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
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.
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
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