12th May. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to have the sun on my face and having to take layers of clothing off rather than searching for gloves etc etc. Sam and I took advantage of a rare sunny day and began at Prestwick Carr. Now that the Short Eared Owls have departed, so have the crowds and it was an atmospheric morning on the flooded Carr with song from warblers and flight from large numbers of Orange Tip Butterflies (both males and females showing very well) along the bumpy road. At one point we even took an interest in the beetles of which I know the Carr is historically renowned for.
Orange Tip Butterfly (female)
Orange Tip Butterfly (male)
I was pleased that when we bumped into PF that he informed us Whimbrel were still about the area. It wasn’t long before we had two calling Whimbrel fly low over our heads. A year tick for me and a lifer for Sam. We found Wheatear in the same area.
It seemed strange to see Mute Swans swimming in an area that had appeared perfectly dry the last time I had visited the Carr. A handful of Greylag Geese flew over the area. I’m planning a talk on this area later in the year so took the chance to grab some photos of the areas under water. Unfortunately the army were shooting today so we weren’t able to walk past the sentry box. This will require a further visit maybe one evening very soon. Apart from the blasts from guns the area was at its peaceful best and we only met maybe a half dozen birders today.
Before leaving Killingworth we had seen large numbers of Swift again over the lake and there were also good numbers at Prestwick. Meadow Pipit, Skylark and Reed Buntings were also seen. On our return walk we decided that it was time for a sit down and some lunch. This is when the Tiger Moths appeared. It was a special sighting having these three aircraft fly over our heads and I’m wondering how many people can say that they have seen Tiger Moths fly over Prestwick Carr? I’m guessing not too many in recent years! I was a bit to lazy to reach for the camera, but Sam has taken some shots. It was special to in the sense that Sam has a family connection with this model of aircraft, which I’ll leave him to go into if he wishes. I think one of these shots may find their way into my talk. The aircraft were flying north and I assume they were on their way to some kind of air show/display. We found some colourful beetles at this point too.
Next stop was to be the Rising Sun Country Park and after a very late lunch and a walk around, we left the Carr shortly after watching a Roe Deer buck running through the sedge north of the road. I think Chiffchaffs were the first birds to greet us when we arrived at the Rising Sun. We also had sightings of Common Whitethroat, but there didn’t appear to be as many around in this area as there had been in 2011 at the same period. Lesser Whitethroat was not found despite a good search of the relevant area.
There were areas of damp ground providing ideal habitat for Cuckoo Flower and Jews Ear fungi were found.
Jews Ear Fungi
Sam and I are giving a presentation at the Rising Sun in August so we took some time to discuss this and a few photos were taken. We’ll give details in our blogs at a later date. By now it was close on 7:00pm and there were few folk left in the country park, so after a long day we thought it time to head home with a bird list of fifty plus species and three Tiger Moths. It had been a very good day.