Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Late Fungi

Lack of any significant frosts have meant some Autumn fungi are still flourishing well into Winter though many species can be found throughout the year. I believe the above species is Russula turei growing in conifer woodland at Stobswood. Another numerous species growing here this Autumn has been Rufous Milkcap.

Another mystery species growing at Stobswood but possibly Yellow Fieldcap growing at the brickworks.

Exidia glandulosa, Borough woods

Poplar Fieldcap one of many growing beneath Poplars and Willows at Abbey meadows, Morpeth. Working over Christmas so I haven't been out much but there was a nice drake Goosander on the Wansbeck at Oldgate today. There was a flock of 11 Greenfinches along Abbey meadows this morning, it may vary from different localities but they have become scarce around here in recent years.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Bullfinches at the tip

I started yesterday at Widdrington tip and after a few minutes noticed a Short eared Owl quartering the foot and mouth plantation next to the new road. In the tip itself I came across 4 Bullfinches which were quite approachable and making barely audible piping noises. They looked large but there was nothing to compare them with and all 4 birds, 3 males and 1 female looked the same size. Despite being fairly close they were difficult to photo as they were adept at hiding behind twigs. Other birds here were Thrushes, hundreds of them with Fieldfare, Redwing, Blackbird and Song Thrush. There were 3 Herons and 3 kestrels here looking for voles.
I then went to East Stobswood to look at the Geese but the sun was too strong to have a good look. I then went to Maidens hall lake to count the Geese. I counted 341 White fronted Geese twice but could only see 2 Bean Geese. I went around to the other side to see If I could view them better but returned shortly after and Alan Tilmouth was there. After a chat we managed to see about 12 Bean Geese but there could have been more as many birds were roosting on the waters edge. Also a flock of Pink footed Geese and 12 Barnacles and 3 Bar Headed.
When I got home and looked at the photos I wondered if the Bullfinches were 'Northern' they all showed some features, despite the bright sunshine the extent of the red colouring stops at the belly showing a large patch of white on the flanks and undertail joining the rump above. They all look longer tailed and have a broad white wing bar with the 'saw tooth' secodary coverts along the edge of the wing bar. They all look 'humped back and overfed' and the bottom two pictures show the large extent of the grey upperparts going well beyond the nape and despite shadows from the strong sunlight the extent of white from the underparts wrapping around the rump. All were sporting large conical bills which the bases were lost in the 'fat feathery' face. They were feeding continuously on Birch. Could all 4 be Northerns? I'll wait to see what others think.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

A new bird for Stobswood

I was looking for Fungi in Grangewood when a large flock of Geese flew over

They settled on the former opencast land opposite Norwood farm

I cannot keep away from the old haunts and checking out the newly created ponds on former opencast land in the Stobswood area. On Friday I viewed the Geese from East Stobswood and began counting. There were 770 Pink footed Geese, 7 White fronted Geese and 2 Bean Geese (possibly 4). This is not the first time I have seen White fronted Geese over here, I once had a flock of 6 birds West over Felton Lane in the mid nineties but I was delighted to see the Bean Geese as I have never seen these in this area. Onwards to Woodside lake near Maidens hall and the 300+ flock were still here. IF was here and after a shivering 20 minutes I manged to see 6 Bean Geese among them and one of the White fronts was a Greenland. There was a fine Peregrine which never moved from a grassy clump behind Maidens Hall farm. 2 Whooper Swans were on the lake. Good selection of other species of Geese here.

Back at Abbey Meadows and the early frosts always bring out Velvet Shanks, This shot was taken after a heavy shower. 

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Morpeth fungi

Coral Spot fungus and Dead Moll's fingers...2 common species on Sycamore

Sheathed Woodtuft...sometimes difficult to see among the dead leaves

Cortinarius sp...hundreds growing beneath Willows and Birches at Abbey Meadows

With winter firmly embedded in up here the bulk of the fungi have gone but there are still some good species in the woods around Morpeth to be found. I'm a week late with this post. I have been checking the ponds at Stobswood and had some good sightings at the new Woodside lake on the former Maidens Hall opencast site at West Chevington. The highlight were the White fronted Geese with about 320 counted, possibly more. I was joined by ADMc here and this is the first time I have encountered more than 8 birds, not even getting into double figures in the county in the past and this is one of several flocks in the county at the moment. Around Morpeth the Tawny Owls are vocal with birds calling from every woodland surrounding the town. One was sitting in a Pine tree early one morning at Cottingwood. I have also seen a couple of Woodcock here at dawn.

Monday, 21 November 2011


Butter cap (Collybia butyracea)

Grey Knight (Tricholoma cingulatum)

Slippery Jack (Suillus luteus)

Common Cavalier (Melanoleuca polioleuca)

Shaggy Inkcap (Coprinus comatus)

Work getting in the way of getting much further than Morpeth at the moment. At Cottingwood I have seen 200 Fieldfares, similar numbers of Blackbirds, 40+ Redwings, smaller numbers of Yellowhammers and Tree Sparrows. These are in the fields behind St Georges hospital towards Howburn woods. I have also seen a couple of Woodcocks here and there are over 70 Pied wagtails roosting at the hospital. around the woods here there is still a lot of late fungi around.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Cleaning up

Spent the morning in Druridge bay with brother Chris starting off at Hauxley to see the Greater yellowlegs and the Grey Phalarope. I was pleased they were still there today as I wasn't able to get out anywhere yesterday. The Yellowlegs was a new bird and it was feeding close by the wader hide whilst the Phalarope preferred the SW corner of the Southernmost pool. The next stop was Druridge bay country park where a fine Slavonian Grebe was feeding close to the shore at Ladyburn lake then on to East Chevington to see Green winged Teal. We finished off at East Stobswood where the Geese were a bit distant but hundreds of Canada's, Grey lags and Pink footed Geese. The wandering 4 Bar headed geese were among them. Thanks to Stew and ADMc.

Monday, 7 November 2011

North East Majorca 15th - 22nd October

The computer packed in a couple of weeks ago but hopefully everything is back to normal now. Just a few pics from the Alcudia area. All the best wildlife sites were within walking distance. Visited the Albufera reserve; an excellent place with thousands of birds, probably the best were Audouin's Gull and Yellow legged Gull, Purple Gallinule (Swamphen), Stone Curlew, Night Heron, Crested Coot, Marsh Harrier, Cetti and Fan tailed Warbler and dozens of Sardinian Warblers. Sardinian Warblers became a feature of the holiday with birds calling from just about every bush no matter where you went. The coastal pines were full of Chiffchaffs and a few Firecrests. Many Kingfishers and Ospreys around. Little Egrets were probably in their hundreds. To the North of the town behind the Aldi supermarket is an excellent area of scrub and wetland, it is viewable from the main road near the roundabout South of the old town. Many species which you can see at Albufera can be found here but there were more Black winged Stilts here and one day there was a White Stork. There was also Greenshank in good numbers and Purple Gallinule and Audouin's Gull and in the scrub there was Serin, Cirl Bunting moustached Warbler and Hoopoes as well as Sardinian Warblers. One of the commonest species on the island appeared to be Stonechat. I saw many new plants and there was still a lot of butterflies around. The commonest was Long tailed Blue, many Swallowtails, Clouded Yellows and Red Admirals plus a few unidentified Fritilaries which wouldn't rest. The one pictured above had me beat but I think it is the Iberian race of Speckled Wood. All of the species seen was without any real effort. I was just walking about and happy to see what I could without running around from one place to the next. I'd like to go back to this area in the Spring.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Serra de Tramuntana


Holm Oak


Puig Major, the highest peak at over 4700 feet

Lluc monastery

A day in the mountains on a visit to North East Majorca. The above pics are a bit scenic shots of the area but the mountain range takes up a third of the whole of the island and for me a 'must see' area. Lluc monastery is an ideal base in the heart of the mountains with wonderful walks in all directions. Very rich in flora around here but many plants are photographed and stored for future identification but the birds around here were quality. My main aim was Black Vulture and above the monastery there were 7 Vultures soaring, 4 were Black, 2 Griffon and a lovely adult Egyptian which later left the group and headed South east. Around Lluc the terraced farmland held small flocks of Spotless Starling, Serin and Cirl Bunting. Firecrests were calling from the pines and Stonechats were very common. Further on at Cuber reservoir there were another two Black Vultures and two Booted Eagles in the air and at Soller another 2 Black Vultures and a single Booted Eagle. We stayed at Alcudia for the week and I will post some more stuff in a couple of days.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


Birds eye view of the former Widdrington tip looking East towards Druridge Bay, now pretty much Alder excellent habitat

Pink Footed Geese

A garden escape, flower and seed at the old brickworks

Another garden escape

Mouse ear Hawkweed

Seed head of Blue Fleabane

Some kind of Slug among the pine needles

Yesterday I had a good romp around the old tip at Widdrington. A lovely sunny morning but very Autumnal with lines of Pink Footed Geese flying over, 2 Snipe, 40-50 Redpoll and Siskin and 8 Crossbills. Also 7 Jays at the tip. Had a good look around the old brickworks to look for some late plants. Most of the plants in flower were daisy like plants such as Ragwort, Rough and Autumn Hawkbit and some late flowering Fool's Parsley and Yarrow. I found a couple of obvious garden escapes but I'm not too good at identifying some garden plants so I don't know what they are. I found more Blue Fleabane growing in other areas of the brickworks but most have now gone to seed. There were a couple of Red Admirals and Speckled woods flying around in the sunshine. On the way home I had a look at the new ponds at East Stobswood, there were 5 Barnacle Geese among the Canadas and Grey lags, Redshank, Lapwing, Tufted duck and Gadwall. Click on pics for better detail.