Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Friday, 28 January 2011

Widdrington/Druridge & Harwood

Whoopers at Druridge

Crossbill...the only highlight at Harwood but the light was too poor for taking pics

Today I spent a cold day in Harwood forest. I didn't arrive until lunchtime and a couple of birders I bumped into had seen the Great Grey Shrike but a bit distant including RF. I walked as far as Tod Knowe and settled down for some bait where you can scan the whole area back to Tutehill moss. There was no sign of the bird for me today and I headed back. Harwood can be a bleak place at this time of year and by now I was freezing. There were about 30 Crossbills in various parts of the forest, a Buzzard and 5 Great spotted Woodpeckers flying together over Tutehill moss on my way back. Two more Buzzards were at Longwitton.
Yesterday I went to look around Widdrington tip and the Finch flock has dwindled to just 20 or so birds. There were 11 mealy Redpolls, 7 Lesser and 2 Siskins. 5 Snipe were flushed from the marshy area and also seen were 2 Hares and a Roe Deer. While in the area I had a look at Druridge pools. Lots of birds here especially wildfowl but of note were 2 Whooper Swans and 2 Pintail.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Velvet Shank

Not the first time I have posted one of my favourite winter fungi but on walks through the Morpeth woods recently I have noticed a lot of Velvet shank probably due to the recent hard weather. On recent post by Dean where he posted a nice pic of flat crep or Flat oysterling as I know it but it set me off looking harder for winter fungi but it is the Velvet shank that brightens up the dull looking woodland. On an early morning walk this morning we got off to a good start with the Hawfinch feeding in the Beech trees at Highford, 3 Goosanders on the river, Jay and a nice Marsh tit at Newminster cottage. The pics were taken at Carlisle park in a Beech stump.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Wansbeck Otters

There have been a few sightings on the river between Morpeth and Mitford recently but not seen by me. The pictures above were taken by Keith Harbottle who photographed them from his garden last Saturday just upstream from the stepping stones. I will be walking more frequently by the river and hope to see them. Many thanks to Keith for letting me use his photos for this post.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Druridge Bay CP

Some pics above of the Mergansers, Goldeneye and Pink feet

I don't do a WEBS count but I regularly count the wildfowl at DBCP. I like a walk around here now and then and on Sunday it was fairly quiet but plenty of the usual wildfowl. Two birds notable by their decline are evident in Druridge bay. One is Coot where just a few years ago well over a hundred would winter at this site today there was 12 and Pochard 50+ could be counted here at one time but only 6 today. Tufted duck don't appear to have declined with 54. Mallard, Mute swan and Canada Geese seem to be increasing. A pleasing sight in numbers is Moorhen 37.Other notables was Red breasted Merganser (10) and Pink footed Goose (89). I was looking for Redpolls among the Alders but could only find a handful of Lesser Redpolls at the entrance.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


I couldn't look for the Hawfinch yesterday due to work but a day off today saw me and fellow birders along the footpath towards High Ford. Many birders came and went to see a now county rarity. Twenty years ago not many people would be interested in coming here as we had a resident flock in Alnwick and the Tyne valley. The Hawfinch was magnificent popping up on the tree tops now and then before disappearing to feed on the Beech mast. A little too far for my camera but if you click on the images you should be able to see what it looks like! An excellent bird for the OFFH list.
Hawfinch is probably my first self found scarcity as a young birdwatcher. At Cottingwood in the grounds of King Edward V1 school in October 1974 I saw one feeding on the ground in the Lower school area. I have not seen one in Morpeth since until today.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Pale Birds

Terrible shot of some of the flock

First of all I will have to apologise for the quality of the pics as the birds were too mobile and distant. Excuses out of the way a lot of birds in the tip area again. I was there at first light and from the foot and mouth plantation there was a covey of 6 Grey partridge, a Buzzard and 2 snipe. 2 Peregrines few west together male at the front. The female swooped onto a Woodpigeon but it was too quick for her and she continued flying west. The male flew back over the tip lifting the flock of over 200 finches. Once settled I tried to look through them but they were flighty. I walked through Stobswood to check out the other woods but only saw regular birds like Goldcrests and Coal Tits, 2 Woodcock and Jay were nice to see. I returned to the tip and saw ADMc looking through the Finch flock which were in the smaller Alders to the west of the site. Despite this they were still difficult to look through but in flight we could see a very pale bird but couldn't pick it up when it landed. We did see a bird with a good white rump but didn;t see the rest of the bird properly...frustrating. Trying to count the flock was difficult with possibly a hundred birds being Goldfinches, 50+ Siskin and 20+ Mealy and a similar number of Lesser Redpolls. There were 17 Mealy's in one small Alder. A Buzzard alighted on a pylon carrying a Rabbit and a total of 4 Hares were seen. The female Kestrel appears to have been replaced by a male and a couple of Snipe were flying around. The Weasel was active again as was a Bank Vole. In the field where the Horses are there were 18 Fieldfare.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Twitch at the tip

I arrived at the tip this morning about 0930ish and Alan G and ipin were already watching the Arctic redpoll (see pics on dusty bins, Alan Tilmouth blog). It had moved out of sight but a few minutes later I had a brief view through the Alders on the opposite side with a few Goldfinches. A flock of 30 redpolls flew in...all of them Mealies. There was also some fine looking Lesser Redpolls as well. In the NW corner there was a flock of over 100 Goldfinches. The flocks were more fragmented today but the bright bird remained elusive for the rest of the morning. I've seen a white bird here on a couple of visits (see hints on previous posts) but have not been able to pin it down. Well done to Alan. Other sightings were a Heron feeding on voles, a Buzzard hovering into the wind and a Weasel. On my way in I walked Bennyboy through the Beech wood at the entrance and flushed 3 Woodcock, one of them got stuck in the wire fence but managed to squeeze through. there was also a dead one which had been well plucked.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Quick walk

Today was my last shift for a week. There wasn't much light left when I got back form work so we went for a walk around High house wood and back home via the stanners. The light was fading so no chance of any photos. The river levels are quite high and fast flowing but just upstream from the stepping stones it is flowing slowly and this is where most of the river wildfowl are. There were 7 Mute swans, Mallard, Moorhen and 2 fine drake Goosanders. In the trees were 12 Long tailed tits. Tawny owls have beome vocal in the Abbey woods early mornings and evenings.