Tag: Yellow Wagtail


by on Jun.03, 2013, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast

There are times when we’re out with clients and encounter a species that’s really unexpected, other times a bird or animal will do something really impressive and sometimes, just sometimes, it’s the often overlooked ‘little brown jobs’ that are the stars of the show.

I collected Stephen from home in North Shields and headed north to collect Gordon and Mandy, and Susan for her second day out with me.  In weather that didn’t seem sure what it was going to do, we were soon watching a stunning Yellow Wagtail.  As House Martins, Sand Martins, Swallows and Swifts hawked insects just over our heads a singing Sedge Warbler was located at the top of a dead tree, and one of his near neighbours was busy answering the challenge laid down.  For over an hour everything we watched was accompanied by the frenetic warbling of this little bundle of energy; first he perched half way up a reedbed, then hopped higher to take a position on reeds that were so thin they swayed under his weight before beginning a series of song-flights, culminating in a dive into deep cover…then he started the whole process again.  Often we see Sedge Warblers as they flit from one reedbed to another, but this bird was going flat out – either trying to attract a mate, or warning his neighbours that the reedbed and its immediate surroundings was his domain.  Little Grebes, Coots, Moorhens, Mallards, Tufted Ducks and Greylag Geese were all staring nervously at one edge of the reeds, but the cause of their concern didn’t reveal itself.

Down the coast in Druridge Bay there was a good assortment of Little Gulls, deftly dip-feeding and taking insects from the water’s surface, a Great Crested Grebe sailed serenely by, Tree Sparrows were picking insects from the shoreline vegetation and Fulmars were soaring effortlessly along the cliff edges.

Just an excellent day birdwatching with lovely clients for company 🙂

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by on May.19, 2013, under Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast

After the snow of last Monday, Tuesday brought two mini-safaris.  The first was a recce trip for a TV production company, assisting with checking out potential filming locations on the Northumberland coast.  The weather was glorious; beautiful blue sky, fluffy white clouds and a gentle breeze.  The peace and tranquility captured what Northumberland is all about – somewhere that you can relax and simply enjoy the countryside around you.

The second trip of the day began as I collected Neil and Ann from The Swan, and we headed out on a journey along the coast.  Avocets were sitting on nests, Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers and Reed Buntings were all singing and an incredibly bright Yellow Wagtail walked along the water’s edge.  With a bit of persistence we located a Grasshopper Warbler singing from a reedbed, body quivering as it delivered it’s ‘reeling’ song with it’s head turning slowly from side-to-side.  As we continued northwards we came across the first of three Barn Owls for the evening.  As dusk approached Roe Deer came out of hiding, a Red Fox ran across directly in front of us carrying prey, Common Pipistrelles flitted backwards and forwards against the darkening sky and the assembled ducks, geese and swans started acting very nervously.  I’d checked that site with Sarah two days earlier and watched a very obliging Otter as it fed.  Today though it remained hidden in the reeds, almost certainly the cause of panic amongst the wildfowl…

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Promising conditions?

by on May.12, 2013, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, North Sea, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast, Southeast Northumberland

‘Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep…beep, beep, beep.  Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep…beep, beep, beep’, the mega-alert on my pager wasn’t entirely unexpected…

I’d collected Charlie and Edna from Holy Island for a day of birdwatching, from Druridge Bay and southeast Northumberland north along the Northumberland coast and eventually back to Lindisfarne.  Eponymously disyllabic Chiffchaffs, the descending silvery cadence of Willow Warblers and the mechanical reeling of Grasshopper Warblers accompanied our woodland walk as the first heavy drops of rain precipitated the donning of waterproof jackets.  As we sat eating lunch, overlooking the North Sea, the strengthening wind, heavy rain and decreasing visibility might not have filled everyone’s heart with joy.  I’m not everyone though, and I described the potential of early May, southeasterly winds, poor weather and the Northumberland coast to Charlie and Edna 🙂  As it began to clear we continued our journey and enjoyed excellent close views of Sedge Warblers and Reed Buntings singing and at least six Avocets.  A stunningly yellow Yellow Wagtail was sharing a field with an equally stunning male Whinchat.  Another heavy shower accompanied murky misty conditions…then came the piercing shrill of the pager as we drove through Embleton on our northward journey.

Just a few minutes later we were at Low Newton, enjoying good views of yet another excellent find by the Beadnell Stringer 🙂

Collared Flycatcher,Northumberland,bird photography tuition,bird photography holidays

Collared Flycatcher [Ficedula albicollis], Low Newton, Northumberland, 09/05/2013

Collared Flycatcher,Northumberland,bird photography tuition,bird photography holidays

Collared Flycatcher [Ficedula albicollis], Low Newton, Northumberland, 09/05/2013

Collared Flycatcher,Northumberland,bird photography tuition,bird photography holidays

Collared Flycatcher [Ficedula albicollis], Low Newton, Northumberland, 09/05/2013

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Creatures of the night

by on May.02, 2013, under Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland

Even after 40+ years of wildlife-watching, there are still (in fact, quite often) occasions when I see something that’s really quite special.

After an afternoon around Druridge Bay and Southeast Northumberland with Michael and Wendy, we were heading for one of NEWT’s favourite spots along the River Wansbeck.  The afternoon had produced some excellent birdwatching, with four Yellow Wagtails, including one bird that was almost canary yellow, a White Wagtail, four Avocets, a female Marsh Harrier, and a Peregrine hunting pigeons.  As we passed Ellington a Barn Owl flew low across the road from our right, narrowly missing the oncoming traffic and quickly gained elevation above our side of the road with what appeared to be a look of surprise on it’s face 🙂

Surprise of the day came as we walked along the Wansbeck.  In still quite good light, a Daubenton’s Bat was hawking low over the water.  It’s a species we’ve encountered frequently on our trips, but never in such good light that we could really appreciate the beautiful red-brown of it’s upperparts and the white underside.  As darkness fell, and we headed back to our starting point, another red-brown mammal finished the day for us, as a Red Fox trotted across the road.

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Feels autumnal

by on Aug.28, 2012, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Otter, Southeast Northumberland, Wildlife

As I drove through the rolling hills of rural Northumberland to the west of Morpeth, the weather was looking superb; blue sky, sunshine, a nice breeze.  I collected Mark and Nicola and we headed back towards the coastal plain, for an afternoon of birdwatching around Druridge Bay and southeast Northumberland.

The conditions looked good for raptors, and it wasn’t too long before we had our first Common Buzzards of the afternoon.  Then another raptor appeared, soaring just overhead.  With long, thin wings, and a long narrow tail, it didn’t look like another buzzard, but it had the sun behind it so was a difficult to view silhouette.  Eventually it moved away to the north and, as it engaged in some mid-air sparring with one of the buzzards, its identity was revealed; juvenile Marsh Harrier.  As the two protagonists drifted further north, the orange crown of the harrier flashed in the sunlight as the bird soared in circles, contrasting with the rich dark chocolate brown of the rest of its plumage.

Reaching the coast, we stopped off at Newbiggin to look for Mediterranean Gulls and it didn’t take too long before we spotted our first as it flew across from the southern end of the bay and landed on the beach right in front of us.  More followed, including a juvenile bird, and Nicola soon commented that, regardless of any plumage differences, the structure of the birds was noticeably different to the nearby Black-headed Gulls.  Leaving the Meds behind we began our journey along the coastal road through Druridge Bay.  A quick check of the Bewick Drift Flash produced 9 Ruff, 10 Dunlin and a Curlew Sandpiper and we spent a little while comparing the differences between the two sandpipers as well as having a very close view of just how different male and female Ruff are in terms of size.

Our picnic stop, overlooking the North Sea, produced a beach filled with Ringed Plovers, and a lone Sanderling, as well as soaring Fulmars and rafts of Eiders, bobbing in the gentle swell far below us.  It was starting to turn colder, breezier, and the first drops of rain started to fall.  Cresswell Pond was very productive, as it has been for a few weeks now, but a few species really stood out;  a Spoonbill, which had been at East Chevington during the afternoon, flew in and made its way right round the edge of the pond, sweeping that extraordinary bill from side to side in search of food, Yellow Wagtails arrived to roost and sat along the base of the reeds, where they provoked a very aggressive response from the Common Snipe that were feeding there and a Barn Owl came out following a heavy shower and caught a vole in the dunes away to the north before carrying it within a few metres of where we were sitting.

The finale to the trip came beside a fast flowing river, downstream was dark, inky blackness, but upstream the water was lit by the eerie glow from a nearby town.  Daubenton’s Bats were trawling the water surface, their presence betrayed by the expanding circles where they’d gaffed prey at the surface.  Then, a ripple too big to be from a bat; and an Otter surfaced for a few moments before disappearing into the dark.

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Three days in early June

by on Jun.08, 2012, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Otter, Southeast Northumberland

We started June with three trips in the first four days of the month, all focused around our ‘local patch’; Druridge Bay and southeast Northumberland.

On Friday morning I collected Gary and Claire from their holiday base in Proctor Steads, and we headed down the coast.  Even though we’ve lived close to Druridge Bay for nearly 12 years, the wildlife of this post-industrial landscape is still as special as it always was.  Whether it’s Tree Sparrows feeding young, ghostly pale Roseate Terns on their nest boxes on Coquet Island, a Cuckoo flying low over a coastal reedbed, dense flocks of hirundines and Swifts hawking insects low over a lake, Reed and Sedge Warblers singing from adjacent reedbeds allowing easy comparison of their song, Fulmars soaring along a cliff edge within a few metres of us as we eat our lunch or Blue-tailed Damselflies drifting along footpaths and tracks before settling on the grasses and apparently vanishing, there’s always something going on, always something to watch and the day always seems to end too soon.

Saturday was an afternoon/evening Otter Safari and I collected Lesley and Kevin from Church Point before heading north.  After an afternoon spent birdwatching, with my own personal highlight being a very yellow Yellow Wagtail, and searching for Otters, we settled into position for an evening session at one of our favourite ponds.  As a pair of Roe Deer grazed poolside vegetation, looking resplendent in the sublime light from a sunset that looked like a fire burning on the horizon, and a Long-eared Owl drifted back and forth over the reedbeds, our quarry made his appearance.  Gliding menacingly through the water, the Otter managed to sneak up on 2 Mallards, who noticed him when he was just a few feet away and took flight.  Exploring the rest of the pool he was pursued by an ever-expanding flock of Black-headed Gulls before finally vanishing into the sanctuary of the reeds.

Our third excursion around Druridge Bay was a Prestige Tour for Pete and Rachel.  Sedge and Willow Warblers and Reed Buntings all sang from obligingly open locations, although Reed Warblers remained hidden deep in reedbeds, a Roe Deer put in an uncharacteristic daytime appearance and a Mute Swan had a remarkable hissy fit.  The cause of his slightly embarrasing temper tantrum couldn’t be seen, but as he kept charging at a reedbed it seemed likely that a predator he saw as a threat to his cygnets was lurking out of our sight, but not his.  Later in the day an even more impressive display of annoyance was demonstrated by two cock Pheasants as they spent a good 20 minutes posturing and fighting.  Our clients frequently comment about how relaxing a day out with us is…and those Pheasants could really have done with chilling out too 🙂

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