Birdbrain Stuff

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Soil Hill Saga

I got up to SH at 0810 hours to find Iain already there and between us we watched for 3 hours without any luck with the Black Redstart. Upon reaching Queensbury, I received a text at 1125hrs from DS to say the bird was present! On returning to the site with BW we got a good view within minutes of getting out of the car and then a couple of glimpses as it perched on the walls. Because of the fresh wind blowing from the W, this was the pattern of behaviour throughout - it would perch then disappear for some time. Fortunately, it did reappear to the benefit of 4 other observers.

Also seen: 20+ Meadow Pipit, 3 Skylark, 50+ Linnet, 3 Robin, 4 Goldfinch, approx 20 Swallow, 2 Stonechat, Wheatear, Whinchat.

A pair, possibly more, Stoat, in the road side grass verge were creating noises for the duration.

Queensbury - 3 Wheatear Old Guy Rd.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Posing Black Redstart

My thanks to Sean Gray for sending me these shots in record time.

Black Redstart SH

At approx 1100 hrs today I was fortunate enough to catch site of a Black Redstart perched on a wall by Perseverance Road, which skirts the upper part of Soil Hill. Courtesy of BS putting it on the Calderdale grapevine, I was joined by David Sutcliffe, Sean Gray, Bruce and their respective ladies. We all enjoyed good views of the bird and were able to conclude it was a male bird. Later, Keith Moir joined us and I am satisfied after our discussion that it was a juvenile.

Also present: 3 Common Gull, LBBG, 8 Mallard over W, Kestrel, 2 Linnet, 16+ Meadow Pipit, 5 Skylark, 5 Goldfinch, 6 Mistle Thrush, Reed Bunting, 4 Wheatear. KM reports 2 Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat seen earlier in the reeds.

3 Pied Wagtail at Queensbury cricket club.

Monday, August 27, 2007

You just never know!

Another sunny day (but deceptively cold in the wind) so went up to Soil Hill at about 11am for a quick lap before lunch. Saw the usual flock of 30+ Linnet and a similar number of Swallows and watched 2 Kestrels hunting on the northern slope. A single skylark 'chirupped' its way across the hill too. It was more breezy than expected so I gave up early and took a short cut past the flooded part of the track on top of the hill. Good call 'cos I spooked a Short-eared Owl on the ground about 5 metres from me. It launched itself up and flapped lazily across the hill to the west past the 'Stone Circle' and down the slope. Lost sight of it behind that ruined building.

Nice one!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Queensbury & Soil Hill

On the way up to SH Chapel Lane had 3 House Martin; Fleet Lane had a Wheatear while Mountain produced 6 Goldfinch. Swallow were noticeably reduced in number. On return, a Sparrowhawk flew over New Park Rd skimming BS rooftop and presumably hopped over his rear garden.

Soil Hill - 3 Meadow Pipit, 5 Skylark, 2 Linnet, 2 Goldfinch, 3 Stock Dove, 3 Woodpigeon, 4 BHG, 16 Jackdaw, 2 Kestrel, 5 Swallow, 3 Stonechat, 2 Whinchat.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Actually Quite Nice

I got home from work before 7pm for once AND it was a nice evening so I thought that as I'd not been up to Soil Hill for a while, I'd have a pleasant evening stroll. Oh how time dims the memory. Waste ground, bits of semi-buried rusty metal and something green and lumpy lurking menacingly in the first puddle on the approach road. Actually, It's quite nice on a sunny evening and it looks like the top hasn't been ploughed up by diggers for a while. Vegetation seems to be getting a hold and there are a few permanent pools. Should be good for Autumn!

Not sure what's happening on the north side of the hill though. Looks like the diggers are trying to make Soil Hill bigger.

Anyway bird wise, saw 25+ linnet, 20+ swallows, 3 skylark, 10 meadow pipits and a kestrel and a few crows and jackdaws. Reasonable for a quick circuit.

On the way home, there was a large flock of 50+ jackdaws with a dozen or so common gulls / black headed gulls in the fields above Roper Lane.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Shooting through

The high pressure giving us a pleasant morning meant that most migrants simply shot through my local area. On the way up to Soil Hill, there were 5 Common Gull and fresh remains of one at Queensbury Cricket Club; 2 Wheatear were hopping along the pitch also. All had moved on upon my return just over 2 hours later, with just a Linnet being heard. While dining in the back yard, 4 House Martin flew overhead; I think these will be some of the birds that breed in the Russell Road area.

SH - 11 Meadow Pipit, 3 Skylark, Grey Partridge, pr Kestrel, 15+ very flighty Linnet, 2 Pied Wagtail, pr Stonechat, 5 Mistle Thrush, 10 Swallow.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Tree Pipit

Amazingly the first bird I encountered this morning at Soil Hill was perched on a telephone wire. It was a Tree Pipit, making it my first for the year. Also present: 6 LBBG, Common Gull, 2 Kestrel, Pied Wagtail, 12 Meadow Pipit, 7 Skylark, 9 Linnet, 8 Swallow, 2 Reed Bunting, pr Stonechat, Wheatear, Whinchat. Roe Deer.

40 plus Common Gull at Raggalds.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Soil Hill - 4 Meadow Pipit, 3 Skylark, 3 Linnet, Kestrel. Flock of 78 gulls, the majority being Common. Pr Grey Partridge, 9 Mistle Thrush, Stonechat, 4 Whinchat including at least 1 juvenile, Wheatear. Swallows quite active however, no Swift.

Johnny Fox and his Foxxy lady seen in field grubbing around, totally ignoring the heavy plant machinery just 150 metres away.

Queensbury - Wheatear juv by Old Guy Rd.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Soil Hill

The fresh SW wind did kill prospects off this time; e.g no Wheatears! Otherwise it was mainly in two's: 2 LBBG, 2 Stonechat, 2 Grey Partridge, 2 Dunnock, 2 Meadow Pipit, 2 Stock Dove, 5 Woodpigeon, Skylark, 4 Linnet, 4/5 Swallow.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


2 Swift at Raggalds, also 14 Linnet there. 10 Swift feeding over Soil Hill, which also had several Swallow, 4 Linnet, 3 Goldfinch, 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 Kestrel, Moorhen, Wheatear.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Welcome Visitor SH

10 Meadow Pipit, 4 Skyklark, 3 Pied Wagtail, 18 Rook (makes a change to get these) 2 Kestrel, 4 Linnet, pr Goldfinch, 5 Blackbird, Reed Bunting, 6 Swallow. Solitary Lapwing by the scrapes. A female or juvenile Merlin flew low briefly from the deck and disappeared behind a ridge. This is not without precedence; I remember vividly seeing one close up on 11/08/2005.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Only happens when your alone.

I was out in the back under the mature stand of trees at 12:30 hrs and got a bird calling from high up. Pity it only called once, but it was loud and clear. Even greater pity that the neighbour wasn't in to hear it too - had all the credentials of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Ah well, let's clock it under 'Possible' given the scarcity of the species; the dream lives on.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Soil Hill SW

At this time of year usually a S'Westerly over SH is a killer, but today was kinder:

100+ BHG, 6 Meadow Pipit, 4 Skylark, Stock Dove, 5 Woodpigeon, pr Kestrel, 5 Linnet, 2 Blackbird, juv Pied Wagtail, 2 Stonechat, Wheatear, 2 Willow Warbler, Whinchat. One of the Willows was actually involved in a chasing game with the Whinchat, which was itself, my first for the year.

On the way up: 28 BHG & 7 Common Gull were by Queensbury CC and there were several Swallows in the entire area. However, the local Swifts appear to have departed - not a single one seen throughout.