“I am Gadwall…”

by on Aug.07, 2013, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Otter, Southeast Northumberland

After the heavy rain of Monday, it was good to drive to Newbiggin, to collect Bryan and Zoe & Simon, in warm sunshine and broken cloud.  Our evening Otter mini-Safari would take in the best of Druridge Bay and southeast Northumberland…

One thing that I always enjoy is the response to bird names from clients who’ve never come across a particular species before.  Godwit is a name that always raises a chuckle, and both Bar-tailed Godwit and Black-tailed Godwit, resplendent in their breeding finery, were among the noisy flocks of Redshank and Curlew.  Turnstones were also looking particularly stunning, two juvenile Marsh Harriers were drifting over reedbeds, a particularly dark male Pheasant couldn’t make his mind up which way to run when we stopped to admire him and a Stoat poked it’s head out of the grass, then back in, then out again, before finally running across in front of us.  Gadwall and Wigeon invoked more bemusement at bird names and we added Red Admiral, Meadow Brown and Magpie Moth to the trip list.  Small groups of Starlings were heading to roost and it was time for us to head to our final site of the evening.

As the sun dropped towards the horizon we settled to scan for any indication of Otter activity.  A Sparrowhawk passed through, causing consternation in the Swallows, Sand Martins and House Martins and a Common Snipe was illuminated by a patch of sunlight, raising it from the level of ‘brown bird with long bill that pokes it’s face in mud’ to something quite sublime.  Then, a sudden panic among the ducks.  Females with ducklings were fanning out rapidly from one edge of the pond and we intensified our scanning of the reedy margins.  Nothing, but the birds weren’t settling.  Then a pair of Mute Swans gave a call that we’ve come to associate with one thing, and it was only a matter of time…in the dark shadow of a reedbed, I saw a line of bright water appear.  Everyone’s attention turned to that edge of the pool and then the Otter popped up at the surface 🙂  For 20 minutes it made it’s way steadily across the water, including a stunning few minutes in the reflection of the sunset, before finally vanishing into the darkening gloom.

As we headed back towards Newbiggin, the discussion turned back to bird names and led to one of my all time favourite things that any client has said “I am Gadwall, a wizard of the elven kingdom, and you are Turnstone, a Dwarf” 🙂

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2 Comments for this entry

  • simon meggitt

    I would thoroughly recommend this trip. It took nearly 4 and a half hours and it was a spine-tingling experience to watch the otter hunting at dusk right at the end of the evening. Despite this there was no sense of rush, it felt like we could have spent the whole week there without being moved on. Clearly driven by a passion for sharing his knowledge of wildlife, it would be a pleasure and a privilege to spend more time tapping Martin’s excellent knowledge of the fauna. An inspiring trip of discovery yet this was all slap-bang on the doorstep of normal life. He’s not paying me, but go and spend your money on one of these delightful quests into the fantastic creatures of this ancient Shire and beyond. Turnstone and Gadwall will guide your way …

  • martin

    Hi Simon

    Thank you for your lovely comments. It was a pleasure to meet you (and Zoe too!) on Tuesday and to share some of Northumberland’s wonderful landscape and wildlife with you. Our philosophy is always to chill, relax and watch the wildlife go by and a lot of clients comment that the opportunity to just sit and enjoy is a really special part of what we do. Good luck with your scouring of the ‘shire in search of Golden Plover and Woodcock 🙂

    cheers
    martin

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