The simple song of the ‘Mountain Blackbird’ carries over huge distances, echoing off steep sided valley walls as he proclaims his territory. Search for this summer visitor in the far reaches of the Cheviot valleys and listen for its harsh ‘tac, tac’ call as it flies overhead. Narrow, steep-sided valleys close to running water are its preferred habitat choice. Search around the Hawsen Burn in the Harthope Valley.
A stunning little bird, with striking plumage and behaviour to match. Bobbing up and down on a rock by a stream the ‘Water Ouzel’ is a dapper study in brown, chestnut and white. That’s almost enough to make it iconic, but when it suddenly dives into the river, before surfacing and floating downstream then hopping back onto a rock you’re watching something really special – the only passerine (perching bird) that dives and swims underwater. Search anywhere along the River Breamish, or any other stretch of shallow, fast flowing water with exposed rocks, and listen for the sharp ‘dzitt’ flight call throughout the year.
This shy, sinuous, enigmatic predator is one our most impressive mammals. Northumberland has a healthy population of Otters, testament to our clean rivers and lack of disturbance. They roam over large distances, but sitting by a river, pool or lake at dusk will offer your best chance of glimpsing one, or you could hire a wildlife guide and improve your chances.