A Golden Glow

by on Nov.03, 2009, under Uncategorized

Yesterday was a long birdwatching day on the southeast Northumberland coast. I drove across to Haltwhistle to collect Judith and Doug, and was impressed by the big flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare around their farm. Once on the coast we found a flock of Dark-bellied Brent Geese bathing in a pond newly-created by Sunday’s rain, watched a swarm of Goldfinches and Twite flying around the dunes and then enjoyed groups of Wigeon, Teal and Mallard as they drifted about on the pond. We were just about to move on when I noticed the Cormorants getting agitated and they all quickly departed. “Let’s give this another minute or two” was the right strategy as two otters appeared in the centre of the pool. One eventually swam by just a few metres from where we were sitting, allowing everyone to take in the graceful, sinuous twisting and turning as they hunted for fish.

Next was a journey along a stretch of the River Coquet. More Cormorants were busy decimating the fish population and one suddenly panicked and bolted across the river. There was a swirling pattern on the water, and something beneath the surface was leaving a very noticeable swim-line. Then it surfaced; a Grey Seal, away from it’s usual open water habitat. All the while this was happening we were all entranced by a young Peregrine as it persistently dived towards a bush full of Rooks. Every time it flushed them it separated one off from the flock and chased it, although never making a serious attempt to terminate the chase with a kill. Eventually it departed and the corvids settled into the riverside bushes, free from molestation.

Our final site for the day would, hopefully, produce some interesting birds going to roost. A family party of Whooper Swans flew in and a small group of Pintail were amongst all of the other wildfowl. Starlings arrived in big groups and swirled around overhead. Two Long-eared Owls were a real bonus; sitting on fence posts and staring straight at us with those piercing orange eyes. The grasses and the reeds around the edge of the pond were all lit by a sublime golden pink/orange glow and the moonrise above the dunes was simply stunning as a skein of Pink-footed Geese flew south.

Finally, I returned two very happy clients to Haltwhistle, where the monnlit night was filled with the calls of Redwing – a sound that epitomises the autumn.


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