Tour At A Glance


1250.00 per person



Single Room Supplement:


Tour Code:

Moderate - expect bulk of daylight hours in the field and 3-4 miles of walking per day

Group Size:

Seven plus leader

Barred Warbler Dusky Warbler Grey Phalarope Jack Snipe Red-flanked Bluetail

Durham & Northumberland - Autumn Migration

Date: 12th - 18th October 2020 (SPACES)
Leaders: Andrew Kinghorn



Today will all be about arriving in the North-East and we should get a little bit of time to check the North Tees Marshes. Overnight Bowburn Hall Hotel near Durham.
The tour will start on the North Tees Marshes, the area recently featured on BBC Autumnwatch as a stand out autumn highlight. The tees estuary contains internationally important wintering populations of ducks and waders and a lot of these will have already returned. We will start our tour at Saltholme RSPB where we will spend most of the day covering the wet grassland and reedbeds of the reserve, here we can expect to see good numbers of ducks and geese, the Wigeon numbers at Saltholme can be particularly impressive and often seem to cover massive areas of wet grassland. On the passerine front the reserve has good numbers of Tree Sparrow and the Stock Dove views are likely unparalleled. Peregrines use the reserve frequently to hunt and are often seen perched up on the famous Middlesbrough transporter bridge or on the large cooling towers that border the reserve in the distance. There is a good chance summering Marsh Harriers will be lingering on and Little Egrets are now year round birds, whilst Whinchat often visit the reserve during passage. 
Our visits to wader habitat will be timed around the incoming tide which should allow for superb views of many spectacular species such as Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, Grey Plovers, and there is a high chance of Whimbrel. Greenshank is largely expected and Spotted Redshank remains a distinct possibility. The sheer number of waders here can be a sight to behold, often very good views are had. However, our visits to some sites may be determined by what is found, the area is very famous for its rare waders and has hosted an impressive list of rarities. Its most famous was the Great Knot which spent a good few days out on Seal Sands. As the name suggests the area is not only famous for its birds and it's hard not to connect with Grey Seal on a visit! As the evening rolls on we will aim to check for owls and so Short-eared Owl and Barn Owl remain real possibilities and Merlins are regular in autumn throughout Teesside. Overnight Bowburn Hall Hotel.
Providing the weather has been favourable for migrants we will spend the day working our way north along the Durham coastline, the aim of the day will be to look for passerines on active migration along the coast. On the rarity front and within the past three years alone Durham has had Pallas’s Warbler, Richard’s Pipit, Shorelark, Great Grey Shrike, and Dusky Warbler during the dates of our tour. Even if the bushes are quiet we will take a look at the sea, rafts of Common Scoter can be sifted through in the hope of something a bit rarer and Red-throated Diver and Eider are common all up the Durham coast. Purple Sandpipers should have started to return to faithful wintering sites and there is a good chance of connecting with this ‘northern speciality’. We may be fortunate enough to connect with both Great and Arctic Skua and perhaps a rarer diver or grebe if the winds have been favourable. During this part of the trip we will be visiting at least one coastal dene to try and connect with Dipper, it is Europe’s only aquatic songbird and always proves to be popular amongst visiting birders. If we have had easterly or north-easterly winds there is a good chance of a fall on the coast and there is a very high chance this will produce good numbers of Yellow-browed Warbler, whilst Barred Warbler remains a distinct possibility. We will be walking some excellent and quite picturesque coastal habitat that could produce a Richard’s Pipit and Short-eared Owl is another possibility. A locally famous Little Owl territory is occupied throughout the year and will be checked. Overnight Bowburn Hall Hotel.
This will be our last in Durham and we will be trying for Corn Bunting on the morning, the species is at the northern edge of its remaining range in England. We will also be visiting Castle Lake, which is an excellent inland water body nestled among rolling farmland. Green Sandpiper will likely still be passing through and good numbers of waders such as Lapwing and Redshank are almost guaranteed, Wood Sandpiper does remain a possibility even at this late date and Peregrine Falcon use the site for hunting. The list of rarities here is impressive with the site boasting birds such as Wison’s Phalarope and Black Stork, whilst Pectoral Sandpiper are near on annual autumn occurrences. The site gives a real feel of inland birding in Durham during the Autumn. From here we will head on over to Hurworth Burn Reservoir where guests should easily connect with Willow Tit, which is still a relatively common bird in Durham. If the farmer has sown a set aside field the flocks of finches here can be particularly impressive numbers of Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, and Linnet in impressive numbers and often at close range. The site and surrounding fields is regularly used by migrant geese en-route to places like Norfolk and as such Pink-footed Geese will likely feature, gulls use the site to bathe and sometimes the flocks can be particularly impressive and occasionally feature Mediterranean Gull. Goldeneye will be back and the site has had Smew. Overnight Coquetvale Hotel.
Out first day in Northumberland will start in the Druridge Bay area,this spectacular stretch of the English coastline is a bird magnet. There are a number of reserves dotted about the coastline and the aim will be to check most of them. We will aim to start at Cresswell and work our way north, thousands of Pink-footed Geese call the area home throughout the winter and birds will be starting to return en-mass. The pond is hunted regularly by birds of prey with Peregrine and Merlin possible, a locally popular Barn Owl is often out during the day and the farmland around can produce Grey Partridge. Eurasian Teal and Wigeon numbers will be building and waders use the reserve as a feeding area and regularly commute between here and the beach. The track down to Cresswell hide has produced Yellow-browed Warbler on numerous occasions and the alternate car park is a bit of a migrant trap. From here we will head onto Druridge Bay where we will visit the various hides. Wildfowl are always present here in good numbers and its likely we will connect with Black-tailed Godwit and Ruff. Expect impressive numbers of Lapwing and Curlew and flyover Pink-footed Geese skeins are a sight to behold. In previous years where there have been good geese movements both White-footed and Bean Geese have been present in good number.  East Chevington will follow, this reserve is particularly impressive with a mixture of lakes, small woodland, reedbed, and beach. The beach can be occupied by Snow Bunting and Shorelark, and the nearby fields often hold Twite which commute around the dunes. We will be looking offshore so the chance of Scoter, Divers, and Skuas remains possible if the winds have been favourable. East Chevington has had some impressive birds in years gone by and boasts birds such as Bridled Tern, Purple Heron, and Pacific Diver. Overnight Coquetvale Hotel.
We will stop for a look at Bamburgh and Budle Bay in the morning, at Bamburgh the focus will be the sea. The hope is we will connect with Slavonian Grebe, whilst Long-tailed Duck remains possible. Divers are likely and the views over to the Farne Islands are impressive in and of themselves, we have a good chance here of Purple Sandpiper amongst other expected waders. At Budle Bay we should get a real taste of migration in action. This is a site that is faithfully used by Barnacle Geese on their migration over to the Solway coast, the area also attracts impressive numbers of Whooper Swans and Pale-bellied Brent Geese. Waders can cover as far as the eye can see at times and a faithful wintering Spotted Redshank may have already returned. Impressive numbers of birds like Knot, Turnstone, and Grey Plover should be seen on even a fleeting visit to Budle Bay. If the tide is incoming its likely to connect with Red-breasted Merganser as they fish amongst the food rich channels.From Budle Bay we will take the short journey to Holy Island causeway, the sheer amount of birds on the causeway can be particularly impressive. Good size flocks of Pale-bellied Brent Geese can be expected and if we are patient enough to sift through the flocks of Redshank then Greeshank are an easy prize. Holy Island is not just a spectacular birding location but it is also entrenched in a rich history. We will spend the remainder of the day focusing on walking around the island and trying to connect with migrant birds, Holy Island has an impressive list of rare birds in years gone by. Some of the most notable species include Lesser Grey Shrike, White’s Thrush and Great Snipe. But we can at least expect Yellow-browed Warbler, Barred Warbler, and perhaps Red-backed Shrike if the winds have been favourable for migration. Overnight Coquetvale Hotel.
This day will be left as flexible as possible, with it being the Autumn migration season a lot of fantastic and unexpected birds could turn up. Over the past five years the North East has had some mouthwatering rarities, autumn of 2016 saw no fewer than 4 Siberian Accentors in the region and at the same time Pallas’s Warbler, Siberian Stonechat, and other scarce passerines could be seen with relative ease in a day. Who knows what will be waiting for us on our final morning in the region!


Additional Information


The Bowburn Hall Hotel near Durham and Coquetvale Hotel in Rothbury
Six nights en suite accommodation, meals from dinner on day one to lunch on final day, transport, services of leader and reserve entrance fees.
Transport to/ from Durham, travel insurance, drinks and any items of a purely personal nature.