Monday, 24 March 2014

Whats the Point

It happens every year, late March, its all about summer visitors. Expectantly searching the best areas with tales of someone having seen an early bird in some location or other, usually much further south than North Northumberland.
A cold bright and breezy morning Stewart and I headed for Newton, Wheatear and Sand Martin were in our thoughts.
It was a gorgeous Morning as we parked the car near the little tin church at Low Newton. We supped tea and headed up the road towards the village. The area where we parked up was alive with bird song and our attention was held for a good few minutes by at least 3 Chiff Chaff singing and involving themselves in territorial skirmishes.
Walking into Low Newton village we cast our gaze towards the high tide shorline to the north, a group of bird ringers, all known to uss, were netting birds feeding on the seaweed. Rock Pipits were the target species and we were allowed to observe the ringing and measuring of one of these very special little birds.
I love Rock Pipits, I always have, springtime is a great time to watch them and it was a great start to the mornig seeing on in the hand like this.

Rock Pipit

We headed along the track towards Newton Pool Nature Reserve, the flooded fields to the north of the main reserve look really good for spring birding. Grey Lag Geese, Shelduck and a couple of Ringed Plover were seen.


From path leading to the hide we had more Chiff Chaffs singing and a nice male Reed Bunting.
Into the hide, quiet really, male Goosander, a pair of Goldeneye, Grey Lag Geese, Teal and Moorhen were joined my a nice group of 8 Gadwall. We tried to cut through directly from the hide to the shore and neded up walking along the top of the high dune behind the reserve. Great views of the reserve and the surrounding area from here before we headed towards Newton point.
Track to Newton Pool
Newton Pool
Low Newton from the south


Walking towards Newton Point we paused at the high tide area. I sat on a rock for a while watching Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Starling and Stonechat. The rock I was sitting on was warm and I was fully sheltered from the cool breeze, I could have sat all morning, the birds were fabulous, giving great close views feeding amongst the seaweed in the warm sun.


Lesser Celandine

The remainder of the walk to an exposed Newton Point was enjoyable, I could have sworn I heard a Sandwich Tern but it could have been early springtime delerium, or a Starling.
Skylark, Snipe, Curlew all seen and Skylark song filled the air on the way back to the car.

Whats the Point to Newton Point?, there is every point. A great place and a wonderful morning out.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Isn't she lovely

I'm sure everyone has one, a Blackbirds nest in the garden. Wonderful though aren't they. This years female was busy today when I returned home.

End of the Line

Its early spring isn't it. The time of year when you start expecting so much, and rightly so. Snowdrops and Aconites have come and gone, Daffodils have burst through and are waving from unlikely sheltered corners as you wander around.
It was a typical mid March day today warmish, breezy and bright.
Stewart and I met at Alnmouth and headed off to the Coquet Estuary, no really sure why but its what happens at this time of year, indecision, aborted first stop at Amble Braid car park because I'd forgotten my scope and headed back to Warkworth and the car park adjacent to the Golf Club.
We drank Tea. A Small Tortoishell butterfly was basking on a warm mound of earth.
A walk along the old waters and to the south pier was largely unproductive as it was so breezy and exposed. A lovely Little Egret was nice to see and there was still a good Number of Teal keeping close to the bank sides, out of the wind. Meadow Pipits and Skylarks were singing in the dunes but a nicer, less windy day is better to enjoy the songs and breeding behaviour of these birds.There will be plenty of nicer days to come. We headed for shelter.

River Aln
Parking at Greenrigg, more tea, of course. We then walked down stream through Bilton Mill following the river. Chiff Chaffs were singing and seemed to be on territory, these birds have only been in a week or so. River was quiet and not that sheltered. We moved away from the river bank and followed the main railway line to where the old line from Alnwick joins the main line.
The old railway line was nice and sheltered and really warm and pleasant, 3 Buzzards were wheeling and calling over head quite close. A Mistle Thrush was belting its song out from a lone Hawthorn bush, a sentinal of springtime.Yellowhammers were stumbling into part song and again Chiff Chaffs were singing.

View from the old line
 The walk along the line back to the car was interesting, Bullfinch, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Redwing all seen quite well. Water filled wheel tracks on the line were full of Frog spawn. A Sallow branch was humming with early bees and other insects, sweet music indeed.


Old Alnmouth-Alnwick Railway Line 

Ivy Berries

We ended up back at the car and drank more tea beside the new steppey stones that have recently been constructed, a fabulous male Grey Wagtail was singing from a large rock mid stream.

Stewart crossing the stones with an impressive degree of agility

The disused railway line from Alnwick to Alnmouth is easily accessible and can be very rewqardig at anytime of the year, sanctuary from the breeze today and well worth the visit.

End of the line