Monday, November 30, 2020

Fly Flatts - mid afternoon

 A howling gale up there and driving rain most of the time but there were two clear, dry spells for around 5 minutes each before the driving rain came in again. I felt sorry for the sheep !!!

An hour and a half up there ... 2 species.
1 adult Lesser Black-backed Gull sitting it out on the embankment with 2 adults and an immature fly-overs >W

3 immature Common Gulls (not all that common up here and had to check them out with the scope) were charging from one end of the embankment to the other continuously. They couldn't have been enjoying it in those conditions (or could they) ! Another 12 adult Common Gulls on the top dam at Cold Edge as well.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Soil Hill (and other sites); updates from the week

 A much quieter week than last week

Soil Hill
1 Lesser Redpoll flew over on the 25th
Snipe on and off during the week, peaking at 5 on the 28th
71 Pink-footed Geese flew south distantly on the 27th and 53 flew north on the 28th
A female Goosander flew over on the 27th 
Single Ravens flew over on the 27th and 29th

-Grey Wagtail
-Pink-footed Geese

Walshaw Dean 26.11.2020
38 Pink-footed Geese flew NW over. Also seen by AC & DJS who it was good to see up there

Lower Gorple Reservoir 26.11.2020
10 Teal roosting along the edge of the reservoir

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Lee Mount

 A good start this morning with a call from AC at 08:55 - 'pinks' heading over Northowram coming this way.

Camera out and true to form heading my way in a >W direction. Skein was also seen over Athol Green (TM).
Camera confirmed 140 (give or take one or two). Another skein reported over Wibsey a few minutes later heading towards Queensbury (from RH)
c140 Pink-footed Geese

Green Withens - 27th November

In search of the recent Water Pipit for two and a half hours but I couldn't find it.... - maybe it's gone or perhaps disturbed by the helicopter flights across the reservoir as stone was being dropped in the eroded gullies high on the moor at regular intervals. So very little to report.
4 Mallard
1 Dipper
2 Carrion Crows 
Red Grouse calling

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Crimsworth Dean - fogged off !

Beautiful sunshine over Ogden and Denholme mid morning and then we went over the A6033 from Oxenhope towards Hebden Bridge in the hope the road was open - thankfully it was, after a long closure for road improvements. Unfortunately Pecket Well and the whole of Crimsworth Dean was thick in fog. What next ??

Blake Dean in the hope of finding some brightness - how fortunate was that ! A good walk up to Walshaw Dean and later on to Gorple. Birds were not jumping out at us but we found a few.

Blake Dean - checked the woodland for Brambling and Chaffinch without success but we did find Goldcrests, Coal, Blue and Great Tits and a Grey Heron in the stream. Higher up 2 Treecreepers together were working the moss low down on an old sycamore. A good chat up there with DJB was a nice surprise by the plantation where we spotted a rather distant flock of Fieldfares.

We managed a very pale Barn Owl a little further along and then below Lower Gorple a noisy skein of Pink-footed Geese went over high >W at 2pm. Unusual in that they were just in single file - follow my leader over the upland fog-banks !

Mixenden Res’r

This morning with fog in places on the tops but sunshine here !
3 f Goldeneye
6 Canada Geese
2 Moorhen
1 Grey Wagtail
c90 Common Gulls
c45 B H Gulls
2 Herring Gulls
1 Ring- necked Parakeet opposite the school.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Swales Moor

 Length of Ringby Lane this afternoon

1 Meadow Pipit.....and little else other than the usual corvids and Common Gulls - till I got to the far end fields. Bonus birds with 56 Lapwings, c50 Starlings and a distant Common Buzzard.

Lapwings with a few Starlings

Soil Hill beyond Bradshaw

Common Gulls

Fly Flatts

An hour or so up there late morning but little to report.
2 Stonechat along the top road
2 Kestrel
3 Canada Geese
Red Grouse on the moor very vocal
2 Carrion Crows

1 drake Goldeneye on the top dam at Cold Edge

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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Mixenden Reservoir etc

 Had a walk between Mixenden and Ogden this afternoon via Hunter Hill

2 female type Goldeneye on the reservoir plus a good number of smaller gulls and 6 Herring Gulls loafing on the edge. No scope with me to check on the Herring Gulls after a suspicion of  a Yellow-legged Gull there yesterday (NK).

Green Woodpecker on Hunter Hill and a Grey Heron flyover but not  a lot else though we still seem to be coming across plenty of Coal Tits wherever there is shrubbery or woodland.

Earlier in the day a solitary Buzzard >E over Lee Mount and a Sparrowhawk soaring over Shroggs Park.

Sky looked on fire this morning and again this afternoon in the sunset over Wainstalls with Mixenden Reservoir just about showing. Viewed from Lane Head Lane

Monday, November 23, 2020

Swales Moor

 This morning along the length of Ringby Lane - it was perishing along the western ridge !!
46 Lapwing got flushed off the field at the northern end - unusual to see them up here.
2 Raven
2 Stonechats
6 Meadow Pipits
50+ Common Gulls and 1 Black-headed Gull
21 Herring Gulls >SW drifting high over the ridge
2 Stock Dove
15 House Sparrows in the shrubbery down by the cottage at the top of Ploughcroft along with 15+ Goldfinch
Adult Common Gulls


Raven and Carrion Crow
Meadow Pipit

Earlier in Sainsbury's car park
12 Blackbirds feasting on the berries along with 3 Mistle Thrush, Robin, Wren, Blue and Great Tits and Carrion Crows all got flushed by a Sparrowhawk

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Soil Hill (& other sites); updates from the week

Soil Hill
-SNOW BUNTING; 2nd of the week on the summit this morning (22nd). Initially heard which gave me chance to get my camera ready. Strangely the bird then flushed from long grass on top rather than a flyover as I anticipated. It then spent maybe two minutes flying in loops around the top calling frequently before flying south strongly. I followed it until it was a distant dot, which is why it was weird when it (or possibly a different bird) flew past me only around a minute later heading strongly north. Again I followed it and it gave the impression it was loosing altitude but it was extremely distant and I eventually lost it against the backdrop of the distant hills. A search of the habitat on the North Slope produced nothing. So possibly two birds, but unsure. 
-1 Jack Snipe on the 21st
-2 Raven blogging on the 22nd
-52 Fieldfare on the 22nd, best count of the week (44 in a single flock)
-54 Pink-footed Geese flew east

Full checklist from the 22nd:

-Snow Bunting

Green Withens 19.11.2020

-WATER PIPIT by the boathouse but quite elusive. After the initial sighting, photographed below, only seen once breifly on adjacent wall despite searching
-17 Twite
-56 Pink-footed Geese flew West
-1 Raven

-Water Pipit
-Pink-footed Goose

Whiteholme Reservoir 19.11.2020
-2 Raven
-Not a single bird on the water

Ringstone Edge 19.11.2020
-1 Whooper Swan on the water

-Whooper Swan

Lower Gorple 19.11.2020
-10 Whooper Swan flew SE

-Whooper Swan

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Grey Wagtail - TEST

 Testing a very short video from the phone taken yesterday from the car as I pulled up ta home.

It might work ????

Friday, November 20, 2020

Ogden (yesterday 19th Nov)

 Lovely afternoon in the sunshine - not many birds about but it was enjoyable.

Looking towards Soil Hill over this area of moor grass in the foreground (Molinia - I think).
I found 11 Reed Buntings here and it seems a good wintering area for them.

According to some of the maps this rough old very stony road is called Withens New Road. Looked more like a stream yesterday. It was so peaceful so it's great that it's not accessible other than pedestrian, otherwise it would be full of vehicles !

Newly planted area looking down towards the golf course. It's now full of young trees planted in the last couple of years above. This could become a good area for wildlife in the next few years and hopefully improve the diversity - until the trees get too big and the understory will be blanked out.
Green Woodpecker, 2 Stonechats, 6 Blackbirds, 2 Redwings around this spot.

On the way back down a flock of 40 Fieldfares came into the plantation to roost.

Mt Tabor Sparrowhawk

Working from home on a dreary November day at 1100Ft and spotted this cracking little male sparrowhawk that has been doing the rounds of the local gardens.  I know not a prize winning pic through a damp window with a 200mm zoom lens.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Swales Moor - 18th November


A couple of hours on the top at Ringby Lane this morning. Weather not too bad when I got there but the gloom set in as the WSW wind started to blow bringing cloud and drizzle.
Ringby Lane >SE with Beacon Hill in the middle and Emley Moor mast just about visible at the left

Pair of Kestrels to start with but it went downhill from there with just 3 Meadow Pipits and the usual 'glut' of corvids on the top. 40+ Common Gulls also around the top with 6 Herring Gulls and 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull >SW. 
Then in the distance - a flock of Pink-footed Geese heading in my directions at around 10:30 - 62 (if I can count !) heading >NW but finding difficulty in keeping to any sort of formation in the blustery cross-wind.

Just got home and call from SC 11:35 - "pinks over Ovenden". I just got out of the car and there they were, another skein a bit distant having the same struggle in the wind. Managed some poor shots but this skein was 60 individuals (thanks Steve).

Monday, November 16, 2020

Soil Hill

A Snow Bunting was a nice surprise this morning. It flew from the shorter section of grass on the NW side of the Soil Hill Summit. The bird was flushed at a distance of around 10 meters, frustratingly not being seen on the deck prior to this. Upon taking flight, the bird began to fly straight up, emitting a soft whistling call a handful of times. When it reached somewhere between 10 – 15 meters in altitude it then flew strongly east, and began to utter the more familiar rattle like call, which I always consider very similar to Turnstone. It only did this call once, making rapid progress in an easterly direction. It did appear, once on the east side of the summit, that it was dropping in altitude but the bird disappeared behind the ‘Mounds’ and I could not confirm if it landed or not. Extensive searching by myself, NK and JJL produced no further sign. I managed, in my panic, to grab a handful of shots but almost all were useless except one which nicely shows the extent of the white in the wing. Just a bit disapointing that it did not sit on the deck a bit longer, or that it didn't linger in the area.

-Snow Bunting

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Soil Hill; updates from the week

Soil Hill
-Tawny Owl roosted on the Hill earlier in the week but no sign since
-3 Jack Snipe flushed on the 8th but no sign since
-Woodcocks seen on the 9th and today on the 15th
-1 Redpoll flew over Taylor Lane on the 10th 
-7 Dunlin flew south on the 11th 
-Small numbers of Redwings and Fieldfares during the week, including a nice 'Icelandic' Redwing on Taylor Lane
-c.15 Long-tailed Tit were in the North Slope Treeline for two days earlier in the week, which is a personal patch tick
-Tawny Owl
-Long-tailed Tit

Ogden 12.11.2020
-Drake Mandarin found by CS still present mid-morning

Mixenden 14.11.2020
-2 Goldeneye
-3 Ring-necked Parakeets flew over. Have read about these on BS blog, not sure if migrants from a nearby population, or just local escaped birds? 



 Just clocked a big skein of Geese sp heading towards Elland from Rishworth 10:14 v high up

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Luddenden Dean

 A morning in the dean earlier today - what a lovely day to be out and about after all that rain and fog.

We didn't find all that many birds along the Wainstalls side of the dean but did better on Midgley Moor side with  Green Woodpecker, c55 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 2 Mistle Thrush and several Blackbirds. A few Jays, a Buzzard, 3 Kestrels, 1 Greenfinch, Chaffinch's and Goldfinch's along with Blue, Great and Coal Tits.

Looking up the dean towards Castle Carr
Looking towards Mount Tabor
WadeWood with Wainstalls in the distance

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Mixenden Reservoir and Cold Edge

An overcast morning with a south easterly cool breeze (very cool at Cold Edge - living up to it's name). At least it was fine with reasonably good visibility and no fog.
4 Goosander (female types)
1 Cormorant
1 Teal
4 adult L B B Gulls
5 Herring Gulls
60+ B H Gulls
30+ Common Gulls
Message from BS of 'pinkies' over Fly Flatts towards Soil Hill but I couldn't pick them out.

Cold Edge
1 Kestrel
1 Peregrine distant towards the Calder Valley mobbed by corvids
60 Canada Geese
6 Greylag Geese (no sign of the Barnacle Geese)
3 Moorhen
40+ Starlings
60+ Fieldfare
2 Redwings
Plus a few other of the usual species (but no Stonechats) and a distant flock of c60 'pinks' >W  at 11:05 but by then the phone had 'died' from the cold up there !!

Sunday, November 08, 2020

News update

Water Pipit yesterday from Green Withens (CJB) (reservoir site up near the M62). Also a 4 Twite up there earlier in the week.

Also from yesterday a single adult Whooper Swan was located on Mixenden Reservoir (BS) but it headed off  >W shortly after being found.

Large flock of Siskin reported earlier today (MS) and later from (JJL) - from photo's etc. well in excess of 160 at Cromwell Bottom. In the alders in an area not too far from the feeding station though very mobile.

3 Jack Snipe - Soil Hill (DJB)

A single Woodcock flushed from a bracken area in Walshaw Dean (DWh).

Friday, November 06, 2020

More and more Pink-footed Geese....

Lots of messages coming in this morning about flocks of 'pinks' passing through and over Calderdale at least till mid-day.

Very misty in places during the morning. Wheatley Valley was such with around 6 skeins unseen. ! Similar elsewhere though some were seen over Soil Hill, Ovenden, Queensbury, Ogden and Hebden Bridge Not sure how many, as several flocks were just heard and others possibly duplicated with most of them in a westerly direction.

Maybe some more this afternoon...... update..... just one skein this aft, as far as I know, with a small flock of 42 around 3:50 high over Ogden >WNW towards the wind farm.
Also over Ogden Back Lane c20 Crossbill flyovers into the plantation and a Dipper in the pond at the top of the reservoir. 

Thursday, November 05, 2020

More 'pinks' today

Movement of Pink-footed Geese continued throughout the day with around 10 or more skeins and 900+  birds over west and central Calderdale - mostly, but not all, >NW. It started off for me with calls from AC and Dave Br with news of 'pinks' heading my way over from Northowram and Claremount. Spot on - 2 skeins right over the house. Brilliant to see and hear though a smaller skein of 30 mid afternoon went over very quietly.

105 (if I can count) and 30 

In addition to the the above - other skeins were noted today over Soil Hill, Skircoat, Brighouse, Norland, Ogden (and Leeshaw near Oxenhope) - see BS's West Yorkshire Birding blog and JJL's Bradshaw Birding.

Also a single Whooper Swan over Soil Hill first thing and 40 over Northowram this morning.

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Todays update

In addition to the Whooper Swans at Ringstone in the previous posting 2 more were reported at Lower Gorple this morning and 6 flyovers this afternoon.

8 Skeins of Pink-footed Geese with around 760 reported today mostly at height and seen in both directions across Calderdale  >SE and >NW.

I had a stab at Cold Edge this afternoon. A lovely day to be out in the sunshine after all the recent rains.
One skein of Pink-footed Geese, included above, with around 100 >W at 14:15
1 Little Grebe
1 Tufted Duck
8 Greenfinch
9 Moorhens
1 Grey Heron
2 Kestrel
3 House Sparrows
3 Meadow Pipits 
+ a few of the usual species but no Stonechats !!!


A brief visit to Ringstone late this morning to see the ten Whooper Swans found by Phil D earlier. Plenty of BHGs and Common Gulls feeding on the reservoir and in the distant ploughed field along with a large flock of Lapwings.


Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Soil Hill

 I didn't manage to get out till late afternoon - delayed - something to do with autumn leaves !!!

It was nearly dark when I got up there - but that was the heavy, dark black clouds with some brightening from the west. Not much at all except for lots of Common Gull moving >NW along with a few Black-headed Gulls and a couple of Herring Gulls. 3 Lesser Black-backs were heading in the opposite direction.

Nearly forgot - 60+ Fieldfare went over 'the hill' around 3.45pm >NW probably a pre-roost flock.

5 Stonechats on the wall by the mast was a surprise in that cold wind. They were actively catching prey. It's always a sense of amazement with Stonechats that they seem to  make good use of exposed sites as long as they have some degree of shelter from a wall, fence or hedge and providing they have vantage points from which to search for food.
4 degrees c when I got back to the car - a sign of things to come though it's better than rain !!!

Also today from Withens Clough c100 Fieldfare (NG).

Yesterday 20 Crossbills in and around the pines at Ogden near Giant's Tooth area (CS). Probably still there though they can be tricky to find at times. Nice birds to get in Calderdale.