End of November. A few minutes out with car and camera.

I took the car out again for its weekly spin so I don’t get flat spots on the tyres, so the brakes don’t seize on, and so that I don’t forget how to drive. And I took my camera with me.

As usual you can click on an image to see it better quality in its gallery. The difference is very noticeable if you have a decent sized computer screen. I have yet to find out how to tell WordPress to not show a reduced resolution image in the blog.

I went down to what I think is called Conker Alley – at the end of Higher Coach Road next to the bridge over Loadpit Beck, and walked down to the weir near the Rowing Club. The first thing I heard over the noise of the weir was Grey Wagtail. I spotted one over the other side of the river but two of them soon flew over part of the weir jumping up and insects flying near them.

I then heard a Wren in the bushes to the left of the Rowing Club building. At first it was deep in the thick of them and invisible apart from twitching twigs. But them it showed itself before flying off to behind the building.

I then heard Geese and looked up into the field behind the Rowing Club to see a flock of around 10 Grey Heron. For most of them just their heads were showing so there could have easily been more. And a few yards to the right of the Herons was a flock of Canada Geese with a couple of Greylag Geese around the edge. One of the Herons looked as though it had yet to grow some of the white feathers of the adults. It wondered up and around the field while the adults kept themselves down in the depression of the field – quite possibly where they would find more worms and frogs. I did wonder if they would settle there for the night but the whole flock lifted off and flew over over the trees further up river.

When I got back to my car I heard Mistle Thrush and looked for them in the trees. There were several Thrush like silhouettes in the tops of some of the trees but from the size and noise they were making I did wonder if those were Redwing. And then I spotted this Squirrel munching away on something it was holding in its front paws. I have tried zooming in on what it is eating. It looks vaguely like an apple but my best guess is that it is some kind of mushroom/fungus. Apparently Squirrels can eat mushrooms that would be poisonous to us.

Because of the poor light on the Tuesday I decided to go back again on Wednesday. The light was much better but there were only two Grey Herons in the field and they were keeping their heads down so I couldn’t see very much. I did see a Grey Wagtail on the weir – it is the last one in the set at the top of this blog post. I think it has made a clearer image.

On the way back up the drive of the Rowing Club I kept my eyes on Loadpit Beck and spotted a small patch of white – a Dipper. Most of the time it was obscured by branches and it was difficult to get my camera to focus on it. It was also dark under the overhanging branches but I did manage to get a few shots of it as it was going along picking insects and larvae off the rocks and out of the water. At one point it was sticking its head under water and pulling leaves out, throwing them to one side and then dipping its head in again. Once it had cleared the leaves out of the way it then stuck its head under again and came back up with the larvae it had uncovered. This is behaviour similar to Blackbirds except that it is done underwater as opposed to in the undergrowth.

River Wharfe, Little Egret and Curlew

On Tuesday 17 I decided to take the car out so that it didn’t fester in the garage. The parking brake came off with a bit of a clunk and the brakes sounded a bit rough for a few yards but the car seemed OK. I took my camera, with its long lens, with me and decided to spend a few minutes next to the River Wharfe parked in the lay-by opposite where Otley Rd leaves the A660, near the roundabout with the A65.

Please click on the images to see better quality or full-size versions.

I could hear Robins, Long Tailed Tits, Gold Finch and Blue Tits but one of the first things I spotted was a flock of Starlings swirl around and land in the field over the other side of the wall. After looking a bit closer I realised that what I had thought were brown plants and grasses were Curlew, lots of them. Dozens of Lapwing were also with them. After watching for a few minutes most of them took to the air, circled round a bit and landed in the field across the other side of the river.

I walked up river a few yards watching the Curlew preening themselves and tucking their long beaks under their wings looking as though they were settling in for a rest as seen in the header image. At 4 in the afternoon it did seem a bit early to be settling for the night but sunset is at 4 at this time of year.

I headed back towards the car and spotted a singing Robin in a tree next to the gate. I took a couple of photos of it hoping that it wouldn’t show as just a silhouette against the sky. I then spotted quite a large white shape above the river. I tried to keep a tree between me and where I thought it had come to land as I moved closer to the river. This allowed me to get a couple of photos of the Little Egret. We have done well for Egrets over the last couple of years. I managed to get a photo of a Little Egret at Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits and last year a Great White Egret spent some time on the canal and river Aire at Saltaire.

I didn’t have my binoculars with me but took some photos of ducks way down river. Some of them flew up river but I waited until I got home to look at the photos to see that there were Goosander among the Mallards.

Making and Breaking Triangles. Stainburn, Fitzwilliam, Barnsley and Baildon

This is another post that has come about because of taking my camera with me when making and breaking triangles in the game of Ingress. Thinking about photography also helps me decide where to go when looking at triangles.

Stainburn Forest 14 Sept- part of this forest has been felled so some of it looks a bit dead at the moment but I did see Squirrels and Pheasants amongst the tree stumps. I also spotted a Sparrow Hawk flying through some of the trees and a Kestrel hovering over the fields.

The water in the 2nd photo is Lindley Wood Reservoir on the river Washburn.

I don’t need Ingress as an excuse to visit Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits Nature Area (21 Sept) but this visit was because I was passing after visiting some Ilkley portals. I have seen ducks dabbling, and Little Egret and Kingfisher fishing, but this is the first time I have seen someone with a rod in the middle of the river. There is a multitude of different wild plants in the reserve and it is also a good place to spot various fungi.

On 21 Sept I also had a walk along part of the Leeds Liverpool canal where at Gallows Bridge Moorings they were lifting a boat out of the water. At the first attempt the boat was nose heavy and they had to move some of the boats on the right so they could get the hoist in the right position on the boat.

After looking for relatively close places I haven’t visited in Ingress I decided to have a trip to Castleford 24 Sept. Whilst there the weather was OK but on the way home the skies darkened and I saw several flashes of lightening. The clouds seemed lower in the direction of home. I had just got the car in the garage when tonnes of ice fell from the sky. We have had sprinklings of hail at this time of year before but this was impressive. As you can see it knocked holes through many of the plants in the garden.

After seing too much green on the the Ingress map I decided it would be a good idea to go to Fitzwilliam Country Park 26 Sept. After getting in the car I just told the sat-nav to take me to Fitzwilliam Country Park. I guess the centre of the park was the location it assumed and so took me down what I later realised were private, concrete farm roads. Fortunately at the end of one of them was a place to park – next to the entrance of a poultry farm. There seemed to be several of them in the area. It would have been better if I had looked closer at the map and asked the sat-nav to take me to Fitzwilliam where there was a car park and proper entrance to the Country Park – but I only found that out after walking around the park for a while.

I assume the Country Park is quite new. (I have now checked the Wakefield Council website and it says it was landscaped in 1991) The trees are not very big, it has lots of brambles and Hawthorn and is quite “coppice” like, also I didn’t see much wildlife, though carrying my camera around did let me get the photo of the Swan. The journey also included visits to places like Hemsworth Water Park and Vale Head Park – where the crazy golf is very overgrown at the moment, and Grimethorpe where I met two Ingress agents on the opposing side who were busy protecting and repairing the damage I was trying to do outside the Post Office.

The trip to Barnsley was on 27 Sept. I had been to Barnsley in the game several years ago but back then it was solid blue. A visit on Sunday while it was green meant I got a few unique captures.

Late afternoon of 27 Sept I was out again in Baildon searching for some new (to me) portals in the game when I spotted Roe Deer. The last photo of the Roe Deer looks as though it has just crunched on a snail shell or tried to lick a wasp, it looks very surprised. On the 29 Sept I went looking for newish portals on the Millennium Way on Baildon Moor and spotted this Kestrel near the path.

Aug-Sep 2020. Out with my camera and phone

I have mentioned before hearing noisy Crows and seeing youngsters being fed.

I did think that by the middle of September that all that would be finished with but a noisy youngster was still shouting to be fed; this time on a neighbour’s chimney. The one on the left was fed by the adult and it looks like a risky business; shoving a hard beak into each other. No harm was done, but the youngster on the right, after making a bit of a fuss, was seen off by the adult in quite a rough way.

On one of my visits to Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits someone mentioned Gallows Hill nature area in Otley so I paid it a visit and even though it was a damp and grey day it was quite a pleasant walk. One of the things I have started doing again is playing a bit of Ingress so submitted a couple of new portals from the nature area.

As part of Ingress I have been looking at the map again and saw the opportunity to create a few blue triangles between Beamsley Beacon not so far from Addingham, the Elephant Mural on the A6033 between Oxenhope and Peckett Welland places in Barnoldswick.

These are just a few photos from a walk around Barnoldswick after having created the Ingress fields.

These two photos were taken on a outing where I have made yet another attempt at a photo I am trying to get. I will be making other attempts and will hopefully have something to show for my repeated efforts. The Buzzard was quite noisy.

On Saturday I had another look at the Ingress map and set off for Fewston Cemetery. It was strange to be there during the day. The last time I had been there it was dark and late and I was quizzed by two big armed policemen. Fortunately, at the time, I had finished what I wanted to do so I was happy to “move on”. I then went back gown to Otley and made some triangles.

As part of this drive around I had my camera with me and was very pleased I did. When on Hardisty Hill I spotted a Buzzard on a fence post. It took me a few minutes to find somewhere I could safely stop the car so I could get out with my camera. The Buzzard posed for a few minutes before flying down to the tree in the heather. At the same time I heard another Buzzard behind me, this one flew along some trees before settling in one of them.

A few minutes later I spotted some Red Kites over a field. This time there was a place to stop the car safely. I watched them and realised that they seemed to be staying in the same area so I got my camera. A tractor was working in the fields cutting and turning the grass for hay. I reckon that there were 5 or 6 Red Kites. Buzzard also spent a while hovering and calling loudly. The Pheasant walked along in the grass at the edge of the road behind my car happily ignoring me. Perhaps it was too busy watching the birds in the sky?

I decide to pay Weeton Station a visit in Ingress and was a little surprised to see a Buzzard and several Red Kite circling quite low. They appeared to be flying along behind the trees at the station at about rooftop height along Kingsway. Perhaps something was dead along there?

As part of the zig-zag Ingress way home I stopped off at one of the entrances to Harewood House at the end of Wike Lane. The view of Harewood House is impressive.

A Crow Family

On Thursday I kept hearing slightly different noises outside and eventually went out to see what was going on. I should have gone out earlier.

A Crow family were hopping about the rooftops. When I went out they flew down to the road. The header image shows one of the juveniles trying to hide what is going on from its sibling.

The adult is feeding one of them and the first shot shows its nictitating membrane across its eye, probably to protect it if it gets poked by junior’s beak. The last shot shows the other juvenile with what could be food in its beak. Did it pinch it from the other?

Shipley Station Butterfly Meadow

On Wednesday I went out to Shipley Station Butterfly Meadow and a few minutes in Potter’s Pits. Both places seemed to be very quiet but I did take a couple of photos. The header image is of a Cinnabar Moth pupa on a grass stalk. A dark leaf hopper can also be seen at the bottom of the pupa.

This Ladybird was running along grass stalks quicker than I have ever seen before. It paused for a split second at the top of this stalk before flying off.

I did spot a couple of Cinnabar Moths flying about but I did not see where/if they settled. At Potter Pits I also spotted a tiny pale blue butterfly and several Speckled Woods. However the heat meant that I did not want to be out in the open for very long.