Tag: Bewick’s Swan

Expect the unexpected

by on Feb.17, 2012, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland

Whenever we have a trip with clients who have been given gift vouchers, I always wonder what they expect.  Some will have chosen gift vouchers when asked what they would like, some will have been given them by our existing clients, and for some it must be a complete mystery tour.  When we get an enquiry we always try to determine exactly what our clients want, but at the start of a trip I’ll always enquire “is there anything you’re particularly keen to see while you’re in Northumberland?”  Then, the pressure is on to try and deliver that experience…

I collected Patrick and Bronwyn from Amble yesterday morning for a day of birdwatching around Druridge Bay and southeast Northumberland.  As we set off it was a beautiful morning; sunny, calm and dry and I soon determined that one bird they would love to see was Bittern – they’ve visited sites where Bitterns breed and Bitterns overwinter but not, so far, anywhere where the aforementioned birds were obliging enough to come into view for them.  An hour into the trip and it was already windy, bitterly cold and spotting with rain but the birding was good.  2 Bewick’s Swans in a roadside field were very obliging, nibbling on the vegetation as we studied them, 12 Goosanders sailed majestically across a lake, Patrick’s sharp eyes picked out an immaculate male Sparrowhawk on a fence post and the air was filled with skeins of geese (Canada, Greylag, Pink-footed, White-fronted and Bean), a Skylark battled into the wind and Wigeon, Teal, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Pochard, Mallard and Great-crested Grebe were picked out from the flock on the water.

A brief visit to Newbiggin to track down a Mediterranean Gull (or four) was followed by lunch overlooking the North Sea. Heading up through the bay, Red-breasted Mergansers were displaying and a Short-eared Owl (the first of three for the afternoon) perched on a roadside fence-post.  Reedbeds were illuminated by that beautiful winter afternoon light (I wax lyrical about it frequently, but it really is a breathtaking backdrop to the wildlife and part of the experience).  As the afternoon light began to fade, Venus appeared overhead, a herd of Whooper Swans trumpeted their arrival for the evening roost and a Grey Heron shot out of one reedbed, flew across in front of us, landed just out of sight and flushed a Bittern that flew almost the reverse of the route taken by the heron, along the near edge of the pool directly in front of us and dropped into a reedbed and out of sight!  Wildlife may be unpredictable, but those days when it seems to perform to order leave me, and our clients, with a big grin 🙂  After that what more was there to do than spend the evening relaxing back at home with a glass of good red wine. Cheers 🙂

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It’s Sunday, so it must be Lindisfarne

by on Mar.21, 2011, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Holy Island, Lindisfarne, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast

After enjoying an all too brief view of the ‘super Moon’ on Saturday as I drove eastwards across Northumberland on my way home from the North Pennines, we’d got something completely different in the booking diary for Sunday; guided birdwatching on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.  Having Sarah along as an additional guide was a real bonus as well.

Gillian and Roger are existing clients, and this time we’d got other members of the family along as well – Roddy, Lucy and Alec.  We’ve done plenty of family trips with young children, but a request to see “Seals, Lions and Tigers” from a 2-year old was a new experience for us!  We managed one of those three 😉

Black-tailed Godwit (a stunning bird, well on it’s way to breeding plumage), Pale-bellied and Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Oystercatchers, Bar-tailed Godwits, Red-breasted Mergansers and Long-tailed Ducks were all well appreciated.  Gillian picked out a tiny dark dot, high overhead, as a Skylark sang his evocative melody, and Roger spotted a Goldcrest, with a very very gold crest, as we ascended The Heugh.  18 Whooper Swans flew over the island, accompanied by a single Bewick’s Swan.  With that species so scarce in Northumberland during the winter, we wondered if it was the same bird that we first found, a few miles down the coast, in late December.  All too soon, it was time to return the family to the starting point of the tour and make our way down the Northumberland coast, along Druridge Bay and back to the office.

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Variety is the spice of life

by on Mar.09, 2010, under Birdwatching, Lindisfarne, Northumberland, Surveys

On Saturday we led a wildlife walk on Holy Island.  Grim, murky drizzle on the way north looked less than promising but, as we approached Beal, the weather improved and stayed fine throughout the walk.  Possibly the highlight of the day was all of the birds on the Rocket field flushing as two Peregrines flew menacingly above the pools.  The journey home produced our rarest sighting of the day, at least in a Northumberland context, when we watched 3 Bewick’s Swans in a field south of Alnmouth.

Sunday really was a case of something completely different, as I headed out to the Farne Deeps for the latest Northeast Cetacean Project survey.  The project, which is been run by Northern Experience and Marinelife with our funding partners; Natural England and the Northumberland and Tyneside Bird Club, has several strands, with the surveys backed up by postcards that we’re distributing to local charter boats and marinas so they can submit their sightings, an analysis of all the records and reports we can find for the last 7 years and, coming soon, a website that will allow online submission of whale and dolphin sightings off Northumberland.  Meanwhile, back on the boat…my survey team on Sunday was made up of Alan Tilmouth and Ross Ahmed who were part of the team on our surveys back in December, Tim Sexton who was on our blizzard-hit survey two weeks ago and Dan ‘Punkbirder‘ Brown.  Highlights were a Common Dolphin and a small group of Little Auks.

Yesterday saw the Landy having it’s 6-monthly safety test.  Unsurprisingly, with the work put in by Sandy to keep the mechanical bits working smoothly, and the electrical work that Darren has done to ensure that when you flick a switch what happens is what should happen, it passed again.  Peace of mind for our clients, and the NEWT Landy will keep rolling around Northumberland, delivering them  to top-quality birdwatching and wildlife experiences.

Now it’s Tuesday and I’ve got 50 miles of offshore survey ahead of me.  Bring it on!

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