Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Hadston Links

Brackish water crowfoot...Hadston Links
Swallow...Bothal pond

Common Storksbill...Hadston Links

Swallow and Sand Martin...Hadston Links

Cowslip...Hadston Links

One of several Highland calfs...East Chevington

Grey Heron...Bothal pond

Wheatear...Pegswood moor

Decided to head for the coast today as I've hardly been along there this spring. At this time of year I like the dunes of Druridge bay and Hadston links is a great place for looking for plants. In the dune slacks there is a brackish pool and just as Swan suggests Brackish water crowfoot, a submerged buttercop species is found in only a handful of places in the county but it grows in Hadston links. It can easily be separated from the similar Thread leaved water crowfoot which also grows in these dune slacks but this plant has 'half moon' shaped honey guides which are clearly visible between the petals. Many plants coming into flower here especially Cowslips and some of the many sub species of Dandelion. On the way home called in at Linton, Bothal, Longhirst flash and Pegswood moor all were pretty quiet. there were 3 Wheatears and 2 Ringed plover at the latter site.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

First fledgling

Young Dipper at Highford
Dryad's saddle a common fungi in the woods around here

My first fledgling this spring was a Dipper at Highford being fed by both parents. Further along a Kingfisher flew out of a nest hole in the bank on the far side of the river. The young Dipper has a ring on its right leg. A pair of Goosander were on the river here as well as several pairs of Mallard.I walked further upstream to Mitford castle. The commonest bird singing along the river was Blackcap; there seemed to be one singing or 'tac' ing every 20 yards or so. There was a Buzzard at the castle being mobbed by Jackdaws and a Green woodpecker (heard). many plants are coming into flower and the first fungi are beginning to fruit.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Bothal on Friday evening

Sulphur tuft at Abbey gate

White goose among the Canada geese flock at Bothal

A couple of days late but work getting in the way of things until mid week. On friday evening spent some time at Bothal pond. The only notable birds were 2 Ringed plover and a White wagtail. In the field was a white/leucistic Grey laggy looking bird among the Canadas. At Pegswood moor yesterday 2 Ringed plover, 6 Mallard, 1 Tufted, 2 Gadwall and a Snipe.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Rothbury to Chartners

Chartners house, Harwood forest

Yeaterday I entered Harwood forest from the Rothbury end, this is the first time I have cycled along here. It is steep in places but not too strenuous and the area around Weather head has been clear felled so there is an open aspect right across the Simonsides, Spylaw and Coquet cairn. The forest is full of the usual forest species with good numbers of Siskin and at least 10 Jays. A few birds of prey in the air but the best birds were 2 Ravens at the top of Simonside and later at Weather head (presumably the same birds), these birds were quite vocal making a wonderful noise as I cycled along the track. Also 2 Crossbills at the Rothbury end and Red grouse. Only migrants were Willow warbler and Swallow.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Harwood forest

Red squirrel in the village

Hares foot cottongrass swaying in the breeze
A family day out in Harwood today on a 10 mile hike through the forest. Plenty of birds with over a 100 chaffinches near the village with greenfinch, Siskin and Bullfinch too. 3 jays in the forest and lots of Chiffchaff, willow warbler and Meadow pipit. The only new bird being a Tree pipit at Tod knowe. No less than 6 Buzzards in the air together and 2 pairs of Stonechat. Also seen were Roe deer, Red squirrel and Lizard.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Marsh harrier over Morpeth

My daughter was dancing as part of the annual Morpeth gathering and at 1230 while waiting for her to start her dancing a Harrier flew over Carlisle park. My binoculars were in my rucksack and soon I was able to identify it as a Marsh harrier though the photograph I managed to take doesn't do it justice. It circled and flapped a few times before heading off north. Only other birds of note today were 5 House martins feeding above the garden at 9 o'clock this morning. This is also the time of year that the unusual plant Toothwort comes into flower. The best spot is along the riverbank beside the Oldgate bridge at Matheson gardens where about 60 plants are out at the moment. The other good place is beside the castle. The procession
Amber full of concentration

The cropped silhouette shot of the Harrier (flying right to left)

One of about 60 Toothwort plants

This area was badly affected by the floods but has had no effect on the plants

Friday, 17 April 2009

Hart and Wansbeck

Goldilocks buttercup...Scotch gill
Goosander pair at Highford bridge

Green alkanet at Longwitton dene

Barren strawberry at Longwitton dene

Great horsetail at Abbey woods

Keeping local at the moment. Started early afternoon with a walk through Scotch gill. Plenty of singing Blackcaps and Willow warblers. Nothing much on the river except a pair of Goosanders. Further upstream my first Sand martins of the year, about 30 with 2 Swallow among them at Lowford bridge. Drove to Longwitton dene on the river Hart. A good spot but a bit early for migrants. Plenty of plants starting to come into flower. Angerton lake was quiet with a pair of Goldeneye the only wildfowl of note. 7 Fieldfares were the first I have seen for a few weeks.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Welcome back

Willow warbler at Linton pond
Drake Gadwall on the wrong side of the gate at Bothal

With the fog gone this morning and temperatures reaching a scorching 9 degrees I did the tour of local ponds. starting at Pegswood moor, no sign of the Ringed plover but the 3 Wheatears were still there. 6 Tufteds, 3 Mallard and a Heron on the sunken lake. Dozens of Skylarks singing but no other migrants. At Linton pond saw my first Willow warbler. When I used to ring birds these were my favourite birds in the hand. Usual wildfowl and gulls on the pond. Longhirst flash was quiet. At Bothal plenty of wildfowl with 33 Tufted ducks, 21 Gadwall and 37 Coot. Two Pink footed geese still present with the Canadas. I saw a few Swallows today but I still haven't seen a Sand martin.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Foggy and freezing

Some of the 52 Redshank at Longhirst flash

Summer plumaged Ringed plover.....majestic even in the fog!

The Wheatears were active and difficult to get close to

It was mid morning by the time I left the house to do a round of the local ponds. The temperature in the car on the way to the other side of Morpeth was only reading 5.5 degrees and the fog was quite dense in places. A circuit of Pegswood moor was quite good again even though you couldn't see very far ahead. The 3 Ringed plover were back, if they are the same ones and 3 Wheatears, 2 males and a female. Other birds here were Oystercatcher, Lapwing and a Snipe. At Longhist flash I couldn't see the other side but a count of 52 Redshank (there may have been more)! was a record count away from the coast. Bothal pond was fogbound so I will have a look later in the week.

Yesterday we had a family outing to Cragside. quiet at this time of year for wildlife but 2 Crossbills were a nice surprise. These are the first I have seen this year anywhere.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Boulmer birder

Some 'digibinned' shots from Pegswood moor this morning.

Text message from Stewart this morning to let everyone know that his computer is not working at the moment and that he will be moving later in the week so he will be 'off air' for a while.

First day off for a while but I don't go far on bank holidays because of the roads being clogged up with traffic. Walked across to Pegswood moor. A few birds around. A small flock of Curlew held one Whimbrel in the fields to the west beside Howburn woods. Eight Oystercatchers around the sunken lake. No other waders but some wildfowl flying west...3 Grey lag geese and 4 Gadwall. A male Wheatear was also on the big boulders beside the Oystercatchers. My third at this site this year as the two a couple of weeks ago were both females. A dozen or so Skylarks and Meadow pipits singing here. On the other side of the road 4 Gadwall and a Moorhen on the pond. In the woods more Blackcaps have arrived and dozens of Chiffchaffs are singing.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Another day another gull

After work I went back to see if there were any gulls at Longhirst flash. As expected the gulls seen yesterday weren't there. A small flock of Black headeds in the field and a Lesser black backed gull bathing in the pond. It wasn't until the gull came out of the water when I noticed for a LBB it's upperparts were as dark as a Great black backed gull. I won't even think about being any kind of gull expert. I like them but they are not my favoutite species and trying to race or age them has always been a challenge but sometimes one or two birds will stand out among the crowd. I managed a few pics (above). Could this be a bird of the baltic race 'fuscus'? I would need some help with this.

In the meadows 2 Blackcaps singing in the Abbey first of the year.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Swallow before Sand martin

Great crested grebe on Bothal this evening

Arriving at Longhirst flash early evening I was surprised to see a large flock of Gulls sitting around the far flooded patches. Scanning through the scope hoping for a white winged one, the pulse began to race as I noticed a strange looking gull with a bill which looked too long to be natural, a pure white head, some grey scruffy feathering on the mantle but the wings looking like an adult Herring gull but noticably a darker grey. For a while I'd almost convinced myself that it was a Caspian gull but I couldn't see anything else on the bird. Through the scope the eye looked like it had been bleeding but it looked the same on the other side when it turned around. Despite the distance I tried to take some pictures but they only looked like a montage of blurred greys and whites. I even sent a text to Stewart (BB) but sent one back later when I couldn't make my mind up. A low flying helicopter sent the gulls off seaward so I will never know. A pity it wasn't closer.

Off to Bothal pond to see some real birds. Usual wildfowl and Redshank here but a fine Great crested grebe was a nice surprise. A Swallow was flying low over the pond. This is the first year that I can remember that I have seen Swallow before Sand martin.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Abbey mill

Abbey mill...the water wheel is still intact under the right arch
A fine show of Wood anemone in the Borough woods

Moschatel aka Town hall clock

Snakes head fritillary

The Wansbeck at Wallington

Can't put a name to this species of fungi

Not much time spent in the meadows this week due to shift pattern. Wednesday and Thursday mornings were good between the Highford and Lowford bridges. A strange croaking noise along the Mitford road turned out to be two Dippers on a small stone, two other Dippers were further upstream at the broken weir. I also saw Kingfisher here as well as Grey wagtail and Heron. Small numbers of Mallard, I consider any Mallard this far from the town centre as wild; they always behave differently and are very wary. Other birds around here...Marsh tit, Chiffchaff (dozens singing), 8+ Nuthatches inluding 5 together and 7 Jays together in some sort of noisy dispute.
Posted a few pics above along the wansbeck over the last couple of days. The mill race which used to be clear and fast flowing is now slow and stagnant since the weir was damaged in the flood and just trickles under the mill into the Wansbeck.