Lunchtime sortie

8 Jul

Took advantage of the intermittent sunshine to take a lunchtime whizz around two local sites – Weetslade Country Park and Killingworth Lake today for the first time in a while.

First up was Weetslade – a reclaimed pit heap on the edge of Killingworth which offers stunning 360 degree views of the region, and has lots of open wildflower meadow, scrubby heath and some ponds and reedbeds.

Given the abundance of wild flowers I was surprised at how little there was in the way of butterfly activity. Plenty of meadow browns and ringlets, the odd large white, common blue and a single small heath was all we could come up with. Cinnabar moth and burnet were fairly abundant though.


Birdlife was represented by an abundance of corvids, swifts, swallows, house martins, meadow pipits, linnet, whitethroat, kestrel and a couple of stonking yellowhammers.

In the shade of some hawthorn bushes along the footpath were a number of orchids. I can’t quite work out whether they are all common spotted orchids or not, a couple looked quite different but I suspect they were just common spotted :

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Next on to Killingworth Lake – in winter this can be an interesting little oasis in the middle of suburbia with the odd surprising visitor, including whooper swan, goldeneye and assorted gulls, but this was my first visit since the winter snows departed.

As usual a large group of mute swans (maybe 50-75) were resting around the car park and in their midst a white barnyard goose, almost as big as the swans!

A handful of common terns were fishing at the opposite end of the lake, and they were incredibly unconcerned by human presence. One individual perched on a fishing platform to eat its catch allowed us to get to within about 6 feet before heading off to try for more fish.

Common Tern

Also at the reedier end of the lake families of coot, moorhen and great-crested grebe were going about their business.

I’ve never really looked at really small coot chicks before, but one adult had a group of three chicks with simply the maddest orange hair. Very comical.

Coot Chick

All in all not bad for an hour’s wandering.

Birds Seen : Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Linnet, Yellowhammer, Rook, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Wood Pigeon, Kestrel, Whitethroat, Black Headed Gull, Herring Gull, Mute Swan, Starling, Common Tern, Coot, Moorhen, Great-crested Grebe, Canada Goose

Butterflies Seen : Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Large White, Small Heath, Ringlet


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