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Friday, November 24, 2017

A quick change of plan.

A bright frosty day with wall to wall sunshine and a light SW>4 . A planned visit to Fly Flatts had to be quickly aborted with a call from DJS reporting a possible Lapland Bunting in with the Meadow Pipits at Ringby Lane . 1430 hrs and got up there to meet Dave along with John Marsh but no sign of either the Bunt or Mipits . Dave checked Ringby Top whilst I scoured the fields around but it soon became obvious that the bird was not going to show so another to add to the list of  cun av bins.
                                                                  Rather than waste any more daylight I shot home, threw the dogs in the car and headed for Ogden where around 150 small gulls were on the water but only 1 LBB. A good check through the Mallards for strangers then back to the car park where a Nuthatch was again on the feeders and around 30 Goldfinch mobile over the car park preparing to roost.
                                                                  On then for a Lapwing check where around 100 Lapwing were on the Shay field below Soil Hill along with a small group of 13 mobile Golden Plover.
The Raggalds Flood held 19 Lapwing but nothing on the water whilst Pit Lane football pitches had around 150 Lapwing and 200 Starling.
The snow is falling thick and fast this evening up here in the Gods with already a good covering on the roads. I hope Fly Flatts doesnt get cut off for the weekend.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Rain Rain go away. ! Ogden

          A good time to practice BHG shots in the bad light

                                         Goldfinch coming in to roost.

Another blunder by the weather forecasters today predicting a dry day but my dripping clothes proves them wrong yet again. The lunch time dog walk was a real wash out with torrential rain and strong to gale force W>6 - 7 with more heavy showers late p.m. but a check on Ogden found a lull in the bad weather with a dry spell and a drop in wind strength.
                                                                         Around 200 small gulls on the water again, pre roost, before heading off to Oxenhope with only 3 Herrings and 5 LBBs present in the way of big gulls.
The Mallard winter flock is now up to 160 + with possibly more around the shoreline though several of these fly off to roost at a different location.
                                                                       A flock of 40 + Goldfinch came in to roost in trees behind the info centre whilst 6 Blackbirds dropped into the Rhododendrons ,  and that's not easy to spell.
Hopefully I,ll be able to get out a bit earlier tomorrow and get a quick visit to Fly Flatts before last light ,otherwise I,ll  be getting withdrawal symptoms.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Back to Ogden

                                    Plenty gulls to check through.

With a near gale force SSW>7 gusting 8 and dark skies it was another check on Ogden looking for odd gulls or Kittiwakes though neither obliged.
                                                                          Around 200 gulls were on the water but restless in the wind and hard to pick out in the rolling waves and white horses lashing against the east shore.
At least 5 Herring gulls were present along with 3 LBBs , the rest made up of 75 % Black Headed and 25 % Common but impossible in the conditions to pick out a Med gull or Kittiwake.
                                                                  The feeders were busy with Blue, Great and Coal tits along with a single Nuthatch whilst several flocks of Goldfinch were gathering to roost.

On a sad note, after the sudden death of Halifax birder John McGorrigan I this evening met with Lesley, his sister, who kindly gave me many of Johns books and his well kept bird notes and reports for the area going back many years which I will study with great interest.
                                                                    One of the last reports in Johns book, and one of the last birding trips out before his short illness was to see the Dotterels at Nolstar so a good final local bird for John.
Apart from local birding another of Johns passions was Norfolk birding where he was a member of Norfolk Ornithological Group and Cley Birding club where he spent many happy hours.
                                                                        I,m sure all local birders will join me in sending our deepest sympathy to Johns family.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Another dark day

Other than about 30 minutes of brightness around 1400 hrs the rest of the day was dark and wet so a quick check on the water at Ogden was like night time birding.
                                                                        Very few gulls today with around 75 on the water, mainly Black Headed as well as the usual Mallards. A Grey Wagtail was on the promenade banking whilst around 50 Goldfinch came in to roost in the car park tree but no Chaffinch.
                                                                      On the way to Ogden the Pit Lane football pitches held around 200 small gulls, 70 % being Commons,  a flock of 200 + Lapwings and about the same number of Starlings. Further along the road Raggalds Flood held 14 Mallard with just 2 Snipe showing in the reed bed.
Not a good birding day at all.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Raggalds Flood and Ogden

                           At least 7 Snipe on the Flood

                                 Nuthatch for Ogden.

A dont usually do the easy bird feeder photos but couldnt resist
this Nuthatch although getting a half decent shot in the
low light provided a challenge.

After a day of strong winds and heavy horizontal drizzle throughout it was a call at Raggalds Flood then on to Ogden armed with the 300mm round my neck and 2x converter in my pocket though the converter was of no use in the very low light, even the 300mm struggled.
                                                          Raggalds Flood held at least 7 Snipe in amongst the reeds at the north end of the water. Tried a few distant shots in the gloom but these were only good for counting the birds blown up.
                             Ogden was horrendous with a strong W>5 blasting the heavy horizontal drizzle across the water making viewing difficult. Around 200 small gulls were out in the centre, 75% being Black Headed and 25% Common along with 2 LBB and 1 Herring.
                            The Kingfisher was down in the dark sluice gate area whilst a single Nuthatch was on the feeders , even an easy shot like that causing difficulty with no light.
Only 31 photo days to winter solstice, shortest day.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Ringby Top

In way of a change of scenery and chance of fly overs I headed to Ringby Top at 1445 hrs to a 90 % cloud cover with a cool NW>5 and darkness starting to drop surprisingly early, around 1530 hrs.
                                                              Bird wise it was the quietest visit I have ever experienced up there with nothing in the skies other than the resident Common and BH gulls along with a good helping of Corvids. A single Kestrel skimmed past whilst a Pied Wagtail flew over the track as I walked back down. I missed the Pinkies reported by PJWS west over Mixenden by three quarters of an hour and despite constant scanning no more skeins went through.
Even gull movement was quiet with just 2 LBBs.
                                                                        Good to bump into Ian Bruce up there , another Queensbury birder, giving it a coat of looking at with the same results as me. Nice to talk to you Ian.
Ian and myself discussed how lucky we are being in an area with views to die for and just as an example here,s some pics I took at sunrise this morning at Fly Flatts :-

                                      Leaving home early doors
                                   To the east at Fly Flatts
                                       SE from the west bank
                   West bank looking >N, sun kissing the moor.
                                            Looking >S from the west bank
                                              Same again


Fly Flatts , early morn.

    An odd find, grounded Redwing
          Seemed healthy and flew further onto the moor
 Yesterdays white bellied wildfowl turned out to
   be a Pink Footed Goose on far shore.

                                     Mallard coming in to land

                                        1 of 6 Stonechat.

0700 hrs and a very icy Fly Flatts at -1 deg with the road, track and puddles well froze.
A clear blue sky and sunshine with only 20 % cloud cover and a light NE>4.
                                                          Very little in the air other than a few BH gulls but the moor alive with the sound of Red Grouse enjoying the sunshine.
Unusual to find a grounded Redwing in the NW corner skulking about in the long grass with first sighting of just a thrush type with eye stripe before it disappeared had my imagination running wild with thoughts of Siberian Thrush but then it re appeared and dashed my hopes.
                                                         6 Stonechat were present with 4 down the bottom end an 2 up by the top gate whilst the light bellied wildfowl I got in the near dark last night turned out to be a single Pink Footed Goose across on the east bank in the grass. A first for me here with a Pinkie on the deck.
                                                      Several Mallards flew in mid watch which must have left this location to another roost from last night.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Ducks in the dark, Fly Flatts

                                       Last light to the west
                                  Distant Teal , centre smaller duck
                                                Teal to the left

Fly Flatts at 1515 hrs late afternoon. A dull afternoon with the sun hidden by cloud as it disappeared below the west horizon. Darkness was falling sooner today though conditions were good with a light NW>4. Unlike yesterday the skies were quiet with 1 lonely Kestrel hovering over the moor and a couple of Carrion Crows mooching around.
                                                                   A pair of Stonechat were down by the feeding station along with at least 3 Reed Buntings showing briefly above the heather. As the last of the photographic light disappeared ducks started to fly in from the SW and land on the water near the east banking to roost with around 18 Mallard and at least 1 female Teal. A very white bellied female duck came in with the last few Mallards which looked good for Wigeon but landed too far away and now too dark to say for definite but hopefully I,ll catch up with it in the morning.
                                                                       As I was tackling up at the SE corner a wader called just the once which sounded in flight but I was unable to connect with it. Possibly Dunlin but something else to look for in the morning.
                                                This evening was my 65th visit to Fly Flatts this year.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fly Flatts, playing ball again.

                                              Peregrine way over the moor

                                             Harassed by Raven

                                    3  Pink Footed Geese over

                                 still plenty Stonechat present

                                          resident Kestrel
        Cold Edge Dams  78 Canada, 2 Barnacle, 2 Greylag.

A couple of hours to spend whilst the dogs were getting their make overs at the groomers so arrived at Fly Flatts at 1300 hrs greeted by an icy cold WNW>5 and 80 % cloud cover which later reduced to 40 % as the sun appeared.
                                           After dipping the last few trips it finally came back round to my turn for birds with things much livelier up there despite the strong wind. Buzzards were the first birds of note with 2 well out over the moor slowly drifting >SW. This sighting was quickly followed by a Peregrine high and distant then dropping over the moor to the NW with a Raven very agitated nearby.
                                                                        Sky watching from the NW corner of the water picked up 3 grey geese well out to the SE heading west and very high. After 2 minutes getting the camera onto the tripod the birds had disappeared from sight but luckily, after diverting in a giant arc , re appeared over the Nab and again heading west in my direction. The 3 , which turned out to be Pinkies and not Bean goose as I had hoped, kept high but flew directly over the top of me and I found out why bird photographer Arthur Morris says you should always use a Gimbal head on your tripod as my camera wouldnt tilt vertical enough to get them overhead using a standard Manfrotto swivel head.
                                                                  The 3 Pinkies dropped over the west ridge and were picked up by Pete Grba as they landed on Withens Clough.
Down by the feeding station at least 5 Stonechat and a single Reed Bunting were present.
                                                                    With about 15 minutes spare before picking the dogs up I dropped in at Cold Edge to check the goose field which produced 78 Canadas, 2 Barnacle and 2 Greylag.