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spuggies and jackdaws and hedgehogs and frogs


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Walk in the upper reaches of Wharfedale today. As well as the expected songbirds saw lapwings, a fantastic thrush singing away in a tree near Hubberholme church, a hare, a mouse moving its young and heard (but didn't see) curlews. Also, somewhat surprisingly for me as I've never seen one inland before, 3 oystercatchers: 2 probably courting and a 3rd wallflower who kept getting noisily chased off. 

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On 29/05/2021 at 23:02, Les Tonks Sidestep said:

Walk in the upper reaches of Wharfedale today. As well as the expected songbirds saw lapwings, a fantastic thrush singing away in a tree near Hubberholme church, a hare, a mouse moving its young and heard (but didn't see) curlews. Also, somewhat surprisingly for me as I've never seen one inland before, 3 oystercatchers: 2 probably courting and a 3rd wallflower who kept getting noisily chased off. 

Sounds like a lovely walk, LTS; I am envious.

Yes, oystercatchers are very much an upland Dales bird, as are redshanks and common sandpipers, as I recall from living variously at Long Preston and Embsay in the Yorkshire Dales and Ingleton in the lower reaches of Teesdale.

By the way, I think JB Priestly once said that 'The George' at Hubberholme was his favourite pub!

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9 minutes ago, Wiltshire Warrior Dragon said:

Sounds like a lovely walk, LTS; I am envious.

Yes, oystercatchers are very much an upland Dales bird, as are redshanks and common sandpipers, as I recall from living variously at Long Preston and Embsay in the Yorkshire Dales and Ingleton in the lower reaches of Teesdale.

By the way, I think JB Priestly once said that 'The George' at Hubberholme was his favourite pub!

I've walked in the Dales for many years (although nowhere near as often as I'd have liked in recent years) but never seen oystercatchers there before - probably shows how hard I've been looking (in fact it was Mrs S who spotted them)! 

We passed a sign pointing to JBP's favourite pub although we refreshed at The White Lion in Cray. 

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1 hour ago, Les Tonks Sidestep said:

I've walked in the Dales for many years (although nowhere near as often as I'd have liked in recent years) but never seen oystercatchers there before - probably shows how hard I've been looking (in fact it was Mrs S who spotted them)! 

We passed a sign pointing to JBP's favourite pub although we refreshed at The White Lion in Cray. 

In my experience, you often here the piping call of an oysercatcher before you see they are there; perhaps that was Mrs S's experience too.

When I worked in the council planning department in Skipton, one of our admin staff - a very bonny lass - was one of five daughters (no sons!) of the then landlord and landlady of 'The White Lion'.  When those five were all in their teens or early twenties, I bet there would have been a constant stream of young lads from down the dale making their way there for a drink or two!  Good to know it is open still.

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Mrs WWD and I heard a cuckoo today in the New Forest, when out walking the dog.  This means that, this year, we can claim to have heard cuckoos in four consecutive months - from March to June.  We heard one call on 31st March, unusually early and something I don't recall experiencing before; then nothing till the more normal mid-April; after that most days in late April and most of May, just getting less frequent in the last week or so.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Mrs Shadow and I drove down the A34 from Oxford to Winchester on Sunday and lost count of the number of Red Kites we saw, they have really increased in numbers over the past few years.

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4 hours ago, Shadow said:

Mrs Shadow and I drove down the A34 from Oxford to Winchester on Sunday and lost count of the number of Red Kites we saw, they have really increased in numbers over the past few years.

And rapidly becoming close to commonplace closer to home for you and me, Shadow.  I have seen them a few times over the A36 near the Landford junction, over my house at Morgan's Vale, and drifting above the main road through Downton.

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Posted (edited)

A small but positive increase in bees in the garden this year. I moved two new houses onto the garage wall as they were getting no use elsewhere. And even though they are supposedly not facing the right direction they are filling up. Happy with that little result 

Edited by voteronniegibbs
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Wibble

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Just back from a few days in the Peak District. Great walk along the river Bradford with families of coots and mallards, across the hill via Arbor Low to Lathkill Dale and peacocks, nesting coots, swan families, grey wagtails and the fantastic site of a shrew crossing the path behind us (Mrs S spotted it nip out and return to the undergrowth as we approached so after walking by a few yards we stopped and waited patiently for a few seconds before it reappeared and scooted across the path).

Edited by Les Tonks Sidestep
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  • 4 weeks later...

Our proper go at a bee friendly garden this year is paying off. We've seen 4 different types and have 2 bee boxes on the garage wall each about a 3rd full. Sunflowers, borage and sweet peas are popular with them. 

This year's junior sparrows seem to have taken a liking to chomping the flower heads out of me runner beans. ..

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Wibble

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  • 2 weeks later...

Best ever kingfisher sighting at Fairburn Ings near Castleford yesterday. Watched it fishing from a branch for about ten minutes. Also saw a chiffchaff on the feeders. You hear them everywhere but hardly ever see them.

Today's excitement was provided by a roe deer running across the road at Melton.

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Old Faithful we never lose at Wembley

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1 hour ago, Ullman said:

Best ever kingfisher sighting at Fairburn Ings near Castleford yesterday. Watched it fishing from a branch for about ten minutes. Also saw a chiffchaff on the feeders. You hear them everywhere but hardly ever see them.

Today's excitement was provided by a roe deer running across the road at Melton.

Lucky you. Despite being just up the road from Fairburn I've never had the luck to see a kingfisher. 

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On 24/07/2021 at 21:57, voteronniegibbs said:

Our proper go at a bee friendly garden this year is paying off. We've seen 4 different types and have 2 bee boxes on the garage wall each about a 3rd full. Sunflowers, borage and sweet peas are popular with them. 

This year's junior sparrows seem to have taken a liking to chomping the flower heads out of me runner beans. ..

Disappointed that I've not got a bee nest on the allotment this year (although it means I get more done rather than just sitting watching their comings and goings!). If you've got the space I'd recommend a globe thistle, the bees and hoverflies love them. Heucheras are also popular if you've a small space to fill. 

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1 hour ago, Les Tonks Sidestep said:

Lucky you. Despite being just up the road from Fairburn I've never had the luck to see a kingfisher. 

Felt pretty privileged TBH. I've seen them flash past on the River Hull and the River Ouse before but this was something else. The speed it went in and out of the water was almost impossible for the human eye to track. Watching it manoeuvre the fish round in its beak so it could swallow them was fascinating.

Old Faithful we never lose at Wembley

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48 minutes ago, Ullman said:

Felt pretty privileged TBH. I've seen them flash past on the River Hull and the River Ouse before but this was something else. The speed it went in and out of the water was almost impossible for the human eye to track. Watching it manoeuvre the fish round in its beak so it could swallow them was fascinating.

The first time I visited my future in laws (they live in Preston about 50 yards from the Ribble) my future wife suggested we went for a walk up the river to kingfisher bridge. My excitement was shortlived as we headed along the riverside path when it became apparent that her mum and dad had seen one once, about 30 years previously!

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On 22/06/2021 at 16:14, Shadow said:

Mrs Shadow and I drove down the A34 from Oxford to Winchester on Sunday and lost count of the number of Red Kites we saw, they have really increased in numbers over the past few years.

Not that many red kites in Bradford but if I drive out through Leeds towards York (still in Leeds though but posh bits like Wetherby where you’d feel at home) you see absolutely shed loads of them, *loads*.

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Almost any article on bird life in the New Forest will have pictures of a nightjar and a Dartford warbler.  From early May to early September, the former are not hard to hear, and quite often to see; it's just that the window of opportunity each day is limited to about two hours - one each round dusk and dawn.  Nightjars, of course, are quite widely spread in summer throughout England, albeit in quite specialist habitats.

Dartford warblers, by contrast, are very much a bird of south of England heathland.  They are resident all year round; indeed, they, sadly, have a potentially suicidal inclination to stay put, even in the worst winters, and not even flit across the English Channel.  They can also be fearfully hard to spot.

So, Mrs WWD and I struck really lucky yesterday, on our daily dog walk in the forest, on this occasion, the track across Fritham Plain.  We thought we saw a pair flitting about some bushes near the track and then one came out and stood on the track only about 20 yards ahead of us.  It only moved away when disturbed by two oncoming walkers and their dog.

Once you think you have seen one of these warblers, it is easy to say quite quickly whether or not you really have.  They are very dark, but actually have a lovely maroonish-orange chest and a striking red eye.  In profile, the long, typically cocked tail is a bit of a giveaway too.  Here is a link to the RSPB page about them:

Dartford Warbler Bird Facts | Sylvia Undata - The RSPB

Over 25 years hereabouts, Mrs WWD and I have probably seen them on average about once a year.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Mrs WWD and I had our daughter back for a long weekend the other week, and went for our usual morning dog walk in the New Forest, at Turf Hill; it's the nearest car park to us and only a five-minute drive.

We were reminded of one of the most unobtrusive features of the forest's animal life as we walked along a gravel track which had warmed up nicely in the early morning sun.

Mrs WWD, Miss WWD and Poppy, our Catalan sheepdog (is there any other dog breed for a fan of Les Dracs?  But I digress!), had happened to be on the left hand side of the path and a few steps ahead of me.  

I was on the right hand side and almost stepped on a wooden stick...except it wasn't!  It was an adder taking advantage of the agreeable weather to get a bit of warmth in its body.  The others hadn't even noticed it.  They all came back to look from a distance of about a couple of feet; the adder just lay there.

Snakes, I fear, can have a poor reputation, with many people possibly imagining that they will attack you on sight.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Over the years, in the New Forest, Mrs WWD and I have seen adders and grass snakes a few times and were once lucky enough to find a very rare smooth snake sunning itself on a pathway.  We've also seen a few lizards and slow worms.  

What they all had in common was absolutely no inclination to be aggressive.  They stayed still or just gently slipped away.

Edited by Wiltshire Warrior Dragon
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I remember being in Cornwall on holiday and my mum saying "come and look at this". Was an adder curled up and getting warm in the sunshine. It was me that identified it, that zig-zag pattern is distinctive. Eventually got fed up of us and slid off into the undergrowth. You are highly unlikely to have any issue with an adder unless you're being an idiot and poking it with a stick or something.

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