Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Monday, 28 September 2009

Weekend of rarities

Amble pier on a very calm September morning

Western gorse or possibly Ulex gallii x U europaeus hybrid...Amble

Sea Rocket...Little shore

Common Storksbill...Little shore, Amble
On Saturday I caught up with my fourth lifer in six weeks or so with the Glossy Ibis. It was one of those birds I thought I might have to head south of the Tyne for as we are a bit too far north and east for one of them to overshoot this far; hence 20 years since the last one, ironically in the same area. Thank the Lord for the coal industry for leaving so many pitfalls in the landscape that fill up beautifully with water and have us flying from pond to pond to catch up with one rarity or another. Just go to the local blogs for a full narrative and some excellent pictures form Richard Dunn et al. I was with Stewart (Boulmer birder all morning) and being a solitary observer for the most part these days it was good to catch up with some friends that I only encounter on these sort of occasions. The Ibis just outshone the two Otters fishing on Druridge pools at first light.
Yesterday morning I had a couple of hours to spare before work and was exercising Bennyboy on the Little shore at Amble. A few flowers still out (above) but the surprise find was Western Gorse. A rarity up here with only the Wooler area where it is found in the county. It could possibly be a hybrid between Ulex gallii and U europaeus but a good find none the less. Another good sighting here was a Holly blue butterfly that took flight a few seconds after I saw it and I didn't have time to get my camera ready. It flew into the gardens of the houses overlooking the shore. This is my first sighting in the county for fifteen years!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Widdrington tip

Wood vole

Toad trying to hide

Russula gracillima

Cep / Pennybun

I think this is Brown roll rim

Lawyers wig / Shaggy inkcap

I'm often drawn back to the area where I grew up. It is almost 20 years since there was a tip at Widdrington so I will probably have to rename it some time in the future. These former opencast sites are well established with acres of broad leaved and pine plantations and miles of hedgerows (which don't get flailed) are untouched by chemicals and thus host an incredible variety of wildlife. The plantlife around here has always been good but it is quite good for birds as it is only a couple of miles from the sea. If you try hard enough it is one of the few places where you can record 5 species of Owl as they all breed around here. Only a single snipe on the tip but flocks of Skylark, Meadow pipits and Chaffinches numbered 70+ per flock. The tip itself is a large boggy area covered in Alder and birch. I will make visits here more frequent than I have in the past as these sort of areas are often overlooked by naturalists.

Around Morpeth I have seen another Speckled wood and a Badger on the curly kews and there is a fine display of Boletus badius on someones lawn at Cottingwood.

Saturday, 19 September 2009


Corprinus lagopus...Carlisle park
Dead man's fingers...Carlisle park

I was tempted to go birding up the coast today but decided to go fungi hunting through the woods around Morpeth. There was a nip in the air and it really felt like autumn depite the sunshine. Lots of leaves changing colour and many falling to the ground. A few plants still in flower such as Devils bit scabius, Dames violet and Goldenrod but most things appear past their best. Plenty of fungi around but only posted a couple of pics.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Borough woods

Glistening on the picture to see why!
Beech tuft fungi...too high up

Unseasonal Anemone


A nice morning looking for fungi. The commonest at the moment appears to be Charcoal burner but as it is edible the Wood mice and Bank voles seem to have got there first before I could get a descent photo. The Beech tuft were growing too high to get a proper pic and the clump at the bottom is similar to a number of species so I hope Dean can help me out on that one. on the bird front a Green woodpecker was calling from High house wood and two marsh tits were in the Borough woods.

Yesterday with my scope fixed I spent two hours sea watching off Newbiggin. Auks were moving up in high numbers as were distant Kittiwakes, Manx were in single figures and only a single Sooty flew north but very close. I'm not off til saturday so I'll see how the winds go.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Pegswood crater

A visit to pegswood moor and the former opencast site which is holding a good show of Greater birdsfoot trefoil but little else on the shallow soils. Plenty of Butterflies but the only bird of note was a single Wheatear on the boulders. The spider above was on my car but I don't know what kind it is.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Prestigious award

I must apologise to Dean as he nominated this blog a few weeks ago for this award. I needed a few weeks to try to think of 7 things about myself. Here we go...

1 I was born in Alnwick, Northumberland a long time ago.

2 The middle of 5 siblings I had a normal and happy upbringing.

3 I met Stew (Boulmer birder) when I was 13 and this was the beginning of a lifetime interest in all things natural. Though not a master of any of them I'm happy to be an amateur naturalist.

4 Left school at 16 and offered 4 jobs straight away; a moulder at a local brickworks, working in a pop factory, a petrol pump attendant and a tea boy at an opencast site, I took the latter. I went back into education 11 years ago as I had to so I could do my nurse training, I enjoy my job as a nurse but the shiftwork is often inconvenient.

5 At 18 I was proud to be a full affiliated member of Widdrington station working mens club until its demise 20 years later. See Star turn on 45 pints on you tube to see what you've been missing.

6 I rarely watch TV but I love watching music videos on you tube. My favourite at the moment is Delilah by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band on OGWT.

7 I lived through the prog rock and punk era but I have always been a bit of a folkie but didn't don the sandals and facial hair. As its mid life crisis time a trip to Cornwall has rekindled my interest in the VW campervan so who knows.

The difficult part is choosing some of the links on the right. I think most of them have already been nominated this award so any over there that hasn't. I hope I'm allowed to do that.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Wild west country

St Michaels mount...Marazion
Lands end from Sennen

Going nowhere!

Cornish heath...Kenyance cove, Lizard

Colourful Heathers and Western Gorse at Lands end

Thyme Broomrape...kenyance cove, Lizard

Rock sea spurrey...Penzaance

Dead flower heads of Navelwort

Blue snail on lands end.

Spent my first ever week in Cornwall; the 1000 mile return journey has aways put me off but I will certainly come back some time in the future. It was a blustery week. A couple of downers, the first being the Scillonian 111 was not taking day trippers to the isles of Scilly as force 8 winds meant it would be saturday (the day of return) when it was next sailing and a planned fishing boat trip had to be cancelled so we had to be content with some pier fishing. However, this part of Cornwall is something of a gem with regards to the huge variety of wildlife it has to offer. I managed to find over 30 species of new flowers some of which are West Cornwall specialities and at least a dozen more I'm still trying to identify. Visited some great sites; Lands end has a great dry heath headland and the Lizard is something else.
The wildlife highlights were Cornish heath, Lanceolate spleenwort, Greek sea spurrey, Monarch butterfly on Lands end, Sun fish just 100 metres off the rocks at St Ives, Citrine wagtail, Little Egret (Marazion) and two new birds with Balearic shearwater (St Ives) and Bairds sandpiper (Marazion). On Friday a trip to St Ives coincided with a strong North westerly and an hours sea watch produced over a thousand Manx shearwater with at least 20 Balearics and a Cory's, a Grey phalarope sitting on the water, 2 Dolphins and the Sun fish (1 of 3).