Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Friday, 30 November 2012

Below zero

A freezing day today with temperatures staying below zero all day. I went to Stobswood this morning and with all the rain earlier in the week frozen over it was easy to walk around the old brickworks and woodland. Everything looked lovely in the bright cold sunshine. The above shots are iced up Teasel heads and some of the thousands of seeding heads of Blue Fleabane. The birding highlights was a Marsh Tit in Willows at the brickworks; the first for a few years here and possibly becoming common again while the Willow Tit which I haven't recorded here for a few years is on the decline. Woodburn was alive with noisy Jays and Nuthatches.
Back in Morpeth there is a drake Goosander on the river near Oldgate, a Woodcock flew low over the road at Cottingwood on my way to work on Tuesday morning and Tawny Owls are vocal again.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Bay Polypore

Bay Polypore (Polyporus durus)

Last of the Autumn sunshine on Hornbeams

Bay Polypore was growing on a fallen Beech in Borough woods but it looks past its best. The late Autumn sunshine was brightening up the leaves this morning but this afternoon's forecast gales might blow away the last of the leaves on the Hornbeams near Highford bridge along the Mitford road.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Morpeth Fungi

Clustered Bonnet (Mycena inclinata)...Borough woods

The Deceiver (Laccaria laccata)...Cottingwood

Panthercap (Amanita pantherina)...Cottingwood

Some pics of fungi taken around Morpeth over the past couple of days.
After an upland walk yesterday I checked over another patch a bit nearer to home; the old opencast at Stobswood. The prairie like habitat holds few species at the moment but it is a forever changing habitat and it is always worth having a walk around. The only notable things were 3 Yellowhammers, 79 Lapwing and a mixed Gull flock on the pools beside the B1337. 44 Pink footed Geese flew low over the pools but didn't land. The other pool held more wildfowl with 13 Mute Swans, 26 Wigeon and single numbers of Mallard, Gadwall and Tufted ducks.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Surprise find at Harwood

Darden Rigg

Common Water Starwort

I was cycling round the forest tracks in Harwood this morning hoping that an elusive Shrike might be on show in one of the now many clearings but the forest was very quiet. I often bike along the tracks on the North West end of the forest where you can walk out on to the open moorland beside Little and Darden loughs. 
There was more bird activity on the forest edge with flocks of Meadow pipits and Red Grouse calling from the Heather moorland. I was walking around Little lough and heading towards the viewpoint at High rigg when a Blackbird flew across and landed in the Heather ahead of me. I didn't really take a second glance even though it looked silvery in flight I put this down to the strong sunlight. It wasn't until it flew up again and landed on top of some Heather when I found myself looking at a first winter male Ring Ouzel. Not expecting to see one at this time of year I tried to get closer to the bird so I could try and get a photo but it was another 20 minutes before I got a glimpse of the bird flying and disappearing quickly with a grub of some sort in its bill but it dropped straight into the Heather again. Although these birds will breed not far from here I believe this will be a migrant that spent some time on our coast when several were seen a couple of weeks ago and is slowly making its way South and West possibly with other Thrushes and has dropped into suitable feeding habitat for week or two before the winter weather will move it on further.
The bird remained elusive as 2 peregrines were hunting over the Heather moorland over Buddle moss and Darden rigg presumably trying to lift the Grouse but only succeeded in flushing Meadow pipits which one of them snatched and flew off to eat it.
Only other thing of note was Common water Starwort growing in a flooded track near Chartners.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Wansbeck Fungi

Velvet Shank growing high up on Beech at Scotch Gill wood

Wood Blewit at High House wood, it's edibility means something has nibbled it before you get there!

Porcelain fungus growing high on Beech at Wallington Hall

Looking at fungi lately along the banks of the Wansbeck. Very abundant with many species noted but my favourites are pictured above. Only birds noted have been 2 Kingfishers and 2 Brambling.

Sunday, 4 November 2012


Mistletoe only grows at one known site in the county at Heighley gate garden centre. I must have walked past it dozens of times as I finally found it the other day on Malus (Crab apple) growing much lower than I expected. On flickr photo sharing there are many pics of a mature Birch labelled Mistletoe at Wallington hall but I can assure these photographers they have been looking at the gall 'Witches Broom'