Location: Bradford Dale
Date of tour: 30th January 2022
Number of species seen - 22
Duration - 3 Hours
We arrived in Alport at 8 o’clock to get a relatively early start and after helping Ruth set up her binoculars, our boots were on, and we headed off towards Bradford Dale.
Within 5 minutes we saw 2 of our 3 targets, a Dipper feeding in the fast flow of the River Lathkill fighting the current caused by recent heavy rainfall. As the Dipper was feeding it was joined by our 2nd target, a Grey Wagtail.
After a few minutes the birds flew off and we carried on and followed the River Bradford. Jackdaw, Magpie and Wood Pigeon made an appearance and I finally had a minute to set up the Leica scope ready for getting some better views.
High up in a tree was a Common Buzzard sat enjoying the sun,
I aimed the scope and soon focused on this stunning bird. Ruth was amazed at the detail, she said she had seen Buzzards before but had never been able to enjoy the textures and colours and didn’t realise how beautiful these birds were. Wren, Carrion Crow and Dunnock were seen and then we stopped on Mawstone Lane as a Kingfisher, our 3rd target bird, shot passed us.
After waiting a few moments, the Kingfisher returned and landed in a small tree overlooking the river, the scope was set up and we enjoyed some wonderful views of this female bird and again Ruth was so excited to watch closely as it preened. It then flew and landed even closer, and this time not washed out by the sun but in full view, and its colours exploded in the early morning light.
We then walked for a while and saw Mallard, Moorhen and Coot before getting even better views of the Dipper while it sat on a rock and watched the river flow by. It was soon joined by its partner and we studied them for a good 10 minutes interacting before they both flew further up stream.
We then stopped at the stone bridge to take in the view of this lovely valley when a Robin landed right next to Ruth, I took out some bird food and it was soon feeding from the hand, another experience Ruth wouldn’t forget.
We reached the books in the wall and had a coffee and a bite to eat and were joined by 3 Blue Tits chasing each other around while a Great Tit sang its ‘tea-cher tea-cher’ tune. A Chaffinch came to check out what we were up to and see if we had dropped any crumbs.
We then decided to head back along the same route and were serenaded by both Mistle and Song Thrush, we couldn’t pick the birds out in the tree tops, but it didn’t matter as the song was so wonderful. Pheasant, Blackbird and Coal Tit were added to the list before we arrived back at the car. As a finale 3 Buzzards slowly soared low over our position and called as if to say goodbye before turning away and landing on distant trees.
My first guided walk went extremely well and I know Ruth enjoyed every minute. She left with a new appreciation of birds and said she will carry on practicing with her binoculars and look at birds more closely in the future.