Monday, 4 March 2013

2/3 March 2013, a local exploration and Leighton Moss

Despite a forecast of dull and grotty skies things improved and the sun shone brightly on Saturday morning. Even with the lovely weather I had no high hopes of good sightings, the next few weeks are the ones where the winter immigrant birds start to head coastwards ready for their journey home and incoming birds are yet to arrive. Time spent exploring and getting used to potential new sites is time well spent and I headed over to Skipton for a potential barn owl site, with a lot of wet ground surrounding the area it is important to know the layout before venturing there at dusk time!

Making my way in on a lovely and frosty morning the teasels were hanging on to the cold..

Close to a main road one of the last things I expected to see was a roe deer, it grazed happily as I manouvered myself near enough for a decent photograph..

One bird which thrives in this habitat is the reed bunting and I managed a few shots through the morning..

A sight of a large bird in the sky always alerts the bird of prey senses, on this occasion it turned out to be a heron though!

Acquainting myself with the various paths on offer, and more importantly meeting up with my barn owl confidante and getting to know the necessary line of sight did not take too long, and the reed buntings kept appearing.

Time passed quickly and soon it was reaching an hour where I should be heading towards Silsden, I decided to utilise the canalbank for that purpose. Extricating myself from the reed beds I spotted a lovely blue tit chirruping loudly..

Thankfully the canal towpath is finally drying after a rainless couple of weeks, the easy walking made up for the dearth of wildlife, eventually I chanced upon some canada geese feeding in a nearby field.

The next few miles were uneventful, there was a bridge though...
And a gradual but unavoidable desperation for interesting things to photograph!

A barge with a name that cries out for an explanation........

And a tree that needs to see a dentist, root canal, canal get the idea!

Onwards I plodded, eyes always alert for sightings I saw slight movement in a field at the far side of the water, only a grey squirrel but it was a welcome sight at this point.

A small flock of birds arrived in a nearby bush, binocs raised and long tailed tits identified I had to be pretty careful to get near enough for a shot.

I have spent some time listening to birdsong and calls to enlarge my knowledge, usually by the next day they have disappeared from my memory though, I have fortunately retained the goldfinch feeding call and it paid off:-)

It was late afternoon now and time for a pint, I thought it worthwhile removing the lens cap again for a photograph of a robin, it may have been had I got the focus right!

Which leads me conveniently on to Sunday, not the greatest weather forecast to head west to RSPB Leighton Moss, but a chance of brightness at some time during the day, the ladies of the family were enjoying a day shopping in Leeds so I thought it worthwhile to spend another day at a much loved place.

Aaah, the robin! They are really plentiful here and will pose willingly for the camera..

Early morning skies were still quite dull but the sun threatened to break through, the lack of wind was evident in the calm waters..

I couldn't find much wildlife close to the camera yet, a massive zoom and crop discloses red deer in the distance...

Wetland wildfowl can include quite a lot of birds, pheasant are not the usual waterside fayre though!

Birds doing unusual things can bring a little humour to an unproductive day, why do cormorants stare at the sky...flying fish maybe:-))

On my way back to the car park for lunch the robins insisted again..........

I don't often photograph magpies, they are tough to get close to and though plentiful they seem wary of human presence. This one did not seem too bothered either by me or my camera!

A great tit foraging for food caught my eye...

Heading for the car park I looked at the bird feeders, long tailed tits were feeding greedily..

With lunch taken and energy levels renewed I set out on the longer walk down to the public and lower hides, the island in front of the public hide often has cormorants, not sure how often they have collective itches though:-))

Settled in the lower hide where I have been fortunate or persistent enough to have some wonderful sightings I scanned round alternately through the binoculars and long distance scope....not much:-((

Lowering the binocs to give my eyes a rest and literally feet in front of me was a lovely little well camouflaged snipe, luckily it very soon moved and gave a much better view...

I watched as a great crested grebe paddled closer to the hide, not the easiest of birds to get clear and sharp photographs of normally.

The teal in front of the hide were feeding greedily...

And marching in humorous fashion too!

The great crested grebe had disappeared into a nearby reed bed, it soon reappeared with a partner and they began to display, a wonderful event to witness even though I didn't manage to satisfactorily capture the ritual weed presentations..

This alone made the day worthwhile and enough for one reasonably tough bloke to find the need to dry his eyes:-))

As the light dulled the female marsh harrier paid a visit..

I decided to head down to the salt water hides for a while before going home, there wasn't a vast lot to see to be honest..

A black headed gull in breeding plumage..

A grey heron stalking the shallows......

And finally a pintail duck..

After a long walk the day before and a very early alarm to get out here at a good time I was tired and needed to keep my eyes open for the drive home, strong coffee in my flask did the necessary job before I set off and home was gained safely:-))

Many thanks for reading what is my 100th blog, much appreciated. Don't forget comments have to approved by me before appearing!


  1. Congratulations on the 100th blog Dave. As always very interesting and well illustrated. Keep up the good work.

  2. Happy 100th Dave :o) I think I've probably read all of them & I'm still here so they must be good! Some really lovely sightings in this one, nice to see the Pintail & a great shot of the Teal. A very smart bird, looks like Mohican in warpaint! The Snipe are so well camouflaged, I see them here (might be Jack Snipe) no pics so far as I never spot them until they suddenly fly up from very close by. As Paul says ... keep up the good work

  3. Thanks Paul and Angie, much appreciated:-) I never envisaged the levels of support I receive, or reaching 100 blogs and well over 10,000 views! Briiliant and all for doing something I enjoy!