Friday, 10 July 2009

Chasing The Dragon.

I almost crossed the county today, typical for July I didn't see or hear a huge amount. Most birds have stopped singing, Sedge Warbler being the notable exception today as I heard several still chuntering away at a number of sites. First stop was Sir Edward's Lake at Capheaton, a single Great Crested Grebe the only notable species here. First time I've visited since they deforested the island, whilst it improves viewing it's a poorer view if that makes sense. When I first started birding I used to drive up here regularly, a few miles south I once visited a quarry. After a quick squint at the map I headed back today figuring there might be some butterfly on the wing and the quarry may now be disused, wrong. A few Goldfinch fed on thistles and a couple of Ringlet dallied but not much else.

Next stop Hallington Reservoir which apart from some Canada Geese and a lone Heron was very empty. Again lots of Ringlet, also one or two tatty Painted Lady and lots of Small Skipper (I think).

Small Skipper, Hallington Reservoir.

I carried on west toward Colt Crag, a Common Buzzard, the first of several today, was hassled by a Carrion Crow near Throckington Church. I drove over the narrow end of Colt Crag, a brood of Little Grebe either side of the road being fed by parents. Again a couple of Grey Heron lurked nearby and not much else.

Common Buzzard, Throckington.

From here I continued west via Wark and up onto the eastern edge of Wark Forest where I checked out some of the small streams and pools. At one low bridge a huge Dragon lifted up from the rocks and shot upstream. I wandered after it a little way but it had disappeared so i returned to my starting point figuring it might return. This happened a couple of times, each time it shot past I had little time to get any shots on it and it didn't seem to want to land. I walked up the other bank to photograph some Ragged Robin growing there and caught sight of it again. This time it landed on the bankside nearby and I managed to get a look, a Golden-ringed Dragonfly a female and our longest Dragonfly here in the UK. Chuffed to bits that I caught up with it I headed off back east.

Golden Ringed Dragonfly, Wark Forest.
Another couple of Common Buzzard on the return journey including one over the Tyne at Hexham. I disturbed another large raptor at one point whilst overlooking some clearfell and was only able to observe it with binoculars as it moved off and quickly dropped into some large pines nearby. Very pale underparts and grey/brown upperparts with a dark trailing edge lead me to suspect it may have been a male Honey Buzzard, however I'm unable to be certain on the ten seconds I saw it for.
Back at the coast I had a quick wander around the links at Cambois where a couple of Common Whitethroat added me to their year list.
Common Whitethroat, Cambois Links.
A pair of Common Stonechat clicked away at me as I sat waiting for the Common Blue butterflies and Six Spot Burnet to land and give me a photo opportunity. It soon became apparent why as their recently fledged offspring began to pop out of every nearby bush to see what was going on.

Common Stonechat, female, Cambois Links.

Common Stonechat, juvenile, Cambois Links.

Six Spot Burnet, Cambois Links.
Last stop Castle Island where all the mud has disappeared following the recent heavy rain and subsequent increase in water flow. It shouldn't take too many hot days to get it back down though as it appears only a couple of inches deep at the west end. Two Common Sandpiper were visible from West Sleekburn and another couple of Grey Heron amongst the multitude of Mute Swan and Canada Geese.

Grey Heron, Castle Island.


Stewart said...

Alan dont fall for the 'I'm up west it might be a Honey' sketch. Its all brainwashing!

Alan Tilmouth said...

When this bird came off the tree I could only see underside with naked eye, it seemed uniformly grey, and chunky. At first I thought is it a Gos, then is it a male Hen Harrier but as soon as it dipped and I saw upperparts I knew it was a 'buzzard' sp. Maybe I'll go back next week and hang around a little.

ST said...

Southern hawker female
ash com wood working the pathway from the biggest pond along the trees to the haydon letch (stream).

Park at police station, cross the lines walk all the way down to the end of the gravel path (road) brings you to the H.Letch, follow the narrower path to the lake .