Birdbrain Stuff

Monday, March 31, 2008


Mid afternoon
1 f Goldeneye
6 Canada, 3 Greylag, 1 Barnacle Goose
1 Great-spotted Woodpecker
2 Grey Wagtails
5 Common Gulls
4 B H Gulls
2 Kestrels

Back lane (am)
2 Stock Doves
c30 Lapwings
2 Curlew
Lots of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits about
1 Wren in Ogden Clough

Quiet Oats Royd

Went down this afternoon to Oats Royd and couldn't believe how unnaturally quiet it was. Well, apart from the constant mocking laugh of a Green Woodpecker - must have spotted me a mile off. Meadow Pipit, Moorhen, 12 Greenfinch, Kestrel with prey, two singing Goldcrest, a few other woodland players, but no migrants.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


In and over the ploughed field today were-

2 Wheatears M+F on the deck first ones for me this year. Very mobile and an epic to digiscope!
4 Mistle thrushes
30+ Mipits
16 + Skylarks
6 Pied Wags

Shibden Head and Soil Hill

I originally planned to head up to Soil Hill first thing this morning but chickened out before I even got out of bed 'cos of the wind howling outside. Went to Shibden Head instead to seek some shelter. All the usual species were present with the best being a Coal Tit, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Kestrel, 2 Jays, 2 Stock Dove and a roost of 60+ Wood Pigeon. There was also an odd looking finch that turned out to be a Greenfinch carrying so much nest material, it looked like it had a big beard. Also saw a Roe Deer, 2 Rabbits and a Fox.

Read the Blog at 5.30pm and decided a quick evening trip up to Soil Hill was worth a shot. I was wrong. No Wheatear and no Jack Snipe. Anyway, consolation prizes were a Curlew overhead, 2 Skylark, 5 Meadow Pipit, 8 Lapwing, 2 Pied Wagtail and two flocks of Fieldfare. One of 55 birds heading towards Thornton Moor Reservoir and the other of 70+ birds comming into roost on the wires near the (stinky) entrance track.

Soil Hill

The hill gives up its dead. One of the missing Rigger Boots returns to the surface
Now in need of slight attention.
Soil Hill 30/03/2008 1500-1600hrs wind dropped to W>3. Bright.
2 Heron
18 Fieldfare
4 Lapwing
8 Skylark
1 Kestrel
1 Pied Wagtail
3m 6f Wheatear. very flighty noisy birds. Moving around the slope above the L.H. pond.
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Mixed Fortunes

Queensbury - 7 Meadow Pipit, Skylark, 2 Pied Wagtail, White Crow flying over Raggalds.

Soil Hill - 16 Meadow Pipit, 9 Skylark, 3 LBBG over W, 3 Kestrel having a domestic, 3 Lapwing, Snipe, Jack Snipe, 9 Fieldfare. I searched everywhere for Wheatear, some places twice and upto 1400 hrs didn't see any. At 1530 I got a mobile call from BS saying there were 9 Wheatear present, which goes to show what can happen at this time of year.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


8 am till 10.30 this morning
1 Kingfisher
1 Great Crested Grebe
8 Canada Geese
1 Barnacle goose
1 Gt Spotted Woodpecker
1 pr Sparrowhawks displaying
1 Kestrel
1 Moorhen

3 Ravens over from Soil HIll area towards the wind farm
15 Skylarks
c50 Meadow pipits passing through

Thursday, March 27, 2008

P.croft 'n Swales

Bit of novelty in the form of some new temporary habitat. A field near Ploughcroft has been ploughed-up. Within an hour of ploughing ending it was busy with Mipits and P wags (25+ of each). A few Skylarks up here also and one was singing its Larynx out. Oh, and a pair of Kes.

Passing the edge of Shibden briefly- 2+ Bullfinches and 2 LT Tits.

Swales very quiet. 3 Mipits 2 L Owls. Ideally I would have gone yesterday with easterlies predicted and the worse weather might have encouraged something down.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

SE over Soil Hill

Deciding that the moisture laden SE breeze would drop something off on the hellish hill, up I went after lunch. Old Guy Rd, Qby, had 2 Meadow Pipit and 2 Skylark in the fields - a good start and a Grey Heron was overhead at Raggalds on return.

SH - F Merlin zoomed past my left earhole heading N. 11 Meadow Pipit, 3 of which were in song/display flight. 2 Skylark, 3 Lapwing, 2 Curlew, pr Grey Partridge, pr Moorhen, pr Mallard, Kestrel, approx 24 Fieldfare, Stonechat. Some kind of passerine was trilling or singing a subsong from the reedbeds; try as I might I could not see it, and have not been able to identify the sounds. All in all, well worth getting a bit damp for.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Soil Hill to Oats via Ogden

SH - Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Lapwing, Curlew, pr Mallard, 2 Grey Heron, Moorhen (RH pond) Kestrel. The fields opposite side of road at the bottom had 20 Common Gull and around 10 Lapwing.

Ogden Res - feral Barnacle Goose, 15 Canada, GC Grebe, Goldeneye, Grey Wagtail, pr Goldfinch, 7 Greenfinch.

Oats Royd - 11 Common Gull, pr Little Owl, Moorhen.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Soil Hill

24/03/2008 pm visit. Cold N>5 Odd snow showers.
A quick dash up today, thought after getting Whoopers at Fly Flatts this morning I could be on a run but not to be. The hill was almost void of birds, other than a few LBBs heading to roost it was dead.No sign of Wheatear or Little Grebe. BS

Sunday, March 23, 2008


23/03/2008 Slight NE>3 Thawing . 0730-0930hrs
Much the same as DJS report for 21st.
1 f Goldeneye
1pr Goosander
1 Curlew over
1 Gt. Spotted, 1 Green Wdpecker
+ usual sp.
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Saturday, March 22, 2008


Fairly quiet. 2 trips up here today (first and last bits of the day), a total of 3 hrs spent. On the plus side there were no people to be seen, lovely and quiet. It felt a wee bit wintery especially in the morning.

2 Stock Doves
1 L Owl
2+ Sky Larks
1 Mipit
2 Fieldfares
2 Mallards
2 P wags
usual Corvids.

Soil Hill

Hail blizzard moving over Calderdale from Soil Hill.
22/03/2008 1500hrs. Wind dropping N>5 Heavy hail showers.
Deadly quiet with no sign of Wheatear,or Little Grebe. Just a few Mipits, 4 Skylark and 1 Grey Heron eating
frog spawn YUK !
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Oats Royd

The weather got better so I took a trip out after all. Carrion Crow at nest, 20+ Jackdaw, Grey Heron, Moorhen, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, 3 Blackbird, 5 Chaffinch, 6/7 Greenfinch, Goldcrest brief song. Finally got Little Owl pr on wall together.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Pair of Goosander there today along with 1 female Goldeneye.
2 Canada and the feral Barnacle Goose still there.
1 Curlew over >W

Soil Hill

21/03/2008 1500hrs Cold N>6 gusting 7 Hail Showers.

3 Wheatears , 1 in Fieldfare field, 2 in SE corner field near farm.
2 Skylark
No sign of Little Grebe
Dead quiet otherwise

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Queensbury gets bigger!

I have been doing the BTO WEBS Core Count for Ogden Reservoir since Jan 2006 and have seen Little Grebe on a couple of occassions (17/9/06 and 17/12/06).

I was wondering where the 'Official' Queensbury Recording Area extends. 2.5 miles from the traffic lights in the town centre then includes only half of Ogden Reservoir so we may need to go armed with some bread to entice ducks to our end!

I saw the Wood Warbler at Ogden on 19 May 2007 and it was only around for a day. It was at the far end of the reservoir in the woods near the track (still closed I think) up to Ogden Clough so technically outside the 2.5 mile limit. Anyway, if we are including all of Ogden Reservoir in 'Queensbury', I've few good records (Kingfisher, Dipper, Common Sandpiper, Crossbill) for the patch list. I'm sure others will have records too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Oats Royd

Upon arrival a Peregrine, almost certainly male, zoomed over my head, viewable without binoculars, heading toward Swalesmoor. This may account for the place being on the quiet side and the pile of pigeon feathers I found by the 'Moorhen' pond.

Other: Grey Heron, pr Kestrel, 30+ Woodpigeon, 3 Blackbird, 3 Greenfinch, 6 Chaffinch. 2 Roe Deer.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More on the Firecrest

Thanks to a comment on this blog by 'Muck' I have found more info on the Firecrest seen on 16/03/08 in our area. The link showing a photo of the bird and name of the finder has been Emailed to those local birders who's Email address I have. Sorry Andy!

New Patch Tick

The top of Soil Hill was virtually empty, courtesy of the Northerly breeze, so I searched the slopes. Half heartedly thinking I better check the bottom left hand pond before doing the right, I caught sight of a Little Grebe swimming across it before diving down. I managed to relocate it among the reeds and watched it motionless for about 2 minutes and could see it was still in Winter plumage. On returning some 40 minutes later, the bird was presumed still to be in hiding; never mind it's great to get another patch tick.

Also 2 Blackbird, 3 Meadow Pipit, 9 Skylark, 3 Pied Wagtail, 2 Kestrel, pr Stonechat. Curlew still present but Lapwing not.

On the way home I found a recently dead male House Sparrow (road kill). I took it into Brian's work to see if he had any brown paint. The theory was we could do it's head and turn it into a much needed Tree Sparrow, but no paint, so it looks like a possible hors d'ouvres instead. What?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ploughcroft, Swales.


Pair of Goldcrests in a garden
Several Chaffinches and Blue Tits.
2 BH Gulls in fields with 2 Common Gulls.


40+ Mipit
15+ Skylark
1 Pied wag over
1 L Owl
Pair stock doves
1 M Thrush

Sunday, March 16, 2008


16/03/2008 Coln NE>5 Snow flurries pm visit

2 Curlew holding territory
2 Lapwing
3 Grey Partridge
4 Skylark
2 Roe Deer
1 Pheasant.

No news of Queensbury Firecrest at Yews Green . Nothing or no one to be found ?
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Ogden/Soil Hill

16/03/2008 Cloudy, strong E> 4 E>6 on SH
1pr Teal
Gt Crested Grebe
Usual Barnacle goose
1 Greylag
10 Canada
2 Jay
2 Goldcrest
12 Goldfinch
+ usual sp.

48 Fieldfare
200+ Starlings
11 Skylark
3 Golden Plover
5 Lapwings
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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ploughcroft area and Swales.

Came back soaked but happy..


P Wag (heard)
Green Pecker (heard)
2 Mistle Thrushes
Quite difficult birding in the fog and rain.
1 Mipit
2 displaying Skylarks.
1 Kes
1 Woodcock spooked from the side of a dry-stone wall. Fantastic views, it was only c. 10 feet from me as it called and flew off expressing disdain by way of its rear. Getting off the beaten track paid off again.

I thought if Skylarks can display, people can ride horses and learn to ski in this weather then the weather's good enough for birding, even up Swales...

2 Grey Partridges
3 Mipits
3 Skylarks
Probably more of the latter 2 species down in the long grass. I've seen an entire flock of 30 or so birds just 'disappear' into it.
As I approached the Queensbury end visibility suddenly became even worse. I heard a faint call which brought Peregrine to mind. As I looked east into a field with lots of spits, facing the driving rain I caught sight of an indistinct 'grey' fast-moving raptor-like bird. The crows were suddenly up as were several thrushes (probably Fieldfares). It was all distant and vague in the appalling conditions but I'll put the bird down to a probable Peregrine.
Such a pleasure to get the sodden kit off, wring out my hat and get a shower.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Swales 'n Shib

Mipit 32+
Skylarks 16+ a few displaying.
20 Fieldfares on the deck once more then moved off West
The crow with white secondaries was glimpsed
4 goldfinches over W
2 Stockdoves over W
5 Pied Wags
1+ Kes (M)
1 Jackdaw
1 L Owl


Visit ruined by 2 dweebs with an airgun obviously on the hunt for wildlife. I have pictures and descriptions. They may have managed a bird kill but I can't confirm for certain. Observed taking shots at Blackbirds and Crows. Carrying a Wierach 77 type rifle (underleaver cocking gives a over-under double-barrelled look). In area of former sewage works and nearby surrounds. Left towards Queensbury with rifle in a black gun bag.

Pellets re pic.

Found on flanks of Shibden to be vague.
First was over 5 inches long before broken-up for inspection. It was surrounded by three smaller pellets. Each very compact fur, probably rabbit. A few bones within. The largest is pictured and may be a section of vertebrae. Any ideas or comments?

Rock n Roll

Did the circuit Soil Hill, Ogden, Oats Royd this am; very busy it was too, starting off with 3 singing Skylark by the cricket club.

SH - 2 Meadow Pipit, 7 singing Skylark, 6 Lapwing, 4 Fieldfare. Vixen Fox

Ogden Res - everything that could sing did sing. Blue, Great, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch etc. 2 singing Green Woodpecker (1 seen in flight) 3 GSW seen and heard in flight together. 2 Sparrowhawk displaying, GC Grebe, drake Goldeneye. A Greylag Goose was behaving aggressively to 3 Canadas by the feeding station. This bird was in prime condition and although it did hang around for bread, it would not allow close approach, unlike the others. Opinions? Oh it could fly too - wings not pinioned.

Oats Royd - singing Skylark, Grey Heron, 2 Mistle Thrush, noisy Green Woodpecker, 30+ Woodpigeon, Sparrowhawk, 2 displaying Kestrel.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


3+ Mipits
7+ Skylarks
18+ Fieldfares
10 Rooks.

2 L Owls
2 Mistle Thrushes
1 Pied Wag.

The Pied Wag roost in HX town centre was very active at 6.30 PM with over a hundred birds. A real pleasure. It's between WH Smiths and the coffee place.


Great Crested Grebe not there today (daily 15th Jan to 8th Mch)
Pair of Goldeneye
4 Song Thrush
20+ Goldfinch
4 Canada Geese
1 Goldcrest
12 Chaffinch
1 Sparrowhawk

Monday, March 10, 2008

Queensbury Today

10/03/2008 1730hrs
4 Golden Plover >W low over Foxhill park heading in direction of Soil Hill.

The famous hill got a mention in the latest Yorkshire Birding mag for the several Snow Bunting sightings last November, Queensbury hits the big time. BS

Movement on Soil Hill

Why does it always rain on me? Is it because I live in Queensbureeeee? (apologies to Travis) Actually wasn't too grim - fresh breeze from S/SE with showers.

2 Meadow Pipit, 4 singing Skylark, Grey Heron, Lapwing, pr Snipe, pr Stock Dove, 130 Starling, 26 Fieldfare, Chaffinch, Robin, Wren. Stonechat pr singing/displaying back on territory.

Gallons o Frog spawn by bottom pond and for those connoisseurs, piles of dogshit up the track opposite the farm wot don't let their dogs shit on their own land.

Queensbury - 2 singing Skylark near cricket club. 45+ Common Gull

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Ploughcroft, Hag Ln Swales.

Great to see Skylarks returning to the tops in numbers. 12+ in Hag Ln/Ploughcroft area along with returning Mipits (8+). Also pair Pied Wags and 1 Kes.


8 Skylarks on deck and 4 over headed South.
16 Fieldfares
3 Mipit
1 P wag
2 Rooks


09/03/2008 early a.m. SW >3 Heavy showers
Several Coal Tits
2 Treecreeper
1 Kingfisher, site tick for me.
1 Gt Crested Grebe
+ usual sp.
Nice to bump into my old vis mig birding buddy Dave Barker.
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Visit late afternoon/dusk.

1 Great Crested Grebe
3 Goldeneye (2 fem)
6 Stock Dove
c230 Fieldfare coming in to roost
17 Curlew >W over Back Lane

60 Goldfinch in Sycamores by the Causway Foot prior to roost (in the nearby shrubbery?)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Soil Hill

08/03/2008 1500hrs. Gale force SW>7 Torrential rain. Soaked to the chuffing skin !
An optimistic trip in search of an early Wheatear proved as expected but even in the adverse conditions birds were present.
4 Lapwings on the scrapes, these were obviously nailed to the ground as the wind never moved them.
60 + Fieldfare
2 Skylark
4 Mipits.

Soil Hill Friday 7 March

As the radar showed it dry, I wore the thicker rather than the waterproof coat up to Soil Hill for a quick circuit on Friday morning. No sooner had I left Perseverance Road, it started to spit, and by the time I was on top, rain clouds were whisking over the tops and down the Calder Valley accompanied by a brisk south-westerly, so I got damp.

Birdwatching thus proved difficult. Two magpies fed in the fields on the north side of the hill while a couple of Carrion Crows foraged with the sheep. It was pleasing to hear three separate Skylarks singing and see at least one more. A Kestrel swooped low over the top and a male Stonechat was hanging about, which was nice to see. Two Lapwings flew south low. No pipits at all, and still too early for Wheatears. Plenty of short turf, so plenty of feeding opportunities for them. A group of about 40 gulls could be seen very distantly in a field to the west of Keelham traffic lights.

Returning along the road, it began to sleet a little in the strong winds.... Still more of winter to come.

Colin Shields

Friday, March 07, 2008

Shibden Head.

A quick blast around today produced most of the usual plus the following:

1 Great Spot pecker (F)
3-4 Song Thrushes
2 Goldcrests
4+ LT Tits
1 Kes (M)

heard not seen:


Plenty of tits chasing about and looping the loop.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Soil Hell to Hades Royd

I should have gone to see a Psychiatrist; my time would have been better spent. A Kestrel spoilt a complete blank on Soil Hill. Bradshaw coughed up Collared Dove, Blackbird, 4 Mistle Thrush, Green Woodpecker. Oats Royd , er, now lemme think, oh yes 3/4 Greenfinch, some corvids and 3 Roe Deer.

Monday, March 03, 2008


Great Crested Grebe, a pair of Goldeneye and 2 Canada Geese this afternoon.
Also 2 juv Herring Gulls over and 1 L B B Gull >N over Soil Hill.

Snow Flurries

Despite yesterday's comment on not going out, I couldn't face two days indoors so down to Oats Royd went I. It was worth it just to come across a Roe Deer that failed to notice me and gave excellent views from approx 25 metres. At one stage it actually lay down in the grass for a minute or two but I moved my leg and away it went.

Pr Mallard, 3/4 Greenfinch, 3 Blue Tit, Pied Wagtail, 4 Woodpigeon, Kestrel, Little Owl.

via Email from DS 02/03/08

Hi Nigel, I thought you might like this Treecreeper shot for the blog/gallery. I took it this afternoon, as it sheltered from the wind. I think we usually callourselves: a Queensbury garden, adjoining Park Lane. Another day, I'll try for a topical shot called: "Something interesting, in enormous fallen branch"! Denise Shields

Denise, I like it very much! thanks.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


02/03/2008 Cold NW>6 Some sun and drizzle showers. 0745-0930
Very quiet in the strong winds
Gt Crested Grebe still present coming into summer plumage.
1 Treecreeper
2 Goldcrest
1 Canada Goose
Sev. singing Robins, Wrens and Chaffinch
+ usual sp.
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