Investigating the Prudhoe Spetchells

For a long time, I have read with envy the blog posts of others who have visited the Prudhoe Spetchells yet, shamefully, have never found the time to visit myself; though this all changed a fortnight past. The Spetchells are an interesting site in a great many regards. Created as a by-product of factory work…

Into the Wild Woods at Allen Banks

Spurred on by the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions in England, this weekend past saw us venture forty-five minutes inland to the wild reaches of Allen Banks. An ancient woodland site situated on the banks of the River Allen and maintained by the National Trust. Now, I visit Allen Banks at least once every year…

Dipping a Toe into the Natural History of Crete

A week ago, I begrudgingly returned home from a spur of the moment family holiday in Crete – a part of Europe I had yet to visit which, in retrospect, turned out to be rather beautiful. The week marked by blissful temperatures, great food, a lively local culture and numerous excursions on foot to investigate…

On the hunt for orchids

Orchids capture the popular imagination to a far greater extent than any other group of plants. Indeed, birders, entomologists, mammal-watchers – those who would never, under normal circumstances, label themselves a botanist – often find themselves weak and the knees and enraptured by their blooms. Perhaps this is due to visual appeal – orchids are…

Where to Watch Wildlife in the North East: Gosforth Nature Reserve

Diligently managed by the Natural History Society of Northumbria since 1929, Gosforth Park Nature Reserve, located on the peripheries of Newcastle, is a true hidden gem. One of the North East’s oldest nature reserves, the site is unique as far as urban wilderness areas go: a designated Special Site of Scientific Importance (SSSI) boasting an…

A once in a lifetime encounter

Before yesterday commenced, I had only seen three Red-necked Grebes in my lifetime. Two as distant apparitions amid undulating heat haze on a vast swath of Estonian marshland, and the other, as an equally uninspiring spec on the horizon here in the UK. The latter being tossed astray by the tide around half a mile…

Cetaceans on the Northumbrian coast

Yesterday I experienced something new and otherworldly: discovering a new side to my home county – Northumberland, for those who haven’t yet guessed – on a ten-hour trip into the North Sea with Northern Experience Wildlife Tours. The trip delivering a surreal experience as, at long last, I was able to get up close and…

Cuddy ducks, clowns and stench of guano

Britain’s seabird colonies represent a spectacle like no other: bustling, raucous municipalities where a multitude of species congregate to form a single, far larger, living being. An avian city, cramped and lively, which moves and reacts as one when presented with danger, or opportunity – similar in many ways to the concrete jungles so many…

The Northumbrian 142: a quick account of my first 24-hour bird race

This weekend past, I had the pleasure of taking part in my first 24-hour bird race. Wherein myself and the rest of the team – consisting of three topnotch local birders – attempted to observe as many birds species as possible within the county limits over the course of a full day. Starting at 11pm…

Glossy Ibis and more

  Spring has sprung, at long last. And all about my local area, the sapphire blooms of English bluebell mingle with the garish, Simpson-yellow of lesser celandine and the pristine white of flowering wood anemone. The air encompassing them ripe with the stench of ramsons carried on the breeze and nearby waterways – the ponds, streams…

Northumberland’s Wild Interior

Uncharacteristically, I haven’t managed many far-flung ventures of late – the combined result of some drastic life changes, a busy schedule and the build-up of myriad more menial tasks. This, of course, has frustrated me to no end, boiling over with a snap decision this past Saturday to drop everything and travel outwards: inland to…

Winter walking at Bakethin

Bakethin, located a short-way upstream of Kielder Reservoir, is unique among nature reserves in Northumberland. Here, among the hulking frames of aged firs and a forest floor dominated by mossy knolls and straggly Bilberry, it is quite possible to pretend you are elsewhere: to imagine yourself strolling through the wilds of Scandinavia or Canada. The…