Great Northern Diver at Pugneys

Got a call last night to say there was a great northern diver (common loon for the USA visitors) on Cawood’s Pool at Pugneys Country Park and it had still been there at dusk. So, I set off early this morning as the sun was rising and met up with this battle cruiser of a bird as drifted across the lake in the winter sunlight. Cawood’s is a big pool and the bird was  a way off, but fortunately just as I arrived it dived beneath the water and I ran to where I thought it might pop up only to find it broke the surface about a yard in front of me!! I was over-geared for the bird at this range but in any case it panicked, dived again and came up about 100yds away to look back at me. I got off a few quick shots before it headed further out into the lake. I always find them hard to photograph because, despite it’s size, they sit low in the water and there is little contrast or definition for the camera to lock onto. Here’s a shot of the bird which will at least serve as record of its visit to Wakefield. On the way back to the car, I came across some carrion crows drinking in a puddle in the car park. I’d already reached my car and taken the 500mm off the tripod when I saw them, but the light was good so I whipped off the 1.4x and stalked them hand held. Here’s a couple of shots I really like and were an unexpected bonus to the short morning session.

John Gardner (President)

Rosse Observatory visit

On Thursday 17th November about 24 of our members went along on an organised visit to the Rosse Observatory, near Carlton, Pontefract for an evening of star gazing. We weren’t disappointed! After days of gloomy, murky November weather (albeit mild) our expectations for seeing any stars were pretty low. However we were more than delighted when the gloom broke to produce a glorious sunny autumn day which continued through into the evening giving excellent clear skies. The clear skies meant the Observatories star attraction, the telescope, could be put into action and we were all treated to spectacular views of Jupiter together with it’s 4 moons clearly visible though the scope.

We split into two groups and while one group climbed the ladders to the observation deck, the other group were treated to an illustrated talk all about the solar system with some mind blowing facts and figures – it’s not only Prof. Peter Cox who knows his stuff!
We swapped over and repeated the process and once everyone had seen Jupiter, the computerised telescope was turned towards the galaxy Andromeda, a spiral galaxy some 2.5 million light years away from earth: Awesome!!

The Rosse Observatory is well worth a visit. Here is a photo, thanks to member Roger Gaynor, taken on the evening to give some idea of the size of the telescope.

Richard’s rhubarb appearance

Viewers of BBC2’s Great British Food Revival series will have noticed a cameo appearance from our very own resident star of TV and radio, Richard Bell. Richard is well known for his self-published books on local folklore and fable as well as his paintings and illustrations of all things wild in the district. It was only natural, therefore, that acclaimed foody and rhubarb champion, Greg Wallace, should want to interview our Richard about this underrated great British food. Pick up a copy of highly successfully book, “Walks in the rhubarb triangle” and get him to sign it for you.