Birdbrain Stuff

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Soil Hill Quiz

Q: What kind of imbecile goes up Soil Hell in a SW'ly wind?
A: This kind of imbecile.

The wind from my backyard didn't feel like such, more like your bog standard W'ly, but sure enough, when I got there at approx 1410hrs, my jaw dropped to my knees. I even fooled myself that there was a chance of Wheatear owing to the cloudy and slight rainy weather - wrong again! Just a Pied Wagtail, a few Meadow Pipit and Skyark were up top, so I forced myself to go down the N slope where a Curlew was calling.

At the bottom, I finally saw the culprit responsible (well at least on this occasion) for sending the corvids into orbit, which they do frequently. A Peregrine Falcon, thought to be male by it's size, zipped across the landfill area, doubled back and shot right over the crowd of them. I don't know if it nailed a prey item this time, but back up top, I found black feathers suggestive of a Blackbird being previously zapped. I accept this may have been a Sparrowhawk at work, given it was close to a hedge.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Soil Hill

1410hrs Hazy, SE breeze, warm, ideal Wheatear conditions - NOT! However I got compensation in the form of my first Stonechat of 2011 here - a female down at the bottom. Pied Wagtails have been moving around; I got 4 here and one down at Raggalds.
Also several Skylark and Meadow Pipits (see BS blog) Grey Heron, Curlew, Sparrowhawk, LBBG > W and a single Linnet. The corvids are still there in their hundreds.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Walk to Cold Edge

Bradshaw 0945hrs Treecreeper in Church yard. Walked via Ogden to Withens. Drumming GSW, nothing doing on water 'cept some Canada; pr Linnet at Withens and few Meadow Pipit.
Cold Edge Dams approx 1055hrs 3 Reed Bunting, pr Pied Wagtail, 4 Curlew, 3 Redshank, chipping Snipe, c8 Lapwing, Little Grebe, 3 BHG, Grey Heron, Geese etc. No sign LRP and still no Wheatear for me.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Reality Check

Now this is more like it - a frisky SE wind over Soil Hell in March without a single Wheatear yet. A number of Skylark and Meadow Pipit seem to have retreated while a flock of 13 Fieldfare went NE. There was a Teal on the bottom NK pond which looks like it's being left alone by the landowner. A pr Grey Partridge were on the top field and a pr Reed Bunting down by the red cabin pond. Other than that just c120 Starling, pr Woodpigs and a Blackbird.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Two Tick Trip

Annuals again today, I'm pleased to say. Cold Edge approx 1030hrs splendid Drake Widgeon, although it was distant and difficult to photograph. Female Goldeneye, pr Goosander, 4 Curlew, 9 Lapwing, pr Redshank, pr Oystercatcher, BHG, Kestrel.
Prior to that at Wainstalls, a Raven was overhead and a Brambling seen on a feeder.

Ogden Res approx 1315hrs pr Goldeneye, pr Redpoll, singing Chiffchaff seen alighting on treetop. Also drumming GSW and calling Green Woody. Still no Wheatear on the now bone dry Soil Hill.

Thanks for the msg on LRP Dave, although I was too nearer to home to go back I am convinced the bird was not present during my watch.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cold Edge Dams & Fly Flatts

Wainstalls approx 0955 hrs 5/6 Brambling showing well at The Delvers and a Nuthatch calling there.
Cold Edge approx 1015hrs Raven, pr Redshank, 12+ Lapwing, Oystercatcher, 3 BHG, Mipits, pr Goosander, Grey Heron, Curlew.
Raven over Cold Edge Dams

Fly Flatts approx 1200hrs

If you expand the middle Twite photo you will see details of the rings. There were 5 birds altogether by the feeding station, the top and bottom are same bird without rings. I couldn't get anything on the remaining three.
Also present were a pr Dunnock, Skylark, a few Meadow Pipit and a shoreline Redshank.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Suburban Woodcock

Brighouse Road, 150 metres below my house at 1355hrs. A Woodcock came over the trees in the Harrowins Farm area and flew above my incredulous head > W over the row of shops. At first I thought it was a Woodpig carrying a straight twig, until I saw it fully! I reckon this will rank as one of the surprise annual ticks ever.

Twas downhill from thereon; well alright uphill technically. Soil Hill was devoid of Wheatear yet again although it did have a pr Teal once more. Others: Pied Wagtail, c25 Meadow Pipit, 10 Skylark, pr Kestrel, pr Curlew on top field.
The landfill operation has encroached on the far bottom (NK) pond and has presently isolated it from the adjoining strip of marshy area. Part of the big ridge of earth has been levelled; hopefully if they level the remainder we may get better views of whatever waders drop by. Then again, they might fill it in - cheerful optimist, that's me.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Soil Hill to Ogden Res

Soil Hill approx 0950hrs - commenced the search for Wheatear with a vengeance but to no avail. Several Meadow Pipit and Skylark plus 2 Pied Wagtail and 2 Curlew. Linnet flock appear to have moved elsewhere now; Reed Bunting and Blackbird also seen along with Kestrel.

Ogden Res & Back Lane approx 1130hrs - just a Skylark, few Woodpigs and 3 Lapwing up the latter. The lake was quiet again with just one BHG & c8 Canada on it. I had a fascinating 6/7 minutes watching this bird perform as a wall creeper.
There was also a Nuthatch moving about vociferously and a pr Siskin on the Alders by the Lodge House.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

High Flying Birds

I was in a place last night where no true birder should dwell owing to the temptation of plentiful beer. Therefore I was unable to give a structured answer to a friend's question "How high do birds fly?". I think this article answers the question in a way that maintains a passing interest in birds, as opposed to boring the pants of people:

How Fast and High Do Birds Fly

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Queensbury Nordic Jackdaw

At approx 0850hrs at Ford, Queensbury two Jackdaw were flying E. One of them was of the Nordic race Soemmerringii, showing almost white around the neck patch which was notably more extensive than our own native bird.

Wainstalls approx 1005 hrs still 4 Brambling at The Delvers.
Cold Edge Dams - c30 Canada & 10 Greylag Goose. Curlew, Oystercatcher, 3 Lapwing, 3 BHG & 6 Common Gull. Two of the latter were squabbling over a frog for several minutes, eventually they left it, either not able to deal with it or finding it distasteful. Meadow Pipit are back on territory, with displays seen throughout the trip. Also here was a male Reed Bunting and a Kestrel.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Soil Hill to Wainstalls

On leaving my house at around 0920hrs I saw the White Crow perched on the corner of Medway, croaking with gusto. I suppose this was a good omen as I have not seen it in over 15 months and I did get an annual tick later on in the day.

Soil Hill - 18 Skylark, 10 Meadow Pipit, Lapwing, 4 Mallard, Kestrel. The large Starling flock of c320 birds was present, moving around often.

Back Lane/Ovenden Moor - Pied Wagtail, 2 Curlew, 2 Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Golden Plover, Red Grouse. From here on it got quite interesting: at Cold Edge

10 Lapwing, 3 Curlew, pr Oystercatcher (annual) 3 Red Grouse, 9 Greylag & 15 Canada Goose, Moorhen. I searched for a Wesley* to no avail so went down to The Delvers to try my luck at Brambling. Sure enough in among the 14+ Chaffinch a pair were still present. Just a bit further down the frog n toad a pr Lapwing and 6 Meadow Pipit flew overhead.

*Wesley Snipes

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Queensbury Waxwings

Not sure if you're interested but there are 25 waxwings in the trees on the big grassy area in the middle of the Stonehouse Drive/ Bradshaw View estate off Fleet lane at the moment. They are stripping my cotoneaster berries. 9:44 am Monday 14th March 2011.
E Fiddaman (via Contact Point)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Birding in Sunshine

I got to Soil Hill at approx 1115hrs and although the weather was very pleasant as anticipated, the birding subsided accordingly. However during the course of the day it balanced itself out in other locations just across the way.
SH - 6 Meadow Pipit, 7 Skylark, Pied Wagtail, 14 Linnet, Lapwing and the first singing male Reed Bunting of the year. The only fliers today was the large corvid flock, which today included some Rook.

Ogden Res and Back Lane approx 1245 hrs.
F Goldeneye preparing to dive.
Ogden Res 14/03/11 N.Kerwin
14 Lapwing & 4 Curlew not quite in a joined flying flock. A male Sparrowhawk was flushed from a conifer giving excellent if briew views as it went past me. The surprise of the day and a most welcome one after years of trying - pr Teal on the pond by the metal gate! Just a single Skylark was noted.
Apart from the Goldeneye pr on the water were 5 Common & c17 BHG, plus 9 Canada.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Soil Hill Delivers

0830 - 0945 hrs wet, windy but surprisingly busy. Had just left BS after a moan about the poor prospects this morning; just goes to show how wrong one can be.
Curlew, c10 Lapwing, 11 Skylark, 3 Meadow Pipit - first returns. 2 Dunnock, 2 Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, 7 House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Chaffinch.

The star turn occured when I was trying to find the Linnet flock (conclude retreated) halfway down the N slope. 4 Teal came in from the W over the reed beds, whizzed around a couple of times then appeared to go down. About a minute later they reappeared circled and headed back W. This is not only an annual but a personal first Spring record for me here.

As I left the hill top along the track to Perseverance Rd I also got a pr Goosander > S. At the bottom of the road were c28 Fieldfare with c300 Starling. It was an amazing sight to see those mature trees full of noisy birds, when they weren't down in the field behind them feeding.

By contrast Old Guy Rd was quiet, just a few Starling, BHG & 5 Common Gull > W. Chapel Lane field also had 6 Common Gull present.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Curlew Show

Back Lane Ogden 1300 hrs a spectacular air show by c27 Curlew flying around 4/5 times before going down in fields behind the plantation. This is a personal record count for this area and most welcome as prior to that things had been dire. Also here were pr Lapwing, pr Red Legged Partridge, Common Gull & 2 BHG. Thanks to DJS for mentioning the birds he'd seen previously; I only remembered while staring into nothingness at Ogden Res.

Earlier I'd started off at Wainstalls to find no sign of any Brambling, just some Greenfinch, Chaffinch, 3 Fieldfare & 2 Redwing. The dams at Cold Edge were empty (of birds) in the strong SW wind and just one Curlew was heard to call across from the hillside. The best Withens top could offer was 2 Curlew > north.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Up-date from Park Lane

I ventured beyond the garden on Friday afternoon and did a tour of the lanes. Very quiet, apart from 92 Lapwings seen in the horse fields from my vantage point in Corporal Lane. A Brambling appeared in the garden on Saturday morning and was back today. Siskins have continued to visit-three today. There were 50+ Redwings and a couple of Mistle Thrushes in the field opposite the house on Monday. The Treecreeper comes in regularly and takes fat and seeds from the "bird cake" I've been putting in the tree crevices.

Windy and Lousy

Only myself to blame for this, but you can only cling on to the ceiling for so long. Arrived 'pon Soil Hell at 1415hrs and got off it real fast; just 2 BHG, a wind blown Blackbird and Corvids.

Ogden Res approx 1510hrs - absolutely putrid. c72 Woodpigeon, 5 BHG, Canadas and a Curlew up the back end singing briefly.
Roll on Insanity.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Bright Weather Syndrome

Bright and Sunny with a mild W breeze on Soil Hill at 1415hrs. Once again very quiet, in fact all Skylarks bar one have retreated. Linnet flock still present plus Grey Heron, 3 Grey Partridge. Pied Wagtail bottom of NE slope and the Corvids.

This morning from the back yard I got 2 LBBG over > SW and was somewhat surprised at lunchtime to find c30 small gull sp. on the Black Dyke Mill roost; most of them were BHG.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

SE/E Then W

Hard work today in bright sunshine, fit only for humans; birds were hard to come by.
Stocks Lane approx 1230hrs appropriately pr Stock Dove. c130 mix Redwing & Fieldfare flock and a Grey Wagtail.
Horton Bank CP was a big mistake although oddly enough 6 Coot were present. Other than that it was down to Mistle Thrush, pr Great Tit, pr Goldcrest and c5 BHG.

Swalesmoor - c17 Skylark, Reed Bunting; Linnet flock still present.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Early Start

Received a very early wake up call today around 0300 hrs (not that I needed it) from a Tawny Owl in the back field. Probably the same bird was cruising the wider area a couple of hours later.

Another annual tick courtesy of Bradford City Centre at around 1100 hrs where a Grey Wagtail was singing from a rooftop.

Soil Hill in the afternoon with Dave P. On the quiet side but it had it's moment when something flushed around 30 Crows into the air for around 2 minutes. DP got brief views of a large brownish raptor flying low over the wall tops. Nothing conclusive, but after some digesting, I think possibly a SEO has made an appearance.
Others: 3 Skylark, pr Mallard, pr Grey Partridge, c22 Linnet.

Ogden Res 1500hrs - Curlew > SW, 2 f Goosander and this:
3 Redpoll were doing a circular tour of the lakeside treetops at least twice and a Song Thrush was singing it's heart out. Also 5 Goldfinch on Alders, GSW and usual.

Siskins In Park Lane

They've been coming in in ones and twos since my last posting (2 this morning) but yesterday there were 8. Feisty little things, they'd see off the Goldfinches and Greenfinches but weren't so sure about the Nuthatch.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Bunting Hunting

Was halfway through Ogden when I got a message from DJS about a Snow Bunting up at Cold Edge, thanks Dave. Although the woodland birds had been active at Ogden (GSW, Green Woody, etc) there was nothing on the drink so I legged it up the hill.

I arrived at Withens at 1235 hrs and ranged from the fields just below the Wind Farm car park, down to the area where the bird was reported from. I didn't find it, but I did see Blackbird, pr Skylark and brief views a bird inside one of the wire pens at Withens Gap farm, which I couldn't identify. However, the effort was worth it as I got my first pr of Golden Plover for the year also.

Cold Edge Dams - quiet again. Moorhen, Mallards, Pr Tufted Duck, Goosander, some Canada and pr Greylag Goose. There were 4 Brambling among the Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Goldfinch at the Delvers pub, plus a Redwing.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Swan Deaths

Please RSPB & Somerset Police Force, let me have the culprits name and address, then you won't have to prosecute. Pretty Please.