Saturday, December 29, 2018

Swales Moor

Ringby Lane mid afternoon. The top fields have really gone off the boil since everything was weed-killed and ploughed, then sown down entirely with perennial rye grass type mixture. Only the top uncultivated field still has rough ground - bad news, the scramblers were on there today !

The same thing has happened with the fields to the south side of Ploughcroft. Stone walls also gone - no Little Owls there now !

On the top
1 Pied Wagtail
300+ Common Gulls was a good count in the big field at the Ambler Thorn end along with just a few Black-headed Gulls.
Herring Gulls were on the move high and >W as were 2 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls (probably intermedius) with backs almost as dark as Gt B B Gulls.
1 Kestrel
1 Common Buzzard (distant)

Lee Mount - 2 Brambling still on and off during the day

Friday, December 28, 2018

George's square

My mum was getting the bus home this afternoon and mentioned she saw a bird on the berry trees in George's Square which when described sounded a bit like a Waxwing.

I should stress that she isn't a birder (apart from listening to me) so could quite easily have been a blackbird but worth checking if anyone is about.

Cold Edge, The Withens and Hunter Hill

The drizzle started to set in as soon as I got to Wainstalls this morning, then the mist, so conditions weren't good. They were even worse up at the Withens.
1 f Goldeneye
18 Canada's and a single Greylag Goose
11 Mallard
2 Moorhen
1 Stonechat
1 Meadow Pipit
1 Pied Wagtail
A few Red Grouse
+ some of the usual species

Think BS did the right thing getting up there earlier on at Fly Flatts with another gem for winter with a Snow Bunting briefly. Nice one Bri.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Luddenden Dean etc

A Dipper in the stream under the bridge by the 'catty' pub was a decent start this afternoon. Also in the dean 2 Little Owls, 8+ Stock Doves, 1 Kestrel, 2 Buzzards, and lots of Blue, Great and Coal Tits at the feeders near 'The Lowe'.
Thought there might be Bramblings, Chaff's and thrushes coming in to the Castle Carr roost but nothing materialised, unless they all came in late  (?)

Earlier today up to 5 Brambling on the garden feeder at home on and off all morning.

Also via BS (from G and A) c100 Pink-footed Geese over Halifax around 17:30 towards Claremount
From AH - a good number of Pied Wagtails at the Bull Green winter roost late afternoon

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Boxing Day walk to Stoodley Pike.

Very little seen for most of the walk due to heavy fog.
But a grey squirrel seemed to be hibernating under the lip of the east facing side of the monument. One of the highest, bleakest places to be!
A pair of goosander were on the Calder at Callis Brisge, and as we got home, a skein of 105+ pink feet flew west towards Todmorden.

Short-eared owl

3 SEO's  out hunting  this afternoon in the thick fog and fading light

One made a kill and obligingly landed on a post around 40yrd away, perched  with the vole.

Its a shot I've wanted and its been a long time coming but some better light would've been nice ....... maybe next time! :)

Settings for anyone with an interest, 1/320th, f6.3, ISO 10,000

Hope everyone's had a great Christmas, all the best for the New Year


Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Happy Christmas

Hope you all have a great Christmas.
Still a few decent birds being reported despite the poor weather and with it being dark so early in the evening.

5 Pochard at Ringstone yesterday (JB) was a nice surprise as they are such scarce birds in Calderdale nowadays.

2 Tawny Owls singing against each other in Wheatley Valley at 6:30 this morning was a good start to Christmas Day.

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, December 24, 2018


A small flock of Brambling in Centre Vale Park this afternoon was a nice find, looked like 10-12 birds but very mobile along the path nearest the river.

The trees on Myrtle Street in the town centre which sometimes host Waxwings have a good crop of yellow berries at present, today there were a number of Redwing in the tall trees on Halifax Road making occasional forays down onto them.

Eagle update

I sent the picture of the suspected White-tailed Eagle to world raptor expert Dick Forsman and he seems happy that the bird in question is in fact a White-tailed Eagle. The question now is can we claim it for Calderdale or not. The observer was not in Calderdale but a kilometre or so to the south of our border, however he did say it came from the north. I have emailed him for further information but not received anything back as yet. Watch this space and any comments most welcome.


There were still 6 Crossbills in the plantation at Walshaw Dean yesterday.


Over the canal yesterday near the marina in Todmorden a big brown female Sparrowhawk inches behind a Song Thrush which got away. It flew high, low, jinking and finally dived through some trees. It could have been a young redwing that hadn't aquired its red flashes I suppose, but we did see a Song Thrush shortly after.
A Pied Wagtail made us realise we don't see as many of them as Greys, unless we come across a communal roost, which we haven't this winter.

Sunday, December 23, 2018


Poor weather last few days but still a few birds about locally.
21st  Dec - Peregrine on and off  flying around and on the top of Dean Clough big chimney - I understand it's called the 'Corona Chimney'
A lot of Redwings (60+) around Halifax including Sainsbury's car park and Mulcture Hall Road, below Wickes. It's always worth checking town centre areas in winter.

At home a nice surprise today (23rd) on the garden feeder with a single Brambling which was even seeing off the usually dominant Nuthatch's and Great Tits.
Tawny Owl 'ke-wicking' tonight on the edge of Shroggs Park.

From Elland (JB) a Chiffcaff last Wed/Thu/Fri by the riverbank >W of Elland Bridge

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Recent images from Cromwell Bottom

All from JM
 Kingfisher (and below looks to be disgourging a pellet)
And some more from John M at Ogden and Coach Road, Hove Edge
 Lesser Redpoll - Ogden - error on my part (thanks John) Siskin
 Greenfinch- Coach Road
 Nuthatch - Coach Road
Lesser Redpoll - Ogden. After another careful look this time it's interesting that this photo shows the dark centre of the undertail coverts - often difficult to see. This is one of the features of  the Lesser Redpoll ie Carduelis cabaret (west and central Europe) compared with the C flammea (Scandinavia) (can be tricky ) ??

Monday, December 17, 2018

Trip to Islay anyone ?

From Roger Ranson
Some details about our

Islay trip in February 2019 in case any Calderdale 

birders would like to join us.

I have been on this trip for at least 5 years and 

thoroughly recommend it.

We leave Halifax area on Fri. morning 15 Feb and

stay overnight at Ardlui ( Loch Lomond)

We catch the ferry from Kennacraig on Sat. lunchtime

and spend 5 nights at Red Lodge (near Bowmore)

We leave Islay Thursday a.m. and get back to 

Halifax area that evening.

The accomodation is run by "Aquila Ecology" who are 

personal friends of mine. Please look at their website.

I will take my car and will be joined by my son, so have

2 spare spaces available.

Costs are £300 for 5 nights at Red Lodge (sharing room)

or £360 for single occupancy.This includes breakfast, 

packed lunch and evening meal. All rooms en suite.

Overnight at Ardlui £35 each b&b sharing room

Foot passenger cost for ferry £13 return

Bird life is fantastic (Hen harrier roost close to Red Lodge)

Golden and Sea Eagles just about guaranteed

Geese everywhere .

For more info contact me on 07966 261761

Other news today

Ogden - 25 Redpoll along the west bank (MM)
Also from last week a flock of c30 Brambling feeding along the reservoir weedy embankments (JM)

Crowmell Bottom
c20 Redpoll along the canal side between the fishing lake and the iron bridge but mobile. 10 Cormorants and 2 Goosanders nearby (JM)

2 found today at King Cross and c20 at Barkisland, Field Hurst. (SB). Also recently a flock of c30 Bramblings at Coach Road, Hove Edge along with some Redwings and Treecreepers. (M St)

Popples Common (near Heptonstall) - 3 Reed Buntings there yesterday (NG)

Around and about !

Mixenden Reservoir
1 Cormorant and not much else !

Soil Hill
1 Snipe
1 Grey Heron
1 Blackbird
1 Kestrel
18 Magpies by the small shelter belt by the road

Pellon Lane (area just below Queens Road - checked the area with Nick)
4 Waxwings yesterday from BS but no sign of them today
Lots of thrushes feeding on the berrying trees. Mostly Redwings then Mistle Thrushes and Blackbirds though I found a couple of Song Thrush and a single Brambling along with a small group of Chaffinch's and Goldfinch

Wheatley Valley (Shroggs former landfill)
More Redwings, Mistle Thrushes and Blackbirds heading down there to roost
6 Bullfinch together near Brackenbed and 2 Jays
Flock of around 16 Long-tailed Tits
A nice count of 112 Magpies coming in to roost - but I had to leave before the main influx arrived so I hope to try a count again later on in the month

Friday, December 14, 2018


Following on from numerous recent sightings of a cormorant on a lamppost in Mytholmroyd, a couple of Hebden Bridge Birders members have reported a dunlin hanging out in the exact same spot. One of these was Ceinwyn Thomas who is an experienced birder and knows her stuff. Anyone seen anything similar? Strikes me as pretty unusual.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Another Calderdale First ??????????

Last Friday whilst on my way to a concert I received a call of a possible White-tailed Eagle seen flying out of Calderdale over Buckstones and in to the Huddersfield area. Nothing then came of it until I received 3 photos of the bird today. All 3 are very much the same not giving much away but the bird certainly appears very bulky and consulting Dick Forsman looks spot on in flight profile. I suppose people might think possible escaped Bald Eagle as one locally as done so twice. Anyway if it turns out to be correct then Matt Bell will have won his own competition. Any comments on the photo welcome.

Cold Edge Dams

No sign of the Red-crested Pochard on Cold Edge Dams today, we checked ever dam. Did have 2 Goldeneye, 2 Tufted Ducks, 1 Reed Bunting and a Pink Footed Goose in the wildfowl collection.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


Plantation mainly
22 Canadas and lots of Mallard and a Dipper in the top east dam but tried the woodland after I drew a blank trying to find JL's Redpoll early on.
1 Green Woodpecker heard
1 Great Spotted Woodpecker
2 Treecreepers
2 Reed Buntings
6+ Goldcrest
10+ Coal Tits
 Great Spotted Woodpecker - hanging on !
Unfamiliar habitat for Reed Buntings in our area (one on view in the middle)! - so I had a careful look at their identity


Fly flatts this afternoon.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Swales Moor and other news today

3 Fieldfare, 2 Meadow Pipits and a single flyover Reed Bunting were just about the best I could do up there late afternoon.

3 adult Whooper Swans  at Ringtone Edge reservoir earlier today (AT)

Several Redpoll reported along the west side of Ogden reservoir this afternoon (JL)

An injured adult male Kestrel, with photos below, was looked after overnight with a view to releasing it, hopefully, this morning. (NG)
Update from Nigel today (11th) - the bird was unable to fly so it's now at Greenmount Bird Hospital in Bury. Let's hope the bird recovers so it can be released back into the wild.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Red-crested Pochard

Up date, the Red-crested Pochard was still present at Cold Edge Dams today on the bottom dam on the west side.

Swales Moor

Ringby Lane
1 Meadow Pipit
1 Pied Wagtail
1 Kestrel
1 Sparrowhawk
c80 Common Gulls in the top field with 1 Black- headed Gull
30+ Herring Gulls very high >W
100+ Jackdaws and unusual for this site c180 Rooks heading to roost.
c40 House Sparrows at Ploughcroft.

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Cold Edge

Rained off and fogged off up there early afternoon. I couldn't hardly see the water on the lower dam so no chance of checking if the Red-crested Pochard was still there.
Lower down in the fields I did find  36 Canadas and a nice flock of around 135 Fieldfare with 5 Mistle Thrush - but that was it.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Bramblings and Waxwings - Skircoat Allotment area

One of around six Bramblings feeding in a Rowan tree at the Godfrey road end of the footpath. They don't seem to swallow the berries whole but tease out the seeds.

Not a species I've seen for a good while so it was quite a nice find next to my allotment whilst trying to re-locate the Waxwings.

Unfortunately none of the Waxwings I saw dropped below the skyline which was a bit frustrating.

Good to finally meet up with fellow moth-er Dave who spotted this male Blackcap in amongst the Waxwings.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Godfrey Road and St Albans Road

Just a few shots of the Waxwings this morning at the lower end of the allotments and on and off at the lower end of St Albans Road. First Waxwings of the winter in Calderdale(as far as we know) so a very good find by CS -  plus a bonus bird with a male Blackcap.
Quite a few other thrushes around as well including Redwings, Blackbirds and  Mistle Thrush's though we missed out on the Brambling there, though there are some in Manor Heath Park

 Male Blackcap - an unusual combination summer and winter visitors together.


Four Waxwings and six Bramblings in and around the berry trees along the bottom of Skircoat Green allotments by the hospital mid-morning.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Withens / Ovenden Moor

Fantastic views this morning from on the tops with mist hugging the valleys and in places drifting across the moors. This was the view from The Withens looking directly over to Swales Moor and Ringby Top.
I was up there doing the BTO - EWBS (English Winter Bird Survey). Part of a monthly visit December to March inclusive.
Not many birds about other than lots of Red Grouse getting very vocal.
3 Stonechats - different birds in different locations
2 Meadow Pipits
Not much else !
Met AT and ST heading off for the day having checked Cold Edge first for the Red-crested Pochard - still there today.
 Cold Edge from 'The Withens'
 Calder Valley from 'The Withens'


A quick walk in the mist this afternoon on Per lane, Field Head lane and Rocks lane yielded a barn owl with prey in beak hotly pursued by a crow. The owl disappeared over the sky line and it was unclear whether the owl retained its meal. Earlier in the day long tail tits appeared at the garden feeders the first time for a while only for one to be taken by a sparrow hawk in the blink of an eye.  

Monday, December 03, 2018

Fly Flatts (and later Cold Edge)

BS's Snow Bunting - on the hunt .....Met up with AT and JM at Fly Flatts this morning - in the pouring rain but by the time we arrived on the west banking the rain had just about stopped and the weather started to clear up. Despite an extensive search we were unable to relocate yesterdays gem from Brian, but that's how it goes sometimes !
1 Stonechat along the top road
c42 Mallard
2 Kestrels
6 Herring Gulls >W
1 adult Great Black-backed Gull came in over The Nab and landed on the water just as we were leaving.

On the way home I met Pete who was on his way to Cold Edge with his parting word of - 'I'll let you know if I find anything' !! Not long after that, Pete rang me - Red-crested Pochard on Leadbeather Dam. A great find and a new bird for the Calderdale list and co-incidentally my long-awaited 200th species for Calderdale though I am still a few behind Nick and Andy and perhaps others.

Cold Edge - the Red-crested Pochard was still on the dam mid afternoon and thankfully Nick got some pretty good shots.
Not a lot else other than a few wildfowl in the area
3 Teal
2 Tufted Duck
c30 Mallard
1 Grey Heron
15+ Greylag Geese
87 Canada Geese
Pair of Stonechats at Moorland Farm (just below 'The Withens', down the track towards Cold edge)

Red-crested Pochard another first for Halifax

News broke today that Pete Smith had just found a stunning drake Red-crested Pochard at Cold Edge Dams. Me and Andy C arrived on site at 13.45PM and found the bird on the lower dam. First thing to check is it fully winged, it was, second has it got any rings on its legs, photo number 4 says it hasn't, can we tick it, I would have to say yes, it showed no sign of captivity and spent most of its time diving for food. This is another first for Calderdale and well worth a look its probably the best Red-crested Pochard Ive ever seen. Just realised I don't think anyone picked it in the sweep.

Hebden Bridge Birders Meeting tomorrow 4th DEC , x=mas quiz...cheers

Swales Moor and Hag Lane

Yesterday afternoon. Another check on the top in the hope of 'buntings' - without success. Hag lane was a little more productive with a distant Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk and c15 Lapwings over towards Shelf Moor.
Redwings feeding in the holly bushes and a lot of Woodpigeons, 200+, feeding in/under the beech trees and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Not a lot else, though it looked like a good day to find Woodcock (no luck)! The light was going fast at 15:30 but with a steady trickle of Herring Gulls passing high overhead >NW.

On a much brighter note, BS came up trumps again with a Snow Bunting and 8 flyover Shelduck at Fly Flatts late afternoon. See West Yorkshire Birding blog - link on this blog.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

King cross

Up to 8 bramblings feeding in trees by the library at 9am

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Lee Mount

Garden bird watch this morning ended up more than worthwhile despite the fog and rain !
The back of the house towards the park was alive with birds for over an hour - most unusual to get so many !
1 male Blackcap briefly (hope it returns)
1 Goldcrest
1 Song Thrush
2 Nuthatch
2 Blackbirds
4 Chaffinch
6+ Goldfinch
1 House Sparrow
2 Redwings
6 Woodpigeons
2 Collared Doves
2 Wrens together
Loads of Blue, Great and Coal Tits
Plus the more usual Dunnocks, Robins and Magpies