Thursday, 19 March 2015

Red Kite Record

We are now at Heathrow waiting for our flight to India and we hope a wonderful time of Temples, Tigers and Birds. But this wasn't the start of the wildlife! As usual when we travel down the M40 we count the Red Kites. This trip they started at the Oxford Services and we saw the lat just before we exited on to the M25.

We blew the last highest count, which was just over 40 if our memories are correct, by a mile. This time at least 69. Amazing.... Let's hope this is a good omen for our Indian wildlife adventures.


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Sandwell Valley "A Quickie"

Last week we took our partners in crime Jo & Jimmy for a quick whirl around the Valley before going out for a certain persons 70th birthday meal. That person shall remain nameless, Jo!

Anyway we didn't have much time (as usual!!) so we just opted for a quick turn around Forge Mill lake and the RSPB reserve. Firstly I have to say the new visitor centre is making progress and its huge compared to the old one. Looking forward to the opening sometime in the summer I believe.

Anyway the tour provided few photo opportunities, birds to far away or the Sun in the wrong place, I suppose the highlight was the Pintail showing in front of the 'Closed as Usual' hide, no photo worth posting, that falls into the to far away category. So here are a few snaps:
The Wigeon just wouldn't turn to face us!
 Neither would this Gadwall
 This Shoveler was also playing hard to get with the low sun right behoind it
 Bullfinches know how to pose though
 as did this Robin
Apart from these the list was added to by: Goosander, Cormorant, Teal, a very fast fly by by a Kingfisher, Willow Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Canada Geese, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Black Headed Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Pochard, Grey Heron, Lapwing, Dunnock and Corvids. We searched for the Snipe, but on this occasion no luck.


Saturday, 7 March 2015

A few more Pics from Fairburn Ings

Looking at the last post I didn't actually put much on from Fairburn Ings, so here's a bit more:
Two Drake Mallard fighting over a female, she's actually underneath them.
 Fin looking Pheasant
 Couldn't resist another Tree Sparrow photo
 Robins are so obliging and don't mind you getting close
 Spot the Snipe
 A flotilla of Tufted Duck
A trio of Finches all in the same tree,
 Yet another Tree Sparrow with the Finches

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

North Yorkshire Dales

Last week we found ourselves a nice hotel in Harrogate and used it as a base to do a bit of exploring and walking. Of course that then means we get to see some Birds whilst we are out and about.

Our drive up was good, including a Red Kite sighting just south of Harrogate always a treat!

On our first day out (Tuesday) we headed up to a National Trust reserve at Malham Tarn, the weather wasn't great lots of showers, but we managed a walk across the reserve in some sunshine although it was windy and a tad on the cool side (understatement!) We found the hide that overlooked the Tarn:
At first glance there was nothing to see or so we thought then some Mallard showed themselves as the weather improved a bit. This was followed by some great Goldeneye action!
In all we saw 9 Goldeneye from the hide, not bad! 3 Little Grebe showed up:
This one coming the closest. We were forced to stay in the hide for quite a while as the weather really turned, with all four seasons showing up! But we had our flasks so a good time was had anyway! Across the tarn we made out some Canada Geese and what looked like a large group of Wigeon. Eventually the weather improved so we braved it and walked a bit further around the Tarn. For being courageous we were rewarded with a great Roe Deer sighting:
He galloped (do deer gallop?) through the Snowdrops and disappeared into the pines. The weather was starting to look dodgy so we turned down to the shoreline and started heading back. The bonus then was a Kingfisher sighting, but we had to pay for it.... we were caught in a hail shower with absolutely no cover. But we had the right gear on so not too bad.

We eventually made it back to the wooded track and some shelter, this time seeing our first Nuthatch of 2015, this is a poor shot due to the distance and the weather, but for the record:
There will be better Nuthatch snaps later!

So we made it back to the car without getting soaked. We fancied a bit of a treat so we headed north up to Hawes and a visit to the Wensleydale Creamery to indulge in one rather delicious scone, cream and jam. (No clotted cream, just whipped, is this a Yorkshire thing?) We then ended up spending £25 on cheese after sampling some rather fine examples!

We headed back to Harrogate via Semer Water, we didn't stay long as the weather wasn't great and the light was going, we added Goosander to the list here and then a very brief sighting of a Dipper as we drove away and over one of the brooks that feed the reservoir.

Wednesday saw us head off to Bolton Abbey and a walk along the river to see the Strid (Look it up on Google, my photo doesn't do it justice!)

We had some good sightings in the woods:
 Coal Tit:
 Great Spotted Woodpecker:
After Bolton Abbey we headed back stopping a Fewston Reservoir, where we saw 2 Red Kites whilst driving over the dam.

Thursday saw us head back Fewston to do a circular walk, this gave us Goldcrest and our first Treecreeper sighting of the year:

Trying to get a good photo of either proved impossible! They just wouldn't keep still and kept hiding behind branches, never mind. A distant Mistle Thrush was also a first for 2015. We were lucky to get another distant Red Kite sighting, plus a field towards the end of the walk, full of Lapwing, Curlew and Starling. Next stop after our walk was Brinham Rocks, a distinct lack of birds up there, just some Crows, but some really interesting rock formations:

Last stop a flying visit to Knaresborough to see the castle and viaduct:

So Friday dawns and time to go home, but not without stopping at Fairburn Ings RSPB on the way. The definite highlight were two Tawny Owls roosting, if one of the wardens hadn't told us where to look we would never have found them, as you can see from this they were pretty well tucked away:
Next highlight were the Tree Sparrows:
It was a good few hours here, a nice reserve and friendly people.