fifteen Avocets along at the pools near the creek at Seal Sands. I ‘m told there are about thirty in total. Great to see these birds in such numbers in the north east. Another one of those birds that so impressed me as a youngster when I saw pictures of them in books. The creek was quite otherwise and time was passing so further exploration wasn’t possible.
First real birding in the sun I’ve done this year. A good day. Forty-Two species was the count. Wags and Avocets the birds of the day.


  1. Those Small Coppers look great.....i don't think i've seen one "in the flesh", look forward to tracking them down. I think the industrial backdrop adds something to the visit, just back from a visit to Minsmere where the backdrop is Sizewell. I found that rather disconcerting. However, if you think about it Brian, most of these nature reserves are on the site of old opencast/ mine workings etc.

  2. The Small Copper is a nice one John. I've tended to find them on the cliffs between Hartley and Whitley Bay (but only in small numbers) and only found my first specimen in Killy last year. They have three flight periods with peak numbers in last two weks of May, first two weeks of August and again in late Sept which was when I found the Killy specimen last year.

    Your so right about the idustrial backdrop and the use of old mining and quarry areas. What I think it shows John, is that nature can return very quickly when allowed. Which suggests maybe a positive outlook when we and our fellows are all gone from the planet! Cheers. Brian.