I’ve spent the last few days in glorious sunshine in Northumberland, staying in Beadnell and having trips to Seahouses, the Farne Islands, Bamburgh and Low-Newton-by-the-Sea. Lots of birds were seen! As I visited most sites more than once, the visits merge into one a bit, so I’ll do this blog post site-by-site rather than chronologically.
We stayed in a B&B a fifteen minute walk from the centre of Beadnell. The B&B itself was a haven for birds, with the grounds and vicinty full of chaffinches, greenfinches, goldfinches, robins, whitethroats, swallows, house and tree sparrows, yellowhammers, rooks, robins and skylarks among others. We also got two visits from a weasel. The B&B’s dining room had a TV in the corner showing live footage from a nestbox camera, where a tree sparrow was sat on her eggs.
Beadnell itself is great, with half being glorious sandy beaches, and the other rocks that were great for picking out waders. Over a few visits I saw a mix of birds including eiders, shelducks, turnstones, oystercatchers, ringed plovers, curlews, cormorants, arctic terns, a little gull, nesting sand martins, wheatears, rock pipits, meadow pipits, skylarks, linnets and stonechats. Most exciting of all, further up the beach is a fenced-off arctic tern colony (pictured above), which also houses a smaller number of little terns. These are quite easy to pick out, as the arctic terns (not themselves the largest birds in the world) absolutely dwarf them!
A grey seal could also be seen bobbing about in the water one morning.
Seahouses is the busying place on the part of the coast we were one, as it’s the gateway to the Farne Islands and attract a lot of tourists. However good stuff can still be found, with eiders, oystercatchers and cormorants among the birds around as we waited for the boat to the Farnes. Whilst waiting I had a go at digiscoping some very obliging eiders.
The Farne Islands
The main desitination of the trip! On the boat out we saw guillemots, gannets, puffins, eiders, cormorants, arctic terns and shags all around us, and as we got to the islands we were met by the breathtaking sight of thousands of guillemots, shags and kittiwakes nesting on the cliffs, and hundreds of grey seals basking on the rocks.
We landed on the islands, and all the above species (with the exception of gannets) could be found nesting, plus a few razorbills and a colony of sandwich terns (common terns also nest in small numbers, but I hadn’t got the time or skill to pick them out of the crowds of arctics!). It was thinner on the ground of puffins than last time we went, as they’re all in their burrows at the moment, but a good few were out and posing well.
Bamburgh has yet another beautiful sandy beach, plus a ridiculously picturesque castle that make it look absolutely amazing. Birdy highlights here included lots of wheatears, linnets, meadow pipits, arctic terns, eiders, oystercatchers, and a large raft of common scoters out to sea.
Last but not least (but sadly somewhere I completely forgot to take any photos) is Low Newton, which essentially has a fantastic beach, a nature reserve and a good pub. What more could you ever need? The nature reserve had lots of singing sedge warblers, plus greylag geese, teal, little grebes, tufted ducks and reed buntings. There were, as everywere, lots of eiders on the sea, along with grey herons, cormorants, oystercatchers, wheatears, stonechats, skylarks and grey partridge also in the area.
So plenty seen and a great time had!