Sunday morning birdwatching – Local woodland

I’d love to tell you where I went birding this morning, but I cannot remember the name of the wood and it’s not listed on the map! It’s between Easterly Road and Wetherby Road if you were heading North towards Roundhay Park. Anyway…

This morning I went for a walk through Wyke Beck Woods, a fantastic little spot local to me (and more productive, and peaceful, than Roundah Park!). Thanks to @WykeBeckValley for helping me locate myself after not earlier remembering the name.

I’d decided I was going to go for a walk, see if I could see any snowtracks, if not at least some good birdlife. It wasn’t the most encouraging start, with a grey dull light over the city. The walk to the wood, which normally has some decent birdlife, was near-enough dead. The odd Goldfinch and Blue Tit, but little else.

As I’ve detailed in a seperate post, there wasn’t much doing on the snowtracks front either. So I was getting towards heading home as it wasn’t pleasant out. The grey skies yielding sleety snow that made it cold and wet. Not fun.

I pushed on to the wood and initially it didn’t look promising either.

Local woodland

Local woodland

A solitary Blackbird was all I could see, and the odd Robin was singing nearby, but that was about it.

SONY DSCDogs and dogwalkers were thin on the ground here though, and that seemed to be emboldening the wildlife. I could here dozens of Long-Tailed Tits in the trees, flitting back and forth. I got my camera out to try get them (futile in low light), and realised I’d made a rookie mistake; I’d forgotten to charge the battery, leaving me with just 4% in there! This day was getting worse.

As I stood tucked against a tree, I caught the flight pattern of a bird out of the corner of my eye. Learning to ID birds in flight can be really useful as it will often lead you to a favourite or two. In this case, a Jay or two (Garrulus glandarius). I love all the corvids, but these colourful, characterful birds are always a pleasure. The light wasn’t great, nor the angle, but I did get a few shots:


I stood and watched them for a while, squirreling around, trying to find and hide food in the treetops. A Red Kite flew over, but I was set on my Jays. But another noise soon drew my attention, as there were two Wrens (Troglodytes troglodytes) by the river shouting their heads off (presumably at me, nothing else was around):


Wrens actually have one of the loudest voices there is (relative to body size, they are ten times the volume of a cockerel crowing). It’s volume is comparable to a lawnmower, so they are very hard to miss. But even when you hear them, they frequently flit around in dense undergrowth, so spotting them may not be so easy. Fortunately both of these popped out quite nicely.

I wandered on a little, before eventually turning back. Soon after I could hear a Nuthatch (Sitta europaea). It’s a distinct call, almost a metallic, ringing chirp-chirp. So I knew it was there somewhere. There were two trees next to the path, so I tucked myself in out of the way and stayed quiet, hoping for a view. A Jay soon landed in front of me, but having the sharp eyes and mild paranoia of most corvids, it spotted me lurking and took off again. The Nuthatch had gone quiet, and I was starting to think that was that. There were wrens and tits (Great, Blue, Coal, Long-Tailed) flitting about, plus Blackbirds, but with my camera battery dwindling I didn’t want to risk it.

Suddenly, movement to my left caught my eye. My nuthatch? No, it was this little bird:


Treecreepers (Certhia familiaris) are incredibly active, and hard to get a good picture of. Most of the shots I got were just a brown blur. But here are a couple more:


They are brilliantly camouflaged, and so hard to see. But they can be pretty obliging and I’ve seen them at head height, only a few feet away, more than once.

I could now hear an incredibly loud hammering. Not the rhythymic drumming of a woodpecker, but full-on hammer blows on wood. A nuthatch was nearby. Still in the same position, I turned to my right, looking up the tree, trying to source the noise. There they were, two Nuthatches.


No great images there, distance, motion, and bad light all working against me. But that distinctive pattern, three-tone, blue-grey back and cap, black eye stripe, buff belly, can easily be seen.

After watching them till nearly frozen, I headed home. Both a Red Kite and a Sparrowhawk passed overhead, but my camera was now dead.

Still, a good morning in the end.

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4 Responses to Sunday morning birdwatching – Local woodland

  1. James Corner says:

    Sometimes that happens; what seems like it is shaping up to be a bad day turns out great. Unfortunately the opposite can happen as well!

  2. Emily Heath says:

    Nice photos. I saw a flash of a green woodpecker today, but too fast for a photo. Also saw lots of parakeets squawking in the trees, they must get cold in the snow.

    • David says:

      Those parakeets are surprisingly robust little things, they cope with a wide range of climates and conditions, which is why they are so pervasive once introduced.

  3. Pingback: Siskins in Wyke Beck Woods, and a beautiful Red Kite | Why watch wildlife?

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