Long-tailed Ducks, by Chris Townend

Tour Dates: Thursday 18th – Monday 22nd February 2021 (Berwick-upon-Tweed to Berwick-upon-Tweed)
Tour Price: £950pp
Deposit: £250 per person
Conservation Donation from Wise Birding: £50 – £100
Minimum Number: 4 people
Maximum Group Size: 6 people

Target Species
Birds: Pink-footed Goose, Barnacle Goose, Long-tailed Duck, Greater Scaup, Eider, Slavonian Grebe, Merlin, Short-eared Owl, Long-eared Owl, Bittern, Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull, Twite, Snow Bunting, Horned Lark and rarities!

Tour Summary
Northumberland is one of Britain’s hidden gems for winter birding with a good selection of species, great hospitality and fabulous scenery. We are very pleased to offer this 5 night birding break with expert local birding guide based in the beautiful coastal village of Bamburgh.
The focus of the tour will be on seeing as many of the speciality species as possible but with time to savour the birds we see and to have good fun! We will visit a number of Northumberland Wildlife Trust and RSPB reserves during the itinerary. Whether it be watching the impressive flocks of geese, hunting Long-eared Owls or sifting through seaduck whilst stood amongst small flocks of Snow Buntings, Northumberland has something for every birder, so come and join us!

ACCOMMODATION: 5 nights in Bamburgh, Northumberland
5 nights in comfortable hotel
Included Meals: Half-board (Breakfast and Dinner)

DAY 1: Arrival Bamburgh
After meeting at Berwick-upon-Tweed railway station we will then travel the short 30 minute journey south and check into our comfortable hotel in Bamburgh. We will then head out for a late afternoon’s birding at Cresswell Pond to get the tour started. Overnight Bamburgh

DAYS 2: Cresswell Pond – East Chevington NWT
This morning we will start the day at Cresswell Pond where we will spend some time in the bird hide before a walk on the beach. Target species here are many, but it is the wintering wildfowl numbers that are the most impressive spectacle with hundreds of Teal, Wigeon, Pink-footed Goose, and often a Peregrine creating panic amongst the flocks. Later in the morning we will take a short drive to Druridge Pools which is likely to hold similar species to Cresswell but with a better chance for waders including good numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover. We then head to East Chevington NWT Reserve. Here, we have a good chance of finding Bittern and it is an excellent site to get good views of Goose flocks and there are usually some Whooper Swan present. Other species we will be looking for will include Marsh Harrier, Goldeneye, Long-tailed Duck, and Greater Scaup. We will then spend the final part of the day checking the beach where a scan of the sea should give our best chance of Common Scoter, Red-throated Diver and some very close views of Sanderling dashing up and down the tideline. The impressive views across to the Farne Islands should make for a fitting end to our first full day in magical Northumberland. Overnight Bamburgh

Snow Bunting by Chris Townend

DAY 3: Beadnell Bay – Bamburgh – Budleigh Bay
After breakfast we will head south along the coast to the picturesque village of Beadnell Bay. This is usually a reliable spot for Long-tailed Duck offshore and Eider are pretty much guaranteed with a supporting cast of Rock Pipit and the possibility of Purple Sandpiper too. A walk to the Saltmarsh should produce some good views of Twite and sometimes the scarce Horned Lark. Other species we should find here include Little Egret, Goosander and Goldeneye. As we return to our vehicle we will pass a pool which can be great for wildfowl and Pink-footed Geese often congregate in small numbers. We will then travel north up the coast and we will stop at Seahouses with views across to the Farne Islands. A little further north we will stop at Monks House Pool, a great little site with an ever changing selection of wildfowl and always worth checking! A quick look at the sea gives us a different perspective from our base at Bamburgh and we may find some divers offshore. A lunch stop at Bamburgh to refuel and we will then spend time birding the immediate area where we should find Slavonian Grebe, Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Red-throated Diver, as well as good chances for Great Northern and Black-throated too. A walk to the lighthouse at Bamburgh will give impressive views across to Holy Island and some scanning over the sea should reveal Red-breasted Merganser, Great Crested Grebe and maybe Brent Goose. If the tide is in our favour, the final stop of the day will be Budle Bay where both Brent Goose and Barnacle Goose are almost guaranteed. Peregrine Falcons regularly hunt waders on the falling tide here and there are usually very good numbers of waders and wildfowl here too. We hope to find Teal, Wigeon, Brent Goose, Barnacle Geese, Pink-footed Geese, Golden Plover, Curlew, Lapwing, Dunlin plus any local rarities that this site often attracts. Overnight Bamburgh

Pink-footed Geese and European White-fronted Goose by Chris Townend

DAY 4: Holy Island – Cheswick Sands
Today our itinerary will be very much dictated by the tides, as we venture onto Holy Island. Holy Island is well known amongst local birders with an enviable list of rarities during the Spring and Autumn, but winter is always enjoyable. Here, we have a good chance for excellent views of Brent Goose, Grey Plover, Curlew, Greenshank, Lapwing, Godwits, Dunlin, Barnacle Goose and Pink-footed Goose. We also have an excellent chance of Merlin, Short-eared Owl, and Snow Bunting. Later in the day we will travel up the coast to Cheswick Sands. This site has hosted a Black Scoter over the last few winters and if it has returned, we have a very good chance of finding it amongst the mixed flocks of Common and the odd Velvet Scoter. Other species we should find include Long-tailed Duck, Slavonian Grebe and various divers. Overnight Bamburgh

Iceland Gull by Chris Townend

DAY 5: Saltholme RSPB – Seal Sands / Seaton Snook
Our final full day we will spend in the adjacent county of Cleveland at Saltholme RSPB reserve. The Long-eared Owl watchpoint here is superb, and there are very good chances for both Glaucous and Iceland Gulls along with more impressive numbers of wildfowl. Nearby Seaton Snook is fantastic for Twite and the Seal Sands SSSI usually holds good chances of Grey Plover and Spotted Redshank often overwinter here too. Marsh Harriers are also wintering now with greater frequency and there is a good chance of Short-eared Owl. At this time of year, there is often a winter rarity within striking distance with recent highlights being Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon or Tundra Bean Goose. Overnight Bamburgh

DAY 6: Railway transfer to Berwick-upon-Tweed
After breakfast we will transfer the short journey time of 30 minutes to Berwick railway station where the tour concludes.

Please note this is a flexible itinerary which may need to be adjusted slightly dependent on arrival / departure times, weather conditions and the most recent information from our local guides

Leader: Chris Townend and Andrew Kinghorn
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin en-suite rooms, breakfast and evening meals, ground transport, reserve entry fees and services of the leaders.
Not included in cost: Travel to/from Berwick-upon-Tweed, lunches, drinks and travel insurance.
Accommodation: Comfortable local hotel.
Single Supplement: £150
Transport: Minibus throughout the tour.
Difficulty: Easy
All birding will be done in close proximity to our vehicle with walks of around 2-3Km per day.
Climate: Variable as with most British winters!
Tour Start Point: Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland.
Tour End Point: Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland.

Coastal sunset by Chris Townend