Burnished Autumn Colours

With an unexpected day off I thought I’d use the time to update my blog – where does the time go?

Thankfully since my last post I’ve been busy running Start Birding trips and enjoying the stunning colours that this Autumn has given us. It is probably a good thing that the autumn is almost over as I think my customers may be tired of hearing me swooning out loud at the sight of all the reds, oranges and golds from leaves and berries. It’s also been the most fantastic year for fungi and I’m still processing my photos and trying to identify the ones I’ve seen (I’ll definitely need some help with that). I think we found fungi on almost all the walks in October and November.

Autumn colours and an “oak leafed” sky at North Cave Wetlands

Since my last post, my three indoor classes have been learning about bird songs and calls; winter wildfowl, raptors and waders; buntings, larks and pipits; finding birds in different habitats; migration and weather; adaptations to environment; gardening to attract wildlife and how to be a better birdwatcher. If you’re interested in learning about birds in a more formal way then please get in touch by emailing linda.startbirding@gmail.com to find out about indoor classes or visit my website www.startbirding.co.uk

Outdoor classes have visited a variety of venues including RSPB Fairburn Ings; Carsington Water; Rodley Nature Reserve; Swillington Ings; Nosterfield Nature Reserve and Nosterfield Quarry; Yorkshire Water’s Tophill Low; Pugney’s Country Park; YWT Staveley Nature Reserve; Calverley Woods; Bramley Falls Wood; WWT Martin Mere; Angler’s Country Park; Rabbit Ings and Hawthorne Farm which is off the Leeds ring road. You can still join me for an outdoor birdwatching class before the end of the year and I’m currently writing my next programme of events. To get a list of outdoor birdwatching classes email me on linda.startbirding@gmail.com classes start at 2 hours or you can join me for a half day or full day. Regular customers can also book 3 day weekends to venues such as Scotland, Norfolk and Northumberland.

The little known Hawthorne Farm on the outer ring road in Leeds at Whinmoor

Little grebe at Rodley Nature Reserve

We’ve managed to find snipe at most places after scanning around with the telescope and some have been surprisingly active.

Snipe at Nosterfield Quarry

At least one young barn owl was still present at the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Staveley Nature Reserve and we were able to watch its parents hunting between showers of rain. Numbers of wildfowl were low on the reserve, due to the late summer the wind direction being southerly and westerly, but flocks of redwing and fieldfare had arrived and we had great views of water rail, green woodpecker, kestrel and reed buntings. A small starling murmuration brought the day to a close and we walked back listening tawny owls calling from the wood. Have a look at this short film by Andrew Stringer showing some of the other wildlife that can be found at Staveley.

Barn owl

Kingfisher hunting from a secluded spot at RSPB Fairburn Ings

Lapwing sitting on a tern raft at North Cave Wetlands
We managed to find a sparrowhawk resting after a stoop at North Cave Wetlands

goldfinch having a bath at North Cave Wetlands

Whooper swans at WWT Martin Mere
Pintail at WWT Martin Mere

Obviously, being out all day looking at real birds isn’t enough – at the end of a long day’s birding at Idle Valley, we were sent a heavenly bird with the setting sun.

Bird-shaped cloud seen at the end of a recce trip to Idle Valley

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