Trip reports

Guided walk to Low Wood, Riddlesden

Guided walk to Low Wood, Riddlesden
Paul Barrett

Sunday, 17 April 2016

As we set out, the car reading of the outside temperature was 2C on a beautiful, sunny morning with not a cloud in the blue sky. A group of eleven met our leader for this walk. Mark Doveston, at 9am in East Riddlesden.
We began walking along the canal in the direction of Silsden and almost immediately spotted a lone male goosander amongst the mallards. Listening carefully, with Mark's help we were able to identify a variety of bird calls including chiffchaffs, blackcap and willow warbler.
A female swan was nesting above an abandoned nest which was lower down on the canal side with four large eggs. Her mate, protecting her nearby on the water, was clearly ringed with No. 155.
In marshy fields to our left, Canada geese were grazing and amongst them was a white goose, possibly of the same species.
Barn owls have been sighted along this stretch of the canal and seem to be doing well in this part of the Aire Valley.
What appeared to be a white mallard or 'call duck' was seen on the canal. Call ducks were initially used in hunting, where their own calls and quacks would attract wild ducks towards the hunter's guns. This practice has almost entirely been replaced with artificial Duck calls, with Call ducks now being kept primarily as pets or for ornamental purposes.
Signs of spring were everywhere, with swallows and house martins flying over and trees ready to burst into leaf. Celandines and bluebells carpeted the floor of Low Wood.
The cackling of a green woodpecker was frequently heard in the canopy and a great spotted woodpecker flew through the woodlands.
A total of three buzzards could be seen soaring above adjoining fields and a sparrowhawk was displaying, rising up and stooping nearby,
On our return walk along the canal, a very tame heron seemed unconcerned by walkers and cyclists until disturbed by a passing dog. The bird then afforded us a magnificent fly-past.
We watched in wonder as one female mallard approached with a troop of twenty tiny ducklings in her wake. What a finale to a lovely morning walk, with over forty species of birds seen.
Our grateful thanks to Mark Doveston for his expertise and guidance.
Birds seen: mallard, goosander, blue tit, jackdaw, goldfinch, crow, dunnock, wood pigeon, song thrush, swan, black headed gull, robin, wren, blackbird, magpie, great tit, Canada goose, black cap, pheasant, bullfinch, chiffchaff, white mallard (call duck), swallow, long tailed tit, jay, great spotted woodpecker, stock dove, greylag goose, goldcrest, redpoll, coal tit, nuthatch, siskin, treecreeper, buzzard, sparrowhawk, chaffinch, heron, willow warbler, house martin, Muscovy duck.