My second day in Northumberland greeted me with another early start as I headed to Haydon Bridge near Hadrian's wall, to spend three hours in a hide photographing the red squirrels and woodland birds.
On my way I received a message from the young photographer, Will Nicholls, who was running the hide saying that the local squirrels recently gave birth to kits. Due to this, they were being unpredictable, so it was unlikely they would turn up while I was in the hide. Therefore I was offered me as long as I liked in the hide until one showed up.
The first three hours in the hide was spent photographing the woodland birds that visit the feeders, as well as scaring away the pesky pheasant while no red squirrels appeared. The feeders were always filled with birds such as blue tits, great tits, coal tits, siskins, redpolls, chaffinches and robins, which provided good opportunity for portrait shots. The siskin's were particularly aggressive towards the other birds so I was able to get some Siskin action too!
After a Lunch break, the afternoon was spent with more waiting, and waiting and.. then, after another two and a half hours, a flash of orange came bounding towards the hide. This was a red squirrel kitten. It was such a special moment for me, as it was my first wild red squirrel. Such a lovely creature and definitely worth the wait!
The next day I took another short trip to the Farnes , keen to see more of the abundance of birds; yet it wasn't the birds that excited me the most on this occasion. I was watching a grey seal bobbing its head in and out of the water in the distance when the driver of the boat excitedly said through the speaker "A minke whale just surfaced to the left!" I was watching the seal at the time so, convinced the driver was mistaken, smugly announced to the people next to me that the driver had in fact seen the seal. It was me whom was proved wrong however, as the whale soon came to the surface again, directly where I was looking. A buzz of excitement went up around the boat, and people jostled for the best view. The whale came up six or seven times, once just a few metres from the edge of the boat! That was certainly one of the highlights of my trip to Northumberland, and something which will remain in my memory for a very long time.
It was then time for a quick hour's landing on Inner Farne. I had set myself the task of capturing a puffin in flight. This was to be quite a challenge for just one hour, as puffins travel at speeds of up to 55mph and flap their wings at 400bpm! I was so engaged in photographing the bird that I almost missed my boat.. but In a way I wish I had missed it, because I didn't want to leave!