Saturday, 5 August 2017

Back to the birds: a week of writing and a week off work

I have been escaping work for a while. A week writing in the peace and quiet of North Yorkshire followed by a week at home, using up holiday. For the first week, I had a couple of reports to clear and a book chapter to write, tucked away in Hebden with limited internet, some beautiful scenery and a laptop. 

I spent five days waking up early and taking the camera down the River Wharfe. The river was picturesque mix of stepping stones, mixed woodland, and tumbling water. Over my wanders I clocked up brilliant views of nuthatches, redstart, spotted flycatchers, green wood peckers and dippers.

Nuthatch beside the Wharfe at Hebden

Spot fly beside the Wharfe

Juvenile Green Woodpecker beside the Wharfe

On my week off I decided to check out Summer Leys, a local nature reserve where I knew little ringed plover bred. It was late in the season and I wasn't sure whether my luck would be in, the site would be fantastic, swarming with dragonflies and warblers. The leys were full of terns, gulls, egrets and redshank; and, thankfully, one distant but distinct Little Ringed Plover. In addition to the great birdlife, there was a particularly bold muntjac which rounded the closest pool, passing close in front of the hide.

Little Egret at Summer Leys

Litte Ringed Plover at Summer Leys

Muntja Deer at Summer Leys

Inbound Muntjac at Summer Leys

Reed Warbler at Summer Leys

Little Egret at Summer Leys

I also went out for a couple of walks between Lavendon and Milton Keynes, picking up Quail at Pitsford as well as a hare, grey partridge and a couple of other bits and bobs around Lavendon.

Grey Partridge at Lavendon

Hare at Lavendon

The real highlight of the holiday was a last minute trip to Ouse Washes to catch the Black Winged Stilts before they moved on. After an hour and a half drive, I got to the reserve, there was no one else around. I practically ran to the hide, ignoring the the hedges swarming with sedge warblers, I headed up the hide steps, tucking myself onto the benches. I scanned the pools for a while with no luck, but then, gliding, legs trailing, they dropped in. I watched them feed for 30 minutes, occasionally driven from one pool to another by the avocets. It was a short time, but the highlight of the holiday.

Sedge Warbler at Ouse Washes

Black Winged Stilt at Ouse Washes

Black Winged Stilt at Ouse Washes

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