Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Harwood Forest...

A couple of pics of Winter's Gibbet, Steng Moss and a couple of views of Cheviot, Hedgehope and Windy Gyle from the Gibbet.

...Again...Another bike around the forest looking for the Shrike but it appears to have gone or it could have found a more sheltered spot. Very cold today with an overnight frost and only 1.5 degrees and all the puddles were iced up along the tracks. More Crossbills in the forest today and numerous Goldfinches and Redpolls. No pics of birds but good light for some scenic shots. Lots of Fieldfares over the forest in flocks of about 40 at a time, there was also a 100 or so in Elsdon. Just outside Elsdon were 2 Peregrines and another Peregrine was soaring with 2 Buzzards near Darden Lough. Back at home there were 5 Buzzards soaring above the garden...the most I've seen together at Morpeth.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Feeling Autumnal

Sloe berries..Widdrington tip

Colourful Hawthorns...East Chevington

Bennyboy eating Sloes

Red Legged Partridges...Widdrington tip

Pink Footed Geese...East Chevington

Another dead Seal...East Chevington

According to my 1984 Discovering Hedgerows book the best time to pick Sloe berries is just after the first frost. With a frosty morning yesterday I was at Widdrington tip this morning where the tracks are lined with Blackthorns with Sloes looking at their best.  I took some photos before I picked them. Lots of birds here but the Thrushes and most of the Pipits have moved through. There were about 20 Meadow Pipits and a dozen Skylarks. Snipe numbers were up to 25 but no sign of any Jacks yet. Other birds around here were a covey of 13 Red Legged Partridges, the most I have seen around here, 85 Pink Footed Geese (S), 60 goldfinches, 4 Redpolls, Buzzard and Jays. After this I called in at East Chevington. A good variety of Wildfowl here and a Water Rail but the main spectacle were 100s of Pink Footed Geese, some landing but most flying South. On the beach were Ringed Plover and Sanderling and 8 Red Throated Divers on the sea. A large dead Grey Seal was on the beach, my third one this Autumn.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Great grey in Harwood

Lightening strikes for the third time in 18 months in almost exactly the same spot...though the photos get no better. I cycled from Harwood village past Redpath where there were two fine Stonechats, Fallowlees and Chartners and back to the village via Tutehill moss with Bennyboy panting on ahead of me. Plenty of birds in the forest with Great spotted woodpeckers, Siskin and Crossbills and a steady stream of Redwings flying west overhead. I stopped for a break at a small lay-by next to the track just up from Fallowlees bridge at Tutehill when a Goshawk flew over the track and into the tall pines behind Redpath. About ten minutes later some Siskins were alarming behind me and when I turned around they were mobbing a Great Grey Shrike on top of the low pines. Although a bit distant I managed to get the above shots. It got sick of the Siskins and flew towards the edge of the pines that flank the moss. I picked it up again a bit further away but sitting happy with no Siskins buzzing above its head.
On the way home there were at least 3 Bramblings with 30 Chaffinches at the Longwitton Beech avenue and 11 Red legged Partridges just inside the field.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Making the most of the fall

I could have twitched some good county birds but I decided to see what was around locally. Yesterday I didn't have the car so I looked along the Wanney line next to the Common. There were dozens of Song Thrushes, Robins and a scattering of Redwings. 22 Brambling was a notable count. Today I was at Widdrington tip at dawn. It was lifting with birds but nothing unusual. I wasn't sure if the Redwings were coming in or just flying out of a roost but there were hundreds of them. Also 60+ Skylark and 70+ Meadow pipits all flying SW and a large unidentifiable flock of Geese. Also here were good numbers of Song Thrush and Blackbird as well as 35 Lesser Redpolls, 19 Snipe 37 Swallows and a handful of Brambling and Reed Buntings.
I then went through the dunes and the Northern edge of Druridge Bay Country Park. Lots of Chiffchaffs, Redwings, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes. Also around here were Tree Sparrow, 2 Fieldfare and Buzzard. 22 Little Grebes could be new in but the highlight was a fine Kingfisher in the NE corner of the lake. I finished off in the bushes North of Druridge following a quick chat with ipin. Lots of birds here as well but the best were 25 Grey Partridges, Redstart, Blackcap, Siskin and Stonechat.
No pics today as the birds were too quick. I have changed the header pic to highlight the plight of our Red Squirrels. Stewart (BB) has mentioned the spread of Greys in his local area. In just three years I have seen the demise of Reds in most of the areas I frequent. I thought that the Bolam and Wallington areas were the last stronghold in the Wansbeck valley but last week I found a roadkill Grey beside the Dyke Neuk pub.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Harwood Forest

Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria)

Crossbill singing

Common and Brown Puffball

Tubulifera arachnoidea (slime mould)

Laccaria sp?

Yesterday I cycled about 12 miles along the forest tracks on the Southern and Western part of the forest. At this time of year it is a bit of a struggle to get bird species into double figures. There were 15 Crossbills, some were singing and a similar number of Siskins. A Peregrine flew over a clearing and stooped into a meadow Pipit flock but they were too quick and it continued flying Southeast. The best thing in the forest were the fungi with thousands of Fly agaric and several other typical pinewood species.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

House Spuggy among the Meadows

A beautiful day yesterday saw me along the Borough woods in Morpeth at daybreak and a frustrating hour at Widdrington tip. On arrival at the tip about tennish about a hundred Meadow Pipits lifted up off the fenceposts and the edge of the field and flew towards the newer of the two plantations. What made me more interested in this flock was a strange House Sparrow like call coming from the flock. I scanned them as they darted but I could only see Meadows and a few Skylarks. I walked along the edge of the plantation and the Pipits began to fly up again all over the place and I heard the call again but once more I couldn't see anything different. It wasn't until this evening after looking through a few books that the call could possibly have been a Richards. Well I haven't seen or heard one of these before so I will just have to write this one off.

Daybreak at the Borough woods

Another large flock of birds here were Goldfinches with about 80 with 5 Redpolls among them. There were 14 Common Snipe but no Jacks. I came across a nice fungi amongst the wet area of the old tip. I cannot put a name to it but it is possibly Bicoloured Deceiver or some other Laccara species.

Laccaria sp?...Widdrington tip

Dune Waxcap...Hadston dunes

I finished the day at Hadston dunes but the only birds in the bushes here were Chiffchaffs, Lesser Whitethroat and Willow tit. The dunes are full of Dune waxcaps.