The incessant building work and the resulting encroachment upon green land in North Tyneside and adjoining areas in Newcastle and south east Northumberland, are making in my eyes at least, the area unrecognisable from what until recently it was. The spin that is given from time to time by local council officials that they care about the environment and nature doesn’t wash at all with me, as I believe that the natural environment is the last thing on most of their minds. Sadly, I gain the impression that a proportion of the community care little one way or the other. Thankfully we have Northumberland, where it remains possible to visit the wilds and leave the mases behind.
Sam and I have been out into the wilds of Northumberland on a couple of occasions recently. Our first trip was northwards on a fine sunny spring day. Well, fine until the low leaden grey cloud descended from the Cheviots and brought with it a fierce but short-lived hailstorm. Like any true all-weather naturalists, we entered the pub for lunch at this very point in time. Our best sighting of the day was finding a Kestrel in a tussle with a Peregrine Falcon close by us as we drove past.
Our next trip was further to the south of the county where we didn’t allow a fierce wind to spoil our day but confess we did make a tactical withdrawal from Grindon Lough before we were frozen in the winds. We stopped of to visit my brother and enjoyed welcome hot drink before moving on and spending most of the subsequent time watching from the car. I found myself watching the scenery as much as the birdlife, much of which seemed to be keeping heads down. Best sighting for me that day was two small flocks of Golden Plover flying past us at close range and in perfect light. It didn’t feel like spring but it did look and sound like it with the song of Skylark and the calls of Curlew and Lapwing at times filling the air. Other birds seen that day included Mute Swan, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Wigeon, Teal, Goldeneye, Red Grouse, Grey Partridge, Pheasant, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Oystercatcher, Black Tailed Godwit, gulls, Stock Dove, corvids and garden birds.
We returned to the building site with thoughts we ought to get out into the wilds more often, but hopefully in calmer circumstances.