Sunday, 9 December 2012

8/9th December 2012, Waxwings and wet legs

Reports of waxwings in the valley had sent us on a faulty mission last Sunday, I got the location wrong and we didn't see much of anything!!

Determined to put that right I did more research and realised that at one point we had been been within 100 yards of the correct place, whoops. Having only ever seen one of these beautiful winter visitors from Siberia and Scandinavia I was keen to see more and even more keen for Mrs Wildlife who had never seen them.

They feed on berries and fruit, on these allotments there is a tree full of rotting apples, unfortunately this is private property and I had to rely on long zoom shots, nevertheless the sights were enjoyed through the binoculars as well:-)

A brilliant half hour and one that was really enjoyed, the sun was in a difficult position and with only one viewpoint the photography was testing.

My plan involved getting dropped at a high point of Rombald's Moor and walking back to Silsden, up above the 300m asl contours there was a little snow on the ground as I set off on my walk.

Looking over Ilkley Moor there looked like heavier snowfall up Wharfedale on Buckden Pike and Great Whernside...

Wandering up here is great, fairly deserted, in a friends terminology "The greetings count is zero" and I can concentrate on what I may find, red grouse were on my mind and mainly on the horizon as I heard their chuckling calls without a decent opportunity of a photograph.

The clearance of many trees up here always makes me think I should see birds of prey, except I rarely do! Movement on the very periphery of my vision alerted me this time though, lens cap off, default panic stations with the will do!! And a beautiful red kite flew right overhead then turned and checked me out, just a special moment.......

I don't know if I appeared to be unpalatable or not but the kite flew swiftly into the distance and I trekked onwards.

These trees up on the moor have a hard life, they get battered by horrendous winds and they bend sometimes in a way that reminds me of old peoples spines, bent by age but surviving.

I crossed the moorland boundary wall soon after this, I know a route across some farmland and with the frozen state of the paths it seemed a good decision, it can be wet and boggy up here, good decision not..........

Wandering over some recently slurried ground I felt the icy top begin to give way, move quickly is the advice, I did and my leg plunged about half way up into just about the foulest smelling liquid I have ever known! Trying to get that leg out I got my other leg in too, oh joy! Maybe that is not what I said!! Anyway, safely but smelling not quite of roses I made my way to a welcome beck. Boots and all I washed my legs off, the fetid stuff had permeated up my waterproof trousers and into my socks. Wet feet and trousers are not too comfortable but as they dried a little in the weak sunshine and cool breeze I spotted something to take my mind from my discomfort, a great spotted woodpecker settled on a nearby tree and I moved ever so carefully to get a shot.

Dropping down into the valley with my squishy feet seemed a good move, zooming over Cross Hills it looked a bit claggy over Pendle Hill.

I saw little of interest on my way back to Silsden, passing Howden Park the sun came out briefly though.

I must have passed the aroma test at my local as no derogatory phrases were to be heard as I enjoyed a couple of pints post smelly walk!!

We returned to the waxwing site on Sunday when the light was a little better.......

A little festive shopping trip was then endured, ho ho ho, not too painful really:-) On our way home we had  short walk by the canal, no kingfishers but a beautiful redwing with a goldfinch as a bonus:-)
Another seasonal visitor from Scandinavia and a personal favourite, ah well no smelly legs today!!


  1. Nice shots dave..Lovely looking birds.

  2. Fabulous shots of the waxwings feeding on the crab apples. I do like your analogy of the bent tree trunks and old people's spines.

  3. Another enjoyable blog Dave, Nice shots of the waxwings, red kite and the woodpecker. Nice blue sky shots at the end.
    Put some food and water out today and attracted the robin, (resident) dunnock, blackbird,long tailed tit and blue tit. Great entertainment watching them.