Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Peacocks, Popeye and Characters

15th April.  I began my walk from Brier Dene today, thinking that my bag seemed ever so light and that this reflected my growing fitness following long walks.  I strode out feeling pleased with myself.  Sadly I was to be disappointed later, but more of that anon. Little more than Linnets and Greenfinches as I joined the coastline, although as I approached St Mary’s Island a single Pied (White) Wagtail was near the foot of the cliff along with a Rock Pipit as a small group of film makers seemed busy in the area.  The sunlight was almost blinding at times and the skies without cloud, although the air was still chilled.  Oystercatchers, Sanderling, Turnstones, Dunlin and Curlew fed as the tide receded.  I once again caught sight of a face I knew looking at me, but I couldn’t place it.  It wasn’t until sometime later I remembered who it was!

I found little around the area of the island although did sight two Gannets.  The wetland was also quiet the best sightings being Reed Buntings.  Canada Geese flew past as I began the walk towards Seaton Sluice.  I soon began to catch sight of flighty Peacock Butterflies and by the time I had completed my walk I had seen well over twenty of them (I stopped counting at twenty),  numerous Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies and a few white species which I’m sure at least one was a Green Veined White.  All were very flighty and difficult to photograph.  It wasn’t yet lunch time but I felt peckish so sat down on one of the seats to demolish my packet of crisps.  I was joined by a dog which seemed determined to join me on the seat.  Along came the owner who informed me that, ‘I won’t allow the dogs to sit on this seat,’ and ‘have you seen the state of it, it’s filthy’?  Apparently the bloke’s dogs are used to the better seats near the shooting mound.  I carried on eating my crisps and made do with the filthy seat which was good enough for me, if not the dogs!  I noted the increasing numbers of Swallows and Sand Martins, but saw no House Martins.

Peacocks were proving difficult!
I spent some time close by the Fulmar nesting sight and managed to capture a few images of these extraordinary seabirds.  Skylarks and Meadow Pipits sang and displayed, but there wasn’t much else to hold the attention apart from the area itself which looked grand in the clear sunlight.  I usually walk towards Seaton Sluice watching dark cloud approach from the north so today was a nice exception and the coolness made for perfect temperatures to walk in.


There wasn’t too much around the area of Seaton Sluice, but I did find a Purple Sandpiper in the harbour, and I came across another character I knew.  This time it was Popeye who seemed to be enjoying his spinach.  These models are popping up all over Seaton Sluice and include a model Puffin, Shell Girl on swing, a Bat and a cane Deer etc etc etc as well as the collection outside of the pub.  I think a local guy on the island makes them (but don’t quote me on that).

Popeye eats his spinach

I made off towards the dene and was soon listening to now growing numbers of Chiffchaff.  At some point I found a plant in flower that looked as if it was Spring Squill.  I reached into my bag to grab the macro lens.  It wasn’t there.  I’d left it at home!  That explains why my bag felt light then.  Disappointingly I have to accept that the light bag had nothing to do with my exercise and growing fitness.  Today’s sunshine had made a great difference to the flowers of plants photographed a couple of days earlier but sadly without my macro I’m unable to show you.

One taken earlier...a Stitchwort 

By now Peacock Butterflies were lifting up everywhere and there was growing numbers of Tortoiseshell Butterflies.  I eventually managed to capture half decent images of both.  The level of birdsong in the dene was higher than ever today and the Blackcaps were also showing well again.  On this occasion I watched a male Blackcap collecting nesting material.

Peacock Butterfly cooperating

As I finally sat down to eat my sandwich I watched a young lad with his father/elder walk over the fallen trees to the other side of the burn.  They have better balance than I have is all I can say.  Perhaps not as much sense as me though, as the youngster almost fell from a height into the burn when a branch snapped and dropped him onto the bank of the burn.  A potentially nasty accident was avoided by sheer good luck.  The elder bloke marked the occasion with a photograph before walking off.  It was at this point the Dipper flew down the burn and shortly afterwards back up again.  Great, Coal, Blue and Long Tailed Tits were all seen along with other woodland birds and a Stock Dove showed near what I think is a nest site.

A walk up the Avenue brought little, although I did watch a Common Buzzard fly in the area of the obelisk.  Linnets and Goldfinch were again in the area of the gorse.  Gadwall flew overhead and seemed to join the Greylag and Canada Geese in the fields east of Holywell Pond.

I must have walked up this avenue a few times now!
The pond was generally quite again but perhaps if the rain keeps off some waders may be attracted to the muddy area in front of the public hide.  Today there was just one Lapwing there.  The pond held the same species as on my previous visit although on this occasion I sighted a Grey Heron almost hidden in the reeds at the north east end of the pond.  I eventually heard Chiffchaff in North Wood, but no Willow Warbler on this occasion.

Walking towards the members hide I bumped into friends who were involved in a butterfly survey.  They told me ‘we can’t really identify the butterflies’.  I thought to myself that their results may be a little dodgy.:-)  I bumped into SP in the hide.  There wasn’t anything new to be noted from here although Reed Buntings fed outside of the hide.


  1. Nice pics! The light seemed to be just right.

    1. The light shines on the righteous Mark!

  2. I see. That must be why it often seems dull at my end, lol!