Our bathroom is still being upgraded, so this morning I decided to make myself scarce by visiting Hardcastle Crags and taking a walk along Hebden Water.
Half-way to Gibson Mill, I was delighted to spot a northern hairy wood ants' nest at the side of the path. Believe it or not, this one was very small. I saw one once that so big, from a distance, with all the ants moving across its surface, I mistook it for a woodland pond. Trust me. You had to be there. Continue reading A walk in Hardcastle Crags→
A crisp, bright autumn day, so I thought I'd better head off to the woods before some stupid wind comes along and makes it into winter.
I went to Hardcastle Crags, concentrating on the photography side, this time, rather than looking for wildlife—although I did get a pretty good (but far too dark for photography) view of a pair of dippers, and an enormous frog. I was quite pleased with some of my photos, but it's hard to go wrong on a glorious autumn day in the woods.
One thing I've noticed about photography: if you go out with a fancy camera, people ignore you; but if you go out with a fancy camera on a tripod, everyone suddenly wants to talk with you. (Note to self: Leave tripod at home next time!)
Crossing the Market Street bridge over Hebden Water just before its confluence with the River Calder this afternoon, I spotted a pair of dippers bobbing amongst the rocks below. Of course, I didn't have my camera with me. After about a minute, they headed off together upstream. You never see dippers flying over dry land; they always keep to their water course.
Dippers would certainly be on my list of all-time favourite birds. Although they are wonderful animals in their own right, one reason I love them so much is because of the places I associate them with: the Yorkshire Dales, Clwyd, Hardcastle Crags. If you ever see a dipper, I guarantee you're somewhere very beautiful.
This was only the second time I have seen dippers in the centre of Hebden Bridge, though. Must make a point of bringing my camera next time I pop down to the book shop!
Took an afternoon walk with Jen from Blake Dean through the woods and along Hebden Water to Gibson Mill in the Hardcastle Crags. We couldn't believe how quiet it was. We saw almost nobody until we reached the mill, whereupon we immediately turned around and headed back.
There were still plenty of bluebells about, although they're getting past their best now. No sign of any dippers, though, which is very unusual for the Hardcastle Crags.
We did, however, spot a heron flying through the trees and landing 100 yards ahead of us. Using the trees as cover, we managed to sneak to within photographing distance as it started to fish in the river.
The heron must have known that we were there, but it was so intent on its fishing that we were able to get very close while the bird remained utterly motionless. I had never realised before how well the dark, vertical stripes on a heron's neck help to camouflage it, breaking up the bird's outline, allowing it to blend into the surrounding trees. Presumably, this works even more effectively amongst reeds.
Then, with a flailing lunge, the heron pounced into the water, emerged empty-beaked, and flew off through the trees.
More photos from our walk here, or as a slideshow here.
Here in Britain, Nature, as with our people, is rather subdued. She tends not to go in for showy displays. She doesn't reward us with massive migrations of wildebeest, birds of paradise courtship rituals, or humpback whales leaping out of the depths. But she still has her moments when she does us proud.
At this particular moment, in woodland the length and breadth of the land, she is putting on a display which is second to none in the natural world. For a month or so each spring, our woods turns blue:
More photos from today's walk in the Hardcastle Crags here.