Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Botanising Stobswood opencast

I have been surveying a random area of the newly reclaimed Stobswood opencast. I have wandered over different areas but decided to do a patch on the Southern edge near Ulgham as the square mileage is too much to do on my own. All the areas I walked around are very similar. The last of the top soil went down last year and  most of the ground is damp with many small pools. The dominant species are Spring Sedge (Carex caryophyllea) and Meadow Foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis) and in the drier areas Fumaria and Veronica species abound. More surprisingly is the abundance of Common Storksbill (Erodium cicutarium) which is scarce away from the coast. This flora will change over the next few years. The ponds are in but no proper boundaries are in place and damper areas will be drained and woodland is yet to be planted but I will monitor the plant life here and see how it changes.
Most of the land is owned by Peel energy so no doubt there will be a wind farm somewhere and a golf course is proposed for the site. Every time I visit the area there is always a Barn owl flying around and many Hares in the open fields.
Also pictured above are Kidney vetch and Scarlet Pimpernel from Felton lane and Common Cornsalad which is common along the main railway line between Stobswood and Widdrington station.

Thursday, 17 May 2012


Herb Paris (Paris quadrifolia)

Cuckoo Pint (Arum maculatum)

A day off today and it is raining again so I went to the woods for shelter. Cottingwood is a steep sided woodland to the North of Morpeth. It has a fine carpet of Bluebells but the best species here is Herb Paris. There is a healthy plant community here and they are at their best at the moment, you can appreciate their beauty when you look at them close up. The site where they grow is the very place where William Turner first discovered Herb Paris which was a new plant for Britain at that time. He described it as Libardbayne or one berry in his herbal of 1548. 

Saturday, 12 May 2012

After the rain

Barn Owl over the rooftops at Stobswood

Pleated inkcap (Coprinus plicatilis)

Duke of Argyll's Teaplant (Lycium barbarum)

Broom (Cytisus scoparius)

4x4 came to grief at Low Stanners ford

Two days off and it rained most of the time. Thursday was horrible with persistent and heavy rain all day but I managed to get out yesterday in the lighter rain. I walked around Parkhouse farm North East of Morpeth over the railway and back by Temple's fields. Despite getting wet Duke of Argyll's Teaplant was a new plant for me. An introduction and used to thicken up hedging. Most records in Northumberland are along the coast especially dunes but there are a few scattered records further inland. It has a very attractive flower and so does Broom which is in full flower beside the railway line and the woodland edge. With recent rain the river Wansbeck was high and fast flowing but not the height it was two weeks ago. I came over the bridge at Low Stanners and noticed a land Rover which had been there overnight. It had attempted to cross the ford and was washed downstream. The driver, his young son, baby and family dog all managed to get out of the sun roof. 
In the evening I was thinking of going to the coast to see if any migrants were around but I couldn't resist a look around Stobswood. I walked around the flooded tip but at the brickworks many Spring flowers were out and a Barn Owl was hunting. I also saw a Tawny owl on top of a pine, it was very agitated, flicking its wings and tail and being mobbed by a Jay. I presume it had young in the area.
Saturday morning and the sun is shining but I'm back to work for a week.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Past week

Over the past week I have spent time at Ulgham meadows and woods doing my warden stuff and clearing flood debris, chiefly empty fertilizer bags as there was no other litter to pick up. The top pic was sent to me by John carpenter taken on April 26th of the river Lyne but the water levels have returned to normal now. Creeping Comfrey (Symphytum grandiflorum) has become naturalised along the wayside near Ulgham and the bottom pic is Hazel Woodwart (Hypoxylon fuscum).
At Ulgham the only birds of note were parties of fledgling Long tailed Tits, on Wednesday at Morpeth a flock of Terns flew over the town centre but I couldn't say for sure what kind as I was shopping at the time and didn't have my binoculars. Later I looked around Pegswood moor and on a cold Spring day it was bleaker here than on the summit of Cheviot. It was brightened up with a Common Tern and three Wheatears. On the way home at East Mill I came across Common Comfrey (Symphytum officinale), not so common in the county! but Swan (1993) has a few sites around Morpeth and the Wansbeck valley but I have looked around here for a few years without success. Amazing what you can find when your not looking for anything in particular.
On Saturday when I got up for work a Fox was in the garden and on my way to work I heard my first Cuckoo this year at Cottingwood common.