Sunday, April 9, 2017

Early spring along the river Wear at Wolsingham, Weardale

Blue skies and warm sunny weather in Weardale this weekend. Here are a few of the sights from a walk along the banks of the river Wear downstream from Wolsingham.

Blackthorn in full bloom everywhere.

Elm flowering is long finished, now the clusters of seeds are developing

Dry weather in the dale, so the water level in the river has dropped rapidly, leaving shallow pools full of trapped fish.

Great tit singing

Grey wagtails are most often seen at the water's edge, but this cock bird was perched in a riverbank tree

A very confiding hedge sparrow. I suspect its was reluctant to fly because its nest was somewhere close, though I failed to find it.

Herb robert coming into flower. This was a nutrient-starved plant rooted in a dead tree and the stress may account for those vivid red leaves

Plenty of ripe ivy berries, particularly valuable food for spring migrants.

Lambs growing fast ..... and very lively

The best find of the day, a morel Morchella esculenta. The sandy silt near the river bank seems to suit these fungi, though they don't appear very often.

Nuthatch, very vociferous at this time of year.

A well-worn peacock butterfly, refuelling on butterbur nectar after a long hibernation

So warm that sheep were looking for somewhere shady to rest by mid-morning

Sycamore buds are exceptionally beautiful when they swell, elongate and begin to burst at this time of year

It was been an exceptional year for toothwort, the parasite that gains all its nutrients from the roots of hazel. Must have seen well over 100 flower spikes.

Click here for more information on this unusual flowering plant that is completely lacking in chlorophyll.

The tiny-flowered ivy-leaved speedwell Veronica hederifolia coming into flower

Willow warblers singing all along the riverbank

Wood sorrel coming into bloom

.... and finally, a very noisy singing wren.


  1. Great tit "singing" - my heavens! "deee-dooo deee-dooo" over and over again.

    1. To us it might be "deee-dooo deee-dooo" , to a great tit it is a fine operatic aria!

  2. Thank you for a lovely reminder of Weardale's wildlife in Spring. We've just seen our first Wheatear and Sand Martin of the year, so the season is continuing its advance north.

    1. Haven't seen my first wheatear yet Graeme, but sand martins were streaming in over the cliffs at Seaham last week. So far, one of the best early springs for quite a few years.

  3. Elm? How I miss those enormous, elegant trees.

    1. Me too, especially in early spring when the twigs in the crown of the trees were covered in a haze of their tiny purple flowers. There is still one full-sized tree in Middleton-in-Teesdale

  4. I'm envious of your morel find. I've been looking every year for years and have never found even one.

    1. They are easy to miss because some are quite small and by now partially hidden by vegetation. Sometimes there are scores of them along this stretch of river bank, sometimes none at all.


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