Birdbrain Stuff

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last Birds of 2013

Raggalds Flood 1040 hrs - nothing, although scores of gulls present in nearby fields.
Soil Hill, top field only - Meadow Pipit, m Reed Bunting, Magpie & Crow.
Ogden Res was just as chronic - Little Grebe, 5 Coal Tit, few Great, Robins.

In desperation I called in at Oats Royd on the way back, via Bradshaw. c6 Goldfinch, 7 Fieldfare & a Redwing were around Bradshaw Church.
OR - c10 Redwing, Blackbird, 2 Bullfinch, 3 Chaffinch, 4 Goldfinch, Woodpigeons, caawvids.

Altogether a disappointing ending to what has been a below average Autumn/Winter. I'm calling it a day for the rest of the year.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Poor Morning

Raggalds Flood approx 1105 hrs 14 Common Gull.
Soil Hill birds consisted of a single Blackbird up Perseverance Rd, a pr Jackdaw flying > E and 2 Crows. There was nothing on any of the top fields.
A third of the way down the N slope a group of around 7 men where blasting away with shotguns at clay piegons for about 90 minutes. One wonders if this is going to be a regular occurrence, one does.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

QBY Sth Again

1455-1520 hrs with wind and sleet. Lapwing numbers down to 20 in the field two up from the trailer park. 3 BHG, Mistle Thrush and a few Starling also present. Met BS at the juncus field and 40+ Fieldfare flew overhead as we surveyed the joint. Just 3 Snipe were present and a single LBBG flew > W.
BS stayed longer than me so check his West Yorkshire Birding blog for further coverage.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

North and South

Went up to Soil Hill from 1100-1205 hrs and it was absolutely mind numbing. The crazy Fieldfare was still on top along with 2 Crows. A Grey Heron flew over > N and the only other bird was a cock Pheasant down by the red cabin.
Raggalds flood was iced over and empty, furthermore not one gull was in the general area. 2 Meadow Pipit and a Pied Wagtail were at Mountain.

Queensbury Sth 1450-1525 hrs. Local disturbance from motocross bikers was the order of the afternoon, across the road from the marsh field. However, 4 Snipe and a Reed Bunting were seen, as was BS, indulging in a bit of bog trotting. Around 55 Lapwing and a Grey Heron flew over and around the fields as did c30 Starling. Also Collared Dove, 3 Greenfinch and a few noisy House Sparrow.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

South Roundup

Queensbury Sth Tues 24/12 a.m in a blustery wind and almost blinding sunshine. The top end of Foster Park had plenty of finch activity, mainly Goldfinch then Chaffinch with the odd Greenfinch thrown in. After that, nothing until I got to Cross Lane. There were only c30 Lapwing in the trailer park field and something scared 'em all off but one which stayed put hugging the ground. I presume this was the one legged bird I saw some weeks back.

Today Wed 25/12 0815-0850 hrs. I decided to do an early light number on the trailer park and juncus field. The first bird I saw was a White Crow just 200 metres down the road apiece. Good or bad omen? - turned out it wasn't a good 'un. I may have been too early because there wasn't a bird present on the ground. Two Meadow Pipit did fly overhead along with a gull or three. I had a quick sortie into the juncus field and what a juicy place it is, complete with a flooded ditch adorned by reedmace. However, nothing moved from within; it appears that inconsistency is the key here for Snipe. One thing is for certain the best chance of seeing them is a last light visit as proven by BS exploits.

Tomorrow I'll shake off today's festive hangover by giving the good old hill from hell a try in the a.m, hopefully.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Raggalds to Ogden Res

Raggalds Flood 0945 hrs 26 Mallard and a few local gulls.
A very fresh S'ly was blowing up the hill from hell at 1000 hrs and I thought I may be in with the chance of a blank. This was spoiled by 7 Fieldfare revealing themselves from grass in the last 2 minutes, drat and double drat.

Ogden Res turned up a belter; a Scarlet Xmas Pecker was perched on the Lodge House gate.

This species only moves north from south of the equator once a year; needless to say it's home is Chile.
Other birds: Cormorant, Little Grebe, Gulls, pr Bullfinch, 3 LTT, usual suspects.
This is an extract from Bradshaw John (very much related to Little John) who visited Soil Hill yesterday:

Sunday 22 December 2013 Up on soil hill at 14.00.
Coming back down Taylor lane 12 fieldfare and 4 redwing in the meadow opposite Grey Horse farm. Also 4 linnet. Hoping that I might be looking at twite (instead of linnet) I stayed until my hands were blue holding the peepers. My bird knowledge being limited and the hail giving me grief all I noticed was the birds were feeding in the grass and periodically would run quickly 3 or 4 steps before feeding again. Could not get a great view but the tail looked longer than expected.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Soil Hill

In a naughty SW'ly 0815-0920 hrs. c55 Fieldfare, few Redwing, 150+ Starling, Pied Wagtail, Kestrel, 2 Common Gull. c35 Woodpigeon > NW from Station Rd.
Raggalds Flood was just that, apart from a few local gulls.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Soil Hill to Ogden Res

Raggalds Flood at approx 1140 hrs just had a few local gulls on it, there were about 10 more small gulls up at the top of Soil Hill also. Jack Snipe no.19 for the year was also present in the favored spot on the edge of the N slope. I've given up on Snow Bunting for this Autumn/Winter now, similar Woodcock and Merlin. In fact Merlin applies for the whole year, first time I've not had one in almost double figures I think.

Ogden Res had a pr Goldeneye and a Little Grebe on the water. 8 Fieldfare flew NW followed by c350 Starling.

Wren's are normally difficult to photograph, this one was easy.
Passerine activity was minimal, especially the Wren. I did manage Treecreeper, Coal & LTT.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


So far, the maximum count of Blackbirds in the garden, on several days, has been 12. I assumed that they were the same birds but this one is new. I wonder if it's moving round the area? It'd be easy to spot if it was.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Horton Bank CP to Soil Hill

Horton Bank CP 1030-1105 hrs. Collared Dove, Dunnock, 6 Coot, 4 Moorhen, 20+ Common and a higher nr of BH Gulls. Also a first winter type LBBG present. I got a Brambling here 3/4 Xmas's back, no such luck today; passerines were absent.

I then went down Cooper Lane to forage around Shelf Moor. 14 Fieldfare, 5 Redwing, 6 Blackbird, Meadow Pipit and again plenty of small gulls present. A Lapwing flock c75 birds was very active, circling around the Jackson Hill and High Cross Lane area. Eventually they settled in the second field down from HCL.
After lunch I decided to have a bash at Raggalds Flood and Soil Hill.

41+ Lapwing were on the flood, along with a few BH & Common gulls. The surrounding fields were full of the latter, hundreds of 'em.

Soil Hill was rather blowy from WNW and had the potential for my first ever top field blank in over 13 years of birding the dump. However my dreams were shattered; I flushed a Jack Snipe on the E side of the mounds. When will I ever learn. The only other birds thereafter, down the N slope were 2 f pheasant and c12 Mallard Ogdeneii on the pond.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Rather Dead Today

Queensbury South 1350-1445 hrs. Checked the usual fields for Lapwing - nothing. Only birds seen were Pied Wagtail, 10+ Starling, few smaller gulls > W.

I'm glad these lads kept on moving
The situation in Foster Park was equally dire, I didn't even hear any calls.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Soil Hell

Having had an easy week so far, I felt the need for anguish and pain so I went up to SH at approx 1240 hrs. A nice WSW wind with rain was blowing so I knew I'd suffer. However as is often the case, along with pain comes gain and I got a luverly little Jack Snipe on the edge of the N slope. Then back to misery with just a single Crow and c25 Starling being the only other birds present.

Raggalds Flood itself had nothing but the adjacent fields sported a smattering of small gulls and 500+ Starling.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The South Revisited

Site NameQueensbury South (SE12 E)DateTue, Dec 10, 2013Time13:50 - 14:50

Species NameCountAccuracyIncl Foster ParkComments
Black-headed Gull25C
Blackbird3Foster Prk
Carrion CrowY
Common Gull3
Fieldfare40CFoster Prk
Great Tit1
House SparrowY
Lapwing220CFlying around Spaniard Hall Farm
Lesser Black-backed Gull1
Redwing8+Foster Prk
Snipe6Frm Juncus field footpath 1430hrs
Complete List? Y Total Bird Species: 15 

I witnessed an interesting non avian spectacle from my kitchen window this morning. A Cat was staring at me from the back field just before it pounced upon a pile of leaves. It scrabbled around for about 30 seconds then sauntered off with a field vole grasped within it's jaws.

Monday, December 09, 2013

North to South

Started off promising at around 0925 hrs with c22 Redwing out of Harrowins Farm heading NW.
Raggalds Flood held scores of smaller gulls, with 4 large unid duck (prob Mallard) heading off toward Thornton.
However things avian started to nosedive rapidly from then on. Soil Hill had nothing to reveal other than 3 Fieldfare, Crows and a couple of Magpie on the top. There were c18 Canada Geese in the pond field at the N slope bottom.

I went down to the Lapwing fields by Cross Lane; the air was thick with them. There must have been 250+ birds and they were more on the move than settled, some giving a spring like display briefly.
To prove my theory about daytime Snipe in absentia in the juncus field, especially after the large count Sunday by BS at close of day, I went down the footpath. The only birds present were 3 Magpie; I'll save my next visit for after 1430 hrs some day later this week.
Foster Park and Park Lane didn't have much to say for themselves, just a pr LTT, c5 Goldfinch, 3 Chaffinch 2 Blue Tit.

Friday, December 06, 2013

From Raven to Redpoll

Soil Hill 1050 hrs, in the hope of Snow Bunting (dream on). A Raven flew over > W, just above head height which was a most welcome sight as my last bird here was back in March. John, who I'd met just minutes earlier tells me a pair were perched up a couple of days back.
Also c37 Common Gull, 4 Starling, Kestrel, Stock Dove, Meadow Pipit.

Ogden Res, quiet again in the main but this too provided a break from the ordinary. 7 Redpoll were feeding in the Alders etc halfway down the track on the Skirden Bridge side. One of these had a pale belly but after consulting books pics etc I can't bring myself to say it was a possible Mealy. However, one other bird stood out a mile from the Lessers because it was still sporting the full bold summer plumage of a Common.
Also Bullfinch, Grey Wagtail, c5 Coal Tit, drake Goldeneye, Green Woodpecker, LBBG and the usual.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Away Day in Barkisland

Thanks to DW I discovered a brand new area of Calderdale offering a range of habitats and great birding this morning. Situated in Barkisland, we walked from Little Bradley along Black Brook up to Bowers Mill and back.

1 of 7 Teal present
There was plenty of activity throughout so accurate counts of most birds was out of the question:
2 Dipper, 1 Kingfisher, 2 GSW, 7 Teal, 4 Mallard, 2 Grey Heron, 3 Jay, 9+ LTT, 1 Pied & 3 Grey Wagtail, 4 Moorhen.
A flock of c26 Redwing was the first I've had since migration in Sept/Oct, several Goldfinch were in the same vicinity.

Meanwhile, down on Happy Farm...
To crown the session in fact, almost unbelievable, as we approached the car parked in a built up area a Buzzard cruised down the road just above our heads.
Thanks for the ride and the introduction Dave.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Soil Hill to Oats Royd

SH 1045-1140 hrs. 45+ Common Gull, few BHG. A Jack Snipe was by the mounds, going down nearby on almost bare ground after initial take off. Lapwing, Crows, Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird.

Ogden Res. Kestrel. 2 Cormorant, usual gulls on the water. Grey Wagtail, Goldcrest, 5 LTT. A few Robin, one of which decided my hand was a useful toilet, Dunnock.

Oats Royd was quiet: Mistle Thrush, Bullfinch, Jay, Green Woodpecker.

A mega bird for Queensbury was reported by DJS on Swalesmoor. A Lapland Bunting took off from there and flew over the village. Well done Dave and thanks for the news.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

A Sigh of Relief

Queensbury Sth approx 1010 hrs. Checked out the High Cross/Cross Lane fields and although the general session was on the subdued side, I managed good views of a pr Reed Bunting in the juncus field for the first time. A Snipe flew over from the Spaniard Hall excavation and dropped in and a pr of Meadow Pipit joined the Reed Bunting.
I am now almost convinced that the heavy duty Snipe movement (see BS report here) takes place toward the end of the day and of course probably early morning. I will still try and prove myself wrong naturally!
The large Lapwing flock were all present and correct in the second field up, alongside a much reduced Starling bunch.

For a while now I've been bothered by a planning notice 1300924/MCO attached to one of the wooden posts at Cross Lane corner. In short it looked like the juncus field was going to be dug up and developed so I did a bit of delving on Calderdale Council's website. After searching the specific planning no. and more general searches on Spaniard Hall, I can say that I allowed myself a sigh of relief on finding not only is that no. not current, there are none others linked to the site.

Lowlands, viewed from Queensbury GC looking south east.
 Cameras do lie: the heavy pixilation of the wires was caused
 by reducing the file size down.
A Fieldfare and small no. of gulls were seen while heading toward Foster Park, while on the other side of Brighouse Rd was a very large commotion of Gulls and Caaaawvids - I couldn't determine who or what caused it. Just 4 Chaffinch, 8 Goldfinch, 4 Blackbird and a few Tit types were all the park could offer today.