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As of now through the duration of the breeding season all schedule one birds , red status birds and birds of a sensitive nature to this area will be omitted from the blog or reported as undisclosed site due to the widespread persecution of nesting birds by unscrupulous parties including game keepers and egg collectors.
Any of the above species that are obviously on passage through the area will be reported as normal.
This also applies to wildlife such as Roe Deer, Badger and Hares which are badly under threat from poaching and long dogging in the area at present and unfortunately this exclusion of wildlife will have to continue throughout the year.
Just another sign of the times.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday morning rounds

                        Curlews back at most sites now

             Little Owl back at Leeshaw after a winter absent
            Good passage of Herring gulls >W
                                       Male Goosander over Leeshaw
                                    Several Oystercatchers around
            Both Barnacles still at Cold Edge Dams

A dark and drizzly morning as I headed out on a reservoir check but birdable though not a photographic morning with very poor light.
Leeshaw sounded like spring with Lapwings displaying in every field and the calls of Curlews and Oystercatchers.  The same birds were back at Fly Flatts but lower numbers and moving around, not yet established.

Lower Laithe
3 Oystercatchers
9 Canadas
7 Greylag
Small gulls

5 Oystercatchers
11 Curlew
Little Owl
c200 Starling
38 Fieldfare
2 Cormorant
1m Goosander.......................>E
19 Herring gull....................>W
sev Lapwings holding territory

Fly Flatts
1m Stonechat
4 Curlew
1 Oystercatcher

Cold Edge Dams
2 Barnacle Geese
110 Canadas
4 Greylag
2 Oystercatchers
3 Curlew
Dams not checked

1pr Goosander
3f Goldeneye
usual gulls

Raggalds Flood
3 Mallard
c30 Redwing
2 Lapwing

Saturday, February 25, 2017

And how she blew, Soil Hill

With Soil Hill a priority to be checked with Snow Buntings on the move I headed up there at 1430 hrs today armed with another 2 bags of Nyjer seed and the small camera, the conditions being too bad for big Bertha.
The hill was throwing all it had at me with a near gale force W>6 to 7 and a mix of heavy horizontal rain then drizzle. Thick scud clouds piled across bringing mist one minute and clear the next, a real mixed bag.
Despite the conditions birding was good although no target bird I got second prize with a Redshank down by the NK pond which called as it kept moving from the pond wall to the excavation area. I thought this bird was early but looking at previous records I,ve had them in Jan , Feb. and March previous years at Fly Flatts.
                                           Plenty big gulls were heading for Oxenhope with several Herrings and 2 Gt Black Backed in with the Lessers.The gull roost will soon be breaking up there anytime now.
The feeding areas were heaving with 2 Stock Doves , 8 Meadow Pipits , 4 Skylarks and 2 Carrion Crows whilst around 40 Mipits were grounded in the mast field.
I always find it amazing why these birds stick it out in such conditions when they could quite easily head down to better weather in the lowlands but I suppose you could say the same for me birding up there, it must have a magical pull.
                                                     Good to see that a handful of hardy birders braved the conditions this morning to see the Ringby Snow Bunting, I,m sure they all found it worthwhile to see such a rare and beautiful bird in our area.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Right on the eleventh hour, Snow Bunting. Ringby Top.

                                          Stonking Ringby Top Snow Bunting
            Already going into summer plumage.

A free afternoon so Ollie and me headed for Fly Flatts on a decent afternoon apart from a cold W>5
but good visibility and some sunshine.
A walk down to the water failed to produce any returning waders as yet but Canada numbers are building up. Plenty Meadow Pipits back on the moors now as well as Lapwings and a few Red Grouse . A male Stonechat was posing but quite a distance away so as I was setting up the tripod to get a shot a phone call from Dave Sutcliffe broke me off. In the wind and a poor signal I just picked up the words Snow Bunting, then the message came through clear, " Snow Bunting Ringby Top now".
" Im on my way " was the reply as I threw everything in the car including the dog and away I went.
The trip seemed to take forever following tractors, learner drivers and little old ladies but finally I got home, chucked the dog out, a twitch is no place for a barky dog,  and away to Swalesmoor.
                                                            As I got to the top of the steep track, and by now was on the verge of a heart attack, I saw DJS with the bins up watching the bird. All I had to do now was get a picture before I collapsed.
                                            What a great find by Dave just as we thought it was all over for this winter although I have had one on Soil Hill 7th March 2015. DJS had to leave so I hung on as JL was on his way who shortly arrived and got the bird. As we left at 1630 hrs the bird was still present and feeding constantly showing its amazing bright plumage as it was partly into its summer uniform.
                                                          Many thanks to DJS for yet another amazing find and for hanging on until I arrived to point out the bird.
We thought this year that Soil Hill may not be suitable for Snow Bunting since it has grassed over but this bird today was quite happy feeding in the long grass as the photos show.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Birding at its best, Cold Edge Dams re visited.

    Around 200 Starlings present
              Canadas, Greylags, Barnacles and Lapwings
                                    Very distant in dark conditions
           Little Grebe on Spring Mill Dam  840mm

                                    Field full of Starlings
            1 of 2 Male Goldeneye + 4 females
               Heavy swell, down in a trough
                                        un ringed bird, taken at 840mm
                Note the size difference

   The right hand un ringed is nearly the size
                           of a Canada
                Awaiting details of the ringed bird.

Cold Edge Dams 1430-1530 hrs.  Near gale force WNW>6 gusting 7 with heavy rain and sleet showers . Thanks to Doris for providing some good birding weather moving things around as well as keeping grounded birds down with all the Geese, Lapwings and Starlings in one field.Though not ideal for birders I,m happy with it, keep it coming.
                                                           Thanks to C.E.D. resident Steve for a call informing me that the 2 Barnacles were both present so by 1430 hrs I was knelt knee deep in mud trying to steady the camera on the wall in the strong wind. Started off with the tripod which was worse than useless nearly blowing over so back to the old wet but effective wall method. The photos are not great but I was pleased with the results in such bad conditions. Luckily the 2 Barnacles were usually near together which made better pics.
                                                 Most of the activity was in one field though a check on Leadbeater Dam, where it was difficult to stand up, provided me with firstly 2 female Goldeneye and then a single male flew in followed by another male with 2 more females whilst a pair of Tufted flew into Spring Mill Dam along with the Little Grebe. A real active hours birding, the sort that sends you home buzzing.

109 Canadas
7 Greylag
2 Barnacles
38 Lapwing
c200 Starling
3 Oystercatchers
1 Little Grebe
1 pr Tufted
2m  4f Goldeneye
8 Stock Dove.

When Steve rang me today about the 2 Barnacles he told me the history of  Barnie that we have been watching over the years between Ogden, Fly Flatts and Cold Edge.
Apparently Barnie started off as a free flying bird from the bird collection at Appleby Castle and is now estimated at around 25 years old. Whether or not the present unringed bird is Barnie or not is unknown but I will dig out some old pictures for comparison , size etc.
Thanks again to Steve for his interest and help.