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.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Beaten by the weather and January summary.

Well January did,nt go out on a high for me with half an hour of bright skies this morning then freezing fog throughout the day and another covering of snow late afternoon.
                                                   January has been dominated with fog throughout the month and then snow and ice the last couple of weeks cutting visits to Fly Flatts down although I did manage 36 visits this month but many of them very quiet. Mid February is when it starts to kick off up there so by the time the snow and ice allow me access again I,ll be getting somewhere near.
                                                  At least having to miss Fly Flatts has giving me chance to cover some other local venues picking up quite a few species I sometimes never get from one year to the other.
I,ve recorded 74 local species this month which is about 20 above my usual average when I spend more time at Fly Flatts. Is anyone going for Gordon Denisons 100 birds in 100 days or is that a target of the past now.?
                         Although things have been quiet there has been some good sightings of winter birds around with Waxwings, Brambling, Siskin,Redpoll, inc Mealys, plus quite a few skeins of Pink Footed Geese.
Gulls have given a good show with record numbers of moving Herring gull along with several Great Black Backed, the latter being an uncommon gull in this area. On the down side Goldeneye and Wigeon have been very low in numbers with Mixenden being the only site to hold Goldeneye to press.
         Stonechat and Golden Plover have continued to show throughout the month and I have had 4 species of Owl including Tawny which I have,nt had for the last 2 years.
           January welcomed the 50th member to Calderdale grapevine group when Danny Hyland joined this week, welcome aboard Danny.
Lets hope February is better on the weather front for us when we can expect the return of Curlew and Oystercatchers to the moorland waters as well as wildfowl on the move .
Below is just a few of the special January birds:-

                                        Fly Flatts Stonechat
                                                 EGP Dipper
                                   A good vole season for Short Eared Owl
                           Pink Footed Geese on the move
                                          A good month for Redwing
                     An influx winter for Brambling , lower bird.
                          Record count of Herring gulls
         Golden plover flocks at Queensbury and Fly Flatts
              Several Fieldfare in the fields and on the moor.
                            A good supply of Redpoll at Ogden
                                          A bonus bird, Barn Owl.

    Waxwings sightings at Brighouse, Lane Head and Sainsburys Halifax.


Struggling with the elements, Ogden.

                                                 Gulls on ice

                                                 A wintry scene
                                                    Firecrest alley.
                                Mist creeping in over the frozen water
                                                          Lights out.

A bright sunny morning with clear blue skies but short lived with the fog in the valleys soon rising up and stopping the job by 0930 hrs. Its getting more and more difficult up here on the tops with the snow and ice making more birding locations inaccessible and even Ogden was chaos this morning with the car park barrier closed because of ice leaving Ogden Lane a battleground with cars stuck on there with nowhere to go and unable to turn round on the icy road, and that was just at first light.
                                                The water was 80% frozen over holding around 80 small gulls with a passage of several Herring gulls overhead in the usual direction on >NE.
A check on the Alders found them very white and frozen solid so other than a couple of Blue Tits nothing was present although a flock of around 20 Siskin made 2 quick attempts of landing but soon gave up and headed into the wood.
                                                By this time the fog was creeping in fast and by the time I got back to the promenade it was lights out.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Out on the Owl hunt. Undisclosed location.

                                    Barn Owl in the snow
   A quick 5 second burst as it flew across at some distance.

                                    960mm  2000exp  f6.3   1250 iso 
                                                        Then gone in seconds.

With no thaw today and wondering where to go for the tea time session I thought it worth a try to locate DJSs Barn Owl which turned out to be no easy task.
                                                                  On arrival a first scan around found the bird sat on a wall but a long distance away and ready to move so just chance of a quick shot before it dropped below the wall and out of sight.
                                      With Big Bertha up on the tripod raring to go and some test shots for the settings out of the way I waited for its return, and waited, and waited , ankle deep in snow and an icy wind blowing although the sun shone nicely.
                                     1 hour later the bird appeared out of the plantation only to turn and head straight back in again. Another half hour went by and the same thing happened giving me no time to get it in the lens.
After 2 hours standing and froze to the spot I was just starting to drop the tripod when it appeared and dropped behind a distant wall. Just as I got the tripod back in position it came up above the wall and flew across me left to right but a distance away. Bertha gave it a blast of 18 frames and then it was gone. Two hours of waiting for a 5 second sighting but well worth it.
                                   A panic checking the photos as the light had altered considerably since I first set up and the quick appearance gave me no time to reset but luckily I had something to show although they could have been much better.
                                Also present was a calling Tawny Owl, Little Owl and a fly over of 15 Siskins.
Thanks goes to DJS for turning up this bird a couple of days ago, thats another one I owe him.

Queensbury snow. a.m.

With plenty snow, ice and fog this morning it was a dog walk around Foxhill giving the roads chance to clear a bit but no sign of any thaw. People living down below can,t believe we have snow up here in Hill Billy country so here,s a few snaps from this mornings walk.


                                             Foxhill Park
                                         Across to Fleet kennels
                                             The team enjoy it.

            Snicket across to Old Guy Road. Spring Wheatear hotspot


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

p.m. birding session snowed off.

With snow coming down thick and fast in Queensbury I took the opportunity to crack on with the decorating rather than risk being snow bound somewhere and Fly Flatts looks like it will be off the menu this week unless a mega thaw transpires.
                                                                Before the worst of the snow started I had a quick look at Raggalds Flood and field as well as Pit Lane football pitches with around 90 Lapwing and several small gulls on the latter but no signs of the Goldie flock.
                                                               Surprising how many Pinkies were moving in poor conditions today after several reports coming in this morning.
I,ve just had an e mail from Nick Small, volunteer warden at Ogden reporting a skein of about 40 Pinks over Ogden in the wind and snow trying to head NE to SW but over the new tree plantation for 5 minutes or more unable to make headway. Possibly come down locally.

Ogden Redpolls a.m.

                                         Around 30 Redpolls present
 Stretching camera to the limit to get any photos
 view able in the dark wood

A check on Ogden in light snow and dark clouds found the Redpoll flock in the usual Alders along with Goldfinch and Bullfinch. At least 2 stood out as Mealys but mobile moving from tree to tree.
                                                           All quiet otherwise with just small gulls and Mallard on the water. By 1000 hrs the Christmas tree gang had moved in working under the Alders and all along the west bank whilst YW were working in the sluice gate area.
Just Lapwings and gulls in the Raggalds field this morning with no sign of Goldies.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Raggalds Golden Plovers and back to Fly Flatts.

           42 Golden Plover opposite the Raggalds
         Iffy photos with low sun behind them and at distance.

A quick stop to check the Raggalds field on the way to Fly Flatts late afternoon paid a bonus with 42 Golden Plover in with the Lapwings and small gulls. This field provides well with several Herring gulls including a Yellow Legged Herring gull last year and the Goldie flock arrive annually around this time of year. Just unfortunate photo wise that the bright low sun was directly behind them when viewed from the road.
                                   Fly Flatts was same excellent conditions as this morning but other than the usual species the sky and water remained bird less.