Sunday, 10 July 2011


This weekend I've had a very VERY rare weekend off from Ringing and Conservation work. It seems like ages since I've had the weekend to myself. Not that I'm complaining mind! Yesterday I had a lovely relaxing day with Maria. We didnt do a thing, just enjoyed each others company. Today though, I decided to make the most of things and had a bit of a mixed wildlife watching day. I started the day at Hurwurth Burn. As it was a lovely sunny morning there were quite a lot of Butterflies about. Seven different species were seen in total including my first Ringlet of the year. Birdwise it was pretty quiet. All of the Hirundines were flying over the water. On the water itself were quite a lot of families of birds including Shelducks, Coots and Great Crested Grebes. Waders were very few. A pair of Common Sandpipers were on the far shore and a single Green Sandpiper (below) was on the creek.
From Hurwurth I had my yearly visit to Wingate Quarry. As ever the target here were the Marbled White Butterflies (below). I was pleased to see that once again there were lots of these gorgeous creatures on the wing. Other species present were Large & Small Whites, Ringlet, Common Blues, Large Skippers, Meadow Browns and loads of Small Heaths.
I then had a drive to Saltholme. I cant even remember the last time I was down here! As expected a lot more birds were on show here, including 3 new birds for the year - Wood Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plovers & 3 Ruffs (below).
A quick look over at Dormans produced another new Butterfly for the year, a Grayling (below). Surprisingly there were absolutely no Dragonflies at all. On the pool there were three Little Egrets. Amazingly they were the first ones Ive seen in Durham this year!
I then went to an undisclosed site to see a creature that Ive never ever seen before, the Great Crested Newt. As I started searching the ponds I was very surprised at how quickly I spotted the Newts! At first it was just the juveniles on show but eventually an adult was spotted and I gleefully watched this for a good half hour. In total I spotted at least 6 juveniles and the single adult. This was an absolute thrill for me as Ive always wanted to see one of these creatures.
From here, I had actually planned to head home but a call from Steve put paid to that! He was at Lizard Point when he rang me, watching something that again I'd never seen before. He was watching a small pod of White Beaked Dolphins, and I had to go and see them!!! And so, possibly breaking a few driving laws on the way, I was at Marsden in no time at all. I quickly scanned the sea (theres a lot of it!!!) but couldnt see any cetacean action anywhere. Cack! But I didnt panic. These things sometimes require a bit of patience. And thankfully, my patience was rewarded. After around half an hour a Dolphin broke the surface, quickly followed by a second. Magnificent!!! I was absolutely ecstatic. I was getting superb views of a brand new species and it was right on my doorstep. This is why I love what I do!!!

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