Sunday, 31 January 2010

Bolton Abbey

Blue skies and bright sunshine tempted me out on a day trip to Bolton Abbey. Parking at the Barden Tower end we made our way as far as the Cavendish Pavilion then back down the other side of the Strid. A shelter on the woodland path was a great spot to see a variety of the smaller birds as they came in for a feed. The Nuhatches showed particularly well on such a bright day.

After a refuelling stop at the cafe I then spotted some ripples in the water far below - a quick look through the binoculars confirmed that it was a Dipper, the first I have ever seen. The light at that precise point was awful and I struggled to get any decent shots, though we watched it swim underwater and catch small fish which it then ate on the rocks. Walking slightly further we found ourselves back on the bank of the main river where the current was running very fast. To my surprise we saw a second Dipper fishing here and I did manage to get some pics. It was hard to believe that it was able to fish here as the water was really racing along.

As we walked back under Barden Bridge we saw a Grey Heron in the shallows. It took exception to being photographed and flapped off upstream, landing in a tree further down. An Oystercatcher and a male Goosander were the other notable sightings of the day, but nothing could top my first Dippers!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Kirkstall teasels

There is a fantastic patch of sharp spiky teasels near the hedgerow of the abandoned allotments just off Queenswood Drive. Backlit with a hint of early morning light. Teasels are a good plant for butterflies during the flowering season and a good source of winter food for goldfinch. Over at our allotment, a stones throw or two away I spotted 15 Goldfinch (collectively known as a charm) in the hedgerow.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Sunny Saturday in Kirkstall

After popping along to the preview of Park Life, an exhibition on the Victorian origins of Leeds's parks and green spaces at Abbey House Museum, we enjoyed a sun soaked stroll down by the riverbank and along the Kirkstall Valley Park walk. Here's the view of the River Aire with the weir on the left. Unlike our recent visits there were no wintering Goosanders on this stretch of the river today, mainly Mallards, Moor Hens and Black Headed Gull, oh and a Grey Heron flew overhead to settle in a treetop overlooking the weir.

This Mistle Thrush was in the grounds of the Abbey.

Following the Kirkstall Valley Park walk, here are a few views along the way.

Its a lovely little woodland walk, mainly deciduous trees, brambles & ivy covered undergrowth with plenty of woodland birds, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Wren, Blackbird, Long Tailed Tit. Here we look downstream from the weir near the entrance to the Abbey Light Railway that runs on a Sunday.

Another view downstream.

At this point the walk rejoins the main road at Bridge Road, here's the view looking upstream back towards the Abbey. It was here that we were lucky enough to see the Kingfisher on Christmas day, it flew directly underneath us & off downstream.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Headingley train station

Stepping off the train at Headingley Station tonight I was greeted by the welcoming sound of a Robin in full evening chorus. I stopped to glance at the treetops illuminated by streetlamps that cast an orange glow onto the silhouetted branches.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Kirkstall & Beckett Park

A real pea souper of a day today, with little hint of a discernible horizon until early evening. Took some snaps during a lunchtime wander through Becket Park, hoping to catch some of the foggy landscape.

Two crows perched high in the tree, not sure whether they were able to make the most of their vantage point.

I noticed that buds are starting to appear on this Beech, water droplets collect on the underside of its branches and you can just about make out the beginnings of a spiders web.

I walk past this tangle of a Hawthorn hedgerow everyday. It borders the eastward edge of the abandoned allotments, its common most days to see Robin, Blackbird, Wren, Chaffinch and Goldfinch in the area.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Kirkstall and Headingley sightings

More snow fell last night following yesterday's icy conditions which made this morning's walk into work somewhat crispy underfoot. Throughout the week Redwing have been a familiar sight in the woodland around Beckett Park and the hedgerow adjacent to the railway line.

The rose bushes outside of James Graham building are dotted with rosehips that stand out against the snow covered thorned stems.

On the walk in to work I notice that the bare trees appear silhouetted against the grey-white sky, almost devoid of colour and certainly worth a second glance.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Kirkstall Abbey & the River Aire

This afternoon we took a short stroll by the River Aire and around Kirkstall Abbey without the camera. There were some infrequent visitors by the weir including 3 overwintering Goosander and 1 Little Grebe all busy diving for fish. A Grey Wagtail bobbed around the water's edge. A small wader quickly flew by and settled out of view, (markings & bill like that of a Common Sandpiper) it had a similar shape & flight pattern as that of a bird I noticed at a small fresh water spring at Beckett Park last week, must keep my eyes peeled! Three Canada Geese headed upstream whilst the fourth made its way up the weir bank. The regular occupants were present - Mute Swan, Mallard, Moor Hen, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Jackdaw, Crow, Blue Tit, Long Tail Tit.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Fieldfare and Redwing in Park Square

Earlier in the week I mentioned that there was a flock of Fieldfare in Park Square, Leeds City Centre. The birds were feeding on berries in the park and in the trees nearby. On Friday we popped into town to see if they were still there & to hopefully get a better look. Although there were much fewer birds approximately 6 Fieldfare remained, they were accompanied by a couple of Redwing and what we think was a juvenile Mistle Thrush (I'd appreciate feedback on this). A lovely clear sky made for some good pics, it was a delight to spend some time watching these beautiful winter visitors.

Fieldfare and Redwing feed alongside each other.

This is what we thought might be a juvenile Mistle Thrush, attracted by fruit & seed that we scattered on cleared ground to help them along.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Beckett Park

No snow fell overnight in Leeds, today's clear skies and sunshine may help to shift some of this snow. On the way in to work this morning I noticed a few bits and bobs.

Early morning sunlight filtering through the snow covered hedgerow.

Gulls on rooftop

Teasels in the snow

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Kirkstall & Beckett Park

And even more snow overnight... A few views on the way into work this morning.

In the snow covered trees & hedgerows a couple of Redwing, Wren, Robin, Wood Pigeon, Blackbird, Chaffinch.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Beckett Park

More snow.......Here's how it looked on the way in to work this morning near the Queenswood Drive entrance to Beckett Park.

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