Friday, 24 April 2009

A Special Place

This week I made a couple of visits to a valley I hadn't visited for a few years. It is a wild and steep sided valley and tumbles down from high moorland through limestone exposures to join the River Lune not far from Kirkby Lonsdale. It is unspoilt and is home to fell sheep and some wonderful birdlife. Towards it's lower reaches is found some ancient deciduous woodland which clings to the rocky valley sides and above that is scattered hawthorn scrub and bracken covered fellside.  The wild and steep sided rocky upper reaches are home to wheatears and on my visit I found good numbers and they were showing well on the roadside walls and fences. Lower down in the woodland I was fortunate to glimpse a pied flycatcher and a number of redstarts had taken up residence in the old and damp woodland.  A green woodpecker was yaffling but I didn't manage a sighting. On the beck dippers were about and were busy feeding young.
I could have spent more time in this delightful area but had a long drive back home. I will however soon return to this special place  when more birds will have made it their home for the summer. The images show the valley, a lucky shot of a recently arrived pied flycatcher, and one of the many wheatears that were flitting around the upper reaches of the valley.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Drive By Shooting

Returned to the Bowland Moors again yesterday as the P.M. weather promised more sun than my previous visit. So it turned out but there was still a very strong and cool easterly wind hammering across the tops. It meant I was shooting again mainly from within the car but this is an excellent way to approach closely as most birds are accustomed to the sight and sound of traffic. I drove over Bowland Knotts just into Yorkshire then back into Lancashire again via the spectacular descent from the Cross of Greet. This latter section of road traverses  moorland and then follows the infant River Hodder down a twisty narrow mountain road. The whole area is great for moorland birds but I particularly like the Cross of Greet area as there is more exposure of rock and consequently more variety in the bird life.
It was a super afternoon and I managed some decent shots of Wheatear, recently arrived, and more shots of Red Grouse , both birds looking their best in the bright sunshine. I finished the day with a drive back on "Quiet Lanes" via Easington and Cow Ark to Longridge and home. This last area provided me with nice shots of Lapwing and a stunning male pheasant showing off his wonderful colours in the evening sun.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Grouse Shooting. Bowland.

Yesterday P.M. decided on a look at the Bowland Moors up above Slaidburn in Lancs. The forecast sunny weather didn't make it and the afternoon was hazy with a very strong easterly wind blowing in from Yorkshire. I stayed in the car and the images above were all taken using the car as a mobile hide. I was able to stop frequently on the almost traffic free roads when I spotted any grouse that were within range of the camera. I spent an hour or so cruising the Bowland Knotts area where good numbers of Red Grouse were showing from time to time. I  was able to approach within 40yds or so of the birds which are now on territory and not moving far away from their chosen patch of moorland. It was an enjoyable experience and I only wish it was as easy to obtain images of the Black Grouse which is one of my objectives, in fact I have never even seen one. Maybe in the next few weeks the opportunity may arise to visit an area where it may be possible to see these reclusive and endangered birds. I understand that numbers are on the increase in the Northern Pennines so I may get lucky!!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Easter Day - What a difference a year makes.

Kath and I went for our usual Sunday walk. I couldn't help thinking what a contrast it was to Easter Day 2008. Then Easter Day fell in March , and we were surprised to find on our arrival in the Ingleton area that there had been a fresh fall of snow overnight which had transformed the landscape to a Winter's scene. What a contrast this year, on what was one of the nicest days so far, with cloudless blue skies, little or no wind and very warm temperatures. It was indeed more like a Summer's day.
We walked from Leck village up the traffic free road onto Leck Fell and then made our way down to Leck Beck and returned along this delightful mountain beck back to the car which had been parked at the village church. It was a delightful walk with the fields full of Spring lambs and returning swallows around the farms. Down by the beck dippers were seen and buzzards were soaring on the thermals. The images above show Ingleborough at Easter last year and some of the scenery seen on this Easter's walk. A wonderful day's walking in a remote and beautiful part of the North of England.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Dippering Again

This last week I have been visiting local rivers in my search for  more dippers. It has been an interesting week and good weather has prevailed and Spring does now seem to have finally arrived. I did manage to find a spot where dippers are nesting and spent many hours observing the comings and goings at the nest site. The parents returned at regular intervals with food from the river. This consisted mostly of caddis grubs but from time to time they would return with small fish and sometimes the takeaway meal would be a mixture of fish and grub. Mostly they would fly away from the nest site to find food but sometimes I saw them obtain grubs from the river bed within yards of the nest.
As well as dippers, grey wagtails were seen frequently, beautiful, graceful and colourful birds, a delight to watch. I was also very lucky to come across a superb male kingfisher on lookout on his riverside perch. I have attached images of the birds and a view of a typical river that they inhabit.