26th of August 2023
Saturday the 26th of August was the first of two guided walks that weekend and the location was Bradford Dale. Although recently the take up on this walk had been low it still remains one of my favourite sites to show people. Each season brings different species, not only of birds but of all fauna and flora.
We met up with Bob and Bret for an early 7am start in Alport and set off to join the River Bradford where it joins the Lathkill. House Martin & Swallow were feeding above us in a flock of 10-15 birds and we very quickly had our first encounter with one of the local Dipper. We observed the bird catching a small fish and hunting just under the surface of the water.
As we entered a clearing we could hear a Restart calling from the slope opposite, while scanning the trees we saw a Buzzard perched and showing very well in the scope. After 10 minutes trying to find the Redstart, without success, we moved on.
A good-sized group of Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit & Coal Tit were moving around us, and Lynne spotted a Great Spotted Woodpecker disappear in to a nearby Oak tree. A quick glance of a Bullfinch along with Jackdaw, Carrion Crow and Chaffinch made for a good 15 minutes.
Now on to the footpath that takes you around Hollow Farm and the fish pond. This short diversion can throw up some surprises on the pastures and on the pond. Today we saw Collared Dove, Coot, Mallard, Greylag goose, Pheasant & at least 15 Mandarin Duck, all in eclipse. Walking down the hill a Sparrowhawk was spotted hunting low and fast. I was nice for comparison for a Woodpigeon to fly through with a Stock Dove in tow. Pied wagtail were feeding on the nearby pile of manure, always a good spot for these birds.
As we passed through the Mawstone Lane to rejoin the river a Grey Heron was inadvertently disturbed, and a pair of Raven flew overhead. Blackbird and Robin were hanging around the gardens here and Chiffchaff could still be heard calling. After a quick toilet stop at the facilities on Holywell Lane, we crossed the bridge and entered true Dipper territory. We could hear Jay and Nuthatch from high up in the trees and more flocks of small passerines moving through the woods. This group also had Goldcrest and Treecreeper in attendance.
We took a coffee break and admired a beautiful Little Grebe and its mirrorlike reflection on the perfectly still water of one of the millponds. Moorhen was seen and our first Grey Wagtail of the day. The vegetation along the rivers edge was quite high, which restricted our view a little, kept views of Dipper to quick glances rather than the usual photoshoots, however this didn’t take away the joy of seeing this enigmatic bird.
After the second coffee stop by the ‘books in the wall’ and quick snack we headed back along the same route back to Alport. We added Magpie, Goldfinch, Wren and Kestrel to our list.
The thunder storms that had been predicted for early afternoon never arrived and waterproofs weren't needed after all, sometimes I really appreciate the forecasters getting it wrong.
When I first started these walks over a year ago now, I used to panic a little bit if we hadn’t seen 40 plus bird species. I wrongly thought that’s what people wanted. It isn’t, even on walks where we had only seen a few birds people were still smiling having had some exercise in beautiful locations and with some wonderful likeminded people, they were happy. Yes, great birds certainly help, but that’s a bonus, not the reason we are all out there enjoying the wildlife that is on offer.
All images are from my library.