The end of the year offered us some decent weather and opportunities to get out and monitor our local wildlife. As my knowledge base of good sites grows so it becomes more difficult to visit them all as often as I would like, a nice problem!
With the advent of winter the leaves have fallen from the trees making birds more visible, we also have good networks of hard surfaced paths thus enabling us to miss the worst of the really muddy bits after the late Autumn downpours.
Early one morning I made my way to the Bolton Abbey estate in Wharfedale, some recent trips have disclosed good sightings further down river than my normal woodland route.
The priory ruins without visitors for once!
I was scanning the river for life when calls from the trees behind me alerted me to the presence of birds...
Redwing and fieldfare..
As I watched them for a while a kestrel joined the party in a nearby tree
Turning back to the river I was chatting to a fellow photographer who was taking landscapes when a flash of blue disclosed a kingfisher in flight...I was excused further chat as I patiently followed its flight path. A careful approach and...
Another shot as it moved up river...
Soon after it took off heading further upstream and I lost it....returning to my original spot I was then visited by a dipper.
A grand morning to enjoy.
A couple of days later and we visited our red kite site and after a short drive round we located a group which were flying often and when not they were calling loudly from the trees.
Time flies when you are watching these magnificent birds wheeling around in the sky and we enjoyed a splendid three hours with them.
Christmas Day saw us hosting a family meal, with some careful preparation we had a couple of hours spare for a walk on a fine and sunny morning.
Reaching the canal towpath via a narrow lane we were greeted with the magnificent sight of a kingfisher, what a present.
Slightly further on the woodland across the canal opens up and a fine female roe deer grazed contentedly...
What a great morning but it was now time to head homewards, as we returned down the lane an instinct led me to check some hawthorns as a light coloured patch looked out of place. Not strictly out of place but not bush like...it was a little owl...more on this later.
Christmas was a splendid time with family meals and much laughter and fun, and the occasional chance for me to nip out with the camera and binoculars!
Heading down little owl lane I caught sight of a colourful redwing high in a tree.
I was gratified to see the owl on the same patch, something to work on in future.
Even better was the sight of a second owl, I shall be scouring the area for potential nest sites over the next couple of months.
By the canal a fine female goosander caught the eye...
We had been hoping for a walk on a frozen local moor, a little snow fell and temperatures were said to be plunging.
With mini spikes affixed to boots we headed out on a cold and icy path, without spikes it would have been foolhardy to proceed.
The forecasted cold swiftly turned to squishy quick thawing mush however but the exercise was welcome. The view across the moor...
Wildlife sightings were sparse and mainly limited to distant red grouse but the general view across Barden Lower reservoir towards Simon's Seat was very pleasant.
Nearing the car we spotted a female kestrel on a telegraph wire, I kept taking shots as I edged closer and closer culminating in this one...
And another landscape from the journey home as the sun set...
I am continuing to visit the owl site to try and get them used to my presence before I attempt to get a better and closer angle, they are in a very open sheep grazing field so I need to be really careful. Disturbance is not an option.
And to close with, the ubiquitous robin...although common they are as delightful to see as even the rarest creature.
Many thanks to all readers for your continued support and to all new and recent viewers.
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Happy 2015 Everyone XXXXXXXXXXXXX----------XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX