Birdbrain Stuff

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Swillington Ings

A trip out courtesy DW in what proved a very interesting session what with some rain, some sunshine and a number of birds.

Thankfully the huge BHG breeding colony has now dispersed so there was a lot of peace and quiet broken only by the welcome chatter of very active Common Terns.

While looking at a small island holding 2 juv terns we were trying to clock a wader with a small duck to one side of it. I was busy with the camera when Dave queried the duck species - it turned out to be a female Garganey!

Prior to this I'd seen 3 dark stumpy duck fly overhead, remarking to Dave that I was certain they were Common Scoter. The give away was the nobby base of the beak on one bird, however I then doubted myself over the wing details. I have subsequently read that on Birdguides a Common Scoter was logged during the same period we were present.

There were still a few singing Sedge & Reed Warblers about plus Whitethroats and a couple WW. Reed Bunting were plentiful as were Sand & House Martin, Swallow and a number of Swift.

c6 Pied Wagtail present but only 1 Meadow Pipit seen and no Skylark. Cormorant numbers were around the 14 Mark with plenty of Canada and Greylag. Mute Swan were widespread throughout and at one stage we encountered what appeared to be a group hug of c 12 birds on the shoreline.

The faithful Black-necked Grebes delighted us once more, with 4 birds being seen. These were supplemented by many GC Grebe both adult and juveniles.
Other: Kestrel, 2 Blackcap, 2 Grey Heron, 3 Little Egret, 6 LTT, c8 Gadwall, LBBG, numerous Coot & Tufted Duck, fewer Pochard.
Finally, just reward for his vigilance; a Kingfisher zooming across a footpath for Dave which I didn't catch. The last bird for us both before departure was an overhead Oystercatcher.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Ogden Res to Queensbury

Ogden Res approx 1055 hrs: grey skies, some light mist and rain. What appeared to be buff and white polystyrene floating en masse, turned out to be foam.

Grey Heron, 2 Grey Wagtail, 3 LBB, 5 Common & BH Gulls. 8 Canada, 3 GC Grebe & long stay m Tufted Duck. Also GSW, Coal & 2 Gt Tit, 2 WW.

Soil Hell - 7 Skylark, Wheatear, 2 each of Swallow, Meadow Pipit & Common Gull, Chaffinch, 8 Blackbird, 4 Dunnock. There must have been c180 Lapwing settled in the field adjacent to the far bottom pond. This had something on it, but I couldn't detect what.

I checked out Raggalds Flood but despite the pools and puddles all over the rest of the shop, it still isn't one. Old Guy Rd produced a few Swallow, a few more Starling but best of all a Swift. 2 Linnet, Meadow Pipit and a distant unid large gull.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Queensbury South Area

Local walk starting at approx 0930 hrs Cross Lane. Thought there maybe a few Lapwing settled, I was wrong. A few Swallow and although I saw Swift on 4 occasions, I believe it was just 2 birds wide ranging. Goldfinch were thinly spread with 4 Greenfinch and a 5 Linnet being seen.

I had a great time watching Buzzards performing; at one stage 3 were directly overhead, being too close and too fast to photograph well!
Others include 2 Green Woody, 5 LBBG, BHG, 1 each Chiffchaff Whitethroat & House Martin.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Doe Park via TMR to Ogden Res

Doe Park approx 1055 hrs - much quieter than expected which prompted the extended slog up to the TMR area out of sheer frustration. This turned out to be a desperate measure in terms of birding rewards but I certainly got the legwork in.
Lapwing have moved  in numbers throughout, with c32 birds now settled at Mountain.

Doe Park - 1 each of Green Woodpecker, Blackcap, Whitethroat, BHG. 5 Canada, 8 Mallard, 2 Linnet, 6 each of Blackbird & WW, a few Swallow, Woodpigeons. To buck the trend, there were 'uggins of Goldfinch about.

TMR area (track only) Lapwing: Wave 1 - c60 moving up to the res with a number of Starling from the east. Wave 2 - 10 birds moving up from Leeming; Wave 3 - 30 more birds moving from Leeming but bypassing the res. There were c1000 gulls on the drink and LBBG probably accounted for 250 of these, the rest being BHG.

It was deadly from here on over the moor to Ogden Clough with just 2 Linnet seen. c60 Woodpigeon were flying excitedly round the GT for some reason.

Ogden Res is still holding the Tufted Duck, 3 GCG and 4 LBBG along with tourists and BHGs. 1 each Goldcrest, Grey Wagtail, & GSW. As I was leaving, a most welcome Sparrowhawk flew close overhead.

Ominously and in common with other reports of the day, not a single Swift was seen.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Green Sandpiper

Fly Flatts - Green Sandpiper still at top end shoreline approx 1500 hrs. It had flown from there halfway down the res and landed on the stony bank when I first arrived. However on leaving I noticed it had returned and was in company with a Common Sandpiper, allowing distant but still noticeable comparisons.
What is significant about this sighting is the conditions, i.e misty and light rain exactly mirror those of the only other GS I have had here one May some 7/8 years ago.
Also seen: 2 Snipe, 2 LBBG, 10 Lapwing, 1 Wheatear, several Swift, a few Swallow.
Thanks for the texts to DJS and to the vigilance of the finders.

Prior to that I had noticed species dispersal on my way to Ogden Res, e.g c 15 Lapwing at Mountain, 2 LBBG in among c40 BHG at the marquee field of the Moorlands Inn Bradshaw,

Ogden: 1 Common Gull, 7 LBBG & the BHGs. 3 GC Grebe, 1 each Grey Heron, Blackcap & Nuthatch, 2 each Blackbird, Chiffchaff. Many Swallows seen throughout.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Luddendean Dean

With messrs DW & DM. Started approx 1235 hrs, turning out to be a really interesting 2-1/2 hours despite me predicting a worst case scenario (or because of it).
The sky was full of  House Martins and Swallows with fair numbers of Swift in support. A couple of House Martin nest were seen in the nearby village of Booth.
Goldfinch parties seemed to be everywhere with a few Linnet and a couple of Greenfinch thrown in.

c25 Lapwing flow over > NW. A Buzzard flew > SE with a couple of Kestrel floating around generally.
The highlight of the session was the re-appearance of the male Redstart, catching flies. This was discovered by chance as we tried to catch sight a calling Willow Warbler.
Others: BHG, 1 Grey & a pr Pied Wagtail, Bullfinch, 2 Jay, GSW (juv) 2 Meadow Pipit, Pheasant, Wrens, c3 Blackbird, Blue & Grey Tit, several Woodpigeon.

A good trip; thanks lads.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Usual Route to Mixenden

Soil Hill 1025 hrs, quiet as expected: Kestrel, Swift, 2 Moorhen, 4 Goldfinch, few Skylark, Dunnock, pr Blackbird.

Ogden Res - 7 LBBG, c65 BHG, 3 GCG (1 juv), Tufted Duck, 12 Canada, Nuthatch, Green Woody. Oystercatcher overhead. Also 2 Chiffchaff, WW.

The golf course was quiet: 1 Curlew, a few Goldfinch & Linnet.

Stod Fold to Mixenden had a Greenfinch, 3 Pied Wagtail, a few House Martin and c30 Jackdaw.
The Res had 6 Canada & 3 BHG with the woodland being comatose. However there was some activity from at least 5 black clad policemen with 2 vehicles which made me wondeer what my birding colleagues have been up to.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Re: Birdbrain: Ogden Circular Tour

Much to my surprise and delight, I have received a speedy response from the ringer of the BHG.

The bird is a 3 year old male ringed on 23/05/2015. It was located at STAVANGER, NORWAY!

I am informed our reporting (DW and myself) is the first to be sent to the ringing station after the bird was initially processed.

We maybe poor, but we do get em!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Ogden Circular Tour

Ogden Res start with Mr DW to Thornton Moor then Fly Flatts, returning to Ogden. A blustery day in the main with grey skies before a short patch of sunshine at journeys end. There were periods of inactivity mixed with some good birds and ending with a very interesting finalé.

12 Golden Plover flew over the TMR res track and after scouting around for 10 mins or so we concluded there were 32 birds in total. An Oystercatcher was also there with a number of LBBGs, Reed Buntings, Linnets. Still a few Swift knocking around and Swallows.

The trek from there to Fly Flatts was a dead zone, the monotony being broken by just 4 Carrion Crows and a Kestrel. We met DJS at FF who confirmed things were quiet there also; however we pushed on in hope. Nothing on the water until the latter stages of the walk when the herd of Canada and the Greylag family took to it for some unknown reason. It was good to pick up a pr Wheatear, with the regular Kestrel pr taking advantage of the W'ly blow.

Ogden Res: Tufted Duck, 2 GC Grebe, 4 LBBG and the BHGs. While standing at the duck feeding station, I casually mentioned to Dave, I'd do a leg scan of the BHGs, as I'd had ringed gulls here previously. Amazingly, within a minute I picked up a leg ringed bird:

Left leg - Silver ring, no readable markings. However the Right leg had Green ring JV94 clearly visible.
I shall advise the Euro Ringers and BTO of this and see what we get back in a few weeks time.
Also: Grey Wagtail, m Blackcap, Chiffchaff, WW.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thornton Moor

Wed 15 June - DM and DW.

Flock of Lapwing c40, 1 Golden Plover, Whinchat, Peregrine.
DW rescued this juvenile swallow tangled up in barbed wire.

Pic by DM
It was then wrapped in a hand towel for a few minutes before being released.

Pic by DM
The bird expressed it's gratitude in the time honoured way, by crapping on DW's hand. 4 more swallows then flew in and gathered around the rescued bird as if to escort it away.

Good job lads. I have decided to award you the Albert Cronjé Golden Goblet award for meritorious services to both birds and pub landlords. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Soil Hill to Mixenden Res

An interesting start 'pon Soil Hill then a quiet middle and a very good finalé.
SH 1025hrs - pr Curlew working the top recently mowed fields with a pr Kestrel frequently overhead. A singing Whitethroat, Dunnock family of 5, Blackbird, 2 Stock Dove, 4 Woodpigeon, LBBG, 3 each of Skylark & Goldfinch, 1 Linnet, 2 Meadow Pipit. Pr Swift hanging around the top and a few Swallow.

Ogden Res - Cormorant, Tufted Duck, Nuthatch, Blackcap, 4 LBBG, 1 Common and several BH Gulls. 2 Chiffchaff, 1 WW, 2 Chaffinch.
The golf course still held the pr Oystercatcher with a few Goldfinch and 2 WW there. A pr Pied Wagtail, couple Swallow with 5 House Martin at Stod Fold.

Mixenden Res was almost inert, with just 1 each of Coal Tit and Mallard plus 3 Pied Wagtail seen.
Then as if to say "Cheer up lad, 'ave it" a pr of chipping Crossbills flew from a waterside conifer into the thick plantation. I hung around for the possibility of more, but that was it. Still, no complaints as I am certain this is another local annual tick.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Reet Grand Soaking

Ignored yesterday's weather forecast and ending up paying the price but the walk from Soil Hill to Fly Flatts then Ogden Res did have it's moments - wet ones.
SH - only item of interest was 10 Skylark flying around over the road.
The trek from Ogden Back Lane passing TMR then left to Fly Flatts coughed up:
1 each Herring & LBB Gull, Kestrel and Meadow Pipits. Then 1 each Raven, Curlew & Red-legged Partridge, Golden Plover plus pr Red Grouse.
On the res were c200 Canada and 5 Greylags (juvs), 3 LBB & 2 BH Gulls.

Common Sandpiper walking up track toward top gate
5 Common Sandpiper, 1 each of Redshank & Wheatear, c6 Lapwing.
I cut across the Wind Turbine farm to get to Giants Tooth, picking up pr Red Grouse and a chipping Snipe, but avoiding pneumonia on the way.

Ogden Res didn't have anything special going for it in the downpour - 2 Grey Heron, 5 LBBG & a few BHG. Jay, 2 Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Song Thrush.
I was soaked to the skin on returning home, but they tell me it beat's choking to death on grouse shit.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Soil Hill to Mixenden

An interesting session starting Soil Hill at 1025 hrs. Singing Sedge Warbler on a different site; the pond has now been drained off. Also a singing Whitethroat and Reed Bunting. Signs of early migration with a Wheatear seen on the Ned Hill side; I haven't had many of these this year. I went into the quarry (not recommended!) after seeing a flock of c11 Linnet but cannot say there were any Twite present due to all calls being overcome by a very fresh W'ly wind.
Other: Pied Wagtail, 2 Blackbird, 2 each LBB & BH Gulls, pr Kestrel, 2 Moorhen (1 juv).

Ogden Res - the reduced shoreline has pulled in 2 Goosander, either female or juvenile and a GC Grebe. At one time they were having an altercation, but seemed to settle down.

There were 4 LBB and a flock of BH Gulls present (not counted) plus 14 Canada on the drink.
Others: 1 each of singing Blackcap, Song Thrush, Willow Warbler & 4 singing Chiffchaff. Also GSW, Tufted Duck, pr Curlew (GC).

Mixenden Res, once again was sleeping, just 2 Pied Wagtail, 1 LBBG, 2 Mallard.

My Photographic software has gone pear shaped so I'm having to learn Windows en suite stuff. This means I can't custom crop nor add my name and location to the pics, but they are mine. You won't nick 'em will you?

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Queensbury to Ludd Foot

As I heard a bus driver refer to the latter at journeys end. This had been the usual physical effort but without the rewards - it really is doldrums out there in the wilderness.
Passing through Oats Royd - pr Bullfinch, two singing Chiffchaff, Kestrel.
      "          "        Ogden - just BHGs seen from Withens track end of prom. I thought I had a Siskin calling in flight but now I'm uncertain.
Nothing but Meadow Pipits up to Withens and the same until I got to Fly Flatts Res.

Fly Flatts walk to Luddenden - pr Kestrel, 1 each LBBG, Curlew, Common Sandpiper, 7 Lapwing. There were still distant calls from 4 Golden Plover over the wider area and I managed a Buzzard, otherwise it was Meadow Pipits - a few carrying grub.
Down the dean, alongside Midgley Moor - another pr Kestrel, 1 WW, 3 Mistle Thrush, c12 Linnet, Grey Wagtail.
Guess it's all down to the later summer early/ autumn wader and migrant rush now.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Oats Royd to Shibden Head

Oats Royd 1425 hrs. I'd met MW last Saturday who reported a Kingfisher here on Fri 3rd. Seeing I haven't clocked one at this location in around 8/9 years I thought it worth the trip. Turned out I failed to find one and it was generally rather dull. Just 2 each of WW, Chiffchaff, Canada, Blackbird. 3 Moorhen, 1 each of Swallow and LBBG over, plus Kestrel.

I thought Shibden Head was do-able especially as the golden ball in the sky was back operating. Turned out rather good, with: a singing Whitethroat plus a separate family down the road apiece. In the same set of bushes were c5 WW. Also Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, 4 Goldfinch, c8 Jackdaws, Swallows and the one I'd really hoped for a pr Buzzard. I got a brief glimpse of one and later both came out for a flyby and a sing song.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Soil Hill to Mixenden

A quiet walk starting from SH at approx 1025 hrs. 3 Twite still present in the mounds area; 2 flew toward the top of the quarry and the other across the top field. John Little appeared a minute later, just missing them.
We both moved down to Ogden Res and as expected found the Pochard had departed. 5 LBBG, BHGs upto c22. Canadas, 1 Grey Wagtail and thanks to JLs alertness a Common Sandpiper.
A pr Oystercatcher graced the golf course for a while with a Kestrel overhead along with a handful of Swift.
The walk down to Mixenden produced parties of Goldfinch, Linnet, House Martin and a Reed Bunting. The reservoir itself was comatose apart from 2 each of Pied Wagtail and Mallard.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Ogden Delivers A Goody

Traipsed down to Ogden Res from Soil Hill where I'd had a most satisfactory work out looking round the bottom then back up to the top. The 3 Twite were discovered by their noisy calls as soon as I reached the end of the track from Perseverance Rd. They flew in from just below the mounds and landed on the bare tops of the quarry before moving off again. Also 3 Sedge Warbler, 4 Whitethroat, similar Reed Bunting, c9 Linnet, 8 Skylark, Meadow Pipits, Kestrel, few Swallows,

Yet again that redundant feeling hit me as I walked around the lake. Then as I reached the end of the promenade by the duck feeding station I saw a very unfamiliar site: a diving duck with a grey back! Up came the bins, up went the BP, up went panic stations, out came the mobile bone and camera. A drake Pochard indeed.

In over 15 years of birding this site I have only had one record of this duck before (back in 2010) and I can't recall getting any others in Calderdale. I shall be celebrating with a glass of Granny Grunts Olde Barnyard Cider ABV 9.75% and half an Ox.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Queensbury To Mytholmroyd

Via the long route but I gotta admit the last two miles were an unintended overshoot; but what views of new countryside, villages and hamlets I enjoyed.
Ogden Clough 1015 hrs. Thought it was a distant m Merlin I saw take off from a fence; it flew closer and turned out to be a Cuckoo! That'll do.
It was then a long drag with only the distant calls of Golden Plover for company until...
Fly Flatts Res 1130 hrs. I hoped the distant black blob in the middle of the drink was a drake Common Scoter - it was!

Pics don't come much worse than this.
There were a pr Curlew here also along with a BHG and 2 Redshank. I didn't see or hear any more Curlew throughout the trek. 9/10 Swift were at the top end too.

The rest of the moorland produced 1 SEO, 3 Kestrel and a bird I've really struggled with this year, a pr Stonechat.

Has he really only got one leg?

They are breeding on the tops at Luddenden Dean in what I would have taken for typical Whinchat country. This area, which I've never walked before was also busy with breeding WW, Meadow Pipits and a number of Linnet.
A very pleasant surprise as I drew nearer to Midgley was loud singing bursting from a row of bushes - a Garden Warbler. A GSW was calling from atop a telegraph pole just further down the road.

PS DW rang me at 1520hrs, he had coincidentally visited FF and saw the Scoter, still distant but upright and showing the knob on the bill.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Recent Sessions

Wed 01 July - Laycock to Cold Edge Dams.
Courtesy of DW who wanted to show me a wooded valley that was alive with migrants in May. Some 5 weeks plus on in a heatwave it was an expected different story but the potential has been noted. 4 LBBG, couple Curlew, Dipper, several WW, couple Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Corvids.
During the return leg at around 12pm I received a call from my next door neighbour, DP who along with Mrs JP saw a Red Kite drift over their heads in Brighouse Rd from the direction of Shibden Valley. It flew across the road and apparently floated round the lower (wooded) margins of the Tesco area for approx 10 mins before finally heading off NE.

DW then took us to Fly Flatts for a scan from the road with nothing to report before a walk around the Cold Edge dams. This was a good move as in a short time we got pr Tufted Duck, Greylag, pr Reed Bunting, 3 Oystercatcher and best of all a pr Snipe flushed from a drain at less than 2 metres.

Tues 30 June pm tried Soil Hill, Ogden & Oats Royd in the first real heat of summer: y'all smell dem magnolias? As anticipated I returned home somewhat soggy and no need to voice record the birds as numbers were low.
SH - Sedge Warblers active, Reed Bunting, sub-adult phase Common Gull > W but otherwise just the Meadow Pipits and 3/4 Skylark.

Ogden Res - Grey Heron, Tufted Duck, 3 BHG couple WW, Chiffchaff, Blackcap.
Oats Royd - several Swallow, Kestrel family, WW & Chiffchaff, 3 Canada. Moorhen chicks seen.