Bees and botany at Newbiggin

A short while ago, a sunny Saturday afternoon provided the perfect opportunity for a June venture to the Northumberland coast. Deciding against sites we visit frequently, it was decided that we would head to Newbiggin for a closer look at the plants and insects that abound along a stretch of coastline we seldom visit. Departing…

Exploring the North East’s solitary bees (part 1)

The last few weeks have seen countless bee species emerging across the North East. The annual appearance of these colourful invertebrates providing the ideal opportunity to reacquaint myself with the common and abundant species found close to home but also, as restrictions ease, to set out in search of a few new and exciting species….

Exploring the Fascinating Flora of Lindisfarne

I have visited the Holy Island of Lindisfarne many times to admire the sites birdlife, chase rarities and even seek out insects, but never to appreciate it’s diverse and interesting flora. Lindisfarne is well known as an excellent site for those interested in botany, it’s unspoilt beaches, sprawling dune slacks, fields and expansive areas of…

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…

Could you contribute to the North East Bee Hunt?

The Natural History Society of Northumbria (NHSN) has launched a new citizen science scheme aiming to map the distribution of five distinctive yet under-recorded bee species across North East England. The five species at the heart of the North East Bee Hunt are common and widespread in other parts of Britain, yet there are noticeable…

Winter wildlife doesn’t come much better than this

It’s shaping up to be a good year for Bohemian Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus). Sure, the much anticipated ‘waxwing winter’ – an irregular spectacle marked by the mass arrival of these colourful birds to our shores – never quite came fruition, but there are still a good number around. Hundreds, as opposed to thousands, yet more…

Northumberland launches strategy to protect white-clawed crayfish

It has been a long time since I last stumbled across a White-clawed Crayfish during a lazy riverside walk in Northumberland, and longer still since I dared hope that their population here, in one of their last strongholds, could be considered anything other than ephemeral. It was a great pleasure, therefore, to hear that a…

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…

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…

A paradise of parched grasses

Walking at Weetslade Country Park this past weekend, the rolling grasslands of the former colliery site appeared almost Mediterranean. Parched grasses, sapped by what seems like an eternity of vigorous sunlight, appearing yellowed, dry and lifeless. The vista laid out before me more like a sight from the South of Spain, or Portugal than one…