Saturday, July 9, 2011

Rock Bunting branch at Bolton Abbey

A few months ago (May 2011) there was news that a Rock Bunting had been spotted in Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire. This was 'mega' news and forums were subsequently filled with arguments about whether or not this was an elaborate hoax.

The scoop (according to forums), was that a group of people were out on an RSPB walk in Bolton Abbey looking at the Spotted flycatcher nestboxes along the River Wharfe. A guy, having missed one of the nest boxes, decided to track back, when on a branch overlooking the river he saw an unusual looking bird and took a photo.
He showed the photo to someone who thought it might be a Rock Bunting and so the photo was scanned to someone, somewhere, who was very important in rare bird id stuff.
The photo got onto the internet and from there it turned into something akin to a pack of wolves tearing apart a rabbit.
If you want to delve further into the gorey details, you can read the initial  BTO report here , the initial reporting on Birdforums here, and then, if you really want to depress yourself further, the subsequent thread in Birdforums here, but be warned - it ain't pretty.

My curiosity was sparked anyway and seeing as I was going home mid June for a week and Bolton Abbey is near where my parents live, I drove over for a visit.
For what it's worth, I believe it was a genuine sighting, but at the same time I didn't really hold out much hope of seeing it still around Bolton Abbey, but still, I wanted to at least have a look.

I didn't see any Rock Bunting, but I can confirm the branch the rock bunting was pictured sitting on, is indeed, in Bolton Abbey.

Bolton Abbey, North Yorkshire. 30,000 acres of land with the River Wharfe and a 12th century monastery as the main tourist attractions.

The tree the Rock Bunting was pictured sitting in, Bolton Abbey.

The infamous Rock Bunting twig, Bolton Abbey, North Yorks.

Having found the tree and waited around for a while, seeing Nuthatches, Tree creepers and lots of Btits, Ctits and no Spotted flycatchers I decided to move on.

The view from Storiths, if I had a widescreen lens you'd see how beautiful it was to the left and right aswell

I walked on a bit further and decided to go on up to Noska Brow and take the path passing Bolton Park and back down to Bolton Abbey. This photo is from a sign that was on the road - amazingly helpful to walkers who don't really know where they are (i.e, me)
Kestrel, Storiths, North Yorkshire

Willow Warbler, Storiths, North Yorkshire
Curlew on stone wall

I didn't know what this was until I got home and looked it up - Stoat! up near Noska Brow, Nyorks

I did the subtle 'you've got something on your chin' gesture but this sheep didn't care.

There were Oystercatchers and Lapwings in the area and Red Kites in the far distance

Lots of Skylarks, Meadow pipits and Swifts around too. Kept my eyes peeled for Merlins and Peregrines but didn't see either.
The path behind the farmhouse is the Neska Brow part of the route I'd just walked (from right to left).

My first sighting of a Red Grouse, a bird I've wanted to see for years

This is where the path starts heading down to Bolton Park. The views were so amazing, there was lots of stopping and just sitting, looking. I'd never win any speed walking races.
You can't beat where walking can take you - I mean, in fairness - look at that view! Bolton Abbey, North Yorkshire

I love walking on my own, I like walking with other people too, but people who walk on their own know what I mean. There's all kind of space and quiet going on, there's a sense of elements and being part of a different world where things are more primal.

Back down at the priory there were a couple of Dippers in the River Wharfe . Loads of Swallows, Swifts and House Martins too.

Next to the Priory there's a really old graveyard, glad I walked in there because I got my first glimpse of a Spotted Flycatcher.

Spotted flycatcher, Bolton Abbey

Spotted Flycatcher, Bolton Abbey, North Yorkshire

Yorkshire, yorkshire, yorkshire - I love yorkshire. My parents still live there, I was brought up there and I suppose it will always be my home. I wish Yorkshire was in Ireland.

The route I walked was circular and took me about 4 - 5 hours with lots of stopping.
I parked at the carpark closest to the Priory which cost £6, but for security and peace of mind it was worth it, plus there are toilets there and a shop to get water if you need.
On the walk back, after passing Bolton Park (amazing old building), there's a touristy restaurant/ cafe where you can get food and more toilets - so if you're planning a walk this is an ultimate one, I loved it and would highly recommend.
If you set off earlier in the day and are fitter than I am, you'd get much further than I did.
The popular thing to do is to continue on to Simon's Seat, but as you can see from the ground I covered in 5 hours, that would have taken me another 2 days!
Whatever bit of walking you do in this area, you'll love it.