Sunday, 5 June 2016

Rivers, woods and moorland - my favourite habitats

I tend to have a routine at this time of the year, checks on on early nesting birds like dippers to see the delightful youngsters, the woodland migrants like pied flycatchers before the foliage becomes too heavy to see them and the moors just because that habitat was the beginning and will be a constant in my love of wildlife.

There are several options for all these and Rombalds Moor, of which Ilkley Moor is a component, proved reliable again for a female wheatear...

The river Wharfe is the best I know for dippers and I had great fun watching an adult trying to tempt a youngster to eat a fish. Whether the size was putting the young one off I don't know but it steadfastly refused to take it!

Caddis flies were eagerly accepted though!

A short walk further down river takes me into the woods and a shelter where visitors scatter seed to attract birds. The seeds also attract voles and mice which appear from gaps in the walls, first what I think is a short tailed vole then the big eyes and ears of a wood mouse.

Pied flycatchers migrate between here and Africa each year, nesting and breeding here before leaving in Autumn. The fact that they return to the same nest site each year is not only amazing but makes you wonder at the instincts that guides birds like these, part of my love of nature is the way they are influenced by factors we do not fully comprehend.

My RSPB duties at Malham have resumed, shots of the peregrines from the watchpoint are difficult and usually long range!

More on these beauties later!!!

While on duty at Malham I spotted a bird rarely seen nowadays. People often say they have seen yellow wagtails when what they have seen is the grey which does have a lot of yellow, I had to double check myself when I spotted this!

Not a great angle but a notable sighting.

The call of a cuckoo is a sign of spring, a message from a friend of one appearing really close is a sign of me throwing gear into the car and driving as soon as I can to the location! A male and apparently one keen to have his photograph taken, a remarkable experience.

At peregrine watch I get breaks and I usually look round the base of the Cove to see what is around, I got really lucky with a wren....

A walk on the moors to our secret ring ouzel site paid dividends with a good sighting of the male...

I spent a couple of hours just enjoying the warmth of the sun by the river Wharfe but had to appreciate the beauty of a kingfisher landing nearby with a catch to take back to the nest...

And finally the peregrines...two chicks this year. We went up as visitors so we could get up on the top and try to get some closer shots...super afternoon, my favourite birds so the emotional tie is strong and so good to see more young birds being raised successfully...

I am often asked why I like the predatory birds so much...having given the matter some thought I can only conclude that their care and love for their youngsters is exemplary, I have witnessed extreme tenderness and they train and prepare the chicks for the hard life they will face. The territory they rule is guarded fiercely and as the world's fastest animal when you see a hint of the speed they can get to, I just love them!

Cheers to all who read the blog, please don't forget if you comment they come to me first for moderation.

Have a great summer everyone!