Walking towards the Sun

Last weekend was packed, eventful and most enjoyable. Mind you, at about 2pm walking in the North York Moors with Roderick Crawford (at Cranmer last year), it didn’t feel like it.

Roderick had planned a route from Osmotherley (east of Northallerton), which took us along through woodland, past a couple of reservoirs, and through some lush farmland, and then up a short slog to the plateau at the top. After a quick lunch there was a short stretch along the top to do, heading due north, before our descent. We were immersed in conversation but the route was easy enough. After an hour or so I said, “Er, Roderick, um, that’s the Sun up there, and we’re heading towards it, so we must be going south…!” It took us a while to work out that we’d gone wrong just a few minutes after lunch, completely ignoring an obvious sign pointing to the left. If we’d continued the path we’d gone on, we might well have looped back round to the start…Despite all this it was a good walk, and great to catch up with Roderick, a fellow full-on charismatic!

A good friend of mine, John Linney, came up for the rest of the weekend. John’s a great guy who has the gift of friendship. We were both hobbling around on Sunday (him with ligament damage, me with blisters) so it didn’t take much persuading for John to be receptive to some bird-watching!

I’d have illustrated these events with photos had I not deleted them before downloading… 😦

Wood sandpiper

On Thursday morning I decided to do a dawn walk around Rainton Meadows, partly to improve my very patchy knowledge of warblers, and partly to see some Temminck’s stints. Arriving at the hide I was disappointed not to see the stints, so when a small wader did arrive I turned to it expectantly. Instead it looked much more like a wood sandpiper, which are themselves scarce birds.

Wood sandpiper, in full sunlight

Although certainly not a stint, I puzzled over its identification for a while as small waders are not yet my forte, until another birder, Gary Crowder, arrived: I alerted him to it and he said immediately “it’s a wood sandpiper!” Apparently this is only the second time one has been seen at Rainton Meadows – and to my surprise its discovery rapidly appeared on a commercial bird news service! (Gary showed me one of the stints shortly after – too distant then for my binoculars.)

On Saturday, I read on the internet that four spoonbillls had arrived in Druridge Bay, on the Northumberland coast near Ashington. I therefore decided to go to see them – and they were very impressive! Although quite dozy for a while, I returned after lunch to find them more active. After preening – a bit hard with a spoon for a bill – they spent about half an hour dredging the lake for food, with evident success.

Spoonbills at Druridge Bay

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