Tag: guided birdwatching

It’s ‘otter in August…

by on Aug.15, 2011, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Otter, Southeast Northumberland

We’re just about at the point where our 3hr evening safaris will be starting before 6pm; early August and the evenings are drawing in already!  Guided birdwatching, and a search for one of our favourite predators, always has an exciting atmosphere when it happens as darkness approaches.

On my way to collect Niki and Haydn from Warkworth, I stopped off for a few minutes beside the River Coquet – corvids and pigeons were swirling in the breeze, giving an autumnal feel to the evening.

With clients safely in our vehicle, we headed down the coast through the post-industrial landscape of Druridge Bay and the (only just) industrial  heartland of southeast Northumberland.  East Chevington was our first stop, producing sightings of 2 very obliging Common Snipe in the roost of Lapwings.  A flock of Curlew heading south were travelling with 2 Whimbrel and a Bar-tailed Godwit and the 2 juvenile Marsh Harriers were much appreciated as they quartered the reedbeds, flushing Mallard, Gadwall and Teal.

We continued our journey through southeast Northumberland and, as the first drops of rain began to pepper the surface of the water, an obvious edginess among a flock of Gadwall heralded the arrival of the star of the show; gliding along, sleek, dark and menacing, the Otter showed well, although briefly, as it headed across the open water and into the reeds opposite.  Then it was time for us to do the same, and depart into the deepening gloom of the evening.

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It’s Sunday, so it must be Lindisfarne

by on Mar.21, 2011, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Holy Island, Lindisfarne, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast

After enjoying an all too brief view of the ‘super Moon’ on Saturday as I drove eastwards across Northumberland on my way home from the North Pennines, we’d got something completely different in the booking diary for Sunday; guided birdwatching on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.  Having Sarah along as an additional guide was a real bonus as well.

Gillian and Roger are existing clients, and this time we’d got other members of the family along as well – Roddy, Lucy and Alec.  We’ve done plenty of family trips with young children, but a request to see “Seals, Lions and Tigers” from a 2-year old was a new experience for us!  We managed one of those three 😉

Black-tailed Godwit (a stunning bird, well on it’s way to breeding plumage), Pale-bellied and Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Oystercatchers, Bar-tailed Godwits, Red-breasted Mergansers and Long-tailed Ducks were all well appreciated.  Gillian picked out a tiny dark dot, high overhead, as a Skylark sang his evocative melody, and Roger spotted a Goldcrest, with a very very gold crest, as we ascended The Heugh.  18 Whooper Swans flew over the island, accompanied by a single Bewick’s Swan.  With that species so scarce in Northumberland during the winter, we wondered if it was the same bird that we first found, a few miles down the coast, in late December.  All too soon, it was time to return the family to the starting point of the tour and make our way down the Northumberland coast, along Druridge Bay and back to the office.

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Pressing the right buttons

by on Mar.21, 2011, under Birdwatching, North Pennines, Northumberland, Photography

Saturday evening saw me in the far southwest of Northumberland, with a potentially tricky assignment…’in 2 hours, show a visiting journalist, and her husband, the best birdwatching in the North Pennines‘.

So, we stealthily approached four of our favourite Black Grouse sites, enjoying unbelievably close views of 9 Blackcocks,  travelled across bleak, exposed, moorland roads, marvelling at the luminosity of the red eyebrows of an almost endless succession of Red Grouse, watched Curlew, Oystercatcher  and Lapwing displaying and gazed, awestruck, at the incredible beauty of breeding-plumaged Golden Plover.  The 2 grouse species were so close that Jo-anne was able to practice her wildlife photography using a small compact camera with a quite limited zoom.  The big open landscapes, and birds perched on tussocks in the heather, lend themselves well to an ‘un-British’ style of wildlife photography; one that I’m planning to work on whenever the time, and opportunity, arises this year.

I’d planned the route to take in a Short-eared Owl breeding site at sunset.  They’ve been a bit thin on the ground (and in the air) at some of their traditional Northumberland wintering sites so it was a long-shot, and meant going beyond the 2 hour time limit although, unsurprisingly, this went down quite well with our guests 🙂  Fortune favours the brave and, after 2 hours of guided birdwatching that, I’m assured, delivered what I’d been asked to, the ghostly shape crossing the moors in the twilight, and the cryptic plumage and staring yellow eyes as the bird perched obligingly on a fence post just metres away from us, was rightly described as  “the icing on the cake”.

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Birdwatching with Bird Watching

by on Sep.24, 2010, under Birdwatching

Following our adventure in the North Sea on Saturday, I had to gather my thoughts, and clean my binoculars and ‘scope,  ready for a full week of guided birdwatching.  I drove north on Sunday to meet up with Sheena Harvey, editor of Bird Watching Magazine, and her husband Alan.  With nearly three days to show them the delights that Northumberland has to offer, in terms of birdwatching holidays, guided birdwatching and birdwatching in general, I was really looking forward to the trip.  It started a bit later than expected due to vehicle and aquarium problems at their end 🙁 but we had a nice meal at the Lindisfarne Inn on Sunday night and discussed the plan for the next few days.

If there was one moment that I thought stood out it was early in the trip, on Monday morning.  As we approached Budle Bay I could see a few geese in the ‘goose fields’.  We stopped to check them and I commented that with the strong northwesterly winds there should be plenty of geese starting to arrive soon.  Then, as if on cue, the skeins started dropping from the skies.  Mainly Pink-footed Geese, but with a good handful of Barnacle Geese along for good measure.  Well over 1000 birds settled into the field in front of us in just over 20 mins.  That was just the start of some very good birding and wildlife watching.  I’m not going to spoil Sheena’s article  by writing a detailed report so, if you want to read about it, you’ll have to buy the January issue (on sale 20th December) 🙂

By mid-afternoon on Wednesday it was time for Sheena and Alan to head back to the deep south of Lincolnshire, after three really enjoyable days for us – and I’m sure for them as well 🙂

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