Sunday, 28 February 2010

Bretton Lakes Update

Its been a few weeks since I was at Bretton and I managed to miss a rare visit from a Great White Egret whilst I was away. The views to be had weren't too good apparently so there wouldn't have been any decent photo opportunities.

I could have joined what looked like half the birding population of Yorkshire over at the sighting of a Ring-Billed Gull (Photo on Bluebirder's blog - ) which was only a mile and a half from home, but I opted for the peace and quiet of Bretton instead.

It was the first time I've visited in over two months that the place wasn't frozen over and covered in snow. The only white stuff around being the Snowdrops growing in the woods, which made it feel a little bit like spring. There was much more bird life around than of late too. However one animal was seriously down in numbers - the Grey Squirrel. Before the prolonged cold snap I counted at least one of these for around every 50 yards I walked. Today I only saw about half a dozen of them throughout my whole trek so nature might have had it's own cull!

Photowise it was a mixed bag but I did see the first Coal Tit I've come across this year. Didn't hear or see any Kingfishers though. Hope they're back soon.

It was nice to meet a fellow blogger at the hide by the lake - The Shat Birder - no he hadn't had an accident in his trousers. He really is called that -

Coal Tit

Long-Tailed Tit

Great-Spotted Woodpecker

Nuthatch at the improvised feeding station behind the hide.

Lurking high above us in the tree-tops of the island was this Sparrowhawk. If this is the same one that pounced last time I was here then I reckon he's got the feeding station marked down as his own feeding source now. He's looking straight down on the feeding birds.

Tufted Duck

Male and female Goosander

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Potteric Carr

I looked on the BBC weather site on Friday and it had a forecast of bright sunshine for today (Sunday) so I made up my mind to visit Potteric Carr. By late Saturday night the forecast wasn't quite as good - early mist and then white cloud for Sunday morning.

I woke up this morning to heavy snow! Good old BBC.

Normally this would be enough to send me straight back to bed but as I haven't been out with the camera for several weeks I decided to give it a go. The 30-odd mile journey was quite treacherous in parts but I got their in the end.

These are the best of this morning's pictures...

I hadn't been at the Piper Marsh hide for long when a Bittern flew in and concealed itself on one of the islands in the middle of the lake. Thankfully it didn't stay there too long and took flight to the far side of the lake. I got a few shots of the bird in flight but the distance was a bit too great for my 500mm lens + 1.4x teleconverter so they are a bit fuzzy.


I also visited Willow Pool Hide where another Bittern landed on a small island before having a walk across the ice.

The rest of the birds were gathered around the feeders at Willow Pool Hide.

Water Rail

Wood Pigeon

Reed Bunting (Male)

Female Reed Bunting

Thursday, 4 February 2010

River Calder

I'm still without transport so I was unable to take advantage of the fine weather last weekend. I did have a look through last years photos to see if there was anything worth posting though. This may be of interest to anyone who knows the area where I live.

Anyone from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire who is of the same generation (or older) than myself would probably laugh out loud if you suggested that the River Calder and it's banks had become a bit of a nature reserve.

When I was growing up in the 60's and 70's the stretch of the river that runs through my home town was used as a playground by myself and plenty of other kids, but it was a distinctly unhealthy place to be. For over 100 years the local textile and chemical industries had been discharging their waste into the river. The result being that a river which was once home to large numbers of salmon and many other fish became a lifeless, dirty, smelly mess!

Not any more though. Due to anti-pollution laws and the demise of most of the local mills and factories that used to pour their waste into the river, the fish have returned. Otters have been seen along some stretches and the bird life that lives along it's banks now includes King Fishers, Grey Heron and Grey Wagtails to name but a few.

Last June I managed to get some photos of some of the birdlife. There was little cover so I couldn't get close enough for any really decent shots but here are a few examples of what I saw.

Long-Tailed Tit.

A scruffy looking Common Whitethroat. Too busy feeding the young to bother about appearances?

Grey Wagtail. This was taken on the weir next to Island View. I was so surprised to see this land in front of me that I almost forgot to take a picture!

Black Headed Gull flying above the same weir.

Yellowhammer - a pair were nesting alongside the Calder & and Hebble Navigation, a canal which runs parallel to the Calder for a short distance.

I'll be back at the start of the coming spring to see what the new breeding season brings.