Tag Archives: Wildlife

Wildlife Moments In 2019.

For me 2019 has been very much about experiencing wildlife with others. It’s the first year I have watched badgers go about their business from a guided RSPB badger hide and the first time I have been on a bat walk run by the Rivers Trust. I’ve also looked for ring ouzels in the Slaidburn fells with the RSPB and done this year’s bird and butterfly counts with my nephew, niece and sister. Family has joined me in all the above and it has been a joy watching wildlife with them. πŸ™‚

Sometimes I can be out and about with Wil and the dog and we will spy something special. Recently we saw a red squirrel at NT Acorn Bank, I have been hoping to see one since buying our caravan in Cumbria this year.

There have been a few rare moments when I’ve been completely alone and immersed myself in nature. Just spending three hours in the woodland near my Mum’s in Askham back in May was such a treat, I saw jays, woodpeckers, buzzards, a weasel and wildflowers galore.

In 2019 I witnessed my first badgers ( I’m definitely not counting the squashed ones I’ve seen on the roadside), my first humming bird hawk moth, my first Crossbill, my first ring ouzels and my first slow worm!

I am not always able to get photos though, so it was very special when I managed to snap the barn owl that visits my sister’s croft, be it through a pane of glass. Below are some of the wildlife I have captured on camera..

Peacock Butterfly, Shap, Cumbria.
Harebells, Burnsall, Yorkshire Dales.
Badger, RSPB Haweswater, Cumbria.
Mandarin Duck, Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire Dales.
Wild Garlic, Clitheroe, Lancashire.
Greenfinch, Mum’s Garden, Cumbria.
Sundew, Malham Tarn, Yorkshire Dales.
Crossbill, Aitken Wood, Lancashire.
Common Blue Butterfly, Clitheroe, Lancashire.
Vipers Bugloss, Ullswater, Cumbria.
Green Hairstreak Butterfly, Slaidburn, Lancashire.
Sea Pinks, St Bees Head, Cumbria.
Barn Owl, Cowark, Lancashire.
Scarce Chaser, NT Berrington Hall, Herefordshire.
Hoar Frost, Edenhall, Cumbria.
Stone Chat, St Bees Head, Cumbria.
Red Squirrel, NT Acorn Bank, Cumbria.
Stitchwort, Askham, Cumbria.
Kingfisher, Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire Dales.
Slow Worm, Foulshaw Moss, Cumbria.

What have been your own favourite wildlife moments of 2019?

A Bird And A Poem ~ Starlings.

Starlings are noisy bossy birds, I know when they descend upon the bird feeder there will be little left, empty coconut shells knocked to the ground and fat balls depleted in the blink of an eye. I can’t help admiring their starry plumage and their cheeky chatter though and would love to witness a murmuration , where flocks of starlings sky dance the heavens . Instead I will make do with this poem by Mary Oliver who perfectly captures the spirit of these characterful birds.

Photos were taken in Melmerby over the wintery wknd , where several starlings gathered & chattered.

Have you seen a murmuration’?

Wild October. πŸπŸ„

The season is turning to Autumn and the natural world is abundant with colour. A quick glance at Pinterest and I was engulfed in Autumn inspired poetry and quotes.

I can smell Autumn dancing in the breeze, the sweet chill of pumpkin and crisp sunburnt leaves. ( Unknown).

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the Fall. ( E. Scott Fitzgerald).

Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the Autumn tree. ( Emily Bronte).

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are October’s. ( Anne of Green Gables).

To celebrate the beauty of the natural world in October I’m joining in with the hashtag #wildoctober2019 on Instagram & Twitter. Why not bob over and post your own Wild October finds too. Here are some of the photos I’ve taken so far…

Horse Chestnut, Clitheroe Castle.
Cuckoo Pint Berries, Ladies Walk, Edenhall & Langwathby.
These look like tiny green flowers but I was informed on Twitter they are actually whorls of leaves on Hedge Bedstraw. Found in Melmerby.
Purple Callicarpa Berries, Clitheroe Castle.
Autumn leaves, Ladies Walk, Edenhall to Langwathby.
A collection of conkers in the pub. πŸ™‚

This weekend I’ve been at the caravan with Wil and Hugo. It’s the first weekend we’ve visited in cooler weather, so it was important to stay snug and warm. My tips for keeping cosy in Autumn are…..

Always have throws and cushions nearby.

I like to light a scented candle.

Cook something hearty and tasty like this yummy Veggie Curry .

Keep a favourite book or magazine to hand.

Or watch some well loved old movies. For an Autumn vibe try Hocus Pocus, When Harry Met Sally, Practical Magic, Beetlejuice or The Craft.

Indoors I live in my slipper boots. πŸ™‚

Outdoors I live in my Wellies! Head for a pub with a roaring fire after a woodland walk.

Keep Cosy.

Enjoy your Wild October. πŸπŸ„πŸ•ΈοΈπŸ¦‡

A misty morning at Malham Tarn.

The temperatures for Bank Holiday Monday promised to be high, which is great, except if your a black Labrador like Hugo, or indeed if your me. I think I’m more of a snowflake kind of girl than a sunshine kind of girl sometimes. πŸ™‚

We decided to head for water, but we’re keen to avoid the bank holiday traffic, so driving to the Lakes or seaside we’re out. Instead we made our way to Malham Tarn in the Yorkshire Dales. This glacial lake nestles at an altitude of 375 metres and is looked after by the National Trust. There is parking on both sides of the water.. We parked at Water Sinks and walked along a limestone track that leads down to the tarn. Hugo was straight in there. The sun hadn’t yet burnt off the morning mist, so the temperatures were both hound and human friendly. πŸ˜‰

Although the fog enveloped the water, there was still more than a hint of beauty on show.

A misty Malham Tarn.
Grass of Parnassus.
Young Wagtail.
Malham Tarn.
Female Gadwall.

The tarn and its surroundings are home to many water bird species ( if only we could see them! ) and when its clear you can apparently get a great view from the bird Hide. Other possible sightings include otters who have been spotted swimming at dusk & dawn. It was lovely to see a variety of wildflowers including harebells, devil’s bit scabious and grass of Parnassus. Grass of Parnassus is in fact an honorary grass, named because in Ancient Greece, this pretty white flower was devoured by cattle grazing on Mount Parnassus.

Orchid House.
Not so Incey Wincey!
Hare.
Sleepy Kestrel.
Heron.

The Pennine Way walking route passes Malham Tarn and continues through the grounds of a Field Centre where an old Orchid House provides information about wildlife & geology in the area. We then walked through woodland decorated with various animal & bird sculptures until coming across Tarn Moss & Tarn Fen Nature Reserve.

Peacock Butterfly.

Bog Asphodel.
Sundew.

Due to the fragility of the reserve , dogs & bicycles are not permitted here, so I left Wil and Hugo for a quick nosy. The unusual habitat of groundwater- fed fen and rainwater-fed raised bog is home to rare plant life including insectivorous sundew and yellow globe flowers. There is apparently a herd of wild ponies on the fen, but I didn’t spy them. A wooden boardwalk guides you through the boggy mossy wilderness, but alas I didn’t have time to venture far.

The mist is lifting.

We retraced our steps back to the car and ate a picnic lunch on the grass. The midday sun was definitely starting to scorch , but we thought we would head into Malham and walk up to its lovely waterfall Janet’s Foss. We visited here a couple of years ago, but much earlier in the morning, before it got to busy. On that occasion the Foss was a serene scene , but on a bank holiday, it was crushed and crowded.

Malham.

Bee Library.
Janet’s Foss.

Hugo still managed a few paddles in the babbling brook, so all was not lost. I am definitely up for returning to Malham, especially Malham Tarn. I’m imagining a walk their every season now. A cold crisp November day maybe……

Enjoying Nature Along The River Wharfe, Yorkshire Dales.

My niece and nephew broke up for Summer last week so Hugo and I joined them and my sister for a wander along the River Wharfe. Our plan was to walk from Burnsall to Grassington , a pleasant riverside ramble. However we stopped so many times to admire butterflies, identify insects, look under stones for crayfish and watch waterbirds, that we didn’t make much headway on the timescale we had. Another time perhaps! However we had lots of fun along the way. I come from a nature loving family. πŸ™‚

My 8 year old neice Imogen says that we all have our own talents at identifying things. She is good at insects, Roman knows his reptiles & snakes ( we didn’t see any! ), Auntie Shaz ( me) can name most flowers ( though I might need my blogging friends to help with a couple ) and my sister’s speciality subject is dog breeds. Ok then!

Here are a few photos from our Wharfedale wander.

A lesser spotted Hugo at Hebden Suspension Bridge and Stepping stones.
Betony.
Small Skipper on Yarrow.
White duck.
Hugo helping Imogen I D flowers.
Caterpillar of Peacock Butterfly.
Harebells.
Monkey Flower.
Goosander.
Harebells, Betony and Hawkweed.
Flowers galore.
Any ideas?
Common spotted orchid.
Not sure. I’ve had a look online and came up with Sand Garlic?
Common Grasshopper.
Rest – Harrow.
Would you cross the wibbly wobbly bridge or the stepping stones?
Nature Spotters.

Thanks to my sister for some of the photos. πŸ™‚

30 Days Wild Days 1 ~ 6. 🐞

The Wildlife Trust is again challenging people this month to join in with #30dayswild. Every June folks are encouraged to perform a random act of wildness each day. It could be something as simple as walking barefoot in grass, feeding the birds, enjoying an alfresco coffee in the park or watching insects in the garden. Just take a little time out to enjoy nature every day, and see how good that makes you feel.

I have joined in with the challenge a few times and this year I thought I would take a relaxed approach to blogging about it as I really don’t have anything particularly planned. I will take each day as it comes.

Meadow Falls Campsite with Ingleborough in the background.
Thornton Force on the Ingleton Falls Trail.
Early Purple Orchid.
Sticks to toast marshmallows.

We were camping at Meadow Falls Campsite in Ingleton at the beginning of June with friends and their girls , so of course we just had to walk the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail, which is well worth doing if your in the area. The recent rainy weather meant that all the falls were gushing impressively. The trail meanders through 4.5 mile of woodland and hillside terrain. Remember to wear sturdy walking boots if you do it!

We could smell the aroma of wild garlic ( it covers the woodland floor) as we ambled along and it was lovely to see wild orchids growing near Pecca Falls. Out in the fields meadow pippits called and tiny yellow flowers called tormentil ( known as the walkers companion flower) dotted the hills. The kids collected sticks for toasting marshmallows on the camp fire later, whittling them smooth with potato peelers.

I found this moth ( a nice man on twitter identified it as a Clouded- Bordered Brindle ) in the tent before we took it down. It was gently removed into the hedge.

Back home and a new visitor to the feeder! A jackdaw who swings on the fat balls, making even more mess than the raucous starlings. I also have visiting bluetits and House sparrows ( some are fledglings) , blackbirds, a robin and a coal tit.

A wet walk with the dog on Tuesday and I spotted this fungi growing through the greenery ~ possibly a pleated ink cap. I think they look quite ghostly.

I planted the Thirty Days Wild seeds in pots in the back yard. There are poppies along with some scabious I bought. Hope there are signs of growth by the end of June. 🌺

Yesterday I got caught in the rain out in the fields with Hugo. We did get to see a roe deer springing through the grass at great speed. A lovely wild moment, if it wasn’t for getting soaked to the skin! Once home I decided to download the RSPB single Let Nature Sing , which I have been meaning to do for a while. I’m quite late to the party as usual, apparently this cacophony of birdsong reached number 18 in the charts. I enjoyed listening to the Cuckoo, woodpeckers, curlews etc, with my brew.

Thanks for dropping by. 🌼

Badgers at RSPB Haweswater. 🦑

Have you ever seen a badger? I must admit these nocturnal mammals have always been something of a mystery to me. Stocky with stripey faces and claws made for digging, the badger is apparently as common as the fox, but much more elusive. Some people ( myself included) have only ever spied the bodies of those poor unfortunates, squashed at the side of the road. 😦 So when I heard about the new Badger Hide at Naddle Farm near Haweswater in Cumbria, I was eager to book myself a place. Of course it helped that my Mum lives only 15 minutes away from the new RSPB base and I could coincide the experience with a family visit.

The hide at Naddle Farm can be hired out for private viewings but I chose to book a Monday night place for myself and my brother. A Monday night slot lasts 1.5 hours and on our visit four other people joined us plus two RSPB guides. The price is Β£15 for adults ( Β£12 if your a RSPB member) and children are Β£10.

Badger viewing begins at dusk, so we arrived at the farm just before 9pm. We were then introduced to our guides and shown into the hide, which is at the back of a farm building looking onto a small fenced croft.

For the first 45 minutes no badgers appeared , so it was the brown rats that entertained us. Yikes! You can see one in the foreground of the above photo. They were quite cheeky and only made themselves scarce when the first badger showed up.

The RSPB staff had hidden food under rocks in the croft. But don’t worry, although the thought of some tasty morsels does entice wildlife, a badgers diet consists mostly of worms. A typical nights feed for one badger is a few hundred wiggly worms, which they dig from the ground and suck up like spaghetti. Yum!

Our first visitor was a badger that the guides had got to know from her previous visits. She had been named ‘ Porridge’ by some students. We had been told not to worry if Porridge showed up with bite marks on her rump. Biting each others bums is apparently quite normal in the badger world , as a way of establishing heirachy. Luckily Porridges bite wounds were almost healed and she looked in good health.

Porridge stayed around for a good 15 minutes, flipping rocks and digging in the grass. It was wonderful just to be able to sit in comfort, and watch badgers do what badgers do, in their own natural environment.

Another ten minutes after Porridge had left ( and the rats had reemerged, only to quickly hide again) another badger came a calling. This one was a new visitor. Neither of the guides had seen this particular mammal before, so they were quite excited. He/she emerged from the woodland on the hillside and spent a good while sniffling around. It is possible there are as many as 40 setts in the Haweswater area, so who knows how many badgers live here.

Our time watching Britain’s largest predatory mammal was all to soon over, but we all agreed it had been well worth it.

For information on how to book the hide look here. 🦑

Have you ever seen a badger?