Birdbrain Stuff

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Recent Trips

Tues 30/12 1355-1500 hrs Queensbury Sth incl the park. Dismal - Jay, Kestrel, Gt and Coal Tit. The fields were deserted except for a Pied Wagtail, Dunnock and a Grey Heron at Cross Lane.

Wed 31/12 Ogden 1100 hrs then Mixenden Res. The former was so poor, the only bird I noted was a Grey Wagtail - I couldn't wait to leave the place.
Stod Fold had 5 Canada but no sign of the Barnacle Goose. Mixenden still had the GND and also messrs DM (end of year lifer) and DW. As I was on the mobile bone to them a flock of c110 Lapwing had the decency to fly over the full length of the reservoir > W.
Other birds: the small gull crowd plus a sub-adult phase LBBG. GSW, Chaffinch, pr Collared Dove.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ogden and Mixenden Reservoirs

Arrived at bottom of Ned Hill Lane at 1050 hrs just in time to catch 5 Herring Gull  > W with a single Pied Wagtail over a wall.
Ogden Res was a low key affair but I finally did get my first winter Goldeneye for the year - an elusive drake. The only other water birds present were quite a number of small gull sp and the mallards. Other birds include Green Woodpecker and a Nuthatch. I did hear several very weak Dendrocopus calls but couldn't pin the bird down visually.

I received a txt from DJS informing that the Great ND (surely now Excellent Northern Diver?) was calling and somewhat alarmed by the possibility of it being restless, I rushed down in case it should fly. Interestingly, although I missed any calls, as I passed the house beyond the golf club house, I couldn't help but notice the 2 Huskies that live there were howling there heads off for up to 15 minutes!

The diver was up to it's usual tricks, i.e giving a relative close view then diving and appearing about 200 metres away. Luckily I managed to pin it down and get a few more acceptable shots.
There were also a large rack of small gull sp. present along with:

GSW, Grey Wagtail, Little Grebe, Moorhen, pr Collared Dove, LT and Coal Tit plus a pr Goldcrest.
Good to bump into messrs SB and BH doing the rounds.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Just Another Stroll

A spontaneous sortie down south from 1415-1510 hrs produced a couple of surprises, making the slog through the snow worthwhile.
The first was a total of 11 Snipe all sat out in the open, 2 of them just plonked on top of the white stuff doing nothing. This was in one of the big open fields, where at least a third did have the decency to fly around a bit. The other 8 were in the Cross Lane field, again just plonked there - you should have seen 'em scream and fly when they saw my head pop over the fence.
Only once before have I ever seen this behaviour about 8 years back in similar weather condtions. 8 birds were in a field down at Soaper Lane, not a million miles from our patch.

The second surprise will remain a mystery I'm saddened to say. I was walking back home and c9 small finches (Redpoll./Siskin) flew across to Hillcrest from the golf course. At one stage they looked as though they were going to settle in a garden tree, raising my hopes of id. It didn't come to fruition at the last moment they all changed tack and headed SW down to Deanstones Lane.

Other birds: 8 Redwing, 2 Kestrel, 1 Meadow Pipit, 2 Blue Tit and corvids, mainly Jackdaws.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Boxing Day Birds

I must have had enough to drink on Xmas day; I can't remember what time I went out at this morning. Fortunately my mobile bone log tells me it was 1110-1320hrs.

c43 Lapwing, 2 Grey Wagtail, c60 Jackdaw, c50 Redwing with a Fieldfare or three thrown in and similar Blackbird.
I had my first local Nuthatch for some time, calling vigorously and vociferously, also a Jay and Green Woodpecker. c25 Woodpigeon, at least c40 Common Gull in 2 fields with several BHG spread througout.
The morning's highlight was a Common Buzzard putting in a brief but very welcome appearance, which leads me to...

Xmas day in the rubadub where Mr IB informed me of a neighbour putting out a chicken carcass last Sunday and later finding a Buzzard feasting thereon. I was also given some equally great news in that during the Summer breeding was proven by a pr of Wheatear at Windy Bank.

Another 5/6 days and the asinine even insane rush for the annual tick list kicks off...I shall be there Inshallah

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Queensbury To Mixenden Res

Qby Sth got down there at 0950hrs to find c50 Lapwing present but the Golden Plover from yesterday had left.
Raggalds Flood at 1045 hrs had c54 Lapwing present.
Soil Hill was awful and I could have claimed a blank if it weren't for a Crow and a BHG.

Ogden Res could become flooded if the water level rises another 7/8 inches - I've never seen it this high. It was like watching paint dry birdwise - GSW few Tits and the gulls. At least it inspired me or rather forced me down to Mixenden Res.

The Barnacle Goose was showing well in company with the Greylag and the 10 Canada as was the Great Northern Diver.
I was lucky to see the GND put on a good performance, including the classic snorkelling display - see the header picture.
As I was leaving the res I got lucky again - the Oystercatcher recently reported chose to drop in at around 1415 hrs. Also 1 LBB and a number of small gull sp seen.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Rewards In The Rain

Withdrawal symptoms struck savagely at lunchtime so I left the hovel in a hurry, undecided whether to hit Ogden or the Low Moor Dams. The latter got the nod and I arrived there, wet but not soddened at 1345 hours.

I was just a bit pleased that the drake Gadwall was still present; pity about the outstanding ability of the photographer to take below par photos.
This brought back memories of one of the famous songs devoted to this species from the late 60s, cue Iron Butterfly:
In a Gadwall da vida, honey Don't you know that I love you? In a Gadwall da vida, baby Don't you know that I'll always be true? Oh, won't you come with me....(ok who threw that?)

Other birds here which also includes Harold Park lake:
3 GC & 1 Little Grebe, 2 drake Goosander, 1 each Herring and LBB Gull, plenty of small gull sp, 5 Mute Swan, c40 Canada Goose. More Coots and Tufted Duck than you could shake a stick at (I left mine at home). 5 Blackbird, 4 Mistle Thrush, 2 Redwing.

Queensbury Sth 1510 hrs - I am sooo glad that even though by now rather wet, I decided to give this place the once over.

My attempts at surrealism - Golden Plover

There were c100 Lapwing in the roadside field, one up towards Queensbury from the trailer park. Something made me comb through them, old habits I guess, and to my utter delight I saw 18 Golden Plover. They were so well camouflaged, had I not done this, I certainly would have missed them, plus the 3 Snipe that were feeding out in the open. Previously 10 Snipe were in seen in the juncus field just down the road apiece.
Also here were c28 Redwing, 2/3 Fieldfare, 4/5 Meadow Pipit and reduced numbers of small gulls and Starlings.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Gadzooks Tis A Gadwall

Park Dam (aka Royds Hall) Low Moor 1020 hrs. From the onset the place look busy with a variety of birds especially when compared to Harold Park lake, which I had visited previously.

I jumped when I caught sight of this drake Gadwall

Kind of it to show me the all black stern
The entrance field was busy with about 36 feeding Canada Geese and a mix of mainly BH and Common Gull.

Just after I took this picture, I joined two ladies who were feeding the 5 Mute Swan by the far wall. It turned out one, if not both of them hails from the village and follows the two blogs. I was asked if I'd seen anything special and said I was chasing a Pochard (not found). About 25 minutes later on returning to the same spot, a drake Gadwall sailed out from the side of the wall we had been standing by! This is a significant bird both for me and the general area - we simply don't get em!

Also present: several Coot and Tufted Duck, 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 GC & 1 Little Grebe, 2 Cormorant and a pr Goosander. I had problems with some of the many gulls that were dashing around at speed but think there was a Herring overhead and a sub adult LBBG doing the circuit. What was intriguing was the sight of a Common Gull carrying a small round obect in it's beak, repeatedly dropping it into the water then picking it up again.

Returning home via Shelf Moor and Queensbury Sth, I picked up 2 Pied & 1 Grey Wagtail, 3 Common Snipe, 22 Lapwing, 2 Fieldfare, c28 Redwing and several more gulls.
I'm dreading getting this lot down on Birdtrack, apart from the visiting duck of course. Nice to meet you Mrs Hogg and friend.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mixenden to Bradshaw via Ogden.

Got to Mixenden Res at about 1045 hrs, knowing from DJS that the Great Northern Diver had still been there at 0830 ish. The wind rain and mist prevented any decent visibility and after 20 mins I thought the bird had flown, especially as you can normally spot this one with the naked eye. Just after I pushed the button to inform DJS of this, the bird emerged from the gloom in front of me!
Also seen: 1 each of Grey and Pied Wagtail plus a large number of small gulls sp. The Barnacle Goose was still at Stod Fold along with a single Grey and 5 Canada. Singles of Meadow Pipit and Kestrel wrapped it all up here.

Ogden Res. The wind rain and mist was really bad and binoculars made it look ever worse. The thought entered my head to hide in a puddle to try and keep it all off! Nothing on the drink except Mallards and Gulls and a search of the overflow failed to produce the Kingfisher nor Dipper.
3 Bullfinch, 3 Jay, Grey Wagtail, Treecreeper. A few Goldcrest and the usual Tit ensemble, this time Great Tit outweighing the other species.

I couldn't stomach the hill from hell so I ended up in Bradshaw and strolled up to the top end in order to catch the stage coach from Dodgy City. This proved an unwittingly good move as about 100 yards up from JL's abode on the opposite side is a garden containing a conifer and whatever. Into this said tree flew a number of noisy birds, right above my cranium - c12 each of Redwing and Goldfinch, with a c200 strong flock of Starling on the wires.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Queensbury South

Back down to earth after yesterday.
1355-1510 hrs - the park had a bit of Tit and Goldfinch activity but the most notable were 3 Jay in relatively close proximity.
Also 1 Mistle Thrush, 2 Blackbird, Kestrel, Pied Wagtail, Robin or two.

The fields: 1 each Dunnock and Wren at the Cross Lane site and 5 Common Snipe. 6 Lapwing flew over here from the larger excavations over the road but they never settled. A small number of BHG were present with just a few Common Gull flying through the general area. On the way home I noticed that House Sparrows are still doing well here, given the racket they made.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mixenden Great Northern Diver

Found by DJS, phoned in by BS; thank you gentlemen. Good to see DF there, even if he is 94 ahead of me in the annual list. Glad that JL also made it both for the great bird and the lift back on a ratio of 60% to 40%.

Even Less News

Sat 13/12 Queensbury Sth 1400-1515 hrs. A dull session; the park being nearly devoid of birds except for a smidgin of Golfinch, 1 GSW and Crows.
A few smaller gulls were knocking around, Starlings too and there were 17 Lapwing backed up against the farm wall at High Cross Lane.

Mon 15/12 Raggalds Flood 0940 hrs. 17 Lapwing, 6 small gull sp Soil Hill was rubbish: 2 Mallard, 3 Starling, 4 Canada, 1 Crows, 2 small gull sp. Ogden was quiet too: Jay, Little Grebe with attendant BHG. 1 each of Cormorant and GSW. 4 LTT among the established Tit flock with Coat Tit being the predominant bird.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Raggalds Flood to Ogden

RF 1045 hrs full to the brim. 15 Lapwing, 2 Mallard, 2 Crow, 4 Common and c8 BH Gull. I'm glad nothing juicy was present because when I tried to take a record shot I found that my camera battery was still at home instead of the compartment marked Shit!
Soil Hill isn't worth a mention except that 4 Crow spoiled what could have been a 100% blank. Still, yer can't have it all. 8 Canada Geese were by the Coal Lane pond.

Ogden Res: 3 Jay, usual Gulls and much reduced Tit flock. 2 Sparrowhawk seen seperately.
While here DM called me to report a large Redwing flock "hundreds of 'em" in the Claremont area and also 3 Jay. Well done Dave, this entitles you to a soiree with Algernon Snert's great grandaughter, the dowager Clarissa Eloise Thunderball Snert.

2 Mistle Thrush were at Bradshaw.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Not a Lot of News

Tues 09/12 Queensbury Sth 1405-1520 hrs. The absolute pits, just Crows 1 each Blackbird and Mistle Thrush through the park and golf course. The fields by Cross Lane produced 5 Snipe, 1 Wren and c10 small gulls > W.

Today Wed. Got this one well wrong, thought I'd found a small slot before the bad weather: turned out I walked right into it.
Soil Hell 1050 hrs just 2 Pheasant 4/5 Crows and 3 Common Gull. The wind was driving the sleet horizontally straight into my face and in no time it was as numb as the contents between my ears. I got off the hill rather quickly and headed to Ogden Res.

Hoping for storm blown goodies on the water, I was disappointed; the wind had blown most birds away and probably killed a few in the process. Just c12 small gulls and a smattering of Mallard were present.
A Dipper was on the top pond by the Ogden Clough bridge, the normal haunt below the embankment was being played with by men and machines. Also 6 Bullfinch, 5 Robin, 2 each of Goldfinch and Jay and the established Tit party.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Ogden and Soil Hill

A suitable piece of music for today's session would have been rather obvious - The Skater's Waltz.
Ogden Res at 1105 hrs turned out to be rather interesting even though the mythical Goldeneye for this Autumn/Winter didn't materialise.

5 Bullfinch, 1 Nuthatch on feeders, 1 Sparrowhawk chasing 8 Goldfinch of which there were 15 in total.
3 Blackbird, 7 LTT, 8 Chaffinch, 2 Goldcrest, c11 Great Tit, c6 each of Blue and Coal Tit, c7 Robin and the gulls.

Soil Hill was, well, hellish. A NW'ly blow ensured there was nothing on the top field other than a Grey Heron which soon took flight. A Herring Gull flew W, appearing to dip down at Ogden. This was followed by a BH and 4 Common Gulls. 2 Moorhen were down at the bottom NK (Not Kerwin) pond.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Blustery Queensbury Sth

1305-1420 hrs. The park was a waste of time, unless you like fighting off big Airedale Terriers.
5 Meadow Pipit, 25 Lapwing, c110 Starling, c50 small gulls, Rooks, Jackdaws, Crows. For only the second time this Autumn/Winter I got Fieldfare, about 6 in with the Starling. For only the first time blah blah, there was nothing in the Cross Lane field.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Two Quiet Sessions

Thurs 04/12 Queensbury Sth approx 1105-1215 hrs. The park was almost comatose with nothing of note and the fields similar. I managed 2 Common Snipe and gave up to come home.

This am Fri 05/12 again nothing to shout about. Soil Hill was dreadful: I thought the NW'ly cold breeze may have furnished the top with something but it wasn't to be. Just 2 Pheasants and a Kestrel were seen
Ogden was similar with nothing on the water bar the gulls and nothing moving overhead. I got two hidden birds atop conifers calling that I couldn't id and that was the most exciting thing. The tit flock contained the usual plus 8 LTT and a Treecreeper and a handful of Goldfinch with a Chaffinch or three were seen. Also 1 each of Jay, GSW and c6 Blackbird.

Bradshaw produced a Sparrowhawk over the church but Oats Royd was just an energetic walk to escape the mediocrity.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014


I managed to get down to Ogden Res at approx 0955 hrs this morning to catch 4 of the reported 8 Whooper Swan earlier. The birds looked settled but the sunlight was really bouncing around, hence these weird photographs.

Couldn't quite get them to fool people into thinking Black Swan

Amazing what a bucketful of  royal blue dye will do 
Lurking by the bushes were Mr and Mrs DJS who were lucky enough to catch the full compliment plus 7 Goosander.

It's no use pretending Jen, he's already seen us.
Other activity was rather limited, no doubt due to the lower temperatures; just reduced tit and chaffinch flocks. I went up Back Lane and managed a Red Grouse, GSW and 4 Pheasants.

Soil Hill was poor. A single Kestrel and Meadow Pipit on the top, with a handful of Lapwing and slightly more small gulls at the bottom.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Soil Hill to Mixenden

SH 0945 hrs where the birds didn't bother to read the script this morning. There were 3 Green Woodpecker, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Redwing, 11 Goldfinch present. Also 5 Blackbird, 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 Meadow Pipit, Robin, Dunnock, Pheasant.
It was just too far and misty to check if BS Little Grebe pair from Sunday were still present.

Ogden Res - pr Goldcrest, pr Goldfinch, 5 Pheasant, Moorhen, c20 Chaffinch, 3 Blackbird, 4 LTT, c7 Coal Tit, in with similar nrs Blue and Gt Tit, pr Jay, GSW, Nuthatch, Little Grebe.
As I decided to have a butchers at the embankment overflow for Dipper (absent), a LSW flew over from the Boggart Brig area. It went directly over my head, between the Lodge House and the lake overflow to settle about 60 metres away in the trees.

So, down to Mixenden Res to check for DJS Sat Common Scoter. En route, Stod Fold held 1 Grey Wagtail, 10 LTT, 6 Canada plus the Greylag and Barnacle Goose.
The Scoter wasn't there and I sought compensation in possible Goldeneye. Once again I was mildly disappointed until I saw 4 Goosander which is a bird I haven't seen a lot of this year.