Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dave Sutcliffe, Man of the Moment.

     Mixenden Great Northern Diver,        Photos BS

Well done to DJS for finding the Calderdale bird of the year which may even get onto our 2015 annual list. This is just another marker for Dave for the enthusiasm and time he puts in getting out in the field covering a wide range of habitats despite  heavy family commitments.
As well as turning up the birds he does a marvellous job of running the grapvine enabling birders to have a chance of seeing birds that would normally be missed. So a big thank you for all you do for local birding Dave, as well as your lovely assistant Jen, the brains behind the team, your efforts don,t go unnoticed . Keep up the good work in 2015.

I hope Dave is going to be presented with the Golden Bollocks for such an amazing find.

Today's news

G N Diver still showing well this morning (djs) and still this afternoon (NK et al)

Lesser Redpoll on feeder in garden at Highroad Well this morning (VJ)

Swales Moor - a mid afternoon check just in case of a Snow Bunting but nothing doing other than 2 Meadow Pipits.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Other news today

c200 Pink-footed Geese >N over Pellon around 13:00 (DJP) followed by a report from JB of an exceptionally large movement of 700+ (in 2 flocks) over Ringstone >W at around 14:30.
Mute Swans - first winter birds still  on Cromwell Bottom ski-lake (SL)
Diver still at Mixenden Res'r this afternoon as well.

Blake Dean and Walshaw Dean

I went up there this morning looking for Brambling as Blake Dean is often a good spot for them in the beech woodland in winter. I had a good search round but I didn't even turn up a Chaffinch and just found 2 Goldcrests and a single Lapwing over high >W.

I decided to walk up towards Walshaw Dean and met up by chance with Nick and Dave and we headed up to top Walshaw passing the three reservoirs - 2 Mallard !

A few Kestrels about and c12 Goldfinch and a Grey Wagtail near the top but not a lot else other than Red Grouse on the moor and a Reed Bunting.

 Red Grouse
 Lower Walshaw Dean
Walshaw Dean - top reservoir
We returned to check Lower Gorple - 1 Reed Bunting, c12 Meadow Pipits and 2 Mallard.
A great afternoon to be out walking with friends.

Mount Tabor

Tried to find the elusive Pipit but to no avail.  No small birds about just Lapwings, Corvids and Common and BH Gulls.
Took a zoomed in shot of one of the one pair of the local Little Owls.  Also put on the snowy view this pair have.

Mixenden Res'r

G N Diver still present this morning at 09:15.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Cold Edge and Withens Head

Both small ponds at Cold Edge were almost frozen but the larger dams were still open water.
Just 1 female Goldeneye
c25 Mallard
1 Great Black-backed Gull  >N
1 Kestrel
30+ Red Grouse
A pair of Little Owls together near the former Moorcock pub looked a bit cold sitting on a wall !

Withens Head turned up a surprise with a pair of Stonechats feeding among the sheep hay just by the mast 50m past the former Withens pub. I wondered "what are they doing up here at 1,400 ft in the snow"? as they do seem to suffer in prolonged  freezing weather. Also a Robin and a Dunnock with them !!!
 Withens Head
 2 Stonechats (looking into the sun !)
Ogden and Soil Hill from Withens Head (Cold Edge Road)

Mixenden Res'r

Mixenden Res'r - perfect conditions this morning with an overnight frost, clear blue sky and calm conditions.
The G N Diver was showing well around 11:00 (been there for 2 weeks now) and to my amazement it called 6 times - a 5 to 6 note call which I find hard to describe other than rapidly repeated 'wow wow wow wow wow' with the sound seemingly travelling far across the res'r.
Collins Bird Guide describes the call as an anxiety/contact call "ho-yeyeyeyeya"
Also a 1st winter Moorhen there - a rarity for Mixenden !
1 Little Grebe
120+ B H Gulls
40+ Common Gulls
1 adult L B B Gull
22 Herring Gulls all >W did not drop in to the res'r to join the other gulls
1 Grey Wagtail
It was good to meet Steve B up there as well - I gather NK was on his way !
Mixenden Res'r from the embankment

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Mixenden - Ogden Circular in the Snow

The Halifax Scientific Society's December Ramble (usually planned at short notice) went to see Dave's Great Northern Diver today.

Great views in the bright light! It took to diving later in the afternoon, but we didn't see it surface with anything in its beak. My pictures are poor compared with those already posted.

Below is our bird list. (there was nothing on the res other than the diver and the gulls.)

Some of my easily-photographed, beautiful snow scenes now on the Calderdale-wildlife blog.

Great Northern Diver
Common Gulls
Black-headed Gulls
Woodpigeons (few)
Crows, Jackdaws, Magpies
Snipe (7 together)
Meadow Pipits (13 together)
Lapwings (20)
Pied Wagtail

Mixenden Res'r

Great Northern Diver still present and showing well this morning 10:50
1 Little Grebe and 18 Canada Geese on the res'r but that was it other than a Green Woodpecker heard in the planatation.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Iceland Gull

First Winter Iceland Gull at Ringstone Edge this PM, found by JB, photos by DF. Well Done guys another great record for the year.

Mixenden Res'r

Making the effort this morning was very worthwhile with the G N Diver still showing well at 09:00 along with a locally scarce bird for Calderdale - a single Shelduck. Also a pair of Goldeneye and a Little Grebe as well as a large female Sparrowhawk through.

Also news from BS at Ogden 3 drake Goldeneye there.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Christmas

We wish you all, contributors and visitors to the blog a very peaceful and enjoyable Christmas.
Local birding has been exceptional this year and there is still a few days left for something special !
There has been some very special birds this past year and our local recorder Nick Dawtrey will be putting together all the records with a view to producing another report covering 2013 and 2014. This is a mammoth task for Nick so if you can let him have your records for 2014 as soon as possible he would really appreciate that so he can collate the information during the winter evenings.
Nick has all the Grapevine information and I have picked most of the info posted on the blog but please pass any further records especially breeding records, rarities or scarce Calderdale birds to Nick.
In addition any really good photos of local birds for him to consider including in the report.

Enjoy the rest of Christmas with anticipation  and hope for what the New Year will bring.

25th December

21 Herring Gulls west at Pellon and 1 west at Mount Tabor.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Swales Moor

A blustery walk to the top this afternoon didn't turn up much - just a single Skylark on the top and 4 Grey Partridge.

Mixenden Res'r

G N Diver still showing well this morning 09:30 - and from NK it was still there this afternoon along with the Oystercatcher.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cross Stones, Tod'

A rather confiding solitary grey partridge was feeding in the open in heavy rain and gales, near Higher Ashes this aft'.


Mixenden Res'r

G N Diver still there at 11:30. Like Daniel 's experience yesterday it took me 10 mins or more to find it! It seems on occasions to get right next to the banking and 'dissappear' - then when it comes into the middle it's unmissable!
Also, an Oystercatcher again. This time on the school playing field at the southern end of the Res'r.  
A good number of B H Gulls and just a few Common Gulls on the water.
5 Herring Gulls >W

Goldcrest - 1st for a while.

A single Goldcrest fed among some dwarf pines in the garden today at 15.45.  (Skircoat/Copley.)

Others visiting currently:
c.20 House Sparrows - my new lodgers. I never used to get them. A female prospects a box with nest material now and then.

4 Blackbirds, inc one male recognisable by a white wing spot.He's been coming since autumn.
2 Robins including one with a useless foot. It has to flutter to balance when hopping around.
2 Collared Doves
1 Woodpigeon
1 brief visit by a Nuthatch
1    "       "           Great Spotted Woodpecker
Coal and Blue Tits in equal quantity, but fewer Great Tits

I can summon up a company of Jackdaws any time I want by throwing out scraps further from the house. Some are distinctive, inc one once with a double-sized overgrown lower mandible. It fed with its head on the side.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mixenden Reservoir

The Great Northern Diver was still present this morning, though it kept out of sight for long periods, but showed well when it was visable. Also nice to see Dave on site.
Species List:
Mixenden Reservoir: Black-Headed Gull, Grey Wagtail, Carrion Crow, Greater Black-Backed Gull, Great Northern Diver, Canada Goose, Long-Tailed Tit, Goldcrest, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Starling, Little Grebe

Mixenden Res'r etc..

It was good to meet Daniel doing the rounds again  - this time at Mixenden Res'r. Great Northern Diver still showing well at times and a Little Grebe.
Lots of B H Gulls turned up late morning to bathe and some bigger gulls were moving through in small groups but generally not stopping all heading >W towards Mt Tabor. 5 adult Great Black-backed Gulls, 44 Herring Gulls + a few more immatures had to go unidentified.

Beacon Hill
Around 12:00 there were 2 large groups of big gulls heading through>W total around 40 birds including several adult Gt B Backs and the others mainly Herring Gulls.

Swales Moor
I gave it a go early afternoon to see if the movement of large gulls was continuing from earlier - but nothing doing. The wind had strengthened considerably by 14:00 to a point it was hard to stand up never mind hold the binoculars still !
Just 1 Redwing on the top and 2 Meadow Pipits

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mixenden Res'r

Great Northern Diver still present this morning at 09:00. Several others checked the site today and it was still there at dusk.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Blackstone Edge

Four golden plover and a single red grouse just on the Yorkshire side of the moor late this morning.

Chris J-B.

Mixenden Res'r etc..

Mixenden Res'r
G N Diver still there at 09:00 and a drake Goosander. The 6 Whoopers from yesterday have gone and no sign of the Oystercatcher this morning.

Swales Moor
Just a single Skylark this morning

Friday, December 19, 2014

Mount Tabor

The site of the recent Richard's Pipit has been checked by a number of birders this week without success - though we will keep trying !
3 Skylarks still there this morning, 1 Meadow Pipit and a single Fieldfare in the manure pile.

Mixenden Res'r etc...

Mixenden Res'r
Great Northern Diver still there first thing this morning and again mid afternoon.
Also 6 Whooper Swans turned up today and found by Muxy and Pete around noon - thanks for passing the info on via Nick D and BS respectively.
We got down there for 13:00 and Jen picked out an Oystercatcher on the embankment. We don't often get Oyc's in winter in Calderdale so that was a good find !
GND and Whoopers still there at 14:30 (AC)

The Barnacle Goose is still there with 11 Canadas and a Greylag Goose
1 Meadow Pipit
c25 Fielfares and 1 Redwing in a thorn bush eating berries near the golf course
1 Kestrel

1 Kestrel
c70 Mallard
We checked carefully through the Black-headed and Common Gulls ! (never know what might turn up with them in these westerly gales)!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mixenden Res'r etc

Great Northern Diver still there first light and later at 11:40. Also a drake Goldeneye there.

 Fly Flatts - nothing

Little Grebe reported from (JL) but I dipped. ! Not surprising in the awful conditions late morning with driving rain and gale force winds. I couldn't find anything other than a few Chaff's and the usual B H and Common Gulls and Mallard.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Jumble Hole bits

An unseen skein of pink footed geese just passed over now (11pm) in the dark and fog, heading west from what I could tell.
The bushes above Underbank are pretty full of redwing at the moment. I counted over 200 today when a male sparrowhawk flushed them from the hawthorns and holly. A green woodpecker gave good views when it was flushed.
Lastly, a flock of 18 Siskin have been visiting the garden, but haven't ventured onto the feeders as yet. Maybe will when the weather turns colder.

Mixenden Res'r

Great Northern Diver still there this morning and showing well at 08:30. Still there at 15:40.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


7 Teal this afternoon and a Kingfisher on the pipes above the pond in the bottom below the embankment.
1 Reed Bunting by the former Res'r keepers cottage where there is now a feeder in the back garden, which is good news for the birds. 1 Jay there plus lots of Blue and Great Tits around.
Rubbish photo (I know) but the Kingfisher is just right of the white pipe!

At Stodfold towards Mixenden Res'r the Barnacle Goose is still there with 5 Canada's and 2 Greylag Geese. 1 Grey Wagtail flyover and c60 Redwings were heading high >W over Upper Brockholes

Mixenden Res'r

Great Northern Diver still there and showing well at 08:15 this morning and still there at dusk.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Withens Clough and Cromwell Bottom

From Nigel G - with lots of birds there around mid-day today
4 Goldeneye (2 drakes)
5 Goosander (3males)
2 Stonechat along the northern shore near the farm
1 Dipper at the eastern end of the res'r - and later on another Dipper in Hebden Dale near Salem field
Thanks for the email Nigel

And from Steve L - 2 1st winter Mute Swans at Cromwell Bottom this morning along with 8 Tufted Duck

Great Northern Diver

Managed to get a few half decent shots of the Great Northern Diver found today at Mixenden Reservoir by DJS, well done Dave and thanks for the lift.

Mixenden Res'r

Terrible conditions when I got there pouring with rain and blowing a gale, I nearly gave it a miss.  Glad I didn't ! At the far end of the res'r - a Diver - but with glasses covered in rain as well as the binoculars I couldn't get a firm identification other than it wasn't a Red Throated. Then as it came nearer and the rain eased Bingo - a Great Northern Diver showing the classic peaked head and large bill etc.
This is the best photo I could do in the conditions but I know NK got some belters as he arrived and hopefully Nick got some good shots later in then afternoon. The bird was still there at 15:15. It was good to meet John who recently found the Black Redstart at Bradshaw and DF turned up hoping for a B T Diver ! Check out Nigel's blog for some great shots - queensburybirder.blogspot.
Also a Little Grebe on the res'r and another still at Ogden (NK)

The GND was still there this afternoon when we left at 15:30
2 Sparrowhawks nearby and 1 Kestrel

Mount Tabor and Fly Flatts

Checked the Richard's Pipit 'spot' at mount Tabor this morning along with Martyn H and Steve L but without success.
16 Lapwings
1 Reed Bunting
2 Grey Partridge
1 Fieldfare
Quite a few B H and Common Gulls around the fileds as well as Starlings
11 Herring Gulls and 1 juv L B B Gull >W
Several groups of mixed Fieldfare and Redwing were also heading >W probably numbering 200+ birds.

Fly Flatts
55 Mallard resting on the shoreline was a good count for this site
1 Kestrel
1 Carrion Crow

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Richard's Pipit refound

Dave Franz refound the Richard's Pipit yesterday at Mount Tabor but despite an extensive search today by 6 loonies in awful conditions the bird could not be found. Its still probably in the area first being seen on 29th October at Tower Hill then seen breifly in poor conditions a week or so back. I will be checking the area every day this week so lets hope it shows up again. (pics taken yesterday in poor light DF).

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Anyone reported a missing bird

This escaped bird was spotted this morning in Halifax hanging around the bus station by Tracy Collier. Anyone had a report of one missing.?

Kestrel - Ploughcroft

Just dropping the kids off at swimming and luckily had my camera to hand as this Kestrel hovered by the car.  Thankfully not the rarest of birds but in my mind one of the finest.

Wheatley Valley

Shroggs Road/ Brackenbed former landfill site for 2 hrs this morning. Not a lot of birds about after that heavy overnight frost but enough to keep me interested!.
10+ Bullfinch (they like this site)
1 Goldcrest
2 Great Spotted Woodpecker
c10 L T Tits
10+ Great Tit
10+ Blue Tit
2 Greenfich
10+ Chaffinch
c12 Goldfinch
2 Blackbirds but no other thrushes
20+ Magpies
2 Wren
8+ Dunnock
2 Woodpigeon
2 Carrion Crow

Friday, December 12, 2014

Jayhouse Lane

Jayhouse Lane this dinner time
Large flock of Fieldfare & Redwing 2000+
Golden Plover 400+
Lapwing 150+
Startling 1000+

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Swales Moor

Weather conditions not great this afternoon with the strong gusting F5 to 6 NWesterly and heavy showers with hail at times. I gave it a try for an hour but difficult holding the binoculars still on the top !
1 Skylark
1 Meadow Pipit
1 Common Snipe
 2 Goldfinch
and that was it!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Not much news these last few days but there will be something good about with this current weather pattern ! It's just a matter of finding !!
Just 5 Whooper Swans  sheltering near the south shore at Lower Gorple Res'r today  (SD) 

Monday, December 08, 2014

Ryburn Res'r

  NW towards Manshead End
ESE towards Ringstone Edge
I called in for a quick look along the dam wall at Ryburn Res'r on the way back from Lancashire this afternoon. I managed to find 2 drake Mandarin Ducks in shelter with at least 1 female in among the overhanging branches. Around 30 Mallard there as well but not much else except 3 L T Tits around the car parking area.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Withers Clough

A quiet morning 

Reed bunting 2f
Chaffinch 76
Meadow pipit 3
Raven 1
Bh gull 23
Common gull 6

Friday, December 05, 2014

Tawny Owl Predated

Out and about with DF last weekend at our usual spot, we came across the remains of a dead Tawny Owl. It had obviously been predated by a larger more powerful raptor(my guess Accipiter Gentillis)although can't rule out Buzzard, Peregrine or escape Eagle Owl. Not sure but I think falcons leave distintive notches on the sternum. At first we were unsure what species of owl it was, but when Dave opened its eyes we were in no doubt. Word of warning, one should not touch or pick up dead raptors with the bare hands, as some of the poisens used can be deadly.

Swales Moor and Soil Hill

With the possibility of Snow Bunting in mind during the northerly winds this week I gave both site a try this morning. Very little about and certainly no buntings. Just a solitary Skylark on Swales and 2 Kestrels.
Soil Hill was even quieter with just a Grey Heron and a Moorhen on the north slope pond but nothing at all on the summit!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Other news today

Hebden Bridge. 2 drake Goosander on the River Calder and a Mute Swan on the canal. PeteS

Cold Edge and Fly Flatts

Earlier today at Cold Edge it wasn't easy to find anything.
A pair of Little Owls
17 Canada Geese
1 Tufted Duck
1 Grey Heron
2 Measow Pipits
c35 Fieldfare
2 Kestrels

Fly Flatts
1 Kestrel
Red Grouse

Withens Head
In the fields opposite the wind farm car park 3 Stonechats together were the best birds today. These 3, well probably the same 3, have been doing the rounds since about October and also been seen around The Withens and at Cold Edge.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Ogden etc

Whooper Swans

This is the best  I could get in the bright sunlight at Ogden this morning of 4 Whooper Swans - 2 adults and 2 juveniles after another 4 had left before we got there. Good to see NK again doing the rounds!
Also there were 7 Goosander (2 drakes) - they left  >N around 10:00 - looking fabulous in flight. We didnt find much else in or around the res'r and plantation.

At Ringstone Res'r from Steve L this morning 6 adult Whoopers were there around 10:30 though they had gone when I passed later around 16:00.

From yesterday 1 drake Goldeneye was still at Withens Clough Res'r mid-day from Nigel G and another drake at Mixenden Res'r today from PeteS.

Ogden Water

Eight whooper swans on the water at first light this morning

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Swales Moor

This morning - I thought maybe a bunting now the weather is colder with a brisk northerly and clear skies. Nothing doing up there just a single Skylark and a dozen mipits on the top.
A Kestrel and a few Chaffinch at the top of Ploughcroft and 3 Stock Doves.
5 Herring Gulls >W