Monday, September 28, 2009

If you missed the.....

....Lesser Peckers, Dotterel, Goosander family, or didn't catch up with a Ring Ouzel, here's a little something to encourage you to get out more.


Last Call for Yellowhammer Records

If anyone has had any Yellowhammer sightings in the Calderdale recording area over the last 12 months, please could you let me know.
I would also be interested in any sightings or general status reports from just outside our area.
I would also be interested in hearing from anyone who has any first hand knowledge of older records, particularly in relation to change of habitat and/or land use at historic yellowhammer sites



Results so far of House Sparrow (Calderdale) Survey started March '09

Sorry it's not in date or geographical order. Weird format is due to cut and paste from Excel.
With thanks to all contributors and request to carry on. Records of use of nest boxes (anywhere) would be useful.
4 birds
1m 3f
Top Green Park Estate Skircoat
chirping in hedge
Bottom Green Park
chirping in hedge
Prospect House, Withinfields, Southowrham
In/out hedgerow
Harefield Fm, Birkby Ln, Clifton
m,f & juvs
At feeders
Hill View - Valley Grove, Holmfield, SE0792 2921
At feeders
Hill View - Valley Grove, Holmfield, SE0792 2921
4 to 5
At feeders
garden off St.Giles Rd, Lightcliffe
6 to 7
footpath off Main St. Norwood Green
Sefton Cres. Hove Edge
14 to 15
In/out hedgerow
Church Farm, Hartshead
4 nests
Nests in cottages and juvs being fed
Nos 25,33,39 and 43 Soyland Town
Anon (TW?)
Moorend Rd Pellon at bottom of Moorend Gardens
Anon (NCD?)
Roils Head
Moor End Gardens Pellon
Spring '09
Todmorden Bus Station
Spring '09
2 to 3
Todmorden street nr Catholic Church
Todmorden street behind Cheers off-licence
Spring '09
In young hawthorn hedge, feeding among horse dung heap.
Field Hurst, Barkisland. Sparrow terrace not used.
Spring '09
Nest under eaves
Barkisland Post Office
Nr. Griffin Inn Barkisland
Greenroyd, Ripponden
Chirping in a row along troughing
Hollin Well House, nr Hobbit Hotel, Norland
In young hawthorn hedge, using feeders
Field Hurst, Barkisland. Sparrow terrace not used.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Birds around Brighouse

Some sightings whilst walking the annual (13.8 miles) Brighouse Boundary Walk.

Dipper on the stream in Wellholme Park - the start of the walk.
Kingfisher on the Calder near E G P
3 Cormorants overhead
Chiffchaff singing at the top of Strangstry Wood near Rastrick
3 female Goosanders on the Calder towards Bradley Hall
3 Buzzards together appeared low over woodland on the Kirklees Park estate - in view for about 10 minutes from Bradley Hall area.
2 Tufted Duck-juvs ? on small pond on the golf course at Clifton
21 Lapwings over fields near Jay House Lane
40+ Goldfinches in the same area
6 Swallows as well - near the end of the walk
A hard day's walk, but the sore feet were worth it !

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cold Edge/Hunter Hill

Vis Mig 06.45 - 10.00 with MH
(Martyn - I have sent you an email with the hourly counts split up if needed)

Most birds heading W to SW
Meadow Pipit - 716
Swallow - 52
Linnet - 34
Goldfinch - 29
Skylark - 19
Pink-footed Goose - 14 W> at 10.00
L B B G's 6 NE>
Greylag Goose 5 (going round in circles!)
Snipe - 5
Chaffinch - 4
Mistle Thrush - 3
Starling - 3 NE>
Woodpigeon - 3
Grey Wagtail - 2
Pied Wagtail - 2
Jay - 2
Goosander - 2 NE>
Greenfinch - 1

Also present nearby
2 Wheatears
1 Wren
1 Robin
1 Sparrowhawk
1 Green Woodpecker
2 Little Owls calling in the valley
1 Kestrel
8 Canada Geese dropped into fields near Mt Tabor
1 Cormorant - dropped into Ogden - and 6 Mallard
1 probable Golden Plover - but at a distance
Several Jackdaws, Carrion Crows and a Pheasant
1 Brown Hare

Stoodley Pike, East Scout, Lee Dam

Good day for a walk, clear and dry but breezy up on the tops.
Raven - 2 wheeling around just in front of the Pike
Wheatear - 1 female at East Scout
Goldfinch - 10 at East Scout
Meadow Pipit - c. 14
Green Woodpecker - making a racket as it flew over The Long Causeway by Lee Dam
Stonechat - 2
Mistle Thrush - 5 in the trees around Lumbutts chapel
Moorhen - at Lee Dam
Swallow - 2 at Lee Dam

Pink feet

I could hear a skein of pink footed geese past Jumble Hole this afternoon at about 1:00pm. They were just over the horizon of the hill, so along Blackshaw Head, and seemed to be heading west.

Green woodpeckers were very vocal around the house today.

Also, I hazily recall a tawny owl calling right in the centre of Hebden Bridge at about 12:30 last night.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fly Flats/Withens Head

Fly Flats this afternoon;
c23 Twite (very difficult to count in the strong W wind) several with colour ring combinations but impossible to read the sequence!
1 Wheatear
1 Canada Goose with a broken wing
1 Kestrel
3 Swallows >S
c20 Meadow Pipits

Withens Head;
Black Redstart - still at Slade on the piles of stones and around the blue portacabin. Slade is the farm house on the left c200m (heading towards Fly Flats) after the wind farm car park. The land is private so it's hard to see without a scope!
1 Wheatear still on the walls at Withens Head Farm opposite the wind farm car park

Gorple Lower

Had a quick walk to Lower Gorple this morning on my way past and there were 3 twite on the path. Right leg of one of them had a BTO ring and a white ring, left leg had a pale coloured ring (white I think).A few Meadow Pipits around as usual, 2 Pheasants and 3 Red Grouse. Also saw 2 very young Wrens that were calling loudly.

Looked for the Mistle Thrush flock that Andy saw yesterday, including a Redwing, but not there when I came through this morning.

Raptor Camp Malta

As many Calderdale birders have assisted Birdlife Malta in their fight against illegal hunting on the island either by helping raise funds or actually visiting the island to take part in Springwatch and Raptor Camps the following link may be of interest. This autumn appears to be a particularly bad one.

Cold Edge Vis Mig

West F4 cloudy average visibility, all birds SW-S unless stated 6.30 - 8.30 am

Meadow Pipit 383
Mistle Thrush 8
Pied Wagtail 4
Redpoll 3
Heron 1
Goosander 4
Cormorant 2 NE immatures - probably heading for Ogden
Canada Goose 1 NE
Barnacle Goose 1 NE in company with the Canada - probably heading for Ogden
Swallow 26

Partridge 12 - flushed from around the quaries

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Influx of Nuthatches ?

Another at Skircoat today, after one on 14th, plus those that Andy and Ian reported from Hardcastle Crags. I work outside a lot and would hear nuthatches loud calls if they were about. They seem to have come in recently, either that or they are silent through the summer. (Robins and mistle thrushes have just started their territorial winter songs.)

Perhaps the garden feeding station operators can shed some light on the question.

Yesterday at 18.45 Pied Wagtails were gathering to roost somewhere near Bull Green in Halifax. They were on the roofs of the old buildings opposite Wetherspoons.

First Redwing??

A quick walk along the road to the spotted flycatcher site then down into the Crags across the waterfall and on along the top of the wood returning via Widdop Rd.

1 Redwing amongst 30 mistle thrush on wires near clough car park on the return journey, is this our first of the autumn??

c40 Meadow pipits and about half a dozen Pied Wags in field past the car park.

Also large flock of tits, blue, great & coal along with a single treecreeper and at least 1 nuthatch in the crags.

1 female sparrowhawk over the crags

And heard calling, GSW, Green woodpecker, Jay.

Several Red Grouse calling low down on Heptonstall moor and numerous pheasant around.


It has not been ideal conditions for Vis-mig on Cold Edge this week but the birds have been moving, unfortunately I have been restricted to the first couple of hours, most of the birds are travelling SW or W

24th W 3/4 Good Visibility 6.45 - 8.30

Diver spp 2 NE (travelling very fast,probably Red Throated Divers)
Meadow Pipit 108
Swallow 12
Pied Wagtail 2 S
Linnet 9
Canada Goose 2 E
Jackdaw 4
Skylark 9
Cormorant 1
Mistle Thrush 11
Chaffinch 4

23rd WSW 5 good visibility 6.45 - 8.20

Meadow Pipit 109
Pied Wagtail 2 S
Linnet 41

22nd SW 5/6 light rain, drifting mist, poor visibility, horrible

despite the poor conditions birds were still struggling through

Meadow Pipit 64
Goldfinch 4 plus feeding flock of 40+
Skylark 3

21st SW 4 clear good visibility 6.30 - 8.30

Meadow Pipt 148
Swallow 10

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Recent reports

Early movement of Pink-footed Geese
56 flew west over Northowram about 6 pm on 20th September (AC) and another 48 flew west over Queensbury at 6.45 on 22nd (BS) with possibly another skein heard going over about the same time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pied Wagtails take advantage of bowling facilities

At Todmorden Bowling Club about 150 were finding something on these chemical-treated greens, 08.00 this morning in drizzle. A few still there later in the day. There must be a big roost somewhere.

Enlarging the picture will help! (some of the specks are leaves.)

A wheatear was on Todmorden Moor about 4pm.


This afternoon;
5 Swallows NW> plus 5 others around Back Lane
5 f Goosander
1 Little Grebe - catching plenty of small fish
1 Cormorant
c150 B H gulls
1 L b B Gull
c20 Common Gulls
5 Skylarks N>

Woodland area - checked the Marsh Tit location from last Sundays sighting without success.
Lots of tits in that general area and in the area 100m down the path where the woodland viewpoint is. Mixed flock of 50+ small birds including Blue/Great/Coal and L T Tits, a few Goldcrests and Chaffinches, 1 phylloscopus warbler and 6+ Treecreepers - well worth keeping an eye on!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hardcastle Crags

Sunday am

Had a walk up through the crags to Gorple on Sunday morning. As well as the usual woodland species I had 3 groups of nuthatch. One group seemed to be a family of 4 with some begging behaviour so I'd assume they've definitely bred.

Also 3 dippers travelling up and down the river together so I suspect successful breeding.

1 grouse on the moor, meadow pipits, grey heron and an aerial battle between a sparrowhawk and a kestrel.

Withins Clough Flycatcher - additional photo

Further to the comments on the original post asking if there were any more photos that may help id, here is a cropped image from another photo that may bear out Nick D's thoughts that the bright sunlight may be highlighting non-existant white tail feathers.

Fly Flats

21 Twite there this afternoon - unable to get any ring combinations, if there were any, as they were quite flighty and the wind was blowing hard - more seed put down!
2 Ravens over NW>
2 Kestrels

12 Stock Doves together at Castle Carr

Elland GP/River Calder

Fairly quiet but managed to get some shots yesterday of this specimen on the fishing lake but it had gone this morning. Also 6 Kingfishers, 8 Grey Wagtails, 3 Grey Heron, 1 Reed Bunting, 4 Goosanders, 2 Dippers. 2 Great Spotted and 1 Green Woodpecker.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Twite, Derby Delph Quarry, Rishworth.

Pictures of "our" Sean ringing Twite at Derby Delph feeding station today. Seventeen ringed whilst I was there, of which 10 were new (unringed) birds. I've seen upto 40 birds there this week, down from a maximum of 60 during the breeding season. Quite a few small flocks feeding high on the moors, seemingly on this year's abundance of Wavy Hair Grass. Credit due to Sean for his considerable effort (and expense!). Apologies for faulty shutter.
Other birds seen on the moor: 2 Peregrine, 1 Merlin, hundreds of Mipits, 2 Wheatear, 2 Snipe, 1 Stonechat, small flock of Reed Bunting, 1 Skylark, 14 Red Grouse, 3 Wren.
Also a whacking hole in the moor where some "amateur archaeologist" has been digging for flints with a shovel - assumed from English Heritage Stonehenge leaflet dropped at the scene. Mindless half-wit!

Withins Clough this morning - and help please

Fantastic morning so walked over to Withins Clough. Nothing on the water or the shore but plenty about to keep me happy:
Mipits - numerous and all over the place
Skylark - 2
Swallow - 3
Stonechat - 5
Goldfinch flock of c. 40
Kestrel -2
Willow Warbler - at least 7, and while I was taking some photos, this bird appeared in the viewfinder:

Very pale contrasted against the yellow of the willow warblers and a bit bigger. It disappeared before I got the bins on it and I reckon it's a spotted flycatcher but can someone confirm this from the photo please. Haven't seen spotted fly over there before.

At last!

Finally caught up with the Black Redstart today, down at Slade rather than the farm close to the windfarm car park. 15 Twite at the seed at Fly Flatts with several unringed birds present, one bird was noted to have just a metal ring and no colour rings, could this be from outside our area?

Covered Walshaw Dean this morning but with little to show for it apart from several Kestrels, a Sparrowhawk and a calling Raven. Quite few butterflies about though including Red Admiral, Peacock and Small Torts.

Yesyerdays report

Ogden (from CK) - 1 Marsh Tit both seen and heard in the plantation at the footpath cross roads 150 meters or so down from the 'Giant's Tooth' - an excellent record for Calderdale but we have not heard whether the bird has been re-located since then.

soil hill

proof that there were 3 jays up there this moring-down by the ponds

what a sight

i think these are female teals-anybody disagree?

2 out of 3 jays presant

four of a large linnet flock
i went to soil hill this moring at once birds were erupting from the ground everywhere. i walked round the top and thought i saw an osprey-but on closer examination it was plane. then i walked down to the pools at the pools i flushed three ducks. the photos arnt much good but i cant make out the second white line to distinguish it to be a mallard. just i was trying to find out where the ducks had gone a crow sized bird with a white rump flew past and i instantly recognized it as a jay. it then joined its buddies to bring the total to three.
linnet-big flock
mipit-too many
skylark-bouncing off the floor everywhere
wheatear-1 with mipits as you enter
kestrel-2 circling
red grouse-four flushed
jay-3 quite close
sparrowhawk-1 but camera wouldnt focus so no pics
teal??-3 flushed by first pool
goldfinch-numerous large flocks
crows-loads milling about
lesser black-backed gull-1 flew over

Friday, September 18, 2009

Withens Head

Black Redstart still there today but at Slade - the property further on from Withens Head Farm - on the big pile of stones down the private track, and it's scope job at this spot. I think it must to and fro between the farms. I don't think there are 2 birds!
1 Wheatear
1 Little Owl
c60 Starlings
c50 Meadow Pipits
c20 Goldfinch
2 Kestrels

House Martins

60-70 house martins Thursday 17th over Tod station whilst I was waiting for the Green Express excursion train. They were wheeling about very high and sort of circled towards Walsden very quickly.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Todmorden - Thursday PM

Just driving home and on Lubutts road - a little owl on the telegraph wire watched me watch it ! About halfway from Woodhouse road to the Shepherd. Made my day!

Blackstone Edge/White Holme/Lighthazzles/Gaddings

An afternoon walk from The White House to Gaddings then home was very uneventful at first with only a few Mipits around until I got to Lighthazzles. Then things picked up with 37 Barnacle Geese on the far shore. Took a few photos then settled down for a late lunch, when the peace was shattered by a large, noisy helicopter that made the geese take off and fly towards White Holme.

Carried on to Gaddings and although I approached as quietly as I could, a Greenshank took off from the shore line when I was about 50 yards away, and landed further along the shore. Circled around and approached down a usefully positioned gully to get a better view and hopefully some photos but a dog walker appeared and the bird took off, circled and flew off towards Lighthazzles. The photos I got aren't very good but here are the best two.

Finished the walk by going past Lee Dam and watched 7 swallows diving into the water (bathing?) rather than just skimming the surface as I've seen them do in the past.

Fly Flats/Withens Gap

Withens Head Farm
1 Black Redstart still there (still elusive - view from the cattle grid by the wind farm car park)
1 Wheatear
1 Little Owl nearby
c50 Starlings
1 Grey Heron

Fly Flats early afternoon
1 Twite with BTO ring on R but no rings on L
6 Wheatears
1 Red Grouse
1 f Teal
1 Canada Goose
6 B H Gulls
c50 Meadow Pipits
2 Reed Buntings
2 Swallows and c10 House Martins >NE
2 Ravens over High Brown Knoll

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Todays reports

6 Wigeon at Whireholme Res'r this morning from AN

16th September

Bumped into Ian Scott at Roils Head this PM. He soughted out some of the camera problems I was having, thanks. A Stonechat was the first of the Autumn. What a bad year its been for this species, the cold spell in February must have wiped out loads. 6 LBBGs flew east, 2 Kestrels, 1 juv Goldfinch and a few Meadow Pipits present. High Road Well Moor produced 2 Stock Doves, 2 Common Gulls, 2 Skylarks and several Swallows.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Green Withens and Blackshaw Head

On the rervoir - 9 Canada Geese
3 Wheatears on the shoreline
A Ringed Plover with the Wheatears was a nice surprise

On the moor - 40+ Meadow Pipits
3 Wheatears
A Snipe flew up from the muddy path
Kestrel hunting
A Peregrine very low overhead was some reward for the long climb in the wind up to the moor top !

help please (out of area)

as some of you may know i went to scotland this summer. i got my new bird (we have this thing in my family-a new bird every holiday) a redpoll, and lots of them. i was updateing my ticklist last night and it suddenly dawned on me that i didnt know whether these redpolls were mealy or lesser (or arctic). please could somebody help me. i've got some pictures but their not to any great standard. thanks


2 Cormorant
1 Little Grebe
1 f Goosander
1 Sparrowhawk
2 Kestrels
1 Chiff-chaff
1 Dipper in Skirden Clough

Back Lane/Foreside Lane
2 Whinchat
10 Skylark >N
12 Swallows >N
c50 Meadow Pipits
c12 L B B gulls over
c30 Goldfinch
40+ Starlings
1 Linnet

Elland GP/Brookfoot

Mon and Tues morning 1 Lesser Spotted Woodpecker(F) in the brookfoot good views in flight. Male Little Grebe and the 3 young on river by Avocet,50 House Martins, 4 Grey Heron, 2 Dipper, 3 Grey Wagtails, 4 Kingfishers, 3 Goosanders, 1 Green Woodpecker, 2 Great Spotted. 8 Jays, 1 Cormorant, 1 Tree Creeper, 2 Nuthatch and 1 Whitethroat.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Todays reports

Fly Flats - from PJWS - a very good record of 3 Common Scoters on the res'r this morning, they took off >N at 11.30
Also 6 Teal

Cooper Bridge (near Mirefield) from SG - 1 Common Buzzard >N mid-morning

Ogden and Withens Head

Ogden this afternoon
2 Cormorants
1 Little Grebe
2 Reed Buntings and 2 Linnets over the golf course
1 Chiff-chaff on Back Lane
2 Swallows >S

Withens Head
No sign of the Black Redstart today
4 Wheatears there and lots of Mipits about today
2 Swallows >S

Elland GP and Hartshead

Female Goosander on the river
Kestrel over Reins Wood
3 Jays
Cormorant and juv Heron on the lake

5 Swallows & 16 House Martins near Hartshead
4 Jays
G S Woodpecker
Mixed flock of Jackdaws, Rooks & Crows - 120 inthe fields

Also a regular passage of Crows heading south over Hove Edge just before dusk - 130+ tonight

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Castle Carr Road

This afternoon;
2 Skylark
2 Kestrel
1 Wheatear
1 Stock Dove
2 Raven over high >W
2 Swallows still feeding young in the nest
2 pairs +? House Martins at Wainstalls still feeding young in the nest

Todays reports

Honey Buzzard over Northowram this morning (Andy C) heading south at 08.55 - see Northowram Wildlife for further details - well done Andy

Ryburn Reservoir - Sunday 13/09/09

Mainly went for sunrise and some landscape photos but I did take bins. I was just finishing off and crossing the dam when I saw 2 ducks with prominent white eyestripes. First thought was garganey. Unfortunately they didn't hang around and flew off over the dam heading east. The only photo I managed to get (at 105mm!) was the above. What do others think? The bodies look too black and white compared to the others I've seen and photo'd this year.

Also seen: dipper, grey heron, grey wagtail, GSW, 2 moorhen, 4 mallard, goldcrest, longtailed tit, great tit, 2 willow warblers (or chiffchaff!), 3 jay.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Jumble Hole

A buzzard flew low over the house this morning, heading south east, with half a dozen jackdaws in hot pursuit.

A blackcap was feeding in the elder next to my house.

Coppy Nook Lane and Crow Hill, Sowerby

6 Kestrel
1 Little Owl
1 Willow Warbler
Lots of Mipits
Large flocks of Goldfinch & Linnet (200+)
1 Sparrowhawk harassing the above
Flock of around 50 Woodpidgeon
A few Swallows

Also 1 Brown Hare & several Common Darter Dragonfly

Oh, and a small Spaceman in the form of a balloon floated over

12th September

Roils Head early PM. Lots of Long-tailed Tits again and 1 Wheatear, only a few Pied Wags today and not many Meadow Pipits. 2 Kestrels at Tower Hill.

Friday, September 11, 2009

11th September

Early afternoon at my local watch point brought only 1 Common Buzzard and 1 Kestrel. After tea at Roils Head, having more trouble with a Phylloscopus warbler, the call was that of a chiffchaff and I gave it little thought until I looked at the pictures I took later, it clearly has pale feet and in the top picture the primmaries appear faily long indicating Willow Warbler. Remember the bird at High Royd in the early 90s that sung both Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler songs and turned out to be a Chiffchaff. Any thoughts?
Also still several young Swallows present and lots of Long-tailed Tits.

Ringstone Res'r

This afternoon;
2 Curlew
c240 Lapwings
c500 B H gulls in the fields following the plough
18 Common Gulls
2 G C Grebes
3 Tufted Duck
1 juv Moorhen

Thursday, September 10, 2009

10th September

Roils Head PM, 1 Willow/Chiff giving frustrating views, 2 Whinchats and a Whitethroat at the horse paddocks, also 1 Reed Bunting and several Linnets there later on. 2 Sparrowhawks, 2 Stock Dove, 3 Mistle Thrush, 7 LBBGs and 5 BHGs over Luddenden Dean in the evening.

Fly Flats and Cold Edge

Cold Edge this morning
8 Teal came in from the north
1 Tufted Duck
1 Wheatear
1 Spotted Flycatcher in the shrubbery at Moorlands Farm but no other migrants there other than Linnets and Goldfinches

Withens Head Farm
1 Black Redstart still there - mostly on the west facing roof and chimney pots in the sunshine late morning till at least 2.30 pm when it was feeding on the east side of the farm

Fly Flats
1 Raven over
1 Peregrine over Oxenhope Moor
4 Twite at the feeding station (4 is the maximum we have found this autumn so far - there were up to 34 last year)!
Also 3 Stonechats, 2 Wheatears and 2 Grey Wagtails there

Lots of Meadow Pipits around today and House Martins are still feeding young in the nest at Wainstalls. only 2 Swallows seen today so they must have moved out from this upland area

At Lumb Cottages (on the way up to Cold Edge) there were lots of butterflies on 3 Buddleia bushes with 20+ Peacock, 15+Red Admirals, 2+Painted Ladies and a few Small Tortoiseshell - and that was just one side of the bushes!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Mystery bird

And now to put you all out of your misery! The bird in the hand trapped on the day following the previous photo.

Andy Huyton is correct and Dish Fish - well done. The bird is actually a leucistic Stonechat. An odd looking bird and a bit of fun to identify from a photo when there is no scale.

Many thanks to David Crawshaw for sending us this 'poser' and keeping us all on our toes! There is always something new to learn.


Please note the Calderdale Bird Conservation Group AGM will be held on Wednesday 30th September at the offices of the Calderdale Countryside Service beginning at 8pm.

Gaddings and Langfield Common

Back to full fitness now so can get out and about again. A nice long walk in the sun this morning turned up 3 Skylarks in a flock of Meadow Pipits. Haven't seen Skylark up here in September before.
Tufted duck - 7
Meadow Pipit - 22
Skylark - 3
Raven - 2
Stonechat - 5

Twite questions and answers

Some time ago Paul Talbot posted the following on the blog in response to an update detailing some of the results of the fieldwork undertaken by Nick Wilkinson (and Judit) - see

Assuming that Twite being upland birds the almost certainty of a poor spring and summer in the South Pennines should not affect them that drastically one would have thought ? Is there any online data one can view on "normal" nesting success in the South Pennines? It seems rather important that surveys not only record what is happening to a species but why. If there is no data for this then it seems we are simply collating facts after the event and not attempting to change the factors involved. My thoughts are, is disturbance by walkers, sheep, farmers having any effect on nesting success, what foods could be in short supply during the key seasons of females devloping the eggs and once young are born. I am not trying to critical of the excellant work that been carried out so far but it would be useful for more details on the "whys" were published in such reports or are they ?

In response Nick W has sent the following and asked me to post it on here

Hi Paul

Thanks for your comments and apologies for the late reply.

We don’t know the ultimate reason for the decline of the Twite population in England, although three major reasons have been suggested. These are, the loss of saltmarsh wintering habitat; the loss of seed food sources in the breeding season; and the loss of suitable nesting habitat.

Twite can have multiple nesting attempts in one season but Andre Raine’s recent study in the south Pennines suggested that only a small proportion of pairs made more than one attempt after fledging a first brood, while he found no confirmed cases of second attempts from colour-ringed pairs. This contrasts strongly with a population studied in the Outer Hebrides. Additionally, his work on twite use of the supplementary feeding stations indicated that there is a shortage of natural seed food at the beginning and end of the breeding season. Thus, the low rate of repeat nesting caused by a lack of late-season seed food may mean that current productivity is insufficient to maintain the population.

Consequently, the focus of the Twite Recovery Project is to increase the availability of summer seed sources throughout the entire breeding season. However, it aims also to secure the suitable management of nesting habitat and to ensure the provision of suitable salt marsh habitat (they feed mainly on Salicornia) in managed coastal re-alignment schemes. Monitoring is an integral part of the project to assess the twite population response to the intervention work.

Three previous studies provide data on Twite nesting success in the south Pennines, only one of which is currently available online (Brown et al. 1995 The distribution, numbers and breeding ecology of Twite in the South Pennines of England. Bird Study 42, 107-121 This study analysed data from the BTO’s Nest Record Card scheme collected between 1944 and 1991. The other two studies collected data in 1989-1994 (McGhie et al. 1994) and 2003-04 (Andre Raine’s PhD study 2006).

A quick explanation about calculating nest success since it is not simply the percentage of nests monitored that are successful. Studies of nest success rarely, if ever, find every nest before egg-laying has started, most being found at the incubation or brood stages. Consequently, our sample of nests is biased towards those that have survived to this point since we will have missed those nests that had failed already. To correct for this bias, we take account of the period that a nest has been monitored until it is no longer active (fledged or failed), i.e. between the first and last visits to the active nest. This period, usually measured in days, is the length of time that a nest is exposed to failure, and is known as the ‘exposure period’. This then allows us to calculate the daily nest failure rate (number of nests failed divided by the total exposure period of all nests) which, when subtracted from 1, gives us the daily nest survival rate (failure rate + survival rate = 1). To calculate nest success, the daily nest survival rate is multiplied to the power of the length in days of the whole nest period from laying of the first egg to fledging (e.g. 30 days for twite with a clutch of 5 eggs). This method is commonly known as the Mayfield method.

Interestingly, all three studies recorded similar levels of nest success: 1944-91 = 58%; 1989-1994 = 48%; 2003-04 = 49% (all estimates calculated using a nesting period of 30 days). The errors around these three estimates of nest success overlap with each other indicating that there has been no significant change in overall nest success over the period of these studies. The Nest Record Card (NRC) data found that nest failure rates during the brood-rearing stage had increased over time, although there was no such trend for the whole nesting period.

Although the causes of nest loss are given for only one of these studies, together with our own monitoring, it suggests that the main cause of nest loss is depredation. This is unsurprising for an open-cup nesting species. Other causes include nest collapse (for those built above ground attached to live bracken stems), clutch infertility, weather and trampling/disturbance by livestock. Raine’s study found no evidence for an effect of disturbance on nest success, even though one of his study colonies was located around a popular footpath with some pairs nesting extremely close to the path.

Late report from sunday.

Walk from home up Midgley, up thorney lane, across the moor and round to lumb falls up out of crimsworth and onto shackleton then home via gibson mill. Produced the following, peregrine over slack toward mytholm. 4 kestrels and a sparrowhawk on Midgley rd. c100 mipits far end thorney lane. Tawny owl calling nr lumb falls. 2 wheatear below shackleton knoll and 2 buzzards here also.

Jumble Hole - 8am

6 chiffchaffs and a male blackcap feeding in bushes on the Pennine Way

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Mystery bird

Another photo of the mystery bird from David Crawshaw! Go on have a go

Cold Edge

This afternoon;
1 Barnacle Goose on the lower dam along with 4 f Goosander and 3 Tufted Duck
1 male Stonechat - my first locally since the end of March!
2 pairs of Ravens over high - one pair towards Ogden/Soil Hill and the other pair over the wind farm


The woodland between Copley church and Pickwood Scar late morning;
1 Swift with c200 House Martins and a few Swallows
1 Chiff-chaff singing
2 Nuthatch
1 Treecreeper
2 female Sparrowhawks together - looked like an adult and a juv
2 Jays

The bridge over the Calder by the church
1 Kingfisher
1 Dipper
1 Grey Wagtail
2 f Goosander


2 photos of birds in Suffolk from David Crawshaw - Wryneck lower - BUT any ideas on the mystery bird at the top? I am puzzling this one at the moment ! - answer later from David

Monday, September 07, 2009

Roils Head

Visit after tea, 1 Spotted Flycatcher still present, 40 Pied Wags, c40 Meadow Pipits, 20Greenfinches, 7 Goldfinches, plenty of Swallows and a few BHGs and Common Gulls over.

Withens Head

Late afternoon;
Black Redstart still there around Withens Head Farm opposite the wind farm car park. It was about 40 mins before it showed - then it perched on a tyre on the corrugated roof for around 15 mins preening.
3 Wheatears on the stone walls along with c35 Meadow Pipits, 2 Little Owls, 2 Red Grouse and a Peregrine nearby

Swales Moor (Ringby Lane)

Early afternoon;
2 Wheatear
4 Skylark
c30 Meadow Pipits
6 Linnet
11 Goldfinch
1 Kestrel
1 Sparrowhawk

7th September

2 hours at my local watch point this PM brought me 1 Peregrine, 1 Common Buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk, 4 or 5 Kestrels, 1 Raven, 1 Stock Dove, 6 LBBGs, 3 BHGs, 6 House Martins, c50 Swallows and a few Goldfinches.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Castle Carr Road

This afternoon;
2 Wheatears in the area just past the old railway cabins
20+ Mistle Thrushes there also along with several Mipits
No sign of any Twite (this is usually a regular spot in autumn)!
2 Swallows nearby are still feeding young in the nest
1 Kestrel

Withens Head

At the farm (Withens Head Farm) opposite the wind farm car park
1 Black Redstart again this afternoon around the farm buildings but elusive in the strong wind that was blowing at the time. View from the cattle grid area.
I strongly suspect that this is the same bird that was here on 25th August (also seen by Jeff and Pete) and probably the same individual found by Nick D at Moorlands Farm on 21st August
2 Wheatears also there this afternoon

6th September

Roils Head
A Chiffchaff was new today, also c50 Pied Wagtails a small flock of Goldfinch and 3 of the Red Arrows display team flew north west.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Monty's in April.

Just recieved my copy of Yorkshire Birding, it states that the Monty on 12th April was seen at Deerhead Reservoir (should have read Dean Head Reservoir) and that a male was at Scammonden on 26th April. Is this a mistake or was there another sighting that no one seems to know about.

5th September

Roils Head
2 Spotted Flycatchers today also only 6 Pied Wags and an handfull of Gold, Green and Chaffiches. 2 Stock Doves at High Road Well Moor.

And another?

A second (or the same?) Osprey also over Fly Flatts/Soil Hill general area at 0925 (Dave Barker)


According to the Birdguides website an Osprey flew south over Soil Hill around 10am this morning

Friday, September 04, 2009

Fly Flats etc

Fly Flats this morning - very poor conditions in the strong wind and driving rain - birds not bad!
1 Raven
4 Wheatear
2 Twite (no rings visible)

Dean Head res'r
2 Dippers
1 Grey Wagtail
1 Kestrel
c12 Swallows
c18 Meadow Pipits
6 Stock Doves

Withens Head (opposite the wind farm car park)
2 Little Owls
1 Wheatear


AM: Clifton Beck Ford:- Kingfisher, Dipper, Grey Wag. The Kingfisher and/or Dipper have been there every morning during my few second visit on my commute this week.

PM: Just Before Dusk, Norland Moor. c30 Mipits, C20 Swallows, 2 Linnets, 1 Kestrel.

4th September

Roils Head PM, the Spotted Flycatcher is still present but not much else in the howling wind. 3 Wheatears were found in the Tower Hill area.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Elland GP 03/09/2009

Fairly quiet most days at the moment. All 5 Goosander young are flying up and down the river as are the 3 Kingfishers. Seen this week 9 juv Blackcaps and a flock of 10 juv Bullfinch. At 0645 this morning approx 500 House Martins drifting S/E and at 0830 a further flock of 150 also drifting S/E. Posting 4 photos of garden visitors in the last 14 days.


This morning - strong W and heavy showers (always chance of a sea bird!)
1 Cormorant
1 f Goosander
78 Mallard
1 Grey Heron
1 Dipper in the pool below the embankment
c30 Swallows
12 Meadow Pipits
1 Treeceeper
5 Common Gulls

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Buzzard and 1 Swift reported from GD earlier today over the woods.

2nd September

Roils Head
1 Spotted Flycatcher still present, 30+ Pied Wags, 50+ Meadow Pipits, lots of Greenfinches mainly juveniles still being fed, also several Goldfinch and Chaffinch, just 1 Willow Warbler.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Had a walk on tonight in the hope the rain might have dropped something in, very little there apart from 7 Shelduck which were most welcome. Apologies to those on the grapevine there were 7 not 6, I think I got a bit giddy with the keypad in all the excitement (well it was Whiteholme!). I haven't checked the reports but I'm sure Shelduck used to be commoner in late summer/early autumn locally?

Luddenden Dean

This afternoon (SW strong wind and very heavy showers)
Jerusalem Farm area:
1 Treecreeper
1 Grey Heron
1 Canada Goose
1 Grey Wagtail
c200 Swallows in the area above Wade Wood with a few House Martins in among

Upper Dean:
c60 House Martins above the lower lodge area
2 Willow Warblers

Picked a few blackberries then rained off!
2 Wheatears along Castle Carr Road

1st September

Roils Head PM. 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Reed Bunting, 38 Pied Wags, 50+ Meadow Pipits, 1 juv Common Gull in with the BHGs. Looks like the local Spar is still active in the area with remains of Meadow Pipit found a few days ago.
Tower Hill. 2 Wheatears, 4 Stock Doves and 4 Kestrels, one of which had very Hobby like head markings so take care.
High Road Well Moor. 1 Wheatear.