Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Silverleaf fungus

Walking along the river beside Matheson's gardens I came across a tree trunk covered in Silverleaf fungus (Chondostereum purpureum). This is a common parasite on fruit trees, particularly Cherry and Plum causing silverleaf disease via a white rot inside the wood. Despite this it is an attractive small violet and white fungi.
On Sunday afternoon on my way home from work there were 18 Crossbills at the top of Cottingwood bank near to the school. Today I have been at Widdrington tip. Very wet but I flushed 11 Common Snipe and 3 Jack snipe. Lots of Goldfinches and Reed buntings and a Red legged Partridge.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Recent outings

Flowering Hogweed...Mathesons gardens

Saffron Milkcap...hundreds of them at St. Georges hospital

Clustered Bonnet and Shaggy Inkcap...Carlisle park

Aniseed mushroom (odora)...Borough woods

Snowy Waxcap...Abbey meadows

Its been a while since the last post but I have still been out and about. Fungi is still good at the moment with the list getting bigger by the outing but a few birds around as well. A trip to Harwood last week was a washout despite brilliant sunshine in Morpeth, only a couple of Buzzards seen. Two saturday's in a row I have been at Druridge. Lots of Pink feet going south and Twite and Goldfinch at Bells farm. The dark nights have produced a few Owl sightings with Barn at East Stobswood and West Chevington at the weekend and at least four Tawny owls calling early morning at Abbey meadows.

Decided to change the blog a bit...getting sick of the green and the black background shows up the pictures a bit better. I don't know if this is a good thing as it may highlight how crap they really are! Making the most of the Fungi at the moment before the hard frosts kill them altogether so here's a few more pics of Fungi in Morpeth.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Mid November

Lawyers wig...Common but very photogenic

Two views of the Borough woods...fungi country!

Clouded Funnel

Tar spot fungus on Sycamore

These Beech Milkcaps have seen better days

Laccaria laccata

The way the winds are at the moment it is quiet for birds. I have been around the local ponds but seen little of note. However, the rain has been excellent for fungi and has given me another challenge to try and identify the hundreds that are around the woods here at the moment.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

East Chevington and Mitford

The Wansbeck at Mitford

On Wednesday I called in at Widdrington tip on my way to East Chevington. Only 4 Common Snipe today and 1 Woodcock in the Alders. 2 Stoats were chasing and jumping on each other along the track and 3 Roe Deer were in the plantation opposite. Still plenty of Chaffinches and Skylarks around, a single Buzzard, 22 Linnets and my first species on the new pond...Moorhen.

At East Chevington there were hundreds of Great black backed gulls but little else of note except a Water rail and Kingfisher at the mouth. Bennyboy flushed a Woodcock out of the dunes.

I was at Mitford castle on Thursday, I flushed 2 Woodcock out of the woods here when looking for fungi and there was a Dipper on the river here. Quiet otherwise on the bird front but I will post some of my fungi pics when I get some time.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Jacks are back

Stonechat at Widdrington tip

Yellow Fieldcap

Yellow brain on Gorse

Two phases of Blackening Waxcap

Caterpillar sp Hadston links...not a sharp shot

Good start to the day with a lovely Green woodpecker feeding on the grass at the top of Abbey meadows on a tri-angle of grass at the T junction. It flew and landed at the base of a tree. I enjoyed the views for a few minutes rather than run around trying to get a pic of it. It was looking bright and smart in the morning sunshine.
I then went to Widdrington tip where the rains have flooded almost the whole of the wooded and clearing areas and walking through I flushed 33 Common snipe and 4 jack snipe. I tried hard to photo a Jack but they kept flying only a few yards and I was almost standing on them before they flushed a short distance again but I couldn't pin point exactly where they were landing. Other birds of note here were 40+ Skylark, 14 Reed buntings, Stonechat, 2 Buzzards and a small Linnet flock.
I finished the day at Hadston and Hauxley links. Not a lot of birds today but some fine fungi in the dunes and I have posted a few.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Greys 4 Reds 1

One of the 6 Jays...almost impossible to photograph

Surprised to find these Shaggy inkcaps growing in deep woodland

Pine loving Tricholoma terreum

Common Puffball, Lycoperdon perlatum

A young Crespidotus variabilis

I forget the name of this but I have it written down somewhere.

A walk through the Borough woods today produced no fewer than 4 Grey Squirrels. The fate of the Reds is doomed as the only one I have seen recently was a road casualty at the top of Abbey meadows. Plenty of woodland birds with 6 Jays, 3 Marsh tits and 4 Bullfinches. Plenty of Coal tits and still a few Goldcrests in the pines near the A1. Recent rains has not only swollen the river Wansbeck but produced loads of fungi, some of which are a bit of a headache to identify.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Last of the Autumn harvest

Sloe gatherers

Stropharia aeruginosa

Pleated inkcap (Coprinus plicatilis)

Yellowleg bonnet (Mycena epipterygia)

Wood Blewit (Lepista nuda)

I usually start with Raspberries when I can find them, then Blackies, Crab apples, rosehips and finally Sloes for me gin. This year seems to be a good year for Sloes and this is the time I like to gather them. So it was off to Druridge bay cp today and let the kids do the picking while I look and listen out for birds with a promise of lunch at the cafe in the visitor centre. Much quieter today compared to earlier in the week. Still lots of Thrushes with Fieldfares, Redwings and Blackbirds in the dunes. A Bullfinch has taken up residence in the bushes in the dunes but it's not a Northern. No sign of any Phylloscs today but a Goosander flew in off the sea and headed South. I was talking to Dave Elliot at the T junction and I passed ADMc on his bike at Widdrington village. I've posted pics of more fungi from the country park.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

More Fungi

Peaceful autumn afternoon at Bolam

Stereum hirsutum...Bolam lake

A young Coprinus niveus...Hadston links

Saffron milkcap...Morpeth common

Spent the last couple of days in a variety of local habitats and recent rains have brought a good number of species of fungi. I don't want to inundate the blog with pics that not many people are really interested in so I've posted just a few.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

More pics of that Wheatear

Little contrast between wing coverts and upperparts

Pale supercelium in front of and above eye
Primary projection does not reach end of tail
White upper tail and broad terminal band
Wheatear...Druridge bay cp, Hadston links 26/10/09

Stewart (Boulmer birder) gave me some food for thought after leaving a comment on my blog yesterday. I have posted some more pics which show (I think) some overlapping features of Northern and Isabelline Wheatears but I personally believe this is just a pale Northern. I apologise again for the poor quality and the heavily cropped pics. Please feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Druridge bay CP

Boletus badius...DBCP

Orange Milkcap...Hadston links
I'm probably the only local birder who hadn't seen a Firecrest this year but I decided to try Druridge bay cp as this is a good site but with lots of cover it wasn't going to be easy. I had the kids with me as its half term holiday so I had to make a few compromises along the way. It didn't take long to find one but it took me another five minutes to see it; high up in a conifer to the north of the visitor centre, it was on its own but what beautiful birds they are.
Lots of birds in the bushes in the dunes but chiefly Redwing, Robin and Dunnock...I wish I had been here on Thursday. First Twite of the Autumn with 16 flying north over the lake and 9 in the dunes. At Hadston scaurs presumably the same 9 flew north towards Hauxley and hour later. Hundreds of Pink footed geese still making their way south.
Recent rains has brought an abundance of fungi with hundreds of the edible Boletus badius on the short turf in the country park.
On the way up I stopped at Ulgham for my turn of duty. Not much to do...very clean. Common birds like Bullfinch and Yellowhammer looked resplendant in the morning sunshine and so did a Kingfisher just under the bridge on the main road.
A large pale Wheatear caught my eye in Hadston dunes but despite a good look and some crap record pics I think it may be an immature greenland type.

Wheatear...Hadston links

Saturday, 24 October 2009

First Fieldfares last Swallow

At work again but birds seen today were Woodcock near the Sun inn , Morpeth and at Widdrington Station Four Fieldfares and a single Swallow flying south. I came across the above Angle shades moth in my Greenhouse this afternoon...a moth I haven't seen in years.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Mad dash south

I don't usually twitch these days especially on my own but when I got back from work at 2 30 today there were no messages on my phones so I thought I would ring the humble birdline to see if there were still any Firecrests kicking about locally. I only had a couple of hours as I had to get back at teatime to pick the kids up.
Eastern Crowned Warbler in Durham...I didn't listen to the rest of the messages. Its a long time since I have seen a picture of Eastern Crowned Warbler I had to get the books out to remind myself. Despite it being the busiest time of the day and week I decided to drive down. I stuffed a fiver in my pocket and bought a Twirl en route to get some change for the Tyne tunnel but well within the hour I was watching this gem of a bird. I was fortunate as the bird was showing well on my arrival favouring the less foliated tops of the Sycamores.
I'll leave pictures and plumage details to the experts and visit other excellent blogs and sites; I deliberately left my camera at home for this very reason! Had it been a first for Britain like the charismatic Double crested Cormorant on Teeside (which incidentally cost me a fortune as I locked the keys in my car that day) I would have been a bit reluctant to make the journey but phylloscs are star birds...worth travelling miles for.

Monday, 19 October 2009


Autumn in Morpeth

Linton zoo!

Its been a while since my last post but I haven't been away other than work. It was nice to be off over the weekend but it has been a bit quiet on the birding front. Last Monday the Green woodpecker was calling form High house wood and this also held 2 Marsh tits. Nine Crossbills flew east over Highford bridge but only one Dipper on the river. On Saturday I was in Harwood forest but could only manage 4 Crossbills here but the best birds were a flock of 54 Lesser Redpolls...magnificent birds these! Still a few insects around with Red admirals and Common Hawker.

Today I did a tour of the coastal ponds but not much about. Six Whooper swans flew south and Ten Shoveler on Linton being the most notable.I watched Druridge pools from the dunes to avoid the crowds looking for the Ibis. I'm not anti social but I didn't expect to see much with two people walking along the baffle banks looking onto the main pool. The Greenshank and the Scaup were the only birds that didn't fly off. Some nice Redwings in the north bushes though and a large flock of Linnet with Goldfinch in the dunes which will inevitably attract some Twite in the near future.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Atheys Dene

The aptly named Spectacular Rosegill

The poisonous Sulpher tuft

Spent the morning in the woods around Morpeth. Large tit flocks forming with many Goldcrests among them. Jays and Nuthatches are quite numerous in these woods and a nice flock of Bullfinches were a delight. A Green woodpecker was calling from Atheys Dene. Yesterday I was at Widdrington tip but not a lot to report except good numbers of Skylarks and a single Snipe. At Druridge the Glossy ibis was on the main pool and two Otters were putting on a good show. No sign of the Buff breasted at Cresswell but hundreds of Pink footed geese. At least 30 Knot were on Cresswell beach.