Appreciating what we have

by on Feb.21, 2011, under Birdwatching, Holy Island, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast

During the winter months, our mini-safaris are concentrated on the coast and we always keep a close eye on the weather.  Sometimes that doesn’t work out though, as the Northumberland coast frequently seems to have it’s own microclimate that doesn’t match either the forecast, or the weather, a few miles inland.

When I arrived at the mainland end of the Holy Island causeway to collect Sharon and Andrew, I was surprised to discover that it was a sublimely beautiful morning.  A bitingly cold wind was scything across Fenham Flats but the forecast rain was nowhere to be seen.

Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwit were beside the causeway, and flocks of smaller waders were wheeling around in the air near the island.  Winter wildfowl are a feature of the Northumberland coast and, with drakes in near full breeding-dress, Teal and Wigeon are particularly breathtaking.  Pale-bellied Brent Geese were alongside Dark-bellied Brent Geese, allowing an easy comparison, Lapwings were gloriously iridescent in the bright sunlight and a Peregrine caused panic before beating a path towards the mainland. 12 Common Seals were an unexpected bonus and a covey of Grey Partridges scurried across a field as we walked by.  Common Buzzards were perched on hedgerows and the number of Kestrels we found was astonishing; at least 8 birds in just a few miles of birdwatching on the coast.

After just over 3 hours of birdwatching in near-perfect conditions it was time to return to our starting point and then onwards; Sharon and Andrew heading back across to Holy Island and me heading to Rothbury to Chair a meeting between Northumberland Tourism, Northumberland County Council and the Chairs of Northumberland’s Tourism Associations.  The stunning morning really emphasised in my mind the importance of the meeting in the afternoon; Northumberland has some outstanding birdwatching, wildlife and photography opportunities during the winter (and throughout the rest of the year as well) so we need to make sure that we keep shouting as loudly as we can about them.

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