Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Sunday, 31 May 2009


Taking a rest at Housey crag with Cheviot in the background

Young Red grouse scrambling to safety

Today we climbed the second highest peak in the Cheviots. Hedgehope hill is best accessed from the Harthope valley. It is a steep, strenuous climb but well worth it. The views from the summit were excellent today and the top is covered in Bilberry unlike the boggy, drab summit of Cheviot. I chatted to Boulmer birder and JWR on the way into the valley and watched a pair of Green woodpeckers. After seeing a Green Woodpecker at High house wood at Morpeth last week I have seen more this year than I have seen in the last five. Other bird highlights were Wheatear, Whinchat and Cuckoo. Butterflies up here today were Small heath, Small tortoiseshell and 6 Painted ladies. Lots of Latticed heath and Chimney sweeper moths.
At the summit we came across a family party of Red grouse. The female stayed close and the male tried to distract us with a broken wing technique while 9 chicks darted off in different directions. I only managed to photo the two chicks above. On the way over I saw what I thought was a Grey hen at Longframlington common (an old Black grouse site). After a conversation with Stewart I thought twice but amazingly on my way back I saw the bird again this time in flight then landing on a rock. I pulled up and had a good look. I will return here and have a good look around as this is one of these areas that most people just drive past.

Friday, 29 May 2009


Niall sitting patiently

Wood Horsetail...Fontburn

Maidenhair Spleenwort...Greenleighton

Small copper on Germander speedwell

Early purple orchid...Greenleighton

Wood Cranesbill...Longwitton dene.

As I promised I would take my son fishing this week we headed for Fontburn today. The weather was beautiful and it brought out a lot of people but the fish weren't biting. Looking at the log at the end of the day very few people were successful. Many thanks to Stewart who kindly e-mailed Niall some advice as I don't know anything about fishing. However, he still enjoyed his day out. Posted a few pics from a few outings this week. So far only 2 Painted ladies; one at Clifton yesterday and one in my garden this morning.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009


Harthope Linn
Family pose briefly on the summit

Cotton grass among the heather and bilberry

On sunday (24th) climbed Cheviot from Langleeford, up Scald hill, Cheviot, Cairn hill and back by the Harthope burn back to Langleeford. A strenuous but enjoyable 9 miles. Plenty of wildlife but nothing unusual. Just past the summit it was so clear that you could see the Lammermuir hills in the north and Tynemouth to the south. Despite the lovely sunshine it was bitterly cold on the top. On the way back the damage caused by the September floods was evident with a huge landslide along the Harthope burn, most of the footpath has been washed away and huge boulders and tons of gravel have been deposited along the valley floor.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Quail at Tranwell

Out on a bike ride this afternoon along the quieter lanes west of Morpeth. Just outside Tranwell village I could hear the unmistalable call of Quail. I stopped at the bend in the road and looked back into the corn field and although the winter wheat is only a few inches high there was no chance of even a glimpse. This is my first record of Quail since 1989.
I haven't been deliberately neglecting the blog but I have been a bit busy lately but still been out and about. I will do a proper post 'with pics' tomorrow.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Ulgham meadows and wood

Water avens
Greater Chickweed unusual umbellifer

A sea of Large bittercress

Sweet cicely

Managed an hour this morning at Ulgham before the rain started. No insects around; very dull and cold only 8.5 degrees. Good spot for plants but a bit quiet on the bird front. Usually at this time of year there is often a few Spotted flycatchers but none today. The meadows are looking good with some good plants in flower. The best one being Great chickweed which is actually a Stitchwort. Swan says that Northumberland is the most northerly area for this species. There are a couple of sites in the north of the county but this is the only site in vice county 67 though it is plentiful along the river Lyne. Hope the weather is better tomorrow.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Catching up

Atheys dene in the evening sunshine
Common inkcap...Abbey meadows

Russian comfrey...High stanners

Back to work this weekend and no days off until the end of the week. On Thursday (7th) I walked around Pegswood moor in a howling gale. Lesser Whitethroat in the green area and in the quarry bit 12 Wheatear but this time 7 males and 5 females. On friday despite the heavy showers I cycled 15 miles around Harwood forest. One Crossbill the only bird of note. Very wild and blustery up there, it was more like January than May! Posted a few pics from Morpeth taken yesterday.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Borough woods

Wood stitchwort

Grey wagtail near Mitford

Red currant along the riverbank

Pendulous sedge

A walk through the Borough woods after work looking for plants. Lots of typical woodland plants in flower such as Ground ivy and Wood stitchwort and some just about to flower like Common twayblade and Cuckoo pint. At Highford a Common sandpiper was feeding at the edge of the rocks. In the air my first Swift of the year among 50+ house martins, smaller numbers of Sand martin and Swallow among the same flock feeding above the woodland clearing.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Quick tour

Just time to have a quick tour of the local ponds after work this evening. For once something interesting on each one. First stop Pegswood moor. 3 ringed plover and no less than 10 Wheatear, 4 males and 6 females. The large and upright stance of some of these birds suggest the Greenland race though I am no expert. I flushed another 3 females on my way back to the car but these may be birds I had counted earlier and had flown to the opposite corner. At Longhirst flash it was quiet except for a fine male Goosander. At Bothal my first Common sandpiper and Ruddy duck this year. Plenty of hirundines but no Swifts yet.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Cotting burn

Herb paris...looking at it's best this time of year

Some plants are yet to flower

The best plants are green so Bluebell adds a bit of colour

In this area I counted over a hundred plants

A walk through cottingwood at this time of year is the best time to see Herb paris. By the cotting burn is a damp, boggy area where over a hundred plants can be seen. It can be easily overlooked among the Ransomes and the Dog's mercury. Herb paris would have been my choice for Northumberland's flower.