30 Days Wild – Day 24 – North Cave Wetlands

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_24With a day to myself after the horrors of the EU referendum, I decided on a trip to North Cave Wetlands, a site I’ve often passed and never yet visited. It didn’t disappoint, and yielded some of my favourite photos I’ve personally taken…

Looking towards Village Lake from the viewing platform

Looking towards Village Lake from the viewing platform

North Cave Wetlands is an wetland oasis with small lakes, ponds, reedbeds and open meadow. It’s in a sand and gravel quarry, and to the west new spaces are being prepared to allow expansion as further extraction takes place. You can see a little video across the Eastern end here (and hear the racket hundreds of gulls make):

The wildlife starts at the excellent café (actually a trailer in the carpark, but no less welcome for that) where an intimidating gang of predators lurks to ambush the unwary:

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The reserve itself was dominated by Black-Headed Gulls with hundreds of nests and hundreds of rapidly growing chicks.

Black-headed gulls with chicks of various ages

Black-headed gulls with chicks of various ages

Not so much Black-headed, more chocolatey brown. Photogenic.

Not so much Black-headed, more chocolatey brown. Photogenic.

Amongst the BHGs was the increasingly regular sight of a Mediterranean Gull too. I gather one of the nests to the left is his too.

Med Gull ringed. Darker head with a hood that extends right down the neck.

Med Gull ringed. Darker head with a hood that extends right down the neck.

There are a few nesting pairs of avocet, but we saw no sign of chicks. Hopefully at least a couple have survived the forces of predation.

Avocet probing for food

Avocet probing for food

An elegant bird, observed and photographed with long lens through the bushes. An arrestable offence really.

An elegant bird, observed and photographed with long lens through the bushes. An arrestable offence really.

There were other waders, notably Lapwing, Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher.

Ringed Plover

Ringed Plover

Oystercatcher

Oystercatcher

Lapwing

Lapwing (or Plover, Peewit etc)

Grey Herons flew over a few times, and there was the now ubiquitous sighting of a Little Egret or two:

Confession. I didn't see the second one till I looked at the photo!

Confession. I didn’t see the second one till I looked at the photo!

There were plenty of breeding ducks, including Shelduck, Pochard, Mallard, and one of my personal favourites the Tufted Duck.

Tufted Duck

Tufted Duck

Grebes were doing well too with several pairs of Great Crested and Little Grebe around. Long term readers will know my familiarity with the Great Crested, but it’s a familiarity that never breeds contempt.

Great crested grebe

Great crested grebe

Little Grebes can be frustrating as they are constantly diving for food, leading to this sort of photo:

Read end of something-or-other...

Read end of something-or-other…

But here I was lucky enough to get one to sit still a minute and show what a little stunner it is.

Little Grebe

Little Grebe

There were also a pair showing what excellent parents they are, attending on their chick.

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Coots continued to be a bother to everybody, and moorhens were around the margins too. As were crows, pigeons, and numerous Lapwings.

Lapwing in flight

Lapwing in flight

Where there are nesting birds there will be predation and death. So it was no surprise to see Kestrel over the site.

Kestrel hovering, fear this all small mammals

Kestrel hovering, fear this all small mammals

There was also a Red Kite that passed over, being mobbed by lapwing and others.

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Unfortunately I didn’t look up till too late as I was distracted. What distracted me was this:

Nothing to see there, but plenty to here. Namely singing warblers. Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers are both on-site, and eventually I did get a Sedge Warbler to show its head.

Singing Sedge Warbler

Singing Sedge Warbler

Another of my personal favourites, the Reed Bunting, was flitting about the meadows, fields and reedbeds. One did pose for a sing.

Male Reed Bunting

Male Reed Bunting

It wasn’t just birds, the lake margins and smaller ponds are home to a wealth of insect life, and I took the time to grab a fair few photos of different species of Dragonfly and Damselfly.

Common Blue Damselfly post-moult (a stage called teneral)

Common Blue Damselfly post-moult (a stage called teneral)

Common Blues mating

Common Blues mating

Emerald Damselfly. It actually paddled itself out of the water to safety.

Emerald Damselfly. It actually paddled itself out of the water to safety.

Four-spotted Chaser

Four-spotted Chaser

Four-spotted Chaser

Four-spotted Chaser

I also got to watch a Hornet up close eating a fly it had caught.

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There were numerous butterflies including skipper, Common Blue, Meadow Brown and Small Tortoiseshell. Plus Speckled Wood.

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The site is being crazed by highland cattle, and while we were there one decided to cool off in the Village Lake.

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There we are. Hope you enjoyed that, it was much better being there to see it all live. A site I will re-visit and highly recommend.


_DSC7875 (506x1024)As always, I upload lower res photos here. If you happen to want a better quality image for any reason, just let me know.

David

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2 Responses to 30 Days Wild – Day 24 – North Cave Wetlands

  1. Wow you know your wildlife! Lovely photos!

I welcome thoughts, comments and questions, so please feel free to share anything at all. Thanks, David

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