Friday, 14 August 2009

Newbiggin Golf Course - First Autumn Migrants.

Every trip an adventure, someone should write a book on this place, there is just so much crammed into this innocuous third rate Golf course and the birds can be magnificent. I've been having a love affair with Newbiggin on and off since 1989. To the south west of the golf course lies an estate that used to be one of those sink estates that brought the worst out of its inhabitants. I wish now that I had photographed every one of the almost daily burnt out cars that used to appear overnight around the edges of the moor, it's the kind of thing that they might get excited about at the Baltic. There is still a degree of fly tipping but at least the cars have stopped.
Back then tracking down a Common Stonechat was a big ask in Northumberland, it was one of those birds you needed a stake out for on the bird race. Now you can't get out of the car without tripping over one, or five today spread about the patches of gorse at the south end and the centre of the course. They are a bird photographer's dream really, sitting up on gorse or high stems and allowing approach down to eight-ten feet.

Common Stonechat, male, Newbiggin Golf Course.
The area around the football pitch was over run by passerines this morning. A mixed flock of Linnet and Goldfinch moved from grassy bank to bare branched bush and back. Meadow Pipits mixed in and a couple of Common Whitethroat popping up in the bramble to check out what all the fuss was about. Further out 15 Pied Wagtail wandered one of the practice fairway, in their clockwork wound up fashion. Picking through them and the Meadow Pipits I found first one then another two Yellow Wagtail, my first autumn migrants. With no cover close approach was impossible so I had to wait till they picked themselves up on one of their occasional sorties into the scrub to get any pictures.

Yellow Wagtail.
A couple of Skylark were all a circuit round the course got me. By the time I was coming back in from the seaward side a few Oystercatcher and Black Headed Gull were feeding and loafing around the damp edges. A small flock of about 30 Golden Plover joined them but they were flighty and by this time a few of the sportsmen were hammering golf balls up and down and the grass cutters were out in force. A few of the Golden Plover retained the vestiges of summer plumage, others, perhaps juveniles, showed no sign at all.

Golden Plover, backdrop the Ash Lagoon Banks.
I've never had too much Butterfly activity here but we are having such a good year that almost anything can turn up. This Small Copper was the only butterfly I found this morning.

Small Copper.

The golf course is situated on an old coastal moor, heather grows on the raised areas. Much of it is cropped to within an inch of its life to fit in with its current use but there are still patches and swathes of grasses and the occasional patch of wildflower. I found Harebells here today, Ive found them in the past but had forgotten they grew here. Other plants of note, or at least the ones I noticed, were a few isolated Devil's Bit Scabious and what I think is an Eyebright.

Devil's Bit Scabious.

Eyebright (?)

1 comment:

Killy Birder said...

Excellent pics of the Stonechat. One of them would look nice in a callendar Alan! :-)

Your plant certainly is Eyebright (lots of different species that even the experts would find hard to tell apart). A wonderful little flower when seen close up. A hemi-parasite in that it takes partial nutriment from the roots of other plants. Cheers.