Thursday, 18 June 2015

Back home and some local stuff

There was plenty to catch up when we returned from Scotland, not least the peregrine falcon project where I do some volunteering, run in a partnership between the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the RSPB it is very successful both in the numbers of peregrines that have fledged at Malham and the huge numbers of visitors who have been able to see them.

The only downside (literally!) when volunteering is the necessity to remain at the viewpoint near the foot of the Cove to meet visitors and help them see the birds and provide information. We decided to have a day up there to enjoy the view from the top and see how the birds were progressing, approximately 400 stone steps provide the necessary elevation and a bit of careful footwork gets you across the limestone pavement and as near the edge as you deem sensible!

Adult peregrine having a rest

and two of the three youngsters appearing by the nest cave

Great to see how things have progressed since I was last there. Down near the foot of the Cove house martins are gathering mud to re-inforce their nests

A short walk by the canal near home and I found a swallow perched on a bridge

Swans are such elegant birds, something they struggle to maintain when coming in to land on the water!

I also spotted a male blackcap in some waterside foliage

I had a midweek trip to Rodley Nature Reserve to catch up on how things were progressing there, my first sighting was a little grebe.

A heron flew by

Plenty of reed buntings here, this is a male

The habitat also attracts reed warblers

and willow warblers, this is a juvenile.

Near a wooded area a little owl was enjoying the sunshine

A wren was exploring an old tree stump

Male and female bullfinch respectively on a feeding table

and in the trees a great spotted woodpecker

and a chiffchaff...what a lovely day for sightings

Back home my pond is coming along....

A trip to an area of moorland after a tip about a special bird, more of that later but for now one of our usual first sightings on the moors, a meadow pipit

Peeping red grouse


and stonechat male and female respectively

Meadow pipit in flight

...and now the special birds...ring ouzels are very secretive and very selective about where they will nest and breed. Rocky gullies generally at a reasonable altitude are their favourites, a message from a good mate disclosed a good chance of seeing them here and we settled in a comfortable but hidden spot and waited...

This is the male, they are part of the blackbirds family group and similarly sized but with the distinctive white throat.

The female...

They were quite obviously taking food back to a nest so we did not stay long and we withdrew quietly so as not to risk disturbance.

One sunny day I am by the river Wharfe and looking for dippers, that was easy!

 In the woods juvenile redstarts were visible

Common sandpiper by the river

Volunteering at Malham and between visitors I grab a few photographs as the adults fly around...

A juvenile nuthatch

I was given a location for long eared owls, no great expectation of seeing them on my first visit and so it turned out, time spent at new locations is always good though and I know the layout of the land now. Taking sunset shots with my long lens was great fun....

Another moorland walk, another meadow pipit

...and another red grouse!

This was on a route I have done many many times and often thought it was perfect short eared owl habitat, well today it was!

I found a buzzard being harassed by a black headed gull

...and a kestrel

Some splendid outings and some great information from my birding mates, we have a fairly well trusted group of local people who share carefully, great for me as my knowledge of wildlife grows.

Many thanks to all who read and don't forget if you do comment that they come to me first for moderation.

Footnote....the three peregrine chicks are all now flying and looking well, great news