Sunday, 29 April 2012

Rain rain go away

With little let up in the weather this weekend we were restricted to a circuitous drive out to Eccup before the sun went down. In a dry half hour we saw Kestrel, Red Kite, Lapwing, and lots of Curlew, pictured here.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Adel Churchyard Bluebells & the Kate Middleton connection

In between today's downpours, a picture of bluebells in the grounds of St John the Baptist Church in Adel. According to the church website, "Kate Middleton's seven times Great-Grandparents, Francis Lupton and Ester Midgley were married in Adel Church in 1688. The grave of Ester's parents, Ralph & Frances Midgley 1694 lies close to the path by the main door." Who knew!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Incoming Buzzard at Eccup

Passing through Eccup we watched a Buzzard swoop down to settle on a fence post. We've seldom seen a Buzzard at rest here as they're predominantly soaring high over the fields in search of prey.

Not sure the nearby Wood Pigeons were too happy at the arrival of their new neighbour, but within minutes it was chased off by a tag team of Crows.

Monday, 23 April 2012

A Pair of Little Owls

We were driving near Bramhope as my attention was drawn to a rounded shape on the lower branch of an Oak. Remaining in the car we stopped for a better look and were delighted to make out a Little Owl perched on the branch with its back to us. After 10 minutes it flew 50 metres to the right and settled on a stone wall at which point we were doubly delighted realised to see a second Little Owl perched  above it in the branches of a Holly tree.

We've only ever seen one Little Owl in this spot previously and hadn't seen that one for a few months so it was lovely to see the two owls together.


Sunday, 22 April 2012

Green Hairstreak return

We set out to Otley Chevin with only the smallest of breaks in cloud cover, on the off-chance that we might strike lucky and find a few Green Hairstreaks. An early sighting of a solitary butterfly gave way to a further 45 minutes of wandering until we found four additional butterflies on Bilberry in the bottom section of the field.

This one is a different Green Hairstreak to the first two photos, note fewer white spots on the hindwing.

Other than the Green Hairstreak we spotted two Peacock butterflies, a male Kestrel, two Curlews flew overhead down the valley, Chiffchaffs were audible, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Robin, Wren, Blackbird were all present. Heading back, we came to a sheltered hollow where a number of small birds hopped from tree to tree,  Blue Tit, Treecreeper, Robin, Chaffinch, two Siskin and a Warbler. I don't know enough to distinguish between Warblers but was able to note the distinctive descending melodious song which I checked online and am reasonably certain that this is a Willow Warbler, I'd welcome any feedback on this.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Weardley Red Kites

Andrea drove through Weardley earlier today and watched a Red Kite for a few minutes as it threw some shapes together. The Yorkshire Red Kite website is a great source of information about these birds. In terms of local sightings we've seen one fly over our house in Kirkstall, had a couple of sightings over the allotment and regular weekend sightings in the Spen Lane/ring road area.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Beckett Park Mallards

On the way into work, walking through Beckett Park I caught sight of a pair of Mallards where the underground spring emerges near the beech copse. Not an unusual bird but an unusual sight on the park, I've only seen them here once before, back in April 2010, at the time Dean commented that they might be checking out possible nesting sites as they often nest away from water. The spring disappears after 25 metres and resurfaces again at the edge of the allotments near Headingley train station.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Green Hairstreak...they're back

Whilst I was in Northumberland chasing Goldcrest, Andrea was out visiting Otley Chevin where she spotted an early single Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) on a grassy pathway.

The green colouration on the underside of the wing is caused by the diffraction of light on the wing scales. This is bilberry, the larval foodplant where GH's lay their eggs singly. Before pupating the caterpillar crawls to the ground to pupate at the foot of bushes, amongst leaf litter and as adults they tend to remain within a hundred yards of their home ground.

We had some great sightings of Green Hairstreak in this spot last year, and will no doubt be making a return journey in the next few weeks.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Wallington Goldcrest

On a trip to the North East at the weekend we popped up to Kirkharle for a spot of lunch and onto nearby Wallington for a wander through the grounds. In the woodland we heard Nuthatch and Chiffchaff and here in the walled garden we watched Grey Wagtail, Treecreeper, Song Thrush, Wren, Robin, Chaffinch, Blackbird (my dad CityBirding got some nice pics of these birds) and this lovely Goldcrest, possibly my best sighting of a Goldcrest.

Wallington walled garden

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Breary Marsh and Adel Dam

Another guest post from Andrea from her journeys through Breary Marsh and onto the nearby Adel Dam Nature Reserve where she spotted lots of woodland birds and took some very nice shots of Wren, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Long Tail Tit and more Wren against some interesting backdrops.


I found the next three shots interesting, as all birds were feeding on the trunk of an Oak. English Oak trees in particular provide habitats for a wider range of organisms than any other tree in the UK. The older the tree, the deeper the fissures in the bark, the greater number of potential microhabitats for sheltering invertebrates, the greater the food source for birds. The surface patterns of the bark also provide a distracting backdrop that has the effect of camouflaging the visiting birds.


Long Tail Tit

Jenny Wren 


Thank you Andrea

Friday, 13 April 2012

More of the Bar Headed Goose at Breary Marsh

While I was at work Andrea had the day off (boo!) and found herself on a return journey to Breary Marsh, where she enjoyed better views of the sociable Bar Headed Goose (Anser indicus), hanging out with its Canada Geese pals (hooray!).

I noticed a sighting of a BHG a few flaps of a goosies wing away at Goldenacre Park on Bird Guides 23/10/11. Apparently its one of the world's highest flying birds, high flying and handsome...

A big thanks to Andrea for the pics.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Speckled Wood in Queens Wood

At lunchtime I left the office for a woodland wander through Queens Wood which is on the doorstep of the university campus. Whilst enjoying the bluebell views I caught sight of what I thought was a bee amongst the foliage (at the centreof the shot), but turned out to be my first  Speckled Wood of the year, yay!

Here's the area where I spotted them, a recently cleared West facing sunny spot in the woodland, it did catch my eye as a good location for potential butterflies, I love it when that happens. 

The clearance work is part of the University's ongoing woodland management programme, extensive thinning  has been carried out to get rid of diseased and non natives with some replanting to encourage the growth of native species. Felled wood has been retained and in some cases the tops of trees have been removed but left standing for woodpeckers. I heard a couple of Great Spotted Woodpecker and Chiffchaff, and saw Wren, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tail Tit, Magpie, Crow, Robin, Goldfinch, Wood Pigeon & Grey Squirrel.  

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Bar Headed Goose and Bluebells at Breary Marsh

A certainty to be an escapee, but nevertheless this Bar Headed Goose was a pleasant sight on Paul's Pond at Breary Marsh, alongside two Canada Geese, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Grebe and Moor Hen. I have to admit that we didn't know what it was until I got home and referred to my Collins Bird Guide which revealed this oneto be an adult, as the juveniles lack the cross bars on the head . Two Pied Wagtail dashed sprightly along the wall at the water's edge. No sign of any Great Spotted Woodpecker today in the woodland, but we did see a Bullfinch and a Kestrel over Cookridge golf course.

Bluebells are starting to emerge in the woodland and there should be a good display in another week or so.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Kirkstall wander, Kirkstall Hill

A couple of days ago, I wandered over to Kirkstall Hill, where I immediately recognised the call of a Chiffchaff and caught a quick glimpse before it disappeared but continued to remain in the area. The blackthorn were flowering & birches were full of catkins.

Kirkstall Hill is a small (200m x 150m x 150m ) unimpressive triangular section of west facing greenspace located at the busy crossroads of Kirkstall Lane and Kirkstall Hill. Half of the area is grassland with shrubs, brambles and deciduous trees  bordering the remaining area, Hawthorn, Birch, Laurel, Holly, Ivy, Oak, Blackthorn. Kirkstall Hill was the site of an old quarry, owned by Reffitts, a firm of dyers based on Kirkstall Road, (thanks to Andrea for her help). The most notable feature is the view from the hill up along the Aire Valley which is pretty impressive on a clear day.

As well as the Chiffchaff, Goldfinch, Long Tail Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Robin, Blackbird, & Wren were all active in the surrounding trees and shrubs.

The only butterfly in view was this Small Tortoiseshell.

Birch catkins were showing well, you can clearly see the difference between the longer hanging male catkins and the smaller upright female catkins, as the fresh shiny finely toothed leaves  are starting to unfurl.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Lawnswood Cemetery Action Day

Yesterday we took part in this months Friends of Lawnswood Cemetery Action Day which takes place on the first Saturday of the month. The aim of the Friends is to protect, preserve and promote the 67 acre cemetery. Since the first work party in October, we've been working our way through the 1910 section tidying up overgrown path edges, trimming back any encroaching trees and shrubs.

The cemetery is a great place for wildlife, despite the presence of our working party I still spotted Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Robin, Wren, Jay, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, heard two Chiffchaff and saw a Grey Heron pass overhead.

Here's a photo from last summer in the Victorian section of the cemetery of a Red Admiral, on the wing ; )

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Kirkstall wander, Goitside Walk

At the crossroads of Abbey Road and Bridge Road in Kirkstall is a 19th century water fountain inscribed with the message 'Drink and be grateful', as I stopped to look around the area which has been spruced up recently, I spotted this Goldfinch in the tree above me chattering away to its nearby companion.

Kirkstall in Bloom and Leeds Parks Department recently tidied up the area around the water fountain, clearing and planting beds with bulbs and bedding plants, trimming overhanging trees and shrubs and constructing benches.  Great work.

Round the corner, underneath Bridge Road flows the goit. Here's the view from the pavement upstream, and to the left of this is the entrance to the goitside walk, part of Kirkstall Abbey Riverside Walk. The Abbey Light Railway runs alongside the goit, crossing halfway and ending at Kirkstall Abbey.

There's an information board near the entrance that states, "The mill race, locally called the goit, may have been cut in the 12th century by the monks to divert water from the river to power one of their corn mills. After the closure of the Abbey in 1539, the goit was used again when a bloomery was established to transfrom iron ore into wrought iron around 1640" Leeeds City Council

The board also lists "Wildlife of the goit", including Brown Hawkers, Blue Damselflies, Grey Wagtail, Daubenton and Pipistrelle bats.  To add to those I've also seen Kingfisher, Grey Heron, Speckled Wood, Comma, Peacock butterflies, and Banded Demoiselle in this area. Abbey Mills is pictured below on the opposite side of the goit.

The view across the bridge, looking back downstream, BHS is just visible to the left.

The view upstream, Abbey Light Railway bridge is visible at the narrowest part of the waterway.

A few paces away I heard this Blackbird singing, easy to spot amongst bare branches before the spring leaves have emerged.

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