In a dark wood

by on Nov.02, 2010, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland

October ended with a Prestige Tour around Druridge Bay and Southeast Northumberland.  I collected Christine and Mark from Stannington and we headed across to the coast.  Flocks of Linnets. Lapwings and Grey Partridges were close to the road and we settled to check one of our regular Otter sites.  All of the assembled Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall and Coot were concentrated in one area of the pool and clearly nervous about one particular corner.  We weren’t fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of any predators, but the behaviour of the waterfowl was typical of the type of indication you get that there’s an Otter about.  Our lunch spot for the day was beside the River Coquet and, along with the Cormorants and Grey Herons that were patrolling the water’s edge, an Atlantic Salmon provided some spectacular entertainment as it launched itself vertically out of the water, three times in rapid succession, just a few metres away from us.

As we walked along the River Wansbeck after lunch, via a detour around the north edge of Ashington to enjoy the spectacle of 90+ Waxwings gorging themselves on Rowan berries, skeins of Pink-footed Geese passed overhead and, as the sun sank towards the horizon, it was time to seek out the wildlife that occupies that magical time of day.  As we settled into position near one of our favourite badger-watching spots there was an incredible commotion from the trees on the other side of the stream.  Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Wrens, Robins and Magpies were all alarming loudly.  The mobbing was too intense, and too stationary, to be the mild alarm that a Red Fox or Badger often triggers and shortly after one Tawny Owl flew through the trees opposite, a second bird finally got fed up with the mobbing and flew from it’s perch.  An unwelcome sighting was a Grey Squirrel, in a woodland that until recently still held Red Squirrels.  Our first Badger of the evening was a big adult, trotting across the top of the clearing.  Then, after a few minutes of near silence, two Badger cubs came crashing through the undergrowth.  They crossed the stream beneath a fallen tree, paused briefly rising on their haunches like stripy black-and-white meerkats, and then headed uphill behind us.  Our fourth Badger of the evening followed the same route before we headed back to the Landrover and civilisation.

I dropped Christine and Mark back at Stannington and there was time for one last piece of magic as a Barn Owl floated lazily from a fence post as I drove back towards the A1.

Throughout the late autumn and winter we’ll be scheduling most of our trips to finish in darkness.  Druridge Bay and Lindisfarne are both excellent locations through the winter, and as darkness descends, so give us a call on 01670 827465 to find out how we can bring that experience to you.

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