Plovers wade into the area

Middlesbrough Herald & Post - - HERALD & POST -

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 eric.pay­lor@gmail.com

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