Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Pegswood moor

I often walk the dog around Pegswood moor. I like the barren, boulder strewn landscape of this former mineworking. This type of habitat has the potential to drop some migrants down for a day or two. On the 'sunken lake' some Gulls and ducks but on the southern shore were 3 Ringed plover, 4 Oystercatcher and a Redshank. Two Wheatears were flitting about between the boulders on the western side. Plenty of Skylarks and Meadow pipits singing and a Linnet singing in the Gorse by the hedge. After this I had a quick look on Bothal. Pretty much the same as the other day except I didn't see the Barnacle goose. 2 Tree sparrows and a Chiffchaff were in the hedgerow.

Friday, 27 March 2009


East side of Bothal castle
Barnacle goose

Barnie running off the pond

You forget how small these birds are

River Wansbeck from the stepping stones


Teasel in the plantation north of Linton pond

Out first thing this morning at Linton pond. Very cold and blustery here and quiet. Snipe and Chiffchaff the only birds of note. Longhirst flash was just as interesting. Spent the rest of the morning at Bothal pond and woods. More going on here with 13 Gadwall, 43 Teal, 68 Wigeon, 2 Shoveler, 2 Shelduck and a Barnacle goose among the 82 Canadas. Down beside the stepping stones a good variety of common woodland birds including Chiffchaffs but impossible to photograph. Some nice spring flowers coming through including the delightful Butterbur.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Same Shrike...different place

Poor shots of the Shrike...sorry

One of at least 40 toads on the track at Chartners

Bike and Bennyboy at Fallowlees...about 6 miles in and his tongue isn't
even hanging out!

Back to Harwood forest this morning but this time I took my bike and had a ride along the forest tracks. The weather was cool but gorgeous. I stopped near Redpath but couldn't see the shrike so I then rode over the fallowlees burn towards Tod knowe. This is probably the best viewpoint in the whole of the forest. I then stopped at Chartners; a good five miles into the forest to have something to eat. Moving along towards Fallowlees there was at least 40 Toads on the track. As I walked through them I noticed the shrike in flight in a clear felled area. It then began to feed and perch on the lower pines. Good views but still a couple of hundred yards away. It has chosen the quietest part of the forest; there wasn't a sound here except for the odd Buzzard cry and the occasional Meadow pipit song.

The pics above were the best I could get as I was magnifying the haze. Other birds in the forest today were Green woodpecker, 2 Stonechats, 1 female Goshawk and at least 6 Buzzards.

Bennyboy seemed quite happy to run along side me until the last couple of miles when I had to wait for him to catch up a few times.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Carlisle park

A quick walk through carlisle park on my way to the supermarket first thing was quite productive. On my way down I could hear a Green woodpecker calling from behind Castle close. By the time I reached the park it called again from some tall ivy clad trees in front of the houses. It flew off and over the bowling green towards Ha hill. I have never seen one here before. Do these birds move around at this time of year or is it a Mitford or a Bothal bird exploring beyond their usual territory? There was also 4 Great spotted woodpeckers, all males including 3 in one tree. Other woodland birds this morning were Goldcrest, Bullfinch, Nuthatch, Marsh tit and Jay. Too nice a day to go to work but I have to.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Redpath farm

Redpath farm enjoys a more open aspect these days but remains bleak

Red squirrels at Harwood....pity the branches kept getting in the way

It's a week since my last day off. I went back to Harwood forest this morning and walked to Redpath. I spent some time around where the Shrike was last week but no sign today. It has either moved on or found another clearing in the forest. Still plenty of birds around. The only raptors were 4 Buzzards over Redpath farm but another large bird over the north eastern area of the forest turned out to be a Raven flying west at first then headed towards the Simonsides. Around Redpath were plenty of Thrushes, single Green and Great spotted woodpecker and 2 Shelduck flying north.

In Harwood village larger flocks of small birds like Siskins, Chaffinches and Coal tits attracted to garden feeders. 3 Red squirrels were in trees on the edge of the village, I managed some pics above but there was a lot of branches in the way. Plenty of Frogs spawn in just about every pool in the forest. Angerton lake was very quiet when I called in on the way home.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Find one for yourself!

First sighting................
A bit closer..............

As close as I could get but losing the sharpness

Cropped but blurry...A lovely bird and the highlight for me this year

Still some snow lying around in some places

I intended to take the dog to Harwood forest this morning but hearing news of a Great grey shrike south west of Alnwick I was tempted to go there instead. These are wonderful birds but I do see them almost anually so I decided to head for a spot in Harwood which has always looked good for them. Having decided to try and find one myself I knew I wouldn't see one but I might see something else or nowt at all.

It's a bit of a trek to this part of the forest but when I reached the area I first looked north west towards the masts but I was surprised at the amount of snow lying about in some areas. When I looked towards Redpath farm I could see something white on top of a young conifer and I knew straight away what it was. I walked back towards the village for a quarter of a mile to get a bit closer. It looked fantastic through the scope in the cold winter sunshine but the nearest I could get was probably about 300 yards away so I couldn't get a decent photo. The above was the best I could do. This is my second self found Great grey; the first one was at Stobswood on 27th December 1975!

As there was no reception here for my mobile I had to go to the gibbet before I could put the news out. Here I met Brian from Northumbrian birding blog. We watched a Goshawk and a Peregrine from here and he went into the forest to see the shrike. I hope he saw it and got some better pics than mine. ADMc was also going for it but the weather was beginning to deteoriate.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Mitford castle

The ruins of Mitford castle on a grey March morning
A Buzzard soaring over the castle (yes it is)!

Beech Woodwart in Borough woods

Old footbridge over the 'moat'

The Wansbeck at Mitford castle before it is joined by the river Font

Dipper on the above stretch

Displaying Goosander at Oldgate bridge, Morpeth

Plenty of birds around locally this morning. Walked along to Mitford through Borough woods. Dipper and Kingfisher at Highford bridge and a nice party of Siskins in a huge Alder on opposite bank. These are probably my favourite small birds. The males look majestic at this time of year and they are constantly on the go, the calls are evocative and I like to hear the buzzing as they chase each other. Lots of birds singing in the woods and Nuthatches were very vocal.
At Mitford 2 Dippers and 2 Grey wagtails just below the bridge next to the castle. In the grounds of the castle my first Marsh tit this year and Green woodpecker calling from a tall Ash tree on the far side. Sadly only a glimpse in flight but by the time I rached the church, it or another one was calling from behind the church. Also 3 Buzzards soared above the castle ruins (1 male and 2 females). Another Kingfisher was perched in an Alder tree on the Font below the bridge near the Plough.

Later I watched the Goosanders in Morpeth. The male was displaying to his 2 females but was very aggressive towards other ducks. He would push his chest into the water and splash water up in the air behind him with his feet. This may be common but I have not seen this behaviour before.