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.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Seeing out the old year, Fly Flatts a.m./Leeshaw reservoir p.m.

     Leeshaw..                          1 of 2 distant Herring gulls

                                        Plenty small gulls to scope through

                                                    Blast off
                                                     Fieldfare heading for a roost


                                      Last of the 2019 daylight, Leeshaw.

Fly Flatts first light was just below the cloud base with the tops of the turbines hidden and a fog bank hanging over the moor. A cool E>3 was blowing with a temperature of 3 degrees. One hour into the watch and the fog rolled in blanking out all visibility.
                                                   Very little happening once again up there with just 3 Raven, 2 Carrion Crow, 1 Stonechat and 6 Red Grouse whilst the water held 15 Mallard.
A call from my Horton Bank Top Pink Footed Goose early warning system, Peter Turner, reporting Pinkies heading for Queensbury around 1000 hrs but with low cloud they slipped through the net, possibly to the North of me otherwise I would have picked up their contact calls.
Thank for your dedication for the many early warnings throughout the year Peter.
                                                   Late afternoon and dense fog in the village but a trip to Leeshaw found it like another world with blue skies and some cloudy sunshine on a very light E>2 at 3 degrees.
          Around 250 small gulls were on the water and reservoir walls giving plenty to scope through but only 2 Herrings present. Only a few Mallard on the water as well as a single Cormorant whilst a large flock of around 150 Fieldfare headed off to roost.

A WORD OF WARNING.....  Yesterday afternoon on my way back from Fly Flatts I passed 2 cars with their windows trashed. One was parked by the Withins where we park to walk down the Cold Edge track for Black Redstart and the other was parked at Nolstar by the Dotterel field.  There has,nt been any problems that I know of lately although the Fly Flatts top gate lock has been cut off twice with a digger damaged and a bowser full of diesel towed away despite 24 hr security guards. Also a pile of stone at the north end ready to strengthen the north shore has disappeared so it looks like the lowlife have crawled back out from under their stone and got back into action.
                     A long evening ahead now as I have to stay up till all the fireworks are over to calm the dogs which is way past my bedtime but I,ll still be off in the morning trying to find a none foggy venue.                             ALL THE BEST TO ALL MY WATCHERS > HAVE A HEALTHY AND BIRD FILLED NEW YEAR.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Leeshaw Reservoir a.m. / Glutten for punishment Fly Flatts p.m.

    Leeshaw..                              Around 300 Woodpigeons
                                                 male Goosander

                                        Blast off of Greylags

A bright sunny morning at Leeshaw reservoir but spoilt with a moderate cold SW>5 at 4 degrees.
                                                                 About half of the Greylag geese were present in a top field with no sign of the Pink Footed among them but I unfortunately missed the initial blast off and just got them as they flew low over the water then off in the direction of Lower Marsh.
                                                                 The water held around 150 small gulls, 2 Canadas, 2 male and 1 female Goosander and about a dozen Mallard.
Around 300 Woodpigeons were flying around over the farm to the north as well as a flock of 70+ Fieldfare and about 100 Starling. Disappointingly no big gulls present though Cullingworth fields held plenty as usual.
                               Late afternoon at Fly Flatts was again ridiculously quiet though a turn in the weather didnt help with the wind moved around to W>5 with low cloud and drizzle.
                               A female Merlin went over fast and low flushing a group of 53 Fieldfare and 2 Red Grouse whilst 6 Mallard were on the water and that was it. I,m going to have to accept that this venue is not going to produce now until February when the first Curlew and Oystercatchers should be returning then hopefully waders galore come May.
                              One day to go now in 2019 in which to bag up, though with a light easterly wind promised for tomorrow the tops could well be fog bound.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Double dose of fog at Fly Flatts/ Double dose of birding at Leeshaw.

Leeshaw this morning was once again below the cloud base but large, low scud clouds blowing over restricting sky high viewing. A cold moderate SW>5 was blowing with , in contrast to yesterdays visit, keeping it much quieter and still the lack of decent light.
                                                    As expected, yesterdays Wigeon had moved on leaving Goosanders and Mallards on the water along with small gulls but lower numbers. A skein of 38 Pink Footed Geese were heading >NW mid watch but very high and quickly disappearing into the scud clouds.
                                                  The large Starling/ Fieldfare flock were mobile around the fields seeming to be aggravated by the strong wind whilst a flock of 38 Lapwing flew >SW over the moor.
                                                No big gulls present today with just 6 Herring and 2 LBB heading >W whilst my first Buzzard sighting for quite a while showed up this afternoon but well to the east of me drifting >NE.
                    Still an unseasonable forecast for the coming week and no sign ahead of sub zero temperatures which is needed to waken the job up a bit. Hopefully the deep bank of fog that has been over Fly Flatts on and off for weeks now will soon break up and move on.
                 The chance of going out of 2019 with a mega is cutting it a bit fine now with only 2 days to go so I may have to make do with the pair of Wigeon unless I,m struck with a miracle tomorrow or Tuesday.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Bonus prize at Leeshaw and Flogging a dead horse at Fly Flatts.

                                      Plenty small gulls at Leeshaw
                                             Heron on standby.
  Winter wildfowl at last. Distant pair of Wigeon

   Keeping way over to the NW end of the water.

More fog on the tops this morning but Leeshaw was below the cloud base but dark skies on a SW>3.
                                                                      A first light check of the water found 3 male and 2 female Goosander, a single Cormorant, 18 Mallard and around 100 small gulls.
Whilst I was checking through the gulls a pair of Wigeon dropped in from the east but landing right across the water at the NW end. Still too dark for photos so just a couple of record shots and then a dog walk while some daylight appeared hoping they would drift nearer for some decent shots.
                                                                    Down at the bottom of the track a Heron was by the beck before moving back up to the reservoir whilst a flock of around 200 mixed Fieldfare, Redwing and Starling were moving around the fields. The stubble field just held 2 Canadas and 3 Greylag geese with no signs of the big flock which are probably still around the Lower Marsh area.
                                                                 Back up at the reservoir the sky was a little brighter but no signs of the Wigeon. Guessing that they were up in the inaccessible north end, rather than having left, I set up the tripod and watched and waited. Sure enough , after about 30 minutes Mallards started coming in to sight from the North end with the Wigeons in with them but never got within range so just had to do the best I could, or rather, Big Bertha did, managing to get a few iffy images. The only big gulls seen were 3 Herring over high and >W.
                                                              A late afternoon visit to Fly Flatts found conditions good even with a hint of cloudy sunshine but the area was completely bird less other than 12 Mallard and 2 Raven with nothing other than that either in the sky, on the water or on the deck. Why is it that this area is showing nothing yet a few short miles to the north at Leeshaw and Keighley the area is buzzing with bird life and hundreds of gulls? Other than that I,m now restricted to the boat yard area with everywhere else bogged out with construction works. Roll on April when at least it should produce some waders, that is if the water is still down which is looking as though it will be as the work is nothing near completion.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Triple Dip a.m. Redcar Tarn / Leeshaw p.m.

       Redcar Tarn.     Around 150 Lapwing, 2 large groups.

                                   No shortage of ducks and geese
                          Lapwings, Coot and Tufted on the island
                                                      1st winter Herrings
                                Sky full of Lapwings and gulls
                                          1st winter Herring
                                       A good count of 33 Tufted

 Leeshaw, p.m.                           One of 8m, 2f Goosander

                     Heading off to the Oxenhope roost.

With the festive fog still stuck solid over the tops I thought I,d try for my hat trick dip on Redcar Tarns Caspian gull with I achieved with no effort.
A better morning up there with decent, if not dark. visibility on a light SE>3 and rain near the end of the watch.
                 Not a single gull present at first light but then suddenly appearing from nowhere on the water ending up with around 20 Herrings, 4 LBBs and over 100 Common and Black Headed but again, no sign of the Caspian which has either moved on or somewhere around the fields.
                  Two large groups of Lapwing were giving some spectacular aerial displays over the water whilst the Tufted duck count was up at 33. At least 3 Brambling were in with the Chaffinch flock in Alders by the water along with a small group of 5 Siskin.
                   Good to meet up with 4 Bradford birders up there also looking for my target bird and they put me on to a flock of around 20 Brambling in Alders less than 1/4 of a mile away but dark clouds and a heavy rain shower prevented me getting any pics as I tracked them down on my way home.
                      A good mornings birding up there despite another dip which I,m well used to by now.
On my way back, a field on the left of the large sweeping bend above where Sugden Tip used to be held around 300 big gulls shoulder to shoulder but no time to stop and scope through them but another day maybe.
                       A few years ago whilst working at the garage I used to mend the local undertakers hearse and limos which was just next door to the garage. One day she shouted me round to show me a coffin for an unknown, to me birder, all artistically painted up with birds which looked amazing, mine,s going to have Caspian gulls on it!
                         Late afternoon and still fog on the tops so over to a dark but clear Leeshaw with just a smattering of drizzle in the air on a light SE>3.
                        Most gulls had already left for the roost with just around 50 small gulls left and ready for leaving whilst a couple of 1st year Herrings went over >W. A single Cormorant was on the water along with 8 male and 2 female Goosanders, all of which soon headed off to roost along with the Cormorant.
                 As I was tackling up a single duck appeared way over at the west end of the water getting alarm bells ringing so it was back out with the scope and tripod but as it got nearer in the fading light it turned out to be a female Teal which was good but not as good as I was hoping for.
               Looking out of the window tonight the fog has cleared and the wind is set to change to SW so who knows, I may even get to have a dabble at Fly Flatts tomorrow???

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Mission Impossible. In search of the Redcar Tarn Caspian gull.

                                  Plenty Herring gulls of all ages.

                                   This was the nearest contender.

                 Head not white enough, legs too short, knee to body.

                  Another contender left but head not white enough.

Another day, another dip, again on the dreaded Caspian gull after one has been seen the last 2 days at Redcar Tarn but no sign today after a morning and late afternoon session. The Caspian was once again found by Keith ( Caspian) Moir, as per usual, making this about his 5th find up there.
                                                           First light and a real grim morning with drizzle and mist cutting visibility down to half way across the water which didnt help matters as most of the 30+ Herrings were sticking to the centre. A cold E>5 was blowing which dropped by late afternoon but despite the fog going it was still dark and drizzly.
                                                          Around 30 + Herrings were present along with 4 LBBs, around 20 Commons and c200 Black Headeds as well as 23 Tufted on the water along with 100 Lapwing and all the usual geese, ducks and other water fowl.
                                                       This patch of water is like a magnet to gulls and water fowl and turns up some amazing birds and mostly seen at close quarters even though the amount of disturbance is alarming. Around 30 cars stopped during the periods I was there all with several varieties of food from bread to chapatis to huggings of corn. I,m surprised that any of the birds here can fly with the amount of jock they get down. The annoying part of this is, just as you get half way through a scan , or ready for a photo, another car pulls up and the whole lot lift off and by the time they finally settle again the next food supply turns up.
The strange thing is, if I disturb a gull at Fly Flatts its gone forever whereas the gulls here fly a circuit them land again.
                         Its 2 year now since my first and last Caspian , apart from a couple of suspect hybrid type, and today must be getting on near my 20th dip as well as hours scouring through gulls at Leeshaw, Fly Flatts and Cullingworth fields. Gull watching was much easier when we had the landfill sites with memories of me getting a Glaucous gull and a Hooded Crow the same morning at Sugden Tip. Manywells and Elland Gravel Pits were 2 other prime tip watching sites. One of these days they,ll be a image of a Caspian gull on my blog header if I live long enough.
                             More wind from the east and south east tomorrow meaning another day of cloud and fog, lovely!!!!!