Yesterday we went to Tynemouth for the day to celebrate Amber's 18th. A walk along the beach and pier after eating and drinking was quite interesting particularly the lump of magnesium limestone where the priory sits. Many plants here have either finished flowering or are past their best. Two species caught my eye, both scarce plants with Wild Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) which was long past its flowering time but the leaves easy to see and Seaside Daisy (Erigeron glaucus) pictured above, a native of California well established near the footpath at the edge of the priory. In George Swan's Flora of Northumberland (1993) he describes Wild Cabbage as naturalised but Seaside Daisy is not mentioned in his book so must be a fairly recent colonist or introduction. Both plants are new to me as I've never had a good look around the Tynemouth for plants in the past, Worth a good look around here in Spring and summer.
Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Northumberland's only record of Mistletoe has gone. The 2 Malus trees that hosted the plants have been felled and in its place is block paving to make way for more retail space at Heighley gate garden centre. It appears that the current owners Wyvedale are more interested in squeezing yet more profit out of this space than using it as a good example of conserving rare species.
Saturday, 29 October 2016
Blackstonia perfoliata (Yellow-wort)
This time of year as the flowers fade I turn my attention to birds and spent a couple of hours at the former opencast site at Stobswood but the birds present today were the expected species and not ones to set the pulse racing however, the highlight today was not avian as I came across 52 Blackstonia perfoliata plants on the newly planted Birch woodland floor opposite East Stobswood farm near the pools. I have seen these plants at Hauxley but this is new for this site. Unsure of their origin as the soil the woodland is planted on is the spoil from the original fields here which were used as a baffle bank when the opencast was operational so may have come with the trees. On the way home a Red Squirrel crossed the road at Felton Lane.
This Grey Dagger (Acronicta psi) caterpillar was on my plum tree in the garden a couple of weeks ago.
Thursday, 18 August 2016
Hundreds of Broad leaved Helleborines (Epipactis helleborine) in the Stobswood area are quite varied in shape, size and colour. Thanks to AJR for verifying the more unusual flowering plants found here. Felton Lane is becoming very overgrown making it almost impossible to walk along the tracks. This used to be a good place for variety of trackside plants and butterflies. Musk Mallow (Malva moschata) is found growing on the old coal waste here and the Steadsburn is good for waterside plants. Colliersdean wood is also overgrown and a chain saw and some ponies would improve the flora here but False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum) covers much of the woodland floor. I watched a family party of Willow Tits here. Back at Morpeth and it has been a good year for Crow Garlic (Allium vineale) with 77 flowering plants at High House Lane and 56 on an uncut grassy area near the castle. I have also come across 12 flowering plants at Amble braid.
Sunday, 14 August 2016
In quiet corners on the edge of Morpeth there are a few steep ravines where there is no agriculture and while there is Barley, wheat, Leeks and Turnips growing as far as the machinery can get to nearby, the drop towards the river is too steep and it is left undisturbed. Plants such as Betony, Field Scabious and Harebell as well as others make a nice sweeping wildflower meadow. These may be common plants but these plants wouldn't be 'common' if there were no unspoilt corners like this.
Friday, 12 August 2016
Viewed from the village road
As seen from the Morwick road
The fissured bark and knobbly bosses visible on the trunk
A large Black Poplar (Populus nigra) is believed to be the oldest thing in Acklington village. Most likely to have been planted centuries ago but surviving well presently but it was in danger of being felled when the head teacher of the first school saw this tree as a potential health and safety issue as it is on the edge of the school grounds. The council agreed and it was for the axe but the parents and children of the school petitioned against this and were successful. Lets hope it will grace this hedgerow for many years to come.
Tuesday, 9 August 2016
Recent visit over the restored opencast site at Stobswood. A few years ago this looked very exciting for a great variety of wildlife as the way it was first put back with shallow ponds and damp meadows it looked really promising. Five or six years later most of the damp areas have been drained and water has filled up the main ponds making them good for wildfowl but not for wading birds. I would estimate over 90% has been put back as farmland with woodland breaks. Most of the woodland is broad leaved and will develop into good woodland if managed. Despite this there is still a few good areas and several shallow ponds have been established in the dips of the farmland. This possibly has been through accident rather than design. You don't find many birds here but there is a good variety of water plants to be found here. No surprises but still good to see. The pics above show the plantlife of these ponds, Crop spraying could take its toll here in a few years but for now they are worth exploring further. Typical plants here are Spike Rush (Eleocharis palustris), Broad leaved Pondweed (Potamogeton natans), Common Clubrush (Schoenoplectus lacustris) and Spiked Water Milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum). Many damselflies and darters were also present while I was here.
Back at Morpeth and 2 Common Sandpipers were on the river downstream from the Oldgate bridge.