Speckled Wood Butterfly. My butterfly species of the year
Summer Evening at Druridge Pool
Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar
5th Oct. Have you ever woken up and wondered what has happened to the last two months? I had that feeling about August and September when I looked at my blog. Problems with viruses (both computer and human) have been the reason for my lengthy absence. I just couldn’t get into the blog, nor make any comments on any other blog and many other things on the internet. With the help of some computer literate brains, not my own I hasten to add, and the aid of Mozila Firefox, which until yesterday I had thought was a type of cheese, I’m back! Happily I have noticed that during my absence I have gained two new followers. I say happily, although it has me now wondering if my blog is more popular when I don’t put anything on it, than it is when I do. For the sake of my sensitivity please don’t answer that!
Long summer evenings at Cresswell and Druridge Pool watching Barn Owls and the lone Knot still in mostly summer plumage seem a long way off now. I even managed a tick of the long staying Whiskered Tern at Saltholme, on what wasn’t such a warm summer’s day. The local patch has been neglected somewhat by me, but I have still had some busy patches of birding and butterfly watching in particular. One evening at Druridge Pool I counted seven species of butterfly, plus Burnet Moth, each in numbers, on the short walk along the path to the pool. That same evening the vegetation near to the dunes was covered in the caterpillars of Cinnabar Moth. The butterfly that has surprised me most this year is the Speckled Brown, which seems to be for ever extending range and numbers in the area. Perhaps my best sighting of butterflies was in Northumberland Park, North Shields, once again underlining the fact that you don’t have to go far to be close to the splendour of nature. I was in the park on a sunny September day checking out a future RSPB local walk. The sun was flickering through the trees giving patches of wonderful lighting effects which showed up the numbers of flying Speckled Wood Butterflies to their best. Red Admirals were flying in their typical habitat too. I also took a special interest in the Terns this year, and managed to catch a sighting of Roseate Tern at St Mary’s Island.
I’ve watched as wader numbers have gradually built in the vicinity of St Mary’s Island and the Golden Plovers have put on some great displays so far this autumn. I was down there on 2nd Oct and watching for Lapland Bunting in the stubble field when a female Merlin flew low across the field before perching on the fence for a few minutes giving excellent views. It had also briefly flushed Lapland Bunting, but only very briefly so I had a lifer, but at distance and the bunting soon disappeared into the stubble not to be seen again. A dark bellied Brent Goose was on the rocky shore line.
An earlier visit to the coast had me chasing after a Wryneck seen the day before by Holywell Birding and Crammy Birder. I found the Wryneck, but sadly it had breathed its last and was lying outside of Seaton Sluice Social Club! That day I walked up to Holywell Pond where I found Black Necked Grebe and on the way had my second sighting in a few days of Marsh Harrier in the area, and also found two Spotted Flycatchers very close to where I had found them last year. I had watched the Marsh Harrier a couple of days before as it was harassed by a corvid right in front of the hide at Holywell Pond.
I became a twitcher for a day when I visited Durham and was taken to some good sites by A K of Foghorns Birding Adventures. We spent a long day in the field and ended up in South Shields for fish and chips, but only when it had become too dark to bird watch anymore. Some good birds that day included 4 Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 4 Spotted Redshank, at least 8 Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart, Red Backed Shrike and the bird of the day for me, a Firecrest at Hartlepool headland. It had been the best sighting of a Firecrest, watched at length, that I have had. That was quite a day. I had been on the go from dawn to dusk!
Yesterday, 5th Oct, I visited Low Newton and Long Nanny. There was again a decent display of waders, including 3 Bar Tailed Godwits and more displays by Golden Plovers and Lapwings. I was unable to find the Pied Flycatcher that a fellow birder had been looking at and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary although a few Redwing flew in and I counted four Stonechats, a bird that has been missing from my sightings this year. Never the less it was a great day and it was good to be walking out there. Three Grey Seals were fairly close to shore.
I’ve been reading some of Geltsdale Warriors report of exploits on Mull. Some really good stuff, very well written and worth a look at Geltsdale Wildlife Warriors blog.