Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Judy Woods

My husband drove past these woods a month or so back and we checked them out at the weekend. I'd never heard of them before despite not being too far away. They cover quite a large area but we didn't have time to explore it all, there's more information about them here. They have quite a history and there were a few information plaques dotted around.

As we parked a Chiffchaff was singing by the side of the road. The trees did look deceptively barren when we first went in but on closer inspection there were signs of life everywhere including a few Bluebells starting to appear.

I love these carvings on a fallen tree.

A Mistle Thrush and Blackbird flew across the path in front of us. In a little patch of green a GS Woodpecker flew around the trees along with Blue and Great Tits. In fact there were many Blue Tits in the woods, more than i've seen in any one place for a while. We also saw Song Thrush, Blackcap, Jays, Magpies, Crows, Wrens, Robin, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch and a Kestrel hunting in a field by the bridge.

(Good job the Woodpecker is so bright or you'd never spot it!)

Theme of the day, birds turning their back or flying off just as i'm taking a photo!

There is a path running through the woods, which looks to be well used by horses, luckily there is a walkway/steps running down the side of it making it much easier (and cleaner) to walk down to the bridge.

It'll be nice to come back and see it with the trees looking not so bare although the twists and turns in some of the big old trees are amazing.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Bolton Abbey

Our traditional Easter visit to Bolton Abbey took place on the wettest day of the Easter weekend - great planning there!

I spotted my first Swallow of the year though as we turned onto the estate.

I thought we'd be a little early for some of the stars of the woods there - the Flycatchers, Redstarts and Wood Warblers although a gentleman we spoke to had seen one Pied Flychatcher and a couple of Redstarts. We thought we saw a Redstart but didn't see it for long enough to be sure, no Flycatcher though, it's a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack I think!

Not that it matters it's always a great walk around, even in the rain. Off the bat we spotted a Treecreeper by the river and there were lots of Tits around too. Pied and Grey Wagtails flitted about the rocks up and down the river, we saw plenty up to the Strid. A Mandarin sat on a rock and a Goosander and Cormorant flew past.

Once past there we saw Nuthatch, Song Thrush, heard Chiffchaff and saw a couple of Common Sandpiper. Nearer Barden Bridge we finally saw our first Dippers of the day, followed by a pair of Goosander. On the fields we saw Oystercatchers and Redshank. A few Sand Martins were flying about the banking.

The sun came out a little and it warmed up. The walk up the side of the river to the little hut was positively summer like! Though everything is still very wet.

Spot the birds!

We stopped at the hut for lunch with the birds who were out in abundance, along with a couple of mice who were running around the bricks. A lovely moment when we were joined by a GS Woodpecker that hung around for a while. We ended up sitting there almost an hour just enjoying the view and the birds.

We took a little detour up towards the Valley of Desolation but my back was screaming a little by this point so we ended up turning back before we got there. We did see some black rabbits around the edges of the fields and heard a couple of Chiffchaffs.  Of course the lambs caught our eye, you can't miss them!

I spotted a large bird of prey high up over the hillside, actually two but I only got a decent look at one of them, first thought Buzzard because of the size, then I realised it was not Buzzard like, too much white underneath, the wings were mostly bent, It stayed pretty far away and went behind the hill a couple of times, I snapped few really bad photos, I had an idea what it was but wanted to double check first, managed to tidy up the photos just enough to get confirmation on the bird ID group on Facebook - Osprey!! My first one ever! To say i'm pleased is an understatement!

What a great end to our walk!!

That and my 11yr old constantly talking about how amazing it was that she got such close views of the Woodpecker made my day!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Consall Nature Park

I had the chance to venture a little further afield at the weekend as my stepson needed picking up from university in Newcastle under Lyme. I had a look online for somewhere nearby that didn't need too much of a detour and wasn't too huge as we'd only have a couple of hours. I found Consall Nature Park, which had different trails of various lengths and seemed ideal.

It was a little quiet when we got there just after 9.30, there is quite a lot of parking and although the shop isn't open till the afternoon the toilets are! A couple of members of Staffs Council were there and one was having to tidy up a pile of rubbish that someone had dumped out of their car. I don't understand the mentality of that?! It's a beautiful place, full of birdsong from the minute we got out of the car..........and also the squawking of Pheasants, not quite as beautiful but certainly distinctive! A few ducks were waddling around the car park and there is a pond by the wood.

Straight off we spotted Treecreepers flitting between the trees, normally we struggle to see one but here were two and a bit further on we saw another three.

The woods were full of Lesser Celandine and Wood Anemones, looking lovely in the sun.....which brought out my first Peacock butterfly of the year along with a Comma. A day flying moth - Orange Underwing - settled on the path in front of us. 

In the tops of the trees something large and brown flew quickly out of sight - a Buzzard! There were two of them sailing over the trees for some time. Then near the end of our walk one flew very low over us, amazing to see and the closest views i've ever had of them.

The walk we took around the woods is supposed to take roughly an hour but with how slow we walk and how often we stop to look at things and take photos we knew it would take longer. There are some steep bits and it was quite muddy but well worth the walk. 

Chiffchaffs were all around, a Blackcap too, lots of Tits, Robins and in the distance a Woodpecker drumming, it never came into view. 

All in all a great couple of hours, seeing the Buzzards alone made it worth visiting!