29th March. Marie, Sam and I carried out a reccy of the planned RSPB walk at Hulne Park pencilled in for 26th April when bird activity will I think have reached a peak. We followed the red route today so the reccy was pretty easy in terms of direction. Hopefully members will be attracted by the 4.7 mile walk through mixed habitat, including a very nice stretch along the bank of the River Aln.
It’s a few years since my first and only previous visit to Hulne Park. At that time I was able to list Hawfinch on the day list. Nothing like that today I’m afraid but still a very enjoyable walk in misty conditions. The cry of ‘and there’s a ‘Pheasant’ was heard on many occasions!
I remember on my previous visit that there were numerous species near the entrance at the lodge, amongst them the Hawfinch. This area was rather quiet in comparison today. It wasn’t long before we were listening to Chiffchaffs and eventually managing to catch sight of one high in the trees. The likes of Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Goldcrest gave good sightings too.
Along by the river we found both Dipper and a pair of Grey Wagtail and having heard Great Spotted Woodpecker early on in the walk we finally sighted one. Sam spotted a distant Common Buzzard in the trees and it was later seen in closer flight.
It brought joy to my eyes when I had noted that no vehicles, dogs or cyclists are allowed in the park and in fact we were the first of a very few walkers in there today. At the start of our walk we had only the calls of a Cockerel and Pheasants along with the accompaniment of numerous woodland birds singing to keep us company. We did find one dog which I assumed was owned by one of the tenants. The dog was in the process of chewing at a dead rabbit carcass and didn’t have much time to notice us. We did find a few Rabbits alive and also Roe Deer and a Hare.
In the open Parkland numerous Mistle Thrushes were seen along with Redwing and Fieldfare. Song Thrushes were heard during the walk and numerous Blackbirds seen. Jays were heard and a brief, but good sighting of one of them was made.
I began, not for the first time, thinking that I must learn more about tree species and we ended the walk stating ‘and there’s another Pheasant! I reckon I’ll dream of Pheasants tonight. I didn’t feel as though I’d walked 4.7 miles but must have. We’d passed the old Priory and had taken lunch sitting beside the well. Mute Swans were on the River Aln and distant Greylag Geese could be seen faintly through the mist as they called.
We’d arrived in Alnwick to early to enter the park when it opens at 11.00am, so we called in at Barter Books for cups of coffee and tea. Why not begin the day in true RSPB fashion we thought, although not having long finished breakfast we couldn’t be tempted by the cakes on offer. It’s along time since I had visited Barter Books and I was very impressed with this business in part of the old railway station. We sat by the open coal fires as we enjoyed our drinks. This is a building and a business that Northumbrians ought to be proud of and if you haven’t visited then I think you ought to.
Lack of photos explained today by weather conditions.