Bretton Country Park

I think it was back in 1986 that I had a trip out to see a Great White Egret at the local Country Park, Bretton, (now known as Yorkshire Sculpture Park) which is inside the Huddersfield Birdwatchers Recording Area. Back in 1986 however I missed seeing the bird by about 5 mins and wasn’t seen again at the park, so over 30 years later I finally put this one behind me.

The Great White Egret was easily viewed from Cascade Bridge, giving good views periodically as it strolled within the reeds then a Kingfisher flew thru my field of view taking my attention away from the Egret for a moment. Other birds in view at this time were Great Crested Grebe, Grey Herons, Tufted Ducks, Black headed Gulls, Coots, and Gadwalls were close by. A sound of a Wagtail got my attention behind me, a Grey Wagtail was lifting off from the dam wall, flew over me and out of sight, which drew my attention to a Cormorant flying over.

A walk then around the lower lake brought back memories of times gone by, the old woodpecker tree where I saw all three species of Woodpeckers on one visit but only Long tailed Tit today, Robin, Wren, Treecreeper, and a Nuthatch were the only birds found around lower lake today, on the water more Tufted Duck, Goosander ♀, Teal, Mallard and Pochard.

My time was up, the parking time was nearly done, I had time for another look at the Great White on the way passed, a long wait over 🙂

Birds Seen today : Blackbird, Black headed Gull, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Canada Goose, Crow, Coot, Cormorant, Gadwall, Goosander, Great Crested Grebe, Great Tit, Great White Egret, Grey Wagtail, Greylag Goose, Jackdaw, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Long tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Nuthatch, Pochard, Robin, Shoveler, Teal, Treecreeper, Tufted Duck, Woodpigeon, Wren

Lowther Lake

Part of the St Aidans complex and a new area for me, turned out to be a two-hour walk around with a group Start Birding, we started at 10am and finished at about 12 noon

House Sparrows, Robin, Blackbird were seen near the car park, we headed off then to the nearby fields, here we found Black Headed, Common and Herring Gulls over headed in the hedgerows Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Woodpigeon.

On to the nearby lake Goldeneye ♀, were seen along with Mallard, Cormorant, Teal, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Pochard and a few Coot

We walked around the perimeter of the lake taking in the river where we added Shoveler and Goosander ♀ to the list, Buzzard in a nearby tree along with Woodpigeons, Great Spotted Woodpecker, more Yellowhammmers and Reed Buntings, Chaffinch, were seen and a Kingfisher

Bird List for the Walk :-  Blackbird, Black headed Gull, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Canada Geese, Crow, Chaffinch, Collard Dove, Common Gull, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Gadwall, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Goosander, Great Crested Grebe, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Greylag Geese, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jay, Lapwing, Lesser Black backed Gull, Long tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute swan, Pheasant, Pochard, Reed Bunting, Robin, Shelduck, Shoveler, Starling, Stock Dove, Teal, Tufted Duck, Woodpigeon, Yellowhammer



Fairburn and Blacktoft

An old club run back in the 1980’s so a little bit of a nostalgic day, plan was Fairburn Ings first, and Lin Dike was where the day started at 8:30am.

A few small birds were evident in the hedgerows, many Blackbirds, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long tailed Tit, Curlews were heard and then later seen from the hide further down the path, along with Black headed and Common Gulls. Also from the hide were Moorhen, Coots and further out Mute Swan, Tufted Ducks, Shelduck.

Leaving the hide I walked down towards the viaduct where I found more Blackbirds, and a small flock of Finch containing a lot of Bullfinch, Goldfinch and a single Lesser Redpoll. The highlight on the way back to the car was a Peregrine Falcon, flying close by it alighted on a nearby pylon were I was able to get good views but distant.

On then to the visitor centre where around the feeders could be found Tree Sparrows, Chaffinch, Collard Doves, Reed Buntings, Long tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Willow Tit, and Dunnocks

Fairburn Birds List:

Blackbird, Black headed Gull, Blue tit, Canada Goose, Crow, Chaffinch, Collard Dove, Common Gull, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Gadwall, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Great Crested Grebe, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Kestrel, Lapwing, Little Grebe, Long tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pochard, Reed Bunting, Robin, Shelduck, Shoveler, Song Thrush, Teal, Tree Sparrow, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Willow Tit, Wren


Moved on then after Fairburn to Blacktoft Sands hopefully for a good raptor roost I was greeted by Fieldfare and Starlings in the nearby fields and Greenfinch, Tree Sparrows, and a couple of Rats were around the feeder table.

Marshland hide was first where Shelduck, Teal, Gadwall and Snipe were seen, I then worked my way down various hides seeing Little Egret, Shoveler, Redshank, Goldeneye, Greylag Geese, and Wigeon before settling into the First Hide for the roost, I was hopeful due to the what was on the sightings board (Marsh and Hen Harriers, Barn and Short Eared Owl, Merlin and Peregrine) a Common Buzzard was first in followed by a couple of Marsh Harriers but that was to be it and the ending of the day

Blacktoft Sands Bird List:

Blackbird, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Crow, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Gadwall, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Greylag Goose, Little Egret, Magpie, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Pheasant, Redshank, Shelduck, Shoveler, Snipe, Starling, Teal, Tree Sparrow, Wigeon, Woodpigeon

Willow Tit

Willow Tit

Old Moor

Thought I’d brush off the Christmas cake and start the New Years birding again and of course a new start at a favourite place.

My first area to look in was the Trans Pennine Trail and to pin down some Redolls that had been seen over the last few days, hopefully with the Meally (Common) Redpoll that had been seen. Goldfinch were the only flock I could find and it was when I  nearly gave up that I found a single Lesser Redpoll, the joy was short-lived when it soon decided to fly off in the direction of Old Moor, so the decision was to walk down to Bolton Ings.

Bolton Ings gave up two cream crowned Marsh Harriers along with two Goosander, Little Egret, Coot, a Green Woodpecker was heard only, Mute Swan, a Jay. Long tailed Tit, Blue Tit and Great Tit were seen back on the TPT as I walked back to Old Moor.

On the reserve around the Tree Sparrow farm, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Robin, Woodpigeon, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Dunnocks and Blackbirds

Bearded Tits had been reported down near the Reedbed hide so once again I decided on giving it ago to try to add this species to my Old Moor list, an hour in waiting and it’s still not on the list, but a Common Buzzard was a nice addition to the day

A walk then back down to the Family Hide gave up a flock of Lesser Redpolls near the big tree, but were hard to see amongst the bushes and the Meally wasn’t picked out before they gave flight.

Family Hide gave Coots, Cormorant, Black headed and Common Gulls, Pochard, Tufted Ducks, Mallard

On then and to the far end of Old Moor at Wath Ings hide were I managed to find a Drake Goldeneye, first of the year, also here were Lapwings, Starlings,

Bird List for the Day:- Blackbird, Black headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada Goose, Crow, Chaffinch, Common Gull, Cormorant, Dunnock, Gadwall, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Goosander, Great Tit, Green Woodpecker, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Jay,, Lapwing, Lesser Redpoll, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Long tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Pochard, Reed Bunting, Robin, Shelduck, Shoveler, Starling, Stock Dove, TYeal, Tree Sparrow, Tufted Duck,Wigeon, Woodpigeon (45)

Male Reed Bunting (Winter Plumage)

Reed Bunting

Gambia 21st – 28th November

Full report and List can be seen HERE

Bird List of the Trip can be found HERE

Pied Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher

Banded Groundling

Banded Groundling Dragonfly

Fairburn Ings

A chance of scenery this outing for a particular bird I haven’t seen in the UK since 1986 so long overdue, weather today very grey and dull

So on arrival Lin Dike was the first port of call for the bird overdue, Great White Egret (a little clue  in what was hopped for) was the first white egret species found and at a distance as I walked towards the the hide , as I made my way down to the hide Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Coots, Moorhens, Mallards were all seen from the footpath.

Settling in the hide and scanning the pool Teal, Wigeon and Mallards were all dappling in front of the hide with Shoveler, Shelduck, Tufted Duck, Lapwing, Mute Swan, and alone Whooper Swan were further a field, Little Egret ( two down last one to find) was picked up in flight then quickly disappeared behind some trees.

A picked up on a single Male Marsh Harrier working its way down the pool working both sides, I watched as it went further away from me and then went close to the trees where the Little Egret vanished, I was hopping it would flush something up and bingo a white Egret flew out and across to the other side of the field, Little or the hoped for ??. The scope was needed and bingo Cattle Egret, a long time since 1986 but there it was and a bonus of it being in Yorkshire this time, 3 White Egrets in a day another first…time was spent watching then I moved on down to the Visitor Centre

Around at the visitor centre feeders were Collard Dove, Tree Sparrow, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Fieldfare, Redwing, a single Great Spotted Woodpecker high in one of the trees, and Blackbirds

Along by the coal-pit trail were various Gulls and a single Little Egret viewed from the Bob Dickens Hide

The Days Bird List (In no Particular Order)……..Cattle Egret, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Cormorant, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Mallard, Teal, Lapwing, Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Black headed Gull, Lesser Black backed Gull, Common Gull, Shelduck, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Moorhen, Coot, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Goosander, Grey Heron, Marsh Harrier ♂, Gadwall, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long tailed Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Pochard, Fieldfare, Redwing, Woodpigeon, Collard Dove, Tree Sparrow, Magpie, Crow, Blackbird, Robin, Common Buzzard


Finding Dragons

Another Old Moor outing in the vain hope of finding some Dragonflies in the Autumn sun, but the first call was to be to the Field Pool hide where a Grey Phalarope had been seen for the last few days. Today it was rather distant and in the sun so it was pointless taking any photos but could be clearly seen size, shape and behaviour clearly giving this delightful bird away.

On then to try to find some dragonflies, didn’t take me long as i approached the wader scrape hide with a single Common Darter on the path way, here I stopped for a while taking my time over the photos and as it tried landing on my hair a few times and landing on the pathway. We were soon joined by a Migrant Hawker which the Common Darter avoided gracefully, and then the Hawker settled nearby, again a wonderful photo opportunity, a great start.

Decided on taking in a couple of hides to see what birds were about as well, as well as the Phalarope, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Golden Plovers, Lapwings, Green Sandpiper, were about the highlights

I walked around more of the reserve enjoying more Common Darters and their playful antics

Migrant Hawker

Migrant Hawker

Common Darter

Common Darter

Essex Skippers

Essex Skippers were my hit target for today never before captured upon the camera, so I was out to change that and the destination was Tywell Hills and Dales, why here? a few other species were to be support for the day.

Hit Tywell at 9am in the morning to numerous dog walkers and overcast skies but not to be downhearted I marched on, a few butterflies were on the wing as I entered the reserve Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Small Heath were on the wing. It was an hour before the skies became blue and sunny and then there was an explosion of colour and I happened to be in an area were there was a few Small Skippers about so I started searching, Small Tortoiseshell, Gatekeepers, Small White, Large White, lots of Marbled Whites and then …nope Large Skipper, it took a while but find I did Essex Skipper and a bad capture but I was in the right place so I carried on…………

Eseex Skipper

Essex Skipper

A subtle difference but its mainly to do with antennae and being black underneath unlike the Small Skipper. Bird highlights here today were many Whitethroat, Common Buzzard and Red Kite

Decided on returning North via Fermyn Woods were the main target was the Purple Emperor (which on my visit today wasn’t seen) but plenty of Silver Washed Fritillary mainly whizzing past, Green veined White, Small White, Large White, Brimstone, lots of Gatekeeper, Comma, Large Skipper, Small Skipper, Meadow Brown, a Peacock, a few Purple Hairstreak but mainly high as were the White Admirals, Ringlets, Small Tortoiseshell

Bird highlights here were the many Red Kites…Dragonflies was a Four Spotted Chaser 

Silver Washed Fritillary

Silver Washed Fritillary

Bullcliffe NR

Managed a couple of hours out with the camera at a local nature reserve plenty of things to see in the very hot weather.

Butterflies on the wing were plenty of Ringlets, with fewer Meadow Browns, a couple of fresh Small Tortoiseshells, a handful of Common Blues, lots of Small Skippers about and fewer Large Skippers, also a single Brimstone

Moths on the wing were Burnet Moths 5 Spot Burnet and a single 6 Spot Burnet was found

The best find was a Agapanthia villosoviridescens or commonly known as a Golden-bloomed grey Longhorn Beetle, one I’ve being looking for a few week now

A few hoverflies about with Volucella pellucens being the best find

A few bird species added with a nice Common Buzzard, Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff, and Yellowhammer

Agapanthia villosoviridescens Small Tortoiseshell


Large Skipper 6 Spot Burnet Moth

Volucella pellucens

North Cave Wetlands

Another visit out to North Cave, Black tailed Skimmer once again top of the list to find (I didnt again), 4 Spotted Chaser being the only dragonfly seen. Plenty of Damselflies about Blue tailed were numerous so were Azure, Common Blue Damselfly took a bit of finding.

Butterflies were few with Brimstone, Common Blue, and Orange tip dispite the sunny weather.

Birds seen around the sight were………Avocet, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada Goose, Crow, Cettis Warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Common Tern, Coot, Dunnock, Gadwall, Greylag Goose, House Martin, Lapwing, Little Grebe, Long tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Pochard, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Shelduck, Shoveler, Starling, Swallow, Teal, Tufted Duck, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Woodpigeon, Wren

But the best find of the day for me was a few Rhyssa persuasoris (Sabre Wasp), great to watch with the very long Ovipositor which is longer than the body, also called the Giant Ichneumon, the biggest in Europe. (Photo below)

Rhyssa persuasoria