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.
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.
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.
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:-)