Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Cool Coquet

24th July.  I was so hot during the afternoon I was wondering if I was coming down with some bug!  I was pleased when I was heading for Amble with Sam and Malcolm as I realised that at least the North Sea would be cool.  We had places on the Natural History Society of Northumbria boat trip around Coquet Island.  Not sure if I have said this before, but if I have, I’ll say it again anyway.  The society has made very successful efforts of late at an image change giving it in my view a much more modern day feel.  The website has improved beyond recognition and I’ve noted younger people have been going along to recent indoor meetings that I’ve attended.  The society does provide an excellent programme   indoor meetings (free to members) along with lots (seems to me more than in the past) outdoor activity.  I think other organisations could learn from this.  Change and modernisation is a must if organisations and groups wish to prosper  in times where there is so much on offer capturing people's attention.  Certainly well worthwhile and value for money  being a member of the Natural History Society, not least because of access to the reserve at Gosforth Park.

The trip was well managed and led, with a telephone call the previous day to confirm that it was going ahead.  The local weather forecast of rain by tea-time was wrong, and it proved to be a very pleasant evening.  I have to admit that this is the first time I have been across to Coquet Island.  It was good to see another Brian on board in the shape of Northumbrian Birding.  One of these days I will recognise you immediately Brian.  I think it is the change of gear that throws me.  The sea was almost like a mill pond at times and one of the boatmen said that it had been the nicest evening this summer!  Mind you I don’t suppose that would have taken too much!

The trip was unsurprisingly focused upon Roseate Terns.  We did have some very good sightings of them.  We watched them in rather striking flight, on the island near to their nesting site (the dry stone walls here built by the guys in the Northumberland Dry-stone Walling Association I believe) and on the rocks nearer to the boat.  There were of course numbers of Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns to be seen.

Roseate Tern with juvenile to its left

Fish for was more of a watching trip than a photographic trip for me.

The Puffins put on a good show and small numbers of Guillemot were seen.  Some very nice sightings were made of pale phase Arctic Skuas.  I counted three, plus one Great Skua.  A lone Common Scoter appeared near to the island.  Plenty of gulls of course, and Rock Pipit and Turnstones were seen on the island.  Nice to see a few Grey Seals too.

So a good boat trip was had and by the time we returned to harbour it was with some relief I had cooled down and had my fleece on!  I think the young lady in the shorts waiting to go on a later trip might have found it a bit chilly out there.  We said our thank you, said goodbye to the Eider Ducks and headed to the fish and chip shop.  That wasn’t the end of the night however as we headed up to Warkworth for a walk along the River Coquet.  There were photographs to be taken.

A pleasant ending to the evening
The light was very good along the river bank and there was some nice reflections upon the water as well as the Castle being very effectively shown in changing light (unfortunately not captured by my compact cam).  Three, or was it four Goosanders were seen on the river as we contemplated on how nice it would be to live here.  In another life perhaps!  There were lots of insects about, none biting thankfully, and some large fish jumping.  Really enjoyed the evening.  It took my mind off the dentists.  I’ve now been.  Second stage of a deep root filling.  Third stage to come.  The dentist tells me he is going on holiday in a couple of weeks.  I didn’t ask him where, but I suspect it’ll be somewhere nice and I may be subsidising it!


  1. Yes Brian it was a good trip out,highlight for me was the Common Sandpiper flying alongside a Puffin ! never seen that before !!!!

  2. Sam saw the Common Sandpiper Brian, but I missed it. Very nice evening. Cheers.

  3. Sounds like they are well-worth going on! I'll have to put this on my 'to-do' list, lol.

  4. Nice account Brian. I went out a couple of weeks ago but there must have been a 4 foot swell and along with the rain halfway into the trip made any photographic opportunities im possible and i'm sure i missed a few species but it was a cracking trip out nonetheless. The river walk you had looked rather pleasant !!

  5. Mark.......makes me wonder why the RSPB Group has never to my knowledge arranged such trip. This being a local RSPB reserve should make this a priority! I think I'm correct in thinking that there is an open invitation to visit.
    John.....The riverside walk was a a very nice way to end the evening and I'm hoping to get back there with a little more photographic equipment.

  6. Hi Brian. Yeah it is bizarre that the local RSPB group never seem to want to visit! We don't exactly have many reserves in the North-East, so yes it should be high on their list. Certainly lots of good stuff gets seen there.

    I think that boat trips are fine, just as long as no-one actually steps onto the island. It's been that way for years, so I'd have thought more would visit!