Autumn calling as the first signs of the fall are visible

The first of a two-part review of the local countryside scene in September by John Almond, helped by members and friends of Alnwick and District Natural History Society.

As the last of our summer visitors prepared to leave the area, the first signs of autumn were visible in the countryside. A number of passage migrants were observed and there was a resurgence in butterfly numbers.

As the month began six swallows families had fledged from nests at Coquet Lodge, Warkworth, and a seventh brood had yet to leave their nest.

At Shipley Equestrian Centre house martin and swallow nests numbered 17 on September 3, the former being on the farmhouse and the latter in the barn. At least 50 hirundines were over the fields and woodland on this warm and clam day. There were also at least seven house martin nests in Fenkle Street, Alnwick.

Swallow families gathered on wires and buildings prior to leaving the area. On September 3, 25 were at Kirknewton and 20 at Milfield, while on September 6, 30 were at Ingram, 25 at Roddam and 25 at Hethpool.

There were upwards of 70 house martins and swallows over Bell Vue Gardens, Alnwick, on September 16, and there were still 20 swallows and a few house martins at Shipley on September 17.

On September 19, 70 swallows were on the telephone wires at Snitter and 10 were over Belle Vue Gardens.

The swallows finally left Coquet Lodge on September 18, while the last sightings at both Snitter and Warkworth were on September 23.

A blackcap and blackbirds were feeding on unripe elderberries at Coquet Lodge on September 8, while blue tits and goldfinches returned to the feeders in Chapel Lands, Alnwick, on September 11.

A greenfinch returned to Belle Vue Gardens on September 13 after a long absence and a chiffchaff was active in the same garden on September 17.

On September 19, a nuthatch was feeding on peanuts in a Howick Street garden. The following day 20 species including siskins, coal tits and collared doves were seen from Belle Vue Gardens.

There were two female gooseanders below Warkworth ford on September 8, while September 18, a pair of grey wagtails and a single dipper were below Canongate Bridge, Alnwick. There was also a flock of 12 mistle thrushes ‘churring’ across the open fields adjacent to Abbeylands woods.

Flocks of house sparrows were seen in Milfield and Alnwick. Two hundred goldfinches were feeding on thistle seeds near the rumbling Kern.

See part two next week