Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Friday, 23 April 2010

Ulgham Butterburs

Butterbur has been in flower for a while but at Ulgham this morning the Butterburs at the other end of the village at Jackson's ford look well advanced with the leaves already a good size. The flowers themselves look 'leggy' and I wonder if these are female plants. Maybe not but I'm sure Phil (greenfingers) will be able to put me right. My turn to tidy up along the River Lyne at the local nature reserve. Some nice common woodland floor flora and a nice Lesser Whitethroat made this a pleasant outing. Also my first Green veined Whites.

I visited Felton lane west of Widdrington village just after mid day to look around the scrubby area where we used to ring birds. It is terribly overgrown but there were still a couple of good things here with an Orange underwing moth flying around the canopy of the tall Birches along the road and my first Orange tip butterfly this year in the scrub next to the main railway line. This evening I saw a Barn Owl in flight at Ulgham Broom.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


Back at Cresswell after work yesterday evening and the Black headed Wagtail is still giving some local birders the runaround including myself. A clearer day but just as cold standing on the causeway for a couple of hours. A bit of a wagtail fest with Pied, 3 White, 8 Yellow and a Blue headed (I loathe to call it a Channel) but not the one I was looking for. Just before dusk a nice flock of Black tailed godwits flew in but the cold was getting to us by then and all the birders there came up with different numbers but I think there were 19! I'll use my shivering hands for an excuse for quality of the above pics for the Blue headed. Nice to catch up with some birders that I rarely see these days. I enjoyed the crack with Richard Dunn and Alan Hall.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Little Star

Yellow Star of Bethleham (Gagea lutea) Scotch Gyll Woods

Wood Sorrel... Scotch Gyll Woods

Comma...Plessey Woods

There may be a Black Headed Wagatail at Cresswell pond today but yesterday I found a nice rare flower. Yellow star of Bethlehem has been a target species for me for some time but Swan mentions the best sites along the Pegwhistle burn and River Blyth at Plessey woods. I was here on Friday but it was a needle in a haystack jobby. However, I only learned last year that it can be found here in Morpeth along the Scotch Gyll woods. It is associated with Butterbur so as there is only one significant patch of Butterbur growing here my chances should have been better. It can be a difficult plant to look for as it can grow on gravelly islands in rivers so can be transient and it doesn't always flower in some years. It didn't take me long to find a good clump of flowers with at least 15 flowering stems growing among the Butterbur which on the 31st of March was under a metre of water when the Wansbeck bursts her banks.

There was no sign of the Black headed Wagtail this afternoon at Cresswell but there were 5 Yellow Wagtails, a White Wagtail and a Whimbrel here but it was absolutely freezing. I called in at Pegswood moor and saw 1 Brown Hare, 2 Gadwall, 2 Mallard, 2 Tufted duck, 2 Oystercatchers, 2 Coot, 2 Swallow and 1 Snipe and lesser black backed Gull. Some nice Cowslips out here. The pic of the Comma was taken by my 11year old daughter who likes to stalk butterflies.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

High House Wood

High House woods this evening

Dogs mercury growing out of a stump...High House wood

Blue Anemone...Abbey woods.

This morning as I walked Bennyboy around the top end of the estate a Green Woodpecker ear bashingly called from the Holm Oak just as I was passing it. It was sitting half way up with its neck uptuned and belting out its call every 20 seconds. A missed photo opportunity as I don't always have the camera with me on these short walks. It was in the Oaks on the edge of High house opposite the bungalows on Westgate. Southern bloggers will be scratching their heads as to why Northumbrian birders strive to connect with this scarce and elusive bird in these parts but they can be difficult to see especially in the lowlands. When I got back home I could still here it but when I went back with the camera there was no sight or sound of it. Another day hopefully.

Other things around here were my first Blackcap and a garden escape but a nice flower all the same a Blue Anemone in a shady spot in Abbey woods. There was a spectacular sunset tonight. I tried to capture it from the bedroom window.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Early start

Yellowhammer...always lovely to see and hear
The only pic I could get of one of the Willow Warblers

A curious herd managing land around the Eastern pool.

Decided to do a quick tour of the local ponds. A lot of water still lying about but plant machinery had disturbed Longhist flash at first light so only a couple of Mallard and a pair of little Grebes here. At Linton the ponds held a variety of wildfowl including Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall, Tufted, Canada and Grey-lag Goose as well as Coot and Moorhen but nothing exciting, In the woods to the north of the main pool there were 3 Willow Warblers the only migrant seen. On the way home I called in at Bothal pond but there is a lot of water here and pretty much the same as Linton except for a couple of Goldeneye and a few Mute swans. Nothing of much note to pass on to Alan Tilmouth who was also at Bothal this morning.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Keeping it Local

Meadow Pipit, Pegswood Moor...lovely birds

Welcome back! Ringed Plover, Pegswood Moor

A drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker, Abbey woods

Horse Chestnut, Abbey meadows

A couple of the Oystercatchers at Pegswood Moor

A week off this week has been spent trying to entertain the children but still time to get out and about. Inspired by the likes of Dean and S.K.E.V. searching for species locally I decided not to travel too far from home this week. It makes you look at even the most common species very carefully and appreciate the joy some of these species can give you. There isn't much in the way of new arrivals in the local woods but there are at least 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming in the Abbey and High House woods. No sign of any Greens though. I've been to Pegswood Moor a couple of times this week. Plenty of birds but not much in the way of spring passage. The best birds have been the return of Ringed Plover, a species that bred here last year. Two have been calling and chasing each other around the quarry end. No Wheatears but lots of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits. Also present here are Redshank, Oystercatcher (7), Canada Goose, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Lapwing, Coot, Linnet and Reed Bunting. The only hirundine I've seen this week was a Swallow today above the clock tower in Morpeth. Wasps, Bumblebees and at least 9 Small tortoiseshell Butterflies around the garden today.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Pegswood Moor and Druridge

Barnacle Goose at Pegswood moor

Great white Egret at Druridge...keeping its distance

Drinker moth caterpillar? Druridge dunes

Hebrew character, abbey meadows, morpeth.

Lumpsucker, Cresswell

Took Bennyboy for a walk around Pegswood moor after the rain this morning. Only one Wheatear at the quarry end but on the flash on the opposite side a fine Barnacle Goose was with the Canadas. Looks great for a Garganey here but the only ducks here were Mallard and Gadwall. Also here were Coot, Heron, Common and Herring Gull, Reed Bunting, Meadow pipit, Skylark and good numbers of Goldfinch in the Alders and Willows.

This afternoon I took the kids to Druridge so I could catch up with the Great white Egret. It was keeping its distance but a nice bird all the same. In the dunes was a Drinker moth caterpillar..I think. To reward the children for accompanying me on a local twitch they were rewarded with an ice cream at Cresswell ices. We walked along the beach here and I found another dead Lumpsucker fish. On Saturday night when I got home from work I took the pic of a Hebrew character moth flying around the outside light.