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.

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