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Friday, 23 May 2014

A Ramble from Amble..............May 23rd
  We have been promised another wet spring day in the north of England so the five of us who are out today have opted for a real gadgie walk, by bus.
Harry, Ben, Dave, Brian and I met on the Haymarket Bus Station in Newcastle to catch the 10.03 am X18 to Amble, one and a half hours up the coast. This bus station is particularly liked by ladies as it has two doors that lead directly from the bus concourse into Marks and Spencers.
The bus journey is not too painful, it calls in at Morpeth, goes very near to HM Prison Northumberland and should you wish to will take you all the way to Berwick, but we got off at Amble.
                                        No car park this week, you get Morpeth bus station instead.
Amble advertises itself as "Northumberland's Frendliest Port". Its name is an abbreviation of Annabelles Bill, a promontory 0n the south side of the river Coquet which empties into the North Sea here.
  Not stopping for any refreshment in the town we headed for the dunes on the south side of the harbour and started our damp walk.
                                              Eider a duck or a drake, Ben the RSPB member would know.


 Up river from the harbour is Warkworth Castle, one of the Percy's piles

                            Coquet Isle at the mouth of the river has a small colony of Roseate Terns
  Not far from the shore are groups of rocks, Silver Carrs and Bondi Carrs. Carrs in this case means rocks but it can also mean marsh, but obviously not here. On the landward side at this point is Low Hauxley nature reserve. (Hauxley, the place where men nicknamed Hawk live. Sometimes I think they make them up)  Ponds filled from old coal workings have been converted into a bird sanctuary. There are a number of hides so we headed to one for two reasons. It was raining and it was Herbie time. This week's treats included ginger biscuits from Ben, Mr. Kipling's banoffee slices and, a special treat, Eccles Cakes. We shared the hide, but not the food with a couple of professional birders. He was wearing full army camouflage kit and had an expensive looking huge lens on his camera, also camouflaged. They both had powerful scopes; as Brian observed, "Sure puts your pocket binoculars in the shade."
                                                      Part of the reserve
                                           Best my pocket camera could do; Canada Geese.


                                                    One of the hides.
Lunch and rain over we continued on our way south down the coast, calling in at the Druridge Bay Nature Park to watch swifts skimming the water and other birds.
The centre had a high rise bat box colony.

Bat boxes. (The entrance is the slit under the base)
Back on the dunes road we saw a couple of Highland Beasts, a bit out of place, ready salted beef perhaps.
                                           A fine, and not so wee beastie.
                             A rather unhappy looking Jacob's sheep.
We wandered up a lane to another pond, surrounded by reeds, hoping to spot a Marsh Harrier but they were staying in, too wet. Turning right up a lane which had been converted into a 500 yard midden we passed the ruins of Low Chibburn, The Preceptory of St John of Jerusalem, first mentioned in 1313, now a few high walls.

                                                      Chibburn Preceptory, and guardians.
The village of Widdrington is at the top of the lane, we had half an hour to wait for the bus so we popped in to the Plough for a pint of Theakstones Lighthfoot, light in colour and light in taste.  The X18 took us home in the increasingly heavy rain.
A list of birds, but not necessarily all that were seen.
Eider, Sedge warbler, reed warbler, Canada Geese, Greylag geese, Stonechat, Sand Martin, House Martin, Swallow, Swift, Swans, Fulmars,, Blackheaded gulls, Common Tern, Herons, Oyster catchers, Whitethroat, Linnets, Lapwings, Tufted Duck, Sheld Duck and the possibility of a cross between a goose and a swan or maybe even it wqas a swan goose. This bird, native to the far east of Asia has been seen on several occasions in Britain.
                                                           A swan goose

The Matrix  MMXIVQ
                                                                    steps                                          miles
LIDL3D                                                        20883                                       9.4
Dave's 3D                                                     20310                                      10.38
Dave'sUSB                                                    19881                                      9.96

GPS                                                                                                               9.5
Brian's GPS                                                                                                   9.8

Total gadgie distance 220