Friday, 18 July 2014

A Seawatch Cut Short

17th June.  Sam and I arrived at Seaton Sluice to be told that there was little passing by on or over the sea, but we were put onto four Whimbrel on the rocks below.  It was worth going down to Seaton Sluice for these birds alone.  They showed nicely until the incoming tide washed them off the rocks. The unmistakeable calls filled the air as the birds flew off.  We decided to hang around for a little longer during which we saw large numbers of Gannets, Sandwich Terns, an odd Arctic Tern, Puffin, Razorbill, Guillemot, Eider, Kittiwakes and Fulmars.  It was quite hazy out at sea, so we had no definite identification of the flock of waders we saw at great distance.  We decided that it seemed unlikely that we were going to see much else, so we had our tea and walked up to Holywell.

Burnet Moths doing what Burnet Moths do.

Soldier Beetles doing what Soldier Beetles do.

At the beginning of the walk we found two sandpipers flying up the burn from Seaton Sluice.  No definite identification was made as the sun was in our eyes, but we think they may well have been Green Sandpipers.  Small Tortoiseshell and Meadow Brown Butterflies were in flight.

Cinnabar Moth caterpillar (I think) with empty skin underneath

We didn’t walk through much of the dene, preferring to follow the tracks across the farmland on such a wonderful evening.  It was a typical Holywell summer evening.  The only birds noted were I seem to remember Common Whitethroat, Skylark, Goldfinch, Linnet and numbers of singing Yellowhammers.

Durham Brown Argus
The pond was quiet and on this occasion no rarity flew over.  On such a nice evening though, we weren’t going to rush away so we watched the Grey Herons and other birds on the water which included Little Grebes, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Pochard.  Before we reached the pond we had found Curlew and Lapwings in the field to the south.  There was no way of knowing in the bright sunlit area if some of these birds were Whimbrel.  Eventually a few Lapwings flew onto the narrow mud strip at the pond and a small flock of Redshank looked as though they were about to drop in before flying off.  Swifts, Sand Martins and Swallows fed over the water.

Great early morning light showing Small Tortoiseshells at their best.

 So a fairly quiet evening, but with Whimbrel new for the year list I’m not complaining and it was a great evening to be out.

More Small Tortoiseshells.  Often best just to forget composition and sharpness and just think light and colour.
I’ve added a few photos from our trip to Bishop Middleham Old Quarry and from my garden watch this morning when there seemed to be up to ten Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies on the Buddleia which has grown magnificently this year.

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