Sunday, 15 May 2016

A Painted Lady Bathes in the Sunshine

14th May.  On arrival at St Mary’s Island Sam and I were greeted by the song of Sedge Warblers along the bank of the wetland, but more surprisingly a Painted Lady Butterfly bathed in the sunshine on what was a very chilly spring evening.  Surprised indeed to see this butterfly so early in the year had me reaching for my butterfly book when I returned home and from this I was reminded that Painted Lady Butterflies have been recorded in the UK during every month of the year, so perhaps not as surprising a sighting as we initially thought.  Never the less I’d still be surprised if many sightings of this butterfly species have as yet been made in Northumberland this year.  I do note that City Birding recorded one in Dumfries last week so I’m wondering, does this suggest that we can look forward to a large influx of this species in 2016?  Were we looking at a newly arrived migrant butterfly which has flown from Northern Africa?  How early do first broods of this species appear when they stop over in areas such as Spain?  Just a few questions that crossed my mind at the time. 

Painted Lady Butterfly courtesy of Samuel Hood.

As we set off along the back of the wetland we noted Gadwall and Teal on the pool but more rewarding was the song of Garden Warbler, the bird well hidden at the back of the hedge but which gave brief sightings as it worked its way along the hedge before lifting for a second and dropping down again to be heard briefly once again.  Common Whitethroats and Reed Buntings were seen well as were Chiffchaffs later on our walk as we passed the mounds.  Skylarks were in full song and numbers of Linnet and Meadow Pipit appeared.  Swallows and Sand Martins were around in some number.

I hadn’t been down to the area recently so it felt odd to find most of the waders gone although we did see Oystercatchers, Turnstones and a single Dunlin.  Of course there were plenty of terns to watch and we found numbers of Sandwich, Common and Arctic Terns, many of which had appeared to find a good feeding area.

From Seaton Sluice we did have a distant sighting of a wader flying north which we are now pretty much convinced was a Whimbrel.  There was movement of auks and Kittiwakes but little else this evening.  The light and visibility was excellent but the temperatures were dropping ever lower and by the end of our walk I had my hat on and the temptation of some hot chips was just to hard to resist so we adjourned to the fish and chip shop before making off for home after an enjoyable few hours.

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