Byline: with eric paylor
ONE of the major attractions for Cleveland's birders at this time of year is looking for those birds which use the Tees estuary as a stopping off point.
The little stint is a perfect example as it makes its way from its breeding grounds in the Arctic to its winter headquarters in Africa.
The little stints which we see here on Teesside are inevitably juveniles, such as this bird which was photographed by John Money.
The juveniles tend to make their way slowly down the North Sea and Atlantic seaboard while the adults take a more easterly route through the Mediterranean basin.
The fact that these small waders can travel so far is quite incredible considering that they are slightly smaller than a house sparrow.
It makes them difficult to spot for the untrained eye, though they often join up with flocks of the larger dunlins on Teesside which helps to give them away to birders.
Little stints are usually found busily feeding on the muddy edges of lakes, where they look for insects, worms and tiny shellfish.
Several of them have already been spotted on Teesside so far this year, notably at Bowesfield Pond and at RSPB Saltholme.
While the little stints will carry on with their long journey, many of the dunlin which are arriving will stay with us for the winter.
We do have some dunlin with us all the year around, including a breeding population which is based in Scotland and elsewhere on British uplands.
However the vast majority of the dunlins which are now being spotted will have come from Iceland and northern Europe. September can be a poignant time of the year as the wild flowers die away and the vast majority of our flying insects disappear.
I've delayed cutting back my buddleia, which is just as well because there is usually a second show of flowers to keep the butterflies happy.
In the past few weeks I've seen small tortoiseshells, peacocks, cabbage whites, red admirals and even a painted lady on my buddleia.
Depending on the weather some of these butterflies will linger on until October.
There have also been quite a lot of bees on my buddleia lately. Honey bees tend to survive the winter, though bumblebee colonies are wiped out apart from the queen bees which bury themselves into the ground and hibernate.
If you have noted any interesting or unusual wildlife sightings in and around Teesside and Cleveland lately, contact Eric on email@example.com A little stint