Birdbrain Stuff

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bolton Abbey

It was hard for DP and meself to keep up with the birds for much of the trip today at Bolton Abbey - they just kept a'comin. We think we had 4 Cuckoo, certainly 3, including this headless one above. The Red Kite at one stage was interacting with a Buzzard, but the photo quality was dog rough even by my standards.

Curlew 5, Oystercatcher 4+, RLP 6, Garden Warbler 2, Tree Pipit 2, Blackcap 3, Chiffchaff 5+ Willow Warbler (whos counting?) Spotted Flycatcher 2, Song Thrush 4, Common Sandpiper 1, f Goosander, 1, Dipper 1, Grey Wagtail 2 (breeding). Grey Heron, Pied Wagtail c6, Nuthatch 3 (incl pr breeding) Mistle Thrush 3. Hirundines were abundant throughout with House Martin reaching double figures and Sand Martin seen in fair numbers. Finally for the first time in a couple of months - 3 GSW.

Another birder we met pointed out an area where he'd just had a Redstart - we missed this one and... sign at all of Wood Warbler or Pied Flycatcher.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Washburn Valley

Today, courtesy of DP, we went and did a spot of birding around Swinsty Res walking down to just below the Folly Hall wood area. 30 years ago, this was a regular haunt of mine and I was hoping to see Redstart and Pied Flycatcher once again. I'm afraid this did not materialise, in fact, we couldn't even manage Spotted Flycatcher. However it was a very enjoyable day and both of us had annuals added to our list at close of play.
Chiffchaff were commonplace, outnumbering Willow Warbler and both Blackcap and Garden Warbler were singing in relative proximity to each other. A perched Tree Pipit gave somewhat distant views before launching ito it's song display flight and confirming our suspicions. We encountered just one pr Meadow Pipit which were breeding in the same field as Lapwing and Oystercatcher. Pied Wagtail were spread thinly thoughout the area.
Other: Common Sandpiper, Grey Heron, Greylag and Canada Goose, Mistle Thrush, Treecreeper, breeding Nuthatch and usual woodland species.

A bonus on the way back: Kestrel mobbing a Red Kite at Esholt. Sorry and thanks for the ride Dave!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Usual Walk

Nothing unusual about today; both venues were quiet. Soil Hill 0950-1115 hrs. 4 Lapwing, Curlew, resident types recently mentioned. The two Whitethroat are still on opposite sides and very vocal too. 3 Reed Bunting down at the bottom.

Ogden Res: Adult LBBG and 4 delinquents that didn't hang around long. Willow Warblers still singing loudly, 2 Chiffchaff, Blackcap. Swallows thinly spread, had a Spot It Flypastyer mosey - nowt.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

DEFRAs Idea of Ecological Management

I heartily endorse this post by JW and  subsequent comments:

Calderdale Birds: Not just Malta...

Proof positive that the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

PS I mean, surely, it doesn't have anything to do with money, does it?

PPS Went to Harrogate today and at Stainburn a brilliant jewel in the sunny skies was casually drifting around a field - Red Kite!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Absent Friends

A morning sortie round most of Soil Hill and a post lunchtime stagger around all of the top field failed to produce any Charadrius plovers and the Dunlin. There was not a single wader type call note, other than the Curlew and Lapwing present. Reed Bunting have increased their presence with about 7 birds being counted, 5 down the bottom and a pr on the Ned Hill side. The Whitethroat here was busy defending it's patch with many a scolding call coming my way. Kestrel, pr Grey Partridge, 2 Pied Wagtail and a few Swift were seen, again the latter outnumbering Swallow.

In between this I crept around Ogden Res and environs where I found a drumming Snipe and 3 fly around Siskin at Back Lane. This adult LBBG made for an addition on the water

Other birds include singing Blackcap and the first pr Bullfinch I've had in a while, but once again nothing heard from any woodpeckers.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Soil Hill Morning Reprise

0800-0920 hrs. A possibility of 4 Charadrius plovers still present: pr Ringed Plover seen well, probable single Ringed Plover and 1 unidentified owing distance/flight.
A Snipe was in flight and "chipping" down in the reeds along with 2/3 Reed Bunting and a singing Whitethroat.
Others: Wheatear, Curlew, 2 Lapwing, 2 Pied Wagtail, Mistle Thrush et al.

Just been informed that starting tomorrow we get a period of Spring temperatures; bloomin marvellous.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Soil Hill Morning

0900-1030hrs. 1 Confirmed Little Ringed Plover; 1 Confirmed Ringed Plover, 2 Unconfirmed pr Charadrius Plovers. The latter seen twice,both times at a distance preventing plumage id and no calls heard.
Also 3 Lapwing, Curlew and down at the bottom Grasshopper Warbler.
Usual residents and one birder who definitely needs to get his OCD sorted.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Also At Ogden

As Nigel says at Ogden, although I was there earlier and went up the other side of the clough. Also, half a dozen Mallard/ish ducklings and a Sparrowhawk at the res.

A flurry of activity at the clough included: 2 Willow Warblers, Grey Wagtail, at least 2 Treecreepers, 4 Coal Tit, 2 Long-tailed Tit, a smart male Siskin, a single Spotted Flycatcher, a Goldcrest collecting moss from the base of a tree and a Crow eating a frog. They were were high up in the trees  so no photos.

"Our" GSWs have been missing from the garden for a few weeks but both male and female were in at different times yesterday and again today.

Two Crows often come into the garden but this afternoon there were 8 here making a racket. They went off, some to the south and some east, after a while. It looked as though they had chased some predator up in this direction but, unfortunately, I didn't see it. Later, a Sparrowhawk went over heading SE and later still a female Sparrowhawk came, on the hunt, through the garden.

Another Quiet Day

Soil Hill 0950-1120 hrs top fields only. 3 Little Ringed Plover, pr Lapwing, Wheatear and usual birds as recently reported. I saw more Swift than Swallow up here today. The breeze and intermittent rain put me off doing the N slope and reedbeds so I legged it down to:

Ogden Res. A drake Tufted Duck was on the water, but nothing else was besides the corner crowd. A pr Curlew were around the mountain boarding area, I wonder if these were the missing birds from SH.
Generally it was pretty deadly, having covered an area up to Giants Tooth, but I know another birder who did better than me.

PS I received a phone call from BS (Refer to West Yorkshire Birding blog) at 1931 hrs saying he was watching a pr Ringed Plover & 1 LRP. Although I am quite satisfied with the visual id of the birds I saw plus the many calls they made, this does require further investigation. Of course in a period of migration, anything can happen; birds can come and go in a matter of a few hours. Let's see what a trip up tomorrow morning brings - if I can face one!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Welcome Return

Soil Hill 1050-1225hrs A Little Ringed Plover was on the top field showing well, for nearly 15 minutes. Prior to that I was almost on the phone to BS thinking I had a Whimbrel too, but it didn't call and because of the presence of Curlew I let my yellow streak win and played safe.
Other birds apart from the Meadow Pipit, Skylark and Linnet were: 3 Lapwing, Kestrel, Reed Bunting, Swallow and 2 Whitethroat. One of the latter was on the Ned Hill side (photos) and t'other down by the bottom RH pond. 2 Wheatear and a Swift or three were around also.
Whitethroat on territory
There's not much to say about Ogden Res except quite a few Swift were in the area and I did see evidence of Willow Warbler breeding. It was fascinating however to see a male Sparrowhawk come out of the Lodge Garden and fly really close past me. It then amazingly flew over the water just a few inches above it, covering approx 200 metres before settling into tree cover. A Grey Heron was also in the air.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Todays Birds

Soil Hill 1050-1215hrs. 4 Wheatear, one of which (probably 2) appeared to be Greenland. Usual Meadow Pipits, Skylark, 1 Dunnock, 1 Curlew, 1 Lapwing, 1 Pied Wagtail, 1 Reed Bunting, pr Greenfinch and 12+ Linnet. The Whitethroat reported by BS recently was singing and showing well on the Ned Hill track.

Ogden Res 1225-1350 hrs. 6 LBBG in immature phases > NW with another adult sat on the buoy briefly. Grey Heron, Kestrel, a few Swallow and 3 Swift. Willow Warblers were very much in evidence with a couple of Chiffchaff also piping up. A pr Spotted Flycatcher were showing very well for a short time approx 100 metres up the RH track from the Car Park. A Blackcap was singing from the gulley below the embankment with lots of noise from other woodland species.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Managed to get my first UK and latest ever Swift of the year today, both at Soil Hell and the top track of Back Lane opposite Coal Lane. They have got to have been the same birds, with 8 on the hill and a further two joining up with the group at the plantation. A number of Swallow were knocking around also.
The Hill wasn't any better than it has been this week, apart from this sanity saver.

Ogden Res - picked up somewhat although nothing on the drink (GC Grebes from yesterday gone). I watched a juvenile Dipper flying after insects prior to hiding under a bridge, down below the embankment. A Garden Warbler was in full song here too, a metre or two away from me, but it kept it's head down. Several Willow Warbler, singing Chiffchaff and a Blackcap also heard.
To echo BS recent statement: it's been a while since I even heard GSW and Green Woody here, let alone see 'em.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Quick Look At Ogden

I had a wander round between the showers this afternoon.

5 Willow Warblers and a Chiffchaff,
2 Great Crested Grebes on the water,
2 BHGulls over,
4 Swift >N;dropped out of the clouds

No sign of the Goldeneye, which, since Nigel didn't mention it on his last visit, I assume has moved on. I feared that it might have been a very long-stayer as it seemed to have had a strange eye structure with distortion of the pupils in both eyes. That said, it seemed to be  feeding  with no problems and looked perfectly healthy otherwise.

Blackcap singing in the garden here on Wednesday but not seen since. 2 Stock Doves coming in again. A male House Sparrow, a rarity for us, has been in several times this week.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Awful Quiet

SH: f Wheatear, Pied Wagtail and usual residents recently reported.
A stress on the word Awful I must add. Soil Hell was unworkable once more at 1250 hrs so I just spent 25 minutes in the top field environs before legging it down to Ogden Res. This too was crushingly boring - only critters on the water were 4 Canada and 4 Mallard, not a gull in sight. Curlews were heard calling overhead.

Ogden: Crossbill chipping calls heard briefly from the area I last saw them at Back Lane. The woods threw up a few Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff and a Blackcap. A Grey Tree Rat (Squirrel) was busy trying to raid a Tit species nest in one of the green boxes. It could only get it's nose in and gave up - naturally just as I had my camera almost primed. Judging by the two Great Tits that were acting up nearby, the box must have been their vessel of species continuity.

This morning in Bradistan city centre a Herring Gull was circling above the North Parade area.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Around the area

I got up Soil Hell at 1355 hrs and a voice from the heavens bellowed "What are you doing up here maggot? you should know by now when I, the mighty SW'ly am blowing it is my hill, not yours, not the birds but mine". The wind then threw 6 LBBGs up in the air to distract me while it tugged at the remaining hair patches I have left and guided me, thoroughly chastened, towards Back Lane plantation. There were a few Swallows hanging around the now partly demolished pottery building; I hope they don't try to breed otherwise their homes will be dismantled piecemeal.

5 Crossbills turned up in the plantation, flying around twice and calling before settling down. Just the red male stayed visible, the other 4 were below the treeline, so I don't know if they were female or juveniles etc. A Cuckoo was calling from Ogden reservoir area, biased towards the Golf Club side; it kept it up for around an hour approx. There was almost nothing on the water, just 4 Canada and a few Mallard but both Curlew and Oystercatcher were heard calling in flight.
Down by the 'White House' beneath the embankment, I came across a Sparrowhawk that had just made a fresh kill. It picked it's bird prey up (unidentifiable) and flew over the wall into the conifers. There was a Chiffchaff calling and around 6 Willow Warblers and I think I got half Blackcap before it gave up.

Oats Royd: Little Owl on a wall, Kestrel, Chiffchaff, 4 Willow Warbler and pr Canada Goose plus expected, but subdued.
Back on April 5th I took this photo of the Canada's nest with eggs. I chose not to publish it partly to give the birds the slimmest chance but also because I knew it wouldn't last more than a week or so. I was right, today the pair were on a pond together, without any young and the nest site destroyed.

Monday, May 07, 2012

A Different Day

Soil Hill 0730-0845 hrs: although conditions similar to yesterday, a much subdued session. However, very good views of a singing Whitethroat on the edge of the reedbeds and there was one female Wheatear in the same field as yesterday's birds.
Other than the Linnets, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks (a nest with eggs stumbled upon) were:
Jay (uncommon) Kestrel, 2 LBBG > W, Pied Wagtail, pr Canada Goose, pr Curlew, 3 Lapwing, pr Greenfinch, Blackbird, Reed Bunting, pr Jackdaw and a single flying RLP.

Sunday, May 06, 2012


I had a trip over to Ogden this morning hoping to get some pictures of the Goldeneye in decent light and I think I passed you on the way back, Nigel.

As Brian says, lots of singing Willow Warblers. Good views of male and female Blackcap. A couple of Curlews over and a Grey Heron  at the water's edge. Unfortunately, I didn't see your tern.

Wheatear, Meadow Pipit with nesting material, Kestrel, Little Owl, 3 Swallows and 2 Linnet in Taylor Lane. Lots of Skylarks singing along the top road.

A new bird for the garden  at the end of the afternoon yesterday. Any experts on exotic pheasants out there? 

Soil Hill Wheatears

A pr of 7 from this morning, thought to be Greenland.

Local Movement

Site Name:Soil Hill
Date:Sun, 6 May, 2012Time:7:30 - 9:40
SpeciesCommentBreeding Status
Blackbird  FF - Adult carrying food/faecal sac2
Carrion Crow    circa 5
Common TernFlew over my head calling low down and away WNW toward Ogden/Fly FlattsF - Flying1 tick
Curlew  A - Agitated behaviour/Anxiety calls2
Dunnock    3
Goldfinch    5+
Greenfinch    2
Lapwing    2
Linnet    17+
Magpie    3
Meadow Pipit    10+
OystercatcherBottom (NK)Pond  1
Pheasant    2
Pied Wagtail (yarrellii)    2
Reed Bunting  P - Pair present3
Skylark    12+
Starling    Present
Swallow    2
WheatearA pr present showed characteristics of the Greenland race.M - Migrant7
Woodpigeon    4
Yellow WagtailFlew across me on top field calling. Went down at 'Mounds' end of track but not relocated.M - Migrant1 tick
Total number of species   
I have to agree with BS when he said the Yellow Wagtail is probably the same bird as seen at Raggalds on Friday.

Friday, May 04, 2012

A Coastal Little Owl

The only other Video I shot in Turkey (if you've had a drink this will look really shakey)

Birdbrain: A Genteel Chorister

Local Birds

Back to reality, except the weather isn't really May!
Pr Grey Wagtail breeding in same site as previous 2/3 years at Black Dyke Mills.

Soil Hell 0855-1020 hrs. c8 Meadow Pipit, 12 Skylark, 3 Mallard, pr Curlew, pr Lapwing, 2 Pheasant, 17+ Linnet, Kestrel, Swallow, Blackbird.
5 LBBG > E and down in the rushes a reeling Grasshopper Warbler.

Glad I decided to check Raggalds Flood out even though there was just a Mallard present on the water. As I walked away a calling Yellow Wagtail flew overhead > W. Also a Pied Wagtail and oddly enough a Goldcrest perched on a telephone wire.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

A Genteel Chorister

I was eventually rewarded by this Great Reed Warbler blasting away at the side of a road after several others failed to emerge from reeds in nearby locations. I took this while I was on holiday in Turkey last week; this ain't a local delicacy (I'm sure you guessed).