The Coquetdale members group of the Northumberland Wildlife Trust began their 2012-2013 programme with a wonderful talk by Andrew Sawyer on The Birds of Cragside and Upper Coquetdale in the Jubilee Hall, Rothbury.
Andrew’s enthusiasm for his subject showed through from the start and even overcame the problem of a powercut in the middle of his slide show! Luckily power was restored so he could finish his very interesting talk.
Andrew has been at Cragside for 24 years, formerly as head gardener and now he is the conservation and interpretation officer for Cragside.
He has a great interest in Victorian illustrations and used many to illustrate his talk. David Dippie Dixon, the famous archivist who wrote Upper Coquetdale in 1903, also lived at Cragside. He was passionate about all flora, animals and birds and made a list in the book of all the species he saw. He made a brief note about each bird species such as stating if they were common, winter or summer visitors or very rare.
Andrew very thoroughly and cleverly went through the same list commenting on birds that were no longer common (sparrow), or had increased in numbers (buzzard), since 1903.
There were many new birds, not recorded in 1903 such as canada geese, bramblings and crossbills which now come to Cragside. Andrew made the talk come alive with his huge knowledge of bird behaviour and bird songs and by wonderful references such as long-tailed tits being called flying teaspoons!
Cragside is still a real haven for birds and they are doing much to open up the woodland and areas around the lakes to encourage more birds to nest there.
Our next talk will be given by Phil Hammer on the Owl Box Project at 7.30pm on October 1 in Rothbury’s Jubilee Hall.