Birdbrain Stuff

Saturday, February 28, 2015


Mon 23 - Fri 27 Feb. May as well make a start with a random tale which may end up down the middle of the page by the time I get into the swing of posting.


On Wed 25th I decided to attempt Breydon Water which skirts the back of Yarmouth. This was one of the most memorable days of my birding life as it turned out and will only be matched by a day at Foster Park followed by Raggalds Flood in late April (picture a big shit-eating grin).

Shake it, shake it baby

I caught sight of a raptor way up in the blue yonder and I do mean way up. Colour patterns were out of the question and the critter was seemingly standing still, I had all on to work out it was a Buzzard shape rather than, say, a Peregrine. I shrugged it off and went into a hide to photograph waders and eat my lunch.

Spotted Redshank

During the munch, a couple of Crows started squawking and hollering, but I carried on chewing. Then, I heard voices and went out to tune in. I'd only just missed a Rough-legged Buzzard flying over the top of the hide! The bloke dishing out the info and me went along to the area he had seen it fly to and it turns out the bird I'd seen (hovering like a Kestrel as it happens) was the very same one. So by a process of elimination I'd seen only my second sighting of RLB in about 28 years. The excitement value was minimal and the satisfaction value was just above zero, I won't be screaming this one out from the rooftops.

But, there's lots more to shout about, believe me....


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Local Routine Walk

Queensbury Sth incl Foster Park 1340-1515 hrs. The Park was reasonably busy with 2 Jay, Gt Tits etc and a number of Goldfinch, Also a Mistle Thrush and singing Song Thrush, finished off with a Grey Heron overhead > NE.
Somebody has been very busy as there are a couple of areas where clearance and preparation for coppicing  has been undertaken.

After this it tailed off notably and birds were thin on the ground and in the air other than corvids. A Kestrel and Pied Wagtail were at Cross Lane but the other fields only contained c20 small gulls.

Green Lane provided 5 Common Gull and Jackdaws.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Foreside Jack Snipe Report

DW & Mrs visited the horrendous boggy field at Foreside today and came up trumps with a great bird. Mrs W almost trod on a Jack Snipe  which flew off and dropped down in the classic manner.
Other than that it was quiet, the exception being a Skylark seen.

I am envious, you two, this bird has eluded me so far in 2015.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Queensbury North and South

I decided to investigate the cricket club after speakin to BS (refer his blog) and found 3 Skylark there at 1440 hrs. Otherwise it was quiet here so I decided to get wet and walk down south to make a session of it.

On reaching the bottom of Old Guy Rd I got two big gulls > W, Herrings - never a bad bird to see.

There were a handful of Common Gulls and several Jackdaws playing around Long Lane, along with c26 Woodpigeon.

Green Lane produced more of the first two a/m along with 6 Blackbird and 2 Greenfinch. A Weasel ran across the road here.
Feeling unfulfilled I thought I'd fill my boots in the Cross Lane field where I got 3 Snipe. All the adjacent fields were birdless, that is if you don't count a large flock of caaawvids overhead heading to roost. It's good to note this general area is still a stronghold for House Sparrers and Starlings.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Swalesmoor and Shibden Head

This session from 1345-1500 hrs was in the main a struggle to find birds, although it did furnish me with another annual.
A biting W'ly was scouring the tops, putting paid to small passerines until I got to Ploughcroft where c11 Linnet were sheltering in a field down the slope. An obliging Collared Dove inspired me to change the blog header photo with just a pr each of Chaffinch and Blackbird providing a support act.
Others seen were the resident Corvid mass, c12 Common with a lesser no. of BH Gulls.

Shibden Head was almost barren: pr Mistle Thrush, pr Blackbird 2 or 3 each Woodpigeon and Stock Dove. Some small gull sp. doing the rounds. c80 Jackdaw.
c10 Meadow Pipit were at junction Deanstones/Green Lanes.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Soil Hill to Ogden and On

A very rewarding session today starting at 1030 hrs with a number of birds moving around. Starting with Soil Hill:
14 Skylark, welcome back! c32 Lapwing, 2 Mistle Thrush, 7 Fieldfare, pr Pied Wagtail, House Sparrows, Robin, Wren, Kestrel and Grey Heron.

I went through the plantation opposite the hill and turned right to look at the Foreside area. This had to be aborted when one field (Snipe and Jack Snipe seen in 2014) was simply too boggy to negotiate. Seen here: 2 more Skylark, 2 Pheasant, 19 Lapwing a few small gull sp. and a calling Red Grouse.

On the way toward Ogden Res I received a txt from PS advising of 1 f Wigeon and a drake Teal there.

I got much better views than these pics indicate because at one stage these two strange bedfellows flew around the lake 3/4 times, coming in close.
Also here were GSW, Song Thrush, 2 Jay and 4 Canada Geese. One of the latter, a male was displaying and at one stage presented itself belly up with feet in the air!

Mixenden ended on a quiet note with nothing to speak off at Stod Fold and just 1 LBBG, small gulls sp. 7 Mallard, pr Goosander and a f Goldeneye on the water.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Queensbury South Surprise

1445-1600 hrs. c40 Rook, c60 Jackdaw, 2 Meadow Pipit. 12 Lapwing hardly moving in trailer park field.
I nearly fell over when I got the Little Owl peering out at me from the new build house on it's previous breeding site.

Less that 5 minutes after I took these shots, a dumper carrying a load of bricks entered the site and dropped 'em unceremoniously a few metres from where the bird was perched.
Also Dunnock, Blue Tit, Pied Wagtail and the odd Crow, Magpie and Woodpigeon.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fairburn and Swillington Ings

Thursday night in the rubadub I was offered the chance of a trip down the motorway by DW. After he retrieved his hand from the back of my throat we discussed the strategy and left Queensbury today at round 0920 hrs. The journey down the road apiece showed it's potential with the realisation  that  the large Kestrel like shape peering down from us on a m'way lamppost  was in fact a Buzzard.

Fairburn Ings
Pintail, Shoveller, Goldeneye, Teal, Mute Swan, Kestrel, Little Egret, Gadwall, small gull sp. Coots, Moorhen, Cormorant. Feeder area: Tree Sparrows, Greenfinches, Goldfinches and the oddity of several female/juvenile Pheasant on the ground, but no males. For the first time in my birding life I witnessed 6 Long-tailed Tit behaving like flycatchers as they flew from branches to catch midges etc.

Swillington Ings
This is where it really took off and could take me a day to give a complete description, such was the activity. As we entered the area a large crowd of Fieldfare, were appropriately in a field, over a hundred of them we thought. Then we caught sight of a bird being chased, at first I took this to be a golden/grey plover. The pursuer was a Peregrine and both came so close to us, binoculars were rendered redundant for a few seconds. The smaller bird then dashed into a row of small bushes followed by the attacker and then the thought process kicked in about species id. Colour was wrong for Goldie (there were hundreds to compare with) and there we no Grey in the area and what wader dives into bushes? Then the penny dropped and when I got home to peruse the pursuee, I realised it was a male Merlin! probably  involved in a territorial dispute with the larger raptor.

I tried to locate the Black-necked Grebes for Dave, but this time they let us down, however there were lots of others to go at. A party of 7/8 small waders were spotted by DW in flight, I got on them too late to confirm but were probably Dunlin.
3/4 Pintail, c150 Wigeon, scores of Teal, c20 Gadwall, c8 Goldeneye, c16 Pochard, c13 Cormorant.

I thought the big gulls had moved on, but we were lucky to get in viewing range of about 8 Herrings and a young Great Big Bad gull.

As we left these to head for the exit route a Buzzard came out to play and I managed a couple of under par silhoutte shots. Other: Kestrel, Grey Heron, 3 GC & 2 Little Grebe, singing Skylark, 20 plus Curlew, c450 Golden Plover, c620 Lapwing, Mute Swans, few Shelduck and Shoveler, 6 Goosander, c15 Stock Dove, Reed Bunting.

That was one hell of a session Dave, thanks a lot for the trip. I'll see my way to rewarding you with a Peanut Butter Sandwich, washed down with a flagon of Master Mechanics Axle Grease Bitter it's really soothing.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Raggalds to Mixenden Revisited

A retro day reminding us that we are still very much in Winter; cold and in parts a bit misty.
The flood at Raggalds is now down to just over 20% of its potential. There were 14 Lapwing and a BHG flying around.
Soil Hill finally delivered a sought after blank, the first time in 14 years of having a Crow or a gull spoil the fun. Not a bird from Perseverance Rd entrance across the track over the tops and down to Coal Lane, where a couple of Crows appeared. I envy those of you who have never experienced this - the misery is exquisite.

I decided to go across the top of Ogden plantation and do some foraging up Back Lane (Grey Heron, 3 Chaffinch, c16 Magpie) for Red Grouse as I seem to be the only area birder who hasn't had one this year yet. This had to be aborted out of sheer boredom and I reverted to Ogden Res for some more pain. Moving swiftly on...

Things picked up once I got passed  the Lodge House where I frightened off a Jay. Then about 350 metres further on down the track I got a Little Owl and 3 Roe Deer at Rodger Leys where the big wall is. En route to Stod Fold I had c7 Goldfinch and in the Stod fields were 6 Canada Geese, 1 Pied Wagtail, 4 Meadow Pipit and c18 Redwing.
Mixenden Res was down to 5 Mallard, 1 GC Grebe, the usual gulls and a couple Goldcrest.

Just an afterthought it must be Magpie convention time - I picked up 2 more parties of c17 and 11 birds together throughout.

PS Apparently before I left the house, I missed a skein of Pink-footed Geese over the village - the second time in 3 days! Compensation came in the form of a Tawny Owl blasting away through my bathroom window from a tree over the back yard at 2215 hrs.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Raggalds Flood to Mixenden Res

RF 1220 hrs. The ice has partially melted but the flood area has now been halved. c75 Lapwing and 2 Common Gull present.
Soil Hill very quiet as usual, however there was some action at 1250 hrs. I was watching c12 Lapwing and 3 small gull sp down by the far left pond when the a/m flock came over high from RF then switched direction S. The birds down at the bottom stayed put and the only other action here was Pheasant, a moving Common Gull and Crow.

Ogden Res

The feeders area was crawling with birds, mainly Blue Tit, supported by Gt, but only 1 Coal seen. The Nuthatch drove me nuts as it stayed on the far side only but I'm happy I managed 2 decent pics.

Besides these it was grim work; in a traipse up to Giants Tooth I managed just a GSW and a Jay on the return to the W path (to/from Skirden Clough) which is lethal with ice. 12 Canada Goose and a host of small gulls were on the drink.

Mixenden Res turned out to be rather productive in a spring like atmosphere.

2 GC Grebe at either end of the water. Pr Goosander, 5 Canada Geese, 1 LBB & several small gull sp. along with 7 Mallard.
I was fortunate to witness an Oystercatcher fly around the area for about 20 mins, calling incessantly as they tend to.
At around 1530 hours I heard the distant sound of PFG coming from the general area of Wainstalls and Cold Edge for about a minute and a half max. Tragically, I was stood directly under the plantation and couldn't see over the tree tops. No matter, the session ended satisfactorily.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Queensbury North to Oats Royd

Approx 1210 hrs. Heading north was a mistake as the ground is still frozen and there was nothing moving up in the blue yonder. I cut up Fleet Lane and went down Old Guy Rd to check for early Skylark. Lo and behold feeding in a close group on the cricket pitch were...4 Meadow Pipit. In the fields opposite the CC were c20 small gulls, the majority being Common.

Oats Royd 1300 hrs. A f Sparrowhawk was driving off a passing Kestrel on arrival. This bird then gave the odd view but always distant.
c4 Bullfinch were calling sporadically but they were spread far and wide, not in a group. The ponds were all frozen over with just the domestic Geese present on one.
Also Grey Heron, pr Jay, 2 Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, 2 Common Gull, 7 Blue and Gt Tits, 3 Blackbird, Wren, 2 Robin.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

South to Shibden Head II

1315 hrs Thought I heard a Skylark singing which spoilt the noise of the traffic, but gave up on it after a minute or so. I did get a Snipe at Cross Lane but there was nothing else in the adjacent fields.
Two unid big gulls flew over > W (height/sunlight). c20 Rook, c30 Jackdaw, Stock Dove, c8 BHG.

Shibden Head 1450 hrs. c12 Common Gull, 1 Herring Gull calling in flight. Green Woodpecker, GSW, Nuthatch, Blue and Gt Tits, 3 Blackbird, 2 Greenfinch, Chaffinch, LBBG, c30 Starling.
Unusual for a Saturday afternoon, somebody doing a spot of woodcutting by the old YW building, I hope this isn't going to be a large scale operation.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Raggalds Mixenden Ploughcroft

RF 1025 hrs field frozen over. Passed on Soil Hill and went down to Ogden Res where I soon regretted even giving it a try. Usual on feeders, nothing special on the water, just the small gulls. So on to Mixenden via Stod Fold which proved a good move as I picked up my first Dipper of the year. This was in the beck (Hebble Brook) at Brookhouse. Stod Fold held 16 Canada Geese and a host of Jackdaws plus a handful of other Caaawvids.

Mixenden Res was also mundane, 2 Goldcrest giving good views despite their high voltage movement. 5 LBB and a host of smaller gulls on the drink, nothing else noted.

Ploughcroft on the way up to Swalesmoor produced the usual birds in the bushes: 1 Bullfinch, c6 Chaffinch, 2 Blackbird, few House Sparrows, Blue,Gt Tits. I got a Pied Wagtail at the top of the track and a couple hundred yards along the tops saw a distant flock of c10 small passerines. Their flight pattern was too tight a formation for the rather loose manner of Meadow Pipit, so I thought mebbe Linnet. I wasn't happy because it's rather too early for 'em and resolved to switch back down Swalesmoor Rd for another bash. The only interesting sighting after that was a flock of c21 Magpie together.

I failed to pick up the a/m flock but as I was walking back down Ploughcroft I came across a Roe Deer calmly feeding in a field, it carried on doing so for a good 12 minutes while I took photos. This turned out to be a smart move, because a Little Owl, started calling from a wall about 90 metres up the hill. That's another one for the annual list.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

South to Shibden Head

Approx 1315 hrs, the local fields were deserted, however 2 Pied Wagtail and a Meadow Pipit were by the stables hoss manure dump, steamin away in the sunshine (not the birds I must stress). It was grim down Corporal and Green Lanes with just Jackdaws, 2 Rook and 3/4 small gulls so I headed to Shibden Head to give the Beeches a going through. They didn't produce much, just pr Chaffinch, but at least the birdlife in general picked up here. Green Woodpecker, Song Thrush (another one for the annual list) few Blackbirds, Robins, Tits.
On the way back 9 Long-tailed Tit were in a garden at Brewery Head Lane and the local BHGs from the mills were pretty desperate, diving for scraps in the main road.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Swillington Ings Bonanza

Once again courtesy of DP, arrived in bright sunshine on a cold day which supplied plenty of birds throughout. In no particular order:
c450 Golden Plover, c30 Curlew, 2 Oystercatcher, c40 Lapwing representing the waders.
The pr Black-necked Grebe sparkled in their winter plumage and showed fairly well but the distance was just a bit too much to ask for a good picture.
4 Pintail, c14 Pochard, c30 Gadwall, c24 Teal, c20 Wigeon, 2 Shelduck, c8 Shoveler, c120 Tufted, c10 Goosander, c12 Goldeneye, c7 GC Grebe, 2 Little Grebe, c7 Cormorant. Numerous Canada and Greylag Geese with a pr of Pink-footed flying over.
Buzzard, Kestrel, c9 GBB and hundreds smaller gull with the odd LBB and Herring thrown in.
Just before the end of the session DP picked up a winner with a skulking Little Egret among the reeds. This decided to fly and provided me with some mediocre shots.

Other species include: Bullfinch, Tree Sparrow, 2 LTT, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Reed Bunting, Mute Swan. We were advised by a well meaning local that a Mongolian Pipit? was present and by an experienced birder a LSW was on the feeders. We failed to find these, mainly because we were so birded up we couldn't summon up the willpower. On the way back to Dave's car we noticed a Grey Heron first seen about 2-1/2 hours earlier was still stood in the same spot, I should have such patience! A most excellent day out by any standards.

PS Just had a phone call from DW who reports that the 4 Manor Heath Bramblings were showing really well early today.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Manor Heath Bramblings

Ladies, Gentlemen and anything else that may be viewing, I present to you the worst  pictures you are ever likely to see of Brambling.

I only discovered there were two in this shot after uploading to the computer.

4 Birds in with a larger flock of Chaffinch, perfectly camouflaged on the ground among the beechmast droppings.
Other: 2 Redwing, Woodpigeons, Blackbirds, Tits and 5/6 Grey Squirrel keeping this lot mobile. 4 Greenfinch overhead as we left to inspect Ploughcroft, all courtesy of DP.

Ploughcroft was a revelation of contrasts. In the hedges, bushes and trees where the climb up to Ringby Top starts were several species of birds, on Ringby itself, virtually nothing.
Several House Sparrows, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, 1 each of m Bullfinch and Reed Bunting, Blue and Gt Tits, Collared Dove, Starlings.
On the return home there was a Fox peering at us from the top of a wall at Pule Hill.