Saturday, 29 November 2014

Yet another American import, like Halloween but less fun and definitely not for children.
I could not join the gadgies today as I was looking after my mother who was discharged from hospital after another short stay. Thanks again to the wonderful NHS. And my wife developed a terrible cold so I donned my Florence Nightingale kit and played nurses, cook and cleaner for the day.
Brian, aka punmeister sent me a report on the walk:
Black Friday …or at least Very, Very Grey Friday 28th November 2014-11-29
On a day when people were punching each other to add to their compilation of consumer goods, three gadgies ventured out into a “dreek” November day.

There were 3 of us out, Dave, John H and Brian and we had decided to do the walk that had been washed out 2 weeks earlier.  The walks started at a free car park on the cliff’s edge at Hartley overlooking St Mary’s Island (NZ344 758). N.B be careful not to start at 345 or you’ll be in the sea.

On a much nicer day

We headed inland to Holywell Dene through which flows the Seaton Burn.  The Dene is steep sided, wooded on both sides and is home to a lot of bird life and the occasional deer.  About half a mile in there is a feeding station but the feeders were empty.  Fortunately we had brought feed with us but sadly the feed tube was broken.  Nevertheless the feed was laid out at the base of the tree and within seconds we were surrounded by Great Tits, Blue Tits and a Robin.  In a tree close by Dave spotted some Goldcrests which are Britain’s smallest bird.  Our next destination was the Northumberland Wildlife Trust ( bird hide at Holywell pond. 

The pond is a result of mining subsidence and is an attractive spot for resident and migrant birds.  It also provided Dave with an opportunity for first lunch.  The highlights of our visit was the sighting of a Water Rail and a Stoat both next to the hide (let’s hope they don’t meet)

Water Rail

Our next visit was to the public hide, about 0.3 miles around the pond.  Here, as well as seeing a goodly range of ducks, was the official Herbie stop.  John had Brunch bars, Dave some exotic sounding sweetmeat but sadly nothing from Mrs A who had been on holiday for the previous 8 days.

We then moved on along old waggonways to the road along the front of Delaval Hall* (the ancient home of the Hall family!) and back to the coast where we rejoined Holywell Dene just as it flows into the sea.  This section of the Dene is usually less interesting than the previous section apart from Brian being almost certain that he saw a Little Egret.  A few minutes later he met a friend from his badminton club whose husband is a birder in the area and hopefully will confirm the sighting.

From here it was a short walk back to the car and then to the Beehive Pub.  Their well kept ales were: Alnwick Pale, Mordues Workie Ticket and Billy Mill (which now has a roundabout named after it).
                  Much prettier than the present roundabout.
                   When I first came to work in the north east a friend was frequently heard to say:
                   I'm Billy Hill, from Billy Mill,
                  I've never worked and never will


Dave’s Pedometers                        both 6.25 (must be a first having them the same to 2 decimal places).
Brian’s Mapping Software            6.17
Contains OS data, copyright. Crown Copyright and database right 2014

 * Seaton Delaval Hall was built between 1718 and 1729 to a design of Sir John Vanbrugh. It looks out onto Blyth. The Delavals (or Halls!) came over with William the Conqueror and in later days owned mines and factories in the area. Seaton Sluice is of interest to archaeologists like Dave the Goldcrest spotter because of the sluice built in the 18th century and the cut made later the same century.

Next week – the Pie Walk???