Monday, 6 January 2020

Swillington Ings

I'd seen lots of photos the Short-eared Owls at St Aidan's over the Christmas holidays but the first time I could go was this past Saturday. Unfortunately they decided not to play and despite freezing ourselves to the bone for some time we decided to give up and go warm up!

Beforehand though we took a walk around some of the reserve, it was a little windy but quite sunny.




We saw plenty of birds though and made a nice start to my year list, Shovelers, Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, calling Curlew, lots of Kestrel action and a whole load of noisy Greylag and Canada Geese.

Shoveler


Mute Swan


Tufted Duck


Kestrel


We also saw Rabbits and Hares on the hillside and Stock Doves on the dragline. 


Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Patchwork Challenge

The annual look back at this years patch birding and the Patchwork Challenge. As it stands at the minute i'm on 54 birds for the year, which gives me 56 points and a place of 49th out of 58 in the Inland North league. Last year I had 53 species so one up there.

Now I have to admit the latter part of the year has not been great for me getting out around the patch. With several work issues causing a great deal of stress plus getting ill and not being able to shake it for weeks, i've just been too exhausted and lacking in enthusiasm for much of anything by the time the weekend rolls around. In fact my yearly birding total is the lowest it's been in years as i've not been out much of anywhere really.

I didn't give up on my 45 minute walk to work each day, this covers a fair bit of the patch and was much needed prior to being stuck in an office for several hours. This walk means I get to see how the patch alters over the months and how the birds come and go. Its's when I see most of my flyover birds too - Lapwing, Heron, Cormorant, Red Kite. Buzzard.

Some of the highlights from the year, Skylarks singing over the Pit Hills and being able to hear them from work too, seeing Geese in the farm field for the first time, ducklings in the woods.

It's been a good year for young birds, with a family of Blackcaps in the woods being another highlight. The garden was full of fledglings even a young Coal Tit, which was a garden first, Starlings and Sparrows had a bumper year with the young greatly outnumbering the adults, it's the most i've counted since moving in over ten years ago.

House Sparrow


Blackcap


Starling


As well as the birds we've had a very good Hedgehog year, with an awful lot of noisy mating behaviour from the adults followed by two (possibly more) young around the garden. We've regularly had bats - Pipistrelle - flying over the garden, sometimes so low they are pretty much eye level as the serve all over, it's like watching a dance. We have Wood Mice, one visits the window feeder daily at the moment, after a long absence we have seen Foxes in the garden again this last month and heard them plenty too. In fact we have even inadvertently found the entrance to their den, which was discovered when we thought they had gone for good so I was ecstatic to see it looked freshly used.

Butterflies and Moths have been out in abundance, in fact I don't think we've ever had so many moths, they loved the Budleia flowers and hoards of them appeared every night. Mason Bees started building nests in the old holes in the wall so we put up a Bee hotel and they filled in another 8 holes, i'm looking forward to seeing them hatch in the spring.

So all in all despite the latter part of the year it's been good all round for the wildlife on my little patch!

I have been out a few days over the Christmas holiday poking about the town centre hoping for Waxwings, so far i've been out of luck but there has been an influx of Redwings around Morrisons and Scatcherd Park. One day I counted around 40, there are plenty of Mistle Thrush too and the odd Song Thrush.


Spot the Redwing! 





My husband has built me a new bench so when the weather gets better i'll be out with my cuppa and camera! (The Magpies have kindly decorated it with moss from the gutters!)


Things have got better at work now (meaning my mood has also ha!) so hopefully this year will be a big improvement and i'll be back to patrolling round the patch on a more regular basis!

Happy New Year to you all!

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Yeadon Dam

Out and about visiting friends and family today we were able to stop off for a walk around the dam this morning. The weather was all over the place, dull, bit of sun then back to very dull but not too cold.





The usual Geese, Swans and Mallards were at the jetty, a few Tufted Ducks among them and a Greylag too. There were Black-headed Gulls all over the dam and I picked out one Common Gull at the far end. We picked up some duck food at the boat club, they sell bags for a £1 when the club is running and by the time we got back to the jetty a Cormorant had joined the throng and was happily fishing as we fed the birds.

Canada Geese (like pair of guards on sentry duty!)



Black-headed Gull


Tufted Duck


Feeding Frenzy


Pale Mallard, quite beautiful I thought


Black-headed Gull


Cormorant


Greylag Goose


Mute Swan


Headless Canada Gees


Cormorant


Robin picking up the leftover duck food


Half way round and a Shoveler was........shoveling! Also three Goosanders - two female and a male were mixing the Mallards.

Shoveler


Goosander



As we went back to the car a Red Kite flew over and a pair of Greenfinch were chasing around the trees. A nice little escape from the Christmas prep!

Black-headed Gull


Farmyard Ducks


Dunnock


Crow


Blackbird



Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Churwell Urban Woodlands

I've managed a few walks in the woods before work recently, mostly it's been pretty dull or barely daylight as i'm there just after 8 and have to be going to work by ten to nine.

No mind though as it only means it's usually too dark for photographs I can still see and hear the birds. Robins have been in full song especially this week.The feeders that have been set up are constantly busy and i've watched Chaffinch, Blue, Great Tits, Dunnocks, Blackbirds, Doves, Robins and acrobatic Squirrels who so far are defying the 'Squirrel proof' feeders! One morning a flock of Redwings flew over and there have been large flocks of Gulls and Crows overhead too.

There have been a couple of lovely frosty mornings.






I'm not sure if anything will be planted over the archway recently added to the bridge.





The vegetation in this spot is dying right back now, it's a popular spot for Blackbird, Dunnocks and Robins



Fungus has been coming and going all along the paths and on one of the handrails (which I very nearly put my hand on)






These are a few photos from my phone





There have been sightings of ducks and Grey Wagtails along the ponds/streams again but my hoped for sighting of a Kingfisher is quite unlikely to happen this year now!