Sunday, 24 May 2009

Gallows Hill & Otley Chevin

Saturday 23rd May.

Well the weather finally brightened up - not quite glorious sunshine but no rain at least. We went to Gallows Hill Nature Reserve in the afternoon. Spotting a Pied Wagtail in a giant puddle in the car park. There was not another soul about though certainly plenty of evidence that its a regular dog walking spot - that was pretty disgusting. Luckily once you got further into the reserve it wasn't so bad!

It's not huge place but quite lovely and peaceful. There was plenty of birdsong but the trees and undergrowth are pretty dense and I didn't see as much as I hoped. My little one did pretty well at keeping the noise down at least until a couple of nettle stings. We did see a huge amount of snails of all different types.

There were a lot of different flowers and my daughter loved to see those and pointed out everyone we came across and insisted I take photos, especially of the 'fairies' on the Dandelion!

The reserve is made up of a lot of nettle beds and are interspersed with so many other flowers.

We came across this wonderful tree, which looked like it had been covered in cotton wool.

The first birds I spotted (apart from Woodpigeons which were everywhere) were some Mallard ducklings on a small pond in the centre of the reserve. There were two that soon disappeared into the reeds. My husband then spotted a rabbit on the path in front of us. It let us get quite close where we realised it wasn't well and it's eyes were quite a state. Nothing we could do of course and we left it in peace.

Next up was a striking Bullfinch sat above our heads and then a Chaffinch that landed near by. We came up to the river Wharfe and walked along side that for a while. Here we saw Great Tits, Blue Tits and a Long Tailed Tit. I also watched two of the tiniest Wren's I have ever seen, I am guessing they were jueveniles, just gorgeous to watch and such a perfect little bird.

We were still surrounded by a lot of bird song, most of which I don't recognise, really should get a cd and try and learn some. Then I saw a little bird in the tree over head and after a couple of minutes realised it was my first ever Chiffchaff, what a lovely bird and it hopped around constantly before my little one got stung by a nettle and scared it off. We used a giant dock leaf on the sting, which worked like magic! We were almost back at the entrance by now and headed back to the car.

As we were going to my parents for tea we stopped at the Chevin Surpise View on the way. This is where my brother and I played a lot when we were kids as it's in walking distance of my parents home. The view is of Otley and the surrounding areas and a helpful map tells you what you are seeing.

As we stood and ate ice cream cones there was a couple of Swifts flying low all around us, that was great to see. When we started to walk to the rocks a Swallow flew by then a noisy Chaffinch too. My husband pointed out a very nosiy Skylark high about us. We were short of time and had a quick 'explore' around the rocks. There was no time to go down into the woods and walk the 100 steps down towards Otley.

So we ended our day at my parents and the last shot is the top of their garden, which is pretty much left to go as wild as it pleases. It's beautiful in the late afternoon sun.


  1. It seems to me that although beautiful places to visit some of these Nature Reserves don't quite come up to expectation, I always think I will see a long list of birds but it never quite works out!
    Like you I am not good on identification by song which would be a big help.

    I enjoyed seeing all your photos and sharing your outing and the Bluebells in your parent's garden are lovely.

  2. Thank you, my parents are quite proud of their garden they have done so much with it recently and it looks great.

    Don't you find yourself thinking you will just see all these birds just sitting around for you to spot at a Reserve even though in reality it wouldn't happen that way lol

  3. Keith Dickinson30 May 2009 at 21:44

    Hi Pam,
    the rabbit you saw was probably suffering from myxomatosis, a not very pleasant disease that was introduced to try and control the animals in the 60's.
    If you've been to Gallow's Hill then you are not very far from Knotford Nook, a few hundred metres closer to Pool by the water works, in the winter you can get loads of wildfowl on the pools here, and it's accessible by bus I believe.

  4. Hi Pam, we visited Gallows Hill for the first time yesterday, although unlike you we didn't manage to make it up to the Chevin as it was far too hot. We didn't spot many birds but did see plenty of butterflies mainly Peacocks, Orange Tip, Small Tortoiseshell & a few damselflies too, lovely. It's great read accounts of local Leeds sites. Linda

  5. Hi Keith, yes we thought it might be that, it's eyes were pretty messy. We didn't have time to go down to Knotford Nook but will do next time we are over that way - maybe next week.

    Linda, we were the only ones there and the birds were very shy even though we were quiet. Unfortunately didn't have too much time to wait as my little one doesn't quite have the patience yet! It's nice to read your blog too, I've worked in Headingley for years and know most of the places you mention!