Posted by: mynaturaldiary | February 4, 2017

Seals and Seal Sand

At Greatham Creek, in the Teesmouth National Nature Reserve, Harbour Seals lie on the mud awaiting the turn of the tide.

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Harbour (Common) Seal (Phoca vitulina)

You can see the younger seal

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trying to make its way over the mud (see video here and here). I love the way in the last video it simply slides over the mud.

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In this video the youngster stretches his flippers. In the water, the seals are a different animal.

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They move with grace, as this video shows here.

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Also on the mudflats of Greatham Creek were Redshank

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(see video here). We’ll see more of them later in this post on Seal Sands. In the TNNR carpark, overlooking Cowpen Marsh were Wigeon.

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Wigeon (Anas penelope)

They have blue eyes, and this male shows a faint herringbone pattern on the grey feathers along its flank.

On Cowpen Marsh, Lapwings and Golden Plover hunkered down.

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Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

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Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)

They sat at the waters edge, ready to spring into the air at the first sign of danger (see video here and here). These birds will soon depart the marshes of Teesmouth for the upland North Yorkshire Moors and for Tees-dale. But not yet!

In the distance on the water behind these waders, a male Shoveler could be seen.

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Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

(see video here).

Leaving the Cowpen Marsh area for Greenabella Marsh in the Teesmouth National Nature Reserve , a real treat was found. A group of Twites were on a tree.

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Twite (Carduelis flavirostris)

(see video here).

Also seen was a Great Tit.

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Great Tit (Parus major)

There was a solitary male Teal on the water.

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Teal (Anas crecca)

 

The vast expanse of the mudflats at Seal Sands at low tide is a feeding point for many birds.

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Greatham Creek winds its way through this to reach the River Tees, which in turn empties out into Teesmouth, and the North Sea.

On the mudflats were Curlew. They were probing the mud for invertebrates, which you can see them eating.

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Curlew (Numenius arquata)

(see video here).

Another wader seen in numbers were Redshank, which I mentioned earlier in this post.

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Redshank (Tringa totanus)

(see video here)

A cloud of waders could be seen flying over the mudflats – too far away to identify.

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Redshank – Sanderling – Knot? Still beautiful to see, whatever they were.

Shelduck were also on the mudflats in numbers.

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Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)

(see video here).

These birds are the symbol for the Teesmouth Bird Club.

In this picture you can see a Shelduck (top right), an Oystercatcher (top left) and a Cormorant drying its wings (bottom).

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Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

The Cormorant makes a splendid primeval image, as he tries to dry his wings off (see video here).

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Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Finally, the Black Headed Gulls appear to be making the transition from their winter plumage

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back to their summer plumage

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Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

In the summer, their head will be a most attractive chocolate brown. Summer is a coming, even if it still feels cold!


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