Early Morning Dip

Dipper Fledgling

 

It's April, it's Cold and it's too early. There is just one thought that stops me hitting the snooze button on the alarm. Dipper Fledglings. The key to getting out of bed early is pretty much the same as tackling a swim in the Atlantic; you have to jump in (or out) head first!

 

I drop out of bed, grab the nearest set of clothes (luckily they’re my own!) and step out. Without a millilitre of caffeine it feels a gargantuan effort. The river is shaded from the early morning sun and it’s cold but the sound of the river is soothing and the spears of light illuminating distant rocks promise warmth. Hopeful, I lie flat on the chilled, serrated and uncomprimising stoney floor.

 

“What am I doing here?!” A thought so hard felt that I’m not sure if I heard it in my head or from my lips. The light isn’t right, the stones beneath me are starting to bruise my skin and I’m convinced there’s a wildlife bonanza occurring just past that bend in the river. Yet, there are Dippers over here. Over there, just beyond the reach of my lens. It's a question that has been asked since we grew legs... "Wait? Or try and move closer?"

 

I try and shake out the aches in my bones and settle down. "Ten minutes and if nothing happens, I'll try and move closer". The three or four Dippers start rock hopping in my direction, I try not to breathe. To my wonder two fledglings land nearby and are promptly fed by a caring parent.

 

It could of been three minutes or three hours that passed as I photographed these slate grey hovering balls of fluff and they're attentive parents...

 

Tour de Yorkshire Through a Pinhole

Last spring, on the 30th April 2017 to be exact, the Tour de Yorkshire zapped through our village and passed by our street. The significance of it being 30th April 2017 was that this was also Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. It was the perfect fit, I dusted off my improvised, home-made digital pinhole camera and stepped into the crowds...

Continue reading Tour de Yorkshire Through a Pinhole

First Leaves of Autumn

Despite the brilliant sunshine there's a distinct and definite dip in the temperature. I notice it as soon as I open the door. I almost go back in to fetch a jumper, then I remember I'm in Yorkshire, and layering up before November round here attracts many a disapproving look.

 

The sudden cooling has catapulted the birds into a hub of activity. Fifty plus Starling have grouped and lingered on the roof tops and telegraph wires that surround our street. Overhead a herd of Curlew hungrily hurry past, while higher up several groups of geese dent the crisp blue sky with their familiar V shaped flight formations. It's tempting to go no further; to just stop and watch the drifters, passers-by and hangers on. But the water has too much pull for me to stay.

 

As I make my way along the road to the river, the flanks of trees and bushes contain the usual suspects. Chaffinches, a female Bullfinch (the male won't be too far away), blue tits, a solitary robin and long tailed tits whom I have the biggest soft spot for. By now though I'm too excited to see what's on the water to slow down.

 

The river is higher than I was expecting and I get a wet foot making my way out to the shape-shifting pebble island that is usually accessible via stepping stones. The small island is not more than twenty metres in length and conforms with the flow of the river.

 

 

With our silver Lurcher, Alfie walking to my heel we make our way to the far end of the island where I can get a better view of the events and occurrings down stream. As we make a cautious approach a Kingfisher whizzes into view and lands on a protruding stone just five or six metres away. It pauses and looks at us quizzically for what feels like a minute but is more likely five seconds before flying to the safety of a nearby tree. Below the tree I spot a dipper hopping along the rocks and pebbles. A second dipper lands close to stone where the Kingfisher initially landed. Alfie and I freeze. The Dipper continues its quest for nymphs and larvae, clearly aware of us but unconcerned.

 

 

Suddenly splash! A chocolate and white Spaniel has caught us all by surprise. The Dipper immediately takes flight followed by the other Dipper who then gets clobbered by the Kingfisher as it also makes its get away! The Kingfisher follows the curve of the river and glides out of view but the two Dippers stop short of the bend and have a toe-to-toe on a half submerged boulder. This extraordinary flurry of activity is all over in less than thirty seconds and I'm left wondering whether to curse or thank our new four legged acquaintance.

 

 

We leave the island and tramp a little further down stream away from the frolics of the island's visitors. This time it's me that ruffles some feathers as I disturb a young Heron fishing. We get tantalising glimpses of bickering Dippers and darting Kingfisher, presumably the same characters observed earlier.

 

 

Alfie and I find a quiet spot and lounge. After an hour, a day, a year of drinking in the surrounding sounds, smells and sights we dust ourselves off and head home. Just as we depart several golden leaves land and charge along the surface of the water like mythical dragon boats about to inflict terror on some unsuspecting settlement.

 

It's the first leaves of Autumn.

 

 

 

Wildlife Diary: Burley Bursting with Life

Blackcap singing on branch

 

3/4/2017
It was the last couple of hours I had free before I had to head to London, and I knew exactly where I spending them. This was the last chance I'd get this year to photograph the toads gathering and mating up on Ilkley Moor.

 

I had already made two previous trips but the conditions were poor. I was hoping that this time it might be third time lucky and the conditions might just be right... for the next couple of hours at least. As I dreamed of the award winning photos awaiting me up on Ilkley Moor, I jumped in the car and turned the key in the ignition... Nothing. I tried turning the key again... and again... and again. The car was not going to start and I did not have enough time to walk.

 

Frustrated and annoyed I accepted defeat but by now I really needed to unravel the rage that was gripping me. At this moment, there was only one place that could release me from my monsters. The river. Continue reading Wildlife Diary: Burley Bursting with Life

Winds of Change

Panorama from the Chevin September was hot. The hottest September since 1911 in fact. October has been pretty hot too but in the last week or so we've started to see those warm South Westerly breezes give way to the chillier North Easterlies. This development has sparked a change in more than just our wardrobe! Continue reading Winds of Change

The battleground at Greenholme Mills

Greenholme Mills reflection

An abandoned railway line, a derelict farm house, a strip of disconnected road, Joel Sternfeld's Walking the High Line photo project of a deceased railroad system elevated above the streets of Manhattan and most modern post-apocalyptic feature films. I have always been captivated by the tensions between the natural world and human civilisation. Where building remains are slowly reclaimed by plant life and disused roads get taken over by a tide of meadow grasses. So imagine my delight on discovering a semi-abandoned mill just round the corner from our house! Continue reading The battleground at Greenholme Mills

A Great Departure Through Burley

Boy cycling This weekend was the first weekend in a long, long time when I didn't have anything work related in the diary. So what did I do? Just take a few hundred more pictures to take up more mac book space and photo editing time that I already don't have! Well, I couldn't watch the greatest spectacle to depart Yorkshire in our lifetime without a camera! Continue reading A Great Departure Through Burley