Birdbrain Stuff

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

General banter

T'parish birding postman, Dave Pinder, told me two interesting things last night. First, he spent the weekend at Alnmouth, Northumberland and amongs other birds, observed over 15 Yellowhammer coming in off the sea. I'd be overjoyed to see one in this area, let alone that number. Second, he has got technological in the past week and by Friday should be connected to the 'net and online. This means, that thirdly, hopefully next day, he'll be aware of this here journal (Don't forget about the learning curve - what learning curve!)

Nice to see Sparrowhawks are busy terrorising Starlings in Bradford, got one flushing about 200 from the rooftops up Manchester Rd this lunchtime.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Qby and Soilage

Nothing doing on the way up to Soil Hill, where I bumped into BS and learned about his 2 Knot at Fly Flatts. After continuing to SH, I got very good views of Little Owl perched by a wall about 2 fields down from the track. The top field was birdless, apart from Skylark and some Crows, so I went to inspect Brian's bush for fat balls and peanuts. The fat balls have disappeared and every peanut has been taken from the feeder.

Down the slope to the Duck Pond and Wader Pond where I picked up a pr of Twite. DP was void of avian activity but the favorite pond was interesting. Pied and Grey Wagtail, Singing Stonechat, 3 Reed Bunting, 7 Goldfinch, Wren, just a few Mipits very active and on the scene came a biker. This one was very aware and in fact, did me a favour by going away from me and flushing around a bigger party of Twite halfway up the slope and a Little Owl. I reckon the LO would have been the same bird seen earlier, as distance wasn't considerable. I concluded the final Twite count as 16 birds, again no opportunity to view any leg rings present.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Queensbury Fog

28/10/06 Usual weekend fog.
Movement dominated with Redwings this a.m. with flocks of around 20 coming over below the fog, very low and very fast >S.
Had to go down to Shelf where it was clear and heavy numbers of Redwing were going over with only a few Fieldfares after yesterdays dash. Hope this fog clears for morning as got Fly Flatts and Soil Hill to seed up. BS

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Big One

27/10/06 0730-1115hrs
Again the red sunrise with Fieldfare piling over in their hundreds. I clocked over 1500 birds in casual observations to and at work and my wife,Lynda rang me from home to say she was getting flocks of up to 100 over the house. This move continued until the rain came at 1115. During the afternoon when the rain had passed over several more flocks were seen. BS Posted by Picasa

Autumnal Patterns

Several Redwing calls heard last night over Chapel Lane; there must have been a fair few because I heard them over a span of 2 hours.

As yet, I have not had a Fieldfare this autumn, nor, for the second year in succession have I had Pinkfooted Goose. The latter are sadly missed, as I was able to see them at night, over the Willows area, having been forewarned by their calls. On another memorable night, I was compiling my Group Recorder files, when a large party flew over my house, calling noisily. Hope springs eternal - maybe I will see a bunch before March.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Big Move Day

25/10/06 0700-0830hrs
Big red ball sunrise and the smell of vis mig this morning.
Mipits, Redwing and Fieldfare piling over >S from first light then from 0745 Woodpigs in their 100s moving the same direction. This continued until 0830 when the sky changed and started to cloud and all movement stopped. BS

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Soil Hill Seeding

Went up to SH to put more seed down in the SE corner and have a gander. I finally remembered to monitor the fat balls and peanut feed that BS strung up in the NW corner bush. Both fat balls look nearly complete, or untouched, as does the peanut feeder. I tried finding the growing nyger seed that has been scattered, without success, mainly because I don't know what it looks like!

A fresh WNW wind was busily keeping birds off the top field - not one seen, other than a couple of Crows hanging in the wind. I went down the slope and visited the ponds and got 3 Reed Bunting at the silted, wader friendly pond, with nothing at the steeper banked one near the main excavation site. On the way back up, by the minor diggings leading to the farm house, I picked up 15 Grey Partridge, around 13 Meadow Pipit, pr Goldfinch and 14 Twite. The Twite were feeding amongst rubble piles similar to the ones in the SE corner, but were very flighty when disturbed. However, they always returned to same area to continue searching, so I looked for legs rings. 3 birds obligingly posed close up, but they weren't wearing any jewelry.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Foxhill Park

23/10/06 1730hrs
Fall of Thrushes in trees on edge of park :-
2 Fieldfare
3 Redwing
6+ Blackbirds
Blackbirds stayed in trees, Fieldfare and Redwing off >SE

Sunday, October 22, 2006


A second visit 1500-1600hrs
Much calmer and alive with birds in the SE corner
32 Goldfinch
15 Mipits
4 Stonechat
6 Linnet
5 Twite, one ringed bird that I have had at Fly Flatts is a Suffolk combination.
Think we should concentrate the seed to this corner Nigel, dont say I told you so. The other side is fetching nothing and its no use spreading them all over the hill making it hard to watch. BS

Blustery Soil Hill

A showery view of Ogden from Soil Hill
22/10/06 0945-1015 Gale force WSW>7 Showery
Just a quick scramble up the hill to get some seed down.
The seed in the W entrance had gone but the seed by the NW tree is still there and growing well.
The fat balls have had something nibbling them and I had now put a peanut feeder with them.
I didnt get across to the SE corner due to conditions.
Bird list on Calderbirds. BS Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Foxhill Park

19/10/06 Lunchtime.
Lots of activity as the fog was just clearing
100 + Starlings landing and taking off out of one tree( camera on the kitchen table at home of course)
4 Redwing in elderberry bushes
2 Pied Wagtails
14 Common Gull
3 Singing Robins

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Replenishing Soil Hill

10 minutes after our chat Brian, a calling Skylark flew over Springfield to coincide with my trip up to the hill with nyger seed. We now have a pair of Grey Wagtail knocking around and about Chapel Lane - Fleet. The fields there were quiet, with just a few Meadow Pipit, and a Pied Wagtail, along with the obligatory Starlings, of course. The Goldcrest I reported as a possible was more likely a probable, because I had about 3 calling in the Hawthorns at the bottom of Bradleys farm.

Soil Hill was absolutely deadly to start with, worse than yesterday; it did improve when I got off the top field. This was after I laid seed down in the NW, SE Corners and the track top where the two boulders are.

Pied Wagtail, 4 Linnet, 5 Meadow Pipit, 10 Goldfinch, 3 Reed Bunting, 3 Stonechat, 2 Snipe.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Lost in the murk

My turn for a quiet day on Soil Hill, where the fog restricted effective binocular use down to 20 metres maximum. Got 3 Blue Tits and poss Goldcrest, plus 2 Robin in the bushes, then it really got hard. For starters, the local dog walker(s) have decided to have a shit-in on the path up to the Radio Mast; it looks like they were using a converted machine gun! I hope it's their families that get sludged up, but why do I believe that really won't be the case.

3 Meadow Pipit, 17 Grey Partridge, Cock Pheasant. A Twite flew off calling, fortunately.

On the positive side, all feeding stations showed no trace of seed remaining and contrary to my earlier comments, vegetation is showing through on the top field. No doubt, we owe that to the very mild autumn we've experienced so far. I inspected the several scrapes and hollows and found several wader (gull?) sized footprints in many of them.

Finished with a Redwing in the trees at top of Chapel Lane.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Finally, calls heard at approx 8.40 this morning over Springfield and 20+ birds seen coming from E turning NW over Foxhill. Could have been more - the roofs of houses blocked full vision. Also Grey Wagtail and approx 200 Starling amassing over High St.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Soil Hill pm visit

Another trip up SH at 1600-1700hrs because I couldnt belive how quiet it had been in the morning,however, I was right and it was equally as quiet in the afternoon.
1 Snipe
2 Skylark
17 Grey Partridge
3 Linnets
4 Reed Bunting
I did however discover a pond that I didnt know existed, did you know about this Nigel. The banking isnt as wader friendly as it,s grass but the Reed Bunts seem to like it and a Snipe flew from the side of it.This has got to get Jack Snipe this winter. BS Posted by Picasa

Soil Hill

15/10/06 0930-1030 Cool >E 4 misty
2 Skylark
5 Meadow Pipit
6 Linnet
1 Pied Wag.
Got some more seed down and a couple of fat balls in the solitary tree, although have found another small tree by the W entrance where I have put some more seed by the rocks on the left of the photo(click on to make bigger).This overlooks Ogden.
Couldnt find seed you put down to SE,may have gone but scattered some around that area Nigel. No Twite this a.m. but a pretty birdless morning. See Fly Flatts report on Calder Birds.
The banking down the W side towards Ogden is holding several blogging mipits and seems like its going to be a good spot now that its overgrown. BS Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Usual Route Report

I believe that we must have had some Robins from the continent, judging by 4 birds singing their hearts out in Chapel Lane and Foxhill, plus the 3 I heard calling at Soil Hill. A few Thrush contact calls were heard, but I never did see one of any species. The fields were quiet; I managed a couple of Goldfinch, 3 Pied Wagtail and a Grey Wagtail at Raggalds, with 12 Linnet at Mountain.

Soil Hill proved very interesting. I inspected the SE corner for traces of seed and found none, but I did find 2 Twite near the place I first saw them. Unfortunately, the NW corner still had traces of grain present; I don't trust my eyes without glasses to look for Nyjer. This corner had no birds present on either side of the wall, including the area I seeded on Thursday, so I drifted down to the pond. I copped for 2 Reed Buntings and a Goldfinch, before mooching along the portacabin and heading back to the pond. In the 15 minutes it took, a Greenfinch and 5 Twite had alighted on the telegraph wires, which is nice, to quote the Fast Show.

Grey Partridge activity was such that I believe there are two different coveys. I saw 10 drop down into the rushes beyond the pond, and got 7 halfway up the slope just minutes later. The were quite active today, including visiting the a/m mentioned SE corner.

The top field scrapes and hollows produced a Snipe and a final farewell to the by now world famlous corner, produced some Linnet with 4 Twite dropping in too. The latter were so approachable, I remembered two issues - there were no leg rings visible, and I have given up photography!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Foxhill Park

A first for me in Foxhill Park tonight whilst dog walking in the fog and dark when I flushed a Little Owl from the trees.There are several Little Owls at the other side of the main road around the farmland leading down to the old station but I have never had one in the park before.
Still plenty Mipits moving >S over the village early this a.m. and a few Redwings but nothing on the scale of yesterdays move. BS

Advice Please

In the process of getting Nyjer seed etc from BS and actually laying it down, I forgot to ask a fairly crucial question:

What is the recommended frequency of putting seed out?

Answers from you experienced bird feeders is much appreciated. My comments fields are set to accept input from allcomers.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


12/10/06 0630 onwards
From first light Meadow Pipits were piling over Qby all very direct and >S. A few Redwings were mixed in with them. By 0730 Redwings were coming over in good numbers also >S.
As I was getting ready and on my way to work I was unable to make a count but in the bit of time I had I clocked at least 500 Mipits and over 200 Redwing. BS

Soil Hill Irony

The dry fair weather got me out even if it was another SW-W, for I had a mission to scatter my seed, if you'll pardon the expression. The usual route through Queensbury was quiet; I didn't get the Mipits nor Redwings that BS saw in the early hours. I did get the Bull in the field, which I am sure was grinning as it lay down on the path in front of me. Nevertheless, I circumnavigated and continued (I hope the cows don't feel miffed that I ain't scared of em).

Soil Hill started off quiet, in every sense - there was no mechanical activity on top and the gates were closed. Going underfoot was much better than I anticipated, as in yesterday's blog, and so I set out to scatter the bait. I put some down in the NW corner of the top field, slightly to the right of the nearer pile of white rubble. A horizontal red traffic cone about 45 yards off, indicates where to stand, until it gets displaced o'course. Then I chose to place some at the opposite corner, near to the farm buildings, as there is a noticeable mound of rubble there too (Wheatear pics Brian). Two birds took off from this pile and flew onto a wall, thinking they were probably Linnet, I reserved them for post scatter. Fortunately, after three flings, one called and so I got onto it immediately - a nice plump Twite! I obviously picked a damn good spot. The other bird was only a couple of metres behind it, however, although views were very good, they were fluffed up and both sets of legs well hidden.

I dumped the remaining seed on the top part of the field that slopes down to the pond and portacabin. Look toward the bent white object sticking out of the farmost, rubble heap, or thereabouts. If those Grey Partridge gobble up all the seed, I can only comment that, soon, it will be Christmas... see the Calderdale blog for the few birds recorded.

To wind up a pleasant days work, I got back home, and nailed a Grey Wagtail up Chapel Lane.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Typical innit?

The kind Mr Sumner dropped about half a ton of that seed wot attracts Twite off at me hovel on Monday and today Wednesday, it's still in me garden shed. Nature has a way of frustrating us humans who try to help - two days of constant downpour have prevented me from going up to Soil Hill. So, here I am listening to the likes of AC/DC n 'Sabbath etc. It would be folly to go up to SH now because that top field will be potentially dangerous with all this rainfall - better to leave it a couple of days after the deluge. (That is if my patience will let me of course)

On TV this morning, yet again I saw reference to the House Sparrow being classed as becoming scarcer nationally. I must be a real lucky guy then, because I saw about 10 at the end of the street and those along with a Starling or two are all I have seen today!

Nyjer seed, thats the one.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Soil Hill

08/10/06 1530-1430hrs Strong >SSW Cloudy good vis.
Started putting nyger and wild bird seed down at the N end of Soil Hill for Oct /Nov with the hope of attracting something good, thats if the Grey Partridge do,nt eat it all. The seed is on the gravel by the solitary tree as shown,TMR can be seen in the background.( click on to make bigger).
Quiet visit with just :- 2 Reed Bunting
1 Skylark
7 Linnet
1 Kestrel
1 Grey Wag
7 Grey Partridge.
Will drop you some seed off this week Nigel. BS Posted by Picasa

Movement in the Parish

The morning started interestingly; 5 Mistle Thrush flew over Springfield calling, I have never had this number in the 6-1/2 years I have lived here. 5 Goldfinch then flew NW in the opposite direction, so I got my boots n bins together and set off. Another Mistle Thrush flew over New Park Rd and a Pied Wagtail called from the park, as I headed to the fields. These were quiet really, even the Starlings. Pr Linnet and couples or small groups of Meadow Pipits were blogging. This was the order of the day, visibility was ok and no mist, but I had to go by call because of the nature of the birds behaviour. I encountered another 9 Goldfinch in Old Guy Rd and Mountain, the latter also holding a few Meadow Pipit.

Soil Hill was bathed in the dreaded mild SW-W wind and the conditions were just too good for decent birding. Grey Wagtail, 3 Pied Wagtail, 4 Skylark, 25 Linnet, 7 Mallard, 10 Grey Partridge. The Mipits were behavin in the previous a/m manner; I couldn't be bothered doing an accurate count. Goldfinch appeared again in one's or two's so did a single Sparrowhawk. Some brief excitement occured when a 80 strong Starling flock rushed across, probably flushed by a patrolling Helicopter. The bottom pond is now half full of silt n mud. I'm not religious, but I might consider becoming a god botherer if a really fat Easterly bloweth for all of next weekend. (I am easily bought).

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


31 Meadow Pipit, split between Old Guy Rd (23) Mountain & Raggalds. Couple of Linnet and Pied Wagtail also, with a pr of Pied Wagtails in Foxhill Park on return from Soil Hill. The work up on the top field appears roughly 80 percent done, providing that levelling is the final project, of course. I anticipate a very poor autumn/winter for Snipe & Jack Snipe, as vegetation is nil -mebbe the lower slopes may cough up something.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Willows

03/10/06 0740hrs Grounds of the Willows medical centre.
1 Willow Warbler
1 Grey Wagtail
2 Dunnocks
Sev House Sparrows
+ 1 Heron low >E over Springfield'

Monday, October 02, 2006

Foxhill Park

02/10/06 Lunchtime
20 Common Gulls
1 BH Gull
2 Pied Wagtails
4 Blogging Mipits
1 Heron high >W BS