coquet nature lover

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Four Seasons in magical Northumberland

Coquet nature lover's stress free zone

Northumberland, England's most northern county, is renowned for it natural beauty and geographical diversity. From the deep north with its wild moorland, rugged heather-clad hills and wooded valleys... to the beautiful coastline with its wide sand dune backed beaches and iconic castles... And of course, don't forget Holy Island which can be reached by a causeway. Then there's Coquet Island and the Farne Islands too, both of which have important seabird colonies. Now, that's just for starters!

Vivaldi, the great Italian violinist and composer, may have represented the moods of the four seasons through his amazing concertos but for my final post of 2016, I have selected twenty-five photos which I hope will evoke seasonal memories of the natural beauty, especially those to be found in this beautiful county. For those of you who don't know the area, perhaps you will be inspired to pay a visit. The coastal footpath running from Cresswell in the south, to Berwick-upon-tweed in the north, is over sixty miles long and was made possible through funding from the EU. Yes, Northumberland is a great place for nature lovers with something to offer for everyone.

(with short extracts from Vivaldi's text of sonnets, translated from italian to english)
Spring – Concerto in E Major  
Springtime is upon us.
The birds celebrate her return with festive song,
and murmuring streams are softly caressed by the breezes.
Thunderstorms, those heralds of Spring, roar, casting their dark mantle over heaven,
Then they die away to silence, and the birds take up their charming songs once more.

Song thrush
(Fr-grive musicienne D-singdrossel)

Wood pigeon  
(Fr-pigeon ramier D-ringeltaube)

River Coquet bathed in sunlight

Summer – Concerto in g-minor
Beneath the blazing sun's relentless heat
men and flocks are sweltering,
pines are scorched.
We hear the cuckoo's voice; then sweet songs of the turtle dove and finch are heard.
Soft breezes stir the air…. 


Red admiral on echinacea
Purple hues of heather
Inquisitive grey seals off Coquet Island

Arctic Tern at Beadnell Bay 
(Fr-sterne arctique   D-kustenseeschwalbe) 
Puffins skimming over the North Sea
(Fr-macareux moine   D-papageitaucher)
Autumn – Concerto in F Major
The peasant celebrates with song and dance the harvest safely gathered in.
The cup of Bacchus flows freely, and many find their relief in deep slumber.
The singing and the dancing die away
as cooling breezes fan the pleasant air,
inviting all to sleep
without a care. 

Bacchus, the God of wine, has a white grape variety named after him. Supposedly, it is easily grown outdoors in the UK but here in the north, it would almost certainly need the protection of a greenhouse. If you have a vine, it needs cutting back well at the end of the year. Vines are prolific growers so if you want a healthy crop, make sure you continue to prune and train it throughout the growing season.

For my french readers, here is an entertaining song written in honour of Bacchus that you may be familiar with. A lyre was considered to be the most suitable instrument to entertain the audience.

C'est lui qui fait que les années
Nous durent moins que les journées ;
C'est lui qui nous fait rajeunir,
Et qui bannit de nos pensées
Les regrets des choses passées
Et la crainte de l'avenir.
'Bergeries' Recueil d'Idylles
Grapes ready to harvest in my greenhouse - variety unknown
Sleepy wood pigeon 
Autumn reflections downstream on the River Coquet
I was very lucky to spot this rare visitor sheltering in the vegetation from the Lough hide on Holy Island. Due to the poor weather, it was probably stopping over on its journey to winter in warmer southerly climates. The Latin name for this bird is Ficedula parva which translates to ‘small fig-eating bird’. Rather strange as although they do eat fruit, they feed primarily on insects!  
Red-breasted flycatcher waiting for the mist to clear
(Fr-gobemouche nain   D-zwergschnäpper)
Sunset over Dunstanburgh Castle
Sunset over Simonside Hills

Winter – Concerto in f-minor
Shivering, frozen mid the frosty snow in biting, stinging winds;
running to and fro to stamp one's icy feet, teeth chattering in the bitter chill.
To rest contentedly beside the hearth, while those outside are drenched by pouring rain.
We tread the icy path slowly and cautiously, for fear of tripping and falling.

Two sanderling probe for food in the wet sand left by receding waves
(Fr-bécasseau sanderling   D-sanderling) 

Soft winter light at Boulmer beach
Redshank feeding on low tide
(Fr-chevalier gambette   D-rotschenkel)
Greylag geese coming home to roost
(Fr-oie cendrée   D-graugans)
Hen harrier hunting on the dunes
(Fr-busard Saint-Martin   D-kornweihe)
Goldfinch perched on teasel 
(Fr-chardonneret élégant   D-stieglitz)
Robin defending its territory from a prominent perch
(Fr-rougegorge   D-rotkehlchen)
And finally to talk about something topical, the Christmas tree on display in front of the Houses of Parliament in London is, for the fifteenth consecutive year, from Kielder forest in Northumberland! I plan to do a post on Kielder (Europe's largest man made lake and England's largest forest) next year so look out for that one!

Click here for link to Christmas tree at Westminster

Thank you for reading and following my blog which I only started earlier this year! If you have any requests for future Northumbrian travel ramblings and photos, please let me know.

Wishing all my readers across the world a
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Bonnes fêtes de fin d'année

Fröhliche Weihnachten und ein gutes neues Jahr

Click here to listen to the 4 Seasons by Vivaldi

The ultimate eco tree
A follower of my blog has just sent me this great photo of her Christmas tree. It was bought in a small pot over five years ago and used to sit on the patio table. It is now well over two metres tall and as you can see, beautifully decorated for Christmas. Apologies for not getting the top of the tree in the photo!


  1. I have tremendously enjoyed following your blog this year. Keep up the good work. I am waiting in anticipation of your 2017 narrative/photographic journey through the British countryside. Have a lovely festive season!

  2. Thank you:) As a new blogger, it is very encouraging to receive such lovely comments! Enjoy your Christmas and all the best for 2017. coquetnaturelover xx

  3. What a great selection of photos from the year - I think the seals are my favourite. Love Vivaldi's Four Seasons and didn't know there were sonnets!

  4. Yes the seals are a favourite of mine too! Glad you enjoyed Vivaldi and I hope the link worked. Happy Christmas xx

  5. Hi CNL, thank you for the kind comments on my blog. I'm glad to see you've survived blogging for 6 months. It becomes a habit after 10 years! I think the key to blogging is to make sure you keep it up to date. If readers see gaps of 4 or 5 weeks they stop looking. I'm sure you will find enough inspiration in the countryside to keep you going online :)
    I have not been to art school or done any qualifications in that field. I just like to draw a bit. As you will see the quality varies considerably, but I do enjoy it what ever the result.
    If you need any other tips or if I can help in anyway please let me know. You can email me directly if you like, the address is on a blog page.
    Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year, Stewart.

  6. Thanks very much for your your tips and offer of support. All the best for the New Year.

  7. What a grate post and many wonderful photos, hope you had a good Christmas and New Year....
    Amanda xx

    1. Thanks Amanda :) Had a lovely Christmas thanks and managed a day out on the Solway where there are a lot more geese (in the fields - not the pot!) and beautiful west coast sunsets to die for! Wishing you a great 2017. Cath xx