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Councillor Crosby - Removal of Trees in Gallagher Park


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Between Christmas and New Year I was contacted by a resident of Heritage Gardens regarding a letter that had been received from Northumberland County Council (NCC) on the subject of removing trees from Gallagher Park that bordered certain streets, namely Newby Close, Cragside Gardens and Stirling Drive. The concern was that the trees are a useful habitat for the endangered red squirrel and encourage the squirrels to come into the garden which this particular resident enjoyed. The letter was dated 24 December 2020 and was asking for responses by 8 January 2021 as work was due to start the following Monday 11 January 2021.

I felt that this wasn’t giving residents enough time to be consulted on their opinions so I wrote to NCC to get this work delayed until a proper consultation had been carried out. Following this, I then wrote and hand delivered letters to all the properties that would be affected in the streets that were mentioned in the letter asking them to contact me with their views.

The Friends of Gallagher Park, of which I am chair, have been trying to help increase the red  squirrel population in the park and so this was quite a concern to me also.

I am pleased to say that a considerable number of residents took the time to write to or telephone me with their views and I’d like to thank all those who did so. As with everything there were differing opinions, some wanting the trees removed and those happy to retain them as it encourages the wildlife to visit on a regular basis, and I have passed all of these comments on to NCC.

As a result of highlighting this on social media, I was also contacted by residents of streets in Bedlington Central Ward who had received similar letters from NCC and also had opinions to share; my colleague, Russ Wallace, has similarly taken  the matter up with NCC.

All this has culminated in a response from NCC to the effect that the work will not go ahead as had been planned and that a more thorough consultation will be undertaken with a view to listening to residents concerns.

I understand that some work will need to be done as the park does require some form of tree management, but hopefully a compromise can be reached and avoid this “one size fits all “ approach.

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You can encourage squirrels to come to your garden with a simple feeding box which, while they can be purchasedeasily are also very simple to make yourself. Hundreds of designs and building instructions on Internet. They like peanuts (natural, not salted) and sunflower seeds. I also buy  loads of hazelnuts in their shells after Xmas when they are being spld off cheaply. Squirrels will travel quite a long way from their tree/nest for a good "restaurant" and they will entertain you for hours at very little cost to yourself.

 

 

 

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Edited by Canny lass
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  • 2 weeks later...

I was walking my dog in the Gallagher Park area this morning and saw two red squirrel in the wooded area near the old Doctor Pit. If we have the reds we do not want the greys. I understand that there are some active locals in the woods around Humford who have tried to get rid of the greys and would welcome them to visit Gallagher Park and advise our councilors before any decisions are made

Edited by Bedlingtonian
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  • 1 month later...

In the past before Gallagher Park was developed the hedgerows on what is now the access road were always full of birds. There was a bird that we referred to as a 'Scribbleyjack' (Yellowhammer). I do not know where the name came from and it is not in common use. The bird does have a nickname of 'Scibble Lark' or 'Writing Lark'.

Yellowhammer territories in the UK have declined by 50% in only twenty-five years. Perhaps something to look out for when you are walking through the park. 

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1 hour ago, Bedlingtonian said:

There was a bird that we referred to as a 'Scribbleyjack' (Yellowhammer). I do not know where the name came from and it is not in common use. The bird does have a nickname of 'Scibble Lark' or 'Writing Lark'.

Scribbleyjack - not a name I can recall ever having heard🙃

Extract from Wikipedia- ..........Breeding commences mainly in April and May, with the female building a lined cup nest in a concealed location on or near the ground. The three to five eggs are patterned with a mesh of fine dark lines, giving rise to the old name for the bird of "scribble lark" or "writing lark".........

Is that your photo @Bedlingtonian? You could start an album of bird species & sightings in Gallagher Park in the https://www.bedlington.co.uk/gallery/category/5-and-the-rest-gallery/

 

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Scribbleyjack eggs. The name scribbleyjack maybe a local name and I've known it since I understood words. It's easy to understand why its called a scribbleyjack by the patterns on the eggs.

  I found many nests when I was a youth, sadly there are not many to find now. When farming practices altered and the stubble was ploughed in and sown before winter the birds couldn't glean the stubbles over winter so starved. Many other birds suffered because of the autumn sowing including Linnets and Skylarks.

 

Robert Macfarlane on Twitter: "Scribble-lark (yellowhammer) eggs?… "

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On 16/03/2021 at 19:59, Jammy said:

Scribbleyjack eggs. The name scribbleyjack maybe a local name and I've known it since I understood words. It's easy to understand why its called a scribbleyjack by the patterns on the eggs.

  I found many nests when I was a youth, sadly there are not many to find now. When farming practices altered and the stubble was ploughed in and sown before winter the birds couldn't glean the stubbles over winter so starved. Many other birds suffered because of the autumn sowing including Linnets and Skylarks.

 

Robert Macfarlane on Twitter: "Scribble-lark (yellowhammer) eggs?… "

I just can't remember having seen a Yellowhammers egg. I know it's illegal now but in the late 1950's we spent most of the spring searching for nests, with eggs, all over the Bedlington area. Down the woods, across farmers fields searching the hedgerows.

I suppose I should be pleased I never found one to add to the birds egg collection my brothers and I kept.   

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Jammy and Eggy, you seem to know quite a lot about birds (of the feathered variety). Have you any ideas about what this might be? There's a pair of them here for a few days now but they don't seem to get along very well as the one is constantly chasing the other away. These are the best photos I've been able to get and they aren't the best. Both birds have a reddish brown breast but their back seems to have a strange greenish tint. Brown eyes and orange beak and about the size of a large thrush.

 

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27 minutes ago, Canny lass said:

Jammy and Eggy, you seem to know quite a lot about birds (of the feathered variety). Have you any ideas about what this might be? There's a pair of them here for a few days now but they don't seem to get along very well as the one is constantly chasing the other away. These are the best photos I've been able to get and they aren't the best. Both birds have a reddish brown breast but their back seems to have a strange greenish tint. Brown eyes and orange beak and about the size of a large thrush.

 

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I couldn't swear to it but I would say Blackbird - extract from Wikipedia = The adult male of the common blackbird (Turdus merula merula which is the nominate subspecies), which is found throughout most of Europe, is all black except for a yellow eye-ring and bill and has a rich, melodious song; the adult female and juvenile have mainly dark brown plumage. This species breeds in woods and gardens, building a neat, mud-lined, cup-shaped nest. It is omnivorous, eating a wide range of insects, earthworms, berries, and fruits.

So that description doesn't fully match yours but my ageing eyes detect a 'yellow eye-ring' in two of your photos🧐

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Thanks Eggy! I think you're right! I never thought about a blackbird I've always assumed that blackbirds are always black - as the name implies. This is the only colour I've ever seen. Now I've had a look at them in my bird book and the adult female is described as 'olive grey' on the back and red/brown on the breast. It seems one is never too old to learn!

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'I couldn't swear to it but I would say Blackbird - extract from Wikipedia = The adult male of the common blackbird (Turdus merula merula which is the nominate subspecies), which is found throughout most of Europe, is all black except for a yellow eye-ring and bill and has a rich, melodious song; the adult female and juvenile have mainly dark brown plumage. This species breeds in woods and gardens, building a neat, mud-lined, cup-shaped nest. It is omnivorous, eating a wide range of insects, earthworms, berries, and fruits.

So that description doesn't fully match yours but my ageing eyes detect a 'yellow eye-ring' in two of your photos'

 

Wikipedia needs updating as regards Blackbirds. British Blackbirds normally have the yellow eye ring whereas mainland Europeen birds do not have the ring. A lot of blackbirds migrate to Britain and south in mainland Europe in the autumn and stay until spring. These birds can usually be picked out by the lack of the eye ring but not always. 1st year British birds do not have the eye ring until the following spring. British cock Blackbirds do not develop a yellow beak until their 1st spring and then retain it for life. Continental birds arrive in Britain with dark brown or black beaks. I don't know if they develop yellow beaks when they fly back to the area they hatched. They do not have yellow beaks when they migrate to Britain.

Canny Lass that is why the yellow eye ring cannot be seen on your photos. Blackbirds become territorial in the spring which explains why your birds were chasing each other.

 Blackbirds do not line their nests with mud. Only grass is used to form the nest bowl. The Song Thrush lines its nest with mud on top of a grass formed bowl. The eggs are laid directly onto that mud once it has partly dried out and is strong enough to support the hen bird. There is no soft lining.

 As an aside. Blackbird cocks have a loud song and will sit high up on a bush for hours singing. Their song is repetitive, a loop. A song thrush mixes up the notes so never sings in a pattern. I like listening to both.

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Thanks Jammy! We get loads of blackbirds here. I'll be watching them more closely under the bird table now (they never eat on the table, but only pick up the spill from others on the ground). I'll see what I can identify.

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1 minute ago, Canny lass said:

Thanks Jammy! We get loads of blackbirds here. I'll be watching them more closely under the bird table now (they never eat on the table, but only pick up the spill from others on the ground). I'll see what I can identify.

The hen Blackbirds in your photos are showing partial yellow beaks so perhaps your cock birds also have a yellow beak.

Keep your eyes peeled and let me know please. I'm interested and would like to know.

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  • 1 month later...

Once the trees get to a height where they can fall onto the cables, should they be blown down in a storm, it's better to remove them. Large areas of Bedlington could be cut off if that were to happen. It's unsightly, I know, but believe me it's necessary. The cleared area will soon be filled with wild flowers planted by birds. You can help them out in their planting work by throwing out seeds collected from wild flowers when they themselves go to seed. Dumping your garden waste there also helps if it's allowed in the area. I've found that Coltsfoot, Cowslips, Milkweed and Rosebay Willow herb do particularly well in these areas. Experiment with others. You'll also be helping to save wild bees who's extinction will soon be a fact if we don't do something about it. Think of the effect that loss will have on food production.

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