2nd Aug. With it having been so poor a butterfly season, I was pleased that one of the first significant things I saw during a short visit to the Rising Sun Country Park was a resting Common Blue Butterfly along with many flighty Meadow Brown Butterflies.
Common Blue Butterfly
Almost the first bird I heard and saw on arrival was a Blackcap. Apart from this the hedges appeared to be devoid of much bird activity. Sizable flocks of Goldfinch were eventually found as were Greenfinch and Chaffinch. Swallow Pond held a growing number of Pochard, at least six Little Grebe, Common Terns and Lesser Black-backed Gulls amongst the usual inhabitants. Perhaps the best sighting in the park was that of the Wood Mouse which crossed the path and stopped around for a short time.
After a cuppa in the café and a chat to some of the park staff I made my way to Seaton Sluice for lunch. It’s quite a while since I have visited the fish and chip café and I was very impressed by the new décor. Very nicely done indeed and the fish and chips were as good as ever. There were small rafts of Guillemot off the coast along with Eider Ducks and both Common and Sandwich Terns. There was hardly a breath of wind on the cliff and the day was heating up nicely. Numbers of Starlings perched on the buildings. More than I have seen in this area recently. When seen in such numbers it is hard to believe that total numbers of this species is down 70/80% since the 1970s.
Seaton Sluice Starlings
The walk through Holywell Dene was as always very pleasant but there were few birds showing. There were good numbers of dragonflies over the burn (the first time I have seen any in number this year). Most of them were Common Darters, although there may have been Ruddy Darters too which I’ve seen in this area on occasions. One or two were larger, but I was unable to get a decent sighting. Little doubt that they were hawkers. A single Red Admiral Butterfly, a single Speckled Wood Butterfly and a few White species was a disappointing butterfly haul. I would have expected much more on such a day.
Once out of the dene and on the way to the pond, at least a Yellowhammer was heard and a Reed Bunting seen.
Although the water is gradually lowering in the pond it’s just not right for passage waders as yet with little to no mud edge showing. Small groups of Greylag and Canada Geese were in the field to the left of the public hide. I wondered if these Greylag Geese may have been the ones seen flying over the Rising Sun Country Park earlier in the day. I was told the protective Mute Swan keeps these geese off the water. The pair of Mute Swans were at the other rend of the lake today with their cygnets so the geese did get on to the water without problem. I counted six Common Terns flying close to the island. One of them was a juvenile bird which perched on the fence post for a time. Presumably this bird resulted from the work done on the island to provide a breeding area. I missed the Marsh Harrier. A party of Pochard was on the water as was a Little Grebe. A Grey Heron stood at the edge of the reeds. Sizable numbers of Swifts flew both east and north of the pond and as someone suggested they may have been benefiting from insects disturbed by the work going on over the farmland. It seems from the numbers of Swifts I saw at Prestwick Carr earlier in the week and these ones today, that they are ready to move on southwards. Numbers of House Martin were in the area, but few Swallows were about. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen high in the trees beside the feeding station.
I noticed that Bittersweet is becoming more extensive in the hedge on the edge of the NWT reserve. A wonderful little flower, sometimes referred to as Woody Nightshade and a member of the nightshade family. Although the berries are said to be very bitter they are not very poisonous, although I won’t be trying them so as to confirm this. Some green berries were there along with the flower and they will gradually turn a bright red.
Bittersweet Solanum dulcamara
I ended the day with a lager and a sighting of a dead Common Shrew in Holywell Village. By now it was as hot as I have felt it at any time this year.
3rd Aug I noticed that the lone Goosander still remains on Killingworth Lake.