Archive for July, 2017

Owling; Otter Safari 17/07/17

by on Jul.19, 2017, under Druridge Bay

I collected Una and then Verna from Church Point and we set off for an afternoon and evening around Druridge Bay and South East Northumberland searching our favourite Otter spots

The heat of the afternoon was tempered by a gentle breeze as we came across 8 Little Egrets and a Kingfisher put in a brief but brilliant appearance with flash of dazzling azure as it landed on a rock in front of us before flying across the river and reappearing a few minutes later.  More azure blue flashed towards the extremity of Blue-tailed Damselflies and a Red Admiral took a real liking to Verna, flying around for a few seconds before settling on her arm 🙂  As the evening progressed the light suddenly switched from dazzling and contrasty to sublimely beautiful.  A small Starling murmuration hinted at the spectacle we’ll be enjoying by the winter, 2 Roe Deer were in deep vegetation, a Kestrel was flitting from tree to tree along the roadside ahead of the car and a Barn Owl flew over the reeds carrying a Short-tailed Field Vole as Common Swift, Barn Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin plundered the dense clouds of insects rising above the ethereal mist drifting over the water.

As the light faded and we headed back a Brown Hare loped along the road ahead of us, pausing on the track into a field and I suggested that owls should be on the target list for the next 10-15 minutes of the drive.  Two separate telegraph poles were adorned with Little Owls, with the tiny predators giving us their very best withering stare, before a third Little Owl flew alongside the car briefly and a Barn Owl drifted across the road ahead of us 🙂

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Gulls, waders and wildfowl; Druridge Bay mini-Safari 16/07/17

by on Jul.19, 2017, under Druridge Bay

I arrived at Church Point and quickly met up with Andy and Billy.  As a stunningly white adult Mediterranean Gull drifted around over the beach, Diane and Bill arrived and we set off for a few hours around Druridge Bay

In the hazy heat of midday, Common Snipe were dozing and preening in amongst clumps of rush, a Tufted Duck was watching over her brood of nine fluffy chocolate-brown ducklings as they practiced diving in search of food, bobbing quickly back the surface without the strength to keep themselves submerged, a Sedge Warbler was belting out it’s greatest hits from a hidden position but occasionally song-flighting into the spotlight and a Scaup provided a nice ID class in amongst a flock of Tufted Duck.  Two Roe Deer were also amongst the rushes and the buck cleared a fence with ease while the doe seemed much more hesitant.  Lapwing and Curlew kept flushing in panic but there was no sign of the cause of their consternation, at least not to our eyes, although we were at a site where we’d found an Otter two weeks ago and the absence of ducks around one reedbed was quite obvious…

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…and more dolphins; Farne Islands Safari 15/07/17

by on Jul.17, 2017, under Farne Islands

I’d collected Alice and Jonathan from Waren Mill and headed south along the coast at the start of our Farne Islands safari.  A dreich drizzly morning still produced Little and Arctic Terns, Meadow Pipit and Skylark and, after lunch we we driving between Bamburgh and Seahouses when Jonathan spotted dolphins between the mainland and the islands.  The journey around the islands and landing on Inner Farne produced all of the usual suspects; Grey Seal, Gannet, Shag, Cormorant, Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns and the entertaining sight of lots of Arctic Tern chicks sitting in the middle of the boardwalk.

The journey back to Seahouses brought probably the best wildlife of the day though, as a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins played around the boats that were heading to and from the harbour 🙂

Our Farne Islands safari on Saturday 15th July produced a spectacular and unexpected ending as a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins appeared around the boat

Our Farne Islands safari on Saturday 15th July produced a spectacular and unexpected ending as a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins appeared around the boat

Our Farne Islands safari on Saturday 15th July produced a spectacular and unexpected ending as a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins appeared around the boat

Our Farne Islands safari on Saturday 15th July produced a spectacular and unexpected ending as a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins appeared around the boat

Our Farne Islands safari on Saturday 15th July produced a spectacular and unexpected ending as a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins appeared around the boat

We’ve finished our Farne Islands trips for this year, but we’ve still got plenty of opportunities to encounter dolphins on our 4hr and 10hr pelagic wildlife trips.  Give us a call on 01670 827465 for more details or to book your place now 🙂

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Dolphins; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 14/07/17

by on Jul.17, 2017, under North Sea

As Martin drove down the coast towards Royal Quays on Friday the sea looked flat and peaceful…an hour later and it was starting to get choppy on a stiff westerly that had sprung from nowhere, but we were still confident that this would be the trip where we started finding White-beaked Dolphins, and that confidence was well-placed 🙂

Our 4hr evening pelagic on Friday 14th July produced excellent encounter with one of the mysterious residents of the North Sea off Northumberland - White-beaked Dolphins.

Our 4hr evening pelagic on Friday 14th July produced excellent encounter with one of the mysterious residents of the North Sea off Northumberland - White-beaked Dolphins.

Our 4hr evening pelagic on Friday 14th July produced excellent encounter with one of the mysterious residents of the North Sea off Northumberland - White-beaked Dolphins.

Our 4hr evening pelagic on Friday 14th July produced excellent encounter with one of the mysterious residents of the North Sea off Northumberland - White-beaked Dolphins.

Our 4hr evening pelagic on Friday 14th July produced excellent encounter with one of the mysterious residents of the North Sea off Northumberland - White-beaked Dolphins.

We’ve got a few spaces available on some of our 4hr and 10hr sailings this year; have a look at www.northernexperiencepelagics.co.uk or give us a call on 01670 827465 for more details or to book your place before they’re all filled!

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Pirates of Cullerfornia; NEWT’s North Sea pelagic 12/07/17

by on Jul.14, 2017, under North Sea

Offshore from the small seaside town of Cullercoats, there be pirates…

Our 4hr evening pelagic on 12th July brought excellent views of a dashing piratical Arctic Skua and a stunning sunset

Our 4hr evening pelagic on 12th July brought excellent views of a dashing piratical Arctic Skua and a stunning sunset

Our 4hr evening pelagic on 12th July brought excellent views of a dashing piratical Arctic Skua and a stunning sunset

Our 4hr evening pelagic on 12th July brought excellent views of a dashing piratical Arctic Skua and a stunning sunset

Our 4hr evening pelagic on 12th July brought excellent views of a dashing piratical Arctic Skua and a stunning sunset

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Localised weather systems; Cheviot Valleys group birdwatching 11/07/17

by on Jul.13, 2017, under Cheviot Valleys

Watching the weather forecast on the breakfast news, I was confident that any rain we encountered on our day in the Cheviot Valleys would be quickly passing showers…

As I collected Mike and the other 12 members of his group from Belford there was a steady drizzle, and I was questioning the forecast already 😉 Heading into the hills we were soon watching Pheasant, Red-legged Partridge and a Brown Hare that loped across the road in front of us before heading up a rough track and out of sight.  The air was damp and warm; perfect conditions for midges and the Sand Martins, House Martins and Swallows that were busy hoovering them up.  Lesser Redpoll were trilling overhead, the high-pitched calls of Siskin pierced the damp air and a female Red Grouse was leading her chicks through the heather as we headed along the path to higher ground.  You should be careful what you wish for, and I’d just mentioned that a slightly stiffer breeze would suppress the degree of annoyance that the midges tend to bring, when the breeze did start to pick up a bit.  Eventually the stiff easterly was driving rain into the valley and the forecast was looking like a wild guess at what the weather was actually going to do.  I suggested that we retreat to the lower reaches of the valley and see what the weather was like down there.  It was better, much better in fact and our second walk of the day, following a lunch stop that was accompanied by a very obliging Yellowhammer, brought Common Buzzard, Common Sandpiper, Grey Wagtail, Curlew, a family of Whinchat and, after a lot of effort, the two target species for the afternoon – Dipper and Ring Ouzel – as a young Roe Deer watched us from the other side of the valley.  Just a few miles back along the road on our return journey to Belford the roads were dry, bone dry and it seemed that we’d been enjoying a remarkable bit of micro-climate 🙂

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Bait balls; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 07/07/17

by on Jul.10, 2017, under North Sea

Our second 4hr evening pelagic last week sailed in calmer seas than on Wednesday and we headed north from the Tyne.  Searching for flocks of birds above bait balls of tiny fish we encountered Kittiwake, Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar and Gannet, including a flock that were plunge-diving just off Blyth.  ‘Crazy unexpected wildlife’ award for the evening went to a Hummingbird Hawk-moth that joined us off Blyth and eventually went to roost in the speaker of the boat’s tannoy system 🙂  We finished the evening with a spectacular sunset as we passed St Mary’s Island and flocks of Common Scoter heading north.

Our 4hr evening pelagic trips sail from Royal Quays marina and we search for whales, dolphins, porpoises and seabirds while enjoying spectacular views of the beautiful Northumberland coast

Our 4hr evening pelagic trips sail from Royal Quays marina and we search for whales, dolphins, porpoises and seabirds while enjoying spectacular views of the beautiful Northumberland coast

Our 4hr evening pelagic trips sail from Royal Quays marina and we search for whales, dolphins, porpoises and seabirds while enjoying spectacular views of the beautiful Northumberland coast

Our 4hr evening pelagic trips sail from Royal Quays marina and we search for whales, dolphins, porpoises and seabirds while enjoying spectacular views of the beautiful Northumberland coast

Our 4hr evening pelagic trips sail from Royal Quays marina and we search for whales, dolphins, porpoises and seabirds while enjoying spectacular views of the beautiful Northumberland coast

Our 4hr evening sailings are almost all sold out but there are a few places remaining, and we’ve still got availability on our 10hr ‘Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic’ sailings in August and September.  Give us a call on 01670 827465 for more information or to reserve your place

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From the very small to the very large; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 05/07/17

by on Jul.10, 2017, under North Sea

After a couple of weather affected planned sailings we headed out on Wednesday for a 4hr evening pelagic.  There was a long rolling swell as we left the mouth of the Tyne, but that settled as we headed further north and offshore.  As Gannets soared by there were Puffins dotted around and Guillemots with recent fledglings.  Kittiwakes were above bait balls of tiny fish and a Harbour Porpoise was followed soon after by a Minke Whale that was feeding beneath a flock of Gannets before heading across our bow and vanishing into the mysterious deep.  A quiet evening, but two cetaceans in less than ideal viewing conditions wasn’t a bad start 🙂

Our 4hr evening sailings are almost all sold out but there are a few places remaining, and we’ve still got availability on our 10hr ‘Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic’ sailings in August and September.  Give us a call on 01670 827465 for more information or to reserve your place 🙂

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Contrast and compare; Bespoke Photography holiday 02-05/07/17

by on Jul.06, 2017, under Druridge Bay, Farne Islands, Northumberland Coast

I collected Joy from Morpeth railway station ahead of two days enjoying the best photographic opportunities that the Northumberland coast has to offer in early July, and I outlined the plan for the next two days as we drove to The Swan.  Like last week’s Birdwatching magazine reader holiday, the forecast suggested that Monday would be ok…

Monday 03/07/17

An early start saw us boarding the St Cuthbert III and heading towards the Farne Islands.  Landing on Staple Island was an interesting experience, as the swell was washing against the landing platform, and once on the island Joy demonstrated an excellent eye for spotting a photographic opportunity.  Puffin, Shag, Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake and Fulmar all posed in front of the lens and I took a few shots with my dSLR as Joy has been thinking about upgrading from her bridge camera to something a bit heavier 🙂  Crossing to Inner Farne early afternoon brought the birds that aren’t present on Staple; Common, Sandwich and Arctic Terns.  Lots more photographs and by late afternoon we were on our way back to Seahouses and then south along the coast.

Tuesday 04/07/17

The forecast had suggested rain from late morning onwards, so waking up at 06:00 and hearing it hammering down on our roof came as an unpleasant surprise.  A tour of the best birdwatching spots on the Northumberland coast, from Bamburgh to Cresswell, brought Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Mallard, Teal, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Sandwich, Arctic and Common Terns, Sedge Warbler, Rock Pipit, Lapwing, Curlew, Sand Martin, Swallow and Swift and, surprisingly for the middle of the day in July, Otters at two separate sites 🙂

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