Birdbrain Stuff

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Glen Cooper Memorial Trophy 2008

Id like , on behalf of us all, to congratulate the winner of the Bird of the Year Trophy, which Im sure we all agree has to be MARK MURRAY for the amazing discovery of the FIRECREST in his own garden. Not only is this for the rarest bird but for his quick skill of identification on a species which could eaily have been passed off as a Goldcrest. Very well done Mark although you know that this puts you under pressure to retain the title in 2009.
A small runner up trophy is to be presented to all other members highlighting their best bird of the year for our area,( there,s no losers in this group,) and these are,in my opinion, in no sort of order:-
NIGEL KERWIN ..............RUFF. also Osprey, Hobby and L.S.W.
CHRIS KING....................WOOD WARBER. also L.R.P. and Waxwing.
IAIN GREENWOOD..........BLACK REDSTART. also Pied Flycatcher
MICHAEL WELSH............NUTHATCH. also 14 late Swifts 20/08/2008
DAVID and JEN SUTCLIFFE... CROSSBILL. also Little Grebe and Snow Bunting
BRIAN SUMNER...................DOTTEREL. Also Red Kite and Common Tern

Many thanks to you all for the many splendid reports during 2008. Wishing you a happy and bird filled 2009

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Three Lanes

3 Goldfinch

10 Redwing
5 Goldfinch

3 Meadow Pipit

Shelf Moor & Shibden

Ventured down the track from Corporal Lane that takes you to Paddock Lane and back via Green Lane.

Shelf Moor - quiet, no sign of Lapwing flock. 2 Mistle Thrush, 8 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing, few Corvids.

Shibden - 16 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, Robin, 15 Woodpigeon, several Carrion Crow, circa 110 Jackdaws. The latter suddenly took to the air at one stage and I heard a Raven calling, but couldn't pick it up.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Swales Moor

3 Skylarks and 5 Meadow Pipits still there this afternoon on the top.
1 Little Owl on the walls near Ploughcroft
1 Sparrowhawk over Windybank

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Slightly dangerous litter

Found this in Shibden within 3 meters of the Calderdale way public footpath. As you can see it's slightly corroded and undischarged. It's a 12 bore with a pheasant on the side. 2 months previously the path was littered with clay pigeons (many intact!).

Swales Moor

8 Meadow Pipits and 3 Skylarks on the top this afternoon
c70 Fieldfares and c35 Redwings near the ski-slope

Shelf Moor area

Saw some finch/sparrow sized birds on the deck by Shaw Lane among Fieldfare flock and was puzzled by sight of light wing panel in poor light so rang BS (I still don't bother with a telescope tsk tsk). I mentioned Greenfinch was a contender and in fact Brian did confirm this, however we both could not recollect seeing this species feeding actively in grass before. Total in the field:
20 Fieldfare, 8 Redwing, 12 Greenfinch, few Starling, Pied Wagtail.

Approx one hour later there was a wonderful spectacle of 150+ Lapwing blogging between Corporal Lane to as far down as Shelf/Northowram and back. I watched for 20 minutes but don't know where they eventually settled. Checked for Goldies but there were none in the field and none with the a/m.

Ogden and Swales

Upper Shibden Hall and Twist Wood
Entrance to Lower Shibden
28/12/2008 0800-1000hrs cool E>3 cloudy

Lodge House Feeder
1m Brambling
2 Siskin
8 Chaffinch
4 Coal Tits
Sev Blue and Gt Tits
1 Gt Spotted Wdpeck
1 Green Wdpeck
+ usual sp.

8 Greenfinch
12 Chaffinch
Flock of 40+ Goldfinch
7 Fieldfare
1 Redwing
No sign of Siskin flock
Was going up Ringby but blasting of 12 bores made be decide against it.

Oh well, back to work tomorrow !
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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ogden and About

27/12/2008 0800-1000hrs Frosty cold start, E>2 inc 4 . cloudy

6 Mistle Thrush
3 Canadas
1 Gt Spotted Wdpeck
28 BH Gull

4 Siskin
6 Coal Tit
2 Chaffinch
4 Mistle Thrush

18 Goldfinch
21 Fieldfare
6 Redwing
2 Mistle Thrush

1 Treecreeper
1 Gt Spotted Wdpeck
9 Chaffinch

Friday, December 26, 2008

Out n about


2 L Owls
1 Coal Tit
1 Kes
1 Song Thrush
1 Jay
2 Coll Doves
1 Comm Gull over >SW
5 BH Gulls >SW


1 Kes
At least 50 Siskins
2 Stock Doves


3 Skylarks
1 Mipit
1 P Wag
1 L Owl

Nearly a Herring Gull

Got a large Gull flying away from me at Raggalds, showing characteristics of Argentatus. One thing cheesed me off; seeing the head would have clinched it - the swine never did show the head in profile, was always facing away. Around 25 Common Gull were also present, along with 13 Fieldfare going S and 11 Woodpigeon doing the rounds.

The Little Owl was sunning itself in Old Guy Rd, but apart from a Gull or two, nothing else.

Soil Hill worked wonders for my hangover, but not for birding:

2 Meadow Pipit, approx 60 Common Gull, 3 Grey Partridge, 3 Goldfinch, Mistle Thrush, 5 Fieldfare.

Boxing Day Bash

Sunrise over Queensbury.
26/12/2008 Early frost, cold S>4 Sunny mid a.m.
A much quieter morning than my last visit with the cold S wind keeping things down.No bird song this morning.

1 Kingfisher in overflow works, below promenade south banking.
1 Dipper on shale in NW corner
1 Siskin
1 Pied Wagtail
1 Green and 1 Gt Spotted Wdpecker.

1 GBB gull
2 Herring gull
8 LBB gull
all >NE.

A hedgehog was walking through Foxhill yesterday evening.
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Thursday, December 25, 2008

We had a group of 4 long tailed tits on the feeders today, and while I was down loading the photos I remembered this one of 2 warblers we saw in Sharm El Sheikh in Sinai. Any ideas?


Just logged on for a quick look and to get some normallity back and whilst I was looking at the photo of Ogden birds started singing through the speakers. Is this due to Christmas cheer or has Nigel been at the works. ???

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


1 Goldcrest
1 Kes
15 Chaffinches
20 Greenfinches
20 House Spadge
4 Coll Dove
4 M Thrushes
4 BH Gulls
1 C Tit
3 Goldfinches
1 Jay


1 L Owl
18 Mipits
1 Skylark
1 Wren
1 Dunnock
3 Herring Gulls > W

3 Fieldfares > W over home.

The Sludge

A few minutes before these Starlings landed on the Radio Mast, they comprised a flock of around 220 birds, wheeling around. Within their ranks were approximately 20 Fieldfare; other birds present were:

4 Meadow Pipit, 2 Grey Heron, 4 Woodpigeon, 2 Reed Bunting, Sparrowhawk, Short Eared Owl, Corvids.

I would recommend that anybody still fancying their chances with the far end top field of Soil Hill take either Snow Shoes or a Canoe.

12 Meadow Pipit were at Raggalds and the Little Owl still at Old Guy Road.

Fw: Queensbury birding.Thanks for an enjoyable year.

Hi Nigel,Seems a long time since i met you en route to the hill.I was flattered to be described as 'a pukka bloke' and to be trusted with the whereabouts of the LRP.Unfortunately I am of the age and upbringing to recognise the word pukka!! I have remonstrated with that upstart chef Jamie Oliver for appropriating it along with his overuse of the in and out word.Some firm has hijacked it so that we can now enjoy pukka pies! I digress.Just wanted to wish you and the gang an enjoyable Xmas and some exotic ticks in the New Year.I have thoroughly enjoyed your travels and finds.Those of you who have sampled the delights of Soil Hill in all weathers ,especially your good self,have shown what my old dad used to call intestinal fortitude.I regret not having done much birding in the area,my wanderings have taken me up the Dales re-visiting places I last saw 35-40 years ago.I have also enjoyed Rodley Nature Reserve and locally Ogden and Shibden.I have been doing a bit of photography with a Fuji 5700.which I got as a birthday present.My knowledge is limited and quite frankly I am happy to go with autofocus most of the time.I thought 10 zoom would be plenty until I saw all these guys with assorted bazookas.Still it has been fun and that is what matters.It is a shame Soil Hill has been bulldozed and I was sorry to hear about the roe deer cull,seemed a bit tough.I would welcome a proper tour of Oatroyds sometime so that i know where i should be walking and also the favoured spots.I am sure you will continue to enjoy both your hobbies.Thank goodness for anti-shake on the modern cameras! Best wishes,

David Hammond.

Christmas Come Early

Gt Spotted Wdpecker
Green Wdpecker
Ogden at its best
24/12/2008 0800-1000hrs Calm, Sunny.
A real birdy morning with several Tit flocks out and Robins, Dunnocks, Wrens and Blackbirds in full song giving a false sense of spring.
Movement in the sky was like vis mig with Gulls, Woodpigs and Stock Doves over. A.C.s Whoopers never came over Ogden.

68 Common Gull

25 Common Gull
2 BH Gull

2 Green Woodpeckers
2 Gt Spotted Woodpeckers
7 Mistle Thrush
6 Fieldfare
4 Redwing
2 Jay
2 Siskin
1 Redpoll
1 Cormorant >NE
6 LBB Gull >NE
5 Herring Gull >NE Sorry Nigel
110 Common Gull >NE
8 Stock Dove >W

82 Fieldfare
15 Redwing
All in fields below W bank of Soil Hill then off >W

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008


6 adult Great Black-backed Gulls came over Syke Lane from Soil Hill direction at 3 pm >SW
1 Tawny Owl singing in Skirden Clough late afternoon and 1 Red Grouse above the plantation
2 Goldcrests

Tawny Owl

Looks like the local Tawnys are getting set to pair up again judging by the cacaphony at some ungodly hour this morning. This particular bird must have been perched just yards away from my bedroom window - welcome back.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Oats Royd Potential Hazard

I have been informed today that Roe Deer have caused such damage to the broadleaved trees such as Beech, Oak etc the Forestry Commission has advised the owner to cull a couple of them. At his own expense the owner has taken steps to replant or plant further trees of the a/m species or suchlike. He has also hired authorised people to carry out the cull in the estate within the next few days, therefore:

All users of the estate are strongly advised to stick to the bridleways and official footpaths and not to wander off into the woodland.

The official calibre of bullet used to kill Roe Deer is .243 which is big enough to kill a human being, even at a fair distance.

An indicator that shooters are at work (apart from bangs!) is the presence of a Land Rover parked on the hardstanding front of the house gates.

The source of this information also tells me some fairly good news - Woodcock is a bird he sees more regularly than I suspected. There wasn't one today, in fact the quiet trend continues:

2 Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 2 Jay, Little Owl, Moorhen, Grey Heron, Corvids, 3 Blackbird, Chaffinch, Siskin overhead calling.

Round and about

Windy Bank Lane

4 Fieldfare

Ringby Lane

4 Grey Partridge
2 Reed Bunting

Annual Records

I spent some time this morning entering my records logged on Birdtrack to the Group Recorder software so that Nick Dawtrey can process them next year. To reiterate what Dave Sutcliffe posted a little while back on the Calderdale Birders Blog, ND wants such records and also paper ones if necessary before end January 2009.

With some regret I now announce that I will no longer be duplicating work in the above manner. From 2009 I will be using Birdtrack solely, but, all is not lost because these records can be downloaded to ones PC. Although they cannot be imported into GR, they can be attached and sent via Email. I will work on this in order to determine which is the most user friendly format e.g CSV, Excel, etc for those interested.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Glutton for punishment

Somebody,s run over mi feeding stone !
Remains of Snow Bunting and Dotterel favoured area

21/12/2008 1345-1440hrs Near gale- WSW>6 Horizontal drizzle.
Not being happy with this mornings early morning soaking I ventured up Soil Hill this p.m. for another.
When I got up there the weather was terrible but the devastation to the habitat was worse.
The eastern end of the hill which held the flock of Snow Buntings and was favoured by the Dotterel has been wiped off the face of the earth along with the SE corner former feeding station and small pond.
This area is now dangerous and inaccessable with the soft deep mud being like quicksand. I came close to losing another pair of rigger boots.
And all for :-
3 Golden Plover
2 Common Snipe
1 Skylark
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A Reet Good Soaking

21/12/2008 SW>5 Heavy drizzle then horizontal rain. Misty.
Shortest day but felt like longest looking for birds.

2 Jay
8 Chaffinch
4 Coal Tit
1 Mistle Thrush
1 f Sparrowhawk

28 Common Gull
19 B.H. Gull
4 Mallard
1 Pied Wagtail

18 Fieldfare
200+ Starling
Loadsa Corvids and Jackdaws

2 Siskin - Alders to left of steep track
1pr Bullfinch
3 Moorhen
1 Little Owl
+ usual sp.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Soil Hill & Raggalds

Quite mild with a slight breeze at times.

5 Meadow Pipit, Dunnock (brief song), 2 Blackbird, Redwing, 22 Fieldfare, 3 Stonechat, 3 Wren. Flushed Snipe from bottom RH Pond.

Raggalds had 3 BHG, 30 Common Gull, 11 Mallard (on the flood).

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Swalesmoor was crap: Corvids, 2 Meadow Pipit, Skylark.
Oats Royd was crap: Little Owl, Kestrel, Jay, Goldcrest, 5 Blackbird.
Sparrowhawk at Shibden Head, which isn't crap.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Struggled to find much there this afternoon!
1 Great Spotted Woodpecker (on the feeder by the lodge) plus usual tits and Chaff's there.
Nothing doing on the res'r other than 28 B H gulls and 19 Common Gulls
2 Goldcrests and that was about it.

Soil Hell

I could almost chew the mist this morning and although there were minimal birds, it was far from quiet. The lads in the Bulldozer, Excavator and two lorries were grinding and clanking away in earnest. I only had one sweep of the top field and of course got nothing, except some more furrows to ponder. The slope produced 3 Golden Plover overhead, 2 Grey Heron and 4 Goldfinch. Of 4 Thrushes that I saw down Perseverance Rd, I managed to identify Mistle Thrush only - the rest were swallowed up by Satan's breath.

Regarding BS previous comment about the ponds supporting Water Rail in future. I have often thought of this and discounted it because of the isolation. They seem to need a more extensive waterway from my experience but somebody please prove me wrong next year.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Patch tick


1 Reed Bunting. Long expected one here and it finally happened today. Looks like there's a few happy birders had good days out today in the recording area. Special congratulations to Brian for his SH Jack Snipe for which he has waited a little longer than I have for Reed Bunt.
3 Skylarks
7 Mipits
1 Stock Dove >W
19 Herring Gulls >W
1 BH Gull >S.


80 Fieldfares on the fields and in bushes. Another 20 >E.
5 Mistle Thrushes
1 L Owl
1 Coal Tit
1 Spadge Hawk (F)
5 LT Tits ( also had three outside house today-scarce house sighting)
Bullfinches (heard)
Jay (heard)
1 Redwing.

The long Awaited !

The new top soiled hill looks good now with stones washing through the new grass.
14/12/2008 1430-1545hrs SOIL HILL

After 40 years of visiting Soil Hill amidst several reports of Jack Snipe, (NK) ,(KM) I finally got my own with good views as I flushed the bird twice at 20yds.

3 Grey Partridge
1 Heron
2 Goldfinch
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Oats Royd

A close range view of a Stoat chasing a rabbit was followed 2 minutes later by a fair bit of squealing. Decided to head down the track to investigate further and came across a group of 6 Bullfinch - all males. Watched these for a good five minutes before continuing along track where I flushed a Woodcock. Great pieces of luck thanks to that Stoat. Also spotted - 2 Jay, 2 Grey Heron, Green Woodpecker, Little Owl, 2 Moorhen, 4 Goldcrest.

Snow free Soil Hill

No Snow but plenty of mist atop the hill. Golden Plover, Fieldfare, pr Goldfinch, few moving Gulls and that's the lot.

Raggalds flood had Common Gull and 7 Mallard. Chapel Lane had a Sparrowhawk across on return trip.

Ogden in the Fog

14/12/2008 Misty start then fog came down. Calm.

Lodge House feeders :-
15 Chaffinch
4 Greenfinch
6 Coal Tit
Sev Blackbirds, Gt Tits and Blue Tits

Round water :-
1 Treecreeper
4 Coal Tits
1 Kingfisher
+ usual wrens, Robins and Dunnocks.

Ned Hill :-
1 Stonechat
12 Magpies

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lousy Start, Great Conclusion

Despite what I said Brian, I decided to post my depressing trip to Soil Hill, mainly to show I can take the rough with the smooth (Breaks down, sobbing).
Just 1 male Stonechat and a Goldfinch.
Managed 2 Goldfinch and a Redwing up Foxhill Grove.
Things improved dramatically on the way home, saw this beauty, courtesy of BS. Thanks a bunch Brian for the thoughts - I'll only drink this one when we get our returning birds next April.
c. 100 Fieldfares at dinnertime headed north over home.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Foxhill Today

Chapel Lane Top
2 GBB Gulls >W mid-day
Good move of LBBs and Common >W most of day
4 Chaffinch in The Willows, Chapel Lane early a.m. ( unusual sighting)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Swales Moor then Oats Royd

Swales was quiet: apart from lots of Crows just Pied & Grey Wagtail and 2 Meadow Pipit.

Oats Royd - Grey Heron, Little Owl, 5 Chaffinch, Bullfinch, 4 Blackbird, Redwing, 3 Jay, Green Woodpecker, Goldcrest, pr Stonechat. May have heard Redpoll.

I decided to go along the top track for once, this proved worthwhile. Just before I photographed this Roe Deer, I'd flushed another along with a Woodcock. Going back down the track I saw my first ever Muntjac Deer.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Web Site Unavailable

After spending some time updating the Website, I found to my dismay that Google disabled it for some reason. I can't think it being because I added a photo promoting our friends in Calderdale Birders by pointing to the Links page!

I did contact Google and it was re-instated immediately, only to be disabled once again after a few minutes. Perhaps it is just a technical problem; I hope it is anyway and I shall be keeping my fingers and feet firmly crossed.

I'll keep you posted when I get the opportunity...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Swales Moor

64 Pink-feet over at 2.38 (see comments on Brians posting)
2 Skylarks and 2 Meadow Pipits on the top
1 Herring Gull >S
130+ Carrion Crows, 38 Magpies, 27 Rooks and 24 Jackdaws also nearby - possibly a pre-roosting flock. I think there is a fairly big winter corvid roost just east over Swales Moor Road around the top end of Scout Wood

1 Little Owl calling up Ploughcroft and 5 Fieldfares there too

Pink Footed Geese Save the Day

A Snowy Soil Hill.

Good move of Pink Footed Geese this p.m. with 90 >W over Brow Lane at Shelf, lucky for me I called at daughters house
then 64 over house >W towards Soil Hill and Ogden at 1430hrs. These had just been reported over Northowram by Calderbirds grapevine.

Soil Hill 1500hrs
5 Grey Partridge
4 Meadow Pipit
1 Skylark
Very quiet as reported by NK.
Walked on shot ice for over 5 miles today and all the good stuff came over the house, typical !

Thanks for putting Purple Sand on Web site Nigel, you,re doing a great job there,its really coming on now.
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Quiet Soil Hill

Managed to stay upright, but hardly any birds around:

Approx 80 Common Gull over W with a few LBBG. Grey Heron, 2 Jackdaw, 6 Goldfinch on Teasel patch.

A Treacherous walk

A well fed Blackbird
Wintery scenes at Ogden

07/12/2008 Early sun then mist. NW>3 Very ice.
A deadly walk round on sheet ice at both venues, fortunately only one fall but its good for sky watching when you,re layed horizontal on your rucksack.
Another poor morning with :-
8 Wren
11 Blue Tit
1 Goldcrest
Still 90+ Mallard
+ usual Robins, Gt Tits etc.

OATS ROYD Gulf area.
18 Chaffinch
15 Greenfinch
2 Roe Deer
Berry trees deserted.
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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Magpie and Little Owl PB's at Oats Royd

A bit of warmth in the afternoon sun tempted me down to Oats Royd hoping for finches and other birds feeding on the berries. No luck tho'. It was pretty quiet. I did however get two personal best counts. There were over 40 Magpie roosting in the trees near the flooded railway tunnel entrance and 3 Little Owls. Two were in their usual spot on the wall at the bottom and 1 new one on a wall above the wooded valley. Excellent.
Chris K

Oats Royd

This afternoon - very crunchy.

5 Bullfinch together (3 male, 2 female)
3 Jay
4 Redwing
Mistle Thrush
Little Owl

Friday, December 05, 2008

Soil Hill Reward

Only raving lunatics go up t'hill in this weather, so off I set hoping for a morsel. Amazing what you find aint it? This Twite shows the full White or Silver ring on the Right Leg and part of a Yellow ring on the Left Leg. I have emailed the main man David Sowter with the details and await feedback.

Only other birds: 2 Crow, 2 Common Gull, 9 Greenfinch near Farm Shop.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Garden Bird Images to make you cry with envy

Hi Nigel,
I've been doing armchair bird-watching for a couple of days. There have been 16 species in today, including maximum counts of 10 Blackbirds, 15 Chaffinch and 13 Goldfinch. We rarely have Jays in, but there have been 2 over the last couple of days. Woodpeckers had been absent for a long time, but the female came previously, and this male called in today. In "Note to BB" mode: We had 3 Woodpigeons in. I discovered that they like peanuts and can eat 43 at a sitting-if not disturbed.



We had a look there today - always a chance something will turn up in bad weather (ever hopeful)
c90 Mallard
1 Grey Wagtail
Usual woodland stuff - no Goldcrests though!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Oats Royd on form

(Click to enlarge images)

Afternoon - 4 Common Gull, Moorhen, Little Owl, 2 Green Woodpecker, 4 Jay, Sparrowhawk, 28 Jackdaw, 8 Blackbird, 3 Redwing, Mistle Thrush, 3 Greenfinch, 4 Chaffinch, Bullfinch, 1 (poss 2) Redpoll, Goldcrest.

Got glimpse of large raptor believed to be Buzzard.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Goldies from Denise

Hi Nigel,
After traumatic dental appointment, I took a therapeutic drive through the lanes this afternoon.

3 Redwing, 2 Fieldfare, 2 Mistle Thrush and a Little Owl in Bracken Lane. 3 Lapwings over, heading towards High Cross Lane.

In High Cross Lane, 32 Lapwings and 10 Golden Plover and a further 68 Lapwing, seen flying above the Corporal Lane fields.

In similar soul-saving drive (same tooth), on Saturday, I saw the SEO, from the roadside at around 2:30 (no joke!!). It was hunting across the slope and the Kestrel was still trying to see it off.

No Bramblings in the garden since my last e-mail, but we have had Redwing, GS Woodpecker, Jay and Sparrowhawk. Denise

PS Great shots of Waxwing, Fieldfare and SEO from you.

Brass Monkey Weather

Went to Oats Royd which was quiet. Couldn't face Soil Hill, as I thought the Icy Blasts would batter my ribcage, so I went to Swalesmoor - the Icy Blasts battered my ribcage.

Oats Royd - 5 Blackbird, 3 Mistle Thrush, 15 Chaffinch, Bullfinch, 2 Jay, Little Owl.

Swalesmoor - 7 Meadow Pipit, 4 Skylark, small unidentified raptor (Sun in eyes) plenty of big black birds Carrion on.