Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Bumper crop

Yellow Star of Bethlehem and Creeping Comfrey

Last year the flowering of Yellow Star of Bethlehem at Scotch Gill woods Morpeth was 18th April with 26 flowering plants. The cold early spring meant they were a month late. This year on 18th March there was also 26 flowering plants but by 29th March there were 42 flowering plants the most I have seen so far at this site. Creeping Comfrey is also spreading through the woodland around Morpeth. The above flowers are growing in woods near the castle and there is another large clump growing in woodland near East Mill.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Harwood Forest

Ruby Tiger moth caterpillar

First butterfly this year...Peacock in Harwood forest

A good walk around Harwood forest today. Fairly quiet on the bird front with a pair of Grey Wagtails deep in the forest which was a bit unusual. Only 2 Crossbills were seen and a female Goshawk was hunting low over a clearing near Hummel Knowe despite it being good displaying weather today. Looking for Shrikes in Harwood is becoming increasingly difficult as there are now huge areas of clear fell and the acreage seems to be getting larger each week and more mileage is needed to cover some of these areas.
Peacock butterfly on the wing among the Heather was my first butterfly this year and a Ruby Tiger moth caterpillar was crossing over the track near Redpath cottage.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Off the mark

Pale Brindled Beauty

Last night was the second week of the garden moth scheme. I drew a blank last week and I thought it might be the same last night as the temperature dropped at dusk. I was pleased with just one moth in the trap this morning. Last year it was April before I started catching moths due to the cold spring so Pale Brindled Beauty would have been too late to see last year. This is the first time I have seen this species.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

A lowland Raven

Out early this morning walking towards Beacon Hill. Walking down Whinney Lane past Lough house I thought I heard the 'cronk' of a Raven. At the bottom of the lane and looking over Heronsclose Burn over damp rough ground which has recently been planted up with trees I noticed a large black bird on a fence post. Through the binoculars it was clearly a Raven and it called a couple of times as it flew over the rough ground towards Gorfenletch. This is only my second lowland sighting of Raven the last being at Littlehoughton quarry a few years ago on my way back from Stewart's house at Howick. I have seen them a few miles from here at Rothley, Ewesley and Lordenshaw. I walked back by Benridge moor and took the footpath back by the pond at Lough house. The hedgerow here was full of Tree Sparrows and a single Marsh Tit. There was at least 20 Red legged partridges along the field edge. The Raven was solitary in behaviour ignoring the numerous flocks of Carrion crows, Rooks and Jackdaws feeding among Gulls in flooded fields nearby.
Later this afternoon we had a family walk around Druridge Bay Country Park. The sunshine brought out lots of dog walkers and I was rewarded with Woodcock flushed by dogs at Radcliffe plantation on the North side of the lake and a few seconds later a Long eared Owl flew out of the wood and flew briefly parallel with the trees before swiftly disappearing back into the wood. No camera with me today; the above pic was taken by my son with his i pad at DBCP

Monday, 3 February 2014

Above the clouds

A couple of weeks ago we climbed Simonside. It was murky and grey, very cold, and cloudy. Lots of Red Grouse but once we reached the top the clouds were below us. Top pic is a different aspect of the Cheviot hills and the one below is looking over Harwood forest...note the amount of clearance at the Rothbury end.

Moss Oysterling (Arrhenia acerosa) growing on the rotten floor of my garden shed. 

Cropped shot of Green hellebore (Helleborus viridis) on opposite bank of River Font near Mitford

Velvet Shank (Flammulina) near Highford bridge, Morpeth

A walk along the river Wansbeck between Morpeth and Mitford yesterday morning was productive in terms of fungi and birds. Three Goosanders upstream from the stepping stones and up to 20 Bramblings feeding on the steep ground on Beech mast at Atheys dene. Among other birds here were Marsh tit and at least 11 Great Tits together and Jay. Velvet Shank fungi appears abundant in and around the woods this winter.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

East Chevington

Lesser Redpoll...East Chevington

View of the Cheviot hills from Druridge Bay country park

Up early and a good walk along the beach at East Chevington and a walk around Ladyburn lake at Druridge Bay CP and back to East Chevington via the back of the North pool through the Alders. Here there was a flock of at least 18 Lesser Redpolls which included many colourful males. 
A good variety of wildfowl on East Chevington included many fine Goldeneye and there was also a Red necked Grebe on the North pool. Ladyburn lake also held a variety of wildfowl but a wind surfer was making many birds take to the air. The highlight here were 3 Long tailed ducks but only a single Pochard could be found.

Sunday, 5 January 2014


Morning walk around Wallington Hall this morning. Still a good place for Red Squirrels and pleasant woodland walks along the river Wansbeck. Also a good place for fungi and plants, some of the wintering flowers in the walled garden were in flower such as Winter Aconite, Snowdrop and Green Hellebore. Yesterday I was at Amble harbour looking at the Gulls; nothing exciting but 52 Cormorants on the old staithes were noteworthy.