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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.
BS


Monday, December 31, 2018

Worst days birding of the year and a look back at 2018

A first light and last light session at Fly Flatts today on the last day of the year turned out to be probably the worst on record in 2018.
                                                            Conditions this morning were good, if not a bit on the windy side, with 80% cloud cover and good visibility on a W>5 but the area was the quietest I,ve seen for a while with 2 Carrion Crows and a few Red Grouse  being the only birds seen. Several Grouse were seen flying low over the water, probably celebrating the end of the grouse shooting season although I have,nt seen signs of any shoots in this area at all .
                                                           Conditions late afternoon was another thing with the wind up to near gale W>7 at 33 m.p.h. but still good visibility and decent light. Unfortunately the only birds seen were the same 2 Carrion Crow and Red Grouse.
The last 30 minutes was spent near the top gate scanning the sky for Pinkies and the moor for raptors but nothing materialized. December has been a shocking month at Fly Flatts with strong winds and dense fog dominating the weather but it is winter after all and thats birding, something we just have to put up with or get an indoor hobby.
                                                    Ive put all my efforts into Fly Flatts this year and although I,ve had many poor sessions the rewards have been great. Below are just a few of the special birds that have helped to keep me company during 2018 in this bleak lonely spot.

 Whooper Swans dropped in on a couple of occassions
                                        1 of several Shelduck
                                        Star performer, Osprey

             Fly Flatts bird of the year, Sandwich Tern

                                        Plenty Peregrine sightings harassing the waders
                       A scarce bird this year, Whinchat
                                          Red Kite, uncommon over this area.
                                        Wall to wall Ringed Plovers
                                                 and Dunlin
                                       A good year for Reed Bunting
                                          Redshanks bred well
                                                  Cuckoo
                                 A stonking Sanderling

                                        Common Scoters kept appearing

                          A pleasant surprise, Cream crown Marsh Harrier

         Adult summer plumage Turnstone

                                          Distant Greenshank
                                    5 juv Shelduck stopped off briefly
             Grey Plover cause quite a bit of interest
                                                     Merlin
                                       distant Ruff was a first for here.




                                                     More Whoopers
                Another first, Barn Owl
                      A poor year for Wheatear with very low numbers.
                                   Several skeins of Pink Footed geese through.

  1 of 2 Snow Bunting sightings. This bird appeared right on the edge of darkness.
 
                                     
             A good show of Golden Plover, Dunlin to the left
                                                Not many Wigeon as yet.

                                 Stonechats present almost throughout.
                                   A good vole year for the Short Eared Owls

With that I,ll wish you all a very Healthy New Year, you make your own happiness. From the team ,  Bobby, Pippa , Ollie and me, as well as Big Bertha who appears to be getting stood on by Bobby in the photo.  All the very best to you all and many thanks for tuning in and sticking with me through the quiet times. I hope not to disappoint you in 2019. Keep those reports coming in and enjoy your birding.  Brian.


Sunday, December 30, 2018

Fly Flatts p.m.

                                                  Great Black Backed gull


                                           SEO peering out of the darkness.

After yet another day of fog it actually started to clear by 1415 hrs so off to Fly Flatts before it changed its mind.
                         On arrival fog was still over the water but soon lifted slightly giving horizontal vision but anything higher than the east and west ridge were still in the cloud although the heavy drizzle had ceased.
           Nothing on the water or along the west bank other than a few noisy Red Grouse on the moor and a couple of Pheasants. Near the NW corner a Great Black Backed gull suddenly appeared out of the fog above me then turned and disappeared back into the cloud on seeing me. I dont know who was most shocked, the gull or me.
Another shock on the south bank with a rare sighting of a winter Merlin that came from the direction of Slade , flew over the track and stooped down into the boat compound before flying alongside the top road.
            As I was leaving a single Short Eared Owl was working the Fill Belly Flat moor in the distance and barely visible in the fast fading light. It was interesting to see that it caught 3 voles in one area and each time it landed with them leaving them in a larder before hunting again nearby. It must go back to retrieve them when its finished hunting.
            No Pinkies heard in the mist today but a report from PG of a skein west over Ripponden at
1240 hrs.
BS

Getting below the cloud base, Leeshaw Reservoir

                                1 of 3 Goosander
                                      Several Mallards
                                            1 of 3 Cormorant

                          Dark and murky conditions
              All taken Exp 640  f 7.1  iso 5000

With thick fog once again on the tops and Fly Flatts with its head in the clouds it was a drop down to Leeshaw Reservoir which was just below the cloud base but very dull, dark and grey with heavy drizzle throughout.
                               The area was lively enough to keep me interested but nothing out of the ordinary present. 1m 2f Goosander were as good as it got but around 200 small gulls present to trawl through with hopes of a Med gull.
                               Plenty Canadas and Greylags but no sign of the recently reported Brent goose.

Small gulls..............c 200   75% Black Headed
Mallard........................18
Cormorant....................3
Goosander....................2f 1m
Stock Dove..................11
Fieldfare.......................c50
Redwing......................c30
Heron..........................1
Starling........................c300
BS