(Man-made) Wilderness

by on Apr.06, 2011, under Kielder, Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland

On Saturday I had the pleasure of guiding a visit to Kielder (I still can’t bring myself to write Kielder Water and Forest Park…) for a group of Landscape Architecture students from the University of Michigan.

After collecting the group from Saughy Rigg (which will be the base for our ‘Autumn Colours’ photography holiday and ‘Winter Wonderland’ birdwatching holiday later this year) we headed up the North Tyne valley and began our tour of Kielder at the dam wall.  With a stiff breeze blowing down the valley, we had a walk that would blow away any cobwebs.  As I described the 2 extraordinary achievements that were the planting of the forest and the creation of the reservoir we watched Oystercatchers  and Chaffinches and saw Crossbills and Siskins flying overhead.  Coal Tits and Goldcrests were calling from the trees and the students enjoyed looking at some of the sculptures around the lake.

I devised a route back to Saughy Rigg that took in some open heather moorland, so that the group would have a good idea of what the Kielder area would have been like prior to the planting.  Over that moorland we watched Curlews mobbing a Common Buzzard, and Lapwings were engaging in their apparently chaotic display flight.

After returning the group to Saughy Rigg, I drove eastwards, back towards southeast Northumberland, still birdwatching;  just a few miles from home a flock of 150 Fieldfares were a reminder that winter is only just behind us, contrasting with the Chiffchaff that was singing in our garden.

Our Kielder Safaris this year will again include driving along tracks that are ‘off-limits’ to the public.  With excellent views of Goshawk, Roe Deer and Red Fox along those tracks last year, and a real sense that you’re in a wilderness, it’s a very different wildlife experience.  We’ve got a few spaces left, so give us a call and join us on a Safari through the forest.

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