It’s time to get in a flap for an annual bird race

National Trust ranger Dougie Holden.
National Trust ranger Dougie Holden.

Twitchers are being urged to get ready for an annual bird race this weekend.

On Sunday, National Trust rangers will lead nature lovers in a one-day event in South Shields, to count as many bird species as possible - hopefully up to 100.

A waxwing was spotted last year.

A waxwing was spotted last year.

Expert rangers from Souter Lighthouse and members of the local Coastal Conservation Group will guide teams of all ages over an eight-hour period, with some expected to cover up to 15 miles on foot.

Each team will record their findings, and the group is hopeful of spotting of up to 100 species, including peregrine falcons, waxwings and siskins.

In 2014 teams in Boldon made a rare sighting of a pair of glossy ibis, which are normally found in Africa.

The unique event is open to bird spotters of all ages and abilities.

The more eyes we have out there on the day, the better.

Dougie Holden

Dougie Holden, National Trust ranger at Souter Lighthouse and The Leas, said: “The more eyes we have out there on the day, the better.

“It’s great that the bird race has become a bit of a tradition, starting each year with a positive step in nature conservation.

“The Leas offers a home to a huge variety of wildlife, including seabird colonies, and wildflowers.

“On a calm day, you might spot porpoise, dolphins or even a passing whale from the cliff tops.”

Bird watchers are expected to flock to South Shields.

Bird watchers are expected to flock to South Shields.

The bird race starts and finishes at Souter Lighthouse in Whitburn on Sunday.

Participants are being advised to wrap up, bring binoculars and meet in the café at 7.30am for an 8am start - returning at about 4pm for refreshments.

Mr Holden added: “The National Trust is a UK-wide conservation charity.

“Teaming up with the Coastal Conservation Group allows us to share knowledge and expertise at a local level, which we can use to protect wildlife and habitats.

A  siskin having a rest on a branch.

A siskin having a rest on a branch.

“The bird race is the first of several joint events this year which we’re hoping will inspire people to get to know and love nature.”

For more information, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/souter-lighthouse-and-the-leas, email douglas.holden@nationaltrust.org.uk or call 0191 5290903.