A Naturalist in Northumberland


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Craster via the Hips Heugh.

 This morning dawned clear, fine and cold. Just right for a walk into some of the less visited places around home. The loop from home to Craster and back is a shade over 4 miles, taking in the fields just inland to the north then back by the usual coast route.

Only half a mile NW of home are a few long term set a side fields. I always forget how good they look for feeding finch and bunting flocks and possibly some attendant raptors. Today they held a nice selection of passerines with 40+ Reed Buntings, 60+ Goldfinches, 30+ and 100+ Linnet flocks, 7 and 16+ Yellowhammers, 50+ Chaffinches and 6 Grey Partridges.

Some of the Reed Buntings in dock.


Above - Reed Buntings

Year list targets this morning included - Brambling, Greenfinch ( yes thats right), Red legged Partridge, Woodcock, Merlin, Peregrine and Willow Tit. Its fair to say that I largely failed with this lot, but there is plenty of time until spring to seek them out. Rome wasn't built in a day.

While watching the Reed Buntings the pair of Ravens came over, calling, much to the consternation of the local Jackdaws who got up in to the air making a racket overhead. The Ravens took no notice whatsoever and even did a little bit of a display flight in tandem.

Raven low overhead, calling.

Down into Craster, a pair of Collared Doves were my first proper local birds but the Willow Tits were nowhere to be seen. Off shore, 100+ Common Scoter were loafing around still, a carry over from before Christmas. 30+ Golden Plover were on the rocks and a Red throated Diver flew N.

On the Cullernose cliffs, a few pairs of Fulmars were chattering and squabbling. I might check to see if they actually breed this year as I have never seen eggs of young at this site, despite older reports of many breeding pairs here. 

As I came to the road home, a 'blimp' on top of the Hips Heugh peak turned out to be a Peregrine, that sat for some time watching pigeons and Jackdaws flying around. After failing to catch up with the other birds on my target list, I was relieved to add something to the patch list.

The view north from Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle, the northern edge of my local patch. 

Fulmars on Cullernose cliffs. No seawatching today.

The Common Scoter flock just off the south end of Craster. Imagine living here !

The Peregrine rounds up the 5km list to a steady 100 species with a few possibles yet to be found. There are some spots I have in mind to target the list gap fillers, but they are tricky to access on foot all the way from home, but one of these weekends I'll drive part of the way to avoid walking on narrow main roads for any length of time.


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