Saturday, 25 February 2012

I was not there but......   February 17th

Bacon, Birds and Brains

Friday 21st February 2012

The Blogmeister is away in Czechia1, so there are only 3 gadgies out on today’s walk, which in truth is more a bird watching expedition with the walk as an appendix.  However, in true gadgie style Dave, Harry and Brian met at the Haymarket Bus station to take the No.518 to Amble.

Amble is a small seaport on the Northumberland coast lying at the mouth of the River Coquet.  The town sign includes the words “The Friendliest Port”2.

The first “port of call” was a cafe for tea and bacon bun.  It was perhaps not the best cafe in Amble but the sandwich was fine and the lady who served us was welcoming and particularly helpful to a lady with impaired vision.

Coquet Island

We walked from here down onto the harbour and were rewarded with a close view of some Eider ducks – the drakes have particularly fine colours in their plumage.  The route then walk turns south over some dunes and onto the beach.  About a mile off the coast lies Coquet Island which is an RSPB reserve and home to the rarest of our nesting seabirds, the Roseate Tern.

Our bird watching destination is Hauxley Nature Reserve about 1½ miles down the coast and to get there you have to go through the very attractive village of Low Hauxley.  The Low Hauxley Reserve is part of the former Radcliffe open cast coal mine, which was landscaped to produce a lake with islands. It is managed by the Northumberland Wildlife Trust3.  The reception hide was burned down in 2010 but will be replaced and upgraded in the autumn of 2012.

The original reception hut/hide at Hauxley.

After a bit crack* with the warden we lunched and spent an hour or so in the Wader Hide. Top spots of the day were Red Breasted Mergansers, a Goosander and Goldeneye along with many other colourful species. 


There are several hides around the lake and we visited each of them.  At the last there was a heron so it must indeed have been a real walk.  Time was beginning to become a bit pressing so we returned to the beach and headed at some speed with good walking on solid sand.  After a couple of miles we turned inland thinking the day was over.  However there was one more birding treat in store.  Walking up the track towards Widdrington we passed the ruin of Chibburn Preceptory, a house of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, and spotted what was generally agreed to be a Short Eared Owl (maybe a Long Eared Owl).  Short Eared Owls are quite numerous this year on the eastern coast because of the mildish winter in Britain compared with mainland Europe.  Dave and Harry also saw a bird of prey but because of the fading light were unable to identify it.

The walk ended at the Widdrington Inn where the gadgies enjoyed pint of Brains4 beer before taking the bus back to Newcastle.

With no Ben or Mike today, Dave’s pedometers ruled supreme and with both hips recording the same distance of just under 8.5 miles we settled for that.

1  Is the preferred name for the Czech Republic by a number of its people.

2  For further explanation

3  You can join the Trust or make a donation at

*"a bit crack" north eastern dialect for friendly conversation

The editor writes;
Many thanks Brian, this could well encourage others to submit their notes when I am away. The three pictures are somewhere in the ether, I will try and catch them with a Higgs boson and put them in their places.