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Sunday, October 22, 2017

A near miss

Spent a couple of hours at Redcar Tarn this morning then Keith Moir went up for my Scaup p.m. on which he dipped but got a consolation prize of a stonking Caspian gull.

                                  Photo courtesy Keith Moir.
BS

Leeshaw Reservoir

   Cormorant under bombardment from BH gulls.


                                                     Enough is enough

Late afternoon and with Fly Flatts still under bombardment from mist and horizontal drizzle it was down to Leeshaw where the west wind was very strong and  the drizzle was very wet but with a few slightly brighter periods the dogs got a walk and I got my birding fix.
                                                                             Gulls were rolling in with a mix of around 150 Commons, LBBs and BHGs but difficult to check as they were using the banking at the very top of the reservoir out of the wind. It was a matter of trying to suss them on their way in.
A single Cormorant on the water was harassed by gulls eventually forcing it to leave which left just a drake Mallard sailing the waves.
                                                    A calm southerly wind is forecast for tomorrow but still plenty rain to come on the last week of evening birding with the dreaded clocks back at the weekend.
BS

Bad Weather, Good Birds. Redcar Tarn.

                                    First light, 16 Tufted duck present
                                         2 Female Goosander
   Scaup. female juv.  Stood out from the Tufted with very
   grey back , larger white face area and no hint of tuft.

                                       Shoveler. male eclipse.



                   LBB gull, Intermedius
                                                          Herring 2nd winter ?
                                          Herring 1st winter?
                                        adult herring

With the weather at its worst this a.m. and dark till after 0800 hrs I headed for Redcar Tarn where at least the path around the water is hard standing whilst everywhere else is bogged down at least it meant I didnt have to bath the dogs on return, the wind and rain I can put up with.
                                                                 The wind blasted across from the west at near gale force W>7 with rain followed by horizontal drizzle. As always the Tarn was alive with birds though gull numbers were down . On the first walk around the water, or blown round there was a count of 16 Tufted duck with 1 loner standing out as a Scaup.
The second lap of the water was a little dryer and produced a male Shoveler in eclipse which had evaded me the first time. Horrendous weather but a pleasing hours birding.

1 Scaup
1 Shoveler
16 Tufted
2f Goosander
3 Herring gull
sev LBB gull inc 1 Intermedius
+ usual sp.

Raggalds Flood held 8 BH gulls and 4 Mallard. The field is now half flooded and looking like a small lake.
BS

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Raggalds Flood saves the day.

                   Raggalds Flood alive with Starlings
                               Starling and Lapwing mix




                                              1 Pair Wigeon
                             a drake at last

                                 Lapwings on the shoreline.
                                         Wigeons doing a circuit

                                  Gulls on the shore at Leeshaw
                                   Wild water at Fly Flatts
         The Mallards seemed to like getting splashed

                                       Like Filey Brig.

A great start to the morning with Redwings piling over first light with a rough count of 500 >S before, on way to and at work. by 0915 hrs the sky had cleared and the wind increased to S>5 so the skies went quiet.
Mixed in with the Redwing were Chaffinch, Greenfinch and around 10 Siskin, at last a quick taste of real vis mig.
                   Late morning Denise S called in at the garage looking windswept and interesting to report a pair of Wigeon up on the Raggalds Flood plus she also had been getting Redwing over.
                                                              Midday and work over the first job was call at the flood to snap the Wigeon before the rains moved in. The sky was already black with a strong wind and specks of rain by 1300 hrs as we arrived at the flood on the way to Halifax.
                                                            The whole area was alive with birds, more than I have ever seen there with around 200 Starling, 130+ Lapwing and about 50 small gulls. All these birds, including the pair of Wigeon, were very mobile with a local cat getting too close for comfort making the flocks fly  around in a circuit before landing again. Amazing how a giant puddle in the middle of a field can attract more birds than, Ogden, Fly Flatts and Leeshaw put together.
                                                           Shopping done and off to Leeshaw looking for shelter from the wind but on arrival the wind blew and the horizontal drizzle stung your face.
Plenty mixed gulls on the shore and a single female Goosander on the rough water but otherwise poor. A walk with the dogs along the track then off over the hill to Fly Flatts.
                                                         Fly Flatts was something else with gale force winds and torrential horizontal rain making it completely unworkable even from the car along the top road. The water was like the North sea with white horses piling across the surface and crashing onto the east shore.
Strange to watch an unusually high number of Mallards stood right on the edge of the water letting the waves crash over them just like we use to do on the harbour wall at Scarborough.
                                                                  Thanks again to Denise for this mornings info which saved the days birding.
A text  today from HC saying the Fly Flatts Great White Egret, or another, was presently on Cononley Ings and had been photographed by BOG s RC.
BS
                                                                         

Friday, October 20, 2017

Fly Flatts p.m. visit

                                             Steady flow of Herring gulls


  Distant Buzzard in the dark skies


             1 of 2 Barnacles off to Cold Edge Dams.

A real mixed bag of weather at Fly Flatts today starting with heavy horizontal drizzle driven by a WSW>4 followed by a dry bright period and then black as night as a massive dark cloud came over. As I came away a touch of blue sky was showing.
                                                                             A drive on the top road first to get DJSs Wheatear ,from earlier in the day, which I found quite easily near the roadside opposite the quarry entrance but by the time I stopped and grabbed the camera it was gone and in the blasting drizzle there was no chance of scanning around for it.  Down then to the water where several new in Red Grouse were active between the water and the flat moor. Im hoping these have not just been released for the crazy men to shoot this weekend.
                                           On at the SW corner 2 more Wheatear were on the distant rocks but very active in the wet conditions. Herring gull were moving over >SW throughout whilst a pair of Stonechat were moving along the fencing beyond the feeding station.
Scanning from the NW corner produced 1f Tufted duck and 1 Barnacle goose which later flew towards Cold Edge joined by the second Barnacle and 3 Canadas which had been behind the boathouse.
                  A single Buzzard headed >SW out over the moor hardly visible in the dark black skies at the time. Otherwise a few blogging Mipits and that was it but an enjoyable hour with something to watch throughout.
BS.
                                                                                   

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Back to earth with a bang. Ogden in the rain.

                                    Ogden just below the cloud base
                             All pics taken with Canon 60x bridge
                                   BHG                                Common
                                     No ringed birds today.

With fog on the tops throughout the day it was down to Ogden to get below the cloud base late afternoon where it was misty but the fog stopped at the tree tops. The rain pounded down throughout but luckily very little wind so no rain in the face.
                                                                  With the bad conditions Big Bertha stayed at home so my rig for today was Canon 300mm on my Canon 7d mk2 body with a Canon 2x converter in my pocket just in case I needed to get out to 600mm for something like the Great White Egret on the shore line, dream on. I also had my Canon 60x bridge in my pocket which I used for the snaps.
Plenty small gulls,75 % Black Headed 25 % Common but a check through failed to turn up any leg rings. 3 Cormorant  and a LBB gull were the only other contenders and with the rain getting heavier and heavier ,now torrential it was head for home.
BS

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Good news on the Caspian then another stonker at Fly Flatts

Got the thumbs up today on the Caspian gull from gull expert Mick Cunningham who sent a lengthy explicit reply on the bird but had a slight issue with bill length and head shape possibly moving it towards Caspian/Herring hybrid but after checking more pics he put that down to the angle of the photos in flight so a new bird for Calderdale. Thanks to Mick Cunningham , Nick Dawtrey and David Crawshaw for their expertise  and everyone else involved.
                                                           With that sorted we can move on to todays highlight again at Fly Flatts and again a first for Calderdale.
                                                         1430 hrs and on arrival  it was one of those days where the conditions were ideal with a smell of birds as soon as I got out of the car.
100% light grey sky with slight dampness carried on a SE>4-5 and decent visibility.
Walking along the west bank I started with a few Red Grouse and the 2 Barnacles on the water but soon the sky started to liven up with Herring gulls moving over very high and >SW whilst Cormorants were moving dead opposite heading very high and >NE.
By the end of the watch I ,d had 25 Herrings and 11 Cormorant along with several Mipits >SW and a Bunting sp. that I had to let go as it was in silhouette and distant with no call but it looked like it could have been interesting.
                                           By now I was at the NW corner of the water checking for Snow Bunts in the conduit and as I scanned to the SW for any more Cormorants what I thought was a Little Egret was heading towards me but fairly high heading >NE. As it got closer it got bigger and bigger and as I was blasting away with Big Bertha I could see its long black legs through the lens. The bristles on the back of my neck stood up as I realized it was Great Egret.
                                                         With Caspian gull Monday and Great Egret Wednesday I expected wakening up anytime to go to work and it was all a dream. Boy am I in for a big downer when this stretch of luck runs out and Im back to looking at empty skies.
                                                    Its ironic that this is my hat trick with firsts for Calderdale, the first one being Little Egret, then Caspian and finishing with Great Egret. Only Cattle Egret to get now, better start checking the fields.

                         It dont get better than this.








BS