Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Burnsall Bridge

A lovely walk by the river in Burnsall in the lovely Yorkshire Dales. The weather was absolutely glorious (For England) so that it was a very pleasant walk up the river, as usual. We started of course at the cafe and playing field, where there were ample sand martins, as well as wonderful views of a large crayfish under the water. There was also a lovely family of ducks sheltering under the bridge.  
As we set off I spotted a grey wagtail heading up to one of the overgrown ditches on the bridge and so assumed that it had a nest up there. 
There rest of the walk went by pretty uneventful, with the exception of a distant spotted flycatcher, until a point much higher than where we usually see wildlife where we had what might be (For us) a river first. I was watching a dipper in the river and while we watched it there was a constant cheeping next to us, and I wasn't really looking for its source as I assumed that it was in the shrubbery near the river but as we made ready to move on I spotted a common sandpiper sat out in the open making all the racket. I was able to get great views and photos of what was a very obliging bird. As we carried on moving up stream it even came and landed near us again further up so that I was able to get great shots of this species

-Common Sandpiper 
The bridge came on up ahead, and after a rest there we set off back downstream. In the open grassy section just below the bridge there are a few trees and it was there that I caught up with a lovely spotted flycatcher. I spotted it as it flew across the river to catch an insect and was caught scrapping with another spotted flycatcher. After it had defended its territory or whatever it came back to land in the tree next to us. Sadly though the high contrast between the shade of the tree and the open field meant that most of my photos were very dark. Unfortunate considering how close the bird was to us.  

-Spotted Flycatcher 
Heading back we caught up again with the sandpiper, easy to find now since we had become so familiar with its call. I then spotted another among the rocks in the middle of the river. This one was nothing like as vocal as the one closest to us. So it was that I got one of many biggest shocks of the day, as a baby suddenly appeared on the near shore along the waters edge. I was surprised, but in a pleasant way, and only adds to the value of the common sandpiper sighting today. It was still quite a young bird, but since the torrential rain that we usually get doesn't seem to have materialised its prospects look reasonably good.

-Juvenile Common Sandpiper

-Common Sandpiper 
At the rapids we than spotted a dipper flying up to a place in the cliff numerous times, and when we were all quiet we were able to hear the young in the nest
As we walked past the rapids to the large open field I spotted a pair of juvenile nuthatches with a parent in one of the large trees. And so we got another great view of some fledgling birds being tended to by the parents. Sadly I was unable top get any photos of the juveniles or the adults feeding them, mainly due to my being content to just watch them. I was however able to get great views of the adult as it came really close to us to gather food. 

And so we returned to the start. I mentioned to my parents about my grey wagtail hunch, even as I said one of the adults headed up to the site, so I suggested we go up and have a look. When we reached a suitable place I had a peek over at where I expected them to be, in the drainpipe, but was unable to see anything. I decided then to wait for the adult to see if one of the adults would come up and explain this riddle to me. Indeed one of the adults did come up with a beak full of food, but it obviously thought me too close to reveal its secrets, so I moved back.

-Grey wagtail
I then watched as it descended to the drain, and then moved up a level to one of the overgrown ridges above the drain, where I was then able to hear babies calling. I waited for the adult to leave and moved back to where I had been before to see how old they were, but mainly to see if I could find it this time. 
I looked over and got quite a shock, as four well grown grey wagtail chicks stared back at me. I'm not one for "cuteness", but even I think that these are cute. They look healthy and ready to fledge at any point. I took a few photos and then left to reduce the stress I might cause the youngsters 

-Grey wagtail Chicks
 After that Baby filled walk we spent the rest of the day fishing in the river for crayfish. We found ample bullheads/millers thumbs and quite a few loaches, some of a fair size. But sadly we only found 3 crayfish, though one was carrying an egg sack. 
I would have to say that it was certainly one of the more wildlife filled walks at this place, and not just because of the ample juvenile birds that seemed to be everywhere.