Birdbrain Stuff

Monday, May 31, 2010

Soil Hill Bank Hol

1345-1445 hrs Sunny with mild NE breeze and no noise from the landfill work thankfully.

The rain we had a couple of days back has made no difference - driza bone on the top field.

It was very quiet birdwise as expected with no kind of migrational movement at all. Just the residents either floating about or in the case of Skylark, being exceptionally active. I counted 14 birds at least and guess that some hatching has occured.

Pied Wagtail, c9 Meadow Pipit, 8+ Linnet, 3 Reed Bunting, Kestrel.

A total of 7 Swallow were seen but no Swift at all. 2 Lapwing were on the NK Pond and I was glad to hear a briefly chipping Snipe close by. A pr Blackbird have bred and once again a Wheatear seen in the same spot as my last visit makes me feel this is breeding also.

Owl Dare You

Spoke to my undercover birdin cell in the village centre last night, who I ain't seen in a couple of weeks. Apparently, when the trees were felled for the local major site construction, there was at least one pair of Tawny Owl displaced. It would appear the birds promptly decided my friends large garden with a few mature trees would make a great alternative place to setup house.

Obvious evidence of breeding now abounds, mainly vocal but with some sightings of both adult and juvenile birds either flying about the garden or perching on branches. Inconveniently for the humans living in the house, the noise generated by the happy avian family is causing sleeplessness, which with gritted teeth they are just managing to tolerate.

Be brave my friends; I'm sure both the Owls and the several varieties of other birds your garden attracts appreciate your generosity, probably without knowing it!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cuckoo and More

Ogden Res approx 1000 hrs. At last I made a worthwhile trip here as I finally connected with Cuckoo, now back in the Skirden Clough and Giants Tooth area. One bird called regularly for 15 minutes, then after a 10 minute break called again from the top of the clough. However, during the initial period of song, there were two brief calls from another location, indicating the presence of two birds. It did cross my mind that a member of the public was mimicking the bird, but on reflection coupled with song playback, I am satisfied it was the real thing.

I was delighted to discover that Spotted Flycatcher has successfully bred in the area, with 4 birds being seen together. This distant shot was the best I could get after only seeing glimpses of them, until they moved into a clearing.

Other birds: 2 GSW, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaff & Willows plus the usual. The Shoreline, now the lowest I can recall was devoid of birdlife.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Played golf at Halifax on Sunday and could hear the Cuckoo that everyones been seeing at Ogden. Finally went to see if I could see it myself and saw it I did. It was calling and showing really well on the footpath that leads south from the dam towards the golf course.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Garden Tick

Close but fleeting glimpse of probably a male Sparrowhawk from my kitchen window at 1205 hrs as it flew from the trees over my yard. Not only a tick but the first I have seen in many a week generally.

Back to the grind at 1410hrs up a very cool and slightly misty Soil Hill. 5 Swallow were feeding very low down - below 2 metres off the grass. A pr Swift made a quick appearance but a couple of metres above head height. 6 LBBG slowly drifted SE while other birds were non movers, namely:

7 Linnet, Mipits, Larks, 3 Reed Bunting, 2 Lapwing, Wheatear, Moorhen seen with chick. 20 Carrion Crow were congregating on the soil heap by the LH pond as they have been doing for a couple of months now.

After a good search along the Ned Hill track, I now conclude that there are no Stonechat breeding here this year.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Just seen a red kite flying very high above Queensbury , heading towards Thornton.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Dust Bowl

 Soil Hill approx 1035 hrs - makes a change from a Mud Bath I suppose. It was good just to be able to walk around in the great weather without the incessant noise of bulldozers and lorries. Nothing spectacular birdwise but that goes with the present conditions although I was disconcerted at not getting Swift.

Usual Meadow Pipit and Skylark present of course. 3 Lapwing, Curlew, Kestrel, Grey Heron, Moorhen, 3 Mallard. Linnet appear to be doing very well this year up here, with several birds all around the hill. Still no Stonechat present in the reedbeds but there were 2 Reed Bunting and the Whitethroat seems to have started breeding again. Also Blackbird, pr Dunnock, 3 Greenfinch, a few Swallow and m Wheatear.

While having lunch in the back yard 4 House Martin were shooting around the field and this Chaffinch posed on DP's feeder.

Whitethroat and Swifts

Spent a bit of time watching the swifts at Thornton Viaduct, counted 11 birds. Great views of them from standing on top of the viaduct and they scream right past your head. Walked further along onto the old railway and found a singing Whitethroat

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ogden Reservoir

Tried to drum up some enthusiasm to do my WeBS count at Ogden this morning knowing full well that I was only likely to get Mallard and not many of them at this time of year. However, I heard a Cuckoo calling from beyond the Tooth so spent some time looking for it. Eventually spied it being mobbed by pipits near the boundary fence on the southern valley (not the Ogden Clough one). Also had 2 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, 14 Willow Warbler and 2 Grey Wagtail.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ogden to Cold Edge

Ogden Res approx 1000hrs Whitethroat still singing Rocks Lane area. A pr Grey Wagtail appear to be breeding judging by their behaviour. One of them seen killing what looked like a large dark moth by hitting it against a wall repeatedly.

An Oystercatcher was on the shoreline, thereby obliging a BS prediction. Compensation for lack of flycatcher came in the form of a singing male Whinchat perched in a bush on the golf course.

Fly Flatts 2 Lapwing, 3 Curlew, drumming Snipe, Common Sandpiper. Lots of Canada on the drink; quite a number of young about.

Surprise of the day here was 1, maybe 2, Herring Gull calling loudly, judged to be heading N.

Cold Edge Whinchat singing from the old farm house area but elusive. Snipe flushed from a  track side ditch, flew only 7/8 metres and dropped down into the rushes. (Sorry, it was a Common!)

Waders were making the most of the muddy shoreline: Curlew, 2 Lapwing, pr Oystercatcher, Dunlin, 2 Redshank and Little Ringed Plover.

A Common Lizard was basking on the track - my first ever sighting in the north of England.

Finally, along with the usual Mipits, Skylarks and Linnet, walking up the track was one Halifax BIrder, Nick Dawtrey. We couldn't go on forever avoiding each other Nick, hope you had a good day.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

SW'ly Killer

NTR - Nothing To Report thanks to the SW'ly blowin even if only moderate. If I was 20 years younger, I'd do an hypothesis on this wind direction. It brings no movement and stifles previously observed activity. A good example of this being a couple of Lapwing and a drumming Snipe seen at Back Lane on Monday - today not a squeak.

I had one more half hearted attempt in the tree and shrub filled stream below Ogden this morning, but just Willow Warblers givin it some.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Marsh Harrier

1100 hrs. Female Marsh Harrier flying W over Ovenden Moor and Warley Moor (Fly Flatts) mobbed by Curlew. 

I had just inadvertently caused a family of Red Grouse to scatter over the track and after taking this pic, I then set about ensuring all the 5 or so chicks were back into the heather.

About 90 metres away a large brown raptor was flying in a lazy motion over the heather, on the south side of the wind turbines, about 5 metres up from the ground. I dropped everything onto the deck, and raised my bins onto the bird. Even before the optics met my eyeballs the processor inside my nut took SEO and Buzzard out of the equation. Marsh Harrier sprung immediately to mind, confirmed within seconds by the sight of the 'cream crown' and secondarily by lack of any white on the rump.

The bird continued gliding W in the direction of the reservoir, slowly gaining height so I rang BS to give him a jolt. As we spoke, the bird had got to the area of the boathouse and was promptly mobbed by a Curlew. This lasted for about 45 seconds and the bird then turned N, where presumably it either flew off low or dropped down into the sedges at the top end of the water.

When I got to the reservoir it was deadly quiet. Another 4/5 minutes passed and a trio of Canada Goose ventured onto the water. The only other bird present was a Wheatear, which also flew a short distance over the water. I'll deal with the other species seen in another posting.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Nuthin' Doin'

In a fit of inspiration (which won't happen again) I set off early in the hope of finding a flycatcher or three. When will I ever learn?

Oats Royd approx 0825 hrs - no flycatcher. No Whitethroat neither.
Ogden Res - no flycatcher. Whitethroat showing.

One day, hopefully, I WILL drop this obsessive pastime and do something worthwhile.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Where else?

Soil Hill 0940 hrs. Well, the top field is now bone dry and the last remaining pool containing small tadpoles and snails is no more. The taddies may have served a purpose however as there were several birds footprints in the mud; hope they enjoyed their scoff.

Among the death and destruction, thankfully there was evidence of life in perpetuity. I managed one quick shot of this Meadow Pipit's kingdom before scarpering real quick like.
Other birds present: Skylarks, Moorhen, several Linnet, 4 Reed Bunting, Swallow, Wheatear and finally a singing Whitethroat. I tried my hand at recording the song in motion picture mode; I don't apologise for the crap quality 'cos you've come to expect nothing less.

Ogden yet again proved hard work; the water levels are down but no waders, just a Grey Heron and the Mallards. Among others: Song Thrush, Swallow, Swift and the singing Whitethroat still present.

Back Lane provided my first sighting of Brown Hare ever here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Missing Martins

Queensbury seems to be missing it's regular House Martins, thanks to the extended cold Spring methinks. A regular site nr Deanstones  has still got two vacancies, with the householders eagerly awaiting their bird's return.

Any news of this species, conveyed either by posting or the Contact Point, will be gratefully received.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Cold Hill

Soil Hill 1410-1510 hrs. The cold sent me home early after seeing the ususal and:

LBBG > E, 3 Blackbird, Kestrel, pr Curlew, 4 Goldfinch, Pied Wagtail, 3 Reed Bunting, 3 Wheatear. Perhaps it was the NE wind that provided the latter; one of these looked very much Greenland like.

Glad I decided to come home via Foxhill, as:

8 Swift > E top of Chapel Lane.

Roll on Spring.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

saturday shibden valley

firstly thanks to NK for the invite

anyway took a walk into shibden valley from my house in siddal,came into shibden via horley green towards shibden mill inn then simm carr lane,bare head lane then back down kell lane.

swift 2
whitethroat 1 singing by bare head tunnel
stock dove 2
grey partridge 2
jay 3


It was a struggle to work up enthusiasm this morning with the grey skies and cool temperatures. Nevertheless, I walked from home to Soil Hill, Ogden, Oats Royd and back.

Picking out two LBBG > E over SH was the best for this location, such was the paucity of birds.

At Ogden it was a pr of Song Thrush, with the teasing calls of a GSW coming second. Also Grey Heron.

Oats Royd failed to produce the Whitethroat I had hoped for with 2 calling Chiffchaff being the only notable migrants. A Green woodpecker called frequently here and there were a number of Goldfinch present along with Grey Heron.

Thornton to Queensbury

Walked this morning from Thornton viaduct to west scholes then onto bottom of station road.
6 Blackcap, 5 Linnets, numerous Willow Warblers and plenty of Chiffchaffs, 4 Swift at Thornton Viaduct, 3 jays and pr grey wagtail.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Quick Trip SH

1240 hrs - back down to earth today with an hours visit up to the hill, covered in light mist. Usual Meadow Pipits, Skylarks. 2 Pied Wagtail, Moorhen, Wheatear.

Light relief provided by a sudden light shower dropping 7 Golden Plover onto the NK Pond. Also Curlew, 2 Lapwing, LBBG.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Queensbury White Stork

I left the house at approx 0958 hrs only to return panting for breath 5 minutes later to phone BS and alert him of a White Stork flying low over the top of Brighouse Road heading NE. It veered off slightly and appeared to go down the direction of Station Rd and into the valley. 10 minutes later after receiving directions from BS of the quickest route into Dailie Fields, I headed off for a further search, with nothing forthcoming unfortunately. The bird may have been a probable free flying escape, but the glee factor was still stratospheric.

Soil Hill approx 1120 hrs. This proved an interesting worthwhile follow up, even if generally quiet. The Grasshopper warbler was still present, although only calling briefly three times. Another warbler sang very briefly from the RH pond before flying off; id cannot be confirmed but notes of Sedge Warbler sprang to mind. I struck lucky as I decided to wander down the Ned Hill track in search of the much missed Stonechats. No luck there, just a Garden Warbler singing it's heart out from the bushy garden of the house at the track bend into Coal Lane! Others: Curlew, pr Kestrel, 9 Linnet, Wheatear and usual.

Ogden area - Curlew, 2 Lapwing, Blackcap and singing Whitethroat in scrub at Rock Lane.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Shibden Head

This afternoon:

pr Blackcap
Several Willow Warbler
Grey Wagtail
Green Woodpecker
Great-spotted Woodpecker

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Shibden Head & At Home

One of the two pairs of Bullfinch were being very friendly this morning and the Reed Bunting is still turning up to feed a couple of times a day.

Shibden Head was pretty quiet this aft but a Nuthatch was calling and I got a decent brief glimpse. Also 2 Jay and a Green Woodpecker looking good and a GSW was heard drumming, got my first Swift of the year over Halifax Rd on return.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Soil Hill Gropper

A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling intermittently for well over 10 minutes today in the reeds by the RH (Red Cabin) pond at Soil Hill. First heard at 1342 hrs it kept moving about as if really keen to establish territory among the sizeable reedbed. Such is the stereophonic effect of this species that it was impossible to get a view of; I may have had it once but confusion was caused by flying Linnets.

Other birds seen included 5 Lapwing, Curlew, 5 Swallow, 7 Wheatear and Kestrel carrying prey.