Friday, 29 October 2010

Autumn Footsteps.

An autumnal feel to the area.
Path to Thornley Woods Centre
The Nine Arch Viaduct
There's a Grey Wagtail there some where!

28th Oct. The more I watch birds and nature the more I come to believe we have some great areas on our doorstep. I was checking out one such area today, as I made plans for an RSPB local walk. The Derwent Valley area south of the Tyne is not one I know well, but I always remember Keith Bowey of Red Kite fame saying just how much he loved this area and its wildlife. My visit today will I think be one of many more to come.

I began my walk from Winlaton Mill and headed for Nine Arches Viaduct, initially along the north bank of the River Derwent. A sunny autumnal day meant that the colours were showing well. Few people were seen until after lunch when family groups started to appear, but by that time I had enjoyed the peace-fullness of the area. The first bird that grabbed the attention was a Jay, one of many seen and heard today and there had apparently been a recent influx into the area from what the worker at The Thornley Woods Centre later told me.

Red Kites can’t be ignored in this area although they are after all only part of what’s on offer. As I approached the high ground near the viaduct I had a short sighting of a Red Kite as it flew past a gap in the tree line. I took a short diversion to the viewing site and after a short time found two more kites in the trees. After a while there were six Red Kites up in the air at the same time. On the walk up I’d found two Dippers and a Grey Wagtail on the river and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew overhead at some point. Siskins were feeding alongside tits. Two Common Buzzards and two Kestrels also seen. One of the Kestrels in tree at very close range, kind of eye to eye with me, and it just sat and watched from a safe height.

The footpath was taken through the woods to the centre. Little was seen from the hide here although a Treecreeper was spotted in the distance. My last visit here had been in winter and very cold weather when I found good numbers of bird species around the feeding station. I was back amidst the crowds in Newcastle city centre before 3.00pm where I made my first ever purchase of wellington boots, which are not something I have worn much since being a kid. It’s amazing what you can pay these days for wellies! I feel I’m prepared for the heavy snows of winter now, and that is what everyone seems to be telling me is coming.

I later read that the Nine Arch Viaduct was built only because the Earl of Stathmore wouldn’t allow the railway to go through his estate at Gibside. I have every sympathy for the man, as I wouldn’t like ‘rith-rath’ traveling through my garden in their filthy steam trains either. Although it has to be said, my garden doesn’t quite reach the size of Gibside Estate.

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