FABULOUS FLYCATCHERS @ STRID WOODS


On Saturday I visited Strid Woods which is located just north of Bolton Abbey on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. To reach Strid Woods you need to turn onto the B6160 off the A59 and follow the road past Bolton Abbey and after a short distance the car park is on the righthand side of the road. Strid Woods are on both the western and eastern banks of the River Wharfe and birds such as Redstarts, Pied Flycatchers, Spotted Flycatchers, Dippers, Grey Wagtails and Kingfishers can be seen in the woods or on the river.


The woods were opened to the public in 1810 by the 6th Duke of Devonshire and the Reverend William Carr. The paths on either side stretch from beyond Bolton Abbey to the south and Grassington in the north. It was a wet weather forecast for the day of my visit and it had just started to drizzle when I arrived and on a dry-stone wall at the side of the road was a Pied Wagtail. I walked across to the gift shop / cafe where above the door was a Swallows nest and as I opened the door one of the Swallows flew in and fed the chicks.


I had a drink in the cafe and as I was sat down, I saw a Spotted Flycatcher on the guttering at the edge of the roof outside looking in at me. At the back of the building there were a couple of bird feeders with Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches and a Nuthatch visiting. I now headed out the door at the rear of the building and headed down the hill towards the river. After a short distance I spotted a Pied Wagtail scurrying along a moss covered roof before it flew off through the trees towards the cafe.


I continued to where the path split in two with the left-hand path taking you down to the riverside path and the right hand one going through the trees near the top of the hill. I took the righthand path and after a short distance it turned to the right as a couple of male Chaffinches perched on branches close to the path. A little further along a Song Thrush was briefly seen to my left as a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew through the trees and a Spotted Flycatcher briefly sat on a branch in front of me.

As the path wended its way through the trees, I saw a Wren, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and a pair of Robins in the trees around me. The rain had started to get a little heavier as a juvenile Song Thrush flew down and landed close to the left-hand side of the path. Eventually it flew off up the hill and over a dry-stone wall at the top and I continued to where after a mile or so the path began to descend the hill as a trio of juvenile Great Spotted Woodpeckers moved through the trees to my right. I now turned to the left and crossed the riverside path and went down some steps to the edge of the river where a Common Sandpiper flew along before turning and heading upriver to my left.


I followed the path as it turned up the banking and reached the edge of the woods where a Pied Flycatcher was sat on a branch of a small tree. It flew off and hovered briefly before turning and flying off through the trees as the rain now became torrential. I walked across to the Cavendish Pavilion to escape the rain and get something to eat and whilst I was sat down, I could see a few Jackdaws sat on the tables outside looking in.


After half an hour the rain returned to a light drizzle, so I ventured back outside to try and find the Pied Flycatcher again. After only a couple of minutes it appeared on a branch to my right before flying across the path and landing in the bushes. I followed it as it moved from bush to bush for fifty yards before it flew off back across the path and over the river to the other side. I now headed back towards the Cavendish Pavilion and on the grass to my left were several Mallards and to my right I thought I spotted a Treecreeper so moved closer. When I was about ten yards away, I could see four Treecreepers moving round a tree trunk before they were scared off by a couple of Blackbirds flying in.

I now headed over the bridge to the other side of the river and flying overhead were several Swifts and Swallows. Once over the bridge I turned to the left and followed the path along the eastern banks of the river where a Jackdaw flew low over the grass to my right. On the river to my left were several Mallards and further ahead of me a Common Sandpiper flew down the river and landed on a large rock at the edge of the river. It flew off across the river and landed amongst the bushes and amongst the Mallards I spotted a female Mandarin Duck.


I continued along the path and eventually entered the eastern half of Strid Woods and turned away from the river. A short while later I saw a female Pied Flycatcher sat on a wire fence between two wooden posts, but it flew off before I could get a photo as another one flew through the trees. The path now briefly returned towards the river where singing in the bushes was a Blackcap, but I could not see it and after a few minutes it flew off into a bush nearer the river.


The path now turned to the right and began a steep ascent up the hillside where I saw a couple of Wrens and a trio of Nuthatches. Eventually the path levelled out and I reached a stone shelter where I had great views down the river valley, and I thought I could see a duck sat high up in a tree. On closer inspection I discovered it was a Mandarin Duck and these ducks nest and roost in trees, but this was the first time I had seen one in a tree. As I approached the edge of the woods, I saw another Pied Flycatcher, this time a male and sat on a wall to my right was a female Pheasant.

There were also a couple of Chaffinches about and as a dog came along the path in the opposite direction to me it chased a few juvenile Pheasants as it ran through the grass at the edge of the path. Dogs are supposed to be kept on a lead in Strid Woods but this one was sadly not, causing the juvenile Pheasants to scatter. I now exited the woods and followed the path as it started to drop down the hill towards the river. Down on the river’s edge I could see a few Mallards and a lone Grey Wagtail moving from rock to rock from right to left.


As the path reached the river, I saw a pair of Redstarts fly across the river and land in a small tree around a hundred yards in front of me. The rain started to get a bit heavier again as the Redstarts flew across the path and disappeared into the bushes to my right. A short distance beyond these bushes the path reached an aquaduct over the river where I turned to my left and walked across to the other side of the river. The path continues to Barden Bridge and eventually to Burnsall and Grassington but once over the bridge I turned and headed south back towards Strid Woods along the western side of the River Wharfe.


Swimming along the river’s edge was a Little Grebe as Swallows swooped up and down the river and a little further along a Redstart burst out of a tree and flew across. A few hundred yards further along I reached Strid Woods and on a rock at the far side of the river a Common Sandpiper was busy preening itself. I crossed a wooden bridge over a stream that ran down the hill into the river and moving up stream were a pair of Mandarin Ducks and a short distance beyond the bridge I saw another Common Sandpiper. It was on a rock in the middle of the river and it soon flew across to join the other one and they then flew off together down river.

The path continued for a short distance before it split in two with the left-hand path following the riverbank and the right-hand path taking you back up towards the gift shop / cafe. I took the right-hand path and as I did a Song Thrush hopped out from the undergrowth and proceeded to pose for a photograph just a few feet from me before returning to the undergrowth after a couple of minutes. I followed the path back up the hill to the gift shop / cafe and sat down at the back of the building to watch the feeders for a few minutes where Nuthatches, Chaffinches, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a pair of Collared Doves were visiting.


A Spotted Flycatcher flew from the trees and landed on the guttering at the edge of the roof to my right whilst another one sat on a tree branch to the right of the feeders. The Spotted Flycatcher to my right flew across in front of me and landed on a nest just under the roof to my left as a third appeared on a sign a few yards away. The bird on the nest flew across to join the other two in the bushes as a rather bedraggled looking Jackdaw appeared below the feeders. The flycatchers were still moving around the tree branches, occasionally perching on the sign, as I left and walked back to the car and headed home.


I have attached a few photos and a full sightings list from my visit to Strid Woods.

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