Great Spotted Woodpeckers in Ferniehurst Dell 31 May 2018

Today I went into Ferniehurst Dell playing Ingress and heard lots of wildlife, the most exciting of which was Great Spotted Woodpecker. I could hear the rapid chirp of juveniles so I went home to get my camera.

Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker

With the noise that they make it is easy to find the tree but it can take a few seconds to find exactly where the nest is. This juvenile was helpful in being both noisy and showy.

If you want to see the nest go into the Dell from Baildon Road, follow the path and then when you can take the left turn and go up towards Baildon Wood Court. The path bends to the left and in front of you, on the right of the path, are  a couple of trees. As you come out from under leaves look up at the trees. You should be able to see several nest holes but you need to tilt your head back. A photo below shows more of the tree so you might recognise it.

Female Great Spotted Woodpecker

The adults can be very wary and have a knack of hiding themselves around the back of trees and branches. I had come prepared though. I set my camera up on a tripod with it slightly hidden from view by foliage. I then used my phone to see what the camera was looking at and perked on my own tripod, a 3 leg camping stool, out of sight of the nest and birds on the tree. (Mine chair is different to the one linked to, mine doesn’t have enlarged feet so it easily sinks into the ground and the seat is now ripping.)

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Quite soon the adults came to feed the juvenile(s). The first to show was the male. You can identify the male because he doesn’t have a red patch on the back of his head.

Male feeding juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker

The female, with the red patch on the back of her neck, also came along with plenty of food. Notice that the juvenile has a red patch on the top of its head.

Male and juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker

We had about 30 or 40 minutes when not much was happening at the nest because a rather noisy petrol mower and leave blower were brought in. The adults kept out of the way and the juvenile(s) kept their heads inside the nest.

Male Great Spotted Woodpecker

After the workers had gone the female spent a while moving up and down the tree and seemed to be peering into some of the other holes that had been nests in the past.

Tree with Great Spotted Woodpecker nests and juvenile

You can see several holes with the currently occupied on at the bottom. Below the branch that you can see at the bottom right corner of the photo was another sheltered hole. This was being used by Blue Tits but it was too sheltered for me to get any photos of adults flying in, they were just too quick.

If I get time I will head back to Shipley Glen to see how the Great Spotted Woodpeckers I wrote about before are doing.

As usual the photos are in an album on Flickr. Click on any of the images to see them larger on Flickr or view the album.

River Aire and Denso Marston Nature Reserve 27 May 2018

View up river from Buck Lane foorbridge

On Sunday I went for a walk along the river Aire and through Denso Marston Nature Reserve. One of the first things I did was go down river a bit on the path behind the new industrial estate and look for the Long Tailed Tit nest that I had seen before and written about here. Unfortunately there was no evidence of it. I did think at the time that it was rather exposed, not like the one I saw a couple of years ago that was a sphere tucked into the bushes along the path leading down to the reserve.

I then continued on to the Buck Lane footbridge and the photo above is looking up-river from there.

View downriver. Heron and Goosander just visible

And this view is looking down-river from the bridge. A Grey Heron can be seen in the middle of the river and a family of Goosander are on the third rock to the right.

Zoomed in down river

This is a shot after zooming in a bit. The Heron has just flown to the right of the Goosander family.

Horse riders

I must admit that I had not realised how low the arches of the bridge were until these two horse riders came through. The lead rider has had to duck down to get under the arches of the bridge. The younger rider following was able to sit upright on her smaller pony.


It is quite a long footbridge going over the river and an off shoot (where is my geography knowledge when I need it?) and I have taken a couple of other photos of it over the years, as shown in the 3 below.

Footbridge over the River Aire

Looking up Hollins Hill

This shot, above, is taken from near the end of the bridge and shows a bit of the view that Ford House Farm has looking towards Hollins Hill and Guiseley.

Comma Butterfly

This is the time for butterflies and I admit that I am no good at identifying them but the one above made it easy by closing its wings so I could see the white comma; so I can say with confidence that it is a Comma butterfly.

Orange tip

I think I can be reasonably confident to say the the one above is an Orange Tip….

Speckled Wood butterfly

and this one caught in a pool of sunlight is a Speckled Brown.


I have not been down to rivers, canals or ponds/lakes much this Spring so that might explain it but I have not seen many ducklings. This one was in a family with 4 other ducklings on the river.


One of the noticeable features along the river was the moving clouds of flies (?Mayflies?). The shot above was taken using a shutter speed of 1/180 second. Does anyone want to count them?

Flies with slow shutter

And this is a slightly tighter view using a shutter speed of 1/15 second suggesting that some of them are beating at 120 times per second!!??

Juvenile Blackcap

Further along the rive towards the up-river end of the Nature Reserve I say down for a few minutes quiets and managed to see this juvenile Blackcap. I say juvenile because of its behaviour, fluffed upness and incomplete wing and tail feathers. But I thought juveniles had brown heads similar to females. Could it be a new arrival that has worn its feathers away in flight? Nah! It’s a juvenile.

Male Bullfinch

In the same area was a family of Bullfinch but I only managed to get a shot of the male adult.


There has been a couple of Spring Watch related videos recently about Mayfly and here is one having a rest. This is the form that emerges from the water. As it emerges it flies straight up into the air and is an easy target for hungry birds.

Sparrow catching Mayfly

One of my proudest photos is of a Sparrow about to catch a Mayfly on the Leeds Liverpool Canal near Hirst Lock.

Banded Demoiselle

This Banded Demoiselle was along the river.

Large Red Damselfly

But most of the visible Damselflies were next to the ponds in the nature reserve. This is a rather nice Large Red Damselfly that I have used as the featured image for this posting.

Azure Damselfly laying eggs

Quite a few pairs of Azure Damselflies could be seen, both mateing and laying eggs as these two pairs are.

Large Red Damselflies

Large Red Damselflies mating

The two photos above are of pairs of Large Red Damselflies getting attached and mating.

Newt and tadpoles

The edges of the ponds on the reserve were not only busy with Damselflies but also teaming with tadpoles. I was rather pleased to be in the process of taking some photos of the tadpoles when this newt stuck its snout out of the water and then quickly disappeared.


Very close to the “public” side of the pond was an empty Moorhen nest and, after keeping still for a few minutes, a Moorhen could be seen moving about the pond.

Moorhen Chick

But after keeping quiet for a few minutes longer two Moorhen chicks showed themselves – but never close enough together to get them in the same shot.

Moorhen and chick

The chicks seemed to be able to feed themselves but that didn’t stop the adult feeding them. This shows them an instant after having fed it.

Fish in the pond

Several times there was a quick splash as the Moorhen stuck its beak into the water. This seemed strange until I realised that the pond was also teaming with small fish.

As usual most of the images are on Flickr so you can view the album with larger images there.

This is probably the first time I have included people in photos. If the subjects don’t want them to appear please let me know.

Mining Bees and Harlequins

During the hot days we have had this month we had quite a few bees in the garden. A lot were flying from blossom to blossom as you would expect of a pollinator but quite a few were hovering over the soil of the flower beds and grass at the front of our house. (To give it a more accurate description it should be “the green bit at the front of our house and the strips of soil round the edges”.) The photo above is of one bees on the green bit.

Bee Holes

I had seen small round holes in the ground with sandy looking soil around them so I knew we had mining bees in the garden. With them flying around I decided to watch them a bit.

Orange Tailed Mining Bee

Mining Bees a solitary bees that make nests in the ground. From the photos, and looking on-line, I would say that they are Orange Tailed Mining bees. There are many kinds of mining bee and though some of them may have a sting it is not strong enough to penetrate human skin and so they can be considered harmless in that respect.

Orange Tailed Mining Bee

With some of the bees seeming to be digging where there was no nest hole I did wonder if they relied on a their sense of smell and I had disturbed the soil too much with the edge trimming I had done.

Harlequin Ladybird and Aphid husks

Earlier in the year people had commented about the high number of Aphids around. It looks as though this Harlequin has been doing its best to curb the numbers. There are a few Aphid husks around it.

Harlequin Ladybird

If there was a bumper crop of Aphids we may then get a bumper crop of Harlequin Ladybirds next year.

Baildon Moor 24 May 2018

On Thursday afternoon I had yet another walk on Baildon Moor and of course took my camera with me.

Misty View to Ovenden Moor

Something that was noticeable was how misty it was in the distance. This view towards Ovenden has the wind turbines shrouded. This is very different to a photo I took from the sides of Reeva Reservoir back in 2013. It is a photo of the transmitters at Wrose, just across the way from Baildon, and the transmitter at Emley Moor, 16 miles away. Have a look at it here.

Green Veined White

There were a few butterflies around making the most of the warm sunshine – like this Green Veined White…

A very raggedy Peacock

and this rather raggedy Peacock butterfly.

Meadow Pipit with food

As expected there were lots of Meadow Pipit around and quite a few had noticeable collections of insects in their beaks. Evidence that they are feeding young somewhere.


But the star of the walk was this Linnet that popped up onto a wall just in front of me.


I had to be quick to get a couple of shots of it before it and another one, that was behind the wall, flew off across the field.

New Flight Path

Some planes from Leeds Bradford Airport seem to be following the new flight path and flying closer to Baildon Moor but with the tight turn it does mean they are gone within seconds. Once upon a time planes had visible registration numbers on their underside. Has that stopped now? I can see nothing on this plane other than some letters on the doors to the nose wheel.

Skylark with food

The new flight path doesn’t seem to be disturbing the Skylark. This one was happily feeding on the 11th fairway.

As usual you can click on an image to see it on Flickr or go to view the album here.

Baildon Moor, mid May 2018

These are some photos from a few trips up to Baildon Moor in mid May. Some are from the extended walk I took after going on the guided walk along Shipley Glen


One of the brief visitors to Baildon Moor are Wheatear who drop down onto the upper West corner to feed up before heading off again. I think this one is a little late, most have already been through.

Tree Sparrow

Over by Golcar Farm it was nice to catch sight of this Tree Sparrow (differentiated from male House Sparrow by the very top of its head being brown. The male House Sparrow has a grey top to its head.).  I have seen them at Fairburn Ings and spotted one in our garden four years ago. Tree Sparrow numbers fell by 93% between 1970 and 2008 and House Sparrow numbers fell 71% between 1977 and 2008. Both are on the RSPB Red list as globally threatened species. Male and female Tree Sparrows look very similar whereas male and female House Sparrows are noticeably different.


While I  was over by Golcar Farm this little rabbit hopped towards me so I must have been part of the natural scenery. One of the features of my new camera body is that it has a “quiet” mode so it doesn’t clatter as much when taking photos.

Kestrel eating

This Kestrel was having a taste of its prey. I can’t be sure whether it is a small rodent or a small bird but I would put 50p on it being something like a Lapwing chick. Given that the Kestrel has not landed to eat its prey it is likely that it is just preparing it as a meal for young. Who knows, perhaps it is going to take it back to Salts Mill to the nest I have watched over a number of years.

Willow Warbler

This Willow Warbler, in the top of a tree near the 12th tee, was in full song.

Grasshopper Warbler

On the other hand this Grasshopper Warbler was very quiet in comparison. Even though I was reasonably close to it I had trouble hearing it. It was unusual to see it before I heard it.

Reed Bunting

The usual place to see Reed Buntings on Baildon Moor is at the tops of bracken, small bushes or grasses. This one was higher up in a tree calling away.

Meadow Pipit pair

One of the common sights on Baildon Moor at this time of year is the Meadow Pipit. They can be seen and heard flying around or perched on walls before dropping down into the grass. These two look like a pair. They make their nests in clumps of grass and the edges of Baildon Moor look like the ideal place for them at this time of year.


An interesting visitor to Baildon Moor at this time of year is the Snipe. They have a call that I think is more like “chucka, chucka” than the “chipper, chipper” mentioned in some books.

Snipe thrumming

But the rather amazing noise they make is when they do their display flight. They fly around calling and then dive with two of their tail feathers out. This makes quite a loud thrumming noise. So far this is my best photo of one diving.


It is rather pleasing to see Redshank back again this year. There seem to be several pairs around and we had evidence of them breeding last year.


I bought my new camera and lens at the 2018 Photography Show at NEC on 20 March and 2 months later this photo of a Redshank is the 10,000th taken with it.


It is amazing how the ground nesting birds manage to survive when several of the fields that they nest in have sheep and lambs. Lapwing and Curlew can be heard calling to keep other animals away.


Curlew have a very long beak that can be used to probe into soft ground or into the bottom long grass.

Curlew silhouette

The beak also helps to make a good silhouette as they come into land in the evenings.


Oystercatcher on 11th green

I am hoping to hear Oystercatcher along the river at Robert’s Park this year as they fly back and forth to the Tax Office feeding their young. This one is just on the edge of the 11th green on Baildon Golf Course.

Pheasant mobbed by Lapwing

Lapwing are very protective of their young and I guess this Pheasant is too close to a nest or young for these Lapwing to tolerate it. One of the Lapwing looked as though it was whacking the Pheasant round the head with its wingtips and the other dived in looking as though it was trying to grab the Pheasant’s tail in its claws. The Lapwing kept attacking from all directions so the Pheasant was going round in circles it therefore took ages for them to drive it away. It would have been better if they flew in from just one direction to drive it in the required direction.

Escaped Rabbit?

This rabbit, sticking its head up in the evening, looks more like an escaped pet than a wild rabbit. A few metres to the left was a black and white cat watching from the long grass.


Morning and evening is the time to see Hare. The evening sun is catching this on.

Lapwing, left, right.

The evening sun is catching this Lapwing as it marches up and down on its vantage point.

Lapwing chick

The adults keep watch as their young chicks wander about the field eating what they can. A call from the adult and the chicks duck down out of sight or quickly disappear into/behind clumps of longer grass.

Two Lapwing chicks going under-wing for the night

And then in the evening they snuggle under the wings of an adult. It is not easy to see but this is a photo of 2 chicks pushing their way under the wings of the adult.

Heron heading towards Hirst Wood. Oxenhope in the distance.

The wind turbines are over at Ovenden but the Heron is much closer and heading off towards the river at somewhere like Hirst Wood.

The photos are on Flickr and each can be viewed larger there or you can navigate through the album there.

Bracken Hall Countryside Centre and Birding

On Sunday 20 May 2018 Bracken Hall Countryside Centre hosted a 2 hour walk  along Shipley Glen. It was guided by Paul King, a local birder who is also a member of Bradford Ornithological Group.

It was great having Paul guide the walk, he has tremendous local knowledge built up over many years of birding in Shipley Glen and Baildon Moor.

The trees in Shipley Glen are well established and as a result provide many habitats for a range of birds. The more noticeable ones, by their noise,  were Blackbirds, Crows and Robins; which is why it was useful to have Paul with us to show us evidence of those a little harder to spot.

Tawny Owl nest

Like this Tawny Owl nest with fluffy chicks just visible inside.

Paul also helped us spot Treecreepers returning to a tree with food in their beaks to feed young in a hidden nest. He also showed us an area littered with slivers of wood, then, with a bit of careful searching we found the hole of the Woodpecker nest above us. We heard Woodpecker calling and hammering but I didn’t see any. We also heard Jays.

We then moved up onto Bracken Hall Green which provides a different habitat and so has different birds. Being more out in the open Wood pigeons and Magpie were more easily spotted. Curlew, Sparrow Hawk and Red Kite were also spotted. We could now see the top branches of trees and bushes and could hear the song of the Willow Warbler.

Willow Warbler

Knowing that the Willow Warbler would be near the tops of the trees or bushes we were soon able to spot it singing away. They are a Summer visitor to the UK, having spent Winter in Africa.

Male Blackcap

After starting back along the green to the centre we heard a Blackcap which was a little more secretive than the Willow Warbler but I still managed to catch sight of it. This is mainly a Summer visitor to the UK though some are starting to over-winter in the UK.

After the walk I decided to go back and retrace our steps and I am very pleased I did. I also went up to Glovershaw Lane/Bingley Road but I will cover that part of my walk separately.

The first area I went to on my unaccompanied walk was the area where we saw the Treecreeper coming into a nest with insects in its beak.


This one has an assortment of insects. I don’t know how they manage to get so much into their beaks. I assume they use their tongue to hold on to what they have while pecking for more.


Note that this one has a slightly different line pattern in the white just above and in front of its eye. This shows that both the male and female are working at the feeding. And they seem to be doing a really good job.


This photo shows one of them sidling into where the nest is.

Blue Tit

Paul told us of birds that nest close to or on the ground. But given that I thought Blue Tits tended to nest in holes under foliage seeing this one quite surprised me. It looks “normal” in this shot….

Blue Tit

… but a wider shot shows that it is only a few feet above ground.

Great Spotted Woodpecker

I then moved on to where we had seen the wood shavings on the ground and tried to make myself look like part of a tree. It seemed to work because the parent Woodpeckers went to and fro with food for the young in their nest. This is the male with food waiting for the female to leave the nest. The male has a red patch on the back of its head, the female doesn’t. The juveniles have a red top to their heads. Hopefully I will get some shots of that another day.

Great Spotted Woodpecker

They took it in turns and this is now the male leaving the nest while the female waits to go in with the food she has. I quite like this one and have used it as the featured image for the posting. You can see others in the Flickr album.

Great Tit

Continuing with the Spring theme of feeding young this is a Great Tit with food.

Great Tit

And this is the Great Tit at the enormous entrance to its nest. I expect that it narrows down significantly otherwise the chicks will be easy pickings for predators.

The photos from this walk are in an album on Flickr. You can click on any of the photos to view them on Flickr or go to the album where there are several others I took.