Urban Birding

For those who like to observe wildlife close to home, here are a few sightings from Chantry Bridge.

My first visit at the end of April found a male goosander alongside the
common species such as 20+ mallard, which included six tiny ducklings. A
pair of swans had a nest with seven eggs, five of which hatched on or
around the 9th May. The pen Y567 has attempted breeding here before and
the BTO tell me that she was ringed as a cygnet at Lemonroyd Lock, Methley. Her
mate in the past was Y127 but the present male has only a metal BTO ring so
there are no informative numbers to be seen.

Regular species that can be seen or heard on most visits are blackbirds,
pied and grey wagtail [both of these I believe to be breeding], sand
martins, grey heron (just one) wren, robin, goldfinch, chaffinch, willow
warbler and titmice.

An unusual sight last week was a jay (a first here for me) being mobbed
by a pair of carrion crows. Then, as I raised my head above the parapet,
a kingfisher appeared below me and flew at great speed downstream and
out of sight. Urban birdwatching at its best!




Excitement at Altofts

A lot of fuss in the sky attracted my attention and there were four lapwings mobbing a red kite! (And it was on the Wakefield side of the M62,- tho’ only just!).Red kite

I also heard skylark singing, saw a small tortoiseshell, a pair of yellowhammers and a substantial patch of butterbur . All this along the canal at Altofts this afternoon.

Common butterbur (Petasites hybridus)

Wildflowers at Bretton Country Park

The old nature reserve around the top lake at Bretton is always a beautiful place to visit at this time of year. There are swathes of bluebells and greater stitchwort interspersed with yellow archangel and red campion giving a most attractive mix of colours. The footpath edges are lined with unobtrusive wood speedwell, occasional bush vetch and the last of the common dog violets. There are many other species to be seen in the damp water edges – bright yellow kingcups are probably the most obvious. I thought the bird life was rather sparser than I remembered and the chilly wind meant we saw only one butterfly – a green veined white. The lovely picture was taken by Barbara Murray.

Bretton Nature reserve