Church Point (NZ320 880) to Beacon Point (NZ317 894)
When the wind is in the North or East, you need to be at Newbiggin
Newbiggin church point is one of the best, if not the best, seawatching site in Northumberland, In theory, Church point is not significantly better than sites to the North or South, however, “you get better views of the best birds” from here. Even at low tide, birds can be close by.
St Bartholomew’s is the large church on the headland. There is a free car park next to the church which is accessed via the turning circle next to the golf club and the caravan site at the end of the town. Once parked up, walk around the sea side of the churchyard passing the Little Bay and the caravans until you reach a small brick structure (200 Metres).
Note 1; Don’t forget to check the churchyard itself as this be rewarding during falls of migrants
Note 2; At low tide, look for the remains of the wreck of the SS Cretewheel. A tugboat built of Ferrous Concrete wrecked on the rocks at the North side of the Little Bay on 14th October 1920
This small brick structure is the only shelter available and can “accommodate” 2 persons max. The caravans provide some shelter from the elements.
At all times (summer included!), you need to be suitably attired to seawatch at Church point. A scope is essential, a picnic chair and a flask of coffee useful. When there is a good movement of birds, you will want to stay all day. I guarantee!
A group of Little Auks travelling North by Jimmy Steele
During good sea watching conditions, there will be other bird watchers there to help. The wind turbines and the coloured flags marking the line of lobster pots are useful markers to locate passing birds. “Sooty passing the Orange flag NOW” will get your attention.
The best time of the year for seawatching is the autumn (Aug-Nov) for the best birds. Spring passage can be good but almost anything can turn up at any time!
A View from
To head for the Beacon Point, walk back from the car park to the turning circle and take the coastal path between the golf club car park and the North fence of the caravan site. The walk to the Beacons takes about 20 minutes (approx. 1mile). You now have two options; walk along the coastal path which borders the Eastern edge of the golf course or walk along the beach.
The beach walk provides good opportunities to get close to large numbers of waders feeding on the foreshore and intertidal zone. Often there are heavy accumulations of washed up seaweed in this area and the associated insect life attracts many birds.
The coastal path provides an opportunity to scan the golf course, the scrub along the path as well as the shoreline.
A Purple Sandpiper
by Hector Galley
Beacon Point holds vast numbers of seabirds and waders with the high tide roost providing a great opportunity to get close to the birds. In Aug/Sept, this is one of the best sites to closely observe Roseate Terns as they leave the Coquet Island Breeding colony. (40 plus birds observed in years 2009/2016)