Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A reserve, an urban riverside and a country jaunt

Made it back to RSPB Old Moor last Tuesday. It was a really disappointing visit, as much of the water habitat was still completely frozen and the waterfowl were all on the far side. Lots of goosander and wigeon, and I had a lesson on common gull IDing from the ubiquitous Man in Hide, (becoming even more ubiquitous than Heron of Doom). The best places were the garden feeders and the sparrow farm, but the light was also very poor so I only got a few poor shots. Yellowhammer, reed buntings and greenfinches mainly.
Much better was my Saturday outing when I set off from the city centre to follow the Don upstream towards Hillsborough. I got "stuck" for quite a while at Kelham Island as a result of seeing a kingfisher - my first in the city proper, although I've often seen them on the Loxley. It looked so special in this environment - the light was petty good as well, and the additional  presence of a great tits, blue tits and a strutting pied wagtail kept me entertained for quite some time. Not much further up, I saw a heron and a large flock of long-tailed tits.  After that, things got a little sticky - literally, as my path beyond Hillfoot Bridge went from a narrow tarmac road to a sea of sticky brown mud. I had hoped to explore a hidden cemetery nearby but the long paddle through the mud had left me exhausted and very grubby - also, it's impossible to enjoy the scenery and watch for wildlife when you are concentrating on where you are putting your feet.
Yesterday, in spite of very changeable and unpredictable weather, I decided on an outing into Derbyshire. After a few false starts, I took a path along Barbrook towards the reservoir. It's hard to believe that after all that seriously sub-zero weather, it actually felt much colder in the wind blowing across the moor. The wildlife had very sensibly stayed at home too. By the time I got to the end of the track, things had improved a bit, so I planned a circular walk which took me a little lower and through some woodland. This paid off with sightings of lots of treecreepers, a goldcrest or two and a trio of goldfinches. Also found a large clump of oyster mushrooms. OK, not a lot, but a very pleasant walk with some interesting skyscapes. Off to the N Yorkshire coast for a couple of days next week. Fingers crossed for those blue skies.

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