Wednesday, May 15, 2019

An Upland Walk...Northumberland National Park

Harthope Valley - Carey Burn to Broadstruther Walk.

On Sunday we had a walk half way up the Carey Burn mainly looking at butterflies but also for anything else that attracts attention. This is an area we have visited since the 80s but have never walked further than the Carey Burn itself. We used to see Ring Ouzel and Peregrine here but now they both seem to have gone.

On Tuesday, the weather forecast was so good, I took an impromptu flexi day off work and went feral, heading for the silence of the hills. These are the Cheviots, just south of Wooler in the North of Northumberland and about 20 miles from home. Its a scenic quiet spot and doesnt get the quantity of visitors that go to the Ingram Valley for instance.

Above - The walk starts on a flat sheep walk area on the north bank of the Carey Burn with views into the valley. On Sunday I missed the Red Kite that has been around since early spring, but on Tuesday it gave me a nice fly over along with 6 soaring Buzzards. Red legged Partridges are ever present here and are best ignored!

The south facing slope on the right is clad in Broom and Gorse and was full of Whitethroats, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. A few butterflies were noted with many Orange Tips, 4+ Small Copper and 2 Green Hairstreak.

Green Hairstreak

Small Coppers
Further up the steep scree and crag sided valley, the path gets a bit, disorientated, but is passable with care. Scree seems to have caused it to slide off a bit. Around every corner here are fantasic and new views.

The Carey Burn waterfalls.
This time we saw a pair of Whinchats, Dippers, Red Grouse plus a few interesting invertebrates. 

Mother Shipton moth named after the witches profile in each wing...a rare species in the county.

On the rocks,a small jumping Zebra Spiders, Salticus sp.

An even rarer moth is the Small Purple Barred with two seen, only the second and third records in the county in the last 30 years.

This tiny spiralled Snail under a log needs some research.

Green Tiger Beetles are abundant on the snady paths here.
Beyond the waterfalls, the valley widens a little, with grassy areas and a small shepherds hut. Dippers call and dash along the burn here. Watch out for Adders and Slow Worms. We found a freshly dead slow worm that looked like a bird had killed it, maybe a kestrel?

Bitter Vetch
Beyond the footbridge the walk begins to look different. Gone are the steep scree slopes and now we have open rounded heather clad vistas. In the birches many Redpolls were chasing around, while Whitethroats and Meadow Pipits were everywhere. A Redstart was singing unseen here while a lone Cuckoo called.

This is the halfway point in the walk. Out here the broom holds Mountain Bumblebees, Bombus montana, a scarce species. Skylarks, Pipits and Grouse call everywhere while two or three Ravens added a more menacing air to the scene and a beautifil cock Whinchat just refused to sit for a photo.

A scarce self appearance on the blog, but no one was around so I banaced the camera on a fence post and set the timer... 

Broadstruther cottage, recently renovated. Imagine living here in the winter. A stone sheep stell near the footbridge is a thing from the past.

Broadstruther, a closer view.

The ubiquitous Meadow Pipit. 

Small hill Bown Trout filled the burn, rising for insects on the top with a  splash.
The start of the track back.
From here the hill was quiet other than some heart stopping Grouse leaping into the air only feet away calling go-back go-back....

And finally the view to the car park and the steep decent down some very rough stone covered track way. A fantastic walk of about 4 miles, I'm looking forward to trying it in different seasons...

My car is in the centre of that loop...

Sunday, May 05, 2019

I'm late!

For an April round up that is.
As you may have read here before, Northumberland doesnt do spring like the southern counties. We often just slip from winter into summer...Still this April has been quite good on the patch with some decent birds...
Shelduck came first on 1st April and was species 103. A common and almost daily sighting here in spring with most bird being seen in flight.
104 was the Blackcap bang on cue on 5th...
105 on the same date Wheatear was early here, I dont usually get one til mid month.
Swallow was 106 on 10th...
and Sand Martin nearby was 107...
Willow warbler at 108 are getting later year on year, on 12th...
A nice Yellow Wagtail 109 on the muck heap was on 20th...
Whitethroat 110 was early on 24th often not arriving until May...
Lesser Whitethroat came the next day...111.
Sandwich Tern was added on 27th 112,
While a good day on 28th added Red legged Partridge, Grasshopper Warbler, Ring Ouzel and a full patch tick - Hooded Crow all at Craster taking the total up to 116.

The scores on the doors are.... 116 species = 56.58% of the total patch score.

Yellow Wagtail with a Pied on the muck heap.