Thursday, 31 May 2018

Ferrymoor Flash

On the way back from Old Moor my husband spotted a large pond at the side of the road so we stopped for a look. According to a sign on the board it was called Ferrymoor Flash. Just as we got out of the car he saw a pair of  Kestrel fly over, I managed to miss them though.

Straight off a flock of birds swam up to the edge, clearly used to being fed, in fact some families were feeding them further along. Some of the ducks were not native, two beautiful black/purple/green ducks followed us around, they got out at one point and reminded me of Indian Runner Ducks?

There were plenty of native birds though, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, Canada and Greylag Goose, Black-headed Gull.

In the trees around the water Reed Bunting and Long-tailed Tits.

The grass by the path was full of Daisies.

We didn't stop long but after checking it out online later, it looks like it links up to Cudworth Common so it'll be worth going back for another look. The sites are looked after by The Conservation Volunteers.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Old Moor

Despite Friday's late night we were up and off to Old Moor early Saturday morning. A much better day weather wise, back to warm temperatures and sun.

Now apparently the Bitterns are flying around the reserve at the moment, of course not when we were watching, three times we just missed them. We even sat at the Bittern bus stop for half an hour and stilled missed one that flew up briefly after being mobbed by birds......we'd been tracking a small bird, which turned out to be a Reed Bunting, a beautiful bird............but not a Bittern. Oh well.

We did see lots of damselflies and butterflies though including my favourite - the Brimstone.

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Azure Damselfly?

Speckled Wood

Not sure on these two?

And my first ever Dingy Skipper

This Heron was in one of the pools

There are lots of Gulls on the reserve, mostly Black-headed, also Lesser black-backed and Herring. The Gulls were spooked at one point but we were too far away to tell by what.

A couple of Shelduck were asleep

At the Field pool west hide a family thought they had views of a Temminck's Stint, they'd heard at the visitors centre one had been seen but my id skills with waders aren't the best and it was just too distant for good enough views with the binoculars. Luckily a nice chap with a scope came in and he and a second chap who soon followed confirmed it was indeed the Stint and we had a lovely view through the chaps scope! We watched it walk up and down a small strip of sand in the middle of the water, it was only when a Gull landed in the same place you realise just how tiny the birds are.

The Stint is on the tiny strip of sand in the middle of the water!!

We moved on and discovered an exodus happening from the Wader Scrape hide, I think the family had shown the photos they'd got of the Stint and everyone was off for a look. So the hide was very quiet in the end. We managed to find the two Sanderlings that had been seen on yet another strip of sand, they were again too far for my camera but they were there..........

My husband spotted a single Avocet amongst the Gulls.

Moving on to the Field Pool East Hide we sat watching a few Tufted Ducks, Gadwalls, Coots and Swans, with a couple of Lapwing flying around off to the side. A chap sat there commented he thought he had a Black-necked Grebe, we got on it and yes it definitely was, a single one, near the back of the pool. It stayed up that end mixing up with the Tufted Ducks. 

This Coot held a bit of a squabble with some of the birds then displayed it's tail feathers at them all!

It was I think past lunchtime by now so we had a picnic near the entrance, a Holly Blue flying around the bushes by us as we ate. We had a great morning and I added two lifers to my list!

Sunday, 27 May 2018

St Aidan's Bat Walk

We tried something different on Friday night and signed up for a Bat Walk at St Aidan's. The weather during the day was dreadful, pretty much constant heavy rain and still drizzling into the evening. Not at St Aidan's thankfully, we left the rain behind in Morley.

Arriving a bit early because we thought we might get stuck in motorway traffic we took a quick walk down to the lake and watched the Sand Martins flying over the water for a bit. We looked for the Little Owls on the dragline but didn't see any, lots of rabbits though We did see a Kestrel on there after a noisy Blackbird drew attention to it whilst we were going over the paperwork for the evening.

The walk was headed up by Gavin, who is the community engagement office for St Aidan's, two volunteers Sue and Robin also joined us. I think there was around 15 of us in the end?

Bat detectors in hand we headed back in the direction of the lake, the paths were covered in slugs and snails and i'm afraid by the end of the evening a few didn't survive, I did try to dodge them! We stopped at the Sand Martin wall to look a little closer at them going in and out of the holes. I think I might have to get my daughter a pair of waders after she agreed to come back in winter to fill the holes back up!!

Lot's of Gulls had been flying into the reserve, apparently they come from miles around to roost, lots of Herring and some Lesser Black-backed. A pair of Egrets flew in too - Great Whites! A nice lifer to get, i've always managed to miss them before.

On with the walk, which took us through a little wooded area where we learnt about the invasive Himalayan Balsam plant, which although good for bees and insects strangles all the other flora, which is not so good.

By the river we picked up the odd click here and there on the detectors, my daughter picked up a Soprano Pipistrelle. We picked up the pace a little so we could get to a good spot for the bats at the right time.

It was by the waters edge and we stood around with our detectors tuned to various frequencies so we could pick up the expected bats. The detectors came with a paper showing all the UK bats and the frequency that you can hear them at.

There are four bats recorded on the reserve -

Noctule - frequency - 20-25
Pipistrelle - 45
Daubenton's - 45
Soprano Pipistrelle - 55

So we waited...and waited, of course you can't always predict wildlife so a little patience was required but it paid off when everyone's detectors started clicking and we saw some of the bats flying overhead and out over the water or down the path. It was really cool to hear the clicking get louder as the bats got closer, they are so quick! Gavin had a detector that showed what bats we were seeing and tracked their path too (fancy bat detector has gone on the shopping list!!) so we could confirm that we had all 4 bats! This was a first as I think the Daubenton's have only been recorded at the other side of the reserve before?

It was well worth the waiting and I think everyone was pretty happy, I know we were. My daughter, who was quite nervous of the evening thinking it would be like going through the bat house at Chester Zoo, which she hates, was really excited and already wants to go on the next one later in the year.

Thanks again to Gavin, who made the evening entertaining and enjoyable and to Robin and Sue.

Saturday, 26 May 2018


Last Sunday morning we drove over to Bempton, luckily i'd checked the weather beforehand as we were leaving behind 18°+ temperatures in Leeds to barely 11, rolling fog and a cliff top wind! I felt for the people who hadn't, there were a lot of shivering folk in shorts through the morning!

So wrapped up we walked onto the cliffs surrounded by the sounds of Meadow Pipits, Whitethroat and the odd Skylark too. We saw several of these large caterpillars, i'm not sure what they are.

Right from the off we spotted Puffins on the cliffs, there were 6 huddled up and a few flying about. In fact we have never seen so many in a visit before, maybe because we came at little earlier this year?

The cliffs were full of birds and we saw Kittiwakes, Herring Gull, Razorbill, Guillemot and even managed to find a couple of Fulmar too.




Herring Gull






At one part the Kittiwakes were constantly flying backwards and forwards over the path and into the fields to pick up mouthfuls of grass.

We saw an egg on the floor, a really big egg that we thought must have come from a Gannet because of the size but it turned out to be a Guillemot egg!

A few Swallows were flying about and a Kestral swooped up from the cliffs and flew right in front of us and over the tops. The fog rolled about the cliffs most of the morning but didn't really hinder any views.


Tree Sparrow

A quick look in the managers garden and we were on hour way warm up a little in the sun!