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No wildlife sightings including Roe Deer, Fox, Hare or Badger will be mentioned on this blog throughout the year due to the rising influx of poaching, long dogging and lamping by sick individuals.

Any sighting of birds of a sensitive nature throughout the breeding season will be omitted from the blog if I believe that in any way it could jeopardize the welfare or breeding of the species .
Sightings in this category will just be passed on to the Calderdale bird recorder.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

A glutton for punishment, Fly Flatts p.m.

Back to Fly Flatts late afternoon to find the wind still blasting across the moor with very dark clouds and light rain showers. The wind was so bad today that the sailing club had to, yet again , abort sailing after trying for the second Sunday running to get an early start to the season. Its not just our hobby thats weather dependent.
                                                  First job was to rescue a new born lamb that had got through the fence and found itself stuck down a ditch with its mother sounding distressed at the other side of the wire. Luckily, because it was so young it let me pick it up and put it over the fence were it ran to its Mother for a long awaited feed.
                                    A walk on the west bank was cut short due to the strength of the wind so the next 30 minutes were spent sky watching from the back of the car where everything seemed reluctant to move with even the Goldies, Curlews and Lapwings keeping down.
                                    Just 1 of the 3 Barnacles were on the water which seems to have mated up with a Canada goose. Just before I left the two flew off towards Cold Edge Dams.
A constant check on the buoys found nothing but its only 6 days away from the anniversary of last years Sandwich Tern, the weather on that day was fine and bright with a light E>3.

Fly Flatts a.m.

                                          Golden Plovers getting spooked regular

   This was the cause, 1 of 2 female Sparrowhawks

A bright morning at Fly Flatts just spoilt by the icy cold strong W>5 inc 6.
                                                           Plenty Canadas and Mallards on the water with no sign of the Barnacles but 2 Greylags had appeared overnight. Lapwings and Golden plovers were in good numbers, the latter being harassed constantly with 2 female Sparrowhawks hunting together over the Flat moor, a rare bird for this site.
                                                   No sky movement with just 2 Buzzards up, one above the western ridge and one to the north over Nab Water Lane.
Plenty Mipits present but no Wheatears or Stonechat in the strong wind.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Fly Flatts a.m p.m.

                                     3 Barnacles present morning and afternoon.

 Note head shape difference, guessing this male
                                              and this female
                                         2 male, 1 female ?
                                    Well camouflaged Curlew
                                        Golden Plover blast off after Merlin fly through

                                       Posing Barnacle

                                   Distant mobile male Stonechat
          1 of 6 Wheatear but very wary as always with spring birds.

                 Backward flying small plane or giant drone.

With the dreaded SW wind gone from Fly Flatts this morning the place was back to normal and buzzing with bird life. A pleasing day with an icy cold W>5 this morning turning NW>4 this afternoon with 80 % cloud cover and good visibility.
                                                                 The 3 Barnacles were on the water and banking throughout the day whilst a walk on the west bank produced 1f Wheatear and a single Stonechat this morning and 2m with 4 female Wheatear and a Stonechat this afternoon.
                                                              A female Merlin flew low across the Flat moor lifting up the Golden Plovers, Lapwings and Curlews with a Buzzard overhead.
A Short Eared Owl was sat on a roadside fence post as I arrived this morning but I was right along side it before I saw it and away it went.
                                                             Ironically , a text from HC reporting a Red Kite over Fly Flatts just 30 minutes after I had left this evening.
Good to see DJS up there this morning giving the place a serious once over.

1 Merlin
1 Short Eared Owl
3 Barnacle Geese
300 + Canada Geese
2 Redshank
4f  2m Wheatear
1m Stonechat
137 Golden Plover
13 Curlew
2 LBB gulls
1 Buzzard
4 Raven
Tons of Meadow Pipits

Friday, March 22, 2019

How the other half live.!

Oh to be a birder around Harrogate.
                                                     I had to pick the son in law up after a weeks training course in Harrogate this morning so I set off early with Big Bertha ,giving me time to look for Red Kites and call at one of my old stomping grounds, Knotford Nook.
                                                      It all started half way down Pool Bank when a Red Kite flew low over the road in front of the car, you can imaging what I said ,but unfortunately there was nowhere to stop for a photo as it slowly drifted over the fields.
At the bottom of Pool Bank a second bird was drifting low over the house tops giving stonking views but again no where to stop in the heavy traffic.
                                                        On then to Knotford Nook which I used to visit regular back in the days when it was one of Bradford birders flagship sites until it was eventually taken over with an angling club. Both lakes are now surrounded with a high wire fence with thick foliage around to keep prying eyes out. We always used to fall out with the anglers there so when they bought it they made sure we couldnt use it any more. Phil and Mick Cunningham even ended up battling with the anglers at one point.
                   Peering through the bushes I could see the lakes were full of wildfowl with Wigeon, Mandarin, Gt Crested Grebe, Pochard and Gadwall along with large numbers of Tufted. A single Whooper swan was with the Mutes. I remember watching a brilliant white male Smew here many years ago.
               Time up so on to Harrogate with Red Kites showing all the way, some high whilst others were low drifting near to the roadside but no stopping places on the busy narrow road. One place I did stop with a good vantage point produced 2 Buzzard but no Kites.
                 On the return journey it was the same with several Kites giving amazing views. This will have to be a park and walk visit for me at some point to get some good Red Kite photos.
                  Late afternoon and back to earth at Fly Flatts on a low expectancy visit in the strong SW>6 and very dark skies. The water was empty with windsurfers present and , as always in a strong SW at Fly Flatts, the whole area was silent with no sign of yesterdays Wheatears or Mipits and not even a Curlew or Lapwing up.
                                               The only birds moving were several Meadow Pipits high and >W in the grey sky. Down by the feeding station a pair of Stonechat were present but very flighty in the wind.
                        I was going to miss Fly Flatts in the morning if the SW continued but the forecast is cloudy and a light >NW which could be interesting.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

They,re back, Fly Flatts Wheatears.

                      First back to Fly Flatts, female Wheatear
                                            Male Wheatear.

           Another sign of spring, 2 lambs born at Fly Flatts.

A late pm visit to Fly Flatts continued todays good run after the Ogden Whooper Swans this morning.
                                                                Conditions were good with a W>4 and clear skies though very little on the move. The area was swarming with Meadow Pipits after an overnight fall whilst several were moving over high and >NW only visible by scanning with the bins.
                                                               Half way along the west bank I scanned down to the Twite feeding station just in time to see a white rump flying below the banking heading northwards, that had to be Wheatear. With tripod up and camera mounted at the ready I continued further along the banking until there they were in the distance, a pair of Wheatear, my earliest yet by 2 days.
                                                                  The Wheatears were not that much of a surprise as just before I set off a grapevine text reporting a male in Crimsworth Dean came from DJS and Jen. Well done for spotting yours Jen, pipping Dave and me to the post. Girl power strikes again.
                                                                    Nothing else untoward other than the usual Goldies, Lapwings and Curlews etc but a good days birding.
                                                                       Tomorrow morning I,m grounded having to pick the son in law up from Harrogate but I,ll be taking Big Bertha along for the ride just in case of Red Kite around the Pool Bank area.

Note..  2 more Wheatears on Nab Water Lane and 1 at Leeshaw, B.O.G.

Meadow Pipit invasion Fly Flatts, Ogden Whoopers by the skin of my teeth.

                                   Taking off as I arrived

                                           High over the water

                                          Away >NE

Fly Flatts a.m. was just under the cloud base and drizzly throughout with a light W>4.
Poor visibility skywards but Meadow Pipits were swarming in from the >SE with several staying in the area whilst others were either keeping moving high and >NW or ground hopping, autumn vis mig style, and moving on slowly. Otherwise it was the usual species present.
                                                  Just tackling up when a grapevine text from CS reporting 2 Whoopers on Ogden. Knowing that they would,nt hang around I thought it worth a quick look on the way home though time was limited. With no time to struggle with a full car park and unload the dogs I drove down to the promenade gates just in time to see them taking off from the north end of the water.
                                                       In sheer panic I threw myself out of the car grabbing the camera and getting what shots I could whilst trying to get the settings something near with the changing light from a  dark plantation background to bright sky to the SW and darker sky as they turned to the NE.
                                                         Luckily they took off SW but then as they gained height they turned direction flying back over the water high and >NE.  Talk about a close one. A couple that were watching them from the promenade looked at me an laughed saying, " You cut that fine".
                                                                  Thanks to Chris Sutcliffe and DJS on the grapevine for getting the calls out.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A sunny but south westerly Fly Flatts.

      Redshank invasion, 2 of 8 present.

                                               Usual Golden Plovers around.

         Peregrines turn blasting through today testing Big Bertha.

                                           Around 10 Curlew in area now.

A bright and breezy late afternoons watch at Fly Flatts after dense fog this morning though unfortunately the wind was from the SW>5 stopping any signs of sky movement, but having said that, a busy 2 hrs up there. Redshanks were the star of the show with 8 present with 2 on the west bank and 6 alongside an Oystercatcher on the east bank cobbles beyond the boatyard but out of range and no time to go through the yard as they only appeared as it was time to pack up.
                                             No big blast off of Goldies today with birds flying round in small groups, even when a Peregrine powered through upsetting the Lapwings.
A call from HC, ( Compo ), at midday reporting 4 Whoopers on Leeshaw reservoir. Thanks for that Howard.

1 Buzzard
3 Short Eared Owls
1 Peregrine
8 Redshank
1 Oystercatcher
sev Golden Plover
+ usual sp.