Birds of many Feathers

Birds of many feathers flock together in the hills and dales around Hebden Bridge                                                                                                                                   


Whether you’re a serious birdwatcher or simply enjoy observing garden birds, there’s a wealth of birdlife in the hills and dales around Hebden Bridge. Because of its hilltop location, Elmet Farmhouse is the perfect place for birdwatching. Surrounded by meadows, with woods and rivers in the valley below and open moorland on the uplands above, there’s an unusually diverse array of species in close proximity.

From golden plovers, lapwings and curlews up on ‘the tops’, to kestrels, swallows and pheasants in the fields, to woodpeckers, tawny owls and treecreepers in the woods and herons, dippers and grey wagtails by the river, there’s great scope for bird-watching in the Upper Calder Valley. These photos record some of the birds we’ve encountered locally in the last few years.

Blue Tit

Barn Owl

Black-headed Gull



Canada Goose



Coal Tit





Gadwall Duck


Golden Plover



Great Spotted Woodpecker

Great Tit

Green Woodpecker


Grey Heron

Grey Wagtail

Greylag Goose

Guinea Fowl

Herring Gull

House Sparrow






Little Owl

Long-Tailed Tit

Mallard Ducks

Meadow Pipit

Mistle Thrush

Northern Wheatear





Pied Wagtail


Red Grouse




Reed Bunting

Ring Ouzel





Short-Eared Owl




Song Thrush



Tawny Owl


Tufted Duck

Willow Warbler


For up to date news about sightings by keen local birdwatchers, visit Calderdale Birds

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson and Ian Fishwick

Deer oh Deer!

Deer oh Deer!



This beautiful roe deer…



… gave birth to this tiny kid in the hay meadow at Elmet Farmhouse in early June 2016



Mother and child doing well – here’s the kid having a feed



And this is where it all happened – in the long grass of our hay meadow – with the backdrop of Heptonstall and Stoodley Pike. You can see just see the hind in the field on the lower right….



And here she is leaping through the buttercups and sorrel, circling round protectively while her kid is curled up in the grass


Getting down with the kids!


As if 2016 wasn’t good enough, in 2017 our resident roe deer hind produced twins and in 2018  we were blessed with triplets. Presumably it’s the same hind who has returned, or possibly one of her grown-up kids. Either way, she clearly feels at home in the hay meadows at Elmet Farmhouse as she has chosen to  establish her nursery here again.

We spotted the twins in early June 2017 among the long grass with their mother but at that stage they were hard to see. It wasn’t until the hay  was cut in mid July that we were able to take some photographs in the late evening sunshine at the bottom of the field near our newly-planted trees.

The images from late May 2018 show one of the new-born triplets curled up in a ball. Another photograph taken a few weeks later shows how the kid has grown.


Roe Deer

Roe deer are regularly spotted in the wooded valleys around Hebden Bridge, especially early in the morning, sometimes venturing into the hilltop meadows or up onto the moors. The stags have small antlers and, when alarmed, they make a loud barking noise that echoes for miles around. These photographs were taken in Crimsworth Dean and Hardcastle Crags.




© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson and Ian Fishwick

Lovely Little Lambs

Lovely Little Lambs



It’s been a busy time in the Crimsworth crèche over the last couple of months. These photos record some of the new arrivals in hilltop meadows in and around Pecket Well and Crimsworth Dean during April 2016.

Crimsworth Dean is a short walk from Elmet Farmhouse, so if you want to see lots of lovely lambs, come and visit us next April.


© All photos copyright Lesley Jackson


It’s Cold in Colden!

It’s Cold in Colden… but cosy in May’s Farm Shop


The Colden Loop – An early morning walk along a stretch of the Pennine Way on a sparkling winter’s day on 25 February 2016, starting and finishing at the delightful May’s Aladdin’s Cave, a fabulously well-stocked farm shop tucked away on Edge Lane above the village of Colden, near Heptonstall

Overnight the temperature had dipped several degrees below freezing so there was an extremely hard frost at the start of the walk at 7.45 am. The fields below Stoodley Pike were so white that it looked as if it had snowed. Up on the Pennine Way crossing Heptonstall Moor above Hardcastle Crags, the heather and grasses were laden with glistening ice crystals. The low winter sunshine reflecting off the frosty Pennine hills created wonderful hues ranging from pale orange to pinkish purple.

On the crest of the hill heading back over Colden, the distant cries of curlews and golden plovers and the first lapwings of the season, dipping and diving erratically in their inimitable way. Next to the lane along to Colden, a large of flock of fieldfares grazing on the meadows.

Back at May’s Farm Shop, a cheery smile from the tireless proprietor and a huge sticky slab of delicious Yorkshire Parkin. The perfect end to the walk and the perfect start to the day.


© Text and photos copyright Lesley Jackson

Barry the Barn Owl

Barry the Barn Owl


Meet Barry the Barn Owl, one of our local residents. Barn owls are normally nocturnal but Barry (as we took the liberty of naming him) seemed to enjoy a spot of daylight hunting for a while and was not averse to having his photo taken when we first encountered him.  Hardly surprising, given how beautiful he is!

The long grass in the hay meadow in front of Elmet Farmhouse provides an ideal habitat for voles, field mice  and rabbits. In recent years Barry the Barn Owl has been regularly spotted at dusk circling our fields during the summer months hunting for prey to feed his brood.  

Tawny owls also live close by in the woods and can often be heard hunting at night outside our windows. Little owls and short-eared owls also inhabit the hills and dales in this locality, so if you want to see and hear owls at close quarters, Elmet Farmhouse is the place to come.


© All photos copyright Lesley Jackson