Saturday, 4 August 2012

4th August 2012, Low Wood in the sunshine

The blog had a week off, apologies to regular readers and viewers, a painful infected leg from my tumble at Malham and my 60th birthday celebrations meant not much ourdoor activity last weekend. Rainy days and Olympics have meant evenings on the sofa too!

With a few days of penicillin inside me the leg is a bit better but not right yet for a full day on my feet, I chose a favourite local walk for today...Low Wood at Riddlesden, the route there is via some splendid tree lined and quiet lanes, sometimes the camera can be snapping away at the birds down here but today there was little to see. The weather forecast was for heavy thundery showers so the waterproofs were in the rucksack, a look back in the direction of the prevailing wind showed the forecast could be slightly a good way for once!

Regulars will know of my love of herons, big and quirky they are full of interest for any wildlife lover with their stealth and sometimes downright funny poses. I caught this one in full hunting mode-

Reaching the nature reserve at Low Wood by the canal I took the main path westwards, usually a great place to see woodland birds normally but today there seemed to be little to see. I like to practice my fieldcraft as often as I can, having the ability to move quietly is so important if you want to see and photograph birds and animals at close quarter so I took the opportunity to go off path and venture deeper into the woods. Anyone who has watched Ray Mears will know how he stresses the importance of preparation, pack your rucksack so there are no unwanted noises, check the contents and distribution of your pockets, look ahead on your intended route and above all look where you are putting your feet!

Tracking quietly I heard a fairly loud mewly sound from the treetops, quite likely a buzzard and a young one by the slightly strident edge to the call. Time to go into silent mode, moving at a rate that would make a snail look like Usain Bolt I edged towards the location of the sound, fifteen minutes and about the same number of yards later I saw slight movement up in the canopy, definitely a young buzzard and I had seen where it landed. Right, this is where the practice pays off, lens cap quietly removed and camera switched on...eyes fixed firmly on the small gap in the canopy, move unseen twig and the noise sounded like thunder to my oh so disappointed ears! A flurry of wings and my intended subject flapped away indignantly:-((

I am at least learning the patience to sit and wait for things, choose a place and test your habitat skills, it is a fun game but not always rewarding. Today I found some wood warblers, flitting around and with juveniles spreading their wings in the sun and basking in the dusty woodland floor.

I think I have the identity correct but it is a tough time of the year to i.d. birds when many are in a tatty condition after breeding, please let me know if you have any other ideas about these.

I wandered back through the woods and to my delight found an emperor dragonfly that was quite willing to pose while I practised my macro shots...

Fascinating creatures and great to watch close up.  I had set out with hopes of seeing nuthatches and treecreepers, no sightings so far but I had enjoyed a lovely day and was happily heading for home, one last call off down a small track by the canal...habitat friendly for treecreepers..and..

Extremely low light for this one, I would have liked a sharper shot!

Wandering on through my grassy stroll I pondered just how many people walk along here and see nothing of the beautiful creatures I had encountered today, between two golf courses and next to the Leeds Liverpool canal it really is a splendid area.

As I passed Low Holden Farm a swallow chirped from an overhead wire, soon they will be preparing for their long journey and its a shame we cannot tell them just how much we love their presence here for a few precious months...

A grand day in the sun and as I head for a pint or three a few rain drops begin to fall, you know what? I didn't care!!!


  1. Hi Dave, you certainly are picking some good blue sky days at the moment. Lots of wildlife variety on this walk. Liked the tree creeper shot as I've only seen one in our garden. Lovely bird. Hope you had a good birthday bash and the leg is better.

  2. The Emperor dragonfly is actually a Southern Hawker.