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Today went down with a few mates again to see the Semipalmated Sandpiper, one of the lads had never seen the species before and almost straight away after we arrived we found the bird feeding quite happily on the causeway with the Dunlin. Views were slightly better than I had on Sunday as the light conditions were far better. No sign of Temminck's Stint whist we were there however Saltholme East held a Greenshank and at least 2 Water Rail, one of which was seen. Also a Little Gull put in an appearance on Saltholme East near where the Semipalmated Sandpiper was.
(Semipalmated Sandpiper - Andrew Kinghorn)
(Little Gull - © Adam Williams)
After this we headed to Cowpen Bewley Woodland Park where we were mainly looking for dragonflies, however Small Heath, Small White, and Speckled Wood butterflies put in an appearance. The weather today was perfect for dragonflies and we had at least 2 Brown Hawker and 2 Common Hawker, being new to dragonflies these were both new for me. Also a cracking male Ruddy Darter put on a bit of a show and this was also a new one for me, Common Darter were fairly abundant as were Blue-tailed, Common Blue, and Emerald Damselflies. We also had a female Emperor laying eggs in the water briefly. I must confess dragonfly of the day had to be Brown Hawker, bit of a stunner and fairly easy to pick out and ID with its diagnostic wing colour. A nice bonus on the way out was a cheeky Fox cub that kept leaping out onto the path to look at us before dashing and disappearing into the undergrowth, it did this several time.
(Ruddy Darter - © Adam Williams)
(Ruddy Darter © Adam Williams)
(Common Hawker - © Adam Williams)
(Emperor Dragonfly - © Adam Williams)
(Cheeky Fox Cub - © Adam Williams)
From here we checked Seaton Snook, we had the usual suspects with the usual terns, gulls, however we did have 2 Arctic Skuas. One of which sat on the beach below us for a short while before going off in pursuit of the local terns again. The other was far more distant and perhaps was in North Yorkshire but then it flew out to sea so I will submit it as Durham, this bird was a bit more typical and had clearly been reading the Collins guide. But bird of the day was yet to come in the form of a Merlin which just appeared out of nowhere. It flew right past us and then were were treat to some fabulous views of it hunting the local finches before finally loosing it as it went out of sight. I love Merlin, I think this might only be my second of the year and both I have seen in Durham. Butterflies of note in the dunes included Wall Brown, Grayling, and Common Blue.
(Arctic Skua - © Adam Williams)
(Merlin - © Adam Williams)
Until next time, Foghorn out!