Monday, 28 December 2009

St Mary's Island

I'm up in the North East visiting my parents for a few days & this morning we popped out to St Mary's Island where the weather was crisp, the sky clear & the tide was steadily approaching the causeway. Down by the water's edge Turnstone, Sanderlings, Dunlin, Knot, Rock Pipit, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Cormorant & Golden Plover.

Here's a few pics of Turnstone, Rock Pipit & Redshank.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Kirkstall Christmas sightings

'On Christmas Day in the morning', well more like early afternoon we wandered down along a stretch of the Kirkstall Valley along the Goitside walk that starts near Morrisons. 'And what was in those ships all three?' No ships today, but as we stood overlooking the goit that runs underneath Bridge Road metres away from the busy crossroad with the A65 we spotted a Kingfisher heading towards us, underneath the bridge & off downstream. Its the first Kingfisher we've seen in Kirkstall & it was fantastic to see it so near to home.

Then we headed downstream, from the bridge at Redcote Lane we spotted 5 overwintering Goosander, two pairs and one single male. Perhaps two of these birds were the pair we saw a couple of weeks ago upstream near the Abbey. Although not a great shot of the bird (bottom left) I do like a context shot now & again so here you get to see Kirkstall/Burley in the background (well it is Christmas). A Grey Heron flew overhead whilst we watched the Goosander.

Between Redcote Bridge & the canal 6 Redwing settled in the treetops, slightly too far away for a decent pic.

Throughout the walk Jay x 1, Blue Tit x 10, Great Tit x 7, Long Tailed Tit x 6 Blackbird x 9, Chaffinch x 3, Magpie x 10, Robin x 6, Moor Hen x 7, Mallard x 12 & squirrels scampered across the frozen canal.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Beckett Park

Well the snow's still lying in Kirkstall & Headingley. Walking through Beckett Park at lunchtime I noticed a solitary Lapwing fly over the Park & land briefly. Blackbird x 6, Robin x 4, Greenfinch x 3, Chaffinch x 2, Pied Wagtail x 1, Goldfinch x 3.

Winter wonderland

Fallen leaves on snow, Beckett Park, Headingley.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Kirkstall sightings

This weekend's wintery weather meant we stayed close to home. Near the railway underpass an obliging Robin kindly paused for a pic.

Not a great pic, but this Grey Wagtail, an unusual Kirkstall visitor, searched for insects along the outer wall of St Stephens churchyard.

By the footpath behind Queenswood Drive this apple tree still bears fruit, welcome winter gifts for local birds.

On the edge of Beckett Park woodland we paused for a minute to hear a familiar tap tap tap of the Great Spotted Woodpecker in the treetops. A passerby mentioned that the woodpecker regularly visits the feeders in her nearby garden, I wondered whether its the same bird I spotted back in February.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Headingley fungi finds

Earlier this week we moved offices, having previously worked in the city centre, we're now based up at our green and pleasant Headingley campus. I hope to make the most of my new daytime surroundings & take the opportunity to get out and about on a lunchtime. During this afternoon's short walk to the canteen to grab a coffee I noticed a few fungi growing in the borders. Thanks to Michael Flowers for helping to identify these as Glistening Ink Caps.

A few flakes of snow are visible on the gills of this already upturned cap & stem fungi, a further flurry fell just after I returned to the office much to our excitement.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Rodley Nature Reserve

At Rodley Nature Reserve on Saturday afternoon we were tipped off to keep our eyes peeled for Snipe on the waters edge on Duck Marsh. Close inspection revealed 5 Snipe well camouflaged against the surrounding vegetation, a first sighting of the bird for us at Rodley & certainly the nearest sighting to home.

The next pic shows how well hidden the birds are against the winter vegetation.

A male Reed Bunting darting over Tim's Field to settle on a bare branch.

A female Chaffinch kindly perched on a willow screen.

A Kestrel patrolled the reserve throughout the duration of our visit, Grey Heron and Cormorants flew overhead. On the way to the Manager's Garden we popped into the visitors centre for a warming cuppa and a slice of tea loaf, yum. Refuelled and onwards to the Manager's Garden where a pair of Great Spotted Woodpecker paid a brief visit to the delight of all present. On the feeders male and female Reed Bunting, Great Tit, Robin, Blackbird, Blue Tit all fed happily until the arrival of an incredibly noisy Magpie scared them all away.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Kirkstall sightings

A wander to nearby Kirkstall Abbey on a clear but chilly Sunday afternoon revealed some interesting finds. On the steep grassy bank opposite the Abbey we noticed a few fungi near the tree line. I had a few attempts to photograph them with the Abbey in the background, the direct sunlight meant they're pretty overexposed but I'm not too bothered, it was worth a try.

The same fungi from the opposite view, I'm guessing that the cold weather has caused it to collapse & split .
A couple of other cap & stem species growing in a group, these were pink/purple colour with glossy caps.In the grounds of Kirkstall Abbey, a tree stump is host to a collection of smaller fungi, possibly Turkeytail & Orange Peel Fungus, the Abbey is visible in the background.
Behind us, only a couple of metres away the River Aire looked fit to burst.
Whilst walking alongside the fast flowing river we were suprised to spot a couple of Goosander battling against the current & they soon took off towards the canal a short distance away.
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