A few months back I was excommunicated from the links of, er, shall we say a local large birding group; the reason is still unknown. I think it may be to do with the fact I posted my thoughts on a certain issue, pulling no punches in defending my stance. In return to show I am a fair minded man, I removed this groups link from my blog and website. End of what was a fairly mutual exchange of observations, records, etc, I thought.
So how come, I was contacted tonight by a person from the BTO on a subject involving a potential Wind Turbine Farm on Soil Hill? Turns out my number was provided by a member of the afore mentioned birding group. Perhaps this individual was unaware of the link severance, but nonetheless, a price has to be paid. If it didn't enter your head(s) when you disassociated yourselves from me, here's the score:
NO INVOLVEMENT WITH LOCAL CONSERVATION ISSUES; NO INTERCHANGE OF INFORMATION; NO SUBMISSION OF MY RECORDS FOR YOUR ANNUAL REPORT.
PS I hope I didn't inconvenience you Brian when I gave this BTO gentleman your number. As you know, I am busy preparing for a major social event. Gotta admit this Wind Farm business took me by surprise.
Soil Hill 0825-0950hrs. The large Linnet flock has dispersed probably pro tem there being around 80 birds present. Meadow Pipit were on the move, thinly spread throughout and were hard to count but I estimate 90+ birds. Skylark numbers were at 20, with several bursts of song heard.
A juvenile Sparrowhawk was hunting by the Radio Mast on arrival, flying so low it came over a wall top just 2 metres away and almost bashed into it on espying moi.
There were no waders present either on the deck or in the sky, probably due to the clearish blue sky. However it was still interesting and worth the effort, others:
3 Reed Bunting, 1 Twite, 22 Goldfinch, 2 Chaffinch, 3 Pied Wagtail, Pheasant, Stock Dove, 3 Wheatear, 4 LBBG, several Corvids and 2 Swallow.
On the way up and on return around Mountain/Raggalds there was Meadow Pipit movement, totalling, c40 birds. 20 Linnet were here along with pr Chaffinch, 3 Greenfinch and 5 Pied Wagtail.
Has anybody encountered Redwing, I wonder because last night around 2030hrs I thought I heard a couple of weak contact calls. I must say however even I wouldn't sieze on this flimsy evidence.
I'm beginning to like my back garden; was out cleaning boots from this mornings mudbath when a Yellow Wagtail flew over the back field at 1720hrs, calling twice. It was heading more or less due South, pity the long lumpy field grass isn't the sort that pulls them down to rest or feed.
Twas hard to resist the offer of a trip to Soil Hill from DP this morning even though the clouds suggested rain was guaranteed. The thought of possible Autumn Snipe proved too tempting and we were greeted by a downpour on arrival at approx 1135 hrs.
Ned Hill track proved disappointing with just 3 Meadow Pipit present so we checked the top field out. Here we encountered 10+ Skylark and a few more Meadow Pipit with a smattering of the large Linnet flock, which materialised in full as we departed later.
As we started down the N slope toward the hill bottom DP spotted a flying wader, which turned out to be the desired Snipe, heading S. There was certainly another Snipe heading in the same direction, about 9/10 metre further away, but a third bird proved elusive to identify. The hill bottom just turned up 5/6 Goldfinch and as is usually the case there were no Wheatear, courtesy of the SW blow.
DP reports a female Merlin going across the reedbed on Friday 23rd, just after my own visit.
I peered out of the hovel window this morning and decided it was a potential movement day so orf I went up to Soil Hill. From Albert Rd upto SH there was a thin trickle of Meadow Pipit on a broad front mainly heading W. They were still moving when I got home at approx 1225 hrs.
Soil Hill 0725-0900 hrs. LBBG, c75 Meadow Pipit, Tree Pipit, c130 Linnet, c18 Goldfinch, Blackbird, Kestrel, Reed Bunting. There were 2 Pheasant and 7 Grey Partridge seen in flight before going into cover and the first autumn waders were a pr Golden Plover on the top field. Also 16+ noisy Skylark and 4 Wheatear but sadly no Whinchat in what is usually the best month for them.
Ogden Res 0915hrs - yuk by comparison. Goosander in flight toward Mixenden; Grey Heron, Jay, GSW, a few Goldcrest. No big gulls present and just a few smaller gulls on the drink.
Although SH appears to have lost its Swallows, they were still a few about in other areas.
By gum but it were bleak this mornin around t'local fields in Queensbury south. There were nobbut wind blowin, took me bleedin toupé off again - that's 27 I've lost since movin to this hell hole. If ever there was a time to give up birding and pick a new pastime this was the one.
Oddly enough I passed a certain garden in Park Lane and guess what? It was chocablock with birds. Nowhere else was though and a Green Woody heard calling from Shibden Head was scant compensation. Never mind says I, we've only got this bleedin conditions upto and including Sunday! Being totally selfish, I've removed the comments section from this post - I want to wallow in total abject misery without any interruption.
Ogden Res 1300-1355 hrs. The Goldeneye reported by DS yesterday has done a runner to be replaced by a Cormorant which appeared to disappear after 20 minutes or so. 5 LBBG were present among the paltry scattering of smaller gulls. Also Goldcrest, Treecreper, GSW, Swallows.
Soil Hill 1405-1450 hrs top only. 1 Linnet! 10 Skylark, c12 Meadow Pipit, pr Blackbird, Grey Partridge calling. A Sparrer Ork flew across to Ogden and a Kestrel was carrying prey. Preying is what I'll be doing too, oh wait, I'm an atheist.
Despite the promised dreaded SW'ly I had a quick sortie up Soil Hill at 1400 hrs. Actually it was dry with a direct W'ly to start with, then along came the SW blow with rain and sorted me out quick time.
c27 Meadow Pipit, 2 Skylark, c50 Linnet, Pied Wagtail, 5 BHG, 7 Grey Partridge, 3 Wheatear and down at the very bottom a much welcome Stonechat.
A Grey Wagtail has been knockin around Black Dyke Mills and Tesco this morning at approx 1100 hrs.
Plenty of Meadow Pipits up the hill at 8:30 this morning. 20+ in the fields at Taylor Lane were joined by another group of 29. Also in Taylor Lane, 7 Long-tailed Tits. At Ned Hill, 98 Mipits >N having been put off by the fog banks.
Also this morning, 88 Lapwings in Corporal Lane.
We've had a steady trickle of migrants through the garden since my last posting. Today, the 30th sighting of either Willow Warbler or Chiffchaff (mostly Chiffchaffs lately) ; the second and third Goldcrest and there have been 5 Blackcaps.
I have just read an Email from a local resident sent at 1029 hrs this morning. He reports 'Two large Eagle type birds soaring high over his house in the High Street' It looks like we have had yet another Buzzard sighting in the village.
Having just returned from a deadly quiet trip up Soil Hill, this is a spirit lifter indeed. 'Pon the hellish hill from 1330-1430 hrs were only:
c110 Linnet, 30+ Meadow Pipit, 4 Skylark, 2 Pheasant, 1 BH & 1 Common Gull, Reed Bunting, 9 Swallow.
DS is having posting problems, hence this input from moi. Denise rang me to inform that a Buzzard flew over her garden on Thursday 15th Sep but had moved on before her camera could be retrieved from the house.
I was away at the time and can mentally picture the bird landing in a tree at the back of my garden, laughing raucously.
Soil Hill - 0945-1015 hrs. When the gale force wind started blowing the right portion of my upper lip across my left eyebrow, I knew it was time to leave the hilltop.
The wind also fragmented the Linnet flock - c70 birds were being blown further down toward Perseverance Rd top. 3 Wheatear were present along with 7 Skylark and a Kestrel. Very few Meadow Pipit seen.
Ogden Res 1025-1135hrs. No storm driven morsels around as hoped for. There was an event that mirrored this season last year however - c24 Chaffinch were feeding on the shoreline. Also:
Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Tufted Duck, Bullfinch, Coal Tit, 11 Goldfinch, Chiffchaff, 4 House Martin, c50 Swallow, 2 Goldcrest and of course the gullery.
Ogden Res approx 1010 hrs - Plenty of Gulls but otherwise it was so quiet I decided to try the hill from hell rather than waste more time.
Soil Hill 1115-1210hrs - more like it with evidence of movement. The Linnet flock has now doubled in size to 250+ birds. 2 RLP were on the top field; while down at the bottom it was quiet. However on the way back home using the E side track there were 10 Wheatear present, including two big glowing birds that screamed Leucorhoa. Also pr Kestrel, 14 Skylark, 40+ Meadow Pipit, Greenfinch and 3/4 Goldfinch. A few BHG were flying around with 2 LBBG also present.
Inspired by the Wheatear count I tried Old Guy Rd, Queensbury. Sure enough there were 2 Whinchat and a Wheatear present. I've now seen more Whinchat than Stonechat this year, which is somewhat of a tragedy given the status two years back. Also here were 5/6 Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, 2 Linnet.
Swallows were prevalent throught the session.
Ogden Res 1005-1205 hrs. Very wet and windy from the W mainly with some brief spells of weak sunshine. A possible Mediterranean Gull in among 3 Common that I rang through to BS, then subsequently DJS, failed to give better views. I managed one appalling distant photograph that could not be wholly relied on and as the bird in question flew off I am not going to submit the species to Birdtrack.
Also 2 Jay over the drink > SW, 3 Sand Martin > NW. Scores of Swallow, one of which decided it wanted to chase a Skylark. Grey Wagtail, Nuthatch, Siskin, Little Grebe, Tufted Duck.
Soil Hill - returning home via the top fields only. The wind, needless to say, was stronger up here which may account for the soaring Buzzard I saw at 1224 hrs. In attendance were 4 Carrion Crow which left it to glide slowly along Coal Lane toward Ogden. Out comes the camera and naturally the bird, directly overhead by now did a 100 degree right turn and sped off in the direction of Thornton.
Other: Kestrel with prey, 2 LBB, 2 BH & 12 Common Gull. Also 2 Skylark, c20 Meadow Pipit, c30 Linnet and Wheatear.
Soil Hill 0740-0935hrs. At approx 0810hrs after ringing BS to tell him all was quiet on the W side of the hill, I hit the stand of young conifers at the end of the track and was stopped in my tracks.
Among a bunch of 2 Blue Tit and 3 Coal Tit, was a singing bird that would not reveal itself but flitted from bush to bush issuing this incessant warbler like song plus the characteristic clicking 'teck'. Eventually after burning my memory banks, Lesser Whitethroat filtered through so thats what I clung onto while making some really pathetic recording attempts. On arrival home I played back about 8 recordings of this species and found many similarities with the bird on the hill. (At one time I was dancing like a Pawnee on the warpath - the bird was about 1.5 metres away blasting out) By a process of elimination and experience of this bird in similar habitats abroad, I can only conclude it was Sylvia Curruca. Oh for a two second glimpse!
Fortunately for me the Sedge Warbler in the Willow bush down by the RH (Red Cabin) pond showed itself for a good 5/6 seconds. Also here were 2 Reed Bunting and across by the farm a calling GSW.
Elsewhere: 17 Common Gull, c45 Meadow Pipit, 14 Skylark, c100 Linnet, c20 Goldfinch, 2 Pied Wagtail, 4 Pheasant, 9 Grey Partridge, c11 Swallow.
Raggalds: Pied Wagtail, Sand Martin > SW, c20 Linnet, 10+ Meadow Pipit, c60 Common Gull.
Soil Hill 1050hrs. Kicked off with a Short-eared Owl perched on a wall, then fizzled out rather quickly. This was due to the predominant SW'ly blow - always a killer. 1 Skylark, c7 Linnet, c35 Goldfinch, c40 Meadow Pipit, pr Kestrel, 10 Common Gull, LBBG. Swallows were very much evident.
Ogden Res - much quieter than Wednesday's visit but the Tufted Duck and Little Grebe were still present. The Raptor Factor was provided by a juvenile Sparrowhawk gliding across the embankment gully, being chased by Swallows. There must have been at least 100 of the latter feeding. Also my first Jay here for a couple of week.