Birdbrain Stuff

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Low Moor Dams

For the first time since I started birding this site, it was a disappointment in the main. The Gadwall could not be found, same applies to a couple Mute Swan and no big gulls present. Worth mentioning however is the fact that Park Dam held 5 Little Grebe; 4 together and this 1 individual.

There were a couple hundred small gulls and c60 Canada. 2 Pied & 1 Grey Wagtail, 3 Mute Swan, 12 Moorhen, c40 Coot, c34 Tufted Duck & the Mallards. 2 GC Grebe, 1 GSW briefly. This being the total for both bodies of water.

On the return leg home, I checked out the southern fields - a few gulls only. c400 Starling were hanging around Qnsbry Golf Course.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

God and Lawn Care

GOD to ST. FRANCIS: Frank, ... You know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet?  What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colours by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles.

St. FRANCIS: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD: Grass? But, it's so boring. It's not colourful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It's sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it-sometimes twice a week.

GOD: They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS: No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

GOD: Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS: Yes, Sir.

GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS: You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It's a natural cycle of life.

ST. FRANCIS: You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD: No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD: And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD: Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

ST. CATHERINE: 'Dumb and Dumber', Lord. It's a story about....

GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Queensbury to Mixenden

Usual Lapwing on Raggalds sports field; the flood being frozen.
SH One unid calling passerine, 2 Blackbird & a Crow was all.

Ogden Res 1 each HERRING & LBBG + small uns. 4 Bullfinch, 1 each Grey Heron & GSW, a few Blackbird.

En route Mixenden 4 Goldfinch, 5 LTT, 44 Canada. Res: 3 Roe Deer, GSW, 2 Goldcrest, c11 LTT, small gulls, several Blackbird

Friday, November 20, 2015

Snow and more Rain

After deciding today was cook a chicken curry day, I did just that then found 25 mins to spare...
Soil Hell was windy for a change and still dry for another one (tks BS for txt msg) as I searched for the SNOW BUNTING. I got it after a struggle on the W side as it flew high calling before a steep descent, a male methinks.
En route to Ogden Res I met DJS who after a chat ordered me not to get wet again. I do apologise for disobeying your orders Sir! The rain nailed me halfway round with nothing to show until I was stopped in my tracks by the W shore Alder patch. 5 Juicy REDPOLL were feeding long enough for me to take 5/6 ropey photos. Not an abundant species for moi this year so most welcome. Also  there 2 Chaffinch, ditto Bullfinch & LTT with c5 Goldcrest. 1 Cormorant, 1 LBBG etc. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Blacktoft Sands

A deliberate late start c/o Mr DW, in order to optimize the chances of catching Harriers & Barn Owls that are known to come by the Singleton hide at last light.
Lucky for us the incessant rain had cleared as we passed into the E side of the country and we wasted no time in visiting the hides, starting with the Ousefleet at the top of the chain. For once this hide was full of duck and waders but our joy was relatively short-lived when those marsh hosses galloped up right in front, scaring the nearmost waders off. They did eventually return and we satisfied ourselves we'd id'd the lot before moving off.

A bonus bird as we walked down a trail was a briefly singing Cettis Warbler - a great find on a gloomy November afternoon. At this rate of expansion, I won't be at all surprised if someone reports a 2016 bird in a place such as Cromwell Bottom.

We ended up with time to spare and settled down for the vigil (sounds like Stallone & Statham don't it). We counted 7 Marsh Harrier moving, thousands of distant birds coming and going which offered hardly any clues to id until they came a bit nearer later. One astute guy finally managed to state the majority were Golden Plover. A Barn Owl was doing the rounds in the distance too but not all of us had the eyesight to get any glimpse as it swept along just above reedbed height. Luckily DWs eyes are still in very good shape and he caught several sightings of the bird.
The star of the performance failed to turn up which I'll put down to theatrical histrionics, nonetheless we enjoyed the session.
Snipe in good numbers, 2 Redshank. c10 Shelduck, c20 Shoveler, c16 Gadwall, c30 Snipe, numerous Lapwing, ditto Teal, several Wigeon, Mallards, Pheasants.
Reed Bunting, Tree Sparrows, many Fieldfare, 2 Goldfinch, Blackbird.
7 Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, probable Merlin, Barn Owl, c45 PFG. 2 Grey Heron, 2 Mute Swan, 3 Little Grebe, Kingfisher, Cormorant, Moorhens.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Gift from Hell

Early start and a soddened finish with every item of clothing and gear saturated. RFlood: 1 Canada, 2 Fieldfare, 3 BHG. Lapwing were 4 fields apart, starting on the sports then ending in the muddy field immdly after the last house on right.

Soil Hill approx 0835 hrs. RING OUZEL seen heading toward radio compound from bottom track conifers. Subsequently seen twice until lunchtime. Note there was a Blackbird about 90 metres further down. Also Redwing & c 23 Fieldfare.
I went onto the top looking for the SEO (djs) without success. As I was cursing over having nudged a mobile bone key that caused havoc, something really cool occurred. I almost trod on a DUNLIN! It was alongside a very small puddle, huddled down in the grass no more than 1/2 metre away max.
Oddly enough the bird didnt stop to say Hi Nige, instead it gave one call and dived over the N ridge where it was looked for after trying to ring  out to others but not found.
More may follow depending on what mood I'm in after some beer...

Monday, November 16, 2015

RFlood to Ogden

c75 and 5 Common Gull on the sports field; nothing on the flood. Soil Hell was just that, unworkable in WNW gale. Mistle Thrush, 3 Magpie, 2 Crow.
Ogden Res: Jay flew up to Ned Hill. M Sparrowhawk tried a failed sweep over the feeders. Brambling, Siskin, 4 Goldrest in among c30 Chaffinch on W shore.

A drake Wigeon also feeding W shore. Once again the odd light mantled LBBG was present on the E side but when I went round for photos it had moved to the W. Also 6 Blackbird, 4 Robin, Blue Tits.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Soil Hill Goody

Male RING OUZEL. I was halfway down the N slope long edge trying to id what turned out to be fieldfares. An unseen bird gave out two loud high pitched, shrill notes which stopped me in my tracks. I couldn't reconcile them with any known species so I plodded down and back up. After hearing this male on the track give its alarm call it prompted me to listen to Xeno Canto recordings and I now know it was this bird. Interestingly the notes were part of it's song repertoire and not the chattering subsequently heard in flight.

Also Grey Heron, c50 Fieldfare, c85 Starling, Pied Wagtail.
Previously Raggalds Flood was void of birds but c70 Lapwing were on the sports field.

Ogden Res: BHG wearing leg ring. I took plenty of pics but the ring wasn't exactly pristine; I'll see what I can do.

Left leg ring Silver, Right leg Black code on White. May be VS20
Not the bird seen in July which had green ring.
c10 LTT, Nuthatch, 3 Coal Tit, 2 Goldcrest, f Bullfinch, Cormorant. Lots small gulls, 2 LBBG incl one with pale mantle. 2 Chaffinch; JLs big party had moved on.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Soil Hill to Mixenden

SH 0925 Hrs. 1 each Moorhen, Snipe, Fieldfare. 3 Meadow Pipit, 100+ small gulls. At one stage I heard the sound of approaching geese so I reached for the bone to alert BS. Im so pleased I wasnt too happy with the notes and when they flew overhead they turned out to be Canada. The same flock descended on Ogden res an hour later when I counted 40 birds.
Prior to this I checked the brimming Raggalds Flood: 2 Mallard, 10 Lapwing, Pied Wagtail with numerous Common Gull on the sports field.
Ogden Res: c12 Siskin, c22 Chaffinch, Ron Cormo, 2 Jay, Les Blackback. 

Hunter Hill bottom: Jay, Green Woodpecker, Jackdaws and small gulls in the fields below. 2 skeins of Canada went SW over Mixenden res approx 20 minutes apart. No.1 c18 birds; No.2 14 birds. Im certain these were the ones seen at Ogden earlier.
The res disappointed: small gulls only on the water. Also seen were Goldcrest, Blackbird, 2 Blue Tit.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Recent Trips

Sunday 08/11 Queensbury Sth & Shibden
Quiet start at 0915 hrs through the park which picked up on exiting. 10 Goldfinch, c25 Fieldfare. Cross Lane:  total 19 Snipe NK 7; DP 12 (Seen earlier, he out around 0800 ish). Starling nrs c300, 2 Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, few bhg.
Shibden: 6 Bullfinch, 2 Buzzard, Jay, Goldcrest, 2 Redwing, Chaffinch or three. A small flock of winter thrushes seen at distance.

Friday 06/11 Hoping to confirm LEOs still present - went down and up Soil Hill N slope at 1030 ish. Nothing doin, not a squeak. 5 Canada, 1 Fieldfare, 3 Pheasant, 1 Skylark, 2 Meadow Pipit.
Ogden res was the quietest I've known in a long time, nothng worth a mention. One thing was consistent: the killer SW wind.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Mixenden Wainstalls Walk

With DW & DM. Nothing much doing in the mist which threatened a reprieve nr Withens only to change its mind.
2 Fieldfare, 2 Canada, Pheasant, Meadow Pipit. DM was happy with the fieldfare for a first.
Ogden res was dank; Cormorant, 2 LBBG, small gulls. A Chaffinch flock about 14 strong, Bullfinch, Kestrel.

DM reports sighting of Buzzard in Northowram and further mention of the Wood Lane LSW by a neighbour.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Ducky Pics from Monday

From yesterday records shots of the Ogden drake Shoveler:

and now the Aytha bitch bird:

The "Scaup" type image still presents itself when the top two pics are viewed initially. However when you enlarge them all with the mouse click a rudimentary tuft appears on two of the 4 pics. Odd thing is on Oiseaux.Net the french website, I picked out two proven female Scaup pics with rudimentary tufts - among 30+ that presented the classic head profile. This problem has occurred before with this/these species in Autumn with other birders too and I'm sure I'll keep falling into the trap.

Received txt from DW the LEO still on Soil Hell in real nasty conditions at 0830 hrs.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Queensbury to Soil Hill

25 Fieldfare over BS house. Similar no Lapwing on the slick of water at Raggalds. 40 Fieldfare SH. Single LEO roosting on different stump 60 metres down treeline. Green Woodpecker flew across top and landed nr radio mast. 2 Singing Skylark, 3 Meadow Pipit then I had to dump everything as c120 PFG flew over heading SE. I managed to alert BS who ran out of the garage and nailed 'em.

The pace continued:
Ogden plantn. Buzzard, Grey Heron, Red Grouse, 10 Redwing.
Ogden resvr drake SHOVELER, GC Grebe, 2 Cormorant, Green Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail.
Hunter Hill Green Woodpecker, 9 Grey Partridge.
Mixenden Res f Scaup which was contested in part by a n other. Pics to be edited and published in my favour later (hehe). Grey Wagtail, 6 Goosander one of which was subject to query by all.
Then the fog came down.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Soil Hill Bonus

Got up to the hellish hill at 0645 hrs having had a few scattered moving Redwing, Fieldfare and small gulls on the way.
Within 5 minutes of starting down the N slope a Long-eared Owl was waiting for me, sat half asleep on a post. I whipped out the camera and blasted away in the hope that some acceptable pics may turn out in the still murky light.

I rang BS and after our natter, proceeded down the hill toward the pond. Within about a minute a second LEO took off from the bushes some 25 metres away, flew about the same distance and landed back in the hedgerow. Bloomin Marvellous!
On the way back up after checking the pond for the Wigeon/Teal mix (hampered once more by dull light/location) I found the topmost bird still there. It appeared to be awake now as it tracked my progress until I reached the top track and encountered one DP. Dave followed my instructions and I'm pleased to say he too saw the sleeping beauty.

Not much else around, which doesn't faze me one iota. 3 Grey Partridge, Robins, 1 Kestrel, 2 Blue Tit & Blackbird, Small gulls. 1 Sparrowhawk & Grey Partridge seen separately by DP.

PS I got a txt from DW at 1009 hrs, referring to the Fleet Lane area: "I've been watching loads of thrush types going over as I look out of the front window".