Kingfishers,View Over The Pennines, Jennyruth

10 December 2015

Kingfisher Exchanging Fish - Barry CarterKingfisher Exchanging Fish – Barry Carter


Please do keep sending in your sightings and I will feature them all eventually. What winter visitors have you seen? It seems word is spreading so please keep telling folk about the blog and let’s keep championing wildlife. The dreadful flooding must make things very difficult for some birds, yet Lisa Walch was “so chuffed…saw my first kingfisher whilst at Barden Bridge. Oh joy!” Kingfishers are really great birds to see and enjoy but how do they manage when floods discolour the water to such an extent that they surely can’t see the fish? I thought they might disappear off to lakes, ponds and streams much less discoloured but not this one. Dippers must find it equally difficult and even the birds which don’t rely upon water for food must struggle, and that brings the importance on garden feeders into perspective. There is a petition to ‘Ban Driven Grouse Shooting.’ you may wish to sign.

Whooper Swans - Bill BellamyWhooper Swans at Rostherne –Steve Collins

View From Over The Pennines

Bill Bellamy is in charge of the natural history records for Rostherne Mere National Nature Reserve. This is the largest and deepest (31 metres) mere in Cheshire, located near Knutsford. It is an important refuge for wintering birds as its depth means it rarely completely freezes over when many of the shallower water bodies in Cheshire do. “Our winter visitors have started to arrive including Whooper Swans. The picture shows 11 adults and a juvenile which have probably just flown in from Iceland. They promptly fell asleep just after this photo was taken. Several stop off at Rostherne before venturing up to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Reserve at Martin Mere on the Lancashire coast. Up to 15,000 winter in the UK every year. We also have several 100 Mallard, Teal, Wigeon and Shoveler which are wintering in the UK from countries surrounding The Baltic. Flocks of over 100 Redwing and Fieldfare are also seen in the woodland fringing the mere in November and people forget that many of our common birds such as Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Robin are augmented by large numbers of wintering birds from Northern Europe. The Rowan berries in the Rostherne woodlands provide a welcome food source for thrushes. The winter also provides a good opportunity to see Water Rail at Rostherne Mere. Numbers of this elusive species are also increased by immigrants especially from Germany and Denmark.” Bill has raised lots of issues which affect us locally. I have no reports as yet of whooper swans locally (Harrogate District, North Yorkshire) have you seen any? I may have said this before but already locally the berries are disappearing fast and the blackbirds have decimated our cotoneaster berries, which I guess are not so tasty because they are usually left until much later. Our flora and fauna seems to be getting more and more confused. It’s not so long ago I saw a hazel tree with nuts and catkins, indeed the hazel catkins are already on the trees, far too early in my mind, they usually produce catkins in spring, albeit very early Spring. I also heard on Sunday near the aquaduct at Strid Woods, Bolton Abbey, a mistle thrush in full song, yes in December.



Rob Hardcastle was “driving up the A661 towards Harrogate (22nd November), just outside Spofforth. A Red Kite suddenly dived down right in front of the car trying to grab carrion (a rabbit I think) from the middle of the road. I had to brake sharply but the Kite failed and swooped upwards out of harm’s way. I still have etched on my mind the sight of the Kite’s extended wingspan filling the whole of the carriageway in front me. Quite an encounter….” I contacted Doug Simpson the ‘Red Kite Man’ to tell him that a road safety lesson was urgently needed, he replied, “I keep telling them but they take no notice. That bit of road – A661 around Plompton Rocks – has accounted for at least two casualties that I know of, one of which survived. One did the same thing as I was approaching Harewood Bridge a couple of weeks ago. Flew across in front of the car in front of us.” Maybe we need the kite equivalent of ‘Toad Crossing Signs’! Steve Kempson saw a hedgehog in his Knaresborough Garden at “5:45 a.m. yesterday (28-11-15) (I presume the recent mild weather has kept it up and about?) and a greater spotted woodpecker on our peanut holder this afternoon.” The mild(?) weather certainly must have kept the hedgehogs active, so as long as they aren’t tiny they should be OK. Tiny hedgehogs need catching and looking after, see British Hedgehog Preservation Society or Tiggywinkes for more info. Roger Newman walked around “Swinsty Reservoir (29-11-15) and I think I saw two cormorants sitting on a tree on the island.” These birds seemed to have colonised many of our inland waters in the past 20/30 years. Judith Fawcett saw a wet Wensleydale Wren on 30-11-15, redpoll, siskin, great spotted woodpecker and Goldfinch at High Batts on 1-12-15 and tells me that a pair of red squirrels are now regularly seen in Hawes. Charles Gibson writes, “Things must be improving, hadn’t seen a Woodpecker all year, now one is returning to the nut feeder every day.

Jennyruth Workshops Christmas Fair

Jennyruth Workshops helps adults with learning disabilities gain confidence, independence, life skills and work experience. Their Christmas Fair will be held on

11 December 2015 1:30 pm. There’ll be a large range of Christmas items and gifts for sale along with mince pies, hot drinks and Christmas music.

Visit How Stean Website for my monthly wildlife blog (

Litter Pick

Can you help? The new Hookstone Wood and Stonefall Park Action Group (HASAG) will be holding their first volunteer day this Saturday and are looking for help. They will be clearing back encroaching vegetation from the footpaths and cycle paths as well as having a good old litter pick. Meeting at 10:00 at the entrance off Hookstone Chase (opposite the Morrison’s roundabout), they will be working till about 12:00. Please reply direct to Sam if you can help.

8 thoughts on “Kingfishers,View Over The Pennines, Jennyruth

  1. The best red kite players of “chicken” I have come across were above the M-1 near its junction with the A63 south- east of Leeds. Two took it turns to swoop down on the middle lane. I was doing 70 (honest) on the inside lane and heaven knows what the guy on the outer was doing. But the red kites didn’t bat an eyelid. At the third time of asking one got its morsel and they both flew off unscathed.


  2. Hi Nigel. In our garden in Pannal we have more wrens than any other bird. We have also kept all the berries on the cotoneaster and various other plants up until today. The blackbirds came down and started picking them off. Do they know something we do not? Wonder if there is going to be a cold spell? ps Loved the photo of the kingfishers. Only seen them twice. Once at Pateley Bridge and the other time Nidd at Knaresborough.


    • Thanks Anne,
      Kingfishers are very difficult to see, usually just a flash of colour and I know of nowhere where they are seen regularly. The photos are part of a set sent to me by Barry carter showing a food pass display, brilliant. if the berries go most of the birds just move further south or abroad to feed. The small mammals suffer most, but feeding garden birds becomes more important.


  3. Enjoying your blog Nigel. (I wrote to Jean McQuarrie when your column was discontinued but disappointed she didn’t publish the letter)


    • Hi Jim,

      Nice to hear from you and thanks for your support. The grapevine tells me that the paper received more letters than it has ever done on any subject,ever. Everyone got the same reply. The thanks for 20 years of writing an email sacking me and not even given the chance to thank everyone.

      Your kind comments are much appreciated.


  4. Hi Nigel – is Rostherne Mere 31 mts deep ?? Or should that be 31 ft ? Also on 8th December I saw a male Brimstone butterfly patrolling the ride in the High Batts nature reserve. Colin Slator


    • Hi Colin,

      Bill Bellamy tells me “that the max depth of Rostherne Mere is 31m or 100 ft. The average depth is 13.7m. It was formed by a large plug of ice but it has been over deepened by salt subsidence. The time water spends in the mere (retention time) from the inflow to outflow is around 2 years!”

      Interesting brimstone sighting.

      Best Wishes

      Nigel Heptinstall


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s