Northumbria is one of the UK's richest regions for birds. More than 400 species have been recorded here including one of the worlds rarest, the Slender-billed Curlew, as well as the extinct Great Auk. Our wealth in birds is largely due to Northumbria's remarkable diversity of habitat which ranges from mountain moorland to rocky coast, and to an eastern coastline that receives impressive numbers of migrants from the continent during the autumn.
Each season has something to offer in Northumbria:
Spring sees the arrival of summer migrants which come to the region to breed. Woodlands resonate with birdsong as resident songsters like the thrushes and finches audibly compete with warblers, redstarts and flycatchers returning from Africa. Moors and forests are home to various raptors like the Merlin , Peregrine Falcon and Goshawk that can with luck be seen displaying over territories. And the coast is busy with Gannets passing offshore, auks returning to breeding sites and waders like the Whimbrel stopping over to feed.
Summer is best known for our breeding seabird colonies on the Farnes and Coquet Island. Incredibly, the commonest bird in the region is the Puffin which can be seen in huge numbers at these sites. However, in Northumbria you don't have to travel by boat to see impressive sea bird colonies. The region boasts the UK's largest mainland Arctic Tern colony as well as mainland colonies of breeding auks like Guillemots .
Autumn is all about migration. Keen birdwatchers anticipate the season with high expectation, and flock to migration 'hotspots' like Holy Island, Whitburn and Hartlepool Headland when easterly winds blow, in the hope of finding rare migrants from Europe and Asia. Yet it is the arrival of commoner migrants that provide the most extraordinary sights. Seeing a beach drenched in several thousand Redwing or watching a flock of Barnacle Geese fly in off the sea are moments to remember!
Winter in Northumbria is the season to savour. Beautiful wildfowl like the Long-tailed duck are found on our coast, clustering off Bamburgh beach and Ross Links. Internationally significant numbers of waders like Knot, Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit gather at Lindisfarne. Lakes and reservoirs become home to herds of Icelandic Whooper Swan, while the Cheviot Hills attract small flocks of Snow Bunting.
Whenever you come, Northumbria's birds are worth seeing. Yet the region has so much more wildlife to offer. It is the last English stronghold of the endangered Red Squirrel which can still be seen relatively easily at various sites like Hulne Park near Alnwick. Northumbria is also a stronghold of the Otter, returning once more to most of the region's rivers including the Tyne itself. Grey Seals are here in considerable numbers, not only around the Farne Isles but along the entire coastline from Berwick to Teesmouth. Even wild goats are found here, roaming free in small herds across the Cheviot Hills. They make an impressive sight, even if their scent is less than desirable! You can also discover attractive flowers like Pyramidal Orchid, Marsh Helleborine and the Grass of Parnassus.
Whenever you come, there is so much to see.