16th April. After noting the Green Veined White Butterfly in the garden I decided to take a walk along the wagon-way today (Sat). Having found a Blackcap in full song all seemed to turn very quiet apart from the constant song from Chiffchaffs. I contented myself in capturing a shot of another Green Veined White Butterfly (there seemed to be numbers about today, along with Small Tortoiseshell) and taking a look at some of the plant life. I saw that the Garlic Mustard, White Dead Nettle, Red Dead Nettle and Forget-me-not species were all in flower. The latter I would think were garden escapes, but never the less a very attractive flower when seen in close up.
Further along the wagon-way I began to realise just how bone dry and hard the farmland is at present, following this unseasonal dry and hot weather. Prepare for a wet summer.:-) Whilst listening to the Skylarks and watching an attractive white necked Pheasant as it moved through the taller vegetation, I picked up the call of waders. On turning around I caught sight of two Golden Plover dropping into the field to the right of me. I guessed that there were more birds about and eventually watched as wings were lifted, showing the pale undersides. I wandered along the hedgerow to gain a better view and found circa 150 Golden Plover, in summer plumage, just behind a brow of the small hill in the centre of the field. I remembered that last year when I led a walk on patch we had found circa 200 Golden Plover in more distant fields, as they stopped off having left the coast. Golden Plover feed in small numbers in these same fields during winter. Having taken in the spectacle I moved off to look at the almost dried up small flash where I found only Mallard, Coot and Moorhen. Nearby a small flock of Linnet lifted from the field.
On my return I found a better vantage point to watch the Golden Plover which could now be heard calling. I found that there was in fact two groups of them and a made a count which suggested circa 250 Golden Plover were present. Quite a sight on patch, especially as the birds are entering summer plumage. Once back on the road I found them again but this time a little more distant. Whilst watching I picked up two Wheatear in the same field. My first Wheatear of the year. Whilst I watched the Wheatear the plovers must have taken flight. I later watched at least some of them in the air. My first Wheatear last year had been found on the same walk as we had found the Golden Plover flock. On returning home I checked the dates. Last years walk had been on the 17th of April! Following such events, incidents and patterns is one of the real joys of patch birding.
On my return I checked out the area behind the village for Willow Warbler. Despite having heard and seen the birds almost a week earlier over the past two years I have still to hear or see one on patch this year!
I have been to a busy Jesmond Dene today so haven’t looked to see if the plovers remain on patch. More of today’s visit later.