Monday, 22 May 2017

Fairburn Ings

Fairburn was the first of three reserves we visited over the weekend arriving about 9 o clock on Saturday morning. It was warm and sunny and just about perfect weather to walk around in.

From the pickup hide we watched Herons squabbling, Cormorants and Egrets fly over and a Common Tern was fishing. I noticed there were no Sand Martins at the bank, I guess they haven't taken up residence there this year?

A Blackcap was singing in the trees and we heard Chiffchaff, a Robin and Chaffinch too. On the dipping pond a Coot family came over, soon losing interest when they realised we had nothing for them.

I was hoping for a Cuckoo today and we headed up to the Coal Tips. Before we even got there we could hear one, it was just in the trees off to the left as the riverbank trail starts. I couldn't get a clear enough view for a decent photo as it was perched high on a tree behind several others!

It was the only one we heard all morning.

On to the tops and it was a little breezy but still nice. We saw quite a few Reed Buntings, Tufted Ducks, Coots, Crows and Jackdaws. A Weasel ran across the path in front of us a one point and I almost stepped on a toad too, my daughter just stopping me in time!

Down towards the river a couple of Red Legged Partridges were wondering about. We started to notice a lot of Swifts at this point and for the rest of the walk around we had some very close encounters with them buzzing around our heads.

I could hear Sedge Warblers in the reeds as we walked around, I didn't manage to spot any though. Down towards the moat we could see lots of Cormorants, Geese and Herons. A Willow Warbler sat singing on the top of a tree on the embankment. A little further along and a Skylark was up in the air.

We spotted a lot of Cardinal Beetles and Ladybirds. I saw my first Brimstone (which didn't stop for a photo!) and Orange-tip butterflies of the year.

I loved these vines

A quick stop for lunch and we were on to St Aidan's...............

Monday, 15 May 2017

Big Day.....or not

I decided to take part in the Ebird Global Big Day on Saturday, although it didn't quite go to plan as my husband was working so no car and having to rely on public transport was not ideal!

Still me and my daughter headed out regardless, the weather was fine, she wasn't moaning about being dragged out early and all was good. I decided on Golden Acre as there's Adel Dam and Breary Marsh alongside it and it isn't difficult to get to on the bus. The added bonus is the bus goes past Leeds uni and the Peregrine Falcons that reside there. I managed to spot one on the tower, a nice tick to add to the slowly growing list.

We counted up the birds around the edge of the lake and then had to pause after a slip which involved a foot ankle deep in the lake (not mine!). Thank goodness i'm prepared for anything, one plastic bag later we were back on track. The Greylag and farmyard geese were quite interested in the goings on, sauntering over to check out (laugh) at the wet foot.


Such a gorgeous colour

This duck was missing a chunk of feather

I spotted a Robin gathering nest materials, a Great Tit and Nutchatch in the trees and could hear my first of several Chiffchaff through the day.

On to Adel Dam and we spent a while sat in the hide watching a steady stream of birds - Jay, M&F GS Woodpecker, Nuthatch,Great & Blue Tit, Jackdaw, Chaffinch, Mallard, Moorhen, a Mandarin flew in and Squirrels and a Rabbit were running around too.

At the lake hide we saw our first ducklings of the day, three families of different sizes. Of to the side another Woodpecker and Jay. I heard a call and a Kingfisher was flying across the lake, it landed briefly on a bush at the back and then disappeared into the trees. I realised it was my first of the year. Overhead a pair of Red Kites flew about. Moving on we watched the Swallows flying amongst the sheep in the field alongside the woods.

These sheep watched us!

A pair of Buzzards flew low above our heads and over the woods. Very nice!

Back in the park we stopped for lunch at the cafe and had to go for dessert as well, keep up the energy with all the walking......

A few Swifts were flying about over the park, another Buzzard too.We spotted Coal Tit and Nuthatch nests.

We used the underpass to go on to Breary Marsh. There were lots of Bluebells here. I got a text at this point from my husband who'd seen a Barn Owl whilst out with work. A little bit of cursing (in my head) at that, it's a bit of a bogie bird for me, I haven't seen one since I was a child and we used to get them near home. Oh well, no owls for me (despite scanning every nook and cranny, wall and field just in case).

Through the woods we heard Chiffchaff, Blackbird, Robin,the odd Woodpigeon. They've tided up the banking by Paul's Pond since we were last here and all the trees/bushes have gone. Our only Tufted Ducks of the day were on the pond, 6 pairs of them. A Mallard had a couple of chicks and there was a lone Swan. 

As we watched the ducklings I had a feeling of being watched and looked around to see a Jackdaw on a dead tree right behind us.

Hearing a constant cheeping by the path we stood a moment to try and spot the bird and this young Robin popped up out of the bushes.

We were both flagging at this point, my back still struggles with walking distances especially when i'm carrying a bag and the 11 yr old was getting in practise for her teen years. Though to be fair I had just told her that we were going to walk up through Churwell woods on the way home, I was on the verge of saying ok we'll just go straight home myself!

Two buses and a rest and we were both up for the walk though. It was a lot warmer here and we took a nice steady walk. The woods were blooming with Hawthorn and Bluebells, Peacock and Speckled Wood were flying around. My daughter spotted a Nuthatch in the trees - a new patch tick!

When I checked my lists we saw 37 species all day. Not the most amazing amount and really not a big day but with the limits we had it could have been worse. Plus it's good spending time with my daughter while she still wants to! 

Next time i'll be a bit more organised and we'll hit the road early, by then my back should much improved too.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Around the Patch

Getting into the habit of a quick walk around part of the Urban Woodlands before work is proving a joy at the moment. I walk to the sounds of Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, Blackcap, Goldfinch amongst others.

On sunny days there's a spot on the edge of the woods which catches the early morning rays and is good for butterflies, last week I saw my first Peacock of the year there and there are always Speckled Woods. This particular morning the leaves were covered in all sorts of flys/bugs warming up, they were everywhere you looked.

I spotted a young Robin being well protected by it's parents last week but this morning it was hopping around the path on it's own, picking at bits and pieces and quite unconcerned that I was stood nearby.

I got a brand new patch (not just year) tick after hearing a different song to the usual ones by some brambles it stopped and I walked on, the song started again and up popped a Whitethroat into a nearby tree, it sang there for about 30 seconds and flew off into the woods. I got awful photos as i'd moved a fair ways off but no mistaking the song and the bird! A new bird for the woodlands too I think.

Closer to work I saw my first patch Swallows of the year last week, they nest on a farm nearby. These were followed not long after by the first Swift over my house late evening Friday with two more joining it by Sunday and the familiar screaming began.

The past few evenings we have been watching 2 or 3 Pipestrelle Bats flying low around the garden, watching them from an upstairs window they are eye level and with it barely being dusk there has been some amazing views of them. I tried to get some shots but they are just too quick!

The garden has been a haven for Starling and Sparrows recently, they spend a lot of time in the bird bath or at the feeders. From the constant noise in the nearby trees i'm hoping there will be some young fledgings shortly. The Hedgehog is a regular visitor I don't always see it but there is fresh poop around the feeder most mornings. The foxes, which were waking me up nightly have fallen silent the past few days, which I'm not too mad about!

Yesterday afternoon along with the Swifts, I was serenaded for some time by a Mistle Thrush singing from the top of a nearby tree, perfect accompaniment whilst I caught up with some reading!