22nd Mar. No sooner had I left the house today and I found my first identifiable butterfly of 2012. It was a Small Tortoiseshell. I say first identifiable butterfly as I saw one in flight at Gosforth Park Nature reserve on 18th March but not well enough to identify, although it to may have been a Small Tortoiseshell.
I was on my way for lunch with a friend and to take a walk in the dene, this time Jesmond Dene. The lunch at Millfield House was enjoyable despite the sound of so many pre-school children there for the morning. Bless ‘em!:-) Before we reached the café we’d found a pair of Grey Wagtails on the Ouse Burn. It was possibly the same pair that was seen a little later and further up the burn. The sunny day ensured that more butterflies made an appearance in the form of two separate Peacock Butterflies. I managed to photograph these two, but not very well.
As well as lunch the Kingfisher and Dippers had been part of the ‘carte du jour’. Sadly, after taking in the usual area that I find these birds it seemed that they were not going to appear on the cart! Then I eventually got my eye on a single Dipper, then the pair, which gave a good close sighting. No such luck with the Kingfisher however although it had been watched further down the burn by a couple we spoke to. The pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers was more obliging and after picking up the sound of drumming, coming ever closer, we got our eyes on the birds. My friend got sight of what may have been a Green Woodpecker, but I was unable to get on it. I have to find one soon!
The dene didn’t offer too many other birds and I hadn’t expected too many, but it had been an enjoyable walk. Brown Rats were out in force to enjoy the sun along the burn bank. I heard one Chiffchaff very briefly.
To make up for the non appearance of the Kingfisher I ended the afternoon with a cup of Earl Grey tea and a very large piece of cake. Very nice. I noticed a small child had her eye on my cake. The cheek of it! I gave her a look as if to say, go and buy your own, and she took the hint and moved along.
'And people complain about the mess made by some of the birds!!!
23rd Mar. I met up with Sam on Patch today. Rather cooler than yesterday.
The numbers of Chiffchaff on patch have grown rapidly over the past week, with calls now around the lake, village and other areas. Just waiting now for the first Willow Warblers to arrive in April. Lots of Chiffchaffs, but none giving me the opportunity of a good photograph. Wrens, Chaffinch and Greenfinch were numerous and in song.
We took a look on the Lake. I noticed the smaller lake was in need of a good clean up. Surely it would take little effort to clean this mess up! Rubbish included a chair, the usual empty beer cans (I hope if there are any Newts around that they stayed clear, or they could end up inebriated!), a baby’s dummy and an assortment of fellow humans’ rubbish!
We watched the Great Crested Grebes briefly. A Coot sat on its nest.
The larger lake still held a couple of pairs of Goldeneye doing the neck stretch display. A Sparrowhawk flew high overhead for much of the time which seemed to unsettle the birds at the edge of the lake. A number of Lesser Black Backed Gulls were about today.
I enjoyed the walk and the chat about birds, photography and much more. An early start in the morning so an early night tonight me thinks. More anon.