Sunday, 15 May 2011

All Weather Birders Meet Temminck's and Reynard

Another 'room with a view'

Wall Brown Butterfly

We seemed to have missed most of the showers.

14th May. Yes, the all weather birders are back on the trail with waterproofs packed, although as it happened we didn’t require them for more than a few minutes. Although whilst not needed to keep the rain out, they did help to ward of the mornings chill wind. Please don’t blame us for the sudden drop in temperature today. The walk began at Whitley Bay Cemetery and ended at Holywell Village.

Where had all the waders gone, I thought. Yes I realise it’s May, but I’ve never known the area be so clear of waders even at this time of year. The Peregrine Falcon that Tom got his eye on can only explain a partial heads down. We watched the Peregrine Falcon swoop down over the shoreline and then until it seemed to disappear over the sea. Our initial approach had brought sightings of Reed Bunting and a busy Sand Martin colony. Swifts and Swallows were flying overhead and later in the walk, nearer Seaton Sluice we found numbers of House Martins. The wetland area gave us the likes of Greylag Goose and our first of the day sightings of a Fox. Sedge Warblers were heard and soon seen well, as were the first of many Whitethroats today. A Meadow Pipit with a freshly caught dragonfly perched for some minutes not far from the viewing blinds. Despite the wind, Skylarks could be clearly heard and some were spotted. Chiffchaff song was with us throughout the walk.

As we walked towards Seaton Sluice a Wheatear was found in the fields. Linnets and Goldfinch were around too. There were still few waders about although early on Tom got his eye on a small flock of Ringed Plover in flight and eventually we did find a number of Oystercatchers and a single Turnstone. A visit was made to the watch tower as at least it kept us out of the wind. It wasn’t going to be a good sea watching day but we did find Guillemots, Puffin and numbers of Kittiwake. Of course there were the usual flocks of Eider Duck. A single Shelduck was seen in flight. Two Seals were seen briefly. Numbers of Sandwich and Common Terns

Although nearing noon the cloud mass began to build up, it was broken cloud and it didn’t appear to be bringing too much in the way of rain. We did meet with a couple of showers in the dene but they were brief and of little concern to all weather birders. It was in the dene area that we sighted our second Fox of the day. Whilst we stopped for lunch we watched it in a friendly tussle with yet another Fox, this one being the third sighting of the day. Butterflies were beginning to appear in some numbers. Orange Tip being well represented. A Red Admiral (my first of the year) didn’t hang around long enough for a photo, but I had better luck with the Wall Browns. Small White, Large White and Green Veined White were also seen. We caught a brief sighting of an overhead Great Spotted Woodpecker.

The dene brought the usual chorus of song at this time of year and this included Blackcap, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. Near the Avenue we had a brief sighting of Garden Warbler. Without doubt the stars birds seen in the dene were the pair of Dipper. The first one spotted as it seemed to chase a Blackbird from where it was feeding. As we watched the second of the pair of Dipper from a safe distance ‘One man and his dogs and wife’ approached. One man’ looked at us and clearly saw that we were watching wildlife, but this seemed to make him even more determined that his dogs would have a bath right in the area that we were watching. I knew by his body language and side ways looks at us that he had deliberately done this without the least bit of consideration. I don’t use bad language in my blog as a matter of course, and I don’t intend to now. You can make your own up. However what I will say was this guy was an ignorant pillock. The type that gets dog owners a bad name. I feel sorry for his dogs. Pleased to say that everyone else we passed to day were friendly and considerate. There always has to be one! Anyway, this is the first time that Tom and I have found Dipper in this area for over twelve months, so great to see them doing well. My next ornithological read is to be the Poyser Monograph, The Dippers. It was delivered only this week as it happens.

‘One man’ was soon forgotten however once we were on The Avenue. As I said, the initial sighting was of a Garden Warbler. As we wandered along we found the Avenue to be a filled with bird song. Whitethroats were once again numerous and several were seen in display flight. Other birds seen/heard included Grey Partridge, Wren, Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Blackcap, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Yellowhammer. I can’t ever remember finding The Avenue quite so lively. A short downpour of rain and hail didn’t take our mind of the birds, but I think perhaps concentrated it even more.

We walked on towards East Pool where we found the likes of Lapwing, Little Grebe, Shelduck and Canada Geese. Tom got his eye on two small wading birds. We got only a very brief sighting initially, but found them again later and found them to be Temminck’s Stint. Thanks go to the guy we bumped into and who had found them again near the pool, which despite a lack of rain is still holding a good deal of water. Tom informed Birdguides. This was a lifer for me and an unexpected find. It seems amazing that I did not see a single Redshank on the walk (this has got to be a first on this walk) yet did find two Temminck’s Stints. Anyway I feel a ‘What’s in a Name’ post coming soon.:-)

I suppose some might think that it would be downhill now, finishing our day off at the hides at Holywell Pond where there wasn’t that much about. But that’s not the case. It was a nice peaceful way to bring another all weather birder adventure to a close and in fact we did add the likes of Gadwall and Greenfinch to the day list. There were several Little Grebes on the pond and one pair had young. Other birds included Mute Swan, Mallard, Pochard, Moorhen and Coot. Two Grey Herons were quite active too. I seem to remember a pair of Canada Geese having seven goslings with them.

We realised from the outset that conditions were not quite right today for a record breaking list of birds. That target of eighty remains illusive, but we did end with a nice round seventy bird species and some very nice sightings of Reynard the Fox. Both Tom and I added to our year lists. In my case it was Peregrine Falcon, Temminck’s Stint, Garden Warbler and Sedge Warbler. Another quality day on a quality walk with a quality mate whose eyes come in very useful at times.


  1. I've bumped into the Fox up towards the pond a few nights over the past month, there great to see :) Nice find with Stints and thanks for the phone call. I'll have to get down to locate a Garden Warbler sometime next week.

  2. First time I have ever seen three foxes in one day:-)
    Thanks too for the info on the Dippers. Cheers.

  3. Brian,
    i was down at Holywell Pond earlier in the week and got a Ruff on the East Pond. I noticed how much water there was and commented to a couple of lads up at Swallow Pond the following day and said it was looking good for some nice wadres as there was some nice mud about. I've always looked at this area in the past and never seen so much water, has the trust been "managing" it in some way? Anyway popping down in the morning as i've never had a Temmincks.
    Nice usual.

  4. Cain,

    I was the guy you bumped into at the East Pool. Was nice to meet you (for the fourth time) ;=)


  5. John

    I'm sure I've never seen as much water in this area as I have done this year. I was surprised that it hadn't dried up after the April drought. It's ideal at the moment. I'm sure Cain will know if some management is taking place.
    Hope you caught the Temminck's. Cheers.

  6. Ruff Johnny! Would have loved that haha

    Codders, oh right, finally put the face to the blog!

    The Trust don't own the land where the East Pool is, and the farmer hasn't managed it. Its dramatically dropped so I think mining subsidence must have allowed it to hold more water than in previous years, there never used to be such a bank on its edges, hopefully it will keep pulling them in.

  7. Wow! I've never seen Temminck’s Stint either.

    Very strange as you say to see this (and the Fox which has also eluded me), but no Redshank!

    It just proves that you never know what you shall see when you go out birding!

  8. Aye Mark, you never know wot the all weather birders might come up with next.;-)