Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Question ?

   Are Starlings known for imitating other birds,
   the reason I ask is because I was up in the garden
   and heard a Curlew calling and thought wow that's
   a good one for over this area, so looked up into the
   sky and in the fields at the back of my house and
   nothing, I then spotted a Starling on a neighbours
   roof singing its head off with guess what? the song
   of the Curlew, I kid you not. It was amazing to watch,
   with hindsight I should've filmed it on my mobile phone
   but I was that gobsmacked I never even thought, it also
   did its normal Starling song in between blasts of the Curlew.

Soil Hill

I'm lucky that I can visit Soil Hill as part of my daily exercise during isolation. Normally I have headed up first thing in the morning, to help avoid people and hopefully get some VisMig, but today decided to try the afternoon to hopefully get some raptors.
It certainly paid off when I flushed this stunning Jack Snipe. It initially got up right next to my feet, flying right past me showing off its golden stripes. The bird never made a sound. I followed its flight to a dense grass thicket but unfortunately could not find it on the deck before it flushed again. This time it did a big flight and descended to the bottom of the Hill where the marsh used to be.
-Jack Snipe
Fairly standard affair otherwise. Four Buzzards and two Sparrowhawks made up the best of the supporting cast. 

Hebden Bridge

Pink-footed goose. Went to Hebden for organic bread and other supplies, and saw this goose on the towpath with a Canada goose. Could approach it to about 10m.
In the light through clouds the bill looked orange, and the legs pinky-orange. This, and the amount of colour on the bill, made me think it is a Bean goose. However, my photos looked at indoors show that the bill and legs are pink. Also, the bill is too short for Bean, and the bird is quite a lot smaller than the Canada next to it (ruling out Taiga Bean).
It gave some short, quite high-pitched calls - like the yelp of a small dog. This also rules out Bean.

Monday, March 30, 2020


Have a look at the article headed "UK police guidelines to clarify lockdown powers following criticism", on theguardian.com. Two quotes from the article:-
"DESPITE POLITICIANS WARNINGS (my capitals) officers cannot bar people from going for a run or a drive";
"the law does not restrict people to leaving their home just once a day"

More Garden Pics

   Some more garden pics and a couple of unwanted
   that keep scaring the birds, next doors bloody cats,
   taken during the Lockdown.


Walk around

Left my little flat in king cross and went for a walk

Tescos greenfinch 1 pied wagtail 3
People's park rookery is only 3 nests,lots of mallards and 2 Canada geese
Town center grey wagtail 1
Old lane chiffchaff 2 greenfinch 3 bullfinch 4 goldfinch
Lee bridge area chiffchaff 1

Not much else

Garden lockdown !

Started a garden list along with David in Suffolk and JJL in Bradshaw + anyone else ?? (birds seen/heard within or from your garden flying over.) Just a bit of an incentive to keep going !

Started 21st to 27th March.
First week - 36 species
Highlights - Buzzard, Red Kite, Stock Dove, Meadow Pipit. Wren eventually after a bit of a struggle.

Second week - 28th March - 3rd April.
2 new ones so far
Redwing - 6 yesterday
Grey Heron - 1 today (unusual for Lee Mount)

Lockdown List - Have a go.
Number of species might well depend on your location and view, and if you have a garden - or not. Its just a bit of an incentive to get some fresh air and it's certainly been fresh this last week or so. 'Brrrrr'. Enjoy.
Potential for some good garden/flyover birds at this time of year.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Garden Lockdown Pics

  A few pics from the garden in these tough times,
  had a visit from a Linnet which was a nice surprise
  last night a Grey Heron nearly came through my
  window believe it or not and the Sparrowhawk doing
  plenty of garden swoops.

   Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Dunnock,
   Kestrel, Blue & Great Tit, Blackbird, Grey Heron,
   Sparrowhawk, Corvids, a few Gulls and Pigeons, Collared
   Dove, Linnet and Butterflies and Bees were seen from Garden.
   Green Woodpecker was flying about and yaffling and the
   Skylarks in the field were singing well.


For a long time I've walked or used buses to reach birding spots away from where I live. (Yesterday I walked to Mixenden). But I'm an OAP with time to do this; and it's bothering me that there are conflicting views on whether it's ok to drive to a remote spot to exercise and watch birds. Because this is what many of you on the blog have done regularly, with many great birds found.

What we have to focus on is that all the guidelines and laws that have come in are about one thing only: not spreading the virus.

We shouldn't drive out of our home area (say Calderdale) in case we take the virus to an area without any. And we shouldn't park in a car park with several other cars, in case we pass on the virus to someone parked close to us. But if one parks where there is no-one else around, there is no risk.

The crux is that we have to obey the law of the land. We don't have to go along with what everyone on the telly says, when some politicians and others have themselves probably not fully understood the legislation that was passed on 26 March.

The list of reasons people can leave home, in that legislation, has been very well thought out. One is that we can go out to exercise, (but we MUSTN'T mingle with other people). The law does not limit how often we go out, and it does not say we cannot drive to a quiet spot in our local area to exercise.

We cannot spread the virus as we drive along, and we would actually walk past a lot fewer people at Whiteholme than in a residential area!

(This is my personal interpretation of current rules. I could be wrong, and it's up to each of us to interpret them for him/herself before deciding what to do).

Friday, March 27, 2020

Red Kite - Rag Sapling Clough, Blackstone Edge

A late report from Wed 25th March
Nigel Taylor saw and photographed a Red Kite over Rag Sapling Clough near Blackstone Edge, circling quite high up and heading in a general NW direction.
Grid ref assumed to be SD9817


There is much needed clarity for how current restrictions affect our birding on the "bbc news (UK)" website. Look at the item headed "Police fine people over social distancing". There it is reported that the head of the National Police Chiefs Council says that exercise more than once a day is NOT banned. The key requirement is to avoid going close to someone who is not a household member.

There is a link to the complete wording of the emergency legislation that was passed yesterday. This has a list of justifiable reasons for leaving home. One of these is for the purpose of exercise - with nothing said about how many times a day we can exercise.

If you have a dog and no garden, it would amount to cruelty only to take it out once a day.

Good birding, Pete

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Loss of Lapwing breeding site

I saw only two lapwings at the traditional breeding area under Crow Hill, Sowerby yesterday. Over the years the farmer has drained the land and yesterday was using the pasture topper on any remaining areas of rush & long grass.
I can’t understand why farmers are still allowed to get away with this!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Ogden Garden

Now self isolated. Greenfinch on the feeder yesterday and a buzzard flying over in the direction of Mixenden this morning. Local neighbour advises path around Ogden Water now shut from today.

Monday, March 23, 2020


Friday chiffchaff singing in sowerby bridge
Saturday buzzard over the valley between greetland / stainland
Sunday singing greenfinch at rastrick been plenty up there for the last few years (they are around the large gardens near the top of toothill bank) plus 3 jays  which I always like to see

Today whilst working at dean clough peregrine and a large female sparrowhawk which dave must have seen

Anyway hope all is well with everyone on the blog I get up early and work around various parts of calderdale so If anyone needs anything let me know

Friday, March 20, 2020

Fly Flatts

Ring Ouzels still about today (BS and VJ) - see West Yorkshire Birding blog for details and maybe Bri got some more photo's of these great birds recently fresh in from their wintering grounds in the Atlas Mountains of North Africa and a few other places.

Its a shame they don't stay around nowadays but in the next few days they'll be heading off further north as will the few Wheatears that are around just now though there will be others following on in due course.

Ogden - Back Lane area

I went to check the plantation in the hope of Crossbill. There are a good number of tall Spruce trees with plenty of cones but there was no sign of the target species !
15+ Magpies were in the plantation making a racket, probably  alerted by a Fox - but I didn't see one.
3 Buzzards together went high over  >E
1 Kestrel
2 Sparrowhawks
2 Red-legged Partridge (a new one for the year)!
2 Skylarks
Plenty of Meadow Pipits 'blogging' with some birds displaying
3+ Reed Buntings
Pair of Mistle Thrush
1 Goldcrest
1 Cormorant and a female Goosander - both went high >SW
Plus a few other species
(total 34 species)

A great show of miniature daffodils along the roadside verges of the A629

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Fly Flatts and Cold Edge

News from Fly Flatts
2 male Ring Ouzels and a Wheatear today (BS et al). Also a Ringed Plover distant on the mud.

Later news - Ring Ouzels were up to 4 males in the afternoon (BS)

Cold Edge
Pair of Wheatear on the rubble pile around the top small pond. Also 2 Little Grebe and 2 Grey Herons in the area. 4 Moorhen and a pair each of Goldeneye and Goosander and 8 Tufted Duck
A few Curlew, Lapwing, 2 Redshank and a Snipe.
6 Stonechats around (PB) plus a few Reed Buntings and Meadow Pipits
3 Kestrels together soaring about was unusual until one drifted off towards Luddenden Dean
1 Buzzard
1 Raven
A large flock of mixed Fieldfare and Starlings in the area towards Withens Head

A good mix of the commoner species in that area and a very pleasant morning to be out.

No Butterflies.

After-thought - with PB we also had a chorus of frogs singing from a large pool - great to see and hear !

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Fly Flatts, Slade and Cold Edge Road

A quick trip out this afternoon in the hope of seeing BS's Ring Ouzel. It's a good job he was there, it took some picking out but thanks for the location Bri. Distant views for PB and me as access is denied due to construction works on site, but it was good enough from the top road. Some very nice photo's on West Yorkshire Birding blog.

Who's that on Rouzel watch !!!

On the way back I had a chance scan at the long pile of stones at Slade. Another, or was it the same, that had moved down there out of the wind. Both views were of males so maybe one , maybe 2 birds in the area - I suspect just the one ?.

You might just be able to see the distant Ring Ouzel at Slade if you click on the photo to enlarge !!!!!

A pair of nice Redshank down Cold Edge Road

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

New Virus

   New virus for our feathered friends going around,
   Great Tits most at risk. A couple of pics of one with
   it, looks nasty


Monday, March 16, 2020

Lots of reports today

Plenty messages today. I'll try summarise some of them..... with apologies for any glaring omissions !

Single Whooper Swan at Ringstone this morning (At and PG) followed by  a report (CS) of a single Whooper over Crow Hill , Sowerby at around 2 pm. Possibly the same bird (?)
A single Barnacle Goose at Cold Edge (DB)
A Redpoll on feeders at Norton Tower (Mick H) - (seem to be scarce birds around Calderdale these days (?)
Several reports of Stonechats, Skylarks and Redshank at different sites and 40 Fieldfare on Crow Hill/ Flints area and 4 Linnet (another scarce bird this winter)
2 Ringed Plover, 2 f Goldeneye, 4 Goosander at Warland Reservoir (PG)
Red Kite over Roils Head this afternoon (NCD)
A male Ring Ouzel at Fly Flatts - see cracking shots on BS's blog (West Yorkshire Birding) This follows on from 2 at Green Withens yesterday (DP)
2 Grey wagtails and 30+ Redwing in fields near Ogden golf course this afternoon with a Little Owl and a Barn Owl nearby (DJS JS).

It's great to be getting such a decent mix of species from a wide range of Calderdale locations. The birds are there, they just take some finding at times !!

Cold Edge & Castle Carr Walk

  Todays visit to Cold Edge & Castle Carr Rd proved
  fruitful with plenty of species seen-:
  8 Curlews
  2 Buzzard
  2 Goldeneye
  4 Tufted Duck
  60+ Canada's
  2 Greylag
  1 Barnacle Goose
  2 Kestrel
  1 Grey Heron
  1 Skylark
  1 Little Owl
  lots of Stonechat & Meadow Pipits


                       Sorry so many pics.

Baitings fields yesterday.

Yesterday I went over to Baitings area as it has been nice  watching the waders come in and pair up etc. I saw:
14 lapwing
2 Curlew
2. Oystercatchers

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Summer visitors

Interesting a dog walk this morning around mytholmroyd resulted in a very nice singing chiffchaff on the allotments by redacre wood
Whilst driving through pike end near the shooting hut 2 wheatears
Green withens had 2 ring ouzels at the rear of the depot but very little else

Friday, March 13, 2020

13th March Crossbills

One of 3 Crossbills in the plantation at Walshaw Dean today all of which were females. The place was buzzing with birds today 40 species in 3 hours. A few more pics on HB site.

Cold Edge

Curlew (probably male)
Goldeneye 2 pairs
Fieldfare 11
Robin 8 singing

One of two Yellowhammers this morning in the Hartshead area right on the border of the recording area.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Ogden Water

Two pairs of Goosander still present this afternoon on a very blustery water


A pinkfoot goose was on the canal with Canada geese near ex-Walkley Clogs this mo5rning

Baitings fields

I went over the hill to Baitings to see how many lapwings were bacjk late afternoon in the pouring rain on Monday I saw:
7 lapwing
1 curlew v.vocal
2 Oystercatchers

A sign of Spring!

Cold Edge

Yesterday, 11 March:
   Goldeneye  1 pair + 1 male
   Fieldfare  8
   And some frogs

Tuesday, March 10, 2020


It lashed it down all the while I was there late morning.
I went seeking BS's earlier sighting today of a drake Mandarin Duck but I failed to find it. They do have a habit of hiding away among the overhanging willows so it could have still been there (?)
Not a lot else..
2 pairs of Goosander - the drakes looking immaculate
1 Green Woodpecker was feeding on the grass banking below the dam wall.
1 Goldcrest in among a small 'tit' flock and 2 Song Thrushes 'singing their hearts out' despite the conditions. A good few Blackbirds about too.

Treecreeper in Shroggs Park this afternoon (JS)

The Range

I don't do shopping if I can help it but it was worthwhile this morning.! Driving into the car park this Sparrowhawk had just killed a Feral Pigeon and was starting to devour it. Quite oblivious of my presence in the car.
Only a phone photo so hope it comes out ok on the blog. I returned 10 minutes later and it had gone with the pigeon breast cleaned out.