Friday, December 30, 2011

Mixenden, Soil Hill and Swales Moor

1 juv drake Goldeneye on Mixenden this morning.
7 Snow Bunts on the top at Soil Hill but flighty. Also 8 Skylark and 1 Reed Bunting with 1 passing Herring Gull SW.
All I could find at Swales was 1 Skylark and 1 Grey Partridge on the top with 1 second winter Herring Gull through SW

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Hi all.
Off subject.
But I know that some of you are into Cosmology:

January 10th 2012.  Halifax Scientific Society
At the Halifax Library, Halifax:  7:15 pm

A New Year Approaches

Just in case you didn't know,

but it does bring 2 things to mind (that's not easily done to me, so make the most of it).

First was the question I begged earlier, What will be the next new bird for Calderdale?

Come on folks at least have a guess no matter how wild it maybe.

Second is would anyone be interested in a having a bird race, I suggest teams of 3 but numbers may dictate that we run in 2's and I'll suggest sometime in March as things such as wheatear are returning but it could be later in the year to allow for more daylight.

If we get some interest I'd suggest an entry fee, all money going to a charity and I'll try and get some business's to donate a prize or 2.

Anyway leave a post with your species guess and stating your interest in taking part, don't be shy it's all for fun.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Andys Herring gull

Thats as good as I can get it, Id say its an argentatus.

Third time lucky!

Finally tracked the Snow Buntings down, the high winds and (mostly) overcast skies caused many deleted shots, thank goodness for digital! Left some seed on a small mound near the mast, marked it with a green pipe. Weasel up on the stone wall.

Totally different day in Brighouse for the Redwing.

Herring Gull

Argenteus of argentatus  ??? need to get photo shop but you should be able to enlarge it.??

Earth Flight

Hi All

For those of you who have missed the TV ad then here is the link
Its on Thursday night 29th December.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

And sponsored New Year Bird Count in aid of Overgate Hospice.

All are welcome to join me for a 4 mile walk round North Dean Wood.
January 1st, 11.45 am for 12.00 start from car park below Clay House at West Vale.

We will be looking at fungi, one of Colin's favourite groups, and keeping tally of all bird species we see or hear, in the tradition of many birders on New Year's Day.

Why not get your friends or family to sponsor you per bird species. (We would be lucky to find 20.)

Bring a snack and hot drink if you like. Paths are muddy with some climbs, but suitable for children who are used to walking and dogs.

Steve Blacksmith (Chair, Halifax Scientific Society.)

Cold Edge

1 male Stonechat by Spring Dam this afternoon with single Goldeneye, Tufted Duck and Goosander on the lower dam and 7 Greylag and 3 Canada's in the fields.
2 Little Owls
1 female Sparrowhawk
1 Kestrel
8 Herring Gulls west
Lots of Red Grouse on the moor
Nearly forgot - 7 Fieldfare went over 'The Withens' towards Ogden

Snow Bunting - Again! (Soil Hill)

Sorry if it is getting tedious but this is my first anywhere! Only one found but there may have been others on the hill. There were several people up there looking. Thanks to the birder from the Bradford group who walked straight onto the hill and found this one for us just as I was about to give up.

Longfield and Lee Dam this morning

12 Lapwing and 67 Black-headed Gulls at Longfield Dam.

5 Teal (2 ♂) and 7 Goosander (5 ♂) at Lee Dam. About 70-80 Fieldfare with about 40-50 Starlings in the field next to Lee Dam.

Great Spotted Woodpecker at Shaw Wood. Long-tailed Tits seem to be everywhere at the moment.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day, Soil Hill

                             Beware of this brown job first noticed by DJS
                       It can look like a Lap Bunt.

                                                            Eye Contact with a Bunt

Back to 6 Snow Buntings on Soil Hill again today but unsettled in the strong winds.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas on Soil Hill

                                         Soggy wet Snow Bunts.

Snow Buntings scattered loosely all over the hill today with only 4 found in atrocious conditions.
Also :-
6 Fieldfare
9 Golden Plover
2 Lapwing
12 Linnet

Xmas sewage treats

I'm not suggesting we replace the turkey, i took a wander upto High Royd hoping Santa had dropped off a GWteal or a Smew alas either Santa doesn't exist or I've been a bad boy this year.

But not that bad as I did see;

1 Kingfisher
2 treecreepers
2 nuthatch
6 teal
1 Goldcrest
several Great, Blue and Long tailed tits
1 grey wagtail
4 Goosander (2 pairs)
1 Jay
3 Grey Herons

And made it home in time to see Penguins (Happy feet :-) )

Merry Xmas All


3 Redpolls on the neighbours feeder this morning. First ones this winter.

Happy Xmas

A very happy Christmas and a bird filled 2012 to all Calderdale birders.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Soil Hill Snow Buntings

Snow Buntings now down to 6 this morning on Soil Hill but very mobile in the wet and windy conditions.

Happy birding for 2012.

From Calderdale Wildlife and C.B.W.G.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mixenden Res'r and Soil Hill

4 Goosander
2 female Goldeneye
Usual B H and Common Gulls

Soil Hill
6 Snow Buntings on the grass/clover near the mast at 2.30 pm
3 Skylarks
4 Linnets

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Soil Hill This Afternoon

Went up to soil hill this afternoon to look for the snow buntings. Found a pair before I realised I left my camera memory card at home. I headed back down for it and then came back up. When I refound them I found three males, so at least 4 birds when I was there.


Posted this yesterday but not appeared on the blog.

Saw a swallow yesterday from my 'office' window upstairs, facing Bottoms Mill cafe window, Walsden. It flew towards me and did a circle - absolutely no doubt about what it was. It flew off south (?) over the house.

Is this unusual? I didn't know we had one or two all year round.


RSPB meeting at Cromwell Bottom

Robin Dalton has organised a meeting with Chris Tomson from the RSPB to visit Cromwell Bottom on the 12th January 2012. Click for full details.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mixenden/Ogden/Soil Hill

8 Snow Buntings together on the area near the mast till at least 2.30 this afternoon and showing well.
8 Linnets and 1 Skylark on the north slope.

3 Goosander on Mixenden with usual gulls but nothing doing on Ogden other than Black-headed and Common Gulls.

Shelf area

The possible Ring Ouzel was tracked down at the site this morning by Steve L who confirmed that the bird he found was a Blackbird with lots of white around the breast, head and collar. If anyone is able to get some photo's of the bird this would be very useful. With our thanks to BS and of course to the gentleman who reported it to Brian and thanks to Steve for following up the sighting to confirm its identity.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rambling for Bramblings

A late start and a trip to Mill Bank in search of Bramblings started with not a lot other than the usual Jackdaws and Magpies and around 50 Woodpigeon and 8 Jays. Then a pair of Treecreepers in a garden followed by a pair of Nuthatch in another garden with a large flock of Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tit added to the list, with a Grey Wagtail, a pair of Coal Tits, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Collared Dove, plenty of Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Chaffinch coming next. Around 20 Redwings went over and, eventually, as my knees began to give way and the lighting slipped away under gloomy skies, I finally saw the Bramblings zipping up and down the valley in the tree tops.
They alighted in a Beech stand on the other side of the valley...........hadn't i just come from there? back down the hill and up the next untill I reached the trees. A few had been feeding on the mast below the trees but went up into the canopy as I approached. Then several more revealed themselves...20.......30.....50......?????? Then they were on the move again, and frustratingly, I watched around 80 fly off South-west. Although around 20 or so stayed put, the lighting was too poor for filming. Hopefully, we might get some better lighting conditions over the next few days for a another chance. Fingers crossed.

Ringstone and Scammonden

4 Pink-feet in the big field this morning (SL and TM) had gone when I called up there this afternoon. Nothing else other then a few BH and Common Gulls.
1 female Wigeon on Scammonden with 10 Herring Gulls and 1 adult Great Black-backed Gull heading west.

Mixenden Res and Soil Hill

1 Goosander on Mixenden this morning then I called at Soil Hill to see if I could manage the 5 Snow Buntings which Geoff saw up there earlier. No luck for me but NK managed one late morning.
c18 Linnets
4 Skylarks
1 Meadow Pipit

Monday, December 19, 2011

Shelf area

Possible Ring Ouzel reported this morning (thanks to BS from a customer at the garage) with winter thrushes by a Cricket Field by Shelf Moor described as a Blackbird with a large white collar! The area has been checked briefly today by AC, TM and SL in poor conditions without success but the area is well worth keeping a check on!
A Ring Ouzel has been reported today (thanks to BirdGuides)at Horwich near Manchester so there is a chance for one in our area.
Always worth a careful check of all winter thrush flocks!

Halifax Peregrines

Report received from Nick Walsh:

"Male and female peregrine on top of Nestles chimney this dinnertime, having pigeon for lunch. Female flew off over my head and landed on Square Church spire.

No camera today, but got some good views with the binoculars."

Soyland/Mill Bank

Large numbers of Redwing with small number of Fieldfare mixed in concentrated on two fields down Highfiled Lane, Soyland on both Saturday & Sunday morning. By mid-morning the Redwing had moved on leaving appx. 30 Fieldfare which stayed around most of the day.

Sunday morning in the woods above Mill Bank counted 10 Brambling but there were more around in the trees.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The coldest place on Earth, Soil Hill.

8 Snow Buntings on Soil Hill this afternoon in freezing conditions. If visiting walk up the track and when you get to the Radio Mast turn right up a slight bank into the clover field. The birds were feeding in the long grass next to the rubble field. More pics on heavy birder blog.

Barn Owls

Looking for the Ring Billed Gull this afternoon. Got talking to a local who thinks he saw a Barn Owl down there last night, thought it useful if any boxes still need positioning as it's not too far from Cooper Bridge.

Other news today

From Steve L and Tony M at Ringstone around mid day
4 Greylag Geese in the big field
c20 Golden Plover
c60 Pink-footed Geese went over high towards Halifax around 1 pm

Soil Hill

I guess this is Nick D and Steve C this afternoon on the ridge, just right of the mast, looking for the 9 Snow Buntings still there today as reported from BS this morning. Digiscoped from my front window 3.2 miles away (5 km)in Lee Mount! Shame the Snow Bunt's aren't a bit bigger as they would be a nice tick from my front room!!!!

Looking forward to your photo's Nick or footage Steve.

Beacon Hill

1 little owl at the end of Long Lane, Southowram. 1 or 2 are seen regularly at this spot (reported by Nick Walsh).

1 redwing in the field.
30 jackdaws together.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Norland- Late Morning

Around 50 Golden Plover, 20 Lapwing and 50 Fieldfare in fields between the moor and the rugby pitches. All went up as a Pergerine came in. He was unsuccessful but then followed the Fieldfare towards Copley.

Ideal Christmas present

IDEAL Christmas presents offer real ale enthusiasts the opportunity to help save an endangered small ground-nesting bird of the South Pennines.
Pennine Prospects, working in partnership with the RSPB, has been instrumental in a number of initiatives through the Watershed Landscape project to help the struggling Twite, which in England now only breeds in the South Pennines and whose population had dropped by over 90 per cent in the past 14 years.
Now the Little Valley Brewery has joined the fight to save the Twite, locally known as the Pennine Finch, with the introduction of the Light Twite, an organic bottle conditioned pale ale, which is only available from Hebden Bridge Visitor and Canal Centre.
Sue Cooper, joint owner of the ethical brewery based in Cragg Vale, said it had been a pleasure to work with Pennine Prospects, the rural development company that commissioned the Light Twite. “The conservation aspect of the project fits so well with our own value base so we were delighted to be asked to create a private label beer to raise the profile of the Twite Recovery Project.
“This is a bottle conditioned beer which continues to mature in the bottle using a traditional method of brewing that has been recognised by the campaign for real ale (CAMRA) as real ale in a bottle,” explained Sue, who started the Little Valley Brewery with Wim van der Spek in 2005. Since then the brewery has gained widespread recognition.
Charlotte Weightman, RSPB Twite Recovery Project, said this project has an added synergy.
“There is a special connection between the Little Valley Brewery and the Twite as, not only are they both in the South Pennines, but they also both use the same water. The brewery gets its water from Withens Clough Reservoir, which is in the very heart of Twite country.”
The creation of the Light Twite Pale Ale, with a label designed by Hebden Bridge-based Watershed Landscape artist in residence, Angie Rogers, will help lift the profile of the Twite Recovery Project and with Christmas just round the corner offers the perfect gift for real ale enthusiasts.
The Twite Recovery Project is supported by the Watershed Landscape Project with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and managed by Pennine Prospects, in partnership with the RSPB and Natural England, with support from Kirklees Council and South Pennines LEADER. A number of initiatives are being implemented to help protect the seed-eating Twite, from the restoration of hay meadows close to the moorland edge to the monitoring of bird numbers by volunteers, the introduction of new fire-fighting equipment to help prevent moorland fires which can devastate nesting sites and the introduction of wider educational programmes in local schools.

Snow Buntings

No news for the last couple of days, any reports appreciated, positive or negative.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

British Egg Collector Sentenced to Prison Term

December 13, 2011 - Matthew Gonshaw (49) of Cherrywood Close, Bow in East London, has extended his infamy for being Britain's most imprisoned egg collector by being sentenced to yet another jail term, for six months, following conviction for stealing and possessing wild birds eggs, including those of some of the rarest and most threatened birds in the UK.  Full Story

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Missed Opportunity

All of you who were unable to get to Martin Garners talk last night hosted by Huddersfield Bird Group really missed out on a great presentation. Thanks are due to NC for the lift over and to HBG for putting on this FREE but more importantly superb presentation.

If you get the opportunity to see one again, I can highly recommend going along.

You won't be disappointed and will come away wanting to get straight out birding and on that note it looks like the strong winds are pulling things in even this late in the year. Another Greater Yellowlegs has turned up, this time in the Highlands and unseasonal Leach's petrel in the Irish sea and even a swallow down south.

I'm sure there must be something hiding away somewhere in Calderdale, Green winged teal anyone? or maybe even a Russian Common Gull!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Soil Hill and Mixenden Res'r

Soil Hill this afternoon was rewarding with a flock of 9 Snow Buntings present until at least 3 pm. Unfortunately it was too windy to get any shots of the birds which include at least 5 males. This afternoon they favoured the mounds and the bare field 100m to north east of the mast.
c8 Skylarks also present mainly down the north slope along with 1 Pheasant.

Mixenden Res'r
1 female Goldeneye and B H and Common Gulls present
9 Goldfinch
23 Magpies

Ideal Xmas Stocking Filler + Group Donation

For Sale, a collectible range of fridge magnets which I've produced. On the wildlife and landscape of Calderdale, each magnet is 58mm x 58mm and cost £2 each or £9 for the full set of 5.

For every full set sold quoting ref:- CBCGdonation, I shall make a donation of £1 to the conservation group.

Anyone wanting to order please email me

Monday, December 12, 2011

Martin Garner talk

Anyone interested in the Martin Garner talk at Huddersfield BWC tomorrow night?
Work and weather permitting I am hoping to go along with Andy Huyton, two places in the car, contact me if interested.


Pink feet

One flock of 62 pink footed geese went W high over Colden at 9:30 am, whilst simultaneously another flock of c.35 went low and E towards Hebden.

A couple of flocks of c. 40 fieldfare were also about.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Drake Pintail still there this morning from Steve L.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Other news today

6 Snow Buntings still on Soil Hill this morning (NK)

1 male Blackcap on feeders in Luddenden this morning (MartynBirder)

Mixenden Res'r and Cold Edge

1 female Goldeneye on the res'r this afternoon along with the usual B H and Common Gulls
2 Herring Gulls heading west

Cold Edge
32 Mallard
7 Reed Buntings - all males
20+ Red Grouse
1 Sparrowhawk
1 Kestrel
c80 Rooks and c80 Jackdaws heading NE to roost

Pepper Hill/Ploughcroft

c40 Redwings feeding in the holly bushes along Hag Lane along with around 30 Blackbirds this morning.
1 pair of Sparrowhawks sparring
c150 Woodpigeons in the valley

Monday, December 05, 2011

SEO - 3:30pm

A short eared owl drifting east over snowy fields near Cross Stone Road / Great Rock (above Tod') was, I think, the first I've seen this year.

Other news today

Steve L and Tony M managed at least 6 Snow Buntings on the top this morning along with a few Skylarks and Lapwings.
They also had around 50 Golden Plover at Ringstone Res'r.

Sunny Vale

A change of site for me this afternoon and it was very rewarding.
1 Water Rail calling in the small reedbed
1 Kingfisher
2 Little Grebes
4 Moorhen
6 Teal
26 Mallard
Grey Wagtail
5 Grey Herons
17+ Siskin
Great-spotted Woodpecker

If anyone goes down there be forewarned - its a welly job!

Colin Duke

Just a brief note to inform those of you who knew Colin Duke a volunteer with Calderdale Countryside unit for well over 20 years, that sadly Colin passed away on Saturday in Overgate Hospice. Colin contributed a great deal to Calderdale wildlife over many years through his ranger work with the Calderdale Countryside Unit and the Halifax Scientific Society in which he held various offices over the years. Colin worked unpaid and largely un-thanked helping to preserve the wildlife and countryside around his beloved Calderdale. I spent a few years working with Colin as a volunteer in the early 1990's at North Dean when we both were made redundant from our respective jobs in the textile industry and I have Colin to thank for getting me interested trying to preserve in the ecology and wildlife of Calderdale while I lived in the area. There most also be quite a few youngish birders in Calderdale who owe Colin a debt of thanks for the Saturday mornings he used to give once a month up to take out the local members of the Young Ornithologists Club on field trips. I am sure those who know Colin much better than I can write a far better account of his life and work in Calderdale but I thought it important that those who knew Colin were given the sad news of his death.

Mixenden and Ogden

Just 1 drake Goosaner on Mixenden Res'r this morning along with the usual BH and Common Gulls. Also 3 Herring Gulls (adult and 2 juvs) >SW.
1 pair of Stonechats at Stod Fold in the same area as last week. Surprisingly I found another pair of Stonechats at the top end of the golf course by the track up to The Withens.
1 juv Cormorant on Ogden

2012 what will it bring??

other than the collapse of the economic world as we know it.

I've been reading the 2009 report and noticing a few birds are missing from the Calderdale list which perhaps expect to be on there. Not because Nick has missed them off but simply because they haven't arrived as yet.

So I shall donate a copy of The Observer Book of Birds to anyone who can name correctly the next new bird for Calderdale (must be seen in 2012).

This is quite a nice book and one of the original bird field guides.

And to get things rolling I'm opting for Red Crested Pochard.

Gamekeeper admits poisoning buzzards.

December 01, 2011 - A gamekeeper has admitted poisoning birds of prey
 at a farm in Biggar, South Lanarkshire. David Whitefield, 41, admitted poisoning
four buzzards (Buteo buteo) with chloralose baits at Coulter Allers
Farm between March and November 2009. 
Read full article.
Scotland to fine and jail landowners who allow illegal killings of birds of prey.  Full Story     It's about time landowners were held responsible! 

Friday, December 02, 2011


News from yesterday from Martyn H of 6 White-fronted Geese heading west at 1.10 pm looked like 2 adults and 4 juvs. An excellent record!

It's wet

on 2 fronts, not only the rain falling from the sky but also for the first time in a long time there is water at High Royd.

So I took a walk on along the canal, first highlight was a small tit flock containing Blue, Great, Coal and Long tails and a Nuthatch.

Next up a Grey wagtail flew past so far so good, as I approached the pools I could hear Teal whistling so was feeling positive. Unfortunately on arrival the nearest and most open pool was devoid of any bird life.

Jays flew back and forth and another Nuthatch called and then showed only a tree away giving great views at it searched for just the right nook in which to store it's peanut.

The middle pool which is covered in juncus revealed 4 male Teal so I got the scope out and sure enough the count went up, reaching 13 in total only 2 of which were females. Hoping that time might reveal more I decided to sit (stand) tight. An hour and several heavy rain showers later only additional birds were 8 BH Gulls and several Mallard which had come in from the canal.
So as my scope and for that matter everything else was wet through I decided to pack up and walk back, as I put the covers over my scope rapid movement on the fringe of the nearest pool caught my eye, the naked eye told me straight away this was a rail and knocking the eye cups off and bringing my bins up in a race against the fast moving rail I was able to confirm it was a Water Rail before it ducked back into cover.

May not have been the rarest of rails but a great sight none the less and a nice reward for sitting out the showers.

The middle pool could well have been hiding something else as the last thing to reveal itself was a Moorhen, the walk back took the Nuthatch count upto 3 and the final Jay count was a minimum of 4.

Good to know that the conservation group are looking at trying to save and improve this area it certainly has a much to offer and lots of potential.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Other news today

Ringstone Res'r - drake Pintail there around mid-day and another drake (confirmed as a different bird) at Scammonden Res'r from Tony M and Steve L.

Cold Edge/Withens Head

Pretty cold up there this afternoon (just like Soil Hill)!
Also bumped into Nick on his travels!
1 Little Owl in the usual spot
3 Stonechats (1 pair near the top dam and another near the lower dam)
1 Goldeneye
2 Moorhens
No geese about this winter as yet.

Soil Hill

The site turned up trumps this morning (with thanks to Nigel and Keith too for their help)with 3 Snow Buntings (looked like 1 male, 1 female and a female/juv type). They were very elusive and when found flew up high as if to move off NW but returned, calling, several minutes later. Later I found them more settled, near the mast, creeping about in the gravel furrows. I tried to digiscope them - tricky with a scope 5 meters away!! Not checked the camera yet.
5 Skylark
9 Linnet
1 Meadow Pipit
1 Grey Heron
24 Lapwings down in the fields