Local Area

Birds

Bird life is one of the Berwick area’s greatest natural assets.
Over the period of one year, more than 100 species of birds can be seen.
There is one of the largest herds of Mute Swans in Britain. On the Tweed, some of the regulars are Goldeneye, Goosander, Redshank, Curlew, Heron, Gulls, Little Egret, Shag and Eider Duck.

Away from the river, there will be plenty of Goldfinch, Sparrows, Song Thrush, Garden Warbler, Blackbird, Yellowhammer, Skylark, Lapwing and many more, with Hawks and Peregrine looking for breakfast.
During Autumn and Spring large skeins of geese can be seen overhead on their migration flights.

Within easy reach are the Farne Islands, a sanctuary for tens of thousands of birds. They are a regular breeding location for Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill, Shag, Kittewake and Tern.

Nearby, the cliffs of St Abb’s Head provide a similar breeding site.
A little further north is Bass Rock with one of the largest breeding grounds for the Gannet in the world.

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Mammals

Northumberland is one of the few remaining strongholds for Red Squirrels.

Otters are a regular site in the Tweed, and can even be seen simply by looking down from the Old Bridge. Smaller animals can be quite common, such as Brown Hare, Water Vole and Weasel, with Soprano Pipistrelle and Daubenton bats darting about in the evening sky.

Feral goats, brought here in Neolithic times, still roam the slopes of the Cheviot hills.
The Chillingham Cattle have inhabited Chillingham Park at least since 1646 and live as a wild herd, and are unrelated to any other cattle in the world.

Off the coast are large numbers of Grey and Harbour Seal, Dolphin, Minke Whale and Orca Whales have also been spotted near the Lighthouse.

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Geology

Inland, the geology is dominated by the Cheviot Hills. They are formed by igneous rock, the remains of volcanic activity around 400 million years ago.
The Northumberland coast is made up of a variety of spectacular landscapes ranging from sandy beaches, high cliffs and isolated offshore islands.

Most of the coastline is based on a series of Carboniferous limestones laid down 300 mya, alternating with layers of sandstone and shales.

The spectacular Farne Islands and the crags upon which the castles of Bamburgh, Lindisfarne and Dunstanburgh are built were created around 250 mya by volcanic intrusions forming the Whin sill.

Northumberland has one of the longest stretches of semi-continuous dune coast to be found in Britain. These dunes formed between 3,000 and 400 years ago are still evolving, being eroded and re-deposited by coastal erosion and the westerly and north easterly winds, producing varied habitats for wildlife.

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Insects

Without the species diversity found in the warmth further south, we still see amongst the larger dragonflies Common Hawker, and occasional Southern Hawker, Golden-ringed and Four-spotted Chaser. Smaller species found are Common and Black Darter.
Damselflies include the Banded Demoiselle, Large Red, Emerald, Azure, Blue-tailed and Common Blue damselflies.

As a result of climate change some species of butterfly seem to be extending their range further north. The Speckled Wood and the White-letter Hairstreak have moved into the area, and the Painted Lady can be in large numbers.

Grayling may be encountered along the coast and Wall Brown are increasingly frequent, and Dark Green Fritillary are common, especially on Holy Island. Two other local specialities are the Small Blue (likely along the coast) and Northern Brown Argus (on the St Abb’s reserve) together with the Chimney Sweeper.

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Plants

The Tweed estuary has a mixture of riverbank flora, marshland & salt-marsh plants. The other main site is the coastal areas around Berwick, with sandstone cliff and grassland flora to the north and to the south of the Estuary, the sand dune flora, with its acidic and alkaline specialities.

Berwick does lack lakes and large areas of mature woodland with the flora they contain. Even so, there can be some interesting sights with Viper’s Bugloss, Stinking Gladwyn, Pyramidal Orchids, Early Purple Orchid and the Frog Orchid.

The Bee Orchid, pictured on the right, has been taking hold in the region recently.