Tag: small copper

Creepy crawlies;Druridge Bay mini-safari 15/08/2015

by on Aug.20, 2015, under Druridge Bay

The easiest wildlife to engage with is often the small stuff that we might walk by on our way to search for something bigger…

I collected Flora, Pete, Katie (‘the Awesome’!), Joe and Madeleine from Church Point and we set out for a morning exploring around Druridge Pools.  Once I’d armed everyone with sample pots, hand lenses and magnifiers, Ragwort was scrutinised closely for Cinnabar moth caterpillars and they were soon tracked down and subjected to close inspection.  Spiders, slugs, snails, bees, hoverflies and a Small Copper butterfly were also potted and looked at in detail.  Much further along the size spectrum, Black-tailed Godwits and Grey Herons offered ‘scope-filling views and empty Swallow nests were easily accessible.  Common Darters stayed just beyond our reach, and soon a whole morning had passed and it was time to head back to Newbiggin.

Our family wildlife safaris are carefully tailored to keep all ages engaged and we’ve got lots of options including mini-beasting, badger-watching and bat detecting.  Give us a call on 01670 827465 to see what we can do for you 🙂

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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 🙂

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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Wildlife and birdwatching on the Northumberland coast 08/08/2010

by on Aug.10, 2010, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast, Southeast Northumberland

Sunday’s Northumberland coast safari started very close to home, with Germaine and Greg having stayed at The Swan on Saturday evening.  We started with our usual riverside walk, looking at an artificial holt and talking about the ecology of the Otter.  Our first really good sighting of the day was a Red Squirrel, which chattered angrily at a photographer who was sitting beneath the tree that it was descending.  Woodland birdwatching can be sometimes be very quiet, but with a large mixed flock of tits and Goldcrests, as well as Treecreepers and a very aggressive Nuthatch around the same glade there was plenty to see.  Out on to the coast south of Druridge Bay and, in the warm sunshine, our favourite Little Owl was posing for the camera.  The sunshine was also encouraging insect activity and we quickly added to the day list; Common Darter, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Meadow Brown, Small Copper, Shaded Broad-bar, Lesser Marsh Grasshopper, Common Blue Butterfly, Green-veined and Small White were all found along one small stretch of footpath.  Grey Herons were stalking along the pond edges and one got into a gruesome wrestling match with a large Eel.  All of the ducks scattered, clearly there was something in the reeds that they were unhappy about, but what it was didn’t reveal itself.  Further north, we came across three Little Egrets (surely the next addition to Northumberland’s breeding birds – if they haven’t already…), a Common Lizard that was sunning itself and, thanks to Germaine’s sharp eyes, a pair of Roe Deer.  A really good day, with a real mixed bag of wildlife and clients who made it all the more enjoyable.  And to think…Sunday used to be homework-marking day 😉

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Fin-tastic

by on Aug.07, 2010, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, North Sea, Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland

We’re in one of our busier periods at the moment;  two trips on Thursday, two on Friday and then we’ll be out again tomorrow.

Thursday’s two mini-safaris featured some of our old favourites; Little Owl is one of the best crowd-pleasers that there is, Dunlin, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Grey Heron  and summer-plumaged Knot  all went down very well and some attractive insects added a touch of glitter – Common Darter, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Small Copper, Red Admiral and Dark Green Fritillary are all easily overlooked (well maybe not Red Admiral), but quite stunning if you take the time to search for them and then look closely.  After finishing Thursday’s first trip, and dropping Kevin, Angela and Georgia back at Newbiggin, I went back to the office, dealt with a few e-mails, packed the head torches and bat detectors ready for the evening and then headed back out for the day’s second tour of Druridge Bay and Southeast Northumberland.  Then the heavens opened.  With windscreen wipers barely able to provide a clear view, traffic was crawling.  I was considering the unthinkable – cancelling a trip.  The rain eased and I collected Andy and family.  The trip list was very similar to the morning and then I thought it might be worthwhile to have a quick look at the sea.

Now, seawatching is an obsessive pastime but it isn’t for everyone; I’m certain that long periods staring at the sea, hoping that something exciting will appear, don’t make for good client experiences.  So we don’t do it…very often.  The sea had been flat calm during the day and there was only a gentle breeze.  Ideal conditions for searching for cetaceans, in fact.  The number of e-mails, texts and ‘phone calls I’d had during the week was the clincher.  I knew that cetaceans sightings were increasing and viewing conditions were just right…surely the right time to take clients for a seawatch.  Gannets were passing by and we all scanned the sea.  Quickly I picked up 2 dolphins away to the south.  Then another 2, then 3 including 2 calves.  Through binoculars I had little doubt that these were White-beaked Dolphins.  A quick look through the ‘scope revealed all of the relevant ID features; tall falcate dorsal fin, white flanks arcing up behind the dorsal to form a pale saddle.  As everyone managed to see the dolphins, I scanned slowly to estimate how many dolphins there were.  At least 25 individual animals were found, and the pod was spread out over at least 6 square miles of the North Sea!  Another birder arrived and we managed to get him on to the dolphins as well.  It’s almost impossible to describe just how extraordinary such a sighting is.  Normally the best opportunities arise when you’re on an organised pelagic trip.  We’ve got 4 more of these this year; and with only one place remaining on September 18th, two places on September 4th and four places on August 12th, get in touch now on 01670 827465 to join us and experience the best pelagic wildlife and birdwatching opportunities available on the east coast.  August 12th will be a groundbreaking trip; we’re heading out to the Farne Deeps and reports from anglers and researchers suggest that the area could produce sightings of some spectacular wildlife.  Minke Whale, White-beaked Dolphin, Common Dolphin and Killer Whale have all been found previously.

After the dolphins we had another of the species that always captivates our clients as a Barn Owl allowed a prolonged period of observation as it hunted along the coastal dunes.  As darkness descended and we headed back to our starting point the raindrops began to speckle the windscreen of the Landy again.

The highlights of Friday’s first trip were Red Squirrel and Little Owl (for Kate and Lucy) and a very unexpected Green Sandpiper (for me).

The evening pelagic took place with some extraordinary glowering skies to the north.  As the swell began to develop, we were treated to very close views of Gannet and Fulmar before returning to Royal Quays in the dark, but the abiding memory of the last week is the extraordinary spectacle of a little-known cetacean, hunting, leaping and playing in the seas off Northumberland.

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Variety Show

by on Aug.05, 2010, under Badger, Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland

Yesterday we had an afternoon/evening safari around southeast Northumberland and Druridge Bay, an exciting prospect as these are producing some of our most memorable sightings.

Around lunchtime I started to receive calls about Bottlenose Dolphins, 5 past Newbiggin and 20-40 E of St Mary’s.  When I arrived at Church Point at 14:40, the dolphins had departed but a Harbour Porpoise was close inshore.  Once our clients had arrived we set off up the coast.  First stop produced a juvenile Little Owl, lazing in the afternoon sunshine.  A seawatching session revealed plenty of Gannets and Sandwich Terns, and Katie quickly spotted more Harbour Porpoises.  The rest of the afternoon’s birdwatching produced excellent views of Lapwing, Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, Greenshank, Common Tern and some very entertaining Grey Herons.  Non-birdy interest included Small Copper and Dark Green Fritillary butterflies, Blue-tailed Damselfly and a Common Frog.  I chose a picnic spot giving us a wide view over the increasingly calm sea, producing further sightings of Harbour Porpoise, a distant group of Bottlenose Dolphins and a Peregrine.

Then we were on our way to the evening’s final destination.  As we walked, quietly, through a heavily shaded steep wooded valley, I began to question myself; could we really be succesful with a group of 6 clients, when we were searching for an animal that is so easily disturbed?  A Red Fox crossed the path ahead of us, although everyone other than Alice was looking the other way.  I allowed everyone to settle into position on one side of the valley and we waited.  In what seemed like no time at all, a stripy black-and-white head appeared from the undergrowth on the opposite side of the stream and our first Badger of the evening came trotting along.  It paused briefly and then crossed the stream before vanishing up the hill behind us.  After 30 mins, and another 6 Badgers!, we headed back to the Landy.  With the bat detector switched on, we listened to, and had close views of, Common Pipistrelle and Daubenton’s Bat.  Family bookings are always interesting, but the enthusiasm and cheerfulness of Emma, Katie and Alice made it such an enjoyable day (not forgetting the three older members of the group of course).

We’ll be running afternoon/evening safaris throughout the year, so give us a call on 01670 827465 to arrange your own Northern Experience 🙂

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A lazy summer afternoon

by on Jun.03, 2010, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland

It’s that time of year again.  Bright sunshine, insects are on the wing and in Southeast Northumberland, birdwatching is taken at a steady pace.

On yesterday’s Druridge Bay trip  Common Blue  and Blue-tailed Damselflies were flitting about in front of us and every so often would stop and rest, giving everyone an opportunity to see just how stunning they are.  Butterflies were around in good numbers as well and we had close views of one of my personal favourites, Small Copper.  Other wildlife was taking advantage of the sun as well; a Brown Hare crouched by a fence with flies buzzing around it’s nose and a very obliging Little Owl was sitting in the entrance to it’s nest.  A quick stare to check us out and then it dozed off again. Grey Herons flapped by, Lapwings were calling and trying to distract attention away from their chicks, Dunlin, resplendent in breeding plumage, probed the mud around the edge of Cresswell Pond and, in what seemed like next to no time, the day was done and we were heading back to Newbiggin.

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