Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Wednesday, 20 April 2011


Herb Paris

St George's Mushroom

Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis)

On my way home from work I noticed some St George's mushrooms (Calocybe gambosa) growing between St Georges hospital and the high school at Cottingwood. When I got home I took Bennyboy along to take some pics and while I was there I went into the wood to see the Herb Paris (paris quadrifolia).

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Stag Rocks

Yesterday was my first day off for a while and my first opportunity to look for the Black Scoter. I went up to Bamburgh with a car full of kids and a dog. Niall took bennyboy for a walk along the beach while the girls went straight into the sea. This gave me a good half hour to set the scope up and look out to sea. I picked up the Black Scoter almost straight away. I took notes and drew a picture, fortunately for my eyes only but I had pretty good views. It is difficult to tell whether the bird is actually bigger that its common cousins but it apeared to be more 'bouyant' as it sat on the water making it easy to pick out as well as the large amount of yellow on the bill and base. I never saw the bird dive it just sat on the sea preening now and again. It also held its tail up like a Ruddy duck. Spent a few hours on the beach before heading down to Craster for a well earned Auchtermuchty sandwich.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Bleach Cup

Bleach Cup

Artist's Bracket

I came across some Bleach cup (Disciotis venosa) growing in the damp mossy bank side in the Borough woods. It has an odour of chlorine bleach but despite this there are always chunks eaten out of it by some creature so it is often difficult to find good specimens to photograph. Also pictured above is Artist's Bracket (Ganoderma applanatum).
Two House Martins were flying over the garden this morning and I saw a Tawny Owl the other evening at dusk flying around St Georges hospital.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

High House woods

Pleated Inkcap

Dryad's Saddle

Wood Oysterling

Some fungi pics taken this morning on the edge of high house woods west of Morpeth. I believe the bottom picture is of Wood oysterling (Melanotus horizontalis) but I had to point the camera into a hollow Hazel as only a tiny part of the cap was showing. The tiny and delicate Pleated Inkcap (Parasola plicatalis) was taken in the meadows beside the High ford bridge and a tiny egg shaped younger form not much bigger than a pin head  (hence the blur) was next to the mature form. Dryad's saddle (Polyporus squamosus) is common in the woodlands at this time of year.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) Between Morpeth and Mitford

When the Hawfinch was along the Mitford road earlier in the year it was feeding on its preferred seeds of Hornbeam but other birders and myself included presumed the avenue of trees were an overgrown Beech hedge. Stewart thought there may be a few Hornbeams among the Beeches or more likely they were all Hornbeams. I would wait until the flowers and first leaves appear and see how many there are. Stewart was right they are all Hornbeams...414 at least. Because they are close together they must have been planted as a hedge and are now reaching maturity. There are several individal ones nearby. They are majestic trees and I will never overlook an overgrown hedgerow again.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Widdrington and Cresswell

No pics from cresswell but Cowslips from Widdrington tip and Slime mould (Reticulata lycoperdon) at Stobswood.

A visit to the tip and the transformation from a bleak and stark landscape is taking place as the Willows and Hawthorns are awash with fresh green making the tip looking like a dense woodland in places. Willow warbler numbers here were almost uncountable with bird song sounding like it was coming from almost every tree, a lot must have come in over the weekend. I was looking for plants but nothing out of the ordinary here other than a nice display of Cowslips at the Western edge. I was doing a 1km square for the BSBI at Cresswell South of the pond. Afterwards I had a look on the pond and was chatting to some birders who were looking for a Great grey Shrike which had been seen earlier. It wasn't showing and the disappointment and despondency was evident on their faces yet there were 2 beautiful and graceful Avocets, probably rarer in the county than shrikes, 3 lovely Yellow Wagtails, 2 White Wagatails and a Wheatear as well as dozens of Hirundines. I went home happy.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Springtime and a new plant

Split porecrust


Slime flux

Yesterday I was at Alnmouth with Stewart (from the notebook) on a recording workshop and as we were an hour early we had a walk around the golf course and dunes. A lovely morning and spring birds were singing including a Willow warbler and Spring beauty was in flower here. It proliferates (if there is such a word) along the edge of the golf course and this was a new plant for me.
On Friday evening 2 Swallows were flying over the town centre and after watching Gardener's world a lady was having trouble with her Cordylines and the problem was Slime flux. This has puzzled me for a while as I came across a Sycamore at Ulgham that was suffering from the same problem and an organism that gets into a damaged part of the tree turns part of the tree black and wet then causes the sap to come ouzing out. Apparently healthy wild trees will recover from this.
Today a walk in the warm sunshine around the woods in Morpeth produced plenty of common plants and singing woodland birds. A willow warbler and at least 8 Blackcaps were singing in the Abbey and scots Ghyll woods this afternoon. Also lots of butterflies with Large and green veined white, Peacock, Comma, Small tortoiseshell (15)  and Orange tip (3). Toothwort is prolific (that word again) around Morpeth with lots of them around the castle and beside Oldgate bridge where many of them are out in the open on the riverbank. In Scots Ghyll the Yellow star of Bethlehem took some finding as Sweet sicily and Ransomes have covered them up. The ones I found have just about finished flowering. I think the top pics are Split porecrust a very variable species growing on Oak in the Borough woods.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

First Swallow

This is the third year in a row when I have seen Swallow before Sand Martin. I was driving South along the A1 this morning when a Swallow flew over the road at Blagdon. At this time of year some wild flowers appear on the lawn such as Lesser Celandine, Wavy Bittercress and Field Woodrush (pictured above).