Monday, 11 May 2015

Plant blitz


Common Dog Violet (Viola riviniana)...Stobswood


Common Cornsalad (Valerianella locusta)...main railway between Stobswood and Ulgham


Hairy Woodrush (Luzula pilosa)


Ivy leaved Duckweed (Lemna trisula)


Common Water Starwort (Callitriche stagnalis)


Bog Pondweed (Potamogeton polygonifolius)


Overgrown sidings


St George's Mushroom


Yellow Fieldcap


Wheatears...Hadston dunes


Heath Dog Violet (Viola canina)...Hadston dunes

I'm doing a plant blitz of the tetrads around Stobswood and Widdrington. I'm covering 16 squares in total. I have already completed the first round this year. The areas to the East; the farmland around Widdrington village and Houndalee are disappointing botanically due to intensive agriculture and over grazing but the more interesting areas are where there is habitation or post industrial sites. Sadly the railway sidings near Felton Lane which were rich botanically are becoming increasingly overgrown. While some plants are lost I am still finding new plants in this ever changing environment. The new plants I found in the main wood at Stobswood (Grangewood) are Hairy Woodrush (not uncommon but hard to spot) and the pond in the wood where Ivy leaved Duckweed is growing but probably introduced into the pond at some stage. A small acid flush runs through Neds Whin plantation and used to go into a ditch to the East of the wood but since the reclamation of Colliersdean opencast it now floods part of the grassland to the North of Widdrington Moor. These pools are already established with water plants and I was delighted to find Bog Pondweed and Common Water Starwort. I have also found Common Clubrush (Schoenoplectus lacustris) growing in the large ditches beside the newly formed ponds on the former opencast site near Ulgham park. The bottom pics were taken on a visit to Hadston dunes but at Stobswood yesterday a pair of Wheatears were near Middle Stobswood and a flock of 41 Whimbrel. The fungi pics were taken at the former tip at Widdrington.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Few-flowered Garlic





Few-flowered garlic (Allium paradoxum)



Red Lily Beetle (Lilioceris lilii)

Yesterday I was cycling along the lanes West of Morpeth when I came across a huge swathe of Few-flowered Garlic (Allium paradoxum) on the edge of Tranwell woods. This is the first time I have seen this in the county. It is quite abundant in the Tweed valley and scattered elsewhere in the county. Just inside the wood the woodland floor was carpeted with this species. The bike ride started well with Lesser Whitethroat singing in the hedge between Tranwell village and the large water tanks; this was the first time I had ever seen or heard Lesser Whitethroat before Common Whitethroat but a few miles further on a fine male Whitethroat was singing and dancing along the hedge tops at Saltwick. The plants then took priority and I took dozens of pics. The beetle was in the compost bin in the garden. As it name implies it is very fond of lilies but I don't have any in the garden so this tiny beast was welcome.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Upper Coquetdale






Saturday was a glorious day and we had a family day out in Upper Coquetdale and climbed to the Border ridge and over Windy Gyle returning to Barrowburn via Rowhope. Lovely walk with a few spring birds to look at and excellent refreshments at the Barrowburn tea room. On the way home called in to Harwood forest and spent some time around the Gibbet area and luckily a female Goshawk was in the air but was flying away from me over Ottercops and East behind Harwood Head. A pair of Stonechats at the Gibbet were nice. Back at Windy Gyle on the Heathery slopes we came across a ground beetle Carabus nitans which was a new species for me. Three Ravens making strange croaking and clucking noises near the summit was the only sound in an otherwise silent landscape. Over 30 wild goats in the Mozie Law area was the most I have come across.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Scotch Gill woods


Yellow star of Bethlehem (Gagea lutea)


Butterbur (Petasites hybridus)




Great Woodrush (Luzula sylvatica)


Native Spurge-Laurel (Daphne laureola)


Track of the day...Scotch Gill woods

After yesterdays rain I had a walk through Scotch Gill woods to look at the Yellow star of Bethlehem. I have left it a bit late this year and the flowering plants are just about over with only eight visible flowers but dozens of none flowering plants. A fair few woodland plants in flower as you'd expect in woodland like this at this time of year. Pleasant walk; on the river 2 Goosander drakes were fighting and I'm presuming a male has joined the resident pair at Lowford bridge. Nice Dipper and Grey Wagtail here but no sightings of Kingfisher in the Morpeth area for a couple of months now. I like JWR's track of the day on his blog Rutter's Way and I promised JWR I would put on a few tracks of my own from my rambles from time to time.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Off the beaten track





Yesterday was a bit of a visiting relatives day but managed a bit of time looking for wildlife. I don't go to the usual hot spots even if I hear something good is there; I like to look for plants and stuff so that will take me to other backwaters. Leaving West Chevington farm yesterday afternoon I saw a male Marsh Harrier quartering fields beside Whitefield farm near Red Row. It was in view for quite a while despite the attention of Rooks and Jackdaws. Driving back from Amble along the A1068 a Little Owl flew across the road at the Togston junction at Togston East Farm. I had a better view of it as it landed in a hedge opposite the farm on the road towards North Broomhill. Further South approaching Widdrington village an Avocet flew low over the road towards Widdrington Moor Lake. I drove towards Felton Lane and looked at the lake to see if I could see it. The main lake was like the North sea but to the east are shallower pools and the bird was feeding there. Too far away for my camera to do these birds justice so you'll have to put up with sketches and scribbles from my notebook.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Quiet but nice weather




Weather was nice over the weekend apart from Good Friday and I was out and about from up the Wansbeck valley down to the coast but saw very little of note. The highlight came from my garden with this Bee fly. Not the best shots as it was constantly on the move as it fed on the Aubretia flowers. 

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Uplands


Little Lough





Chartners and Fallowlees lough


Steng Moss





Buzzards at Fairnley


Summit of Windy Gyle

I have not been around the local patches recently as I have spent days off in the Northumberland uplands. Apart from visiting universities I have been up at Barrowburn walking up the border ridge between Mozie Law and Windy Gyle and back to Barrowburn via Rowhope burn. Not much birdlife but there were Ravens and Wild Goats along the border. Back at Barrowburn it is nice to call in at the Barrowburn farmhouse tea room for bacon sandwiches and home made cakes. The tea room is believed to be the remotest in England. I have accessed all areas of Harwood forest on bike but again apart from Buzzards and Crossbills the birdlife is sparse. The interior of the forest is largely clear felled making areas like Chartners farmhouse and Fallowlees lough looking very isolated. Every bit of water including all the puddles are full of Frog's spawn and the forestry commission have created new ponds in the forest at Tutehill moss and between Tod Knowe and Chartners. At Little lough a male Goshawk flew East and back into the forest. Half an hour later near Chartners lough I saw a male Goshawk again over the tree tops but this may have been the same individual. These are the only Goshawk sightings I have had here this winter and spring.