Another exclusive…or two

by on Apr.18, 2010, under Cheviot Valleys, Kielder

Friday saw us in the Cheviot Valleys, enjoying probably the best weather so far this year, leading another Prestige Tour.  With a client fascinated by geology and botany it was an excellent day out, with the abiding memories being the chuckling of Red Grouse in the Harthope Valley and a yaffling Green Woodpecker at Alwinton, that culminated with a meal at the Angler’s Arms at Weldon Bridge.

Yesterday we had a Kielder Prestige Tour that that had been arranged as a 70th birthday present.  Collecting our clients from Belford we headed southwest.  After a fine drive in the beautiful weather, we reached Bellingham and left the public roads behind for an hour as we journeyed through the forest.  A pair of Red Grouse on a moorland edge provided excellent views, Roe Deer crossed the track in front of us and Common Buzzards flew close by across clearfell areas.  Back in civilisation we stopped for a comfort break and found our first Common Crossbills of the day.  Small groups were flying overhead, giving their distinctive calls, and a few were perched at the top of nearby trees dismantling cones with ease.  Huge numbers of Chaffinches were around the feeding station at Leaplish and, as the day progressed we had excellent views of Siskins, Goldeneye, and an incubating Oystercatcher, as well as one of the Osprey pair that have returned to Kielder this year.

The journey back retraced our route from the morning, with one exception.  The birthday boy suggested a short-cut to Chatton, and that proved to be very fortuitous.  Just before Chatton village, myself and Vic, who were in the front of the Landrover, noticed a large bird in a flooded field.  As we stopped…there was a White Stork!  It’s legs were hidden by the bankside vegetation, so we couldn’t see if it had the most obvious sign of captivity; colour rings on it’s legs.  As it stalked along the bank, flushing a pair of Oystercatchers, those legs were gradually revealed to be bare of any adornment.  Howard managed to take some photos, but the bird was very wary and quickly began to head away from us.  With White Storks, there’s always the taint of ‘escapee from captivity’ but this would be a good time for an overshooting bird returning from it’s wintering quarters in tropical Africa and, regardless of it’s origin, this was one stunning bird.  An unpredictably exciting end to the day out.

White Stork, Chatton, Northumberland 17/04/2010

White Stork, Chatton, Northumberland 17/04/2010

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