Tag: Lesser Whitethroat

May magic; Otter Safari 09/05/17

by on May.10, 2017, under Druridge Bay, Southeast Northumberland

After a week away from home, leading a wildlife photography holiday for another company, I was looking forward to getting back to all things NEWT and as I collected Mike and Barbara from Low Newton, ahead of an afternoon and evening around Druridge Bay searching for Otters, I was thinking that the afternoon sunshine was maybe just a bit too bright and hot but that the evening could be good…

Whitethroats, Sedge Warblers and Blackcaps were all singing, and occasionally affording brief glimpses, and a male Bullfinch was equally stunning in the few seconds that he perched at the top of a small tree.  Little Egrets and Grey Herons were hunting in the shallows, Shelduck, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Teal and Gadwall were all feeding and a Lesser Whitethroat was a nice addition to the trip list.  Lapwing were displaying and Avocets were sitting on nests and occasionally getting up to rearrange their precious contents as the Sun headed westwards.

Then the waders took centre stage; a male Ruff, coming into his breeding finery, Black-tailed Godwits (and single Bar-tailed), noisy Curlew and a Whimbrel flew right overhead uttering it’s distinctive call as Lapwings were tumbling and calling and at least 20 Common Snipe took flight.  Male Stonechat, male Reed Bunting and dapper Tree Sparrows, all excellent attractive birds, still paled when compared to at least 7 Yellow Wagtails, including an exquisitely beautiful Channel Wagtail (perhaps should be known as Chanel Wagtail!), which were in a feeding flock with both Pied and White Wagtails.  A real bonus bird came in the form of a Long-eared Owl, hunting masterfully in and around the bushes it passed by just 20m in front of us at one point! A male Marsh Harrier was another great bird for the trip and he engaged in an overly optimistic attempt to chase and catch a Black-headed Gull in flight 😉

As the Sun dropped lower the light was simply sublime and we settled into position at our final site for the evening.  Canada and Greylag Geese were incubating, a Grey Heron took a Mallard duckling and swallowed it whole right in front of us as the agitated parents called in vain before returning to protect their one remaining offspring.  A small group of Black-headed Gulls caught my attention, circling persistently as Swallows, Sand Martins, House Martins and Swifts swirled around and feasted on the bounteous hatch of flying insects that the warm weather had brought.  There, directly beneath the gulls was an Otter 🙂  We watched it’s progress along the shadowy water near the reeds and a couple of times it got out and bounded along the bankside.  A second Otter was also given away by the bright trail of its wake, as the swifts and hirundines were replaced by the insectivorous night shift of Pipistrelle and Noctule Bats, and by the time we headed back to the car the Moon and Jupiter were both shining brightly in the darkening sky.  Through the ‘scope the quality of seeing was extraordinary; without any atmospheric turbulence Jupiter was a perfect disc, the Galilean moons were pinpoints of light surrounding it and the craters of the Moon were impressive at 60x magnification.

Wonderful wagtails, stunning waders, Otters and astronomy; that’s a lot of quality packed into one afternoon and evening 🙂

Druridge Bay and Otter Safaris are available all year round, so have a look at our calendar for available dates and get in touch to see what we can do for you.  If there isn’t date that’s good for you, still get in touch – we’re always happy to add additional trips to our calendar!

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Sublime panic

by on Oct.06, 2013, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland

“What do you on days when you’re not working?” is a question I’m frequently asked by clients.  My answer’s always the same “I do this, just without clients 🙂  It’s what I love doing, and what I’ve done since I was very young”

Friday was an ‘office day’ (which translates roughly into ‘day when I really should be working at home…) but, after a few hours of admin tasks, I decided to have a couple of hours on the coast.  As I passed Cooper’s Corner I could see that it was misty towards the coast.  Always promising at this time of the year, so I started to think about where to search.  I’d been in a meeting with Ipin on Thursday afternoon, and neither of us had been convinced that the conditions forecast for Friday would bring anything particularly exciting to the Northumberland coast…

“Druridge bushes or Hadston links? Druridge bushes or Hadston links?”  I settled on Druridge and began slowly working around the edge of the bushes.  A flock of Reed Buntings and Goldfinches seemed to be spending most of their time tucked away in the back of a clump of Blackthorn so I made my way around the back of that clump.  The birds were feeding happily with me standing just a few metres away from them and then a Lesser Whitethroat put in a brief appearance.  I texted Ipin, knowing that had booked the day off work and would be somewhere close by, and waited for the bird to reappear.  Another bird flitted up to the top of the blackthorn with it’s back to me.  Looking quite grey, I thought it was the Lesser Whitethroat again, until it turned round…and I found myself looking at the white sub-moustachial stripes and orangy pink breast of a male Subalpine Warbler 🙂 I’d forgotten to charge my mobile, and the battery symbol had turned red, but getting the news out was a priority.  I ‘phoned Ipin, but his mobile went straight to voicemail (it turned out I’m not the only one who’d forgotten to charge their ‘phone…), Alan Tilmouth and Andy McLevy, before finally managing to get through to Ipin, who was only a couple of hundred metres away and covered the distance like Usain Bolt would cover it – if he was desperate for a patch tick too 😉

When Alan and Andy arrived just ahead of other local birders, the bird was proving elusive and I volunteered to check the back of the blackthorn (reasoning that if the bird was there and flicked across to the other side then everyone else would see it).  Sure enough it was back where I’d first found it, but continued feeding contentedly as I used the last drop of power left in my ‘phone to let Alan know exactly where the bird was in relation to the Reed Bunting that had helpfully perched at the top of the bush.

The damp misty conditions weren’t good for photography, so the promising forecast for Saturday morning had me planning for a couple of hours at Druridge before heading to Snab Point for a seawatching session as part of the Druridge Bay Big Wildlife Count.  In excellent light the bird showed well, although was very mobile, and I managed to get a few shots of this little gem 🙂

Subalpine Warbler,Sylvia cantillans,Druridge Pools,Northumberland,guided birdwatching,bird photography tuition,bird photography holidays

Subalpine Warbler,Sylvia cantillans,Druridge Pools,Northumberland,guided birdwatching,bird photography tuition,bird photography holidays

Subalpine Warbler,Sylvia cantillans,Druridge Pools,Northumberland,guided birdwatching,bird photography tuition,bird photography holidays

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