Birdbrain Stuff

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Oats Royd

Deciding it was too windy for Soil Hill I paid another visit here and was rewarded thus:

Grey Heron, 4 Mallard, Blackbird, pr Mistle Thrush, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Jay and other corvids. Best of all were 7 Siskin feeding in an Alder, allowing unbelievably close approach.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Weather deteriorated this afternoon - the Great Crested Grebe is still there, 2 Goldcrests and that was about it!

Tesco Buttershaw

One of those chance sightings in Halifax Rd: Pink footed Goose - flock of approx 150 max in formation heading toward Shelf at about 1155 hrs. After alerting BS they may hit Queensbury, I think they veered in direction of Northowram instead.

Monday, January 28, 2008

You cant get rid of me.

28/01/2008 1130hrs
Report of 60 PF Geese >W over Queensbury. This coincides with several sightings on Bfd and Calder blogs.
Thanks to Mr Markey for report.
Back on line now but had to revert to pay as you go after orange broadband went belly up.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Soil Hill & Oats Royd

Forgetting all about Garden Watch because of the winds, I went out for a couple of hours. I'm beginning to think birds will be non existent in a few years from now in this area.

Soil Hill - Meadow Pipit, 5 Grey Partridge, Woodpigeon.
Oats Royd - 35 Common Gull, Pied Wagtail, 4 Woodpigeon, Kestrel, Grey Heron, Green Woodpecker.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Pink-Footed Goose in Shibden photos taken thru my binos.
Another (probably not the same bird) flew in from the east looking as though about to land, this was approx 1/2 mile from the first sighting.
4 Jackdaws 2 Rooks
10 Redwings over and 4 feeding
Whilst watching a party of about 10 LT Tits really close-up I picked up another Treecreeper. I spent 10 mins trying to photograph it thru my binos, the results are worse than awful- poor camera and poor photographer.
This sighting is a good half a mile from my previous ones this winter so probably represents another individual bird.
8 Siskins over. 2 Bullfinches and 2 others heard.
1 Goldcrest. 2 Robins. 1 Wren.
1 Common Gull over headed east.
4 Gt Tits 1 B Tit.
1 L Owl.
Not a single blackbird in 2 hours.

Garden Watch Scuppered?

I may nip across the road into the park for an hour to do my bit for the RSPB survey, IF, the soddin winds die down. Anything weighing under a lb. will be smashed to pieces in this lot, if it gets caught in it...

Never made it after all, let's see what happens manĂ¡na

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Around and About

I took a lengthy hike today, so at least I maintained fitness levels - at the expense of an almost birdless trip:

Soil Hill - 10 Fieldfare
Ogden Res - GC Grebe, GSW, Jay, Kestrel, pr Coal Tit et al.
Oats Royd - Little Owl, Kestrel, pr Stonechat.

Brian has no internet nor landline facility, so we won't be getting any postings or comments for some time.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Yorkshire rare species
Assuming the link works, read it and weep or be inspired.


Still raining! 1 Great Crested Grebe still there on the res'r and a small flock in the woodland of 14 L T Tits, 1 Treecreeper, 2 Coal Tit and 3 Goldcrests.

55 Rooks and 45 Jackdaws along Syke Lane.

Breeding in Queensbury area

The problem encountered yesterday with my article on breeding birds appears to have been solved and I have filed it in the LH column.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Shibden Head to Sewage Works

20/01/2008 Strong wind SW>4 Driving rain.
2 Green Wdpeckers
5 Mistle Thrush
1 Kestrel
7 Coal tits
Sev. Blue and Gt tits
+ usual sp.
dipped on Treecreeper.
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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Swales and Shibden

Swales..(in passing)
1 Pied Wagtail 1 Blackbird
1 Little Owl 2 distant Rooks in fields.
1 Kestrel.

Some common species not included..
8 Redwings 8 Greenfinch
1 Jay (heard) 1 Green Woodpecker
2 Moorhen 1 Grey Wagtail was a nice surprise.
3 bullfinches (3 other individuals heard)
1 Mallard 4 LT Tits
2 Robins singing their little hearts out.
No rain! No motorbikes. Hardly anyone around= grand!

Shibden Head - A Treecreeper at Last

Finally encountered a Treecreeper at Shibden Head. It was in the trees just before the gate leading down to the old sewage treatment works. So, just Lesser Spotted Woodpecker to go and I'll have the set!

Other birds were the usual woodland species enjoying the brief sunshine. Green Woodpecker and Jays were also heard calling. The Jackdaw roost held about 40 birds with many more in the fields opposite. A single Redwing was with 2 Mistle Thrushes and there were 4 Stock Dove about.

Respite from the Rain

Took advantage of the unexpected dry morning and tootled off to Oats Royd:

Plenty Magpies n Crows, 8 Jackdaw, Kestrel, 2 LBBG, Wrens, Robins, Blue & Great Tits. GSW, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, 2 Chaffinch. The bottom path along the ponds and stream coughed up 4 Mallard, Grey Heron, Little Owl and Kingfisher - my first in a while.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Great Crested Grebe still at Ogden this morning.

WHEN is it going to stop raining!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Soil Hill

The water that fell this lunch time could have supported a Trawler if I hadn't brought most of it back in my boots.

Pr Golden Plover, 4 Snipe (2 pr) 4 Mallard, Skylark, Reed Bunting.

Raggalds - 7 Mallard, Pied Wagtail, 25 Common Gull, 35 Jackdaw.


Great Crested Grebe still there this afternoon and catching fish. Also 36 Woodpigeons in the fields along Ogden Lane.

60+ Jackdaws in fields along Syke Lane along with 35 Rooks and 6 Carrion Crows. Black-headed c30 and Common Gulls c20 also making the most of boggy fields and eating lots of worms.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tawny Owls

Almost forgot to post this but at approx 2200 hrs last night 15/01/08 in the lousy wet weather I heard an Owl call from the Deanstones area and it was answered by another bird from Littlemoor - welcome back to your breeding grounds.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Great Crested Grebe on the res'r this afternoon and seen to catch a few small fish.

Again a lot of Jackdaws and Rooks (no count) heading north between Ogden and Soil Hill towards dusk. I suspect there must be a big roost of corvids maybe Cullingworth/Bingley way?

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Ideal birding time - Spring Summer Autumn.
Oats Royd, below Roper Lane is a south and west facing hillside of conifers, alders, rowan, and holly with thick
undergrowth including brambles and gorse. A track drops down the centre of the land and continues through to
Bradshaw. At the bottom of the track is Strines Beck which forms the Bradford/ Halifax boundry,( district that is,
not birding area) and there are 4 man made ponds though these are small and open to disturbance and lack any muddy shorelines.
The hillside above the house, known as " The Gulf " holds large numbers of passarines in spring and autumn including Willow Warbler
and continental Robins on passage. I have also had, Spotted Flycatcher,Redstart, Whitethroat and Whinchat.
The conifers above the house hold Tawny owl and little owls can always be picked out on the walls around the bottom fields.
The holly bushes attract winter thrushes and Green Woodpeckers, the latter being a resident breeder.
Down near the beck Siskins use the Alder trees and Wrens nest in the bankings, one year I had Sedge Warbler down there.
The ponds have resident breeding Coot, Moorhen and Mallard along with occassional Canada goose, and are visited by Dipper and Kingfisher.
Waders are poor but Common Sandpiper are summer visitors and I have had Green Sandpiper and Redshank on passage.
Kestrels are usually up on the thermals above the Gulf. Roe deer and Fox are usually present.
Any cars must be parked on Roper Lane. There are 2 public footpaths through the area. One goes >N on the top from the owners parking area past May Royd and the other is the track down the hillside >W towards Bradshaw. All other areas are private, including the ponds and viewing must be from the track only without permission from the land-owner, John Steele. If anyone requires permission to bird the land and struggle to get hold of John let me know. BS
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Soil Hill and Ogden Reservoir

Too windy on top of Soil Hill for anything smaller than a starling (one seen being blown over the summit) so the tally comprises 5 Partridge (assume they were Greys), 3 Golden Plover, 2 Crows and 1 Kestrel.

I agree with Brian's note about the increase in the number of Siskin. Saw 7 myself at Ogden Reservoir this morning.

Oats Royd

Oats Royd hillside from the west ( Bradshaw end )
13/01/2008 Mild W>4 drizzle.
Thought Id check out Oats Royd after being inspired by Nigel and wanted to see how my old patch had come on.
When I use to bird it regular it had only just been created and now the trees are matured and it looks like an
ideal habitat. ( Birding hotspot to follow. )
Quiet this morning with :-
5 Siskin in Alders going down the track
Sev. Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Wrens, Robins and Dunnocks.
1 Kestrel
4 Grey Partridge
Plenty BH and Common Gulls in fields.
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Friday, January 11, 2008

What a Grey Day

Soil Hill - In the grey murk lurked 5 Grey Partridge, Grey Wagtail and a Blackbird. It cleared up when I got back down the bottom - of course it did.

I fear for the place once more: I hope it's just paranoia but the fact is the vehicle wash at the bottom has been extended by 5 metres within the past week.

Raggalds had around 55 Common Gull; Foxhill Park had 2 Pied Wagtail.


2 Siskin feeding in alders by the edge of the res'r on the west side this morning.

1 Reed Bunting along the edge of the plantation.

Treecreeper and Goldcrests, 32 Common Gulls and 40 BH Gulls. Other birds very thin on the ground today - don't blame them!!!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Foxhill Today

Foxhill Park ready for the waders and waterfowl.
A flooded park today with more continuous rain and strong winds.
2 Pied Wagtails were on the top pitch at lunchtime with15 Common Gull and 8 B.H.
Several Chaffinch on the feeders at the bottom of the park and a Wren flew in and out of the dry stone wall. BS
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Thanks for the invite to the Blog Nigel - just testing this following your email - many thanks.

Nothing doing at Ogden this morning other than a mixed flock of c30 Blue/Great/Coal and Long-tailed Tits along with 2 Treecreepers and 6 Goldcrests in Skirden Clough. No sign of the Waxwing today.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Hello Stranger

I walked up to Oats Royd via Shibden Head and it was even quieter than Sunday; not a Passerine in sight for hours. Jackdaws at Shibden were active and 2 Kestrel were displaying at Oats Royd, with 2 Mallard on one of the ponds there. Then fortune smiled on me in the shape of 11 Siskin flying into what I believe to be Silver Birch trees and hanging about for a couple of minutes. This was most welcome as I have not had this species in probably 3 years (my fault - spending too much time up Soil Hill).

Brian - thinking you had done a 'Hot Spot' article on this location, I searched the blog for one. Nothing was found so I must have assumed wrongly - care to do one, time permitting? Then I'll give it a permanent home alongside your other contributions.

Monday, January 07, 2008

File Updates

As promised I have made amendments to the Patch List and completed the Species Prediction list. Please correct me if I am wrong Iain but I concluded your predictions as per the post entitled Uncanny on Sat 5th January.

All we need now is to get out there, time and weather permitting and of course for the little buggers to turn up. I hope to Christ we don't get two ticks in the shape of my Hobby killing a Yellow Wagtail!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Soil Hill - Afternoon Visit

The wind dropped this afternoon so I risked a first visit of the year up to Soil Hill.
There were about 50 Fieldfare and a similar number of starlings either on the wires adjacent to Taylor Lane or flying south of the hill. Two Kestrels were also perched on the wires nearby. Soil Hill itself produced 5 Meadow Pipits (on the Service Reservoir slopes), 1 Skylark, 1 Magpie and 6 Crows. About a hundred Jackdaws passed north of the hill heading NE at 4pm.
Also saw 20+ Rooks again perched on wires near the Raggalds on my way home. Maybe wires keep birds feet warm during the Winter?

Shibden Valley

Just see 2 Roe Deer in the centre
A boggy valley basin

06/01/2008 pm

Shibden from Swalesmoor , Qby end. Not to be recommended.
Knee deep in bog and not birder friendly with scramble bikes
around the old sewage works.
Just usual quiet woodland fringe stuff
Gt and Blue tit
Mistle Thrush

Good flock of 22 Greenfinch at the end of Swalesmoor in trees
over the kennels.
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Out 'n about

Ploughcroft.. (In passing)

3 Greenfinch 6+ Blue tit
3 Great Tit 6 common Gull over
1 Kes 2 Dunnock
1 Robin 6+ House Sparrow
1 Wren

Shibden.. (2 hours)

2 Greenfinch 17 Blue tit
4 Redwings 7 Chaffinch
1 Crow with considerable white in the wings. About half white. Another had about a quarter of wings white.
1 Wren 3 Blackbird
3 Dunnock 1 Great Spotted Pecker (1 Grn Pecker heard)
2 Bullfinch 1 Moorhen (on small reeded pond near Scout Hall)
1 Great Tit 4 Stock Dove
3 Robin 1 F Sp Hawk
1 Jay (heard)

Swales... (15 mins max- cold and not a lot doing with the wind)

8+ Fieldfare feeding in the fields at a distance
1 F Kestrel

Oats Royd area

Despite my earlier comment on Chris's posting, I couldn't face a Souwester up Soil Hill as this wind more than any guarantees a birdless visit. So I went across the fields and explored a couple of footpaths down Roper Lane tentatively. There were Magpies all over the shop, with a few Common Gull floating about, but nothing else. I then came across the track leading to Oats Royd, an area I only ventured to visit once, half heartedly about 5 years back. I now wish I had persevered, having seen the habitat in it's entirety. Although this too was very quiet, I do see the considerable potential for a range of species.

Amazingly, the third bird I saw, after hearing calls, was a Treecreeper in the topmost conifer stand. There was also the freshly plucked feathers of a Woodpigeon lying in two tidy heaps - female Sparrowhawk been lucky?

Also Moorhen, Kestrel, Jay, 5 Blackbird, Great Tit, Robin, 3 Wrens. I thought I heard two sessions of a calling Kingfisher in the bottom stream, but never saw anything. Roe Deer.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


05/01/2008 1500-1600hrs icy cold W>5-6
42 Fieldfare in field below mast
14 Fieldfare , Taylor Lane
2 Skylark
1 Mipit
At last I connected with the 3 Roe Deer.
Nice to see you and your good lady in town Iain, well done with the Tree Creepers that we had just been talking about, hopefully the numbers may be expanding.
Good predictions Chris, I like a man that sets his sights high.
Shibden valley needs a good looking at this early spring before the leaves appear, I bet we,ll all get a suprise with what turns up. BS

2008 Predictions - Second Attempt

I have now read the Queensbury patch list and so I can revise my 2008 Predictions to: -

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in Shibden, Redpoll down the hill at Oats Royd and my 'Long Shot Hope to See Rarity' will be Great Grey Shrike in the Gorse Bushes at Oats Royd next autumn. (Was going to plump for Marsh Tit in Shibden but I'm going to aim higher!)

Also noticed the patch list had Whitethroat down as a rare in Queensbury. I've seen them quite regularly in Shibden Head and also have seen one singing male at Oats Royd last year.


Brian, after we saw you in town and discussed birds I was inspired to nip into Shibden for an hour.
Stood near Scout Hall I heard something calling quietly, a 'thin' call I couldn't quite identify. Looking around revealed two Tree Creepers together (side by side at one point) at eye level, less than 15 feet away!
It's the first time I've had 2 together in Shibden. These were not far from the site of my previous sighting and perhaps one of the pair accounts for my previous Treecreeper.
Chris, I'd be surprised not to connect eventually with the species up by Shibden Head way. As Brian pointed out today, it's such a large area. There's a lot of cover and if we're honest there's a substantial element of luck involved besides perseverence and other factors. These are my third sighting in almost as many weeks. (I'll swap you one for the Nuthatch..)
If anyone wants directions in trying to connect with the species in the Swales end of the valley let me know.
I wouldn't be surprised to connect with Nuthatch. You've had one further up and it's a species doing well -even in Calderdale. So that's a wish for this year as are Wood warbler and Pied Fly.
Of those species Wood Warbler would be superb, it would actually be a Lifer for me, not just a Calderdale tick. Being an inconsistent record keeper, I think I've had Spot Fly in Shibden a few years ago but I can't confirm it. Lesser Peck would be nice too. For Swales, Black Redstart and Snow Bunt in the winter would be nice. Any Calderdale lifers are most welcome! I'm looking forwards to spring as always but when all those flippin' leaves come out it's so damned difficult to see anything.
Magpies were having their AGM when I counted FIFTY in 2 trees. I just hope, in such numbers, they are not the villains they are made out to be.
I had a little Owl trying to stare me out just 40 feet away.
Nice to see you Brian. I wonder how you got on at Fly Flatts?

Friday, January 04, 2008

2007 Records

I have just sent my records for the Calderdale area of Halifax Birders to Nick Dawtrey via Email attachment of Group Recorder database. Brian has also done the same, can I suggest to all contributors to follow suit, as soon as possible please? If anybody hasn't got the GR software and want's it let me know and I will sort out.

A while back I posted my intention of using Birdtrack. This is still my plan and to minimise multiple data entry my method will be to use Birdtrack throughout the year and then input necessary records into GR for local use at year end.

2008 Predictions

Happy New Year!

Not yet had the courage to brave the elements (Queensbury has alot of elements being blown about at the moment) so my 2008 Queensbury list so far comprises Magpie... er... thats it.

Anyway, my predictions for Shibden Head are Treecreeper (Might be out of date with that one but i've not seen one there), Lesser Spotted Woodpecker as there are a few areas with big enough old trees and Lesser Whitethroat.

Nigel's prediction of Wood Warbler is a good possibility as I saw one last year at Ogden Res. Only stayed for a day so we just need to keep a ear out for them.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Queensbury Today

A Wintery Foxhill Park

Men of Steel these Queensbury birders as Nigel proved today attacking Soil Hill.
Foxhill was quiet at lunch time with just noisy BH and Common Gulls present.
A few Chaffinch and Blue Tits were using the garden feeders at the bottom of the park
and we had 12 House Sparrows and 2 Blue Tits in the garden.
A single Pied Wag was in the MOT station car park p.m.
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Winter Walkies

Having not been out since last year, I decided to familiarise myself with the ususal route; it doesn't seem to have changed at all.

Queensbury - 23 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, approx 30 Starling in fields by Old Guy Rd. Raggalds had Pied Wagtail.

Soil Hell - White and windy. Saw the only passerine, Stonechat, get blown past me. 5 Crows.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Local new year ticks.

Happy New year all. Wishing you a great year's birding.

Difficult birding in the mist, (especially up Swales) but we persevered.

Second bird of the year was a female Kestrel directly over the house. Regular Sp Hawk over and near the house but never a Kestrel anywhere near so close.

1 Goldcrest (a good bird for this spot)
1 L Owl
2 Collared Dove
3 B Tit
1 Gt Tit
4 Goldfinch
1 Robin 3 Blackbird
3 Dunnock 3 Chaffinch

4 M Thrush 3 Redwings
5 Jackdaw
1 l Ow
4 Grey Partridge
1 P Wag (heard) 1+ Mipit (heard) Very thick fog!
No signs of any skylark, I had just one here last week.

Fog almost as bad in the valley.
Green Woodpecker (heard) Jay (heard)
6 LT Tits
2 Woodpigs
Bullfinch (heard)
3 Blue Tits 5 Blackbirds
1 Wren
1 Treecreeper. Half a mile or so from the spot where I saw one very recently.


Im back but maybe not for long. Still no Broadband so they,ve put me back on dial up for now which is slow and very iffy. Anyway, whilst Im here I,ll wish you all a very Happy and bird filled New Year. Also a big thank you to Nigel for running the show through another year and keeping the blog looking well and up to date.
This must have been my worst ever start to a new year with the foggy, wet weather. Im on 10 birds which is about 30 down on my usual start, my best today being a Mistle Thrush in Littlemoor Park this morning.
Must admit I havent left the area but thought it a waste of time.
Just a couple of predictions for you Nigel for 2008, ( you,ve got your years wrong in the left hand column, )
First is TREE SPARROW on the feeders behind the Conservative club, although when you come out of there Nigel you may not tell the difference.
Second is YELLOW WAGTAIL Soil Hill in the reservoir field below the mast. If either of these happen I hope someone else finds them other than me or you won,t believe me. BS

New Years Day 2008

Spent quite some time on this blog, simply because the network connection today and over the last two weeks has been lousy. Contributors, please look at the Species predictions list on the LH side and let me have your suggestions when you get chance.

First birds of the year at the back of my house: Robin singing; Blue Tit singing; Magpie and about 5 Jackdaw chuntering on among the trees.