Gordon Simpson’s Leaving

I have booked the Cross Keys at Hamsterley Village on Tuesday 3 October at 1pm for lunch for those who wish to attend. The pub does require final numbers and I have noted approximately 20 wish to attend. If you have not notified me that you wish to join us please let me know a.s.a.p. The pub is sending me a menu that I will circulate once it arrives.

Sue Weston   Tel: 01325 240424

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Outing to North Gare & Seaton Snooks 8th July Leader D.I.Griss

This was a replacement for the advertised outing to the Salterns and Greatham Creek which was not available because of engineering works in the area.

14 Members gathered at Abbey road for the start and another joined at the North Gare car park. The weather was bright and sunny  with some cloud and remained so for the duration of the outing.

We walked from the car park to the North Gare breakwater, where we scanned the sea for any birds, and then followed the tide line down to the river channel at Seaton Snooks where we lunched.  There was some dredging and other activity in the channel which had disturbed some of the wildlife but we did see some Curlew and a Common Seal. We then crossed into the sand dunes and walked back behind the dunes through some flower rich grassland before finishing the walk and moving down to the visitor centre at RSPB Saltholme for drinks and Ice creams.

The warm sun and plenty of company made this a very enjoyable walk with plenty of interest.

Bird numbers were low but at the Gare the dunes in one place had been eroded into a verticle face which provided an ideal site for a Sand Martin colony. While the sea produced Herring Gull Common Tern and Gannet. We decided that some ducks which were difficult to see were probably Common Scoter. The star performer however was  a male Stonechat which allowed very close approach as we walked behind the dunes, its less colourful mate was not so confiding

We saw 2 seals both Common but as we passed Greatham creek on the way back there was several hauled out on the mud.

The insects seen included Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Ringlet, Small Skipper and Common Blue Butterflies, Bumble Bees Bombus lucorum and Bombus lapidarius.

Botanically we saw 5species of Orchid, Common Spotted, Northern Marsh, Fragrant, Pyramidal and Twayblade, and many other species such as Yellow Rattle, Goatsbeard, Yellow-wort, Purple Milk Vetch and Centaury.


Ulnaby Report Tuesday 11 July Sue Weston

After a rather wet morning it was good that 12 club members showed up for the outing. We parked at Ulnaby Farm shop & had tea/coffee and scones prior to our visit to the medieval site. Maeve Nattrass gave a brief of what we would see and do.

Maeve took us around the site with Belted Galloway cattle taking quite an interest in us. We were first shown a quarry site where the stone had been used for local buildings.

The fields were the site of the abandoned village with probable wattle & daub houses. Ridges and furrows were clearly visible of where the site of the village was located although no structures have survived.

The village was occupied from late 13th to the 16th century. The Ulnaby Hall Farm supplanted a high status Medieval Manorial enclosure. The demise was probably due to a move from arable farming that was labour intensive to pasture.

We also visited the Spring – water supply and the site of an old Dovecote and fishponds.

From a naturalist view a large nettle patch (probably an old midden) was of interest where Jill & Malcolm found a great number of peacock butterfly caterpillars. An Ichneumon wasp and nettle plant bug were found and although they are recorded in the UK they have not been recorded in County Durham! Various birds were recorded including Swallow, Swift, Woodpigeon, Wren, Curlew, Black Headed Gull, Crow, Pheasant, Oyster Catcher, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Robin and Heron. Thanks to Jill, Malcolm & Brian Wood for the recordings.



Having decided to abandon the planned outing to Richmond due to rain and mud, Jill Cunningham kindly offered to take two of us (who had never been there before) to Snipe Pond and two other members joined us to make a party of five.  The pond was looking very pleasant, despite the rain, edged by branched bur-weed and greater spearwort.  Blue-tailed damselflies abounded. White and yellow water lilies floated on the surface of the water and in the water there were lots of little fish to be seen along with leeches. Several small frogs were in the grassy edges and pond snails were found in the blanket weed that had been skimmed from the pond surface. A family of young swallows, one in particular looking as if it was barely fledged, were swooping down to the water and then settling on the branches of a nearby tree.  From the pond we cut across to the Skerne which was followed, past the weir and fish ladder (another location not previously visited by two of us) to the community orchard in South Park – some good crops of plums and apples ripening.  After a cup of tea we made our way back along the opposite bank of the river.  Despite the weather we saw a large white butterfly, small tortoiseshell, green-veined white and small skipper. As well as the swallows, birds included moorhen and oystercatcher. Altogether 113 species of plants (flowers, grasses and trees) were recorded, along with 7 types of fungi, 12 insect galls, and 5 snails. Thanks to Jill and Judith for recording everything and to Jill for showing us so much.

Christinnne Lunn

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Sandsend – Saturday 24th June 2017 NZ 862128 to NZ 859130

On a fairly dull morning four members went down the shore at low tide and collected various specimens that were later identified after lunch in the car park.

There were some beautiful red seaweeds on the lower shore particularly Sea Beech and Batters Frond.

There were many crabs, shells and a few Beadlet anemones.

The geology of the shore is very interesting and we saw several spherical concretions:

The most spectacular finding however was a cluster of ammonites covered in Fools Gold or iron pyrite that is made up of molecules of iron and sulphur. These date back to the Jurassic age:

In the afternoon we climbed the steps from the car park to walk along the old railway track on the cliff top past the old alum works. The sun eventually shone and we had a good view across the bay to St. Hilda’s Abbey at Whitby. Apart from the 67 plants recorded, that included many spotted orchids and meadow cranesbills, we found fungi and insect galls.

Carole Sobkowiak thanks Jill Cunningham, Christine Wright and Elizabeth Elliott for their help.
Thanks also to Jill for the photographs of the concretions and Fools Gold

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17th June – Bishop Middleham – Carole Sobkowiak and Elizabeth Elliott

It was a sunny June morning when 9 members set off for Bishop Middleham village. We were met at the church by Janet Deane who is a resident of the village, organist at the church and a volunteer with the Bright Water Project. This project is funded by Heritage Lottery and concerns the heritage, archaeology, wildlife and environment in the River Skerne catchment area.

After a look around the church with it’s Frosterley Mable font we set off through the village, across some arable fields, past the former colliery site to the River Skerne and the nearby disused railway track. Close to the river we found a delightful grassy area with young trees and a variety of orchids including Bee Orchids.

The railway track had grass verges with an array of wildflowers in bloom including St. John’s Worts, Clovers and Bird’s Foot Trefoil. It was bordered by hedges and bushes. The Dog Roses were in full bloom. Close by there was a pond with reed beds and a variety of plants including Water Plantain and Celery Leaved Buttercup. In other areas we could look over marshy fields. Some of these may be returned to having ponds with reed beds and in winter act as a flood plain. An amazing 111 species of flowering plant were recognised on a ¾ mile length of railway track

We crossed the River Skerne and walked by the Mainsforth Snell which is the drainage channel for Mainsforth colliery. Here we saw Mallards with ducklings and Mute Swans. We walked alongside the old wall of the bishop’s former deer park and continued up alongside it. We called in the Durham Bird Club bird hide and looked out over the castle lake. The lake belonged in mediaeval times to the bishop. Ducks Geese and Swans were reared for the table.

Finally we walked up to the remains of the palace. This stands on a prominent site overlooking the lake and land to the south. It ceased to be used by the bishops in C14 and fell into disrepair. The site is to be excavated over the next 2 yrs.

We had a good day and leant much about this interesting area. We wish to give our thanks to Janet for taking us round.

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Shap Abbey and Naddle Bridge 3rd of June 2017
Leaders Derek & Aileen Risbey

The morning was bright and sunny, the temperature 18 degrees, six of us met in Abbey Road knowing that two more were going straight there. We set off for Shap Abbey, at the toilet stop in Tebay Services, we had a quick coffee as the service station and Farm Shop was so nice. It is said to be the best motorway services in the country and it was certainly good. We then made our way to the car park at Shap Abbey which was beside a very picturesque stream and bridge, we saw trout rising there. Then we walked up to the Abbey making recordings on the way. At the Abbey, which is very impressive, we all had a good look around taking in the information boards etc.
We found a small umbrella like plant that had us all guessing, it turned out to be a liverwort Marshantia polymorphia, then the thought of lunch time took us back to the cars. After lunch we made our way to Naddle Bridge, we parked at Burbank, then wandered through a beautiful old wood, seeing a Greater spotted woodpecker and listening to a cuckoo on the way down to the bridge. The road bridge is built beside the old packhorse bridge, that cannot be seen from the road, crossing the old bridge where some of us made a purchase from a walker’s honesty box. As the weather was so good we wandered further down the stream, through a meadow and onto a waterfall before we returned to the cars. After sitting in the sun for a while we decided to walk up to Hawswater. There we had a good view of a Fritillary Butterfly, we then made our way back to the village and homeward bound. It was a day enjoyed by all, with beautiful weather and two very nice and different places that we visited.

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