The wind was cold but it was well worth the walk along the path by the wall at the North West corner of Baildon Moor.
Before I saw anything I heard the lovely sound of Skylark above the golf course and eventually I managed to see it, high up singing away, much too high to get a photo. Groups of Meadow Pipit were also flitting about and chasing each other.
By far the noisiest though were the Pheasants. The males calling and fluttering their wings to announce their presence. I spotted several pairs some quite close to each other. I expected the males to start strutting round each other but they seemed to keep out of each others feathers. I did see two males in a bit of a head to head, no females to be seen, but they soon separated without any fighting. Perhaps the one with the bigger tail was just too intimidating.
One pair of Pheasants were obviously getting close to territory reserved by a Lapwing, they were swooped at several times but that didn’t stop the Lapwings in other parts of the field from mating, after which they would walk away from each other. Lapwing were spaced around the fields reserving their nesting ground but no where near the numbers I have seen before.
There was also the eerie call of Curlew as they flew around and glided into land. Several could be spotted and some landed further up only to be quickly flushed out by dogs off the lead. It is a wonder that the Skylark keep trying to nest there. I spotted two with their dogs on leads and five with their dogs off the lead, running around. Some had their noses in the longer grass and heather, sniffing everything out, others had their heads forward and their tails out – a straight line from nose tip along their backs to their tail tips – hunting. One little fluffy white thing was not the least bit interested in doing any of that though, it was just thrilled to be running about on the fairway.
It is not just people and dogs that make it difficult for the Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Curlew and Lapwing. They also have to contend with quite large birds, Crows, the occasional Great Black-backed Gull, Buzzards and ones like this Raven that flew over Kronking as it was chased by a Lapwing. A few years ago when this sort of thing happened there would be dozens of Lapwing in the air screaming, and as Corvids or Raptors flew by they would be mobbed by 6 or more of them. Now it looks as though being chased by 1 or 2 is more likely, hardly a mobbing. Stoats will also be roaming about looking for a meal.
While I was quietly watching all this going on a Field Vole scurried over a grass tussock before disappearing in the bottom of another. I can see that one becoming a Kestrel or Barn Owl meal if it behaves like that. It was too quick and unexpected for me to get a photo.
I also heard a Snipe. I would describe the sound as “chucka chucka chucka”. I want to be up there when they do their diving display with the thrumming tail feathers out.
Even though I have had my Covid first jab I still want to feel safe out and about. The river Wharfe near Burley in Wharfedale has plenty of space along the banks so this is where I went for a couple of hours yesterday. The header image is looking down river and shows that there is a bit of space. As usual you can click on an image and it should load a better quality version.
Not only is there some space but wildlife too. Soon after going through the gate I spotted a Little Egret and on a rock in the river and on near side were two Lesser Blackbacked Gull and an Oystercatcher. They were down river but as soon as I turned back up river I spotted 3 Mandarin Ducks (2 Male and 1 female) and within 20 metres of them 2 more male Mandarin Ducks.
As expected in this area I spotted a Red Kite effortlessly soaring the airways. A few Goosander flew by and two of them landed in the river near me. As I was watching them a Cormorant flew up river just above the water. Very different to a couple of others that I saw flying by at tree-top height.
I spotted another large bird and at first thought it was the Red Kite I had seen, but as it flew around and came a bit closer I noticed it didn’t have the tail shape for a Red Kite. And then there were two of them. I have heard of birds passing food from one to the other during the breeding season in this kind of dance but these had no food to share and looked as though they were trying to get their talons into each other.
And then on the way back Goosander and Oystercatcher. A very pleasant walk.
One of my recent little projects was to add a camera to a nest box. It has been up for a couple of weeks and had its first viewing at half eight this morning. I’m hoping that a couple will soon decide that it is a suitable place to bring up a family and move in for the season.
This is the 2nd video that the system recorded. The first one was triggered by shadows on the right hand wall as a bird was outside wondering whether to pop in. In this video you have to wait about 10 seconds before anything interesting happens. As you will see the view is from above.
The nest box is a standard one from the RSPB that they call James Wilson otherwise known as the Classic. Though you probably get good results from buying one of their nest boxes that already has a camera in it I did it the fun way.
I used a Rasberry Pi4, a Power over Ethernet HAT to sit on the Pi, a Pi Camera with no infrared filter, a little case for the camera, 2 infrared LEDs, a 70 Ohm resistor and a small piece of Veroboard. I mounted the Pi on a Vesa adapter so I could screw it to the side of the bird box and made a timber box to screw over the top of it with a slot at the bottom for the network cable. The LEDs and resistor were soldered to the Veroboard which was then clipped to the camera case and that then stuck to the centre of the roof inside. The ribbon cable and 2 wires for the LEDs were then routed over the top of the hinged side to the Pi. The other bits of hardware needed were the PoE injector and the network cable.
As I was building the Pi I checked that things were working using VLC but really the finished article only needs RPi CAM Control software to be written to the micro SD card in the Pi.
It is set to record videos when motion is detected – and it looks as though it works.
According to DigiKam, the program I use to catalogue my photos and videos, I have saved 1,538 different image files from 2020. Here is a post showing some of the ones I quite like. During 2020 many of the photos I took were of our garden and the things in it, or things I could see from it. This was one of the pleasant things about 2020, the time I spent in the garden with my camera, looking for things that I would not normally notice. I took quite a few photos of the new flowers in the garden and it was interesting to see the variety we had, but I am more into wildlife so most of the photos I have included here are of things with wings and/or legs.
During the year I had a few trips out with my camera. January photos are from Denso Marston Nature Reserve and Yeadon Tarn. February was already starting the stress of the year but this was due to the floods. I watched the footbridge at Buck Lane get whacked a couple of times with what looked like fridge/freezers racing down the river.
In early March I went down to Denso Marston Nature Reserve looking for a Water Rail that had been reported. I had to be patient but it did show itself as did a Redpoll. This was about the last trip out of the house for quite a while so a lot of the photos will now show “.. in our garden” or “…from our garden”
It was July before I had a couple of trips out with me not intending to meet anyone. It’s great that we have spaces like Baildon Moor. I also visited Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits.
One of the good things about August was finding a Brimstone that was hungry enough to stay still feeding. Normally when I see one it is drifting up and down in the distance.
From September onward it was quiet in the garden but a few trips out to with my camera were quite rewarding.
In another journey out to make sure the wheels on the car still turn I went down to Robert’s Park and also to the end of Higher Coach Road.
I had several things in mind other than getting the car out of the garage and they all needed my camera.
As usual you can click on the images to see them in better quality.
I have tried to keep up with the changes to the graffiti wall in Robert’s Park and on this visit I took photos of the two faces and the edge. I have added these to the gallery on the Robert’s Park page on Baildon Wiki. From doing a bit of searching on t’inernet I found that @bjthebear is the twitter handle for Benjamin James Holden (Website) an artist, designer, printer and musician from Bradford.
Just next to the play area with the graffiti wall is the new fish pass on the weir. I assume that the timber frame pieces that are still there means that it has yet to be completed. I think it is a big shame that it didn’t include a micro power generator that was planned at one time. It would have been something of interest and would have fitted with the advanced thinking of Titus Salt when he built the mill. However it was argued that Robert’s Park was for leisure and recreation. Arguments against the Archimedes Screw won the day. There was a worry that if the generator was built then there would be a greater risk of a traffic bypass being built through Saltaire. (Saltaire Screwed – website.) The Friends of Robert’s Park and Saltaire Village Society objected to the generator plans. A generator on the other side of the river at New Mill had been suggested at one time.
Beyond the fish pass and near the footbridge is a tree that is covering a large part of an old Angling Sign. This sign is something I have taken several photos of, the first I took goes back to 2002 and you can see that back then much more of the sign was visible.
I recently noticed that though I had posted some photos on Baildon Wiki of the Robert’s Park refit that started in 2009 I had not posted ones of the finished shelters. So today I took photos of the North and East shelters and added them to the Baildon Wiki page for Robert’s Park.
After Robert’s Park I went down to the weir at Hirst Mill where the water was flowing quite quickly. The weir is very different after the large breach was made in it several years ago. Instead of a level lip it is now made from large rocks that cause a lot more water agitation.
Over in Bull Coppy Wood near the Rowing Club were at least 17 Grey Herons. I posted similar photos a few weeks ago. So many times during the year you see lone Grey Herons so it is great to see them congregating at this time of year. They do tend to be tucked out of the way a bit though.
On Tuesday I took the car down to the lay-by on the A660 and walked along the River Wharfe up to the Stepping Stones on the other side of Greenholme Mills.
As usual feel free to click on an image to see it better quality in its gallery.
The last time I was along the river here I spotted a Little Egret but not today. A female Goosander did oblige before flying away. I spotted a Cormorant further up river and walked carefully along trying to make best use of any cover. Before I got to it it took to the air and flew down river past me. I struggled to get a clear view of it until it had got past. After walking almost past the mill I heard and then spotted a Goldcrest flitting about the bushes. Along the path by the Goit there were quite a few Blackbirds and Robins and several Thrushes. On two occasions I watched a Thrush hop into the grass and bushes at the side of the path and kept my eye on the place. When I got level I kept walking quietly but looking to the side where I could see, between the leaves small patches of a Thrush and an eye watching me.
Towards the end of the Giot is a building housing the Greenholme Mill Hydro, AKA. Burley Hydro Scheme that uses a Kaplan Turbine to generate electricity. The gate posts on the road leading to it have a West Riding Anglers 100 year sign. Interestingly they didn’t take that name until 1978. And the name came about because they held their meetings at the West Riding Hotel, in Wellington Street , Leeds, until 1966. The weir near the stepping stones helps maintain the height of the water flowing through the generator. I have not been to this area before so I don’t know if the numerous signs on the other side of the river about bulls and private property are as a result of recent increased activity. Some of them do look as though they will soon blow away.
Heading back I started to notice the calls of more Curlew. When I was near the Mill I noticed, through the trees, a few coming in to land. A few yards further on there was a bit of a clearing where I could watch a flock of about 60 or so land.
During the walk I heard several Nuthatch. At one point, along the path by the Goit, I watched one in a tree while I could hear calls from both directions up and down the path.