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.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Halloween Owl, Soil Hill

            Migrant bird for Soil Hill, Long Eared Owl.

    Distant shots in fading light with trembling hands.

With NKs Wigeon in mind on Soil Hill and then JLs Stonechat off I went late afternoon in rapidly fading light with the intention of  getting some half decent Wigeon shots. A quick look on the Ned Hill track failed to produce Stonechat so a dash up the hill and down the other side towards the NK pond. The ducks were out on the water but at the distance were just silhouetted blobs and far too dark for photos. I took some snaps from as near as you can get which is still a great distance away now with excavation work on going, which later showed me there were 2 female Wigeon, 2 Teal and the rest Mallards, that was disappointment number 2.
As I scrambled down the north slope a raptor type bird flew ahead of me through the trees, kestrel thought I until it did it again and alarm bells rang.
Dropping down into the grass, wet grass that is, I got a fix on the birds position in the trees and slowly moved closer. The bird then broke cover from the trees before gliding back into them leading me on to Short Eared Owl. When I calmed down and my brain clicked in I thought whats a SEO doing in trees and why is it so dark.
After a few minutes the owl dropped onto a post briefly but very distant so a quick snap and check the photo Long Eared Owl !!!. Immediately then it flew out into the open and low across the Shay and out of sight.
Scaling back up the hill with the new 2 cwt lens round my neck I saw a quick glimpse of what I thought was the owl up by Jack Snipe alley so as I got to the top I strode very gingerly out onto the track. A look to the left, nothing, a look to the right, eck there it was sat on a fence post not 12 feet away from me. As we stared at each other I slowly started to lift the camera with visions of photo of the year but the owl had other ideas and glided neatly off the post and back down the hill.
Oh well, at least I got some record shots.
On the way back I checked Raggalds Flood which held a few Lapwing and very little water.
I don,t like Halloween but this one was ok.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Three local birders save the day.

With torrential rain this morning followed by fog it was lunch time before the weather sorted itself out leaving a bright clear afternoon with the strong W>5 dropping to calm.

                                      JL was on the late morning Ogden trek getting a good soaking before improving weather dried him out. John found a drake Tufted back at Ogden, see his report, and several passerines. We,ll see how dedicated John is when the Ogden bacon banjo cafe closes for the winter. Well done John for getting out there.

With my intentions of checking Raggalds Flood at lunch time scuppered due to pressures of work I was pleased when NK volunteered to do the job which he did in style finding the female Teal still present and a bonus of 5 Wigeon on Soil Hill. Once again showing the merits of dedication to your own area, thanks for that Nigel. See NKs blog report

Meanwhile HC had moved up to his Oxenhope watch point lunch time as the skies cleared and clocked over 700 Fieldfare >S and >SW as the afternoon went on, several of these birds being bounce backs or dropping down into trees. Thanks for the texts and calls Howard.

So with these 3 dedicated local birders all the north of our area, and beyond , was covered , reported and now down on record. Well done lads, you,re a credit to local birding.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fieldfare Bonanza and a Teal for Raggalds Flood.

           Distant shots but the flood well back to life
                          Keep the rain coming, never mind the heatwave.
                                   Welcome visitor, female Teal
             Was,nt easy to pick out in this lot,
                 especially in the heavy drizzle
                         Surrounded by Mallard
   Spent most time preening

              Escorted by Mallards
                                    The dot in the centre.

From first light this morning Fieldfares were piling over Foxhill very low, fast and >S until 0745 hrs when the rains came stopping any movement , or that I could see anyway.
By early afternoon the rain stopped and the sky cleared producing flocks of Fieldfare, some with Redwing in amongst, but this time >SW and the real migrating movers, very high and leisurely increasing and continuing until last light. Two flocks of 100+ came over as well as several 20 and 30 + with one last light flock on a broad front stretching as far as I could see in both directions over the garage. This group must have held as many as 300 birds.
By the time darkness fell I estimated seeing around 800 Fieldfare and 100 Redwing, good job we were quiet at work this afternoon.
Inspired by Bradshaw Johns report yesterday of water in the Raggalds Flood I thought it was worth a dinner time dash to check out the situation.
26 Mallard were present and a careful scan, looking through the drizzle,  picked out a female Teal which was a real live wire, darting about the water and splashing under out of site.
15 Lapwing were on the shoreline.
Birders from further afield watching my blog will think, whats so good about a Teal, but believe me, if you bird this area a Teal on the Raggalds Flood is a mega.
Kept in contact with HC at Oxenhope today who was getting the same as me, I was probably getting the birds that had passed him. Thanks for reports Comp.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Topping up day for the reservoirs.

A foggy start which soon cleared giving way to heavy, sometimes torrential, rain continuing until 1500 hrs when the skies cleared allowing a short burst of blue and even a hint of sunshine until the night clouds came rolling in at 1745 hrs.
A dog walk over the Mountain this evening saw a large bank of fog creeping through the valley from the east looking like we make again wake up to fog in the morning.
A few Redwings were around at lunch time over Foxhill heading for the station whilst Blackbirds were noticeable by their higher than usual numbers.
If the wind gets up tonight as promised it should clear any lingering fog and then they tell us a heatwave of 70 deg will hit us on Saturday and last into mid November. Believe that if you want but I don,t.
Well done to Bradshaw John for his dedication today checking the local waters in awesome conditions.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

FOG,! FOG, ! and more FOG. !

        As good as it got, Foxhill midday
                                 Spot the Common gulls

The fog rolled in yesterday evening and remained thick throughout the night ,continuing all day today without any sign of clearing. The fog is still as thick as ever now.
HC had to abandon his watchpoint at Oxenhope from the word go this morning and needless to say, nothing was seen at my end other than the resident Common gulls in Foxhill at lunch time.
Interesting to talk to a customer at work today who is unfortunately a Grouse shoot organiser and he says, though the end of the Grouse season is officially into December most shoots have now ended due to a very poor year for Grouse. They are only allowed to shoot a small percentage of the number of birds and this year the shoots have had to be aborted early with some gun clubs never even starting.
He says this was due to a shortage of insects which the chicks need to survive before they can eat the seeds of the heather so many chicks died.
Also a great number of Grouse and Partridge were killed in the severe hail storm earlier this year.
At least its good news for the remaining Grouse .

An ideal day for checking the reservoirs for grounded Whoopers today.

Monday, October 26, 2015

One of those quiet days.

                                            Foxhill Common gull

A poor start to the morning with low cloud and drizzle but this soon cleared leaving a decent sunny day
An early morning text from HC at Oxenhope started the ball rolling with a splendid 3 Whoopers >SW heading towards Hebden bridge. After that all went pear shaped with no more calls from the Oxenhope lads and all quiet from NK who was doing the Ogden run. Bradshaw John and Sue checked out Keighley Reservoir area which produced a small flock of Golden Plover . See NK and JLs reports for todays findings.
No continuation today of yesterdays trans Pennine Pink Footed Goose move but I,m sure we have,nt seen the last of them.
Interesting to find a Gt Spotted Wdpecker in the trees in Foxhill park at lunch time , obviously a mover as not an area for peckers, not to mention a fast mover as it headed >W avoiding Quick Draw Magraw , me with the camera.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Shelf Moor Trailer Park fields

   Snipe, distant and last light.

With early darkness I just found time to get down to the Shelf Moor trailer park to wait for the Snipe coming in to roost in the juncus field.
After a wait and the worry of running out of light I thought I must have missed them and they were already down. Not wanting to disturb them in the field I was calling it a do when 3 came over circling the field before dropping in. These were followed by another 6 all in to roost from Shibden area.
Hopefully the numbers will build over the next month as long as they don,t deserte the area like last year.
The record count here was 48 on 8/12/2013.

Sunday Morn Pinkies chase.

                                     Sunrise over Queensbury

                                   Taken from Soil Hill

                              Early morning light, Ogden

                                      Autumnal Ogden
                                  Up by the golf course
                        Plenty Wrens around

                  As with Blackbirds
                                                  In the wood

Fly Flatts  0645 hrs First light, Mist and heavy drizzle
Got plenty seed down , all quiet on the water, no sky visibility.

Mixenden Reservoir  Rain, better visibility.  Few small gulls on the water.

Ogden, Rain then brightening up. Water poor, Teal gone.
Good fall of Blackbirds around the track.
Just getting despondent when from the west bank area I heard a skein of Pink Footed Geese to my west but screened by the trees, camera at the ready I waited but the calls got fainter and fainter, a near miss. A call from HC at Oxenhope reported them over Clayton >E. The skein of 200 had snooked past me.
A meet with Pete Smith had also heard the geese but were not visible even from his position above the top car park.
Next a call from NK at Queensbury south with a skein over Shelf Moor >E, also picked up by HC at Oxenhope.
It was obvious now that the first Trans Pennine move of Pinkies was underway with geese moving west to east.
Next move was up to Soil Hill for a brief watch then on to the Roper Lane watch point when I got another call from HC with a skein of 220 to the east of me heading >E towards Yeadon.
Back in the car and a dash to Pit Lane just in time to see a massive skein disappearing into the low cloud beyond Yeadon airport.
A great but hard work morning for geese but disappointingly an empty camera, oh well, can,t have everything.
Thanks to HC , NK and PS for info.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Ogden, late pm.

The worst Teal photos ever.

      Photos taken in fast fading light and out of range

A mid afternoon grapevine message from Pete Smith reported 5m 1 f Teal on Ogden.
My planned visit there did,nt materialize until 1630 hrs by which time the night clouds were already closing in making the water a silhouette image.
I soon picked out the 6 Teal slap bang in the middle as always then coming ashore on the east side.
Photography is near impossible here now with the water so low everything on it is very distant.
Even when the Teal came onto the banking the level is so low they were even then out of range.
Never the less, a nice find and showing that a bit of movement is going on.  All quiet otherwise.

Nice to talk to DCB at the garage this morning who was out checking woodland areas for grounded Fieldfare and Redwing.
If anyone finds good numbers of  grounded Fieldfare or Redwing in trees or fields could they please let me know so I can pass it on to Dave for his records.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Woodpigeons starting to move.

First light saw the start of the Woodpigeon movement this morning but not yet in great numbers . Around 200 >S were counted but this fizzled out by 0830 hrs. Good numbers are starting to be recorded around the area although the cold front and strong winds forecast may put the mockers on it.
On the bright side, this weekend sees the end of the Grouse shooting season so all the sad little men will no longer be trekking over our moors. The Pheasant season continues but that does,nt really seem to affect our area.
Target birds for the weekend, Pink Footed Geese, Whooper Swan, Wigeon and mainly anything with feathers and wings that flies.
Give those reservoirs a good coating of looking at.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Starlings Galore

Two Buzzard feathers kindly handed in at work by R.M. who picked them up at a regular viewing area near Shelf.

Overnight near gale force W>7 winds eased as the day went on but continuing to blow a cold W>5 throughout  the day.
Another day of staring into empty skies making me wonder if the expected push of Fieldfares is going to keep up this years tradition by failing to show.
Starlings are the birds of the day at present with large flocks around the village and several squadrons of movers heading off  in the usual direction of >NW. A lot of the Starling groups now will be continental or northern birds.
Nearly round to the weekend and at least we get 1 hour more daylight Sunday morning or 1 hour extra in bed if you,re not a early morning birder..

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Whoopers on their way

With reports on Whoopers leaving Iceland and colder weather forecast yellow billed swans should be around our area shortly.
Probably not on the scale that swamped our area in March this year, that really was a one off, and the only time I,ve seen anything like it in 50 years of birding.
With a quiet day today heres my report from 22/3/2015.

   Yes , this really is Mixenden reservoir.

22/03/2015  Sunday.
After an early morning visit to Fly Flatts on a calm , sunny but frosty morning I was ready for leaving when a call from AC stopped me in my tracks.Andy reported 53 Whooper Swans over Northowram heading >N towards Queensbury.
Minutes later DJS reported Whoopers over Lee Mount also heading in my direction.
At 0920 hrs another report from AC via DJS with hundreds of Whoopers heading over Northowram and all heading my way.
                              I alerted HC who was at the Oxenhope end of Fly Flatts scoping from the top road so now it was just a matter of wait and watch.
After 15 minutes I called HC who had just scoped 30 Whoopers out over Bingley but where were the reported swans?
It was obvious that such a large number could not have got past me even if they had gone through the Causeway Foot col to my east so the only other option was that they must have gone down on either Ogden or Mixenden.
With Mixenden being the odds on favourite it was in the car and full speed ahead to Mixenden reservoir.
On arrival I got out of the car to the amazing sound of calling Whoopers coming from the reservoir. After a shuffle over the wall and a climb up the banking a sight met me unlike anything I have ever experienced before in 52 years of birding. The reservoir was white with a count of 244 noisy Whooper Swans.
After alerting the cavalry through a grapevine message and a few phone calls it was down to getting some photos which was difficult getting them all in without a wide angled lens.
The grapevine message created a steady flow of birders throughout the day to view the spectacle before the birds up and left >N at 1620 hrs witnesses by PG.
The flock was later picked up heading >N over Oxenhope at 1640 hrs by RP, JL and Sue.
                                                         This was only half the story with Whooper Swan reports coming in throughout the day from all areas of West Yorkshire.
Here are just some of the reports compiled by DJS and myself.

0915  70 over Ringstone >NW  D.F.
0915   7 On water at Ringstone  DF, A.T.
0915  Skein heard over Boothtown   A & G.
0916  53 over Northowram   AC
0918  6 over Lee Mount    DJS
0920  185 over Northowram   AC
0920  80 over Ogden    BH
0930  30 over Bingley    HC
0937  60+ over Claremount    DB
0945  244 found on Mixenden reservoir  BS
1035  28 West over Oakworth following the Ponden / Watersheddles valley   IH
1040  37 over Cromwell Bottom  MH  SJ
1100  37 over Mytholmroyd   DJP
1620  244 left Mixenden reservoir  PG
1640  180 over Oxenhope   RP  JL  and Sue

23.3.2015   Monday

2 on Watersheddles    JL  and Sue
9 on Ponden    JL and Sue
2 Through Causeway Foot col  NK

Contributors and Viewers

AC   DJS   JS   BV   HC   BS   A & G   RP   DF   HT   BH    JL    N& DP   DP   MH   PG    NO

SB    PS   TT     DB    NK    JL & Sue   VJ

Apologies for any reports or birders missed.