Lee Moor Farm
Our NMN event at Lee Moor Farm was plagued by the scourge of moth trappers everywhere; cloudless skies and plummeting temperatures. The early evening entertainment included an impromptu cricket match during the BBQ (which was being expertly and skilfully, poked by the two chefs for the evening; Ian and yours truly), where my best off-breaks were dispatched imperiously to all corners of the business park by Ian’s youngest daughter, Larissa 🙂
We did catch some moths though;
0647 Brown House Moth Hoffmanophila pseudospretella 2
1728 Garden Carpet Xanthorhoe fluctuata 2
2190 Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica 1
We also recorded one species of bat; Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus, with up to four flying around as darkness closed in and our cricket match came to a close.
We’ll be back at Lee Moor for Open Farm Sunday on June 13th, and planning to round off the day with another BBQ, bat walk, moth-trapping session, cricket match. It’s excellent family fun so give us a call and join us for what promises to be another great evening at Lee Moor 🙂
After a cold, wet day surveying one of our inland tetrads for the Bird Atlas, we had a very early start on Sunday for our Dawn Chorus walk at Lee Moor Farm. Ian was, as always, an entertaining host for the event and we walked around the farm, enjoying the songs of Willow Warbler, Song Thrush and Sedge Warbler, excellent views of Brown Hare and Roe Deer and then a delicious breakfast. Our next event at Lee Moor is a bat walk, moth trapping demonstration and BBQ on Saturday May 15th.
Monday saw us out on Atlas work again, this time much closer to home as we are covering the tetrads that are immediately north and south of our house. The highlight was a reeling Grasshopper Warbler, and the closest Tree Sparrows to home that we’ve found so far.
Yesterday was our first Farne Islands Safari of the year. With excellent views of Sandwich, Common and Arctic terns, Eiders, Guillemots, Razorbills, Puffins, Shags, Gannets, a very obliging Wheatear and Grey Seals it was everything we would expect the Farnes to be. There’s a good reason that the islands will be the venue for days out with 3 of our photography clients over the next few weeks.
Now, it’s Wednesday morning and I’m just packing the Landy ready for a migrant hunt on Lindisfarne with 2 of our returning clients. Wish us luck 🙂
After the completion of the thaw yesterday we woke this morning…to a fresh covering of snow 🙂 Now, I make no secret of the fact that I love wintry weather. I’m invigorated by it, my photography is inspired when we’re in the grip of bone-chilling temperatures and a blanket of snow on the ground fills me with joy. I struggle to understand the media apoplexy that greets snowfall each winter. Well, that’s the usual response if that snowfall is anywhere other than Northumberland…
I often wonder what the national media thinks lies between Leeds and Edinburgh? Today was no exception. The national weather forecast on the BBC was concerned with snowfall in the northeast of Scotland. And that was it as far as snowfall was concerned…my only problem was that as we drove up the A1 just north of Morpeth there was a good couple of inches of freshly-fallen snow on the road and we were in a blizzard that brought near white-out conditions. Sarah took this shot using my ‘phone.
The lorry that you can see ahead of us spent most of his journey veering across the carriageway as he lost traction. The cars I could see in our rear view mirror were having similar problems. And us? We were in a proper vehicle 🙂 No problems, just a steady drive to make sure we were a safe distance behind the lorry. That’s the thing about wintry conditions, as long as people understand that things are different there probably isn’t a need for the panic and the mayhem.
We arrived at Lee Moor, and the covering of snow on the ground wasn’t managing to lighten the gloomy conditions a great deal; 09:30 and the sky was as darker than it had been at 8am. Our small group assembled and we set off around the farm trails. The birdwatching was good; a big mixed flock of Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings and Tree Sparrows allowed a close approach, Kestrels and Buzzards passed overhead, a solitary Lapwing sat motionless in a snowy field and a covey of Grey Partridges flushed from a well-managed headland. Throughout the frozen woodland Brown Hares were regularly encountered and voles appeared from, then disappeared back into, their snow-holes. The covering of snow also made it easy to follow the tracks of Roe Deer and Red Fox. Back at the farm, Ian provided a delicious lunch of home-made soup, warm bread and mince pies. Then he produced a bottle of Sloe gin. It was a shame Martin was driving as he had 2003, 2004 and 2009 vintages! Sarah enjoyed it…and reminded us that we had a bottle in our drinks cabinet at home…
That’s it for 2009. Have an enjoyable Old Year’s Night and see you in 2010 🙂
After spending Saturday at the Rising Sun Country Park, where the Newcastle RSPB Member’s Group were celebrating their 40th birthday, Sunday saw us spending a long day in the field. As part of Open Farm Sunday we were helping Ian Brown at Lee Moor Farm. We started with a (not quite the) Dawn Chorus Walk followed by breakfast at the Black Olive Cafe and then guided conservation tours were on offer right through the day. As we wandered through some excellent wildflower habitat, marvelling at the amount of Ragged Robin Lychnis flos-cuculi, lots of birds were in evidence. Buzzards were seen on each walk, Willow Warblers were singing their descending scales, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat were both seen as were Siskin and Goldcrest. The recent influx of Painted Lady butterflies was mentioned by one walker, who had witnessed the huge numbers of this beautiful insect arriving in Sussex in late May…and Sarah’s sharp eyes soon picked up one as it raced by. Eventually 3 were seen as they settled on the track in front of us, and we all pondered on the fact that, although we may regard butterflies as delicate, they had travelled the distance from North Africa and the middle-East to be in Britain for the summer. As shadows lengthened, guests began to arrive for the evening barbecue and Bat & Moth walk. Just as the sun slipped below the horizon, the bat detector crackled into life and our first Pipistrelle of the evening appeared close by, hunting insects over a small pond. Everyone, young and old, was able to see this tiny mammal, which was soon joined by a 2nd, then a 3rd. A dispute between two of the bats saw a high-speed chase, before one returned to swooping and diving just feet away. As a spectacular moonrise illuminated the fields around Lee Moor, attention turned to the moth trap and it’s first ‘customers’ of the evening. After close study they were released unharmed into the vegetation, and we left Lee Moor after a long and successful day.
It was cold, dark and wet this morning as we headed out of bed and up the A1 for our Dawn Chorus Walk at Lee Moor Farm. We were however quietly optimistic as the weather forecast had promised that the showers would die away and the cloud lift as the dawn rose.
A Roe Deer by the side of the A1 and a Barn Owl flushing from the old tree where it had been ‘on duty’ looking out over the fields at Lee Moor filled us with hope. We arrived just as it was getting light followed by our eager participants. As we were busy getting coats and gloves on, for whilst the days may be warm the nights can still be very chilly, Common Gulls flew overhead and Wrens were starting their early morning song. Wrens can sing very loudly for such a small bird and the farm has a healthy population.
As we walked the field edges towards the wooded areas Hares could be seen bounding around, Wood Pigeons began their softly cooing song and a Whitethroat did its best to make itself heard. Jackdaws that make their nest in the kestrel and barn owl boxes that are attached to old telegraph poles began to stir and Skylarks ascended to great heights for their aerial song. As we approached the wooded areas of the farm Willow Warblers could be heard, keeping their neighbours in check by clearly marking their territories with song. Song thrushes and Chaffinches were busy announcing their presence and then in the hedge was a very distinctive song; that of the Sedge Warbler. It was just a few feet away but could only be glimpsed when it moved deeper into the hedge! Those stalwarts of the Dawn Chorus, the Blackbird and Robin were also heard. Ian Brown, farmer at Lee Moor Farm was able to provide interesting information on how his stewardship of the farm and his management of it for conservation had helped attract the wealth of wildlife that we were able to see and hear. As we headed back to the farm we were all then very hungry and eagerly anticipating the hearty Northumbrian cooked breakfast that was waiting for us and we were not disappointed. The Black Olive cafÃ© did a fantastic job of filling us up after our early morning start! As we left the warmth of the cafÃ© the sun was beginning to warm the morning air and the clouds were indeed lifting, and the birds were still singing. We are all looking at our diaries to see whether we can arrange a ‘not quite the Dawn Chorus’ walk in a few weeks time. Birds continue to sing until mid morning and so a start at say 7am should still enable us to hear the magnificent bird song of the early morning. As always, we’re waiting for your enquiries and bookings on 01670 827465.
4am, and we’re heading out of the house and up to Lee Moor Farm near Alnwick. The reason for such an unearthly hour seeing us already on the road was next Sunday’s Dawn Chorus and Northumbrian Breakfast. ‘Prior practice prevents poor presentation’ so we were going to pre-walk the route for next week. Early mornings are Sarah’s favourite time of day for wildlife watching and as the sun’s first rays peeked over the horizon we weren’t disappointed. Yellowhammers were belting out their own top of the pops ‘little bit of bread and no cheeeeeeese’ (number one for all eternity, apparently), whilst Willow Warblers were practising their descending scales and newly arrived Whitethroats were busy marking their territories with their own rather scratchy warbling. Lee Moor Farm has been specially managed for wildlife and Tree Sparrows were evident around the farm buidings and hedgerows, Skylarks soared in song, a pair of Roe Deer watched us intently from the opposite end of the track and Brown Hares bounded across the fields. Our walk took us through a variety of habitats and, as the sun began to warm the still chilly air, Kestrels could be seen on the hunt for breakfast, then later, when the sun really came out, Buzzards could be heard and then seen, getting caught in a thermal and spiralling higher and higher until eventually they were out of sight. We were well and truly energised and looking forward to our early start next Sunday when we do it all again, and will be able to showcase the magnificent sights and sounds of the Dawn Chorus to celebrate International Dawn Chorus Day. Why not call us on 01670 827465 if you’ve got any questions or you want to come along and join us?