Trip reports

Bolton Abbey - 22/06/13

Spotted flycatcher on perch
Spotted flycatcher - RSPB Images

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The weather forecast was very grim, raining and gusty winds all day, which is probably why only 5 of us were brave (or should that be stupid?) enough to head up to the Yorkshire Dales and Bolton Abbey.

We met at the Barden Bridge car park at the north end of the estate and so far so good - the weather was dry. We set off along the bank of the River Wharfe prepared for anything. A flash of electric blue whizzed by and into the riverbank and we were able to locate the kingfisher sat on a branch overhanging the water. Red-legged partridge were heard calling but we were unable to locate any in the long grass. A large number of sand martins were swooping around over the surface of the river with the odd swallow and swift mixed in. As we entered the woodland we began to hear the chirruping of baby birds. As the day progressed we must have seen the fledglings of at least 10 species showing that spring might have come late but it has still come in full force! A family of blue tits were the first fledglings seen, hopping around in a small tree by the aqueduct bridge. Further along we saw our first star of the day - pied flycatcher. A male was spotted flitting around an oak tree. We then realised that there wasn't just one bird but at least 4 - the adult pair and at least 2 young. A family of treecreepers were the next youngsters seen, quickly followed by a very noisy family group of nuthatches.

Nationally spotted flycatchers sadly seem to be harder and harder to yet appear to be thriving in the woodland at Bolton Abbey. At least 2 families of these subtly beautiful birds were seen. Other birds spotted were mistle thrush and blackbird while on the river itself was a pair of common sandpiper and 3 female goosanders. Dippers with fledglings were spotted on numerous occasions both feeding and zooming up and down the river.

As we arrived at the Cavendish Pavilion a sparrowhawk was being mobbed by a mistle thrush and a jackdaw. We crossed the river and continued down to the abbey ruins and this was the first time we got caught in the rain. The area between the pavilion and the abbey is quite open and we were right in the middle of a field when a heavy shower came down. Luckily it only lasted a matter of minutes and we all had our waterproofs on. Chiffchaff and pied wagtail were in the trees alongside the road at the abbey and a common sandpiper was again seen on the river.

Back over the river we went but this time, we had two options as to how to get across. There is a bridge here but there are also stepping stones which I decided to use to cross - after all, how hard could it be? It was all going well until about 10 stones out when the one in front of me looked decidedly sloped and I looked down into the water to realise it was a good couple of feet deep. It must have taken me a good 2 or 3 minutes to build up the courage to step forward but I did it in the end and made it to the other side without falling in (much to the disappointment of the rest of the group).

We ate our lunch on the other side before heading back up towards the pavilion, crossing the river again to walk back to the car park on the other side of the river. A familiar call had me searching the treetops and we located a family of wood warblers racing around the canopy. Another shower came down but we were safe under the trees and by the time we got out of the woodland it had stopped. Back near the car park we were scrutinising a bank of the river trying to work out if the sand martins were nesting in it when we spotted some young heads peeping out of a hole in the bank which answered our question!

Back at the cars we were grateful to have enjoyed a lovely walk in mostly lovely weather. It turns out we were brave not stupid after all!

45 species were seen