Sunday, 28 November 2010


Well, I just couldnt resist playing out in the snow today! Despite the near Arctic conditions me and my brother Wayne had a brilliant day exploring Hawthorn Dene. As you can imagine we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves, I mean, what idiot would be out on a day like this!!! We had so much fun today, I was pretending to be Bear Grylls while Wayne was on the look out for bears and wolves. We did see loads of Deer tracks, which is after all the prey of the wolf, but no actual Deers themselves. (We have seen Roe Deer in these woods a few times). The only mammals seen today were a couple of Grey Squirrels. The main wildlife was of course birds. They were very active today, obviously on the look out for as much food as they could find. Hawthorn is one of the best places to see Marsh Tits in our county, and 2 or 3 were seen in a mixed Tit flock, along with a couple of Nuthatches and a pair of Bullfinches. The common woodland birds such as Robins, Dunnocks and Wrens etc were out in force, and in big numbers. There were also lots of Thrushes seen, mainly Blackbirds, but there were a couple of Song Thrushes and also quite a lot of Redwings. What I was surprised at was the number of Treecreepers seen, there were loads of them! I've never seen as many in a day before. But on the other side, we only seen 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, which is unusual. ONE DAY, I'M GOING TO FIND THAT YETI.


Sunday, 21 November 2010


A couple of weeks ago the Group made the decision to replace the old wooden sluice gate at Boldon Flats, as it had become rotten and damaged over the years. Because of this it was decided to try a new metal gate, so Dougie kindly knocked one up in his spare time and he, Steve and John Brown put it in last week. Unfortunately, it seems the power and strength of the water was a touch underestimated and the metal gate had slightly buckled under the weight and pressure of the water. This meant that a lot more water was flowing out than should be, and the Group had to work fast to stem it. Because its late in the season and the water level is so high there's no chance we could take the gate out to repair the damage and strengthen the gate, all we could do for the time being was 'plug up' the gaps and strengthen & support the gate either side with sandbags. So we used some of the Groups funds to buy a load of sand and spent an hour or so putting it in place and shoring things up. It seems to have worked perfectly! We hung around for a while afterwards just to make sure it didnt fall apart or anything but it seemed to be perfectly fine. Hopefully it'll do the job over the winter until we can get in and properly repair the gate itself.

BOLDON FLATS REPAIRS (in pictures) 20-11-10

Hmmm, that water shouldnt be coming out that quickly!!!
Pondering on what the hell we're going to do.

See, sometimes I do get my hands dirty!

After our hard work!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Saturday, 13 November 2010


Myself, Dougie and Steve started the day with a meeting with Mick from the National Trust to go over a few plans for future Coastal Group projects. For obvious reasons I cant go into details but needless to say its extremely exciting times ahead for the Group! Now, how to get those vitals funds.........!
After the meeting was finished we decided to head north to Morpeth to see if we could find the SQUACCO HERON that had been there for the last few days. We parked just opposite the river Wansbeck and walked for about ten minutes along the riverbank towards a small group of birders. We were told the bird was on the near bank just below us but was deep in the foliage. Within seconds I noticed some movement and put everybody on it, and before long the bird came out into the open. Its fantastic when that happens!!! As the bird was just yards away we enjoyed exceptional views for about half an hour before it flew over to the far bank. I was particularly pleased as this was the first Squacco I'd seen in this country, having previously seen them in Cyprus, Mallorca and Gambia. While watching the Heron on the far bank a superb flash of blue whizzed past - easily identified as a Kingfisher. After Dougie and Steve had had their photographic fill we decided to move on.
Having somehow missed out on all of the recent big arrival of WAXWINGS, we headed to Ashington to see if we could catch up with them. Once again we hit lucky! We had literally arrived in the area when I saw a small flock in a tree outside the police station. We quickly parked up and went over to get a closer look. There were 9 birds in total, not a big flock but nice to see regardless.
On the way back home we popped into Cresswell Pond for half an hour. A couple of Whooper Swans were on the far side, a small flock of Pink Footed Geese flew overhead and a female Long Tailed Duck on the pond provided Steve with a year tick. An excellent day out!


Sunday, 7 November 2010


I spent a pleasant couple of hours with the Coastal Group this morning planting 400 trees & shrubs on the Leas. Some were planted to extend the hedge thats currently there and the rest were placed on and around the mound. We were extremely lucky with the weather, it had rained overnight making the ground very soft and easy to dig but it actually stayed dry the whole time we were there. In fact it was a glorious autumn morning. Its surprising how quickly it took us to plant what we had. 400 sounds quite a lot of plants, but it only took 10 of us just under two hours to do the business. Its hoped that about two thirds of the plants will survive. The plants chosen are tried and tested in this kind of environment and the team are optimistic that a good number will take and flourish. As I am totally clueless when it comes to plants I am happy to take there word for it!!! In the years to come its hoped that these plants will be used by a good number of passing migrants (lets face it, The Leas does pretty well for this already!), and also it is hoped that species like Linnets and Finches may even nest. In the coming months we're hoping to plant more saplings in Trow Quarry.