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  1. Paul’s Blog,
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  3. pages about Places
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  5. and BaildonWiki.

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Mid May on Baildon Moor and in our garden

Long Tailed Tit

I have been neglecting my photography outings but with the nice weather I decided to go for a wonder on Baildon Moor on Saturday. Being retired I sometimes think I should leave Baildon Moor at the weekend to those that work and limit my visits to during the week. I’ll save it until near to the end before I say whether I might stick to that.

We seem to be hearing a lot of grim news about many things so I was pleased to hear Skylark in the sky. I spent a while looking towards the sound but didn’t spot one. I didn’t wander onto the golf course so I didn’t see any feeding along the fairways either.

Please click on an image to see it in better quality in its gallery.

What I did hear early on in my visit was Willow Warbler. It sounded as though there were several around, each in their own tree, singing along and then suddenly tailing off as though they had lost interest. Meadow Pipit were around but not in the numbers I had expected. I did spot them on fence posts and on the stone walls looking towards the sun and the field beyond. Often during my walks I would see them call and take to the air from the footpath in front of me, perhaps there were people going along the paths too frequently for that to happen. Reed Buntings were also around.

I managed to get a few photos of other things but they are here only as proof of what was there. They are rather fuzzy . Curlew could be heard making their eerie call as they glided into land. I didn’t spot any Curlew chicks but did see several adults strutting around with their massive curved beak.

Lapwing were also noisy with their “peewit” call whenever anything threatening flew over them, like this Red Kite that several Lapwing mobbed.

Every few minutes there would be a loud call from a male Pheasant as it flapped its wings to ward off any rivals. Several of them could be seen. I spotted a flat light-brown feathery thing in the short grass. It seemed to flatten itself and spread out. It then started moving towards longer grass and I realised it was a female pheasant guiding its young towards safety.

I also spotted another light brown flattened animal, but this time furry. From the black tips to the ears and its brown colour I am going to say it is a Hare. Hare will tend to flatten themselves into the ground to hide whereas Rabbits will run for the burrow. Its other features are rather Rabbit like but at a guess it is a Leveret.

On several occasions I heard a bird go “Chucka, chucka, chucka.” I admit that I didn’t know whether this was a Snipe or a Redshank, both of which I have seen in the area. Eventually I spotted a Snipe in the distance. I have since listened to recording of both birds and can confirm that It was Snipe I was hearing. I need to get up there in the evening so I can watch them doing their display flight and thrumming with their tail feathers.

In the warm air there were quite a few Orange Tip butterflies around. I also spotted this Wall Butterfly. It’s a bit fuzzy, but still identifiable.

The egg that I spotted, by itself, on the edge of the path is of a Pheasant, I think. From this angle it looks intact but the other side is all broken, bloody and messy. I assume a dog or crow had picked it up from a nest but had then been disturbed.

I did say I would leave it until towards the end before saying any more about which days I walk on Baildon Moor. I am going to keep away at weekends. My enjoyment comes from the quietness and wildlife so I don’t like seeing dogs lolloping along the paths where the well behaved ones only go a few feet off the paths, sticking their noses into tufts of grass. This will be to hunt out mice, voles, birds etc. that will now be forced further away from the paths. And then there are the drones and powered model planes. Sometimes they fly down over the fields near the farms. The Lapwing then rise up in an attempt to scare away the plane, in the meantime Crows and Jackdaws fly across the field to snatch at any young on the ground. I’m pretty sure that powered flight on Baildon Moor is still prohibited by bye-laws of Bradford Council, the land owner. The bye-laws may have come about to stop the injuries and fights that have happened on the golf course but I for one support them.

Later the same day I spent some time in our back garden a really enjoyed the noise and activity of a flock of adult and juvenile Long Tailed Tits go back and forth through the hedge and tress at the back. Apparently birds from other broods can help feed the latest batch. So the flock will be made up of brothers, sisters, aunties and uncles, all feeding the young. The latest brood are the ones with the red rings around their eyes.

Holly Blue in May

Holly Blue butterfly on the Clamatis in our garden

At this time of year, when the sun is on the back garden I often see Holly Blue butterflies flitting up and over the Hawthorn hedge.

Sometimes they fly close to the bushes and then seem to disappear. Yesterday I watched two of them fluttering around each other and then saw where one settled.

The end of March and the wildlife of April

Little Egret at Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits

Here’s a few photos from the last couple of months with trips to Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits, the pond at High Royds, the Leeds Liverpool Canal and Yeadon Tarn.

Please click on an image to see it better quality in its gallery.

At the end of March we had a quick fall of snow that disappeared almost as quickly as it came.

Half way through April I made a visit to Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits Nature Reserve where quite a few Sand Martins were wheeling about over the river and disappearing into the best holes in the opposite bank. The RAF Airbus A400 has been in the area a few times. On-line searches say that it is doing training exercises. I watched it do several approaches in the direction of Yeadon Airport. The Grey Heron and Speckled Wood were spotted on a short walk along the river Wharfe between Burley in Wharfedale and Otley, near the end of the old Ilkley Road.

Later in April I walked around the pond at High Royds in Menston. The Mandarin Duck was strutting around and chasing off ducks twice its size. But look at the size of the feet on that Moorhen. I guess they help it spread the load over any floating vegetation so it can still walk around.

There were quite a few dogs being taken for a walk but still lots of ducklings and Coot chicks around. Often it is said that new chicks look cute, but those Coot chicks, only a mother could love them.

I could hear several Song Thrush in the trees on the other side of Guiseley Drive but only managed to get sight of 1 of them. I also spotted several Rabbits on that side of the road and this one looks very much like it is attempting to play leap-frog. With its long back legs I’m sure it could do better than that, but really it is just doing what rabbits tend to do.

A few days later I had occasion to be down Dockfield Road where it was nice to see Swans nesting. Because of the way the houses have been built there is no reason why anyone would be walking near the nest to disturb them so they stand a good chance of success. They will have got used to residents being in their back gardens.

On 28 April I had getting on for an hour to kill in Yeadon so I had a walk around Yeadon Tarn with my camera. It was great to see a fair few Swallowszipping along just above the surface of the water. I spent a while trying to get them in the viewfinder. Most shots were just blurry ripples but I did manage to press the shutter at something like the right time on a couple of occasions. More practice and more time needed.

A Wren in Our Garden

Wren in our garden

According to the RSPB the Wren is the most common breeding bird in the UK. I’m not quite sure how they can say that because I seldom see one. I guess I hear them in the undergrowth and I have occasionally seen little round brown fluffy things around the edges of the garden.

On Saturday though we had one feeding and hopping around the edges of the garden wall outside the kitchen window. I took these through the window so they are not as clear as I would like but I think they are worth sharing.

A Quick Trip to Yeadon

Tufted Duck at Yeadon Tarn

This morning I had a few minutes in Yeadon and managed to get halfway round Yeadon Tarn before I had to leave. Click on an image to see it better quality in its gallery.

As expected there were lots of Canada Geese, Swans, Mallard and Black Headed Gulls. There were also quite a few Tufted Ducks. At the North end of the Tarn I heard something near the edge so I tried to keep hidden while watching. After a minute or two a Great Crested Grebe showed itself rather nicely before diving and disappearing. A juvenile Cormorant was perched on the timber before dropping into the water and paddling across the Tarn. It was so low in the water that you could only really see its neck and head.

Just before I left a rather smart looking Pilatus PC 12 (IRL281) from the Irish Air Corp landed at the airport. Pilot and passengers can be seen wearing masks.

Visiting Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk feeding in our garden

I have been doing some long overdue pruning in our garden and now have a 4 foot high mountain of stuff to get rid of. I say pruning because if it is done properly the plants get healthier, ours might not survive. I did wonder if any animals would hide in the mountain but I was a little surprised to see a black and red patch on the top of it today. It didn’t look like vegetation so I went and had a closer look. It turned out to be a rather bloody Blackbird corpse. I left it there and was rewarded within minutes with a Sparrowhawk coming in to feed.

In one of the photos you can see the bird’s nictitating membrane across its eye. As usual you can click on an image to see it in its gallery and on a computer screen it should be better quality.