Birdbrain Stuff

Friday, January 31, 2014

Queensbury Crime Threat Spreads

A few weeks back on my routine trips around the locality, I encountered some unexpected criminal activity from a totally unexpected source, after being alerted by this notice:

I decided to persevere and paid closer attention to the horses that abound in the area and sure enough as time passed I noticed that all wasn't quite what it appeared to be.
The first thing that sprang to mind was the human trafficking that these horses carry out; gangs of 4 to 6 horses at a time blatantly transporting people on their backs from one place to another!
Another is gambolling, I've seen them doing this in the various fields and wonder who they are betting on to slip and fall over in the muddy tracks and pastures.
I've even seen evidence of drug abuse, as this picture of the suspected ring leader shows:

Don't be fooled by the svelte appearance and softly spoken, some would say hoarse voice of this animal, when motivated into obtaining some ill gotten gains, he really gets the bit between his teeth.
Yesterday I finally met the rest of the gang as I trotted up High Cross Lane, I was a bit skittish, but managed to take this photo despite their obvious anger:

The High Cross gang. Approach with caution preferably with a big bag of apples.
I couldn't see any hardware under their coats but was still a bit weary, I mean can you imagine getting saddled with this lot on a dark night? Lefty managed to get his head out of the picture, probably because it started to rein and I had to wipe the camera. After a few tense minutes, I was able to carry on my walk but I was shaking; well after all Crazy is definitely not stable.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Queensbury South Again

Approx 1345-1505 hrs in a cold E'ly breeze. Went down through the park hoping to get the Treecreeper reported by BS recently but no luck, even the Jays weren't present. The regulars were about and I did get a Herring Gull high up > W over the High St.
One thing has remained constant: the Redwing and Starling flock reported last Sunday is still in the same location along with a singles of Fieldfare and Mistle Thrush plus 3 Blackbird.
A Snipe was in the marsh field but not a single Lapwing was seen. 14 Fieldfare were over across the road in Shaw Lane.
Hard to credit that it's the last day of January tomorrow and I still need Grey Heron and LTT for the annual list.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Raggalds to Mixenden Repeat

The E'ly blow didn't bring me any morsels, I just noted it was rather chilly.
Raggalds Flood 1040 hrs was deserted, however 3 Pied Wagtail were in a nearby field.
Soil Hill top area only in a bit of a dash supplied 1 each of: Robin, Blackbird, Skylark, Reed Bunting. Excavations are now being carried out on the S slope, bottom Perseverance Rd.

Ogden Res - a volunteer team of cutters, hackers and slashers is making inrhodes to the dodyrhendron bushes. Bad spelling I know, you should have seen my with Czechoslovakia at school. The feeders are really pulling 'em in - 3 Blackbird on the deck, Robins, Dunnock with several Tits upstairs.
A drake Goldeneye was on the water along with a small number of local gulls and I encountered a mixed flock of 3 Goldcrest and 6 Coal Tit. Once again I bumped into extremely tame Robins - a pr that were at arms length.

Mixenden Res area produced a small number of Fieldfare, 5 Redwing, numerous Jackdaw, and a Mistle Thrush but the main attraction were 5 f & 1 drake Goldeneye. Of course the usual local gulls, not too many, were present.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Coley to Park Dam

I got inspired to go down the road to Coley after lunch; started off a disaster, ended up very satisfactory. Birds were nowhere to be found apart from a blip of 5 Blackbird in a field so I wandered off to Norwood Green. Here, I got slightly lost, not having bridged the gap from Judy Woods, Wyke to NG in my very misspent youth. However I soon recovered my direction and found my old haunts so I took the path which would bring me out at Royds Hall. Things picked up here with 2 Nuthatch, 150+ Woodpigeon and a Jay plus a few Tits.

I never got views like this in the field opposite where I lived as a younger man.

This is where it got a bit good; I picked up 2 annuals by Park (Royds Hall) Dam. My first was a GBBG  > SW giving a couple of deep calls as it did so. The second was a pr Goosander, sadly they moved away from the dam side so photographs were out of the question. Also present GC Grebe, 3 Coot, 2 Moorhen, 11 Tufted Duck, 38 Canada Geese and a mix of small gulls overhead also > SW.

Still Around

These were both in the garden this morning so they're still hanging around somewhere.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Queensbury South

Thankfully the rain stopped and the sun kind of made an appearance so I went out from 1355-1515 hrs. Foster Park produced 3 Jays together in one bush, plus the usual residents. At the top end of the GC where the track comes into Giles Hill Lane were c100 Redwing and nigh on 200 Starling wheeling around in short bursts and settling. I caught sight of a female Sparrowhawk hedgehopping after them, obviously prospecting for a snack. Once again, no sign of any Fieldfare in among.
A circuit of High Cross/Cross Lane produced 1 each of Pied Wagtail, Lapwing and Snipe, plus corvids.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Raggalds to Mixenden

Generally a poor day with intermittent bursts of activity. Raggalds Flood at approx 1105 hrs was deserted and Soil Hill was almost the same in a howling SW'ly. However SH did provide me with another annual in the form of a pr Grey Partridge, a solitary BHG was the only other bird seen.

Ogden Res had the Cormorant, c25 Common Gull, few BHG and Mallard on the water. This Robin would insist on feeding at my feet; nearby was a Dunnock which absolutely refused to. The feeders have been well stocked up here and the tits, incl 2 Coal, were making the most of them. 4 very busy Goldcrest and a Goldfinch also seen here.

Stod Fold was noisy with Blue, Coal and Gt Tit, Goldfinch, Chaffinch. in small numbers. The approach to Mixenden Res produced a Grey Wagtail, several Common Gull and c28 Jackdaw. Then it nosedived as the visibility dropped and rain ensued. Dreams of storm driven juicy morsels were shattered the water just had 3 Mallard and 40+ small gull sp. on it.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Wintry South

Qby Sth 1440-1555 hrs in a chilly blow culminating in a hailstorm which I just beat by less than a minute.
Couldn't face the wellington boot route, so I donned the cross trainers and sped my way (relatively) down the Green Lane section.
2 Redwing, 1 Common Gull, 9 BHG. 1 Herring Gull > W, which seems to be the favoured direction.
I did a Little Owl check with no luck. There were plenty of Rook and Jackdaw knocking about.
3 Lapwing had the temerity to turn up in the trailer park fields as did 35+ Meadow Pipit. Also seen Woodpigeon, Kestrel and yet again White Crow.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Scolopacidae Day

Queensbury South 1400-1525 hrs. Visited the Woodcock release spot from yesterday; the bird flew up some 20 metres away from where it was placed. It looked great as it flew off in strong flight, dropping down not too far away - result!
Things were patchy after that, 3 Blackbird, 4 Chaffinch, 5 Goldfinch, 2 Common & 7 BH Gulls and the usual Blue and Great Tits.
I paid a visit to the Cross Lane marsh field, picking up a Pied Wagtail and a Meadow Pipit on the way. The place simply exploded with Common Snipe;  I'm surprised the field hadn't sunk under the weight as a total of 37 birds took to the air in two waves. Although a record number for me, BS has had even more than this.
3 Collared Dove, 2 Woodpigeon on way home.

Mopping Up Other Birds

Sunday 19th a.m down Qby Sth was the worst session in recent months. The best bird turned up near the end of the walk, an annual; a screeching Jay from the wooded area half way up Green Lane.
However at 2010 hrs I had a bonus with another annual; a Tawny Owl was alternating between Oboe and Piccolo from a tree close to the back yard. This went on for almost 10 minutes and I also got a brief performance from it Monday night.

Ogden Res 0935-1155 hrs. A cracking morning, plenty of birds active with much calling and singing. Judging by the number of tame Robins almost playing at your feet, there was an obvious fall from the Continent overnight.
4 Teal were on the drink but didn't hang around, unlike the drake Goldeneye and 15 Canada Geese. The breeding plumaged Cormorant was on the buoy and I briefly thought about the possibility of Sinensis, given the amount of white on it's nape. It was great to see my (our) first Song Thrush of the year, belting it's heart out for what seemed an eternity. A Green Woodpecker and a Nuthatch were calling and rather appropriately at the very end of the stay, a Buzzard came over the car park > SW. You should have heard the curses when my camera became entangled as it slowly drifted away.

Cold Edge, although calm and under clear blue skies was rather quiet: 6 Red Grouse, ditto Pheasant, a number of smaller gull sp., 4 Canada and a calling Reed Bunting which would not show itself.
Thanks to DP for the journey.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Woodcock Armchair Tick

Got a phone call at around 0830 hrs from DP, the next door neighbour, informing me he had a Woodcock in a box in his house! Earlier a relative had picked it up in Russell Hall Rd after it had apparently flown into a window. Dave drove round, picked it up and gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to give the bird a once over and take some reasonable photographs.

The bird appeared lively enough when I picked it up and DP mentioned it had already had a fly around the room, so we decided to release it locally. Foster Park (aka Littlemoor) is suitable habitat for the species, as both Dave and myself have recorded Woodcock in recent years. The bird was released at 0910 hrs and the pair of us stood about for up to 10 minutes, mainly to keep an eye out for dog walkers and to watch it's reactions. It was interesting to view, move away and around the bird then refocus just to capture the cryptic plumage; at times I had 2/3 attempts to relocate the beautiful specimen even though it was never more than 10 metres away.

Many thanks to the Langford family both for their finding the bird and kind consideration of taking care of it.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Lightening Strikes Twice

Just got home and within 10 mins I received a txt from SD timed at 1539 hrs. Once again she was at the top of Fleet Lane and got a repeat performance of c200 Pink Footed Geese  executing the same action as Tuesday afternoon! A remarkable observation and now I ask myself  why wasn't I screwing the bobbin and getting my sorry backside up there.

My own efforts today in Qby Sth from 1405-1525 hrs produced: 4 Fieldfare over the back yard > N.
Greenfinch, 4 Chaffinch, 2 Goldfinch. 90+ Redwing with the large Starling flock again. I was wellied up so gave the marsh field the once over - 5 Common Snipe.
I'm starting to wonder now if the Lapwings will return, although in winters past they have tended to wander away when the temperature drops and the wind picks up.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Movement Down South

In contrast to yestereday's nightmare, this was an interesting hour and 20 mins, starting at 1445 hrs. The thick of the action took place within a 7/8 minute spell and provided 2 more for the annual list. First off was the Little Owl peering at me from it's established site in Green Lane.  Then I caught sight of a flock of sizeable birds heading W > Swalesmoor - 23 Herring Gulls; it's been a few years since I got this many locally.

A large flock of finches flew from behind me, coming in from the NW and settled in the trees at the junction of Green/Corporal Lanes. Visibility wasn't great and it took me a while, almost panic stricken, to get decent views of them. They started flitting around the trees but fortunately settled again and I managed to confirm them as Greenfinch. I needed one for the annual list and got c60. Others here were 1 each of Goldfinch and Blackbird.

The trailer park field and those adjacent again held no Lapwing but now struggling against the light, I saw c20 Meadow Pipit fly up and quickly settle back down. I wasn't togged up with wellies to venture into the marsh field, and it's time the Snipe had a bit of a rest anyway. Others seen throughout:
pr Stock Dove, c45 Rook, Kestrel, few BH & Common Gulls.

Were The Devil To Cast His Net

Wed 15/01 an appalling afternoon, starting off at Raggalds Flood which was deserted. Soil Hill performed enough to warrant it's omission for any future visits within the next three or four weeks and Ogden had me filling up the reservoir with tears.

However all was not lost because I knew that come eventide in a certain hostelry, 3 budding birders would appear in a dusk migration.

DM to DW "Uh Oh Dave, I wonder how Nigel's rancid imagination is going to manifest itself this time".
On the left, MJ alias Siskin Jones, laughing because he knows I ain't had one this year. Center, DM, currently doing a feasibility study on the introduction of Rock Bunting to north Northowram. On the right, DW, trying to convince DM that Swinhoes Petrel has been reported in Queensbury (ref A. Snert c1873).

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Queensbury Sth and Ogden Res

Qby Sth 1430-1555 hrs. 7+ Blue, 1 Coal, 2 Gt Tit. 4 Goldfinch, 90+ Redwing mixed with c250 Starling, 3 Fieldfare. Something unseen caused mayhem amongs the Crows in the fields to the E of High Cross lane, 25 or so took to the skies and with them 8 Pied Wagtail.
No Lapwing were seen at all but the marsh field produced a pr Mallard and 3 Common Snipe.

The local White Crow is becoming an omen, within 3 minutes of it flying across the road to the GC clubhouse I got a text from Sheila Delaney who had been stood at the top of Fleet Lane. At approx 1535 hrs she saw a large flock of geese emerge from the clouds and drop down quickly into Ogden Res. Within a minute or so they rose up again, circled and decided to carry on flying. I think it's a knocking bet to assume these were our Pink Footed Goose friends again.
Thanks for that Sheila, it's alway good to hear about these winter visitors to the parish.

Via Email to Blog Facility

Date: Mon, 13 Jan 2014 20:50:16 +0000

Hi Nigel,

Managed a trip above Wakefield road (HX) looking across at the sewage works:
M. Bullfinch. LTTits. Blue tit. Magpie. Coal tit. Treecreeper. Nuthatch. M Chaffinch. Robin. Great tit. Woodpigeon.

On Saturday escaped to Manywells brow to Hewenden viaduct.
Blackbird. Chaffinch.M. dunnock. Top of manywell field opposite tip c400 starling. Lots of Fieldfare and redwing to far away to count. Goldfinch. Bhg. 10 Jackdaw. 2 jay. Magpie. Meadow pipit (3). Mallard. Nuthatch. Pheasant(m). Robin. Blue. Lt. Great. Coal tits. Treecreeper. GSW. Woodpigeon. Wren.
Good bird day for me.

With all the starling redwing and fieldfare about I predict some cold snowy weather. You heard it hear first.
Have not spotted any pink footed geese yet. Need one for my 2014 list.
Also  greenfinch seems to be eluding me and brambling 
Hope to see you around

Monday, January 13, 2014


A direct contrast to yesterday, yet surprisingly so given the mild conditions.
Raggalds Flood sweep 1 at 1355 hrs, plenty of water but that was all.
Soil Hill - Pr Dunnock, Kestrel, 5 Mallard, Pheasant.
Raggalds Flood sweep 2 - a Crow and small gull sp. > E spoiled the party.
Old Guy Rd - numerous Starling.

Roll On Dementia.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Busy Birds in Queensbury

Today started off  at approx 0900 hrs with a call from DW who lives in Appleby Close, describing some game bird species in a field at the back of his house. After I'd given him a couple of pointers, he called back a few minutes later, having taken his 'scope and reported 6 Grey Partridge feeding.
This is a very good record, I've certainly not had them in Queensbury North at all. Thanks for the info, Dave.

Inspired by this, I decided to do the usual trawl down my neck of the woods from 1045-1210 hrs.

Up to 100 Pink Footed Geese over Queensbury GC 1125 hrs.

Foster Park was quiet once again, however I did manage to get GSW on the annual list. Things picked up somewhat on the approach to the Giles Hill Lane/High Cross junction. I noticed c40 Redwing and a single Fieldfare on the deck in a field when the sound of c100 calling Pink Footed Geese spun me round at 1120 hrs. No time to count accurately as I had the quandary of calling BS and photographing them pronto. Fortunately, I managed to snatch a couple of shots off before they flew across Brighouse Rd > W/NW.

c55 Lapwing were circling the fields by the trailer park and 5 Common Snipe flew out of the Cross Lane marsh field. A pr of Pied Wagtail were also present here.
Also seen throughout the trip: 4 Mistle Thrush, 5 Blackbird, Common Gull, 5 Woodpigeon, another pr Pied Wag.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Stroke of Luck

Queensbury Sth approx 1335-1455hrs. Started off down Park Lane with weak chik chik calls from treetops but whichever Dendrocops species it happened to be wasn't even seen, let alone identified. Then the session just zeroed in, with minimal activity throughout Foster Park right up until I reached the Cross Lane marsh field.
The adjacent green fields contained hosses, no birds so I felt obliged to do a squelch through. This produced 9 Common Snipe and also a recollection that the place had a For Sale sign up. I was about to go home when I thought I'd go dig the board out of the bramble tangle and have a gander.
This proved to be a good move as the delay in reading the details got me a minor miracle: a single Pink Footed Goose flew low down over the Lapwing fields > W/NW.

Previously DJS had sent me a text detailing the passing of PFG skeins throughout the Calderdale area earlier. I think it fair to assume this was a straggler.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Wheatley Valley and Swalesmoor

Wheatley Valley courtesy DP a.m. inspired by DJS birds reported yesterday. No two days are alike and so it proved to be; the place was unremarkable but I can see the potential. Chaffinches, Tits, 2 Bullfinch, couple Redwing.
DP then took us up to Swalesmoor for yet another crack at the Linnet flock, which turned out to be another failure. However...

A falcon hanging over the edge of the top supported by a boisterous NW/W'ly blow turned out to be a male Peregrine. This was joined by a larger more puzzling bird which caused initial confusion by having a noticeable chunk of missing feathers on it's right wing. Because things were happening at some pace, I thought this second bird could be an harrassing Crow. DP caught sight of the smaller bird, the Tiercel, about 5 mins later and then it all fell into place. The larger bird started to engage in courtship display, including hanging upside down with extended legs and was identified as a female. The pr kept up this behaviour for a couple more minutes and were last seen drifting E over toward Oats Royd.
I've never seen this species displaying before; it's a bonus to observe them doing it just down the road apiece. Makes for rather a special annual too.

SH OGDEN Report via Email to Blog Facility

Date: Thu, 9 Jan 2014 14:25:19 +0000

Hi Nigel,

Had a hike over SH - Ogden & back this morning. Got soaked.
Nothing exceptional except a fox on the path to Taylor lane and 8 Magpies all in one tree.
SH was deserted. Ogden dunnock, blue,great,coal and Lt tits,goldcrest,cormorant,robins galore,treecreeper, goldcrest, usual gulls,3 Pheasant (2F 1M). Comming back on coal lane 14 Canada geese . 50 starlings on telegraph wires.
Going over SH tomorrow morning hoping for better luck.
Hope you had a good day

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Raggalds and Soil Hill

Although generally quiet, I was surprised to get 2 for the annual list, one of which was unexpected but certainly hoped for.
Raggalds Flood sweep 1 at 1455 hrs, water was deserted but 2 Common & 1 LBB Gull > W.
Soil Hill:
BHG, m Reed Bunting, looney Fieldfare and my first of the year Skylark.

RF sweep 2 1510 hrs still deserted, but 3 Herring Gull and a Mallard > W. I'll savour the Herrings (pun intended) as they are a gull that likes to avoid me.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Mixenden to Swalesmoor

Mixenden Res approx 1040 hrs, thanks to DP. 1 m Tufted Duck, 2 f & 1 m Goldeneye, 3 Mallard, many small gull sp. This LBBG was having a feast on some scraps put out on one of the nearby green areas.

Cold Edge Dams in awful windy conditions. f Reed Bunting, m Stonechat, c11 Mallard, c13 BHG, 3 Meadow Pipit, caaawvids.
Swalesmoor, where once again I failed to locate the Linnet flock which contained a Twite (thanks for the text DJS). 15+ Redwing, 2 Bullfinch, 2 Blue Tit, 3 Chaffinch, 3 Goldfinch, Blackbird and usual residents.

I nipped down to the Cross Lane area from 1505-1525 hrs. 44 Lapwing, 7 Common Snipe, Pied Wagtail, Kestrel, c55 BHG > W.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Low Moor Dams

Harold Park and Park Dam courtesy DP 0945 -1025 hrs. HP was the busiest of the two but Park Dam (aka Royds Hall Dam) was worth the trip as it had 2 LBBG present. The species and numbers listed are a combination of both:
BHG c50, Blackbird 1, Canada Goose c18, Common Gull 20+, Coot c21, GC Grebe 3, Mallard 20+,
Moorhen 6, Mute Swan, 4, Tufted Duck 16+, Woodpigeon 1.

DP was up earlier and paid a visit to the marsh field at Cross Lane; he reports Pied Wagtail, 12 Meadow Pipit, 8 Common & 1 Jack Snipe. The latter flew out and went down into the trailer park field. When I had a quick look at approx 1120 hrs, a small number of Lapwing, BH and Common Gull were present there.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Queensbury Sth Jack Pot

1455-1535 hrs. Went down the footpath by the marsh field at Cross Lane and stopped by the gap halfway down to prepare myself. I was quite unprepared; even before doing a squelch through 10 Common Snipe took off from different sections of the field.
I then wandered over to the far corner by Cross Lane and walked up through some flatter ground covered by rushes and stuff. A Jack Snipe took off from about 2.5 metres and flew across the road, dropping down into the excavations on t'other side.
While ringing BS (who has his own story to tell - see blog) a further two Snipe took off and by the time I'd walked back to the footpath, yet another 2 did the same.  14 Birds in total plus the bonus makes for a good 40 minutes session methinks. Also present here: Reed Bunting, c31 Lapwing, 2 Crow, c11 Common and a few BHG > W.

This lunchtime the Grey Wagtail at BD Mills was singing it's head off and as I was leaving the hovel for the a/m story, the White Crow flew across the road.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Raggalds and Queensbury Sth

Went down to RF at 0940 hrs to see what had developed as per DS comments on the farmer's work yesterday. He'd done a fairly good job, the water levels have shrunk by a third at least. The Teal have gone, c16 Mallard and 4 small gulls were present. On the way back, I managed a solitary Redwing > W at Mountain.

I checked the fields down at Cross Lane after lunch. A gusting S'ly had scoured them all; not a bird present. It was the same down Corporal and Green Lanes initially, however at the end of the session c85 Jackdaw and a smattering of small gulls were by the junction with Deanstones.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Raggalds Flood to Mixenden

Started off well then became somewhat patchy but still got a few for the annual list. RF 1040 hrs 2 m Teal, the first for a while here. Also c15 Mallard and several local gulls; this changed within 90 minutes or so, see BS report.
Soil Hill top fields 3 Fieldfare, Kestrel, BHG, Mistle Thrush.

Ogden Res was overloaded with people so I didn't devote much time to searching the bushes/trees. However I had a stroke of luck with 3 Goldcrest; in recent years I've usually had to give it 3/4 attempts. Also present, Coal Tit, 2 Great Tit, 2 Blackbird, Little Grebe, Cormorant and the ubiquitous gulls.
Mixenden Res 1310-1330 hrs. c22 Jackdaw, 3 Mallard, 1 m Tufted Duck & 3 f Goldeneye.

Happy New Year !!

In the garden at 11:40 this morning.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

New Year Birds

Spent most of the day doing domesticity with just 3/4 glances into the back yard. Managed to get out for 40 mins or so in the damp as I thought it would do my bad chest the world of good, lol. BS was down in the trailer park before me.
Site NameQueensbury South (SE12 E)DateWed, Jan 1, 2014Time09:10 - 15:20
Species NameCountComments
Black-headed Gull2
Blue Tit2Back yard
Carrion Crow9c
Collared Dove2
Common Gull3
Great Tit1Back yard
Snipe5Thanks to BSfor holding on until I arrived to see them in juncus fld
Complete List? Y Total Bird Species: 12 
A NY Resolution for the blog:
I hereby do promise to crack the HTML script that is preventing me from removing the unneccesary column borders.