Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Larking About the Wansbeck

With sinuses that feel like they've been clamped by a Puffin I thought I'd get some fresh air this morning so I took the twins for a run. First stop was Ashwood Business Park or rather the big field west of the A189 that might one day be a business park, than again it might not.

I know I keep banging on about this field but I'm convinced that someone is going to turn up a special Lark or Pipit here in the not too distant and if it's not me I at least want to be cited as one of the key inspirations behind their visit. The place was lifting with Skylark this morning with at least five or six singing birds.

Look closely and you can see the sea not far as the Lark flies. After letting the twins rampage around the short grass and failing to find anything more exciting we headed off for a walk out along the Wansbeck Estuary and under the A189. The path decent enough to manage the double buggy down. Not having visited this stretch for several years I was amazed that the scrub is now mature woodland. Lots of non breeding Mute Swan above the weir. A Common Whitethroat sang from brambles just after the bridge and a large flock of small waders were put up by the ubiquitous worm digger that every stretch of exposed mud seems to acquire these days.

I cracked out the scope and counted 150 Ringed Plover a tidy flock at this time of year. About ten summer plumage Dunlin amongst them all black belly patches. Noteworthy by their absence not a single Common Redshank on the estuary. Single Curlew and Whimbrel fed close together on the south side allowing good comparison, the Whimbrel a year tick for me.

On reaching the end of the path adjacent to the small sandy bay that probably gives the nearby caravan park it's name, I set up the scope again and started checking around the tideline. A pair of Northern Wheatear moved around some of the larger driftwood and several Sand Martin hawked overhead. As I was watching the Wheatear a head popped up from the Marram grass behind in the dunes. Sandy coloured it looked interesting if a little too far away even with scope whacked up to full. I kept on it as it walked about appearing for a split second then disappearing again behind clumps of grass and hollows in the sand. It kept stretching it's head up and looking above the grass, looking very tall, never quite giving more than brief views. Eventually after ten minutes and with two impatient kids doing their best to shout it into view, three workmen came across the sand and pushed up, not the hoped for Richard's Pipit but another bloody Skylark. Several more Common Whitethroat sang on the return walk, a male Sparrowhawk crossed the path ahead of us and a male Goosander could be seen at Castle Island along with a couple of adult Lesser Black Back Gulls.

I'll leave you with a non bird image from last week that has me puzzled as I'm a novice with Insects. This one was in Scotch Gill Woods and allowed close enough approach to get a reasonable shot, ID please

Alder Fly, the experts agree!


Steve Gale said...

Hi Alan, the insect might well be an Alder Fly.

Anonymous said...

Looks like an Alder Fly, Alan.

Anonymous said...

I hope that you're sending those Ringed Plovers and Northern Wheatears on across the pond to me now. They've got a short breeding season here and they shouldn't be tarrying.

Not sure about the insect but it may be a Caddisfly of one sort or another.

Stewart said...

Its either a Stone Fly or an Alder Fly Alan. They hatch from the river from water borne larvaea nd are good food for trout and Dippers alike...

St said...

alder fly me thinks. One of three types in uk all fairly similar.

Birding about Northumberland said...

Hi Alan,
I can't help you with your insect ID but I was wondering about your scope, I have just found out that I have come into a small amount of money and am going to spend it on a scope and maybe a camera, what can you recomend....set up for under £400

JRandSue said...

Very nice Alder Fly shot.