Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Alone on the Wagon-way

As usual, an I D would be welcomed. I must get myself a decent Fungi I D book. Thanks to Dean, I can say it's Velvet Shank.
Still frozen farmland.

I thought I ought to live up to my name and get out on patch today. By the time I did it was turning into a cold grey day and I’m sure I smell more snow in the air. Once out of the estate the pathways were still icy, and looking south I see the higher ground south of the Tyne is still snow covered.

Despite the greyness of the day there are signs that time is moving on and some new green growth is coming through. There was plenty of bird song too. The most notable was Song Thrush, two singing high up in the trees. I had seen the Song Thrush before I left the estates, along with Great Tit, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Blackbird, Robin, Wren, Woodpigeon and Magpie.

As joined the wagon-way I found a large flock of very active Goldfinch along with more tits, including Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Chaffinch and Greenfinch. I watched and listened to the Goldfinch for a while. There’s always a large flock of House Sparrows in this area and today was no exception. There was little to be seen near to the farm apart from Magpies and Woodpigeons. Further along the wagon-way, large flocks of the latter had gathered in the trees and were very restless taking to flight time and time again. I stopped to take a photograph of the fungi. I realised that I had barely passed anyone on the walk so far and that was to continue throughout the afternoon. By now it wasn’t only humans that were missing, but avian life was noticeably absent too.

I continued down the wagon-way towards Holystone with only a single Rabbit for company, until I was level with the flash. The flash had grown into three areas of water, but each was frozen. It wasn’t until I began to retrace my steps that I found a Grey Heron which flew parallel to the wagon-way. It landed near to the flash and once landed wasn’t easy to see in the grey light against the hedge and earth. I may well have missed it if I hadn’t seen it fly in. A female Kestrel made short hovers over the field before keep returning to its perch on top of a post. I remember when Kestrels were commonly seen hunting in Killingworth centre, but no more now that almost every inch of land has been built upon. I heard the faint and distant call of a Curlew, but there was little else about apart from gulls, corvids and Blackbirds. I aimed for the village and home to complete my circular walk and got my eye on the distinctive flight pattern of a Mistle Thrush. I thought it was alone until it flew into a small flock of maybe eight to ten birds which soon disappeared into the distance.
I reckon the areas of the wagon-way will be a little more productive come March.


  1. I remeber this time last year there were large numbers of Linnets on the said waggonway, where have they gone ?

    and dont forget the SEO.

  2. Hi Davy. I remember Jack B came across the SEOs at the beginning of March (nor sure if they had been there through the winter)and a few of us went straight down there and found lots of bird life including the large flock of Linnets and I got myself a few new patch ticks. I'm hoping things will pick up in March. I've found it very quiet down that end since the end of last summer. Cheers Brian.

  3. Hi Brian. The fungi is Velvet Shank. A common late winter species. It gets its name from the dark velvety stalks.

  4. Thanks Dean. The dark stalks had not fit with anything I had looked at. This is one I ought to rember in future. Cheers Brian.