Thursday, 11 June 2015

Druridge Day

11th June.  Well, in fact a half day, as it was almost lunch time when Lee and I arrived at Cresswell and despite the heat  gradually building we put on our jackets to ward off the cold breeze coming off the sea which reminded us none to gently that we were in the northeast!  There was little action on or over the sea and the Eiders, Fulmars and Gannets weren’t enough to keep us standing around for long.

Orange Tip Butterfly
Tree Sparrows were numerous as we approached the hide at Cresswell Pond where we found things to be initially on the quiet side.  We quickly picked up the two Spoonbills as they fed backwards and forwards along the west side of the pond.  It wasn’t too long before we had a hunting male Marsh Harrier flying behind them and eventually out of sight.  Sadly it would appear as already reported that the Avocet chicks have been predated and Reynard appears to be the prime suspect.  There were two remaining adult Avocets feeding near the mud bank where a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers rested surrounded by Lapwings and a few Shelduck.  Many more Shelduck were in the field to the left of the hide.  A lone Redshank fed close by the Spoonbills whilst Reed Bunting and Sedge Warblers sang.  We had found a Common Whitethroat singing as we had approached the pathway to the hide.  A Stock Dove was on top of the old farm buildings.

Large Skipper Butterfly
The north end of the pond offered very little, although there were Greylag and Canada Geese about, so we ate our lunch after which we moved off towards Druridge Pools.  Here we found Black-tailed Godwit in double figures, Little Grebe, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveller et al, but we found no sign of the hoped for Mandarin Ducks.  We had some nice close up sightings of Swallows and took the chance to photograph the butterflies along the side of the pathway which is always a good spot for insects in summer.  Yesterday I was out on patch and found that despite the sun and heat there was little sign of butterflies, with my only sighting being that of one Speckled Wood Butterfly in the church grounds.  I found today similarly lacking in butterflies except for this pathway to the hides.  The two species seen were Orange Tip and Large Skipper Butterfly.  The Orange Tips seen were all female.

Large Skipper Butterfly

Our next stop was East Chevington where instead of making directly for North Pool which is usually done out of habit, we walked along the east side of South Pool.  I’m pleased we did as it brought us several excellent and close up sightings of Cuckoo.  Initially it perched along the fence posts for sometime before flying off across the reed-bed then later we found it flying away from the burn area and then we finally caught up with it again as it returned to its original position.  Unfortunately I was unable to get a decent image of it, but I was well satisfied with the sightings. We were also able to enjoy watching Marsh Harriers at length with one sighting being a pair up in the air together for sometime.  There is something to be said for birding under the sun in a reed-bed, especially when a cooling breeze prevents you from over heating.  Reed Warbler was briefly seen and numbers of Sedge Warblers heard.  We found no sign of the pair of nesting Stonechat that Sam and I had watched so intently on our last visit.  The short walks was made all the better from the improving botanical interest in the dunes, especially from the Bloody Cranesbill.  A Common Buzzard was seen flying high above the pools.

On our return we stopped at North Pool and found a dead Grey Heron in the distance, its neck outstretched and pointing into the reeds as though it may have become entangled in something.  Like the predation of the Avocets chicks, nature is nature and not always pretty.  On our previous visit here Lee and I had watched as a Magpie dragged away a Greylag chick.

Just off to watch Spring Watch and to find out if Si has any fry yet?  Back later…………………………………………………………..Good news indeed, Si has fry!  I know the antics on Spring Watch are frowned upon by some, but not by me.  Anything that gets the issue of conservation raised with the general public is good by me.  Anyway, as far as I’m concerned if anyone tells me they can’t learn from a programme like Spring Watch I simply don’t believe them.

Returning to North Pool we found seven Little Gulls in amongst the Sandwich and Common Terns and three pairs of |Great Crested Grebe.  One of the Great Crested Grebes was accompanied by three youngsters of a good size.  The pair of Mute Swans were accompanied by ten cygnets (the pair on South Pool had seven cygnets).  Incidentally, the pair of Mute Swans on patch had four well grown cygnets with them yesterday.  This same pair produced a number of cygnets last year too (first Mute Swans to breed on the lake for some years), although all but two were predated/failed to survive.  North Pool held numbers of Gadwall.

It was nice to end the day sharing the telescope with a very friendly couple who had wanted most of all to watch the Great Crested Grebe young.  Amongst our discussions were the Great Crested Grebes on patch of which I’ll report more later in the year.  This is one of the pleasures of nature watching, although I can think of some who I’m happier not to share a telescope with!

A very good day under the sun with sixty-two species recorded.


  1. Very nice photos of the Orange Tip and Skipper.

  2. Thanks Mark. I can only think that the cold spring has had an effect upon butterfly numbers as whilst I've seen all species expected in my limited area they certainly haven't been around in large numbers.

  3. Yeah it seems that way. I have seen very few, just the odd one every now and then!