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A Visit to Nigels Nook

I was recently invited by my friend Mick at Capturing Wild Yorkshire Photography Hides to come along and have a test day in his latest hide Nigels Nook.

Having spent a cracking day at his first hide I leapt at the chance even with the warning that there might be some noise due to another event on the land.

Nigels Nook is set low down within the 160 acre site and is positioned on the edge of woodland with a coniferous copse to one side and an open hay meadow to the other. Mick has added lots of logs and branches and a woodland tunnel where badgers enter in the evening and foxes come at almost any time. I tested one of my trail cameras here earlier in the year, and captured some brilliant badger and fox action.

The feeders attract all the small woodland birds including almost all the tit family and a sizeable flock of chaffinch. Hopefully they will be joined by some brambling as winter closes in. These small birds are constantly flitting in and out to give you plenty to photograph and they are regularly joined by jays searching for nuts to cache in the woods. Their muddy beaks show they have been burying nuts to collect later in the winter if food becomes scarce.

Great spotted woodpeckers are also a regular visitor and two males came in and out all day. They were enjoying the sunflowere hearts in the feeders while keeping an eye on other visitors.

There were two birds that Mick had mentioned that I was really hoping would drop in, the common buzzard and a sparrowhawk. As the other birds went about their business I noticed a buzzard was perched high up in one of the trees with a watchful eye on a pheasant roadkill Mick had put out in the middle of the nook. There was also a dead quail on one of the posts which would hopefully tempt in these headliners. The buzzard was just in the wrong place to photograph and was then disturbed and flew off!

Now I knew it was in the area and had spotted an easy meal I was fairly sure it would be back and its calls were the soundtrack to the day as it circled the area.

A male pheasant added a magical splash of colour and it was joined at one point by a female.

The constant stream of small birds continued until BANG, the female sparrowhawk struck. Although she didn't make a kill she certainly caused a commotion and the small birds rapidly disappeared into the undergrowth and trees. It didn't take her long to spot the quail and she mantled over the bird, hiding it from any other predator which might be in the area ready to pounce.

At first she tried to fly off with her prize before settling down to pluck and eat her prey. She was sat so close for a good twenty minutes enjoying her Sunday dinner. I won't put any of the gory pictures here but if you remember strawberry laces from your childhood you'll have a good idea of what it looks like when a sparrowhawk dismembers its prey!

What a stunning bird and what a real treat to sit so close and watch it. I stopped taking photographs a couple of times so I could just watch and appreciate this fabulous bird of prey. Sometimes we forget to take our eye from the camera and just enjoy the wildlife.

I wasn't sure anything could top that but when I spotted the buzzard back in a tree I crossed my fingers that this time she'd put in a proper visit. This buzzard is a large female and she has been nicknamed the mayor as the markings across her chest and neck area look like the chains of office. She sat up in th tree biding her time before dropping in to take the remains of the quail.

Buzzards have long been my bogie bird and I've only ever managed distant shots or photos taken miles up in the air as they circle looking for food. Close up she was spectacular, a huge bird and stunning to look at. She wasn't really interested in eating but posed for a good ten minutes or so while I snapped away ensuring I finally had some amazing buzzard pictures.

She was the icing on the cake of what was an amazing day in the new hide. I'm sure this will be another success for Mick and hopefully visitors will have a cracking day.

Nigels Nook opens in January and I'm sure will be very popular. I'm looking forward to seeing what other people capture at this latest Yorkshire hide.

You can follow Mick on Facebook at or pop along to his website to see what he's up to or to book a visit .

He's already mentioned his next hide which should involve water and hopefully kingfishers so fingers crossed I'm on his testers list.


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