Friday, 26 July 2013

Triple Green

25th July.  Leaving Killingworth just after 3:00pm saw the temperatures reaching 27C so I was pleased to reach St Mary’s Island and find a cool refreshing breeze bringing down the heat.  As Ella Fitzgerald would have said it was just ‘Too darn hot’.  By the way, for younger readers Ella was a singer and star of the past, and not a member of the BBC weather team.

Terns caught the attraction as much as anything else today with large numbers of Sandwich, the odd Arctic and numbers of Common Tern making an appearance.  No Roseate Terns seen, but I’m sure it won’t be long before they are showing up on the rocks.  Sam and I caught a brief sighting of two Arctic Skuas chasing after the terns.  I understand that there had been three skuas present.  We were unable to locate the summer plumage Knots and by the time we got to Seaton Sluice the tide was high so the rocks there were covered.  We did find summer plumage Turnstones and Dunlin.  Oystercatcher, Redshank and Curlew were also noted before we spotted the flocks of Golden Plover flying in.  Skylarks were heard over the fields.  The overgrown wetland was very quiet.

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly
After a meal (fish and chips as tasty as ever) we once again set off for Holywell.  The heat was building up again.  I managed to photograph Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly, although butterflies had been quite scarce.  I seem to remember that we recorded Small White, Green Veined White  Small Skipper and Meadow Brown.  I have read in one or two places that this has been a great year for butterflies.  Not sure that I agree with that, and in any event it'll take far more than a few hot summer days to make up for past losses!  So I for one ain't getting excited!  There had been numbers of Burnet Moths in flight in the grassland by the cliffs.  I did notice that the salt-marsh area was as flooded as I can eve remember seeing it.  The dene was very quiet once again.  I suggested to Sam that we needed to find something interesting and I mentioned Green Sandpipers.  I was reminded later that I had mentioned this three times which turned out to be an omen of good fortune.

Well, what should we find at Holywell Pond, but Green Sandpipers, three of them in fact!  A very nice find, following our successful visit last week.  I note that Green Sandpipers seem to be popping up in a numbers of spots in Northumberland.  The birds showed really well from the public hide.  Together in a group at times and calling.  We also found a summer plumage Knot which made up for any missed at the coast.  There were about twenty-five Lapwing present along with a couple of Curlews.  The only blot on the evening was the stink caused by the hide having been used as a urinal (any self respecting person would simply find a tree to go behind in my opinion).  Last week it was a bag of dog crap!  Goodness knows what we are going to stumble across in there next.  Perhaps I ought to carry a bottle of disinfectant with me when out birding!  Anyway, I wasn’t going to let it spoil the sightings.  Sedge Warbler was heard.

With the place to ourselves once again, we stayed at Holywell until about 9:00pm and it was another wonderful evening.  The heat and humidity of the day has become a bit tiresome, but the evenings are definitely to be enjoyed.

Common Tern
26th July.  I had inside information from Sam as to exactly what time the Red Arrows were arriving today so I took a walk down to the lake hoping to catch a glimpse.  I practiced a few shots of Common Terns in flight as I waited.  They were bringing food to juvenile birds.  I also noticed the Shoveller.  I watched a few aircraft in the distance before watching the Red Arrows fly in as a group and then individually.  So if yesterday was green, today was red.

A Red Arrow flypast for Killy Birder.  I can say with some certainty if you keep a look out there will be far better images on the way, but not from me!  Very nice to see though, none the less.
Earlier in the week Sam and I had attended a very nice evening at the Hancock for the two hour presentation on the Tyneside Kittiwakes.  We really enjoyed the talks especially that from John Coulson who has studied the Tyneside Kittiwakes for over sixty years.  Now I reckon anyone who puts that time and interest in, has certainly earned the title of ornithologist.  John’s years of work are recoded in his book, The Kittiwake.  I did think it unfortunate that there wasn’t more of an audience for this one.  I had thought that there would be far more interest shown in our local bird colonies.  We’d earlier enjoyed a look around the Hancock.  We had our tea as the rain hit the city flooding the road outside.  Afterwards it was another wonderful evening and I made one or two discoveries as we walked around the area of the Civic Centre.

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