30th June. Sam and I ended our day in the new Mathew Ridley hide at Gosforth Park Nature Reserve. This was our first visit to the hide since it opened and we were very impressed. My first thought was that there can’t be any better hide in Northumberland, and then my second thought was that there isn’t much in the way of competition really! Much is owed to the volunteers who built it and of course the donors who paid for it and the architects who designed it (free of charge I believe). The hide is on two levels and can take forty people so will be ideal for the likes of school parties, a very forward looking investment. If you’re a member of the Natural History Society of Northumbria you may already have visited and if you haven’t probably will in the near future. If your not a member I believe there is to be an open day for the public soon, so go a long and take a look when that chance arises and you may be tempted to join what is the best local organisation for anyone interested in natural history, certainly the best in my book anyway. Just pleased that there wasn’t forty folk in there today as it was stifling in the very high temperatures. I was almost wishing today that it was cold again!
A hide with a view
We’d begun the day at the Rising Sun Country Park where we began with an excellent sighting of the local grebes. It wasn’t really a birding day however and we had set our sights on butterflies, dragonflies and plants. We had little in the way of luck with dragonflies and although finding plenty of orchids we failed in our search for Bee Orchids. Plenty of butterflies were found, but they were so flighty the frustration set in. It was almost impossible to get any images, although once again the butterfly that did settle just long enough to give me a chance of macro shots was the Large Skipper. There was no chance with the numerous Common Blues and Ringlets so I took my chance with some other insects. By the time we had walked around the park we were done in by the heat and much needed refreshment was sought in the busy café. A drink and a sit in the shade did the trick and we set off for Gosforth Park Nature Reserve.
There was more frustration when we found that the Coral Root Orchids had passed us by. We weren’t the only ones searching. I did find a couple of stalks, but it was suggested that because they were greenish that could not be what we were after. I’m still inclined to think it was what we had been searching for, as this orchid does show some green tinge, but there were certainly none in flower anywhere near to the viewing point. The dragonflies proved illusive too, as a number of them flew over the pond but too distant to identify with any confidence. I think Sam did eventually pick up what appeared to be a Broad-bodied Chaser and we think the others were chasers too.
The butterflies were just as flighty here, but I did eventually capture an image of a male Common Blue. We did see lots of butterflies today and the list was Small White, Large White, Large Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, Common Blue, Speckled Wood (large numbers of them again, especially in the reserve), Meadow Brown and Ringlets (lots of them). Quite a bit of botanical interest today too. We did a bit of tree watching but haven’t gone as far as talking to them yet, but if the temperatures rise anymore you never know what might happen.
Male Common Blue Butterfly on orchid
So not a day for birding really and we weren’t out at the correct time for photographing insects I know, but quite a few birds seen none the less including our Grebes and a few heard including Blackcap, Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. A Grey Squirrel was seen as we left the reserve!