Monday, 25 February 2013

23/24th February 2013, and the wind came mainly from the North!

Cold, grey and uninviting are probably good words to describe the weather at the moment. Fervent wishes for blue skies were unfulfilled but pessimistic as I felt I set out from Kildwick for an exploration of my home valley.

The first section by the canal was thankfully less muddy...but devoid of wildlife of any description, many times I walk by the river Aire I see nothing too, but I persist just in case!

A pair of goosanders were sailing back and forth on this occasion, not the greatest photograph but I was getting a little disconsolate!

Searching trees and hedgerows carefully through the binoculars I found little, well insulated as I was in two windproof fleece layers the wind was cutting through as the sharpness it finds when it blows from the North was more than evident!

Tracking through the fields I made my way back to the canal, maybe another perusal would bring some results. Still no wildlife, but I did meet another wildlife fan and we chatted for a good while, thanks Damian the company and craic was excellent!!

A shot taken towards Crosshills adequately shows the conditions of the day..

I decided to try my luck on the other side of Silsden, a brisk walk would at least generate some welcome warmth, the supplies of coffee in my flask were diminishing faster than I planned.
Along the way I found two canada geese which seemed unsure which direction they really wanted to go:-)

Passing through the village I set off down the lane that leads eastwards, success!!! I almost leapt into the air with glee, well perhaps not but it was worth removing the lens cap for a long distance shot of some goldfinches high in a tree.

Yes, exactly...bright grey sky does not make for great pix:-/

Focusing on a moorhen I thought I had a rare shot of one clutching a canalside branch, the luck of the day it lost its balance and my focus just as I pressed the shutter release.

One of the sounds of an approaching spring, apart from boinnggg boinnggg! is the melodic warbling and singing of song thrushes...

Sparrows are fairly plentiful around here, but even they seemed reluctant to pose for the camera today, persistence has its rewards though and eventually I found a willing model.

My efforts in finding things to see paid off in fine style soon after this as a glimpse of colour from a bird in flight alerted my senses, binoculars raised and re-focusing as it flew I recognised the beautiful colouring of a green woodpecker. No chance at all of a photograph, even in good conditions it was too far away. I noted where it had landed and realised that to get anywhere near would involve three muddy fields, time was getting on and my trousers were so far contest, nearly time for a pint!

Just enough time for a near darkness swan shot as what little light there had been ebbed away...

The pint, or two, were welcome and at least the pub was warm after a very cold day.

On Sunday the weather promised a few bright spells, we packed some hot drinks and food to sustain us for half a day and in the late morning we headed over to Wharfedale.

Another example of my increasing knowledge occurred as we passed through the small village of Draughton, an unusual bird shape and posture compared to the size in a roadside tree caused a hasty but rear view mirror checked braking manouvre...

Not a great shot by any means but a record of the sparrow sized lesser spotted woodpecker..

We had planned a walk on Barden Moor, and it was on there that we set out...

The light was good to begin with and a long distance shot of a kestel hovering turned out quite well..

This was a bonus really as we were here with the main intention of seeing red grouse, some find them difficult to get near. After a lifetime on the moors I know how to approach to get near enough for good photographs, even in very low light I was delighted with this one..

The camouflage is amazingly effective, beautiful and characterful birds that I will continue to encourage away from the moors prior to the inglorious twelfth of August!

As we neared the top of the moor the light went completely, the wind strenghtened and we were enveloped in a really heavy sleet shower. The experience gained from walking on fells and mountains dictated that we headed back, not dangerous but there were no benefits to be gained from carrying on.

Perversity in the weather means that when you make a sensible decision the weather will add a suitable reward, like the flippin sun make a rare appearance as we descended!!

We decided to enjoy the food we had brought and let the weather decide what the heck it was up to!

Post lunch we drove down to the valley bottom and secured a parking place (free, let me know if you require map refs to avoid the exorbitant fee on the estate here!)

Wandering down the riverbank with the sun shining seemed such a contrast to the desolation of the moor. An oystercatcher photographed from long distance even looked good...

After the song thrush photograph of Saturday we were delighted to get a really good look at what we both thought was a mistle thrush, but it took a look in a reference book to confirm it.

This is a great example of their worm hunting, listen....stalk...pounce!!
And this slightly grey colouring on the back shows the distinction from the much browner song thrush.

There was little to be seen in the woods, apart from people, not what we were there to see! So, homewards and another good if cold weekend to reflect upon.................


  1. Never seen a lesser spotted woodpecker, well done Dave

  2. Love the barge name but it took some photo copy-and-paste to enlarge it enough to read.

    Lovely pictures of wildlife again. You said it was a quiet day at the hide bbut you still managed to see a lot. Well done.

    Roger and Ann