Friday, 29 July 2016

The perfect antidote

We didn't waste much time licking our wounds and soon we were heading south again, this time for the beautiful county of Northumberland. We over-nighted in the village of Beal within striking distance of the historic island of Lindisfarne. Rare American ducks were put behind us as we sought out scarce plants, butterflies and some other avian treats.
After a very decent Lebanese take-away washed down with a wee dram o' Speyside single malt (thanks James Lowen), we hit the hay before midnight. Snoring aside - I slept pretty well!
The next morning we searched around the Snook on Holy Island for the scarce (dare I say rare?) Lindisfarne Helleborine. Fortunately we managed to find several of these pretty orchids - more exciting for James and Nick if I'm really honest but Dark Green Fritillary was a nice bonus for me.

Snook Tower, Holy Island, Northumerland

Dark-Green Fritillary
Lindisfarne Helleborine (crappy iphone shot)

James paps the trifid!

Nick had a go too!
We didn't stay long on Holy Island and our next stop was at the pretty (ahem!) town of Newbiggin-on-sea. A quick scan with the scopes and we had our Roseate Terns. A mix of adults and juveniles. Only my second ever sighting of the species (previously Ballycotton, Cork in 2008) and for James his first since 1990.

Roseate Terns with Common Terns
Next stop was the A189 bridge over the Wansbeck estuary for Bonaparte's Gull. With traffic rushing past on one side and a nice fifty foot drop into the estuary on the other as well as the sheets of rain - I didn't particularily enjoy twitching this bird but at least it was there and it was easy....unlike it fellow countryman the Scoter!

2cy Bonaparte's Gull, Wansbeck estuary
A couple of quick stops for Young's and Tyne Helleborine (both of which I missed in favour of ice cream and minding our gear in the car!). In my defence here, I'm still struggling with Birds, Dragonflies and Butterflies never mind adding Moths and Orchids to the whole confusing mix. I will probably regret not seeing those last two Helleborines but there was a Mr. Whippy nearby for goodness sake!
Our last stop was Bishop Middleham quarry near Durham (where Bee-eaters bred in 2002 no less). We were here for Dark-red Helleborine - which I admit was stunning (well OK - it was nice!) and Northern Brown Argus (or even "Durham" Argus if you like).

Bishop Middleham Quarry, Durham

Dark Red Helleborine

Still harassing the trifids - Orchids!
Northern Brown Argusesssss (Argei?) were thin on the ground - James found two and it didn't matter that they were tatty - still things of beauty really.

Northern Brown "Durham" Argus
After that it really was time to pack up and headhome. We reached Norwich sometime after 10pm that night, one thousand mile round-trip, three UK ticks (Surf Scoter, Bonaparte's Gull and Roseate Tern), two new Butterflies (Northern Brown Argus and Dark Green Fritillary) and some very nice weeds (sorry - last time - Helleborines). Not to mention the great company and craic - we'd almost forgotten about dipping the Scoter......almost!

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