1st Aug. Sam contacted me this morning to tell me that four other photographers were at the lake watching the Great Crested Grebes. More about them in a later post, as Sam and I have been watching and studying them regularly this year since March. Watching and studying the grebes that is, not the photographers. I’d noticed that the Mute Swans had been slowing down the traffic yesterday and today Sam informed me that there had been a three car shunt as Mutes Swans crossed the road. Mute Swans have crossed between the lakes for years, but I think since the fences have been put up at the other end of the lake in an attempt to prevent access there, this situation has not surprisingly become more regular. The birds where on the road again today (2nd Aug) as I passed by. Anyway, Killingworth Lake Park, as people seem to like to call it, has now won Green Flag status! I mention this simply because of a green theme to the blog today. I’m watching with interest to see how things around here progress.
I'm wondering if this was placed in the lake to celebrate the awarding of a green flag!
Later in the afternoon Sam and I again set off from St Mary’s Island to walk to Holywell. A walk that always brings something new! After watching juvenile and summer plumaged Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Sanderling and Dunlin, plus Oystercatcher, Redshank and Curlew (unfortunately missing the passage Whimbrel) we bumped into mutual friend BR and had an enjoyable chat and heard that there was a reported Quail at Holywell. When we eventually set off again we found the flock of Golden Plover north of the island, Eiders. Kittiwake and the odd Guillemot. Time wasn’t really given to a long sea watch. The highlight of the coastal stretch was the 11+ summer plumage Knot at Seaton Sluice. Sand Martins, Swallows and House Martins were watched along the route as were growing numbers of Sandwich and Common Terns. The song of |Linnet was enjoyed.
Rested and fully sated we set off through the dene finding more joggers and cyclists than birds! However we did find singing Chiffchaffs and a single Common Whitethroat near to the dipping pond. Still no sign of odonata around this area, at least not for us. We did find a single Common Hawker hawking in exactly the same spot as we had found this species last week. Yellowhammer song and Linnets broke the silence as we approached Holywell Pond.
We noticed that the heavy overnight rains had seemed to make for ideal conditions in east pool. Well ideal conditions for waders, but I don’t suppose the land owner is so happy! We had lacked a scope on our last visit and Sam’s instinct had told him we might need it today and as it turned out I’m pleased I agreed. We soon found a single Green Sandpiper and then four Common Snipe. We were amazed by the length of the bill of one of these Common Snipe. Definitely far and away longer than the norm. We took our time watching these beautifully marked birds. Sam got his eye on another wader disappearing into the reeds which turned out to be a juvenile Dunlin. We then decided to walk on to the public hide where we chatted to BD who had recently seen a Greenshank fly off to the south and heard the Quail calling. We’d missed both.
We’ve not been disappointed on our recent Holywell evenings and tonight was no exception. We had Green Sandpipers showing well and flying to and fro between the scrape and East Pool. We only ever had two together, but I’m pretty well convinced that there is still three in the area. The scope enabled us to enjoy these birds far better than last week. A summer plumage Dunlin was also present as was a lone Mediterranean Gull.
Taking a quick walk back to East Pool we found nothing new here, but watched the Green Sandpipers fly back to the main scrape and Lapwings drop down there too. Lapwing numbers where around the one hundred mark and as the evening went on they were joined by Oystercatcher and Curlew.
I commented to Sam that this is the type of birding that I really enjoy. Is there a better way to pass a very warm summer evening than quietly watching an area as the sun drops in the sky and all the time the scene changes with birds flying in and out of your view? I think not. We watched as juvenile Common Terns struggled to take fish from the adult birds, the stronger of the youngsters winning the catch eventually. A Grey Heron flew in very majestically and perched on the fence. One of my favourite naturalist artists is Keith Brockie. He often draws and pains Grey Herons. I can see why. Such attractive birds which are also large and cannot be missed and often giving plenty of time for study. There were numbers of Pied Wagtails about the area. Little Grebe showed on the water amongst the regular waterfowl. Three Greylag Geese flew into the area. Several Linnets came down to the waters edge to drink. We waited for quite some time hoping that perhaps the Greenshank would return or perhaps some other passage wader would fly in. After chatting to a couple in the hide we decide to move along to the member hide, bumping into CS and friends on the way. After another chat we went our separate ways.
We hadn’t been in the hide long and Sam was marking down our sightings in the record book when I got my eye on another wader flying around the pond area and seemingly being mobbed by growing numbers of Swallows. To his credit Sam identified it immediately as a Greenshank. It seemed to look to head for the scrape so we did too. As we approached a txt came through and I assumed it was Cain telling me that the Greenshank had returned. It gave us a great showing for the rest of the evening (at times struggling with a small fish) as did the now two summer plumaged Dunlin and Green Sandpipers. We watched as the Lapwing lifted and the Swallow numbers continued to increase before they flew over to and above the reed-beds to the west where they seemed to be planning on roosting for the night.
Addendum. If you want to enjoy some flight shots take a look at these very professional ones on Sam's Blog. More than one way to enjoy flight! More to come I believe.