28th May. My morning began in Killingworth bus concourse and because of delays and boredom I thought a birds seen from the bus concourse list might be an idea. Having listed two rather attractive Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Cormorant and Black Headed Gulls my boredom increased to the extent I took a walk in the shopping centre. To cut a long boring story short, I arrived at the Rising Sun Country Park to be greeted by Mark, a nice pair of Blackcap and at least three Brown Hares. Common Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were other warblers seen and/or heard.
The pond didn’t deliver what I had hoped. I found three Little Grebe amongst the usual inhabitants, including a single Teal. I had Brown Rats for company near the hide and the smell of stagnant water added an aroma to the air. I counted several broods of Mallard ducklings. A walk down to the farm brought little, but the return walk did provide an overhead Sparrowhawk and a pair of Great Spotted Woodpecker not far from the centre. Mistle Thrushes approached the feeder area despite the large number of people about the place. The Muschovy Duck was beside Dukes Pond (I’ve seen these birds wild in Guyana) and Stan the stag was resting in the fields. We made off to Holywell after a bite to eat.
Two different views of Holywell
House Martins flew over the village and fields and Little Grebe called as we approached the hide. Whilst Willow Warblers were in song I heard no Sedge Warblers near the pond at all on either the outward or return journey taken late afternoon. The Common Tern nests on the island seem to be targeted by Magpies and the terns were noisily dive bombing them for much of the time I was there. The flower meadow area is growing nicely and as I looked at a Magpie there I also found a Grey Partridge well hidden in the meadow. The pond was generally very quiet but I did have the chance to watch Grey Herons and the Common Terns and Black Headed Gulls fishing. Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were on or around the pond, the former showing some varying plumages. I took the chance to practice some in flight photography. Skylark song above the open fields was ongoing throughout the afternoon.
Black Headed Gulls.
Common Whitethroats are all over the area’s hedges. I also noted several Yellowhammers, Linnet and Willow Warblers. Chiffchaff song is already lessening in the dene. I sat beside the burn for sometime in the hope of Dipper and was rewarded by watching a pair. I listened to a chorus of Song Thrush, Blackbird, Wren, Robin, Chiffchaff and Chaffinch as I relaxed by the burn.
The area is quite colourful at the moment with wildflowers including Greater Stitchwort, Red Campion, Bluebell (although these are well past their best now unlike the ones I’d seen at Spindlestone which were in their prime), Wild Garlic, Primrose, Cowslip and Herb Robert.
Red Campion. Unlike most plants that are hermaphrodites, each Red Campion plant is male or female. I've been reading a very interesting book A Sting in the Tale/Dave Goulson, which describes how Red Campion can suffer from sexually transmitted deseases. Fungi by the name of smuts have purple spores which are spread by bees and which once having infected the female plant, the plant is forced into a transsexual imitation of the male!