Sunday, 28 November 2010

Kirkstall Abbey & the banks of the River Aire

On Saturday afternoon we wandered down to Kirkstall Abbey stopping off at the Abbey House Museum Cafe for a mid-walk lunch which was delicious as ever. The park was uncharacteristically empty, covered with a layer of snow that had fallen in the early hours of Saturday morning.  Following the curved path down towards the river a pair of Pied Wagtail bobbed around thawed patches of ground and 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker flew overhead.

On the River Aire were 6 Goosander, familiar winter visitors to this stretch of the river, a group of 4 upstream and a pair further downstream that eventually joined the main bunch. Whilst gazing along the river, a Kingfisher zipped upstream a metre or so from the near bank.

Suddenly the two Great Spotted Woodpecker re-appeared, noisily chasing each other from tree to tree.

The cold started to kick in so we headed back towards the Abbey, in the branches of a Sycamore a mixed group of small birds were feeding, comprising Blue Tit, Long Tail Tit, Dunnock, Chaffinch and the first time I've seen a Wren in such a group.

A Nuthatch flew into view and landed at the base of this trunk making its way upwards in a spiral motion.

As we were about to leave the park we spotted movement in a Yew tree  situated at the boundary wall next to the gate. We counted approximately 8 birds, a mixed bunch of Thrush and Blackbirds were feeding on the berries, we managed a few pics and quickly left them in peace to continue feeding on the berries, no doubt a welcome source of food in these wintery conditions.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Fairburn Ings Sunday stroll

At Fairburn Ings, the majority of leaves have now fallen and the birches take their turn to provide pointillist splashes of colour, less saturated than those of beech and maple that glowed brightly earlier in the month.  

As the surrounding vegetation dies back, the more sombre tones serve to enhance the papery white birch trunks and their dark, thin lateral branches that still retain the small serrated yellow leaves. 

There was plenty of bird activity, at one point over forty Goldfinch flew into view and alighted in the treetops (left and centre), a minute or so later a similar number of Redwing circled the area, coming to rest in the uppermost branches of the tree to the right.

Another pleasing sighting were 4 Brambling feeding on the topmost branches of a Birch, although sadly I only managed this record shot. Plenty more sightings included a male and female Bullfinch, a Fieldfare, Kingfisher, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, Long Tail Tit, Blackbird, Robin, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Moor Hen, and two Red Kites near Garforth.  

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