Tag: Common Pipistrelle

A touch of gold

by on Oct.24, 2017, under Family and friends

Our garden has a wealth of wildlife: Red Squirrel, Red Fox, Hedgehog, Common Pipistrelle and over 100 species of bird have turned up over the last 17 years that we’ve lived here.  Of course this means that Martin is frequently distracted from whatever he’s supposed to be doing…

On Sunday he was working in the office and I was downstairs when there was a thump against the patio doors…and a Goldcrest had stunned itself by flying into the window!  It flew up into one of our bonsai trees and spent a few minutes regaining it’s senses before flying off and resuming it’s relentless pursuit of insects in the ivy along our wall.  For those few minutes in the bonsai, it didn’t seem aware that there were two humans just a couple of metres away and Martin couldn’t resist taking a few photographs of a species that is usually less than obliging 🙂

A few images of the Goldcrest that crashed into the patio doors of the NEWT office

A few images of the Goldcrest that crashed into the patio doors of the NEWT office

A few images of the Goldcrest that crashed into the patio doors of the NEWT office

A few images of the Goldcrest that crashed into the patio doors of the NEWT office

A few images of the Goldcrest that crashed into the patio doors of the NEWT office

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Slugs and snails and dolphin tails; Druridge Bay Safari 25/06/2015

by on Jun.26, 2015, under Bamburgh Castle, Druridge Bay, Northumberland

As I drove to Newton to collect Sue and Julian, the first few raindrops hit the windscreen of the car.  My optimism that the rain would soon pass over was drenched, literally, by a torrential downpour that the windscreen wipers couldn’t cope with and which sounded like I was in a tin can being pelted with stones 🙁  We set off for Bamburgh, completely surrounded by storms and found a flock of Common Scoter and Eider on the sea, and a miserable looking Puffin on the beach.  The rainfall left the air warm and humid, so as the afternoon passed into evening paths were covered in slugs and snailsCommon Toad and Common Frog crossed our path too, and the air was alive with small insects – and a good handful of Common Pipistrelles hunting them.  A Fox trotted along the edge of Cresswell Pond, where Avocets and Black-Tailed Godwit were roosting and feeding.  A male Marsh Harrier flew by, causing consternation amongst the Swallows, and Tufted Duck and Red-breasted Merganser both looked elegant as Mute Swans and Shelduck watched carefully over their young.  A Whitethroat sang from rank vegetation just a few metres away from us, and dusk brought Swallows, Sand Martins and Starlings to roost.

The day will remain in the memory for years to come though, as a pod of dolphins put on a remarkable display.  We’d just finished our picnic and I decided to have one last scan before heading up the coast.  Top Tip – always have ‘one last scan’ 🙂  Close inshore I saw a small group of dolphins breaking the surface. White-beaked Dolphin should be here in a few days time, but these were big, dark animals and we soon confirmed that they were Bottlenose Dolphin.  Now, these are big impressive animals, and we spent nearly 40mins watching at least 12 of them as they slowly travelled north.  They weren’t just travelling though; synchronous breaching, tail-slapping, lob-tailing, spy-hopping, flipper waving and fighting continued as they passed by our viewpoint and eventually out of sight away to the north.  I’ve spent a lot of time watching dolphins, both with clients and when carrying out offshore surveys, but I’ve never seen a group of dolphins so animated as these were.  Wonder if they’ll be there for this evening’s pelagic trip 🙂

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Batty; Cheviot valleys/Druridge Bay Bespoke Tour 08/06/2015

by on Jun.10, 2015, under Cheviot Valleys, Druridge Bay

Looking back through previous blog posts I was reminded that we’ve done a few days combining the best of the hills and the best of the coast, and I headed towards Old Bewick to collect Helen for an afternoon and evening exploring the Cheviot Valleys and Druridge Bay.

As a Common Buzzard soared over the steep valley sides, Curlews launched from the heather, calling in alarm.  Dippers bobbed on mid stream rocks, a Nuthatch with young was busying itself along tree trunks and branches, Whinchats flicked nervously through the bracken, the air was split by the explosive trilling song of Lesser Redpoll and Spotted Flycatchers perched upright on fence posts before sallying forth after flies.

Down on the coast we enjoyed the sight of Avocets mating, two Spoonbills feeding with their heads sweeping from side to side and bills submerged, a female Marsh Harrier causing alarm as it flew over the edge of a pond and Swallows singing and bringing feathers to line their nests.  Dusk brought a remarkable wildlife spectacle, with 30-40 bats hunting in front of us.  The bat detector revealed an astonishing wall of sound as Common Pipistrelle and Noctule swooped, tumbled and hunted insects…right above an Otter that was stalking Tufted Ducks 🙂

The journey back to Old Bewick produced Barn Owl, and a Tawny Owl in the middle of the road sitting on a baby Rabbit!  Then it was time for me to head back towards southeast Northumberland…and Northumberland’s country lanes produced a late night plethora of wildlife; Red Fox, Brown Hare, Roe Deer, Barn Owl, another Tawny Owl sitting on a baby Rabbit, and three Badger cubs trotting alongside the edge of the road 🙂

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Watching the wildlife; Otter Safari 24/06/2013

by on Jun.26, 2013, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast, Otter, Southeast Northumberland

Sunday morning, and the weather forecast of impending doom brought the not unexpected ‘phone call that saw clients transferring from Sunday’s to Monday’s Otter Safari.  Monday afternoon, and the weather looked reasonable as I collected Ken and Rosemary from The Swan and then we drove to the coast and collected Paul, and Lisa and Steve, from Church Point.

I’d seen at least ten Otters in the last month, so I was fairly confident that an afternoon and evening around Druridge Bay, southeast Northumberland and the Northumberland coast would have a higher-than-average chance of successfully locating our target species for the trip.  What we found raising interest in the local Mallards and Tufted Ducks in the mid-afternoon sunshine wasn’t an Otter, but the birds’ behaviour of slowly swimming along a reedbed, just a few metres from the shore, was a good indication of the predator they had spotted and we watched as a Red Fox slowly made it’s way along the edge of the pond followed by an ever-expanding entourage of ducks 🙂  At least eight Little Gulls provided some undeniably cute birdwatching interest and we continued our search.  The next mammal to join the day list was Rabbit, under-rated and attractive, but still not an Otter.  Flocks of geese and ducks seemed to be responding to some hidden menace;  getting out of the water, cackling as if startled, getting back in the water, getting out of the water…but still no sign of an Otter.

As dusk approached, and a Roe Deer walked slowly along the edge of the pond, there was a change in the mood of the assembled ducks; suddenly alert, feeding stopped and heads were raised as high as their outstretched necks would allow.  A pair of Greylag Geese were doing the same and Paul soon spotted the cause of their consternation as the head, then the sinuous body, and finally the tail, of an Otter broke the surface 🙂  Heading into a small bay in the reeds it soon slipped out of sight, only to reappear a few minutes later; twisting and turning as it fed close to the reeds.  Common Pipistrelle, as we walked back to the car, and Brown Hare, as we drove back towards Newbiggin, were mammals #5 and #6 for the day and the trip was rounded off with a Barn Owl, flying from a fence post as we passed by.

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Glorious

by on May.19, 2013, under Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast

After the snow of last Monday, Tuesday brought two mini-safaris.  The first was a recce trip for a TV production company, assisting with checking out potential filming locations on the Northumberland coast.  The weather was glorious; beautiful blue sky, fluffy white clouds and a gentle breeze.  The peace and tranquility captured what Northumberland is all about – somewhere that you can relax and simply enjoy the countryside around you.

The second trip of the day began as I collected Neil and Ann from The Swan, and we headed out on a journey along the coast.  Avocets were sitting on nests, Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers and Reed Buntings were all singing and an incredibly bright Yellow Wagtail walked along the water’s edge.  With a bit of persistence we located a Grasshopper Warbler singing from a reedbed, body quivering as it delivered it’s ‘reeling’ song with it’s head turning slowly from side-to-side.  As we continued northwards we came across the first of three Barn Owls for the evening.  As dusk approached Roe Deer came out of hiding, a Red Fox ran across directly in front of us carrying prey, Common Pipistrelles flitted backwards and forwards against the darkening sky and the assembled ducks, geese and swans started acting very nervously.  I’d checked that site with Sarah two days earlier and watched a very obliging Otter as it fed.  Today though it remained hidden in the reeds, almost certainly the cause of panic amongst the wildfowl…

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Hide and seek

by on Oct.31, 2012, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast, Southeast Northumberland

Sunday was a Prestige Otter Safari for Chris and Sophie.  It was Chris’ birthday and, as I collected them from Berwick in some pretty horrible conditions, I was hoping that we would drive south into better weather.  Sure enough, we did pass out from under the rain clouds, but the day stayed quite gloomy and windy.  I’d already had an excellent start to the day’s birdwatching, with a flock of 14 Waxwings flying alongside the road as I approached Berwick.  I’m often asked what my favourite bird is, and usually reply that it’s impossible to have a favourite…but Waxwings have a special place at the top of my list 🙂

Down in southeast Northumberland we found an adult Mediterranean Gull, and Chris proved to be remarkably eagle-eyed – picking out a sleeping Jack Snipe in an area of cut reeds.  On the water the usual suspects (Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Gadwall) were joined by some less regular species; Scaup, Pintail and a pair of Long-tailed Ducks. Some surprising entertainment was provided by a Merlin which spent several minutes harassing a Magpie, and then there was a sudden movement of Goldeneye, Coot and Moorhen away from a reedbed.  They stared intently at the reeds for a few minutes before drifting back towards the edge, then repeated the whole process twice more!  There was something in the reeds that was causing concern, but it didn’t reveal itself (not an unusual occurrence in strong winds – and who could blame anything for staying sheltered?).  We moved on to another pool…and had a repeat performance, this time with Pochard, Goldeneye, Teal, Tufted Duck and Whooper Swan being a bit on edge.  Sometimes wildlife can be frustrating…

Given the low temperatures and high wind, it seemed a little over-optimistic to get the bat detector out.  However, just to confirm that you can’t ever predict wildlife, we had at least two or three Common Pipistrelles, including some frenzied feeding activity around a streetlight, before heading back up the coast.

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Heron aid

by on Sep.19, 2011, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland

Our 3rd Druridge Bay/southeast Northumberland trip in 5 days began with an old friend as our regular Little Owl sat sleepily in the sunshine, only opening an eye to check who we were before nodding off again.  Further north, we watched a flock of 59 Pink-footed Geese as they headed south high overhead.  3 Grey Herons flew south past us, then north over Warkworth before heading south again.  Incredibly. later in the afternoon, the same 3 herons flew south overhead at East Chevington, followed soon after by another 4, and we found another 3 sitting in a recently mown field near Hauxley.  East Chevington also produced a good flock of Lapwing, with several Ruff scattered amongst them, and Cresswell held a flock of Dunlin with a Little Stint.

As sunset approached we settled to the waiting game of quiet observation by a small pool.  Tawny Owls called nearby, a Buzzard was perched obligingly in the open, a Sparrowhawk was hedge-hopping to see what it could scare up for dinner, Jackdaws and Rooks were gathering noisily before going to roost and there was a notable level of panic and a high level of alertness in the assembled ducks.  The cause of the panic didn’t show itself though, and we walked back to the car with Common Pipistrelles flying just above our heads before I returned Tamasin and Daniel to Newbiggin.

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Call of the wild

by on Sep.15, 2011, under Badger, Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Otter, Southeast Northumberland, Water Vole

Yesterday was the second of four Druridge Bay/Southeast Northumberland afternoon and evening trips this week, and I collected Natalie and Clive from Newton on the Moor just after lunch before heading south.

Starting with a short woodland walk, we enjoyed close views of those arboreal specialists Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker, but this time Red Squirrel eluded us.

At East Chevington, we were watching a roosting flock of Lapwing, Ruff and Curlew, and checking through the mass of assembled ducks, when a distant call caught my attention.  It was a minute or two before the birds appeared high in the sky to the north, but there they were; 29 Pink-footed Geese, the arrival that for me always heralds the end of the summer.

A flock of Dunlin, Redshank and Curlew at Cresswell contained a Little Stint, and a brief seawatch produced a small flock of Knot heading north.

A patient wait as the orange glow of the sunset illuminated the surface of a pond brought rewards as our attention was drawn to a scattering flock of Coot.  Just a few metres from the ripples left by the rapidly departing birds, the menacing shape of an Otter was twisting, turning and diving.  As it vanished in to the dark shadows of a reedbed, the final indication of it’s presence were the bright trails left by Mallards and Little Grebes as they made a frantic effort to be anywhere other than where the Otter was.  Even more exciting for me, was the completely unexpected appearance of a mammal that I haven’t seen since childhood, as the twilight was punctuated by a loud ‘plop’ and a Water Vole swam cross in front of us 🙂 Tawny Owls were calling and Common Pipistrelles flitted back and forth as the full moon, and cold wind, made the evening feel really autumnal.

I dropped Natalie and Clive back at Newton on the Moor, and decided to avoid the roadworks on the A1 on the route home and instead took the minor road from Shilbottle to Warkworth.  I was still delayed though, but by a young Badger that trotted along the middle of the road ahead of me for a quarter of a mile before wandering into the verge and watching as I passed by.  Expect the unexpected…

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If at first…

by on Aug.26, 2011, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Otter, Southeast Northumberland

I had a feeling of deja vu just after the Bird Fair, when Alex and Richard joined us for a Prestige Tour on Richard’s birthday.  My brief was the same as last year; birdwatching, photography and Otters, and I had no doubt that it was going to be a real pleasure.  Last year the Otters eluded us, but we’ve found new sites since then, and changed the route, and timings, of our Otter Safaris to take that into account.  A very obliging Grey Heron allowed consideration of composition…and why you shouldn’t set your camera to one of it’s pre-programmed modes 😉  A Common Snipe was a good subject to investigate why autofocus may sometimes be inferior to manual focus, and a very heavy shower produced a degree of contrast between sky and water that illustrated our discussions about camera metering systems.

Small groups of Whimbrel and Golden Plover were heading south, and we set ourselves close to one of our regular Otter sites as the day wore on.  All of the wildfowl started heading in one direction…away from the Otter that was making its way menacingly across the water 🙂  It vanished into the reeds, then reappeared before sliding away into the darkness again; leaving behind lots of terrified ducks, 2 very happy clients and a relieved guide 🙂

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The icing on the cake

by on Jul.18, 2011, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Otter, Southeast Northumberland

As the rain hammered down while I packed the car ready for Sunday’s Otter Safari I was filled with optimism; the weather forecast (really, I should stop believing these…) suggested that the afternoon and evening would be dry and bright.

When I arrived at Church Point Marc and Marika were already there, and we were joined by Becky and Jim soon after.  The trip was a present for one of each couple, and we set off for an afternoon of birdwatching combined with searching for Otters.  First stop was one of our Little Owl sites, and Becky’s sharp eyes picked out a juvenile bird that was doing a very passable impression of a stone.  Our next stop, beside the River Coquet, produced Common Terns fishing, flyby Curlews (and a discussion of separation from Whimbrel), 4 Common Sandpipers and some impressive thunderstorms away to the north and west of us.

A heavy shower as we reached the NWT reserve at East Chevington kept us in the car for a few minutes, during which time we were entertained by a family party of Stonechats.  As the rain eased we walked to the hide overlooking the north pool.  Amongst the throng of Common, Sandwich and Arctic Terns and Lapwings were 3 adult Knot, still in breeding plumage.  Suddenly the entire roosting flock lifted, and the unmistakeable figure of a Spoonbill flew across our field of vision.  It seemed intent on landing, but the constant harrassment from the terns meant that we were treated to several flypasts, including one where it was just 20m away from us.  As if this wasn’t spectacular enough, 2 Little Egrets appeared, while the Spoonbill was still circling, and were subjected to the same treatment.  Eventually a semblance of calm returned and we watched a juvenile Marsh Harrier as it pranced comically in the wet grass, presumably eating worms that had been brought to the surface by the rain, and a second juvenile harrier harrassed by crows.  Another creature to benefit from the rain was a very young Hedgehog busily eating worms and, in a real ‘aahh’ moment, pausing briefly to sniff the air.

Our picnic stop, overlooking the southern end of Druridge Bay, produced rafts of Eiders and Common Scoters, the piping calls baby Guillemots rising from the waves below, Gannets and Sandwich Terns plunging into the sea, at least 3 Arctic Skuas and the majestic lumbering menace of a Pomarine Skua passing south just offshore.

Changeable, showery weather often produces good sunsets, and this was no exception; as a band of steel grey cloud drifted along the horizon, sunlight shone through a narrow gap, fading from gold to orange to red to pink.  And there, in the reflection of the dramatic sky, was the main event – an Otter, twisting and turning, creating panic among the waterfowl, perched imperiously on a boulder and then vanishing into the deepening shadows of the water’s edge.  Clouds of Noctule Bats and Common Pipistrelles swirled overhead, occasionally passing within a few feet of us, a female Tawny Owl called from the nearby trees, and the scene faded to darkness…

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