Monday, 2 April 2012

31st March 2012, Rombalds Moor & Low Wood

Not the greatest weather for wildlife watching today, grey skies and not much visibilty. I had decided to head for the moors in the hope of seeing some raptors and maybe some of the smaller birds which are now returning after wintering in warmer climes, there is also a slight chance of sighting weasels or stoats, particularly near the walls which form part of the moorland boundary.

My walk began with a lift from Mrs Wildlife who kindly dropped me off at Whetstone Gate, the top of Ilkley Road above Keighley. Immediately the joyous sound of skylarks was to be heard, not very close but unmistakeable.

The first part of the walk was almost due west, straight into a cold wind and it was mightily cold, even worse it began to rain...not heavy but certainly unwanted! Navigation was easy though, follow the wall until you arrive at a signpost:-))

To be honest apart from the odd grouse which took flight noisily before I could photograph them there was not much to be seen, I found another couple of traps aimed at mustelids (stoats/weasels) and spent a short while putting them beyond further use. As the rain stopped I took a break by the wall and just managed a shot of two geese flying low overhead.

Heading for the plantation on High Moor I walked at a decent speed for the next hour or so, there is a clearing in there which looks to have lots of raptor potential and I wanted to spend a while there.

Raptors were in very short supply...none! My half hour lunch break had the more than acceptable accompaniment of the delightful sounds of curlew and lapwing as they flew overhead, excellent.

Passing the delightfully named Shepherd's Hill and Cloven Stones I followed a feint track around the perimeter of the plantation, catching this remale red grouse perched on a wall along the way.

I left the trees at Low Moor and headed downhill through Jaytail Farm after a short tarmac trek, a short wait ensued at Riddlesden Golf Club as the warning sign for "Flying Golf Balls" should be heeded!

Quickly down to the canal and Low Wood Nature Reserve and I was greeted with the unique noise of the green woodpeckers "yaffle", loud and quite close. I stashed my rucksack behind some rocks and began to trace the noise, these birds are very easily disturbed and I had to be really careful about how I moved. One wrong move sent the bird flying away, but not too far fortunately and I started again this time even more carefully. Thirty minutes later I had it in decent view through the binoculars, stunning!! Trying to get a sharp focus through all the foliage was not fun and the photographs were a little disappointing but they would have been a bonus.

I then heard another yaffling further down the wood, my bird answered and then took off to find its mate.
It took a while to brush all the woodland junk off my clothes, this stalking is a mucky job! Anyway I made my way back to my rucksack and decided to take another break, more coffee from the thermos was welcomely warm.

My first bluebell sight of the year:-)

Checking a small pond in the wood there was positive news from the frogspawn that we saw a few weeks ago...tadpoles!

The route back to Silsden was via the canalbank and a quiet lane, plenty of birds in the hedges singing merrily but not posing today, ah well it was worth the effort just for the green woodie!


  1. I dont think I've ever seen a green woodpecker, interesting plumage, well done for getting a couple of photos Dave. Can't belive the bluelbells are already starting to flower! Maggie

  2. Nice to see the Green Woodpeckers Dave, we get them here in the garden.