Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Menwith Hill

Swinsty Reservoir on the left, what are those funny looking things on the right?

I was going to call this post 'Swinsty Reservoir' after the day's walking I did in the area, but it was such a dull walk that by the end of the day, the most interesting bit about it was the drive over-which passes close to Menwith Hill.
For those of you who don't know anything about Menwith Hill, it's basically a big American military base built near Harrogate, I think in the 50's/60's? Most people call it the Spybase or refer to the area as the Golfballs, you'll see why from the photos below.
There were, and still are, lots of conspiracy theories about Menwith hill, growing up in Harrogate you'd be told at school that Harrogate would be the first place Russians would nuke as they'd aim their nuclear missiles at Menwith Hill and we'd all die. There were a lot of protests against the existence of the military base and concerns over transparency of what was Actually going on at Menwith Hill. Various peace camps were set up close by. There was a women's peace camp stationed there for years and years. I remember going to visit it once and as soon as I drove away, a massive 4x4 pulled up right behind me, flashing it's blue lights, the policemen pointing to me to pull over. They asked me where I'd been, why I'd just been in there, did I have any ID, where was I going? I was so pissed off that they felt they had a right to question me for doing nothing wrong. Anyway, I'm rambling... (but for sure, this post will be scanned by superdooper intelligence power due to the mention of Menwith Hill  SPYBASE).
The Golfballs anyway, can be seen when you drive towards Swinsty/Lindley/Fewston reservoir, they're also one of the last things you see when you've just taken off from leedsbradford airport.

'The Golfballs' aka Menwith Hill. This photo was taken from Jack Hill Lane, an adventure of a road in itself and under no circumstances to be attempted in a car with dodgey brakes

In comparison to the old farmhouses these things look like they're from a sci-fi film.
Anyhow, back to the reservoirs.
My luck wasn't in at Swinsty Reservoir, apparently there's loads of cool birds to be seen there, but I didn't see many of them. There were Canada Geese, Mallards, Greylag geese and their chicks, Skylarks, Chiffchaffs, Willow warblers... didn't see any Buzzards or Ospreys or stumble across any Nightjars ( I know they're nocturnal, but still...). Nah, wasn't my scene either, big expanse of still water.
There were lots of Greylag geese with lots of chicks.
Curlew, North Yorkshire
Unusual for me to see a Curlew landing on a old stone wall in farmland
The way this blog squashes photos doesn't do them justice - the colour of this chaffinch is actually really cool on the actual image, but posted here, it doesn't really look like much - and there's lots of blurring..which also isn't there in teh actual image.
I'm not sure what deer these are, they looked like they were running wild though
 When I got home, look who was waiting on the same post.
Where have you been all day?