Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Cresswell pond

Called in at Cresswell pond while out with the dog this morning. No sign of the Buff breasted sandpiper but numerous other waders there. I had my best views ever of a Bittern. It was in reeds in the south east corner of the pond and sat on top of the reeds in view for about an hour. A Heron would chase it around the reedbed a few times but kept landing in roughly the same spot. I must apologise for the digiscoped shots that are greatly cropped but it wasn't an easy thing to photograph as it was rarely still. Back at the meadows I have just finished my nightshifts so I haven't been out much but on my way home from work the other morning, I saw a Crossbill over Cottingwood; a first for me for Morpeth. Above is the Bittern being chased by a Heron, a few shots of the Bittern, the Cresswell kingfisher and a Hawker/Darter thing.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Watcher of the skies.

Despite the number of hours I spend in the field I have never been a raptor watcher hence I am always looking downwards for anything that creeps, grows and flies a short distance. So today I have been trying to watch the skies over Morpeth for possible Honey buzzards but I am easily distracted. The rains have brought a bounty of fungi including a couple of new ones for me. I was delighted to come across Spectacular rustgill (Gymnopilus junonius) and Rubber buttons (Bulgaria inquinans) growing close together in woods next to the common (top two). Also my first Amethyst deceiver this year, the poisonous Fly agaric which is evidently not poisonous for something as all of them had large mouthfuls taken from them and a lot of old Meadow puffballs along the wanny line.

On the bird front a lot of Willow warblers, Spotted flycatchers and Blackcaps moving along the bushes at the Wanny line. On the golf course there were two Yellow wagtails among the sixty or so Pieds (viewed from the Wanny line of course , I don't play that silly game). I'll try and watch the skies for the rest of the day before I start a week of nights again.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Assessing the damage

As the water level of the Wansbeck drops a little each day some of the damage becomes apparent. Above are some pics from this morning with the tons of trees deposited above head height at Highford bridge and the weir which has long been a waterfall feature at Highford has been slicesd through the middle. Further down at the Mitford road a common sight for many riverside residents and the wall beside the lay-by at Highford bridge is no more. The wansbeck is still a torrent but much lower at High stanners. The bottom pic taken this evening of a mystery bat which have been flying over the garden all week. I don't think anyone will be able to identify this from this picture. There are several species in Morpeth such as Natterers, daubenton and Pipistrelle. This is larger than Pipistrelle, probably medium size but not as big as Noctule. I will try and take another picture if I get the chance.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Catching up

First days off in between night shifts gave me the opportunity to catch up with some of the migrants I have missed at the weekend. I started at Hadston links where there were plenty of migrants still around. Lots of Willow warblers, spotted flycatchers and Redstarts and a few Whinchats but the highlight was a Wryneck. Good views but I couldn't get close enough to take a picture. Still a few plants and butterflies around. I finished off at Cresswell pond but couldn't find the Buff-breasted sandpiper but a good show of waders. Curlew sandpiper, Little stint, Ruff and many more. There were two Pectoral sandpipers which compensated for the lack of the Buff-breasted. The pics above are a record shot of the Pec at Cresswell and below three shots from Hadston of Bloody cranesbill, Grass of parnassus and the bush where there is a Wryneck sitting in it...honestly.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Clean up time

Post flood week. The Wansbeck is still high but the flood waters have receded and the affected people have a mammoth task ahead of them, many shops and businesses are closed and will be for weeks. The footpaths along the river are all closed as tons of mud and debris are cleared. I hope to get upstream tomorrow if some of the paths are passable. Just a few pics of the river.

Sunday, 7 September 2008


Morpeth only makes the headlines when there is a flood or a train crash. It was the sixties since such events have happened and although the Wansbeck anually bursts her banks the last couple of days have seen exceptional rainfall. We were lucky where we live but only just. Six houses opposite us were flooded as well as dozens further along the road but it was the hundreds of people who live closer to the river that were the real victims. The top five pics were taken yesteday afternoon, seven hours before it reached it's peak and the rest of the pics were taken this morning. I couldn't get across the water until today so I couldn't get to work last night. To give a bit idea how much the water level dropped overnight, the pic above with the upturned boats, those cars on the right were submerged yesterday afternoon. Lets hope it's another forty years or more until the next deluge.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Harwood and Mitford

Not much to report on over the last week as I am on night shift for the next three. I have still been out but I haven't seen very much. I went to Harwood forest the other day. It is good to go there at any time but I never expect to see much at this time of year. With the kids still on holiday thay have to come with me and we walked six miles through the forest. Target species was Bog rosemary a tiny flower that grows in the mires but I couldn't find any. They flower right through September so I will go back before the end of the month. We walked along to Mitford this morning; plenty of common stuff like kingfisher and Dipper as well as good flocks of Chiffs and Crests and a Blackcap. Above are the wansbeck at Morpeth, The bairns by the river Font at Mitford, they love to catch things so Niall picked up a toad and Amber caught a Small skipper at Harwood and a lonely Harebell at Mitford castle, the stile that has been moved as the last time I was here I went a**e over t*ts as I demonstrated to the kids how to clear a stile properly; someone must have heard the bairns laughing, me, Amber and Bennyboy at Redpath.