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


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.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

An unlikely twitch

Still on the Don

Birdwatching companion

The last few weekends have seen us touring university open days for Niall. We have been to Edinburgh, Northampton and last weekend was the turn of Aberdeen. Fortunately the long staying Harlequin duck was still present on Saturday. While Heather and Niall were at the bridge of Dee at Robert Gordon university me and Amber sensibly headed North to the Bridge of Don and spent the morning watching the duck and having a walk along the river. Very nice bird...well worth the trip.

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.