Thursday, 20 June 2013

A Northumbrian Odyssey - Part 3 - Here and There

So how can you follow the Farne Islands, well the answer to that will be the next blog after this........
But for now you will have to wait and put up with Tuesday to Friday.

Whilst yesterday was a real birding day (plus a boat trip!) the following days are about getting out and about and around the coast.

The weather didn't look so great for Tuesday so we went National Trusting to Cragside near Rothbury. We did have a major disaster! Once we got there we missed the Car Park that I wanted to use and ended up on a circular drive around the estate (which is huge!) so we decided to stop at a nice scenic spot and have a coffee... This is the disaster bit. My rucksack with the three flasks wasn't there, it was still sitting nice and cosy back in the shack at Seahouses. So we got back in the car legged it around the rest of the drive straight to the Tea Rooms and ordered 2 Americanos!

Anyway enough of that, there are some fantastic walks at Cragside through the pines and so on. There are Red Squirrels there, but this was our third visit and no sign! Birdlife was pretty sparse too! We saw plenty of Finches and Corvids, Robin, Tits and Pied Wagtail, but the highlight was a Grey Wagtail. I haven't told Tina yet but having read a post on the Northumbrian Birding forum (Birds Forum) somebody saw Crossbills there the same time we were there.... ahhhhhh!

Beadnell & Long Nanny Reserve
We decided to leave the car parked up on Wednesday and take a 'little' walk from Seahouses to the Long Nanny National Trust reserve to see the Little Terns, and anything else on the way.

The bad news was the wind was up today and blowing in our faces all the way, especially when walking along the beach at Beadnell Bay. On the way we picked up the usual shoreline birds, Eider, Oystercatcher, nesting Kittiwakes on some of the 'Cliffier' (is that a word?) stretches Shelduck and some large Starling flocks:

On approaching the reserve, you could see a cloud of Terns over the dunes and Beach.

As we got closer the river revealed a host of Arctic Terns and one Little Tern. We stopped for Coffee at this point (yes had the flasks today!) and just watched, picking up some Ringed Plover.  Suitably refreshed we carried on to the Wardens Hut and using their scope managed to find one more Little Tern. Apparently numbers are well down only 15 pairs this year. The aforementioned LT was to far away for a photo, but I took one anyway, for the record!
Yes its on top of the crate! The Little Tern nests have been raised as a spring tide is expected towards the end of the month.

So off to find another perch for lunch and then trek back. We didn't go along the beach this time but cut behind the dunes back to Beadnell and on to Seahouses. Got some interesting Linnet shots on the way:

We stopped for a rest at Beadnell and did a bit of Sea Watching, was surprised to see a Greylag fly past and some Gannetts a distance out. We then walked through the NWT Annstead Dunes Reserve heading back to Seahouses Golf Club before dropping back down to the beach, Plenty of Linnet and Pipit about, then to our surprise a Canada Goose flew by! Back on the beach we saw our first Dunlin of the trip:

So there ends Wednesday.

Hauxley & Cresswell NR
After a lateish start we drove down to Hauxley as we didn't want to do much walking today and fancied the idea of sitting on our backsides a bit.
We have been to Hauxley before and like it, some of the local birders though seem to be put off by all the Geese (Canada & Greylags - There are a lot it has to be said) But at this time of year its a bit of a Gosling fest, which is alright with us.
There was a flotilla of gosling, sailing by!

There is much more to Hauxley than that though, the Wardens were very friendly and there was a good range of other birds with chicks:

The Oystercatcher had a thing going with the female Mallard, every where they went she went too! Very strange.

Other highlights, were the Herons, Tree Sparrow, Willow Warbler, Lapwings, Dunlin, Redshank, Shelduck, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Coal Tit, Pheasant and a Knot:

So after an enjoyable few hours here we missed out Druridge and East Chevington and drove through to one of our favourite spots, Creswell, but what a shock! The water levels were really high and it appears they have lost all the Avocet nests (3), good job we are on the ball at Upton! There was nothing for waders. What a difference to our visit here last year. We did pick up some other ducks for the visit (Wigeon and Pochard) plus some Shelduck with chicks

Craster to Howick
So our last day and another walk, shorter this time. Just from Craster to Howick and back, last time we did this a couple of years ago we saw some Yellowhammer, but our hopes were dashed. We did however pick up a life first, one of those not rare birds that has eluded us a Lesser Whitethroat, so we were well chuffed. Sadly it was hopping about so much the two shots I manged were just a blur! We also picked up some 'common' Whitethroat, which I did get a decent photo of:
The walk also provide a great view of some Sand Martins nesting in a shoreline sandy cliff, we sat and watched for quite a while:

A Kestrel came to watch as well:
On the way back a Linnet showed quite well:

So that's Northumberland until next year, as Arnie would say, "We'll be back!"

What next....
Well the trip wasn't finished, we headed up to Edinburgh for the rest of the weekend to see our daughter with the bonus that she could spoil me for Fathers Day, then drive back Monday. But Fathers day is worth another post to the blog, so read the next one!

More Part 3 Photos


  1. Great reads and images Tom!

    1. Thanks Pam, I enjoyed being there and writing the blog!
      Just need to do the last one now for my Fathers day trip!