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Monday, February 29, 2016

Shelf Tree Sparrows

A customer called in the garage today who is friendly with the owner / farmer at the feeding station where the Tree Sparrows were discovered last week.
It appears several birders are visiting the site and there is some concern regarding his privacy.
The feeding station area is private and there is no vehicle access down the lane to the farm, this is a private road .
The birds can be viewed from the public footpath passing the area without any problems. If you visit this area please respect his privacy and stick to the public footpath.
When the farmer was asked by our customer what he thought of these uncommon birds visiting his garden he said he was not bothered for Sparrows but loved his Goldfinches.

The only thing of note today in Queensbury was a large flock of 60 + Jackdaws flying around the Granby Fields area most of the day very noisily. The only big numbers of Jackdaws we usually get over the village is morning and evening with roost birds heading too and from Wilsden/ Hewenden.

                                 Jackdaws galore, very high.
BS

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Birding the black hole.

With conditions ideal and a cold NE>4 blowing I felt sure to meet my 3 target birds on Soil Hill but how wrong can you be. My aim was Snow Bunting, Pink Footed Geese and Whooper swans.

1430 hrs so a good early start to do a thorough check of the hill for Snow Bunt but the hill was,nt playing and I drew a complete birding blank other than a single Carrion Crow.
With that dip accepted I stood on the NW summit and concentrated on 1 hours sky watch which amazingly produced not one moving bird.
With excellent visibility I watched 360 degrees with Ingleborough to the north, the White Horse on the North Yorkshire moors to the east, beyond Saddleworth moor to the south and beyond Studley Pike to the west and still no birds.
I could see several gulls on the Oxenhope roost but nothing at all flying.
With an empty camera and notebook and head held low I sloped back to the car when suddenly I doubled my bird sightings when the Carrion crow flew past with its mate making that 2 birds I,d seen all the watch.
Just to add salt to the wounds I then got a grapevine message reporting 1 Snow Bunting at Green Withins.
At least I was looking for the right bird but at the wrong location the same as this mornings Whoopers.
BS

If it was,nt for bad luck I,d have no luck at all.

                      Lapwings in the Bonnet field  , 94
                      Snowy drive to Fly Flatts

                 Fall of Goldfinch at Fly Flatts

                                         The Nab
                          Fly over of Curlews at Ogden


An icy ,snowy drive to Fly Flatts this morning only to find it very disappointing with no sign of returning Curlew or Oystercatcher.
Several Canadas building up now with some already on the moor.
Interesting to find several Goldfinch along the waters edge which was a bit unusual but otherwise poor.
Whilst at the far NW corner I got a call from NK reporting 10 Whoopers at Ogden from SED. What to do, do I stick it out at Fly and see what appears or head for Ogden. The pull of Whoopers was too great so a long hike back to the car and Ogden bound.
Whilst dashing down towards the promenade at Ogden a couple with a dog were walking up and seeing the camera around my neck said " you,d have got a good shot 5 minutes since of Swans flying off the water and over the promenade".  Oh well, thats birding. A check on the water found just a few BHGs and 6 Canadas along with the usual Mallards but a bonus arrived in the form of 7 Curlews over silent, high and >E.
With the Whoopers heading >S towards Mixenden I thought it worth a try but on arrival not to be, they would probably have veered round and headed off >N.
BS.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Coley Church, Mixenden Reservoir

                                         Coley church track

                                         Mixenden Goosanders

                Mixenden very distant f. Goldeneye

1615 hrs before I got free today and still an errand to do in Shelf so it was on to Coley church to check the long hedge and fields on a grey and darkening late afternoon.
The hedge held several singing Wrens, Dunnocks and Robins but all remained down in the bottom of the hedge out of the cold breeze. Several blackbirds were present whilst the fields held corvids, Woodpigeons, Stock Doves and Starlings with still no sing of the usual winter thrushes that are usually present annually.
With about 30 minutes of daylight left it was across to Mixenden reservoir in hopes of saving the day.
A pair of Goosander were on the water as well as a female Goldeneye, 1pr Mallard and a Grey Wagtail but with the light almost gone there was no chance of decent pics and no time to check the plantation which was full of noisy Woodpigeons in to roost.
A report this morning at 1100 hrs from CK of 70 Pink Footed geese over Roper Lane, Queensbury, thanks for that Chris.
BS

Friday, February 26, 2016

Pinkies for Queensbury

A good start to the day with 4 Pink Footed geese over the garage heading >NE high and motoring in migration mode. Too quick for me to get to the office and back with the camera.
A few minutes later a lot of commotion with noisy corvids and all the mill feral pigeons up made me head for the door just in time to see a Sparrowhawk very high and >SW, obviously a mover.
After that things went downhill leaving a quiet day with just small gulls around Foxhill midday.
Well done to Andy Cockroft for finding local Tree Sparrows for the second year in a row but at a different site, see Andys blog.
Enjoy your weekend.
BS

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Birds on the move.

With another glorious day the bird movement is speeding up with reports of Pink Footed geese , Calderbirds, but all to the west of Queensbury and out of my line of vision whilst big gulls were moving >N up the Aire valley at midday with mainly LBBs but at least 5 Herring gulls seen.
A customer report today of at least 7 Snipe down Queensbury station along with good numbers of Redwings looking ready for moving.
Out dog walking tonight after dark produced a noisy Little Owl down Harp Lane, Foxhill.
Birding should be a bit more interesting this weekend if the weather holds.
BS

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Woodpigs in, Fieldfare out.

         Resident Woodpigeon which sits behind the garage
          waiting to be fed all day.

Another spring like day throughout with more signs of movement over Queensbury.
Woodpigeons were over in good numbers first light until around 0830 hrs with at least 150 counted coming in very high and >NW.
Forming a summer winter cross over were Fieldfares moving out with 2 flocks of 28 and 39 very high and >N heading back to their breeding grounds.
Fieldfare have been in short supply this winter with Redwing outnumbering them .
Perfect conditions for moving Pinkies today but only 1 report of 41 >N over Jumble Hole, Calderbirds, but I,m sure there are plenty to come yet.
BS

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Queensbury today

        Gamekeepers burning Baildon Moor
           Viewed from Foxhill Park

                                 Raggalds Flood ex birding spot.
           Nice sky over Pellon Lane this evening

Another belter of a day with sunshine and blue skies, this will probably last till the weekend!!
Plenty LBBs moving >N up the Aire valley at midday and the unusual sighting of 4 Skylarks moving around Foxhill park.
Going by several reports today Curlews are now well established on the local moors as well as Oystercatchers, a sure sign of spring around the corner.
A check on Raggalds flood at lunch time found it yet again void of bird life other than corvids, hard to understand why this place has suddenly gone off the birding map even though conditions are perfect.
Plenty fires going over Baildon Moor today, dont know if this is a productive thing or not but obviously to do with the Grouse shooting.
Had to go down to the vets from work just in time to see the sun drop below the horizon still leaving a beautiful blue sky.
BS

Monday, February 22, 2016

Curlews moving back into the area.

As predicted, a cracking Monday morning with clear blue skies and wall to wall sunshine with just a couple of light showers p.m.
All quiet over Queensbury and even though I kept an eye on the sky no Pinkies were on the move and no grapevine messages reporting them.
One interesting text this morning came from H.C. reporting Curlews moving >W over Oxenhope probably returning to their moorland breeding areas.
A single Sparrowhawk flew fast and low over Foxhill park midday and 15 Common along with 9 Black Headed gulls were on the football pitches.
BS

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Worst weekend on record

Late afternoon and gearing up to face the gale force W>6 gusting 7 with heavy horizontal rain and low cloud base when the phone rang, daughter Rachel with water leaking from her shower through the kitchen ceiling.
What a bit of luck, an escape from the elements.
With plumbing tackle in the car and my Mr Bodgett cap on I headed off but called at Bank Top country park on the way for a quick look around so the day was,nt a complete flop.
Much as I,m not a park watcher it was nice to see 2 Mute Swans along with several Coots and Moorhens amazingly doing well in such a grim area, I expected the Swans being shot by now.
So that was my birding done for the weekend, on to mend the leak then back home to my own decorating. At least its work tomorrow so the weather should improve.
BS

Sunday morning blow

With the usual Sunday morning weather, gale force W>6 with heavy horizontal rain and low cloud it was down to Leeshaw in the hope of some shelter , but not to be.
The wind was howling from the west driving heavy rain and drizzle across the area whipping the reservoir up so it looked like the north sea with white horses speeding across and lashing up the banking.
It was only the fact that the dogs needed walking or I,d probably not even bothered getting out of the car.
Needless to say, birding was a no no with a few Canadas and Greylags braving it out on the water whilst an Oystercatcher was in the field.
Here endeth another weekend.
BS

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Its weekend again !!!!!!!

Late afternoon and a howling W>6 with horizontal drizzle and low cloud so once again the birding was spoilt.
After a quick trip to Ogden to check the water, which held the usual small gulls and Mallards, it was abort and head for B & Q for some more decorating tackle.
Hopefully the weather will improve for morning but not a good forecast.
BS

Friday, February 19, 2016

Local Barnacle goose returns right on schedule.

    Barnie arrives back at Ogden last year 21st Feb
 By mid summer it was brave enough to leave the water
at the Ogden feeding corner








                       Well at home amongst Canadas

With DJSs report today of Barnacle Goose at Cold Edge Dams, see Calderbirds blog, I looked back at records to see it returned to the area on 21st February 2015 last year , just 2 days difference.
This Barnacle has been around for 2 seasons now , at first being very timid and sticking to Fly Flatts, but lately getting more and more domesticated , eventually coming out of the water at Ogden and taking bread in the duck feeding area.
It moves around between Ogden, Fly Flatts, Cold Edge Dams and Mixenden and is quite at home amongst the local Canadas.
Barnacle Goose is a rarity for our area and the only sighting otherwise is when 44 turned up at Leeshaw reservoir 5/1/2013 found by D and N Priestley and then viewed by many.

                 Barnacles and Pink Footed, Leeshaw Jan 2013


                       Total of 44 stayed 2 days.

BS

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Old Guy Road

Limited lunch hour today so just time to check the Skylark situation down Old Guy Rd with all the Skylark reports coming in.
7 Skylarks , 2 Meadow Pipits and a Pied Wagtail were on the cricket pitch with another 5 Skylarks in the manure field along with several Starling. Lower down the road 4 Mistle Thrush were on distant wires.
This week has seen the arrival of Skylarks moving in on spring territory with several reports of increasing numbers from Soil Hill, Fly Flatts, Ringby Top and Denholme Gate and Old Guy Road,
DB, DJS, JL, NK and BS.
Several Wrens up singing around the village now with Robins in song after dark.
BS

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Queensbury - Owls make a comeback.

                                                Barn Owl
                                  Tawny Owl

                                        Long Eared Owl.

                                                  Little Owl

                                         Short Eared Owl.

Tawny Owl and Little Owl have always been around the Queensbury area during the last 50 + years I,ve been birding whereas Short Eared Owl were see able but a rare sight whilst Long Eared were unheard of locally and Barn Owl was just something you dreamt about .
Short Eared were usually seen heading over the moor on passage during the autumn and very few were resident.
To see Long Eared Owl you had to head out of the area to one of the large forestry commission plantations and even then chances were slim due to the denseness of the trees and your only hope was to see them coming out into the open hunting for food.
Barn Owls were a common enough sight but only as you travelled east beyond York where they could be viewed quartering the large expanse of meadow land and even flying low along the roadside over the grass verges.
Slowly over the last few years Owls have made an amazing comeback and now we can boast that we have all 5 species of owl in the Queensbury area.
Little Owl are a common sight around farmland sitting out on dry stone walls in the sunshine whilst Tawny Owls are getting more urban being seen on lamps and telegraph poles at the side of main roads with people walking past oblivious of them being there.
Short Eared Owls are becoming a common sight on our moorlands with more and more reports coming in each year whilst several Long Eared Owls have taken up residence in some of our woodlands.
Barn Owl has been the last to move into the area, a bird I thought would never have been found locally other than a few escapees which have appeared in the past but now , with recent reports around Queensbury and a wider local area, it looks like the beautiful Barn Owl is here to stay.
BS

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Dinner time dash, Raggalds Flood and the Lapwing fields

Another stunning day with the wind turned around to give a cold S>4 increasing late afternoon.
A dinner time check at the Raggalds Flood found it yet again void of birds which is strange when conditions are the same but for some reason this winter it isnt attracting anything and even the Mallards have deserted it.
The Bonnet field held 15 Lapwing and around 12 Fieldfare whilst Pit Lane held 28 Lapwing and c 100 Starling.
Two Meadow Pipits and a Skylark were on Old Guy Road cricket pitch and a surprise to see 2 Grey Partridge legging it across the field opposite.
Roper Lane plantation had a flock of around 20 Goldfinch whilst a few LBB gulls flew >N through the Causeway Foot col.
BS

Monday, February 15, 2016

Queensbury in the sun.

         A cold wintery walk to work this morning
           Sun up and clear skies at 0745 hrs.
            2 Corvids mobbing Sparrowhawk very high
                       over the garage.

A stonking day for out birding today, just a shame it was Monday, with wall to wall sunshine and clear blue skies day long.
The cold spell seemed to liven things up a bit with several Collared Doves now back in the area whilst 2 Wrens were knocking around the garage car park.
Dinner time dog walk in Foxhill park found 18 Common gulls and 11 Black Headed, again with a few Collared Doves around the perimeter.
Early afternoon I heard corvid aggression calls so dashed out of the garage into the car park, camera in hand, to see 2 corvids very high mobbing a Sparrowhawk. They were very hard to pin point with the small camera so ended up with just the one shot before they drifted into the sun and lost from sight. A few minutes later the two corvids flew back over having safely seen the Sprawk out of the area.
BS

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Thought we had a mega tick here.


Imagine my face this afternoon when a customer sent me the above photo saying his daughter was out dog walking when she saw this bird of prey at Beacon Hill and would like to know what it was.
I was in town at the time shopping with Lynda and as I zoomed the photo in expecting to see a Sparrowhawk or Kestrel my eyes nearly popped out.
Thinking straight away of an escapee, other than the impossible, I tried to contact him to find out if it was Bradford or Halifax Beacon Hill and get more details.
Later in the afternoon I managed to contact him and all was revealed . What his daughter had failed to tell him was there was a sign on the fence saying birds of prey so it must me a private keeper or sanctuary up Beacon Hill Southowram which the Halifax lads probably know about.
Thanks to David Judson for contacting me anyway and his daughter for being interested, who knows , next time we may have a Sea Eagle over Fly Flatts.
BS