Saturday, 19 June 2010

River Derwent

I have visited the River Derwent a couple of times in the last week. Not far up the river from the Swallwell visitors centre is a small shingle island that sits centrally in the river but is accessible and i love to spend some time on it. Sand Martins live in the riverbank right next to this little island and you can wonder at the speed they enter and exit their digs as they come and go. As i basked in the sunshine on my first visit, a Common Tern approached the island with it's obvious bobbing flight. The bird was fishing the river. It passed overhead, turned and headed back down stream before disappearing around the bend. A couple of minutes later it reappeared, following the almost identical flight path it had taken first time round. It had dropped to the water 4 times and did so again in what looked like the same spots as before. I was readying myself with my camera this time and fired off a number of bursts as it got closer. The bird did the same thing 5 times before travelling by again but this time continued on and kept going without turning. After moving on i noticed a pair of Grey Wagtails "fly fishing" from overhanging branches and semi submerged rocks. Bonny birds that are very acrobatic while chasing their prey, a joy to watch. They were VERY busy. A couple of Dippers, Pied Wagtails, a Kestrel hunting nearby and a Song Thrush belting one out were some of the other highlights. Oh yes, and a Banded Demoiselle was stumbled upon as i scrambled through some undergrowth as i tried to get closer to the river at one stage.
I was back in the vicinity again with Jeff Veevers on Thursday as he needed some images of Grey Squirrels for a project, so i suggested Thornley Woods, OBVIOUSLY. Needless to say the squirrels were located and a pleasant hour was spent there with views of Jays, Nuthatches, a family of Great Spotted Woodpeckers ( the juveniles  much in evidence) and a Stock Dove being the most notable species. Another venture to the Derwent, again to "my island" but as we worked our way through the tall vegetation that covers parts of the shingle and rocks we disturbed a Goosander and her 9 ducklings which took to the water and quickly moved away. The pair of Grey Wags that i had spotted earlier in the week were located, and this time i confirmed what i had thought, that they had young and could be seen travelling back and forth to a stone wall where there was obviously a nest. Although the nest was out of sight, a faecal sac was carried away from the wall and deposited in the river. We called in to Shibdon Pond for a fleeting visit hoping for a possible Dragonfly but were out of luck. Plenty Blue Damselflies and a variety of butterflies but sadly no Dingy Skippers.



......a stunning bird and blue skies       HEAVEN.

.......i was sad to think i had disturbed mum and the kids

        Banded Demoiselle
         Common Blue Damselfly


  1. Cheers Dick,
    Cracking light.

  2. John,

    some good shots of the Tern. Didnt know there was a Goosander on the Island either. Might have a wander down there with the Mrs this afternoon as I finish of my "chores" that have been assigned me for the last 3 weeks. Would be up for a day out next Sunday and if necessary send you a pic of me in case you have forgot what I look like