Start Birding has signed up to Twitter!

Yes I know I said that I probably wouldn’t do this but I’ve now got a Twitter account and have sent out my first tweet. I thought I’d dip my toe in the water and see what happened. The aim is to publicise Start Birding to a wider audience and get more people out enjoying wildlife and the outdoors.

Now you can do two things

  1. you can “follow me by email”, on the right hand side of the text, to receive email alerts when I’ve posted a new blog and/or
  2. you can follow me on Twitter by clicking the link 

Who knows where this will lead but I’ve already found out that someone is out there tweeting all waxwing sightings across the country and I’m linking to other birding tweets too.

The nights are really drawing in now and it is dark by the time I arrive at Rodley Nature Reserve on Monday and Wednesday evenings for my birdwatching classes. On Monday we had to scrape the ice from our cars at the end of the class which was a first for the year. This week we have been learning about the complex subject of migration, how birds navigate and how the weather plays a big part in the process.

Last weekend Start Birding took a long overdue visit to Yorkshire Water’s Top Hill Low reserve. The day alternated between mist and autumn sun which brought out the colours of the yellowing larch and the redness of the hawthorn berries.

Top Hill Low is a mixture of large raised reservoirs and semi-natural pools and woodland.
Lots of autumn colour at Top Hill Low

There were a lot of redwing and fieldfare about and we also found a chattering flock of siskin on the alders close to the car park. Tree sparrows occupied their stronghold around the visitor’s centre but the feeders weren’t in use there on Saturday. There was a lot of activity around the feeders in the woodland close to the D reservoir though and here we saw willow tit and goldcrest. It was lovely to see that so much work had been done to the reserve since my last visit with a new hide being built overlooking Hempholme Meadows. Check out the link above to see the blog post about this. We were lucky in that we saw the belted Galloway before they were taken off the reserve (my favourite cattle). We ambled around at dusk in the hope of seeing barn owl and eventually found one quartering along a ditch close to the D reservoir. By that time we were cold but very happy. 

Below are photos of some of the other birds seen. Top Hill Low is one of my favourite reserves and it was a pleasure to spend some time there again.

European white-fronted goose with a flock of greylag geese

What looked like a first year Greenland white-fronted goose (right) with a greylag

Goldeney male and female with teal, tufted duck and wigeon

This coming weekend, Start Birding will be spending time closer to home. On Saturday we’ll be visiting Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s excellent reserve at Staveley where we hope to see water rail, barn owl, yellowhammer, reed bunting and a starling murmuration. After our walk we’ll be having a soup stop at the Royal Oak pub in the village before going home.

You can also join me for my new Sunday Strolls programme to local areas around Leeds. This Sunday’s trip is a walk around Bramley Falls Wood and a section of the Leeds Liverpool Canal. If you’re interested in joining us then please give me a call on 07778 768719 or email me at

Happy birding


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