Saturday, February 05, 2011

Hollas Lane - Sterne mills

In view of the proposed developments on this site, I thought it might be useful to visit the area to gather a few records.
Okay, it isn't the best time of year to do this, and the weather was pretty wet and miserable, but records are needed from this site to back-up any objections being made to the proposed development on ecological/wildlife grounds.

The area I managed to cover with Nick D, only included the area between the canal and the river as time was limited and access across the footbridge was, as we all know, blocked by galvanised railings.

The "grassed area" to the west of the "hard-standing" was quite boggy with mossy areas and sections of sedge, bramble and scrub. There were bark chippings in various places, suggesting recent shrub/tree removal (?).
Unfortunately, neither of us had wellies, so were not able to do an extensive flush of the wet areas.
Species that I would expect to find would be Snipe and Jack Snipe, but we only managed to flush one Woodcock.
The commoner passerines that we listed included Great Spotted Woodpecker, Woodpigeon, Wren, Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Jay, Carrion Crow with between 4 and 7 Goosander on the river and 30 or so Mallard with the occasional Black-headed Gull passing overhead or on nearby fields. Sparrowhawks hunt in the area as evidenced by a Woodpigeon kill. Moles were also present.

This area may have potential for Willow Tit, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Chifchaff, Willow Warbler, Dipper and Grey Wagtail so is worth paying more attention to.

Historically, this area, presumably along the railway, was an important Yellowhammer site but none have been reported from here in recent years.

On the south side of the river, there may be habitat suitable for Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Water Rail, so is worthy of further investigation.

A couple of Grayling anglers that I spoke to told me that Kingfisher sightings were regular on that part of the river, as were sightings of both, Mink and Otter. They also told me that Newt spp were present in the marshy areas on the other side of the bridge whilst I would not be too surprised to find Common Toad in the area due to the proximity of Washer Lane.

I would be grateful if other birders could give this area some closer attention to discover what we are in danger of losing.

There are many other valid objections being put forward against this development besides those based on its natural history, but if any objections are to made on a natural history context, we do need data relating to those species currently present. So get out there, and get looking.


David Sutcliffe said...

There was a Dipper on the river on the wier just by the blocked off bridge on 2nd Feb but I couldn't find much else there as the weather was so bad!

David Sutcliffe said...

I have been on the BTO website to check on species recorded on the Atlas 2007 to 2011 and on Birdtrack in the tetrad SE02R which covers more or less all this area between the moorings at Sowerby Bridge and the Sterne Mill site. There were no real surprises but results were;
Breeding season - 33 species but only 4 confirmed breeders.

Winter - 47 species recorded using the square.

These results are entirely dependent on the input of observers. If they are not recorded on the system then they will not show. It demonstrates the importance of accurate record keeping. The BTO are probably the best custodians of bird records enableing information to be analysed on a national and a local basis.

The BTO system is very easy to use!

It's also very important to ensure that observers Calderdale records are forwarded to our own recoder - Nick Dawtrey - who does a first class job logging all the information and producing an annual report.

We never know how important our Calderdale records will be in the future to protect birds and their habitat!

Jeff Cox said...

Hear hear to your mention of Nick. He does a sterling job for us.

Steve Cummings said...

Well said Dave. Records are not much use if they are just for ones own notebooks or hidden away on a blog site somewhere..... such information needs to be available to conservation organisations in order to protect habitats that come under threat from developments such as these. It is essential that field-workers and observers pass their information on to the relevant recorders, Local, Regional and National.

Hugh Firman said...

Yes, information does need to be available to conservation organisations in order to protect habitats that come under threat from developments.

Let's get records to West Yorkshire Ecology for sites like this.

Nick Carter said...

I intend to start using Birdtrack to record my sightings (something I am long overdue doing) does anyone know if organisations like WYE can access them directly from there?

David Sutcliffe said...

Not sure Nick but I guess if they sign in then they should be able to access info for tetrads at least, although there is an obvious block on sensitive breeding birds.

For me, tetrads work best as this also ties in with the BTO Atlas.

Once you start the input for an area/location/tetrad initially you get a full list of birds to tick off etc with options to add comments. This is a little long winded initially but after two or three inputs for a site the list comes up with just the ones you have logged plus an option for additional species. It's very straight forward and the info that can be drawn off is second to none.