GEOFF CRAMBIE: Our wonderful wildlife of 2011

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WELCOME to our last column of 2011 where we’ll take a look back at the wonderful wildlife here in our magnificent countryside seen during the last 12 months by myself and my dear family.

January began with rain and snow and as Ruth and myself looked out from our back window, as the snow silently came down, around a dozen black-headed gulls flew all around calling out “Kee-arr” loudly as they searched for food in the white winter landscape.

February saw a visit to Haworth and on the country road leading from Laneshaw Bridge we spy two magnificent cock pheasants with their gold, green and chestnut iridescent plumage gleaming in the winter sunlight.

March sees sunny days and a canal walk from the Barrowford bridge brings us a rare sighting of two elegant, long-tailed tits, with their black tail feathers being more than half their length.

April and more sunny weather on an outing up Alkincoats Park which has us seeing three stunning, salmon-pink and black bullfinches taking cover in an ancient ash tree.

The merry month of May now and, on a hot sun-filled day, a truly resplendent goldfinch takes a rest on our back yard wall and, as I rush for one camera, he flies off at speed into an azure blue sky!

Now June arrives and as Ruth and myself walk through superb countryside from Roughlee to Barley, we have an encounter with a huge hoary heron who flies pterodactyl-like high into a towering 100-foot ancient larch tree.

July now and on a hot summer’s day, Ruth and I and our dear daughter, Janette, set off to climb the mighty Pendle Hill. We did it and as we happily climb down from the 1,831-foot cloud-touching peak, a handsome blackbird (as seen in my great pal Colin Bean’s excellent column picture) sang out his sweet summer song.

To August now and a month of hot sun and heavy rain sees us on a visit to Towneley and as we walk past the pond up to Springwood, a red letter day sighting of a huge, brilliant blue, Emperor Dragonfly with enormous eyes as he flew round and round in search of prey.

September and a walk along the canal on the way to Old Ebbie’s with red campion all around and Ruth spies a flashing-by, bright blue kingfisher, a stunning sight that I managed sadly to miss!

Now October’s here and as we take a Water Meetings walk, we see an acrobatic, gyrating, grey squirrel, who leaps from tree to tree in a wonderful circus-like performance.

A frosty November arrives and Ruth, me and our grandson, Nathan, travelling through an aptly-named Hawksworth, spy a trio of knavish kestrels hovering high.

So to December and, as we journey to Ilkley, going up the Punch Bowl Hill at Kelbrook, we see around 40 fast-flying, black-as-soot, cawing rooks on the search for food.

Now my diary is once again full and a whole new 2012 adventure awaits with 366 (it’s a Leap year) empty pages to fill.

From all of us, to you and yours, may your new year bring you days of memories to treasure.