Sorry I’ve not updated this week, I’ve been really busy and not made it out anywhere of note! I made up for it considerably this weekend, with a great trip to Northumberland.
We started the trip with a bit of a blustery walk round Bamburgh, where there were a good few eiders around, and a raft of common scoter in the sea. A few Arctic terns were around, and we spotted a couple of fulmar nesting on Bamburgh Castle. A subsequent trip to Beadnell was very windy indeed, meaning I didn’t manage any little terns (or was I too early?), although I did manage my first house martins of the year.
The next day we were greeted to a much sunnier and calmer day, which meant we had great weather for our planned trip to the Farne Islands. A pilgrimage we make most years, it’s one of my favourite places – one of the greatest wildlife spectacles the UK has to offer.
The boat trip out was great, with thousands of kittiwakes, guillemots and shags to be seen breeding on the rocks, and wonderful close views of grey seals. Gannets and Arctic terns were around, eiders bobbed past, and as we got closer to the landing site of Inner Farne, puffins and sandwich terns started to be seen in small numbers.
One landing on Inner Farne, we were greeted by two very close basking seals, which have apparently been a fixture for a week or so and were stupidly photogenic…
Because we were quite early in the season we didn’t witness the vast numbers of most species we have in previous years – and didn’t feel the wrath of the Arctic tern colony, which made it all a bit less terrifying – but everything was present and correct, including puffins, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, shag, Arctic terns, sandwich terns, eider, fulmar and rock pipit.
Afterwards, we decided to have a trip to East Chevington… well a purple heron had turned up, it would be rude not to! It didn’t take us long to find a small group of birders, and after a while we got quite distant but clear scopable views of the heron lurking in the base of the reeds. An unexpected lifer for the weekend! The reserve was also a great place to spend an hour or so, with a few good birds picked up including a reeling grasshopper warbler, sedge warbler, whitethroat, swift, cuckoo, marsh harrier and a pair of red-breasted mergansers (terrible record shot below). I’d love to go again one day when less pushed for time.
After that we stopped in at Cragside, for a National Trust Victoria Sponge (getting middle aged? Me?!), and a quick look for red squirrels. Sadly no squirrels made themselves know, but there were some woodland bird species around such as nuthatch and siskin, in a beautiful location.
So a great start to a long weekend all in all!