Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Widdrington tip

A Heron rises above the new plantation

The boggy and wet Alder wood that was once a refuse tip

Yesterday afternoon with a bit of spare time I went along to Widddrington tip. This was my first visit since the snow disappeared but despite the lack of small birds with only 2 Wrens and a single redpoll it was quite productive. It is a proper welly job and you almost need waders to walk across the flash in the centre as more than once the water was over the brim of the wellies making my feet very cold and uncomfortable. Although wader numbers were low there were at least 12 Common Snipe, 1 Jack snipe and 4 Woodcock. The only other birds were Pheasant, Carrion Crow and Grey Heron. Bennyboy flushed 3 hares and ran after them, he caught up to the 3rd one only to bark and jump over it. He's only a chaser not a hunter thankfully.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Spuggies and Starkies

The next Corn buntings?

Starling and House sparrows on my roof

Jelly or Jew's ear

Velvet shank...high up on an old Sycamore

With most of the snow and ice gone this week has been a bit dreak. Monday was the only day when we have had some winter sunshine. The bird pictures above were taken then. The woods are full of common woodland birds and there are a few Brambling among the Chaffinches; most notable around the Skinnery bridge area of the Stanners and along the footpaths around the abbey. Song and Mistle thrushes have been singing and Tawny owls are calling in the early morning. The retreating snow is revealing the fresh shoots of Wild garlic (Ransomes) and there are quite a few Snowdrops in flower in other peoples gardens. Still some fungi to be found like Velvet shank and Jelly ear, Jelly or Jew's ear is found throughout the year but always looks better in winter.

Winter sunshine brings out the best in common birds like Spuggies and Starkies (I still call them that) but it set me thinking back to the dawn of my birdwatching in the early seventies (yes I'm a bit of a dinosoar) when House sparrows were so common that you couldn't accurately count the flocks particularly around harvesting time. Even in winter a good hundred or so would be battling over a plate of Swoop on top of the coal bunker. The recent cold snap has produced just twelve in my garden. Along the common there are smaller numbers but I have seen more Tree sparrows here. Could these be the next fat birds of the barley?

Monday, 18 January 2010

Rapid thaw

Saturday dawned dull and miserable with heavy rain for most of the morning. Late afternoon I took a walk along by the river. The Wansbeck was murky, fast flowing and almost spilling over into the gardens along Mitford road. I was surprised to see a Kingfisher here sitting low in the Willows overhanging the river at Lady's walk. Sunday was much brighter and I had a look across the Coquet estuary. Lots of birds around but nothing really special. Amble braid appears to be the only place locally that still hold sizable flocks of Greenfinches. 40+ devouring the bountiful Sea Buckthorn that brightens up this little corner. They were breaking open the berries then flying off with the seeds.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Catching up

I've finally caught up with all the blogs I visit including the the ones on the sidebars of other blogs. I'm clutching at straws to post pics other than snow scenes. I'm not off work until the weekend so bird sightings are few and I'm hoping to get a bit further afield then. Yesterday a Tawny owl was flying from tree to tree at Monks ridge along the road here and I've had a few Fox sightings. The usual garden birds are rapidly depleting my stock of seed and today there were six Goosanders on the river at Oldgate. The river was frozen on Friday but now everything is looking dirty as the snow and ice melt so the Goosanders add a splash of colour to the dull Wansbeck.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Snowy scenes

River Wansbeck at Olivers mill

Morpeth Chantry

Carlisle park

Hedgerow at the Abbey

Front garden

Back garden

Top of Curley kews bank

Goosander at of three.

Back in business...I hope. The computer has been broken for three weeks but now with a new hard drive lets hope it lasts a bit longer than the last one. Only birds of note have been sightings linked to the bad weather. Common Snipe have been plentiful at work feeding under bushes where it was free of snow. Up to 60 Siskins visiting feeders around the gardens here and 3 Goosanders on the Wansbeck. On new years day 300 Pink footed geese flew south over the garden and Buzzards have been visible from the garden. Stewart rang me and told me about his communal Wren roost and late afternoon on Friday I saw 6 enter the old hollow Ash tree on the abbey hill. I'm sure ADMc knows that tree very well!
The above pics were taken on new years day after the heavy snowfall around Morpeth. Friday morning was the coldest I've known with the temperature at Blagdon -13.5c and -9c by the time I got back to Morpeth. A bit of a reprieve at the moment but I don't think we are out of the woods yet.