Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Swallows and Martins

One of four Swallows at Hauxley (quality shot)!

Some town centre flooding this morning.

Some shots of the distant Crane at Eshott. It didn't like the Crows.

A better day today. With the morning quite bright and blustery I walked Bennyboy around the Stanners to take some pics of the swollen Wansbeck. I jumped in the car and went to Eshott to catch up with the Crane. Stewart told me where it was seen yesterday so I parked at the lane ends of the Shaw and it was feeding in the stubble field opposite but right at the bottom about a quarter of a mile away. Nice bird.

I then headed for the north end of Druridge bay and on my way I stopped to watch a pair of Buzzards displaying at West Chevington and while I was there I could see two other birds above the A1068 these were a pair of Peregrines circling together. I parked the car in the dunes near the south end of Hauxley and walked to Hauxley point along the beech. Plenty of waders around with at least 20 Bar-tailed Godwits but no sign of any migrants. Unusually a dead sheep was on the tideline, I don't know if this has been flooded out and swept away into the sea and washed up on the shore. At Hauxley village there was a single Tree Sparrow with the resident House Sparrows and apart from a couple of Chiffchaffs it was very quiet. Opposite the Ponteland hide I noticed 4 Swallows feeding high up (see crap pic above) as I watched them for 10 minutes they were joined by 6 Sand Martins and in 5 minutes they were away flying strongly to the north. I don't really know what drives them but the wind was blowing very cold and strongly in the opposite direction.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010


Reed Bunting at Widdrington tip

Moisture clad male catkins of the Osier have burst into flower

First day off since last Tuesday. I was going to go back to Harwood to look for the Shrike again but the weather was poor this morning with heavy showers, dull and misty. Mid morning the rain eased so I decided to go to Druridge but by the time I got to Ulgham it became very foggy so I decided to call in at Widdrington tip. I'm pleased I did because it wasn't bad despite the fog, there were 4 Chiffchaffs in the hedgerow and at least 6 Reed Buntings singing in the Alder trees. 22 Common Snipe and 2 Jack Snipe...all of these too quick for the camera plus 4 Grey Partridges and 2 Red legged. On the way home I called at Eshott but not sure exactly where the Crane is feeding a quick scan of the area produced only 2 Shelduck, 1 Oystercatcher, 3 Curlew and a Hare but no Crane. Alan Jack was there but he had no success either. It was thick with fog then the rain started again so it was time to go home.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Pegswood Moor

Coltsfoot...plenty of these about now.

Two views of the male Wheatear (top) and the female (bottom).

It's all work and no play at the moment so after work a trip to the recycling place on Whorral bank was a good excuse for a tramp around Pegswood moor. The former opencast 'crater' is not the best place for birds but it is a good place for Wheatears and today didn't disappoint with two flying around the boulders around the lake. The lake itself is filling up but it was lifeless today. Two Oystercatchers were on the shore and three Curlew in the fields to the West. Two Canada Geese were on the shallow pool on the other side of the road and a Buzzard circled overhead. Yesterday four Chiffchaffs were singing on my way to work with two each at Carlisle park and Cottingwood.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Great Grey Shrike

I biked around the forest tracks of Harwood today. After a bike around the felled Harry's wood produced only Roe Deer. I decided to stop for a break at Tutehill moss next to the bridge where the Fallowlees burn runs under. This is where the Black Grouse was last week but as I pulled up I noticed a Great Grey Shrike on top of a Rowan. It was quite mobile so I could only manage a few distant shots so you will have to click on them to get a better view. Lightning strikes in the same place twice! Other notables were Goshawk, Buzzard, Green and Great spotted Woodpecker, Crossbill and Siskin. Mike Hodgson was also a notable sighting but he didn't have time to go back into the forest. Hopefully it will remain for a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


Before being fed.

This adult had just left one of the chicks with a fieldmouse and was just about to fly off.

Afterwards and away back to sleep.

Two Tawny Owlets on the edge of the Abbey woods just a couple of hundred yards from the house this morning. While I was there one of the adults flew in with a Long tailed fieldmouse and one of the chicks took it out of its mouth , kept a hold of it for a while, then swallowed it in seconds. Nice to see as its been a few years since I have seen young Tawny Owls. They were a bit distant for a decent shot, the light was poor and they were obscured by twigs. They were quite well grown. I believe these were the same birds I saw last week in the same tree calling silhouetted against the darkening sky.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Some favourites

Male and female flowers of Alder...they have a nice purplish tinge this time of year.

Dozens of these pellets at Widdrington tip.

My favourite view in Harwood forest...Redpath with the Simonsides in the distance Most of the snow has gone now.

I've been out everyday this week but not many photos taken. On Tuesday I was at Widdrington tip and there were a lot of birds around. 18 Skylarks singing, 2 meadow pipits, Yellowhammers and Reed buntings. 17 siskins flew north but a heron and a Buzzard were feeding on Frogs among the wet Alder plantation. Also 18 Common Snipe and 1 Jack. A couple of favourites here with Siskin and probably my favourite tree the Alder, because I like the habitat associated with this tree.

Yesterday I was at Harwood forest. There were hundreds of Siskin here as well as good numbers of Redpolls and Crossbills. The highlight was a Black grouse at Tutehill moss; my first record here but historically they were once here in big numbers. A male Goshawk was gliding low over the tree tops and at least 7 Buzzards in the area. 7 Roe deer here and one of them was rubbing velvet from its antlers in the rough grass.

Today I had a walk around Scotch gyll but just the regular woodland birds but full of birdsong. This evening my long luck at connecting with Owls this year continued with two Tawny Owls calling to each other in the ivy clad trees at the edge of Falcon hill. One of them looked really good against the dimming sky in the background...I must take my camera with me all the time, even in the dark.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Amble Harbour

Yesterday was a fine day for walking along the sands of Druridge bay. Nothing of note really but a lovely day to be out. The Mediterranean Gulls at Amble were a bit distant. At Cresswell I found another dead fish. I think it is a male Lumpsucker, it was very orange underneath. The Little Owl was sitting in the sunshine in its usual Ash tree between Widdrington village and Druridge.

On saturday evening I was driving along the road between Widdrington and Chevington moor and a Long Eared Owl was on the roadside just past East Stobswood farm and as I slowed down it flew up and flew along parallel with the car before disappearing over the baffle banks.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Is it spring yet?

Dipping for nesting material

Not likely! but the local woodland is full of birdsong with Song Thrushes and Nuthatches belting out their song. The highlight for me is the simple, plaintive notes of the song of the Bullfinch. There is a one singing in the Abbey woods and is a delight to hear as I walk down the hill towards the river. I watched a pair of Dippers nest building below an overhang just up from Highford bridge; a bit low so I hope it doesn't get flooded out. I took the pics of the long icicles in a sheltered corner of the Borough woods...a timely reminder that spring is just a little bit further away than I would have hoped.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Sawbill day

One of six Red breasted Mergansers on Ladyburn lake

Courting Swans on Ladyburn lake

Some of the 1800 Pink footed Geese at East Chevington

Lambstail male flowers of Hazel with a female flower, a small bud with a red tassle
Spent the morning at Druridge bay country park and East Chevington. Plenty of birds but the best ones were sawbills with 6 Red breasted merganser on Ladyburn lake at Druridge bay cp, a single Smew at East chevington and 4 Goosanders back home on the Wansbeck at Morpeth. Lovely group of birds. A Weasel tried its luck with a Mallard at DBCP but the duck slid into the water and the Weasel ran back into cover...hard times? or can they feasably take prey this size?
I decided to count the Pink feets at least 1800 give or take a couple of hundred. A few Grey lags and 5 Barnacle Geese among them. They were joined by Another 70 Pink feets which were flying high to the north but they came out of the sky and joined the group. Quite a spectacle when they were all flushed by a Buzzard which was feeding on worms in a corner of a field. Another large bird of prey was quatering the field behind the reedbed at the south pool but flew off west.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Harwood Crossbills

Some pics of a chunky Crossbill, not qualty pics I'm afraid

Some normal Crossbills, female and 2 different males

Redpath cottage...very cold here today

A bleak view of the Cheviot hills form the gibbet.
Several inches of snow made this part of Nortumberland look more like Lapland. Lovely day, very bright but sub-zero temperatures compared to Morpeth some 13 or so miles to the East of here which was +5. A deep chup chup caught my attention at the Redpath junction a mile in form the village. Lots of Crossbills here but one which kept coming into view from time to time looked quite chunky, rather like a Hawfich compared to the Chaffinch-like Crossbills. It's deep call could have been some sort of alarm and it may have had its feathers puffed up but the other Crossbills didn't. In my experience there can be a varity of plumage ,bill size and call variation but if anyone knows a bit about Crossbills please feel free to comment.
Lots of wildlife around...up 80+ Crossbills in this part of the foresr alone but there is a good cone crop. Similar number of Siskins and Chaffinches. A Goshawk was soaring over the forest and near the gibbet there were 7 Buzzards, 300 Fieldfares, 1000+ Starlings, 5 Roe deer and a fox.