Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Christmas day walk

Christmas day morning was calm, cloudy but dry and we had a pleasant walk around High House wood, through Morpeth along the river and back home via Postern woods. There was the usual woodland birds in abundance particularly Greenfinches at High House and 2 Marsh Tits in trees beside Vanburgh Gardens. Nuthatches and Mistle Thrushes were singing. On the river there was one Goosander at Elliot bridge but I have seen three recently. A colourful fungi Yellow brain (Tremella mesenterica) was growing on an Elder branch in Postern wood.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Short walk

Jelly Rot (Phlebia tremellosa)

Druridge Bay

Residents of East Chevington

You don't always have to travel far to see new species. My list of all things wild is growing (if I kept one) and some of these have been from my own garden. A short walk across the road there is a grassed area with a mixture of young and mature trees and on the stump of an old felled Horse Chestnut I came across Jelly Rot fungus. It's Latin name is more impressive than its common name and close up it looks very abstract. According to my books Jelly Rot is widespread and common but this is the first time I have seen it though I have probably overlooked it. I always question widespread and common because most things fluctuate and fungi is reliant on environment and conditions so I suppose it is widespread and common in  the right conditions and habitat. Fungi, insects and wild flowers don't get the observer coverage compared to birds so most people interested in these things pretty much have to find them for themselves. Despite lack of blog activity I have still been getting out regularly and I have been frequenting East Chevington and Amble area. The pics are from a couple of weeks ago and the Stonechats were the closest I could get for a half decent shot but the wintering Marsh Harrier was gracing the reeds behind the South pool but was nice just to watch rather than try and get some blurred distant image with the camera I have got....Maybe I should start making that wildlife life list on these long dark evenings!    

Monday, 23 November 2015

Milking Bonnett

Another fungi found growing on the mossy area of the lawn is I believe Milking Bonnett (Mycena galopus). It comes in various forms and this white Milking Bonnett is var candida. It exudes white latex when bruised. The Kingfisher is frequenting the Elliot Bridge area of Morpeth despite the river being swollen it is feeding well. This pic was taken yesterday just below the Chinese takeaway.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Arrhenia retiruga

When hanging the washing out in the garden the other day I noticed dozens of small white fungi growing on a mossy area of the lawn. I believe they are a jelly like fungus called Arrhenia retiruga. While photographing them yesterday morning four Whooper Swans flew South East over the garden. I have seen several small flocks of Whooper Swans at Widdrington Moor lake where there have been between 9 and 18 birds over the past 2 weeks. 3 flew South over Druridge Bay country park this morning. The lake was very quiet for numbers of wildfowl with a small variety all in single figures compared to the late 1980's when it was difficult to count the wildfowl at times here because of the huge numbers and only icy conditions made them scarce then. The Stonechat was in the dunes and back at Morpeth I've had no more Otter sightings on the Wansbeck and the Mandarin ducks appear to have moved on. I have had a couple of Kingfisher sightings between Oldgate and the weir at Oliver's mill this week despite the river being swollen.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Monk's Ridge

Pale Persicaria (Persicaria lapathifolia) 

Golden Waxcap (Hygrocybe chlorophana)

Trooping Funnel (Clitocybe geotropa)

Monk's Ridge is a grassed area like many other grassed areas on housing estates in Morpeth which the council cuts within a millimetre of its life which is no good for the flora but very good for Hygrocybe fungi. There are many species but Golden Waxcap is by far the most numerous. Pale Persicaria has a bit of a scattered distribution in the county according to BBSI maps but I have not seen any around the Stobswood area despite the frequency of disturbance of topsoil from opencast mining in the area. It is very numerous in Morpeth with many plants popping up where the flood defence work has been taking place and it also grows in my vegetable patch. The Trooping Funnel picture was taken at St Mary's churchyard. Looking at the pics I need to where my glasses more often as I'm sure they were a bit sharper when I took them!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Tales from the river bank

A walk along the river Wansbeck at Morpeth this morning provided some good sightings. A Little Grebe was feeding beside the Skinnery bridge and I spotted a shy drake Mandarin duck beside Elliot bridge preferring the overhanging vegetative bank but the female was not so bashful and was on the opposite side. I didn't have my camera so Heather took the pics with her i phone. Note the Black headed Gull behind the female is wearing metal and darvic rings but I didn't notice until we were back home looking through the pics. I will keep an eye out for it on future walks. This evening at about half past six me and Heather were looking to see if we could see the Otter again; we have had no sightings on recent walks. Luckily one was feeding and swimming opposite Oliver's mill. We walked along the road that runs past the mill and we were lucky to watch it again for a few minutes feeding on top of the weir before it plunged into the water again and swam upstream out of sight.
Between this we were doing some gardening and we called in at Plants Plus at Blagdon but when we called at Heighley Gate garden centre a Short eared Owl was quartering a field south of the car park but was being mobbed by Crows and it flew North over the A697

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Recent sightings

On Wednesday evening I saw my first Otter on the River Wansbeck at Morpeth. I have seen them in Scotland and Druridge Bay and heard of plenty sightings on the river. The lights from the promenade made it easy to watch as it dived and swam downstream. Recent visits to Stobswood have found very little plants in flower. The Fuchsias are one of a handful of plants in flower now. Other plants are numerous like Blue Fleabane and Weld and there are many Shaggy Inkcaps around. I have noticed small flocks of Crossbills in Pines around the old brickworks and 6 flew West over my garden here in Morpeth. Back at Stobswood hundreds of Pink footed Geese are frequenting the open areas of the former opencast behind East Stobswood. On Thursday evening two Beautiful Plume Moths were on the kitchen window; one inside on the blind and the other on the outside.   

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Stobswood again

Blackberry picking at the old brickworks I noticed dozens of Butterflies on the Buddleja including 4 Painted Ladies, 12 Red Admirals, over 20 Peacocks, Dozens of Large Whites and a few Wall Browns.

The pond at Grangewood is dominated by Water Soldier (Stratiotes aloides) and the bottom pic is another new plant but no doubt an introduction: Galingale (Cyperus longus).

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Old Fodder

Lucerne (Medicago sativa)

White Melilot (Melilotus albus)

I like a walk around old opencast mining sites and at Pegswood Moor the poor thin soils around a deep sided pool may be poor for looking for birds but interesting plants always turn up at these sites. Lucerne is growing around most of the North side of the site. It is a plant that was introduced as a fodder plant in the 17th century and known as Alfalfa and has probably come with wild flower seeds which have been planted around the former mining site. Growing nearby is White Melilot. My first and last sighting of this plant was at Stobswood brickworks in 2001 but couldn't be found over the following years. Hundreds of these plants are in flower at Pegswood Moor at the moment.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Wildlife at the brickworks

Small Copper

Robin's pincushion



Some kind of black bee on Canadian Goldenrod

Creeping Cinqufoil

Trailing Tormentil

Still hanging on in there

Broad leaved Helleborine

Still plenty of colour at the old brickworks at Stobswood and another plant for the list. The Broad leaved Helleborine is having an exceptional year this year with thousands of plants scattered through Grangewood including the pine plantations around the old pit heap. Red Squirrels still have a toehold here and Eyebrights and Blue Fleabane are also flowering in their thousands. Tormentil (Potentilla erecta) is a common plant here but the plant pictured above is Trailing Tormentil (Potentilla anglica); a new addition. It is a scarce plant in the county and I came across a healthy patch where the old railway embankment is or in the case where it is growing where part of the embankment was leveled to accommodate a mobile phone mast. The resulting flattened area is an excellent stony area where thousands of Blue Fleabane have colonised along with many other plants. There are still many plants to discover here.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Sutherland and Caithness

Amber at Loch Fleet looking towards Ben Brhaggie. The controversial statue of Lord Sutherland just visible

Common Seals either sleeping or fighting

Some wildlife from Embo dunes

Isles of Orkney

Heath Cudweed

Not long back from 10 days in the North of Scotland. A nice variety of wildlife to look at including fishing Ospreys at Loch Fleet and Salmon leaping at the Falls of Shin. The pic of the Salmon is from Amber's phone; they were too quick for me! Some of them were tagged. The dunes at Embo were very good for plantlife and low tide at the Dornoch Firth was incredible with many maritime plants some of them new to me; Baltic Rush included. It was nice to see Common and Heath Cudweed; two species that are now hard to find in Northumberland. Knotted Clover was another new plant but it was past its flowering best. I think a visit here in late June would be a good time to see even more plants.