Sunday, 21 March 2010

Rodley Nature Reserve

We spent a couple of hours at Rodley yesterday - in the pouring rain! We went prepared though and just about had the place to ourselves.

As we walked to the hide by the lagoon there was a very striking Bullfinch sat in a tree just by the road, we saw one on the way back out later too. In the hide we stayed a while and watched 2 Oystercatchers fly from one island to the next before flying off completely. There were plenty of noisy Coots on the water, a few Moorhens, a pair of sleeping Mute Swans, around 6 Tufted Ducks, Canada Geese and a new bird for me - a Little Grebe!

We stopped at the various hides as we walked down by the willow coppice spotting Black Headed and Herring Gulls, Jackdaws, Crows, more Tufted Ducks and another Little Grebe. In the field we saw a Pheasant.

The most time was spent in the hide overlooking the reed beds and grasslands, going from one side to the other. My little one spotted more of her fishing ducks (Tufted Ducks) and kept excitedly pointing them out. Then my husband spotted not one but two Water Rails on the grassland side, one was hidden in the reeds but another strutted about for a while.

We did get photos, not great ones though with the bad weather and bad camera but you can just about tell what it is!

As we watched we saw quite a few more Moorhens and Coots. In the distance 2 Herons appeared to be facing off, they spent the whole time we were there stood facing each other. Out at the grassland side we saw a pair of Greylag Geese and a pair of Shelduck too.

At the last hide looking out at the reeds we could just see some ducks across at the far side, they spent a lot of time with their bottoms in the air, I thought they looked like Wigeons but just couldn't get a good enough look to be sure, which is a shame as that would have been another life bird for me.

In the hide at the managers garden a little bit of patience paid of with some great views of male and female Reed Buntings, i've only ever seen one male before so was very pleased with this.

By now we were pretty cold and wet and the little one topped it off by falling in a muddy puddle! With one more life bird on the list I was pretty pleased we ignored the rain and went anyway.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Spring has Sprung

The warmer weather has brought out all sorts of signs of spring at last. There are Crocus everywhere including just two in my garden. The verges along Woodhouse Moor in Leeds look beautiful with them, lots of purple, white and yellow, looks lovely every year.

Daffodils are popping up and some look like they are about to bloom any minute, though they are not my favourite flower it means we are definitely coming out of these winter months. My Bluebells are just coming up too along with many others which I have to confess until some of the flowers open i'll have no idea what they are! My garden does need a really good tidy up though.

The birds have been pulling apart the head of some Pampas grass which my little one brought home from a friend (I don't know why?!) and we left by the hedge. It seems to be some good nesting material for them. The House Sparrows spend a lot of the day in the hedge in the front garden and have made a nice little dust bath under it, which they must use as a break from nest building. The Dunnocks have increased in number and spend a lot of time flitting about the branches flapping their wings at each other.

I also spotted two Woodpigeons building a nest in a tree right in the centre of Leeds, not sure if this is a good idea as the tree doesn't seem strong enough but I guess time will tell.

This afternoon I saw my first bee, which had snuck into the house, I did set it free of course. So some very welcome signs that spring is well on it's way, looking forward to what it brings next.

Thursday, 11 March 2010


The Snowdrops are opening, it's the first day i've managed to catch them!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Filey Brigg

We took the kids off for a long walk around the Brigg today, with a hope for me of spotting some new birds. On the way from Leeds we saw an awful lot of Crows and Rooks nest building, some of the Crows were carrying bunches of twigs bigger than them! Even more amazing was the number of Wood Pigeons we saw on the way there and back, huge flocks of them in some cases over the fields, there seem to be more than I remember seeing before.

As we drove up to the top car park at the Carr Naze pond - Map here - three Oystercatchers flew right over the car. At the pond there were a few more and a small grey bird that I couldn't quite make out - unfortunately I couldn't get a good enough shot to try and id it later either.

We walked up the cliffs a little way seeing a few Skylarks (edit after reading up I think it may have actually been some kind of Pipit as they weren't really staying up in the air, they just dropped back down again?) shooting up in the air around us. I spotted some Kittwakes on the cliff edges and made sure we kept a tight hold of the little one up there, there are no fences along the edges!

We made our way down onto the beach then and walked right along to the end of the Brigg. The kids loved searching for shells in the rock pools and even found a couple of fossilised stones too.

I saw Turnstones and a new one for me - Redshanks, there were 5 down past the cliffs. I spotted birds out on the water but my ID skills aren't good enough to tell what they are, even with my binoculars (which aren't great). The choppy seas didn't help as the birds were bobbing up and down all over the place.

Fortunately I had some help from a nice gentleman who was out spotting the birds and he let me know I was looking at Eider ducks and showed me the male in all it's glorious black and white plumage through his scope. There were Scoters further out but I missed them! The Eider made up for that though, what a gorgeous bird.

In this picture if you look closely (with a magnifying glass!!) you can just see a Turnstone on the rock in the middle.

We spent quite a long time out here exploring everywhere and had a great time. Walking back we saw a Kestrel hovering for a long time over the cliffs and as we were leaving a Peregrine Falcon flew overhead (which I almost overlooked but thanks to the helpful guy from earlier I didn't!).

We were going to visit Filey Dams Nature Reserve, but one of the main roads was closed and there were no signs for it, we got lost and to save frayed tempers we gave it up as a bad job!

So instead after a tip on the Yorkshire thread on Birdform (thank you!) we drove onto Scarborough instead in hope of spotting some Mediterranean Gulls. I always imagine when you go to find a specific bird you have to have lots of patience and a little luck and you might see it. Not with these, they were exactly where they were supposed to be - just waiting right in the car park as we drove in along with some Black Headed Gulls.

I was very impressed, they were in various stages of plumage but the bright red beaks and leg were very distinctive. The boys were unimpressed and my little one had fallen asleep within two minutes of getting in the car! But my husband did show interest and took a few photos and we did feed them a little leftover lunch.

Of course we had to stop for chips before we left and that meant the usual Herring Gulls!

A great day despite the cold and everybody enjoyed it and I got three new lifers - 12 more to the 100!

Thursday, 4 March 2010


There are Snowdrops popping up all over the garden now, but not one has fully opened yet! This little one has appeared on it's own in the lawn.

Hopefully over the next few days I should have lots of lovely open flowers!