Monday, 31 January 2011

Bramhope and Weardley

On Sunday afternoon, on the way from Goldenacre Park out to Weardley we spotted 8 Red Kites in the skies above us, this one settled in the treetops, just long enough to grab a couple of pics. Nearby a female Kestrel surveyed the adjacent field and swooped down behind the hawthorn hedgerow into the field, presumably in pursuit of Sunday dinner.

A couple of miles away near Goldenacre Park we passed a field of Fieldfare, over 100 in number, with approximately 20 Starlings amongst the flock. We parked up to get a better view and count the numbers, here's approximately one fifth of the flock.

In the distance you can see Leeds Bradford Airport, the planes visible to the left of the picture.

Although last year's Fieldfare sightings in Park Square, Leeds City Centre gave us better views, I'd never seen quite as many in one flock. Seems like a good opportunity to dust off one of the Fieldfare pics that we took last year.

In fields nearby we noticed that Lapwing have returned in good numbers 2 x 50+ plus a big flock of Pink Footed Geese 80+.

I also noticed four bracket fungi growing on a deciduous trunk which I think is Daedaleopsis confragosa  (Blushing Bracket). A common fungi found all year round, with pores on the underside, Roger Phillips' Mushrooms describes its upper surface as "radially wrinkled and concentrically ridged" which sums it up nicely.  

As if Sunday's sightings weren't enough to keep me going through the week, on my way back into work at lunchtime, out of the corner of my eye I spotted a movement in the laurel hedgerow, expecting a Robin or a Dunnock I was surprised to see a Goldcrest, just the ticket to get me through a Monday afternoon.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Rodley Nature Reserve

A visit to the Manager's Garden at Rodley Nature Reserve on Saturday gave us our first Brambling sighting of the year, the bare branches of nearby shrubs allowed for clearer views of the Brambling than at Fairburn Ings in November last year.

Around the feeding stations, and in adjacent hedgerows I counted 12 Reed Bunting at one point.  Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tail Tit, Bullfinch, Blackbird, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting, Jay, Magpie, Wood Pigeon appeared the garden during our visit.

The shrubs to the left of the hide provide good cover for the birds as they wait their turn to visit the feeding stations and it was here I managed to get a few pics of Reed Bunting, Chaffinch and Bullfinch.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Waxwings fly into town

Over the past couple of years Ive followed fellow blogger reports of Waxwings sightings with a tiny amount of envy. If I had a bird list Waxwing would be vying for top spot, in close contest with a Bittern and a Jack Snipe, all unlikely candidates for sightings from my bedroom window. Unlikely that is until this afternoon.....

On opening the bedroom window to check the weather I heard a chorus of trills, and was astonished to see 15 Waxwing in the tree at the end of the terrace. A frantic camera search ensued, one had no lens, the other no card, a quick rummage produced only a medium lens and barely enough time to rattle off a couple of shots before they disappeared. Although gutted that they're all blurred/too distant, I was still chuffed with my garden sighting. Ive included a couple for reference and as a reminder to myself to always keep the camera ready for action, doh! The tiny blurry dots in the topmost branches are indeed Waxwing. The second pic shows the last bird to fly off, at least you can just make out the distinctive profile and my window frame top left.

After all this excitement I had to rush out of the house to catch a bus into town, and assumed that would be the last I'd see of the Waxwings.......That is until I got off the 49 bus at the bottom of the Headrow, beside the Crown Court building. I imagined I was hearing things when I caught the sound of trilling for a second time and gazed upwards to see 40/50 Waxwing in the uppermost branches of a Plane tree. This time, I was armed only with my camera phone I apologise once more for the shots which require a certain amount of zooming in, squinting and goodwill, but I assure you they wereWaxwing, and they were there. I chuckled at the appropriate backdrop and moved round for a better shot. 

15 or so on the bottom right branches and a few top left. 

Looking up towards the Headrow,  the Waxwing are sat at the top of the tree, not to be confused with the remaining Plane tree fruits.

Perhaps next time I might get a decent shot?

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Queenswood fungi

On a walk around Queenswood I found a cluster of eyecatching Flammulina velutipes 'Velvet Foot' growing on a tree stump. The pumpkin coloured convex caps flatten out with age, its one of few mushrooms to appear in winter.  

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Beech leaves in Queenswood

During a lunch time wander through Queenswood, the afternoon light streamed through the woodland to light up last season's persistent beech leaves.  Marcescence is the term used to describe the retention of autumn leaves.  

The juvenile Beeches provide a welcome sprinkling of colour to the shrub layer of the bare woodland.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Queenswood, Beckett Park

On my way in to work, I walked along the outskirts of Queens Wood adjacent to Beckett Park. Sunlight began to illuminate the woodland edges. The tall smooth trunks and papery golden leaves of Beeches began to glow below the jumble of twisted Oak branches.    

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Butterfly Review 2010

A weekend of pretty poor weather coincided with having just completed Patrick Barkham's 'The Butterfly Isles' and I decided to take the opportunity to review my butterfly sightings for 2010. My interest began in 2009, with the aim of expanding my limited knowledge to encompass more than just the most common butterflies such as the Red Admiral, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell. I've made plenty of mistakes along the way but am pleased with how much I've seen and can identify confidently without the aid of a guidebook.  So here's what I saw during 2010, and I look forward to the coming year.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Fairburn Ings

A couple of weeks ago, while the snow and ice was still with us we enjoyed a trip out to Fairburn Ings RSPB.  On the lakeside margins reedheads stood out against the frozen water, with tiny bursts of hedgerow colour provided by these Rosehips.

Not the best pic, but worthy of inclusion, this here is a Long Eared Owl. We saw a few of them at Fairburn last year, but this year we only managed the one sighting.

A group of 20 Cormorants settled on a pylon.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year

After a period of festive inactivity I'd like to wish you a very Happy New Year. What better than to start the year with a garden sighting, this lovely looking Goldcrest, as well as being a little bird its also a little blurred, as it was taken through double glazing. As Pete kindly pointed out, the bird is ringed, but unfortunately there isn't enough detail in the pic, doh! How great it would have been to discover where it had flown in from.

Its not the only one seen in Kirkstall over the festive period, on Christmas day morning we spotted three in the conifers in front of Kirkstall Leisure Centre. A pretty good addition to our list of Kirkstall Christmas sightings. 

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