Wild West Yorkshire nature diary
horse chestnut bud pied wagtail

The Red-headed League

Saturday 18th March 2000
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goosanders WATER QUALITY in the Calder must be gradually improving, to judge by the way three wintering Goosanders have been loafing around by the rapids above the bridge this week. Barbara spotted them on Thursday and they're still there today, resting in the sun on a small rocky island in mid-river. The females and juveniles are known as 'redheads' and closely resemble the females and juveniles of the Red-breasted Merganser. But the merganser winters on the coast.

pied wagtails They sit and preen and occasionally waddle into the water. Their legs are well back on their boat-shaped body, an adaption for swimming underwater. I've seen one dive in the rapids and come up with a small shining fish. Their long thin bills have serrations along them, enabling them to hold onto their slippery prey. The shape of the bill and the head reminds me of a cormorant.

A pair of Mallard sometimes share their island, as does a pair of Pied Wagtails that have been picking up food items along the strandline of the silt bar in the shallows, which is now showing again above water.

reflections under the bridge Morning sunshine transforms the underside of the old road bridge over the canal, reflecting wavy patterns that remind me of holidays and sea caves. Small stalactites hang from cracks between the massive stone blocks.

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

E-mail; 'richard@daelnet.co.uk'

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