Monday, 27 June 2016

Rodley Nature Reserve

Saturday saw the first Leeds Birdfair at Rodley Nature Reserve and we headed down to check it out. We were there not long after 9 and were directed to park up by the visitor centre for a change, it looked like the guys handling the parking did a great job fitting everyone in.

Some of the stalls were still being set up but there was a fair few people about already. The bacon sandwiches smelled great but i'd already had breakfast! We stopped to look at the moths from the moth trap, there were quite a few and it had already been open a while, there were some beautiful ones too. It was getting busy around the table and we decided to walk around the reserve a little.

Walking around ended up taking a lot longer than we planned, we do get easily distracted. Today it was by the bugs and bees. We walked down the side of the meadow and saw Dunnocks and Greenfinch in the hedgerow and Sand Martins and Swifts over the field. The flowers were awash with bees and we spent a bit of time taking photos.

I didn't do too bad with identifying things either today.

Marsh Hoverfly 

White-Tailed Bumblebee

Honey Bees

At the end of the path we noticed there were froglets all over the grass, hopefully we hadn't stood on any they were so tiny.

By the feeder along the willow path a gentleman pointed out that a bank vole had been seen underneath it, we waited a couple of minutes and not one but two popped out! You can just see one of them in the grass here.

The view from the willow path hide was quiet at first then three Little Grebes appeared, a pair of Mallards swam across and in the pond behind a BH Gull and a couple of Oystercatchers flew up screeching at each other. Across in the trees we could see a Heron. It was lovely to be able to just sit for a while and see what appeared. A Tern kept flying past and a Moorhen swam by the bank, a Jay flew past too.

My daughter had my old bridge camera which doesn't quite work right but she made a good go of taking pictures.

Taken by my daughter

Along the path were Long Tailed, Blue and Great Tits, the Sand Martins were flying overhead.

From the next hide the Swan family were just getting into the water and they swam off into the far marsh. A Gadwall family were swimming in and out of the reeds and we could see Reed Buntings and a Warbler on the reeds themselves.

We checked out the little lift up panels along the path and two of them had toads in, three in one of them!

One of the 'guides in the hides' had a scope set up at the lookout point focused on the GC Grebes and their chicks, which meant my daughter could get a good look as she was just at the wrong height for the windows and the binoculars! He also mentioned a Blackcap singing further back down the path and after a moment I could hear it too. We chatted a little about the Grebes, Whitethroats and the swifts swooping over the water.

Along the path we spotted more insects.

I think a grass spider?


Blue-Tailed Damselfly?

Small Ermine Moth 

Soldier Beetle (thanks to Merlin & Madge!)

The new lagoon hide is now open and has a great view over the water. Another 'guide in the hide' was set up in here and was chatting with everyone. Both guides we encountered did a great job I thought!

From the hide we watched the Sand Martins, one perching briefly to preen, the Terns and their brood, we saw two of their chicks, I think they have three altogether. I saw movement by the waters edge, a Kingfisher!! It flew out and landed on the 'goalpost' branches for a brief moment then carried on into the trees across the other side of the lagoon. I know these are sighted often here but it's the first one i've seen since my first visit not long after it opened!

We walked back to the reedbed hide and heard that there had been a Kingfisher seen from there but not whilst we were there! We did see Little Grebe chicks, Swans, Reed Buntings and a Moorhen.

There were quite a lot of caterpillars on the nettles by the meadow, i'm not sure what they are though, maybe Peacock Butterfly?

It was good to see the pond area open again, we saw snails, tadpoles, newts and the odd damselfly. We spoke to one couple who until now hadn't even known the reserve was here, they'd seen an advert for the Birdfair.

Back up to the visitor centre it was very busy. We had a wonder around the stalls and I bought some homemade piccalilli and pineapple jam. I picked up a few leaflets for some local areas i've not been to before like Meanwood Valley and Post Hill. A stop for some jacket potatoes and then my husband found someones fitbit on the floor so we dropped that into the visitor centre, I hope the person was able to get it back!

Up to the managers garden, which had quite a few Greenfinch in it, followed by a Bullfinch, Robin, Stock Doves and a Reed Bunting.

Taken by my daughter

We were a bit pushed for time now and though it was a shame we missed the walks and talks because we took longer than we thought walking around we had a great day and it just means we'll have to go back to the next one!

I did notice that there were lots of families and younger people there, in fact i'd say all age ranges were covered, which was fantastic.

Well done to everyone involved!

(Oh and the pineapple jam is delicious!)

Saturday, 25 June 2016

30 Days Wild Part 3

Yet another quiet week for me.

Monday 20th June

This evening was spent sorting through photos from the weekend and typing up a couple of posts. I noticed how long the grass is getting in the garden, I like how it looks but must confess I like when it's freshly mowed too though at the moment that won't be happening just yet.

Tuesday 21st June

Outside work a pair of Greenfinch were on the chimneytops and I saw my first Speckled Wood in some time. I've seen very few butterflies recently. We're about to put up a new fence in the garden and have decided to dig out a new flower bed when we do so. I've been looking up some good flowers for the bugs, bees and butterflies, not sure we'll get much flowering in it this year but i'm hoping my brown thumbs give me a break and it works out!

Wednesday 22nd June

It's a joy to be able to have all the doors open in our little box of an office right now, I can hear the birds from my desk - Blackbird, Great Tits, Robin and Collared Dove today.

When I left work I unintentionally disturbed Blackbirds, Collared Doves, a Woodpigeon and a Goldfinch along the road. There were Greenfinch on the rooftops again and I could hear a Mistle Thrush too.

An evening to myself meant I could watch National Geographic Wild, which was accompanied by the sound of Swifts screaming around the house.

We decided we're going to look into maybe putting up bat and Swift boxes on the house, a bit of further research is required first.

Unfortunately Thursday and Friday escaped me, mostly down to incredibly busy days at work & basically crashing the minute I got home. All I noted was the Swifts flying pretty low down the street when I left for work one morning.

So an aborted entry for this week. Fingers crossed the last few 30 days wild bring better things!

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Old Moor

I'd been reading about a Little Bittern at Old Moor over the past couple of weeks and planned a trip there on Sunday morning. With little hope of seeing anything of course, i'm really good at missing the 'out of the ordinary' birds when they turn up! I mean I haven't even seen an actual Bittern either so hopes were low.

The weather was much warmer today and there was even a hint of sun, well there was in Leeds, the closer we got to Old Moor the cloudier it got! On a little private access road off to the side of the entrance we spotted a large black rabbit, an escapee I think?

My daughter picked up a spotting sheet and pen from one of the volunteers in the visitor centre. My husband checked on the Bearded Tits but they left a couple of weeks ago. In the garden we ticked off a few things on the sheet straight away and sat watching Squirrels, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Woodpigeon, Dunnocks and a Wren. A young Magpie was making a lot of noise trying to get the attention of the adult. 

We paid a lot of attention to the insects as we walked and noticed the lily pads on one of the ponds were covered in flies. I could hear Reed Buntings around the dipping pond and there were several spiders sunning themselves on the benches.

Part of the reserve is closed off from the Bittern Bus Stop to stop the nesting Bitterns being disturbed. They have I think to date 4 juvenile Bitterns that have been counted on the site. Up to date information is on their sightings page here.

No sign of any Bitterns for us though we did see a large group of Canada Geese young that were walking down towards the Bittern hide, they made it there just after we did.

We took a walk around the ponds and saw many damselflies around, the bright blue is difficult to miss.

So on to the Bittern hide, A few people were gathered by the bridge looking in to the reeds and a guy described the Little Bittern call to us and after a few seconds we could hear it in the reeds. Fantastic. I listened for a couple of minutes till it went quiet and then walked up to sit in the hide for a while. We scanned the water and reeds spotting BH Gulls with chicks, Moorhens, Little Grebe, Oystercatcher, Woodpigeons, Herons and a Reed Warbler.

A chap sat in the corner of the hide called out a Marsh Harrier over the far reeds, it was being mobbed by the Gulls and a Heron, That was amazing to watch, only my second sighting of one. We sat a little while longer when the same chap shouted out the Little Bittern was flying in over to the left and there it was!! Granted it was a brief glimpse as it flew over the reeds and down into the reedbed but there was no doubt, what a beautiful bird. I was beyond pleased, my daughter and husband saw it too but there was a little less excitement there!

From the family hide there were plenty more BH Gulls and chicks. We watched an Oystercatcher feeding it's chick. A family of Greylag Geese swam past. There were Sand Martins, Swans, Lesser Black Backed Gulls and a beautiful Little Egret too. 

We stopped to talk to two of the guys who'd been on the bridge by the Bittern hide earlier, they'd missed the Little Bittern flying out. One had taken a photo of a LBB Gull stealing one of the BH Gull chicks.

From the Wader Scrape hide we saw Avocets and a family of Shelducks. A juvenile Pied Wagtail was hunkering down along the waters edge.

I've been here a few times but I don't think i've been at this time of year before, it was ridiculously noisy, mostly from the Gulls who seem to think, rightly so, that everything is a threat.

We ate a picnic by the playground whilst being serenaded by a Chiffchaff. The last stop was the Tree Sparrow Farm, just in time to see a Yellowhammer fly across and land in the trees. Very good timing as that was the last thing to tick off on the spotting sheet!

This was one of the best days birding i've had in a while, obviously the Little Bittern was a highlight but the reserve in general was a delight to walk around. 

Monday, 20 June 2016

East Coast

On Saturday we headed over to the coast with Bempton up first. It was fairly busy as usual for this time of year but we got good views of the cliffs and the birds.

The wind was howling today, i've never been when it's been this bad before but it did make for some great shots of the birds being buffeted about! Of course it also made for cold hands trying to hold the camera and binoculars still too.

We saw Razorbills, Guillemots, Puffins, Kittiwakes, Fulmar and Gannets. There were plenty of birds sat on chicks and eggs, it can't be very comfortable for the Gannets sat on some of those large chicks on the small nests!

On the cliff tops there were Jackdaws, Crows, Tree Sparrows, Swallows and Meadow Pipits.

A quick look in the garden had a few more Tree Sparrows, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and a Mallard and we were back to the car for a bit of lunch.

The sun had come out by now and we headed up to Filey, I'd arranged to meet my cousin for a coffee mid afternoon so we were a little pushed for time but decided to have a walk around the top of the Brigg.

Little bit of a mistake here as the country park was being used as the finish point for a cycle race so it was chaos up there, still once we'd parked up and walked on to the cliffs it wasn't too bad. The wind was still quite strong but the sun was out still so it wasn't cold. 

There were Pipits everywhere here popping up out of the grass along with Swallows swooping over it. A lone Pied Wagtail was flying in and out of the benches. Out over the water and on the cliffs were plenty of birds including Cormorants, Fulmar, Kittiwakes, Razorbill and Guillemots.

This beetle was almost camouflaged on the ground, a Green Tiger Beetle I think.

It was only a short walk but worth it for the views alone!

I'm not sure why they put a lampstand in the water but the Cormorant seemed to like it.......................