Sunday, 4 March 2012

Saturday 3rd March 2012, Gloomy...hang on the sun is coming out!

For those of us who work Monday to Friday weekends are a treasured opportunity to get out, see things, generally enjoy ourselves. When you wake at seven o'clock on a Saturday morning and open the curtains to see a wall of grey, murky skies this person feels entitled to have a good grump about the weather!

A cup of tea and some breakfast later I checked the internet for a weather forecast, mmm interesting, the BBC forecast shows brightening skies and maybe some sunshine towards lunchtime and early afternoon.
A few jobs filled the time nicely, snacks and flask were prepared and as promised the sky began to clear and my mood lifted in similar levels to the pace of the improving weather.

We didn't fancy travelling far and there are plenty of things to see near home, our first visit was to Redcar Tarn near Keighley. A quite small sheet of water is home to a good array of birds, Embden geese were originally a domestic and captive species, now plentiful in the wild they have vibrant blue eyes and a feisty nature if you get too close!

Tufted ducks are one of the smaller members of the duck family, named for obvious reasons they dive frequently and are plentiful here.
Female tufted duck.

Male tufted duck.
A circuit of the tarn does not take long, a noticeboard informs visitors that three circuits are needed to complete a mile! A good few Canada geese were here too, I always find these one of the most approachable geese and they rarely seem to exhibit the aggression some geese show.

Coots are comical out of water, their feet may be great for paddling and propelling them swiftly through water but they look massive on dry land.

Black headed gulls are now gaining their mating colours and the "black" heads are becoming the recognisible chocolate colour.

Our circuit was now complete and the Embden geese were round our car seeking food.

As there was no evidence of any golden eggs we let the geese go hungry!

We took a short drive through Keighley and parked up by the canal and Low Wood at Riddlesden, a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve the wood is rich in wildlife of all kinds. Birdsong was plentiful as we strolled through the trees and we watched a jay flitting from branch to branch, out of camera range though and we had to be satisfied with the view through binoculars.

A mighty racket emanated from the sky and we watched through the treetops as a buzzard flew past being continually harassed by some resident rooks, the buzzard seemed unpeturbed and kept its dignity!

Spring is not far away now, virtually all the birds we saw were carrying nest material and their songs were joyous. Approaching a small pond we witnessed several frogs diving out of view, their spring has already arrived by the look of the spawn in the pond!

Another jay sighting as we walked on after a brief period of shelter as a heavy shower fell, the sun returned and we headed for the canal bank and some scrub land. Plenty of great, blue and long tailed tits were in evidence here together with robins and wrens, I was having no luck with the camera though as none of the smaller birds were still for long enough!

Watching wildlife regularly has a fine tuning effect on the senses, an unusual noise or movement may be the sign of something just a bit different and each should be investigated. A bird flew from the trees on our left, the plumage was definitely out of the ordinary...a green woodpecker! Luckily for us it settled not too far away, across the canal but near enough to get a good view and a presentable photograph as a bonus too!

When the sun shines on Airedale it is a beautiful valley as this view over Low Holden Farm shows :-

That small patch of blue was the last we saw, the clouds returned and the rain began to fall as we reached the car, one blue tit at last stayed still for a while though.

What had looked like a very unpromising day turned out to be a good one!


  1. A nice wildlife wander again Dave. We heard Woodpeckers hammering away yesterday on our walk and also saw Red kites again. I enjoy reading your blog and seeing your wildlife photos.

  2. Hi Dave, Redcar Tarn looks a gem of a place. Another good set of photos on a nice day with a great variety of birds in view. We also give those geese a wide berth.

  3. Great geese shots here Dave. I spotted my first frogspawn of the year on the 5th, in a dew pond in the Peaks :o)