Wednesday, 27 April 2011

burnsal bridge

Another of our wednesday visits to Burnsal bridge, and as usual it was glorious sunshine that showered us. As soon as we arrived you could see only sand martins in the sky, no clouds at all. The sand martins were flying in about 3's or 4's and offering the best views I have had for quite a long time.

Down at the river there were some more ducklings looking lovely with their mother. there were quite a few familys on the river, which is still quite early.

Back at the sand martins they were still showing well and I managed to work out where the nests were, which was handy so I could follow them from where they started their fligh to where they ended it. Because it was so bright I had the shutter speed at about 1/1600 and there was no change in the photo quality at all. Although to be fair, they were still pretty awful.

a bit further up I spotted a lone female goosander fishing near to the riverbank that I was standing on. It diddnt seem very bothered about me being there but eventually, once it had caught a fish, it stopped dipping its head into the water and then spotted me and so began to drift away, so I left to try and avoid disturbing it any more.

A bit further up there was a lone swallow so I decided to get a few shots of swallows in cloudless sunshine just for a record, but because the shutter speed was so high they actually came out really clear.

at the start of the rapids I caught up with my mum and dad and they pointed out a baby dipper on one of the rocks. At first I couldnt see it, I spotted one being fed by and adult furthur up. My dad asked me what i was doing, the baby dipper he meant I had appaerntly walked past. I eventually spotted it and began to get as close as I could. I managed to get some decent shots, but i managed to spook it and the dipper began to move a bit more, instead of being completely sedate.

I left the babay eventually, so that it could get on with what it was doing. A bit further up my mum and dad spotted a bird on the other side of the river. My dad reckoned it was a merlin, so I was optimistic for a unusual bird. I took a photo and looked into it, the coulors looked like either a linnet or a kestrel, although it would be a very small kestrel. The bird gave us the slip for about 10mins but once it eventually emerged it was a linnet. During that time a goosander pair appeared and swam down river. I followed them because I knew a narrow stretch of the river which would bring them closer to me for a photo. when i got there, they were just about entering it and once I stopped they turned around and began swimming backwards. But only for a few minuets before they both took off and flew the narrow bit of the river.

As I continued up the river to catch up with my family There were a number of goosanders that flew past, along the river and in the air.

As I was walking up, I spotted two long-tailed tits flying into a hawthorn tree, where After watching for a bit I spotted a lovely little moss nest hidden in the "V" of a tree. There was an adult in the nest and it was building it as we watched, using moss.

furthur up, just past the linnet scenario there was another colony of sand martins where I could get some more photos.

I caught up with my mum and dad at the bridge and then set off back when I spotted a chaffinch picking smallinsects from the underside of leaves and I thought that that it was worth a photo so I did...

Back at the dipper site the baby dipper had begun to move a bit more and was on an island in the middle of the river at the start of the rapids, looking rather like an adult dipper.

I was just arriving back at the car when a male and female sparrow flew out of the bushes and began to wage war with each other on the path and throwing up a lot of dust. The male eventually left the fight, so I am assuming that the female was the winner.

after lunch My brother and I went for a walk in the river to try and find some crayfish and fish but only the fish could be found. there were no crayfish at all in the river, besides a dead one, so a bit of a dissapointment really in that sense but plenty of birds to make up for it.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Not bird related but...

But why does it have to be bird related to be memorable. FC Halifax town are champions of the evo-stick premier league. And I was there watch them get the trophy. At the end of the match there was a massive pitch invasion and then the trophy was given out and we were able to meet the players!! good times!

the trophy

Thats my mate Danny, Aaron Hardy and me

Thats me, Mark Bower and Danny

Thats Danny, Neil Aspin (yeah) and me

Thats Danny. Jaime Vardy and me

Thats Danny, Danny Holland and me

Just for the record, none of these photos are mine, but Dannys dads.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Lakeland day 5

The final day in keswick! once more it was bright and sunny, but the haze had significantly worsened overnight. We decided to go and have a look at the park in keswick town center, rather than the one on the lakeside, which we go to regularly. This park has a bowling green and tennis courts, plus the local history museuam, not that we went there! the river had a pair of goosanders on it which makes a change, the main sawbill population being made up off red-breasted mergansers.

-goosander pair
Having followed the goosanders up the river, I returned to find that my mum, dad and brother had wanderd off without me. So I sat and waited near to the car, where I spotted a golden coloured bee flying round, which then dissapeared down a hole under a leaf. I waited by the hole but got a bit fed up and so stood up again, and there was the little bee flying around. Examination of the floor found lots of little holes where the bees could live. I tried to get a photo but it was too quick. Then it landed...on my trainer! I couldnt get the shot I wanted because it was on my ankle and so I ended up shooting down on it, not ideal!

Our actual destination for the day was the osprey view point at basenthwaite lake, and after packing up thats where we headed. The viewpoint wasactually hidden deep within a forestry commission wood, but was certainly more advanced than last time. Today it was maned and there were rails, with scopesand a feeding station. Last time it was just a path next to an opening in the trees. The issue today was that the haze had blocked everything out, the photo below shows. The big tree in the center, standing out is where the nest is, but you could hardly tell! I was lucky though, when I was watching through the scope, it wasnt the small head that we were suppost to be looking for but an adult flew in, that I saw, so I was the luckiest person there at the time. Don't consider the photo below a record shot!

-Haze, with osprey tree
The feeding station diddnt have anything on it, although apparently there were sometimes red squirrels. We decided to go to the gardens across the road, that were owned privatly. Whilst my mum and dad went for a look at the gardens I decided to go for a look at the "lakeside walk" to see If the osprey would come fishing there. It diddnt, although there were clearly plenty of fish given by the number of cormorants there!

-cormorants in excess!
Whilst I was sat on a tree trunk waiting I heard a familiar song and looking around spotted a pipit in a tree! I couldnt beleive it, you wait for all your birdwatching life to see a bird but then you see two in a week. sadly it diddnt stick around and I ended up following a chaffinch thinking that it was the tree pipit, so the view I got was pretty poor!

-Tree pipit
I double backed on myself to go back to the gardens, but I couldnt find my mum or dad so I decided to walk around the whole walk, only I set off the other way to last time. There wasnt much happening but then, as I was about to enter the woodland part of the walk, I saw a quick tail flutter and a flash of red on the gate post and realised I had a male redstart again. I got some smashing views of the bird as it skipped between trees. Eventually it flew into the top trees, about 10 meters high, and I was pushed for time so I had to leave. I have only ever seen adult male redstarts which are the most stunning, but don't offer much in the way of identification challenges. never mind, they are simply stunning birds.

-Adult male redstart

What a great last bird of the holiday, well I say last bird, but actually it wasnt the last bird I saw, because on my woodland walk I spootted a chiffchaff and I also saw a pied wagtail on the lakeside, so a great end to a great holiday.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Lakeland day 4

My dad decided that today, seeing as though it was boiling hot again, we would walk down to the reservoir and then go on the boat again, for the last time this holiday. The only issue was that there was now a serious haze building up to spoil the views. I caught a newspaper headling-"killer smog hits britiain", but I seriously doubt that this is killere smog, just some heat haze.

-Heat Haze
In the toilets there was anoth stunning moth that I had to remove to try and get a photo. I think its a carpet moth, but thats as far as my identification can go!

-Carpet moth
The walk was a good one, going from woodland to farmland, to woodland and then to the lake. On the way there I spotted an orange tip butterfly and an oystercatcher. In the second section of wood there was a split in the path, I went one way and my family went the other. My path went up to a large mound of rock, perhaps a roche moutonee! (Thats a glacial landform) but it gave great views of the surrounding countryside. When I left the hill ,I found another path that would take me around the the mound, across the road and into the woods next to the lake. I walked round to the boat facility, but my mum and dad were not there yet so I wandered around the back of the cafe in the scrubby woodland there. Good thing I did too, I got another new bird! It's one I have wanted to see for so long! everywhere you go they apparently live there, they live locally at Elland Gravel Pits But They have eluded me for so long. Yes Its the elusive garden warbler.

-Garden Warbler
The only issue was that it only stuck around for a few minuets! And then trying to track it down was an absolute nightmare. The call would normally be a good thing, but to the untrained ear (mine) it sounds just like a blackcap, which were absolutely everywhere in this wood. I must have followed about 10 calls all of them being blackcaps.

-Blackcap (male and female)
I caught up with my family for lunch and we then decided to go on the boats, our original intention. The row started as usual with the mallards and canada geese. But near the reedbeds there was a smaller grey goose associating with the graylags, and after photo analysis it became clear that it was a white-fronted goose. This bird I have only seen in Norfolk, in a huge flock. The fact that there was only one was making me doubtful as to weather it was genuine. It flew off quite well though, which infuriated me, because my photos were not great. I didn't see where it landed but I was hoping we would encounter it again.

-White fronted goose
there were lots of barnacle geese flying overhead which just highlights the blue sky and the lack of clouds. The geese look stunning against the blue backdrop.

-Barnacle geese
Near the island there were mergansers swimming about and also a female perched up high on a rock, which is not a usual view, as they are often swimming rather than perched.
-red breasted merganser
A bit further round there were some barnacle geese roosted, which suggests that they were happier on this new island, probably because of the lack of interference with their lives.
-Barnacle geese
On the return trip I spotted That there were a number of geese rested on the grassy back of the lakeshore and I wondered if the white-fronted goose might be there. I asked if I could have a look and my parents said I could and that they would pick me up after they had been shopping. When we landed I set off immediately and in good spirits, due to the potential of seeing a rare bird. On the way there I got a great view of a willow warbler resting above my head, which offered me potential to get some more willow warbler photos-willow warbler being a bird that you have never taken enough photos off!

-willow warbler
I made it to the Field where the birds were. They were still there, but to reach them I had to cross a sedge filled swamp-not nice. Luckily it was worth it because The white-fronted goose was amongst the graylag geese. It was roosted but I disturbed it and I immediately wandered if it was going to fly off. Luckily not, it just walked away, so I gave it a wide birth and tired to get closer from a different angle. I managed to get some decent shots, and these also prove that the bird had no ring on its leg, so i am now pretty sure that it is a wild bird.

-White fronted goose
There were also a few other birds there, notable the barnacle geese, probably grazing on the grass that they cant find on their wooded island. I cant imagine that they would be breeding but they sure look like they are.
-Barnacle geese
Having had my other memory card broken, I was having a bit of a problem with photo shortage so I was reluctant to take photos of things I didn't need. Luckily the white-fronted goose was very camera friendly, staying in the open and not flying away (but walking away!)

-White-fronted goose
It was kind of special to see all the different kinds of geese all in one place, there were also canadas there too which I had not mentioned. The star no doubt the white-fronted. I decided to leave as I could see that the geese were getting nervous, and so to avoid disturbing them.
-Barnacle geese, graylag geese (behind)
back at the boat depo there was a family of ducks with four ducklings, which are the first I have seen this year and therefore is quite special to me. It was a bit nerve racking because the males were still trying to mate with the female and the ducklings were ending up all over the place, but when I left there were still four so that's good.

-Mallard duckling
This has to bee the best day of the holiday, its sad that it has to be the last full day, but even so, There is still tomorrow to look forward to!