Buying a Shed

The holes in the roof and back of our shed mean that it needs repairing with a new one so today I went to Yeadon to look at some. It is rather difficult to tell what the difference is between Sub-standard, Budget, Super and Deluxe when some websites don’t give a description and seem to use the same photos for all of them. All the difference that I could see was in ┬ús.

I decided to take my camera with me, not because I wanted photos of sheds, but because of Yeadon Tarn. Of course it started raining as I left the shed shop but not to worry.

I had heard that Shoveller Ducks were at Yeadon Tarn but I didn’t see any today. There were quite a few male and female Tufted Ducks which were nice to see.

Canada Geese and Grey Lag Geese were quite prepared to have a hiss at you as you walked past.

There were quite a few majestic Swans happy to be fed, with lots of Black Headed Gulls squawking about.

What I was rather pleased to see was a Cormorant. It frequently dived under, often being watched by Gulls.

I kept an eye on the Cormorant as I was walking along the path back towards my car, after all I was getting soaked, and was pleased to see it still diving, and then it came up with a fish. If you compare the size of the Cormorant’s head when it is looking face on you wonder how it can get such a fish down. The bottom mandible can widen and the whole back of the beak open up. I have seen the same thing in Grey Herons. When they look at you head on they only look the width of a pencil but can widen to get big fish down their throats.

Yet another visit to DMNR

Bullfinch

I met up with a couple of members of the Shipley Camera Club down at Denso Marston Nature Reserve on 10 Jan. They took some excellent photos while they were there of Squirrels, Bullfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit etc. The header image of the Bullfinch is my attempt at the same thing.

I also got a shot of a Chaffinch at the Spider Club bird feeding station.

I then went looking for other birds, in particular I was hoping to get sight of Goldcrest. I found one area of trees and bushes where I am pretty sure there were five of them and another area where I think there were three in amongst a flock of Long Tailed Tits and a few Blue Tits. The low light, their size and the fact that they are never still meant that most photos, if they had a bird in the frame, were blurred.

On the way back to the gate I spotted a Little Grebe near the opposite bank and a Pheasant that seemed to be keeping an eye on me. On this visit I did not spot any Roe Deer or Mink.

A Grey Heron flew along the river and then banked round between the trees towards the pond. I retraced my steps a bit but couldn’t see the Heron. I knew that it would see me before I saw it so I left it so it could go looking for fish and frogs undisturbed.

Denso Marston Nature Reserve – first visit of 2020

On Thursday, just after midday I got a phone call saying that some small birds were in the Alder trees at DMNR. Because of the light they tended to show as silhouettes which made it tricky to identify them. So down I went with my binoculars and camera. Considering that it was early afternoon the light was terrible hence the rather grainy photos.

With binoculars the birds were identified as Siskins. They tend to be Winter visitors to the area, either from further North or Europe. With the camera, and dialling in some over-exposure to stop them appearing as silhouettes, they could be seen reasonably well. They seemed to quite like the seeds in the Alder between the pond and the feeding station.

Over on the Spider Club Feeding Station were Bullfinch – we also spotted 8 up in the trees. Not bad considering that often all you ever know of their presence is their rather wheezy call.

At the feeding station there were also quite a few Blue Tits, Nuthatch and Robins; 4 or 5 Squirrels could be seen, with 2 or 3 of them coming up to the table to get food. Blackbird, Great Tit and Coal Tits were also around.

Its not a very good shot but as we were walking back we met someone who told us they were hoping to see a Goldcrest. Within 30 seconds of parting we saw a Goldcrest low enough in a tree to at least get it in the frame, with another Goldcrest higher up. A little further along we met up with him again and told him we had seen 2. After parting again we carried on and very soon stopped at a sound and saw 3 Goldcrest in a bush. Not bad, and I hope Paul got to see some that afternoon too.

Denso Marston – last visit of 2019

After deciding to go down to Denso Marston Nature Reserve on the last day of 2019 I was wondering if I was a bit early with posting my favourite shots of 2019 a few days ago. As usual I enjoyed the visit but the photos taken were nothing special. However I am going to stick some of them on my blog, so here we go.

As is often the case the first things to see were Mallards and Goosander. Goosander numbers are greatest over winter and male Goosander are back either from the moult trip to Norway or the Lakes or simply more evident on the river after their moult when they look similar to females.

Quite close to the Goosander was a Little Grebe. The last few times I have seen Little Grebe they have been close to other birds and this has made me notice how small they are. This time a Moorhen was on the river bank nearby. I think of Moorhen as small but the Little Grebe seemed to be about half the size of it. It’s a bit of a fuzzy photo because of the lack of light and the distance but worth sharing I think.

It is apparent that worn tyres have no scrap value because someone has put a fair amount of effort in getting these between the canal and river. Clearing up will also take a fair effort. There should be areas reserved where people can take their rubbish to dump it so that the clean-up isn’t difficult and so that those dumping don’t have to go to such lengths to hide what they are doing, they could even be called Waste Management Centres.

There were quite a few Redwing moving along the tops of the trees near the fence with Denso Marston. Lower down in the trees were plenty of Long Tail Tits swinging about the smaller branches. Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Robin, Jay, Crows, and even a Grey Heron were also in the trees. Blackbird were flitting about on the ground. I also spotted Grey Wagtail and Wrens along the stones at the edge of the river.

The bird feeding stations were busy with Nuthatch, Great Tit and Squirrels as well as Coal Tits, Dunnocks and Blue Tits. Two Roe Deer also sprinted across one of the fields opposite, spooking a Grey Heron as they ran.

On my way back to the gate I spotted a Song Thrush having a tug of war with a worm. The worm lost.

During my visit it was nice to have a chat with several locals that I have seen down there on many occasions.

2019 – the ones I like

Painted Lady

We are pretty much at the end of 2019 now so I have had a look back through some of the photos I have taken over the year. These here are the ones I quite like. The reasons for including them vary. Some I think are good photos, others are photos of things not seen very often and others bring back pleasant memories. Most have been used in blog posts sometime during the year. The links in the post are usually to the blog post that includes the photo, all the links are internal to the site.

Note that you can click on any of the photos other than the header image to view them larger on the screen.

During the year we had an invasion of Painted Lady butterflies and also large numbers of Red Admirals and Tortoiseshell. I took quite a few photos of them and Mint Moths and other small things in the garden.

Early in the year I was invited to a Guided Tour of Salts Mill. Having worked there for 19 years I had been round all of the places before but the roof space of the main mill building is still impressive. I am sure there is a statistic somewhere saying that it was the largest covered space for a while but I don’t know if it was for the UK, Europe or the world.

Baildon Moor is one of the places I like to wander around and in the Spring this year I very nearly trod on a nest of 3 Lapwing eggs. It was in the middle of tracks made by golf club maintenance vehicles. I let it be and could see one of the adults safely return to it. With it being in the middle of the tracks I didn’t hold out much hope for its survival, but 2 weeks later I was on a guided walk from Shipley Glen to Golcar Farm and saw 3 chicks in and around the nest, they all hatched. I was pleasantly surprised.

We are really lucky to have Baildon Moor on our doorstep so that we can enjoy such wildlife. Lapwing, Hare, Skylark, Curlew, Snipe, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Roe Deer, Grasshopper Warbler, Barn Owl, Tree Sparrow, Reed Bunting, Stonechat, Wheatear, Linnet, Kestrel, Red Kite, Golden Plover, Buzzard, Green Hairstreak, Purple Hairstreak, Common Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Meadow Pipit, Swallow, Swift, Pied Wagtail, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, as well as various rare plants. These can all be seen or heard in or around Baildon Moor/Shipley Glen and quite a few of them are threatened species so it is great to see that many people keep their dogs on leads at the appropriate times.

I don’t think of myself as a twitcher, I don’t go rushing off when a bird I have never seen is reported. I guess one reason for that is that there are hundreds I have never seen so why go rushing off to see a rarity when many quite common ones I have yet to see are just around the corner. However, during the year there were reports of a Bearded Reedling that was showing itself quite well and ignoring photographers so I went along to St Aidans to have a look for it. The line of people along the path made it rather obvious where it was. It obligingly moved up and down a thin line of reeds seemingly unaware of the feet and cameras around it.

Another bird I went looking for was a white bird that had been spotted in Baildon on the River Aire in Roberts Park. Photos I had seen did not help me with ID. White birds like this are not normally seen around this area so whichever it was, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Spoonbill (?) was going to be unusual. And it turned out to be a Great White Egret. My RSPB Pocket Guide to British Birds does not even list it but the RSPB Handbook of British Birds does.

A similar sized bird that we do see a lot of around the river and canal is the Grey Heron. Usually you see single birds on the edge of the canal or on the weir at Saltaire or Hirst Mill but occasionally you can see several together or see them in trees where they look out-of-place.

I admit to being pleased with this photo of a Kookaburra but it was taken in a bird of prey centre which is the kind of place I am OK with having visited once but I will not be going back or to similar places even if the bird does look as though it is smiling.

A couple of local places I went to during the year are in the centre of Shipley. The Butterfly Meadow at Shipley Station and Potter Pits on the other side of platform. I am not sure how much longer Potter Pits will last as a place for butterflies, way over towards Valley Road, on the other side of Bradford Beck, has already been built on.

These photos were taken in some of the other local places I like to visit. The Swan was taken at Tong Park Dam, Baildon. For this I suspended my camera under my tripod so that it was only inches above the water and used my phone to view and fire the shutter.

The Pied Flycatcher was taken along the river at Denso Marston Nature Reserve. According to Steve, the warden of the reserve, this was a first.

Several times a year I also visit Rodley Nature Reserve and on one of my visits in 2019 I spent a while watching Sedge Warbler chicks being fed by their parents. This is also where I spent some time watching Avocet in 2018.

And the Redwing was taken from my back garden. Over the years we have had several interesting visitors visible from our patio. Bramblings, Siskins, Blackcap, Tree Sparrow but recently, apart from the Redwings, we seem to have been limited to the more common garden birds, Blue Tits, Long Tailed Tits, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Dunnock etc.

Redwing

Today has been a grey day in more ways than one. But I was pleased to spot a Redwing in the Viburnum just over the fence. With the naked eye I wasn’t sure what it was, it looked Thrush shaped (all I could see was the silhouette) but slightly smaller and not quite like a Blackbird. With my binoculars I could see it was a Redwing. Often they seem to be high in trees or well hidden so, when I went out with my camera, I was quite pleased to get a few photos of one.

When I worked at Salts Mill and used to walk through Roberts Park to and from and often at lunchtime I used to see a few Redwing in the Winter. I have only seen them a few times in our garden.

If you click on an image below you can see it larger in the gallery.

I need to look out of the window when it is a bit brighter to see if I can get any better shots or of more than one of them. They come over for Winter from Europe in their thousands so there should be plenty around.

Edit: Here are some more photos of birds in the same Viburnum tree. This time there was a bit more light and I think it has made a big difference.

Blackbirds were also feeding on the berries.