GOOSANDERS GALORE IN THE YORKSHIRE DALES
On a Sunny warm Wednesday I made a trip to the Yorkshire Dales and after driving across to Ilkley I turned northwards, taking the A6160 past Bolton Abbey. As I drove along I could see Bluebells still flowering on the hillside and a few minutes later I arrived at my first of two stops, Burnsall. The river Wharfe flows through Burnsall and this stretch of river from Grassington through Burnsall to Bolton Abbey is a good place to see Goosanders, Wagtails and Dippers.
After a quick stop for a drink at the Wharfe View Cafe I walked across the grass to the river where I could see several Mallards and a large number of Sand Martins flying low along the river and disappearing into their nest holes in the far banks of the river. On the grass were a couple of Jackdaws and I now walked to my left towards the road bridge over the river. As I reached the middle of the bridge I looked up the river and I could see a single female Goosander with nine chicks in tow.
There were even more Sand Martins at this side of the bridge and as well as the Goosanders I could see a couple more Mallards. I walked back to the start of the bridge and turned down the path leading up the river's edge on the left hand side. From here I could see the Goosander and its chicks a little closer but they soon dived under the surface of the water, reappearing nearer the bridge. I moved back round to the bridge and crossed over and followed the road for a further fifty yards and turned right through a gate onto a grassy area which is bordered on three sides by the river.
I turned right and followed the bridge back towards the river and on a dry stone wall was a single Pied Wagtail moving along the top. The grass to my left is used by Burnsall cricket club and near the centre were a couple of crows whilst on the river to my right I could see several Mallard chicks. I continued to follow the river round the edge of the grass and a little further along at the other side I could see four Grey Wagtails moving through the trees with a couple of them briefly perching on small stones at the edge.
I walked further along the river bank and sitting asleep on a stone on the far side of the river was another female Goosander. After a minute or so it woke up and began preening itself before waddling off the stone and into the river, swimming a short distance down river before turning round and swimming back to the same stone. Further along there were yet more Sand Martins flying over the river and as I turned and headed back across the grass to the road a Song Thrush flew across in front of me and landed in a tree at the far side.
As I reached the bridge an Oystercatcher landed in the middle of the grass and as I drove towards my next stop there was another Oystercatcher sat on a wall at the roadside. My next stop was Grassington and I parked at the National Park Centre where there were Starlings and House Sparrows moving through the trees. I walked up through the town to a cafe near the top of the main street called Springfield Tea Rooms where I stopped for lunch. Afterwards I walked back down the main street to the car park and at the other side joined a path between two dry stone walls to my final stop, Linton Bridge.
In the fields were Jackdaws and at the bottom of the hill the path arrives at the River Wharfe and Linton Falls. Here I turned to my left and followed the path down river where the fields were filled with sheep and at the edge of the water I saw another Pied Wagtail. As I turned back towards the falls a Collared Dove flew along the river and landed in the trees as an Oystercatcher circled overhead calling as it flew out of sight over the wall.
I reached the falls and followed the path up river where I could see several Mallards just above the falls. I returned to the path and followed it back up the hill towards the car park and half way up the hill I spotted an Oystercatcher in the middle of the field probing the ground for food. I stood and watched it for several minutes before continuing up the path back to the car as a pair of Jackdaws perched briefly on the wall but flew off before I could get a picture.
I have attached a full sightings list and a few photos from my visit to the Yorkshire Dales.