Plovers wade into the area
MOST of us have spotted ringed plovers in and around the beaches at Hartlepool and Redcar.
But this is the time to look closely at the ringed plovers which you spot, because they could be summer visiting little ringed plovers.
Hundreds of these small waders have flown in from Africa to raise their families here, and there are now quite a few of them around in Cleveland.
In fact judging by this superb graphic photo taken at RSPB Saltholme by Peter Garbutt there will soon be plenty more little ringed plovers around.
The seasoned birder can easily tell the difference between the two species because the adult ringed plovers have orange beaks and legs.
But, as can be seen in Peter’s picture, the little ringed plover has a distinctive golden eye ring which is obvious through binoculars, but also sometimes easy to see with the naked eye.
Another useful ID fact is that you are likely to spot little ringed plovers away from the coast because they prefer to breed inland.
One hundred years ago little ringed plovers were rare vagrants to Britain. However they have adapted to gravel pits and the shores of manmade lakes and are now one of our most regular summer guests.
It’s great to see plenty of other migrants arriving in Cleveland. Lately I have caught up with the com- mon sandpiper and yellow wagtail, which enjoy similar habitat to little ringed plovers.
The very vocal but often elusive blackcap, with its jet-back crown and grey underparts, has proved to be one of my bogey birds in the past. But I spotted one on the same day as my first whitethroat.
I even had a holly blue butterfly fluttering through my garden shortly before last week’s sudden cold snap.
Things are happening to the flora front too. The very familiar cow parsley is flowering almost everywhere.
One flower which I was delighted to catch up with was the early purple orchid which has suffered from both urban developments and modern farming methods and is no longer as common as it once was.
This is usually the first orchid to bloom in our region and can be found in a variety of habitats, including deep woodland.
I found a nice healthy clump growing by the roadside when I was on a birding trip to Hurworth Burn, which is part of the Castle Eden Walkway.
Eric would like to hear from readers about what they have seen. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org