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.