Tag: Spotted Redshank

Northumberland in the win(d)ter; Winter Wonderland holiday 19-22/02/17

by on Feb.23, 2017, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Grey Seal, Lindisfarne, Northumberland Coast, Otter, Southeast Northumberland

Day 1. 19/02/17. I arrived at the Bamburgh Castle Inn for the start of our Winter Wonderland holiday, then met up with with Christine, John, Linda and Rosie in the bar and outlined the plan for the next two days while we enjoyed a fantastic meal.

Day 2. 20/02/17.  Our first full day was targeting Lindisfarne and the North Northumberland coast.  Stopping at Budle Bay on our way north we soon found a Spotted Redshank amongst the Common Redshank, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Mallard, Oystercatcher, Shelduck and Curlew as Pink-footed and Greylag Geese and Lapwing swirled distantly against a leaden grey sky on a stiff breeze and Red-breasted Mergansers looked even more comical than usual with their tufts blown to odd angles.  A heavy misty drizzle took hold, yet cleared within minutes, leaving a beautiful azure sky draped in fluffy white cloud.  A Kestrel perched obligingly as we stopped along a hedgerow that was heaving with Chaffinches.  As the receding tide cleared the Holy Island causeway, waders dropped in to feed along the edge of the recently exposed mud.  Knot, Dunlin, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Bar-tailed Godwit were all close to the road and easily observable by using the car as a nice, sheltered, warm hide as Pale-bellied Brent Geese flew over us 🙂  Over on the island we found a mixed flock of Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Curlew and Lapwing.  As an unseen threat spooked them and they lifted from the field, it was obvious that the number of birds present was far greater than we thought.  Grey Seals were hauled out on the now visible sandbars and we headed back across to the mainland.  Lunch overlooking the vast expanse of mud produced more geese and ducks, including Pintail, and a distant Little Stint in amongst a flock of Dunlin and Knot.  A Merlin had spooked the Chaffinch flock as we headed back south and a quick stop at Bamburgh produced Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone, Ringed Plover and Eider but nothing on the sea in what the wind had whipped up into a frothing mess of whitecaps.  The stiffening breeze was making viewing conditions awkward but the final stop of the afternoon brought Song Thrush, Long-tailed Tit, Greenfinch and Goldcrest before we headed back to Seahouses.  Dinner was accompanied by a discussion of the plan for Tuesday, and a target list was quickly developed…

Day 3. 21/02/17.  Tuesday saw us heading south towards Druridge Bay and southeast Northumberland.  Our first target for the day was a species that’s scarce and often only offers fleeting views…Willow Tit is a regular visitor to the NEWT garden feeding station but I’d got a different site in mind and we enjoyed prolonged views of at least two of these gorgeous little birds, as well as a detailed discussion about how to separate them from Marsh TitReed Bunting, Common Snipe and Common Buzzard joined the day list as an impressive flock of Lapwing and Golden Plover swirled against the sky as we headed off in search of our next target for the day.  This one proved fairly straightforward and we had great views of both male and female BramblingLittle Grebe, Goldeneye and Common and Black-headed Gulls accompanied our lunch stop before we had excellent views of some very obliging Common Snipe, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Ruff, Tree Sparrow and Little EgretShorelark was the one target for the day that eluded us, as we had several flight views of a vocal flock of Twite while Ringed Plover were displaying on the beach, Sanderling were scurrying back and forth and a flock of Common Scoter were offshore with Red-throated Divers and Guillemot just beyond the breaking surf.  A handsome male Stonechat flushed from bush to bush ahead of us as we walked along the path and the long-staying Pacific Diver eventually gave great views close to a Slavonian Grebe.  There was one target species still remaining on the list for the day though, and I was sure that the last hour of daylight would bring that one for us.  Scanning the edges of reedbeds through the telescope revealed a dark shape that hadn’t been there a few minutes earlier during my last scan of the reedbed, and that dark shape stretched and began loping along, still partly obscured by the reeds.  Within a minute everyone had located the Otter as it moved quickly around the edge of the pool and then it vanished, only to appear in the water a few minutes later 🙂  We watched as it swam towards us before losing it from sight behind the near vegetation.  After a few minutes of calm all of the Mute Swans were suddenly staring towards the bank right in front of us, and the Otter passed by just a few metres away 🙂  A great finish to our final full day in the field.

Day 4. 22/02/17.  Departure day dawned dry, bright and with an icily cold breeze as we gathered for breakfast before all heading off our separate ways.

We’ll be adding 2017 and 2018 dates to our holiday page shortly but please do get in touch if you’ve got any questions about what we offer.  Our short break holidays have a maximum of 6 participants, and a relaxed pace, and we’re always happy to create something bespoke too 🙂

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Rising tide; Northumberland Coast Bespoke Birdwatching 09/10/2015

by on Oct.10, 2015, under Druridge Bay, Northumberland Coast

Friday was Tony’s third, and final, day of bespoke birdwatching with NEWT and we headed north in similar weather to Thursday…

Travelling north, Roe Deer seemed unsure which way to run across the road so dodged back and forth in front of us.  On the rising tide, Little Egrets, Bar-tailed Godwits, Curlew, Dunlin, Redshank and Oystercatcher were hunting along the water’s edge, Pale-bellied Brent Geese were leapfrogging north, Pink-footed Geese flew south high overhead as the ‘choo-it’ calls of a Spotted Redshank and eerie moaning of Grey Seals cut through the tranquil air.  A Common Buzzard was perched on a telegraph pole and the rising tide brought more birds towards us, Herring, Common, Black-headed, Great Black-backed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Ruff, Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Wigeon, Goosander, Mallard and Teal were more obliging than distant swirling flocks of Lapwing and Barnacle Goose and a noisy tribe of Long-tailed Tits moved through the trees behind us.  Lunch at Stag Rocks produced Common Eider, Guillemot, Gannet, Red-throated Diver, Turnstone, Purple Sandpiper and Shag, then Greenshank and Shoveler were soon added to the day list as we continued south down the coast.  Panic amongst Herring Gulls and Cormorants revealed a Grey Seal swimming along the River Coquet and Great Crested Grebe and Goldeneye were the final new birds for Tony’s holiday as a juvenile Marsh Harrier flew by and Greylag and Pink-footed Geese began arriving at their overnight roost.

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Every cloud…; Otter Safari 30/09/2015

by on Oct.01, 2015, under Druridge Bay, Otter

The unpredictability of wildlife is part of the attraction.  You never know what you’ll see, whether the species you’re searching for will put in an appearance or something completely unexpected will show up.  I’d collected Judith and Robin from their holiday cottage in Embleton and we were in and around Druridge Bay for the afternoon.  It started well with a spectacular splash of colour as Judith spotted a Kingfisher while Common Redshank, Spotted Redshank and Curlew probed the gooey estuarine mud.  Gadwall, Mallard, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Snipe, Dunlin and Greenshank all looked stunning in quite beautiful light and we settled into position overlooking one of our regular Otter spots, unaware of just how extraordinary the evening was going to be…

Mirror-calm water, roosting Lapwing and Teal, an ever growing murmuration of Starlings and noisy Greylag Geese arriving to roost would be the ideal backdrop for an Otter.  Suddenly, unexpectedly, the murmuration plunged towards the reeds and birds funneled out of the swirling twisting mass down into the safety of the roost.  Starlings continued to arrive; ones, twos and groups of up to 50 had missed the display so just headed straight into the reeds.  Then the sussurating buzz stilled, and the birds left the reedbed en masse, joined in the air by Lapwings, as a Sparrowhawk flew low over their heads.  As they dropped back to the reeds, the far corner of the pool was shrouded in mist and the chilly tendrils of a sea fret were creeping over the dunes.  Soon the mist had enveloped everything around us, although it was barely reaching above head height.  The pinks and yellows of a 360 degree sunset added another touch of extraordinary to proceedings as the gloom was split by a noise not dissimilar to a car engine starting.  That was the Starlings again, leaving the reeds and suddenly bursting up out of the mist in front of us, a twisting writhing mass of birds trying to escape yet another fly-through by a Sparrowhawk.  Again they returned to the reeds, as a Barn Owl flew by above the mist, silhouetted against the sunset, and skein after skein of yapping Pink-footed Geese arrived for the night, dropping from the deep blue sky into the mist above the water.  After two unwelcome visits from the Sparrowhawk, the Starlings moved under cover of the mist into the reeds right in front of us,  For nearly five minutes, birds were streaming into their new roost site, as the whistles of Wigeon pierced the gloom and Teal and Lapwing departed for the night.

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From the sublime to the gloomy; Bespoke Birdwatching 04/11/2014

by on Nov.13, 2014, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Southeast Northumberland

The first of two bespoke birdwatching days for Alan and Sandra began when I collected them from Weldon Bridge and we headed across to Druridge Bay and the southeast Northumberland coast.

A ghosty pale Mediterranean Gull was a good start to the morning, Redshank, Turnstone, Oystercatcher and Purple Sandpiper were roosting just above the breaking surf and Eiders were rafting just offshore.  Atlantic Salmon heading upstream on the River Coquet provided lunchtime entertainment, then the afternoon brought beautifully sublime light conditions that illuminated Golden Plover and Lapwing as they twisted and turned while Common Snipe slept, fed and bickered with each other in the muddy margins, a Little Egret stalked patiently along the edges of the reeds and a Spotted Redshank stood out like a shining beacon as the sun sank below a thick bank of cloud on the western horizon and it turned cold and gloomy.  Starlings came to roost, although with little appetite for a full-blown murmuration, and Pink-footed Geese arrived from surrounding fields, yapping noisily as they dropped from the air towards the water.  When it was too dark to see anything and we headed back to the car, the yapping of the late arrivals still cut through the gloom overhead.

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Wading through the waders; Beginner’s Birdwatching 31/10/2014

by on Nov.03, 2014, under Birdwatching, Holy Island

Friday was a Beginners Birdwatching session and I collected George from Beadnell and we headed towards Holy Island.

Most of the afternoon was spent concentrating on waders, with Purple Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Turnstone and Redshank all studied in detail.  A pale, elegant, wader swimming in the channel under the Holy Island causeway turned out to be a Spotted Redshank – possibly the bird I heard calling in the dark on Thursday‘s trip – and flocks of Wigeon and Pale-bellied Brent Goose carpeted the mudflats.  It’s amazing how time flies when you’re engrossed in watching birds sticking their faces in mud, and three hours quickly passed and I dropped George back at Beadnell before heading down the coast to home myself.

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Wild Goose chase; Bespoke Birdwatching 30/10/2014

by on Nov.03, 2014, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Holy Island, Natural History, Northumberland Coast

Thursday was Pete and Janet’s 6th trip with NEWT, and the dismal, gloomy, drizzly south easterly weather as I drove to Embleton seemed ever so slightly promising 🙂

We started around Druridge Bay, checking a small area of woodland close to the coast, and soon encountered one of my favourite passerines, with three Brambling feeding quietly high in the canopy and two more flying over noisily.  Everywhere we went there were Robins and Blackbirds, although little sign of any other migrants other than a large flock of Redwing over Cresswell and a flock of Fieldfare near Beadnell.  Leaping Salmon on the River Coquet provided a lot of entertainment and a Cormorant which had been catching small fish, dived, causing a large Salmon to leap clear of the water.  The fish splashed back down and the Cormorant surfaced, gripping it behind the gills.  As the bird drifted downstream with its catch, we couldn’t believe that it would be able to deal with such a large fish…then it manouvered it so that the fish’s head was pointing down it’s throat and swallowed it whole!

As dusk approached, we were on the coast near Holy IslandLittle Egrets, Grey Plover, Curlew and Redshank were on the mudflats and the high yapping sound of Pink-footed Geese could be heard distantly.  Skein after skein appeared against the dark clouds overhead, settling close to the oncoming tide.  Then more, and more, and more…thousands and thousands of geese, still arriving when it was so dark that they were just a slightly darker speckling against an almost featureless backdrop.  Finally, as we headed back to the car, the ‘teu-it’ call of a Spotted Redshank cut through the gloom as the geese continued to arrive.

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Twitching; Druridge Bay 29/07/2014

by on Aug.05, 2014, under Birdwatching, Northumberland

I collected Stephen from home in North Shields and we headed north to Druridge Bay for an afternoon and evening of birdwatching.  Late July can produce some very good birds, and this was to be no exception…

Mediterranean Gull is a bit of a southeast Northumberland speciality, and the ghostly white adult drifting across the field of view of Stephen’s new binoculars was a lifer for him.  The rest of the afternoon was dominated by waders, with flocks of Curlew, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwit all flushing in alarm at an unseen (at least by us) menace.  The banks of the River Aln produced Curlew, Whimbrel, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank and four Little Egrets.  We bumped into a few of NEWT’s other clients during the afternoon and, when Len and Gill calmly mentioned that there was Stilt Sandpiper at Cresswell, we restructured the afternoon 🙂  Arriving at Cresswell, the news wasn’t good; the bird had apparently disappeared into long grass on the edge of the pool four hours earlier and hadn’t reappeared.  Knot, Dunlin, Common Snipe, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Lapwing, Golden Plover and Avocet are all very nice birds, but they’re no Stilt Sandpiper.  We decided to head down the coast and have something to eat while scanning the sea.  As we left Cresswell, Gill said that they’d ‘phone me if the bird reappeared so I took my mobile off silent although, with a four and a half gap since the last sighting, I wasn’t overly optimistic.  Ten minutes later, I’d just poured the soup and we were enjoying our picnic when my ‘phone rang.  I didn’t manage to get it out of my pocket in time to answer it, but it soon rang again and this time it was a call from Ipin “Martin, it’s back”.

Stephen had his second lifer of the afternoon, and late July was doing what it does really well – excellent waders 🙂

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Wading through August

by on Aug.23, 2012, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland

August is always a stressful month for NEWT.  As well as leading our regular safari days, it’s British Birdwatching Fair month, and the week leading up to the Bird Fair is always frantic; checking that we’ve got everything for the stand, mounting a new series of limited edition prints for sale, liaising with all of the other Birdwatching Northumberland partners to make sure that everybody knows exactly which aspects of the project they’re  responsible for, and making sure that we’ve got a supply of local beer for the 4pm ‘free bar’ on our stand 🙂

Then, after a busy three days, it’s all over and we head north…this year to the thankfully cooler temperatures of Northumberland.  From leaving Rutland at 6pm on Sunday to arriving back in Northumberland just after 10pm, the temperature drop was an impressive 14C.

Yesterday was our first post-BirdFair trip, a day of birdwatching around Druridge Bay and southeast Northumberland.  I collected Alex from Church Point, and we started with a good scan of the beach. 4 Mediterranean Gulls were close by and a small group of waders contained Oystercatcher, Common Redshank, Sanderling and Ringed Plover. Waders proved to be a theme for the day and we added Common Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Lapwing, Ruff, Dunlin, Knot, Curlew Sandpiper, Curlew, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Wood Sandpiper, Common Snipe, Golden Plover and Avocet to the day list as we made our way around NEWT’s local area.  With an impressive supporting cast that included Water Rail, 3 Little Egrets and a Spoonbill it was a great day to be watching the edges of our local ponds, and a real education in just how much inward and outward movement of birds there is from the feeding and roosting wader flocks that grace southeast Northumberland at this time of the year.  It was a great day too, to appreciate just how friendly and helpful local birdwatchers are in Northumberland – many thanks to Len and Gill for pointing us in the direction of the Wood Sandpiper, and Gill’s sharp eyes picked out the Spotted Redshank which then vanished without trace soon after being found and appreciated 🙂

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Whistle while you work

by on Aug.26, 2010, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland

Yesterday was one of what are rapidly becoming our favourite trips; afternoon/evening safaris.  I collected Claire and Stuart from their holiday cottage near Brinkburn Priory and we headed towards the coast.

Our regular Little Owl watched us imperiously, before turning tail and scuttling out of sight as a dog walker came along the track.  The coastal pools along Druridge Bay are hosting an ever increasing number of waders; Dunlin, Turnstone, Redshank, Knot, Ruff, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Common Sandpiper and Curlew were all roosting, a Spotted Redshank called but remained frustratingly out of sight behind a reedbed, and Greenshank and Whimbrel both responded to imitations of their calls.  Then, that most majestic of waders graced the air in front of us, although only briefly; a Black-tailed Godwit flew low over the roost, everything panicked, and a Peregrine carved through the flock before heading out over the sea and then away high to the north.  Little Grebes and Grey Herons were both well appreciated, then it was time to check some of southeast Northumberland’s finest mammal sites.

Red Squirrels always go down well with our clients, and the one we watched feeding was no exception.  A juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker was equally obliging and we watched it for a while before moving on to our favourite site for Badger watching.  Probably the biggest Badger we’ve seen so far trotted across the hillside opposite us and a much smaller animal (maybe a young cub) made it’s way through the undergrowth just over the stream from our position.  As darkness approached we found ourselves on a hilltop with a Tawny Owl calling ‘ke-wick’ from the woodland below us.  After whistling at waders during the afternoon I imitated the quavering hoot of a male Tawny Owl and waited.  The bird called from closer.  I called again, and it came closer still.  Eventually it flew up into a bare tree, silhouetted against the final glow of daylight in the sky, only 20m away from us.  I switched to copying the bird’s ‘ke-wick’ call and it turned to face us directly, ready to challenge this impertinent intruder.  I remained silent, not provoking any further response, and the bird flew to a nearby tree, screeching defiantly as we made our way back down the hillside.  Common Pipistrelles and Daubenton’s Bats were picked up on the bat detector and seen as they flitted back and forth.  The final wildlife of the evening though was close to the cottage at Brinkburn, and was another piece of Northumberland magic; a doe Roe Deer and her fawn ran along the road in front of us.

As Autumn approaches evening safaris mean finishing at a quite amenable hour, so give us a call on 01670 827465 to find out how you can share in these memorable experiences with us.

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British Birdwatching Fair 2010

by on Aug.25, 2010, under Birdwatching, Family and friends, North Pennines, North Sea, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast

We’ve been away for a few days, as part of the Birdwatching Northumberland consortium at the British Birdwatching Fair 2010.

Thursday started very early for Martin, with a North Pennines Prestige Tour for clients who were staying at Wallfoot in Carlisle.  Managing to avoid the worst of the weather, avian highlights included Merlin, Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Red Grouse, Black Grouse, Whinchat and Wheatear.  The long drive down the M6 didn’t, unfortunately, miss the heavy rain.  However, a late arrival at the White Lion in Whissendine, and a few beers in the bar with such luminaries as Ipin set Martin up nicely for an early start on Friday.

Sarah was at work (in her ‘proper’ job) so, apart from attending a couple of lectures, Martin was on the Birdwatching Northumberland stand for all of the first day.

Saturday we planned to work ‘split’ shifts, but with Martin again spending most of his time on the stand; apart from another couple of lectures and one or two chats with clients, colleagues, suppliers, competitors and collaborators (both old and new).

Another excellent curry at the White Lion, and a ‘few’ beers, on Sataurday night was followed by the dawning of the final day of Bird Fair 2010.  One of us was a bit ‘under the weather’ but perked up in time to give his talk ‘The North Sea – a new birding frontier’ at 3.30pm.  What could have been a bit of a graveyard shift managed to generate a lot of interest, with 134 bird fair attendees making their way to the lecture marquee to enjoy a brief history of the Northumberland pelagics.  There were a few questions at the end of the lecture, then Martin was stopped and asked some more, for the next 10 minutes, as he headed back to the stand – where other people who had been in the lecture were waiting to ask more questions.

After three days at the Bird Fair we’d made a lot of new contacts, renewed some old acquaintances and we’ll shortly be entering exciting partnerships with some big names in the birding world.  Just a few very busy weeks to come first…

A final night in the midlands was followed by the journey north on Monday, and then a Prestige Tour yesterday.  Beginning with  an actively feeding Dipper was a good start then, with a particular request for wading birds, it was good to strike a rich vein on the coast; Green and Common Sandpipers, Greenshank, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Curlew, Whimbrel, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Dunlin and Ruff.  What seemed to go down better than all of the other birds though were the always impressive Grey Herons.

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