Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Stobswood again

Blackberry picking at the old brickworks I noticed dozens of Butterflies on the Buddleja including 4 Painted Ladies, 12 Red Admirals, over 20 Peacocks, Dozens of Large Whites and a few Wall Browns.

The pond at Grangewood is dominated by Water Soldier (Stratiotes aloides) and the bottom pic is another new plant but no doubt an introduction: Galingale (Cyperus longus).

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Old Fodder

Lucerne (Medicago sativa)

White Melilot (Melilotus albus)

I like a walk around old opencast mining sites and at Pegswood Moor the poor thin soils around a deep sided pool may be poor for looking for birds but interesting plants always turn up at these sites. Lucerne is growing around most of the North side of the site. It is a plant that was introduced as a fodder plant in the 17th century and known as Alfalfa and has probably come with wild flower seeds which have been planted around the former mining site. Growing nearby is White Melilot. My first and last sighting of this plant was at Stobswood brickworks in 2001 but couldn't be found over the following years. Hundreds of these plants are in flower at Pegswood Moor at the moment.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Wildlife at the brickworks

Small Copper

Robin's pincushion



Some kind of black bee on Canadian Goldenrod

Creeping Cinqufoil

Trailing Tormentil

Still hanging on in there

Broad leaved Helleborine

Still plenty of colour at the old brickworks at Stobswood and another plant for the list. The Broad leaved Helleborine is having an exceptional year this year with thousands of plants scattered through Grangewood including the pine plantations around the old pit heap. Red Squirrels still have a toehold here and Eyebrights and Blue Fleabane are also flowering in their thousands. Tormentil (Potentilla erecta) is a common plant here but the plant pictured above is Trailing Tormentil (Potentilla anglica); a new addition. It is a scarce plant in the county and I came across a healthy patch where the old railway embankment is or in the case where it is growing where part of the embankment was leveled to accommodate a mobile phone mast. The resulting flattened area is an excellent stony area where thousands of Blue Fleabane have colonised along with many other plants. There are still many plants to discover here.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Sutherland and Caithness

Amber at Loch Fleet looking towards Ben Brhaggie. The controversial statue of Lord Sutherland just visible

Common Seals either sleeping or fighting

Some wildlife from Embo dunes

Isles of Orkney

Heath Cudweed

Not long back from 10 days in the North of Scotland. A nice variety of wildlife to look at including fishing Ospreys at Loch Fleet and Salmon leaping at the Falls of Shin. The pic of the Salmon is from Amber's phone; they were too quick for me! Some of them were tagged. The dunes at Embo were very good for plantlife and low tide at the Dornoch Firth was incredible with many maritime plants some of them new to me; Baltic Rush included. It was nice to see Common and Heath Cudweed; two species that are now hard to find in Northumberland. Knotted Clover was another new plant but it was past its flowering best. I think a visit here in late June would be a good time to see even more plants. 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Canary Grass

Canary Grass (Phalaris canariensis)

I came across Canary grass growing in the car park next to Lidl's at Morpeth. It is the first time I have seen this plant which is a native to the Mediterranean but occurs occasionally on waste ground in this country.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Caspian Gull

For whatever reason I didn't connect with the Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans) last year at Amble but the ringed returning individual was present early afternoon on the sand spit opposite the harbour. It was frightened off by some canoists/kayakers who decided to get out of their crafts and sit on the sand themselves scattering all the Gulls and Cormorants. When the birds did settle again I couldn't pick it up again on the incoming tide. The reliable adult Mediterranean Gull was in its usual place on the grass above the Little shore. The pic of Birch Shieldbug (Elasmostethus intersinctus) was from the garden.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Procumbent Yellow Sorrel

Procumbent Yellow Sorrel (Oxalis corniculata)...Morwick

Yesterday a new plant caught my eye when we called into Morwick farm for an ice cream. There was a carpet of Procumbent Yellow Sorrel growing along the main track near the farmhouse. Earlier in the morning I was walking around the old brickworks at Stobswood and admiring the amount of ground colour and thinking about the recent government decision to give builders the power to have compulsory purchase on brown field sites across the country. I wonder if this is the last time I see this site at its floral best. Along with the plants were hundreds of Butterflies chiefly Ringlets and Meadow browns with good numbers of Common Blue, Speckled wood and a nice Red Admiral. There are three species of Stonecrop at Stobswood with Biting (Sedum acre), White (S. album) and English (S. anglicum) above. All with a dubious origin no doubt but a delight to see in flower. Musk Thistle (Carduus nutans) was also in flower. In 2002 I came across a few flowering plants of Broad leaved helleborine (Epipactis helleborine) growing in Grangewood near the entrance to the brickworks and the following year I counted over 70 at the edge of a pine plantation there. I have noticed these plants increasing over the years and yesterday I counted over a thousand plants in flower all in Grangewood.