Sunday, June 30, 2019

Mistle Thrush

Juvenile on Sunday morning and still evading the Magpies and Great Spotted Woodpecker in the evening with the help of some very protective parents.


A juvenile Dipper was perched on a stone in the Calder near Robinwood Mill, Lydgate on Saturday afternoon, no sign of the parents at that point. Adult Grey Wagtail also present.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

sinensis Cormorant

Canal at Charlestown, 15 June 2019. I have never before seen a cormorant associating with mallards and geese, and being as approachable as this one was. I was 10-15 metres from the bird. When I first saw it, it seemed too 'skinny' to be a cormorant.
The Helm guide (Vinicombe et al, p102) says that on average sinensis is smaller than carbo. But that the only reliable difference between the subspecies is that on sinensis the rear edge of the yellow bare skin drops vertically from the gape, while on carbo this slopes forward; I think the photos show this feature, though I'm prepared to be contradicted!
Typically sinensis is the inland cormorant, while carbo is the coastal one. This difference is mostly irrelevent with a single bird, but the fact that it was on a canal possibly adds support to this bird being sinensis.
(I'm sorry I only had a 10x zoom with me when I took these - and yesterday's - photos).

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Common sandpiper

A Common sandpiper in Shibden Park this afternoon was unusual.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Bird report 2018

The 2018 bird report is now out, you can get hold of one from the usual shop, the GO local store at Woodlesford, Pellon price £5.50p. Hopefully they will also be available at the Fox and Goose in Hebden Bridge shortly at the Hebden Bridge birders meetings which take place the first Tuesday of the month.

Sunday, June 16, 2019


Hen Harrier Brood Management

In a few months’ time the outcome of the 2019 Hen Harrier breeding season will be announced. Some people will claim that it has been a good year and others will trumpet the outcome as a great year for Hen Harriers in England. Neither of these claims will be true, nor will they accurately reflect the fact that whatever the number of fledglings actually is this year, the population will remain perilously low for years to come despite the fact that there is sufficient space for c 300 pairs in the northern uplands.

If brood management goes ahead as planned 2019 will not be remembered as a good year for the English Hen Harrier population. It will be remembered, by leading conservation groups, including NERF, and Raptor Workers across the country as the year that Natural England, the English Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation betrayed Hen Harriers to placate the grouse shooting industry. An industry that is, according to Natural England’s own data, largely responsible for the unexplained demise of 72% of Hen Harriers satellite tagged by their own staff. With that knowledge it is not unreasonable to assume that a similar percentage of un-tagged birds ‘disappeared’ under identical circumstances over the same period. It is also clear from press releases issued by RSPB that many of the birds satellite tagged as part of their Hen Harrier Life Project have also suffered the same fate on land managed for grouse shooting.

Natural England’s answer to those facts is the implementation of their flawed policy of Hen Harrier brood management on the basis that it is essential for Hen Harrier conservation and will lead to an increase in the English population. That second assertion may be true during the breeding season but it totally ignores the fact that all of the evidence reveals that persecution is more problematic after the chicks disperse from their breeding grounds. Brood management will do nothing to prevent persecution despite claims to the contrary. Anyone who believes that the entire grouse shooting industry will wholeheartedly welcome an increase in the Hen Harrier population is at best delusional. There are members of the industry who won’t even tolerate the small number of birds that already reside in, or transit through, the uplands at the present time let alone an increased number.

Following the confirmation that brood management has taken place this year NERF fully expects an announcement in due course from Natural England stating how many eggs, or chicks were taken in to the scheme, what the hatching rates were from each clutch, what the fledging rates were and confirmation that the birds were released back onto the moors from which they were removed. The project calls for all of the chicks to be satellite tagged prior to release back to the wild and for reasons of transparency NERF expects to read a prompt press release when the birds either die naturally or ‘disappear’ in circumstances that suggest persecution was the probable cause. The press release should include the location of the last known fix from the satellite tag.

Whilst Natural England has the legal right to undertake brood management, because they licensed themselves to do it. However, there is no right way to do the wrong thing and there is, in NERF’s opinion no justification for pursuing the brood management of Hen Harriers. We often hear the Police say that they cannot arrest their way out of the Hen Harrier persecution problem and in part that may be true. However, it is also true that Government policy should not be influenced by individuals or organisations that rely on criminality for their industry to prosper.

Additionally we need to know how much of the significant cost of brood management is being borne, not by the industry which has created the problem through illegal persecution, but by the British tax payer.

Despite the hype that we can expect at the end of the breeding season, 2019 will not be a good year for Hen Harriers in England.

June 2019

Little Ringed Plover

One juvenile and three adult Little Ringed Plover at a udesclosed site today.

Thursday, June 13, 2019


Late post: a recently-fledged Grey Wagtail chick was seen "parked" on a stone in the Calder alongside Todmorden bus station last Thursday. No sign of the parents or any other juveniles in the short time I could spare to watch.

Several Swifts nesting in houses around the Wellington Road area, and there seems to be a reasonable number of House Martins in their usual Nutfield Street nesting area. Starlings had an active nest in a gutter on Eagle Street, which I assume fledged successfully.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Mixenden Reservoir etc.

Mist down on the tops so I called at Mixenden. A few Swifts, 1 Swallow and 30+ House Martins.
2 pairs Tufted Duck
Not a lot else.

Tried Fly Flatts and saw BS briefly in the mist but nothing much else in the conditions other than 2 Common Sandpipers along the top road.
c200 Starlings down Cold Edge Road then went back home, back to decorating !!
At least it's stopped raining !

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Luddenden Dean

Thanks to Calderdale Countryside and particularly to Hugh for organising a walk around the upper dean from Jerusalem Farm this morning.

We were fortunate to be able to support the walk with some birdwatching experience and to welcome around twelve others to see what we could find and enjoy in the dean on such a lovely day.

The Cuckoo on the wires was one of the highlights and actually flew towards us to perch on an overhead wire. It looked amazing through the scope !

Also 2 Kestrels and buzzard, a family group of Grey Wagtails, Swallows, Swifts, Curlew and Greenfinch amongst others and Willow Warblers, Blackcaps and Whitethroat singing from hidden places !

Many thanks to everyone.
David and Jennifer.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Crimsworth Dean

Several observers tried the dean today in the hope of the Roller still being about. MH was very keen and on site at first light (04:30 ish)!! Negative reports only unfortunately, so maybe it's moved on, hopefully to be re-found !
We did manage a Cuckoo still in good song but not  a lot else of note other than 2 Curlew, plenty Lapwings, Willow Warblers and Blackcap still in good song.

Little Egret

Little Egret seen on Sunday afternoon on the River Calder near Hollas Bridge, Sowerby Bridge. (CS)

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Roller at Crimsworth Dean

Roller at Crimsworth Dean this evening. Phone scoped across the valley. Best bet is to park in the Hardcastle Crags car park and walk up the track up Crimsworth Dean until you come to the end of the trees, then view in to the valley to the left of the house. The bird was mostly in the bottom of the valley on wires or sat on walls. It also spent some time on the west side high up on wires but always returned to the bottom. Do not take the track to Gibson Mill you will be going the wrong way. Incredible 3rd record for Calderdale 1824, 1844 and now 2019.


More details to come, I'm sure, but a roller was seen and photographed in Crimsworth Dean this afternoon by Richard Raynor.

Many local birders got there to get fantastic views of the bird, including myself, AM, NCD, GW, AC, MBr, DF, AZ, et al. I'm sure some people will post photos shortly. Hell of a bird for Calderdale!

Many thanks Richard R for getting the news out so quickly and gave us a chance to see this amazing bird..Cheers AC