No sightings of Roe Deer, Hare or Badger will be mentioned on this blog throughout the year and links will be removed from other blogs giving the whereabouts of these mammals due to the rising influx of poaching, long dogging and lamping by sick individuals.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spring on its way

                                            Snowdrops hit Queensbury.

A grey day but a bit brighter p.m. and very mild.  Snowdrops are now in flower in Chapel Lane graveyard and crocus are just opening, remember that we,re a month behind up on the top of this hill, Cherry and Apple Blossom trees are usually dying back in Brighouse before ours even break into flower.
Got a report today of a Blackbird sitting on a nest whilst the male brings it food , its in an annual nest site in a hollybush in a customers garden and he thinks its possibly on eggs.
The Foxhill park Common gulls are slowly drifting away now leaving just 8 remaining along with a few Black Headed whilst Collared Doves are pairing up and becoming very vocal.
We,re in to March tomorrow so owt could happen,

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

They,ll soon be here, Wheatear.

                                 Last years Fly Flatts birds
           One for Dean, too close for comfort, Back Lane.

Less than 3 weeks now and we,ll be seeing our first Wheatears of the year as they pass through our area on the way to their breeding sites.
Looking back at my previous years records each first has arrived from the 20th to the 27th of March apart from my earliest sighting on the 19th March but that was over at Barden Moor in 2000. Most others are recorded from Soil Hill or Cold Edge Dams. Spring time is the best time to see and photograph Wheatears as the males are sporting their bright breeding plumage whereas on their return through our area in the autumn males and females look alike in their autumn/winter plumage.
How early are your first sightings?

A dull but dry day today till late p.m. when drizzle set in with a strong W>5 blowing.
Very little reportable birds other than a few LBB gulls over early a.m. >NW.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Queensbury Today

A foggy start then rain and drizzle throughout the day carried along with a WSW>4.
Nothing to be seen early on skyward but as the cloud lifted slightly it became apparent that Starlings were on the move with several small squadrons of around 12- 20 birds all heading >NE in migration mode.
Listening to reports from Calderbirds wildfowl were moving with Gadwall and Shelduck around the area whilst the Crossbill flock at Ogden is up to 17, ( DJS). I think these birds are doing the opposite to what I first thought and are feeding at Back Lane and roosting near the Giants Tooth as this morning the birds were active at Back Lane but I was there till near last light yesterday waiting for them to come into roost which didnt happen.
Well done to NK for turning up a Snow Bunting on Soil Hill when we thought they had gone, possibly they,re all still up there.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Back Lane Plantation, Ogden

                                    Passage of Herring Gulls over

                         Plenty Woodpigs in the plantation
                             Crossbill fodder but no birds.

One hour this p.m. checking out Back Lane plantation , Ogden for Crossbills found 7 present but reluctant to get into the tree tops with the cold WNW>4 blowing so the jinx of no Crossbill photos for me continues.
The birds were constantly on the move from the plantation to the Giants Tooth and back but always dropping into the thick of the plantation instead of around the outskirts.
Inside the plantation Chaffinch and Siskin were present and 2 Moorhen were on the pond at the top edge whilst a steady flow of Herring gulls moved >W overhead.

18 Herring Gulls................................... >W
4 Siskin
7 Crossbill
c60 Woodpigeons
1 Sparrowhawk
Sev Chaffinch
+ usual corvids.

Ogden below the cloud base.

                                          Goldeneye at last for Ogden

                                              Close encounter
                                       Mixenden white crow above the Crown and Anchor

Unfortunately this morning Fly Flatts was in the low cloud with dense fog above Cold Edge Rd so a quick about turn and back to Ogden which was just below the cloud base and calm with some drizzle.
The problem here was people, now that the better weather is arriving so are the crowds with dogs flying around off the lead everywhere, even in the waters edge and people shouting trying to retrieve them. By the time I left at 1000hrs it was like Blackpool front.
At last the reservoir held a pair of Goldeneye and a single Greylag goose in with the Canadas.
Robins, Dunnocks , Chaffinch and Wrens were up in full song now replacing the usual tit flocks which seem to have dispersed.
Back Lane was damp and misty but 5 Crossbill showed briefly in the plantation before heading off into the mist towards Giants Tooth.

3 Canada Geese
1 Greylag Goose
1pr Goldeneye
5 Crossbill
2 Herring Gull.............................>W
6 Stock Dove............................>NW
22 Woodpigeons in Ogden Lane field
+ usual sp.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mipits on the move

A bright and breezy day in Queensbury with clear skies and a cold lazy wind.( For those of you that has,nt heard of a lazy wind , its a wind thats too lazy to go round you so goes through you instead ).
From first light this morning Meadow Pipits were trickling through all heading >W and >NW but this movement had dried up by 1000hrs. Unlike autumn, Meadow Pipits are seldom seen around our area on their return in Spring mainly due to the fact that they return in much smaller numbers leisurely making their way back without the build up and urgency that they have to head south in the autumn.
Also its said that they tend to follow the rivers inland making several stops on route to feed etc so when we visit our sites on the moors suddenly there they are as if out of thin air.
A quick visit to Old Guy Rd cricket field tonight , because this is a good stopping off place for them each year, produced 8 Mipits and 5 Skylark.
Target birds for Fly Flatts in the morning are Curlew, Oystercatcher and Goldeneye, nothing too ambitious there, but anything better will be greatly appreciated.
Will get some Nyger down Dave in an attempt to get some Twite back to the area.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Watch the gulls for those March Kittiwakes.

With a report already in today of a single Kittiwake, Calderbirds, March is the best month to see one in our area.
Ideally you need a day of strong winds, direction doesnt seem to matter too much but heavy nasty horizontal drizzle is a must, todays bird will have come in and brought down in those conditions yesterday.
Inland sightings ,especially our area, are far from common and I personnally have only had 2 definates with about 3 more that had to be dismissed as : cud av bins:
My first sighting, without delving back into the older archives, was on the ski ramp at EGP , 16th March 1996  and the last was close to home in Queensbury on the Chapel Lane rugby field in a howling gale and heavy rain when all the gulls were crouched down, heads into the wind, this was 2nd March 1999 so I should be due for another sighting any year now, hope I dont get one this weekend now or you,ll never believe me.

The other interesting thing on the birding calender this next month is the cross over of inward and outward birds, or as Mike Stead described it on Calderbirds, arrivals and departures.
This is the time when our summer visiting birds are arriving, such as Curlews, other waders and Warblers Wheatears etc and our winter visitors such as Fieldfares, Redwing Pinkies etc are leaving us.
It can be a memorable sight to see Winter thrushes and Swallows in the same area and even stranger to see Swallows flying over the snow, mind you, weve had snow in early June in Queensbury.

A bright dry day in Queensbury after a slow start with clear blue skies, but empty, with a brisk W>4 but still temperatures well up.  Clear skies after dark which could bring temperaturs down.
Again nothing reportable.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Time to brush up for spring.

Some of my most used books.

                                           Hardest of the lot, Waders
                                           A close second hardest,  Gulls
                                             General ID guides and most used.
                                                 General use for where and when.
                               These 3 are,nt used enough around these parts.

With Curlews and Oyks already reported its time to gen up on the spring migration birds, especially waders of which we get very little experience of around here. With fly overs you may have seconds to pick out a distinguishing feature before its gone forever and classed as a : cud av bin : so its important to know those wing bar and rump markings unless you,re experienced enough to get it on call which I,m definitely not, bird calls and me have never got on and nowadays, if Im lucky enough to even hear the call, I usually look in the wrong direction.
Passerines in flight are much easier after a few sessions of visible migration watching as you can usually pick them out on jizz alone even if they,re silhouetted .
Its not easy getting knowledged up from books before the event but I tend to stick to the birds Im mostly likely to see and if you get an oddball its a matter of quick note taking and then look in the book or better still get a photo.
On of my problems of looking through a book is staying awake but thats another story.
With several reports of a possible drought this year we should be over run with waders, says he hopefully.

A slow start to the weather today but the sun eventually got through by midday but still the SW>5 continued.
Temperature in the garage was up to 14 deg this p.m. but bird sightings over the area remained poor.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Views from Sunday, Fly Flatts

                                Fly Flatts, looks nice but icy cold

                                 Big jumper weather for the team.
                          This looked like a home made job !
                                    Kes in silhouette

An attrocious day today from mid morning on with howling SW>6-7 carrying horizontal rain and drizzle throughout the day and on into the evening giving me plenty good soakings, though not as many as DJS trekking Mixenden and Ogden, see his report on Calderbirds.
Needless to say, nothing to report from the tops here, hence the fill in photos to keep the job going.
If the forecast is right it should be ok tomorrow.
Thirty years ago today I was at the hospital waiting for our twin girls to appear and now they,re 30 yrs old, where does time go ? and Im still waiting for a Tree Sparrow in the garden.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Queensbury Today

A better day but very dull and drab still with a strong SW>5 but dry till late afternoon.

A flock of 9 Redwing came over mid afternoon >NE and several LBBs flew over heading >NW.
Otherwise things were quiet with 11 Commons and 6 BH gulls in the park midday and 2 Pied Wags on the top pitch.
NK Queensburybirder called to say he is having computer problems and after reporting 3 Snow Bunts on Soil Hill he managed to turn up the 4th on a second visit but 1 bird was keeping away from the other 3 favouring the northern end and around the heather to the NW. Hopefully Nigel will soon have things back to normal.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Views from Soil Hill

                                                 Gt Whernside
                                                Pen y Ghent
             North Yorkshire White Horse
                                              Drax power station

Some of the landmarks taken yesterday from Soil Hill.  York Minster , Selby Abbey and Malham Cove can also be seen as well as the Humber Bridge  and Grimsby Tower on a clear day.

Needless to say, nothing to report at this end after a deteriorating day with an icy cold SW>5 and heavy rain and drizzle from midday on.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Soil Hill, another taste of change


                                             Snow Bunts and Skylarks

                                                        Linnet flock
                                                          Snow Bunts


Headed for Ogden mid p.m. to check out Crossbills but as I got to the bottom of Ned Hill parked cars were everywhere and I could see crowds of tourists around the Giants Tooth so a quick about turn found be back to the solitude of Soil Hill.
Like Fly Flatts , the hill had a different feel to it with all the birds constantly on the wing and even a Skylark up singing. The famous 4 seemed out of place now and will surely soon be gone, today they were very flighty spending most of the time in the air.
I missed 12 Golden Plovers on the deck when they suddenly came past me like the Red Arrows at waist height.
Half an hour skywatch over the Causeway Foot col produced good numbers of Fieldfare, as this morning, all >NE and all to the distant west.
Lapwings were moving in the same area with long threads of them against the blue sky, several seemed to be over Stoodley Pike.

On the hill
4 Snow Buntings
18 Linnet
5 Meadow Pipit
7 Skylark
2 Grey Partridge
1 Kestrel
12 Golden Plover

From the col
c 300 Fieldfare.........................NE
c 200 Lapwing.........................NE

A first taste at Fly Flatts

                                             Great Black Backed on the move

                                      Looked like an Albatross coming over

                   Rare to Fly Flatts, Mistle Thrush
                                                Lapwings back on the moor

                                      The Mixenden White Crow.

A great morning to be out though an icy cold NW>4-5 but warming slightly in the sunshine.
A real taste of change today with big gulls on the move and Lapwings back holding territory.
A rare visitor to the feeding station was a Mistle Thrush which I think is a site first for me other than migrating fly overs.
Several winter thrushes were heading back >N but these could only be seen by scanning far out to the west of the reservoir.

Mixed winter thrushes.......................c 500  >NE
GBB gull .........................................1 >N
Herring gull .....................................3 >W
LBB gull ........................................15 >NW
Lapwing ..........................................8
Red Grouse.....................................6
Mistle Thrush...................................1
Canada geese...................................5  back on the water
White Crow at Mixenden