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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Rothbury - Blaeberry Hill

Monday 14th April
A visit to Rothbury  to go up on the hills and look for Green Hairstreak , a sunny day with a light cool breeze , the detour to the town is still in operation its over a year since the road was closed must have been some slip. It's a bit of a slog to get up to   Blaeberry Hill as  its a straight and direct climb from the main street via a tiny alley next to Millers shop I think is the name . Well I walked all over the hill luckily rides have been cut through the heather  plenty Peacocks around masses of Bees but no Hairstreaks , so eventually I went for a walk around the edge of the hill and onto the top , birds encountered several WW lots of Chiffs, Brambling Redpolls a  single Red Grouse , Swallows over  3 GSW but not a single Raptor over , and yet on the coast I had 5 Buzzards in the air at Dru, and even 2 soaring near Morpeth on the way up . Later I arrived back at the hill and sat to watch but only more Peacocks around , I did find an Emperor Moth Caterpillar here once . Heading back down into town takes very little time it's so steep you could roll into a ball and end up in the river , the carpark on the river edge is now free  which is what it was & should have always been , visitors rather than pay for all day would park in the town blocking the streets preventing those with huge 4x4's from getting to the wine shop !. Goosander on the river and several Mallard and BHG  Dipper feeding young still in the nest Grey Wagtail and Heron to end the day , will have to try and get back up before the end of the month or try some other sites.
Looking down & over some Birch Scrub I picked out this Redpoll , it is a little overexposed but was very pale overall ,it was rather distant and I had great difficulty picking it up in the camera 
 Lots of Peacocks around
 Rothbury lies down in the valley , houses come right up to the wall at one point.

 Just noticed there is a face with the hat pulled down !!!!

 A couple of Small torts this one already been in the wars

 Lots of small patches of Wood Sorrell around amongst the bracken must have been woodland here at some time
 Distant ruin of a castle or manor House cant't remember the name
 Pixie cups & Matchsticks
 Several pairs of Wheatears around this one was singing , it's very faint song but the sound does travel ,took me ages to pick it out .
 Trying to get at that awkward spot !!
Dipper feeding young  ,there was only the one adult unless the other was still on the nest, I could see roughly where it was but did not venture to close
 Nice Grey Wagtail it seemed to be nesting on the opposite bank
 It spent the time flycatching
 It seemed puzzled with the Dipper which kept going under in the fast flowing water , managed to capture the two together
 Very obliging Goosander  there always seems to be one somewhere , that comes to bread , handy for photographs just keep the sliced white out of shot .
 Goosanders are actullay very hard to get the exposure right with the contrasting head against the super white body
Finally a Grey Heron drops in early evening

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Druridge Pools - Chibburn

A run up the coast first stop the flooded field at Lynemouth still plenty water in a couple or Redshank and Pied Wagtail with about 20 BHG, the field itself looks like a right tip with discarded wrappings from hay bales they never seem to pick anything up . Cresswell I only stopped at the top end 3 Avocets where nice to see 3 Pintail near the causeway , again just a couple of Redshank and 2 Pied Wagtails , I went on to Druridge Pools , just several Tufted on the main pool but the flooded fields held again 4-5 Pintail , Egyptian Goose, about 10 Shoveller , with a good scattering of Gadwall, Teal & Wigeon , 2 Marsh Harrier over  and later 5 Buzzards soared overhead .The afternoon was rather dull so  I went for  a walk over to the Ruins of Chibburn Priory its well documented History is online , it's worth a visit in one section of the walls a WW11 machine gun slit is incorporated such was the fear of invasion during this dark time in our most recent history . Oddly lots of WW11 sites have  been  destroyed  over the years the future will see millions in Lottery money being spent to save them , Blyth Links had numerous Pill Boxes made from sandbags only a few  remnants now remain .

 Pintail a very elegant duck
 View across the flooded fields to the Budge Screen in the distance

 There was some restoration done some years ago hence the joint in the beam , that is a very large piece of Sandstone across the fire , how they moved such large and very heavy items in those days is amazing

 WW11 Gun slit in the corner on the left, if you not yet been over it is only a short walk from the track at Druridge Pools
Marsh Harrier over

Monday, 7 April 2014

Humford Woods to Plessey

A Walk from Humford Mill (Woods) along to Plessey Woods was pleasant even in the gloom ,the path west is muddy for most of the way , just beside the stepping stones is the site of the now filled in open air baths where we spent many a happy childhood learning to swim and eventually dive from the top of the high board , I always remember as you came down the hill to go over the stepping stones the sounds of screams, laughter and just sheer enjoyment coming from the pool it made you run to join them, the prize in the pool was a huge old tractor inner tube the trick was to dive from the top and through the tube , avoiding the large brass valve not much health and safety  happy days !! . A couple of Mallard on the river and later a pair of Goosanders, plenty Chiffchaffs singing and numerous Nuthatch, but no Dippers or Grey Wagtails. Carpets of Dog's Mercury, Ramson, and Wood Anemone and a couple of Bluebells just coming into flower, I was on the lookout for more Toothwort but non found , I did find a few patches of Yellow Star of Bethlehem  must have been out early as already dying back. The path was rather slippy and I would not recommend it for young children etc: although the section to the weir is OK. and the other  path north is also a good walk for the most part along the river edge coming out at Attlee Park

 A brief glimpse of a pair of Goosander before they swim from view
 Bluebells starting to flower
 Yellow Star of Bethlehem in several small groups

And the strange but attractive Butterbur in flower. We always avoided this plant as children as someone told us it was poisonous, even to the touch !!!

Friday, 4 April 2014


Walking through Morpeth Park I had a look to see if the Toothwort plants  had come into flower , these are Parisitic plants in this case under a Beech tree, according to what I have read these are Protocarnivorous  at least the group  is in which they can trap small insects underground but cannot digest them  so how it all works I don't know . That's the fascinating thing about plants there is so much to learn ,Cabinet of Curiosities  has a post on the subject and being a botanist  can cover it far better than I , perhaps it flowers earlier in Durham , I so far have only found it under the canopy of trees  but I don't go looking for plants much in March early April 

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Blog Update - Water Voles

Not been much of a March for me I have been around a few places a visit to Harwood  in what was sunny but cool conditions failed to produce any Adder , huge areas have been clear felled this looking North that's the road on the left leading to Elsdon Gibbet only a thin strip left , no Wheatears for me along the coast  even a trip over to the Leas area  of South Tyneside did not produce any in Spring most seem to go straight up to breeding territories, Chiffchaffs as expected  in good numbers especially vocal in the morning , Gosforth Park  was devoid of Wildfowl leaving only a Pair of Mute Swans a few Coot and two Little Grebes.Big Waters, Holywell Pond although more at the former the only Whoopers I saw in the Blyth valley area was a group of 30+ fly North over my house .East Chevington was probably the most visited  with Slavonian & Red Necked Grebe with a Black Throated Diver all kept their distance but always good to see ,great views of mealy Redpolls with Starling Murmerations to end the day. 
On a differant note ,I have not seen Water Vole  in the County for many years now,the last was on the Coquet  west of Rothbury , though at the time it was of mild  interest, this year it is intended to try out some potential sites over the Summer months .  I would be interested in viewing known occupied  sites if anyone has any up to date information , then at least I would have a better understanding as to what to look for.
 Harwood Forest some huge areas have been cleared
 The ever obliging Stonechat good to see a few pairs along the coast
 Kestrels just what can they see, fluorescent urine trails according to latest reseach  
 Redpolls still at at East Chevington
 Little Grebe with I think a Perch
Vole taking advantage of what is after all a feeding station !