I should have uploaded the notes from yesterday but the scanner wasn't working properly. Good job I have kids to show me how! I apologised for the crap photos yesterday and today I apologise again for the crap artwork and scribbly writing but that's just the way I do things. May have to click to see writing better.
Wednesday, 25 February 2015
RLB chasing a Peregrine while a Crow watches on...Honest!!!
Ross's Goose still hanging around
First Coltsfoot this year
Started off at Ulgham this afternoon making my way over the former opencast at Stobswood. Lots of birds around and to begin with there was a nice flock of Fieldfares at Ulgham park but nothing until I reached the burn with large flocks of Starlings and Lapwings. There was over a hundred Meadow pipits and 60 or so Skylarks with single figure flocks of Linnet, Goldfinch and Reed Bunting.
I walked towards Robin Hood wood to the highest point along this track which gives good views over the pond behind Middle Stobswood. The Geese were here with over 700 Pink footed Geese and a single Ross's among them. I was scanning the extensive rough ground which stretches from East Stobswood to Peigh Hills. There was 5 Buzzards including a very large female with plain markings. There was also 4 Kestrels and 2 Herons. A different looking bird of prey lifted out of the grass and I thought it was going to fly over my head but glided along the small burn here before diving into the grass. A fine looking Red Kite; my second at this site.I waited for about ten minutes but I didn't see it lift so I walked back along the track and headed off towards the rough grass where I saw it go but another bird of prey caught my eye in the far distance behind the old offices. Looking through my binoculars I knew exactly what this bird was. My first Rough legged Buzzard at this site and my first one in the county since the one at Whitley Bay many years back. This was a fine bird but too far off for any photos with the camera I have as you can see above. It was feeding on voles in the long grass and kept flying up briefly before plunging to the ground. It was very pale underneath and the rump and upper tail was white with a visible black band. The bird looked very big and looked 'fleecy' as it occasionally alighted on a fence post but spent most of the time on the ground. It hovered a few times as it glided around. A delight to watch. The Crows weren't happy and kept chasing it further away. 2 Peregrines came over and the Buzzard chased it off and the other was chasing the large Starling flock. I lost sight of it as it went past West Stobswood farm. I believe this may be the bird that was in the area in November. It may have left the area or perhaps it has spent the last few months just feeding in the rough behind these farms not visible to anyone from the main road.
Tuesday, 24 February 2015
Recent visits to Widdrington tip has been notable for Herons, Kestrels and Buzzards. The Herons and Buzzards (up to four at any one time) have been flushed off the ground in the rough grass and concluding they can only be feeding on an abundance of voles. I have also seen many voles/mice moving through the long grass as I walk through. Next month sees the movements from the uplands of any wintering Great grey Shrikes and it would be wonderful to encounter one in this area. The last time I saw one in this area was in a more farmland environment unrecognisable today behind what is still Karva woodcraft today but Joycee engineering way back in December 1975 as a young teenager! The habitat today looks more suitable than it did then.
Woodcock was in the denser Alder Carr area but I don't see Snipe here now due to the encroaching Alders and Willows. It used to be a good place to see Jack Snipe. Still plenty of common birds around. Today at Highlaws near Heighley Gate there is a large flock of around 650 Fieldfares feeding in fields with a similar number of Starlings.
Friday, 13 February 2015
Silk Tassel Bush (Garrya elliptica
Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)
I was able to take a few pictures as I walked along the river around Morpeth yesterday afternoon. Along the river bank at Oldgate the Silk Tassel Bush (Garrya elliptica) is looking at its best this time of year at Matheson's gardens with its large elegant catkins. Further along on the riverbank there is a few small but showy clumps of Winter Aconite in flower. Morpeth doesn't have the lovely display that Denwick church yard has but there are a few places where you can find it but probably the best area is St James church yard behind the wall at Copper Chare. A Marsh Tit was feeding in gardens near High House and a Merlin flew low over the turnip fields at Temple's gardens and over the paddocks next to the railway line. I have also been seeing up to 4 Buzzards in the same area recently.
Sunday, 8 February 2015
Different aspect of Cheviot and Hedgehope with Longframlington moor in the foreground from Stobswood
There's a Ross's Goose in there somewhere
Velvet Shank...a winter favourite
Goosander at Oldgate
Taken in December, Winter Moth on my ceiling
Little blog activity lately partly due to time of year and not many photo opportunities. I have been out and about but still looking around the Stobswood and Widdrington area; as the countryside around Morpeth is pleasant there is much more biodiversity around the area I grew up in. Today was a good day. I spent a couple of hours walking around the former Stobswood opencast and there was a flock of about 800-1000 Pink footed Geese, I couldn't find any Bean or White-fronted among them but a Ross's Goose stood out in the flock. A Hen Harrier flew south high above the flock and continued flying over Ulgham village until out of sight; my second sighting this winter at this site. The highlight though was a single Snow Bunting along the track near East Stobswood farm.
Back at Morpeth Velvet Shank fungi is quite common around the woods; the above pic was taken at Lancaster park. There are a few Goosanders on the river , most of them nearer Mitford but a nice drake has been gracing the Wansbeck at Oldgate and a Kingfisher has been fishing under the footbridge beside the Chantry since Boxing day when the river is not swollen.