Posts Tagged ‘Alnmouth’

Naturelog: Alnmouth

Posted: July 18, 2016 in Northumberland, UK
Tags: ,

 

Bridge across River Aln

Bridge across River Aln

Alnmouth is a wonderful coastal village in Northumberland. It is situated on a spit of land bounded on one side by the River Aln as it makes its way down the sea and on the other by the North Sea. One of my favourite walks here begins at the bridge where the road crosses onto the spit. From here it is a pleasant walk down the river.  In previous years (May in 2014 and April in 2015) this has been very busy with birds as they made their way to their breeding grounds, but at this late time in the season it seems much quieter. A large party of Mute Swans can be seen along with parties of Greylag and Canada Geese. Grey Heron can be found in the reedy edges and a single Oystercatcher can be heard calling. The river is usually a good place to see Eider but on this occasion only a single female can be found sitting on a grassy peninsular.

River Aln

River Aln

The Estuary

The Estuary

At the end of the spit, the House Martins are nesting on their usually houses and swallows join them in feeding over the dunes. A small group of Herring Gulls were present on the far bank of the river outflow.

The marsh pools

The marsh pools

The Beach

The Beach

Returning via the sand dunes, a pair of Meadow pipits keep a close eye from a post. No doubt they have young somewhere in the dune grass. On the marsh a Coot and a Moorhen are feeding along with Crows and Jackdaws. Song Thrush, Blackbird, Robin and Wren provide the morning serenade from the trees.

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Eider [sp] (Somateria mollissima)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)

DSCN6865a

When I visit Northumbria, I stay in Alnmouth a beautiful village sandwiched between the North Sea and the estuary of the River Aln. Although Birdwatching is not my reason for being there, I do look forward to being able to do one of my favourite walks down the River Aln to the estuary and then back up the coast side of the village past a small marshy area. I try to walk this every morning whilst I am here.

DSCN6866a

DSCN6881a

This year I am about 4 weeks earlier in my visit than I was last year and it has been interesting to see the changes in the bird life. There are no Terns fishing in the estuary and no House Martins swooping from the houses in the village. As well as the difference in time, migrants seem to me to be a couple of weeks later this year and the cold windy wet weather which we are encountering here probably do not encourage them to move north.

On the other side there have been far more wading birds and ducks on the estuary this year. These populations change from day to day as these are probably birds still moving to their breeding grounds. Every walk is therefore different. These have included Eurasian Curlew; Redshank; Black-Tailed Godwit; Ringed Plover and Dunlin as well as the resident Oystercatchers. A pair of Red-Breasted Mergansers were a pleasant surprise one morning although the male’s plumage is rather odd and I needed to look at the photograph to finally make up my mind. Also present are Mallard, Common Eider and Shelduck.

Oystercatcher

Oystercatcher

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

Red Breasted Merganser

Red Breasted Merganser

Redshank

Redshank

Dunlin

Dunlin

Shelduck

Shelduck

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Eider [sp] (Somateria mollissima)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)

Small Tortoiseshell [sp] (Aglais urticae)

Views of Alnmouth (6)

Posted: July 11, 2014 in Northumberland, UK
Tags:

DSCN2641

The Old Ferry Hut

The Old Ferry Hut

Artist at work

Artist at work

Beach

boats

River Aln

River Aln

Views of Alnmouth (5)

Posted: July 9, 2014 in Northumberland, UK
Tags:

One of the first things that you notice on exploring the village is that Church Hill, the site of the original medieval parish church is actually on the other side of the river.

Church Hill

Church Hill

This is puzzling to the new visitor. Why would anyone build the church somewhere, which needed a boat to get to it. In fact in medieval times, Church hill was part of the peninsular and the course of the river ran down the west side of it and exited into the North Sea as a point further south on the coast.

DSCN2630

However, one night during a terrible storm in 1806, the sea broke through the dunes separating Church hill from the village. To replace the now inaccessible church, a new one was built in the centre of the village.

Views of Alnmouth (4)

Posted: July 4, 2014 in Northumberland, UK
Tags:

Lying between the village and the beach are Alnmouth common and Alnmouth Marsh, which together with the beach and the River provide a number of different habitats for wildlife within the relatively small area surrounding the village.

Alnmouth Marsh

Alnmouth Marsh

Alnmouth Marsh

Alnmouth Marsh

Alnmouth Common

Alnmouth Common

One interesting feature on Alnmouth Common is ‘the dice’. These cubes of stone were originally placed on the coast as anti-tank obstacles in case of invasion during the Second World War. However in more recent times, an unknown person has chosen to decorate them by adding dice spots. These are now renewed when ever they fade away.

The dice

The dice

Views of Alnmouth (3)

Posted: July 2, 2014 in Northumberland, UK
Tags:

The Eastward side of the Alnmouth Peninsular is bounded by the North Sea.

The beach

The beach

The mouth of the Aln

The mouth of the Aln

The mouth of the Alnthis

The mouth of the Aln

The Old lifeboat station

The Old lifeboat station

Views of Alnmouth (2)

Posted: June 30, 2014 in Northumberland, UK
Tags:

The landward side of the peninsula on which Alnmouth is situated is bordered by the curving course of the river Aln. There are many wonderful works in the River valley as it meanders its way Northward from its mouth.

River Aln

River Aln

River Aln

River Aln

Duchess Bridge River Aln

Duchess Bridge River Aln

River Aln

River Aln

River Aln

River Aln

Views of Alnmouth (1)

Posted: June 22, 2014 in Northumberland, UK
Tags:

DSCN2640

Alnmouth is a pretty village on the Northumberland coast in the north-east of England. It is reckoned that there has been habitations on this site for a least 4000 years. It is reputed to be the site of the Synod of Twyford at which St Cuthbert was appointed Bishop of nearby Lindisfarne in A.D. 684. It is recorded as a Norman burgh in 1150 and in 1208 Eustace de Vescy was granted permission to build a port on the pennisular. Its major cargo was grain and other agricultural products.

The mouth of the Aln

The mouth of the Aln

It was to be a successful port for many centuries, although it seems that this also attracted a downside. In 1748, John Wesley the famous Methodist preacher described our month as ‘a small seaport town famous for all kinds of wickedness’. It also seems to been a haven for smugglers as are records of it having its own revenue officer appointed to control this.

DSCN2630

Today Alnmouth is a pretty village built around a single street on the peninsula of land bordered on one side by the North Sea and on the other by the river Aln.

DSCN2574a

This mornings walk was also along the River Aln. I walked from the village to Duchess Bridge, which carries the road onto the Alnmouth penninsular and then followed the river downstream back to the village.

Duchess Bridge

Duchess Bridge

On the way to the river, a Hobby swooped low overhead. This area is the most northerly in the UK that this summer migrant falcon breeds and so this sighting was an unexpected delight as it was low enough to make out the features very clearly.

Hobby
Hobby
Photo by Sergey Yeliseev (https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeliseev/)

Arriving at the river, there was a party of 9 Grey Herons resting on the saltmarsh.

DSCN2582a

DSCN2579a

Also present were a pair of Mute swans and a single male Eider. I wondered if this was the samee bird I had seen yesterday but soon located a male and a female on the river so there must be a small population here.

Male Eider

Male Eider

Female Eider

Female Eider

On the far side of the river were a mixed group of Greylag and Canada Geese, along with a small party of Curlew and some Oystercatchers. A Whitethroat was singing in the riverside scrub, along with Chaffinches and Goldfinches.

In the afternoon the weather was so wonderful that I decided to go out for another walk. This time I went from the village past Alnmouth marsh to Alnmouth Common which runs north from the village alongside the beach.

Alnmouth Marsh

Alnmouth Marsh

Alnmouth Common

Alnmouth Common

Little Grebe, Tufted Duck and Blackcap were the highlights of the marsh. I saw a Long-tailed Tit return to the same bush and close inspection revealed a tail from a second bird. Was this a female sitting on a nest? The second bird certainly did not move all the time that I watched it. This also seemed a good area for Green-veined white butterflies, but none would settle long enough to be photographed.
Most of the common is now part of the Alnmouth Village Golf course and its not birds, but golf balls you have to look out for as you cross to the remnant of the common adjacent to the beach. It was quite breezy here and as a result there was little to see – I had hoped for some butterflies. I did get two quick glimpses of dark butterflies but far too quick for identification. A meadow Pipit put in a brief appearance and a pair of Sandwich Terns were fishing off shore.

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Eider [sp] (Somateria mollissima)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Eurasian Hobby [sp] (Falco subbuteo)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

DSCN2545a
Went for a walk this morning along the River Aln. I started from the mouth of the River and began to walk upstream. The tide was almost full. Shelduck are on the river together with the Gulls. An Arctic Tern flies by before starting to fish in the river. Oystercatchers are probing what is left of the mudflats looking for food.

DSCN2546a

Oystercatcher

Oystercatcher

The bankside bushes and meadows are full of birds – Blackbirds, dunnocks and House Sparrows as yesterday, but also Goldfinches, Starlings and Collared Doves.

Goldfinches

Goldfinches

Blackbird

Blackbird

As yesterday the sky is full of circling Common Swifts, House Martins and Swallows. Two land on a fence and I am surprised that when I focus on them they are in fact a pair of Sand Martins.

On the waters edge I can see a duck displaying a large amount of white plumage. It does not look right for Shelduck and as I get closer it comes into the open and I can see it is a male Eider resplendent in its white, black and apple green breeding plumage.

Eider

Eider

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Common Eider [sp] (Somateria mollissima)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Gull (Larus canus canus)
Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)