Birdbrain Stuff

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Soil Hill

Soil Hill 31/05/2009 1530-1630hrs Hot and sunny, E>4
Scrapes almost dried up now.
All activity at the pond area, no sign of Whitethroat , Stonechat or Wheatear.
8 Goldfinch
Several Meadow Pipits carrying food
5 Linnets
1m Reed Bunting
1 LBB Gull >E
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Migrant Search

Spent this afternoon down Dailie Fields and West Scholes searching the dingly dells for likely Spotted Flycatcher - nothing, nichts, nada, nowt, zilcho.

Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail with juvenile. Pheasant, Grey Partridge, 5 Woodpigeon. 3 Goldfinch, GSW, Song Thrush, Blackcap, several Willow Warbler. A few Swallow and two or three Swift.

Mountain: 2 Skylark, 8 Swift, 2 House Martin. A large bird flying N then swinging round E caused a bit of identification excitement. It turned out to be an immature GBBG second year(ish) job.

I didn't expect the Whitethroat or Whinchat to be hanging around - I wasn't disappointed.

Thornton to west scholes

Thornton Viaduct had at least 25 swifts, all settled into breeding now. There is some repair work ongoing on the viaduct but this doesn't seem to have bothered the Swifts at all, in fact numbers are higher than normal. Also Grey wagtail, Chiffchaff and 2 willow warblers.

Then I went across footpath to west scholes, a new location for me. Nothing much to report, usual woodland species and: -
Willow Warbler
Numerous swallows
There was some habitat that looked perfect for Spotted fly but after much searching nothing, no surprise there

Foxhill / Ogden / Back Lane

31/05/2009 Bright and sunny, Blue skies E>4

Foxhill 0545hrs
1 Whitethroat , Harp Lane top
1 Willow Warbler, Fleet Kennels
1 Whinchat , Underground reservoir field.

Mallard with 7 chicks
Heron licking its lips
+ low numbers of usual passerines

Back Lane
1 m Bullfinch in house feeder, apologies for crap photo.
28 Swift all drifting >NW
1 Pheasant.
+ usual Swallows, Woodpigs, Magpies etc.
Roll on autumn
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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Oats Royd

Sparrowhawk treated me to a close range fly-by although its presence barely subdued the level of bird-song, some of the performers were:

6+ Willow Warbler
1 Chiffchaff
3 Bullfinch
3 Long-tailed Tit
2 Linnet

Friday, May 29, 2009

Soil Hill Drama

I found this Racing Pigeon at approx 12:45 pm today; the Raptor which hit it never had time to even start it's meal. The owner put his phone number on the left leg as well as the Ring no on the right leg. I phoned on arrival back home - the bird was lodging at Keighley when released for a training stint on Tuesday this week.

Meadow Pipits and Skylarks all over the place, with about 6 Linnet moving around. A most pleasant sight were a pr Curlew flying around and calling often. The Whitethroat is still singing from the same location and a Wheatear showed for a few moments.

Also present: a lumbering m Pheasant, 2 Goldfinch, 2 Reed Bunting and a very active m Stonechat.


2 Woodcock flew over Syke Lane yesterday evening at 9.50 pm. I think they were perhaps disputing territory by the noise they were making and chasing each other!

Monday, May 25, 2009

A hill full of Ladies ?

Soil Hill 25/05/2009 1530-1630hrs.
By now the weather had turned cloudy and damp with a SW>4.
First bird as I arrived was a Common Buzzard very high and >SE over Mountain and
off towards Drax power station. The bird was getting heavily mobbed by Swallows and Swifts.
Other than that the hill was birdless apart from the usual Mipits and Skylarks.
As I got onto the summit I was surrounded with 50+ butterflies which were very active settling for seconds at a time.
On settling they immediately closed their wings, hence the photos. I rang DCB for ID confirmation believing them to be the Painted Ladies we were forewarned about and on seeing Daves photos on the blog I think they were ?. The colour and pattern on the wing tops were right but not being a
butterfly person Im not sure, it was the size that threw me as they were only half the size on the common Cabbage White. What do you think?
By the time Id rung Nigel they had completely gone.
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Soil Hill Circular

Went to SH then Ogden then returned via SH again.


Willow Warbler & Whitethroat at Foxhill; pr Linnet at Mountain.

Soil Hill 1030hrs - pr Goldfinch otherwise deadly, so I moved on to:

Ogden. - Pheasant, Jay, Green Woodpecker, pr Tufted Duck. Mistle Thrush family of 4 calling. Goldcrest, Blackcap, Chiffchaff. Found Blut Tit breeding evidence.
Swallows and a couple of Swift were high up; a single Sand Martin flew over the water.

Soil Hill 1310 hrs - 8+ Swallow including breeders; 5 Swift. Pr Red Legged Partridge, 4 Lapwing, Kestrel, 11 Linnet, 2 Reed Bunting, m Stonechat. The Whitethroat has returned and was singing well and a single Wheatear seen.

Got a distant unsatisfactory view of a large raptor and after a phone call from BS, I feel was probably Buzzard.

Ogden/ Back Lane.

25/05/2009 0730-0930 hr Hot and sunny, very still
Hard work birding with moving birds being very high up in the blue sky in binoc vision only.

Ogden very quiet apart from usual singers.
Tufted moved on as well as DCBs Oyks from his watchpoint
1 Grey Wagtail catching midges over the water.

Back Lane
Sev Swifts mostly blogging, any movement was >NW.
1 House Martin very high >NW
29 LBBs >SW in 4s and 5s.
1 Cuckoo moving between trees on the hillside up opp.Ogden Kirk.
2 Golden Plover
No sign of Tree Pipit

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Far Side

For a while now I've been thinking of trying to break my obsessive, non-productive birding and maybe, after the experience I had this evening, it could happen.

I met a Queensbury lad in the boozer tonight, after an absence of 10 months or so, the reason being that he has a house on the Isle of Barra. Indulging my penchant for self inflicted punishment, I asked him what birds he sees up there. After a slack jawed 10 minutes of gawping on my part, the killer blow came thus (not quite verbatim):

"The Corncrakes are all over the place, I even get them in my garden. Sometimes, I'm scared of stepping on them - you hear them calling feet away, but only see them rarely"

I'm still Reeling, as I hope the birds are too.

Ogden / Back Lane

24/05/2009 0730-1000hrs Cool wind . Bright and sunny.
Strangely though the wind was >W it was funnelling down over Ogden from >NNE even blowing the water towards the promenade,
this was the same on Back Lane with a direct N>4

1pr Tufted
1 Heron
1 Greylag
1 Common Sandpiper briefly landing then off towards TMR.
see DCBs vis mig blog for Oystercatcher movement.

Back Lane
1 Tree Pipit near house
Sev Swifts
1m Merlin chasing Mipits
1 Kestrel.
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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Foxhill Today

Guardian of the Nest.
4 House Sparrow fledglings now showing at garden nest .
Sev. young ,noisy Starlings in and around park.
1 Grey Heron over >W p.m.
Swifts becoming more common now.
First time for 11 days without rain.
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Friday, May 22, 2009

Deluge III

Getting beyond a joke now, thankfully the forecast is better for the weekend. Ogden Reservoir:

Birds definitely thin on the ground, although this Chaffinch was eating well.

Willow Warbler(s) Grey Wagtail, Grey Heron, 2 drumming GSW, LBBG > S. A Single Oystercatcher was calling while doing a circuit overhead.

Soil Hill:

16 blogging Meadow Pipit (How did they learn this? Google?) c10 Skylark including one lucky bird that missed death by size 10 by eight inches. On inspection of a grass tussock I found a nest containing 4 eggs, yet again proving the importance of this site as a breeding ground.

Pr Grey Partridge, Pied Wagtail, 4 Lapwing, Kestrel, 3 Linnet, Stonechat, Reed Bunting, 5 Swift, 8 Swallow, 2 Wheatear.

The pile of rubble that was believed to be holding a breeding pr of Wheatear (previous header pic) has now been decimated by the excavation works. Needless to say, no birds present in this area.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Breeding Sucess

Good news on the House Sparrows with 3 fledged birds in the ivy on the back of the house.Hopefully they,ll have a second brood.
Several Swifts now on an evening over Foxhill Park.
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There were two Tawny Owls calling in the garden last night, a pair twit and twooing, and this morning we had two male bullfinches.
We also had the first families of starlings and green finches on the feeders this morning.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Another Soaking.

Oats Royd 1410 hrs - I think it was dry for about 10 minutes before I got pissed on again; you win some, you lose most.
This Moorhen is a loser inasmuch as the nest is in full view from a footpath where people, dogs and the owners vehicle cruises by. The Grey Heron was down by the bottom pond but it won't be long before it has another feast methinks.
On the bright side, I found evidence of successful breeding by a pr Chiffchaff. Other birds present being Song Thrush, 5 Willow Warbler, Jay, 6 Swallow and usual.
Local Blackcap still Soliciting.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rinse & Blow Dry

Got a soaking at Ogden and a Blow Dry at Soil Hill.

Ogden Res 1130 hrs: Greylag with 2 Canada Goose. Pr Tufted Duck still there, for which I'm grateful. Pr Jay, LBBG > S, Grey Wagtail. About 6 Willow Warbler very vocal but no other migrants were. Also 3 Swallow and a Swift.

When the cloudburst settled above my head and let rip, it brought a bonus. A pr Oystercatcher were driven in, presumably from Cold Edge? They put on a spectacular display of wheeling and winding across the water about 3 times before settling on the shore.

Soil Hill - no real change; just add Grey Heron and subtract Whitethroat. The wind had picked up big time here and the only excitement came when a distant bird took flight as soon as I appeared. I never relocated it, but my first impression was possible Ringed Plover - I won't be claiming it though.

Queensbury 1420 hrs: M Duffy reports a white Blackbird hanging around the Church grounds. Blackcap singing briefly from the bushes and shrubs behind Downeys Solcrs.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Another one bites the dust

Soil Hill 17/05/2009 p.m. Rain and SE>5
Not only has the Curlew field along with nest been destroyed but today the next field
containing 2pr of breeding Lapwing along with Skylarks and Mipits has been ploughed up. You,d have
thought that the distressed Lapwings overhead would have been a clue.
The hill was quiet apart from Skylarks, Mipits and 4 Linnet
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Quiet would be an understatement.

OGDEN 17/05/2009 0730-0930hrs Early fog cold S>3 inc. SE>4. Cloudy then rain mid a.m.
A desperately poor morning with the highlight being a pair of Tufted on the water.
Willow Warb numbers were well down and otherwise there were just the usual sp.
2 Curlew flew overhead and a few Swifts were moving >N after 0900hrs in front of the approaching rain.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Oats Royd

Generally quiet but over the duration saw about a dozen Swift mostly in pairs (my first local ones of the year as I've been slacking recently)
6 Swallow
pr Linnet
5 Willow Warbler
Grey Heron
Couldn't find the Whitethroat this visit, has he moved on to Soil Hill?

Weather Migrants

The stormy conditions overnight made for interesting birding this morning locally.

Soil Hill 0940 - 1110 hrs:

Usual Meadow Pipits & Skylarks - the latter very active. Pr Grey Partridge; RLP may have also been present. 4 Lapwing; heard at distance were Curlew & Oystercatcher.
Pr Goldfinch, 16 Linnet, 3 Reed Bunting, pr Stonechat, 3 Wheatear, 5 Swallow, Swift. Whitethroat male singing it's heart out - a much earlier record than recent years here.

Queensbury 1120 hrs: 6 LBBG > E over Raggalds. Male Greenland Wheatear at Fleet Lane Kennels.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Yesterday Shibden

1 Raven > E was my first for the recording area.
2 Kes
5 Bullfinches
1 Treecreeper
3 Swallows
At least 70 Swifts mostly movers in groups of 3-7.
3 House Martins > N

3 LT Tits
1 Green Pecker
2 Song Thrush
3 GSW and one heard drumming
3 Will Warb
2 Chiffs
2 Jackdaws entering two nest holes in a tree
3 Jays
2 Mistle Thrushes
1 Green Pecker

House Martins

Finally House Martins are back on territory at the top of Chat Hill on the junction with Thornton Road. Been checking for last couple of weeks but nothing, but on way home from work today counted 9 of them, was beginning to think they'd never get back.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Swifts on the move.

14/05/2009 1715hrs
Good move of Swifts over Qby with over 70 counted whilst walking up Chapel Lane, all >NE.
Also several blogging over Foxhill Park.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Backyard Birdin

My small back garden backs onto a large field, with a stand of mature trees immediately behind it. This morning 'twas like an aviary with lots of noise - singing, squawkin, chuntering and suchlike. A pair of breeding blackbirds were scrapping with a Magpie; all of them at one stage using a wooden fence post to perch on. I grabbed my camera when this Woodpiggy did the same, and it being a bit slow on the uptake, allowed an easy shot.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Windy Again

More wind, this time from the E for a bit of variety. Soil Hill:

usual Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. 6 Lapwing, pr Grey Partridge, Pied Wagtail, Chaffinch, 8 Linnet, 2 Wheatear, 2 Reed Bunting, pr Stonechat, 3 Swallow, pr Swift.

Ogden - doldrums. Kestrel, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, 2 Goldcrest, 4 Willow Warbler, Blackcap.

6 Swift at Windy Bank.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tempted out by a Swift

A lone Swift over my garden tempted me outside and so I wandered down to Oats Royd at about 7pm. An interesting trip 'cos I found a Grey Wagtail near the stream at the bottom. (Can't remember seeing one 'on the ground' down there before.) Then found a male bulfinch gathering nest material. 20 or swallows were zooming round my head but then I got distracted by the bird I had hoped to see as one gave a brief song flight before heading back into the bushes. A male Whitethroat. Nice one. Loads of Willow Warblers and two Chiffchaffs also about.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Quiet at Ogden and Soil Hill

It seemed quiet at Ogden today. Very few Mallard were on the reservoir (about 30). Only birds of note were 2 Grey Wagtail, a Grey Heron and a drumming male GSWP. A few Golden Plover and Curlew were overhead somewhere too. Soil hill was a little better with 6 swift (my first Queensbury ones this year), 20+ Swallow. 6 Lapwing, 2 Linnet, 2 Pied Wagtail and 1 F Wheatear. Even the Skylarks (6) and Meadow Pipits (3) seemed a bit quiet today.

Circular to Shibden Head

Kicked off with Swift over Brighouse Rd, Queensbury > N.

2 Linnet, Grey Heron, 3 Swallow, Skylark at Shelf Moor.

Shibden Valley drastically quiet:
Bullfinch, 2 Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Song Thrush, Green Woodpecker.

Shibden Head:
LBBG > N, Green Woodpecker, GSW, Tawny Owl; Nuthatch called briefly.

Thornton Swifts

Swifts are back on their breeding grounds at Thornton Viaduct. Managed to count 16 but they could have been more, it's quite hard to count when they’re zooming through the arches screeching. Also Blackcap singing away on Lane end.

Ogden/ Back Lane

10/05/2009 0745-0930hrs Cloudy, damping early on, calm.
Good numbers of Willow Warblers
1 Drumming GSWdpeck.
all usual s.p.

Back Lane
15 Swift >N
5 LBBs >NW
1 calling Golden Plover
2 Snipe
plus usual Curlews, Woodpigs etc.


Just been back to Station Road and they are common white throats not lesser.Must take by bins next time I go cycling.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

lesser whitethroat ???

I have just been for a bike ride up to Queensbury and there was a pair of warblers flitting around the brambles in front of Clayton Edge Farm on Station Road. I didn't have my bins
so I cant be sure but I think they were. We drove back with the bins but it was 8.30 by then and there was no sign of them.
Pair of bullfinches,stockdove,pied wagtail,chiffchaff and the first house sparrow for ages in garden

Windy Hill

Soil Hill 0940 hrs strong W wind blue skys; nothing moving and top field blown clean almost.

10+ Skylark, c8 Meadow Pipit, pr Red Legged Partridge, 2 Blackbird, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting, Stonechat, 2 Swallow, 6 Wheatear.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Park Lane News

The Stock Doves are back at again at Park Lane and nice comparison this afternoon with the pair of Wood Pigeons that have taken up residence. Interesting to see the pink neck patch showing well. The light was poor and through a wet window so not the best shots.The pair of Magpies nesting above took a dislike of the Stock Doves and took a few feathers out of one of them earlier.

Interestingly, after being very thin on numbers all of the winter, Greenfinches are back with up to seven displaying and also feeding up on the sunflower seeds. Goldfinches and Chaffinches in similar numbers, so hope for a good few youngsters this year.

Best wishes
Colin Shields
5 May 2009

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Soil Hill briefly

No change to recent post except for a pr Red Legged Partridge. Same applies to Oats Royd; Whitethroat still goin' nuts.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


There was a chiffchaff calling from the sycamores for a short while on Sunday afternoon.
Are they too common to get a mention? I don't remember hearing them in the garden before.
The GS woodpecker is still drumming but unfortunately the second photo was one I found below the cliffs near Dover not Ogden.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Oats Royd & Queensbury

There was no sign of Garden Warbler (How Borin hehehe) nor Little Owl at Oats from 1250 - 1410 hrs. The Moorhen's nest with 3 eggs on the top pond is now empty, as expected; I found an eggshell on the bank, looking like the contents had been eaten. It was simply too easy to spot and I reckon that Grey Heron found it just too tempting.

The supercharged Whitethroat was still playing hide and seek, plus Sparrowhawk and Green Woodpecker on top of BS am report.

A most welcome bird on return home was singing Blackcap from a treetop in the grounds of the Royal Eastern Restaurant, Brighouse Rd.

Bank Holiday Walkabout

After 30 attempts to photograph Whitethroat decided on the Heron.

04/05/2009 Typical Bank Holiday with heavy showers, SW>5 freezing cold. 0730-1015hrs

2 Pied Wagtails
2 Blogging Swallows

4 Linnets

1pr Mallard, side of road
6 Linnets
Sev. blogging Swallows

8 Meadow Pipit
2 Skylark
1 Grey Wagtail

2 Singing Garden Warblers, one on Gulf, one below house.
1 Singing Whitethroat
2 Moorhen
1 Little Owl
3 Jay
1 Heron
+ usual W. Warbs and other resident passerines.
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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Soil Hill

P.M. Visit. Icy cold NW> 5, showers.
2pr Mallard on scrapes, one being a white necked job.
3m 4f Wheatear
+ usual Larks and Mipits
The search for Swift goes on.


Plenty Mud- No Waders
03/05/2009 0645- 0915hrs Heavy early rain, icy cold NW>5. Cloudy sunshine

Good early move of Swallows just after rain had stopped all low and fast >N. 48 between 0715-0730.

1 Kingfisher
1 Dipper
1 Garden Warbler
Usual W. Warbs etc.
Nothing on water apart from usual domestics and Mallard.
Strangely no Common Sandpiper with plenty shoreline showing.
Still no Swift.
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Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Price of Progress

Soil Hill 1410hrs cool but sunny, fresh breeze from W.

6 Lapwing.

Pied Wagtail, 3 Blackbird, 6 Linnet, Reed Bunting, 4 Swallow.

10 Wheatear.

Usual Meadow Pipit and Skylark.

The landowner of The Shay, down below the two ponds has pulled off a master stroke of conservation. Having mowed two fields completely clean of vegetation he has sent the pr of Curlew packing and probably destroyed their nest and eggs. This was the 3rd year in a row that a pair attempted nesting at this site - last year they were believed to have been successful. Oh for the days of yore, when farmers knew not to carry out any such activity in the BREEDING SEASON!

Oats Royd

Having just returned from seeing many exotic species in Spain, went down Oats with the fear of feeling seriously dis-enchanted, thankfully it was pretty good:

2, quite possibly 3 Sparrowhawk
2 Kestrel
2 Jay
2 Grey Heron
5 Willow Warbler
Whitethroat displaying down in the same spot where one lurked last year.
4 Swallow
Still dipping on Swift