February 2000

Tuesday 1st February – Barnsley Canal – Half a dozen Goosander fly high overhead down the valley. A Great Tit is doing a superb imitation of a Willow Tit as it forages the bare Hawthorns. It is moved along by an angrily chattering Wren. Further along the more usual cyclic call of Great Tits is heard from both sides of the water. A Mute Swan pen and two year old cygnets glide along. It seems likely they are last year’s group. The absence of the cob indicates that the suspicion he was killed somehow was probably correct. Will she attract a new mate this year? There is now a substantial dawn chorus of Robins and Blackbirds. Molehills cover the fields like measles on a child’s face. A single Redwing flies up the hill. There is little in the way of Haws for it to eat, the bushes have been stripped bare. A small party of Chaffinches forage near some horses.

Saturday 5th February – Scout Dike – The high level of the reservoir along with the driving wind slops water over the lip of the run-off channel. It is the first time I have seen this run-off channel actually flowing with water. A Great Crested Grebe flies across the water, its wings whirring with legs dangling along the surface of the reservoir. Scrubby bushes at the end of the dam contain noisy Dunnocks. A Black-headed Gull roost is dispersing.

Shepley – A patch of wind swept Hawthorns separate a road-side lay-by from a half-harvested field of beets. In the bushes there are Reed Buntings, Corn Buntings, Green Finches, Robins, a Wren and the lifer I have come to see – a Little Bunting. The bird is obliging by sitting at the top of the bushes and can be easily compared with Reed Buntings.

Sunday 6th February – Pugney’s Country Park – Robins singing greet the visitor at the entrance. There is a dog walk; for canine ablutions and beside the path I find a number of Blewits. Three male Goldeneyes court a lone female on the Fishing Lake with much head tossing. Bright yellow Alder and Willow Catkins dangle. There are Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebes, Cormorants and Coot on main lake. Over the road beside the Sandpit over ninety Wigeon graze. A great flickering flock of Lapwings move slowly overhead with a larger flock of Golden Plover even higher. Great Crested Grebes are in a variety of states of plumage, some in winter, some developing summer plumages.

Tuesday 8th February – Leeds – A female Blackbird hops by with nesting material in her beak.

Barnsley – Strange skies all day with the squally rain passing through. Massive rainbow this morning and this evening, cloud was all along the horizon blocking the sun, but above it was different cloud which was glowing all grey and yellow.

Wednesday 9th February – Edderthorpe – The high winds of recent days sho