Fox in the grass and Little terns in the drizzle

5 Jun

With my brother and his family visiting for the weekend, one thing was certain – rain. Their previous trip to Northumberland last year for a week at Cresswell marked the end of a glorious spring and the start of a rainy summer which saw incessant drizzle for their entire stay. So.. “hot” on the heels of two days of mid-twenties temperature and raging sun, the temperature dropped to 13 on Saturday and 9 degrees and drizzle today.

An overcast walk along the cliffs from Old Hartley to St Mary’s Island gave the kids (3yr old twins and my own 4 year old) chance to romp up and down the path and throw stones in the sea, but little of note by the way of birds or other wildlife. No butterflies prepared to lighten up the gloom and just a few gulls, fulmars (or “Wilmas” as Hannah likes to call them) drifted past with the rooks and jackdaws.

At the wetland reserve a very vocal sedge warbler put in an appearance along with a couple of reed buntings, meanwhile a very handsome fox peered warily at us from deep grass at the top end of the reserve.

At the island itself the usual cast of gulls and cormorants were joined by a steady stream of gannets and a lone kittiwake , while turnstone and ringed plover foraged on the rocks.

A brief sortie to Cresswell showed the four adult avocets and I’m sure I caught sight of one avocet chick nearby but failed to relocate it after it disappeared from view, so perhaps the report of the demise of all the chicks was premature. Shelducks seem to be everywhere right now and the place was teeming with their chicks, and one or two dunlin were also dotted around on the shore. Shovellers, tufties and mallards also shared the lake alongside greylag and canada geese.

Past Cresswell and on to Duridge Pools to see if the on-off-on again-off again spoonbill show was in town but sadly not. A pair of melanistic pheasants were pretty much the only sight apart from the sand martins and coots.

Today we had a walk from Low Newton around the headland to the football hole, and almost immediately we had little tern fishing close in to shore – a first for me this year. The light cloud cover soon turned more ominous and we were treated to a mix of drizzle and steady rain for most of the walk. Again unsurprisingly butterflies were non-existent but a single cinnabar moth was resting in the dunes and several garden tiger moth caterpillars intrigued the kids. Northern marsh orchids peeked out of the grass in a few places and skylark and meadow pipit were singing above the meadows while pied wagtail zoomed above the shore. Eider, heron and oystercatchers shared the rocky scars with cormorants, and on the beach at the football hole sanderlings and turnstones were investigating the seaweed at the high water mark.

Birds seen : starling, house sparrow, jackdaw, rook, fulmar, common gull, black headed gull, greater black-backed gull, fulmar, little tern, arctic tern, oystercatcher, turnstone, ringed plover, sanderling, dunlin, avocet, shelduck, shoveller, mallard, tufted duck, gadwall, greylag goose, canada goose, pheasant, swallow, house martin, cormorant, shag, heron, sedge warbler, reed bunting, sylark, meadow pipit

Butterflies/Moths/Caterpillars : cinnabar moth, garden tiger moth caterpillar

Mammals : fox

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