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…

Broad-bodied Chaser

A quick visit to Gosforth  Park Nature Reserve today came up trumps with my first ever Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa). Now, this is a relatively common species, doubtless familiar to many of you, but as someone only just beginning their journey into the frustrating, complicated but altogether fun realm of dragonflies, this individual gave cause…

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…

Rose-coloured Starling

I’ve had very little time this week for my usual outdoor pursuits, largely owing to a growing workload and a multitude of mounting side projects. That said, yesterday I managed an all too brief outing in search of a bird I have wanted to see for many years: a Rose-coloured Starling. A rare vagrant to British…

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…

The jewel in the crown

The ‘Newcastle Diaries’ are intended as a new series of blog posts brought to life by a recent move to the city; inspired by a growing frustration at not being able to visit my regular, rural haunts half as often as I would like. While I assumed a move here would greatly decrease the time…

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…

Birding in Northumberland 2017: the highlights

Now, this is a post for the avian-inclined individuals out there… For those of you who didn’t know, I set myself a challenge at the start of 2017. One which would see me attempt to glimpse as many bird species as possible in my home county over the course of a single year. No easy…

An Ode to the City

I’ve dedicated much of my time to urban wildlife watching of late, specifically in and around the city of Newcastle – my home patch for the foreseeable future due to a recent change of circumstances. While previously I possessed only a modicum of interest for the nature here, amid the hustle and bustle, perpetual light…

Enjoying this Autumn’s must see spectacle

Unless you have been living under a rock, or are simply disinterested in this sort of thing, you will surely have heard by now that this Autumn has seen an unprecedented number of Hawfinch arriving in the UK. Indeed, at present, Britain appears full to bursting with these usually scarce, cherry-stone splitting finches – the invasion…

Half-Penny: how things have changed

To those familiar with this blog, you will know that I owe my passion for nature almost entirely to my Grandmother. The lady who first introduced me to the joys of a life outdoors and who, through no end of weekend adventures, provided my first insight into the world of trees, birds, bugs and bees….