Tag: Bloody Cranesbill

Head’s up :-) Bespoke Farne Islands Safari 27/06/19

by on Jul.01, 2019, under Farne Islands

Thursday was a Farne Islands Safari, and after we cancelled Wednesday’s 4hr pelagic due to the rather lumpy sea I was pleased to see that it was nice and calm as I collected Peter and Jan from Newbiggin…

A Kestrel perched obligingly on a telegraph pole as we headed up the coast and our first stop, for Arctic and Little Terns, produced an unexpected Spotted Redshank and a Ringed Plover as well as an extraordinary number of Common Blue butterflies and a good number of Painted Ladies over the incredible carpet of Bloody Cranesbill in the dunes with Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting and Stonechat all along the walk.

After having our picnic on the beach at Beadnell we headed to Seahouses and discovered that parking spaces were in short supply so we parked on the edge of the town and walked down to the harbour where Eiders were on the water with well-grown young, for our sailing on board Glad Tidings. Rafts of Puffins on the water scattered ahead of the boats heading towards the islands as lines of Guillemot, Razorbill and Puffin headed back to their hungry chicks. Gannets soared past as Grey Seals lazed on the rocks, Cormorants and Shags dried their wings in heraldic pose, Fulmars skirted the clifftops, the onomatopoeic cries of Kittiwakes echoed in the rocky gullies and the stiff breeze spared us the ‘experience’ of the unmistakable aroma of a seabird colony 🙂

Landing on Inner Farne we walked along the boardwalk, where the Arctic Terns were less aggressive than just a week earlier, tern chicks were starting to extend and flap their still developing wings, Black-headed Gulls were mobbing Puffins as they tried to get back to their burrows, and the pufflings waiting inside, Common and Sandwich Terns kept themselves to themselves (something we should all be grateful for, particularly in the case of Sandwich Tern!) and I mentioned that halfway along one stretch of boardwalk there would probably be an Arctic Tern that would approach you but not attack, and would adopt your head as perch if you stood still. Sure enough, the tern behaved just as predicted and landed on Jan’s head 🙂

After the short journey back to the mainland we headed back down the coast with a brief stop to admire an Avocet close to the road 🙂

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About tern :-) Farne Islands Safari 20/06/19

by on Jun.21, 2019, under Farne Islands

Yesterday was an opportunity to head to ‘the Galapagos of the North‘ and I collected Ruth D from Newbiggin then Ruth S and Margaret from Seahouses before heading a few miles down the coast for a morning walk to the Long Nanny…

With brilliantly coloured Common Blue butterflies, some very worn Painted Ladies and a Cinnabar moth in the middle of the track, the dunes were a stunning carpet of Bloody Cranesbill, studded with Pyramidal and Northern Marsh Orchids. Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were song-flighting and with the breeze carrying sound out to sea, we were almost at the tern colony before we heard them. Little Terns were sitting quietly on the sand and Arctic Terns were feeding chicks just a few metres away from us. As each adult tern arrived with food, every chick it passed over raised a wide-open beak in hope of being fed 😉

After a picnic lunch on the beach (“winning at life” in the words of Ruth S), it was time to head to Seahouses and board Glad Tidings III for the sailing to Inner Farne. I first did that trip with Sarah while were students at Newcastle Uni in the late 90’s, and there’s still the same sense of wonder as you leave the harbour with it’s creches of Eider and head the short distance to the islands…

First there’s an occasional Guillemot or Puffin sitting on the sea or flying past. Within a few minutes there are rafts of auks on the water and the air is filled with lines of Puffin, Razorbill and Guillemot returning from foraging trips, or heading out to sea, as Kittiwakes shriek their name from precipitous cliff ledges, Gannets soar by effortlessly, Grey Seals laze on the rocks and the smell, the indescribable smell of a colony of seabirds that have an almost entirely fish-based diet, hits you for the first time 😉

Once your visual, auditory and olfactory senses have all been given a good hammering it’s time for the final assault. Sandwich and Common Terns are relatively peaceful, Razorbills, Guillemots, Kittiwakes and Shags are apparently indifferent to humans standing just a few feet way from their nest sites, Black-headed Gulls reserve their menace for kletoparasitism of the island’s Puffins who have become rather adept at flying straight into burrow entrances and the Puffins themselves wander across the boardwalk in front of you or poke their heads out of burrows and have a look at you as you walk past.

Arctic Terns though, they’re a different kettle of fish-eating aggression altogether. Occasionally you’ll get a loud chattering warning, some of them will jab at your hands from fence-post perches if you’re getting too close to the edge of the boardwalk or if you have the temerity to lift a camera to take a photograph of them and some will just decide to perch on your head, giving themselves a ‘king of the castle’ view of their nest. Then there are the ones that relentlessly swoop and peck at your head/hat/ears/sunglasses. Wear a hat and keep moving 🙂

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Bombardment; Bespoke Farne Islands Safari 22/06/17

by on Jun.29, 2017, under Farne Islands

Here at NEWT we love all of the trips that we run; whether we’re searching for Black Grouse and Ring Ouzels in the hills of the North Pennines and the Cheviot Valleys, Otters in the rivers and pools of southeast Northumberland, scarce migrants on Holy Island, Goshawk and Red Squirrel in Kielder or whales, dolphins and seabirds on a pelagic trip out onto the North Sea – the thrill of the chase and the pleasure of spending that time with our clients, who are always really lovely people, makes every day different and a joy.  The trip I haven’t mentioned yet is the one that really should be one everybody’s bucket list…

I collected Malcolm and Carole from Seahouses and we headed south along the coast to visit the Arctic and Little Tern colony.  The weather was a bit drizzly, but Skylark and Meadow Pipit were song-flighting above dense areas of Bloody Cranesbill and by lunchtime we were on the dunes overlooking the Farne Islands, the sea looked calm and the weather was improving 🙂  The journey across to the islands on St Cuthbert II was soon accompanied by Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills, Fulmars, Kittiwakes and Gannets then we were soon across at the inner group and Grey Seals lazing on the rocks and watching our boat.  This far into the breeding season the seabird colony is well-ripened, and a really assault on your sense of smell as the loud cries of Kittiwake and the persistent low grumbling of Guillemots start to overwhelm your hearing as Cormorants watch sentinel-like from nearby islets.  Landing on Inner Farne brought excellent close views of nesting Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill, Shag and Kittiwake, once we’d made it through the barrage of attacks by Arctic Terns as we made our way towards Lighthouse Point.  Common and Sandwich Terns nest a little bit further from the boardwalk than the feisty Arctics and don’t pester visitors, which is a real bonus in the case of Sandwich Tern given the size of their beaks 😉

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Wet and windy; Farne Islands Safari 15/06/17

by on Jun.19, 2017, under Farne Islands

I collected Richard and Chris, Anne and Howard and Paul and Julie from Seahouses and we headed a little way down the coast to visit the Arctic and Little Tern colony before heading back to Seahouses for a trip across to Inner Farne

The dunes were a hive of activity in the warm sunshine; Common Blue butterflies, Yellow Shell, Cinnabar and burnet moths and an impressive display of our county flower, Bloody Cranesbill, before we reached the terns.  After lunch it was time to board Glad Tidings and head towards the ‘Galapagos of the North’.  Eiders were escorting their chicks around the harbour and the first Puffins and Guillemots were sitting on the sea just out of the pier ends.  As we approached the islands, in a strengthening breeze, the number of birds increased dramatically  with lines of Guillemot and Puffin, and the odd Razorbill, streaming back to their nests and hungry chicks.  Gannets soared by and the sound, and smell, of a cliff full of Kittiwakes was an all-out assault on the senses.  Grey Seals were lazing on the rocks and we landed on Inner Farne with it’s remarkably obliging Shags, Guillemots, Puffins and Sandwich, Arctic and Common Terns.

What can we say about the Farne Islands?  If you haven’t already visited them, start making your plans 🙂

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Summer birdwatching

by on Jul.16, 2013, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast, Southeast Northumberland

As I collected Alison and David from The Swan for an afternoon and evening  around Druridge Bay, southeast Northumberland and the Northumberland coast, the weather was continuing in the glorious vein that it had struck a few days previously.

Mid-summer can be a quiet time, other than the obvious hustle and bustle of the Farne Islands, but there’s always something to see.  At the moment wader numbers are starting to build; Lapwing, Curlew, Redshank and Oystercatcher have all come down to the coastal strip from their breeding grounds and Black-tailed Godwits are moving through.  One of the first things we came across was a group of four of these beautiful elegant waders as they rested with a flock of LapwingsLittle Gulls were flycatching and then sleeping and a male Marsh Harrier gave views that were simply breathtaking.  As we headed up the coast, a female Marsh Harrier flew low over the car, being equally as obliging as the male.  Grey Herons were stalking along pool edges, Common Spotted Orchid, Bloody Cranesbill and Harebell added colour to pathside vegetation, hirundines heading to roost formed swirling clouds of dark dots against the greying sky, a Common Frog sprang across the path in front of us and a Barn Owl hunted over rough pasture on silent wings.

The thing that always characterises days out with clients who are passionate about wildlife, and Alison and David have a mouthwatering list of wildlife they’ve seen around the world, is that before you know it, it’s nearly dark, pipistrelles are hawking insects in the last vestiges of daylight and it’s time to head back.

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“I wish I hadn’t asked”

by on Jun.28, 2012, under Druridge Bay, Northumberland

Sunday was something quite different for NEWT, with a guided walk for 14.  We met Linda and her family, who had arrived from all parts of the UK to celebrate several special occasions in one weekend, in Druridge Bay and set out for a walk in rather nice weather.  One or two of the group had to be encouraged to take waterproof jackets with them though…

Skylarks were soaring over the fields, a Reed Bunting  was singing from a nearby hedgerow and a very amiable local, who had worked at East Chevington while it was still a coal mine, stopped to tell us a little of the history of the area.  Perhaps the most unexpected sighting of the morning was a Barn Owl, roosting in a pine tree and staying put as all of the group enjoyed ‘scope views of it.

The question that led one of the ladies to make the comment that forms the title of this blogpost came as we were appreciating the beauty of a group of Common Spotted Orchids, when she asked “why are some ‘Orchids’ and some ‘Orchis’?”.  As Martin explained that the word orchis means testicle, and that’s where the Orchids get their name from, there was a ripple of laughter through the group at the comment “Ooh, I wish I hadn’t asked”.

Just a couple of minutes from the car, at the end of a walk that it was a real pleasure to lead with a group who asked plenty of questions, the first raindrops began to fall and we finished in a ‘refreshing’ summer shower.

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Bird Watching Magazine Reader Holiday Day 2: 08/07/2011

by on Jul.12, 2011, under Bamburgh Castle, Birdwatching, Holy Island, Northumberland

Friday morning dawned dry and bright; again not exactly as predicted by the weather forecast!  After breakfast we headed south to Newton by the Sea, and the tern colony at the Long Nanny estuary.  The walk through the dunes was enlivened by a myriad of Common Blue, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper and Dark Green Fritillaries as well as 2 strikingly attractive moths; Cinnabar and Narrow-bordered Five Spot Burnet, and Harebell, Pyramidal Orchid and Bloody Cranesbill.

After the tern colony, with its ~1000 pairs of Arctic Terns and 40 pairs of Little Terns we headed north through Seahouses and towards Holy Island.  As we passed Budle Bay, Geoff spotted a Little Egret, still a relatively scarce species up here, and we stopped for a while to search the mudflats.  As well as wading birds, we found 3 Goosander.   A further stop before Holy Island provided an ideal picnic spot and the theme of passage waders continued with Golden and Grey Plover, Knot, and Curlew.  A walk around the iconic location of Holy Island produced Grey Seals, Red-breasted Merganser and breathtaking views from The Heugh.  We were scanning the mudflats around the mouth of the South Low when a nearby Oystercatcher began calling in alarm.  The cause of that alarm appeared just a few seconds later and we watched the Peregrine Falcon as it raced low across the mud before perching obligingly.

Against the backdrop of another iconic location, Bamburgh Castle, we scanned the Eider flock just offshore.  A lone drake Common Scoter was proving difficult to pin down, but the arrival of a flock of 60 scoters allowed everyone to enjoy good views and appreciate the variation in the bill pattern of the drakes.  Just before returning to Seahouses, we stopped to scan Monk’s House Pool; a Pintail was picked out by Roy, and 2 Common Sandpipers were walking along the edge of the pond.  8 Golden Plover flew by and a male Stonechat perched close by on a fence post.

An after-dinner excursion produced 2 Brown Hares, a Roe Deer and her fawn in the gloom, and the first rain of the trip…

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