Tag: Magpie

Dragons

by on Oct.17, 2012, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland

Our returning clients theme continued last week, when I collected Elaine and Sue for an Otter Safari, concentrating mainly around Druridge Bay and southeast Northumberland.  We first met between Christmas and New Year 2008 when they joined myself and Sarah on a guided walk on Holy Island.  On that day Elaine photographed this stunning Stonechat

Common Stonechat,bird photography,bird photography tuition,Northumberland

and we also had a brief view of a Jack Snipe as it flushed ahead of us.

Last Wednesday we set off up the coast, stopping to check our favourite Little Owl site.  Elaine spotted the bird, as it was mobbed by no less than six Magpies.  It fixed it’s tormentors with what can only be described as a look of utter contempt and they gradually drifted away.  Cresswell Pond produced a persistently-bobbing Jack Snipe, tucked in amongst the reeds and much more obliging than our 2008 bird on Holy Island, and plenty of Common Snipe like this one, again photographed by Elaine.

Common Snipe,Northumberland,bird photography,bird photography courses,bird photography holidays

Curlew, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Redshank and Oystercatcher were all roosting around pool edges and the change out of eclipse plumage was very noticeable among the ducks, with drake Teal looking particularly good.  As the warm autumn sunshine bathed the landscape around us, the air was suddenly filled with dragonflies and Elaine captured this portrait of a stunning Migrant Hawker.

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There’s something captivating about dragonflies and, as myself and Sue concentrated on scanning reed edges for any indication that an Otter was lurking, Elaine returned to the spot where the dragonfly had been earlier.  Within a matter of minutes the temperature fell slightly and insect activity ceased.I’m not sure we have any finer insect than Migrant Hawker, and you can see from Elaine’s photo what a stunner it is.

As sunset neared and we searched for any sign of our quarry, we watched a Starling murmuration developing as a herd of Whooper Swans flew between distant fields.  Just before it got dark the Whoopers appeared overhead, giving their eerie call and dropping into their overnight roost site.  After a really enjoyable day out, we returned to our starting point and I looked forward (with good reason!) to seeing Elaine’s images from the day, which I’m really happy to be able to post in our blog – thank you Elaine :-).

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In a dark wood

by on Nov.02, 2010, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland

October ended with a Prestige Tour around Druridge Bay and Southeast Northumberland.  I collected Christine and Mark from Stannington and we headed across to the coast.  Flocks of Linnets. Lapwings and Grey Partridges were close to the road and we settled to check one of our regular Otter sites.  All of the assembled Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall and Coot were concentrated in one area of the pool and clearly nervous about one particular corner.  We weren’t fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of any predators, but the behaviour of the waterfowl was typical of the type of indication you get that there’s an Otter about.  Our lunch spot for the day was beside the River Coquet and, along with the Cormorants and Grey Herons that were patrolling the water’s edge, an Atlantic Salmon provided some spectacular entertainment as it launched itself vertically out of the water, three times in rapid succession, just a few metres away from us.

As we walked along the River Wansbeck after lunch, via a detour around the north edge of Ashington to enjoy the spectacle of 90+ Waxwings gorging themselves on Rowan berries, skeins of Pink-footed Geese passed overhead and, as the sun sank towards the horizon, it was time to seek out the wildlife that occupies that magical time of day.  As we settled into position near one of our favourite badger-watching spots there was an incredible commotion from the trees on the other side of the stream.  Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Wrens, Robins and Magpies were all alarming loudly.  The mobbing was too intense, and too stationary, to be the mild alarm that a Red Fox or Badger often triggers and shortly after one Tawny Owl flew through the trees opposite, a second bird finally got fed up with the mobbing and flew from it’s perch.  An unwelcome sighting was a Grey Squirrel, in a woodland that until recently still held Red Squirrels.  Our first Badger of the evening was a big adult, trotting across the top of the clearing.  Then, after a few minutes of near silence, two Badger cubs came crashing through the undergrowth.  They crossed the stream beneath a fallen tree, paused briefly rising on their haunches like stripy black-and-white meerkats, and then headed uphill behind us.  Our fourth Badger of the evening followed the same route before we headed back to the Landrover and civilisation.

I dropped Christine and Mark back at Stannington and there was time for one last piece of magic as a Barn Owl floated lazily from a fence post as I drove back towards the A1.

Throughout the late autumn and winter we’ll be scheduling most of our trips to finish in darkness.  Druridge Bay and Lindisfarne are both excellent locations through the winter, and as darkness descends, so give us a call on 01670 827465 to find out how we can bring that experience to you.

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You couldn’t make it up

by on Jul.25, 2008, under Birds

The National Trust carried out a survey recently, where they discovered that children were more likely to be able to identify a Dalek than a Magpie. Now, I’m not surprised at all by this, after all we’re always being told that the younger generation are tied to the PC/TV/Wii.

What was much more interesting than the survey though was the farce that ensued as it was reported. Sky News online (link) illustrated the findings of the survey with relevant images; unfortunately they had an image of a Magpie-Robin (something we’ll never record on a Northern Experience trip) instead of the good old Magpie that 20% of children in the North-east can’t identify, and a Great Tit instead of the Blue Tit that 25% of children are not able to recognise (they have at least corrected that one on the website).

Not to be outdone, The Independent ran a competition with several images, and 3 options for what each image showed. The options for one image were Tench, Loach and Barbel; this could have been a tricky one, particularly as the image showed a Woodlouse.

A few years ago there was some excitement, at least among people who didn’t realise that the birds were just on passage, when Avocets turned up at Cresswell Pond, between Amble and Newbiggin. The local press duly reported the suggestion that the birds were going to breed there, and illustrated the article with a picture of an American Avocet…

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