Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Friday, 29 March 2013

Stobswood and Scotch Gill

On my days off earlier this week the weather was very cold. On Monday I had a day out with Stewart (From the notebook) around his patch at Howick. A nice walk but not a note or photo was taken due to the very cold weather but nearer home at the Scotch Gill woods it was more sheltered but still felt like mid winter. Very few signs of spring flowers other than Spurge Laural (Daphne laureola) clinging onto the steep bank sides. A single drake Goosander was on the river here but no birdsong. On Tuesday the exposed ponds at Stobswood held very little but there was a flock of over 500 Pink-footed Geese and a Short eared Owl at Middle Stobswood farm. On my way to work on Wednesday 6 Waxwings were calling from a tree at the top of curley Kews bank beside Church walk but no sign of them since.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Whoopers in the dark

Druridge pools blog commented on Whooper Swans heading back North at the weekend. On returning home from work at 2050 this evening the call of Whooper Swans could be heard flying over the garden. Listening to the calls the birds were flying in a North East direction possibly following the course of the river. Will they drop down onto Bothal pond or the open water at Woodhorn for the night or will they carry on with their migration regardless of the time of day or the inclement weather?

Monday, 18 March 2013


Whitlowgrass (Erophila verna) agg is a white flowering crucifer with deeply notched petals. The above plants are very small. It is among a group of very similar subspecies. I first came across this plant in 1980 growing between the railway sleepers near the now demolished coal plant at Widdrington colliery. The railway track was destroyed with the coal plant and was swallowed up by the Steadsburn opencast in 2009. Another colony still exists in the railway sidings at Felton lane opposite Colliersdean wood. 
In Morpeth Whitlowgrass used to thrive on the edge of a car park near the old bus station in Stanley terrace but this site was destroyed during the development of Sanderson arcade shopping centre a couple of years ago. The above pics were taken at Morpeth railway station growing in the mossy gaps between the cobbled edge of the car park at the rear of the station (opposite Greens agriculture store).

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Arctic blast continues

I dust off the old notebooks from the book shelf now and again to see what I was seeing over the years at the same time of year. Last year the pages were dominated with Geese and Short eared Owls but on March 12th 1994 a Chiffchaff was singing at Felton lane and on March 15th 1986 a Wheatear was in the dunes at Druridge during a howling westerly. During the last few days I have been to Stobswood and Felton lane and the pictures above may look like a pleasant winter scene but the strong east north east wind felt like I was walking around a location much further north. The Goat Willow catkins are well adapted to cope with these cold temperatures but the sheep were relying on food supplements being provided for them.
Yesterday at the pools opposite East Stobswood farm (the one next to the main line) were again dominated by winter wildfowl with over a 1000 Pink footed Geese, smaller flocks of Grey lag and Canada Geese, Wigeon, Tufted duck and Mallard. Curlew and Oystercatcher were vocal and the only other waders were Redshank and Lapwings. Walking over the reclaimed opencast land from East Stobswood towards Ulgham Bennyboy flushed 4 Short eared Owls together out of the long grass.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Dour post

Cherry Plum flowers, Telford Bridge, Morpeth

Dead flower of Viper's Bugloss, Brickworks, Stobswood

Brittle Cinder (Kretzschmaria deusta) on roots of Beech at Carlisle park

Although born and bred and still living in Northumberland, at this time of year it can be a bleak and dismal place. Over the past few weeks all my days off have been blessed with the dour winter weather from snow, cold temperatures and like the past two days rain and a chilly Easterly to go with it. It is a bit frustrating as I'm looking forward to seeing the end of this winter weather but despite the welcome sight of Blackthorn coming into flower it seems that spring is still a long way off.
Edit- no room for complacency when trying to identify wildlife as accurate as you possibly can. The flowers above are Cherry plum and thanks for the comments. Keep them coming as I need to be kept right from time to time!