Thursday, 27 June 2013

19-26th June 2013, Making the most of the weather

With a poor weather forecast for the weekend, I decided to get out for a couple of hours on Wednesday evening while the sun was shining, almost like a diner expecting the main course to be a let down...make the most of the starter!

I headed up to Silsden Moor, a jackdaw with its bright green eye featured along the way..

Part of the route was an old Roman Road, the going is easy...moving off path through felled trees and very uneven ground liberally scattered with brambles needs care but the reward of the cotton grass is worthwhile..

Settling in as comfortable a place as I could manage I scanned round with the binoculars, I could hear plenty of birdsong...and then a dog like bark, repeatedly..a lovely roe deer buck appeared.

One opportunity for a photograph and he bounded away still barking, a grand sight,

One of the invisible chorus revealed itself, a lovely redpoll perched on a treetop.

I explored further, taking care not to snag myself too often..nor to sink into any of the various streams which burble invisibly beneath the feet!

The warm sunshine made up for the lack of photograhic opportunities and time passed easily, gaining the track again a rarely seen animal made be concentrate, a gorgeous hare...

It seemed not to notice me at first, when it did it moved pretty swiftly away and I followed carefully.

Creeping through the long grass I was lucky to get another shot..

A cracking end to a super short walk.

The poor forecast for the weekend duly obliged, we had plans slightly differing from our usual wildlife excursions.

On Saturday our daughter, her partner and our eldest grand-daughter, aged 10, were due to tackle the Yorkshire Three Peaks walk on a planned school trip.

The ascent of Pen y ghent (694m) Whernside (736) and finally Ingleborough (723m) 23.5 miles and over 1600metres of ascent and descent in under twelve hours is the challenge. They had prepared thoroughly with some walks of increasing difficulty and distance, could they succeed.

We drove up there in early afternoon, the weather had looked dire on the forecast, although Pen y ghent was clear as we passed. Having done the walk several times myself I had a rough idea where we may catch a glimpse of them if all was going well. Descending Whernside, pictured below, there is a road section where cars may be parked.

We met the school support team who advised us they were going well and had passed Ribblehead Viaduct at a good speed, the weather was clearing and things were looking good!

Pretty soon they appeared, all walking well, some pretty desperate levels of rain and wind had been encountered, after a reviving cup of tea and some changed socks off they went Ingleborough bound.

I was dropped off at Horton in Ribblesdale while Mrs Wildlife and our youngest grand-daughter ferried a young lad who had to drop out back to Silsden. A short riverbank walk to pass the time and then I esconced myself in the beer garden of a pub which overlooks the finishing stretch.

In due course they appeared and I somewhat proudly accompanied them to the finish, a magnificent time of 9 hours 50 minutes!! The hillwalking baton has been passed :-))

More poor weather on Sunday, it was late in the afternoon when we managed a very short canalbank walk, a lovely cygnet came very close..

I like to capture quirky shots, especially of things I often see...the large feet of a moorhen come in handy when it has a hard to reach itch!

Regular walks on this stretch of canal allow us to see the changes, sometimes not noticeable to the casual visitor, the way the foliage changes, bird behaviour and other seasonal changes.

Flocks of long tailed tits flittered to and fro, extremely difficult to capture on camera but I don't give up easily and managed a decent photograph.

The mallard chicks get so used to people they approach amazingly near with no fear whatsoever..

And so to the return of a favourite...towards the end of last year I was rewarded for my time spent searching on here by some fantastic kingfisher soon as the winter temperatures freeze the water though they disappear, probably to the nearby river where foliage and the width make sightings and photographs much more difficult.

Our walk on Sunday had yielded a brief sighting so some optimism was felt as we perused the canalside trees...success!

Not the greatest shots as it stubbornly refused to come out of the shadows, but at least I know they are back.

Swallows perched on tree twiglets in the evening sun..

All in all a lovely evening!

I returned the following night, poor light was not helpful and I only had one sighting of a kingfisher and that was in flight.

I did get some heron sightings, not all of them palatable if you are not used to ways that wildlife predates on the weakest in order to survive. It was hunting in the reeds and making occasional forays to successfully seize tiny ducklings, one of the many reasons why a brood of maybe twelve quickly is reduced to two or three.

Worry not, I chose not to photograph those activities, choosing to get shots of the more usual poses.

I found a pied wagtail with fledgling in close attendance..

And finally the heron again, for the technically minded this was taken in very low light, a shutter speed of 1/7th of a second so not sharp, fortunately the heron stayed still and allowed a lovely effect on the water,

All in all a pretty good week, despite the weather!

Thanks to all who read, much appreciated and don't forget comments come to me for moderation first.

Monday, 17 June 2013

15-16th June 2013, A couple of local walks

Gradually catching up on developments near home after a most enjoyable couple of weeks in Scotland. I have a much favoured site near Skipton, from warblers to raptors the potential is magnificent and I have often been rewarded for the time spent here. Conveniently it fitted in with shopping plans too and in late morning I was dropped off at a convenient spot, in the few weeks since my last visit things have grown at a surprising rate! Waist high grass, sodden wet from recent showers, giant nettles and thistles...and worst of all hordes of voracious midges...I could hear birdsong all around me...and I could see precisely nothing.

Battling my frustration I resorted to other things..the inside of a buttercup

And I managed to find a small tortoiseshell butterfly...

I lasted a little over an hour before the sheer discomfort of the midges defeated me, a walk back to Silsden via the canal towpath beckoned so time for best foot forward....after a short interlude while I compared my feet to find the best one I wandered homewards...

A lovely blackbird perched happily for me..

No it isn't one legged!! Many birds seem to use a single leg for standing like this, reason unknown to me anyway.

At this time of year there are many young birds to be seen on the canal, it was hardly a surprise to find a mallard with chicks..

The sun was out and the scenery pleasant..

Some canada geese with youngsters came near enough for me to try a real close up shot...

Trying to capture swallows in flight is rather more difficult, this was the best I managed..

A swan with cygnets passed by...

The walking is obviously fairly level, there not even any locks on this stretch I maintained a good speed with an occasional stop for a drink from my thermos. Occasional heavy showers meant the waterproofs were kept in easy reach but as the afternoon wore on the weather became more settled and the sunny spells lasted longer, much appreciated!

This little duckling was speeding around like a clockwork toy!

Silsden was reached safely and post walk re-hydration undertaken!
The weather forecast for Sunday was for a dull outlook, signs were that there could be some improvement in mid to late afternoon.
We set off for a short walk on Barden Moor...the home of unanswerable questions regarding walking with dogs...a sign in the car park we use says clearly NO DOGS! but fifty yards away on the bridleway from Halton Heights to Rylstone..

This is the only path on the moor where dogs are allowed, the other paths are "permissive" and the estate can set their own rules, however distasteful most people find them.
The forcasted improvement was slow to develop and it was still rather grey as I took a shot over the lower reservoir towards Simons Seat..
Meadow pipits are one of the main victims of the cuckoo con trick but their numbers are such that they can absorb the losses..lovely birds..
We passed the upper reservoir before taking another path eastwards..
Greylag geese form a protective shield around their youngsters..
I found a lovely common sandpiper in full song on a wall..
And a curlew in mid call too...
Another meadow pipit, this one preparing to dine..
A small white butterfly..
Reaching the edge of the moor we could hear stonechats, the adults were too active to capture on camera but a lovely youngster posed..
Some lovely freshly developed cotton grass completed the sightings for the day..
Not the greatest of wildlife sighting weekends but time spent outdoors is always welcome....
Please remember if you do wish to add a comment that they come to me for approval first, and thanks to all readers, much appreciated :-))

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

8-10th June 2013, Wharfedale and Malham

Having spent the last weekend catching up on family commitments and the jobs that need doing after a two week holiday I was looking forward to a good wildlife watching couple of days.

A very early start on Saturday saw me on the banks of the river Wharfe well before 7.00am, early enough to catch the goosander chicks still enjoying a snooze:-)

The bluebells were displaying well, a green veined butterfly was adorning one...

After a few weeks without a visit I wasn't sure what stage the nesting birds would have reached, this pair of pied flycatchers were quite obviously feeding youngsters as they worked busily too and fro from the box....male and female respectively..

I was watching unobserved by the birds from the cover of a bush, if you get too close they will not enter the box and the youngsters go hungry. Regrettably I had to rebuke a couple who seemed to want their lens almost into the box...

Judging by the sounds from the now leafy treetops the redstarts have fledged and I caught only an occasional glimpse of their beauiful colours.

Moving on down river I found a lovely and elegant common sandpiper..

The sun shone occasionally down through the trees producing this lovely colour effect around a cute duckling..

It is always a treat to see a grey heron..

I was now on the lookout for dippers and I found some, not difficult here really, but I had a problem the sun was now blazing down and I was looking straight into it! Despite trying several adjustments on the camera and taking a lot of shots there were none of a suitable quality.

Returning to the woods I spotted another green veined white...

A splendidly coloured chaffinch adopted a lovely stance..

A female pied flycatcher was observed taking a break from feeding duties..

A grey wagtail danced and fluttered on the riverside rocks..

A final look at the gorgeous bluebells..

And finally for the day some spectactular fungi...

Another half day of catch up jobs on Sunday, the forecast was for a dull afternoon and we didn't plan anything other than a local wander. As often happens the weather forecast was wrong and by late morning the sun was breaking through, a quick decision to visit Malham to check on the progress of the peregrine falcons, news that the young chicks were beginning to fly was exciting!

The view of the amphitheatre like Malham Cove.

After a chat with the RSPB team and some views of at least one young bird whizzing around and landing in various places we took the steps to the top. Regular visits teach you where the birds are likely to perch and we found one straight away..

A short search through the binocs and another was located..

Sometimes take off occurs and you just do not have chance to set the camera at a suitable speed..

I managed to move a little closer to the remaining falcon...

Wonderful, and warm sunshine too!!

We wandered back down to the base just in time to see a great spotted woodpecker nearby...

A grand afternoon indeed...

On Monday I spent the afternoon at my local raptor watch and saw several splendid species through binoculars and telescope. The camera sees little use there but I keep it close by just in case...I did spot this small copper butterfly..

And I witnessed a grouse seeing a couple of its youngsters across a moorland track..

It is hard to believe how much growth there has been in both animals and vegetation since we set off for Scotland, the beauty of Spring:-))