Saturday, 7 March 2015

Some Flowers

Red Lungwort (Pulmonaria rubra)

White poplar tree and bark 

Bootlace fungi on fallen Beech trunk

Some early spring flowers out around Morpeth like Hairy Bittercress and Lesser Celandine and today at Widdrington many Dandelions in flower along the railway side. The above Red Lungwort were in flower at Stobswood but the number of plants are much lower than in previous years. The rest of the pictures were taken at Carlisle Park Morpeth. The Bootlace fungi are black cords called rhizomorphs which is the means of how Honey fungus (Armillaria mellea) spreads and are found beneath the bark of trees that are infected. They can be very long in length and can spread from tree to tree making the Honey fungus the most dangerous of parasites to trees.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Stobswood and Harwood

Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)...Grangewood

Open area of Carr at former Widdrington tip

Reed Canary-grass (Phalaris arundinacae)

Some renovation work on old farmhouse at Redpath

Some of the extensive harvesting areas

I had to Google this one!

On Friday spent the afternoon around Stobswood. The variety of birds was disappointing compared to previous days but the wind was up again. Only 2 Common Buzzards; one at the old tip and the other near Felton Lane. The Geese numbers were low with only 38 Pink footed Geese visible. At the old tip Woodcock and Jay were plentiful on the Carr habitat. There is a couple of open areas but they are dominated with False Oat-grass (Arrhenatherum elatius) which isn't good news for the Orchids and other clearings have Common Reed (Phragmites australis) and Reed Canary-grass but these will have a restrictive area to establish due to the encroaching Birch and Alder. In the woods the Ransoms is well in leaf and a few Dog's Mercury are coming into flower. I had a good look at the ponds. At Middle Stobswood the water level is high and only held 6 Tufted Ducks. East Stobswood was better with a good variety of wildfowl such as Teal, Wigeon and Shelduck and a single male Pochard. Two hundred + Lapwing here. On Widdrington Moor the strong wind was creating waves but the Gulls and wildfowl were small in numbers and nothing exciting but the male Goldeneye's looked very smart.
Yesterday I walked about 12 miles around Harwood forest. There are many open areas as extensive harvesting has opened large acres of the forest. Ususal forest birds around such as Siskin with flocks of 300 + and smaller numbers of Redpoll and Bullfinch. Single Reed Bunting and a scattering of Coal Tits. Crossbill numbers were fair with a single flock of over a hundred and many birds in pairs with singing males. New signs have gone up for the Sandstone way, not hearing about this it turns out to be a 120 mile mountain bike route which starts at Hexham and finishes at Berwick upon Tweed slicing through the heart of upland Northumberland. I might try it! More birds on the way home with 120 Fieldfare at Rothley, mixed Redwing and Fieldfare (over a hundred birds) near the Dyke Neuk and four Buzzards soaring over Gubeon woods.

Thursday, 26 February 2015


I should have uploaded the notes from yesterday but the scanner wasn't working properly. Good job I have kids to show me how! I apologised for the crap photos yesterday and today I apologise again for the crap artwork and scribbly writing but that's just the way I do things. May have to click to see writing better.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Rough legged Buzzard

RLB chasing a Peregrine while a Crow watches on...Honest!!!

Ross's Goose still hanging around

First Coltsfoot this year

Started off at Ulgham this afternoon making my way over the former opencast at Stobswood. Lots of birds around and to begin with there was a nice flock of Fieldfares at Ulgham park but nothing until I reached the burn with large flocks of Starlings and Lapwings. There was over a hundred Meadow pipits and 60 or so Skylarks with single figure flocks of Linnet, Goldfinch and Reed Bunting.
 I walked towards Robin Hood wood to the highest point along this track which gives good views over the pond behind Middle Stobswood. The Geese were here with over 700 Pink footed Geese and a single Ross's among them. I was scanning the extensive rough ground which stretches from East Stobswood to Peigh Hills. There was 5 Buzzards including a very large female with plain markings. There was also 4 Kestrels and 2 Herons. A different looking bird of prey lifted out of the grass and I thought it was going to fly over my head but glided along the small burn here before diving into the grass. A fine looking Red Kite; my second at this site.I waited for about ten minutes but I didn't see it lift so I walked back along the track and headed off towards the rough grass where I saw it go but another bird of prey caught my eye in the far distance behind the old offices. Looking through my binoculars I knew exactly what this bird was. My first Rough legged Buzzard at this site and my first one in the county since the one at Whitley Bay many years back. This was a fine bird but too far off for any photos with the camera I have as you can see above. It was feeding on voles in the long grass and kept flying up briefly before plunging to the ground. It was very pale underneath and the rump and upper tail was white with a visible black band. The bird looked very big and looked 'fleecy' as it occasionally alighted on a fence post but spent most of the time on the ground. It hovered a few times as it glided around. A delight to watch. The Crows weren't happy and kept chasing it further away. 2 Peregrines came over and the Buzzard chased it off and the other was chasing the large Starling flock. I lost sight of it as it went past West Stobswood farm. I believe this may be the bird that was in the area in November. It may have left the area or perhaps it has spent the last few months just feeding in the rough behind these farms not visible to anyone from the main road.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Plenty of voles

Recent visits to Widdrington tip has been notable for Herons, Kestrels and Buzzards. The Herons and Buzzards (up to four at any one time) have been flushed off the ground in the rough grass and concluding they can only be feeding on an abundance of voles. I have also seen many voles/mice moving through the long grass as I walk through. Next month sees the movements from the uplands of any wintering Great grey Shrikes and it would be wonderful to encounter one in this area. The last time I saw one in this area was in a more farmland environment unrecognisable today behind what is still Karva woodcraft today but Joycee engineering way back in December 1975 as a young teenager! The habitat today looks more suitable than it did then.
Woodcock was in the denser Alder Carr area but I don't see Snipe here now due to the encroaching Alders and Willows. It used to be a good place to see Jack Snipe. Still plenty of common birds around. Today at Highlaws near Heighley Gate there is a large flock of around 650 Fieldfares feeding in fields with a similar number of Starlings.

Friday, 13 February 2015


Silk Tassel Bush (Garrya elliptica

Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

I was able to take a few pictures as I walked along the river around Morpeth yesterday afternoon. Along the river bank at Oldgate the Silk Tassel Bush (Garrya elliptica) is looking at its best this time of year at Matheson's gardens with its large elegant catkins. Further along on the riverbank there is a few small but showy clumps of Winter Aconite in flower. Morpeth doesn't have the lovely display that Denwick church yard  has but there are a few places where you can find it but probably the best area is St James church yard behind the wall at Copper Chare. A Marsh Tit was feeding in gardens near High House and a Merlin flew low over the turnip fields at Temple's gardens and over the paddocks next to the railway line. I have also been seeing up to 4 Buzzards in the same area recently.

Sunday, 8 February 2015


Different aspect of Cheviot and Hedgehope with Longframlington moor in the foreground from Stobswood

There's a Ross's Goose in there somewhere

Velvet Shank...a winter favourite

Goosander at Oldgate

Walking partners

Taken in December, Winter Moth on my ceiling

Little blog activity lately partly due to time of year and not many photo opportunities. I have been out and about but still looking around the Stobswood and Widdrington area; as the countryside around Morpeth is pleasant there is much more biodiversity around the area I grew up in. Today was a good day. I spent a couple of hours walking around the former Stobswood opencast and there was a flock of about 800-1000 Pink footed Geese, I couldn't find any Bean or White-fronted among them but a Ross's Goose stood out in the flock. A Hen Harrier flew south high above the flock and continued flying over Ulgham village until out of sight; my second sighting this winter at this site. The highlight though was a single Snow Bunting along the track near East Stobswood farm. 
Back at Morpeth Velvet Shank fungi is quite common around the woods; the above pic was taken at Lancaster park. There are a few Goosanders on the river , most of them nearer Mitford but a nice drake has been gracing the Wansbeck at Oldgate and a Kingfisher has been fishing under the footbridge beside the Chantry since Boxing day when the river is not swollen.