Saturday, 4 December 2010

Cold Snap Part Deux - Loxley Valley

Today's blog is about our second snowy walk this week on Weds 1st December in the beautiful Loxley Valley. Our walk began as it did the day before at Malin Bridge and follows the River Loxley.

 The River Loxley is a river in the City of Sheffield South Yorkshire, England. Its source is a series of streams which rise some 10 miles (16 km) to the north-west of Sheffield on Bradfield Moors, and converge at Low Bradfield. It flows easterly through Damflask Reservoir and is joined by Storrs Brook at Storrs, near Stannington, and the River Rivelin at Malin Bridge, before flowing into the River Don at Owlerton, in Hillsborough. The Loxley valley provided the initial course of the Great Sheffield Flood, which happened after the Dale Dyke Dam collapsed shortly before its completion in March 1864.The river has played an important part in the industrial history of Sheffield, as it descends through 280 feet (85 m) in the 6 miles (9.7 km) between Low Bradfield and the Don, and this has enabled many mills, forges and cutlers wheels to be powered by its waters.
 [Thankyou to the wonderful world of Wikepedia for that haha]

Our first spot as we were heading towards the start of our trail were two Grey Heron following the river towards Rivelin where we had been the day before. We have spotted them many times near the first Dam at Rivelin but they were obviously now on a little mission to find lunch slightly further afield with their regular watering hole being iced over. 
Almost as soon as we got onto the footpath we were following, we saw a Great Tit perching on a barren autumnal tree branch which was easilly spotted with its black cap and yellow underparts a bright contrast to the snowy white surroundings.
Our next spot was one of my favourites of the walk...we were lucky enough to see two Kingfishers! It was totally by chance that we saw the usually solitary birds together. We were looking out across the river at the banks with their  overhanging greenery at some amazing icicles that were hanging down. As I was getting my camera out to talk a picture of them, One of the icicle's actually fell and in a quick flash, two beautiful Kingfishers flew out from the undergrowth on the banking! Kingfishers are extremely vulnerable in freezing conditions and many don't survive our harsh Winters so we assume that with the extreme weather of the last week that the pair were nesting together for extra warmth as we humans do!
Next we walked on past Carrs Dam [as we know it] with nothing much to spot than the regular Mallards but the Dam looked wonderful frozen over, much to the ducks annoyance.

We only had to walk on a few hundred yards to spot our next feathered friend, a Grey Wagtail. He was flitting above the water and followed us a fair way up the river until we approached a waterfall and then after several unsuccessful attempts at catching him on camera, he flew away.
We carried on trudging through the snow in the winter wonderland taking in the beautiful snow covered woodland passing a local farm where we normally catch a glimpse of rabbits bobbing around and stop to feed the horses. Just as we were approaching the horses, there is a little grassed clearing with a few shrubs dotted around and a shallow pool where newts can often be spotted. Well on this walk, this clearing was buzzing with activity! We saw at least 6 Chaffinch, 2 Goldfinch, 2 Linnets, 1 Yellowhammer and a Siskin, which by all accounts is a massive treat for a days birding, especially the site of the Siskin who I'm sure we will see more of as we get deeper into Winter. 
Throughout the walk we saw and certainly heard many Robins and as we approached the horses we managed to catch one perched on the gate to the horses field.

Also not far away from the horses, we spotted another Grey Wagtail perched in a tree looking for his lunch, closely followed by a single Wren, well camouflaged in the wintery scenery.

We hope Cold Snap Part Two has been an enjoyable read. Look out for our next blog which could be a little different location wise, weather permitting.

Thanks for reading, Sam & Jam.

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