Choosing a walk wisely was the first objective, when on my own I don't mind too much if the sightings are few, exploring new areas can be quite fruitless but without venturing into different terrains the predictability could become a bit tedious. We settled on a walk by the river Wharfe starting from Barden Bridge, a favourite area and some wildlife could be fairly much guaranteed, Isla was busy looking in one of our bird books on the way there checking the photographs so that she could identify our sightings, good preparation!
A small bag of bird seed had been packed in my pocket and when we reached the shelter down near the Strid we scattered some and sat back and waited for a short while.
Coal tits are one of smallest but most delightful birds, they always appear to be in a hurry and rarely linger for long.
Eventually we were visited by a nuthatch, one of our favourites. The great upside down visitor to garden bird feeding stations and a beautiful creature.
A great spotted woodpecker flew past us while we had a snack and a warming drink, a stunning sight and we searched for a better look as we walked on but on this occasion we could not find it.
Not long before the bridge that we would cross for our return we came across a couple of RSPB volunteers who were netting birds, a net strung up in the trees to collect the birds which were then very carefully transferred to soft cloth bags. Each bird was identified, age and sex determined along with measurements and then a welcome release and the birds flew happily back into the trees.
One of the volunteers showed us his arm and the damage inflicted by a sparrowhawk that had been netted the previous day, ouch!!!
We had some brief sights of dippers but I really wanted Isla to be able to see them close up, eventually we got a good sighting.
Flitting in and out of the water as it fed it posed nicely for a while, its mate appeared too but a decent shot of them together eluded me, maybe next time!
Spring cannot be far away now with birds displaying for partners and nesting material being gathered, these catkins are certainly looking springlike.
Grey herons are plentiful around here, we were once fortunate enough to witness one catching a huge trout and we were then treated to the wonderful spectacle of the fish being carefully moved around in the heron's beak until it was in the correct position for the head first all in one swallow. Nothing so spectacular today but there was a heron-
Various feeders have been placed in the woods, a blue tit was busy feeding at one of them. These were Isla's favourite of the day-
Goosanders are a bird I always find difficult to get a decent photograph of, fine if you just walk past but pointing a camera at them seems to trigger them into flight. I managed to catch this female unawares.
Back to the car now and enjoyed some lunch and hot drinks while we discussed where to head next...we decided on a slightly longer route homewards to take in a couple of places where good sightings were possible. There is a local raptor watch point a short distance away and we parked up there and watched carefully for a while, no raptors today though! There was a red grouse peeping out from the edge of the moor.
The flooded fields which have resulted from heavy rain that seems to have plagued us recently are sometimes home to birds we don't see locally two often, these oystercatchers certainly seem happy here.
While we watched these a pair of buzzards circled, near enough to get a good view through the binoculars but just too far away for photographs. A grand little day out, more knowledge and a decent walk for Isla and treasured company for us.