You are on page 1of 6

Northumberland & Tyneside Bird Club

Registered Charity No. 517641

SITE GUIDE TO BUDLE BAY by Chris Knox

The Bay looking west from Budle Point.

0S LANDRANGER : - 1:50000 SHEET 75. ATLAS TETRADS : - NU13 M & N Budle Bay represents the southern section of the 8650 acre Lindisfarne NNR, currently managed by English Nature as a Ramsar site and famous in the county’s ornithological history for its many and varied bird life. The extensive mudflats, mussel beds, inter-tidal sand and saltmarsh are bordered by dunes, grassland, scrub and small patches of woodland. The adjacent sea area off Budle Point is also rich in birdlife. Protected as a no shooting sanctuary, the Bay is a safe haven for wintering wildfowl, the digging of bait is prohibited which eases disturbance to feeding waders at low tide and attempts have been made to restrict the use of water sports, once confined to the summer months, but now increasingly a year round phenomenon. This wide range of habitats and the area's protection has supported a large variety
1 of 6

it can also be reached by a year round bus service from Newcastle/Alnwick via Bamburgh. Nearly 30 years of regular watching has shown it to produce the best mixture of birds and the greatest opportunity for finding any scarcer species that may be present. The mussel beds opposite produce loafing wildfowl (Green-winged Teal has been seen here) and the low tide pools are good for waders. the route suggested here is a personal one and covers about three kms. Black Redstart has been seen around the cottages here and the cover has produced migrants including Reed Warbler and a long-staying Barred Warbler. Budle Point (NU162361) is an exposed vantage point although it is always possible to get shelter from the wind. To start. however. the walk to the point gives the opportunity to search for Snow Buntings in winter and the low dunes usually hold a couple of 'reeling' Grasshopper Warblers during the summer. Budle Bay has public access at all times.of resident and migratory birds yet Budle Bay is still relatively under-watched. looking north west towards the inlet at Ross Low (NU140359). On reaching Budle crossroads (NU155351) head roughly north west on the track which reaches the shore at Kiln Point (NU153354). On reaching Kiln Point take time to scan the Bay. Transport Direct To watch Budle Bay thoroughly visit 3 hours before high tide and cover on foot. Whilst walking the track take time to watch the fields either side for good numbers of Wheatear in season and Tree Sparrow which breed and winter in this area. park (or disembark bus) at the white railings near the hamlet of Waren Mill (NU150344). All visitors are thus requested to keep to the shoreline and not venture out onto the mudflats and keep dogs on a lead at all times. Jack Snipe may be regular in the small marshy hollow to your right. Next. Research of the countys ornithological literature puts the Bay species list at about 225 and of the 205 personally seen a majority have been 'self-found' making the Bay a great area to explore and find your own birds. head east towards Budle Point in the distance. Next walk east on the main B1342 road towards Bamburgh (take care as this can be busy with traffic!) checking the woodland to your left which can be good for common woodland birds and has included Green Woodpecker and Willow Tit from nearby Spindlestone. Access & Strategy. The Bay area is best accessed by car. The sand 2 of 6 . over the last ten years or so visitors during the summer months have increased inevitably putting pressure on the wildlife of the area. however. waders and gulls loafing and feeding in the main Waren Burn channel just off the railings and give a taste of species present – we will return here later. It provides a good chance of Little Egret and Spoonbill both of which prefer to feed here often out of view from the layby at Waren Mill. A half-hour spent here should allow good views of any wildfowl.

The scrub and bushes here can be very good during migration. As high tide approaches take a final look from the bridge at Waren Mill (NU146344) as this is the last area of mud covered and regularly produces good birds including riverine species such as Grey Wagtail. Redstart. head over the dunes towards Heather Cottages (NU160357). As the tide starts rising at the Point. They are joined later in the month by Greylag Geese. Red backed Shrike and Yellow-browed Warbler have occurred and in 1997 the county’s first Desert Wheatear was found nearby. 40 each of Pied Flycatcher. during early September 1995. Little Stint and other 'scarcer' waders. Budle Point has proved to be a fruitful watchpoint for visible migration in spring and autumn and regular watching has shown that good numbers of birds can occur (see main Birding Sites page for a link to an article on visible migration at Budle Point). Budle Point looking towards Ross Back Sands and Holy Island Walking up the track here eventually brings you back to the main B1342. What you may see and when WINTER : Co-ordinated Wildfowl and Waders counts between 1998-2008 showed an average of approx 3800 birds using the Bay each winter. Whinchat and Willow Warbler were noted. By now the incoming tide should have swelled the main channel in the Bay allowing waders and wildfowl to be easily viewed and in season this is the optimum time to search for Curlew Sandpiper. turn right/west and head back (again taking care along the road) towards your starting point at the white railings. retrace your steps and.spit here is excellent for roosting terns and gulls in summer/early autumn and the sea offshore is good for seaduck particularly in winter. Good numbers of Pink-footed Geese are still present in early November and are probably best viewed from Harpers Heugh picnic site to the north west (NU130348). upon reaching the stone jetty. Small numbers of Brent Geese (of both races) usually keep to the fields to the north of the Bay and sometimes a small herd of 3 of 6 . Dipper and Kingfisher.

Avocet has occurred on several occasions. attention once more turns to waders when species such as Black-tailed Godwit. and Spotted Redshank. Greenshank and Wood Sandpiper can be searched for amongst the increasing numbers out on the flats. When the Bay is full of birds it is always worth a keeping lookout for attendant raptors. with a group of three in 1985. diurnal movements are now dominated by hirundines and late in the month there is usually a small passage of Tree Pipit. this may become commonplace. Grey Plover. During early May. By the third week of April. dominated by Skylark. They are joined on their way north by 250+ tundrae race Ringed Plover. having arrived the previous day. Chiffchaff and Sandwich Tern have been recorded. Although there are good numbers of waders during the winter. the Common Buzzard is now seen all year round. peak mid month with regular counts in excess of 200 birds. Bar-tailed Godwit seem to pass through earlier and few are left by mid month . which usually sees up to three Lesser Whitethroat in the surrounding Hawthorns and the fledging of the local Stonechat.Whooper Swan winter in the area. when the bulk of summer migrants have started to arrive. Hen Harrier is now uncommon. Pintail for some reason are much scarcer in the Bay and in the last decade there has been a tendency for small numbers of Gadwall and Shoveler to winter. Turtle Dove (a former breeding bird) and on 8th May 1986 a party of three White Stork which. The turn of the year begins with large numbers of Wigeon (1000+) and Teal (500+) scattered across the western section of the Bay along with good numbers of Shelduck (300+) and several hundred Mallard. the range of species is smaller than at passage times. were last noted soaring high to the south east. SPRING : An influx of Lesser Black-backed Gull during mid March often kick-starts Spring passage and by the months end the first Wheatear. Slavonian Grebe and the increasingly scarce Red-necked Grebe. as species more associated with southern estuaries have tolerated an east coast winter. The sea off Budle Point is especially good for all three species of diver (although Red-throated is the most commonly seen). reflecting its proliferation within the county.Scarcities in May have included a couple of Bluethroat. Milder winters of late however have increased wader variety. the odd Velvet Scoter and numerous Red-breasted Mergansers. Pied Wagtail and Siskin (has peaked at 115 per hour) and has also proved to be the peak period for passage Hooded Crows. with global warming. The last few days of the month and the first half of April see some notable coasting movements. Meadow Pipit. Peregrine and Merlin are regular and. otherwise a scarce bird at Budle. Black-tailed Godwit and Greenshank are now near-annual. most in splendid summer plumage. Long-tailed Duck although declining of late still occur in good numbers alongside Common Scoter. Ruff and Avocet have all occurred and. SUMMER : June can be a month of surprising variety with the ‘dregs’ of the northern waders early in the month and the first returning adult Greenshank and Golden Plover during the 4 of 6 . Sand Martin . Conversely. Whimbrel. the occasional bird being seen during hard weather.

October generally sees the peak numbers of Pink-footed Geese. Passerines should not be ignored.000 Pink-feet) occurred and in most years it is possible to pick out several White-fronted Geese among the hordes. Spoonbill are increasingly regular in late summer/early autumn with a juvenile staying over a week in 1998 and Little Egret now occurs almost annually.000+. of the waders. Late September-early October has also seen records of Lesser Canada Goose . The latter species seems to disappear after late August arriving again en-mass in mid winter following their moult on the Waddenzee. Snow Goose and Ross’s Goose. June evenings are a good time to monitor the local Grasshopper Warbler population with 2-3 most years and checking the local woodland reveals most of the common birds. Variety is greatest between mid August-mid September. The Common Gull roost can reach 10. in 1985 some 30+ Siskins per day were moving over the point. A build up of terns at the sand spit at Budle Point late in the month usually contains all the British breeding species. mid October usually sees the first big thrush arrivals and on a good day many thousands may pass over. although the flock of 120 high over the bay on 31st July 1986 remains unbeaten. Although arriving from mid September.000 (together with a record 10. All four ‘regular’ skuas have occurred offshore in this month and during an influx year such as 1985 up to 30 Arctic Skua were to be seen roaming the Bay. 20 species on 16th August 1997 remains my personal best. and they have replaced the Greylag Geese as the commonest autumn goose. July has also proved a good month for connecting with irruptive species.last few days. one or two pairs of Ringed Plover attempt to nest on both the south and north shores. Little Stint occurs in smaller numbers with a peak count of nine in 1995. the latter due to their isolation seem to have better success. with similar numbers of Crossbill in 1997 and in an influx year several Quail are usually audible in the area. AUTUMN : This is primarily a time for looking at waders and it is possible to record 15+ species in a day. With the Pink-feet come up to 500 Barnacle Geese moving through to their wintering grounds on the Solway. Whimbrel are omnipresent in small numbers from the first week. In October 2008 an incredible 25. Sanderling and Knot. Canada Geese move through on their way to moulting grounds and there is always a chance of out-of-season wildfowl . the first ten days or so bringing the first flush of adult Bar-tailed Godwit. the latter the first county record. Mediterranean Gull has become regular in recent years and Yellow-legged Gull is worth looking for among the Lesser Black-backed Gull. July sees the rapid build up of all the regular waders.000+. The last week sees the first moulting adult Spotted Redshank and there are usually several summer-plumaged Curlew Sandpiper before the onset of juveniles arriving from mid August. this period usually seeing peak numbers of Curlew Sandpiper as in 1999 when a county record of 65 was established. often numbering up to 4.Budle Bay is not noted for its breeding birds but. Short-eared Owl is best searched for in October and the odd bird stays the winter to hunt the golf course and 5 of 6 . Terns are increasingly replaced by large numbers of gulls as September progresses.

most view only from the parking spots on the B1432 and at Harper's Heugh picnic stop to the north west.dune area. By mid November variety gives way once more to numbers. For wader and wildfowl viewing don't forget to time your visit to coincide with a rising (or perhaps falling) tide. Knot can reach 800+ by late month and good numbers of Shelduck become visible on the mud flats and most wintering species are back in situ. Many more bird species are going to be seen in the Bay in future years! May 2009 6 of 6 . although apparently visited by many birdwatchers. This area is very worthy of much further exploration as.