August is traditionally a quiet month for woodland birds and if the moorland birds know what's good for them they'll be keeping their heads down too. There is one group of birds however that are very prominent in August and that is our waders. To say our waders is probably a little misleading as many of these birds have bred elsewhere in places ranging from Greenland, Iceland or maybe closer to home in Northern Scotland. Right now most of them are beginning to migrate to their wintering grounds. For some species the journey will end on an estuary or marsh here in the UK for others we're just a stopover point to refuel before completing the next few thousand miles to Africa or further.
There are many species involved in this migration which is a little more relaxed than the move north in Spring with individual birds tending to linger a day or two at a site with good feeding.
Waders can be encountered across a wide variety of habitat in the North East some species like Dunlin, Ringed Plover & Sanderling favour beaches whilst Turnstone & Purple Sandpiper are more at home on rocky shores. Freshwater pools can boast a range of waders such as Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Green & Wood Sandpiper as well as the more familiar Common Sandpiper.
At this time of year they can be in a confusing number of plumages, some retaining the vestiges of breeding plumage, others having completed a moult into winter plumage. Many of the birds passing through will be juveniles and look different again.
There are many fantastic sites across the North East where waders can be seen, from Lindisfarne causeway and Budle Bay in the north to Saltholme Pools RSPB in the south.
Often the young birds are very approachable and if you sit quietly ahead of a rising tide they may come very close. Those that breed in Arctic tundra may have had no contact with humans at all before arriving here.