Great Spotted Visitor

We had this male Great Spotted Woodpecker visitor in our Cherry Tree on 18 January 2018.

Great Spotted Woodpecker

I often hear them, we have some large trees around, but it is great to see them in the garden. The red patch on the back of its head identifies it as adult male. A female has the red belly but not the red head patch and the juvenile’s belly is not quite as red and has a red crown to its head.

As usual you can click on the image to see it larger on Flickr. This time it is in an album of “Wildlife in our garden”.

Baildon Planning Application Map


I have resurrected and tweaked the Baildon planning application map at:-

The Long Version

I developed an interest in using computers many years ago (mid to late 1970s)  when I started writing programs to make my work as a Production Engineer easier. I saw several opportunities as a councillor to do the same. Baildon Parish Council volunteered to be the first, along with Keighley, to trial a paperless way of reviewing planning applications with Bradford Council.

A sample of the paperwork for plans

Up until then a paper copy of all Baildon related planning applications was sent to the chair of the planning review committee. Once we agreed to the trial the paper copies stopped, so we had to make the trial work.

I was of the opinion that council meetings should not rely on an internet connection during the meeting. Printing was out of the question – it would be going against the intention of the paperless idea and move the printing work and costs to a less efficient place – you can see a sample of what we had been receiving in the photo. This meant that all documents and drawings related to all planning applications to be decided on during the meeting had to be downloaded to be available during the meeting. Doing this manually was extremely tedious so I put my “make my job easier” hat on.

It should have been possible to query the planning system used by Bradford to get the required information in an unambiguous way but they did not invest in the required XML package. Bradford co-operated but were not as helpful as I had hoped. The individuals did everything they could – they let me know when their software was being upgraded and let me have access to their test systems so that I could make the necessary tweaks to my system so that it would still work post upgrade.

Screenshot of the planning review meeting webpage

I finished up writing a system that read through the planning application web pages and extracted the required information from them automatically. It then created a complete planning review meeting web page allowing a browser plugin to download all the required documents and drawings. The web page then had clickable links to all the downloaded files. A system that saved hours of work every month.

I investigated the planning systems used by many central planning authorities and found that quite a few were using the same software as Bradford. I contacted a few local councils and as a result Haxby Town Council started using it, and still are, to extract and manage their meeting reviews from the York City Council iDox system. Soon after I stopped being a member of the planning review committee this system stopped being used by Baildon.

Baildon may have stopped using it but it did tie in nicely with a mapping system I had worked on. It meant that I could use the same code so that with just the planning application case number and knowing the location of the property it was possible to create a map, with info windows, of Baildon planning applications.

Ingress screenshot from my phone

Unfortunately I lost my contacts at Bradford and stopped receiving notifications of planning applications. The automated part of the map system died. The growth of social media, the suggestion that the Town Council were going to be providing more general information on their website and via social media, the fact that I had a job taking up a fair amount of my energy, an interest in photography and a passion for the augmented reality game Ingress meant that there was little if anything left for working on the town website let alone a planning application map within it so it stayed dead for a few years.

A screenshot of the plan map

Over the last few months a few grey cells had been ticking away and the last couple of days I have sat down and updated and tweaked the planning map. It can still display the old applications but I have now added newer ones from the back end of last year to date. The Bradford system has improved over the last few years and means that relatively easily I can keep track of new/updated/granted/refused Baildon related planning applications and plot them on the map.

You can see the planning map on here. How much of Baildon you see will depend on the size of the screen you are using but it should be easy to zoom in/out and move around the map.

Early December Trip to Donna Nook

On Monday 4 December I went to Donna Nook but this time it wasn’t for the hot summer sand. It was for a cold breeze and seals.

Many years ago, back when I was about 10, we used to go to Donna Nook in the summer. Perhaps 5 car loads of us, aunties, uncles, cousins etc. We had to take our own picnic because there wasn’t even a trailer selling tea. Just miles of flat clean sand and no body else in sight.

This trip was very different.

Seal pup

After spending most of the year out at sea, or on distant sand banks, the seals come up to the sand dunes during November and December to give birth to their pups. And as you can see you can get up close to them.

Seal pup

Many of the pups are close to the path and a lot have mums nearby. Many are asleep. The mums of many of them would be out at sea foraging for food before coming back to feed their young.

Seal pup

This young one is looking as though it could do with fattening up a bit.

Seal pup

It was calling out – presumably telling mum that it was hungry.

Mum and seal pup

Mum was fast asleep. The little one struggled a bit but managed to get up the tiny slope, and then it too fell asleep.

Mum and seal pup getting tickled under the chin

This youngster seems to be enjoying a tickle under the chin. I guess this behaviour tends to keep the pups close and safe.

Seal pup

They are cute.

Mum and seal pup

The milk that the mums produce must be good stuff because the pups can pile on the weight and soon look well padded.

Bull Seal

This bull seal has run the gauntlet of other bull seals and shows a few injuries from the encounters. Quite soon after giving birth the females will mate again but can delay the implantation of the egg for several weeks.


The sand dunes and mud flats are also great places for other wildlife like this Redshank.

Pied Wagtail

Pied wagtail

Young Gulls scrapping over some food. Or one feeding the other.

Various gulls

Golden Plover and Lapwing and Spurn Point light house

Also lots of Lapwing and Golden Plover. Plus Brent Geese, Shelduck, Gold Finch, Starling, Magpie and Crow. It wasn’t very pleasant but several dead pups were around and being pecked at by some of the larger birds.

Bombing range sign

One of the reasons for the fence along the path is to keep people and seals separate but another good reason is that it is a military firing range – not one of the best places to go wandering. It’s a good idea to pay attention to the signs and stick to the paths.


I assume these are targets on the range suggesting that they are usually firing or dropping blanks; at least when going for these targets.

Grimsby Dock TowerIn the distance, from the path, you can see Grimsby and the Grimsby Dock Tower.

If you are thinking of going to Donna Nook for the seals make sure you check the weather, the reserve website and if possible go during the week. The roads leading to the car park are single track and during wet weather the edges are very muddy so it is best to go when no one is likely to be leaving and leave when no one is arriving. The free car park was very close to being full on the Monday that I went.

As usual you can click on any of the images and view them on flickr – where you can find larger versions and a few other photos taken on the outing.


Here are 2 photos from Saturday, I have a few more but have yet to decide whether they warrant sharing.

Autumn is here and the trees have changed colour.

Trench Wood, Baildon

This photo is of Trench Wood, taken from the end of Higher Coach Road, Baildon. The meadow there is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to rare meadow grasses and flowers.

Female Blackbird, Roberts Park

And this photo is of a female Blackbird in a Holly bush at the end of Higher Coach Road.

Thrushes (same family as Blackbird) come over to the UK from Europe for the winter and Robert’s Park on Higher Coach Road is one of the places that you can see them. The population of Thrushes in Robert’s Park increases and now there are lots of Blackbirds, Mistle Thrushes and Redwing. You can see and hear them flying between the trees. I am going back there soon to get some better photos of the Redwing (I don’t have any worth sharing here yet 🙁 ) You can often see them in the Yew trees but as soon as you spot them they fly off into the tops of the taller trees.

More Kingfisher at Adel Dam

On the 24th September I paid another visit to Adel Dam Nature Reserve. At the first hide the feeders had just been topped up and they were quite busy with birds.

Blue Tit

Peanuts are too big for the smaller birds to eat in one go so what happens is that they fly in, pick up a peanut and then fly off into the trees to then eat the nut peck by peck. This Blue Tit did just that and flew into the bushes by the side of the hide.


At the 2nd hide Nuthatch were doing a similar thing but this one is still on the feeder.


Robins were also using the feeders.

Bank Vole

But one of the stars of the visit was this Bank Vole, and my, were they quick? Usually they were gone before I could press the shutter but some times they would pause before scurrying off again.


THE star of the visit was this Kingfisher. It perched on this branch for a while.


It spread its colourfull wings a couple of times


It also did some diving, but often came up with little bits of weed instead of fish.


The nature reserve is well worth a visit. On this occasion there were Blue tit, Coal tit, Great tit, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Nuthatch, Robin, Black headed gull, Buzzard, Red Kite, Teal, Mallard, Moorhen and Grey Wagtail.

As usual you can click on any of the images to see them on Flickr. There are also a few more Kingfisher shots within the flickr album.