Habitat of Honey-buzzard in Northumberland

Study Area

The study area comprises some 16,600 hectares of suitable habitat over about ten 10-km squares as shown on the map at Study Area (outlined in orange) .

The area falls completely within Northumberland, covering the river valleys of the Tyne (Bywell-Tyne Meet, near Acomb), South Tyne (Tyne Meet-Gilderdale), Allen (Morralee/Allen Bank southwards) and Hexhamshire (which might also be labeled Devil's Water). The southern half of the area is in the North Pennines AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).

Northumberland is rated as the most tranquil county in England (Independent, 23 October 2006, p.15) in a survey by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, available here . Positive scores are achieved for natural landscape, sound of birdsong, absence of man-made noise, woodland and clear view of the skies; negative scores for constant traffic noise, crowds, ugly urban development, light pollution and human noise. Northumberland scored 28.6 with the next county Cumbria on 20.6. North-east England is the most tranquil region with a score of 15.3. South Northumberland, the study area for the Honey-buzzard, was the most tranquil part of Northumberland.

River Allen

This is probably the most spectacular of the river valleys, running into the South Tyne just north of Allen Banks. It is mainly a deciduous jungle but with some plantations of conifers. The National Trust are the main owners but there are shooting interests on the west banks, including Whitfield and Ridley estates. Heather moorland occurs extensively on the high ground surrounding the valley.

Panoramic view of Allen (upper) 2 May 2009

Panoramic view of Allen (lower) 2 May 2009

Staward Gorge 16 July 2006

Cupola Bridge 15 September 2006

looking south from Gingle Pot 16 July 2006

looking north from Staward Gorge 16 July 2006

looking north towards Plankey Mill 7 June 2005

looking north from Gingle Pot 16 July 2006

looking towards Oakpool 7 June 2005

looking west towards Kingswood Burn 16 July 2006

Staward Gorge river-level view 5 August 2006

viewed from well to south at Hawksteel 15 September 2006

South Tyne

This river system, in its upper part (above Haltwhistle), is particularly attractive for the blend of residual semi-natural woodland, pastures and heather moorland. The broad river valley gives it a dale-like feel. Much of the woodland is deciduous but there are some conifer blocks. In its lower stretches the woods are more extensive and often coniferous. The lower altitude gives some very rich habitats species-wise. Ownership is varied. The Straker Estate own some of the lower section and the Featherstone Estates a considerable part of the upper section.

Towsbank from Softley 10 August 2006

Softley from Eals 20 August 2006

Towsbank 20 August 2006

Softley from Towsbank 29 August 2006

looking south from Warden 8 September 2006

looking towards Blenkinsopp from North Wood 11 July 2006

Hexhamshire (Devil's Water)

This area, south of Hexham, is extensively wooded. The main river running through the area, the Devil's Water, has much deciduous woodland on its banks. The hills are covered with extensive conifer plantations. Ownership is varied but the Allendale Estates have substantial timber interests in the area.

Panoramic view of Hexhamshire 20 April 2009

Swallowship Woods from Dipton Wood 1 September 2006

Dipton Wood from March Burn 27 August 2006

West Dipton Burn 18 July 2006

Slaley Forest from Loughbrow 5 August 2006

Tyne Valley

This area covers the main Tyne Valley down as far as Bywell. Below this there are a few interesting woods but logistics makes their coverage difficult. This area is characterised by more intensive agriculture with much arable farming on the best lands. There are, however, substantial coniferous plantations, some of which contain much mature timber. Allendale and Healey estates are the main owners.

Panoramic view of Tyne Valley middle 3 May 2009

Riding Mill area from north of Bywell 30 August 2006

Shilford from north of Bywell 30 August 2006

March Burn with Dipton Wood behind 27 August 2006

north of Bywell 28 August 2006

(c) Copyright Nick Rossiter 2005-2011

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