Thursday, May 31, 2012

From Philip on Calderdale-Wildlife Blogspot

Tree tube shelters can be killers

I read that tree tubes can be a hazard for young birds. They get in them for insects etc but then find they cannot get out. Some tubes have been found with many dead birds. I am not sure whether this problem is recognised in this country but in America tree tubes have to have a 'top' to prevent entry by birds.

With the many thousands of tree tubes in Calderdale, standing for years on end, does anyone know if there is a problem with dead birds locally?

Buzzards again

The public steps up for Buzzards The RSPB is pleased at the news that an outpouring of public concern for a much-loved British bird has encouraged Wildlife Minister Richard Benyon to drop proposals to license the destruction of Buzzard nests, as well as the capture of adult birds on shooting estates. Martin Harper is the RSPB's conservation director. He said: "We're pleased the minister has listened to people's concerns and acted in the public interest by cancelling this project. This is a strong decision, reflecting the strength of the nation's desire to see Government protecting precious wildlife. The recovery of the Buzzard is being celebrated by the public after many decades of persecution. It is clear they don't want their taxes being spent on removing Buzzards, and the Government has to ensure that no bird of prey will be killed in the name of sport." "We don't want anything to distract Defra from the pressing task of saving our threatened wildlife. It should be putting its limited resources into areas such as preventing the extinction of Hen Harriers in England. Government-backed research has already concluded that illegal persecution is limiting the populations of Golden Eagle and Hen Harrier. The RSPB believes there are well-tried non-lethal solutions to reducing impacts of Buzzards at Pheasant pens."

Birders get together -update

So far only three people have indicated they will be going for a curry, there are a few others who said they may attend for a drink, if you intend to eat please post on here so we can book.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Twite record

Just been reading the 2010 YNU Bird Report (very highly recommended) and discovered that the longevity record for a British Twite is held by a bird from Midgley Moor, 5 years 7 months and 3 days and that was a field sighting so presumably it lived longer.

Wallcreeper/Housecreeper no it's a Treecreeper

No not looking for food either but nesting under the roof.

Withens Clough

A bit more productive today up there but still no Cuckoo, Tree Pipit or Redstart.
Grasshopper Warbler singing in the juncus in front of the conifer plantation by the res'r. Also several Redpoll and 1 Siskin over.
Usual waders and a male Stonechat and several Reed Bunts, mipits and Skylarks but no raptors

Buzzards... update

Update....from Richard Benyon today

We’ve listened to public concerns, so we are stopping the planned research and developing new research proposals on buzzards.

Today, Wildlife Minister Richard Benyon said:

“In the light of the public concerns expressed in recent days, I have decided to look at developing new research proposals on buzzards.

“The success of conservation measures has seen large increases in the numbers of buzzards and other birds of prey over the last two decades.  As Minister for Wildlife I celebrate that and since 2010 we have championed many new measures to benefit wildlife across England – set out in our England Biodiversity Strategy.

 “At the same time it is right that we make decisions on the basis of sound evidence and we do need to understand better the whole relationship between raptors, game birds and other livestock. I will collaborate with all the organisations that have an interest in this issue and will bring forward new proposals.”

What concerns me are the words I have highlighted in bold. What are they suggesting?

Ogden Water

Cuckoo calling on Tuesday evening for a short time

DEFRA Buzzard announcement


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

More Tree Sparrows

There were at last four Tree Sparrows in the area of Woolrow Farm this a.m.; one bird flew out of the old barn-the same nesting site as last year.
The site is less than a mile from the Jay House Lane colony and about a mile north of Bailiffe Bridge.

Mixenden Res'r and Ringstone

I went to check Mixenden first thing but the place was dead other than Chiff-chaff and Willow warbler in the plantation.
Ringstone was not much better with 1 Common Sandpiper and 1 LBB Gull on the res.
Several Linnets and Meadow pipits on the heather area and Willow warbler singing near the cottage along with a male Blackcap singing in the Hawthorn paddock.
1 Kestrel

Monday, May 28, 2012


Calling all evening up here in Midgley.

Birders get together

Sean J has suggested a Calderdale birders get together, the date for this has been set for Monday 4th June meeting in The Works in Sowerby bridge at 7pm. Plan is a couple of beers there and then off for a curry in Sowerby Bridge. All welcome, please pass around local birders who may not read this blog.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hartshead Moor Rookery

Drove along the M62 last night, lots of work going on and it seems that some of the trees supporting the rookery on the east bound embankment have been cut down in the last week.  Hope there's still some hanging on there.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Buzzard issue

Taken from Raptor Protection Scotland website...... So what can you do? You can email DEFRA Minister Richard Benyon MP ( and tell him what you think about this illegal, scientifically-illiterate and unethical trial. You might want to ask him what scientific evidence was used to justify the proposal and ask him whether there was any consultation on the issue, and if there was, which organisations were consulted? Go for it. There has been so much interest in this story and so many people expressing their outrage – let’s put it to good use and make sure Mr Benyon knows the strength of feeling on this. I suggest a copy (at least) to your local MP also who can be found via

ID poser

Just to lighten the mood on the blog a little after recent disturbing posts about persecution and misguided 'management' of raptors, I took a few photos during my walk in Calderdale this morning and here's one that had me shaking my head when I looked at it. What bird is it? Answer later today, but I reckon you'll get it soon enough.

Yes - you're right, it was a Twite. One of a pair I saw at Langfield Edge this morning. Probably appropriate that a species that is on the edge of survival is seen at Langfield Edge?! Here's a photo taken a second or two later when it had stopped shaking its head in amazement that it had come across another Twite.

Typical Tory Policy..oooo the poor shooting lobby

Serious post - £375,000 of our money has been put aside to research ways of disuading Buzzards from taking Pheasants. A native bird with a population of 41,000 pairs vs a non-native of 4 million birds put out every year. The trial includes translocation, capture and nest destruction. I find it disgusting and urge you to contact your MP. Here is a description of the meeting that precipitated this ILLEGAL study. 'Meeting with Richard Benyon MP, Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ... 9 November 2011 It was encouraging when the Minister opened the meeting saying, “This is a subject close to my heart.” Three Trustees of SongBird Survival made a short present - ation to Mr Benyon and his team from Defra outlining the aims and activities of the Charity and describing our research projects. One of the suggestions made to the Minister was that a small fraction of the £500 million cost of agri-environmental schemes should be spent on research and that the inclusion of predator control should also be considered to enhance effectiveness. The Minster and his colleagues were presented with copies of the review of predation research published by the University of Reading in 2010. In the opinion of the Trustees this study casts grave doubts on the quality of much of the research on which Defra policy is based.' Please write to your MP to register your protest. I will be.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Not just Malta...

Words fail me.

Soil Hill Yesterday

A short trip up yesterday for a look around in the baking heat, resulted in:
-A couple of skylarks in song flight
-One curlew, which flew off towards Thornton Moor
-One male wheatear
-Around 4 lapwings
-A small group of linnets
-Flushed 2 partridges on the top near the mound. No idea what kind they were
-Swifts and swallows overhead
Not a bad turnout, also saw hundreds of juvenile starlings on the way up

Broadhead Clough and Withens Clough

We tried the two cloughs today searching for the once expected summer visitors.
Willow warblers, Chiffs and Blackcaps but little else despite an extensive search, not even a Cuckoo! No Tree Pipits, Redstarts, Spotted Fly's or Wood Warblers.
A single male Stonechat in Withens Clough and a Repoll at the top of Broadhead Clough and a Common Buzzard at a distance over the Calder Valley.
Skylarks, mipits Lapwings and Curlew on the moor.
Time ran out to check the res'r but 3 Oystercatchers flew over.
On the plus side, plenty of Orange Tips and Speckled Woods, Tortoiseshells with a few Peacocks around as well.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Malta Spring hunting petition

Maltese birders have organised a petition to ban spring hunting. The issues are well known so I wont go over them again. Please pass on.

Fly Flatts

Heat wave up there this afternoon!!
1 Dunlin with other usual wader sp.
No Twite
4 Wheatears
1 Sand Martin >S plus a few Swifts and Swallows
1 Raven over high
2 Reed Buntings
1 large Toad along the embankment plus other frogs/toads singing in the pond by the bridge

Monday, May 21, 2012

2nd Red Kite in 4 Days

This time my wife watched 1 for several minutes at 15.30ish over Copley.  Not a bad sideshow for the school pick up!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Soil Hill. evening visit

1 Dunlin still present at Soil Hill found by DF this a.m.
At one point 100+ Swifts were drifting overhead all >N.
No sign of LRP and RPs.


    Dunlin late morning at Soil Hill on the top to the right of the mast

Fly Flatts

1 Gropper reeling near the boathouse at 0730hrs this morning.
Met CK. (BOG) who confirmed Crossbills bred at Ogden.

I Gropper
3 Oyks
6 Common Sandpipers
1 Wheatear
1 Redshank
no shoreline whatsoever.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Soil Hill

                                               One of two Ringed Plover
Soil Hill this evening in atrocious conditions produced 2 Ringed Plover and 1 Little Ringed Plover.
Earlier today NK found 3 LRPs up there.

Just Out of Area - Red Kite

Red Kite at 14.30 low over Dog & Gun, Oxenhope/Denholme going NE, just wondered if anyone had it going through Calderdale?  3 Golden Plover really close by road at Fly Flatts.  They were so close but I can't believe how poor my pics are which I am too embarrassed to post.

Hardcastle Crags


               Wood warbler this morning on the top road through the wood

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Slightly off beat...

.....but probably sums up the thoughts of us all:

Icelandic/ Greenland Wheatears / Wheatears

Wave after wave of wheatears this year and without doubt my best year ever in calderdale,I counted 17 up and around Withens Clogh,18 at Cragg Vale ,and a massive 43 at baitings pasture they all looked like Icelandic/ Greenland Wheatears to me .A real fantastic sight.So far this year I have seen 112 and counting in Calderdale.There have also been a couple of big falls at Shelf moor with 20 + there one day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Now, where did those sparrows go?

 This Sparrowhawk just missed out on a meal at my feeders today.

Tree planting affecting moorland birds?

I notice on the Calderdale bird blog there have been comments made about tree planting up Blackshaw Head and its possible effect on moorland birds. If there isn't input from birders, we may get trees in innapropiate areas.

Mark Turner
9 May (6 days ago)
to Mark

Dear colleague I’d like ... [More]

Original post: Philip

Monday, May 14, 2012

Early morning Whimbrel

A Whimbrel flew over my house this morning calling loudly and woke me up. It was 3:30 am!
At least its a new record for the house.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Another spring , another moorland fire

A repeat of last year but at the other side of the road. The fire is just SW of the Withins possibly beyond Cold Edge Dams with, as before, a strong wind blowing. Hopefully it will be more accessible than Fly Flatts

Dead Buzzard

Found the remains of a Common Buzzard at Crimsworth Dean today, Tim came and collected it for examination. Lets hope its death was due to natural causes and nothing more sinister.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ringstone Res'r

Called in for a quick scan this morning closely followed by Andy. We both had the same birds but no sign of the Redstart.
1 Whitethroat
3/4 Wheatears
A few Linnets and Meadow Pipits about.

Friday, May 11, 2012


In the mile or so between The Sportsmans and the top of Crosstones Road I saw from the car - merlin towards Staups moor - lapwing on territory - curlew on territory - oystercatcher - redshank All in less than 2 minutes. And yet, the well meaning tree planting drive by Blackshaw Head residents continues unhindered. Should we be speaking to them and helping them in an advisory role about upland birds and trees?

Luddenden Dean

This afternoon we went to check previous sites for Redstart and Flycatchers but unfortunately nothing doing. The NW wind was still blowing hard so it was difficult to listen for songbirds even in the valley.
15+ Swifts around the 'catty' plus the usual woodland species in the valley.
Nearby at least 2 pairs of Lapwing with chicks 1 pair brooding chicks under the wing and another pair with 2 small chicks feeding in the fields.
1 L B B Gull over >NW
4+ Curlew
Several Linnets about and 2 pairs Skylark and a few Meadow Pipits
1 Sparrowhawk

Twite Piece on Countryfile

For those that missed it, here is the Countryfile piece on Twite.

Mixenden Res'r

A quick check there late morning in case the blustery conditions and drizzle had brought anything in.
70 Swallows
1 Swift
4 Canada Geese
1 Common Sandpiper
That was it apart from a Blackcap, Willow Warblers and Chiff-chaffs singing in the plantation

Elland GP and Park Wood

Blustery conditions this morning but a single Spotted Flycatcher near Cromwell Bridge in the willows this was a bonus and still there when I left around 09.30.
2+ Reed Warblers
1 Whitethroat
3+ Chiff-chaff
2+ Willow warblers
3+ Blackcaps
2+ Garden Warblers
Several Reed Buntings plus other usual species

Over the ski lake 150+ Swallows, 50+ House Martins, 20+ Sand Martins and c40 Swifts

Park Wood Crem
Thanks to Ady I caught up with the Lesser Whitethroat singing in the big hedge and being chased by a male Blackcap mid morning. I can't believe this is my first Lesser Whitethroat for Calderdale(can't remember another one)!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Other news today

An excellent find of a Lesser Whitethroat singing this afternoon at Park Wood Crem, Elland. Certainly not a common warbler in Calderdale with only one or two records annually - if we are lucky - so well done and thanks Ady. Female Redstart still at Ringstone this afternoon (GS)

Mixenden Res'r

Great Crested Grebe there this morning. Also 1 Sand Martin, 1 House Martin and 11 Swallows.


3 Sanderling there at 06.20 today from Steve L, looks like they roosted on the embankment then left soon after. Redstart female still at the usual spot as well.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Horse Wood this morning/Gaddings this afternoon

A good morning to be out and about but the weather changed dramatically for the afternoon.

Wheatear - 9 along Lumbutts Road and fields
Swallow - 4 over Longfield Dam
Lapwing - 1 over the fields opposite Longfield Dam
Pied Wagtail - 1 opposite Longfield Dam
Curlew - 1 singing
Grasshopper Warbler - 3 in the juncus by Horse Wood, reeling away(thanks AndyC)
Stonechat - a pair by the fence and wall next to Horse Wood
Linnet - 4 in the bracken by Horse Wood, 2 over Shepherd's Rest
Reed Bunting - 1 male singing
AC had 2 twite by the Shepherd's Rest earlier in the day.

Gaddings in the afternoon, in the rain and blustery wind -
Dunlin - 2. Flew in but left soon after when a dog walker came along. They returned about 10 mins later and were still there when I left.
Swallow - 4 hardy souls feeding over the water
Mallard - 2

Plus the usual cast of Mipits and Skylarks.

Grasshopper warblers

Is allways good to hear about species doing well and this year grasshopper warblers seem to have spread throughout Calderdale using juncuss as there prefered habitat.At least 11 reeling males so far to my knowledge.Could any one hearing them this year please let me know.Thanks andy

Jumble Hole

2 garden warbler, 2 blackcap and a green woodpecker on the pennine way at Jumble Hole this morning. No whitethroat as yet.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Other news today

Female Redstart still at Ringstone in the same area as before - TM SL. 5 Crossbil at Ogden plus a Cuckoo calling nearby - NK

Hardcastle Crags

Up and down dale today, scrambling through woodlands in search of Wood Warbler, Flycatchers, Redstart etc - nothing doing! Really hard work finding anything - Just 1 Chiff-chaff, 1 Blackcap and 3 Willow Warblers singing. Pairs of Tawny Owl, Green Woodpecker and Great-spotted Woodpecker located. 2 Siskin flyovers, 1 Sparrowhawk,, 1 Kestrel and a number of Swifts, Swallows and a few House Martins feeding high over the crags car park.

Cromwell Bottom

Whitethroat, willow, sedge and reed warbler at Cromwell bottom this lunchtime in the sunshine.
Also saw the female goosander with 4 chicks on the river


Species list:
Jay x 4, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chiffchaff (heard), Bullfinch x 3, Blackcap, Whitethroat x 2
Reed Bunting, Mallard, Willow Warbler (heard) , Reed Warbler (heard), Sedge Warbler (heard)
Coot, Wren, Song Thrush, Carrion Crow, Swift, Black-headed gull, Magpie, Goosander, Grey Heron
Chaffinch, Canada Goose, Long-Tailed Tit x 2

Monday, May 07, 2012

Montagu's harrier

Report received yesterday from the south of our recording area of a quartering Montagu's harrier. A few observers zoomed to the location, but it appeared the bird had gone. Most likely a fly through.

Also, from earlier in the week, a little egret was a brief visitor to High Royd sewage works on Wednesday evening. First spotted from a speeding car by Andy H, Nick C soon confirmed this uncommon Calderdale visitor. No sign the next morning.

You never know what will turn up next!

Strait Hey, Swillington and Langfield

3 Lesser Redpoll at Strait Hey this morning. There's been a small flock around us for several years and they may be extending their range locally now as this spring I've seen them here at Strait Hey for the first time and over at Lee Dam.

3 Curlew over Erringden Moor and a pair of Northern Wheatear at Swillington. Also a Lapwing, which is probably just passing through, but we'll see in the coming days.

Reed Buntings and Mipits along London Road (the Pennine Bridleway into Mankinholes) with Skylarks singing on the ridge.

A Red Grouse was calling up on Langfield Common, 2 Reed Buntings, 4 Linnet and a pair of Twite were in the dead bracken by Jail Hole.

Fly Flatts

                                        1 of 9 northerns

Fly Flatts early a.m.
9 Northern Wheatear
1 Greenland Wheatear
1 Cuckoo
6 Common Sandpiper
1 Redshank
1 Tree Pipit.....................>NW
1 Raven..........................>NW
1 Snipe drumming
2 RL Partridge
1 Oystercatcher
Sev Canadas with young
6 Greylag
+ usual sp.
No sign of JWs Whinchat or DJSs Ring Ouzels.

Cromwell Bottom Sunday

We had a short walk around the reserve and had:
Lots of Willow Warblers
Black Caps
Garden Warblers
Reed Bunting
Reed Warbler near Cromwell lock
Canada with 2 chicks
only a hand full of swallows
+ the usual resident birds.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Jumble Hole

Woodcock roding tonight - first I have seen for some weeks here. 2 tawny owls calling to each other

Cupwith Reservoir

Out of area but only just.  Had a walk on there this evening and saw that Yorkshire water are planning to stop using this reservoir and are going to lower the water level so it is no more than a muddy pool.  Could be a good site on wader passage, what chances a viewing screen?

Various sites yesterday

Set off looking for some Groppers but I think they were put off by the cold and overcast weather, two grey partridge was the best I could manage at Scammonden.  Had a walk up the pennine way at Saddleworth hoping for a Dotterel, another failure.  Two wheatear (one F Greenland) a pair of red grouse and a sparrowhawk.  Could hear a Golden Plover calling up there but no sight.  Had a walk round Luddenden Dean, usual stuff but nothing of note other than a flock of 15 mipits moving through.  I noticed a lot of pale mipits at most locations yesterday.  Ended the day at Warley res. a whinchat near the gate, 4 common sandpiper and two wheatear.

Wheatley Valley

Shroggs former landfill site first thing this morning produced a few warblers. 3 Garden Warblers 3 Blackcaps 1 Whitethroat 3 Chiff-chaff 3 Willow Warblers At least 6 Bullfinch 4 Song Thrush 2 Canada Geese flyovers

Saturday, May 05, 2012


4 Buzzards
3 Yellowhammer
2 Grey Wagtails
2 Jays
50 +  mixed Swallows House Martins and  Swifts
3 Greenfinch
1 kestrel

Luddenden valley

A gentle walk along the valley on Thursday produced some good birds. 1 Cuckoo seen as well as heard 8+ willow warblers all singing their heads off 2 mistle thrushes 1 sparrowhawk 1 kestrel 1 male redstart 1 caol tit 4 LT tits as well as lots of great and blue tits 3 wrens 3 goldfinches, Lots of chaffinches and greenfinches 1 goldcrest Lots of robins 1 bullfinch Blackbirds

Friday, May 04, 2012

4th May

Nice to see 3 Goosander chicks on the river Calder at Elland Gravel Pits today. Also 4 Garden Warblers singing but little else in the form of warblers except the usual Willows, Chiffs and Blackcaps (Where are all the Whitethroats ?)

Greenland wheatear

i reckon this pic taken by fran44 is a classic adult male greenland wheatear. Today in and around the Blackshaw head area I saw redpoll and siskin displaying in one of the plantations,Grasshopper warbler reeling from a large area of Juncuss.10 Northern Golden plovers including 4 adult males and a Greenland wheatear.The Brambling at smith house lane is a female in breeding plumage...must be one of the latest in the Halifax area.

Thursday, May 03, 2012


After the weekend wash out checked the pair of Little Owls above Cottonstones. Male carrying food to female but no evidence of the food being taken back to young.

Swallows slowly returning to usual sites, no sign of House Martins at Mill Bank yet. One Swift seen briefly over the house yesterday evening

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Mankinholes and Lee Dam

Having spent most of the day grafting in the garden I stepped out for a quick whizz around to Lee Dam.

Little Owl - usual place at Mankinholes

Lee Dam
Little Grebe - 2
Grey Wagtail - 1 bathing
Willow Warbler - 3
Swallow - 2

On the way home I saw the first House Martin this year around our house. They usually return mid-April and this is the first year I haven't seen one up here before the end of April.


Two Whinchat and three Wheatear at Jay House Lane today

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


Pair of Whinchat at Jay House Lane today