SALMON LEAPS OUT @ HIGH BATTS
On Wednesday I decided to head to High Batts Nature Reserve, a members only reserve just north of Ripon on the banks of the River Ure. Yearly membership for this reserve is just £11. There are three hides on site, one raised up overlooking a pond with the other two on the river bank. During the Summer months this reserve can be quiet but is still a very good spot for seeing Kingfishers.
It was a cloudy day when I arrived at the reserve and I headed for the Upper Pond Hide and in the field next to the reserves a pair of male Pheasants were having a noisy tête-à-tête. Nearly all the feeders are located just in front of this hide with a couple off to the right. In the trees to the right of the hide a pair of Nuthatches and Marsh Tits were making regular visits to the feeders before flying off into the trees to consume the seeds they had taken. I tried several times to get a photo of the Nuthatch but every time it returned to the feeders it didn't stay in one place long enough and when it did there was a branch blocking my view of it.
Several Goldfinches also made visits to these feeders and when there were two of them using the feeder they would squawk at any other Goldfinch trying to land on the feeders. Large groups of Blue Tits & Great Tits were also coming to these feeders along with a pair of Coal Tits. On the feeders directly in front of the hide a single Chaffinch and Tree Sparrow were sat on top of the feeders with Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Marsh Tits, Nuthatches and Goldfinches making regular visits. A male Great Spotted Woodpecker flew in and landed on the tree inching its way up the trunk, briefly stopping at the feeders before continuing up the tree and then flying off.
After an hour I had still not managed to get a good picture of the Nuthatch so I left the hide and headed for the first river hide in search of the Kingfisher. Upon arrival at the hide it was very quiet apart from a couple of sheep grazing on the far bank of the river. Ten minutes passed and the only thing I had seen was a lone Cormorant flying high above the river towards Ripon. I was about to give up waiting for the Kingfisher and go to the Hotel Hide, where it had been seen earlier, when the trademark flash of blue came at pace along the nearside bank of the river.
The Kingfisher flew low just in front of the hide before making a sharp left turn just after hide and heading diagonally across the river and landing on a branch a couple of feet above the river on the far bank. A minute or so later it flew back across the river and briefly perched on a branch right in front of the hide before disappearing down river. I was about to leave the hide when I spotted the Kingfisher had landed on a branch about twenty to thirty feet to the right of the hide. It stayed there for a good five minutes before it flew off south down the river.
I left and walked along the grass track to the Hotel Hide which also looks over the River Ure. The river was still as quiet from this hide apart from a Grey Heron on the far bank a couple of hundred yards to the left of the hide. A short time later another Kingfisher flew down the centre of the river from left to right at its usual breakneck speed. A quarter of an hour passed by and I had not seen anything else from the hide, the Grey Heron then took off and flew up river out of sight.
I was about to leave when at the edge of the water and just twenty feet in front of me an enormous fish leaped out of the water a good three or four feet into the air before plunging back in with a huge slap. The fish was at least two feet in length and a bluish grey in colour and I was later able to identify it as an Atlantic Salmon. A couple of minutes later I left the hide and headed back down the grass track to the Upper Pond Hide to try again with my attempts to get a picture of a Nuthatch.
The Nuthatches, Marsh Tits and Coal Tits were still making regular visits to the feeders, a couple of female Pheasants were picking up the scraps dropped by the birds visiting the feeders and out on the pond several Moorhens were moving through the water and walking over the flattened reeds. There was a lone Greenfinch amongst the increasing number of Goldfinches around the feeders and hiding on a branch to the right of the hide a Robin perched in the shadows staying there for a few minutes before disappearing without visiting the feeders.
After another twenty minutes or so the Nuthatch still hadn't afforded me a clear view of it and the best picture I got was with a branch across it. A couple of Long Tailed Tits visited a feeder hanging off the tree in front of the hide and as it looked like it was about to rain I decided to make my way home. I have attached my full sightings list and a few pictures from my visit.