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.


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.

Shipley Glen Tree

I am a member of the T&A Camera Club facebook group. Each month there is a different topic for people to submit photos to, and one photo is chosen each month by the admins as the “winner”. I have only submitted photos a couple of times but this month the topic is Changing Seasons so I have finally got round to selecting some photos of the tree on Shipley Glen and putting them together to make a single image.

Back in January 2013 I went up to some of the rocks near the tree with my camera and tripod. I took a few shots of the tree and made a note of where the tripod was and how my camera was positioned. I then went back to the same place 22 more times, on one occasion with my flashgun, to take photos of the tree. I can’t remember whether anything happened to stop me but the photos range from 13 January to 24 October. Why did I not carry on through November and December?

I have been promising to go through the images for ages but it was the T&A topic that prompted me to finally do something with them.

September Butterfly Bush

This is a mixture of some recent photos so the title is a bit misleading but since I have said September Butterfly Bush lets start with the butterflies.

A month or so back the media contained several reports of the number of Painted Lady butterflies, saying that this was a once in every 10 year occurrence, with higher than usual numbers of the butterflies around. Back on August 5 I posted again about More Painted Ladies. But even in September our buddleia, when the sun was on it, had good numbers. The third one in the gallery above shows a Painted Lady and a Bumble Bee looking as though they are sipping from the same flower.

Several Peacock butterflies were around at the same time and most of them had very raggedy wings.

What was noticeable, not in the same numbers as the Painted Ladies earlier in the year, but still worth a mention, were the Red Admirals.

Some of the Rd Admirals were looking very fresh.

Tortoiseshell and Small Whites were also around during September.

While taking photos of the butterflies I could also hear several Goldfinchs and Blackbirds in the Hawthorn and Elderberry. I could see the small branches moving but couldn’t see any birds until this one suddenly hopped into view. I still kept seeing birds fly into and out of the trees but once in they mostly kept hidden. On a couple of the shots above you may have noticed that the sky has been very blue.

In the clear blue sky ‘planes flying over were showing bright with long vapour trails. The first shot above is at 600mm, the same lens I used for the Goldfinch. I have shown the image uncropped – as taken. The second image is the same photo but heavily cropped to 800 pixels wide. The reason for this is to give some scale to the next set of photos.

These were taken just a few seconds before the one of the plane and are cropped the same amount to give an idea of relative size. The object was heading North (ish) and changed shape slightly. I have rotated the images slightly so that the line is top to bottom. The Sun was to the left. I was shooting handheld and so the angle of the camera could have changed between the shots. At the time I started the SkyView app on my phone and it told me that the International Space Station was in a similar compass direction but well below the horizon. I don’t know how accurate SkyView is for things that move across the sky at the rate this was moving but I can’t think what else it could be. The data from the camera says it was taken on 21 Sept at 14:48:40 BST. Checking the camera now shows that it is running about 10 seconds slow so the correct time was 14:48:50. I wonder if it is possible to find out where ISS was at that time?

During September I went down to Denso Marston Nature Reserve a couple of times. I heard, and got glimpses of Kingfisher. A Grey Heron saw me before I saw it and was already flying away but these Goosander were a little less panicked.

I often hear Chaffinch, Robin, Wren, in the front garden and sometimes hear Goldcrest in the trees. On this particular time, when I was out near the garage, it sounded a little lower and closer than it often sounds so I went to have a look. After spotting it I went in and got my camera with macro lens fitted, I was hoping it would come nice and close. I could see it deep in the tree but it was well hidden so taking a photo was not on, but it was working its way around the tree. After waiting patiently it came around to my side and I managed to get a few shots of it. So tiny!

I have spent a bit of time recently helping out at Baildon Community Link on Cliffe Avenue, refitting cupboard doors and similar such things. On leaving one day I thought this view of the park next to it looked rather good after the grass had been cut. On the walk home I saw someone that was going a little further than I normally do to get a decent view of things. One of the problems of being surrounded by trees is that your view can be obstructed. 🙂

Harley Tanks 2018

I remember creating the collage of Harley Tanks from the 2018 rally and sharing it on a facebook group but it looks as though I didn’t add it to my blog. So here it is, rather late I know.

This one has 64 tanks in it. It was raining on the day so bikes may have been tucked out of the way and I might not have put too much effort into finding them. Also there had been the risk that the rally was not going to take place. For a rally that closes off public roads there are many things that need to be done. Each task may be reasonably straight forward but there’s a lot of them and miss one of them and the event does not happen. Until social media and the community got behind the event to support the organisers there was a risk that it was not going to happen. I think there is a valuable lesson to be learnt there – if there are things that we enjoy taking part in don’t expect others to put all the hard work in just so we can have fun.

The 2019 rally was the 40th and I got 214 tanks in the collage.

The 2017 rally collage was 133 tanks

The 2012 rally saw me find 59 Harley tanks.

At the 2013 rally I added 43 new tanks.

I also have photos from 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014. I might put together a little history sometime.