Birdbrain Stuff

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Lark'in About

Having been away over Christmas, today required some proper Queensbury birding. Two trips up to the Swales Moor Lane area were necessary before I finally saw the Shore Lark well for about 20 seconds during a lull in the wind and 2 minutes before the heavens opened and I got soaked.

What a bird to finish 2006. Is it sporting to try to claim the same individual bird on my 2007 list? If so, I 'll pop up there tomorrow!

Happy New Year

Test Photo

Kestrel taking off from old barn at Soil Hill. BS
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After a week of blood sweat and tears and probably a mega phone bill I,m back.Whether I can submit photos is yet to try for. Thanks for the invite Nigel. All I need to do now is sort out Calderbirds. All the best for the new year and good birding. BS

Friday, December 29, 2006

A Hard Day's Bird

I set off this morning to have another view of the Shore Lark; what a difference a day makes! After seeing where it was supposed to be, courtesy of an unknown birder, both AC and myself saw the Skylark party fly over into the landfill area. Then, the rain came down and the wind blew up and the temperature dropped and for an hour I walked up and down and caught one glimpse of it in flight. Fortunately another 4 eyes turned up in the shape of two Burnley birders and eventually we saw the bird on the ground.

My bins had misted, my fingers were numb, I was soaked to the skin and cold with it. Will I ever learn? Doubt it.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

New Boots Christened.

My Christmas pressie to me got broken in with style this morning. I went down to the Swales Moor Rd landfill area (nr Catherine Slack) to look for the Shore Lark. Luckily, I bumped into Sean Gray, about to set off up the track, saving me quite a bit of time as I would have gone in from the far end, left to my own devices. Iain Greenwood was already on site, and we were joined by David Sutcliffe some 10 minutes later. After about 15 minutes of wandering around, the Skylark party (about 8 birds) flew in, with the visitor suitably calling as it landed with them.

Visibility wasn't on our side but fair views were had of the bird for about 30 minutes, when it then became much more user friendly and showed in the clear. Also present were 2 Grey Wagtail and corvids.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Soil Hill

Email being used to post so BS can get a copy; he still cannot access the upgraded blog.
Very murky; visibility poor.
28 Golden Plover blogging. Kestrel, 13 Linnet, 3 Skylark, Blackbird, 2 Wren. 3 Roe Deer. Feeding site re-seeded.
3 seperate Pied Wagtails in Chapel Lane/Foxhill area.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The boys are back

The digger and shovel have been busy on the top field of Soil Hill this morning, so it was no surprise not to see anybirds. Some of the activity was near the spot where BS sank and lost his boots - I had a gander and nearly joined them! The seed in the SE corner had gone, so I put some more down.

Stonechat, 3 Skylark, pr Mallard, Grey Heron, Snipe.

Pr Mistle Thrush at Mountain.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Jack the Lad

Soil Hill - 2 Meadow Pipit, 3 Skylark, 2 Goldfinch, 2 Reed Bunting, Stonechat, Kestrel, Jack Snipe. For the first time since feeding began, the seed put down in the SE corner had not been touched, so I scattered it and a mix of other types over the scrape area.

For the first time in a long while I encountered Long-tailed Tit, calling from a garden at Mountain.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Recording on Birdtrack

I have now linked Birdtrack to this blog in the hope it encourages more people to enter their bird records to this extremely useful National online database. However, it is stressed this is purely for the individual to consider as I for one have time on my hands; most people don't.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Soil Hill Produces Again

0930-1030hrs W> 3-4 Sunny
4 WHOOPER SWANS which looked to have just taken off from the scrapes came over me at head height and left >SW into the distance over Wainhouse Tower.
also 1 Stonechat
6 Linnet
2 Goldies

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Quiet at Shibden Head

Decided to wander down to Shibden Head this morning (after deciding the wind hadn't quite dropped enough to risk a trip up to Soil Hill) to see what was about. The usual woodland species were there but nothing special. Best sightings of the day were Long-tailed Tit (10+), Goldcrest (2), Common Gull (30+), Redwing (4 but there were probably alot more hidden in the holly bushes) and Wood Pigeon (200+). The Jackdaw roost only had about 20 birds which is very few. The fields above Henacre Wood had about 10 Mistle Thrushes and I think some Fieldfare too.

Also found a Number 11 pool ball on the way home! That must have been a spectacular foul shot to end up in the street.

No Linnets Today

Soil Hill - Seed put down SE corner.

Meadow Pipit, Skylark, 4 Golden Plover, Mistle Thrush, Pied Wagtail, Reed Bunting, pr Stonechat. Very good view of Roe Deer by bottom Duck pond.

Soil Hill Mystery Solved

On July 27 BS posted the picture below, asking does anybody know the origins of the stone circle atop the hill. This morning I got into a conversation with a lady who told me the circle is a Dew Pit. This was constructed by the farmer aons ago and consists of a dug out shallow circle, lined with clay so that water will collect for the cattle. The stones were placed around so that maybe one or two cows could get in to drink at a time, but not the whole bunch, thereby saving the water from pollution. This makes sense to me, as in the three day summer we experience up here the circle never appears completely dry, whereas this morning for instance, it was brimming full to overflowing. Information provided by a lady in her 80s who played there as a little girl (there were no nintendos or x-boxes then you know).

Friday, December 15, 2006

Respite from the Wind

Although we are having lots of the wet stuff, it was good to go outside and not get blown to bits this morning. For the first time in nearly a week, birdsounds were evident in the Chapel Lane area, Blue Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, a singing Robin and 2 Fieldfare heading SW. The thought occured that the Fieldfare were going back to where they had been blown from.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Seeding duty

Went up the hill from hell as the wind wasn't too bad and felt fairly mild. O'course when I got there, things changed but at least the rain held off. Put seed down in the usual place, before doing the rounds:

Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Kestrel, 18 Linnet, about 90 Golden Plover on scrapes.

The rubbish that was dumped on November 19 has been completely removed, probably by the owner, as it was next to his excavator.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sunrise down Chapel Lane

1 Kestrel on Black Dyke Mills chimney( seen in the rear of the photo,the chimney that is,not the kestrel )
2 Wrens in the grounds of the Willows
32 Common gull, 6 BH gull Foxhill park , early a.m.
Flock of 80+ Starling over fairfield ,lunchtime
1 f Sparrowhawk low across main rd, Windybank top , a.m.
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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Pesky Butterfly

Two minutes after I added my comment to Brians latest SH posting, a Painted Lady flew across my shoulder and landed on my PC screen. I stress that I am sat in my living room with the central heating on, but this is the first I've seen that wakes up and moves when the temperature rises. It also behaved like this about a week ago, after just escaping from my tame spiders web in the kitchen! How the hell do these insects get their energy? There is no flowering plant in the house, nor bowl of sugary water available.

Cruel Soil Hill

09/12/06 1530hrs ice cold NW > 4-5 Heavy rain
Why does the heavens always open when you get to the very top most point of Soil Hill ?
Just a dash up in fading light to get some seed down and put some flowers where my boots came to rest, actually Ive stuck a metal bar up on the left of the track so you know where not to stand Nigel.
8 Golden Plover on scrapes
1 Skylark near seed. BS

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wonderful Soil Hill

Fooled by the break in the weather at mid-day, I went up the sacred mount. Rain hit me 15 minutes after leaving home and then wind driven hailstones finished the job atop the ravaged hill. Some scrapes are still just that, but others have been converted into pools and ponds, courtesey of the wet stuff.

Meadow Pipit, 3 Lapwing, 8 Golden Plover, Sparrowhawk. 25 plus Linnet were by the seed, but flighty with it and coupled with poor light and the weather, identification of any mingling Twite was nigh impossible.

Gull numbers at Raggalds were around the 130 mark, again Common being the prevalant species.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Failed recovery of boots Soil Hill

I couldn't even find the spot where Brian sunk in, let alone the boots - he must have hit the jackpot! Extreme wind made for a curtailed visit:

2 Skylark, 11 Mallard, 15 Linnet on seed. Lapwing, upto 60 Golden Plover on scrapes. On way back had a look at the Raggalds flood field - 7 Mallard and a small mix of Common & BH Gull.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Soil Hill

03/12/06 15oohrs Gale force 8 >SW Showers.
1 Skylark
3 Mipits
For WARNING and the story of the missing rigger boots see Calderbirds BS

Saturday 2nd December - Shibden Head

At last! A Saturday morning without gale force winds. Did my usual lap from Shibden Head, down through Henacre Wood, contoured the hill round through the trees to Bare Head Lane then back through the woods to Shibden Head via Hanging Royd. Plenty of the ususal woodland birds but it did take over an hour to see a Great Tit and Greenfinches kept themselves well hidden. The Mistle Thrushes were as usual making their racket but Song Thrushes were holding their own too. About 10 Redwing were also seen in the trees below Long Lane and the fields there also contained at least 20 Common Gull. Best sightings were a flock of 20 Long-tailed Tits and a masive flock of 500 Woodpigeons. The Jackdaw roost on Bare Head Lane had about 25 individuals. Other birds of note were 1 Sparrowhawk and 3 Jays.

New Link

I previously mentioned the need to get more people involved in our local birdlife and the webmaster of the Queensbury Website has agreed a reciprocal arrangement to link up. I have already placed a link to their site and have been told our link will appear on the village site, probably under Natural History, as soon as possible. Constructive comments and suggestions are welcome, as is information of any viewing problems.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Flock of 8 Blue Tits hanging around back garden for a few days now.
Resident winter Robin is back in garden.
Male Sparrowhawk sat briefly on foxhill bungalow roof this a.m. then female flew over garden at lunchtime mobbed by Common gulls. BS

SW again

Got up to Soil Hill and put seed down in the SE corner. Kestrel, 20 plus Linnet, Blackbird, Skylark, 4 Mallard, Pied Wagtail, pr Goldfinch, pr Stonechat.

Saw an immature Gull I couldn't identify at Raggalds, not BHG, so went over to the flood fields and had a gander. Didn't pick it up again, about 8 Common there and 10 Mallard. Finished off with 3 Pied Wagtails over BS House at 1.20 pm.

Friday, December 01, 2006


On dustbin duty at approx 0900 got 9 Goldfinch calling in flight SW over Springfield. Then the day nosedived, couldn't get out owing House purchase procedures. When will Estate Agents realise that birding is more important? Will try and get up to SH Saturday 2/12 to lay seed down, weather permitting.