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, November 30, 2019

The fog returns, Fly Flatts, Leeshaw reservoir.

                                  Withins Fieldfares in the frosty field

               Peregrine over Fly Flatts in the mist

             Wintery scenes at Fly Flatts. South from the west bank
   The 1 mile of piping to divert the water
              Looking north from the west bank.
                                              A misty north shoreline.
                                         All thats left of the water.
          The temporary disused Twite feeding station.
                                            The 3 islands are now as one.
              Looking down to the drain
         The vortex , now drained nearly as much as it can.

Well, the 5 days of sunshine promised by the weather men lasted just 1 hour at Fly Flatts this morning before the fog came down and lasted throughout the day.
Conditions at the start were ideal with clear blue skies, sunshine and good visibility other that the tops of the wind turbines in mist but the trouble making breeze was from the east which always spells trouble and by 0915 hrs the fog came wafting in from the east shutting the job down.
                                                  On the way up there around 40 Fieldfare were in the Withins field in the heavy frosted grass along with at least 4 Meadow Pipits.
With the temperature at minus one the muddy tracks around the reservoir were frozen solid so an ideal time to walk the full length of the west bank as well as checking the NW corner conduit with just 2 Reed Bunting and 3 Mipits found whilst a Peregrine flew over the water just as the fog was coming in.
by the time I got back to the boat compound visibility was gone so yet another early finish.
                                           Late afternoon and Fly Flatts still enveloped in fog so another trip to Leeshaw reservoir to find it dark and murky but visibility workable.
                                           One pair of Goosander were on the water with a single Cormorant and around 100 small gulls plus 2 Mallard whilst the Mipit flock were still present in the stubble field but otherwise very quiet.
                             The fog has cleared up here in the gods so far and the wind is shifting to >N then >NW in the morning but very light so hopefully it may be fog free but I,m not holding my breath.
See if December is any better than an awful November, I suppose its got to be really!

Friday, November 29, 2019

Better days have been had. Fly Flatts a.m./ Leeshaw p.m.

          The highlight at Leeshaw was a group of
                                              15 Meadow Pipits.

Very little time this morning so just a quick hour up there and an early finish.
A cracking morning to be out with 0 okts clear blue skies on a light N>2 at -1 degrees and excellent visibility. The ponds were frozen over as well as all the mud so it made it easier for walking without going ankle deep.
                           Very little around with 7 Herring gulls >NE and 2 local Raven as well as a single Kestrel in the sky. A pair of Stonechat eluded photos by surprisingly keeping near the diggers which were revving up to clear the windscreens and the Bentley workers close by. Despite all the disturbance they stayed put and out of my access area and by the time the workers had moved on so had the chats.
                    Whilst I was watching them a Merlin shot across the Flat Moor and disappeared beyond  the Wind Turbines.
                              Late afternoon and back to Fly Flatts only to find with the ice melting and tipper wagons and plant machinery moving around, the place was like a quagmire with even the entrance track deep in mud. Despite me fighting all the odds against me up there the area is slowly beating me with now very little water and very limited places that I can walk so other than frozen mornings I may have to put this site on a back burner for a while over the winter.
                            On seeing the place this afternoon I went over the hill to Leeshaw where things were pretty quiet other than the usual species. A Dipper, Pied Wagtail and Grey Wagtail were down in the beck but very mobile whilst a small group of 15 Meadow Pipits were in a stubble field feeding, looking like ideal conditions to pick up something exotic among them but not today.
                          It was on my way home that the fun started, driving along Long Causeway and about 1/2 a mile from the Denholme Road the traffic suddenly stopped. Queues of cars could be seen right to the main road and way up the hill and out of sight and after sitting 10 minutes without moving I managed to turn round and had to drive right back towards Leeshaw and back over the tops past Fly Flatts. This road, Nab Water Lane, is a nightmare at tea time with works traffic using it as a rat run
and too narrow for two cars passing with limited passing places, hence, what should have been a 15 minutes drive from Leeshaw home took me just over 1 hour. You can imaging how my neck was throbbing when I got back and mumbling that I,ll never do this again, but of course I will !

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Leeshaw a.m./ and back home to Fly Flatts p.m. (no public access)

A clearer morning in Queensbury but Fly Flatts was still up in the clouds.
                                                    Leeshaw was clear but very dark on a light N>3 and heavy rain throughout.
                Just a normal steady mornings birding with nothing to get the adrenaline going with around 200 BH gulls around the water with several others in surrounding fields. Just the one male Goosander
on the water along with 17 Mallard and 2 distant Teal half hiding in the reed beds. At least 2 Meadow Pipits were in the conduit as well as a single Reed Bunting whilst 7 Stock doves were in a field across the water  along with 23 Pheasants.
              By late afternoon the fog had cleared from the tops and the rain had stopped leaving decent conditions with a light N>3 and even a hint of blue sky . At last, after almost a weeks absence due to fog it was back to my home base at Fly Flatts where the Bentleys team welcomed me back saying they thought I must be dead. They have now completed bypassing the NW inlet to stop the reservoir refilling by laying nearly a mile of large diameter pipes through into the conduit to take the water directly back down the stream and into Dean Head. This has left the water at its lowest level which is now near enough for them to start their work in the reservoir basin and fortunately leaving enough water to support wildfowl although there may not be enough to invite Whooper Swans down but we shall see.
              As expected, this late in the afternoon and not far off last light, things were quiet with just
3 Herring gulls, 2 LBB gulls and 4 Black Headeds on the far shore. A single Meadow Pipit and 3 Reed Buntings were around the top track feeding area whilst 2 cronking Ravens flew overhead.
            By the time I,d replenished all the seed it was 1515 hrs and on the edge of darkness so head for home in the knowledge that hopefully we are in for a few good days birding weather at last and only 23 days to the shortest day.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Hard times for upland birders.

                                               As good as it got at Ogden.

After clear starry skies last night I put on my blog that I thought we were turning a corner at last away from the fog. Little did I know that around the corner was another capful of fog with no visibility this morning then clearing with heavy rain p.m. but the fog remaining at Fly Flatts throughout the day.
                                                    This morning was just a dog walk at Ogden with the fog so dense you could hardly see the water from the promenade.
                                                   Late afternoon was clearer but very wet with Leeshaw being in the clear but very dark with drizzle then rain.
                                                  A much quieter afternoon with just 2 Mallard on the water as well as the usual small gulls with 2 Herring gulls over >SW. A check of the conduits found 3 Reed Bunting, 2 Wrens and surprisingly a flock of 12 Meadow Pipits which seemed settled and will probably over winter at this site. Otherwise it was down to the usual geese, winter thrushes and Lapwing flock with no sighting of the Kingfisher today.
                                                     I,ll certainly be glad to see the back of November this year which is always a poor month but this November has got to be a record breaker for fog and rain.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Are we turning the corner at last ?

 Some Black Headeds still retaining their summer hoods.
                      The one at the back had plenty to say.
     A very dark afternoon, these shots had to be taken
         at slow exposure 800 and high iso 2500.
You can see on this photo where the black eye spot
               and head bands come from in winter.

Well, enough is enough with unbelievably another full day of thick fog and rain up here in the gods with Queensbury and Fly Flatts obliterated from the map but, looking out tonight the sky is clear with some stars showing so hopefully we have turned the corner and left the fog behind.
                                          Tomorrow has a forecast of some heavy rain which isn,t a problem as long as we can see and by Friday temperatures are to plummet bringing some brighter weather over the weekend, allegedly!
                               Leeshaw reservoir this morning was below the cloud base and dry until 1000 hrs when the mist dropped and down came the rain, luckily just as I was tackling up.
                                 Just 2 m Goosanders left on the water today but a good count of 34 Mallard as well as 2 Cormorant, 2 Greylags and 3 Canadas.
8 Stock Doves were in the field whilst another 57 Woodpigeons flew over >S and 4 Herring gulls headed >SW.
The Kingfisher made a brief appearance flying up the conduit whilst an Oxenhope resident, running a circuit past the reservoir this morning, informed me that he had previously seen a Kingfisher by the Oxenhope pond and brook on several occasions which is about a good mile away ,as the Kingfisher flies, so possibly the same bird.
                                              Ogden late afternoon was grim in dark conditions with drizzle and the cloud base just sitting on the plantation top.
Around 80 pre roost small gulls were on the water along with 5 Herring gulls and the usual Mallards whilst the Kingfisher flew low over the water landing in Willows on the east bank near to passerine alley.
        Last light and a check through the building Goldfinch roost found around 40 Goldfinch, 12 Chaffinch and at least 2 Siskin. With the water level well up and covering the Chaffinches favourite weeds the Chaffinch roost will probably fail again as it did last year which will mean a lack of Brambling at this site.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Birding in the gloom, Leeshaw/Ogden.

                                 A record count of 9 Goosanders at Leeshaw

                                             5 male, 4 female
   The Goosanders were heavily mobbed by the BH gulls.

And so the cloud of doom and gloom continued another day with dense fog on the tops day long with no let up but some heavy rain thrown in today just to keep it interesting.
                                                          Once again Leeshaw reservoir was below the cloud base but very dark and wet with rain then drizzle throughout. Despite the weather there was enough throughout the watch to keep me interested with a good count of 5m and 4f Goosander but sticking to the far side of the water and being heavily mobbed by the Black Headed gulls.
                                                         The Kingfisher showed again briefly before moving further up the conduit and out of sight. Stragglers of Woodpigeons are still moving with 91 >S otherwise it was down to the usual species.
                                      Late afternoon and a dog walk at Ogden with heavy rain and just enough visibility to check the duck corner for exotic visitors and check the nearby gulls on the water although visibility now was down to 25 yds.

91 Woodpigs.....................>S
5m 4f Goosander on water
9 Mallard
2 Canadas
6 Greylag
1 Cormorant
c 200 small gulls, mainly Black Headed.
1 Kingfisher
1 Mistle Thrush
3 Herring gull......................>W

When Black Dyke Mills was in full swing and all the houses had coal fires the smoke and fog (smog) used to get so dense in Queensbury that people had to walk feeling the kerb edge with their foot so they knew where the causeway and road were.
                                                        One local character who worked at the mill and liked a few drinks after work was found by the local bobby walking round and round the Queensbury cenotaph at the crossroads feeling the edge of the steps which he thought was the pavement. The bobby thought it best to escort him home.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Leeshaw Reservoir a.m./ Fly Flatts.p.m.

  A first for Leeshaw for me, single male Kingfisher.
                                         Catching well in the conduit.

  Tried some flight shots but way too dark with
    exp. down at 800 and iso. up at 4000.

  Best I could do at Fly Flatts in the gloom
                                      2 Herring gull

                                        and 1 lonely Lesser Black Backed.

At 0630 hrs as I was getting up this morning the fog was clearing well but by the time I was ready for off it had rolled back in as thick as ever.
                                                         Once again Leeshaw was below the cloud base though very dark and drab with hardly a breath of wind.
                                                          Plenty movement in the sky with a good start off of 32 pink Footed Geese >E soon disappearing into the cloud whilst a flock of 49 Greylags flew over heading for one of the top fields. Woodpigeons are still on the move with 171 >S in 2 groups heading high and fast in migration mode.
                                         Just 2 Canadas on the water as well as 2 Herring gull, 1 LBB and several small gulls with a mix of around 300 Commons and Black Headeds around the area, 75% being BHGs. A small group of 4 Meadow Pipits were mobile around the fields and wall tops, possibly over wintering birds.
                       A check of the conduit for Buntings etc produced a surprising visitor in the form of a male Kingfisher, a first for me here in 50 years of visiting. It seemed out of place down on the conduit but was catching a fish every dive, either Sticklebacks or Minnows. This was my 97th species for Leeshaw.
                                 Late afternoon and with the wind turbines just visible from Queensbury I took a chance on Fly Flatts which was workable though horribly dark and misty with visibility just across the reservoir but good enough to check the water, what there is left of it now, scan all the ponds and shorelines and top up all the feeding areas.
                               Apart from 2 Crows, also checking the feeding areas, there was just 2 adult Herring gulls and 1 Lesser Black Backed out on the newly formed islands. Otherwise all quiet and coming dark up there by 1500 hrs.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Yes! its fog again..A look back at this years Fly Flatts Dunlins.

Dense fog yet again throughout the day up on the tops blanking out Queensbury and Fly Flatts.
                                                       This morning was a dog walk at Ogden in the pouring rain but just below the cloud base. Just the usual few gulls and Mallards here.
                                                     Late afternoon was another dog walk, this time to Mixenden reservoir, with a half hearted check of the water in the mist and dark skies where there was just the usual small gulls, around 100, plus 5 Herrings along with a single Moorhen, 2 Cormorants and a pair of Goldeneye.

Not to be down hearted by the run of bad weather, which isnt over yet, heres a capful of  Fly Flatts Dunlins from this spring and summer showing that there really is ,or was, birds out there.
                                                        Dunlins started to arrive at the end of April with 11 present on the 1st of May. This count built up steady through May peaking on the 29th with a record number of 48 present for several days. The last Dunlin on the shore up there was seen mid August and the last bird was October with a single fly over. An amazing year for this species.

                           Most birds were in full breeding plumage.

                The last August bird in non breeding plumage.

  This birder waited in vain for autumn birds returning
                                       which never happened.