Autumn chill

by on Sep.24, 2012, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland

Friday was a trip that I’d been looking forward to for quite some time.  Emily had been on the bird ID course that I ran as part of North Pennines WildWatch and had then booked herself and her dad, Steve, onto an Otter Safari.

I arrived at Church Point to collect them, and we set off up the coast.  With bright sunshine and a northerly wind, I predicted that our regular Little Owl would be sunning itself on the edge of its nest hole.  Sure enough, it was sitting in full view soaking up the rays 🙂  Waders featured throughout the afternoon, as they have done for over a month now, with Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Common Redshank, Common Snipe, Lapwing and very close views of Dunlin and Ringed PloverWigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Pochard and Mallard were all paddling around, Little and Great Crested Grebes were, as always, much admired, restless flocks of Greylag and Pink-footed Geese swirled from field to pool and back again, and several skeins of Pink-footed Geese passed south high overhead, their presence betrayed by their high-pitched calls.  A Grey Seal was loitering with intent in the Coquet Estuary, and a Grey Heron sat motionless by the water’s edge.

We ended the day by a  moonlit river, under a starry sky.  A Grey Heron stalked through the riverside vegetation, and a group of Mallards stared intently into the shadows of the overhanging trees on the opposite bank, then scattered soon after the wake from an, otherwise unseen, animal caught our attention.  Darkness, and the chill night air, settled on the river as we made our way back to the car.

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1 Comment for this entry

  • Reg & Val Hall

    Thanks to a generous family birthday gift we were able to enjoy not one but two ‘safaris’ with Martin recently.

    The first was the “North Pennines”. After a welcome pick up from home, we started at Allen Banks National Trust car park. Within just a few yards there were lively nuthatches and tits overhead. Delightful. A leisurely walk by the East Allen was rewarded by two grey wagtails and a family of 7 goosanders making their way up and down the stream, busy feeding. Back in the car we made our way over the moors to Weardale and upper Teesdale looking for grouse. Although the day was sunny the wind was brisk and the birds were staying down but the drive over the moors was spectacular. Eventually we enjoyed seeing lots of red grouse and 3 black grouse at close range. Two extras really made the day: a large flock of mistle thrush feeding in a clump of rowan trees, and three ravens displaying overhead – having seen ravens previously only at the Tower of London these “in the wild” were magnificent.

    Three days later we met Martin at Newbiggin for the Druridge Bay trip. At this time of year this was not a walk along the sands but visits to several good birding places inland from the bay that Martin knew and we didn’t.

    As before, the car park was a good start: a lesson in identifying Mediterranean gulls – six of them in the larger flock a few yards away. Close by the road just north of Lynemouth a perfect spot for waders. Then a deserted farm where the wind kept the small owls at home but a kestrel perched for a long time in good view – a wonderful change from the usual bird hovering high overhead. The weir on the Coquet at Warkworth was not showing much that day but from the gate at East Chevington we watched a juvenile marsh harrier for a long time. There was also plenty of activity at the hide by Cresswell pond including several snipe, and juvenile ruffs that we had not seen before.

    Two very good days that took us to places and birds that we did not know. The other benefit is the breadth of Martin’s knowledge of birds and bird song. Many birds are not immediately visible but hearing and recognizing them is both a pleasure and an aid to looking. It is too late for us to learn – it is something one has to start in childhood – but having Martin as a guide is very good value.

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