Northumberland hosts a wealth of interesting wildlife for the enthusiast – from the breeding ospreys at Kielder, to the recent case of lost sperm whales turning up on our coast.
Here at Burnfoot one can very occasionally see otters playing under the bridge, although they are notoriously shy and extremely difficult to spot. Three pairs of herons fish in the burn every day and you can also see buzzards, kestrels, hen harriers, oystercatchers, curlews, lapwings, whimbrel, teal, widgeon, mallard and kingfishers in the fields alongside the burns where their habitat is protected as a nationally important Site of Special Scientific Interest.
There are a few local barn owls that patrol the roadside hedgerows at dusk. Once outdoor games have long since ended you may catch a glimpse of one of our resident short eared owls which sometimes like to sit on the tennis court fence in the late evening. If not, you may see them hunting low over the haughs.
Deer can be seen most evenings and early mornings to the left of the road up to Trewhitt Hall, and also in the field behind the village pond (look right out of the entrance to the cottages, across the road). There are a number of red squirrels in the small woodlands around and about and they can often be encountered when driving along the quieter roads towards Whittingham.
Further up the Coquet valley, towards Barrowburn, you can see ravens, peregrine falcons, adders and wild goats. If you take any of the walks from Barrowburn up to Windy Gyle and along the Pennine Way, you’ll always spot at least one or two, or a whole flock if you’re lucky. They are well camouflaged but they tend to move around in large groups so they are relatively easy to spot. If you’re downwind you can smell them before you see them…
A short drive in the other direction (turn right at Thropton) is Caistron nature reserve where you can see Kingfishers and numerous dragonflies during the summer. In late September/October/early November, if there has been plenty of rain, you can see huge salmon and sea trout leaping over the weir under the bridges at Powburn en route to their spawning grounds – quite a spectacle.Northern Experience Wildlife Tours (aptly abbreviated to NEWT) offer guided wildlife watching and photography tours around various parts of Northumberland, allowing you the opportunity to see some of the rarer species inhabiting the area. Otters, seals, dolphins and minke whales are regularly seen on their coastal outings, while their tour of the Cheviot Hills unlocks many of the secrets of our secluded valleys to reveal ring ouzels, whinchats, a wide range of raptors and a small number of the elusive black grouse.
One of Europe’s largest grey seal colonies and 100,000 pairs of nesting seabirds can be found at the Farne Islands. There are numerous boat trips to the islands which leave from Seahouses (Just turn up during summer months. Sailings subject to weather outside the summer – contact the the Seahouses Tourist Information Centre in advance. Tours cost around £15 for adults, £10 for children). You can take a tour around the islands to take some great photographs of the seals, or if you are National Trust members you can land on the main island to have a wander. A great day out – in fine weather.