Tag: Druridge Bay

A day in the Bay, Birdwatching Northumberland (part 2)

by on May.22, 2010, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland

Our second day out with the winners of last year’s Birdwatching Northumberland  competition, was a day in Druridge Bay.  It provided a real contrast with our earlier trip to the Harthope Valley.

After collecting Jean and Andy from the Bamburgh Castle Inn we headed down to Embleton to collect Helen, our third client on this trip, pausing for a few minutes to watch a very obliging Brown Hare in a field near Chatton.  As we toured our usual sites the weather was more like the caribbean than Northumberland 🙂  Tufted Ducks, Shovelers, Herons, Mute Swans, Lapwings and Coots were around the coastal pools, Sedge, Reed and Willow Warblers, Whitethroats and Reed Buntings were singing from hedgerows, sedges, reeds and willows and Fulmars were arcing gracefully along the cliffs at Cresswell.  On a woodland walk along the River Blyth we heard more than we saw (as you would expect in mid-May) with Nuthatch, Chiffchaff and Great Spotted Woodpecker all being particularly vocal.  Eventually the two days of the Birdwatching Northumberland prize were over and I returned all of our clients to their respective holiday accommodation.

The day wasn’t finished for NEWT though; as dusk approached we were out on the coast, at separate locations, checking for Otters.  I did have one brief sighting, and on the journey home we began the process of redeveloping our Otter Safaris to make them an even better experience than they already are.

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A forest foray

by on Apr.09, 2010, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Kielder

After a Druridge mini-safari on Tuesday, which included a visit to the Common Crane near Eshott, yesterday was something completely different with a Kielder Safari.

After collecting Ruth and Diana from Stannington we took the scenic route up through Knowesgate to Bellingham, in the wilds of west Northumberland.  That’s the point where we deviate from the public roads and follow a track that’s off-limits to the public.  Along the way we saw a few Buzzards, but a superb male Goshawk, and an incredibly skittish Red Fox, were the highlights of the drive through the forest.  Around the reservoir there were Crossbills and Siskins everywhere.  Lunch just over the border in Scotland was followed by more birdwatching and the spectacle of a Common Buzzard catching, dismembering and consuming a vole.  With lots of other buzzards up in the air whenever the sun came out, there was plenty to see.  A stunning drake Mandarin brought a splash of garish colour to the afternoon and a long-distance ‘scope view of last year’s Osprey nest revealed a small white blob – probably the head of one of the pair that have returned to the site.  As we headed back towards civilisation a large flock of Fieldfares and Redwings near Bellingham was a reminder that the winter is only just behind us.

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Oats, coast, stoat

by on Mar.02, 2010, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland

Today dawned bright and clear; very cold but just the sort of day to spend birdwatching in southeast Northumberland.  After a breakfast of porridge I was warmed through and ready for the day ahead.  I collected Keith and Chris from Morpeth and took them on what appeared to be a magical mystery tour as we searched for Little Owls and Waxwings before reaching the coast at Newbiggin.  20 minutes later we were on our way towards Druridge Bay, with two clients who now had the knowledge of how to identify Mediterranean Gulls, and had put this into practice on at least two birds.

Wildfowl are still the major attraction in the bay, and the bright sunlight really showed Teal, Wigeon, Goldeneye, Shelduck, Gadwall, Red-breasted Merganser and even the humble Mallard in their best light.  Big flocks of Pink-footed and Greylag Geese featured throughout the day and binocular-filling views of Skylarks and Twite went down very well.  A Little Owl watched us intently from high in a tree and a Common Buzzard was soaring over East Chevington.  Eventually we located a big flock of Pink-footed Geese on the ground and we searched through them for Bean Geese.  No luck, but just as we turned our attention to a flock of Greylags, Keith spotted a white blur and we watched the tail of a Stoat vanishing into some long grass.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I started squeaking and kept going for a couple of minutes until the ermine predator came to see what was in distress.  It showed incredibly well, first poking its nose through the grass before reappearing behind a fence and fixing us with a Little Owl-esque stare.  As it slipped out of sight again I looked up…and there was a Bittern overhead.  Another stunning end to another stunning day 🙂

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Winter walks

by on Dec.26, 2009, under Birdwatching, Choppington Woods, Druridge Bay, Family and friends, Northumberland

There’s little that’s better than going for a walk with snow on the ground.  On Christmas Day I took dad for a walk around Choppington Woods, mainly so we weren’t under Sarah’s feet 😉  Today all three of us walked along the River Blyth and through the dunes in Druridge Bay.  The traditional boxing Day pheasant shoots in the woodland of Druridge Bay provided an ‘interesting’ aural backdrop.  I’ve had some fascinating conversations about hunting recently, with wildlife photographers and with friends who have hunted for several years.  What some people may find surprising is that two apparently disparate groups have much in common; not least a love and appreciation of the countryside.    Wildlife- and birdwatching with a camera may have a very different outcome (certainly for the wildlife) from hunting, with the only thing getting fired being a camera shutter, and the only things getting shot being images of wildlife, but there’s a lot we can learn as photographers and wildlife watchers, from the techniques employed by hunters.  Wildlife crime may still be a major issue in many areas, but that’s a topic for another blog on another day.

With NEWT events on Holy Island, in the Harthope Valley and around Lee Moor Farm before the end of the year, and places to go and things to photograph on our days ‘off’ in-between, we’re looking forward to the last five days of 2009.  Here are a few images from today:

It may be a cliche...

It may be a cliche...

Captured in the split-second before it noticed me

Captured in the split-second before it noticed me

Northumberland's iconic mammal

Northumberland's iconic mammal

Dashing through the snow

Dashing through the snow

Roe doe and Roe buck

Roe doe and Roe buck

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Masters of all we survey?

by on Dec.13, 2009, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland

I’ve just finished my 3rd consecutive day of survey work (ok, today was just a couple of hours around dawn, but you get the idea).

Friday and Saturday saw me up to 20 miles offshore, leading a survey team of Alan Tilmouth, Ross Ahmed, Allan Skinner (our boat skipper) and Jimmy (erstwhile SarahJFK crew member and very diligent data-recorder).  Friday didn’t look promising as we drove to Royal Quays in thick fog, and the marina was mired in the gloom as well as we met up with Tom Brereton from Marinelife.  However, once out of the Tyne we quickly passed out of the fog bank and into some stunning weather.

Martin and Tom scanning for cetaceans

Martin and Tom scanning for cetaceans

Ross, Alan and Tom observing and recording seabird distribution and abundance

Ross, Alan and Tom observing and recording seabird distribution and abundance

 On the return there was a superb sunset but the fog had extended to almost 6 miles offshore and we had one of those real pelagic experiences.
Tom scanning ahead of the SarahJFK for cetaceans

Tom scanning ahead of the SarahJFK for cetaceans

Ross still recording, Alan looking cheerful as we approach a fog bank

Ross and Alan still recording as we approach the fog bank that ended Friday's survey

Tom, Martin, Ross and Alan heading home

Tom, Martin, Ross and Alan heading home

Yesterday had overall better visibility but slighty lumpier seas, as we covered the area from Blyth to Druridge Bay.  Having completed about 80 miles of transect surveys in 2 days we’ve already gathered a lot of seabird data.  The North Sea (which is relatively small) seems pretty big when you’re far enough offshore to not be able to see any land.  When 3 experienced seawatchers look around and say “we don’t really have a clue what’s out here do we?” then it hammers home the importance of what we’re doing.  Having found Puffins on both surveys so far, and five Little Gulls on Saturday, we’re all eagerly anticipating the rest of our winter surveys.  We’ve got a few spaces on most of the survey trips (which will run when the weather allows us the opportunity) which are available for a contribution of £20/person/trip (a much lower rate than our commercial pelagics trips in July-September).  Give us a call, wrap up warm and join us on a journey into the unknown.

On dry (well, drier) land, Sarah and myself set out this morning for the December Icelandic Goose Census.Two Barn Owls were a bonus in the bone-chilling temperatures.  Last month I drew a blank with our goose monitoring and this month was hardly any better; just 3 Greylag Geese at the roost site that is designated as part of the census.  Looks like we’ll be out again at dusk, trying to locate the birds as they fly to roost.

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A first for Northern Experience

by on Aug.28, 2008, under Photography

A client from Hong Kong! We had the pleasure of welcoming an excellent bird photographer from Hong Kong onto one of our safaris this week. She has a strong interest in seabirds but the strong westerly winds made seawatching an unlikely prospect and we concentrated on the tidal mudflats of the River Wansbeck and the pools of Druridge Bay. Excellent views of terns and waders were had throughout the afternoon/evening, and there were several entertaining discussions about the similarities/differences between the birds recorded in Hong Kong and Northumberland. A Brown Hare in the fields at Druridge Pools was a popular sighting and a bat that flew past us a couple of times was feasting on the swarms of moths and other flying insects.

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And now…

by on Aug.26, 2008, under Wildlife

I’m sitting in my office, catching up on paperwork (well, that’s what I should be doing anyway, what’s actually happening is I’m watching a Red Squirrel in our Ash tree and counting Jays as they fly past) and planning tomorrow’s Druridge Bay Safari.

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And we’ve also…

by on Aug.26, 2008, under Wildlife

Had several very successful tours with clients. August 11th saw us venturing across to the Farne Islands on one of our Seal Safaris, excellent views of the Grey Seals were had by all, as well as brief views of two adult Puffins flying by and a Puffin chick that had only recently entered the water. The Cheviots were a little damp on August 18th but a break in the rain produced Peregrine, Merlin, Buzzard, no less than six Black Grouse and a Hare. August 19th saw us visiting the Grey Seals on the Farne Islands again before heading up the coast and across onto Holy Island to search for more seals and wading birds, then back down the coast as far as Amble. 20th involved an early start (for some…) and a walk along the Blyth. Heavy overnight rain had left the river as a raging torrent the colour of milky coffee and the highlight of the morning was a Red Squirrel making it’s way through the trees on the opposite bank of the river as Jays screamed at us from their hidden vantage points. Druridge Bay trip later the same day and we were treated to large roosts of Lapwing and Oystercatcher as well as a mystery mammal running across the roof of the hide we were sitting in at Hauxley. By the time we raced outside it had disappeared into the trees…
August 21st and we were back in Druridge Bay. Highlights were a Common Toad that was walking up the path ahead of us, Noctule Bat flying past (and picked up later on our bat detector) and, due to the incredibly clear sky, excellent views of Jupiter and it’s moons through the telescope – leading to an impromptu astronomy extension to our evening.

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