Not much blog activity lately and when there is I'm usually a few days late. On Sunday a Marsh Harrier was flying low over the rough grass next to the new by pass road still under construction before flying over the A1 towards Pigdon. Not a common sight in winter but there has been a wintering Marsh Harrier in the Chevington area over the past year or so. Good to see and close views as well. A very large and dark bird. I've been at work since so not sure if it still hanging around. A couple of Buzzards around here and a lot of Redwings and Blackbirds on the Hawthorns around the Fairmoor houses. Sorry about the poor sketch but I'm sure you get a rough idea of what I saw.
Sunday, 13 November 2016
Yesterday we went to Tynemouth for the day to celebrate Amber's 18th. A walk along the beach and pier after eating and drinking was quite interesting particularly the lump of magnesium limestone where the priory sits. Many plants here have either finished flowering or are past their best. Two species caught my eye, both scarce plants with Wild Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) which was long past its flowering time but the leaves easy to see and Seaside Daisy (Erigeron glaucus) pictured above, a native of California well established near the footpath at the edge of the priory. In George Swan's Flora of Northumberland (1993) he describes Wild Cabbage as naturalised but Seaside Daisy is not mentioned in his book so must be a fairly recent colonist or introduction. Both plants are new to me as I've never had a good look around the Tynemouth for plants in the past, Worth a good look around here in Spring and summer.
Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Northumberland's only record of Mistletoe has gone. The 2 Malus trees that hosted the plants have been felled and in its place is block paving to make way for more retail space at Heighley gate garden centre. It appears that the current owners Wyvedale are more interested in squeezing yet more profit out of this space than using it as a good example of conserving rare species.
Saturday, 29 October 2016
Blackstonia perfoliata (Yellow-wort)
This time of year as the flowers fade I turn my attention to birds and spent a couple of hours at the former opencast site at Stobswood but the birds present today were the expected species and not ones to set the pulse racing however, the highlight today was not avian as I came across 52 Blackstonia perfoliata plants on the newly planted Birch woodland floor opposite East Stobswood farm near the pools. I have seen these plants at Hauxley but this is new for this site. Unsure of their origin as the soil the woodland is planted on is the spoil from the original fields here which were used as a baffle bank when the opencast was operational so may have come with the trees. On the way home a Red Squirrel crossed the road at Felton Lane.
This Grey Dagger (Acronicta psi) caterpillar was on my plum tree in the garden a couple of weeks ago.
Thursday, 18 August 2016
Hundreds of Broad leaved Helleborines (Epipactis helleborine) in the Stobswood area are quite varied in shape, size and colour. Thanks to AJR for verifying the more unusual flowering plants found here. Felton Lane is becoming very overgrown making it almost impossible to walk along the tracks. This used to be a good place for variety of trackside plants and butterflies. Musk Mallow (Malva moschata) is found growing on the old coal waste here and the Steadsburn is good for waterside plants. Colliersdean wood is also overgrown and a chain saw and some ponies would improve the flora here but False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum) covers much of the woodland floor. I watched a family party of Willow Tits here. Back at Morpeth and it has been a good year for Crow Garlic (Allium vineale) with 77 flowering plants at High House Lane and 56 on an uncut grassy area near the castle. I have also come across 12 flowering plants at Amble braid.
Sunday, 14 August 2016
In quiet corners on the edge of Morpeth there are a few steep ravines where there is no agriculture and while there is Barley, wheat, Leeks and Turnips growing as far as the machinery can get to nearby, the drop towards the river is too steep and it is left undisturbed. Plants such as Betony, Field Scabious and Harebell as well as others make a nice sweeping wildflower meadow. These may be common plants but these plants wouldn't be 'common' if there were no unspoilt corners like this.
Friday, 12 August 2016
Viewed from the village road
As seen from the Morwick road
The fissured bark and knobbly bosses visible on the trunk
A large Black Poplar (Populus nigra) is believed to be the oldest thing in Acklington village. Most likely to have been planted centuries ago but surviving well presently but it was in danger of being felled when the head teacher of the first school saw this tree as a potential health and safety issue as it is on the edge of the school grounds. The council agreed and it was for the axe but the parents and children of the school petitioned against this and were successful. Lets hope it will grace this hedgerow for many years to come.