Wednesday, 21 June 2017

30 Days Wild - Day 20

Day 20     From Scotland To Northumberland

  Today we had to make it over to the East coast from Gretna so we decided to take the A7 & A698 route which would keep me in Scotland just that little bit longer.:)
  We didn't plan to leave early but we had left the room window open and got a morning alarm call by a pair of Oystercatchers on the roof opposite our room.

  The A7 route took us through Langholm.People who love Birds Of Prey especially Hen Harriers will have heard of this place from its Moor Demonstration Project on Hen Harriers and from the insights in the "Inglorious" book written by Dr. Mark Avery.
  It does have a picturesque river though that had Grey Wagtails, Mallards and a Juvenile Dipper.

Juvenile Dipper

Mallard Ducklings

  The next town along the route was Hawick, another place I had never visited before.It had numerous charity shops and a good sandwich shop lol Also another river with Grey Wagtails.
  The River Teviot

  The third town on a river came in the form of Kelso, on the River Tweed.I didn't get chance to check out the river here but a walk through the graveyard produced a Greenfinch and my first Nuthatch for 2 years.There was also a newly fledged Crow bouncing between the trees and gravestones.

  A quick walk around the town square the it was time to continue Eastwards to the coast.Just as we approached the A1 driving past a farmyard I shouted to Majella to stop the car as I had spotted an Owl.On the wall of the farm sat low was a Little Owl, giving me that angry stare with those striking yellow eyes.

  We finally got the other side of the A1 and stopped to take in the magnificent sight of Bamburgh Castle.

  A brief scan of the long grass was rewarded with a stunning Latticed Heath Moth.


  The final bit of todays journey took us through Seahouses(where we hope to get the boat to the Farne Isles) tomorrow to our hotel in Beadnell.After getting settled in our room we headed out into the village to explore(and visit the pub)
There were lots of Swallows and Swifts on the wing and we noticed that the church was a destination of the Swallows.Inside we found a nest with at least 3 chicks inside.The parents continued to fly in with food for the hungry gaping mouths.


  After a (not so brief ;)) visit at the local pub we walked down to the beach.The tide was rising back up the beach along with lots of Eiders, mainly Females and Ducklings.




  I was able to stand within a few feet of them as the Females dredged up worms for the youngsters.We both stood and watched them for over half hour, much better than being sat indoors watching rubbish on TV, though saying that we did wait til "Meet The Hedgehogs" with Steve Backshall had finished before we left.lol
  In one corner of this section of beach were high sandbanks and more bird activity, it was a Sand Martin colony.

  Three Sand Martins coming fighting out of the same burrow.


  Before heading back Majella took some photos of the Sunset.



    A wonderful end to a great wildlife day and hoping for more of the same tomorrow with Puffins, Guillemots, Terns and Shags on the agenda.

Thank you to all of you for keeping up with my blog.
Stuart


Monday, 19 June 2017

30 Days Wild - Days 17-19

Day 17       Wagtails In The Woods

  Apologies in advance for the long blog and numerous photos in this firts section but I wanted to show as much as Tollymore Forest as I could but don't worry, the last 2 days are very short ;)

  We awoke early and headed back towards the County Down coast around 7am.On the way I saw my first ever Irish Hare :) Unfortunately on a very bendy road with nowhere to stop so a fleeting glimpse will have to keep me going til next time.
  Our destination was the Tollymore Forest Park just outside Newcastle.It covers just over 600 hectares and has the stunning Shimna River flowing through the trees and gorges.
  The beginning of the river trail(1 of 4 and the shortest)


  Almost immediately through the clear water I saw this Brown Trout, it's shadow giving it away.

  The Shimna river had numerous bridges and stepping stones to cross.All set in the stunning forest.










  The most spectacular location along the river though had to be the amazing Hermitage.Built in 1770 as a memorial to a friend who died that year.



  Red Squirrels are also found in the forest(just not by us lol) along with various birds we saw such as Robins, Hooded Crows, Mistle Thrushes, Chaffinches and more than one family of Grey Wagtails.We spent nearly an hour with the various Wagtail families along the river with the Adults constantly flying back and forth with food.




  Photographing the Wagtails.

  For the Game Of Thrones fans, Tollymore Forest was used as the Haunted Forest where the white walkers were first seen in the tv series.

  I didn't find anything that frightening but I did find something that may unsettle a few people, a wonderful nest of Spiderlings on a stone wall.

  Even though we spent a good 4 hours here, it was nowhere near long enough.If you find yourself in County Down then go check this amazing place out :)

https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/tollymore-forest-park



Day 18     Last Day In Ireland

  As it was our final day in Northern Ireland, Majella spent the majority of it with her family and so the only "wild" thing I got to do was meet her sister's new Husky Hybrid Puppy, Luna(short for Lunatic) ;).
  I was welcomed with the usual hyper run, slide across the wood floor and peed all over lol
                                       

                                        

  Told you it was a very short day 18 ;)


Day 19      Back To Scotland(and the rabbits)

  We left Newry, drove back up to Larne and caught the ferry back to Cairnryan.We were upgraded to Club Lounge so I could relax seawatching through the window while enjoying the comforts of free drinks and biscuits :)
Leaving Northern Ireland.

  I saw hundreds of Guillemots, around 30 Gannets, 2 Fulmars and lots of Gulls but once again the highlights were watching the 80+ Manx Shearwaters seen during the crossing, gliding and banking over the waves.
  Manx Shearwater

  The main flock of Gulls seen were following this fishing boat.

  We alighted the ferry in Scotland and had the 2hr drive East to Gretna for our overnight stay.After getting into our room I had a look out the window and found that there was a Swallows nest in the corner of the building with at least 4 chicks almost ready to fledge.

  From the room window I also watched a Song Thrush, Pied Wagtail, a pair of Oystercatchers and 7 Rabbits.This Mother was out with triplets :)



  Nature is everywhere and we are all much better off with it in our lives.

  Finally up to date with the #30DaysWild blog again :) Tomorrow we drive across Northumberland ready for our visit to much smaller islands on Wednesday, The Farnes.

  Check back to see if I can get any photos of Puffins with fish in their bills to help out the RSPB survey.