Tag: Common Kestrel

Stalking; Otter Safari 29/08/17

by on Aug.30, 2017, under Druridge Bay, Southeast Northumberland

I collected Julie, Thomas, Steven and Mandy ahead of an afternoon and evening around Druridge Bay and southeast Northumberland searching for our favourite predator

At this time of the year it’s fair to say that ducks aren’t really at their best and Mallard, Teal, Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Shoveler were all easier to separate based on size and shape than one plumage detail.¬† Little Grebe numbers seem to be higher and higher each time we’re out and about and the only thing separating Great Crested Grebe chicks from their parents now is the stripy face ūüôā¬† Lapwings flushed in panic but the cause of their consternation remained unseen, as it so often does with Lapwings which seem to be really jittery all the time, and Starlings swirled on the breeze as Sand Martins, House Martins, Swallows and three Swifts were hoovering up flying insects ahead of the long journey south.¬† A Kestrel hovered over the dunes before dropping to the ground then quickly ascending again, empty-taloned. Regularly spaced along each water’s edge, Grey Herons were standing motionless as Little Egrets darted busily back and forth before heading to roost in riverside trees.¬† As dusk approached, Mute Swans drifted away from the water’s edge and that’s always a trigger to look at where they’re moving away from, but we couldn’t see anything along the bank in the rapidly deepening gloom as Canada Geese called noisily as they flew in to roost and a Long-eared Owl ghosted along the scrub just in front of us and the journey back saw a Barn Owl fly across the road in front of the car.

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Winter Wonderland Day One 04/12/2013

by on Dec.06, 2013, under Bamburgh Castle, Birdwatching, Holy Island, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast, Southeast Northumberland

As I met up with David for breakfast at The Swan on Wednesday morning, ahead of two days on the Northumberland coast, we’d already switched our itinerary round.¬† The plan to visit Holy Island on Thursday looked as though it might be slightly impacted by the weather, so we switched Druridge Bay to that day instead.

The drive north on the A1 was in glorious weather, with Common Buzzards soaring low over plantations in the chill of the early morning and we were soon on Holy Island in a stiffening breeze, carefully stalking towards a flock of Dark-bellied Brent Geese that posed for David’s camera.¬† Bar-tailed Godwits, and a lone Black-tailed Godwit were probing the exposed mud of the harbour at low tide and Wigeon and Teal were on the Rocket Pool.¬† A Common Kestrel was hovering nearby and, as the tide turned, we headed to the causeway to see what would be pushed towards us by the advancing water.¬† Redshank, Curlew, Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Shelduck and a Little Egret all fed along the swelling channels

Eurasian Curlew,Numenius arquata,Northumberland,birdwatching holidays,photography holidays,Holy Island,Lindisfarne

and then a mass of Pale-bellied Brent Geese flew in from the south.  As the water began to lap at the edge of the causeway we drove back on to the mainland, and headed to a quiet stretch of shoreline where I knew David could use the cover of a hedgerow to approach a flock of Pale-bellied Brents whilst avoiding detection.

Pale-bellied Brent Geese,Branta bernicla hrota,Holy Island,Lindisfarne,Northumberland,photography holidays,birdwatching holidays

Using the car as a photographic hide (something of a theme  for the holiday!) we got very close views of a flock of Wigeon,

Eurasian Wigeon,Anas penelope,Holy Island,Lindisfarne,Northumberland,birdwatchinf holidays,photography holidays,northern experience wildlife tours

and then we settled in the iconic shadow of Bamburgh Castle and scanned the sea in temperatures that were now bone-chilling ūüôā¬† Purple Sandpipers, Turnstones, Oystercatchers and Redshank were roosting just above the water line and beyond the rafts of Eider were flocks of Common Scoter, with one large group of females looking stunningly orange in the beautiful late afternoon sunlight.¬† Long-tailed Ducks played hide and seek, utilising their propensity for diving, and the developing swell, to keep me on my toes as I located a group with the ‘scope so that David could see them.¬† Scanning the scoter flocks paid dividends as a female Velvet Scoter rose up and over one advancing wave crest, Red-throated Divers cruised along in their eternal search for fish and a last scan before we headed back down the coast produced a Slavonian Grebe.¬† As it turned dark, the clear sky afforded excellent ‘scope views of the crescent Venus, and the thinnest sliver of crescent Moon.¬† So soon after New Moon would be a spring tide, and the one forecast for the following day was predicted to be a big one…

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In the grip of winter…in late March

by on Apr.04, 2013, under North Pennines, Northumberland

Sunday saw the two of us heading southwest into the North Pennines to carry out some recce work for a press trip that Martin was leading.  As soon as we were up above the level of the Tyne valley there was snow laying, which got deeper as we gained altitude.  Lapwings, Curlew and Oystercatcher were all displaying, Common Kestrels were hovering over the few clear areas of vegetation and Common Buzzards soared by.  With a white landscape, Red Grouse and Black Grouse were easy to find and a few Red Grouse were close enough to make it worthwhile getting the camera out.

Red Grouse,bird photography,bird photography tuition,Northumberland

Red Grouse,bird photography,bird photography tuition,Northumberland

Red Grouse,bird photography,photography tuition,Northumberland

The highlight of the day came just over the border in County Durham with a stunning male Ring Ouzel, close to a nest site, being harrassed by a Mistle Thrush. The ‘Mountain Blackbird’ just seemed to be in exactly the right place in the wintry hills in deep snow.

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Valley of tranquility

by on Sep.06, 2010, under Birdwatching, Cheviot Valleys, North Pennines, Northumberland

Although our Cheviot Valleys and North Pennines safaris are concentrated in the springtime, we run a few trips to those inland areas in the late summer and early autumn.  The final day of August was a trip to the Cheviots, and it could hardly have been better; the weather was wonderful, there were hardly any other people to be seen anywhere and the wildlife was, well, as good and varied as we would expect.

After collecting Hamish and Vanessa we drove past Morpeth then up the A697 and through the ford at Coldgate Mill.¬† The Happy Valley was deserted and peaceful; a Slow Worm was basking in the dappled light between gorse bushes, Small Copper butterflies (a personal favourite) were feeding and sunning themselves and there were even a few Silver Y moths.¬† We get these migrants in our trap occasionally, and I’ve seen them in profusion on the coast, but these were well inland.¬†¬†

Camera-shy Silver Y

Goldcrests were calling, and eventually spotted,¬†Spotted Flycatchers, Treecreepers and Long-tailed Tits were all found in one tree, Robins¬†seemed to be¬†everywhere we went¬†and the first of the day’s Common Buzzards, rising rapidly in a thermal, suggested that searching skywards could be productive for birdwatching.

After lunch we walked along the far end of the valley.  Red Grouse were cackling hysterically on one side of the valley, at the same time as we could hear a shooting party on the other.  Siskins and Lesser Redpolls were feeding around the treetops, although they did pause briefly so we had a chance to look at them.  The warm sunshine and excellent visibility mean that it did turn out to be a raptor day; as well as Common Buzzards there were regular Common Kestrels and a Sparrowhawk then, as we walked back to the car park, a Peregrine  soared majestically and menacingly against the blue sky overhead.  Sadly our only Adder of the day was roadkill, although it had gathered an interesting collection of flies and beetles.

One thing that our safaris have proved to be is a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.¬† If you need to get away from it all then give us a call, or if you know somebody who would benefit from a day of chilled out wildlife watching then our gift vouchers could be just the thing they need ūüôā

Hamish kindly provided some images from the day (including the Silver Y that really didn’t want to be photographed) and my own favourites are here;

Mother Nature ages trees better than any bonsai artist can!

 

Northumberland heather in bloom

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Birdwatching; more than just a Hobby

by on Jul.19, 2010, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Surveys

Our two Druridge Bay mini-safaris last Wednesday both featured one of my favourite birds; Black-tailed Godwit.¬† A group of eight flying N at dusk in torrential rain may have included the five that we saw at lunchtime.¬† With plenty of Curlew, Lapwing and Dunlin, as well as a few Ruff and Common Sandpipers there was a ‘busy’ feel to birdwatching the coastal pools.¬† Common Frog and Common Toad were perhaps to be expected in the damp conditions.

Thursday featured more torrential rain, although all of it whilst we were travelling between sites in Druridge Bay.¬† After collecting two clients individually from Alnmouth we headed south.¬† Dave had a day to remember with no less than five ‘lifers’; Little Owl, Dipper, Hobby, Scaup and¬†Arctic Tern.¬† The Hobby was one of those classic moments.¬† I was watching a group of Sand Martins when they all suddenly rose high above the water.¬† As I opened my mouth to suggest that there was a raptor about, Dave said “What’s this?”…and there it was, a first-summer Hobby, heading straight towards us low over the pool.¬† A Whimbrel flew by, giving it’s distinctive call, and the transition from the occasionally difficult birding of mid-summer to the more productive time of mid-July is well underway.

Saturday was spent covering another three tetrads for the Bird Atlas and then on Sunday we had a few hours in our study area, searching for any sign of Hobby or Honey Buzzard.  With heavy overcast conditions, occasional light rain, and a cold breeze very few raptors were in evidence; just a Common Kestrel and a Common Buzzard to show for our efforts.

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