Tag: Wheatear

2 days on Lindisfarne

by on Apr.28, 2011, under Birdwatching, Farne Islands, Holy Island, Northumberland

Well, a day and a half really…

On Sunday I collected Helen from her parent’s house in Swarland and we crossed the causeway onto Holy Island.  A good walk around the island provided excellent views of Wheatears, displaying Lapwings, a cacophony of Grey Seals and a very inquisitive Stoat.  Helen spotted it and, once it ducked out of sight, I enticed it back out by pishing.  Thrift and Bladder Campion were both in bloom and, once we were back on the mainland, we enjoyed a Whitethroat as it song-flighted from tree to tree.

Our final port of call was Stag Rocks.  A scan seemed to reveal little other than a raft of Eiders but there, amongst the black-and-white ‘Cuddy Ducks’ was a smaller dark bird; the vagrant Black Scoter, still there and still applying his transatlantic affections to a female Common Scoter.

Tuesday’s wildlife walk was slightly different.  I met up with Jude and her parents at the Beal Road end car park and we drove across the causeway.  48 hours after our previous Lindisfarne trip, and the Wheatears had moved on.  A recent arrival though, was a Sedge WarblerSkylarks provided a continuous backdrop to our walk and a pair of Roe Deer were bounding through the fields, leaping fences and apparently keeping an eye on us.  4 hours passed quickly and it was time to head home…and get ready for Wednesday’s Kielder Safari.

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North Pennines Beauty

by on Apr.28, 2011, under Birdwatching, North Pennines, Photography

All of the areas we visit with our clients have something special about them, but the North Pennines is often our choice for a day out on our own.  The area is vast, with open landscapes, big skies and narrow valleys, and there’s always a feeling that this is somewhere really special.

A 7am start heralded the first part of the prize (a trip into the North Pennines to photograph Black Grouse) for the under 13 category winner in the Northumberland Wildlife Trust photography competition.  Driving through dense fog all the way to beyond Haydon Bridge didn’t inspire confidence, but visibility at our first stop revealed a flock of Golden Plover, Curlews displaying over the moors and a Brown Hare.  As we headed over a road that I always expect to produce memorable sightings, we weren’t disappointed; Jonathan spotted a bird perched on a dry stone wall, and it turned out to be a Greyhen.  Now, we see lots of Blackcocks on our North Pennines trips, but greyhens much less often.  This one was sitting there with a purpose, as 2 Blackcocks were lekking in an adjacent field.  Strutting, cooing and displaying their undertail coverts they somehow added an even more ethereal note to the sun-bathed moorland surrounded by mist-filled valleys.  The air was drenched with the song of Skylarks, Snipe were calling, Lapwings were doing that thing that they do (I’ve tried to put it into words…but I can’t do it justice!) and a nearby field contained at least 16 Wheatears.  On over the moors, Red Grouse bobbed their heads up and down, watching our progress, and we had the closest views of a Blackcock that I’ve ever had; iridescent and imperious in the morning sunlight.  It may be just about the best place in the world 🙂

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What does my office look like?

by on May.08, 2010, under Birdwatching, Lindisfarne, Northumberland

Occasionally I find myself pondering that question.  On Wednesday I left home early to drive to Seahouses and collect Carolyn and Brian, two clients who we first met last year.  As we headed up the coast through Bamburgh and towards the Lindisfarne NNR for a day of birdwatching, we stopped at each promising area.  Before we reached Holy Island itself we’d already had excellent views of 4 Harbour Porpoises, good views of three Whimbrel (alongside a Curlew for comparison) and a Brown Hare as well as the growing numbers of House Martins and Swifts.  A Sedge Warbler perched helpfully on top of a stunted Hawthorn as he belted out his song, a Whitethroat was elusive before eventually showing off the bright white throat feathers that give it it’s name and a Wheatear hopped along a drystone wall.  On the island we watched a Heron as it preened whilst hidden in a reed bed, listened to another Sedge Warbler and tried to locate a calling Water Rail.  Skylarks and pipits were unobtrusive in a sheep field that also contained at least 6 Wheatears and, once we’d left the island we watched over 1000 Grey Seals as they relaxed in the bright sunshine.

After dropping Carolyn and Brian back in Seahouses, I headed home, packed my bag and drove down the A1, out of Northumberland, to my sister’s house.  04:30 Thursday morning and I was on the road again, this time travelling to King’s Lynn.  Two days of being a student were relaxing and enjoyable, studying the acoustic signals used by cetaceans being my own personal highlight, before the north beckoned.  Finally, just before 10pm yesterday, I arrived back at home, headed to the ‘beer fridge’, sat down to a delicious Chinese meal with Sarah and then collapsed into bed.  With tomorrows “Beginners Birdwatching; Songs and Calls” being close to home we don’t have a really early start so this afternoon is a chance (something that’s going to happen less and less over the next few months) to catch up with e-mails, ‘phone calls and product planning/development.  It’s the great paradox of running your own business; many people choose that option in order to have more free time…but if your business is successful there’s a period, certainly during rapid growth/expansion, when 9 to 5 doesn’t look so bad after all.  Would I go back to that? What do you think? 😉

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