Birdbrain Stuff

Friday, August 28, 2015

Soil Hell & Ogden

Started up Taylor Lane at about 0930 hrs and got both Cuckoos within 3 minutes. They flew around a bit and then settled; one on the wires and t'other on a wall opposite. I only had the opportunity to immortalise the obvious juvenile on film.

What I and others have referred to as an Adult is now thought to be another juvenile in some circles; sufficient to say I have not seen it close up enough to comment on. I'm very happy to have witnessed this phenomenal sighting in late August unlike BIRDGUIDES who are not interested.
Others: 4 Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 2 Skylark, 1 House Martin, c18 Swallow 4/5 each of small gull sp. 1 LBBG.
On the return leg up the hill it was good to have a natter with DJS, who had just nailed both birds.

Ogden Res. The fresh SW'ly put paid to weeding out any big gulls as most had left the area along with a greater number of BHGs.

2 Cormorant, 2 drake Tufted Duck & 2 GC Grebe on the drink. 1 Grey Wagtail, a couple of WW & Goldcrest.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Recent Failures and Success

Got a call this am, Tuesday 25/08 from DW to say nothing doing at Fly Flatts but he had seen the Cuckoo at Taylor Lane, Heartbreak Hill. That's my new name for it because in two attempts at finding the bird between approx 1340 & 1410 hrs I failed miserably. Further more I got txts saying other birders had seen it during this time and after!
If ever I was feted NOT to see a bird, this must be it.

Wed 26/08 courtesy DW (Transport & Logistics) DM (Narration) a long walk around Stainland environs.

We Kicked off with a Buzzard flying casually over the Fallow Deer park and suitably ended up with a pr of Buzzard in Stainland Dean at journey's end. There were long stretches of hard walking and no birds, balanced out by a great session of where it all came together and for me a grand finalé.
House Martins, Swallows, 6 Willow Warbler, pr Mistle Thrush, c70 Lapwing, 4 Spotted Flycatcher but a couple more suspected. These put on a show which we watched for about 15 minutes.
Also pr Kestrel, pr Bullfinch, Chaffinches, 1 Greenfinch, Goldfinches, Robin.

DW decided I needed one more crack at the Cuckoo(s) so he drove up to Soilage and has he turned right into Taylor Lane asked me what God I believe in. I'm an atheist but 2 seconds later the adult Cuckoo flew in from the right and settled down on the road right before us! Naturally it flew off on seeing our approach but not before giving very good views.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Soil Hill to Mixenden Res

Had a surprise when I went out back early doors to find this frog in my bucket. It must have used athletic prowess to get into the drink, but it needed a helping hand to get back out.

SH 1030 Hrs. 1 each Greenfinch, Grasshopper Warbler, Pheasant & Skylark. c15 Meadow Pipit, c11 Swallow.

Ogden Res - Finally nailed Yellow Legged Gull on the shoreline among Common and graeslii LBBGs. Also a Herring Gull which caused some confusion when it settled down on the water with 2 imm. LBBG.

1 Blackcap, several Coal Tit and WW. 4 Cormorant & pr GC Grebe. A few Swallows.

Geared up by the busy period, I ventured forth across the golf course and Hunter Hill bottom to Mixenden Res. I feel about 75 percent confident in a brief scintilla of Tree Pipit, but that was all, it was unbelievably torpid.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Sun and Stuff

A Glorious day saw me at Raggalds at 0905 hrs where I saw about 2 inches of water. Soil Hill produced Swallows, 1 Meadow Pipit & Kestrel, 6 Starling, 3 Linnet & a handful Goldfinch. No other migrants were evident and when I got to Taylor Hill the wind turned to an E'ly blow for about 30 mins so no joy there.

For every 5 farmers you meet that are complete rectal swabs, you get one good one. Today, it was another butthole job. The incumbents at Hartley Square Farm, Perseverance Rd have blocked the public footpath after tearing down the sign some 6/7 weeks back. Furthermore they are erecting decking where the footpath ran along the back of their house. No wonder the woman ran inside the house when she saw me climbing over a locked gate that use to swing open. I wonder if Halifax Council are aware of their self serving actions?

A resident of the a/m road informs me he spoke to a birder in the last 2/3 days that reports a Marsh Harrier going over Soil Hill. We eliminated myself, Daniel B, BS and other regulars as the culprits, so who are we left with? All I can add is the person had a beard and drove a Nissan species. Well done to the middle aged man or bearded woman.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Last ditch attempt

After hearing from DM & DW Just now I feel compelled to post from my mobile bone. I was at Ogden to see the GC Grebe pr return with a pr Teal alongside. The Teal flew off after 10 mins which coincides wlth 5 Teal being seen at Fly Flatts along with a Common Sandpiper.
I managed Jay, Grey Wagtail, Nuthatch at Ogden and c20 Swallow, c25 Linnet, c35 Goldfinch, 2 Grey Partridge & 5 Pheasant plus Kestrel en route to Mixenden which was crap.
Meanwhile Butch & Sundance report SEO showing well at Withens, c30 Wheatear along the stretch to FF and it appears the Crossbills are still in Ogden Clough.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Saturday & Monday

Saturday 15/08 Soil Hill 1030 hrs. Goldfinch and a Grey Partridge family which I flushed from about 1.5 metres. There were 2 adults and about 7 young 'uns; I got good views and estimate they can't have been older than 8/9 days.
I met Daniel B on the Ned Hill track and we had a good natter. He got a Sand Martin which I never picked up but we both got 4 Whitethroat and similar Blackbird plus a few Swallow.
Ogden Res was putrid - I can't bring myself to go any further into the limited detail.
Stod Fold to Mixenden was also quiet. 8 House Martin and a few Swallow at bottom Hunter Hill pluse a WW. There was just 1 each of BHG, LBBG, Pied & Grey Wagtail at the reservoir.

Monday 17/08 a sunny warm day with a light N/NE'ly breeze. Home to Fly Flatts via Soil Hill returning to Ogden Res. Hard work and very patchy with just one very good result.
SH deadly, 1 Mistle Thrush, 9 Canada, 2 Swallow. Back Lane plantation produced Goldcrests and a Woodpig or three.

Ogden Clough I could hear some chipping calls and after a few minutes, 4 Crossbills flew right over my head toward TMR. However the chipping noise still continued and I guess there were a few still present halfway below the GT. Also 1 each of Red Grouse, Reed Bunting & WW. 15 LBBG were making a racket nearby, very high up.
Fly Flatts was disappointing and I abandoned the top end walk after not seeing a single wader. I did see the Barnacle Goose, 3 Kestrel, c20 Meadow Pipit, 6 Wheatear, 1 each Grey Partridge & Red Grouse. Also 4 each of BHG & LBBG. c15 Golfinch were at the Withens.

Not much change at Ogden Res on the last leg although at one stage something 'orrible put the lot of  'em up in the air.

Other: a superb Stoat ran along the path at Ogden Clough, I loves 'em, I does.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Wed & Thursday

Wed 12th Greetland area, Norland, Black Brook c/o DW & DM. A walk  in the sunshine which was very enjoyable and unburdened by birds!

Swallows gathering on a roof ready for off. 3 Kestrel, c18 Linnet. A single Pipit that behaved like a Tree but distance factor makes for inconclusive id. Song Thrush, Dipper, Grey Wagtail.

Thurs 13th Soil Hill to Mixenden. Lets get the latter out of the way first, it was unbearably quiet: 5 Canada leaving as I arrived, 2 Linnet, 6 Pied Wagtail.
SH 3 Stock Dove & Woodpigs, 2 Kestrel, 3 Swallow, 2 LBBG, 2 Linnet, 9 Canada, 1 each Blackbird, Dunnock, Whitethroat, 2 WW.
Ogden Res - Goldcrests, c9 WW, Nuthatch, Cormorant, c19 LBBG, 7 Canada, 4 Swallow, 2 GCG, BHG crowd, 1 Common Gull.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


A quick decision after munch saw me down in the valley and in some parts re-enact my iron man fantasies. This isn't a place for the casual stroller; apart from the natural hazards, there are lots of man made barriers to contend with.

13 Canada Geese were on the Green Lane pond with a couple Linnet and a few Swallow knocking around.

Apart from a 20 minute spell of fascination, it was quiet overall as expected. 3 WW, 1 each of GSW, Green Woodpecker & Tawny Owl - my first in around 5 months. A noisy pr of of Jays and Buzzards, Kestrel, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, juv Robin.

I encountered this Roe Deer which didn't bolt but chose to hide in the lush undergrowth.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Another Fly Flatts Circular

Home to Soil Hill uneventful - just a juv Pheasant couple of gulls and a few Swallow on SH.
Ogden Res 3 small gulls over Back Lane plantation followed by 3 Curlew and a Whimbrel.
From there to Fly Flatts it was deadly - 4 Red Grouse and a Wheatear. FF was wader free but did throw up another 5 Wheatear and the two Kestrel. I also managed to see the Barnacle Goose for the first time this year. Another 9 Red Grouse seen: must be preparing to absorb a lot of shotgun pellets. 1 each of BHG & LBBG. 8 Linnet were at the Withens and a couple Meadow Pipit.

I got well pissed on down the road apiece from Withens to Ogden Res, so I thought I'd do a circuit.
4 Tufted Duck in f or eclipse. 2 GCG, 2 WW, c29 LBBG, 1 Common & the BHG multitude. A few Swallows throughout.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Soil Hill to Mixenden

SH 1030 hrs. A true summers day much welcome, of course the price to pay was the inevitable quiet patches.
A few Linnet & Meadow Pipit, juv Pheasant, BHG. A family of Grey Partridge were on the Ned Hill track along with 2 Whitethroat. 1 WW, 3 Blackbird, 3/4 Swallow.

Ogden Res: Nuthatch family very noisy throughout and 3 WW. The shoreline gulls had a few more Common than of late. Try as I might YLG has still failed to thrill.

A Mink (not an Otter as some would wish) was swimming and running along the mud near the Ogden Clough bridge. 2 GCG still present, c10 LBBG, juv Robin, Goldcrest, 2 Blackbird.

The walk along the golf course bottom and Hunter Hill turned up Reed Bunting, Wheatear, Little Owl, GSW, couple more WW & 5 Linnets. Mixenden Res was almost sterile: 5 Canada, f Mallard, few Swallows.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Teesside Trip

Tuesday 04 August by kind permission of DW. An 0800 hrs departure so that we could fit in Redcar, Marske and the vast Saltholme reserve.
During the day the weather was rather Queensbury like with plenty of wind but we still got some birds in. It was stimulating too when encountering waders not seen in a while and having to sort 'em out at a distance.

Redcar: Plenty of Turnstone and Oystercatcher with 5 Knot flying in to feed for a short time.

Hundreds of gulls: BHG, LBBG, Herring with a small number of GBBG and Common. A couple of Common Tern were doing the rounds with 2 Cormorant on the shoreline.

Marske, where the wind was bordering on storm force. It still presented us with birds however; a diving Gannet caught us by surprise as we watched c5 each of Common & Sandwich Tern blow by. Also 2 Cormorant but just a small number of gulls on the beach.

Saltholme, where the wind eventually calmed down to almost acceptable. Lots of Lapwing, c6 Dunlin, a single Curlew. 3 each of Little Stint, weaving among the Dunlin and 3 Little Ringed Plover discovered later at a separate pool. Common Tern were all over the place, many still feeding young.

2 Grey Heron, 4 Little Egret, 2 Barnacle Geese along with many Canada and Greylag. Several Teal, Wigeon and Tufted Duck, fewer Gadwall, Pochard, Shoveler. The latter being hard to pick out in eclipse unless the shovel was seen o'course.

No need for the flypast lads, but we do appreciate it.
1 Little Grebe and a higher number of GC Grebe. Numerous Coot but mebbe just a couple of Moorhen. A Colony of Tree Sparrow, few Greenfinch, 2 Linnet.

Also: Pied Wagtail, Woodpigeons, Stock Doves, Robin, Great Tit, 2 WW. There were a couple of Acro warblers in the reeds but no calls and their speed made them unidentifiable.

It's worth mentioning this RSPB reserve is both massive and commercial. The visitors centre is geared to families and during school holidays the hides do get a bit raucous. However with effort the remoter areas do bring the rewards. Last word: the species record list has some phenomenal birds.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Fly Flatts Circular

Queensbury - Soil Hill - Fly Flatts - Ogden Res. Inspired by yesterday's harvest of SEOs by BS and others, I began to regret my enthusiasm after a third of the journey. This was down to a constant buffeting by the W'ly wind and basic lack of birds.
Soil Hill - 7 Mistle Thrush, few Meadow Pipit, Kestrel, 2 LBBG.

Finally got to FF after just 2 Red Grouse and a Skylark seen on the way. Yesterday, Sun, D&T W picked up a SEO, Buzzard and a female Merlin here. I got a single SEO from the roadside and this Kestrel. Also 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 each of LBB, Herring & BH Gull.
There were a couple of Linnet at the Withens along with same nr of Meadow Pipit but nothing else on the way down to Ogden Res.

The number of LBBGs at Ogden has risen to 25; there were 3 Common in among the host of BHGs.
Also 2 each of WW, Cormorant and GC Grebe.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Saturday Angst

Soil Hill 0930 hrs, met a local resident who told me he'd seen a SEO twice in a week; I had a search but it wasn't to be today.
Grey Heron, 3 Mistle Thrush, Kestrel, 3 Blackbird, 2 LBBG 1 BHG, 4 Skylark, c170 Lapwing, 2 Meadow Pipit, few Swallow.

Ogden Res 7 LBBG, 3 Common Gull in with the BHG crowd. 2 Cormorant, 3 GCG, 3 WW, Nuthcatch, Kestrel. 3 very vocal Sparrowhawk.
The golf course had a number of Goldfinch knocking around and one bird that is going to keep me sleepless for a couple of nights. Not because I didn't see it well, but because I did and couldn't id it. Briefly a 7 inch job recalling a cross between a Woodchat Shrike and a Pied Flycatcher. I'd mentioned aberrant GSW to BS on the telling bone, but I can now totally discount that.

There were c100 Linnet, c50 Swallow and c10 Goldfinch at bottom of Hunter Hill along with a Kestrel. Mixenden Res held Coal Tit, WW a Cormorant and 4 LBBG.
Getting soaking wet complimented the frustration of the 'wish I'd never seen it' bird.