Sunday, 19 August 2012

Tyne and Marsden

18th Aug.  Today was planned as much as a landscape photography day as a bird/nature watching day and it proved to be successful and even dramatic in parts.

Sam and I began at Tynemouth where we found a few Small Copper Butterflies below the Priory.  They were there along with Meadow Browns Butterflies and White species. The Small Copper Butterfly usually has two generation per year in England and Scotland (although can have up to four generations elsewhere) and it is around mid August that the second generation is at its peak.  This is the first of this species I’ve seen this year.

Small Copper Butterfly
We soon headed off towards the North Shields ferry landing taking in an ice cream on the way and capturing some images of the Tyne.  The tide was quite a way out at this time.  Birds seen included a single Roseate Tern (there may have been more but I was relying on binoculars only today), along with fifty plus Common Terns and some Sandwich Terns on Black Middens.  Oystercatcher, Turnstone and Curlew were noted in small numbers and Eider Ducks were on the river and rocks.  Cormorants flew up and down the Tyne in some number.  I always enjoy the atmosphere and the short ferry crossing and we were soon on the bus to Marsden.  On arrival we walked the short distance from Marsden Village down to the sea and onto the beach.

The light was ideal for the effect I wanted.
Now that I think about it we were about to visit the 'dark side'

Looking up river with the tide well out.

Our first stop was at the Sand Martin Colony.  Numbers of the Sand Martins were still visiting the colony and we had some nice sightings of birds at the entrance holes.  These nests can go some way back into the sandy cliff.  It was also time for more photography and time to look at the limestone rock formations.  Both Razorbills and Guillemots were seen on the sea.  We walked along to Marsden Rock noticing numbers of Fulmer.  The lighting was generally good for photography all day and by afternoon the clouds which had given good effect were breaking up and leaving a clear sky.   After some exploration we headed for the lift at the grotto as the tide was coming in quite fast.  Sam commented on some youngsters going the other way thinking they were ignoring the tide.

Marsden Bay

Marsden Rock

We made along the cliffs towards Souter Lighthouse.  Unfortunately there was little in the way of butterfly life here on this occasion although there were numbers of Burnet Moths.  After more photography we decided that a cup of tea at the café was to be our reward.  After the break we made our way back along the cliff and soon spotted an inshore lifeboat heading for the shore.  I initially thought this was some kind of practice but Sam remembered the lads on the beach and thought it would be they that were getting rescued and this proved to be the case.  This was our drama of the day and gave further good opportunity for photography.  It wasn’t long before the police helicopter was overhead.  The lads were dropped off at the grotto lift and were met by more police officers when they stepped from the lift.  By now a police car and police van had joined the rescue team.  Sam and I pondered over the costs involved in all of this!

RNLI to the rescue

The boys 'terrifying' ordeal is over!

If they had hoped for a long boat trip they would have been disappointed, as they were dropped off at the Grotto where they were met by the police!

With more Police watching from the sky!

After the excitement we walked further along the cliffs.  The sea had been flat calm all day and Marsden Rock was providing some nice reflection.  After some rest we eventually made off back towards the South Shields ferry landing and once again timed our arrival perfectly.  There were only a handful of people using the ferry at this time of day, 6.30pm.  The Tyne was lit by sun but a cooling breeze provided a nice temperature for the return trip.  An odd Common Tern was seen from the ferry.

Seawater where we had previously walked

Looking south over a tranquil sea.

We headed for the fish and chip restaurant on the north bank and enjoyed a late tea, before heading home at 7.30pm.  Maybe not too much in the way of wildlife, but several elements combined to make this one of the nicest days I’ve spent in recent times, and it wasn’t just the ice-cream and fish and chips.:-)  It was noted that I’m more often to be seen with my photographic gear these days than with my telescope.  Great day!


  1. Funnily enough Brian i was standing on the pier at South Shields yesterday afternoon having been watching Roseate Terns and i said to John "How come the Roseates don't go over there,pointing to the Middens, it's not far away" and loh and behold there was a sighting on birdguides today, by your good self possibly ??

  2. Not my record John, but I did see that one yesterday. I believe they are often seen on the middens, but South Shields does seem to be their popular stopping off place these days.
    Wonderful day yesterday and hope you enjoyed the sun. Cheers.

  3. Sounds like a great day and would have been helped by the weather. I hope you didn't try and venture too far yesterday, lol!

    Cheers re: the Roseates. I may keep a look out for them when I'm passing through to South Shields.