Continue to celebrate North East Nature with A-Level student and Young Ranger, Abit Makarim. He shares how he explores his local area to find plenty of wonderful wildlife.
It’s a cool Spring morning, and for the hundredth time this year, I slip on my coat and ready my camera. Instead of stepping out of the front door, I stock up the bird feeders in the back garden. They’re completely empty now thanks to a flock of House Sparrows. I then settle down to wait in the dining room, camera at the ready. Anything could show up today. Maybe we’ll get another surprise visit from a Woodcock, or perhaps a Sparrowhawk will swoop onto the lawn and send the House Sparrows into a chattering frenzy.
Since lockdown, that’s what most of my mornings have looked like. More than two years on, I’m still on the hunt for local wildlife wherever I can find it. Now, I’m no longer confined to my back garden. My weekends consist of scouting ponds for Common Frogs and newts or cycling around Newcastle in search of the city’s other wild residents.
It’s Summer, and I’m taking a bus to St Mary’s Lighthouse on the Northumberland coast to meet my friend Adam, to chat, mess about and, most importantly, watch wildlife. From the lighthouse we spy the ever-lazy Grey Seals, some bobbing up and down with the waves, others lounging on the shore as if the jagged rocks were luxury hammocks.
Adam pulls out his telescope, and through the lens we spot my first ever Golden Plovers, frantically scurrying to and fro along the shore platform. Nearby is a stray Gannet, nestled nonchalantly on a stump as the powerful North Sea pummels the rocks below him. He seems to be enjoying the sea breeze.
It’s getting a bit windy out on the end of the causeway, so Adam and I head up the shore to watch the nesting Fulmars. Instead of flying straight to their nests, they float ever closer to the cliff face, before turning away at the last second. Maybe they’re enjoying themselves in the air too much, or maybe they just don’t want to put up with a hungry, needy chick. Whatever the reason, I could watch them surf the headwind for hours.
A week later, and I’m in Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve with Durham Wildlife Trust’s Young Rangers to collect some wildflower seeds to sow. After we’re done, we have a few minutes before the session ends, so we head over to a viewing station. Just metres away from us, Willow Tits flit back and forth between the bird feeders and the safety of the trees. Elsewhere in the country, sighting a Willow Tit would be like seeing a ghost. In Rainton Meadows, the birds crack on with daily life, as if they had everything a Willow Tit could ever want.
It’s amazing how much life we have tucked away here in our little corner of England. Whether it’s garden birds chattering and singing from our hedges, Hedgehogs snuffling around our lawns, or breathtaking encounters with rarities, you never have to travel too far from home to see amazing wildlife. It’s right here, sharing its streets and hedgerows with us, living alongside us.