We drove the car on a Sunday in 2014 and came across a place that would open a new world for me and my wife Ruth and Jake our little Jack Russel.
The place was the first we visited just to see if we liked it and to see what they had for sale. After walking into one we just fell in love with it. We bought it there and then as me and Ruth don’t mess about if we see something we both like its a must.
This would change our lives for 6 years, with peace and tranquil times, of love and adventure to countryside and beautiful Yorkshire Dale’s covered with luss green grass, trees of all shapes and sizes, hills and lakes,rivers and meadows covered in Bluebells.
We would see the birth of 4 new grandchildren, loose our little Jake who had the best last years of his life in the country. We would move house, have 4 new cars, a Scooter, then the Arrival of Bella our 12 week African Grey Parrot.
Living in the countryside and waking up surrounded by Silver Birch, the Songthrush song when you wake up. Animals and birds i had never seen before, I would have 3 Cameras, and many Lens to capture, record and write a lovely Blog for the site for 5 years.
My journey would see me build Owl Boxes and many other bird boxes, build a wildlife hide, plant fruit trees and shrubs for the wildlife to explore. Making the site better for all to enjoy for free, done through love for nature and my photography.
The Bellermy Award was given for the sites conservation efforts and awarded annually. I was asked to show Anne round one year and for the next 3 years I was her point of contact. She would explain to me that her visit was made better and looked forward to her time with me for the work I was doing.
The hide became my place of peace one and I would witness amazing wildlife, Deer, Red Fox, Stoats, Brown Hare and birds I had never filmed before. My knowledge of the species of birds filled up like a library, one I would use to help others, write about daily, talk about to site members.
It grew every year with a wildlife Tower then a second hide lower down. Sadly not used as it should have been due to my Hip problem that would hinder my ambition. But Soldier on I did, love for my wildlife over riding the Pain.
Family would visit and sit in our living room and look out of our front window and see, Goldfinch, Siskin, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Nuthatch, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Squirrels, Rabbits, Even a Hedgehog that would come and visit me in the afternoon for some peanuts.
My first meeting with a Red Fox and one of my best wildlife experiences would take place down in bluebell Wood. I had seen the Red Fox so I set up early one morning where I had seen it. Carefully position behind an Oak tree and waited for 3 hours falling asleep and waking to a site I won’t ever forget.
The Vixen came into a clearing and what happened next was so special, a little fox cub ventured out and stood and looked down the lens of my camera trying to work out what I was, head tilting like a young Puppy. I was in Dreamland
This will never happen again but the memory is so special. I would come across the Male and Female on travels but never the cubs. Well hidden for a good reason.
Me and Ruth and Jake would visits many villages and walks filling our days with so many happy memories. We would see birds fledge from boxes we had made, sit with a nice cold beer while all around birds would sing.
We would hear the Tawny Owl calling at 3 in the afternoon, it would sit above our van. The Roe deer was another animal I had never encountered so when I had my first meeting that was special to. I stalked it for an hour using my Fieldcraft skills from the time in the army to get close
The deer must have known it was my first photograph of a deer and kindly framed itself for the picture, saying is this OK Ron.
I would encounter many more sightings and film many more Roe Deer.
As people know my favourite bird is the Owl and after building many Tawny Owl Boxes I still had one big ambition to accomplish and that was to film a Barn Owl. The Next 3 years would see the best images and lifetime experiences I will ever witness. That is not said in haste as when you read what I’m about to say next will make you understand why I state something like that
It was 2015 when I sighted a Barn Owl flying 2 miles from our site. Over weeks I got permission to use the land. Then I had to observe the owl flying and find out the location it was flying to. With this knowledge I made my plan carefully, knowing I could not disturb the Owl or cause any distress to its natural lifestyle and breeding
I found a suitable place to set up my gear but had to wear a Sniper Suit so that the bird would not know i was there . So it began my time with the Barn Owl Family. What was unique was the it was in the first place any Barn Owl will look for a nest site.
The Old Oak tree with a natural hollow in it to nest in. It new this was special and my first visit gave me some fantastic images of her bringing food in for the young. Not a sound could be heard, the sun was still warm on my back, the tree had a a glow on the bark. I waited in anticipation when she land silent like and Angel just appearing from nowhere.
Camera on silent i pressed the shutter button 3 times
She was there in all her splendor, me feet away heart beating like a Cartoon character. I was in Heaven, Dreamland call it what you will this my Favourite bird hunting for its family.
I would visit every night but with happiness comes sadness one I still can’t get used to and bothers me so much. I would read about the life of the barn owl and know the hardship it faces, so when it rained it got to me, when it was windy, it got to me, Snow Rain you name it it all played on my mind.
I would be awake through the nights of summer thinking how the Barn Owl could make it to the end, the end that would see the owlet fledge their beautiful white soft wings, take to the air in total silence. I would spend many nights not seeing the adult going home sad thinking that they had come to natures way.
But I learned so much that year and found out that the Barn Owl has a way of getting through hard times and surviving our unpredictable UK weather.
I went one night in July a warm sunny night again and setup in the same location. Camera ready my eyes filled with tears of happiness all my worry gone, a small white heart shaped face appeared followed by another. I was speechless.
I was so lucky to see 2 Barn Owl young fledge one after the other, i felt so content i decided it was time to leave the location. I did go back the year after but the tree hole was empty.
Living in such a location gave me many wildlife one on one meetings and one i will always remember came one evening as i was walking back from the hide. I had to walk through the wood where i had Tawny Owl Boxes up and knowing the Tawny is nocturnal i could walk through without disturbing it. As i opened the gate from the field i got the shock of my life. Sat on a mossy stump in front of me was a Tawny Owl just looking at me. I dropped all my equipment and spoke to it saying please sit there for me just for a picture. Its a rare sight to see a Tawny in daylight but sitting that low in front of me was amazing.
So over 6 years i witnessed lots of wonderful things, and i also rescued Lambs, baby deer, birds and most of all a Barn Owl at my Hide that made the centre page of the World Owl Trust Newsletter with a lovely story how after the rescue it came to visit me next day and i got the closest i have ever been to my fav bird.
This is where i found love for carving and over the years i have made hundreds for people on the site. It has been so rewarding learning all the time about different wood, carving green and many other factors that you have to consider. From Kingfishers to Woodpeckers, Wren Robin and many Owl carving its been a great pleasure to make hand crafted gifts for people. Using Silver Birch and Rowan i never stopped wood carving for 5 years and still make many things today. These are just a few of my wood carvings.
Living 10 months of the year in the Yorkshire dales was so amazing and we had so many good times with lots of memories to look back on.
With the 7th year looming we sat down a spoke about 2021 and to be honest i have lost my love for the place, but that comes at a cost of 2 Friends we have called Albert and Jackie. We met 4 years ago and got on from day one, eventually having many nights sat by my fire laughing and joking. There a special couple who we will miss but there comes a time that i cant have any impact and drive i used to have. Sometimes in life you have to make the choice and its been a hard to walk away from a very special place where there is Peace and Calm on a daily basis. The other people we will miss are Carol and Anne, Mark and Fiona, Anne and Carol, Fred and Marion, and my Pal Bill William Cluckie my photography buddy.
This door will close and others will open and my new adventure will start.
I hope my followers from the site that read my blog still visit my site for all my images and stories still to come.