The moors above Pateley Bridge, in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), are home to an abundance of moorland birds. At this time of year, the moors provide an important nesting and feeding habitat, with many different species coming here to breed¹. The moors come alive with the calls of curlew, grouse and lapwing. It is therefore a good location for photographing the birds and their chicks.
I arrived up on the moors at about 11am. Despite the relatively late hour for wild bird photography, there were a lot of curlew flying about. My aim was to use my car as a hide. Pulling over into the various small laybys along the side of the road, it was not long before I spotted a curlew nearby (the first of many).
Photographing the curlews flying proved more challenging. It was a bright but overcast day, so I found it hard to correctly expose the birds against the white sky. Still more practice needed when focusing on flying birds! I ended up with a few shots I was reasonably happy with though.
I could see a number of curlew chicks hiding amongst the heather, but they were very difficult to photograph. After a long wait, a couple did come near enough to get a quick photo, before they disappeared back into the undergrowth.
There weren’t many lapwings out when I visited, although I have seen a lot here before when I’ve driven past. Thankfully there was an obliging bird near the roadside who posed for me for a while, before flying off.
As I was driving back along the road, I noticed something on the horizon. Putting the zoom to max, I realised it was a grouse. As I watched, a chick also appeared. The photo is a bit fuzzy as it was on maximum zoom. I didn’t see that many grouse, but then again they are usually very well camouflaged!
The other birds I saw in abundance were oystercatchers. They were generally far away and difficult to photograph. However as I made one last pass, I spotted a family right by the side of the road. Using my wing mirror as a lens rest, I stayed there for some time watching them feeding their three chicks.
I had an enjoyable few hours photographing the different moorland birds at this location. I recommend it as a place to visit if you want to photograph some of the iconic moorland birds, without leaving your car!
Here are a few more of the photographs I took on my visit:
|Approximate post code (for sat nav)||HG4 3PS|
|Directions||I drove along a section of road at the top of the moor for these photos, between two cattle grids. The road is not too busy, but you do need to be aware of traffic. There are a lot of footpaths across the moors if you want to venture away from the roadside.|
This is the section of road where these photos were taken:
Notes for next time
- Come early in the morning for better light
¹ Nidderdale AONB, Bird watching, https://www.nidderdaleaonb.org.uk/bird-watching [accessed 17 June 2017]