Tag: Hobby

Persistence; Druridge Bay Safari 13/09/2015

by on Sep.22, 2015, under Druridge Bay

Birdwatching is a mosaic of challenges; gulls, raptors, waders and seawatching can all test your ID skills, but at least you can usually see the bird…

I collected Clare and Peter from The Swan for the first of their 5 consecutive days out with NEWT, and we headed across to the coast.  An impressive charm of Goldfinch grabbed our attention and led us to a big flock of Linnet and a ploughed field sprinkled with CurlewRuff, Redshank, Dunlin, Oystercatcher and Lapwing patrolled the edges of ponds and the seashore whilst Greylag Geese, and our first Pink-footed Geese of the autumn, added a touch of brown to the green fields; a taste of things to come.  Red Fox cubs were chasing each other through long grass in the afternoon sun and a Hobby raced by, but it was midday that brought challenge, and reward…

Woodland birding, with dense foliage and dappled sunlight, can be a frustrating undertaking but we knew that the rewards were in there somewhere.  Brief glimpses of Firecrest and Pied Flycatcher gave way to much better views of the Firecrest as it slowed it’s headlong dash through the trees and settled into one small area, pausing frequently in full view 🙂  One of the sparkling jewels of autumn birding, it eventually moved out of sight and we walked back along the track.  Peter spotted movement in a willow, and a Yellow-browed Warbler graced us with it’s presence for a few seconds, flycatching around the branches of a hawthorn.  Not a bad start to the autumn 🙂

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Some Hobby

by on Jul.02, 2012, under Bamburgh Castle, Birdwatching, Farne Islands, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast

Wednesday was a trip that I’d been looking forward to for some time.  Syd is a regular client, and always very entertaining, and this time around his son Gavin was booked with him as well, for a Farne Islands safari.

With plenty of comments on Twitter in the weeks leading up to the trip, we were all praying for good sea conditions for the day.  The forecast suggested that the afternoon could be a bit wet so I thought about visiting Staple Island instead of Inner Farne, before satisfying myself that it would stay dry for us in the afternoon and sticking with my original plan of walking along the dunes at Newton in the morning, and catching the 1pm boat to Inner Farne.  The morning walk produced lots of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits as well as Common Blue Butterflies and Northern Marsh, Pyramidal and Bee Orchids. The tern colony was a hive of activity, with the Arctic Terns bringing food to their chicks and some  Little Terns engaging in some late season breeding activity.  While we were there, the terns kept lifting from the dunes in a ‘dread’ but the source of their concern wasn’t immediately obvious.  Myself and the wardens commented that it was what we would expect if a Peregrine was passing over, but scanning the sky overhead didn’t produce the menacing shape of that particular predator.  Eventually we did spot a raptor, although not an expected one, as a Marsh Harrier flew south along the fields inland from the terns.  After having our lunch stop in the shadow of Bamburgh Castle, we took the short drive to Seahouses.  Approaching Monk’s House Pool, Syd and Gavin had the bird of the day as a Hobby flew north over the roadside fields.

We boarded Glad Tidings IV for the journey across to the islands and sat next to local birder TC, who had watched all of the hirundines in Seahouses start alarming…just a few minutes before the Hobby was between Seahouses and Bamburgh.  After the sailing around the islands, with their Grey Seals, Guillemots, Razorbills, Puffins, Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Shags and Common, Sandwich and Arctic Terns, we landed on Inner Farne and Gavin concentrated on photographing Puffins.  We were ‘treated’ (if that’s the right word…) to an example of just how cruel nature can be as a Kittiwake chick wandered away from it’s nest and towards the edge of the ledge.  It turned back from the edge, made it’s way unsteadily back to the nest, and was promptly tossed over the edge of the cliff by the adult!  As it landed on the next ledge down, it was attacked and killed by 2 juvenile Shags in front of a group of horrified onlookers.

After nearly 2 hours on Inner Farne, we boarded Glad Tidings for the journey back to the mainland…and the first few drops of rain fell as we reached the top of the steps on the harbour 🙂

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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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Remote birdwatching on Northumberland’s borders

by on Jun.13, 2010, under Birdwatching, North Pennines, Northumberland

The North Pennines may not have the highest species density of any of the areas that we visit but, in terms of peace, tranquility and solitude, it takes some beating.

On Friday morning I drove to Corbridge to collect Lesley and David, two of our Prestige clients, for a day of birdwatching around Northumberland’s remote border.  As we headed southwest the landscape became wilder and with less of any obvious human influence.  Curlew, Lapwing, Golden Plover and Snipe may be common sights on the coast in the winter but, on remote moorland in the spring, they’re transformed into something other-worldly.

Some of the North Pennines flowers are quite stunning as well; Mountain Pansy, Scottish Asphodel, swathes of Cotton Grass waving in the breeze and, my own favourite, Spring Gentian.  we found no less than 20 gentians, including a group of 11 at a spot where last year there were only 4.  As we used a hand lens to admire the remarkable structures of lichens on the rocks in a deep narrow gorge, the bird species that are typical of that habitat type entertained us; a family of Dippers were feeding in the fast-flowing water, with the juveniles clearly hesitant to take the plunge, Grey Wagtails were flycatching and a Ring Ouzel flew from a pile of boulders.  The afternoon continued with a family of Red Grouse and then a small group of Black Grouse. As is often the case these were all Blackcock, engaging in some half-hearted lekking in the afternoon sunshine.

After returning Lesley and David to their holiday cottage, stumbling across a Hobby mobbed by hirundines on the way, I headed home, then out to a 30th birthday party (Happy Birthday Kerry!), then to The Swan before going home, checking everything in readiness for Saturday’s 2 Safaris, and hitting the pillow.

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