A quick look around the pools of the old opencast area at Widdrington and Stobswood this evening. Driving down from Amble a Barn Owl was hunting at Hadston road ends. A Whitethroat was singing from a hedge at Ulgham and on the pools were a variety of waders including Common Sandpiper, Ringed and Little ringed Plover as well as a several species of wildfowl including a pair of Shoveler. Whilst there an adult Kittiwake flew in but was too far away to photograph (above) but looked good through the scope. This is a first for me on this patch.
Friday, 19 April 2013
Wych Elm flowers
Enteridium lycoperdon on Alder
Herb Paris leaves
Yellow star of Bethlehem
More springlike today, sunny but cool. I was at Ulgham with IRD walking the opencast and seeing lots of displaying Lapwing and Curlew. Numerous Skylarks and Meadow pipits and as we were approaching Robin Hood wood there were 4 Wheatears on the track ahead of us. 5 Buzzards soared overhead and in the wood there are large areas of ancient Hazel and Oak. The woodland floor is very boggy with carpets of Opposite leaved Golden Saxifrage and Moschatel. Beneath a sheet of metal were Pill Millipedes and the slime mould pictured above was found on the bark of Alder. On the way back via the river Lyne 6 Sand Martins were flying around the sandy banks where there are many holes. First butterflies of the year with Peacock and Small tortoiseshell.
Yesterday around the woodland of Morpeth the Yellow star of Bethlehem has come into flower almost a month later than usual and in Cottingwood the leaves of Herb Paris are visible among the Wild Garlic and Dog's mercury.
Thanks to anon for correcting the tree flowers above.
Thursday, 18 April 2013
Yesterday afternoon I checked the ponds at Stobswood and getting out of the car where the old offices were at East Stobswood a Red Kite was flying North West over the ponds near the railway and through the binoculars I could see the forked tail twisting as it battled against the the strong wind. It was gone in seconds flying towards Tritlington. On the ponds were a variety of wildfowl and waders the best being 2 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Common Sandpiper and 5 Ringed Plover. At Steadsburn the large lake which I believe is called Widdrington moor lake there was a flock of exactly 40 Ringed Plover on the Eastern shore. There was 2 Red Breasted Merganser on the lake, a variety of Gulls and Swallows, about 30 feeding on the Western shore.
I have been trapping moths in the garden and caught 5 of 3 species on Tuesday night, perhaps I could have caught more if it was less windy. I'm very new to this and thanks to Stewart (from the notebook) who is helping me with any species I'm finding difficult to identify confidently.
Thursday, 11 April 2013
Toothwort (Lathraea squamaria)
Looking for flowering plants around Morpeth over the last couple of days has been difficult as it remains cold again this week. The only plants I found in flower have been Shepherds purse, Danish Scurvygrass and Toothwort which is flowering along the riverside at Mathesons gardens. On my way back up the curly kews bank yesterday a largish bat was flying around (above).
Today I had a long walk over the opencast at Stobswood. There are hundreds of Meadow pipits and Skylarks scattered over this vast open space. Also dozens of Curlew and Lapwings. Behind Middle Stobswood farm is a pond sheltered in a hollow. This cannot be viewed from the main road but it is where the Geese often fly over to from the big pond at East Stobswood. There were 3 Cormorants and Tufted duck feeding here. On the main pool at East Stobswood the Pink footed Geese have dwindled to 49 birds. A fine pair of Pintail brightened up a cold day as this is a first for me at this site.
Monday, 8 April 2013
I signed up to do the Garden Moth Scheme (GMS) this year but my first five attempts trapping in my Morpeth garden drew a blank due to the winter weather. It was cold this morning with a snow shower while I was emptying the trap. I was pleased to see a few moths, the above are Early Grey 2 (different ground colours), Hebrew Character and a Common Quaker. My next session will be Friday evening. I'm quite new to this game so please comment if my identification is wrong.
Wednesday, 3 April 2013
I discovered Red Lungwort (Pulmonaria rubra) growing in Woodburn wood at Stobswood in 1982. A garden escape but by 1988 it was well established in the south east corner of the wood long before the large pine plantation on the opposite side of the road was planted. It took me a number of years to identify this plant as there was no reference to it in the books I had at the time. Now it is confined to one clump due to a footpath being established between Widdrington and Stobswood and a large area to the entrance of the wood being covered over with bark chippings. It is now under threat from another garden escape as Lesser Periwinkle is becoming dominant in this corner of the wood.
A walk over the Stobswood opencast from Ulgham gave me my first sighting of Coltsfoot this year in a sheltered ditch. No spring birds but I counted a total of 758 Pink footed Geese at East Stobswood. Around Morpeth there was a flock of 60 Linnets at Molesden and 45 Fieldfares at Mitford steads.