Monday, 12 March 2012

Monday 12th march 2012, Lazing on a sunny afternoon, and the owl chronicles!

There was a clear dividing line in the weather today around these parts, at work at Gisburn, Lancashire, it was grey dull and cold. Crossing the boundary into Yorkshire after my 2.30pm finish the light brightened and skies were blue, enough said!

A riverbank stroll at Bolton Abbey beckoned before heading up to the moors to further my knowledge of the short eared owls which hunt up there. A sleeveless fleece was sufficient extra clothing for the Wharfeside wander, a pleasant enough day but there is no real warmth in the sunlight just yet.

My normal kingfisher watching point has proved fruitless recently, some shrub clearance work has taken place there and may have disturbed them, I think some legwork may be needed to find a new location.

A pair of nuthatches flew from near me to a tree about 40 yards away, one of them stayed in visibility for a while.

Oystercatchers are surprisingly common around here, the fields being as comfortable a feeding ground for them as the shores they also inhabit.

I was on the lookout for grey wagtails which are now returning after wintering in warmer climes, I love their fluttering flight and soft colouring. After checking the places where I can normally find them and finding nothing I took the aquaduct bridge and crossed to the other side, part way across the bridge I heard a curlew in flight and for once managed a decent shot.

This lovely dipper was diving regularly in what was obviously a good feeding place.
A small stream enters the river a short distance away, there isn't really a path by it but I often wander up there just to see these lovely small falls, with afternoon sun through the trees and a slow shutter speed it looks as there are sparklers in the water.

A check of my watch disclosed it was time to turn around now and get up to the moor, just in the worst of light, as often happens, my hoped for grey wagtail appeared. A fair amount of post processing has gone into the finished photograph.

Birds feeding nervously are usually worthy of attention, nervous usually means unusual to me and here almost straight into the sun were some fieldfares.

A lifetime of walking on the moors has given me an instinct for the amount of clothing needed to keep warm, nowadays spending more time motionless and watching it bears dividends to err on the comfortable side. So suitably insulated I set off to my owl watching perch, these superb birds will spot you and avoid you if you are less than almost invisible! Clad now in camouflage and dark clothing I have a spot under a dark gritstone wall where I should be reasonably masked. A half hour of darkening skies later I had seen nothing, regular sweeps with the binoculars revealed the expected grouse and sheep, then checking again on an irregular coloured stone its head swivelled!!! Having suffered the indignity of stalking an owl shaped stone in the Lake District I could only chuckle at the reverse in fortunes. A long way away and only shot as it obviously saw me and flew away.

Ah well at least I learnt a bit more, and all bird shaped things should be checked...just in case:-))


  1. Well that looks like a very enjoyable afternoon doing what you like to do best :o) Lots of great sightings and yes I remember the owl shaped rock ;o)

  2. A very worthwhile outing Dave, I like the larger sized photo :o) You were lucky with the weather it's stayed grey & cold here all day, a real shock to the system after yesterday! I remember the owl shaped rock too! Four short eared owls sighted at Rutland Water this evening .... must get over there!

  3. It was certainly worth your while finishing work early and going for a wildlife wander.I love dippers, I have never seen one round here, we see them in the Lakes though. Great that your patience paid off and you saw the owl :)