Something A Little Different

This weekend the third Tour De Yorkshire came to town. Its a legacy cycle race which developed from the Grand Depart of the Tour De France which came to Yorkshire a few years ago.

The route came fairly close and featured a steep climb up a local cobbled hill so I staked my claim amongst the thistles and nettles and thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle.

_X0A9533This climb was about two thirds of the way into the stage so the cyclists really began to feel the pain. The crowds were amazing cheering the leaders and the peloton up the hill and over the summit.

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All the climbs in the race are given a French name for the event and as this was the Cote de Shibden Wall it was no suprise that a certain President of the USA appeared with his wall building friends!!

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Brilliant day, superb crowds and a great advert for Yorkshire, God’s own county.

Stepping In

_X0A9039As a wildlife photographer I guess I’m meant to shoot what’s in front of me and not get involved but sometimes your emotions get in the way. At first I thought this was just a fight between some male mallards so I began shooting some pictures. However it soon became clear that they weren’t fighting each other and beneath this scrum of eight males was one female who was being thrust under the water as five of them grabbed her neck.

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Some loud shouting, clapping and waving of my arms distracted them long enough for her to get away and as she waddled off to float away on the stream I’m sure she gave me a look of relief and gratitude

Duckling Update

Not great news I’m afraid, from the original 24 the number quickly dropped to 15!! There are a lot of dangers for these new arrivals from mink, herons and pike to attacks from other ducks and geese.

I’ve been back today and only saw one of the broods. This is the female who originally had 10 but who now only has 4 remaining. When I spotted them they were on the bank huddled up in a ball of feathers.

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Glad to see my favourite little odd ball has survived so far, so fingers crossed he can make it.

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Back in Black (and red)

Last year I watched a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers raising their chicks in my local wood. I’ve been going back over the last couple of weeks and spotted they were back and using the same nest hole. Both parents were flying in and out with food for the young. Looking at the type of food they were taking in I’m guessing the young are still very small as all the morsels were tiny. Over time as the young grow the size of the food increases, last year I saw other birds plundered chicks being offered.

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It won’t be long till the young woodpeckers will be poking their heads out and shouting for more food. Hopefully this year I’ll see them fledge.

Cetti’s Warbler

A visit to Blacktoft Sands RSPB reserve at the weekend threw up a first for me almost the second I got out of my car. Virtually the first bird I saw announced its presence extremely loudly but disappeared as soon as I raised my camera. I was fairly sure what it was but asked the warden who confirmed it was a Cetti’s warbler. Now if you read the Collins Guide to British Birds these should only be spotted in a couple of locations in the South of England. However over the years they have been moving steadily North and there at least two pairs on this reserve.

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The female was difficult to spot skulking in the reeds and scrub but the male was happy to sit out in the open flitting from tree to tree and blasting out its song. Its great to see a species increasing its range but is it because of an increase in numbers or are the milder winters of recent years helping it’s move North?

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Larking About

I’ve only ever seen skylarks about a mile in the air singing their hearts out, so I was very lucky to spot this one among the heather, dry grass and bilberries at the weekend.

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Duckling Update

A previously mentioned a local mallard has had 10 ducklings and so a perfect opportunity to get some aaah photo’s. However when I went back the next day I was a bit surprised to see she had 14 little followers. It was only after a little head scratching that I realised there were now 2 mums with a total of 23 beautiful babies.

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I think such large broods are a combination of the mild winter allowing the female to keep well fed and healthy and knowing that not all will survive the many predators on the river so more young means a greater chance that some will survive.

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22 out of the 23 are almost identical but one sticks out as he/she is quite different. Almost totally black with just a yellow breast and a fleck on the wing I’ve got my fingers crossed this is one of those that makes it.

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Off To The Pub Tonight

They’re having another exhibition of my photographs and I need to drop a few more off. Just one sale so far but exhibiting just gives me a buzz and chatting to people about what the pictures are of and where they were taken is a real pleasure. It’s even better when they realise that so many of the pictures are taken on their doorstep. If the pictures make just a few people notice their surroundings, walk a little slower and appreciate what’s sometimes right under their noses then it makes me smile.

Here’s the one that’s sold and guess what it’s of?

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