Thursday, 25 May 2017

Rodley Nature Reserve

Sunday morning saw us at Rodley just after it opened. It was a decent morning again and no rain forecast today.

There were lots of geese - Greylag and Canada - in the field by the car park. In a tree nearby a Greenfinch, first one i've seen in a while.

We sat in the Lagoon hide for a while and watched the Moorhen feed the chicks on the raft. We also saw Common Tern, Great Crested and Little Grebes, Coot, a couple of sleeping Oystercatchers and flitting about in the trees in front were several lbjs which I thought were Reed Warblers. The Sand Martins are making use of the bank here.

We did see Reed Warblers from the Duck Marsh hide, a pair of them hanging the reeds. A Greylag Goose family were on the grass, the parents keeping the goslings quite well hidden.

Along the willow path a bank vole was in the usual spot, hiding behind a little bit of grass.

As we sat down in the Reedbed hide a Jay flew across into the trees by the river, we always seem to see one in the same spot every time we visit. The Lapwings were very defensive and chasing off Crows and Jackdaws if they landed anywhere near.

We saw a fair few insects and butterflies around the reserve including a beautiful moth, a Carpet Moth I think?

The ponds were full of tadpoles and a patch on the river walk was full of snail shells.

Making use of the lovely visitors centre we stopped for a coffee and watched the birds on the feeders around it - Bullfinch, Dunnock, Reed Bunting, Blue Tits...

Up at the managers garden is was a little quiet, a few Blackirds, Dunnock, Reed Bunting and Jackdaws. Then a movement off to the side, the Little Owl! It landed on a branch at the back for a few moments and then was off. We got talking to the chap sat there so ended up staying a while and the Owl came back, landing on the same branch. Fantastic!

We made a bit of a mistake on the way out - we went for another look out of the Lagoon hide and saw a bit of a horrible nature moment! One of the Moorhen chicks had fallen off the raft, it kept trying to climb up the chain at the side without success of course. A Coot spotted it and unfortunately went for it, one of the adult Moorhens attacked the Coot but it was too late for the chick and we thought the adult took a bit of an injury to it's wing too but I think it was ok.

We should have ended the day with the Little Owl and skipped the hide I think!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

St Aidan's

Our 2nd reserve of the weekend, just as we left Fairburn it started to rain, I was expecting rain and came prepared so we parked up, covered up and set off! I actually haven't been here since the visitor centre was open last time so we picked up a map as I remember it being big!

Also I forgot how open it all is - not so great with the wind and rain. Still we saw a Common Tern fly by and several Skylark along the fence right from the off. The further we walked the nosier it became, Gulls where everywhere!

If we thought we'd had close encounters with Swifts at Fairburn that was nothing compared to here, Sand Martins, Swifts and Swallows in large numbers everywhere you looked. The rain had brought out an immense amount of flies and the birds were loving it (me not so much when I inadvertently caught the odd one, talking and swarms of flies don't mix!). I have never seen them in such numbers before and they were amazing to watch.

The rain did not make for good photos and it was difficult to see at some points even with the binoculars but we persevered and the rain did let up a few times and the sun dried us up before we got soaked again.

On the water we saw Geese, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Gadwall, BH Gulls, Swans to name a few.

In the reeds we saw Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler and heard more Sedge Warblers. A pair of Linnet landed in a gorse bush nearby. Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff sang in the trees and a Jay flew by.

As we headed back to the car park I heard another Sedge Warbler, this time in a small tree by the path, best views i've ever had of one and it was singing pretty much the whole time. Lovely end to the walk.

We spent about 3 hours here and it would have been longer had the weather been better, there is a lot to see and a large area to cover. Well worth a trip, I don't know why we haven't been more often!

Monday, 22 May 2017

Fairburn Ings

Fairburn was the first of three reserves we visited over the weekend arriving about 9 o clock on Saturday morning. It was warm and sunny and just about perfect weather to walk around in.

From the pickup hide we watched Herons squabbling, Cormorants and Egrets fly over and a Common Tern was fishing. I noticed there were no Sand Martins at the bank, I guess they haven't taken up residence there this year?

A Blackcap was singing in the trees and we heard Chiffchaff, a Robin and Chaffinch too. On the dipping pond a Coot family came over, soon losing interest when they realised we had nothing for them.

I was hoping for a Cuckoo today and we headed up to the Coal Tips. Before we even got there we could hear one, it was just in the trees off to the left as the riverbank trail starts. I couldn't get a clear enough view for a decent photo as it was perched high on a tree behind several others!

It was the only one we heard all morning.

On to the tops and it was a little breezy but still nice. We saw quite a few Reed Buntings, Tufted Ducks, Coots, Crows and Jackdaws. A Weasel ran across the path in front of us a one point and I almost stepped on a toad too, my daughter just stopping me in time!

Down towards the river a couple of Red Legged Partridges were wondering about. We started to notice a lot of Swifts at this point and for the rest of the walk around we had some very close encounters with them buzzing around our heads.

I could hear Sedge Warblers in the reeds as we walked around, I didn't manage to spot any though. Down towards the moat we could see lots of Cormorants, Geese and Herons. A Willow Warbler sat singing on the top of a tree on the embankment. A little further along and a Skylark was up in the air.

We spotted a lot of Cardinal Beetles and Ladybirds. I saw my first Brimstone (which didn't stop for a photo!) and Orange-tip butterflies of the year.

I loved these vines

A quick stop for lunch and we were on to St Aidan's...............

Monday, 15 May 2017

Big Day.....or not

I decided to take part in the Ebird Global Big Day on Saturday, although it didn't quite go to plan as my husband was working so no car and having to rely on public transport was not ideal!

Still me and my daughter headed out regardless, the weather was fine, she wasn't moaning about being dragged out early and all was good. I decided on Golden Acre as there's Adel Dam and Breary Marsh alongside it and it isn't difficult to get to on the bus. The added bonus is the bus goes past Leeds uni and the Peregrine Falcons that reside there. I managed to spot one on the tower, a nice tick to add to the slowly growing list.

We counted up the birds around the edge of the lake and then had to pause after a slip which involved a foot ankle deep in the lake (not mine!). Thank goodness i'm prepared for anything, one plastic bag later we were back on track. The Greylag and farmyard geese were quite interested in the goings on, sauntering over to check out (laugh) at the wet foot.


Such a gorgeous colour

This duck was missing a chunk of feather

I spotted a Robin gathering nest materials, a Great Tit and Nutchatch in the trees and could hear my first of several Chiffchaff through the day.

On to Adel Dam and we spent a while sat in the hide watching a steady stream of birds - Jay, M&F GS Woodpecker, Nuthatch,Great & Blue Tit, Jackdaw, Chaffinch, Mallard, Moorhen, a Mandarin flew in and Squirrels and a Rabbit were running around too.

At the lake hide we saw our first ducklings of the day, three families of different sizes. Of to the side another Woodpecker and Jay. I heard a call and a Kingfisher was flying across the lake, it landed briefly on a bush at the back and then disappeared into the trees. I realised it was my first of the year. Overhead a pair of Red Kites flew about. Moving on we watched the Swallows flying amongst the sheep in the field alongside the woods.

These sheep watched us!

A pair of Buzzards flew low above our heads and over the woods. Very nice!

Back in the park we stopped for lunch at the cafe and had to go for dessert as well, keep up the energy with all the walking......

A few Swifts were flying about over the park, another Buzzard too.We spotted Coal Tit and Nuthatch nests.

We used the underpass to go on to Breary Marsh. There were lots of Bluebells here. I got a text at this point from my husband who'd seen a Barn Owl whilst out with work. A little bit of cursing (in my head) at that, it's a bit of a bogie bird for me, I haven't seen one since I was a child and we used to get them near home. Oh well, no owls for me (despite scanning every nook and cranny, wall and field just in case).

Through the woods we heard Chiffchaff, Blackbird, Robin,the odd Woodpigeon. They've tided up the banking by Paul's Pond since we were last here and all the trees/bushes have gone. Our only Tufted Ducks of the day were on the pond, 6 pairs of them. A Mallard had a couple of chicks and there was a lone Swan. 

As we watched the ducklings I had a feeling of being watched and looked around to see a Jackdaw on a dead tree right behind us.

Hearing a constant cheeping by the path we stood a moment to try and spot the bird and this young Robin popped up out of the bushes.

We were both flagging at this point, my back still struggles with walking distances especially when i'm carrying a bag and the 11 yr old was getting in practise for her teen years. Though to be fair I had just told her that we were going to walk up through Churwell woods on the way home, I was on the verge of saying ok we'll just go straight home myself!

Two buses and a rest and we were both up for the walk though. It was a lot warmer here and we took a nice steady walk. The woods were blooming with Hawthorn and Bluebells, Peacock and Speckled Wood were flying around. My daughter spotted a Nuthatch in the trees - a new patch tick!

When I checked my lists we saw 37 species all day. Not the most amazing amount and really not a big day but with the limits we had it could have been worse. Plus it's good spending time with my daughter while she still wants to! 

Next time i'll be a bit more organised and we'll hit the road early, by then my back should much improved too.