Thursday, 24 May 2012

Thursday 24th May 2012, chasing cuckoos!

No real thoughts of what I might see today as I set out late morning under a blazing hot sun, what I knew I would not get was long distance views as there was a real haze in the near distance.

I can normally get a good shot from Nab End, the Silsden part of the high ground of Rombald's Moor more famous for Ilkley Moor which is another of its components.

Trekking on upwards I met one of the usual moorland suspects, a meadow pipit.

Sightings were a bit slow for the next hour or so, the heat seemed to be keeping the birds under cover and I could appreciate that as I toiled onwards! Small ponds on moors are always worth checking as they are a natural home for many creatures. There seemed to be nothing around as I approached carefully towards one such pond, stopping for a moment for some water I spotted a subject...Large Red Damselfly.

I had reached Rivock Forest now and decided it would be worth exploring, clearance of large areas has left it looking a little scruffy but it also looks like a potential wildlife haven. I must have been wearing my clumsy boots as first a small herd of roe deer, then a couple of hares, plus two kestrels and a jay all fled before I even had the lens cap off, my excuse...too much to look at!!!

Next came a real fun couple of hours, as I sat in the shade eating my lunch I heard a cuckoo  and as there are paths in all directions in the forest I decided I would try and locate it, a sighting would be good and a photo opportunity a bonus. Listening carefully I thought I had a fix on it and feeling refreshed I packed up and set off in a slow and careful pursuit.

It is a good job other sightings were in short supply as I was now solely tuned in to the cuckoo's sound, reaching the edge of one portion of the forest I had a brief sighting through the binoculars but that was it and off it flew:-( Misguidedly stepping on what looked look some dried up mud was a mistake, only about the top inch of crust was dry and my boot plunged into something decidedly wet and smelly! Ah well at least I smelled of a genuine forest aroma now!! On with the hunt and I took another track down a sweltering line of forest, sounds indicated I was on the right track but a good while later I heard the cuckoo again but from somewhere else. I had a decision to make, water and food stocks were good and energy levels were OK, onwards we go!

More forest track slogging ensued before I emerged into another clearing, this one boulder strewn and up in some rocks small birds seemed to be unnerved by the presence of a larger one, cuckoo! Now I had to work out how to get close enough for a decent photograph, I located some dry ground which was out of the cuckoo's sightline and dropped onto hands and knees for fifty yards, emerging by a large boulder below the cuckoo's position.

Phew!!! The cuckoo then flew off and I thought that was it, my route was up and through the boulders where it had been, as I reached the highest point there was a beautiful red grouse perched on a rock.

I had a lengthy walk back home now and it was time to head that way, keeping to the shaded side of the forest as much as I could reduced the heat factor a little though. A small puddle of water was alive with pond skaters, fascinating little creatures!

I was now passing through an area above Keighley before heading for the canalbank to get back to Silsden. It is lovely area for lapwing and curlew normally and they did not let me down:-))

Another meadow pipit and a swallow on a telegraph wire completed my wildlife photographs for the day.

Not long from where I saw these I was on the towpath and trudging homewards, there are always birds on the canal, I know I photograph them regularly. Today I was hot, tired and all photographed out after a seven hour walk in the heat and I had no appetite for more pix!

A grand wander, my longest walk for a good while and some special sightings and pix too:-)

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