17th Jun. Today Sam and I decided to visit Gosforth Park Nature Reserve. Previous heavy rains meant that the pathways were a bit of a quagmire and the reserve a Mecca for insects. I have the bite marks to prove the latter and I later reacted badly to bites on my hands. I’ll remember the insect repellent in future. The Piriton tablets appear to have done the trick, but have made me very sleepy!
I was quite pleased to get away from the biting insects as we headed for Jesmond Dene, although the visit had been a good one. The dene brought us little in the way of birds although we had good sightings of the pair of Dipper and took the opportunity for some landscape photography after having visited the café. It’s always a nice walk through the dene, but hoped for views of Kingfisher proved impossible, not least I guess, because of the over growth of the foliage.
18th Jun. A planned visit to Howick with a friend of mine had had to be called off last week so I’m pleased we had the chance to fit in a trip up there today. The sun was shining so it proved to be a very different atmosphere than the wet and windy day that we had faced on a previous visit. Kestrels were seen on the journey north and Common Buzzard flew over the estate on our arrival. After a lunch in the dining room which we had almost to ourselves once again, and a check of the bird feeders, we set off on the round walk through the estate and down to the sea. Nuthatch, finches and tits had been at the feeders. A Song Thrush sang as we set off on the walk although there was generally far less bird song than there had been in April and fewer bird species appeared. The pond we passed by held a pair of Mute Swans with eight cygnets, which appeared to be used to having their photograph taken. Cormorants, Grey Herons, Mallard, Coots and Moorhen were also present as were large numbers of damselflies, which in the main were Common Blue and Blue Tailed Damselflies, many of them in tandem over the water.
As we walked through the wooded area it seemed that far fewer birds were about than remembered from the last visit, but I assume the thicker foliage and smaller amount of bird song was giving this impression. Birds that had been seen included tits’ finches, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Nuthatches and Chiffchaff. A faded Peacock Butterfly was found as were Common Spotted Orchids, one looking very tall indeed.
It was nice on this occasion to walk from the woodland to the open sea shore and find that we were warmed by the sun rather than being soaked by rain. A little time was spent here. Birds seen from this spot included gulls, Fulmar, Mallard, Shelduck and Eider Ducks. I was surprised to fine no sign of terns or auks. As we walked along the coastal footpath Linnets, Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Yellowhammers were found. One of the Yellowhammers looked almost white. It was hard to tell if this was simply the sun lit conditions giving this effect or if the bird was extremely pale.