Monday, December 31, 2007

Chairman's address

No not quite! Just wanted to thank everyone who has been involved in the work of the Conservation Group for their support and efforts during 2007 and to wish all Calderdale birders a happy and bird filled 2008. Anyone want to guess at the first new bird for Calderdale (hopefully we'll get one next year!).

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Cromwell Bottom - 30/12/07

Spent 4 hours walking around there this morning.

7 cormorants on the ski jump
8 little grebe
3m2f goldeneye
2m2f tufted duck
4m1f goosander
1 grey heron
1m pochard
1 herring gull
large number of coots
100s of common and blackheaded gull

10 or so teal on the reedbed lake
3 jay
4 approx bullfinch
5 goldcrest
big flocks of long tailed tits - including a no tailed tit that didn't seem to have a problem keeping up with the flock
1 dipper on the river
1 great spotted woodpecker on the feeder just north of the car park
large numbers of great and blue tits on the feeders in the car park plus 3 robins and 1 greenfinch

nothing on the feeders on tag

Bird DVD

Is this DVD worth buying ? "Birds of Britain & Europe DVD" I am looking round for a good bird DVD guide and spotted this one in a sale at £15 and thought I might buy a copy if its any good, comments please.

30th December

Roils Head PM
6 Reed Buntings, 4 Siskin, 2 Stonechats, 1 Kestrel and a couple of Meadow Pipits. 3 Fieldfare at Heath Hill Road.

Hardcastle Crags 30/12/07

Sue and I went out early to the crags this morning to beat the crowds that turn up once the cafe is open. We got there at around 8.45am to an empty car park. First bird seen was a Missel Thrush going hell for leather with a Sparrowhawk on its tail. The chase lasted much longer than I thought it would as hawks seem to break off quite early if they fail to ambush. This chase ended when the thrush dived into some scrub. The hawk made off straight away, I thought it might at least hang around in case the thrush was panicked into flying again. Sue unfortunately missed all this as she was doing up her walking boots, wellies are much quicker and you dont miss as much :-))

Not that much around in the woods up to Gibsons mill, though we did have good close views of a Dipper perched on a fallen tree across Hebden water. The bird was singing a very strange little trilling song, we have never heard a Dipper sing before, just the "clicking" noise they make as they fly up and down stream. In a group of conifers we watched a large party (30 or so birds) of Great, and Blue Tits with at least half the group made up of Goldcrests. I have never seen so many Goldcrests together before. It was too dark to make out if any Firecrests were amongst them. Just before Gibson Mill we heard and then spotted 6 Jackdaws in a dead tree near the track. We watched as two of the birds did a very strange tail wagging dance. The both lowered their heads and raised their tails whilst standing side by side and did a weird tail waving display, they kept the rest of their bodies still and just waved the tail up and down rapidly ! It really was most peculiar to watch and lasted a good couple of minutes.I have never seen jackdaws do this before, is it a pairing dance or sorting out pecking order ?

We walked back from the top end of the crags and added Long Tailed, Tit, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Blackbird, Wren and Robin to our morning list. The car park was packed when we got back around 11am as all the late comers arived in full Berghaus/Northface gear, boots and gaiters for the very strenous walk along the track to the Gibson Mill cafe :-)) We used to laugh at this when we did a lot of hill walking in the dales. We would get up and get up the dales for 6am and then have our 12/15 mile walk on the tops and see no one. As soon as you get back down towards Bolton Abbey thousands of "walkers" in all the latest designer gear and gaiters would be stolling up and down the river for an hour before heading for the nearest cafe/pub to claim they had been out walking.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Birds & People Forum

Talking about Mark Cocker in a previous post about book reminded me of an interesting short article in the latest issue of British Wildlife about a new forum and website. The link below takes you to the home page to find more details. Short piece below is a brief synopsis.

If you love birds and birds are an important part of your experience then read on. This website and author’s forum are dedicated to an exciting and important new book project . The following pages explain the project. We give details on how anyone interested in birds around the world can contribute directly to it. We also describe some of the stories and issues on which the author Mark Cocker would welcome contributions of all kinds.

Shore Lark - anybody checked?

Just been taking records off the Blog for 2007 to pass onto Nick for the report and got to thinking whether anyone has checked to see if the Shorelark has returned to Swalesmoor, I know its a (very) long shot but stranger things have happened.


Having just finished my copy of "A Curlew in the Foreground" about an RSPB warden on North Uist and thoroughly enjoyed it, can anyone recommend some good "reads" as opposed to guides on birds ? I am currently reading the NN book on a History of Ornithology and enjoying this also, but had not realised what a cantankerous bitching bunch many of the early ornithologists were. I knew from my past reading of old entomological literature that many of the Victorian and Edwardian entomologists would quite happily have done each other in if they thought they would get away with it, but hadn't realised it was apparently a universal trait among many naturalists of that era !

Jumble Hole

7 herring gulls over > W
120 bh gulls loafing around sewage works
Lots of small parties of redwing around

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Crane at Walshaw Dean


Species Diversity

I did briefly mention this topic to one or two people at the Xmas bash, but would appreciate comments from others.

Around 15 years ago I fed birds regularly in my garden with the usual seed, nuts and fats. At that time I noted many species of birds who visited the garden to feed on a regular basis. We had large numbers of Great, Blue and Coal tits, with a few Long Tailed tits and Goldcrests occasionally using the food. It was not unusual to have four or five Blackbirds and Song Thrushes at anytime feeding. We also had Tree Sparrow, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Robin, Wren, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Starling. Both Lesser & Greater peckers were on the feeders daily. There are probably species I have missed out of the list but the general idea is that there were a broad range of birds at the feeders most of every day in winter.

Since I started feeding in the garden again a couple of weeks back I have noticed a massive drop on numbers and species compared to 15 years ago. The only regular feeders in any numbers are Great, Blue & Coal tits. Nuthatch appear daily and I did have two sightings of Lesser Pecker as reported on the blog. But I have only had the odd finch visitor (Chaffinch & Greenfinch), no other finches have been seen. I do get Robin and Blackbird, but no thrushes.

The point of all this is an apparent species crash in Park Wood in the last 15 years or so of woodland songbirds. I don't regularly walk the wood anymore as you can be run down by off road motorbikes or mountain bikes at any time of day or night. Its also a haunt of idiots with air rifles who like to think they are great white hunters cos the bagged a couple of Squirrels. Now I realise that all the things mentioned above have probably contributed to some degree in a decline of birds in the wood. It could also be some sort of change due to a lack of understory growth in the wood making nesting sites scarce. But I suspect that one major factor in the huge surge in numbers of Grey Squirrels which are now numbered in their hundreds in the woods despite the attentions of the aforementioned great white hunters. Now I didn't want to get into the murky waters of controlling the numbers of squirrels in the wood, but surely if the picture in Park Wood is mirrored nationally we have had a truly catastrophic drop in song birds of woodlands nationally ?

Not being a regular birder and thus not being abreast of the latest reports on song bird decline in woodlands (I have seen a read reports of farmland bird decline) is this species diversity decline a common feature in Calderdale woodlands ? I would assume (and again only being a learner am happy to be shot down if wrong) that hole nesting birds such as tits, peckers and nuthatches are less prone to nest robbing by Squirrels than other birds and this is the reason they have not declined ?

I should also day that the national decline in bird numbers and diversity is reflected in the world of moths. I have taken part in many discussions as to why our moth populations have declined so dramatically in the last 30/40 years. This decline is also possible a reason why some birds have declined also due to the massive lost biomass of food potentially available to birds from moths.

I know I have rambled on a bit here but as no one is posting much on sightings at the moment it is a quiet time to slip in my beginners questions

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Jumble Hole

24 herring gull over >W
4 jays
16 Long-tailed tit

No sign of a partridge in a pear tree as yet.

Merry Christmas

Christmas, Norland & Dartford Warbler

Morning all
Still no sign the Dartford Warbler on Norland Moor yet I'm afraid :-)) Not much around on the moor this morning apart from the usual suspects. Two Reed Buntings down the lower end in heather near the small pylon were the only new species for us this morning.

A very merry Christmas to one and all

Monday, December 24, 2007

The morning after the night before

Fired up with enthusiasm after all the talk of birds past, present and future, I managed a .... solitary stonechat at Deanhead. That's birding in Calderdale I guess. There was no sign of the Dartford Warbler at Norland (birds future) which I was faithfully promised by Matt Bell last night. The car park at Deanhead was unusually busy, but that was another kind of wildlife.

Lesser Pecker

Morning all
Sue and I had a quick walk down the towpath and Cromwell Bottom this morning early doors to top up the feeders at the feeding station. Not much around this morning but we did bag another Lesser Spotted Woodpecker on the way back home.

The bird was in a large dead tree around 30 yards below Park Nook Lock on the Canal. We had decent views of it (female) through the bins for 5 mins or so before it flew off over the road towards Park Wood, hopefully to reappear on my feeders later this space !

Ps Good party last night, thanks to everyone for making it a very pleasant and succesful fund raiser.

Jumble Hole - 9:30

A single raven over, cronking like mad. The first I've had here in a while.

Calderdale birders Xmas bash

Just a quick post to thank everyone who came to the birders Xmas get together last night (around 30 people in total) for your support in our efforts to raise money for the Malta Optics fund. It was especially pleasing to see several new faces and to meet up with people who post on this blog . The raffle, blind auction and money generated from the excellent pie and peas raised a total of £262 which when added to the money from the earlier raffle brings the total to £477! In recognition of the support given by everyone I will personally make this up to £500. A success such as this could not have been achieved without the generous support of several local birders and particular mention must go to Paul Talbot for the donation of most of the prizes, to Tim Walker for additional prizes and donation of the money from the food sales and Niall Roche for a couple of fine bottles of "winter birder warmer".

Once again a heartfelt thanks to everyone who came along and best wishes for Xmas and 2008!


Sunday, December 23, 2007


There is a design fault in some bird feeders - the 'stand alone' metal ones with 'shepherd's crook' type hooks for the feeders. There have been reports in a birding magazine - and to me personally - of fatalities where a bird has got it's tiny leg stuck in the central piece. My son found a dead greenfinch on his return after a day out and has put some blue tack into the gap. If anyone has one of these maybe the central piece could be taped up. A neighbour has a similar feeder but the central bit has a finial to close any gap there may be. There have been two reports in Bird Watching of similar deaths.

Ringstone today

Ringstone Edge R. 15.00 - 15.35 from the road South bank

Pink-footed Goose 2 on the res then flew to the East field
Teal 3
Kestrel 1
Common gull 150
Black h Gull 100

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Norland Moor 22/12/07

Sue and I watched the first large flock of Redwings and Fieldfares of the winter in a field alongside Norland Moor, around 100+. We also had a large flock of Lapwings, around 150+ with a few Golden plover mixed in. We also heard but could not clearly see a flock of waders of some description nearby, these took off and landed over a wall in the field so we were unable to check them out, definite wader types calls but I did not recognise them in the brief glimpse we got of them. It didn't help that we only had the small compact bins with us and it was very gloomy this morning on Norland. I know its a long shot but could someone suggest some other likely waders that would possible be field feeding in Calderdale at the moment and in a small flock of around 20 birds ? These "waders" kept well apart from the Lapwing & Plovers in their own distinct flock. Sue and I will be up Norland again in the morning with better bins and the scope so I might get another crack at the waders.

Marshals Feeding Station

All the gear and food has now arrived at last for the feeding station in the Marshals display garden on Lowfields Business park. I will hopefully be going round on Monday to set this up for them in conjunction with the guy who is going to manage it. Once its set up and running I intend after Christmas to get the local press round for some publicity shots of the feeding station. This has several aims in mind. To give Marshals some well deserved publicity for their funding of the feeding station, secondly to raise awareness of Halifax Bird Watchers Club, and last but not least to try and encourage other local companies to fund and run their own feeding stations for the benefit of local wildlife and their staff.

Another thought I had on this is about the Twite feeding stations. Could we perhaps approach local companies to sponsor these ? Most roundabouts in Calderdale are now sponsored by some local company or other perhaps some would be willing to sponsor the twite feeding as well in return for a little publicity. Does anyone have an idea of costs of running one feeding station annually ?

Birdfood & Feeders

Just a reminder to everyone the Halifax Bird Club now has a trade account with CJ Wildbird Foods. The discount is 25% for all orders over £125 in value and this also includes free postage to ONE address. The offer applies to all seed and equipment.

We could perhaps get together two orders a year between us, say Autumn and mid Winter and get the stuff delivered to one address where people could call round and pick up their share and pay for it. We don't need any money up front as we are simply invoiced for the amount.

The discount is for everyone and orders do not need to go through one person (though this might be sensible for large group orders). You simply need to quote the account details ( for obvious reasons I am not posting this on a public forum). There is nothing to stop say two or three people combining to place their own order if the amount spent is over £125. Having used CJ Widlbird Foods in the past week to supply gear for Marshals Feeding Station (more on this later) and my own gear I can safely say the system far !

Just for anyone who is thinking of buying feeders at the moment. Most of the metal better quality feeders the company sell are on offer at the moment at much reduced prices ( I paid £4.99 each rather than £14.99). Their website is at just look in special offers for the feeders etc.

I have posted this to A/ remind people of the large discount we can obtain by using our buying power as a group and B/ to try and see if we can sort out some system of ordering at regular times so that people can budget for buying in bulk say once or twice a year. Please add comments to this post as to how and when you wish to use the discount. And please feel free to ask about anything if its not clear in my posting (it is still early in the morning and the caffeine has not kicked in yet!). I do have contacts within the company as I have been negotiating about quotes for feeding stations for local companies in Calderdale. I also have my own personal trade account as a book seller with their book publishing arm so I can ask directly about any other queries people may have.

Finally just to make it clear, I have no personal financial stake in this other than the group discount like everyone else in the group.

Friday, December 21, 2007

High Royd - 12:00

A very quick visit to High Royd this lunchtime

2 treecreeper
2 goldcrest
only about 12 teal visible
18 mallard
2 grey heron
There are some feeders in front of the terrace houses up on the road that might be worth a peak when your down there.

Merlin book raffle

Just a reminder that there's still time to get your raffle tickets for the signed copies of the Merlin book (see earlier post), just E mail me with how many you would like and and I'll do the rest. As well as the books there have been several other prizes added to the raffle including wine, port and a "special brew" from Niall's cellar!

Looking forward to seeing as many local birders as possible on Sunday, current attendance looks to be in the region of 25 to 30 so it should be quite an event.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ogden - midday

Misty, cold, dark!
Usual robins and blackbirds in abundance.
c10 goldcrest, 1 treecreeper, small flock of long-tailed tit.
Coal tit around the feeders at the info centre.
Mixture of common and BH gull.
Mallard but no sign of goldeneye.

Walshaw Dean - midday

Gloomy, freezing cold, and a severe lack of birds. But enough about me........

Plantation area + moors - siskin heard, robin, blackbird, wren, stonechat, 3 pheasant, 5 red grouse

Lower Walshaw - 1 male goldeneye, 1 mallard

Nothing on Middle Walshaw.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

small question

for sheer curiosity i have a question inside me that can wait no longer. i haven't asked it for so long i must ask now

has halifax ever had a bluethroat?

Lesser Pecker

Morning all
I will let Nick Carter know if and when the lesser pecker starts to appear in the garden again now the fence is done. Happy for anyone wanting to pop round to see them (or it) as long as I have a phone call first (I might be busy with a customer). In the meantime, Les Midgley tells me that the feeding station set up in the Anglers car park behind Cromwell House by his mates has a Lesser Spotted visitor from time to time recently on the nut feeders.

The birds are back in large numbers in the garden again this morning despite the new fence, no lesser peckers but Nuthatch are feeding every few minutes at the moment.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dean Clough

Adult male (I suspect) Peregrine on the big chimney this morning. Seen from near the new B & Q site, it was sitting on the stone ledge that goes round the chimney about 20 or so meters down from the top on the west side just to the right of the lightning conductor which seems to be its usual spot (depending on the wind direction I think?).

Ogden/Soil Hill/Fly Flats

Ogden - 1 drake Goldeneye with the c80 assortment of Mallards near the information centre.

Ogden (Back Lane) 2 Ravens over from Thornton Moor area went high over the res'r plantation towards Cold Edge.

Soil Hill - drew a total blank today - but it's one of those places where if you get something it can be a very good bird!

Fly Flats - Red Grouse on the moor and 1 Jack Snipe flushed in the roadside ditch leading down towards the sailing club from the top road. It went down into the grass/juncus on the hillside c40 mtrs away but not relocated. Not another bird other than 1 female Goldeneye on the res'r.

Monday, December 17, 2007

17th December

Roils Head
1 Reed Bunting, 9 Long-tailed Tits, 1 Kestrel and 40+ Lapwings at High Road Well Moor. No Redpolls today.

Lidl bins

Just bought a couple of pairs of 10x50 bins from Lidl as Christmas presents, and for the the money (£9.99) they are extremely good value, and would be perfectly adequate for a beginner.

Magical Morning !

I have just set up a feeding station in my garden here on Park Rd near Elland. The garden backs directly into Park Wood. Whilst I am waiting for my bought feeding station to arrive from CJ Birdfoods, I set up a couple of trays with a selection of nuts, dried fruit, seeds and lard blocks on my picnic table last Friday. I have had a steady stream of birds attending before today including, Coal, Great & Blue Tit, Goldcrest, Wren, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Jay, Magpie.

This morning has been magical as there have been up to four Nuthatch at a time on the table taking peanuts and I have also had a single lesser pecker twice (or at least I have seen one twice) feeding on the lard blocks. Not bad going for a 15 x 12 foot garden ! I was bragging to Nick Carter yesterday that I would get lesser pecker at the table as I got them regularly before when I used to feed the birds in the garden 10 years or so ago,but I never expected them to appear again so quickly and Nuthatch is a garden first.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Draw at sunday shindig ,central heating for birders and consolation prize

Dear all,

I would like to make an addition to the draw next Sunday and Paul Talbot's cracking prize.

I'll be contributing a bottle of home made sloe, or damson gin, or something similar, made from Calder Valley fruits, and a bottle of port; the latter is made by a chap in Portugal. All said beverages are ideal for the hipflask of a birder facing the challenging conditions of winter.

See you next Sunday.


A trip around Calderdale

Went upto Bradley Hall farm today about 11am, had 1 dipper by the weir and 2 Cormorants on the river, further up river had 16 Mallard, 6 Goosander (4 Males), female Bullfinch and 4 Male Pheasant.

Heading back to the car had 3 Yellowhammers in the usual hedgerow, also a Kestrel near the railway line.

Then headed back towards Halifax and met up with Sean headed upto Fly Flatts in the hope of getting the Jack Snipe seen earlier by BS. Sean got frost bite and we both got 5 Red Grouse and a pair of Stonechats but no sign of any snipe at all.

In search of warmer climes we opted for Roils Head where we saw NickD and the Mealy Redpolls.

16th December

Roils Head
Met up with Sean and Andy. 3 Reed Bubtings, not on the seed. 12 Redpolls, we believe that at least 3 of these birds were Mealy Redpolls, they appeared to be paler than the lessers with nice pink breast, braces down the mantle and almost unstreaked undertail coverts.
Can not find out if this lack of streaking on the undertail coverts is typical of mealy. Rare Birds shows a drawing of arctic and redpolls undertail coverts on page 383 but does not mention mealy.
Any thoughts out there?

Lidl bargain Optics

Might be of interest for buying gear for Malta or others looking for a bargain. Lidl are selling some spotting scopes at £99.99 including a tripod. They also have two types of Bresser bins at bargain prices and a Nightscope on offer at £109.99. I did a quick search on the web and people seem well impressed with the cheap bins bought so far. Link shows a pair of 10x50 bins at £9.99 !

I have never personally used any of the optics mentioned but have bought Lidl microscopes in the past and they are superb and very, very cheap.

Soil Hill

16/12/2007 1430-1530hrs

4 PF Geese >W
6 Snipe in air together
1f Stonechat
1 Kestrel

Merlin Books

As per earlier posts on this Blog Paul Talbot has offered two signed copies of "Merlins of the South East Yorkshire Dales" by Peter Wright to be raffled next Sunday evening at the birders get together at The Old Bridge Inn in Ripponden. Money raised will go into the Malta Optics fund. In order to get the ball rolling I am selling tickets at £1 each, anyone interested in buying tickets please E mail me at with the number of tickets you want and I'll set them aside for you.

manor heath

2 redwings on menor heath which my brother spotted out of the car window. only my 3 ever (flock).

Fly Flatts

A Frozen Fly Flatts

16/12/2007 0800-1000hrs Icy cold SE>3 Murky

2 Common Snipe
1m Stonechat
1 Goldeneye
No Twite
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Luddenden Dean

I had a report on Thursday of c40 Bramblings (seen about 2 weeks ago) in the beech woodland between Booth and Jerusalem Farm. Couldn't find any today but plenty of other routine woodland birds about in Wade Wood and other woodlands up the dean.

Other birds in the dean included a female Sparrowhawk, Little Owl and Kestrel with a Raven high over Midgley Moor. Lots of Blackbirds about 30+ along with 6 Mistle thrush, 22 Fieldfares and 30+ Redwings feeding on holly berries.

Just 1 Reed Bunting along Castle Carr Road and a Siskin over and 4 Stock Doves.


saw 1 fly up as my family drove through hebden bridge. pleased with that as it is my fist outside bolton abbey and only my 5th ever. 9 mipits foraging in the feild opposite my house which is cool because we have never had then here before.


Just a couple of photos as tasters of the book prizes on the evening of the 23rd at the get together. The author Peter Wright has very kindly signed the TWO copies on offer to the lucky winners on the evening. The book is a cracking read as well has being informative. The book details Peters studies of Merlins in the dales over a 30 year period from 1973.


Paul, just an idea but as we are having a social event next week how about, we have the bird race that day as well? I know it's short notice but it's very easy to organise. What does everyone else think? Please post a response everyone, even if you can't make it lets show some enthusiasm.

Has everyone let Tim know if they are going and what type of pie they would like?

I'm hoping to see lots of people there although the less that turn up the greater my chances of winning one of Pauls fantastic book prizes.

Tim you can count me in for 2 people but just the 1 pork pie please.

Friday, December 14, 2007

14th December

Roils Head PM
Armed with 2 bags of seed, I went to put it down where the Reed Buntings had been feeding the day before, sadly no buntings today. I did however have a nice Mealy Redpoll with 2 lessers feeding in Alders just off the track. The Mealy showed a beautiful pink flush to the breast, 2 pale braces on the mantle and the undertail coverts were unstreaked except for one thin hairline streak in the centre.The lesser's undertail coverts showed 6 or 7 streaks.

Various sites

Sunny Vale - lake frozen over this morning except for one area by the reedbed where the stream comes in. Still 2 Little Grebes there along with 1 Grey Heron, 4 Teal and 6 Moorhens. No sign of Water rail today. Also several Jays and 1 Green Woodpecker.
Elland GP - just a quick look from the road. 2 Little Grebe, 4 Cormorant, 8 Tufted Duck, 1 drake Goldeneye and 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls >E.
Ringstone - thanks for the info on the grapevine as the 3 Shoveler were firsts for me in Calderdale this year! Also 6 Teal and lots of Lapwings and some Golden plover in the fields with B H and Common Gulls but hard to count as the mist came in.
Soil Hill - 3 Skylarks and one very hardy female Stonechat.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

13th December

Roils Head PM
3 Reed Buntings this PM, none of which showed the pale central crown stripe which was seen on one of yesterdays birds.Also 4 Redwings over and 18 Golden Plovers at High Road Well Moor.

Ogden/Fly Flats

Ogden - Back Lane. Several Reed Buntings in the juncus habitat along with 1 Kestrel and 12 Chaffinch in the plantation.

Fly Flats - 1 Black-headed Gull! and a Raven at a distance and red Grouse on the moor. No Twite.

Ogden Res'r - 1 Kingfisher reported early afternoon. 8 long-tailed Tits and Sparrowhawk. 1 Reed Bunting near the golf course.

Also reported this afternoon, 40 Pink-feet over Cold Edge going >W and a Goldeneye there.

Lower Gorple 10 - 11:30am

Nothing on the res' (don't know quite what I expected though).
2 reed bunting
2 stonechat
7 red grouse
common gull
50 pink feet > west towards Mereclough
2 meadow pipit
3 carrion crow
By the houses -
GS woodpecker
3 blackbirds
2 goldcrest
8 greenfinch
2 chaffinch
coal tit
19 goldfinch

Boxing Day Bird Race & Bridge Inn

A few people have emailed to tell me that as Boxing Day is such a poor day to hold a fund raising event due to family commitments, would I be prepared to shift this to another day. I personally have no problem with this as the whole idea was to have a fun day AND raise funds for the Conservation Committee. Would others prefer another date for the great bird race and if so when ? I am happy to change the date if people can agree on a date and still offer a copy of NN, History of Ornithology as a prize. I think we should make this one £5 per team to enter. But you have to turn up at the agreed evening venue with your list to be able to enter.I am still offering the brand new unopened copy of the latest NN A History of Ornithology as a prize in the Xmas raffle. This is valued at £45 but will rocket in value over the next few years if people want to hang onto. Nick has tickets for sale at £5 each and remember every penny raised goes back into helping local bird life, so if you have not bought a ticket yet please do.

The "evening get together" at the Bridge inn on the 23rd December will have two prizes on offer donated by Pennine Books. I will be donating two copies of "Merlins of the South East Yorkshire Dales" by Peter Wright. How these will be used I shall leave up to the organisers of the event as any funds raised on the evening are going to support the optics for Malta appeal I believe.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pink-footed geese

64 today over Baitings res'r going >NW at 10.30 am.
Another 60 from Sean J going >NW over Huddersfield at 11.00 am.
Also as reported by NCD - 68 >W over Mount Tabor at 3.15 pm.

Also 1 Cormorant still at Booth Wood res'r this morning.

Malta Optics Appeal

As most local birders will know I attended the Birdlife Raptor Camp on Malta in September this year with several friends from the Halifax Bird Watchers Club. Since our return the Club’s Conservation Group, of which I am Secretary, has been engaged in fund raising on behalf of Birdlife and the ALE. [Administrative Law Enforcement]

The ALE do a remarkable job with very limited resources and their work is made all the more difficult by the lack of financial support from the Maltese Govt. One of the consequences of the lack of funding is that they are not provided with optics; a point I made at the time during the press conference and since to the Maltese Govt. via Birdlife Malta. Unfortunately things are unlikely to change in the near future.

The aim of the Conservation Group is to try and rectify this shortfall by generating sufficient funding to purchase optics for use by the ALE before spring 2008. We have undertaken several fund raising events so far and others are in the pipeline. Along with raising direct funding, i.e. cash, we are collecting unused optics which we will donate, sell to raise more cash or trade in when we buy the optics early next year.

Once purchased, the optics will be presented to Birdlife Malta who will in turn loan them to the ALE for the duration of the spring and autumn migration periods. It is then hoped that the ALE will be more efficient in their efforts to prevent and detect crimes against the birds, something I know is very close to your heart.

I would be grateful if you would consider making a donation to the project either by the way of a cheque or unused optics, please?

Please send optics or make cheques payable to ‘Calderdale Bird Conservation Group’ and forward to the Treasurer:

Andrew Cockroft
9 Hedge Top Lane
West Yorkshire

Kindest Regards

Steve Downing

12 December odd looking Bunting

Roils Head PM
A Reed Bunting is a good record at Roils Head so 6 birds feeding in the scrubby area below the playing fields was most unusual. One of these birds appeared to be smaller than the rest and spent all its time sculking in long grass with just the top of its head visible. I was drawn to this because it had a most outstanding pale central crown stripe. (I started to think of Little Bunting) and my pulse started racing as I thought I saw rusty looking cheeks, but this was very brief and my immagination could have got the better of me. The birds were then flushed by a Dog walker and not seen again. On returning home I checked my field guides and noted that a strong cental crown stripe is a good bet for Little Bunting, unfortunatly I saw no other detail. It will probably turn out to be just a Reed Bunting but the area is well worth checking tomorrow.
Also present 9 Redpoll, 20 Golden Plover at High Road Well Moor and 68 Pink feet flew west at Mount Tabor.

the chilling soil hill

quick walk round this evening to result in very little results. 2 meadow pipits were hopping along the ground (my dad thought they were twite). also saw 5/6 partridges flushed from near the scrapes. the only problem with having a site that ahs both kinds of partidge is when you see siluets then you cant be sure whether is grey or RL. judging by the location please could somebody help.

Feeding Station at Cromwell Bottom

I have now upped the number of feeders at the feeding station on Tag Loop to cope with demand in the cold weather. If you go up the track over Tag till you get to the "viewing" stone near the summit on the right, you will see the track I have made to the feeders. I usually scatter pinhead oats and nyger seed near the stone and track and a small amount of pinhead oats under the feeders themselves.

Birds seen at the feeders and stone so far have been:
Blue Tit
Coal Tit
Great Tit
Green Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
and this morning a male Pheasant was rooting around under the feeders until it spotted the dog and ran and then flew off onto Northbank Loop.

I also scatter carrots in the area from time to time for the Roe Deer but they only put in an appearance very early in the morning. Whilst I was topping up the feeders and adding some more the Blue Tits carried on feeding right next to me. As soon as I moved off huge numbers of tits moved onto the feeders immediately, it looked like a scene from the Hitchcock film the birds ! I tend not to hang around long as I have the dog with me and I want the birds to be able to feed quickly and feel confident on the feeders. I suspect it wont be long before a Sparrowhawk notices the activity and I find feathers under the feeders occasionally.

No Yellowhammer yet :-((

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Soil Hill

11/12/2007 1200 noon
Report from Nigel Kerwin of probable ringtail Hen Harrier
which took off from the top of Soil Hill and dropped down low
down the hillside towards Denholme Velvets but not giving
him chance of a possible i.d. see ( Queensburybirder).
Also f. Stonechat and Woodcock present.

Ogden/Fly Flats

Ogden (am) - 6 Herring Gulls >N 10 am and 1 Stonechat on Ovenden Moor.
Ogden (pm) - 1 Raven high over the golf course >NW. 250 Black-headed Gulls and 45 Common Gulls on the res'r. Usual tit flock around the res'r - no sign of the Dipper this winter as yet!
Ogden (Back Lane) Fox, 12 Siskin, m Sparrowhawk and 30 Chaffinch.

Fly Flats - Peregrine went over high and locked onto some Woodpigeons going >S. It singled out one and as it approached the Woodpigeon plummeted down (mistake!!) The Peregrine hit it in a steep dive and I watched as it killed and ate the bird on the rocks near the overflow to the res'r.

Also 2 Ravens over Nab Hill, 1 Kestrel, 13 Black-headed Gulls and a f Goldeneye on the res'r. Quite a few Red Grouse on the moor.

A pair of Stonechats by the wind-farm car park and Reed Bunting at Withens Gap.

Cromwell Bottom & Towpath 11/12/07

Usual walk again this morning to meet up with Les. It was still too dark at 7.30 am to see any birds on the early part of the walk, but I did get cracking views of two Roe deer through my resurrected scope down below the abandoned "wood huts". I spotted both deer yesterday morning in roughly the same place, near the edge of the canal just past the "wood huts" in the field. Yesterday they had been spooked by two workers in bright yellow coats checking the Electric pylon. They were both in the same spot this morning and I got some smashing views through the scope, both were does.

I then went up Tag loop to top up the feeders and got some nice views of a small flock (7 birds)of Goldfinch feeding on the pinhead oats and nyger seed scattered on the path by the top viewing stone. The feeders were well down again, I think I will have to add some more feeders to them to save topping them up daily in bad weather.

Walked down Brookfoot loop to meet Les and spotted a big old dog Fox slinking off into the wet willow scrub, several Jays, Magpies and Blackbirds were giving him a hard time from a safe distance. Only one Cormorant on the ski ramp this morning but a large number of Canada geese have now returned to the ski/angling lake, Les & I counted about 40+ this morning. Usual Tufted duck, Coot, GC Grebe and B/H gulls around.

As Les and I walked back over Tag Loop we had good views of Green woodpecker but it was impossible to get the scope on it. Nothing much on the river this morning which is still flowing fast, a few mallard and one pair of Goosander. No Heron this morning which is very unusual.

Left Les with the crumblie club and set off back home around 9am. The deer had gone but I got good views of a Tree Creeper in almost the same spot I saw a pair of them before. Nice to see this through the scope for a good 5 mins before it moved off. I was watching some Bullfinch in the bramble scrub below Knowles pipe dump when I am sure I heard a Chiff-Chaf calling a couple of times for that area, is this likely ? I have never heard them here in winter before, though it is a good spot in Spring. I do know that some have been reported in the press in other areas but do we get overwintering Chiff-Chaf in Calderdale ? I am quite prepared to be shot down as mistaken with this one but it certainly sounded like Chiff-Chaf Nothing much else seen on the last leg home, Wren, Chaffinch and some small mixed tit flocks.

Monday, December 10, 2007

10th December

Heath Hill Road
3 Grey Partridge, 1 Stonechat, 1 Kestrel.
High Road Well Moor
5 Golden Plovers, 4 Pied Wagtails and good numbers of Common and Black-headed Gulls. The gulls always seem to leave at about 3.15PM and move in a south westerly direction. Has anyone checked Baitings at dusk because this time last year there was a large roost of mainly BHGs and Commons with the odd Lesser in with them. The Herring Gulls I had the other day were also moving in a westerly direction late on and may have come down in our area.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

9th December

Roils Head
5 Herring Gulls west this PM.

December Greenshank

Has anyone any knowledge of a Dec. Greenshank in the archives.
Ive been back through old reports from BOG and HX and the latest I can
find is BOG.. Lindley Wood 30/11/1990.
Todays bird at Fly was an adult in very pale grey winter plumage.
It was heading towards Blackstone,Whiteholme area,I was hoping it would end up at the " With ". BS

Shibden Park

PJWS reported a hybrid male Pintail x Mallard on the lake today. It's worth a photo if anyone goes down there!

Fly Flatts

Rapids at Fly Flatts
09/12/2007 Early rain then overcast, slight >S

The bird was on the cobbles near the overflow at 0905hrs which I unfortunately
didnt see till I was close which flushed it. It did a circuit of the res then off low over Dean head and >SW
down the Calder Valley.
3 Goldeneye
2 Greylag flyovers >N
1 Herring Gull >S
1 Kestrel
4 Red Grouse
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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Shibden Park & Cunnery Wood - Saturday 08/12/07

Park - 8:30 to 9:00 overcast

16 jackdaw, 2 blackbirds, 4 crows, 53 mallard, 4 BH gull, 1 moorhen
10 siskin, 1 gs woodpecker, 1 pied wagtail, 1 grey wagtail, 2 wren, 7 long tailed tits.
1 muscovy duck

Wood - 9:00 to 10:30 overcast then rain

1 siskin, 1 singing mistle thrush plus 12 west, 2 rook, 4 magpie, 1 blue tit, 4 blackbirds, 1 robin
1 woodcock flushed twice (probably the same one), 1 male sparrowhawk
3 common gull

Calderdale Birds: Christmas Get Together, Old Bridge Inn, Ripponden.

Visit to find out more about the Old Bridge Inn.

Christmas Get Together, Old Bridge Inn, Ripponden.

I'll be putting on prize winning pork pie & mushy peas (or cheese & onion for non-meat-eaters) on the night. These are "on me", but we'll be looking for a couple of quid donation to the ALE Malta Optics Fund. It would also be useful to have an idea of numbers - e-mail or phone my mobile 07973 745 819. Wives and or partners welcome!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Booth Wood Res'r

2 Cormorants today on the exposed stone walls at far side of res'r.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Nest Records.

Is anyone else recording nests for the BTO?
I just sent my poor set of 16 cards off. (Poor in number, not quality.) It included my first robin pair that has actually taken up the offer of an open-fronted box. They tend to nest anywhere in the garden except there. I usually record 20+ per season, but the promising spring just fizzled out as far as breeding was concerned as I'm sure you all know. It would be easy to get more if only one visit was enough, but the data is far more valuable if backed up with another visit or two, to check changes and survival rates.
I just send cards because a few years ago the difficulties of sending the records electronically spoiled the pleasure of the recording. Does anyone know wether the system has been simplified?


Just a drake Goldeneye on there this morning. Also a male Sparrowhawk still about and again after the Long-tailed/Blue/Great Tit/Goldcrest flock.

Photo Storage

Morning all

I thought I would post this in response to the request for website info/storage for images. As most will be aware I run an online book business and as such have lots of data that I need to make back up copies of, not least scanned images, in case of computer or web server disasters. I used to back up my shop, images, text etc to CD discs but this takes time and means that should a problem occur in the house the discs are stored elsewhere just in case. Earlier this year I chatted with Ian Kimber of UK moths fame who is IT specialist. He suggested I buy one of the new small portable hard drives (PHD) now available. The one shown in the image cost me around £80 and has 100 GB which stores a lot of images ! They maybe cheaper online but I support my local computer store in Brighouse as they help me out with problems over the phone free of charge, so I try and give a some trade back.

In use you simply plug it into a USB port and drag and drop your images or whatever else you wish to save into the PHD and that's it, its takes literally seconds to make back-ups. I bought another one for Sue for backing up her college work and we also have one as our "photo album" to save all our digital images so they do not take up loads of space on the computer. You can create folder "albums" on the drive just like on your main computer and simply drag and drop straight from the camera into the folders and edit them when you get the time.

I know this is not strictly a bird report but if you do want a cheap portable storage system for photos then this is a dead easy method of doing so. I take mine on holiday with me as it has all my backups in case the house burns down while we are away ! The drive its self is around 5 x 3 inches and weighs a mere 6oz so its easily portable in your pocket.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


im thinking of starting a photography webstite for my bird photos. can anyone recomend a suitable method of doing this because my file on my computer is taking up alot of the computer MB

High Royd, Sowerby Bridge. 11:30am

A tad more water in the pools than recently, but one or two still essentially dry. I know I'm preaching to the converted, but this site could be really, really good.

46 teal
11 moorhen
1 coot
6 mallard
4 heron
1 treecreeper
1 jay
1 gs woodpecker

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Malta binoculars update

The recent book raffle which raised £215 for binoculars for the ALE on Malta appears to have captured one or two people's imagination and there are now other fund raising projects in the pipeline (watch this space!). With this in mind we have decided to wait until any further funds are raised before sending binoculars out to Malta. I have recently received an E mail from Andre Raine who has passed details of our efforts to the local Maltese Police who have in turn asked for their thanks to be passed on, hopefully with these extra fund raising initiatives we will have some decent optics to pass onto them. In recognition of the support and sponsorship given to the Bird Club I have asked Gordon Denison to open dialogue with Pennine Optics in Rochdale with regard to supplying the binoculars when we are ready to buy.

Cold Edge

Lots of Fieldfares in the fields above Cold Edge top dam - difficult to count in the mist and drizzle but probably just over 100 or thereabouts.

Ogden/Fly Flats

Very poor weather today - drizzle and thick mist from the Withens to Fly Flats - started clearing a bit about 1.30pm - had enough by then!

Ogden - 80 Black-headed Gulls and 35 Common Gulls, and 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker. 1 Kestrel over the golf course and 4 Meadow Pipits on the track up to the Withens.

Fly Flats - 1 f Goldeneye, 1 Reed Bunting and several Red Grouse calling over the moor. No Twite at the feeding station although plenty niger seed down and topped up.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Shroggs Park

Still quite a number of Redwings in and around the park today feeding on the holly berries.

Also 8 Blackbirds feeding on the Sorbus tree berries opposite the RSPCA/below Halifax bus station this afternoon- could be a spot for Waxwing - but they will need to be quick!

Elland G P

Just a quick look from the road this afternoon in the pouring rain.
2 G C Grebes, several Tufted Duck (couldn't see well to do a proper count), 2 Pochard, 1 Cormorant, 1 drake Goldeneye, 13 Goosander and a Lesser-black-backed Gull in with the Common and B H Gulls.

Birdwatching at Cromwell Bottom 1950-2003

As some of you are aware Andy Cockroft wrote a publication for Friends of Cromwell Bottom covering the history of Birdwatching at Cromwell Bottom. We sold enough of these to recoup the outlay on printing costs. Andy still has a few copies left and we are selling these off and donating the funds to the Halifax Birdwatchers Club Conservation Committee to use to fund projects they have in mind for Calderdale

The book is very well produced and bound in a clear laminate cover with a map of Cromwell Bottom/Elland Gravel Pits drawn by Gordon Denison on the rear. The book details every species recorded at Cromwell Bottom from 1950 to 2003, with accounts of breeding and sightings of rarities.I have around 20 copies for sale at a suggested price of £4 if collected or £5 if you want a copy mailing out to you.

I can be contacted via the blog or by calling me on 01422 370664

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Fly Flatts

02/12/2007 0800-0930hrs Heavy rain, S>3 then fog.
4 Golden Plover
8 Lapwing
2 Goldeneye
1 Stonechat
5 Red Grouse

Scammonen & Ringstone

Scammonden - from the car 12.55 - 13.00
Heavy rain and gusty Westerly (4-5) for most of day
Cormorant 1 imm
Redwing 6
Fieldfare 45

Fieldfare Scammonden feeding in field next to road

Ringstone Edge R. 13.05 - 14.20
Devoid of waterfowl

feeding in West and North fields
L B B Gull 1 ad
Herring Gull 1 first W + 4 ads flew w
Common Gull 360+
B h Gull 220+
Golden Plover 55
Fieldfare 21

This adult argentatus Herring Gull was feeding in a field at Norland
with 20 B h Gulls and 2 commons.


Clearing out my office this morning I came across various things that are now surplus to requirements.

Various Halifax Scientific Society Publications covering Calderdale Nature & Birds. Some are specific area (Hardcastle Crags), some are just bird reports and some are general calderdale reports, there are around 20 of these. Any one who wants collect some or all of these is welcome to them free.I also have a pair of compact 8 x 25 Minolta bins in case, also free to a good home. The stuff is free to anyone who wants it but you might care to send Nick Carter a small donation for the Bird Conservation Group.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Message for Dish fish

Just found out you've got a birding blog, any chance we can put a link to it on here please? Keep up the good work, great to see a younger birder than Darrel in action!

Shibden Valley and Sunny Vale 01/12/07

Shibden Park 9-9:15
6 blackbirds
1 chaffinch
1 robin
8 jackdaw

Cunnery Wood 9:15-10:15
2 robin
1 wren
5 blackbird
2 mistle thrush
female sparrowhawk - flew past me hunting about 7 metres away. For a laugh here is a photo of a tree with a bird in the way.

Flock of long tailed, great and blue tits.

Pump Lane/Dark Lane 10:30 - 11:00
6 greenfinch
4 chaffinch
2 robin
8 blackbird
3 mistlethrush
1 redwing
1 wren
2 jay

Sunny Vale 11:00 - 12:00
Water level a lot higher than last week so the mud that the water rails was on has gone.
1 kingfisher
20 mallard - 1 looked to be a hybrid

5 moorhen
1 little grebe that actually caught a fish so there must be something in the murk
1 heron
2 robin
3 blackbirds
4 magpies, 1 crow and 2 jay
great and blue tits.
1 grey wagtail

Ringstone & Elland today

Ringstone Edge R. 09.20 - 10.10
W2-3 sunny with 30% cloud. Water level rising fast

Goosander Male & fem
Com Gull 220+
B h Gull 140+
Meadow Pipit 2

Elland G. P. 10.50 - 16.30

G C Grebe 3
Litle Grebe 11 Ski Lake 1 River
G Heron 1
Cormorant 4
Teal 5
Pochard male & fem
Tufted Duck 26
Goldeneye 2 males+ 1ad fem + 2 first W fem
Goosander 8
Sparrowhawk 1 male
kestrel 1
G B B Gull 1 ad flew W
Herring Gull 4 first W flew West
Common Gull 200
B h Gull 800+
No gull roosted on the Ski Lake
Kingfisher 1
G S Woodpecker 1male
Meadow P 2
Grey Wag 1
Chiffchaff 1 in brambles on aproach to pool
Goldcrest 3
Siskin 25
Redpoll 6 in flight

Bird food order going in

I intend to place a bird food order in the near future with CJ Wildbirdfoods, this food is for "personal" use (ie not bird club feeding stations etc), does anyone else want to place an order to share postage costs/discounts?


this morning lone male goldeneye still there showing well. 1 siluette of a jay in the trees with a male sparrowhawk a mere 60cm above my head. now that is something

Norland Moor 1/12/07 & Ramblings

Morning all

Sue and I took the dog up Norland for its usual Saturday morning walk around 8am. Not too much around this morning but we did have wonderful views of a small flock of Bullfinch in the small Birch trees at the top end of Moor. A flock of seven, 3male & 4 female. This is the first time in 15 years of walking Norland regularly we have ever seen Bullfinch on the moor. Large flocks of B/H gulls in most of fields around the Norland area this morning, too many to count but they must have run into the low thousands added together.

Bird field guide; thanks to all who replied, and a VERY BIG THANK YOU to Dean Stables from Barnsley Birders who very generously mailed me a pristine HB copy of the highly recommended Collins guide free. And yes everyone who recomended it, it is indeed superb.

Scope; thanks to all who offered suggestions for scopes as well. Money is a bit tight at the moment as Sue is re-training as a secondary school teacher with the subsequent large loss of salary involved. I did not feel I could justify spending large amounts from a limited income this year so have delayed in purchasing any of the scopes suggested but will do so when finances permit. In the meantime I had a dig around in the accumulated rubbish in the garage and managed to unearth my old Greencat spotting scope which is now around 20 years old. It still works fine and though its not as good as the ones suggested its better than none at all. I have now bought a tripod for this so if anyone spots me out and about with a tatty old scope please refrain from sniggering at my antiquated equipment :-))

Seasons greeting to all