Birdbrain Stuff

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Blustery Soil Hill

0940-1120 hrs Stiff NE breeze. Low profile birding this morning; no sign of Gropper nor Ring Ouzel plus one Whitethroat only on NE side. Swallows were notable as were Linnet with a few Goldfinch knocking about. Topped up by a Willow Warbler, 3 singing Reed Bunting and 3 Wheatear; the latter all females.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bolton Abbey

An away day today courtesy of DP and it turned out very interesting indeed; it was good to be re-acquainted with some birds from the past. Such as:
2 singing Pied Flycatcher, seen well. 2 Wood Warbler only heard but it's a start. Garden Warbler one or two heard. Several Blackcap, Chiffchaff & Willow Warbler.
Two Dipper were seen including this very obliging bird. Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtails, 2 LBBG, 2 GSW, Green Woody, Nuthatch, several Sand Martin. Plenty of Curlew about too.

A female Ring Ouzel was so unconcerned about our presence it was hard to credit it as the same species as the infamous Soil Hill bird. A Woodcock was seen to fly among the tree tops and finally a male Mandarin completed the session.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Another Record Goes

SOIL HILL SIGHTINGS FOR Monday, 25 April, 2011 0755-1015 hrs
Blackbird 1
Canada Goose 2 > SE
Carrion Crow - several
Chaffinch 1
Curlew 1
Dunnock 4
Grasshopper Warbler 1 - my earliest ever record.
Grey Partridge 2
Jackdaw - several
Lesser Black-backed Gull 3
Linnet 15+
Meadow Pipit c12
Pied Wagtail (yarrellii) 3
Ring Ouzel 1 - same female
Skylark 10+
Wheatear 6
Willow Warbler 1
Pheasant 3
Reed Bunting 2
Robin 2
Swallow 5
Whitethroat 2
Woodpigeon 3
Total number of species 24

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Evening on Soil Hill

Dave Pinder visited SH at 1700hrs after I told him of the Ring Ouzel, staying there until 1900hrs. During this time he saw the RO six times ranging from distance to one occasion where he surprised it from a few metres away.
There were 7 Wheatear present and one of these was seen to be attacked by a male Merlin which missed but still must have been a spectacular observation. The Merlin was watched for a while longer as it stayed on the wall the Wheatear had left from in such a hurry.

Soil Hill Selection

A bit more variety today on the hill starting at 1420hrs with a female Ring Ouzel. She was in the old faithful spot i.e the track on the E slope, making the most of the large earth mounds. A very nervous bird; I could not get any camera shots off whatsoever.

The NK Pond had 4 Mallard, 1 Common Gull & 1 LBBG swimming on it - testimony to the fact it has now cleared after the recent excavations. Also present here were 3 Lapwing and several corvids. I could not find any Twite at all as reported yesterday on the Calderdale Blog, but there were approx  16 Linnet around.

There are 2 Whitethroat present; one by the bottom pond and the W slope track bird is still there, quite active too. A Wheatear was also on this side, with another 4 on the E slope. Others: Kestrel, 5 Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Mipits and Larks.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day of The Whitethroat

I'm positive I've never had Whitethroat so widespread this early in the month before. Birds located at:
Queensbury, Green Lane - 1 singing at the head of the clough.
Shibden Valley - 3 singers.
Swalesmoor, Ringby W slope - 1 Singer.
Soil Hill, N slope bottom - 1 Singer.

I went down Shibden Valley and scoured it for prime migrants, i.e Wood Warbler and Redstart but nonsuch were present. Others that were: c16 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, Bullfinch, Nuthatch, pr Treecreeper, Dipper, GSW, 2 Green Woodpecker.

Swalesmoor - Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, 3 Blackbird, 6 Linnet, 4 Meadow Pipit, 3 Skylark, pr Grey Partridge.

Soil Hill 1420hrs - that bit that's still left! Pr Grey Partridge, pr Dunnock, Pied Wagtail, 5 Swallow, Willow Warbler, 20 Linnet, 7 Wheatear plus Mipits, Skylarks, Corvids.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Don't Mention Bl**ding Red Kite!

I am most p*ssed *ff! This blog may self destruct in 48 hours.
Somewhere in hell:
Pheasant embryo believed vicim of Weasel
Pellet believed to be SEO
Pellet dissected

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Soil HIll to Ogden Res

SH 0950hrs - a question of just switching Thursdays figures about somewhat and noting the excavation has more than doubled in area.
4 Wheatear, 12 Linnet, Reed Bunting, Pied Wagtail, 9 Swallow, Curlew, Mipits & Larks, Kestrel.

Ogden Res was tedious I'm afraid; the water was an aquatic desert. One thing to watch out for is the shoreline is gradually getting more attractive for the likes of Common Sandpiper.
Only notable item was an increase in the number of Willow Warbler along with a Chiffchaff, otherwise mundane.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring Indicators

This morning at the back a female Greenfinch was perched on the fence with a mouthful of feathers; on seeing me she flew down to the copse bottom where she was joined by a male. Also at lunchtime a Crow was breaking a twig off a tree top and carrying it off, heading N.

Soil Hill 1115hrs in a slight W/SW breeze. A few more Skylark have appeared, I counted c20 birds most of them singing. For once there were fewer Meadow Pipit, just managing to make double figures. Also present were 8 Linnet, 1 Pied Wagtail, 3 Woodpigeon, a Reed Bunting, Kestrel, and 10 Wheatear - all on the E side of the hill. Now the females were evident, 6 of them along with 4 males, all of them flighty.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fly Flatts & Cold Edge

FF approx 1300hrs with DPinder. Although we didn't know until 1415hrs via txt from BS (thanks Brian) there was no Osprey present at this location until we left at around 1355. There were c14 Twite by the feeding station with just one appearing to have a red ring on top of another unknown ring on the right leg. I didn't try too hard to spot rings as it was an achievement to stay upright in the strong NW wind. Also 3 Wheatears were in the nearby vicinity and a Red Grouse sticking it's head above a rock.

Cold Edge Dams 1410hrs -  The nearest we got to the Little Grebe was when we heard a distinct diving plop in the reeds at waters edge on the small pond. A Common Sandpiper was on the shoreline of the top dam but nothing else was (several walkers with dogs were about). However, Curlews, Oystercatchers and Redshanks did materialise eventually, flying about the general area.

We called in at Ogden just to appreciate the vast emptyness, I'm sure you'll understand.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Withens to Cold Edge

Withens - Cold Edge Rd 1055hrs. There's something about that field where DJS got the record late Wheatear in 2010. It was quite windy and no other field had any birds, yet this one had a pr of Golden Plover (Summer plumage Northern race) and a pr Oystercatcher.
The NW moisture laden wind certainly got things moving, nothing too beaucoup but still interesting to see Geese and Mallard flying around. Curlew too were on the move; between Withens and Wainstalls I got 13 birds.

Cold Edge Dams had just a pr of Redshank on the shoreline which soon flew off on my arrival. Other birds:  Blackbird, Skylark, Mipits, Pied Wagtail, 2 BHG, Little Grebe, Lapwing, Red Grouse,  2 Swallow & 2 Snipe. The first of these was chipping but the second was in overhead flight, again courtesy of what was now rainfall.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Walk to Oats Royd

I went via Old Guy Rd at about 1230hrs in the hope of finding Wheatear and mebbe hirundines - nonsuch were present, just a Meadow Pipit and a Linnet or two plus a Skylark.Oats Royd was full of song, mainly Willow Warbler; I counted at least 15 birds.

There were also two Chiffchaff singing, but once again no Hirundines nor any other migrant. When I caught sight of this bird's breast, which was faintly speckled I jumped, but not for long on seeing it's head. There were maybe 5 Linnet in the area along with the usual Chaffinch and Greenfinch. It was also good to see a pr of Song Thrush together; others included Green Woody, Jay, Moorhen, 4 Canada Geese and Kestrel.

The large heavyweight Geese on the ponds are real feisty now, I suggest if you walk by them don't leave anything dangling.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Sunny Soil Hill

Well the SE wind didn't do anything for the hill today at 1110 hrs; no migrants apart from a single Wheatear. Birds present were:
Blackbird, Green Woody, c14 Skylark, pr Reed Bunting, 8 Linnet, 3 Pied Wagtail, several Meadow Pipit and corvids.

Ever hopeful I returned home via Old Guy Rd where I was rewarded with a single Wheatear, 2 Skylark a Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Cold Edge to Ogden

I arrived at the dams to find things fairly quiet at approx 1100hrs; later I received the text informing me what had been there earlier. The Shelduck, Sand Martins and Wheatears had all moved on, but no matter I still had a good days birding.
Meadow Pipits were abundant.

6 Pied Wagtail, one of which was a possible White, but it didn't hang around long enough for confirmation. A Raven flew around calling then drifted off NE, while I nailed my first Swallow by the ramshackle farmhouse. Others: f Goosander, m Tufted Duck, Grey Heron, Blackbird, 2 Reed Bunting, Moorhen, Snipe, pr Oystercatcher, pr Redshank, 9 Lapwing, 2 BHG. Surprisingly I only heard one Skylark singing.

Ogden Res approx 1400hrs - quiet yet again. GSW and Green Woody calling with singing Goldcrest and 3 singing Willow Warbler and a Chiffchaff. A Moorhen was on the main lake which is quite uncommon for this location.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Soil Hill Wheatears

Finally still with a SW'ly wind but warmer and sunnier, 3 Wheatear on the E side of the N slope today at 1155hrs. There was a female bird that stayed at a distance however these two quite contrasting males did give some photo opportunity.

Also present were:
2 Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Blackbird, Green Woodpecker, 12 Linnet, Reed Bunting, pr Kestrel, and of course the Meadow Pipits and Skylarks.

Monday, April 04, 2011

There's Always The Next Bird.....

Then. this afternoon, this came in. So, my turn's over! Back to you....


Upon our return, it was a nice surprise to find 13 Bramblings in the garden this morning. Several of the males were in decent plumage. Although we often get larger numbers in Spring than in Autumn, we haven't been in double figures for several years.

Buzzard? Hahahaha

Below is a chance shot of what most observers, including myself, believe is an Osprey. The birder who saw it, thinks it is an Osprey (see West Yorkshire Birding blog). I find it most amusing that somebody  in Calderdale thinks it's a Buzzard!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Elland Gravel Pits

Courtesy of Dave Pinder we went down to EGP this a.m to top up the annual list and hopefully find a biggie. The latter didn't happen (it all happened yesterday) but it was still an interesting session. I can't recall so many Chiffchaffs in song at one site in all my birding life; there were at least 14 birds at it.
Also 4 Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcap, c15 Sand Martin, Redpoll, Nuthatch, Song Thrush, Little Grebe et al. The ski lake was very quiet with just a few Mallard on it and one Cormorant perched on the ramp.

DP saw 5 Geese over our rooftops across Brighouse Rd  > E approx 0830hrs, probably Greylag.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Another Windy Day

Birding was hard graft again today from Cold Edge to Soil Hill. Started at Cold Edge approx 1015hrs:
Top Dam shoreline just held 2 Oystercatcher and a Lapwing.  A surprise here was to get a Twite flying  across the water, calling as it did so; a pr Linnet were also present nearby. Little Grebe still on small pond and a Snipe flew across with 4 Curlew in the area.

Withens Gap Farm has a Squirrel feeding among the ducks and hens; I thought it may try gobbling them too but it appeared content with their feed. Other than Meadow Pipits there was nothing else going on.
Ogden Res was also quiet, just 10 Canada and f Goldeneye on the drink with the Mallards. It was good to get a singing Nuthatch here, others include Grey Wagtail, several Goldfinch and a Chiffchaff. The least said about SH, the better.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Same Old Hill

Called in at the Hellish Hill on my way to the farm shop at 1110hrs; still no Wheatear. A large Starling flock of 500+ birds provided a visual spectacle as they moved around. Contrast that with the well diminished corvid flock - probably due to the downsizing of the landfill area for the time being at least.
It was interesting to see 2 LBBG with the lighter grey mantles typical of British birds hanging around the NK pond.
Other: 3 Linnet, Blackbird, 11 Skylark, 4 Pied Wagtail, c7 Meadow Pipit, Pheasant, Lapwing.