Sunday, 17 October 2010

Patch Peace!

17th Oct. At last I found time to enjoy some tranquility on patch. Tranquility and Killingworth might seem an odd pairing, but seeking out the appropriate spots ensures it isn’t such a misnomer. I saw few people about and the ones I did see were mainly on the backs of horses. I did keep bumping into three young lads on bicycles who I felt thought I was some kind of novelty value. Pleasant kids though, and one of them said to me ‘hello, are you having a good day today’. It sounded like he was repeating something his mum had taught him to say to elderly men and women. When I came home I spent a few minutes examining my face in the mirror just to check if I was indeed ageing fast! I thought not, but I guess I would say that. I may hunt out the moisturiser tonight anyway!

Anyway there was no great excitement on patch today although I did enjoy the peace. Birds found included two Kestrels, two flocks of Long Tailed Tits, a small flock of Yellowhammer and as I was about to return a flock of Lapwing was seen over in the direction of the Rising Sun Country Park, very likely having lifted from Swallow Pond. I did take a wander around a patch of scrub and trees which I’ve never really looked at before. It seemed a likely area for something out of the ordinary and I shall keep an eye on it. Today it turned up one of the flocks of Long Tailed Tit and I watched their acrobatic antics at close range for a good time.

The flock of Lapwing were seen at distance and thankfully I recognised the flapping wings immediately, which was just as well as I had given a talk at St Mary’s Island concerning waders just yesterday, and I had explained that flocks of Lapwing can be quickly picked up. It had been a good day yesterday with twenty-eight participants. The sun shone and gave ideal condition for pointing out the waders. We found ten species very quickly, with the Golden Plovers winning star prize for beauty, as the sun picked out their plumage so well. I was pleased that some Purple Sandpipers had turned up too.

Despite it being a wader day I encouraged everyone to take a look at a bird that had drawn a small crowd near the wetland. I admit my encouragement had been given chiefly as I wanted to take a look myself. It turned out to be a Redpoll. A Lesser Redpoll in my opinion, although I realise that Common Redpoll had been reported too, and there was a bit of discussion going on.

My talk had meant a little research into all things ‘waderish’, and I had been interested in the following. The scientific name for Eurasian Golden Plover is of course Pluvialis apricaria, said he, as though this simply rolls off the tongue as soon as such a species is seen. Now the English translation of pluvialis is ‘rain maker’ and the translation of apricarius is ‘living in sunny places. This may seem odd, until one knows that the species was thought by early naturalists to actually be two seperate species, such is the difference in the summer and winter plumage. No doubt a common error made with many species in the past. The winter plumage bird was often seen at the start of heavy rains. So there’s nothing unusual about the name at all when seen in this context, as it is simply made up from what was once the names of two separate species.


  1. That's a nice piece about the Golden Plovers and their scientific name.
    Brian, i have had a peaceful and tranquil time aroung Killy Lake before. Mind, it was 4.30 a.m.back in the spring and there were NO geese around.
    I was down at St. Marys today looking for Pallas's Warbler, which i dipped on, but there was a Mealy Redpoll. Don't know if it may have been the bird you saw yesterday but the experts (of which i am NOT one) wre of the opinion that it was a Mealy.

  2. Thanks for that John. The problem on Saturday was that both meally and lesser Redpoll had been reported. I felt that there was too much warm brown in the one I saw for it to be a meally, but I may have been wrong. At least I finally added Redpoll to me year list:-)

    I tend to find my peace along the wagon-ways John, although early evening down by the lake is usually very restful. The nights have cut in so much unfortunately that evenings down by the lake are very short now!

    I could do with Pallas's Warbler myself. There was one in the Rising Sun a couple of years back you will probably remember.
    Cheers Brian