Birdbrain Stuff

Friday, November 30, 2007

Foxhill Today

30/11/2007 Lunchtime

6 Fieldfare in trees by New Park Rd top gate
Several Tit flocks in gardens ajoining bottom of park, mostly
Blue and Coal but a few L T Tits in with them. As mentioned on Calderbirds,Great Tits
are noticable by their absence this year ?
2 Lapwing over >W and 68 Common Gulls on top pitch early a.m. BS

New Template Amendments

I've been doin some more pottering, which means Links to other Bird groups are obtained by scrolling down toward the page bottom.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Drama on Soil Hill

A strong SW gale was blowin on the hill from hell, so not much doing. Meadow Pipit, 3 Skylark, Snipe, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Blackbird. The female Sparrowhawk, had chased the Blackbird into the garden of the top house on the Perserverance Rd bend. Fortunately for the latter, the predator was a bit bulky for the hedge and briefly got itself in tangle, giving it chance to escape. After a couple of seconds the larger bird freed itself and flew off low out of the garden and away.

Also present: 2 Roe Deer, Field Vole, black Cat. I found a dead Field Vole on Sunday; now I know what probably bumped it off.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Pied wag Roost Halifax Town centre.

Whilst I remember to post this...
Last year saw a great P Wag roost in Halifax in the trees outside Coffee Cali-this is situated to the
left of the main walkway into the Woolshops which extends from Coffee Cali to WH Smiths. The coffee place is next door to the Halifax bank with the trees just by the side, you can get a brew in there and a great position for the roost (no neck strain!) (If the roost happens this year).
Haven't been in town at the right times for a few weeks but I did see c.15 P Wags roosting here. So keep your eyes open. So many people passing underneath and these little birds just above
their heads.
Well over 100 birds roosted here last winter (Possibly a lot more) and a Sp Hawk would pass through hoping for its supper. They started to gather early on calling from the tops of buildings. We both really enjoyed it. We enjoyed it so much we didn't do a formal count because we were too busy enjoying all the unfolding drama. Fingers crossed for this winter..

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Soil Hill

25/11/2007 1000hrs Cold NW>4
Got seed down and trudged about with hopes of Jack Snipe but dipped as usual.
Checked for Snow Bunt in usual areas but looks like its headed east with its mates.
Theres good numbers showing down the east coast,mainly Flamborough and Filey.
4 Golden Plover were on the scrapes and the usual 5 Grey Partridge were about.
Other than that, 2 Mipits and a few Corvids. BS

Shibden Head + Roper Lane

Quiet down in Shibden Head this morning with what seemed to be reduced numbers of the usual species. The Jackdaw roost comprised zero birds! Don't think I've ever seen (or not seen!) that before. There were 20 or so Redwing feeding on the holly berries but other than that, the only birds of real interest was a Jay and Green Woodpecker (heard). On my way back home, I detoured down to the pools below Roper Lane where I saw another Green Woodpecker and a nice male Bullfinch. Soon got bored 'cos there wasn't much else there either but on my way back up (is it me or is that lane really steep?) I saw a massive skein of 160 odd Pinkfoot Geese heading SW (10.30am). Someone in Halifax must have seen them as they passed over the town centre.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Info for Iain G.

In answer to your questions Iain, the Eagle Owl was around most of 1998 where it
started off in Shibden valley by Scout Hall,then moved near to the sewage works
before moving across the road to Oats Royd where it stayed for about 3mth.Thats where I
got this photo of it, I also have it on video. It then moved down near Shibden park but
got publicized by harrassing dogs and it even carried at Jack Russel the length of the park
before the dog escaped and went back to its owner. After this it mysteriously disappeared
believed shot.
The Glaucous Gull was put on birdline by an unknown birder 11/01/2003 and was on the
envirowaste site which at that time was a household waste site.
Interesting records of yours from the Ploughcroft area. BS
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Yorkshire Post

Soil Hill hit the media big time today with a mention of Snow Bunting there
in Bill Teales Birdwatch column. That there hill is getting famous.
Didnt get time to get up there today but will get some seed down Sunday.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Cool and Crisp

Lurvely day for a walk this morning, even if quiet in Queensbury. 3 Meadow Pipit, Kestrel, 2 Fieldfare and most odd, 6 Grey Partridge, at Raggalds.

Soil Hill - despite 2 sessions combing the favoured area, no sign of Snow Bunting. Kestrel, Grey Heron, 3 Skylark, Pied Wagtail, 19 Fieldfare, 3 Blue Tit, Goldfinch, m Stonechat, 30 Lapwing in bottom fields.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Ploughcroft, swales 'n Shibden (Yesterday!)


Nice to see 5 Bullfinch on Ploughcroft Lane.
1 Sp Hawk over
5 Mistle Thrush
2 chaff
2 P wag
1 Kes (F)
2 G Finch
4 B Tit
7 Gt Tit
1 Dunnock
2 rob
1 wren
2 B Birds
1 L Owl


Very busy with earth-moving and agricultural machinery. Noisy and smelly too! Bit more challenging to view the area because of agricultural fencing (they had the decency to preserve SOME of the public rights of way). The massive trucks steam along the bridleway so watch out if you get stuck in a bit that's fenced. These are BIIIG trucks! Mud splashes are the least of my concerns.

No skylarks seen/heard
14 Mipits
2 P Wag
1 crow with considerable white to tips of Primaries and secondaries. (dozens of other crows).
1 G finch
60 starlings.


1 L owl
2 Phes
1 Grey Partridge
1 TREECREEPER (Big deal, but first in the Swales end of valley for me in over 6 months- GSW far more infrequent too).
8 LT tits
10 Bluetits
9 Gt Tits
3 Coal tits
2 Robins
2 Dunnock
2 Wren
2 Jays
3 Bullfinches
1 Green Pecker heard and seen.
1 GSW heard calling.
1 Kes (F)
Sorry if a list is a bit dry and boring but it's better than 'nowt!


I've tidied up the Local Patch List; if any contributors get time I would appreciate you havin a gander and posting comments, bad or otherwise! Your article on Shibden Valley, Brian, has been moved to the right hand column to join your others.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It's Still There

Snow Bunting still in same area of Soil Hill early this afternoon and still very confiding. Otherwise it was deadly quiet: 3 Fieldfare, Reed Bunting and a flock of Common Gull. Peter Smith was up there and also so a flyover Golden Plover - a bird I haven't connected with yet up there this season. The 3 Roe Deer are back, giving great views.

The Common Gull flock drifted down to Raggalds, increasing the numbers there to at least 130. Only other birds were single Fieldfare, Greenfinch, Pied Wagtail.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Coming in to Land

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Snow Bunting

A report today from Andy Cockroft through the Calderbirds grapevine
that the single Snow Bunting is still on Soil Hill.
Well done Andy, you,ve tried hard for that bird.
This is the 9th day that Snow Buntings have been present on the hill starting
with 7 birds then 4, dropping to 2 and then this single bird staying 5 days so far.
Birding in the village otherwise has been none existant with a cloud of fog and
drizzle hanging over us for the last 3 days . BS

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Soil Hill

Back to Soil Hill in the snow but with camera repaired. Snow Bunt was in same place as
yesterday and just as friendly but light was very poor hence the not very good photos.
Also present
1 Mipit
21 Golden Plover on scrapes. BS
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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Shelf Moor & SH

I went down to High Cross Lane this a.m to look for a large group of Lapwing and poss Golden Plover reported to me last night. They weren't there, however in recent Autumn/Winters they have sometimes roosted in the evening. Present were: Pied Wagtail, 4 Meadow Pipit, Kestrel, 18 Common Gull.

After lunch I visited Soil Hill luxuriating in a very fresh SW wind, aka birdkiller. 75+ Lapwing were in the bottom LH field near the road, but nothing on the top field, or so I thought. An extra two pair of eyes turned up in the shape of two lads from Thornton, and my thanks go out to them for almost treading on the female
Snow Bunting. I must have walked past it twice, such was the excellence of it's camouflage. Brian Sumner managed to get up in time before the light went, and I feel he may have something to say about the subject!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ambler Thorn

A really good haul of common birds here today, lots of activity.
Birds of note: 1 Little Owl, 1 Grey Wag, 2 Skylark over to the East, a Kingfisher on the pools in the valley bottom.
I was at Swales first light. 12 species including 3 Skylark.

Oats unfit for Birds?

I saw an opportunity to obtain in bulk some Oats, the kind you make porridge with. However, I have some reluctance to purchase because I imagine they may swell in the birds gut. Has anybody any definite knowledge about this?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Late Shift worked

Thought I'd try Soil Hill later on, seeing as other birders saw Snow Bunting after I'd gone home on three previous occasions. This time it brought success; a male and female were busily feeding on the rough ground in the NW corner. These birds were very approachable and gave great views; one approached within 3 yards of Bill Halling at one stage.

Apart from 4 Common Gull and one unidentified flyover finch type, t'was barren. But no complaints this time!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Mountain - Pied & Grey Wagtail.

Shit Hole - Plenty of wind. pr Mallard, Grey Heron, Kestrel, Skylark, 2 Stonechat, Reed Bunting. A Jack Snipe was flushed by J Crawshaw, but as usual not seen again after a further search.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sunny Soil Hill

Grey Heron, 11 Common Gull, Fieldfare, Stonechat, Peregrine Falcon. Met KM who had flushed a Jack Snipe and RLP earlier. Despite the pair of us trying to relocate the JS, we failed to do so.

23 Common Gull by Old Guy Rd.

My brand new copy of Collin's Bird Guide, finally arrived. Yippeeee

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Chris,s Snow Bunts

Soil Hill 3m 4f.
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Nearly Missed a Treat!

After a freezing cold hour at Thornton Moor Reservoir, I nearly decided to not bother calling in at Soil Hill on my way back home. Good job I decided to brave the wind again as I encountered a flock of 7 Snow Bunting on the Northern edge of the Hill. They were flying about and dropping down to feed on the open waste areas. Had excellent views for 15 minutes or so before deciding I needed to get home and phone NK... and warm up with a brew. Other birds included 4 Meadow Pipits near the seeds and 8+ Grey Partridge in their usual place near the flooded bit of the track.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Soil Hill

10/11/2007 Howling wind W>6
Just same conditions as this time last year put no Purple Sand.
Had to chase my cap twice and did a full length dive over a piece
of wire which
took me back to my goalkeeping days except the ground feels
much harder now.
Got plenty seed down but birds were poor,
4 Mipits
1 Kestrel
1 Skylark
6 Grey Partridge

Friday, November 09, 2007

Tawny Owl

A Tawny Owl flew across Brighouse Rd into the grounds of the Royal Eastern at 22.12 hrs last night. My neighbour DP, mentioned that he'd seen it roosting in a tree behind our back yards earlier in the week.

I went through Shelf Moor into Shibden Valley this afternoon and it was hard work to spot birds. Half way through the SV trip I met this guy with a metal detector who told me he had just seen a flock of 12 Hawfinch just 90 yards away. He then confided that at the far end of Judy Woods (Wyke area) there is a pair of Harris's Hawks breed and 4 birds can often be seen hunting. I told him I'd have a look at the Hawfinch and hurried off, keeping a watchful eye over my shoulder!

LBBG, 8 Meadow Pipit, Blue, Great & LTT in small flock, 3 Jay, Sparrowhawk, Redwing, 2 Mistle Thrush, 2 Fieldfare at last. Quite a sizeable Magpie roost of 25 birds min. GSW at Littlemoor Park.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Two Local Ticks

Figuring that today's NW breeze may have dumped summat on the Hill from Hell I went up there. I was wrong, it dumped them on my very local patch in Queensbury; at Old Guy Rd to be precise: 3 Meadow Pipit, male Stonechat and Jack Snipe.

The Jack Snipe was flushed by my voice; I was laughing aloud at the antics of a young bullock when it took off from long grass. It remained silent, never flew more than 2 metres off the ground, veering somewhat but landing approx 25 metres within a few degrees short of a direct line from take off. I noted the spot, amongst rough pasture and walked to within about 8 metres from it, seperated by a wall. Feeling guilty, I coughed a bit, grunted and clapped my hands once, to no avail, it stayed put.

Onward then to the place which promises so much, and sometimes delivers, but not today, again - Soil Hill. 2 Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Pied Wagtail, Linnet, Goldfinch. Kestrel and Crow having a dogf..., er, birdfight.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Responding to stimuli and heartily sick of the birdless waste up the road, I tootled off down the opposite direction this morning. Although I didn't see the Nuthatch reported by Chris yesterday, it was certainly still in the vicinity; this time it was calling from high in the mature trees on the hillside. I was hoping for Fieldfare and Brambling too, but it looks as though they'll be my Autumn nemesis birds.

Lapwing, pr Meadow Pipit, 7 Pied Wagtail, pr Rook in 'Billing' courtship display! 45 Jackdaw, 3 Jay, 2 Green Woodpecker, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, pr Bullfinch, 4 Chaffinch, 5 Greenfinch, 5 LTT, etc.

I wonder why GSW don't appear to be present; I can't recollect any in 3 visits down the valley.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Queensbury birding hotspots

SHIBDEN VALLEY.... Green Lane Top.
There are several tracks leading into Shibden Valley, this is to the NE of the valley below Deanstones Lane.
The whole of the hillside here is rich in berries from Bramble and Billberry to Hawthorn and Holly attracting
a wide vareity of birds. The hillside drops steeply to the beck which runs down into the cross becks below Henacre Wood.
In spring Linnets nest on the hillside in the thick heather and gorse bushes. Chaffinch,Greenfinch,Bullfinch and
winter Brambling are always present along with Green Woodpecker, winter thrushes and Jays. Little Owl is often
seen on the wall tops and Tawny Owls hang out in the holly bushes. Well worth a visit though the climb back up the hillside is steep
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Shibden Head - Good! Soil Hill - Well about normal really!

The early fog resulted in a slow start but the day soon improved. Shibden Head was well worth a visit and I saw Redwing numbering over 70 in feeding parties on a good crop of holly berries. Also saw 8 Fieldfare which are far less common in the valley. Starling numbers overhead were reasonable with about 300 heading north including one flock of 200 odd. Jackdaw numbering about 50 were near their roost.

The usual woodland species were present with an impresive number of over 40 Long Tailed Tits in three feeding parties accompanied by Blue and Great Tits. Other good birds included 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Bullfinch, 1 Jay, 1 Green Woodpecker, 3 Common Gull, 1 Grey Wagtail and best of all, 1 Nuthatch near the old Sewage treatment Works. This is the first I've ever seen at Shibden Head. (Now I only need Treecreeper to complete the set!)

Full of enthusiasm, I then headed up to Soil Hill and saw the grand total 4 Linnet and 3 Crows. Put some food down near the rock which soon was being investigated by the crows as I left. Oh well, I'll keep going up there 'cos you never know your luck.

Friday, November 02, 2007

BTO Bird Atlas Timed Tetrad Visits

Hi Nigel

I contacted the BTO a few months ago about the 2007-2001 Bird Atlas and volunteered for Timed Tetrad Visits for Ogden Reservoir where I already do the WeBS Core Count(which also covers Soil Hill) and for Shibden Head as it is the Tetrad in which I live. I was also going to submit 'Roving Records' sheets for general sightings. However, if you are already submitting records on the Bird Track System, is there a danger of duplication?


BTO Bird Atlas

I'd just like to add my own bit to what has been said on the Calderdale blog by Nick Carter about national bird recording for the new bird atlas. If, like me you are an existing Birdtrack recorder, then your records will be picked up, without the need to register for the Atlas project. If you aren't registered with Birdtrack, then I encourage you to do so because apart from the obvious it does provide a personal record backup facility. Records can be downloaded from the BTO website into an Excel spreadsheet, should you lose your data from, say, Group Recorder.

In the future I envisage that Birdtrack will be adopted by recorders as the main database, thereby dispensing with the need for duplication of work. To this end, Birdtrack have already arranged for data to be downloaded to County recorders.

PS Afternoon - Skylark at Mountain. 5 Linnet, 8 Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Pied Wagtail, pr Stonechat, Kestrel at SH.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Queensbury Today

A single Whooper Swan flew over Soil Hill this a.m. about 0830hrs.
It was first picked up over Ogden flying with 2 unidentified grey geese
by Dave Sutcliffe and then by Howard Creber at Thornton Moor after
it turned to fly up the Aire valley. The geese must have carried on >E
as they didnt pass HC.
2 Fieldfare flew >W over Chapel Lane this lunch time. BS