Category Archives: Golden plovers

Redwings, red grouse, and red faces

The redwings are back. I heard them before I saw them, as I went to open the gate for Jen last weekend: the now-familiar seep! call. A pair of them, heading for the safety of one of our sycamores.

Later in the week, I heard and then spotted my first wren for ages. They had a dreadful time last winter, by all accounts. Now, winter draws on once more. Perhaps that's why it sounded so cross.

I've never been very good at identifying birds by their calls, but I'm working on it. I have a CD of British bird songs, but it's a bit artificial: you really need to learn them in the field to put them in the right context. I learnt the golden plover’s wheezing call this May, as Jen and I walked near Blackstone Edge. For five minutes or so, I was under the misapprehension that the wheezing was coming from my right nostril. Then we spotted the plovers, and it all began to make sense.

I recognised the golden plover's unmistakeable call again this Wednesday, as I was walking on the moor with my friend Mike and his labradoodle, Milly. We had reached the first trig point, and were taking in the view:

“Wow! Do you hear that wheezing call?” I asked, astonished. “That's a golden plover! I wonder what it's doing up here at this time of year.”

“Erm…,” ermed an embarrassed Mike, “that would be Milly whining. She does that all the time.”

Like I said, I'm working on it.

No mistaking the call of the red grouse. Later in the walk, approaching the second trig point, we were treated to the rare sight of an unflushed red grouse standing sedately amongst the dead grasses. I fired off loads of photographs, the best of which (heavily cropped and processed) was this:

Red grouse
A red grouse on Wednesday.

You can see more photos from our walk here.

May 2012 update

I'm behind with my updates again. A quick summary might therefore be in order:

Sun, 06-May-2012: After a matinee screening at the Hebden Bridge Picture House, Jen and I bought a bag of chips and went to eat them by the packhorse bridge in the middle of town. I could not believe it: there was a dipper feeding in the shallows less than ten feet from where we were standing. It caught a small fish and spent about a minute battering it (no pun intended) against a rock before heading off with it upstream. Lends a whole new meaning to the phrase fish & chips. Needless to say, I did not have a camera to hand.

Wed, 16-May-2012: Went for a walk on the moor up to High Brown Knoll. Took a cracking photo of a robin in a garden at the side of Wainsgate Lane on my way up. Also saw a number of wheatears and curlew on the moor.

Robin
Robin
Wheatear
Wheatear

More photos from the walk »

Sun, 20-May-2012: A walk with Jen on Blackstone Edge. Saw a number of golden plover: quite a rare bird for me! Even managed to get some snaps:

Golden plover
Golden plover

More photos from Blackstone Edge »

This week and last: A large, brown hare has been hanging out in the field behind the house. Finally managed to get some decent(ish) photos:

Brown hare
Brown hare
Brown hare
Brown hare
Brown hare
Brown hare

Golden plovers, and a really late wheatear

A glorious, autumnal day. Thought I'd better make the most of it and try out my newly re-waterproofed boots on the moor. Not that they received much of a test.

Heard a strange call as I stood admiring the view from the trig point. It turned out to be a small group of waders, flying high, flashing white they turning dark, as they turned to expose their undersides and turned back again. I fired off a quick photo for identification purposes: seven golden plovers, it turned out:

Golden plovers
Golden plovers.

The moors are supposed to be well stocked with golden plovers, but this was only the second time I had seen them up here.

Then another surprise: a really late wheatear, hunting flies in the heather. Crazy! Didn't it realise that it should be well on its way to Africa by now?

Wheatear
White-arse.

Coming down from the moor, I was treated to a spectacular Jacob's ladder display over Stoodley Pike, and took lots and lots of photos. Wonderful!

Jacob's ladders over Calderdale
Jacob's ladders over Calderdale

More photos »