Birdbrain Stuff

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Gamekeepers v Ringers

Goes without saying that gamekeepers and their landed gentry landowner scuzzers are the barnacles on the arseholes of the world when it comes to raptor persecution. A pox on them and their patrons, preferably one that engenders such agony as enduring the Euro Song Contest 12 times in succession.

Bird trappers and ringers piss me off to a much lesser extent but still have a lot to answer for. Who are they trying to fool; all the hype about benefitting the bird is horse shit. Ultimately all the stress caused by a bird hanging upside down in a net before being manhandled then metallised is for one sole objective: to satisfy mankind's curiosity.

Yes I've been watching Springwatch.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

OK So I'm A Failure

I tried, I really did. 72 hours without birding cracked me up and I shot out the door early this am. No excuses, laugh, I don't mind.
Raggalds Flood - despite the rain it's as driza bone, no birds on it just a couple Pied Wagtail over the frog.

Soil Hill - 3 Oystercatcher on the E Quarry pond. Meadow Pipits n Skylarks very active, 1 Kestrel.
A Snipe was displaying noisily by the track across the road from Coal Lane along the plantation.

Ogden Res - drake Tufted Duck on the drink. Chiffchaff, couple of Blackcap and a Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Goldcrest, Coal Tit. Oystercatcher overhead ditto couple Curlew.

Route to Mixenden - Curlew, Green Woodpecker, Lesser Redpoll, couple Blackbird. The res is full to the brim and had a few Swift doing the rounds along with more House Martin and Swallows. 1 Grey Wagtail seen.

I see the Friends of Mixenden Reservoir have done a terrific job in scattering litter around the grounds.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Scotland Day Four

Some Interesting Jockanese Birds at last as Spring weather hits Arrochar. This was probably scripted in the Old  Testament: 400 yards from my hotel bedroom window on Loch Long was a  Black Guillemot 😨.
3 Red-breasted Mercedes 🚔 were also present as was a Greylag Goose.

I went up a baby mountain (3 Soil Hills) and got  2 Tree Pipit, several Lesser Redpoll, Garden Warbler, Blackcap & 3 Goldcrest.
On descending the WW packed slopes I did a partial circuit of the loch and got an Eider drake, another Garden Warbler, Blackcap  & Tree Pipit then lunch break was signalled with a Spotted Flycatcher finally. Other birds on this leg were 1 each Chiffchaff, Grey Heron & Cormorant.
Song Thrush & Greenfinch also seen.

The flat tops of the walls on the loch side were festooned with cracked mussel shells; testimony to the work of the local Oystercatchers.
Sadly the pr Oysters that I saw nesting among the Herring Gull horde have abandoned the nest.

When I give up birding tomorrow at least it will be on a high note.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Scotland Day Three

Inveraray to Oban trip on another murky day. 5 Oystercatcher, Pied Wagtail, Hooded Crow hybrid.

OK its time to get real I've fooled myself for long enough but don't want to fool my audience (yes I do mean all three of you) any more. Birding here is like doing 30 Ogdens without any relief - its utter crap. I've eyed more birds up in a packet of custard powder.

What a shitty pisspot part of the world this is.

Oban Harbour 14 Black Guillemot 😨😆 2 Rock Pipit & 1 Grey Heron. 2 Oystercatcher, Herring Gulls.

Other 1 Cormorant and a 2-1/2 second view of a rain soddend Short - eared Owl on a fence post. 1 Buzzard and Grey Heron no.2

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Scotland Day Two

Arrochar to Callander trip. Patchy with a few good sightings.
c14 Pink-footed Geese, c16 Canadas, a pr each of Red-breasted Merganser & Goosander, 1 Hooded Crow ditto Mute Swan, 7 Buzzard, 3 Pied Wagtail, ditto Cormorant.

I took photos of a pr of Oystercatcher that were pushing their luck by nesting among a pack of Herring Gulls. It could be that there is some symbiotic arrangement going on however. 1 Curlew was the only other wader seen.

I got my first Cuckoo of 2017 high up in the Trossachs. Another annual was Sand Martin already in breeding holes on the banks of the River Teith.
Others: 1 each Garden Warbler, Grey Wagtail & Reed Bunting. 1 each Grey Heron & Song Thrush, a good number of House Martins and Swifts. Swallows, few Blackbirds and the ubiquitous Siskin.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Scotland Day One

Basically birds seen from the coach en route from the Wetherby area to Arrochar with a few encountered around the hotel on arrival.
A total of 8 Buzzard, 1 each Raven, Red Kite & Kestrel, uggins of Gulls both large and small. Others: 2 WW, 1 Pied Wagtail, 2 Moorhen, 3 Curlew, 5  Lapwing, pr Dunnock, few Goldfinch, 1 Grey Heron.

After dinner when the rain cleared I had a short walk along the shores of Loch Long (there is no Loch Short) and found a platoon of Herring Gulls, 1 Mallard and a couple of Oystercatcher. These were overshadowed by a epidemic of Siskin in the trees. Also present a few Swallow, couple Chaffinch and a WW.
Hard to believe that of the caaawvids Magpie is a very scarce bird up here and to bear this out I only managed the one.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Taylor Lane & Ogden Res

A moderate walk round today starting with a Little Owl at approx 1040 hrs on the usual wall in Taylor Lane.
Just the residents present on Soil Hill with nothinge else to mention but an interesting interlude up Back Lane for almost 20 minutes.
Drawing level with the N end of Ogden Res I could hear a cacophony of sirens and klaxon horns being sounded continuously by 9 Oystercatchers. The birds not only flew around that end of the water but a couple of times they rapidly flew around E before returning to the res then eventually departing leaving this individual on the shore.

Another bash at looking for Spotted Flycatcher and Cuckoo in the same haunts of Ogden failed yet again. So it was heartening to find that the pr of Common Sandpiper reported earlier this week were showing on what is now the W beach.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Mixenden Saves The Day

After yet another mind numbing day and the prospect of tying a heavy stone to my neck looming large, the sight of 8 Shelduck by the bank where the green metal gates are at Mixenden Res brought me to my senses. After alerting the troops I managed to get some photographs of the beauties as they drifted out to the centre.

Prior to this I'd done the route from Soil Hill and the heights of Ogden with scant reward until I got to the Mixenden stile by the golf course. Here I got a pr of  Tree Pipit one of which (not shown) was carrying a beakfull of food.

An Oystercatcher was in the quarry lake on SH with a Whitethroat on the Ned Hill track. Other birds include Curlew, Mistle Thrush, Blackbirds, Chaffinches, 3 LBBG winding up with 2 Swift at Shibden Head.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Respite Among The Rubbish

Early start from Queensbury to Mixenden mostly in the rain; Raggalds has about 1 litre of water starting to appear but no birds.
Soil Hell was lousy: Ogden Plantation was crap. There was a moment of positive action on Ogden Res - a pr Common Sandpiper were mating on the N shoreline. A pr LBBG were on the buoy and the woods surprisingly active with WW, couple of Chiffs & 3 Blackcap.
The walk across to Stod Fold and then to Mixenden Res was diabolical but yet again I was able to confirm that Meadow Pipits do fly from bush to bush, putting to rest the rubbish laid down by the guide books of yesteryear.
The Res was chronic - 1 each Grey Wagtail & LBBG and mebbe a Swallow or two.

This paragraph contains nothing about birds ( rather like the first one really). I chose to wear my nuclear reactor jacket today which is a yellow mustard colour. It had a profound effect on a bunch of Cattle. First off was 850 kg of throbbing gristle Bull that stood up and legged it down the field. Second, the cows and calves came running up to inspect me, one brave girl venturing forth for a sniff or two. Meanwhile Bully was hanging on behind the Cows but lets get real, I had a fence separating him from me and I certainly wouldn't have gone in and called him a sissy.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Soil Hill Sedge Warbler

Against the odds at 1015 hrs a Sedge Warbler was singing and displaying from a bush some 120 yards from where the earth has been ripped up by the excavators. I hope it moves on as it will only take a few days for the machinery to reach it's would be breeding site.

A Snipe was also seen at close quarters in the area along with 2 m Reed Bunting, a Red-legged Partridge, a Moorhen on the pond and this Oystercatcher.

A pr Curlew were on the top field along with the Meadow Pipits & Skylarks and a pr Swift were flying around with a few Swallows.
Others include Lapwings, Linnets, pr Dunnock, 6 Blackbird, 1 LBBG but no Whitethroats.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Cromwell Bottom

1 m Sparrowhawk, ditto Reed Bunting, 2 Grey Heron, 2 Common Tern. 1 each Jay, GSW, Green Woodpecker. 3 large unid Gulls high overhead.
Swallows & Swifts but no Sand Martin seen.
Few WW, Blackcap  & Chiffchaff. 4 Whitethroat & 2 if not 3 Garden Warbler one of which was photographed.

Two acrocephaline Warblers were singing; one was a Sedge Warbler which was seen twice the other was a Reed Warbler which refused to reveal itself.
Song Thrush almost hit double figures as did Blackbird and it was good to get 3 LTT.

Goosander have bred with c12 birds being seen - 7 young 'uns in this gash picture.

On the way down a few Swift, Swallow & House Martin were seen between Queensbury Sth and Northowram.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Rock Bottom

The only positive note about this mornings slog was a pr Swift up Ogden Clough. Otherwise an early start from home to Mixenden via Ogden was appallingly quiet. In fact I don't see any point in listing anything but I'm glad I was able to advise DW he was wasting his time in looking for Cuckoos etc. Both of us, separately, aborted our search. Problem is I don't think I'll learn anything from it and will still be banging my head  against a brick wall sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Soil Hill to Mixenden

Another intense effort looking for migrants and another blank up at the heights of Ogden. Oddly enough I did manage 5 Redpoll sp. On 3 separate occasions: a pr, single, another pr. This species appears to have been reclassified hence no Lesser/Common until I get to grips with the facts.

Soil Hill had been unusually windless and calm but there was nowt to shout about. 1 Whitethroat, 3 Swallows, 2 Chaffinch and usual residents.

The golf course walk to Mixenden was also quiet and I'm in a quandary as to whether I heard a singing Whinchat in among a couple of singing Whitethroat - all at a distance. One to let go methinks.
A WW was seen carrying nest material.

The reservoir had the usual prs Grey Wagtail, Common Sandpiper, Redshank and a Chiffchaff.
I'm still awaiting my first Sand Martin and Swift of the year.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

A Different Venue

Very good numbers of common migrants on todays slog with Whitethroat exceeding any of my previous records for the location at c8 birds singing throughout the area.

Also c6 Blackcap, c10 Chiffchaff & c12 WW. Swallows are now established with one or two birds seen attempting to pick up mud from the still boggy patches.

Other birds present: 4 Buzzard, 1 each Green & GS Woodpecker, 2 Mallard, Jay, 2 Bullfinch, 3 Song Thrush, c8 Blackbird, 5 BHG, 1 LBBG, 2 Canada, Blue/Gt Tits, 1 Goldcrest, Goldfinches.

1 House Martin over my house at approx 1555 hrs.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Local Rubbish Birding

Today was the day to pay your dues at both Ogden and Mixenden. I've learned to accept the balancing act of 1 or 2 very good days will result in a terrible day soon after but it doesn't make it any easier.

I scoured the tops of Ogden for migrants and came up with WWs and the odd Chaffinch only. A pr Oystercatcher on the E shoreline allowed a short photo shoot but the disturbance from visitors soon had them leaving.
Others: 1 each LBBG, Cormorant, Song Thrush & calling Green Woody, 4 Swallows.

The walk via the golf course was abysmal with 3 Blackbirds and 2 Meadow Pipit to show plus 1 Curlew.
Mixenden Res can be drained anytime they want -  4 Canada, Redshank ditto Swallow & Chiffchaff.
E'ly wind go and do one 😥

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Route de Rigeur

Raggalds Pool 0945 hrs. This will be gone by Friday am methinks. 3 Mallard, 1 Lapwing and Pied Wagtail.
The NE'ly blow kept Soil Hill to just a quick traipse across to Ogden. 2 Wheatear up Percy Rd, 1 Oystercatcher in the E quarry pond, 1 Canada also.
The W side coughed up 1 each WW Whitethroat & Reed Bunting & 1 LBBG > NE.

I got a local lifer after 17 years on Ogden. Up by the Skirden clough  channel were 2 immature Mute Swan. I tried but saw no evidence of any leg rings when they got nearer to shore. A Grey Wagtail also present and the WWs.

The route to Mixenden was wind stricken and quiet but did produce a Green Woodpecker being mobbed by a Meadow Pipit with 1 Curlew nearby.
A cracking Brown Hare allowed aproach down to 2.5 metres before it left it's form and I have to admit it was heartening to see a bleating lamb finally reunited with mommy dearest. (OK so the mint sauce stays untouched for another spring).
The reservoir too was quiet but again turned up a single LRP on the same bank as recently mentioned. Only the Grey Wagtails and a single Chiffchaff played a support role.

DW reports a single late Brambling up at Jerusalem Farm this morning.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Bank Holiday Belters

DP kindly offered a trip up to Fly Flatts which I took advantage of and it turned out to be of major relevance for both after a disappointing start.
FF in dreary skies with light rain. Many Common Sandpiper, pr Lapwing ditto Red Grouse, c8 Wheatear, 7 LBBG, Snipe, c8 Curlew, 1 Reed Bunting.
The sun came out and so the golf course and Mixenden Res were next on the agenda.

The walk to and over the golf course was basically uneventful producing 1 each LBBG, Curlew, Siskin and Wheatear but the reservoir turned up the goods. 3 Little Ringed Plover were resting on the hard surfaced bank nearest the gate the canoe club uses. They took off circled and called giving good views but we don't know if they resettled.
Also here were the Redshank, Common Sandpipers & Grey Wagtail pairs.
Then it was a race up the Hunter Hill commando training course at heart attack speed in response to a warning from DJS that Dotterel had been sighted at the Nolstar location.

Pictures by D Wetherell
Sure enough on arrival we were soon on to 3 magnificent specimens which gave good views. At the top of the fields were some other specimens including BS, DW et al.
Other birds here: 3 Oystercatcher & c10 Golden Plover. We finished off with a f Stonechat down at the golf course. What a day!

Tour De Yorkshire Queensbury II

Tour De Yorkshire Queensbury I