A quieter island visit

Before I tell you about our day I want to back step to yesterday and our time at the harbour after our boat trip finished. I am so taken with the beautiful Eider ducks that I thought I would look out for some more and of course I was not let down. Not only do they look lovely but if you have been fortunate enough to be fairly close to them you would have heard that they make a noise a bit like a dove, in other words they coo.

What I didn’t know was that when they make a louder almost booming coo this is how they do it, they inflate their throats. Pretty impressive I though and I do believe they were doing it to please the ladies. I am thinking of asking Ian to practice as I thought it rather fetching!

Another good nights sleep, another tasty breakfast and we were off again, this time to Lindisfarne or Holy Island. We had a smashing holiday there a few years ago so were keen to revisit it although we were pretty sure not to get any ticks today but that’s okay.

The weather was kind to us again although it was a tad changeable, so layers were going on and off regularly! So far we have been blessed with dry mostly sunny days, no complaints from us! I took a few pictures of familiar places on Lindisfarne, if you have been there you will no doubt recognise them and if not I hope you get the chance one day.

This pair of Swallows were preening bedside the path up to the castle.

Also on among the grass by the same path we found this little fella. It is the caterpillar of a moth we have only seen once, the garden tiger that can count on our moth list but I hope we see another one in adult form again! Also lots of these green veined white butterflies.

We had a really lovely walk around the island taking in many familar places. Unfamilar were the long row of stone creations on the shore which have appeared since our last visit. I have a feeling they may not last as long as Stonehenge! It was good to see this crowd of seals on a distant dans bank.

We had lunch in The Ship pub on Lindisfarne and very good it was too! Soon after that we left across the causeway and on our way back we visited Bamborough beach which up till today we had only seen in the distance. It is beautiful and seemed very close to Inner Farne where we had been yesterday.

We decided, as we are by now in full holiday mode, to get chips for tea and eat them looking over the sea. Now it should be said that when we decided that it was fairly warm and a still day but my goodness by the time it was chip time the wind has whipped up considerably! None the less we got our chips and walked until we found an available bench, I thought we were going to get back to Bamborough!

We may have been a little bit chilly but my goodness we had it easy compared to the gulls etc on the sea! We were surprised to see some spring flowers fighting the wind.

We walked back to the harbour watching the sea crashing over the sea wall. As we approached the Lifeboat station I was surprised to see it open as by now it was early evening. Then ahead I realised the lifeboat was being launched, it happen so quickly I couldn’t get to it in time to picture it. We did see them launch the small inflatable lifeboat, I am fairly certain it was a training drill but the way the waves are growing who knows when they will be really needed. I have amazing admiration for lifeboatmen, the thought of going through what they do fills me with dread!IMG_4003 lifeboat

Well tomorrow we cross the border as we head for Blairgowrie in Scotland, I am looking forward to it although I feel in no rush to leave Seahouse.

A day filled with pictures!

The day began well with a walk down to the harbour to visit Billy Shiels boat trip stand to see if we could get on a boat today. Well to be honest before that we had a yummy breakfast at our B & B, it is called ‘Dunelm’ and we would deffinately recommend it. Anyway back to boat trips and yes we were in luck we booked the mid day trip to Inner Farne, just what we wanted and to top it all the sky was blue and set to remain like it all day. We saw a stoat we dashing around on the sea shore, disappearing under the stones! This shows where we were going later.IMG_3497 Farne from Seahouses

The time to board the boat soon came around and we were off heading across calm waters to Inner Farne . Even before we arrived we saw Grey seals.

We drove around some of the other islands and got our first sight of what we were all hoping for…birds!

We saw the lighthouse on Inner Farne and also the Grace Darling lighthouse. The excitment was mounting as we approached our destination. It didn’t seem to matter if people had been before or not, they were either excited knowing what to expect or the first timers, like us, we’re full of hope that it would be as good as we had heard. Now I know the good photographers out there would have been on the ground getting straight on shots but that isn’t for me, to be honest the fear is that if I had tried that approach the boat home would have gone without me!

We were greeted by the Arctic terns as we arrived and all I had heard about them bombing your head and having a good peck turned out to be true! Well at least that was what happened to some of us, me included, others, Ian included were mostly left alone. To be honest in a strange way it was part of the experience so I didn’t mind!

We walked around the island and I was really hoping for good views of Puffin, I needn’t have worried! I don’t know anyone that doesn’t love a Puffin, they are so beautiful and at the same time very funny. Even their nesting habit amuses me, nesting in burrows, do they think they ar rabbits?!

Okay here’s some more then!

There were lots of Guilimots too including some bridled ones, you can spot them by the white eye ring and line down from the eye.

It it doesn’t seem to matter how many there are in any one place there is always space for another one to drop in!

We also saw a few Razorbills but not many, I have included a Black headed gull, not very exciting but none the less present! Also the occasional Common term. There were also good numbers of Shag some already with young.

Also nesting in good numbers were Kittiwakes, they seem such a gentle birds although I may be quite wrong!

We were only on the island for about an hour but it was brilliant and I would happily go again! It was certainly helped by the lovely weather, although there was a bit of a mist. I have saved some more Puffin shots to end on our time on Farne as we head back to Seahouse.

We we arrived back in the harbour and whilst walking we were treated to more Eiders but I am saving those pictures for the next time. Later after a lovely meal at The Lincs we saw ‘our boat’ at rest we were heading ‘home’ to rest too!IMG_3809

The beautiful Puffins brought our number up to 218

Yesterday’s dip is today’s tick!

We made an early start this morning and arrived at the WWT Washington at opening time. Unlike the other WWT sites we have visited this year it has an understated building which houses the visitors centre and café and it all sits in the landscape beautifully.IMG_3347

We were greeted by very friendly staff and were given the run down on the site and when asked I was delighted to hear that yes they have Willow tits on site, we were off! Like yesterday we were advised to wait were there were feeders, in a beautiful woodland position. The feeders and surrounding area had plenty of visitors, including those shown below.

The poor Robin looked as though she’d had a rough spring, at first I thought it was a young one not yet red but no she was just very worn!

After nearly an hour I was chuffed to see what we were waiting for a Willow tit, in fact two appeared. They didn’t stay long and we didn’t see them again, but we were happy enough, mission accomplished and he was bird number 216.

We spent most of the morning in the woodland area before heading off in search of lunch in the café. It was a simple lunch but delicious, we would certainly recommend it to others.

Off we went again to explore more of the site, passing quickly the captive birds which don’t really hold much interest for us although I did rather like these Flamingos!IMG_3346 flamingoes! Common terns were abundant and just the occasional wader including this Little ringed plover. There were plenty of duckling and goslings around the site.

 

These Avocet chicks were rather delightful! I have noticed in Norfolk that Heron numbers seem to be getting lower, maybe they have moved up north!

Time to carry on with our journey and head for Northumberland and a few days in Seahouses. We found our B & B and happily found it to be lovely and well position just a few minutes walk to the harbour. After getting a few things unpacked and a quick cuppa we went out for a walk to find the harbour. We were very pleased to find Eiders in beautiful plumage swimming not too far away.

Today has been a lovely day and Tomorrow we we hope to get a boat out to the Frane islands and see what we find there! Eiders brought our bird count to 217

 

Heading north

After months of planning, booking accommodation, changing our minds, cancelling and booking again we are off…up north! We decided to break the journey up with a stop in Yorkshire to do some birding there, in fact the site we visited is in North and West Yorkshire! Fairburn Ings and RSPB site was to be our first stop and the journey was going well, ETA 11.30am but it wasn’t to be. Suddenly the traffic on the A1 ground to a halt and for about five miles we crawled very slowly along until we saw what had been the cause, a nasty looking accident. Thankful to have arrived safely we got there about an hour late.

It was a nice looking site with a really good visitors centre and very friendly staff. We spent some while overlooking the feeders, as we were told that Willow tits often visit them, not today it seems! We were treated to lots of Tree sparrows including this young one that sat on the feeding station demanding to be fed.

Nuthatches, Bullfinches and other small birds but sadly still no sign of a Willow tit. Off we  good walk out to some of the hides much of the time in the pouring rain. Not a great deal on the water but at least this little Robin was put off by the weather.

We enjoyed the visit and if it were nearer I suspect we would visit again but it was rather a long way to go and sadly no tick today. Off to continue the journey northward, next stop Darlington to Hall Garth Hotel our stop for the night and by the time we arrived the weather had improved dramatically. We were able to have a walk around the garden and golf course and work up an apitite for what we hope would be a delicious meal at the ‘local pub’ in the hotel grounds as an alternative to eating in the hotel dining room.

We found a small, ‘secret’ garden, a peaceful spot that with an enthusiastic Gardner at work could be beautiful. Then off around the hold course we went, I suspect Ian was feeling a few pangs of missing golf!

There must be a lot of work involved in keeping the course looking good but then I wonder if this little fella help keep the grass so short!

Well sadly our meal wasn’t a great hit, ok but not anything to make a return visit appealing! Thankfully our room is very pleasant and I think we will both sleep well. When we awake we are off again heading to Seahouses but we plan to detour on the way to the WWT site at Washington (sadly not D.C.). We are planning to visit most of their sites this year probably just leaving out one as that is in Ireland!

Hopefully the next few days will bring some exciting reports…watch this space.

Chalk and cheese

As different as chalk is from cheese was our target bird from yesterdays. No bright showy colours, no high wire acts, in fact nothing to really make you notice it if you weren’t looking! Today we headed to Overstrand, up on the coast, hoping to see a female Red-breasted flycatcher. I had seen one just once before and for Ian it would be a life tick so we were both hopeful. The other one I had seen was the day I first decided that birding was for me, I had been out with Peter watching a Red-backed shrike when on route back to the car the flycatcher appeared!

On the cricket pitch at Overstrand the message said, behind Leslie Curtis bench and sure enough there it was!IMG_1808 Red-breasted flycatcher benchTo be honest when we first saw her she was in a tree but it was later she landed on the bench, I don’t know who Leslie was but I like to think he might be pleased to have such a visitor!

She was an active little bird, in a tree, on the fence, in a shrub, on the floor this little bird liked variety! So although she is not a spectacular looking bird she was fun to watch and a sweet little thing.

Before leaving home, if we are going after a certain bird I like to have a look in Collins Bird Guide so I at least know what I am looking for. One thing it said about the flycatcher was that it likes to cock it’s tail a lot and let me tell you the book was correct!

We watched her, along with a small group of birders, for about half an hour when along came a Robin and chased her off! We stayed a while but she didn’t return while we were there and so far I have not heard that she did at all so we were pleased that we went when we did.

Later we enjoyed a walk along by the sea at Sherringham, the day had warmed up nicely and thankfully turned out much better than the BBC would have had us believe!

 

One of the many things I love about being out and about is seeing how other people enjoy the same places that I do but often in very different ways. Below are two example of people having fun in their way doing things I wouldn’t even contemplate!

Now this might have been the end of today’s blog if it weren’t for Peter asking us to do a favour for him. As we were heading to the coast he had asked if we could pop into Birdscapes (a lovely art gallery in Glanford near Cley and well worth a visit!) to collect something for him, no trouble at all and it turned out we were richly rewarded! Whilst there we were told of a place that is good for Nightingales a bird that I have tried and tried to see but failed over and over again. Just as it used to be said that children should be ‘seen but not heard’ nightingales are so often ‘ heard but not seen’ not today we got one. So thanks for that Peter!

After only about an hour of listening and watching something moved and yes it was a much wanted Nightingale, at last I can add it to my list.

So now our year bird list stands at 215, 15 of those are life ticks for me, not bad say I!

Birds and bugs…pretty ones at that!

 

It was another bright sunny day and off we went coastward to Titchwell after first looking at the moth trap. Not a lot there but we did have one that we had last summer but it was the first for 2016, a White ermine, another really pretty one I reckon.

We did make one small detour on the way and that was to see the Dotterels again in the hope they might be near enough to photograph. Well they were a lot nearer but in some corn stubble so again photographs were not an option. Over the weekend there has been a lot of bird movement but it seems most of them didn’t stay in any one place for long! We knew a couple of Stints had been at Titchwell but were uncertain that they would be waiting for us!

We were in luck, first a Little stint then a Temminck’s Stint, excellent two more for the year. They were once again distant and behind a wire fence erected to try to protect the nesting Avocets. We walked on up to the sea which apart form gulls and a few Oystercatchers there was very little about. We had just missed seeing a Peregrine falcon taking an Oystercatcher away in its claws being pursued by some large gulls!IMG_2756

I knew the marshes at Titchwell were tidal but I have never seen the change quite so clearly, one picture is as we passed by on our way to the sea, the other probably only about half an hour later!

A brief coffee stop and then off for a walk around the fen trail where we were serenaded by two Willow warblers. It took some while before I saw one and managed just one snap before it vanished into the tree again. We also saw these two Damselflies , Azure Damselfly and Large Red Damselfly. (thanks to James for the ID help)

We also saw Holly blue butterflies but they move to fast to picture. It really did turn into a scorching hot day and I think this Wood pigeon was feeling the effect, he struggled to stay awake, but failed!

We went for a late lunch at Brancaster staithe which didn’t have many birds but those that were there are looking smart. Take this Turnstone now in his breeding plumage.

It was time to head for home having had a really good day, I wonder what tomorrow will bring, but that’s half the fun!

Six legged creatures!

We have had a really lazy weekend and enjoyed every moment of it! Yesterday we enjoyed the sun in the garden and shared a BBQ with family whilst trying something new in our mothing experience! We had trapped the night before and got a few moths including a Powdered quaker and one new for us, the Least black arches.

I have read of  lots of people lately having Emperor moths in their gardens and I rather fancied the idea myself. The males, which are the most spectacular looking ones, aren’t attracted by light traps but they can be lured with pheromones. The excellent ALS (suppliers of all thinks mothing!) sell lures, tiny bits of rubber soaked in the sent which we hoped would bring one to our patch.

A few hours after hanging the lure I saw an Emperor moth but it just wouldn’t land and after a little while I watched as he flew over the fence and away, very frustrating. An hour or so later and he was back, fortunately by then Peter was here and he kept into action, net in hand and he was caught, that’s the moth not Peter!

IMG_2726 Emperor moth

Now honestly isn’t he a beauty? Not quite the image most people have when you mention moths is it?

After just a short while we saw another one and again Peter leapt into action and again the moth was netted. So at our first attempt to lure an Emperor we now had two.IMG_2706 Emperor mothsIMG_2714 Emperor mothThere was quite a difference in the colour, the second being quite a bit darker. They posed for photos and then were off maybe they will return another day. Another couple of visitors were the common green shield bug and a Small white butterfly both pictured below.

 

So without mention of birds we have still been pursuing wings this weekend, back to birds tomorrow I think!