Birdbrain Stuff

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

Off the grid for a while, including trips to Norfolk and Suffolk to catch up with waders, geese and the Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll.

Happy hunting in 2013!

Last Post

and what a soddin soddened requiem. Soil Hell - 3 Common Gull, 3 Skylark, 1 Lapwing, 2 Crow. Ogden ain't even worth a mention. Roll on Armageddon, I won't be going birdin for at least another year.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lapwing Check

I could only stand 20 minutes down in the Cross Lane area, such was the nature of the horizontal sleet hitting me in the face.
Up to 100 Lapwing still present, along with a bunch of Starling. 3 Common & 5 BH Gull nearby, plus 3 Rook and a solitary Chaffinch nearer home.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Soil Hill Snipe/Jack Snipe Recs

BS raised a question within the past couple of weeks about the appearance of Jack Snipe in comparison to Snipe on Soil Hill. Here are some stats from Birdtrack showing figures from 2004 to 2012. This is personal data only; Birdtrack does not allow a single user to run reports on other users data (Data Protection Act). However you can extract other data from the Find Species by Location utility but then you have to drill down where it gets bitty and in my opinion it is not worth the effort.
Click here to see the extract which is replicated on the top RH side. It's worth noting this year I only recorded 9 (Common) Snipe and ties in with my belief the species is declining here.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Birding in Fog

Soil Hill 0945-1030hrs Foggy with a WSW'ly fairly strong wind driven drizzle. Jack Snipe No.11 was flushed on the NE side of the mounds while out in the short grass there. Only other birds present were 3 Skylark.
I didn't intend to visit Ogden because of the conditions, but when they lifted to a reasonable degree, I took a chance. An Adult Cormorant was back on the water, after an absence of about two weeks. I was looking at pr Goldcrest in the Alder area on the LH Skirden track, when a Woodcock took off, flying upward in SE direction. I think it could have been perched on the wall and obviously saw me first.
Just before departure, 3 small fast flying ducks whizzed up over the embankment, heading straight for the Ogden Clough bridge area. Visibility wasn't great and distance was a problem, but I reckon they were Teal.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Queensbury South

Shelf Moor - Green Lane 1340-1430 hrs. c90 Lapwing back on the Cross Lane area fields in company with c30 Starling. c25 BHG, pr Collared Dove, 10 Woodpigeon, Kestrel, scores of Corvids. Hardly any passerines noted but this Little Owl is back on it's favourite place.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Post Festivities Blow Out

I went up to Soil Hill this morning primarily for the exercise after two nightmare overindulgence sessions; good job it wasn't with birds in mind as the SW'ly killer had stepped up the anti.
0900-0950 hrs. 12 Fieldfare along with c8 Starling, 3 Skylark. 2 Mallard and a further 5 Mallard plus gulls down at Raggalds.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Morning

Soil Hill 0955-1140 hrs. 5 Goldfinch, 12 Fieldfare, 6 Crow, 2 Skylark, Kestrel and one unresolved Bunting/Skylark. Two birds took flight together, one a definite Skylark, the other showing a fair amount of white/cream, however I can't be specific as I can't rule out the underbelly of Skylark. Maybe BS will encounter the bird later this afternoon.
I had one last traipse across the centre of the top field and flushed Jack Snipe no.10 since mid October.
Raggalds flood just held 3 Mallard and usual gull types, mainly Common.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Raptor Query

Hi. I came across your blog whilst trying to find some answers to my question below, and I wonder if you can answer said question for me: Today (21st Dec 2012), i've spotted some kind of small hawk hovering pre-kill by the side of the road TWICE!  The first spot was around 12pm on the A647 Queensbury Road just above the top end of Howcans Lane.  The second spot (of what looked like the same bird) was by the side of Roper Lane, just after the Caravan Park.  Any idea what this bird might be?  Also, what are the chances that this would have been the same bird?  How wide a scope do they put out on their hunting ground?  Any info would be really helpful. 
Thanks, Mark. (Via Contact Point)

Hello Mark,
Thanks for your query. The bird would almost certainly be a Kestrel, the key word being 'hovering'. This is not a Hawk, but a Falcon. Hawks are members of the Accipiter family, a typical example of this being the Sparrowhawk. For further reading pse visit this site.
The countryside around the area you describe, is typical Kestrel habitat and in fact they are well known for hovering by the sides of roads, inspecting the verges etc for prey. It could well have been the same bird, as the distance between the a/m places is minimal for this species. I've not done Kestrel demographics so therefore cannot give a precise answer to their territory take up. It does need particular attention paying if you want a full answer;  I've often walked about 3/4 mile and seen one, but then been on Soil Hill in Spring and seen 3 in a matter of 1/2 mile, checking they are seperate individuals.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Slow Day

It was no bins required again for the majority of the morning, picking up slightly at the end. Ogden Res at 1005 hrs was as bad as the last session: 2 Common Gull, 2 Blackbird and fleetingly, 3 Redwing. The real killer though was the hill where all hope is destroyed in moments; just a male Reed Bunting seen.
I decided to check Raggalds Flood out and was blessed with a piece of luck. The fog and crap cleared and I arrived in time to see 3 Herring Gull depart, heading lazily N. There were around 14 Common and a couple of BH Gull on the ground and 4 Mallard plus a fine drake Teal on the drink.

I got a call from BS after lunch (see his report) and went down to check Shelf Moor fields but they were all empty. 13 LBBG did drift slowly S with a couple BHG and a Kestrel hanging around.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sadly Missed 2012

Although I've had some good and a couple or three great bird records this year, the list of missings has grown a bit, here are those regarded as local area specific:

Arctic Tern
Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit
Black Redstart and Redstart
Dunlin! (I was there on the hill the same morning one was reported and photo'd later by BS)
Greenshank and Green Sandpiper (both seen Fly Flatts previously)
Pied Flycatcher
Ring Ouzel (first time in ages)
Whooper Swan

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


No need for bins this morning in a cold gusting SE'ly on the fogged up hellish hill. 2 Crows, Magpie, Blackbird, end of.
Ogden similar, in fact forget the birds, the most interesting news is the stuck Sheep is now absent.

Monday, December 17, 2012

It must be Christmas

Soil Hill 1130-1235 hrs. After a depressing session at Ogden I climbed on to the top field near to the NW corner and looked straight at a Grey Plover on the newly created small flash. We were facing each other and the bird took off calling twice, heading without great speed low over the N slope. It called once more and I searched the skies, but it didn't show so I presume it settled down in the bottom.
Last years bird showed a similar behaviour pattern and hung around for nearly three weeks, so I'm hoping this hangs about too.
Others: Red Grouse, Kestrel, BHG.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Todays Birds

Soil Hill 0950-1035 hrs. Mallard 2, Meadow Pipit, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Grey Heron. The Red Grouse was out in the open on the top field as was a nice plump Woodcock.
Ogden Res just stopped short of boring by producing: Treecreeper, pr Great Tit, Coal Tit, pr Bullfinch, pr Goldcrest in roughly same area as reportedby BS last Sunday. The Siberian/Transatlantic 'mega' I could hear chirping and wheezing away in the undergrowth with the Bullfinches was, after pondering for 6/7 minutes with increasingly high BP - the moving ice. Glad I never rang that one out.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Frozen Out

...and frozen stiff. Soil Hill trip 1 at 0945 hrs in mist and hoar frost. Almost nothing until I caught sight of 2 small finch types flitting across the track just before I went down to Ogden. Id wasn't possible, but the words brown or dark spring to mind.
Ogden was dire too though I did get my first Bullfinch in a few months. A Goldeneye was on one of the three unfrozen patches of water, this time an adult drake.
Soil Hill trip 2 at 1200 hrs to resolve the mystery; this time no birds at all but I did get a sense of hyperthermia setting in. As I was, leaving, a figure appeared out of the mist, none other than DP, who reports a solitary Blackbird.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ogden to Soil Hill

Ogden Res 1000-1145 hrs; a great day for walking about, but not for prolific birding. The Danish ringed BHG is still present among it's brethren. I was rescued by 2 Crossbills: 1 > SE toward Back Lane plantation from Giants Tooth area, t'other > SW from Back Lane back to Oggie. Also a male Sparrowhawk was patrolling the plantation.

Soil Hill 1205 hrs.

Started off so quiet, I thought I was in for a possible lifetime awaited blank, but it wasn't to be. The show was ruined by 60+ Pinkfooted Geese flying over Ovenden Moor and TMR > N. 5 minutes later c15 birds flew directly over my head the opposite way > SW toward Holmefield. I couldn't risk pictures with these as the Sun was directly into my eyeballs.
The 5 sheep have been removed to safety; the one that can't move has been ravaged by ground predators and the heavy machinery is back down on the main excavation site.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

...Then taketh away

Soil Hell 0910-1015 hrs in a blasting W'ly gale. Overnight one of the stray sheep got stuck in the top section of the footpath from Perseverance Rd; it simply had curled up and died a couple metres away from the wooden gate. Two Carrion Crow were busy hammering away when I disturbed them; in a short space of time, it's face had been stripped down to the bone. I'm almost tempted to get a bivouac out for the next 3/4 days and mount a Raven, Kite and Buzzard vigil.
The only other birds present was a single each of Skylark and Common Gull.
Raggalds Flood had 16 Common & 3 BH Gull.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Soil Hill Delivers

SH approx 1050-1225 hrs. A most interesting session, partly due to the newly ploughed up section on the N edge of top field. My first pr Stonechat here in at least 3 years; male found first then 10 minutes later the pr became obvious. They were very flighty hence these average photographs.
4 Snow Bunting flew over low > NE and appeared to go down on the excavation site there. I initially phoned 3 through to BS and DJS, but although I didn't get the 4th bird in the bins for long enough, I don't think it would have been a Parrot etc.
While having a half-hearted attempt to trace the SBs, I flushed a Red Grouse from a clump of heather less than 2 metres away, just down the N slope. Others: Common Gull, 2 Crow, Skylark.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Ogden Res to Soil Hill

Ogden Res approx 1105 hrs. Woodland species subdued: 2 Blackbird, juv/1st winter Sparrowhawk racing through gardens on Ogden Lane. Also a very tame Robin which I must remember to feature nearer to Xmas (I'm getting sentimental with old age). The 1st winter male Goldeneye (DJS) still present from yesterday along with two very wary female Teal.

Soil Hill looks as it's undergoing another habitat change. It was really quiet but just before the bulldozer turned up I flushed a Jack Snipe from the W side of the top field. Only other birds seen: Kestrel, Common Gull and a few Starling.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Usual Routine

Soil Hell 1045-1135 hrs. 3 Goldfinch, 2 Blackbird, 2 Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush, 60+ Starling.
15 Lapwing > N. 3 Rook and Common Gull

Ogden Res 7 Siskin with a Chaffinch in tow. Dipper, couple or three LT and Blue Tit, 2 Goldcrests and a Coal Tit. Gulls.
Oats Royd: 3 LTT, 2 Goldfinch, 10 Woodpigeon frightened by a female Sparrowhawk.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Nice Day For Birdin

Raggalds Flood was iced over at 0945 hrs, with just these gulls present, so I offed it up t'hill.
Soil Hill was deadly quiet; I was just about to climb the radio mast with a piece of rope when I heard a sound like a fat pig grunting. My spirits soared with hope and then a few moments later along came a kronking Raven low over the top field then > SW. What a life saver.

Ogden Res was quiet too but I broke my Teal record with 11 birds present.

Strange how conditions change the balance of things; today it was the turn of BHG to be the predominant small gull present.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Shelf Moor to Green Lane

Qby Sth 1415-1530 hrs, surprisingly, quite an interesting session.
Started off with 39 Lapwing and c55 Starling in top field at Corporal Lane however as I headed for Green Lane, they all took off and flew across the road to the High Cross Lane field. When I returned home via this route, their numbers had built to c70 Lapwing and c110 Starling. Although I failed to get any wish list Golden Plover, I did have a bonus here - a Green Woodpecker flew from within the mass W toward Shibden Valley. Last bird of note before the bins went into the jacket pocket was the local White Crow hanging around the Golf Club entrance.
Green Lane produced 10 Woodpigeon, Mistle Thrush, 2 Blackbird, 3 Redwing, Great Tit, Robin, a few gulls and Little Owl. The latter was perched on the outer branches of a tree within a stand of berry covered Holly trees.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sunny Session

My Baby whispers in my ear mmm sweet nuthin

What you doin Baby? Shakin dat Ass

Soil Hill with DP approx 1040-1200 hrs. Beautiful day and calm and blank apart from couple Magpies, Crows and a Meadow Pipit. There was also a single Lapwing in the far bottom field.
Ogden Res had c40 Common and a smaller count of BH Gull (incl Danish ringed bird) on the drink along with a Cormorant. At the top end nr the Ogden Clough bridge the Dipper put in a great performance, fishing and eating small stuff, probably Sticklebacks. Pity it was just too far off for acceptable quality pictures to be posted.

Raggalds flood was out of the question once again due to dangerous traffic conditions caused by heavy duty works ensuing.
Got a call from BS about c40 Waxwing in Foxhill Park so we called in but found they had dispersed throughout t'village.
Thanks for the tour, Dave.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Soil Hell Soaking

SH 1050-1150 hrs. Rain and E'ly wind with poor visibility. Snipe, alba Wagtail and 2 Snow Bunting.  One appeared to be a definite first winter; I didn't get too much time on the other. Seen twice on the move by the mounds, they appeared to stay put subsequently, perhaps in the long grass.
The time factor, road works and risk of pneumonia prevented a check of the flood at Raggalds, but the gulls were plentiful in adjacent fields.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Quiet Session

Raggalds Flood 0945 hrs - 4 small gull sp. and pr Teal.
Soil Hell refer Daniel's report.

Ogden Res

Busy with woodland birds for a change: Jay, c12 LT and 5 Coal plus Blue n Gt Tits. Couple Goldcrest, several Robins, 2 Blackbird. The Danish ringed BHG still present along with several other gulls and 6 Canada.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Today's Birds

0945 hrs Raggalds Flood - 8 Mallard & 5 Teal and plenty of small gulls in the area.
Soil Hell - c25 Lapwing (3 top field, remainder down at bottom) Snipe, Skylark, 3 Fieldfare, Kestrel, Gulls n Starlings.
Got a bonus here when I decided to walk down the tricky NW slope to Coal Lane. A Woodcock was flying from NE to SW at the base of the hill, giving good views.
Ogden Res - brough me back down to earth, it did.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Southlands

Afternoon session after the deluge: 27 Lapwing and 1 LBBG plus 2 small gull sp. Cross Lane. Checked the corner field for waders, nothing but looks promising. Also 4 Mistle Thrush, Grey Wagtail, numerous Jackdaw, Gulls, Kestrel, Woodpigeon around Green Lane.
Winds had switched to the N, hope it dropped something in for the morning.

Catching Up

I've been busy for a while so only a few quick trips out and not much to mention.

This smart male Brambling in the garden this morning. I heard one on Saturday morning but hadn't seen anything until now. Also in the garden, a  maximum count, so far, of 22 Blackbirds a few days ago.

Waxwing from my Brighouse twitch. Long-tailed Tit and Bullfinch from Ogden, at the beginning of the week.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Raggalds Flood to Soil Hell

Raggalds Flood 1040 hrs, well worth the effort - 8 Teal (a record number) 2 Mallard, c110 small gull sp and c220 Starling.

Soil Hill was under the influence of a SW'ly and it showed; 2 Lapwing, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Kestrel, c15 Mallard on far left bottom pond.
For the first time in two months, I trollied down the N slope. The mud at the bottom is just within the limit of OCD Birders; I'd even send criminals and politicians down there, but it ain't fit for human beings.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Activity on Soil Hill

SH 0850-1015 hrs, misty becoming sunny and clear. Started off with a skein of PFG overhead circling between the E slope and Raggalds then off in an unknown direction. See BS report for more of this species.
On the top field, edge of N slope, I flushed one Jack Snipe which quickly dropped down, then approx  20 minutes later, walking through the long grass on the E side, I nailed another. What a phenomenal year for this bird.
Shortly after this a Cormorant flew low SW > Ogden Res. c20 Lapwing were present in the bottom field of the N slope. Other: Skylark, Pied Wagtail, 5 Fieldfare, 3 Pheasant and a 16 strong mix of small gull sp.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Local Walk

After getting 2 Waxwing overhead heading NE across Brighouse Rd at 0850 hrs, I decided to check out local spots for any other morsels.
DP and I first checked the High Cross Lane fields and found nothing but I got a very brief glimpse of a wader out in the mud in the corner field adjacent to Cross Lane. The bird didn't flush but did a wingbeat type hop and a skip into the rushes and appeared to stay put. A combination of local knowledge and a perusal of picture files etc forces me to assume twas a Snipe; DP has also seen them previously in the area.
Shelf Moor produced c10 Fieldfare and a few small gull sp. Horton Bank CP produced:
GSW, 6 Coot, 4 Moorhen, c5 LT, Blue and Great Tits, and several small gulls
Finished off in the back yard with the local guardian Blackbird chasing off visiting Golfinches.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Round Trip

Went to Soil Hill via Mixenden and Cold Edge, courtesy of DP this morning.
Mixenden was quiet but did have a high number of gulls present and a Grey Wagtail with 60+ Lapwing flying over. The Delvers Pub grounds held good numbers of Blackbird, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Tit sp. and a Pied Wagtail.
Cold Edge Dams had just Mallard on the water but there were 9 Reed Bunting and 2 Red Grouse present along with 6 Meadow Pipit overhead.

Finished off at Soil Hill, flushing a Snipe from the pool at the end of the track. Then picked up a flock of c200 PFG on sound before clocking them above Holmefield/Bradshaw moving W beyond Hebden Bridge.
Quite a lot of excited gulls were flying around calling loudly for some reason too. Other: Skylark, Pheasant, 3  Meadow Pipit and 3 other birders hoping for Twite and Snow Bunting.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Quiet All Around

Raggalds Flood 0950 hrs - Drake Teal, c18 Common and few BH Gulls.
Soil Hill - 2 male Pheasant, several small gull sp. pr Kestrel.

Ogden Res - juv Cormorant, usual gulls, Grey Wagtail.
Sparrerork at Bradshaw.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Waxwings and Pinkies

Bradford City centre and Crown Street approx 1030-1140 hrs. After a 15 minute plus search I located c30 Waxwing in the Crown Street area and managed to fire off a few shots. The birds were very flighty, the reason being a Sparrowhawk which was following them around.

Other birds: Great Tit, 2 Grey Wagtail, Blackbird and plenty of small gull sp.

On arrival back in Queensbury I was stood in Baptist Fold when I heard the sound of Pink-footed Geese calling. A flock of at least 120 birds were flying up from Brighouse Rd, over BS garage, low over my head, up Chapel Lane and over BS house. Such are the vagaries of birding that, in the 10 seconds it took to phone BS and get him out into a viewing position, he missed the spectacle. Well, we do try, mebbe next time.

Monday, November 12, 2012

even wetter Monday PM

Ok, So what do you call a group of 6 Cormorant?

Not a clear picture, but it was the closest I could get. I'll try again later ( if they come back)

And finch flocks gathering at 2pm high in the trees. and the occasional Bullfinch on the feeder

Wet Monday Birds

Drake Teal and female Wigeon plus a fair number of smaller gull sp. at Raggalds Flood 0945 hrs.
Grey Heron, 5 Goldfinch, 7 Meadow Pipit, Blackbird, 5 Fieldfare at Soil Hill.
Female Tufted Duck, 3 Cormorant, Grey Wagtail and usual small gull sp. at Ogden Res.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Session Redeemed

Kicked off on Soil Hill 0855-1010 hrs and very sparse it was too, picking up at the end somewhat:
3 Redwing, 2 Chaffinch, Blue Tit, 11 Meadow Pipit, 35 Woodpigeon > SW.
Then I got sight of a Sparrowhawk and a Crow in an altercation that went on for a few minutes, closely followed by 1 LBBG > N and a Common Gull. This was tailed off by my first Linnet in almost 3 weeks.
I'd noticed on the way up that Raggalds flood seemed to be holding stuff so I was compelled to check it out. Sure enough, I got onto a drake Teal immediately, pr Mallard and another potential smaller f Mallard. After noting the latter did nothing but try and eat the place out of grass, I investigated further - hey presto a site tick in female Wigeon. Also about 12 Common & 4 BH Gulls.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Same Old

Soil Hill 0945-1035 hrs. The SW'ly killer in full swing. On the deck: 6 Fieldfare, 1 each of Jack Snipe and Skylark.
In the air: 1 each of Common Gull and Kestrel, 4 Redwing > W.
Ogden - a non starter, glad to get home early.

On the way back got chatting to a lady who lives near BS and claims a Buzzard was on her garden shed roof back in 2010.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Park Lane

Brambling in the garden again this morning.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Usual Route

Soil Hill 1020-1055hrs Jack Snipe usual area flushed from approx 1.2 metres. Blackbird, 15 Fieldfare, Common Gull, 2 BHG.
Ogden Res - deadly quiet, even the single Cormorant decided to leave. 10 LTT, Goldcrests.
Thanks for the text to BS on the Waxwing flock that arrived a couple of hours after I'd left. Judging by the reports on Birdguides we are due for a few sightings.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Soil Hill to Oats Royd

Following the age old pattern, it was once again a great day for perambulating at the expense of birds being sparse, with one session saving exception.
Soil Hill 1000-1050hrs Pheasant, 2 Meadow Pipit, 16 Fieldfare > N, couple gulls.

Ogden Res - 2 Crossbill; one nr the house, t'other edge of plantation in with Great Tit plus other.

3 Cormorant, 6 Canada, 22+ Common and a higher nr of BH Gull. and one Denise. (Reminds me I must see De nephew soon).

Finished off at Oats Royd which boosted my spirits with a personal site tick: 2 f Goosander on the largest pond - they took flight on the fright I gave them. Also present 2 Moorhen, 10 Goldfinch and one superb f Sparrowhawk doing the rounds.

Green Lane

30+ Lapwings at the top of Corporal Lane.

Around 6 Redwings in Green Lane-hard to tell with the comings and goings-2 Mistle Thrushes trying to claim the territory, 4 Magpies and a couple of Crows looking on.

Very quiet at Ogden but perhaps something turned up for Nigel.