Birdbrain Stuff

Friday, April 29, 2016

I Wonder What This Is

I haven't a clue what this bird is, could it be an escaped Canary? It's soooo yellow!

Taken by DW yesterday at Swillington and what a belter.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Winter Srikes Again

Was up Soil Hell at 1030 hrs and at one stage I thought the heavy jacket would have to succumb to the Suns rays and come off. 2 minutes later I was retreating from a hailstorm and had to get off the top rather smartish.
Nothing down the N slope bottom other than a pr Blackbird in  the bushes. We can write Sedge & Grasshopper Warblers off I believe as the Improvement work has buried the small pond and virtually destroyed the sedges.
5 Lapwing, pr Kestrel, 2 Mallard, Meadow Pipits, Skylarks, 1 Linnet.
Ogden incl Giants Tooth also poor. 1 each Curlew, Red Grouse, Meadow Pipit. 2 Chiffchaff, 5 WW, Green Woodpecker yaffling.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Oats Royd to Ogden

OR 1345 hrs another cold day with slight snow showers at times. Nothing much here just 2 Chiffchaff, 3 WW, 1 each Blackbird, Robin, Bullfinch & LBBG..
Bradshaw still has it's fair share of Greenfinch and a single Swallow.
Ogden coughed up my first Treecreeper of the year - in falling snow too. Also 3 rather noisy LBBG, 2 Curlew, 1 each Lapwing & Goldcrest. 5 WW, 2 Chiffchaff, Blue & Gt Tit, Dunnocks, Robin.

Contact Point Query

Dear Mr Birdbrain. Do you think we should vote to leave Europe in June because they have more birds than the UK?

Eve Ryonesawinnerbabe

Thanks for your very interesting query Eve which requires a lot of thought. I shall endeavor to give a measured response within a couple of days. Meanwhile I'll continue to rage over that nice Mr Obama's opinion on this subject.

I am now in a position to present my thoughts based on my own experience and the invaluable references provided by messers Algernon, Montmorency & Marmaduke Snert. Furthermore I would like to thank the dowager Clarissa Eloise for access to the now fully digitised library in the family home.

Since the 1960s the UK lost two iconic species that could be seen both on migration and as scarce but well recorded breeders. These were Wryneck & Red backed Shrike. Down the years Wood Warbler has  been reduced significantly, less so Pied Flycatcher & Redstart. There are others but I'm sure you catch my drift.

After returning from a business deal in France to secure a years supply of absinthe (250 x 2 litre bottles) in 2014 Marmaduke Snert told me this story.
He took a short trip in the Camargue to research Collared Pratincole & Short toed Lark. There he met the infamous French ornithological miscreant Captain Jaques Pierre Merdemanger. Snert was horrified at what he discovered. Holding camps of scores of Roller, Savis Warbler, Red Footed Falcon. Hundreds of Bee Eater one ringed as a Co. Durham breeder) Wood Warbler & Pied Flycatcher.  
In a nearby inn he got a 92 year old camargue cowboy drunk and was told that this man had actually helped Merdemanger's father to start diverting the RBS & Wryneck from reaching our blessed shores all those years ago.

As you have now deduced, I'm certain, the whole purpose of this sordid trafficking of innocent migrants was to not only move the unfortunates on to countries where birders would pay premiums to have them but to cock a snook at the "feelthy pie-eating British scum".

On 23 June I encourage all birders to say NO to the EU. Further more I intend to pursue that swine Merdemanger to the ends of the earth and bring him back to dear old Blighty. Once here I shall incarcerate him in a room in the nearby aptly named Gaol Lane where he will face a diet of fried sausages, cornish pasties & mushy peas. In the background he shall continually hear Cliff Richard singing Congratulations & those unmentionables who do The Birdy Song.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Wintery Queensbury South

I more or less forced myself out at around 1020 hrs this morning and after a  hour abandoned the walk in the cold wind and sleet.
1 each of Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Skylark. 3 WW, couple Dunnock & Linnet, 3 Pied Wagtail, few Woodpigs, Jackdaws & Crows.
The last forlorn act was to check the House Martin sites around Deanstones: Nowt, Nada, Nichts, Zilcho.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Queensbury to Luddenden

Another fine Spring Day and once again it was a nightmare finding birds with large tracts of desolate moorland the norm. The route from Soil Hill to Fly Flatts conjured up thoughts of a Nuclear Winter but granted a sunny one. From FF to Luddenden Dean was worse !

It was amusing to see a Queensbury luminary at FF casually walk along the forbidden bank passing a YWA vehicle parked up without a by your leave or a kiss my arse. The guy(s) in the van called him over and thru bins I watched him converse for at least 15 mins. Oh to have been a midge on the banking.

Meadow Pipits, Skylark, c8 Red Grouse, 2 Redshank, 2 Greylag, Canadas, 1 male Wheatear, pr Kestrel, Merlin, LBBG.
The Dean held 3 Chiffchaff, c10 WW, couple Greenfinch, Chaffinch, 3 Jay, Buzzard. 2 Swallow at Booth.
Roll on September (bet I regret saying that).

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hovel to Mixenden

Nice Sunny Day eh? Good for walking but not if yer want birds a plenty. It was appalling almost if a blank was due with interest at 10 percent.
Soil Hill had the usual species mentioned recently but my gut feeling told me not to do the N slope.
So on to Ogden where 1 Green Woody, 3 Chiffchaff & 7 WW were blasting away but not much else was.

By the time I got to Mixenden Res the thought of a watery grave seemed rather attractive. Frustrated again! YWA have locked the metal gate at the entrance near where the Big/Long hedge was that no longer exists. So into the woodland track but not for long, it took me back to the heady days of swampy Belizean jungles. I managed a Goldcrest, Blackbird & Chiffchaff before escaping from the hellhole.
Needless to say the gate closure hasn't prevented the hardy locals from walking along the waterside path.

PS 5 Golden Plover in the usual Cold Edge fields nr Nolstar reported by DW.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Low Moor Dams

Harold Park Lake 1040 hrs. Spring in the air and on the water.
2 House Martin, c10 Sand Martin, similar Swallow. 2 Coot on nests, 6 other present. 1 GCG, 4 Willow Warbler, 1 each Song Thrush & Chiffchaff. 2 Greenfinch & Goldfinch, 4 Blackbird, pr Collard Dove, 4  Moorhen. Few Woodpigs, 12 Canada, 2 LBBG, 1 Herring Gull, 1 Mute Swan, 4 Tufted.

Park Dam: 1 Herring Gull, 2 Cormorant, 1 each Willow Warbler, LTT, Grey & White Wagtail. Pr breedinh GCG, pr Canada & Tufted, 5 Coot, 1 Moorhen. 2 Sand Martin, 1 House Martin, c20 Swallow, pr Blackbird.

Not a bad haul in a very windy W'ly blow
which kept nrs down on Park Dam for certain. Both W/Warbler and W/Wag are additions to the annual list and its been a few years since I've picked up Alba so yippee.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Birdy Sunday

A Greenfinch in the back yard and even better a Nuthatch calling loudly from a garden across the road as I left the hovel this bright morning. Evidence of avian activity throughout Queensbury as I walked up to Soil Hill with Mistle Thrush, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Blue Tit & Linnet.
3 Pied Wagtail at Mountain were having a Mènage a Trois; a pr mating and one in attendance.

Soil Hill: Mistle Thrush, few Goldfinch, & Linnet, 2 Pied Wagtail, 8 Lapwing, 1 Curlew, 2 each Oystercatcher & Grey Partridge, 3 Mallard, 4 Blackbird, 1 male Wheatear. 

The hellish hill coughed up another local annual flying over the quarry, a Swallow. Lets not forget a few Woodpigs and the Skylarks & Meadow Pipits.

Returning home via Old Guy Road I saw a couple Greenfinch, another Swallow high over Fleet Lane. 5 Skylark, 1 Meadow Pipit, 2 Pied Wagtail, 6 House Sparrow.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hornsea Mere to Blacktoft.

Red Kite & Buzzard on M'way. Hornsea Mere - Lesser Whitethroat in full song eventually giving reasonable views from the bushes. Marsh Harrier, 2 pr Goldeneye, many Tufteds, few Shelduck, Shoveler & Gadwall, 2 Pochard. 1 GC Grebe, c60 Herring Gull, 1 each Little Egret, Reed Bunting & Willow Warbler, 2 singing Cettis Warbler. Plenty of Mute Swan & Greylag Geese, few Coot. Surprisingly not a single hurundine.
One Mallard had let a fresh egg slip loose nr the footpath so I lobbed it towards the Herring Gulls thinking it would be a snack. I was wrong, it scared them into flight and on return they weren't tempted by the now visible yolk etc.
After giving this very large area our best shot, we failed to find the Long-tailed Duck so on to...

Blacktoft Sands
Definitely on the quiet side but busy with Swallows, Sand & House Martins. We were greeted by a booming Bitttern, a noise I ain't heard in over 18 years. 2 Sedge Warblers showed themselves briefly at times as they buzzed away in close proximity to each other.
5 singing Cettis Warblers, one of which showed in brief flight. 2 Willow Warbler & 3 Chiffchaff singing.
What must be a first: not a single wader present.
2 Marsh Harrier, c22 BHG, 4 Pochard, few Greylags, Tufted, Shoveler & Shelduck, 1 Teal. Also couple Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Greenfinch and several Tree Sparrow.

I am thankful to DW for the trip which at times proved frustrating for him (not me as a passenger for once!) and I'm really chuffed about the Lesser Whitethroat being a lifer for him.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Unbelievable Redstart

After posting I went to get some munch and saw a brightly coloured bird flit into the first Hawthorn over the garden fence. Male REDSTART I thought! The bird then flew down to the grass where I got a better view after dashing outside. There was no time for camera nor bins as I rushed round to alert DP
We didn't see it again and a fence prohibits us from an easy access to search.

What a day for Queensbury migrants.

Soil Hill Dash

Out of social commitments from an admitted anti-socialist this mornings trip up t'hill had to be a rush job.
Skylarks - not too many. Meadow Pipits - several, the same goes for Linnets. Down the N slope I got my first Reed Bunting of the season; a resplendent male. 1 each Blackbird & Curlew, 6 Lapwing, 3 Oystercatcher, a pair of which were being seen off by a Lapwing.
By the radio mast I heard a lot of grumbling from a Carrion Crow, when I decided to use my brain I looked up to see it mobbing a female Sparrowhawk.

To my great delight the final bird was one I thought I'd missed, a lurvely Wheatear.

Queensbury Pied Flycatcher

An absolute mega in many aspects found by DP this morning by the golf course; an early superb male Pied Flycatcher.

Well done Dave!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Wheatears Turn Up

With a fair old E'ly wind blowin, I thought I'd check the southern fields at around 1120 hrs. First birds were 8 Linnet by the Fly Laithe stables and a couple Meadow Pipit. Then I turned up at the trailer park where a pr Wheatear were on the far wall being blown around.
Moments later BS texted me saying AC had rung them thru' - we must have missed each other by a couple of minutes. Also here were a few more Meadow Pipit and a couple skylark.

At the junction of Shaw Lane & Corporal Lane I rang DW to tell him of the find. On hanging up I looked skywards to see a Buzzard low down directly overhead. Fear ye not - the camera was firmly secured at Rucksack bottom.

Shibden Valley produced c40 Woodpigeon, 2 each of Canada Goose (pond) Stock Dove, Green Woody, singing Chiffchaff, Buzzard. 1 GSW & a LBBG flying E. The farm house feeders on the east slope opposite Scout Hall was lively with woodland types.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Soil Hill to Queensbury

SH 0930 hrs. Having passed the birdless Raggalds Flood I decided to go up the hellish hill in reverse order i.e from the bottom of the industrialised N slope. Over a third of the boggy bottom has now disappeared and by autumn I would expect another third to disappear at least.
I feel the Ring Ouzel pair have now moved on as I didn't get anything of that ilk; even Blackbird wasn't seen.
1 each Grey Heron & Curlew. Pr Grey Partridge, pr Oystercatcher, 6 Lapwing, 1 each Moorhen & Mallard. Couple Goldfinch, few Linnet, Meadow Pipits & Skylark.

Feeling I ought to extend my search for Wheatear, I came home via Roper Lane, then Old Guy Rd. It was a reasonable walk back, that's all I have to report.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Soil Hill Delivers

Arrived on the hill around 1025 hrs aiming for Ring Ouzel and Wheatear. Two thirds of the way down the north slope tree line a male Ring Ouzel flew into sight. It then gave me the run around as I took some well below par photos.
After alerting BS and DW a female flew from a fence into the top third of the bushes but was subsequently not seen.

DW turned up and I'm pleased to say got the male bird on what was his third attempt this week. By now it was a little more stable but always at a distance.

DW's shot at long range
Others on the hill:
Pr Greylag Geese flying low > E, 4 Lapwing, 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 Blackbird, 5 Linnet, 3 Mallard, 1 Curlew, c14 Meadow Pipit and the Skylarks. As the two of us parted company one of the Little Owls that hang on the Ned Hill track side called for a few seconds.
I moved down to Ogden Res which was hit and miss but supplied me with 3 singing Chiffchaff, Green Woodpecker, Jay, Mistle Thrush & a pr LBBG.
Wheatear can wait for another day.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Wind Down Day

Went to the big reserve and had a Stint lookin for Temmincks. It werent there and nobody else made any claims to the contrary.
Prior to that I'd been down to the harbour on the sea shore and got a duck that puzzled me so I managed to take a few shots. It wasnt a shy bird and stayed around, diving every so often. It was a female Common Scoter a bird I never expected to see here in the Med.

Another first for the trip was a bird just too far off in the grey conditions to photograph. A super duper Collared Pratincole on the deck and nearby was a Great White Egret feeding.
Also Cattle Egret, 2 Marsh Harrier, most of whats gone before in the past 12 days and an unid warbler job. A bonus came twofold: first I wasn't plagued by Stonechats, second I got reasonable views of singing Moustached Warbler.

Now I can look forward to a few days mebbe weeks without the stresses of having to go birding (picture a shit eating grin if you will).

Mallorcan Species List

25 March - 05 April House Sparrow, Wood Pigeon, Serin, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Linnet, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Great Tit, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Meadow Pipit, Tawny Pipit, White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Kestrel, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Osprey, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Moorhen, Little Egret, Great White Heron, Purple Swamphen, Stone Curlew, YLG, Black-headed Gull, Audouins Gull, Common Tern, Shelduck, Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Marbled Duck, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Kentish Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Swift, Swallow, Sand Martin, Stonechat, Whinchat, Zitting Cisticola, Black Redstart, Chiffchaff, Moustached Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Cettis Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Black-eared Wheatear, Purple Heron, Sedge Warbler, Sanderling, Cattle Egret, Tufted Duck, Muscovy Duck, Curlew, Great Reed Warbler, Collared Dove, House Martin, Common Scoter, Collared Pratincole. 75 Species as at April 5th.

Monday, April 04, 2016

A Walk On The Beach

I had no intention of birding today so I went for a leisurely stroll on the beach. Amazingly I found binoculars and camera in my rucksack, surely this must be the work of the Devil?
The Sanderling had moved down from the northern end along with the 2 Kentish. 11 Turnstone, 1 each Whinchat, Crested & Thekla Lark. Usual Stonechat & Sardine Can gang. 2 Cormorant & 2 Tawny Pipit, hundreds of Swift. Collared Dove represents another first for the trip.

After lunch I was determined to find the creep who messed my day of leisure up. Could he or she be lurking in the salinas? Well I never did find out but the Marsh Harrier & Purple Heron were certainly there. Again more Swifts, this time alongside were many Swallows, a couple of Sand Martins and House Martin. The latter chalking up trip first no.2 for the day.

A couple of guys told me that a Temmincks Stint is on the Albufera. I've only had one before and it happened to be here in the days when my hair was brown and my complexion a wonder to behold. Looks like my last day tomorrow is going to be spent running myself ragged again.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Last Albufera Trip

Winding down time I've got to the stage when it's becoming monotonous. The reserve brought 3 newcomers: Great Reed Warbler, 2 Cattle Egret & Curlew. The Great Reed was so close I recorded it chugging away on my mobile voice recorder.
The only raptor around was a male Marsh Harrier. There were hundreds of Swift but try as I might with my rancid imagination I couldn't turn one into Pallid.
Common Tern now stand at 5, the same number as Green Sandpiper seen. Kentish Plover were all over the shop with a few LRP in support. Something went drastically wrong; I actually managed to take 3 photos of Sardine Can Warbler.
A local birder who seemed savvy asked me if I'd seen any Flamingos yet. No is the answer but it reminded me I have seen them in the murky past of my younger years.

Audouins Brave The Mobile

Saturday, April 02, 2016

After The Storm

Couldnt risk the Albufera in case it pissed down again so another beach job after brekkie. Have to say it was very grey and cloudy with a cold NE'ly blow. Why was I the only one not wearing long sleeves? One obvious aftermath of the tempest (dont Shake yr Spear at me!) was the thousand or so dead baby jellyfish washed up on the shoreline.
2 Swallow, 1 Shelduck, 9 Turnstone, 7 Kentish Plover, 1 Kestrel, 2 Crested & 4 Thekla Lark, c10 Stonechats, 4 Linnet. 3 Sardinian Warbler one of which was taking a bath courtesy of yesterdays downpour.
There were 3 YLG seen and probably around 10 Audouins gull. The latter showed terrortorial behaviour not only in courtship but one was dive bombing a noticeably bigger yellow-legged.
Oh I say, a yellow orb has appeared in a white cloudy sky. I may be forced out again after munch...
Visited the salinas first where I picked up new bird no.1 a Sedge Warbler going nuts with his song. No.2 followed about an hour later in the shape of a Purple Heron flying low towards my left too sudden for the camera.
I decided to walk back to the hotel via the north beach where I picked up newbie no.3 a Sanderling with 2 Kentish. This time I had some good luck with the camera.
RC Pochard reduced in number, Marbled now at 11, Shelduck doing well at c18. 2 Common Tern & Stone Curlew still with us as is a loudly singing Moustached Warbler.

Friday, April 01, 2016

April Shower

How appropriate it should rain on the first day of April wetting my appetite for just a short morning session.
It was shorter than I intended thanks to the all too common closure of footpaths in this area. Seems that landowners in Yorkshire and Mallorca have quite a bit in common.

A number of Swallows were flying low over and in between treetops. 1 Kestrel & 1 Stone Curlew seen, the latter calling loudly. Serins were very vocal. 3 Stonechat & 4 Zitbags were active flitting from trackside into vegetation and back.

Glad I got back in time weatherwise now around lunch its like Queensbury on a Monday funeral service in January. Reckon I'll go to the gym with a crate of beer and some cream cakes. Nowt like sweating some weight on!

Queensbury Rarities Ratifications

The Rarities Commission held its meeting in the Snert family mansion at Small Page Fold yesterday to review rare or vagrant bird submissions by local birders within the past 10 years.
Committee members: Clarissa Eloise Thunderbolt Snert.
Marmaduke Fudbucket Snert. Montmorency Snert. Adjudicator: Mrs Delabole of Ye Olde Pie Shoppe.

From a list of 7 records 3 were deemed spurious and rejected leaving these 4 for consideration:
Money Buzzard was seen by DW on the roof of the Yorkshire bank and a detailed description given. The bank manager was alerted and he too saw the bird preening. ACCEPTED.
It was felt by the members that the photo taken by DM of the Blackpool Rock Nuthatch on the promenade at Ogden Res was in fact a very early Eastern Rock Nuthatch. REJECTED.
BS had left the garage for a dinner time dash and on passing the Olde Pie Shoppe he saw the Fried Piecatcher flitting around the entrance. He took 3 outstanding photos that convinced even the cynical Montmorency Snert this was a male of the species. ACCEPTED.
The flyover Laughing Gull near the Algernon Snert Memorial Institute reported by NK was deemed to have been misidentified despite the observers travels in the central American basin. REJECTED.

Asked by sympathetic colleagues if he thought the reporting date of April 1st had gone against him NK replied not necessarily, citing an incident five months previous.
"Fudbucket and me got screeching drunk on his 2 litre bottle of Absinthe. He asked me to consider marrying Clarissa and entering the family dynasty. I told him I'd rather french kiss a Paraguayan Mole Rat".