Wednesday, 24 April 2013

19-22nd April 2013, Plenty to do and see!

My weekend wildlife watching began with a stint at my barn owl site, with lots to see apart from the owls a couple of evening hours soon pass. A fellow observer had seen a grasshopper warbler in the afternoon but I had no luck with that. It was a fine sunny evening, quite warm and very pleasant, my photographs began with a heron in flight...

There are plenty of reed buntings here, this is my first successful shot of a female, photographed by the feeders..

A short walk by the nearby river resulted in me disturbing a kingfisher without having chance to photograph it! My eye had been distracted by a small bird in some riverside shrubs, my first willow warbler of the year..

As the light went I captured a lovely shot of a Canada goose..

The light had deteriorated to the point where photography was hopeless by the time the owls appeared, still a treasure to see though and I am certain I will get some successful shots as the year unfolds. Time for home now and some food, I was starving having gone here straight from work!

And so to a sunny Saturday, we had a moorland amble planned but first we found time for an exploration of Middleton Woods near Ilkley.

Our eyes and ears were busy from the start, a chorus of song rang out from the tall treetops and it seems somewhere we shall have to visit quite often. I spotted a jay through some foliage and patiently worked myself into a position where I could manage a clear line of sight.

A lovely treecreeper appeared right in front of us, as luck would have it the area was very shaded though..

Some early butterflies can be seen now, here we spotted a small tortoiseshell enjoying the sunshine..

As I mentioned the woods look full of potential for wildlife, more will follow during the year.

A short drive on some back roads took us to Barden and a walk on the moor.

The view across the lower reservoir to Simon's Seat was as good as ever.

One reason for a walk up here, apart from the splendid long distance views, was the return of the meadow pipits, a delightful bird shown here in perfect habitat.

Of course we saw red grouse! On this occasion I just could not get the right focus, more opportunities are sure to occur!

Our walk took us high on the moor before a gradual descent to the reservoir and then a steep but thankfully short climb back up to where the car was parked.

Another attempt at a red grouse shot fared the same as the earlier one:-(

A poor forecast on Sunday led to no walk plans, with Mrs Wildlife away for the day I resigned myself to a day of jobs around the house. As I checked the forecast in early afternoon I realised the expected rain would not now arrive until much later, a quick rucksac pack and I set off out for a local fields and canal wander.

Although skies were grey and gloomy the exercise was good and there is always something to see for those who can be bothered..

A nest building swan....soon Mr swan checked me out and pronounced me suitable to sit close to their site, if I am careful!!

Just occasionally we get some real rarities near here, a Carolina Wood Duck, probably an escapee but it seemed to be feeding happily..

A very careful approach gained me this shot of a resting curlew. A few spots of the expected rain began to fall, another careful approach meant I was not too far from the pub! Good planning!!

On Monday a slightly brighter day beckoned, I headed for Malham and another meet up with the RSPB team. The sun shone brightly as I parked up for the short walk up to the Cove, a chaffinch  enjoyed a paddle in the beck.

This jackdaw was enjoying an elevated position on the back of a belted Galloway cow.

After meeting up with the team and a good chat we spotted one of the peregrines on a ledge high on the cove, I set off on the climb up the steps. Pausing for a look round, rest, I spotted a pair of newly arrived wheatears on the rocks..

Reaching the top of the limestone steps I moved carefully across the limestone pavement to a position where the peregrine should be visible. During the climb the sunshine had disappeared and the winds had picked up making good pix difficult, the best two I managed.

Once again better shots should be possible on future visits..

The concensus was that this is the male, the female is thought to be sitting on a nest far back on a ledge and completely out of sight.

I made my way carefully down the shiny steps and had a look around the lower reaches of the cove. I found a pied wagtail....

A feisty wren...

And another bird which was zipping around, its red rear feathers identified it as a male redstart and after a prolonged search I found one posing on a rock. Aim the camera, compose the shot, check shutter release...just as it flies off, lol!!

The light was really not good now, fortunately I was near enough to this robin to get a decent shot.

Another opportunity to photograph a redstart presented itself, even in murky light it is a stunning bird..

I sat among the trees and rocks for a while, another wren appeared..

I watched climbers on the rock face, routes are amended so as not to cause disturbance to the nesting peregrines.

Just as I was exchanging goodbyes with the RSPB team a great spotted woodpecker appeared, what a lovely few days we have had with some super sightings.

Many thanks for your support, readership continues to grow at a splendid rate. Don't forget if you do wish to add a comment that it comes to me for approval first!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

13th-15th April 2013, A warm weekend at last!

A forecast for a warm and sunny weekend co-incided with a decided lack of opportunity for decent walks so some planning was required. With a long trip to Scotland next month we needed to do some shopping and an afternoon trip to Leeds was on the menu, I escaped to the canalbank early in the morning to top up my patience reserves!

Good early sightings of dunnock and chaffinch were encouraging..

The paths have dried well, the sun was shining and all was well....

The lovely and quirky moorhen always gets my attention..

A rook, very similar to the carrion crow but distinguishable by the grey bill, crows have black bills.

A little wren gathering nesting material, I cannot imagine the leaf being too comfy but some moss will no doubt be added!

Further on a greylag goose was doing the same job but on a larger scale, obviously!

And finally nearly back at the car, a delighful robin burst into full song despite nearly being blown from its lofty perch..........

On Sunday we had dedicated the day to looking at cars after deciding we would like a change, my only wildlife came in the form of a starling in the garden..

And so to Monday and finally the chance to get out for a decent walk, Barden Bridge by the river Wharfe was my chosen location. It was very windy but at least the direction was southerly and warm and a light fleece was the only jacket required.

A beautiful common sandpiper appeared quickly, just a shame the foamy water spoils the shot a little..

Reaching the shelter on the eastern side I paused for a snack and a drink, the food placed here by staff and visitors attracts many birds...first a pheasant.

Then a nuthatch..

A chaffinch....

A blue tit..

Another nuthatch..

Another chaffinch..
And a great tit..

Walking on down into the sunny glades of the woodland I found my first butterfly of the year, a comma..

The lovely grey wagtails are back in numbers..

I crossed the bridge by the pavilion and headed back up river, looking carefully through the trees I got fairly close to a spectacular mandarin duck..

Another short respite stop brought me a close sighting of a coal tit..

Birdsong was ringing out all around me, chiffchaffs and willow warblers to the fore although try as I did I could not locate them.

Curlews were in flight and I chanced a quick shot of one that came near enough..

The woodland flowers are starting to bloom, this is a wood anemone...

Another nuthatch sighting as I walked..

And a great tit too...

The pretty colours of coltsfoot...

And finally I reach the bridge near the car park...

A great walk in the sunshine and I joined my raptor watch friends for a short while and was lucky enough to catch sight of a goshawk!

Lets all hope this warmer weather continues for a while and we can all enjoy our walks and wildlife.