Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Star of Scotch Gill woods

This time of year Yellow star of Bethlehem can be found in the Scotch Gill woods west of Morpeth. It can be difficult to find as it grows where you least expect to see it, not in the boggy areas or wet flushes but on the drier areas where the Wood Anemone's and Dog's Mercury grow. Another problem is that although it grows in large clumps not all of them will come into flower and the leaves can easily be overlooked in the emerging undergrowth. I found at least 35-45 plants and 17 of them were in flower.

Yellow Star of Bethlehem (Gagea lutea)

Marsh marigold (Caltha palustrus)

Marsh marigold was also in flower here but most other woodland plants are still in bud. Lots of birdsong in the wood and I saw Marsh Tit and Dipper along the river.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

More Spring flowers

Opposite-leaved golden Saxifrage

Barren Strawberry

Butterburs are just emerging

This time at Ulgham along the banks of the Lyne. No surprises and some plants not quite out in flower but we are heading in the right direction. Plenty of birds singing and Chiffchaffs seem to be everywhere. No Kingfishers but there was a nice pair of Grey Wagtail just under the road bridge. The bottom pic is a poor shot of a spider, there were hundreds of them running around the sandy soil on the riverbank where the Butterbur grow. Stewart and Dean might know what it is.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Springtime woodland flowers

Mauve Primrose...Widdrington tip

Narrow leaved Lungwort...Woodburn, Stobswood

Wood Anemone...Woodburn, Stobswood

Highland beasties at East Chevington

Had a couple of days off. Yesterday I walked from Hauxley to East Chevington. Quiet but a nice walk on a sunny day. Today I was at Widdrington tip and Stobswood where I heard two Chiffchaffs. Lots of woodland birds singing but a few flowers to look at as well as a few Small tortoiseshell butterflies. I first came across Narrow leaved Lungwort (Pulmonaria angustifolia) in 1982 in Stobswood, a garden escape but a nice colourful plant. It still survives on the edge of Woodburn. The mauve Primroses were growing at the Western edge of Widdrington tip and the Anemone in Woodburn at Stobswood.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Red Kite

Red Kite over Druridge bay CP

Yellow Brain...Hadston dunes

Fox Moth larva? ...Hadston dunes

Started the morning off at Widdrington tip. A better morning but still cold but lots of common birds singing such as Skylarks, Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings. There was a mixed flock of Finches feeding on the ground beneath the Alders. Most were Chaffinches but there was a single Mealy Redpoll as well as seven Lesser Redpolls, a few Siskins and Goldfinches. I then went along to Druridge Bay CP and went along the dunes looking for Morels. A bird of prey came over the pines to the North end of the park, a Red Kite, it circled over the dunes then headed off South West. This was my first sighting in the county, I haven't ventured to the locality where they breed. It was untagged but by the time I got the camera onto it it was flying away from me. Clicking on the image may help bring it a bit closer. The yellow brain is orange as this is the colour it turns when they age and begin to shrivel up. I can never remember the furry caterpillars we see in the dunes as Eggars, Fox or drinkers.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Spring Fungi

Bitter Oysterling

Turkeytail stump with Velvet shank on the top

White Dead Nettle

A trapped Dotted Border (I think)

Nothing Spring about the Borough woods this morning. It was cold, grey and foggy. No Chiffchaffs singing here. Spring has arrived on the more Southerly blogs with Dean having pics of Blackthorn and Lesser celandine in flower. Both these species are nowhere near flowering and the only flower in abundance is Dog's Mercury. I did find White dead nettle in flower which is a little underated but very common. Lots of fungi along the riverbank with the best being Bitter Oysterling (Panellus stipticus). I took a picture of a colourful stump completely covered in Turkeytail (Trametes versicolor) with the remains of Velvet shank (Flammulina velutipes) on the top. Only bird of note was a Marsh Tit. The moth is I believe a worn Dotted Border which was in a spiders web at the foot of an Alder.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Some Waxwings

Yesterday afternoon I had to go across to Ashington for some provisions and along Rotary way in bushes opposite the business park there was a flock of 18 Waxwings, my first this year. Nearby there are still 20 Whooper swans in fields opposite Longhirst flash. No camera with me at the time. I'm working at the moment so my next days off are not until mid week.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Favourite Haunts

Stobswood yesterday, Gorse, Coltsfoot and Frogs spawn

Two views of Tutehill moss looking towards Tod's knowe in Harwood forest

Birch Polypore in Ned's whin at Felton Lane

Remains of Barn Owl...Ned's whin

I have been visiting my favourite local places over the last week. Last Sunday 28th Feb I was on duty at Ulgham LNR doing a few jobs but nothing doing in the way of wildlife. I took my scope with me and from Ulgham park I was able to count the Geese on the old Stobswood opencast. There were 832 Pink footed and 46 Cananda Geese. The Yellowhammers and Linnets have dispersed from the stubble fields. On Tuesday 1st March I walked about 9 miles through Harwood forest from the village and onto Darden Rigg. Once again no Shrike for me but I didn't stop for long at Tutehill moss. There were at least 40 Crosbills in loose family groups along the first juvvy birds this year. I saw 2 Goshawks displaying and 6 Buzzards with the males also displaying. One Buzzard male was undulating so close to a sitting female that he collided with her knocking her off the treetop but she soon recovered and chased him away. On the way back 6 Buzzards were soaring high above the village when they were joined by a male Goshawk. Nice stuff but I'm not a huge fan of raptors.
Yesterday I was back at Widdrington tip and in the woods around Stobswood. A nice sunny day and a bit of colour for a change with Coltsfoot and Gorse in flower. Only one Lesser Redpoll at the tip but Grangewood was full of the expected woodland birds including Nuthatch. Today I had a walk in the woods of Colliersdean and Ned's whin plantations at Felton Lane. I flushed 14 Woodcock here13 of them in a narrow 100 metre strip at Colliersdean. Plenty of woodland birds here including 3 Jays and a displaying Buzzard to the North of Ned's whin. In a clearing here I found the remains of a Barn Owl. At Morpeth there is still an abundance of Velvet shank fungi on the Ash stumps around Abbey meadows.