Thursday, 3 March 2016

Heading towards Spring and some good sightings

Winter has seen few low temperatures, heavy rain has seen many favourite walks abandoned due to the amount of mud to be found. Our garden, like many others has been saturated, but flowers started to gain buds unnaturally early which I find worrying in the long term.

I yearn for cold frost bitten days with walks across frozen moorlands, clad in the right gear cold weather holds no fears for us and we have missed those bright and blue sky days as an all pervading greyness seemed to be the norm.

We had a wander down a local hard surfaced lane near the canal, a splendid mistle thrush was worm hunting in the fields

My improving identification skills of birds in flight enabled me to spot a great spotted woodpecker flying in, a usual clear photographs were elusive!

A call up on the moor to see if any owls were showing....

The short eared owls certainly have been!

With the site being only 15 minutes drive from home I have been able to visit regularly and get some close shots and gain some education in their habits.

They do seem fascinated by the occasional appearance of the sun!

Regular visits to my local raptor watchpoint have been so educational for my bird of prey skills, the camera is never far away even though most sightings are gained through binoculars or telescope. This paid off one day as a female hen harrier glided into view, approximately 200 metres away so very pleased to get a decent focus on this rare bird.

More short eared owls...

Their concentration is fantastic, the flight is graceful and they are a complete delight to watch and photograph.

The chance of a dry riverside walk over in Wharfedale occurred, a tricky place with the light for photography as it is a steep sided valley with a lot of trees. Lots of settings changes but a few successful shots...

A wall sitting buzzard...

And then into the woods where nuthatches are numerous...

Down by the river a dipper was spotted....

and a kingfisher with some fair sized strands of climbing rope washed downriver in the floods

Another day at owl watch and other birds of prey show well.... red kite


And then the delight of a barn owl, such a special bird. The times I have spent cold, imageless, but never ever dispirited are the times I think of when things work out well, nature rewards those who work hard.

Not great shots but....

The following day I got lucky or rewarded for my patience at this site, taking a break and using a stile to pour a brew from my flask I glanced round to see a short eared owl land on a post not far away. Lesson - never engage in eye contact with a bird, they see it as a challenge, you are much bigger, they fly off! Also do not keep the camera continually pointed at them, that is a big, big eye! I kept looking away while moving gradually closer....

Standing stock still I was rewarded with a take off sequence...

And all this from a standing start!

Couple of days later, nice light. Maybe a couple of hours I will remember forever. Patience, persistence, good company on cold grey days, the sun came out and me and a few good mates were treated to these wonderful views.

After the short eared owl, the bonus of a barn owl in decent light, completely beautiful...

It would be remiss of me to leave the moors without a couple of the iconic birds, Mrs and Mr red grouse, super characters and the ones that provoke a lot of controversy, the moors should not be managed for their wellbeing alone, let alone those who shoot them. The habitat will support a wide range of wildlife if it is left wild, and left undrained it holds water and helps prevent flooding.

So that's it for this blog, patience rewarded, knowledge enlarged, and always learning. The big skill I have is  patience, once I know something is in an area I will visit and wait for long periods with little or no sightings, that is the way of the birder in me, the photography is secondary but oh what a bonus to see the the shots when I get home!

Many thanks to all who view, please do not forget if you do comment they come to me first for moderation!  Hope we all get some nice dry Spring weather!

The view on a snowy day....

There are worse places!!! I love these moors more than words can describe, the scenery and wildlife are just amazing.


  1. Loved reading this Dave & those sequence shots of the owl taking off are fabulous. :)

  2. Wow, those owl photos are outstanding, and thanks for your tips about taking photos of birds. This blog was totally fascinating . .keep them coming !

  3. Wow, those owl photos are outstanding. Thanks for your tips on bird photo taking too. Keep the blogs coming, once again this one was a treat

  4. Dave, some fantastic shots of some beautiful birds!