Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Sunday, 31 May 2015


Sentinel Red Grouse with Rothbury in the background

Rock Cranesbill (Geranium macrorrhizum) beside River Coquet

I like a walk over the Simonside ridge and at this time of year there is plenty to see (and hear) despite the cold weather at the moment. No fewer than 4 Cuckoo's but apart from a Buzzard and Kestrel it was quiet on the bird front, Between the Heather it was white with Cottongrass and the flowers of Bilberry and Cowberry are out. I came across Rock Cranesbill growing out of a Stone wall near Rothbury on the banks of the Coquet. 

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Rarities at Bothal

After hearing about the Black-winged Pratincole at Bothal pond yesterday I thought I would go down this morning but I just had time last night and went along and arrived at 2055 and there were three birdwatchers there and one of them Mark Eaton put me onto the Pratincole straight away sitting on the North West edge of the pond. After 5 minutes it got up and flew around the pond chasing insects among a large flock of Swifts. About 5 minutes later a Tern was hawking insects towards the North end of the pond and Mark who had been watching it for a couple of minutes said it was a Gull Billed Tern. Ian Fisher arrived and we all were watching the Tern twisting around in the air; its broad wings and uniform grey colour to all upperparts could be seen. The Tern landed quite close to the Pratincole which had landed back where I first saw it. More features could be made out including the black bill and the long black legs which gave the bird a more upright appearance at rest. The bird flew up again but this time we couldn't see it again and it was believed to have flown East. The Pratincole was back in the air again and I watched it feeding on insects until about 2130.

I was back at Bothal pond this morning and the Pratincole was still there but as it was very cold it was just sitting on the edge of the pond again. There was a lot of birdwatchers there and it was good to catch up with a few familiar faces I haven't seen in a long while.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015


I like to go to areas where few people go and it can be quite rewarding at times as you never know what you may encounter. Coming across a Hoopoe on farmland West of Morpeth is now a memory. The above pics are Norwood pool near Widdrington Station. This former area of damp farmland is has been a pond for over 20 years and the woodland around it is well established and some good wetland plants have established themselves here. No rare birds on this visit but Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Coot and Little Grebe have made it their home. Frogs and Newts are in the permanent wet areas and a nice Fox was sitting up in the marshland and a Hare was also resting nearby both appeared unaware that they were so close to each other. I have no doubt the woodland here which stretches over Tute Hill down to the River Lyne at Ulgham will hold breeding Long Eared Owl and Woodcock. The woods were alive with Blackcap song but despite the damp scrubby areas there is still no evidence of Willow Tit which was once so common around here.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Hoopoe at Middle Duddo farm

Cycling west of Morpeth late afternoon past Tranwell and Whitehouse farm and before Bellasis bridge I turned right towards Duddo and Saltwick and at the top of the hill before Middle Duddo farm I pulled into a gateway and just behind the gate a Hoopoe was feeding along a stony path. I watched it for a short while then it flew and landed on an old pill box in the hedgerow. I didn't want to hang around too long as I didn't want to frighten the bird off and I didn't have my phone or camera so I quickly cycled back to Morpeth and alerted ADMc and put the sighting on birdguides to let people know. ADMc went along and saw the bird in the same place at 1745.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Plant blitz

Common Dog Violet (Viola riviniana)...Stobswood

Common Cornsalad (Valerianella locusta)...main railway between Stobswood and Ulgham

Hairy Woodrush (Luzula pilosa)

Ivy leaved Duckweed (Lemna trisula)

Common Water Starwort (Callitriche stagnalis)

Bog Pondweed (Potamogeton polygonifolius)

Overgrown sidings

St George's Mushroom

Yellow Fieldcap

Wheatears...Hadston dunes

Heath Dog Violet (Viola canina)...Hadston dunes

I'm doing a plant blitz of the tetrads around Stobswood and Widdrington. I'm covering 16 squares in total. I have already completed the first round this year. The areas to the East; the farmland around Widdrington village and Houndalee are disappointing botanically due to intensive agriculture and over grazing but the more interesting areas are where there is habitation or post industrial sites. Sadly the railway sidings near Felton Lane which were rich botanically are becoming increasingly overgrown. While some plants are lost I am still finding new plants in this ever changing environment. The new plants I found in the main wood at Stobswood (Grangewood) are Hairy Woodrush (not uncommon but hard to spot) and the pond in the wood where Ivy leaved Duckweed is growing but probably introduced into the pond at some stage. A small acid flush runs through Neds Whin plantation and used to go into a ditch to the East of the wood but since the reclamation of Colliersdean opencast it now floods part of the grassland to the North of Widdrington Moor. These pools are already established with water plants and I was delighted to find Bog Pondweed and Common Water Starwort. I have also found Common Clubrush (Schoenoplectus lacustris) growing in the large ditches beside the newly formed ponds on the former opencast site near Ulgham park. The bottom pics were taken on a visit to Hadston dunes but at Stobswood yesterday a pair of Wheatears were near Middle Stobswood and a flock of 41 Whimbrel. The fungi pics were taken at the former tip at Widdrington.