Tag: common blue damselfly

One plus one makes three; Cheviot Valleys Safari 07/06/18

by on Jun.13, 2018, under Birdwatching, Cheviot Valleys

Having arranged all of our clients for last Thursday’s Cheviot Valleys safari to meeting at the same location I arrived in Powburn and collected Vicky, Dave and Babs, Diane and Ruth before heading along a grassy verge buzzing with bees and hoverflies and bejewelled with Common Blue Damselflies and Red and Black FroghoppersRuth proved to have the sharpest eyes and found the first of two Adders that she spotted before everyone else (as well as a third that was sadly dead in the middle of the track) as Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs sang from hidden perches in dense foliage.

It wouldn’t be a June Cheviot Valleys trip without the riparian triumvirate of Dipper, Common Sandpiper and Grey Wagtail and all three duly put in an appearance as Swallows gathered insects, House Martins gathered mud for nest-building and the eerie cries of Curlew rolled down the fells.  Red Grouse were chuckling from the heather clad hillsides and one or two were uncharacteristically obliging and out in the open as Wheatears flitted between stones on the ground, the prominent ears of a Brown Hare betrayed it’s location, Whinchat demonstrated just how beautiful they are and Ring Ouzel flew by but didn’t settle where we could see them as Green Tiger Beetles suddenly appeared as they flew and the calls of Cuckoos echoed across the valley.

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Evolving; Druridge Bay Bespoke Birdwatching 05/06/18

by on Jun.06, 2018, under Druridge Bay

Yesterday was Brian and Carolyn’s 4th day out with NEWT and we were returning to the scene of their 1st – Druridge Bay and southeast Northumberland

As we drove down the coast from Seahouses there was an ominous bank of fog just offshore but fortunately that’s where it stayed 🙂  Since that 1st Druridge trip we’ve changed a few things, and we’ve added a new riparian walk that is rich with birdsong.  Woodpigeon, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch and Blackbird were all singing around us as clouds of mayflies danced over the water and rough vegetation by the path and Common Blue Damselflies graced us with their presence.  Our picnic stop was accompanied by a Kestrel, riding the updraft from the cliff edge and hanging near motionless in the stiff breeze.  Fulmars were arcing by as lines of Gannets flew north offshore and a Great Skua lumbered menacingly into the breeze.  Shelduck and Mallard had broods of small duckings, Shoveler, Mallard and Gadwall were dabbling as Great Crested Grebe and Tufted Duck were diving and Meadow Pipits song-flighted as Yellow Wagtails proceeded jerkily through the long grass in front of us.  Avocets were sleeping, incubating, feeding and chasing corvids as Dunlin probed in the mud of shallow pools, Ringed Plover were hurrying and scurrying through the grass and Lapwing chicks, fluffy miniature versions of their parents, explored close to the water’s edge as Black-tailed Godwits flew by, revealing their striking black and white upperwings above a wet meadow liberally sprinkled with sentinel-like Grey Herons.

Druridge is our local patch, and somewhere that we visit all year round, but we’re still discovering new locations to add into our trips there so check our website calendar and come along to explore it with us 🙂

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Spotted; Cheviot Valleys Bespoke Photography and Birdwatching 26/05/18

by on Jun.04, 2018, under Cheviot Valleys

For the second year running we had a day out with David, and John, as part of his prize from the North East Wildlife Photography Awards.  This time we were heading into the centre of Northumberland to explore the Cheviot Valleys

Exploring a roadside verge produced Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies, Red and Black Froghoppers and then an Adder 🙂  Around 2′ in length it suddenly stopped it’s exploration of the undergrowth and began almost imperceptibly coiling itself into a spiral, eventually being no bigger than a clenched fist.  Brown Hares were in a roadside field and Pheasant and Red-legged Partridge trotted along, and across, the road ahead of us.  Dipper and Grey Wagtail were on rocks surrounded by shallow fast flowing water as Red Grouse chuckled from the heather clad slopes of the valley sides, Cuckoos were calling as Redpoll trilled overhead and then a small angry mob of passerines pursued one Cuckoo over the trees above us.  One bird which featured repeatedly was a species that’s undergone a dramatic decline.  In the mid 90’s I had Spotted Flycatchers breeding outside my bathroom window on the outskirts of Newcastle but seeing them now is far easier if you journey well inland.

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You never know what’s around the corner; Cheviot Valleys Safari 01/06/17

by on Jun.02, 2017, under Cheviot Valleys

Always expect the unexpected is a good philosophy to hold when you’re out and about searching for wildlife…

I collected Steph from Kingston Park and we headed north for a morning exploring the Cheviot valleys.  Along the streams and rivers Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail and Dipper were all sitting on rocks or flycatching, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were singing and House Martins were gathering mud for their nests as Swallows perched on wires just above our heads and a Rabbit sat, unconcerned, in the cooling shade of an Oak. With temperatures pushing into the 20’s it was always going to be a good day for insects; Wall Brown, Speckled Wood and Red Admiral butterflies were all very flightly in the warm sunshine, Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies added a flash of colour to all of the verges and Green Tiger Beetles were basking on small rocks.  A yaffling Green Woodpecker seemed to be mocking us from it’s hidden position before it flew from cover and Steph finally caught up with her bogey bird 🙂  A Cuckoo was calling fom the canopy as a Great Spotted Woodpecker made it’s way from fence post to fallen tree to fence post to tree trunk before finally vanishing deep into the trees and a Spotted Flycatcher was sallying from a high exposed branch.  Oystercatchers called noisily, the eerie cries of Curlew drifted across the fells and Red-legged Partridge and Pheasant wandered across the roads everywhere we went.

Driving down a single track road we came around a bend and Steph spotted a bird in the road ahead of us.  Hunched over, and picking at a carcass, my first thought was Common Buzzard…and then it sat upright before taking off, attempting to carry the dead Rabbit it had been picking at.  Incredibly numerous in some areas, but still very very scarce in Northumberland; we’ve seen Red Kites on NEWT safaris before, but this was the first one we’ve found on a trip within our home county 🙂

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Life through a (magnifying) lens; Family mini-beast hunt 21/07/2014

by on Jul.28, 2014, under Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland

Our routine (if anything involving wildlife can ever be routine…) safari trips have brought some remarkable experiences for our clients, and for us too.  ‘Big stuff’ (for want of a better a description) is always popular; Red Squirrel, Otter, White-beaked Dolphin, Badger, Minke Whale are just a few examples of those perpetual crowd-pleasers.  Sometimes though, I think we may lose a sense of perspective and forget that the ecosystem has a lot of ‘little stuff’ too…

I collected Penny, Nathan, Alfie, Arthur and Millie from Alnmouth and we set off for a morning in southeast Northumberland.  I armed the two boys with compact binoculars, and Millie with one of my favorite bits of kit 🙂  Sarah, all of our friends and relatives, and many of our clients know that I’m a bit of a gear geek…but a 23mm 10x doublet hand lens is a relatively simple instrument that opens up a world that is quite remarkable.  The boys used the binoculars to look at insects, flowers, grass, the sky and anything else that was in front of us, and Millie learned how to use a hand lens.  With a sample pot as our other toy of choice for the morning we captured, observed and released hoverflies, moths, soldier beetles, a Common Blue Damselfly, a Bee Fly and all sorts of weird and wonderful mini-beasties.

The enthusiasm of Alfie, Arthur and Millie reminded me that, every so often, I need to stop looking up into the sky or out to sea and look down at the small world around our feet 🙂

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Wildlife and birdwatching on the Northumberland coast 08/08/2010

by on Aug.10, 2010, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast, Southeast Northumberland

Sunday’s Northumberland coast safari started very close to home, with Germaine and Greg having stayed at The Swan on Saturday evening.  We started with our usual riverside walk, looking at an artificial holt and talking about the ecology of the Otter.  Our first really good sighting of the day was a Red Squirrel, which chattered angrily at a photographer who was sitting beneath the tree that it was descending.  Woodland birdwatching can be sometimes be very quiet, but with a large mixed flock of tits and Goldcrests, as well as Treecreepers and a very aggressive Nuthatch around the same glade there was plenty to see.  Out on to the coast south of Druridge Bay and, in the warm sunshine, our favourite Little Owl was posing for the camera.  The sunshine was also encouraging insect activity and we quickly added to the day list; Common Darter, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Meadow Brown, Small Copper, Shaded Broad-bar, Lesser Marsh Grasshopper, Common Blue Butterfly, Green-veined and Small White were all found along one small stretch of footpath.  Grey Herons were stalking along the pond edges and one got into a gruesome wrestling match with a large Eel.  All of the ducks scattered, clearly there was something in the reeds that they were unhappy about, but what it was didn’t reveal itself.  Further north, we came across three Little Egrets (surely the next addition to Northumberland’s breeding birds – if they haven’t already…), a Common Lizard that was sunning itself and, thanks to Germaine’s sharp eyes, a pair of Roe Deer.  A really good day, with a real mixed bag of wildlife and clients who made it all the more enjoyable.  And to think…Sunday used to be homework-marking day 😉

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Damsels in the sunshine

by on Jul.14, 2010, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Family and friends, Farne Islands, Northumberland Coast, Photography, Southeast Northumberland

I’m sitting in the office writing this , and the rain is hammering down outside.  We had a Prestige Photography trip yesterday in brilliant sunshine, but first a quick catch-up (hard to believe but sometimes there are other things to do that are more important than blogging…).

Kirsty and Sarah continued their running plan by competing in the Sunshine Run last Wednesday, with yours truly again acting as pack animal.  I’m seriously considering taking up running,  as everyone seems to enjoy it so much.  They both bettered their personal best times for 5km, so a big well done to them from me 🙂

On Sunday we had something quite different; a photography tuition afternoon with a group of ‘looked-after’ children.  We had planned to visit the Farne Islands but the strengthening wind meant that the afternoon sailings were cancelled, so instead we walked along a section of the North Northumberland coast and looked at techniques for creative landscapes and birds in flight.

Yesterday was a wildlife photography tour of Druridge Bay.  I collected Eileen and Dave from Warkworth and we visited our favourite southeast Northumberland sites.  Damselflies, butterflies and moths featured heavily throughout the day, as might be expected on a sunny day in mid-July, although with it being so warm they were a bit skittish.  As ever, patience paid off.

Ringlet, Druridge Bay, Northumberland 13/07/2010

Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet, Druridge Bay, Northumberland 13/07/2010

Latticed Heath, Druridge Bay, Northumberland 13/07/2010

Blue-tailed Damselfly, Druridge Bay, Northumberland 13/07/2010

Common Blue Damselfly, Druridge Bay, Northumberland 13/07/2010

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A lazy summer afternoon

by on Jun.03, 2010, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland

It’s that time of year again.  Bright sunshine, insects are on the wing and in Southeast Northumberland, birdwatching is taken at a steady pace.

On yesterday’s Druridge Bay trip  Common Blue  and Blue-tailed Damselflies were flitting about in front of us and every so often would stop and rest, giving everyone an opportunity to see just how stunning they are.  Butterflies were around in good numbers as well and we had close views of one of my personal favourites, Small Copper.  Other wildlife was taking advantage of the sun as well; a Brown Hare crouched by a fence with flies buzzing around it’s nose and a very obliging Little Owl was sitting in the entrance to it’s nest.  A quick stare to check us out and then it dozed off again. Grey Herons flapped by, Lapwings were calling and trying to distract attention away from their chicks, Dunlin, resplendent in breeding plumage, probed the mud around the edge of Cresswell Pond and, in what seemed like next to no time, the day was done and we were heading back to Newbiggin.

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