Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Out and About, but still there's nowt . . . . .

Had some business at the metrocentre yesterday so biked there and back. The river levels have quickly fallen considering it looked about to break its banks when passing on Saturday, though still resembles fast moving tea with a touch of milk (though it's probably right up again after last nights downpour).
After being attacked by a couple of scotty dogs near B&Q it was a welcome sight to see my first common terns of the year at Swalwell bridge, heard their high pitched croaks mixed in with a few squealing swifts up above me, looked up to see a couple of slender white shapes in with the black arrowheads darting across the skies. Love the swifts, their banshee squeals as they whizz past is one of the quintessential sounds of the summer and they were squealing like mad today all along the river, the heavy atmosphere keeping their insect prey at a low altitude.

Another great sight on the river (from the bridge) was a mother goosander and 11 (yes eleven) goosanderlings(?) There can't be many cuter sights, with their fluffy little chestnut caps and grey and white uniforms she looked like she was on the school run. At one point they all tried to get on her back, and the speed they could paddle through the water was amazing. Wonderful stuff.

11 identical goosanderlings whizzing along

Cuties or what ?
Hitching a ride . . . typically I'd packed my camera away
when they all piled on

Away they go, great viewing comes to an end

A quick look on Shibdon pond and eight terns here, noisy and active, just how I remember them. Four gull species, an oik and a common sand were the pick of the other birds.

Some rather dull photos (in more ways than one) from Shibdon

Stopped off at Clockburn Lake on the way back, the landscape of the outlet stream changed yet again, showing obvious signs of the aftermath of the weekend floods, as what vegetation remains was caked in mud.

Back home I looked back at my records for last year. My first dragonhunt was on May 24th, blue-tailed, common blue and azure damsels all found at clockburn lake or far pasture. Just four days away from that date and the bankside vegetation is nowhere near as lush as it was this time last year, and with temperatures still well below normal for the time of year it'll interesting to see if anything does in fact come to the breeding sites by the end of the week. Just hope I can get down on Friday for a comparison, as there's not even a hint of a damsel at the moment.

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