RSPB Bempton Cliffs

On Thursday I spent a few hours with my binoculars and camera at RSPB Bempton Cliffs. As you can imagine I took one or three photos. The cute bird of Bempton Cliffs is the Puffin and several could be seen. Apparently, according to the RSPB Bempton facebook page, there are some Pufflets around, though I didn’t spot any. It’s difficult to tell from photos, but it is quite possible that I have a photo of the crevice that has been said to contain a chick. My photo shows an adult in the recesses – the chick will not have the colourful beak that the adult has during the breeding season.

To me Puffins look a very sad bird. To me they could almost be saying “I’m only a little bird. Please let me lay my eggs in a little hole somewhere.” But I bet they are tough little customers.

Puffin numbers have been declining, possibly due to reduced numbers of Sand Eels near enough for the Puffins to bring back to the nest.

Around the cliffs you can see birds gliding on the up draught, Gannets, Herring Gulls, Kittiwakes, Jackdaws all make it look effortless but when you see Puffins fly their little wings are flapping like mad. They might be very good under water but in the air they seem to have to put a lot of effort into it.

Gannets seem to glide around the cliffs with ease.

The juvenile Gannet is mainly speckled grey/brown in colour but this changes until by year 4 the colouring is more like a piano keyboard. The adult has colour to its head and black wing tips.

The Gannet nest along the ledges of the cliffs with often only enough space between birds so that they can’t quite reach the bird on the next one. If the birds on adjacent nests reached towards each other they could probably clash beaks but they tend to stay put. When the other of the pair comes into land in its clumsy way it will often be shouted at by neighbours.

You can see a tremendous amount of red and blue rope/netting on their nests that has obviously been brought in a nest material.

The tops of the cliffs are grassed and many of the birds can be seen pulling at the grass and taking it to nests – a much more natural material.

Gannet have up to 180cm wingspan and they look great flying around. It is only when they come into land that they look clumsy.

This one looked as though it was going to snap at the insects/flies buzzing around.

Note that there are no nostrils in the beak like other birds. It is assumed that this is stop sea water entering their nostrils as they hit the surface at speed. Their nostrils are inside their mouths.

In the visitor centre a TV is used to display what is going on out on the cliffs and this is one of the cameras used.

It’s difficult to see, but in the photo below I think the Gannet on the right has spotted it.

On the foot of the Gannet in the middle is a newly hatched chick.

And this one, below, was taken a few minutes later. It’s very new.

I have been through the other photos and can’t spot another chick or even an egg.

Even though this pair of Razorbill are in the sea you can still see circles of ripples a long way out from their paddling.

The Razorbills were outnumbered by Guillemots that huddled together. The backs of some of the birds are a bit messy from having birds nesting above them. At least they can fly of and have a wash in the sea.

The Guillemots are in flocks and the second photo shows an egg. Has it been abandoned?

Another bird that is on the cliffs in reasonable numbers is the Kittiwake. You can see several in the wide shot.

Other birds were also using the cliffs. Cormorants, Quite a few Fulmars and Herring Gulls – though I am not good at Gull ID.

In land from the cliffs are fields managed for wildlife. Meadow Pipits are a common bird on Baildon Moor and can be seen in the fields around the visitor centre. Bird boxes have been put up on the visitor centre and are used by Blue Tits. This one looks a bit frayed around the edges. It is obviously working hard to feed its brood. This adult Tree Sparrow conveniently tilted its head to show the brown top. These are now quite rare and people travel to RSPB Bempton to get the Tree Sparrow tick on their lists. We are fortunate in Baildon that we can go up around Glovershaw to get the Tree Sparrow tick.

The views in the area are spectacular with the sea and the cliffs as can be seen below. The Yorkshire Belle does trips from Bridlington to the foot of the cliffs to give you a close up view of some of the birds on the water and the cliffs.

The photos below are to show something of the number of birds milling around the cliffs and areas where grass can be collected for nests.

I will have to have another visit in a week or two to see more of the chicks.

Fishing Heron

On Saturday I went along to Salts Mill to take a photo of the Shipley clock from the carpark for a “Time” related image for Shipley Camera Club. I also took some photos of film props around the mill that you can see here.

On the way back across the river I spotted a Heron on the weir. There is often one there motionless but this one was quite active and very successful.

I watched it walk along the width of north side of the weir frequently lunging into the water. There seems to be a cover/eyelid that it can pull over the front of its eyes as it lunges.

It frequently came up with a small fish. With fish this size I guess it has to eat a fair number of them but they certainly seemed like easy pickings.

Catching two at a time suggests that there are a lot of fish on the weir. The header image shows one of the fish on its way down, it’s getting a quick look out before heading into the darkness.

This Tufted Duck was also on the weir. It looks as though something has had a go at it. It spent quite a bit of time with its head under water picking at the slope of the weir. Perhaps a Heron thought its beak looked fish like and fancied trying to swallow it; part of its forehead is missing and there is a wound above its left eye.

The gallery above allows you to click on any of the images and then go backwards and forwards through the gallery.

Just next to the weir is the Roberts Park playground where the north side of the graffiti wall has been prepared for a new installment. I will be going back soon to find out what is put on there so I can update the BaildonWiki page.

Behind Bank Crest

The path along the top of Baildon Bank gives great views over the lower parts of Baildon and is also a good place to see some birds. I went along there on Friday to check on long distance visibility, I have plans for a photo that needs many miles of clear visibility, and stayed to take some photos of some wildlife.

Probably the most consistently noisy birds along there were Wrens. Jackdaws were perhaps louder when they did make a noise, and would certainly be very noisy later in the day, but Wrens are amazingly loud for such a small bird.

Several butterflies were flitting around but this Small Copper was keeping still in its territory.

A pair of Blackcaps were flying into the Brambles to feed their young. The male has the black top to its head and the female brown.

Chiffchaffs could be heard calling from several of the trees and it looks as though some were still nest building. The dark legs and the bobbing tail tell me that this is a Chiffchaff and not a Willow Warbler.

Great Tits and Dunnocks were also around but this Blue Tit came close enough for me to get a photo of it.

No Kestrels this year. Riots at Salts Mill

On Wednesday I went along to Salts Mill to have a look at the hole in the wall that Kestrels have used as a nesting site for several years.

Unfortunately the hole looks empty. So no Kestrel chicks in the Piazza this year.

However Salts Mill and Saltaire are being used by film crews again. The entrance to Salts Mill has been redone for the duration. On the left are various sticks and rubber weapons – sledgehammers, shovels, pickaxes, etc. and an effigy of the mill owner that is going to be used in riots later on.

Over the years various bits of Salts Mill have been repaired, moved, replaced etc. In some cases no attempt was made to fit with the style of the place, such as what was where the Piazza is now.

In some cases reasonable effort has been made. The railings along by the canal has at least got the right “pointy” shape. The railing along the canal bridge is also the same general shape but has a much sharper finish than the original railing further up.

I don’t know what “New” might mean in terms of year. I assume it means later than 1960s.

Speckled Wood

Sitting in the conservatory with the windows and doors open allows a few flying creatures in. No birds so far this year but this Speckled Wood needed rescuing.

It looks rather disembodied because it is on one of the windows.

After catching it to take outside it settled on a rose bush for a few seconds before flying off.

Best for Birds and a Holly Blue

We have a Best for Birds bird box in our garden that looks as though it has chicks in it. Today I set my camera up so that I could take some shots of the two parents busily flitting to and fro. Warning: In one of the photos the bird has what looks like an eight legged thing in its beak.

I spotted Holly Blue butterflies in the garden and at one time we had two of them fluttering around each other. A couple of times I swapped my long lens for my macro lens and was able to get close to one of them on Forget Me Nots.