Tag: Little Ringed Plover

A Storm of Puffins; Druridge Bay Bespoke Birdwatching 30/07/18

by on Aug.05, 2018, under Coquet Island, Druridge Bay

Wouldn’t that be a great title for the next book in the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series (Game of Thrones)?  I’ve met a few people over the last 10 years who expected Puffins to be much larger than they actually are, so the idea of unleashing a horde of them on your enemies could have some merit…

Alex, Jess and Tom had booked two days out with us – Saturday and Sunday – both of which had a forecast that couldn’t have been clearer that we wouldn’t be able to sail either around Coquet Island or to the Farnes so we’d hastily rescheduled to Monday and Tuesday, with ‘gentler’ sea conditions forecast.  I collected them from Embleton and we headed south down the coast to our local patch, Druridge Bay and southeast Northumberland, pausing at Cullernose Point to have a look at the Kittiwakes and Fulmars.

Late July is a great time to watch waders on the Northumberland coast and Avocet, Dunlin, Knot, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Lapwing, Common Snipe, Curlew, Common Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover and Little Ringed Plover were all impressive, but outshone by a stunning summer-plumaged Grey Plover.  A Little Owl was perched quietly by a farm building and our next port of call brought a Little Gull and an Otter that was feeding next to some apparently unconcerned Mute Swans and some very concerned Tufted Ducks 🙂

Then it was time to head off for a sailing around Coquet Island with Dave Gray’s Puffin Cruises.  The stiff southeasterly and a bit of swell meant a very steady crossing was in order.  As we sailed along the Coquet a raft of 27 Goosanders were near the Warkworth side of the river and as we made the short sea crossing Puffins, Sandwich, Arctic and Common Terns and Grey Seals began to appear.  Ghostly pale Roseate Terns were sitting on the nesting terraces that have been constructed for them and one or two were picked out as they flew by as a veritable storm of Puffins whirled around above the island.

Heading back home at the end of the afternoon I was looking forward to an evening at the Battlesteads Observatory and then Tuesday’s trip to Inner Farne.  I was starting to feel a bit peaky though, but that’s a whole other story…

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A swift return; Druridge Bay birdwatching mini-safari 23/05/17

by on May.25, 2017, under Druridge Bay

I arrived at Newbiggin to collect Brendan for a mini-Safari around Druridge Bay, in weather that was little short of glorious…

Brendan lives just a few miles from the village where Sarah’s parents still live; an area that’s historically similar to southeast Northumberland – although we’ve got the North Sea, beaches etc. 🙂  Our first stop was a search for waders, and Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Lapwing, Redshank, Ringed Plover and Little Ringed Plover were all pottering around on the mud and we concentrated on the differences between the two plovers and the subtle distinctions that allow them to be identified at some distance.  We were discussing the difficulties of identifying birds by their songs and calls, and the loss of high-pitch hearing with age, when one of those high-pitched birds started calling from the trees above us – Goldcrests are great at hiding but they persistently give themselves away by being so vocal.  Avocets, including one bird with a single chick, were lazing in the sunshine and occasionally calling in agitation when anything they didn’t like the look of flew over.  Grey Herons and a Little Egret stalked through the edges of the calm water and Skylarks and Meadow Pipits displayed overhead as a Lapwing returned to her nest right in front of us.  More songs from hidden birds enhanced the discussion about ID by sound; Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and Common Whitethroat were all delivering their serenades from deep cover.  Gadwall, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Moorhen, Coot and Great Crested Grebe were all on the water as Sand Martin, House Martin and Swallow gathered flying insects, an underwhelming Starling murmuration passed by and 2 Common Swifts flew over – a real sign that the summer’s here…

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Whales, Waders and Wildfowl day (1 and) 2

by on Sep.11, 2013, under Bamburgh Castle, Birdwatching, Holy Island, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast

After getting back to Seahouses harbour at the end of our Whale and Dolphin Cruise, Sarah headed south back towards home, and myself and Bill followed the coast north to Holy Island.  The breeze had been strengthening while we were offshore, and around Holy Island it was close to unmanageable, with even a heavy stable tripod struggling to remain still enough to use the telescope.  We did find Bar-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover and Dunlin around the harbour, but soon beat a hasty retreat – via the ice cream van 🙂

Heading back down the coast in the shadow of Bamburgh Castle, we watched flocks of Eider loafing just offshore and a mixed flock of Common, Sandwich and Arctic Terns held a surprise in the shape of an adult Roseate Tern.

Dinner at The Swan was followed by discussing the plans for the next day, and on Sunday we concentrated on Druridge Bay and south east Northumberland.  It turned out to be a good day for waders, with Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Curlew and plenty of Snipe.  Perhaps the wader highlight of the day though were flocks of Black-tailed Godwit and Ruff arriving from the north east, pausing briefly to drink and rest and then departing to the south west.  A bird that’s rarely seen made it’s way onto the trip list too, as the long-staying Spotted Crake at East Chevington wandered in and out of the reedbeds.  Goosander, more Eider and lots of Grey Herons were around the River Coquet and it was soon time to head off, collect Sarah and go into Morpeth to eat at the excellent Nadon Thai.  It was an excellent two days, with a client who was excellent company, a keen birdwatcher and knows a lot of sites in and around Norfolk, where we haven’t been for a few years now, really well.

Whales? yes. Waders? yes. Wildfowl? yes.  It was the holiday that does exactly what it says on the tin 🙂

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Druridge Bay 01/05/2012

by on May.03, 2012, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland

We often find ourselves, usually when we’re at the British Bird Fair, explaining that Northumberland isn’t a particularly rainy county, in fact it’s very much the opposite.  It is sometimes cold and windy though…but all you need to do is wrap up warm 😉

I collected Philip and Pauline from Outchester and we headed south towards Druridge Bay for a day’s birdwatching on the coast of southeast Northumberland.  A brief search around Woodhorn for the Great Grey Shrike that had been there until the day before proved fruitless, and we continued to follow the road up the coast.  With a bitterly cold northerly wind I guessed where our regular Little Owl would be sunning itself – and it performed like the star that it is; peering inquisitively at us and then craning it’s neck to look at something on the ground far below.  Our lunch stop, overlooking the North Sea, was as spectacular as ever with rolling surf and plenty of ‘white horses’.  Cresswell produced some of the best birds of the day, with a pair of Great Crested Grebes, Hooded Crow, 5 Northern Wheatears, 5 Avocets and 2 Little Ringed Plovers being the highlights.  East Chevington provided very close views of a  Roe Deer, a female Marsh Harrier, Skylarks singing on the breeze and a mixed flock of Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin and Swift.

With clients from the town of my birth and an enthusiasm for cetaceans like my own, as well as a keen eye for the locations used in popular television series, it seemed that the day was over very quickly and I dropped them back at Outchester in the early evening, stopping for a few minutes to look at Pauline’s hydrophone.  Gadget geek?  No, not me 😉

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Substitute

by on Apr.23, 2012, under Birdwatching, Cheviot Valleys, Druridge Bay, Northumberland

There are times when you can visit the same location on successive days and see exactly the same wildlife, other times something you saw the day before has moved on but there’s compensation in the form of something unexpected…

I collected Julie and David from The Swan and we set off for day of bespoke birdwatching, combining the best of our uplands with the post-industrial birdwatching wonders of southeast Northumberland.  As we headed inland towards the Cheviot valleys the spectacular scenery (not for the first time) elicited a number of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the passenger seats of the car. Crossing the ford where the Harthope Burn becomes the Wooler Water we enjoyed very close views of those two riverine specialists, Dipper and Grey Wagtail.  I’m enthusiastic about most, if not all, birds but male Grey Wagtails are truly stunning birds, and one that often holds our clients entranced for extended periods of time.  We continued along the valley, and set off to walk up a narrow valley leading up into the hills from the main valley.  Red Grouse were cackling all around us, flying from one side of the valley to the other and occasionally perching in full view, imperiously staring at us as we followed the burn their territories.  A female Ring Ouzel flew down the valley, over our heads and away to a distant clump of trees, a pair of Sparrowhawks displayed ahead of us, and we stopped for lunch.  Our post-lunch walk was another spectacular one.  This time in a steep-sided valley, with Peregrines, Kestrels, Common Buzzards and Ravens soaring overhead, Mistle Thrushes carrying food to hungry nestlings and the song of a male Ring Ouzel carrying on the strengthening breeze.  An icy April shower added to the wild, remote feel of the valley and we headed back downhill into glorious sunshine.  Our assemblage of raptors (including the honorary member – the Raven) didn’t feature the Osprey I’d seen the day before, but we did have a real bonus bird…one of the things about birding in narrow steep-sided valleys is that birds appear very unexpectedly, and on this occasion it was the enigmatic ‘Phantom of the Forest’ as a male Goshawk broke the skyline in front of us and beat his way powerfully across the moors.

The second half of the day was spent on the Northumberland coast, finishing close to home around Druridge Bay.  The Common Eiders we found were greatly appreciated and the tour of NEWT’s ‘local patch’ produced a number of highlights with Marsh Harrier, Little Ringed Plover, Avocet, Pintail and Red-breasted Merganser all going down particularly well but, perhaps, the bird of the day was a Short-eared Owl that perched on a roadside fencepost and watched us just as intently as we were watching it; piercing yellow eyes holding us all enthralled as we completed a long day of birdwatching that seemed to be over too soon.  Isn’t that always the way 😉

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