Sunday, June 30, 2013

Spotted flycatcher

A pair of spotted flycatcher are nesting in a private garden at Blackshaw Head. Not many about this year, so good news.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Crossbills at Roils Head

c15 Crossbills at Roils Head today including lots of juveniles also a Goldfinch with a BTO ring on the right leg and an orange ring on the left.

Jumble Hole

A pair of whitethroat were feeding young in scrub lower down the Pennine Way this morning, so another new site for them. Dozens of swifts at Eastwood sewage works when the rain set in. Green woodpecker and tawny owls are a daily / nightly feature at the moment.

Fly Flatts

Just a quick walk around the moors before heading over to Fly Flatts for a look. The weather started OK, if not a little blustery, but by the time I was finished it was raining. 

Ogden Moor
-Meadow Pipits
-1 Male Reed Bunting
-This: Snipe or Woodcock?
Fly Flatts
-1 Golden Plover 
-Swifts, very close
-Meadow Pipits
-Graylag Geese
-Canada Geese
-Common Sandpiper

Ogden Golf Course 
-Meadow Pipits

Letter to Craig Whittaker

Below is a copy of a letter sent recently to our local MP by Steve Downing, if anyone wishes to add weight to this Mr Whittaker's (and other MPs) contact details can be found at

Dear Mr Whittaker,

The Calderdale Raptor Study Group is a member of the Northern England Raptor Forum [NERF]. The Forum, consisting of ten Raptor Study Groups who collectively monitor birds of prey from Derbyshire to the Scottish border, is a member of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime [PAW].

NERF is also a member of the Defra led Buzzard Stakeholder Group. This Stakeholder Group was charged with assessing the impact that Buzzards, a species fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act in the UK, have on the commercial pheasant shooting industry. I represent both the Calderdale Raptor Study Group and NERF on the BSG. Throughout the process NERF has always been prepared to accept the outcome of a valid decision making procedure based on scientific evidence and consistent with EU guidance principles for any possible derogation from the full protection of wild birds. In 2012 the Buzzard Stakeholder Group was suspended.

On 30 May 2012 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. 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."

Following an Environmental Information Request [EIR] by the RSPB our members were understandably outraged to learn that Defra had issued licences to destroy buzzard nests and to take buzzards from the wild into captivity. Prior to this decision being taken the Stakeholder Group was not consulted and the assurances given by Mr Benyon in May 2012 were not fulfilled. If the RSPB had not made the EIR our members would have not have been made aware of this irresponsible shift in policy.

On my behalf I would like you to ask Minister Benyon for answers to the following questions:
• why did he allowed these licences to be issued in contradiction of his assurances of 30 May 2012?
• why was the Buzzard Stakeholder Group not re-called and the issues discussed prior to the licences being issued?
• what scientific research was undertaken prior to the decision to issue the licences?
• what legal advice did he, Minister Owen Patterson, and the Defra officials receive prior to issuing these licences?

Furthermore I am seeking assurances from the Minister that he and his Junior Ministers will ensure that Defra Officials will not issue further licences to destroy Buzzards or any other bird of prey prior to undertaking the necessary research that he promised in May 2012.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cold Edge and Withens Head

This afternoon, lots of Curlew about 10+ several juvs, looks like they have had another good year up there. Other waders included Lapwing, Snipe, Golden Plover and Redshank
1 Little Grebe
Plenty Meadow Pipits and a few Reed Buntings and Linnets
No raptors at all though a few Swifts moving through
1 Skylark
1 Willow Warbler

Langfield and Withens Clough

Walked over Langfield and to Withens Clough this morning. A fantastic morning to be out early with no rain and a gentle breeze. There were plenty of Mipits everywhere with adults carrying food and juvs flitting about as well. Only a handful of Skylarks though.

Reed Bunting - 3 males singing
Linnet - 1 male
Stonechat - 1 juv but no sign of adults?

Withens Clough
Common Sandpiper - 3
Little Ringed Plover - 2
Reed Bunting - 2
Jay - 1 flying towards Sunderland Pasture
Willow Warbler - 2

Common Sandpiper

Soil Hill

Had a walk around soil hill top this morning:
1 Reed bunting fly by
1 Male linnet flushed
Small groups of Meadow pipits
Quite a few skylarks, including a few still singing

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I called up there late afternoon to see if the pair of Common Scoter, found by David F earlier, were still there. Thankfully they were still there in the area towards the hide. It was a very blustery afternoon so not very easy to get good views, but still nice to see.
8 B H Gulls went west as did a single L B B Gull
That was it apart from a Cormorant earlier as I passed Booth Wood Res'r and a Kestrel

Also from Martyn H - a White Stork over Hebden Bridge yesterday mid-day heading west. Possibly one if the Harewood birds(?). Still nice to see.

Friday, June 21, 2013

NWCU update

Dear Steve,

I would like to update you on the Government's action with regards to the National Wildlife Crime Unit's funding.

As you will be aware I signed the EDM as requested and I still wish to continue my support for the unit and the work it does in helping law enforcement agencies stop crimes against animals such as illegal taxidermy, auction sales and general animal protection. It is our duty to protect these vulnerable animals who have no method of protecting themselves.

The funding for this unit has been guaranteed for 2013-2014 but it is still uncertain in the long run.

The Government has rejected requests from MPs to give funding certainty for the critically important unit, and will not be banning possession of the main poison used to kill birds of prey. More than 600 cases of poisoning have been reported in the past decade, of which half involved a pesticide whose approval for use was withdrawn in 2001. These animals deserve our protection and the NWCU provides this protection which is why I believe funding should be continued.

I hope the update has been helpful. If you require any further information on want me to try and help in any other way, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

With best wishes

Yours sincerely

Linda Riordan

Member of Parliament for Halifax

Jumble Hole / Underbank, 8:30am

2 garden warbler feeding young. Another calling further away. 2 blackcap, and willow warbler and chiffchaff calling.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Jumble Hole area

A quick walk this evening:

- cuckoo calling from the western side of Jumble Hole
- whitethroat, and 3 garden warbler calling from scrub next to the railway line
- Dipper on the stream in Jumble Hole
- LBB gull over
- 10 swifts over the sewage works

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

More Tree Sparrows near Brighouse

An early walk up to Woolrow Farm, above Bailiffe Bridge produced good views of Tree Sparrows on the barn by the farm. Two adults were taking food into the barn wall and other birds were perched nearby. It's likely that other birds have already nested and fledged there as well. It seems like this is another established colony (they nested last year) that came from Jay House Lane - about a mile away.
Swallows appear to have nested in the barn as well, and nearby were adult and juv Willow Warblers and a pair of Linnets.


Elphin Brook, Mytholmroyd. c8.30am.

An adult with at least two juveniles this am feeding.


Yesterday afternoon
 1 Green Woodpecker on the Res'r edge probably came in for a drink but didn't stay long before heading off towards Stainland
Not much else about other than a few L B B Gulls moving west
4 Reed Buntings
2 juv Pied Wagtails
4 Lapwings

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Binoculars wanted

My friend Roy needs some bins pronto, if anyone as a pair for sale could you please let me know cheers.


Cuckoo calling last night back edge of Norland Moor

Also of interest but not a bird - Male Broad-Bodied Chaser seen this afternoon at Mythomroyd.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Ploughcroft - Hagg Lane and Pepper Hill

This afternoon
1 Sparrowhawk over Shibden Head
Pair of Kestrels obviously feeding young with the male catching a juv Blue Tit and carrying it off to return a few moments later without it.
1 Skylark
c50 juv Starlings
1 Blackcap
c30 Swifts passing over
Possible ?? Redstart calling but we could not locate it so will have to let that one go unless we get chance to check the area again before too long.

Spotted Flycatchers !! (Information courtesy of the BTO web site)

Spotted Flycatchers on the move

12 Jun 2013
Spotted Flycatcher by Jeff Copner
If you want a strong contender for THE migration spectacle of spring 2013, look no further than the events that unfolded at Portland Bill, Dorset on 1 June. Only the previous day, the BTO Migration blog drew on BirdTrack data to show that Spotted Flycatchers were running late. Fast forward to the next day at Portland, where an astonishing arrival took place. Birds poured in all morning; more than 800 were counted at Portland Bird Observatory and it's likely that well in excess of 1,000 birds had passed through the wider Portland Bill area by mid morning! Spotted Flycatcher numbers have declined by 50% since the start of the Breeding Bird Survey in 1995, and is too scarce in Ireland for a trend to be produced through the Countryside Bird Survey; it would be great if this unprecedented arrival was the precursor for more positive news for the species.

 I thought this article from The BTO might be of interest - lets hope we get a few of them !

Rishworth Moor and Blackstone Edge

On a circular walk from the White House, as far as Dog Hill, on Rishworth Moor today, birdwise it was pretty quiet, save for, plenty of meadow pipits, quite a few skylarks singing, several curlews and best of all, a really splendidly plumaged golden plover by the Roman Road and just about in the West Riding by a few yards.  In the past I've normally seen golden plover on the Flint Hill and Dog Hill section of the moor, but none here today.
The great swathes of cotton grass looked very impressive too.

Regards, Chris

Sunday, June 16, 2013


I managed to find a male Whinchat this afternoon above Ogden - they have been very difficult to locate this year as this seems to be another species struggling to return from Africa in good numbers so it was a welcome 'first for the year' for Calderdale for me. (Thanks to NK)
1 Common Snipe 'chipping' near 'The Withens'
c6 Linnets
Lots of Meadow Pipits feeding young in good numbers in the right places
4 Reed Buntings
2 Skylarks
4 Curlew
4 Lapwings
1 male Kestrel
9 L B B gulls >NW
c 20 Swifts moving >SW
c350, mostly juv Starlings in the fields along Cold Edge Road

Friday, June 14, 2013

Luddenden Dean

This morning
1 Cuckoo still singing
2+ singing Garden Warblers
1 pair Whitethroats nest building
Pair of Kestrels
c12 Willow Warblers singing
1 Tawny Owl singing
2 Redstarts
Blue Tits feeding young in the nest
A few Swifts
Curlew and Lapwing
9 Canada's heading high west closely followed by a single Cormorant

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Fly Flatts

This morning it was trying to rain up there but it didn't come to much, thankfully.

 I was surprised with this recent dry spell that the water level has hardly dropped at all so unfortunately, no waders other than Redshank, Curlew, Common Sandpiper, Lapwing, Dunlin, Oystercatchers and Golden Plover
No gulls other than c12 L B B G's loafing around over the moor looking for a meal!

I did a count of Canada Geese,  there are still just over 200 up there along with a good number of rapidly growing chicks.

In the fields at Withens Head Farm there was at least 1 Redshank chick, fairly well grown as well as Golden Plover and Curlew nearby.

The juvenile Starling flock which congregates usually in large numbers along Cold Edge Road at this time of year wss only around 30 strong so hope some turn up in the next week or so. On a positive note there are 70+ Rooks feeding in the area including a good proportion of juveniles so it looks as if they have had a better breeding season.

Are There Any Goatsuckers Out There?

Do we have any Nightjars in Calderdale? Is there any suitable habitat out there? And is anybody looking? I always thought Norland Moor might have provided one or two but never seem to get round to giving it a try. Maybe there is some suitable habitat around Crag Vale with the right blend of bracken, heather, young birch or conifers. Well now is the time to listen out for them just before dusk, so give it a go, and don't forget the midge protection.

Monday, June 10, 2013


A cuckoo was calling opposite Jumble Hole tonight, I think from the area known as Burnt Acres. Probably the same bird Jeff had at the weekend around Mankinholes. Also, had a tree pipit calling at the Crags yesterday afternoon.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Hunter Hill and Ogden golf course

Nothing out of the ordinary this afternoon - and not a sign of any 'chats' but a nice mix of birds all the same
1 male Sparrowhawk seen off by a Curlew
1 Kestrel
4 Curlew
2 Lapwings
2 Golden Plover
Only 4 golfers on the golf course - it was really pleasant down there in the sunshine!
4+ Reed Buntings
1 Blackbird
1 Willow Warbler
A few Meadow Pipits
1 Skylark feeding young
11 L B B Gulls heading >NE

Just remembered  - a Little Grebe at Cold Edge dams last Friday when I did the Breeding Bird Survey for the BTO

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Booth Wood Res'r and Ringstone

Evening visit found 2 Cormorants at Booth Wood Res'r

c90 L B B Gulls (mostly adults) in the sileage fields behind the embankment before they moved on to the res'r to bathe before drifting off east around 8 pm.
Last year the sileage was taken off  much later, around 21st July when a 1,000 or more B H Gulls turned up with the 7 Black T Godwits to feast on the leftovers from the farming activities. This also drew in a Greenshank and on 24th a Med Gull. I think the work has occured a bit too early this year to pull in the large concentrations of B H and Common Gulls but it was nice to see a good number of lessers.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Get Your Ear In

I've just posted a short audio teaser on the Cromwell Bottom blog and will follow up with one or two more. The first one is fairly easy for the experienced birder but is really aimed at challenging newcomers to get their ear in. Have a listen and give it a go. Don't forget to leave comments, the more descriptive the better.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Evening Walk

Nick Carter and myself visited the site between 7:30pm and 10:00pm

Site withheld due to sensitive nature

2 Peregrine
1 Buzzard
1 Grasshopper Warbler - reeling
2 Snipe
1 Little Owl - Hovering
5 Common Sandpiper - 1 sat on nest close to path

1 Grey Wagtail
1 Siskin

 and several

Lapwing - with young
Song Thrush
Pied wagtail
Meadow pipit

Tuesday, June 04, 2013


Late evening
1 Cuckoo still singing at 9.45 pm
1 Reed Bunting
c40 Woodpigeons
c4 Curlew
1 Lapwing
1 Skylark

Fly Flatts

This morning - a lovely morning with wall to wall sunshine and an easterly breeze!
2 Dunlin
6 Redshank
3 Common Sandpipers
2 Oystercatchers
c10 Curlew
2 Lapwings
1 Golden Plover
1 drake Teal
Lots of Canada's with chicks
A couple of Mallard with chicks
2 Kestrels
1 House Martin >SW
1 Swallow >NE
6 LBBG's
1 Skylark
Red Grouse with chicks
usual Meadow Pips
AND 1 Twite (just a flyover) still none at the feeding station!

Withens Head
1 Golden Plover
1 Curlew

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Jumble Hole

A cuckoo has been calling the past few days, with the neighbours telling me it has been around since Monday. A buzzard with a missing tail feather has been around the past couple of days.

Withens Clough and Turley Holes and Higher House Moor, 1st June 2013

I did a circuit this morning, starting from the Hinchcliffe Arms, up to the res' and back via Turley Holes Edge, Cove Hill and Higher House.  It was rather quiet on the bird front really, with no luck on the whinchat front (again) despite hanging about for a while near the top car-park and the new building by the turbine.  There were quite a few linnets up here though.  Best bird was a redstart singing, somewhere near the top of Hove Yard Wood. 
I did see some good insects today and would like to put them on the Calderdale Wildlife blog, but I don't know how!  I thought if I could do it on here I could do it on there.  Can anyone help?

Many thanks, Chris

Birdguides Report!

There was a report on Birdguides of a female Montagu's Harrier in the Hebden Bridge area around noon yesterday. Unfortunately we do not have the finders name or contact details! If the finder is able to email details of the bird that would be greatly appreciated - please use the email on the heading above. Many thanks on behalf of the local birders. Dave