Birdbrain Stuff

Sunday, April 27, 2014

South to Shibden Head

Approx 1105 hrs a good start with 4/5 House Martin back around Deanstones/Green Lane bottom, giving me another annual. Then it nosedived and finding birds was hard work - I could hear 'em but the visuals were duff.
Common Gull, Swallows, c6 Chiffchaff, more WW, 3 Blackcap, 2 GSW, Green Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Linnets, Blackbird and stuff.

As is usually the case at this time of year, I get fed up of posting to the blog for the sake of it and so once again I'm going to take time off. Maybe I'll recommence later on, then again perhaps not. I think the final nail in the coffin happened after I got home. I received a msg telling me that a certain lady saw an Oystercatcher a couple days back, before I have this year. This is preposterous! Women, know your place! Queensbury's Algernon Snert (We are not worthy) will be spinning in his catacomb.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Local North and South

Raggalds Flood approx 1140 hrs: only a smidgin of water which surprised me considering the rain during the past 24 hrs. No birds seen but John Little was and we both set off to inspect the SH north slope bottom reedbed for the Grasshopper Warbler. PS was already there, reporting a few reels heard plus a pr Teal on the far pond. Shortly after the gropper tuned up again and treated us to a few more longer calls. Also present here 2/3 Reed Bunting, ditto Swallow, a few Linnet and Meadow Pipit, Curlew at distance.
JL and I then traipsed over to catch the 2 Teal along with a Moorhen, finally nailing them after a bit of hide and seek.
The top area, subject to a fresh breeze (fancy that) turned up 3 Lapwing, a few Skylark and along the E side nr Perseverance Rd were 4 Wheatear and a Blackbird.

The trailer park field produced 5 Skylark, 3 Meadow Pipit and 4 Wheatear. The latter remained there despite one of the owners walking across the field to retrieve a hoss. Also 3 Swallow flying around.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ogden and Soil Hill

Ogden GC and Res approx 1020-1300 hrs. Searching high and low for migrants; 2 annuals out of desired 5 will have to suffice for now.
2 Blackcap, Herring Gull overhead, pr Jay alternately feeding in grass then perching, allowing some reasonable shots. 4+ Curlew, 3 Tree Pipit. 1 of these was by the side of the golf course, t'other 2 were up at Giants Tooth. Treecreeper, pr Nuthatch,  Goldcrest, 2 LBB & 1 Common Gull. Also several WW and 3 Chiffs singing as were 2 Song Thrush.

Also 16 Canada, Meadow Pipits, Skylark or 3, Pheasants, LTT et al.

Soil Hill 1320-1425 hours coughed up the other annual. On the Ned Hill track, looking at 4/5 Linnet I heard a Grasshopper Warbler reeling nearby, but it remained hidden. I did the top circuit, picking up Blackbird, 3 Lapwing, Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, 1 Curlew. I then hit the reedbed at the N slope bottom and picked up a much louder Grasshopper Warbler reel some 30 minutes after the first and c600 metres away. 2 birds or the same one moving about? What I do know is this is the earliest record for the species I have had. Also a pr Reed Bunting, 2 Moorhen and a few more Linnet.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Local and Cromwell Bottom

Prior to going from Hebble Trail to Cromwell Bottom with DW & DM, I had a quick sortie down to the local fields from 0850-0915 hrs.

7 Wheatear in trailer park field. 3 Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Linnet, 2 Skylark, 8 Rook, 2 Meadow Pipit.

The walk from Hebble Trail to CB was patchy but busier than Cromwell Bottom itself which was the quietest I've experienced.

The empty ski lake
The most notable bird was an influx of Blackcap which were singing throughout. At one stage we got very good views of both male and female. Needless to say Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers were in abundance. Also: Dipper, 2 Grey Wagtail, 4 Song Thrush, 3 Jay, Grey Heron, Bullfinch, Sparrowhawk, 4 Swallow, GC Grebe and usual suspects.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Queensbury Shibden Head Circular

Queensbury Sth 0850 hrs: 4 Wheatear, Reed Bunting, 5 Skylark, 2 Pied Wagtail, 3 Linnet, few Meadow Pipit, pr Blackbird. A Jay flew over the fields > E.
Bowl Shaw Lane produced another Wheatear, 4 Canada Geese, Swallow, Pied Wagtail.

Shibden Valley bottom: 2 Song Thrush, Nuthatch, 2 Swallow, 5 Chiffchaff, 6 Willow Warbler, GSW, Green Woodpecker, 2 Stock Dove, Blackcap male seen and heard singing loudly.
From there up to Shibden Head via Simm Carr Lane all hell broke lose with Chiffs and WW; I must have had another 13 of the former and c15 WW. Another 2 singing male Blackcap, 2 Song Thrush, Nuthatch, 2 Green Woodpecker, 2 GSW, Jay, Grey Heron, Common Gull, Sparrowhawk, pr LTT gathering material, other.

Double figure Blackbird and Woodpigeon seen throughout and Deanstones Lane, Qby, had 2 WW singing, 3 Linnet. It's beyond me as to how I'm going to get this lot on Birdtrack.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


No sign, today, of the bird which has been here for a couple of days. A quick check of the notebook shows 19th April as our latest  date but we have had them in the garden on either 18th or 19th in 1998, 1999 and 2005.

Also here, yesterday, a pair of LTTs collecting feathers.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Short Good Friday

Queensbury Sth approx 0955-1100 hrs. Couldn't commit to the longer route but then ended up spending more time out owing to the birds anyway.

Swallow on wires at High Cross Lane. 5 Wheatear, 2 Snipe, Skylark, by fields at Cross Lane. Others 2 Pied Wagtail, 3 Linnet, similar Meadow Pipit, Blackbird, Dunnock.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Luddenden Dean Cuckoo

DW wanted to see a Cuckoo and tempted me to do the same so we arrived at LD approx 1100 hrs on a cool morning with grey skies. This didn't put the birds off singing however, we were met with quite a cacophony of calls. Although Cuckoo wasn't one of them, we set off from Jerusalem Farm and headed to the valley top.

Just as I mentioned it may not be our day, a bird in sparrowhawk like flight mode flew across the road low down across us and I managed to catch sight of the underbelly and acute angled wings. The words I uttered loudly could be translated for a general viewing category blog as " Gadzooks, Old Bean, dashed if that ain't a Cuckoo, eh what?" We then enjoyed reasonable if somewhat distant views of the bird for a while; I even managed a couple of almost satisfactory shots.

Other birds present included: Song Thrush, pr Pied Wagtail, Green Woodpecker, Jays, Nuthatches, Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, Swallow and distant Curlews heard. I'm glad you got such a dramatic and gratifying introduction to such a great bird Dave, thanks for the trip.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Grand Circular Tour

Queensbury with Daves W & M not necessarily in that order, to TMR via Soil hill and Ogden Res on the return leg or what remains of them. Birds were a bit thin on the ground and in the air generally but it was good staggering weather.
Raggalds Flood was deserted bar pr Pied Wagtail and looks like it will be non existent in the morning. Soil Hill was quite and things didn't really pick up until the approach to TMR. Birds seen up to press: Swallow, Lapwings, Curlew, pr Grey Partridge, pr Reed Bunting, Mipits, Skylarks, Kestrel. I mebbe heard brief Oystercatcher calls but can certainly afford not to clutch at straws with such a bird.
TMR had a number of LBBGs either flying around or loafing on the walls and an imm. phase GBBG passed overhead twice. A pr Red-legged Partridge were present here and a single Wheatear was also seen.

Ogden Res, in a 20 minute spell turned up Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Grey Wagtail, 2 LBBG and 2 very approachable Greylag Geese in among c10 Canadas.
Finally the now obligatory check of Old Guy Rd coughed up 3 Wheatear and a Skylark.
DW in a philanthropic gesture awarded DM the Algernon Snert Queensbury Bronze Medal for sharpest eyes of the day. He spotted a Wheatear coming out of a burrow or hole; this compliments the US 5 cents I gave him towards his holiday expenditure.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ring One Up For Raggalds

Raggalds Flood 1400hrs first sweep. Didn't even get the bins out on seeing the diminishing water, I must remember never to do this again! I noted a pr House Sparrow building their home in an old Crow nest by the YWA compound.
Soil Hill was hard work in the warm sunshine with nothing moving and no melodramatics at all today. 1 each of Lapwing, Curlew, Moorhen, Mallard, Chaffinch, Blackbird. Usual Meadow Pipits and Skylarks in low numbers, 6 Linnet.

RF second sweep this time 'noculared up at 1505hrs. Once along the water patch from left to right, nothing doing. Second application along the middle where the water is just over a metre wide, strewn with clumps of grass/weed. Helloooo what's this lovely brown backed stumpy wader I see before me? My gut instincts were Ringed Plover but because of distance and me being in a rush I put out the possibility of LRP to those concerned. I'm sticking to RP because last year no Little 'uns turned up or weren't recorded.
This is a most welcome bird as it is 10 days earlier than 2013 and adds another notch to the annual list.

PS Wrong Again! (Are there any awards for this?) DJS went down and managed to get some photographs which confirm the bird as Little Ringed Plover. I can stand the pain because this is still an annual plus it's also another new site record, now at 54 species. Thanks for your efforts, Dave.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Email to Blog Test

Blogger used to leave Email senders details in, yet it published DWs email without them today. Lets see what happens here.

Soil Hill & Queensbury North

Started off well at Raggalds 1240 hrs by finally nailing the flood shanks which every man and his dog have seen up to press bar me. They fed in the ever decreasing water up until the return leg too, even though a man was doing a building job on the field wall. Also present 1 each of Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail, plus DW.

Soil Hill provided another annual with a pr Red-legged Partridge near the metal cabin bottom N slope. Then I got a drab Pipit that caught my attention with it's strange flight call. I saw it land and face me and dismissed it as an odd Meadow Pipit until it took flight and sang a song I have never heard before in my life. I sent a text giving what details I could to BS and DJS, went around the rest of the dump, er, hill and tried to relocate the critter. I've listened to few flight calls and songs and none really match - the nearest, mentioned by BS would be Rock Pipit with some degree of reservation. This bird is being diverted from the "Cud Ave Bin" straight to the "Wish I'd Never Seen It Bin"
The hill top produced a few Linnet, 2 Wheatear and a Mallard with another Mallard and a Moorhen on the far bottom LH pond plus a Blackbird nearby.

Old Guy Rd produced a few Meadow Pipit, 2 Skylark, a Pied Wagtail and 4 Wheatear.

Testing Testing 1-2 1-2

Hello Nigel.
Thanks for your E-mail.  I thought I'd wait until I had something to send you.  Due to yesterday's hurricane, I didn't step out of the door.
Went to Ogden this morning, hoping to get there before the throng and just about made it.  In the pines on the way to the Giant's Tooth I saw at 4 Treecreeper at the same time, 2 to the left of the path and 2 to the right.  At least one was carrying nesting material.  They were well busy, all over the place and it seemed like more than 4, but probably not. Saw a Chiff Chaff in the trees at the side of the water and another warbler further along.  I'm going for Willow.  I could see an eye stripe and it sounded  very mellow.  A Nuthatch was on the feeders.  Also heard Green Woodpecker and Curlew from direction of Ogden(?) Clough.
On the way back noticed 2 Redshank at Raggalds Flood, but no sign of the Wheatear by the cricket field.
Should be out Wednesday, so hopefully see you then.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Blown All Over Queensbury

Thought it was going to be another toupee and a set of teeth blown out this morning from 0745-0955 hrs. I had a traipse up to the 'flood in mind but BS confirmed it was deserted so I switched to Old Guy Rd followed by a trip down south.
Qby Nth: 4 Wheatear hiding behind the far cricket pitch wall from the W'ly gale. 4 Skylark, 6 Meadow Pipit, House Sparrows and Starlings breeding in old farm outbuilding.

Qby Sth: Swallow up Deanstones Lane > NW. Little Owl, 2 Willow Warbler, Jay, c11 Linnet, pr Greenfinch, breeding House Sparrows and Jackdaws. Imm. phase LBBG over > W.
The Cross Lane fields turned up the goods: 5 Wheatear, 2 Skylark, 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 Reed Bunting, 2 Snipe, several Meadow Pipit.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Circular Tour for Annuals

I decided that the search for Willow warbler and Swallow would be best served by a visit to Denholme Clough and Doe Park this morning. On arrival at approx 1005 hours I was immediately greeted by a singing WW and Chiffchaff.  In total I got 12 WW & 5 Chiffchaff.
Also seen Kestrel, Jay, Bullfinch, pr Canada Goose, 3 Mallard, pr Grey Wagtail, Green Woodpecker calling frequently. A single Swallow provided the second annual of the day. Doe Park lake was full to the brim, in fact I cant remember when I last saw it this full - puts paid to the wader potential.

Both Soil Hill and Raggalds were quiet and do not merit further mention apart from motivating me  to walk home via Old Guy Rd in the hope of, well, anything. This turned out to be a pretty good move:
5 Wheatear, 5 Skylark, Pied Wagtail, 4 Meadow Pipit and a pr Swallow flying at knee height > N.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Soil Hill & Cold Edge

With DW in the hope of ROuzle and a grand tour of the hellish hill. Called in at Raggalds Flood 0940 ish to find nothing on it.The hill was a bit more sunnier but a bit more blustery than of late and it kept the birds heads down - or they had legged it. After a long traipse I decided any Ringo stars would be along the E track leading to Perseverance Rd. We got 2 candidates launch themselves from the wall there straight down into the excavations. Total viewing time 1.2 seconds, backs and sides only, the jizz was right but must say no breast patterns were seen at all.
Also: Curlew, Snipe, 4 Lapwing, Kestrel, 2 Reed Bunting, Skylarks, Mipits. Raggalds Flood second sweep produced a miracle; single Pied Wagtail.

Cold Edge was also somewhat subdued e.g no calling Snipe nor Red Grouse. However: 2 Curlew, Moorhen, Little Grebe, 1 Greylag among 20+ Canada Geese, Wheatear, Reed Bunting, Mipits. On the way back the Mixenden White Crow showed very well at Lane Head.
Thanks for the ride Dave.

Couldn't stay in after lunch so ventured out at 1420 hrs via Littlemoor Park. This wasn't a good move, no Chiffs or WWblrs, just limited woodland types and 12+ Woodpigeon.
Things picked up around the High Cross Lane area in general: 5 Pied Wagtail, 7 Meadow Pipit, 1 Skylark, 3 Linnet. A Grey Heron flew W over the marsh field and I was surprised to find 8 Snipe present there.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Raggalds to Mixenden Res

A bit of a slog with only the hellish hill providing interest and the last section was mediocrity enshrined.
The flood at 0940 hrs was barren, however it was worth the trek up to Soil Hill:
Ring Ouzel perched on one of the mounds but really skittish, it almost did a backward somersault to fly away from me.
Also 4 Lapwing, 2 Snipe, Curlew, Kestrel, Goldfinch, pr Chaffinch, Gt Tit singing, usual Skylarks and Mipits.

Ogden was tedious; I was really disappointed not to pick up Willow Warbler. 2 Chiffchaff were singing, the majority of noise however was non avian. (Hope we get a future generation of nature lovers out of it).
On the way to Mixenden just a single Curlew bubbling away from Hunter Hill broke the monotony. The reservoir itself was empty apart from a single Crow having a bath. No migrants calling from the woods, just the usual expected.

PS Just read Email from DW. He and DM were up among the trees at Ogden watching a nest building Treecreeper. They also had a gander at Raggalds Flood and saw single Redshank and Lapwing - I've still to nail the Red.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Soil Hill Soaking

After another negative performance from Raggalds Flood at 1355 hrs 'twas with a heavy heart I set off to the hill from hell. This was warranted for within 120 metres of manoeuvering thru the style, the clouds dumped their payload on me.
However the SW/W'ly driven liquid 6 inch nails did have some goodies among them:
Curlew, 7 Lapwing, 4 Snipe, 2 Golden Plover, 5 Mallard, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. Surprisingly quite a few of the latter were singing and displaying in the maelstrom.
A black thrush sized bird took off from the wall by the mounds and flew down the NE slope heading into the excavation site. Ring Ouzel! and I'm positive it's my earliest ever record.
Buoyed up by all this, I decided to head back to the flood to see if anything had dropped in. Alas it was empty but 3 Pied Wagtail were in a nearby field.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Queensbury South

A poor start from 0950-1110 hrs but it did pick up a bit. Green Lane was subject to wind and rain from SW so I was lucky to get a singing Chiffchaff, also present 4 Linnet and a couple Goldfinch and a Skylark. A pr Pied Wagtail were on a room at junction Shaw Lane with Corporal.
I did a sweep past the marsh field at Cross Lane and went straight down Bridle Stiles, intending to do the marsh on my return. Here were 4 Linnet and another pr Pied Wagtail plus c50 Starling. A Goose came overhead > E calling briefly and did a half circle above me. Turned out to be a Greylag trying to find it's way in the mist.
Back up to the marsh field where 3 Skylark were singing in the wider area. Got a pr of Reed Bunting prospecting (hope they select a good spot) and a single Snipe. Also seen a Woodpigeon and few Meadow Pipit.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Raggalds and Soil Hill

1340-1505 hrs Grey skies, variable winds S/SW.
RF quiet - singles Lapwing and Mallard, 3 Crow, 3 Greenfinch over > SE.
The Hill fared rather better: usual Meadow Pipits and Skylarks but in subdued numbers to last visit.
3 Mallard, 2 Pheasant, 7 Linnet, Curlew, 2 Woodpigeon, 10 Starling, 5 Lapwing.
A pr Grey Partridge were flushed at the N slope top; immediately after a small falcon took off from nearby and slipped down to the bottom LH pond area. It was a most welcome bird and one that I didn't get last year - female Merlin.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Around Calderdale On A Good Day

DW was kind enough to do a tour of the mainly southern section after checking in at Ogden Res at 0945 hrs first. As was suspected but certainly not hoped for, the Whoopers from yesterday had gone, even though there was patchy mist still around. 7 Goosander were still present and I got my first local Chiffchaff of the year.

A walk from Stainland, taking in Nepal and parts of Bolivia (or so it seemed) culminated in a return there via Black Brook.
11 Jay, 13 Chiffchaff, 5 Nuthatch, 3 Treecreeper, 2 Buzzard.

Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Teal, 4 Grey Wagtail, Green and GS Woodpecker. Other woodland species in song.
A quick visit to nearby Ringstone Res produced 3 Lapwing, f Goosander, Mallard but that was it.

Dave decided a call in at Cromwell Bottom for possible Scaup was in order and who am I to argue?

After parking up by the Anglers Lake we could see there was nothing on the road side of the lake so we prepared to walk along the canal section when the said bird popped up in front of us and remained giving good views for 7/8 minutes - we were well happy.
Thanks for the tour Dave.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Dismal Or What

Couldn't stand walking across the ceiling any more so I ventured south from 1510-1620 hrs. The visibility remained very poor and the bird tally was in synch with it, in fact I heard as many as I saw.
3 Goldfinch seen; 1 Pied Wagtail also seen. Another Pied Wag and a Skylark heard as was a Starling and an unid wotsit. 4 Crows seen, the entire session - obscene.
Preferring my limbs to be unfettered from plaster casts and metal, I elected to stay out of the marsh field.
Yesterday's Grey Wagtail on BD Mills roof doubled in value.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Psychedelic Heron

Yesterday tea time I had a stroll down to the fields and got a big shock. This Heron type flew over the trailer park looking as though it had been through a spray paint workshop in full spate.

I daren't mention it to anybody at the time in case the proper birders in the area thought I'd completely lost it. Any Ardeas what it is?