Sunday, 13 May 2012

Warblers, Whimbrel and Tiger Moths!

Willow Warbler
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.

We began the day with the Orange Tip Butterflies.  I’d not seen any in 2012 until today, so this certainly made up for previous non sightings.  Small Tortoiseshell and Small White Butterflies were also seen.  The air was filled with the sound of Willow Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and an odd Blackcap.  I also heard Willow Tit briefly.  A Kestrel was found on our arrival, but we saw no other raptors today.
Orange Tip Butterfly (female)
Orange Tip Butterfly (male)
Beetle species?

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.

A little information from the internet concerning the Tiger Moth..’the de Havilland DH 82 Tiger Moth is a 1930s biplane designed by Geoffrey de Havilland and was operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and others as a primary trainer. The Tiger Moth remained in service with the RAF until replaced by the de Havilland Chipmunk in 1952, when many of the surplus aircraft entered civil operation. Many other nations used the Tiger Moth in both military and civil applications, and it remains in widespread use as a recreational aircraft in many countries. It is still occasionally used as a primary training aircraft, particularly for those pilots wanting to gain experience before moving on to other tailwheel aircraft, although most Tiger Moths have a skid. Many are now employed by various companies offering trial lesson experiences. Those in private hands generally fly far fewer hours and tend to be kept in concours condition.’
Prestwick Carr

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.

The main interest at Dukes Pond was the Kestrel and the pair of Common Terns.  The male tern hovering over the water and once diving and catching prey, taking this and feeding the female bird which was perched on a post.  The male then entered the water and preened and cleaned.  Not often I recall seeing this.  We then walked down to the farm area where we spent sometime.  I recall seeing several pairs of Reed Bunting and finches included Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Linnet and Greenfinch.  We later walked up ‘the hill’ and took in the panoramic views.  Skylark, Swifts, Swallows, House Martins and Meadow Pipits were around this area.  We ended up at Swallow Pond where there wasn’t a great deal of action although we caught sight of the stag in the fields and had better views of him later.  No antlers now of course.  Two Grey Herons flew close by.
Common Tern

There were areas of damp ground providing ideal habitat for Cuckoo Flower and Jews Ear fungi were found.
Cuckoo Flower
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.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice seeing a Whimbrel in these parts! Liked the beetle too, (no idea what type it is, however, lol).