Birdbrain Stuff

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Swillington and Fairburn Ings

Courtesy of Dave W we arrived in good time at Swillington to find it reminiscent of Queensbury with water. The skies were grey, the wind was blowing and the temperature descending.
Water levels were surprisingly high which put paid to any wader activity. On the bright side the conditions seemed to inhibit Common Terns from galloping around at speed so we had good views as they flew about rather sedately.
Other pertinent birds in small numbers: Gadwall, Pochard, Shelduck, Shoveler, Tufted Duck. I found the Black-headed gulls quite impertinent so ignored 'em. 1 each Kestrel & Whitethroat, 5 Sedge & 3 Reed Warbler, 4 Blackap, c10 Cormorant.
Despite the atypical weather the joint was jumping with Hirundines and Swifts.

A short tour of Fairburn produced Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, WW, 1 Little Egret ditto LRP (my first for 2016). Dave beat me to a shot or two of the LRP just as a Sparrowhawk zipped over and flushed it and everything nearby like a supercharged dunny. Also 2 Shelduck and a calling Cuckoo supported by lots of Swallows etc.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Soil Hill

The Sedge Warbler was very active this morning showing in display flight and singing constantly. DP responded to my msg and I'm pleased to say got the bird within a few minutes of arrival.
A Moorhen has raised a small family on the far bottom and now only pond. Also here 3 Mallard and a Canada doing a flypast. An Oystercatcher took a liking to roosting on top of a mud ridge while a couple of Reed Bunting and Whitethroat were singing/displaying in the wider area.

With camera secured firmly at rucksack bottom I climbed up the slope and watched a LEO fly right in front of me just a few metres away heading east.
For the first time in a while I saw 4 Swift doing manoeuvres. A few Swallow, pr Linnet, 1 LBBG, 6 Jackdaw, 7 Lapwing and the usual ground nesters.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Ogden and Soil Hill

5 Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaff, WWs, 2 Siskin, Kestrel, 3 Curlew, few Chaffinch & Goldfinch. Searched all over for Spotit Flypastyer without success.
The pr of Little Owl that frequented the W slope of Soil Hill and across the road into Ogden are no more. I found the remains of one by the roadside close to one of their favorite perching walls. Roadkill methinks.

SH had a few Linnet, 3 Whitethroat and one or two Skylark plus Meadow Pipit carrying food in their beaks.
The excavation work continues at a notable pace on the N slope bottom.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hebden Bridge to Gorple

Hard graft from the onset both physical and ornithological. I've never know the woodland stretch be so bereft of birds. Thankfully in the afternoon it improved and I managed a great annual out of it. c8 WW, 2 Chiffchaff, 5 Blackcap, 2 each GSW & Green Woody, 3 Song & 4 Mistle Thrush.
Lower Gorple produced several Curlew & Lapwing, 2 Common Sandpiper, ditto Oystercatcher. A number of Greylag Geese had goslings with them as did a smaller party of Canada.

A Cuckoo called frequently from Blake Dean. I nailed a male Redstart which could be a first at this area for me. Another area first and the highlight and spirit lifter towards the last leg of the return trip was a belting Pied Flycatcher. Seen for an all too short time, I picked it up singing from a spot where some new nestboxes are.

Watch me dance the Lam baaaa da

Others: Wood Warbler song heard briefly. 4 Pied Wagtail, c6 Grey Wagtail, a limited no of woodland species, few Swallow, 2 House Martin.

Monday, May 23, 2016


My mate Jock Aknees and I had a long walk to his home town and said Alloa to all the people we met before going for a quick bird trip.
Surprisingly the habitat was not too dissimilar to the place I permeate therefore the birding wasn't great. Even less great was my saturation situation thanks to excessive precipitation.

2 seconds on a LEO flying into trees was the best of the evening. Or was it? because at another site which proved sterile for that species, I watched a singing/displaying Tree Pipit.
Other: 2 each Whitethroat & Lapwing, Kestrel, few Swallow, WW, 1 unid Gull flying away from me (who would'nt?). Curlew, Linnets, Skylarks, Mipits, Pied Wagtail.

Don't think I'll repeat such a trek again, better to report local and annoy the species suppressor police. Mwuuaahahaa

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Soil Hell Delivereth

Against all expectations at 0910 hrs today a Sedge Warbler was blasting away from the juncus at the bottom of SH. I listened to it for almost 15 minutes and I sincerely hope it does not attempt to breed as the Improvent Work as now encroached further into the marsh. An example of the rate of advance is the patch that the Gropper was singing from 2 weeks back has now been consumed by Bulldozer Man.
Also there were 2 LBBG overhead, 3 Reed Bunting, 1 each Whitethroat & Pied Wagtail, 2 Swallow, 3 Linnet with 2 Curlew further afield. The far LH side pond had just a Moorhen floating on it, with a pr Canada nearby.

c8 Lapwing were very active driving off Crows and licking their lips at the prospect of consuming a birdwatcher (was it my face that put them off?). A single Oystercatcher was present on the bottom of the grassy slope.

Others: 1 Whitethroat by top of tree line, Kestrel, pr Swift, few Swallow, Meadow Pipits, Skylarks on top field. 4 more Pied Wagtail, 3 Linnet, 4 Blackbird, Chaffnch, few Goldfinch.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Wheatley Valley and Cromwell Bottom

Courtesy of DW this am was a quiet start with a suitable up the scale finalè.
Wheatley: 1 each Swift & Song Thrush, few Blackbird, ditto WWs. Couple Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 1 Whitethroat. We felt the need to move on to an area of more potential.

Not injured - preparing to take flight.
Cromwell Bottom: 7 Goosander, 1 each f Tufted Duck & Grey Heron. 1 Pied & pr Grey Wagtail, 2 Swallow, 1 Jay, 3 Bullfinch, pr Chaffinch, 1 Greenfinch, few Goldfinch.
Warblers were active: 2 Garden Warbler, pr & 1 single Reed Warbler, few WWs, Chiffchaff & Blackcap. 2 Song Thrush, 1 LTT, c7 Blackbird.
Thanks for the trip Dave; glad you nailed a couple more visual lifers.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Queensbury North

1230-1330 hrs waltzed up the slope and went down Station Road, ending with a crawl up Bridle Stiles lane and calling in afterwards to see if BS had any coffins in his garage. From the onset, not one single hirundine, which all things considered did surprise me.
2 LBBG > W. c10 Blackbird, 1 singing Song Thrush, 2 singing Blackcap & Chiffchaff, 5 singing Whitethroat & WW. 1 each Jay, Robin & Bullfinch, 4 Goldfinch, 2 Greenfinch, 1 Chaffinch, 2 Dunnock, pr Blue Tit, ditto Great Tit.
The search for Spot It Flypastyer continues.

Birdbrian Red Alert List

The following avian species have been lost since Britain made the foolhardy decision to join the European Union.
Not all were down to natural causes, indeed the majority disappeared as a result of over legislation and enforced land management misrule.

Blunt Nosed Snipe, Fried Piecatcher, Nasty Old Grouse, Peasant, Madpie, Harsh Warbler, Candelabra Lark, Stoned Curlew, Nightie Heron, Sardine Can Warbler, Hand Rail, Short Billed Dowager, Cowfinch, Porncrake, Stripper, Grate Northern Driver, Friggit Bird, Badwall, Moron, Oxy Moorhen, Galley Nule, Ghoul Finch (an horrifying name) Whore Finch, Raving, Pot Chard, Robbing, Red Tart, Red Thing, Rough, Sandpaper, Skewer, Turn (Your & Three Point).

May I remind you to use your vote on June 23 this year. This blog does not enforce it's will on the way you vote, but shall we say for those who don't say NO, I've just arranged a shipment of the latest HVCPSLR* for arrival on 25th June.

* High Velocity Cow Pat Self Loading Rifle

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Local Walk

Very quiet with usual expected. Livened up by a crackpot Oystercatcher. 2 Curlew, Grey Wagtail, 3 Swift, Swallow, 1 Skylark, pr Linnet, singing Blackcap, 1 Jay, Kestrel flying SE.

A Wood Warbler singing loudly was eventually located and seen but foliage and speed of movement prevented photography.
No Spotted Flycatcher yet which is the latest date I've been without.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Queensbury South

Approx 0935 hrs in a desparate attempt to pick up a local Blackap or Spotted Flycatcher around Foster Park and the golf course. I failed miserably; the woodland migrants were down to 2 Chiffchaff & c6 WW.
Robins were everywhere and I often think this aggressive bird drives out other insect gobblers smaller or the same size as itself.
Song Thrush, 2 Mistle Thrush, 3 Blackbird, 1 Coal Tit, Blue & Great Tits, Chaffinch, Goldfinch & 1 Greenfinch. Male Sparrowhawk seen in flight & GSW calling.

The High Cross Lane fields produced 1 each Skylark, Reed Bunting, Linnet & House Martin. A pr Swallow look to have got a breeding site.
Greenfinch in the trees over the back yard as I complete this post.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Ogden and Mixenden

Ogden 1050 hrs approx. Bullfinch, Grey Wagtail, Blackcap, Green Woody, 3 Chiffchaff, c8 WW. The Grey Heron was still on the shoreline but nothing else there.
Traipsed up to GT; was deadly but managed a Siskin & 1 Meadow Pipit. 2 distant Curlew calling.

A walk across the windy golf course coughed up a Tree Pipit, couple Meadow Pipit and what looked like a Whitethroat in flight.

Stod Fold: Sparrowhawk circling, pr Swift, few Swallow, c10 House Martin very active, couple Goldfinch, 1 Linnet, few Jackdaw.
There was one quick yelp from an overhead Oystercatcher.
Mixenden Res was bereft of birds apart from a pr Chaffinch on the shoreline.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Ogden Res to Mixenden

A N'ly blast took care of any interesting birds this morning and Soil Hell was totally out of the question.
Ogden res reverted to its usual gash status apart from a couple big gulls. One up high looking Herringish t'other sub-adult phase was indecipherable. Couple Chiffchaff, few WW, 3 Mistle Thrush, 2 Jay & Stock Dove, 1 each Curlew & Kestrel.

5 Swift throughout, similar small nrs of House Martin & Swallows incl HM and Swallow over Mixenden Res. The only other bird on Mixenden, flying from Canoe corner was a Common Sandpiper. Woodland birds here limited both visually and vocally; 1 Blackbird seen.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Ogden Supa Dupa

Pr  Greenshank on eastern shore of Ogden Res at 1205 hrs. They were about 20 metres away from where the picnic tables are. I managed to fire two shots off with the camera before they flew off low across the drink calling loudly.

I completed the circuit to the western side of the promenade and although I didn't pick them up again, neither did I see them fly away.

Otherwise quiet: LBBG, Swallow, Sparrowhawk, WWs, Chiffchaffs in low numbers.

Prior to that I'd been up Soil Hill. 6 Whitethroat, 1 each Moorhen & Reed Bunting, Kestrel, Linnets and usual residents. Lapwings very active.
I finished on a good note on  the walk to Stod Fold; my first Swifts of the year, 5 of 'em. Couple Swallow, Whitethroat and a pr RL Partridge.
A Swift over my hovel in time for tea.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Oats Royd to Luddenden

OR passage only 0915 hrs. Couple Chiffchaff & WWs.
Ogden Res: 1 each  Curlew & Oystercatcher, couple Swallow. 2 pr Toad mating, floating on water. Pleased to say no dead 'uns.
Pleased to see a rufous Cuckoo flying around the plantation a third of way up to Withens. Also a Curlew, Sparrowhawk and further up the track a Buzzard overhead > S.

From Withens to Fly Flatts 1 calling Golden Plover, 2 Curlew, 4 Linnet. 
FF 4 Common Sandpiper, 5 Redshank, 1 chipping Snipe, 2 Skylark & Meadow Pipits.
The gusting E'ly wind made the trek across the moor to Luddenden Dean appallingly hard graft. Pr Greylag, 2 Skylark, c13 Meadow Pipit, 3 Red Grouse.
1320 hrs just finished my munch with a Cuckoo calling down the dean for the last 10 plus minutes. Also a Buzzard briefly.
Lets see if I survive these steep steps...
I did survive the descent and was reward by a singing Redstart and got sight of the Cuckoo.
Then it was another wind influenced walk to Booth, just 1 each Mistle Thrush, Grey Wagtail, Blackcap, Swallow and a few WWs.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Shibden Valley North

2 Green Woody, 1 each GSW & Buzzard. 3 Nuthatch, 2 Whitethroat, c6 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, WWs. Song Thrush, couple Swallow. Pr Grey Wagtail on muddy patch near old YWA building.
2 Whitethroat were singing and displaying in the clough at junction of Deanstones and Green Lane.

A great sighting back in Queensbury took place on the building site at Sourheads. A muddy pond created by the workers has attracted House Martins. 8 birds at least were flitting around it picking up mud and darting back to their chosen dwellings.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Soil Hill to Stod Fold

Pr Swallow at Mountain on way to SH at 0930 hrs. 1 Wheatear at Perseverance Rd. Reeling Grasshopper Warbler, 3 Whitethroat , pr Grey Partridge, pr Jackdaw, 6 Linnet, 1 each Curlew & Oystercatcher, 5 Lapwing. Also a Fox.

Crap photo, wasn't me who took it - honest!
Ogden Res: pr Redpoll, 1 each Curlew & Common Sandpiper, Sparrrowhawk, Green Woody, 2 Blackap, 3 Goldcrest, 3 Chiffchaff & WWs. 
Things quietened down on the golf course walk to Stod Fold: few Meadow Pipit, a Tree Pipit, 1 Curlew and a final Swallow. Also 2 Roe Deer.

The bottom picture is of a pr Toads mating in the water at Ogden where there were a dead pair and two single toads also dead on the promenade. I found a live pair on the prom in the mating position so I lifted 'em up and placed them in the grass at the ducky area - fingers crossed.

At home from the back yard I could hear a pr Grey Wagtail calling frequently from the surrounding rooftops. I've had a single by BD Mills so it looks like we can expect more breeding this year. To top a very busy day off, a pr House Martin went over at 1815 hrs; welcome back.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Raptor Mystery at Ogden

It's confession time. I was about 150 metres away from Halifax Golf Club House at around 1330 hrs when I saw a Crow harrassing a largish raptor. I could discount Buzzard immediately and although not entirely convinced, I settled for Red Kite owing to the silhouette - vivid colours not seen in the few moments of sighting. After texting DW & BS I realised the other confusion species - Marsh Harrier! Therefore I won't be recording none of the two on Birdtrack, but I still am happy to have seen either or.

After that, it was all downhill, or rather uphill across the golf course, Blackcap, Jay, WWs, Meadow Pipit only.

Ogden Res was comatose: Grey Heron, Blackcap, WWs and 5 Chiffchaff including this very obliging camera friendly bird.
I am puzzled as to why on such a warm day I didn't get one hirundine.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Sizergh Castle and Leighton Moss

DW tempted me and DM to be passengers up to Cumbria in his long held desire to see Hawfinch. To tempt us further, a drop in at Leighton Moss was also on the menu.

Sizergh Castle:
Pr Hawfinch, 4 Bullfinch, GSW, Green Woody, pr Nuthatch, Song Thrush, Swallow, singing Blackcap, Chaffinch & Greenfinch.
I'm chuffed that the Hawfinch pr showed both on the deck and in flight or perched briefly for both Daves and myself; I last saw this magnificent finch last century!

Leighton Moss: a male Nuthatch singing loudly by reception. 3 Marsh Tit, 1 each Whitethroat & Grasshopper Warbler, good numbers Reed & Sedge Warbler. Several WW, few Chiffchaff, 1 Whinchat.

We had great fun feeding a persistent male Pheasant DW's seed mix. It preferred it off the floor mainly but wasn't afraid to stab my hand infrequently.

Pr Pintail, 4 Little Egret, 1 Grey Heron, 3 Shoveler, 8 Shelduck, c10 each Pochard & Tufted Duck, 6 Gadwall.
Numerous breeding BH Gulls, 1 each Common & GBBG.
Raptors were represented by a pr Marsh Harrier at times showing well and a Buzzard soaring high for a couple of minutes.

There were c130 Godwits huddled together at one hide; Black-tailed outnumbering Bar-tailed. We encountered one beautiful bird in a grass field that gave itself up for close approach not out of love of man but because it had a leg injury. We saw it stumble a few times and my bet is it nature shall ensure it won't  be around to suffer in the morning.
Other waders incl Oystercatcher, Lapwing & Redshank barely reaching a double figures per species.

DW's pics:

There are a couple of reasons I believe this bird may be of the race Icelandica but I don't see enough of them to feel qualified to comment further.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Queensbury to Stod Fold

Started off with moans mutters and groans (whats new?) from yours truly but ended up with a smile so wide you could drive a Cheshire Cat through it.
Oats Royd on passage only had a couple Chiffchaff, few WW & a Swallow. Bradshaw through to Ned Hill a couple of Greenfinch and a pr Lapwing holding territory.

Ogden was windy wet and sunny depending on how you want to arrange it. 1 Grey Heron and a bonus of 5 Oystercatcher which is a personal high count although I know 7 have been recorded. WW were all over the shop but I never heard any Chiffs.

Then there was almost a half hour of bugger all until I felt obliged to do the golf course. A male WHINCHAT singing away at the bottom of a windswept tree was the first spirit lifter. A combination of wind, position of the bird and awkward angle prevented a picture however.
I reached the point of the track about 120 metres above the white house where the wall traverses across the juncus field and pondered my next move. The decision was made for me by a bird flitting around a wall top near the stile to Mixenden. The joy temperature rose 3 degrees more when I saw it was a male REDSTART. I walked through the rough to get in camera range but bizarrely the bird and 3 Linnet were spooked by a very boisterous pr of Mistle Thrush arriving out of nowhere.
The session was rounded off by 1 Canada Goose, 2 Curlew, a manic Oystercatcher whizzing around and 4 Swallow.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

To Hell and Back

I cant believe I was inspired by back yard bird activity early this morning to trek up to Soil Hill now that I've got back from the dump. Even at Fox Hill I was still optimistic when I saw a Mistle Thrush (maybe a pr) beating a Magpie up in a Leylandii abomination. Raggalds Flood put things into perspective: one Lapwing, 3 Mallard and a SW'ly blow.
The heart fully sank on reaching the hill top; wind now gusting noticeably and low temperatures naturally.
I did the N slope tree line down to the bottom: 1 each Common Gull, Pheasant & Canada. 2 Curlew, 5 Linnet, 1 Blackbird, 3 Meadow Pipit.
One Lapwing was patrolling the top field, the only other birds there were the Skylarks and a couple of Crow.
Taylor Lane coughed up 2 each of Robin & Blackbird with a single Meadow Pipit and singing Chaffinch.
Old Guy Rd held 6 singing Skylark, which is good, a small number of Starling and a Meadow Pipit. At the Fleet Lane exit/entrance were quite a number of House Sparrow.

It's May the fwickin 1st. Local birding does seldom throw up a great find but basically it's also the reason why the Mother of  Invention gave us fast jets to get you away from it.