Thursday, 14 June 2012

Peregrines at Malham Cove - Sunday 17th June

On Sunday 17th June we joined up with the Craven Curlews Wildlife Explorers group for their annual Peregrine watch event at the beautiful Malham Cove.

Juvenile Peregrines at Malham Cove

Beginning at the Yorkshire Dales visitor centre in Malham, we all did a fun activity to learn about different birds of prey, what they eat and how they hunt. Everyone did well in the quiz and got lots of stickers for getting the answers right! We walked the short trip up to Malham Cove, passing an unusual Blue Tit nest site on the side of a pub!

Blue Tit nest in Malham village!

We spotted many different birds along the way and record them on our ticksheets.  As soon as we arrived at the cove we could see two Peregrines flying high above us - what brilliant luck!

 Adult Peregrine in flight at Malham Cove

The stunning Malham Cove

The RSPB volunteers gave us a very interesting talk about peregrines and told us how to tell the difference between the males and females - the females have a much bigger wingspan, this helps them when they are brooding lots of chicks! The two adult birds spent most of the time in the air above us, putting on a great show.

The two juveniles eventually landed at the nest site high on the cliff and we got some great views of them through the scopes. These young birds are more brown coloured to camouflage them until they can look after themselves - eventually this will moult and their adult plumage will grow through. When one of the adults landed we got the chance to see the difference between an adult and a juvenile Peregrine.

 Juvenile Peregrines

Adult Peregrine

At one point a Common Buzzard flew over the Cove, but was soon seen off by the two adult Peregrines! We also saw lots of birds on the nearby feeders, including Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, and this fantastic male Great Spotted Woodpecker!

Male Great Spotted Woodpecker at Malham Cove

There were plenty of other birds around in the fields including a female Redstart, a recently fledged Pied Wagtail, Jackdaw, Swallow, Swift and Robin.

A big thanks to everyone that came - we had a fantastic time watching one of the most incredible birds in the country. If you have any pictures, stories or drawings, please send them in to - they may even be featured in our summer newsletter - keep your eyes peeled!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Rodley Nature Reserve Springwatch - Saturday 9th June

We had a great turn out for our early morning visit to Rodley Nature Reserve for their fantastic Springwatch event.

First, we went to see what had been caught in the moth traps overnight. Amongst many interesting moths, we saw a fantastic Poplar Hawk Moth; there was also the even more impressive Elephant Hawk Moth, which was brown and bright pink!

Poplar Hawk Moth

We then set off on a mammal walk around the reserve with reserve volunteer Maxine. The reserve staff had baited and set 20 traps the night before our visit, and 16 of the traps contained mammals - a great result. These were bank voles and wood mice, both male and female. It was a real treat to get a really good look at these nocturnal animals. Each mammal was then released back into the wild unharmed.

Maxine inspects one to the mammal traps

It's a Bank Vole!

Next, we had great fun making dragonflies from pipe cleaners supplied by the British Dragonfly Society, which was apparently more successful than Andy's Christmas pom-pom robins!

Rodley Nature Reserve has several dragonfly ponds, and some of our group went to see what dragonflies & damselflies they could find, while the rest went for a well earned cup of tea!

Thank you to all the Otters and parents who joined us - well worth it!