Back to 22 March – an earlier walk on Baildon Moor

On my first visit to Baildon Moor in 2018 another photographer interested in wildlife (Danny Virr) pulled up beside me on the road having spotted me putting my camera gear away. We had a natter and agreed that sometime in the future I would show him a bit of Baildon Moor. And that’s what happened on Thursday 22 March. It was a quiet day, for me anyway.

Robin

We started off at the Glovershaw end, near the cattle grid, and went north with the wall on our left. The fields over the wall had quite a few Lapwing but they were not particularly active or noisy. We could also hear the odd Curlew in the near distance. We carried on round to where the wooden huts are in the field and spotted this Robin in one of the trees next to them. We had been hoping to see Stoat in the dry-stone walls but no such luck.

Baildon Moor

We then walked along having the view shown above and past The White House, then Moorside (no little owls spotted on route) and headed down towards Gill Beck. I was just saying that we were in the area where we could expect to see deer.

Roe Deer

And that is exactly what happened as we looked down the slope. The fuzzy bit at the front of the photo is the slope we had just got to the top of. Three Roe Deer were at the bottom. Unfortunately one of them had just wandered behind the bushes.

Roe Deer

Roe Deer

Roe Deer

We then walked along the beck and across the field to the White House and along the path towards Sconce Scout Camp.

Roe Deer

As we got towards the scout camp a walker was crouched down holding his dog and told us that deer were just below.

Roe Deer

Both a buck and a doe wandered past.

Red Grouse

Retracing our step we then came across Red Grouse. This one looks as though he should be on a whisky bottle label.

Skylark

We also saw Skylark on the golf course. I had struggled in the past to tell the difference between Meadow Pipit and Skylark, especially when you only catch a glimpse as they fly away. But when they stick their crests up like this it is obviously a Skylark.

Golden Plover

Back around by Golcar and Glovershaw we had a natter with Paul King, a fellow member of Bradford Ornithological Group, and heard a Snipe over towards Golcar. We also saw a flock of 40 or so Golden Plover, some of which are above.

Baildon

Soon after that I left Danny so that he could get some fish and chips (I have yet to hear if they were any good) and so I could go and rest my legs. 8:00am until 4:00pm is enough for me. Here he had just been taking some photos of the Red Grouse that I have used as the featured image at the top.

Snow in our garden

A couple of times this winter we have had a little bit of snow covering the ground. I therefore decided to put some food out for the ground feeding birds. I know Robins are often shown in snow and are the iconic Xmas card bird but they still need to feed. A few inches of snow for a few days can make it dificult for them. I usually have some food in suspended feeders for Green finch, Goldfinch, Blue-tit, Great-tit etc. but what were the Robins or Blackbirds going to do?

The bushes were covered so it was essential to provide food in the feeders and ground feeders would also need food. So I threw some bird food and a few nuts out onto the snow.

Blackbird

A lot of Blackbirds came to feed.

Including ones that looked as though they were visitors from Europe for the winter.

Dunnock

Dunnock also looked as though they were happy with the food on the ground.

Wood pigeon

Wood pigeon strutted about the place letting the Blackbird fight amongst themselves – spending more time chasing each other off than feeding.

Blue Tit

Blue tits and similar birds tended to stay up with the feeders but occasionally fed on the ground.

Rat

But what I seriously did not want to be feeding in the garden was this character. I know we have some dry stone walls and out buildings and trees around us but I still don’t want these in the garden. Unfortunately, if I am feeding the birds I am also going to be feeding these things.

Baildon Moor – Sunday 25 March 2018

My last posting was about my first walk on Baildon Moor of 2018. I have been up there a couple of times since then and this is about my walk on Sunday 25 March. I will be posting some words and photos about my walk on Thursday but that will have to wait until I have sorted the photos.

One of the things I enjoyed about my visit was being able to sit on the edge of the fairways and watch and listen to Skylark.

Skylark

It was great to see them lifting their crests as they ran about the grass picking up and eating insects every few paces.

Skylark

Skylark

They only had to walk a few paces before finding another insect. Hearing them high in the sky singing away is one of the things I love about Spring and Summer.

It’s a shame that I have to mention it but during the nesting season dogs should be on short leads. Plenty of people do and I saw one man with his dog on a lead running with it to get the stick he was throwing.  Not like one young man with two small dogs, he had their leads in his back pocket and when he spotted some grouse in the heather he directed his dogs towards them. Another couple seemed to particularly target the greens with Skylark on them when throwing the ball for their dog.

I was on the edge of the path looking towards the wall and the field beyond hoping to see the Pheasant I had heard, or to see Stoat in the wall. Something prompted me to take my camera off my monopod and I am pleased I did.

Pheasant (1 dark)

I did see a couple of Pheasant. The neck on the nearer of these two has just a lighter band of feathers, it is not a definite white band like on the other one. Also its body is much darker.

I then had a rather uncomfortable encounter with a dog. A woman with 3 dogs came around the corner and up the incline. When one of the dogs saw me it ran at me barking, trailing its lead behind it and sounding very aggressive. As it got closer I got a firm hold of my monopod ready to protect myself. The dog finally took some notice of the woman and ran off round the corner. As she passed I told her that I didn’t like being frightened by dogs. No Comment. But when she got round the corner she did apologise to the couple with a baby in a back pack that the dog barked at. With my angry hat on what it seemed she meant was “Sorry that I have not been able to train my dog to behave and sorry that I am not taking any action to stop that bad behaviour or protect you from it.” What probably happened is that she was relaxed thinking she was on her own and the dog saw me, got away, and misbehaved for a few seconds. She was most likely hurrying off round the corner to get her dog instead of trying to mollify some strange man with a long stick in his hand.

In that area of the moor are quite a few bell pits and some of them fill with water. The dry ones look as though the bracken and grass has been flattened with several narrow trampled paths leading to them. I assume this is done by deer. I hope it is not done by people; the water has drained away somehow which suggests to me that the “bell” is still open beneath.

Frog Spawn

Quite a few of the water filled ones had masses of frog spawn in them. And I mean masses. This photo does not do the volume of it justice.

Frog

And I guess this is one of the frogs responsible.

Heading back round towards Glovershaw I could still hear Curlew and Lapwing making their weird calls. Further North West I could also hear the chuck, chuck, chuck of a Snipe. I hope to see and hear Snipe thrumming later in the Spring.

Redkite

This Redkite is one of the reasons for the Lapwing making a noise. If they came low then dozens of Crows and Lapwing would take to the air to “dive bomb” it to send it on its way.

Buzzard

A pair of Buzzards also flew around for a few minutes but they tended to be higher up the slopes of the moor and didn’t seem to interfere with the Lapwing. The larger of these two is most likely the female. The size difference is often as much as 30% and very noticeable .

Kestrel

Kestrel were also hovering over one of the fields of longer grass. I saw it dive a few times. It usually pulled up before getting to the grass. On the times it did get to the grass I didn’t see it take off with anything. Further round the path I did find a Red Grouse with its head missing and a lot of chest feathers on the ground around it but that would be too big for a Kestrel.

Redkite

A Redkite hovered above the area for a couple of circuits but then flew off.

Lapwing

Obviously recovering quickly from a Redkite fly-by the Lapwing then got on with what they come onto the moors to do. This pair will hopefully lay and hatch a chick or two following their mating.

Curlew

Most Curlew, when they came in to land, were just too far away and were difficult to spot, but this one was a little closer and I managed to get it in frame as it landed.

Buzzy plane

Buzzy plane

In my previous posting I started with a mention of someone flying a drone. This time I’ll finish with people flying powered planes. I assume they were being flown from the top of the moor but were buzzing over as far as the edge of Golcar Farm. I’m not sure what the Lapwing would do if they felt threatened by them but the Skylark seemed to keep out of the sky when they were buzzing around, unless it was that I just couldn’t hear them over the whine.

Powered flight is not allowed by the land owner, CBMDC, and given the two incidents mentioned in the booklet about the history of the golf club I can understand why not. You can read the words from the booklet here.

As usual the photos are stored on flickr and you can see larger copies there. There are also several other photos of the Redkite, Kestrels and Buzzards in the same album here.

Buzzard

Admittedly I have put most of the album photos in this posting but here is a Buzzard to tempt you to go have a look.

Baildon Moor – first visit for 2018

Considering the number of times I went up to Baildon Moor while I was still working I am a little surprised that Friday was my first visit for a while. Perhaps I am taking this relaxing too far now that I am retired?

One of the first things I did after getting up there and strapping my camera around me was walk up Bingley Road a bit to ask the person standing by his car where he got permission from to fly on Baildon Moor.

Drone

It went pleasantly and I politely pointed out that powered flight was not allowed on Baildon Moor, though Bradford Council, the land owner, can grant permission. I had guessed correctly that he was doing something like that because he was at the roadside with a cowled screen in front of him and his thumbs on a couple of joy sticks. Apparently he was flying a Mavic Phantom but I couldn’t see it until it came round and followed the busy road and settled in the air next to his car. It is impressive technology. He said he always checked on YouTube to see whether flying in particular areas was OK or not. I suggested that he checked with Bradford Council or Friends of Baildon Moor to confirm what I was saying. Given that he was also standing at the side of Bingley Road I would hope that he is also going to read the Drone Code. I did wonder about including the photo here but since he included me in his video I think it is OK.

However the main point of going up onto Baildon Moor was to look for wildlife – and I was not disappointed.

Lapwing

One of the first birds I both heard and saw were Lapwing. This is one of several red listed birds that uses Baildon Moor and surrounds as a nesting site.

Lapwing

They nest in quite short grass, and what is it that keeps the grass short? Yep! Sheep and cattle.

Lapwing

They seem to spend a lot of time watching what is going on around them so they can defend their mate and site.

Lapwing

Wandering animals, wandering people, invading Lapwing trying to steal their mate, and any other large birds flying over are all threats. They also do display flights, diving and swooping about. Their call as they are doing this is great to hear. The call gives them their other name of “Peewit”. Later in the spring it is very noticeable that they take to the air and circle anything that is a potential threat, all the time calling loudly. If you walk near any of the fields they are nesting in you are sure to get them flying around you.

Geese

They seem Ok with Geese around.

Pheasant

But I have seen Pheasant being dive bombed until they leave the field.

Redkite

Birds that they certainly don’t like are Crows, Jackdaws and Redkite. This Redkite was further over but several Lapwing took to the air at that time but they could have been doing their display flight. One of the things I find amazing about Redkite is that you can see them circling overhead but within seconds they are a speck in the distance.

Redkite
In this case drifting over towards Oxenhope and misty wind turbines in the distance.


Starling

This is hardly a murmuration, which I have yet to witness, but just a small flock of Starlings. I am hoping to see Golden Plover flying around the Moors in flocks larger than this soon. They are about due.

Kestrel

Seeing Kestrel hovering over the Moors was great. I don’t expect it is one of those that I have seen nesting at Salt’s Mill but Saltaire isn’t far as the Crow Kestrel flies.

Kestrel

I have taken several hundred photos of Kestrel nesting at Salts Mill so it is great to see them out hunting. If you want to see more of my Kestrel photos have a look at this album – here.

Meadow Pipit

Quite a few Meadow Pipit were around, down in the long grass and the tops of the walls. The little smudges on the left of this photo are not dust specs on the camera sensor but out of focus flies. The bird seems to be eyeing some of them up for a snack.

Meadow Pipit

I don’t know what it is for, or why Meadow Pipits should be like that, but they have very long read claws. These walls were on my left as I was walking along. Over on my right, across the other side of the fairway the land sloped up. Over that way I could hear Skylark and after a while I managed to spot one up in the sky. This is another Red Listed bird. It is amazing that they manage to rear their young on Baildon Moor, the moor is so heavily used. It is great to see them running and feeding about the edges of the fairways later in the year towards Summer. And to see and hear them high in the sky is what Summer is all about. No photos though, I could hear them but only saw one that was a tiny dot in the sky.

Chaffinch

Further over, on the north side of the Moor, I heard a few of the smaller birds, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin and this Chaffinch singing quite loudly at the top of the tree.

Heron

This Heron was also in the same area. They look like big birds but they are all wings, legs and neck. How they manage to hang all that off what looks like a small body I don’t know; nor how they make room for the big fish I have seen them eat.

While still pointing my camera to the East I saw some movement in the wall next to me. I glanced over at a hole in the wall and a Weasel’s head appeared. We looked at each other for a second with me trying not to blink or move and then it disappeared. I say Weasel because it was small but all I saw was its head. It was more grey than I thought they were. I don’t know if that suggests Stoat rather than Weasel. I have seen Stoats in the same sort of area before though. Have a look here at young Stoat and albino parent that I have seen around there before – here.

Untitled

I then heard a couple of Grouse having a bit of a scrap. One of them waddled off but this one stayed around. Initially it kept itself low.

Red Grouse

This male bird has its wattle inflated. A few minutes later the red was hardly visible – unless it was a different bird. It was aware of me but seemed reasonably relaxed, it pecked away at some of the Heather shoots around it.

Female Red Grouse

The female had kept itself well hidden until it decided to move to another clump of Heather.

Curlew

During the time I was out I kept hearing the eerie call of Curlew mixed in with the Lapwing. Curlew is another Red Listed bird. Several times I saw birds gliding in to land but they were too far away to say whether they were Curlew, Lapwing or Crows. Towards the end of my walk, retracing my steps, I did keep my eye on one suspect as it came in to land, it then was recognisable as a Curlew. The photo is heavily cropped and not very clear (the same as a few I took during the walk) but it is worth posting. In the past I have got a few decent photos of Curlew, this is one of the closer ones – here.

While I was out I had several conversations with walkers. It all adds to the enjoyment. There were several groups out doing their first walk for the Duke of Edinburgh Award. I had a chat with Award hopefuls and their guides/tutors/mentors about Heron, Redkite, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Red Grouse, Lapwing, Curlew, Weasel, Chaffinch and Pheasant that were on the Moors. Hopefully they will be a bit quieter on future walks and pay a bit more attention to their surroundings but it was great to see them out and about.

All the photos here were taken on the walk. If you click on any of the photos it will take you to a larger version of the photo on flickr were you can see more from the walk – 40 in total. The other text links take you to particular albums or search results on flickr were you can see Kestrel, Curlew or Stoat photos I have taken.