Saturday, 30 April 2016

What season is it again?

This week has managed to fit in all the seasons in one go! I've been caught in several snow/sleet/hail storms and i'm pretty much done with it all now. A little more sunshine please.

It's not put a damper (see what I did there!) on the birds, the garden has been buzzing with Blackbirds, Starlings, Magpies, Blue Tits, Sparrows, Robins, Dunnock, Woodpigeons and Collared Doves.

I've seen my first young Robin of the year near work and also had a Mistle Thrush chasing a Woodpigeon practically around my head, there was a brief moment when I ducked but i'm sure they weren't as close as I thought!

Another week or so and the Swifts should be back over the house, I look forward to hearing their screaming.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Adel Dam & Golden Acre

Saturday saw mini me and myself heading for Golden Acre with plans for a leisurely walk around the Dam and Breary Marsh as we had plenty of time and the weather, for most of the day, looked fine.

We made good time and were there early enough there wasn't too many people about. Right away by the car park we had a Robin singing at us, the whole place was just full of them, we saw Robins at every turn all day long. Beautiful birds so this isn't a complaint!

On the lake were the usual Mallards, Canada Geese, Tufted Ducks, a few farmyard type ducks and a pair of Mandarin. I caught a Swan flying across.

We went through to the Dam, which as always was pretty much people free, we saw I think 4 or 5 people the whole time we were in there. Part of me is pleased as it's lovely to have the place to ourselves but then I think what people are missing. 

Straight away a pair of really noisy Jays were flying about in the tops of the trees, we saw at least two possibly three pairs as we walked around. Unfortunately they didn't settle for long and instead played peekaboo when it came to the camera!

We sat a while in the marsh hide, which had half a dozen squirrels running about, the usual Blue/Great/Long Tailed Tits, Chaffinch, Robin, Mallard and Moorhen. Just about to leave when a Nuthatch flew in.

The woods were full of more Nuthatch, Tits, Blackbirds and Pheasants. Hopping up the steps to the lake hide was a Song Thrush, beautiful!

The lake itself was pretty quiet, a few Moorhen, Mallard and Woodpigeon along the edge.

We spent a bit of time exploring the woods and along the path parallel with the field were more Jays and the best part of the morning a Great Spotted Woodpecker putting on a show on some felled trees. It was a joy to watch and we spent a good twenty minutes doing so.

There was some lovely splashes of colour around the reserve.

Back into Goldenacre, which is now quite busy, I heard something singing away, a Blackcap, first of the year. Unfortunately is was scared off by the throngs before I could get a good photo. 

Surprising to see a Stock Dove in the trees, not something that you see very often, or I don't at least!

A quick lunch in the cafe conservatory saw us watching Red Kites flying overhead, always a great bird to see. A rabbit was hidden away not far from the cafe too, we saw a couple through the day. 

On to Breary Marsh with Chiffchaffs all through the woods, we'd heard several around the reserve but they'd stayed pretty much out of sight. On the pond were a pair of Canada Geese, Tufted Ducks, Mallard and Moorhens with 3 Sand Martins flying over the water. 

We were travelling on public transport which has the odd perk, in this case deer spotting! We've seen deer before in the grounds of the water treatment works in Far Headingley, which due to the buildings, walls etc around it you can only really see into it from the top deck of a bus, good for us as we saw a deer on the far side near the trees, excellent. A great end to our day (and a handy little tip if you ever happen to be heading that way on a double decker)!

Sunday, 17 April 2016

In the Garden

Saturday saw a pair of Siskins in the garden, they didn't stop long, just enough time for me to grab the camera. I checked back and it's the first time i've seen them in the garden since 2011!

Some of the other birds round and about the garden at the moment. 

Plus I heard the first Chiffchaff in the garden this morning, couldn't spot it but the song is lovely enough.

Monday, 11 April 2016

In the Garden

The garden hasn't been a hotbed of activity recently, the two Blue Tits and a Robin are still a constant on the feeder. There are around a dozen or so House Sparrows that seem to have taken up residence in the trees at the top of the garden and we're getting a lot in the garden at the front too, they love the birdbath and spend a fair bit of time in the hedge and in the the buddleia that's right outside the window.

I had to defrost the birdbath Sunday morning 

They are picking up nesting materials as they usually do, the front garden seems to be a favourite for that every year, I think though they nest in the trees at the end of our little row of houses.There looks to be a pair of Woodpigeon settling into to one of the trees there too.

I did hear a Chiffchaff a little further down the road on Saturday but none in the garden so far, it's good to know they are around though.

This is the tree that comes over from the neigbours garden, it's right by our feeder and the birds use it regularly to hop across. It's in gorgeous full flower at the moment, i'm not sure what it is but the Blue Tits love it and spend a long time picking at it.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Fairburn Ings

I had planned all week for a Saturday morning visit to Fairburn, then it forecast rain.........but I didn't let a downpour put me off! Prepared for the rain I dragged the family out anyway and we were all glad I had (well I think they were glad!).

This was the view from the car on the way there, it didn't improve any. There was a brief stop to get a photo of one of the many Red Legged Partridges in the fields. It's not a bird I see very often.

At the reserve apart from the people in the visitor centre it was just us and one other guy for a little while, the rain must have put everyone else off. It meant that we were able to spend a fair bit of time at the Pickup Hide dodging the rain. It was quiet at first, the feeders off to the side visited by Pheasants, Mallards, Great Tits and a Robin. On the water were a couple of Canada Geese, Coots, Tufted Ducks and a few Cormorants and Herons flying about.

The longer we sat there the busier it got, Reed Buntings, Tree Sparrows, Wren, Long Tailed Tits, Dunnocks, Chaffinch, Blue Tits, Blackbirds. There were Shovelers, Teal and Pochard out on the water now.

A ladybird was hiding out by one of the windows, I think the first one i've seen this year.

The screen feeding station further along the path had been washed away in the floods and is being rebuilt. We heard a Chiffchaff by the Kingfisher screen, the first of many today. No Kingfishers for my today, but my daughter spotted one as she got to the screen before us and bird was flying off out of sight.

Down in the Big Hole a couple of Oystercatchers caught our eye.  We decided to check out the Coal Tips trail, somehow it's something we've never done before. There were Reed Buntings everywhere we walked today, a Pied Wagtail bobbed on the trail in front of us and a couple of Skylark flew up too. There were a couple of Sand Martins overhead.

We spent quite a while watching the trees down toward the moat, picking out the nesting Herons and the numerous Cormorants. A Kestrel sat in one of the trees and there were more Chiffchaffs about and a lone Jay. As we watched behind us came the booming of a Bittern, i'd forgotten one of the staff had mentioned about a Bittern when we first came in, we only heard it a couple of times and of course no chance of sighting it amongst the many reeds. Still it's a great sound to hear.

This was the only fungi I recall seeing today.

Then an exciting moment for me with my first ever sightings of not one but two Green Woodpeckers flying across the banking as you look down towards Lin Dike, they landed in some trees for a few minutes, long enough for us to see they were a male and female. Too far for my camera to get any kind of decent shot though. I don't know how i've managed to miss these birds over the years!

We had to watch our step everywhere, the rain had brought out the worms!

The rain still hadn't let up and we made a pit stop at the visitor centre for a cuppa to warm us up and to try and dry out a little (which was a pointless effort).

A brief walk down to the feeding platform had Tufted Ducks, Black Headed Gulls and Mallards. A bee was flying above our heads. The Avocets are back but over the other end of the lake so we missed those for now.

Lin Dike was next, yet more Chiffchaffs were singing along the path. We sat a while in the hide, chatting to a nice chap about what we'd seen. A Little Egret flew in as we sat there, such elegant birds!

Finally the rain had just about stopped so we walked on a little further towards Hicksons Flash, seeing a couple of Swallows overhead and curlews in amongst the cattle, both mentioned by the chap in the hide so were were looking out.

This Water Cricket was skating around a puddle on the path (thanks to Birdforum for help on the id with that).

All in all we had a great day despite the rain, if you go prepared for it, it's not so bad and for the most part the birds don't care about it!