Tag: Greenshank

Interpreting; Otter Safari 16/09/2015

by on Sep.23, 2015, under Druridge Bay, Otter

I’ve been finding and observing wildlife for well over 40 years, and if there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that other wildlife will (almost) always be better at it than I am…

Day four for Clare and Peter was an Otter Safari, and we collected Chris and Mel, and David and Mike, from Church Point before starting our search of Druridge Bay and southeast Northumberland.  I planned to follow our usual strategy at our first site, which is to move on if we haven’t found an Otter within the first hour.  55 minutes in and it wasn’t looking good; everybody else was watching an assortment of waders and wildfowl, and I was staring intently at an almost birdless stretch of water.  Then some movement; a flock of Tufted Duck drifted away from the bankside vegetation where they’d been dozing.  They turned, stared towards where they’d been disturbed from and then drifted back.  Another minute and they left again, this time in a tight flotilla.  By now I was confident that we were going to find our quarry in the first 90 minutes of the trip.  Sure enough, an Otter soon surfaced a few metres away from the ducks and we watched it feeding for 45 minutes before we lost it from view behind bankside vegetation 🙂

The rest of the afternoon was a tableaux of angry birds.  First a Greenshank took a vigorously intolerant approach towards a juvenile Ruff in a ‘scope filling squabble. As daylight faded into the magical light of dusk and a Common Snipe, glorious in low golden sunlight, gave uncharacteristically obliging views close to male and female Ruff and a healthy sprinkling of Little Grebe, the Grey Heron took centre stage.  Gangly, scruffy, ungainly juvenile Herons, tussling over the best feeding spots, ventured from the reed edge as light levels rendered them elegant; stalking the shallows, squawking and croaking in flight, each maintaining their own individual feeding territory as detail faded to silhouette and a flock of Curlew, heralding their arrival with piercing cries, circled before thinking better of it and vanishing into the gloom.

1 Comment :, , , , , , more...

Searching; Lindisfarne Safari 14/09/2015

by on Sep.22, 2015, under Lindisfarne

When we’re heading to the coast, and a generally easterly wind is accompanied by mist and drizzle, my pulse starts racing…

I collected Clare and Peter from The Swan and we headed north to collect Phil and Susan from the Lindisfarne Hotel.  Holy Island can be a migrant hotspot, and the number of Song Thrushes suggested that there had been a recent arrival.  Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Robin, Dunnock, Linnet and Blackbird were all in the Vicar’s Garden, along with Pied and Spotted Flycatchers that were so busy being intolerant of each other that they weren’t doing too much flycatching.  Walking along the lonnens produced Reed Bunting, Dunnock, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch and more Robins then we settled into position to scan the mudflats.  Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Ruff, Dunlin, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit scoured the oozing mud and silvery creeks as the mournful wailing of Grey Seal carried on the breeze and Brent Geese, Wigeon and Teal shifted position as the rising tide disturbed them from the water’s edge.

In the shadow of Bamburgh Castle, as the weather deteriorated, Knot, Turnstone and Purple Sandpiper were picking their way through piles of seaweed as Eider rode effortlessly over the waves just beyond them and the heavy drizzle brought an end to our day.

Comments Off on Searching; Lindisfarne Safari 14/09/2015 :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

Autumn passage; Northumberland Coast Bespoke Birdwatching 01/09/2015

by on Sep.03, 2015, under Druridge Bay

The start of the month brought returning clients, David and Mary who were out with us in 2009 and 2012 and who we see at the Bird Fair each August.

Starting at Newbiggin we set out south down the coast and soon found ourselves standing on a track with nine Blackbirds ahead of us, along with Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Linnets and House SparrowsLittle Grebes slept and dived as young Grey Herons stalked along the water’s edge and demonstrated just how inelegant they are in flight – and especially in landing 🙂  A lunchtime stop overlooking the North Sea produced rafts of Eider, Fulmars arcing effortlessly over the waves and a Harbour Porpoise feeding just offshore as Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Turnstone explored the shoreline.  The afternoon was dominated by waders; Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Lapwing, Ruff, Curlew, Common Sandpiper, Dunlin. Greenshank, Oystercatchers arriving for their high-tide roost stunning in beautiful light against a dark brooding sky and Common Snipe demonstrating their exceptional camouflage in amongst clumps of rush.  Stonechats flicked their tails nervously from precarious perches on barbed wire and Goldfinches, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs swarmed in rank vegetation and nearby trees.

See you at the Bird Fair next year 🙂

Comments Off on Autumn passage; Northumberland Coast Bespoke Birdwatching 01/09/2015 :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

Sealed; Bespoke North Northumberland Coast Safari 22/08/2014

by on Aug.25, 2014, under Bamburgh Castle, Birdwatching, Farne Islands, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast

After some poor sea conditions recently, things looked more promising for Friday’s trip; a seal cruise around the Farne Islands, followed by a few hours of birdwatching along the North Northumberland coast.  A change is as good as a rest, and the North Northumberland coast is quite a change from the sand dunes and coastal pools of Druridge Bay 🙂

I collected Anne-Marie, Dave, Melanie and Mike from the Queen’s Head in Berwick and we drove to Seahouses for our sailing on Glad Tidings V, which thankfully was fairly smooth, and featured plenty of wildlife.  Gannets were soaring by, Kittiwakes were still on their cliff-edge nest sites in good numbers as Fulmars arced over them, Grey Seals were hauled out on rocks and bobbing around in the water, two Common Guillemots were still sitting on the rocks, Cormorants and Shags were drying their wings in the stiff breeze, Sandwich Terns called as they flew back to the islands and, unexpectedly, five Puffins were seen with beakfuls of fish.  Photographing Puffins in flight can be a challenge on land, with lots of birds to choose from, and a bird appearing unexpectedly at sea is an even harder proposition but Anne-Marie and Melanie responded with lightning fast reflexes to capture these late breeding birds.

Back on dry land we had our lunch in the impressive shadow of Bamburgh Castle, as Eiders bobbed around just beyond the breaking surf, and then we explored the coast as the tide fell.  Little Egrets have become a frequent feature of our coastal trips, and two birds flew by at quite close range.  Dozens of Grey Seals could be seen ‘bottling’ at high tide and then, as the water receded, exposing patches of mud, we started encountering waders.  Redshank, Ringed Plover, Curlew, Lapwing, Dunlin  and Oystercatcher were joined by Knot, Ruff and Greenshank as more Little Egrets, and a flock of Teal, flew by.

Heading back to Berwick we could see poor weather to the north and to the east, and I got caught in some heavy rain as I drove south on the way home, but we’d had a day where the only water that landed on us was the spray from the bow of the boat 🙂

Comments Off on Sealed; Bespoke North Northumberland Coast Safari 22/08/2014 :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

The magic of dusk; Otter Safari 20/08/2014

by on Aug.25, 2014, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland

After four consecutive successful Otter Safaris since mid-July, I was fairly sure that dusk would be the best time to search for them, and the afternoon could be spent enjoying some excellent birdwatching with the added possibility of stumbling across an Otter in broad daylight…

I arrived in Craster to collect Dave and Naomi and we headed south towards Druridge Bay.  We started with Grey Wagtails bobbing up and down on mid-stream rocks, as Salmon hungrily seized flies from the water’s surface, and then moved on to large roosting flocks of Sandwich Tern, Black-headed Gull, Curlew, Oystercatcher and Lapwing with two Little Egrets standing sentinel-like on an elevated bank above the roost.  Knot, Dunlin, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Common Snipe and Black-tailed Godwit added to the wader haul for the afternoon and real surprise came in the shape of a Kingfisher over Cresswell Pond.  Ghostly white Mediterranean Gulls drifted over Newbiggin and, as dusk approached, Naomi started spotting mammals.  First a Roebuck, prancing, leaping and sparring with tall plant stems like a boxer with a punchbag.  Then, the big one; an Otter 🙂  Swimming towards us, we followed it’s dives by the trail of bubbles on the water’s surface, before  it eventually disappeared below the edge of the reedbed that we were looking over, with just the tell-tale ‘ring of bright water’ as it surfaced.  After a few minutes without any sign, the Otter, or a second one, reappeared.  As we each gave directions to where the Otter was, it quickly became apparent that we weren’t all watching the same animal.  Then there were two together to our left, and a third away to our right 🙂  At least three Otters, including the smallest cub that I’ve ever seen, and we eventually left, when the light levels had fallen so low that binoculars were all but a hindrance.  As we walked back to the car a Barn Owl passed by, carrying prey, as skeins of Canada and Greylag Geese flew noisily south.

Comments Off on The magic of dusk; Otter Safari 20/08/2014 :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

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 🙂

2 Comments :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

The enchanting isle; Lindisfarne Safari 29/11/2013

by on Dec.03, 2013, under Bamburgh Castle, Birdwatching, Holy Island, Northumberland

After a planned 5 week break to recover from surgery I headed to Bamburgh, to collect Laura and Richard for a mini-Safari around Lindisfarne, brimming over with enthusiasm to be back and doing what I love.

Starting in the shadow of Bamburgh Castle, we watched Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone, Redshank and Oystercatcher as they flew from wave-blasted rock to wave-blasted rock with Eiders appearing and disappearing in the swell just beyond them.  A flock of Twite rose briefly from the weedy fields and, sitting on a ridge in adjacent field was the largest Peregrine that I’ve ever seen.  As we neared Holy Island a flock of Pale-bellied Brent Geese were making their way along the shoreline and Grey Plover, Ringed Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit were exploring the recently uncovered mud as a Greenshank slept with it’s head tucked between its wings.  We were using two cars, as Laura and Richard thought it would make more sense then transferring their three dogs to my car.  As we headed across the causeway a Merlin chased a flock of Snow Buntings, but they were up and over the dunes before the second car reached them 🙁

As daylight faded we enjoyed excellent ‘scope views of a crescent Venus in the western sky, and then I was on my way back down the coast to get ready for a full day trip on Saturday 🙂

Comments Off on The enchanting isle; Lindisfarne Safari 29/11/2013 :, , , , , , , , , , more...

Wild Geese and small predators; Druridge Bay 20/09/2013

by on Sep.23, 2013, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland

After a damp morning around Druridge Bay on Thursday, Friday looked much more promising.  I collected Simeon and Kathy from their holiday accommodation in Warkworth and we set off down the coast for an afternoon around Druridge Bay and southeast Northumberland.  Late summer/early autumn trips often feature plenty of waders and wildfowl and this was no exception.  Common Snipe were playing ‘hard-to-spot’ as they slept in sparse clumps of reed, Dunlin, Ruff, Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Lapwing and Golden Plover were all either roosting or sticking their beaks into the mud and a lone Greenshank was sitting on the periphery of a big flock of Lapwing.  On slow deep wingbeats a Sparrowhawk flew low across the water towards us, pulling sharply up and over us at the last minute.  Over a coastal reedbed a juvenile Marsh Harrier drifted lazily along, swooping down towards the water and scattering the Mallard and Teal that had been dozing contentedly there.

Mid-afternoon we were treated to the spectacle of the sky filled with skein after skein of geese; mainly Pink-footed, but with small groups of Greylag and Canada interspersed amongst the yapping flocks of one our favourite Icelandic winter visitors.  Our next magic moment came courtesy of a mustelid.  Not the Otter that we were searching for, but instead the beautiful little predator that has featured on so many of our trips in the last few weeks.  For several minutes we watched as a Stoat ran backward and forwards along the water’s edge, perched on rocks, had a good look at a Moorhen and finally bounded away through the poolside vegetation.  Another small predator provided the next wildlife experience.  Lapwing, Golden Plover, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlin, Teal, Mallard, Gadwall and Starling all took to the air; had they spotted an Otter lurking in the reeds?  maybe a Fox?  No, what was coming was the Grim Reaper on tiny pointed wings.  A Merlin was suddenly amongst the scattered birds in the air.  Twisting and turning, the tiny falcon had singled out a Dunlin from the multitude of possible targets in front of it.  The chase was on and could be easily followed by watching the path carved through the tightly bunched Lapwings that had taken to the air in alarm.  As the Dunlin made a final bid for freedom, the Merlin gave up the chase and settled, out of sight, in a hawthorn bush in the dunes.  It didn’t have long to catch it’s breath before it was disturbed by a dog walker and flew into a dune slack away from disturbance.  Simeon’s comment after this life and death chase echoed those of many of our clients previously “it’s gripping, but I was really willing the Dunlin to get away”.

As the evening progressed and the Sun dropped below the western horizon, geese began arriving to roost, bats were flitting back and forth across our field of view and, as the light finally faded to black and we headed back to Warkworth, a Barn Owl flew low over the car.

Comments Off on Wild Geese and small predators; Druridge Bay 20/09/2013 :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

Evening flight; Druridge Bay birdwatching 05/09/2013

by on Sep.11, 2013, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland

Sometimes we see birds that are rare or spectacular, but sometimes the common birds are the ones that are the highlight of the day…

I collected Julia and we set off for the coast, and an afternoon and evening birdwatching around Druridge Bay.  A Merlin passed by on pointed wings, racing across a nearby field and causing panic amongst the birds in the hedgerows.  Eiders and Goosanders were on the River Coquet and we found the first of two Stoats for the day.  Grey Herons and Cormorants were standing statue-like by the edges of pools, and waders included Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits, Curlew, Dunlin, Ruff, Lapwing, Redshank and no less than five Greenshank.

As dusk approached a small murmuration of Starlings quickly dived into the cover of a reedbed and then one of nature’s great spectacles unfolded before us as skein after skein of geese arrived noisily for their evening roost.  Canada and Greylag Geese may not be any peoples favourites, but as the numbers swelled and the noise level rose to a cacophony it was a bewitching sight.  On the edge of the roost two birds caught the eye; not genuinely wild, although nobody seems to be entirely sure where they came from, the two Bar-headed Geese were still worth watching.

Then, on the journey back to Netherton, two mammals were caught in the glare of our headlights.  First a Hedgehog, crossing the road in the middle of Warkworth, managed to avoid being run over then another mammal…nearly a week later, and I’m still not sure what it was, although Polecat/Ferret seems the best option.  Who knows what’s roaming the countryside…

Comments Off on Evening flight; Druridge Bay birdwatching 05/09/2013 :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

Stumbling across a twitch

by on Sep.11, 2013, under Bamburgh Castle, Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast

Late August/early September is an exciting time on the Northumberland coast; wader passage is still ongoing, wintering wildfowl are arriving and you just never know what could turn up…

I collected Andy and Lia from Alnwick and we set off for a day birdwatching on the Northumberland coast from Bamburgh to Druridge BayKnot, Turnstone, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Sanderling and some very elusive Purple Sandpipers started the day for us, as Linnets fluttered around in the long grass, Meadow and Rock Pipits were around the tideline, Gannets were soaring majestically by and Eider and Common Scoter were bobbing around just beyond the surf and a mixed flock of Common and Sandwich Terns were flushed by walkers before settling back on the rocks close to the breaking surf.  Offshore a small flock of birds grabbed my attention, and through the telescope resolved into one of Northumberland’s winter specialities; seven Pale-bellied Brent Geese steadily heading north were our first of the autumn.

Further south, waders were still the main focus of our day;  Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank, Snipe, Whimbrel, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit and Ruff were all pottering about in the water’s edge.  When we arrived at East Chevington to look for the Spotted Crake, there were a few local birders already there.  With an astonishing amount of luck, we’d arrived just as a White-rumped Sandpiper was being watched 🙂  Not the easiest of birds to identify, but as it wandered around a flock of sleeping Teal with Dunlin and Snipe alongside for comparison it stood out quite well.

Another cracking day’s birdwatching, with a proper rarity to add a touch of the unusual 🙂

Comments Off on Stumbling across a twitch :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Archives

All entries, chronologically...