Along the valley

by on Dec.30, 2009, under Birdwatching, North Pennines, Northumberland

I must have driven the A69 between Throckley and Haydon Bridge over 1000 times.  Working at that corner of the county for three years meant that I had the return journey at all times of year and in all weather conditions.  It also meant that I could check out birdwatching sites along the route (at least whenever I set off early enough in a morning…or extended the journey home).

Today we drove that familiar route, traversing the county from east to west, with the snow-covered North Pennine hills away to the south, past Little Owl sites near Ponteland, a couple of fields with Roe Deer (where I first saw them in 2001), several Common Buzzard territories and a Peregrine territory, where there were two birds today – scattering Jackdaws and Lapwings as they went.  Astonishing sight of the day was a Fulmar making it’s way E along the valley!  I’ve seen them inland before (even our garden has 2 records – and a Fulmar shearing along the allotments is a pretty bizarre sight) but this was almost as far from the sea as you can get in the Northeast.  Lapwings were dotted around the snow-covered fields, Fieldfares and Redwings were in the roadside hedges and Kestrels were hovering intently over the verge.

Eventually we arrived at our destination, Poltross Wild Bird Foods, where we caught up with Martin and Jose and had a chat about the ongoing battle to save the Red Squirrel.  With a car boot filled with bird and squirrel food we drove back east and set about replenishing all of the feeders.  Almost immediately the garden filled with birds, including 8 Long-tailed Tits and a dozen Chaffinches.  The predicted return of bitterly cold weather is likely to lead to a daily re-filling of the feeders.  Maybe we’ll even resurrect the Choppington Woods feeding station, although I think ourselves and all of our neighbours are providing an adequate supply…and the feeders are safer when they’re in our gardens 😉

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