Friday, 9 June 2017

Next Event: Moorland Wildlife Walk, Whetstone Gate, Rombalds Moor - 10:30am Sunday 11th June 2017

Our next event is a Moorland Wildlife Walk from 10:30am on Sunday 11th June. This promises to be a really interesting event, as we set out over the moors to look for the highly specialised birds, insects and plants that live there. We had a great time when we visited the moor last year. and the year before.

We're sure to see Red Grouse, and we'll be looking for specialist moorland songbirds such as Stonechat, Meadow Pipit and Wheatear, and waders like Golden Plover, Curlew, Redshank, and Snipe. The moors also attract birds of prey like Buzzards and Red Kites, as well as Short-eared Owls.

Red Grouse


Red Kite

We'll also be learning about the fascinating ecology of moorlands, looking for Green Hairstreak butterflies, and having a bracing walk too! The event should take around two hours.

Meeting Place

We'll meet for 10:30am at Whetstone Gate (also known as Keighley Gate), on Rombalds Moor (Grid Ref: SE 10161 45330). This is on Ilkley Road, going north towards Ilkley from West Morton. There is a small area for cars by the roadside, near to a small radio mast on the hilltop. The nearest postcode is BD20 5RD, but please note this postcode covers all of Ilkley Road.

The orange arrow points to the meeting place at Whetstone Gate (Grid Ref: SE 10161 45330).

 A closer view of the meeting place at Whetstone Gate (Grid Ref: SE 10161 45330).

The Airedale Otters leaders will be on site well before the start of the event and will place yellow direction arrows on Ilkley Road, so we'll be easy to find. Please contact us 07748 192 342 or if you need further information.

As always, please wear clothing suitable for the event. The weather on the moors can be very changeable, and it's generally a few degrees cooler than down in the town. There are likely to be wet areas underfoot, even after long dry spells of weather.

Bird Race, St Ives, Bingley - Sunday, 7th May, 2017

On Sunday 7th May we held the Airedale Otters annual Great Bingley Bird-off! Well, Bird Race, actually. It was a clear fresh morning and everyone met at the Coppice Pond bird hide in St Ives.

A bird race is a competition for the ‘Otters’ to see or hear as many species of bird as possible. All birds must be seen or heard by a young person and validated by an impartial leader. As we didn’t have any of those, Cam and Joost stepped in to lead the two teams!

Cam’s team strode off purposefully through mature woodland towards Lady Blantyre’s rock, the heathland above, open lawns and moorland of the golf course and back along Cross Gates Lane.

Joost’s team dawdled around Coppice Pond, noting lots of water birds on the pond, including a surprisingly colourful Moorhen (green legs; yellow and red beak; plus black, brown and white plumage).

 Moorhen with chicks

We also saw Coot, Canada Goose, Mallard, Mute Swan, and a stumpy, round Tufted Duck diving under the surface, plus open woodland birds like the Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff around the edges. Those two birds look very similar, but have very different calls.

 Willow Warbler (photo Andreas Trepte,


Joost’s team then set off towards the golf course, looking for thrushes and blackbirds hunting worms and snails on the grass, tiny, noisy, wrens around the dry-stone walls and nut hatches and treecreepers scampering over old oak trees.

Treecreepers always creep up a tree

Nuthatches scurry down the tree (photo Stephen Lilley)

We grabbed a few bonus points with a kestrel and buzzard soaring high over the top meadows (it’s always worthwhile having binoculars to bring those distant birds into clearer view). Finally, a tip-off from Cam helped Joost’s team see a Pied flycatcher – not at all a common sight.

Pied Flycatcher (photo Stephen Lilley)

As an extra treat, we then heard a Wood Warbler, which sounds like a coin spinning on a table! And then a more common Goldcrest - a tiny olive bird which, when agitated, reveals a spectacular orange mohican!


We all struggled back to base, over time and eager to know the result. Somehow Joost’s team had managed to tip the balance in their favour (Les and Chris were helping too!!) with a very respectable 36 species as shown below: