Lockdown Weekend No. 2: Janet’s Nature Run

This was the second weekend of the lockdown (yes, there have only been 2!) and we are all finding new routes to avoid the crowds. Janet Palmer did her long run along the Waggonway, through Holywell Dene, down to Seaton Sluice then along to St Mary’s Island and Whitley Bay – a truly beautiful route! She took full advantage of the spring flowers and abundant birdlife. Here is her report:

“Set off at 7.30 am to avoid the crowds. Beautiful morning, spring well and truly left the launch pad. Bright green leaves of hawthorn unfurling, blackthorn flowering, the fruits in the autumn are blackish berries called sloes and are used to make sloe gin (now that’s something to look forward to!) Primroses on the bank along Waggonway and a solitary redshank by the subsidence pond (path no longer flooded).
Into the Dene and heard a woodpecker drumming close by and there he was on the tree trunk, further on a song thrush singing magnificently from a tree top – what a beautiful, varied song.
Out of the Dene and the sole runner on the Eve Black Way, surface now tarmaced for a smoother ‘ride’.
Back to Seaton Sluice, saw pied wagtail and further on nesting fulmars on the cliffs at Hartley. Fulmars are not gulls but petrels and more closely related to albatrosses. They have tubed nostrils to excrete excess salt from drinking sea water. They spend most of their life on the open seas.
In the fields up from St Mary’s skylarks are singing.

Curlew calling on rocks near St Mary’s. They go up to the moors to breed. Also spotted a pair of Great Black Backed Gulls in the distance, the world’s largest gull. They are fierce predators and I once saw one swoop and pick up a wader which he dropped but whether the poor bird survived is another matter!
This is my birdwatching walk but I also pay a visit to the NWT reserve at Holywell Pond and have a coffee break in the bird hide. My best count was 51 birds. Next time I’ll run the lower path by the Burn in the Dene where I’m very likely to see a dipper and a grey wagtail.
Back home – too many people around.

Nature summary:
Flowers: Blackthorn, Celandine, Comfrey, Lesser Stitchwort, Wood Violet, Primrose, Cowslip, White Dead Nettle, Gorse.
Birds: Chiffchaff (heard), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Redshank, Curlew, Blackbird, Robin, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Great Tit, Rook, Crow, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Pied Wagtail, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Fulmar, Great Black Backed Gull.”

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