January 4th I went up to Fountains Abbey near Ripon to [hopefully] see some hawfinches. I knew to head for the West Gate. I parked and walked towards the entrance scanning the yew trees as I went. I thought I'd better pay and go in to the grounds a bit to explore properly. An unpleasant woman in her little booth said it would cost £15. 'That much?!' I replied. The sarcastic woman replied 'You can pay Gift Aid if you want, then it's £16.50.' I told that was too expensive. I kept my cool and left but, I must admit, I was left feeling very angry. I don't understand how they can charge one adult that kind of money. Perhaps I'm completely out of touch. I think I paid about £7 quid at the Castle Howard Arboretum - and that was for hawfinch too!!
Very expensive birds hawfinches.
Happy ending. I hung around in the rain. Scanning leafless trees as well as the yews. Five showed up, bless them. And free of charge too! Wasn't sure what to do next as I knew the light would soon fail. Nosterfield sprang to mind. Only 10 miles away.
I was surprised to find a single avocet there... ...and a bedraggled kestrel.
The quarry site was quiet. Redwing and curlew in the rain.
January 5th. Indecision time! Eventually decided to spend the afternoon at Lemonroyd Sewage Works [tourist hot spot] and persist until I saw a water pipit. It took me about a quarter of an hour. No photo because the coarse fine mesh netting makes it tricky. The bird performed beautifully. I watched it for a bit on the sewage bed then it jumped up onto one of the rotating arms and did a full circle in front of me before dropping down again! Beware: there are a few meadow pipits there too [plus grey wagtails].
Time left to go down the causeway at Swillington Ings. I drove round to Methley Bridge. At the far end of the causeway a kingfisher was perched on a bulrush in the sun. To my consternation someone was standing about 4 feet from it. I approached. The rest as they say is mystery! Just a trusting bird. Also seen: great crested grebe and goldeneyes.