Sunday, 30 September 2012

29th September, Leighton Moss RSPB

An early start for us for the drive over to Leighton Moss near Carnforth, we were on the road just after seven o'clock and the lack of traffic meant a swift journey. Rather than park at the RSPB centre straight away we halted at the roadside by the causeway that leads to the public hide. Research had shown that a large amount of standing water would be present, Mrs Wildlife selected wellies as the most appropriate footwear, numpty here thought walking boots would be sufficient, more of that later!

Despite many visits we have yet to see the bearded tits which can be found here, feeding on insects during the spring and summer they switch their diet to seeds in autumn, gravel trays are provided and  they eat gravel to aid digestion of the seeds. The ping ping of their calls was to be heard as we neared the site of the trays, a short time later we were delighted to see two of these beautiful birds appear.

A chirpy robin appeared right in front of us as we enjoyed the bearded tits, it was almost demanding attention.

Moving on down the causeway the water on the path became deeper, my feet got wet and then wetter as we splished and splashed our way to the lower hide.

There wasn't a lot to be seen at this point and we decided to return to the car and get parked up at the centre, along the way this lovely swan posed majestically in one of the channels.

After enjoying a brew in the car we explored the hides nearer to the centre, the first yielded just one usual heron, they get everywhere!!

As we walked the roaring and bellowing of red deer stags grew ever louder, we could not see any at this point but our hopes were high.

The next hide was successfully waded to and we were busy checking the sights through the binocs, I found some dozing teal.

A fellow spotter alerted us to movement on the edge of the reeds, a large red deer stag had appeared and settled himself down for a rest......

More soggy wandering again as we headed down towards the causeway again, this grey squirrel was scampering across a field as we passed.

Another robin...

And a common darter by the reedbeds..

The squelching sounds coming from my saturated socks was almost musical much to at least one persons amusement! We reached the public hide at a very fortuitous time, otters had been seen and quite soon one appeared, a big zoom and crop for these but unmistakably otter..first a head then a tail as it dived....

A juvenile great crested grebe came near enough for a couple of pix too..

Another great day for us, just superb and we decided to head homewards but it was a good job Mrs Wildlife was still in spotting mode though as she narrowly avoided stepping on this little frog as it hopped across the muddy path.

Many thanks to all who take a look, don't forget to leave a comment...they are appreciated:-))

Sunday, 23 September 2012

22nd September, a day of two halves..literally!!

The meteorologists nowadays have some different seasonal dates, I prefer the old method of solstice and equinox, it feels right and for me it fits with the change in temperature and animal migration.

A group of swallows were gathered on the telephone cables on our street as we set out to Barden Bridge where I would be dropped off, the ladies were setting out on a shopping trip, I was out for the day just wandering wherever my fancy took me. The Autumnal equinox, a day of equal light and darkness, the sun was rising and mist rose as it evaporated above the beautiful river Wharfe.

I set off down river and quite soon a group of juvenile goldfinches were seen..

Robins are never far away, this one hopped around chirping its joyous song and pleading for its picture to be taken:-))

The Wharfe is my best source of dipper photographs, high water at the moment due to recent rain meant that many of their usual perching rocks were submerged, I saw several working from the far bank and on a river that can be 50 feet wide and in shadow any attempts at photographs were futile!

Wandering on and emerging from the trees I was now in bright sunlight, ever alert to one of my favourite birds at last I got chance of a couple of close shots of the lovely dipper..

I did a 180 degree turn here, over the wooden bridge by the Cavendish Pavilion, kingfishers were on my mind, no sightings so far but I was determined to give them my best shot.

Reaching the hut up beyond the Strid I decided on a short break, always a difficult place for photographs but great for seeing things. Strong sun makes dark shadows, 1/50th second is not a sharp enough shutter speed for moving wildlife...

The little woodmouse was a bonus, time to walk on but pretty soon I got this lovely shot of a chaffinch..

Back in the dark woodland I was enjoying the beauty of the birdsong and the tinkling and resonant sounds of the small streams that feed into the river.

Back into the now warm sunlight again it was time to lose a layer of clothing, not literally though! Things got exciting at this point, a blur of swift flying blue...kingfisher heading up river, I followed scrutinising every square inch of riverside foliage for about two miles, nothing apart from a dosing goosander.

Worse was to follow, unless you are a hopeless optimist like I neared Barden Bridge for the third time today another kingfisher flew past me up river, no I did not turn and follow. I will see them when the time is right:-)

Heading back down with the flow I paused to capture the Small Tortoiseshell butterfly, an unexpected pleasure:-))

And then a big surprise, just by the aqueduct a group of corvids (rooks, crows etc) appeared, except one looked distinctly was very different, a red kite!

A grey wagtail alerted me to its presence as it chirped merrily, a wonderful bird which will soon be migrating like so many others.

I now made my way past the ruins of Bolton Priory, a place of stunning beauty and one where I will try to visit when there are no tourists in the photograph...tough task!

My past as a competitive sportsman still kicks in, the bus timetable in my head says if I can kick on for the next four miles or so a bus will appear to carry me homewards...

Time though for a zoom up on Beamsley Beacon, (Howber Hill on OS maps) the site for many of my sunset pix..

And a more distant view with a lovely layer of cloud..

The final wander down the Dales Way to Addingham was completed in good time, enough time for a shot across the weir, the end of a wonderful day in the sun:-))

Sunday, 16 September 2012

A week in Strathspey, Scotland

Apologies for no recent update..we have just enjoyed a week up in Scotland. Based in Boat of Garten just north of Aviemore we had a wish list of things we hoped to see, some appeared and some did not but that is the beauty of wildlife watching, the unpredictability adds to the magical feeling when you are privileged to see some of the special sightings we had.

95 photographs have been added in two places according to your preference.

Facebook users will find them at:-!/media/set/?set=a.350192598401742.88661.277953485625654&type=1

If you prefer Picasa:-

Make a cuppa or pour a glass of something nice, sit back and enjoy:-))

Normal service resumes this week..

Sunday, 2 September 2012

1st September, a Rombalds Moor wander

My walk today began on Morton Moor, like the famous Ilkley Moor and the less renowned Addingham High Moor both of which I would wander across later it is part of Rombalds Moor. Rombald was a legendary giant who resided in these parts, famed for throwing a mighty boulder which caused the Cow and Calf rocks at Ilkley to be split, a likely tale!

The grouse on the edge of the moor where I started out are free from fear of the shooters, this female strutted around confidently, I wonder how they know:-)

Time is nearly up for butterfly watching for the year, this small tortoiseshell was basking as the sun gradually broke through.

The walking is relatively easy, navigation is very easy with a wall to guide me westwards.

One of the real delights of this walk is the mixed terrain, leaving the moor temporarily I ventured through a section of tightly packed woodland, the sun filtering through the trees gave this lovely effect.

Did I say the mixed terrain was a delight? Maybe this bit could be otherwise described!

A lifetime of walking on moorland has given me some knowledge and perhaps instinct for finding a way through the most horrendous bogs and not immersing myself in the smelly stuff. Simple rules for beginners...if it looks like marmite or mushy peas, a/ don't step on it and b/ don't eat it!!! I temporarily forgot rule a/ , whoops up above the knee in foul smelling gloop and not happy!

After a messy extrication I found a drier path back into the woods, this robin knew better than to look or sound too cheerful!

Emerging now on the Ilkley side of the moor the skies were getting nicer, shades of blue gleamed through and the heather was a beautiful purple.

I had a splendid lunch break at High Moor Edge, the trig point could with a little TLC I think.

The meadow pipits are now gathering in small flocks, many will leave soon to winter on lower ground. I usually find them fairly accomodating for photographs, today they were skittish and it took a fair amount of patience to get this shot.

I made a pathless descent from the heights of the moor towards the local landmark of the Noon Stone.

The path along the edge here is a great place to appreciate this section of Wharfedale.

The outcrop in the right foreground was home last year to a wickerwork wolf, probably placed here as an advertising gimmick by a local company, it was fixed with wires and bolts, the removal of the unwanted and unsolicited wickerwork has left this detritus behind, next time I'm up here I'll bring some pliers and do some tidying up.

The small ponds on the moor can be worthy of close inspection, this pond skater posed nicely for me!

Time to head downhill now and I descended towards Nab End above Silsden, the prevailing direction of the wind has some obvious indicators.

I love watching kestrels hunting, the way they hover almost motionless in the sky fascinates me. Various attempts at satisfactory photographs have been made, today I was a little more successful.

Tarmac lanes would guide me homewards now, a great day nearly over but time to look back at Nab End as I walk through the delightful hamlet of Swartha.

Autumn is nearly here, the change in seasons brings the migration of many bird species and I wish them all well on their long and tiring journeys.

Maybe the best illustration of the changing seasons is a thistle, the flower now gone and covered in a beautiful down.