Get up with the larks and down with the owls: Four ways to see wildlife up close on the coast

Long-eared owl. Picture by National Trust/Dougie Holden.
Long-eared owl. Picture by National Trust/Dougie Holden.

With spring in the air, the National Trust is aiming to tempt visitors to Souter Lighthouse and the Leas to enjoy nature at its best.

Bird lovers can join Whitburn Ringing Group for a bird ringing demonstration this Sunday morning, April 3.

National Trust Images/John Millar

National Trust Images/John Millar

Visitors who drop by the bird ringing hut in the car park from 6am will be treated to the sight of specialists in action, recording and ringing birds captured in mist nets. A rare opportunity to see wild birds at close quarters.

The event is free and there’s no need to book, though it may be cancelled if weather conditions are very poor.

Souter’s bird ringing programme supplies valuable data to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

An average of 1,500 birds and over seventy different species are ringed annually by Whitburn Ringing Group. In recent years species ringed in April have included Long Eared Owl, Grey Partridge, Whitethroat, Sparrowhawk, Grasshopper Warbler, Yellowhammer, Goldfinch and Greenfinch.

Dawn chorus tour

Fans of our feathered friends can also join a Dawn Chorus walk with National Trust rangers and members of the local Coastal Conservation Group on Sunday May 1.

The gentle ramble to take in the glorious sounds of early morning birdsong begins in the car park at 5am. The route is largely wheelchair accessible.

The cost of £15 includes a bacon butty and tea/coffee served in the Lighthouse Café following the walk. Booking is essential, please call 0844 2491895 (5% booking fee applies).

Marsden ramble

Those who enjoy a longer hike can sign up for the first Marsden Circular Ranger Ramble of the year on Sunday Apri 17.

A spectacular seven mile walk with rangers and the Coastal Conservation Group, taking in Cleadon Hills and sea cliffs, passing Windmill Field, Marsden Old Quarry and Marsden Rock.

Meet at the bird ringing hut in the car park for a 10am start. Dogs on leads are welcome. The cost is £2 per person and places must be booked on 0844 2491895 (5% booking fee applies).

Seashore safari

Families with young nature lovers can join a Seashore Safari on Thursday April 7, 9.30 – 11.30am, or Sunday April 10, 11.30am – 1.30pm.

A National Trust ranger leads an exploration of Souter’s rocky shore, hunting the rock pools for crabs, anemones, fish and plenty of other salty creatures.

No need to book, meet in the Foghorn Field at Souter Lighthouse. £1 each. Wellies are highly recommended. Nets and buckets can be borrowed.