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.
This 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.
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!!
Brilliant day, superb crowds and a great advert for Yorkshire, God’s own county.
I like people to see my pictures, there’s part of the reason why I blog, maintain a website and spend hours outdoors in all sorts of weather. I’ve been involved in one art project exhibition and I’ve had one of my own in the local pub. I get a buzz when people comment on them and ask me what they are or where they were taken. I particularly enjoy it when I tell them that photo was taken about a mile away or that one was taken just down the road. The look on their face when they realise what’s under their noses is fabulous.
My local Doctors surgery has had the same 8 pictures on display since God was a boy so I thought “why not ask if they’d like me to put up some wildlife pictures, no charge”. They nearly bit my hand off. So the walls are now full of hawks and otters, waxwings and kingfishers, voles and weasels, which hopefully will make the waiting patients feel a little better. So if you know of some empty walls that could use a photo or two why not ask if you could hang some pictures, what’s the worst they could say?
I’ve written about these little devils before and I’m sure I’ll be writing about them again as i still can’t get a decent picture of them.
Britain’s smallest bird must also be the quickest! At the weekend I took just over 170 pictures of a pair who were bombing about in the undergrowth at the local Nature Reserve. 170 pictures later and I still haven’t got one that I’m that happy with, however my recycling bin is full to bursting. Hopefully they’ll hang around so I can finally get a shot!!
Apart from the sheer spectacle of the wildlife on the Farnes I think the main attraction for most people is to get up close with a puffin. These comical and engaging birds are one of our most popular birds and when you’re virtually surrounded by them its easy to see why.
They’re not sleak and aerodynamic but rather round and pudgy. But their bright colours and incredible beaks mark them out as something special.
The puffin only comes ashore to breed spending the rest of the year floating and feeding out at sea. And their colourful plumage only lasts till their puffling hatches and heads off to sea. They shed the colourful additions to the beak and the triangular shaping around the eye falls off. When out at sea after breeding they’re a very plain bird, but on the Farnes they’re stunning.
They nest in burrows underground laying one egg which hatches around 40 days later. Once hatched the parents begin the continual feeding cycle all new parents go through. They fly out to sea to catch sand eels but unlike the terns are able to collect a proper beak full before returning thanks to a clever expanding section on their beak and ridges which mean they can stack fish without dropping them. Once they have a mouthful they have to run the gauntlet of gulls which try to mob them and make them drop their catch. They may fly round a few times before dashing in close to their burrow and scurrying to safety before the gulls can strike.
Once the puffling fledges it makes its way to the sea and it will be up to four years before it returns to land when it’s ready to breed.
They really are a joy to spend time with but remember to take an extra memory card and charged batteries because you will take hundreds of pictures.
It has to be spotting a wild otter near where I live. One of those days when I had to drag myself out after a busy day at work when sprawling on the sofa seemed like the best idea.
So glad I went out! Not the greatest photo but the buzz I got when the foliage parted and out strolled an otter was unbelievable.
Bear in mind when I was a kid this river was so polluted it ran all the colours of the rainbow from the stuff dumped in it and was basically dead! Now it teems with fish , kingfishers, dippers, herons and this beauty.
Happy New Year
I’ve been looking back at some of my favourite pictures and I think this one is it. Hope you like it too.
I’ve recently noticed a lot of Goldcrests out and about and it’s definitely one of the birds I’ve been hoping to get a picture of. However, being not only the countries smallest birds it’s also the countries biggest fidget. In the past I’ve described trying to photograph them as like nailing jelly to a tree whilst wearing welders gloves and a blind fold.
I have got some really poor shots in the past which were definitely record shots and I’m not saying the following are that much better but they are definitely an improvement. These were taken at Cromwell Bottom my local nature reserve in the main feeding area, not somewhere I have ever seen one before. Not only did the bird never sit still but it was some distance away and with some leaves still on the trees a tricky target.
But as anyone who’s read my kingfisher blogs knows when I get a bee in my bonnet it can take some time to be resolved. I’m guessing there’ll be more of these little devils to come!
It’s that time of year when I start filling up the feeders and helping out the birds as the nights draw in and the temperatures drop. It seems as though peanuts seem to be the number one protein choice at the moment with a variety of both feathered and furry friends.
The magpies, jays and jackdaws are able to grab a beak full in one visit, the squirrel sits and takes his time while the vole zips in and out taking one at a time and stashes them away for the odd occasion I run out. The shrew on the other hand is just too QUICK, but I know he’s there!!
Driving out yesterday I noticed a giveaway sign that there was some filming going on in town somewhere. I followed the signs and came across the film unit near my old school and pulled over to ask what they were filming. They were filming scenes for a new series of Last Tango in Halifax. It’s not something I’ve watched but my wife enjoys it and I thought I might get a few interesting photographs. The series tells the story of an older couple who lost touch in their teens but find love again in their 70’s through social media and is based on the story of the writers mother.
The crew were shooting driving scenes and were circling the local playing fields with the main characters in an open top car on the back of a film truck. The male lead is played by Derek Jacobi who I watched as a kid in I Claudius and the female lead by Anne Reid who I loved as one of Victoria Woods superb Dinnerladies.
It was tricky to get any great shots because of how the car was mounted on the truck and the reflection off a protective screen and the car windows. However it was fascinating to see how the shots were filmed.
I did get a couple of Derek Jacobi pretending to drive.
And a proper paparazzi type shot of Anne Reid being offered a snack in her car after the shots were completed. I did feel a bit guilty though encroaching on her even from a distance.