An unusual nature reserve

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Stephen, a friend of my sister Susan.  He took this picture of  a fabulous Sydney Harbour sunset. The occasion was the opening night of the annual Opera on the Harbour.  I hope he will forgive me for only using part of his shot.

sydney harbour

We had a wonderfully spring like day today, with lots of sunshine, no rain and a moderate wind.  It was a perfect day for cycling but good sense suggested that I should give that a miss.  Instead, I rang up Sandy who came round for a cup of coffee over which we decided that a leisurely walk round a nature reserve would be the best way to use the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal was recovered enough to seriously consider coming with us but in the end, good sense overtook her as well, and she decided on a quiet day at home to continue her recuperation from her cold.

Watchtree, the reserve whihc we chose, is on the other side of Carlisle, between the Solway Firth and the Lake district hills.

lake hills from watchtree

It is not your run of the mill reserve as it is on an old airfield which now is the site of half of a wind farm.  In addition over half a million sheep carcasses were buried on the site during the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001.  All this might make for an unattractive place to visit in many ways but a lot of work has been done to make it worth a visit.

And they serve very tasty bacon butties in their little cafe.

Fortified by the bacon butties we set off to walk round the old airfield among the wind turbines.

watchtree wind turbines

Our first stop was at a bird hide on a pond.  The walk down the side of the pond was fringed by hedge plants covered alternately in lichen or blossom.

watchree bird pond lichen and blossom

There was not a great deal of activity on the water but I was happy to see a tufted duck emerge from diving under the water for long enough for me to get a shot.

watchree bird pond tufted duck

A coot also emerged from under the water with a little weed in its beak.

watchree bird pond coot

The pond was looking very charming with reeds..

watchree bird pond reeds

…and the reflections of the turbines to add variety.

watchree bird pond

Some bird feeders had been placed behind the bird hide and we saw two tree sparrows enjoying a snack.

tree sparrowsd watchtree

We moved on to a second pond, passing a gorgeous clump of gorse with a strong smell of coconut on the way.

rampant gorse

There were quite a few waterfowl about on this pond but as usual, they hung around at the very far end so I could only get some rather blurry pictures of a goose literally trying to blow itself up.

goose inflating

Having failed, it paddled off very calmly.

goose serene

My binoculars were more use than my camera.

pond with waterfowl

We left the hide and walked round the pond to the edge of the site where we came across this slightly macabre reminder of a local air crash.

crashed jet engine

We then followed a half mile circular path through a young wood on the edge of the site.

Half the route was lined with trees in leaf….

watchree wood track green

…with the other half still bare.

watchree wood track

Leaving that wood, we crossed a runway and went into an older wood where the sharp eyed Sandy spotted a deer lurking among the trees.

hidden deer

There were willows on all sides but my favourite of the day was this back lit one in the wood.

sunlit willow

Bird feeders had been set up in this wood but although we could hear any amount of twittering in the trees around us, the feeders were unused so we walked onto to the pond in the centre of the wood.  It too was very quiet and nothing could be seen swimming around in its clear water.

watchtree pond

It was very pleasant strolling through the woods in the sunshine so we continued our walk in good spirits, eventually coming to the site of the old control tower from the airfield where the was a handy aerial photograph of the site on an information board.

orton aerodrome

Our roughly two mile walk took us round the triangle you can see in the picture, starting at the bottom right corner and going round anti clockwise past the first three wind turbines,  You can see the two ponds and the two woods which we visited.

The control tower itself has seen better days.

control tower watchtree

Although my feet were not very comfortable, the fine weather, the ponds, the woods, the wildlife and the good company made the outing thoroughly enjoyable and we were tired but happy when we got home.

While I was in active mode, I made an effort at giving the middle lawn a mow and even though there is a lot of moss on it, I was able to add a good heap of grass cuttings to my compost bin.

Then I went in and made Mrs Tootlepedal a cup of tea.

And watched our local birds for a moment.

chaffinches at feeder

Later on, I was just waiting for my flute pupil Luke to come when I noticed movement outside the kitchen window.

The pair of partridges were visiting.

red legged partridge close up

They are undoubtedly our most handsome visitors.

red legged partridge

Luke has been practising again with very beneficial results and we enjoyed playing through our Loeillet sonata a lot.

As we are going to get to work on our Quantz sonata next, I will have to copy Luke and do some serious practice myself.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch with its wings firmly shut.

flying goldfinch

 

 

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

35 thoughts on “An unusual nature reserve

  1. This looks like a great place to visit. The lichen and flowers were a treat and I liked the shots of the bare trees and the ponds. I’m surprised you didn’t see more wildlife.
    I’m glad the foot held up. I wonder if you’ve tried different shoes. I once had terrible foot pain because of the cheap shoes I was buying. Once I bought better shoes the pain went away and has never come back.
    I’m glad Mrs. T. is feeling a bit better.

      1. I was buying $30.00 shoes and had such pain I could hardly walk and then a friend told me to get better shoes and my feet have been fine ever since. I wear real hiking boots and shoes these days. At over $100.00 per pair they aren’t cheap but I have no pain and I get two years out of them.

      2. That reminds me that when I had my foot problem, I was advised to buy some sturdy New Balance shoes and they really did make a difference.

  2. The pictures are sharp and the lighting is very good. Many great shots. My favorite is the golden eye duck. 🙂

  3. I am back from my trip. It is good to see such beautiful spring photos, and I am especially fond of coots. I trust the frog ponds of Langholm are doing well?

  4. Lovely spring stroll through the preserve! As i’m stuck indoors with a cold myself, it was extra nice to go on a virtual outing. That goose and your description had me laughing!

  5. Enjoyed the photos of your trip out. I can almost smell that gorse! How lovely to have those perky partridges visiting your garden…hope they don’t nibble any plants though!

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