WAGTAILS GALORE @ 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 hot sunny day and before going to Strid Woods I made a quick visit to Burnsall which is a few miles north. As I reached Barden Bridge I could see on the hillside to my left thousands upon thousands of Foxgloves. After a quick drink at a café in Burnsall I walked across to the River Wharfe where I could see several Sand Martins flying over the river with some landing on a pebble island in the middle.
There were also a trio of Grey Wagtails on the far banks moving down the river and a single Pied Wagtail. I walked over to the bridge and crossed the river and down to the banks of the river where I briefly saw a Grey Wagtail close to the river’s edge and a pair of Pied Wagtails walking along a stone wall. A little further along I could see a Common Sandpiper scampering along the small rocks at the far side of the river before stopping briefly and then flying off upriver and out of sight.
As I walked back towards the bridge, I could hear another Common Sandpiper and as I rounded a bush at the edge of the river, I saw a juvenile Common Sandpiper sat on a rock but it flew off as soon as it saw me. As I returned to the bridge an Oystercatcher called as it flew overhead and flew down the valley towards Strid Woods. On my journey back along the road to Strid Woods I stopped off at Barden Bridge to take a few photos of the thousands of Foxgloves.
On the grass next to the Strid Tea Rooms were a pair of Pied Wagtails, Blackbirds and Chaffinches. After paying the £10 car park fee I walked past the tea rooms and headed down the hill and into Strid Woods. On a moss-covered roof of a cottage to my left I saw a Blue Tit and a short distance further down the path it splits in two with the right-hand path taking you down river towards the Abbey. I took the left-hand path, which heads down to the river and turns to the left heading towards Barden Bridge and eventually Burnsall and Grassington.
I walked along the riverbank path where I could see a few Mallards sat on exposed rocks at the far side and several Swallows flying over the surface of the water. Halfway between Strid and Barden Bridge is an aqueduct / bridge where I walked through a little tunnel and continued to follow the path on the other side. On this stretch of path I could see several Common Spotted Orchids next to the path to my left and a little further along I saw a Dipper with its head down moving through the shallow water.
It continued to search through the water, moving upriver and occasionally lifting its head out of the water to look around before plunging it back under the surface. I moved further along the path and sat on a dead fallen tree trunk at the edge of the river were a pair of female Goosanders. One of them had its beak tucked into its feathers and was fast asleep whilst the other was busy preening itself, pausing occasionally to have a look around before continuing. Further along the path and just before I entered another area of woodland, I saw several different wildflowers in a very short space at the paths edge.
They included Lady’s Bedstraw, Purple Vetch, Common Yarrow, Smooth Hawksbeard and Yellow Monkey. I now walked along the stretch of path which goes through woodland to Barden Bridge and in the trees I saw a few Nuthatches, a couple of Great Tits and very briefly a Wood Warbler before it flew off into the undergrowth. I emerged from the woods at Barden Bridge and turned to my right to cross the bridge and looking upriver I could see a Grey Wagtail perched on a wire going across the river.
I now turned right to walk down the opposite riverbank towards Strid Woods and after a few hundred yards I sat down on a bench to eat my lunch. As I was sat there several Grey Wagtails flew up and down the river and a Mistle Thrush flew across the field behind me and landed on the top of a dead tree at the side of the river to my right. In the tall grass around me were several more wildflowers including Field Scabious and as I walked along the path I spotted more Yellow Monkey flowers growing from between large pebbles on the river’s edge.
There were even more Grey Wagtails moving from rock to rock along the river to my right and overhead an Oystercatcher flew across the river and landed in the field to my left. It walked along the field calling as it went and a little further along I saw a Great Tit fly across to a dead tree in the field before disappearing into a hole in the trunk and re-emerging a few seconds later. As it did another flew in and went into the hole which evidently was the bird’s nest as the Great Tits made several journeys.
I reached the aqueduct again and continued along the path as it rose up the hill and into Strid Woods where there were more Nuthatches and a couple of Wrens. As I neared the top of the hill I saw a Spotted Flycatcher flitting around the shadows of the trees moving from branch to branch for several minutes before flying off down the hill. As I reached the highest point I sat down on a bench as a trio of Chaffinches looked for food on the ground but flew off as somebody walked past.
I now followed the path as it descended the hill and as it reached the river I saw a Blackcap feeding one of its young in the bushes before they flew off. Further along the path started to rise again and move away from the river but as it returned to the river, I could see several Grey Wagtails perched on stones amongst the shallow rapids of the river. One Grey Wagtail had some food in its beak and began to move closer and closer from rock to moss covered rock before flying off across the water and out of sight.
I now walked the short distance along the path to the bridge across to the Cavendish Pavilion where there were a few Jackdaws and single Song Thrush. I made a quick stop to get an ice cream and then headed up the path along the western banks of the river. A few hundred yards further along I saw a Grey Heron stood amongst the rocks with a pair of Goosanders asleep further out. All along the path I saw Grey Wagtails moving along the edge of the river and, as I neared the point where the path headed up the hill towards the cafe, I briefly saw another Spotted Flycatcher.
The path turned to the left and began the ascent up the hill as I saw another Nuthatch and as I reached the cafe a female Mandarin Duck was waddling past the feeders. Visiting the feeders were Chaffinches, Nuthatches and Blue Tits whilst on the ground below were a few Wood Pigeons. As I walked across the car park to head home, the Pied Wagtails were still on the grass and had been joined by a single Goldfinch.
I have attached a few photos and full sightings list from my visit to Strid Woods.