With 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…
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:
The reserve itself was dominated by Black-Headed Gulls with hundreds of nests and hundreds of rapidly growing chicks.
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.
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.
There were other waders, notably Lapwing, Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher.
Grey Herons flew over a few times, and there was the now ubiquitous sighting of a Little Egret or two:
There were plenty of breeding ducks, including Shelduck, Pochard, Mallard, and one of my personal favourites the 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.
Little Grebes can be frustrating as they are constantly diving for food, leading to this sort of photo:
But here I was lucky enough to get one to sit still a minute and show what a little stunner it is.
There were also a pair showing what excellent parents they are, attending on their chick.
Coots continued to be a bother to everybody, and moorhens were around the margins too. As were crows, pigeons, and numerous Lapwings.
Where there are nesting birds there will be predation and death. So it was no surprise to see Kestrel over the site.
There was also a Red Kite that passed over, being mobbed by lapwing and others.
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.
Another of my personal favourites, the Reed Bunting, was flitting about the meadows, fields and reedbeds. One did pose for a sing.
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.
I also got to watch a Hornet up close eating a fly it had caught.
There were numerous butterflies including skipper, Common Blue, Meadow Brown and Small Tortoiseshell. Plus Speckled Wood.
The site is being crazed by highland cattle, and while we were there one decided to cool off in the Village Lake.
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.