Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Undisclosed site this afternoon at 17.36. Fantastic shots from Darrell as this bird passed overhead heading NE. This must be a first for Calderdale - (photo that is) of a wild Goshawk. Note the bulk of the bird and unmistakeable appearance, and a full crop - this is not one to mistake for a Sparrowhawk when you see the profile so clearly.


Red Kite passed through there today and went over Great Manshead at 12.30pm

Cold Edge

1 fem Goosander
1 pair TuftedDuck
4 Redshank
2 P F Geese still with the Canadas and Greylags
1 Sparrowhawk
c25 Lapwings and 2 Snipe 'chipping'

Jumble Hole - 2:00pm

3 chiffchaff
Green woodpecker heard
3 bullfinch
Every bush seemed to have long tailed tits in! Lost count
1 oystercatcher over, calling.
1 roe deer

EGP 31/03/09

2 Teal on R Calder
5 Goosander on R Calder
2 Cormorant on ski lake
1 Grey Heron
1 female Sparrowhawk
1 LBB Gull
1 adult Herring Gull W up R Calder
2 Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming
11 Sand Martin
4 Swallow
2 singing Song Thrush
1 singing Blackcap
6 singing Chiffchaff
2 Siskin
25 Lesser Redpoll

2 Roe Deer near railway line south of Tag Loop

1 guy firing a shotgun by the fishing lake around 10:00hrs this morning scared me and other passers-by witless so I suspect the Cormorant number was less than 2 after I left.

Nice to meet another birder (Mike Henshaw) who happened to be tucking into a butty with relish at the time from the thriving mobile snack bar by the Avocet empire.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ogden/Fly Flats/Cold Edge

Cormorant in full breeding plumage today ay Ogden - left towards Soil Hill about 1.30 pm (ish)
1 pair of Goldeneye there plus lots of Siskin about especially on the lodge feeders. Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers.
1 ad LBBG, 6 Common Gulls and 2 B H Gulls

Fly Flats - no Twite but 2 Wheatears on the big rocky area near the overflow

Cold Edge - 3+ Redshanks and c25 Lapwings

EGP 30/03/09

2 Swallow over the water at 08:30 this morning along with 1 Sand Martin. Other birds on or around the ski lake were:

3 Tufted Duck
1 Little Grebe
4 Cormorant
1 Grey Heron
2 LBB Gull
1 Green Woodpecker (heard)
1 Siskin over
20 Lesser Redpoll

Ringstone (09:10)

2 Oystercatcher on W bank, incidentally 1 Common Redshank on W bank yesterday morning.

Deanhead Reservoir (09:30-10:00)

4 Goosander
2 Curlew
2 Herring Gull (1 adult & 1 1st winter) SW then W
2 GBB Gull (1 adult & 1 1st winter)) SW then W
1 male Northern Wheatear

2 Raven SW (second sighting this year at this location)

Undisclosed location yesterday:

1 1st winter male Ring Ouzel (garbage digiscoped picture due to incorrect settings on camera, haste to get a record shot, looking directly into the sun and lack of sleep!)

lesser black-backed gull

a lesser black backed gull on the school playing fields today
it flew off as i arrived and diddnt see where it went

Langfield Edge and Gaddings Dam

A walk along the skyline from Stoodley Pike via Langfield Edge, past Gaddings and down to Shepherd's Rest produced no Twite as yet, but at last there was a pair of Wheatears by Gaddings - my first of the season. Also a total of 12 singing Skylarks, 18 Meadow Pipits and 5 Pied Wagtails by the Shepherd's Rest.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Back Lane - Brian Sumner had 2 Sand Martins and 6 House Martins over the plantation this morning.

Castle Carr Road/Luddenden Dean

1 pair of Wheatears by the old railway cabins on Castle Carr road this afternoon plus 1 Little Owl. Also a male Sparrowhawk behaving very oddly, it seemed to be hiding behind a wall in the long grass then moved along the wall several times doing the same thing - perhaps after voles?

1 Nuthatch calling near the Castle Carr lower lodge and a Green Woodpecker there also.

Arrivals & Departure's

A Walk up Widdop/Walshaw/Gorple today produced a pair of Wheatear in fields near the Ridge pub, my first migrant arrivals. The entire walk produced c120 Fieldfare in 4 seperate flocks the biggest c70 birds.

Elsewhere lots of Mipits and Curlew along with min 10 Oystercatcher (seen together) others were seen but could well have been part of this group. 3 pairs of Pied Wagtails, 2 calling Little Owl, 1 seen, 1 heard only - definately seperate birds.

2 pairs of Stonechat, a single Grey Heron, too many Canada Geese, numerous Mallard and a lone male Goldeneye on top Walshaw.

Surprisingly only 1 Skylark was heard all day.

7 Red grouse were also seen as were numerous male pheasants (females nowhere to be seen - sitting on eggs perhaps?)

A Pair of kestrels hunting together clearly indicating no egg laying there just yet, a lone male Sparrowhawk perhaps suggesting the opposite to be true with this species.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Rookery Survey 2009

There seems to be some difficulty in identifying 'active' nests and this might help?
Peoples Park colony - 12 nests there over the last 2 weeks with 2 appearing 'empty' however this evening I checked about an hour before dusk and all nests had birds sitting around them so presumably the occupants had returned to roost at the nest site.
Not always practical to visit before dusk - and there aren't always calm evenings!
Lets hope too that the strong winds recently ease up a bit to give the birds a chance to breed succesfully this spring.

Redpolls & Siskins

At least three of each on in the garden today. Feeding on my Niger & the neighbours thistle seed.

Ringstone earthworks complete

The contractors work at Ringstone is now complete but this is really just the beginning, we now have to ensure that the resultant habitat becomes what we want as the year progresses. With this in mind we are planning a work party next Saturday meeting on site at 9 am. The plan is to remove some of the Willow saplings from the reservoir shore and replant them in the north west corner to create migrant cover and a shelter belt. We also intend to create a flat area in the north west corner in front of the hide to be used as a location to spread seed for a feeding station.
As before thanks are expresed to John Beaumont and Sean Johnston who have regularly attended the site to ensure the ongoing contractors work progressed as we wanted. Anyone interested in helping with the work party please get in touch.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Plumage & Buzzard question

Just a quick post from the Llyn Peninsular. I remember asking Andy C last year how to separate M&F Nuthatches and he mentioned that the male bird had a much more rich colour to it and this would be obvious when seen as M&F together. Having now got a pair regularly feeding from the nut feeder right outside my office window. The difference is glaringly obvious with the male having a much richer orangish/brown colour to his flanks and being generally much richer in colour overall. Once one has seen the differences its glaringly obvious, but not so easy just by looking at ID guides....thanks to the Tall Man. One other aspect of Nuthatch behaviour that has changed in the last couple of weeks is that they no longer spend most of the day near the feeders grabbing as much food as possible and then stashing it all around the area in tree bark and ground. The behaviour has now changed to feeding maybe four or five times a day with food eaten from the feeders direct and no longer stored. Both birds feed together but always on adjacent feeders. Despite being a pair they obviously still keep some of the typical Nuthatch behaviour and will not tolerate any other bird on the feeder, even their mate.

As I sit working at the computer I can watch the coming and goings at the feeding station and have noticed that the more "advanced" the breeding plumage of the males of various Greenfinches and Chaffinches that the more dominant or more aggressive they are towards other males. I assume these are not just the older birds but the more dominant in the flock pecking order who tend to come into breeding plumage earlier. Many of the males who have not yet reached full colour are less likely to be aggressive towards other whilst feeding but the more advanced males will not tolerate any other males anywhere near them and spend more time chasing off other males than feeding ! By far the most aggressive species on the feeders (after the Nuthatches) is Goldfinch. Whenever I hear a squabble start up outside I know at once the Goldfinches have arrived to feed.

A final question; I have noticed in recent weeks that Buzzards are around again in groups of anything of up to 7 birds at a time. Most of the winter the birds have been seen as singletons but have now obviously grouped back up again. I would have thought I would have seen pairs together now readying for breeding but its seems they have mixed in larger groups which do not seem to be in conflict/competition. Are these groups likely to be family groups from last years breeding or do Buzzards display in groups before pairing ?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Gale force ringstone

31 golden plover,9 lapwing,2 oystercatcher,1 hunting Female peregrine,1 GCGrebe,1Reed Bunt,10 Goldfinch and 1 Pheasant.

Wagtail id

Two of these birds were amongst 50+ very obvious pied wagtails at Callis Bridge sewage works today.
White wagtail, or pied wagtail. Discuss:
(apologies for the photos by the way! Click on each one for a larger image)


I watched a dipper flying under the bridges of the Calder in front of Morrisons mid-day.

2 tawny owls calling from two adjacent copses of trees in Walsden - dusk and dawn. But both with the same sound - the 'trembly' call rather than the screech. So both same sex? Heard this call for the past 4 weeks or so.


This morning
1 pair Goldeneye
1 Barnacle Goose and 4 Canadas
1 Kingfisher
1 Treecreeper
6+ Siskin on the lodge feeder

Apologies Pete - forgot to put on the blog that 2 Pink-footed Geese were still at Cold Edge - in the nearby fields on the 24th

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rookery Survey 2009

Just to say many thanks so far for all the information coming in on the rookery survey. Keep the info coming in and especially keep a look out in the next few weeks before the leaves come on the trees.
Several nil counts from former rookeries, quite a number of colonies with up to 12 nests and one of 43. Further details to follow in due course, can anyone check Cragg Vale?
Thanks to all - Dave


Images from Nick Dawtrey of this male sparrowhawk which landed in the middle of the road with this pigeon near the Barge & Barrell pub in Elland while Nick was travelling back from the gravel pits with Ady this afternoon.

The hawk stayed with it's prey for 40 mins before deciding to eat and could easily had been run over in the middle of the road had not a passer by picked the pigeon up and put it by the edge of the road where the hawk returned to the prey and was approachable to within 5 or 6 feet! Lucky escape for the hawk - but not the pigeon.

In the right place at the right time Nick/Ady - well done with the camera


Had one on my feeder this morning feeding on Niger. First one I've seen visit the garden.

Market research!!!

If you could take one minute to post a comment in reply to this, it would be hugely appreciated. You could alternatively email me on mattbell1000(at)hotmail.com

I am in the very early stages of working on a draft business plan, and want to know how much you would expect to pay for this product. Just 1st thought, straight off the top of your head. Don't be influenced by what other people put!!

Many thanks in advance. Matt

- Birdbox with high quality integrated cctv camera
- works in colour during the day, and switches to black & white at night
- full audio
- 30m of cable, and scart socket connecting to your television

Longfield Dam - quick 5 mins whilst passing 2:00pm

On the water
M&f goldeneye
25 canada geese
In field opposite
1 redshank
1 curlew
4 lapwing
5 mallard
11+ meadow pipits
30+ starling
3 pied wagtails

Monday, March 23, 2009

Twitterers or birders

Those of you who subscribe to your home-made mobile alert scheme might be interested in the contents of this blog:


It looks like it might offer an interesting alternative.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Osprey arrivals

The first Rutland Water osprey arrived on Friday 20th March -a week earlier than ever for this bird. Keep an eye out for any that might consider passing our way on their journey north!

Nestboxes Luddenden Dean

The nestboxes in both Upper Hey Wood and Spa Wood in the Luddenden Valley were cleaned out today, of the 14 in Upper Heys 10 had been occupied but of the 10 in Spa Wood only one had an old nest in. The old nests were again removed to be passed onto the "moth-ers".
Thanks to Howard, Niall and Andy H for turning out.

Ringstone phase 2 gets under way

Photos show ongoing work and the type of habitat we are aiming to create more of. Thanks to John B and Sean J for overseeing the work which continues next week.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Various sites

Several reports from today;
Chiff-chaffs singing at Elland Gravel Pits
Jack Snipe at Ringstone Edge Res'r
Twite at Whiteholme and Midgley Moor

Jumble Hole area - midday

Jumble Hole
Chiffchaff calling
Woodpecker sp. drumming
3 bullfinch
numerous gold and greenfinches
2 dipper
1 pheasant

Fields between top of Jumble Hole and Blackshaw Head
8 lapwing
2 curlew
6+ skylarks
3 meadow pipits
1 kestrel
1 pheasant

Visible Migration

Please note the new addition to the links section. This is a long overdue link to Dave Barker's excellent visible migration site (apologies to Dave for taking so long to get it on here), Dave and companions have been studying vis mig in the Oxenhope area for some considerable time and have greatly added to the knowledge of how and when birds move through their area. Their watchpoints are very close to our border and many of the birds noted moving through end up in Calderdale. "Vis migging" is a very rewarding and often addictive form of birding, his site is strongly recommended and they are always looking for further watchers.

Curlews at Rough Top by Stoodley Pike

4 curlews at Rough Top just after 7 am in the clear weather before the mist descended.

Meadow Pipit - 19
Skylark - 8
Reed Bunting - 2
Kestrel - 2

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sowerby Crow Hill area late am and early pm

Sunny, light breeze.

2 snipe.
c50 lapwing.
4 curlew.
1 pied wagtail.
c80 meadow pipits.
1 wheatear; first of the year for me.
5 skylarks seen, and others heard.

No lapwing, or curlew in the top fields at Crow Hill as yet. All were showing in the lower fields.

Plus usual finches, tits, corvids and large nos of starlings.

1 brown hare.
Frog spawn.
4 horses ridden by ladies.

Brookfoot to Elliotts AM

Just got out of the car at avocet and saw 15/20 Swans flying N/W towards Halifax wondered if anyone else saw them they looked like Whoopers this was at 09.55. The walk was fairly quiet with 1G/S/Woodpecker,1 Green Woodpecker,4 Cormorant,2 Reed Buntings,7 singing Wrens numerous Blue/Great/LTTits and 4 singing Chiffchaffs one at Cromwell Bridge had siver ring on its right leg.Also 1 Small tor/shel,1 Comma on a pussy willow Forgot 1 Kestrel,2 Goosander and 1 Linnet(M).

Longfield Dam - 1:30pm

2 redshank on the bank
2 juv' grey heron
1 moorhen
10 canada geese
No ducks at all

In the field opposite:
30+ meadow pipits
1 wheatear
4 skylark seen, and many others heard
4 lapwing
20+ starlings

Nestboxes Sunday

Final reminder for anyone wanting to take part in Sunday's nest box cleaning in the Luddenden valley, we are meeting at 9 am at the Cat In T'Well car park, please bring tools if possible.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Crags Boxes

This evenings Halifax Courier has a piece about the Hardcastle Crags nest-box scheme.
Online version is available here - http://www.halifaxcourier.co.uk/news/Conservationists-building-homes-for-the.5088298.jp which includes the video piece.

Gorple and Walshaw Dean

1 Wheatear today - along Widdop Road west of the Coach and Horses pub towards Clough Foot car park. (Apologies for the error on the grapevine when I put Widdop Gate instead of Clough Foot)

Lots of Curlew around and 20+ Lapwings, 1 Redshank at lower Gorple along with 8 Oystercatchers. 1 Dipper at Blake Dean

Canada Geese everywhere around the res'rs at Gorple and Walshaw Dean along with c4 pairs of Greylags

Lee Dam and Langfield Edge

Spring is with us and the hills are alive with the sound of......erm....Skylarks and Meadow Pipits.

At Lee Dam:
Grey Heron
Long Tailed Tit - 2, collecting nesting material
Jay - 2
Goosander have disappeared as is usual around this time of year.

At Langfield:
Meadow Pipit - 14
Skylark - 11
Reed Bunting - 3
No sign of Twite or Wheatear yet.


31 Whoopers there this morning (following a flock reported by Ady over Illingworth yesterday evening about 7.30pm - well done!)

along with 1 Moorhen and 3 Goldeneye (1 male)

At least 3 Gt Spotted Woodpeckers drumming (and possibly LSW but not confirmed)

c20 Siskin over and 1 m Sparrowhawk

Ogden Water

A minimum of 30 Whooper swans here this morning at 7.45 a m

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Image 3 Brighouse Garden

Brighouse Garden

Not singing so 3 more photos to look at which is a dead givaway,look forward to your verdict

Brighouse Garden again

Willow Warbler in garden at 10.30 and took photo at 15.00

Warm at Cold Edge 18 March

Warm and sunny above the mist. 11-12.30.

1 redshank.
2 oyster catchers.
9 curlew.
8 greylag geese.
25 meadow pipits.
7 lapwing.
1 red grouse seen. Many calls.
1 little owl.
1 pheasant.

Plus canadas, corvids, wrens etc.
55 frogs. A whole lot of croaking going on. Spawn seen; not of the devil.

Ringstone Tues am

c45 Golden plover. Didn't settle for long.
2 red grouse.
2 reed buntings.
1 gc grebe.
8 meadow pipits.
10 lapwing.
3 curlew.

Plus pheasant, corvids, mallard, finches and tits.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fly Flats

5 Twite there this afternoon. These two have the same colour rings but in a different sequence!
1 Oystercatcher still there but no Wheatears
40+ Canadas and 2 Greylag Geese

High Royd - passing visit 1:30pm

12 or so teal still remaining
1 moorhen
2 goldcrest
2 long tailed tits + usuals

An unseen woodpecker was drumming in the woods behind the road, and is definately worth investigating further, as I certainly couldn't be sure it wasn't a lesser spotted. Unfortunately, just as I was tracking it down it was disturbed by a dog walker and not heard again.

A surprise considering the time of day was a bat sp. (presumably pipistrelle?) hunting over the canal and the rough field behind it. Finally, a roe deer was lying down in the woods behind the houses.

Nestboxes Sunday

Next Sunday will see our second working party day to clean out the boxes in the Luddenden Valley, there are fewer boxes than in the Grags so hopefully this will only be half a days work, we plan to meet in the car park of the Cat in T'Well pub at 9 am. Please note it is unlikley we will be able to leave cars there and parking is difficult further up the valley so car sharing may be neccessary depending on how many turn up. Can you let either me or Andy Huyton know if you will be attending.


Sand Martin at EGP 17/03/09

3 over the ski lake from 08:30 until 09:15 at least this morning. In addition were:
2 Little Grebe
6 Cormorant (5 1st year & 1 sinensis type looking adult)
1 Grey Heron
2 adult Lesser Black-backed Gull
20 Lesser Redpoll feeding on alder

Elsewhere, lots of earth moving taking place at Ringstone and 3 Mallard on the water

A pair of Goosander at Deanhead and 1 tough Little Grebe that has been on Scammonden Water since last autumn, 4 Grey Heron still around that have been nest building (or attempting to) in trees on the west bank for the past week or so plus 2 Oystercatcher on a boating holiday.

Elland GP.AM

Looks like Chiffchaff taken over by Tag Cut this morning thought it was a Willow Warbler at first.Mike Stead missed it by 5 mins

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ospreys on the move

While you are all busy counting rooks in the rookeries (or not as the case may be for some of you) please remember to keep a watchful eye out for the returning ospreys. Roy Dennis is reporting that one of the birds he is tracking(Beatrice) is already on the move and in France. More information on his Highland Foundation for Wildlife website. Let's hope she flies over Calderdale.

Fly Flats/Cold Edge

4 Twite back at Fly Flats this afternoon (3 had BTO rings on right but colour combinations on left hard to see with the strong wind up there)
1 Redshank
1 Oystercatcher
Cold Edge
5 Goosander
1 Redshank
Not a sign of a Wheatear anywhere!

Todmorden garden - Lesser Redpolls

4 male Lesser Redpolls feeding in the garden this afternoon, all looking stunning in their breeding plumage.

Soil Hill - 15 mins at Lunchtime

Lots of small bird activity:-

Whetear(M) x1
Stonechat x 1M and 1F
Mipits c10
Skylarks c6 (Displaying)

Kestrel x 1 (initially pretended to be my first Merlin)
Lapwing x 3

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Brighouse Garden again

Photo of one of the L/T/Tits that has been taking lichens from roof of bird table for a few days and today taking away feathers so they are busy building a nest.

Copley - Sun pm - Rookery Survey

Didn't find any Rooks or Rookeries at Copley between The Rish and the old Wireworks. If anyone knows different please let me know. What is Dave's e-mail address for the Rookery survey?


Dipper x 2

Long Tailed Tit x2

Bullfinch x 1

Mistle Thrush x 2

Plus Corvids (not Rooks!), usual Tits, Chaffinch, Mallards.


Had another tour around today to check on the rookeries we located last time, surprisingly quite a number of them have increased the number of nests, perhaps Andy was right when he said he thought we were a bit early on the original visit. I would suggest those doing the survey carry out several visits to be sure they get the full compliment of nests.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lumbutts to Withins Clough to Stoodley Pike

This was yesterday's walk but couldn't post until today:
Fieldfare - 34 (Lumbutts in fields by Top Brink)
Goosander - 4 (Lee Dam, 2 male and 2 female)
Grey Heron
Reed Bunting - 5 (Withins Clough by farm building)
Curlew (above Withins Clough)
Skylark - 3 singing between Withins Clough Res and Stoodley Pike
Meadow Pipit - 2
Still quiet on the moors around Stoodley Pike, but at least the curlews are returning. I expect Meadow Pipit and Skylark numbers to increase significantly over the next two weeks or so, and eagerly anticipate the return of Wheatears, followed by Twite.

Nick - question. Do we post sightings of "sensitive" species on the blog?

More nestboxes anyone?

Following on from last weeks successful nest box day at the Crags we still have some boxes to clean out in the Luddenden Valley and as time is rapidly moving on would like to do this next weekend. There aren't as many boxes and the job will probably only take half a day but if anyone fancies it on Sunday let me know.

First migrant

A Wheatear this morning on Soil Hill (N Kerwin)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Elland G P

Fairly quiet,Ski Lake had 2 Gadwall,4 Little Grebe, 7 Tufted(5m 2f)20+BHGulls,4 Cootand 4 Mallard.Around the old pits 4 Siskin,1GSWoodpecker,40+LTTits,4Coot,10 singing Wrens,6 singing Robins and usual Blue and G Tits.

Fly Flats/Cold Edge

1 Oystercatcher at Fly Flats today and 2 at Cold Edge
Gordon D also had a Redshank at Cold Edge
No sign of any Wheatears today (Crimsworth Dean also checked) and no Twite yet at Fly Flats although some Nyger seed has been put down for when they do arrive.
Lots of Curlew

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rook Survey

A first check from Sowerby Bridge to Rishworth and Mill Bank on Saturday 7th March produced only 63 nests in 5 sites (most occupied)

Dave has full details.

At Pike End SE028,179 there was 1 skylark in song and c50 Fieldfare.

Ringstone site meeting

Now that phase 2 of the Ringstone habitat project is underway we will be holding a site meeting at 10 am on Saturday morning to review progress to date, any CBCG member who wishes to attend is welcome.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Redwing Pictures

A couple of photos from this morning. One thing that struck me was how prominent the red markings were. Normally the ones I see in early winter don't have much colour.

Also the GS woodpeckers are drumming away in the park. Plenty of coal tit and nuthatch calling too.

Returning Redwing

Shibden Park - 8:30am

Flock of about 20-30 redwing in the trees by the dry stone wall area moved into the fields by the top car park. Can't be long before the first of the summer visitors start arriving.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Caption competition

Andy Huyton running the auction at last Fridays raptor evening at Rishworth school, surely we can think of some appropriate captions??

Rookery Survey 2009

The survey is going very well so far but there are still a few gaps if anyone else wants to get involved.
We still need help to check the following sites (nil returns are still important);
Cragg Vale
The valley from Hebden Bridge to Midgeholme (crags car park)
Colden Valley
Luddenden Foot to Boulderclough (49 nests in 1964)

I will put a summary on the blog of where we are with counts later this week as initial counts are coming in most days.

Active rookeries seem to have birds in residence all the time now, however it has also been noticed that new nests are still being built (maybe by late comers or non-breeders having a go?) So late checks before the leaves come on are most important.

No matter if you check sites where someone else has checked as it's better to double up than not at all. Many thanks everyone.

Raptor Calendar sale

Now that we are three months into the year the decision has been taken to offer the Raptor calendars at a reduced price of £5, this is exceptional value when you take into account the fact that this is an eighteen month calendar taking the coverage through to June 2010. The calendars feature superb, high-resolution, rich-colour photographs of raptors (supplied by Sean Gray amongst others). All money made from the sale of these calendars will go directly and specifically to raptor conservation in Calderdale, they can be obtained from me via midgleybirder@yahoo.co.uk or leave a comment on this post.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Brighouse Garden

Not able to get out so spending time in the garden and after 16 months at last captured a decent shot of male Sparrowhawk,well worth the wait.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Crags nestbox cleaning

Many thanks to all those that turned out today, considering the, at times, appalling weather this was a great effort. All the 47 boxes were checked and those with nests were cleaned out , the nests are to be passed on to Andy Cockroft for their contents to be checked for moth larvae, pupae etc. I am waiting for results from three of the boxes but of the remaining 44 there were complete nests in 31, part completed nests in 5, 7 without nests and one we simply couldn't open! The majority of the nests were similar in appearance and were considered to be Tit nests but interestingly there was one nest which contained addled eggs which may have been from a different species, photos were taken and the eggs will be checked against reference books, watch this space, could this have been one of the target species? One of the unused boxes contained Tit feathers and was thought possibly to have been used as a roost site and another had a dead adult Blue Tit in it. It is important to bear in mind that this is the first time the boxes have been cleaned since they were put up in Spring 2007 so they have had two breeding seasons prior to todays work.
Thanks are expressed to Drew Marsh of the National Trust for their continued support and to those that turned out who were
Chris and Daniel Branch
Paul and Jan Johnson
Nick and Sandra Carter
Amy Fitzmaurice
Steve Cummings
Steve Blacksmith
Jane Uttley
Andy Huyton
Tim Walker
An especially warm welcome to Amy who joined us as a result of Fridays raptor awareness evening at Rishworth.

Collared Dove on nest.

Here at home. I think there's probably eggs/ an egg, but haven't seen the nest unoccupied yet to look. (Found one in late January once.)

All birders/ naturalists are invited to attend Halifax Scientific Society's monthly indoor meetings.

This Tuesday, 10th March, the title of the talk and slide show is "Humbugs and Honeybees" to be given by John Phillips of the Beekeepers Association. 7.15pm for a 7.30 start at the Calderdale Central Library, Halifax, downstairs.

Recent publicity about the plight and the paramount importance of wild bees to our ecosystems (inc. birds ) and our agriculture makes this a topical subject. It only struck me lately that if there were no bees, we would have not only no fruit, but hardly any plants which depend on bees to pollinate them. That is we would only have wind-pollinated grain and grass crops, a few nut trees, etc.
It follows that many species of birds that rely on seeds and insects which live on flowering plants
would also go extinct.

Walshaw Dean Res L/M/U and Gorple (L/U)

A good morning's birding around 5 reservoirs. Bracing weather but back home before the hail and snow set in.

Curlew - 2
Oystercatcher - 9 (2 at Walshaw Lower and 7 at Gorple Lower)
Lapwing - 15 (flying over)
Fieldfare - c. 20 (flying over)
Red Grouse - 7 seen and lots more heard
Pheasant - 2
Goldeneye - 2 (male and female)
Greylag Goose
Canada Goose - 17
Mallard - 31
Goldfinch - 4
Mistle Thrush - 2
Meadow Pipit - just 1

Spring is here!

Not birds but up to a hundred frogs in my pond yesterday & lots of spawn today.

Cold Edge

Above - 1 of 2 Pink-footed Geese at Cold Edge yesterday
Also present 37 Canada Geese, 6 Greylag Geese and 27 Curlews flew in from the east and landed to feed on the moor by the lower dam

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Nestbox cleaning

Final reminder for tomorrows work party to clean out the nest boxes at Harcastle Crags, we are meeting at 9am in the Lodge car park. If anyone has tools that might be of use eg hammers, screwdrivers, cordless screwdrivers etc please bring them along.

Raptor evening

Last nights joint CBCG/Rishworth and Heathfield schools Raptor Awareness evening held at Rishworth school was a huge success with between 70 and 100 people attending. As well as an excellent presentation by Steve Downing on our raptor work which produced a great deal of interest and support the evening also included entertainment provided by the school, quizes, a raffle and an auction as well as a bar and buffet. All in all the evening will have raied a significant amount of money to help continue and extend the raptor protection work currently ongoing in our area. Thanks are due to the PTAs of both schools, the staff and pupils of the schools themselves and of course those of our members who have put a massive amount of effort into making this a success. The evening was the culmination of several weeks events and would not have happened had it not been for the enthusiasm and efforts of in particular Steve Downing and Tim Walker, my personal thanks go to them for not just this but all the other hard work they do "behind the scenes" a lot of which never comes to public knowledge, we are very fortunate to have two such dedicated and enthusiastic local birders. Thanks also to Andy Huyton for so capably running the auction, I reckon he could sell an RSPB tea towel to a twitcher! Hopefully there will be some photos of the evening available soon and I will post a couple on here.

The final total raised is yet to be determined but will be announced in the near future when an official presentation will take place at the school. Thanks again to all involved and to those members that attended on the night.


PS Don't forget tomorrows nest box event at the Crags!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Eyes down....

It's obviously still very early, but there was wheatear at Grassington, North Yorks today. Might be worth keeping an eye open.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Probable reason for the missing farmland insectivores.

On "Home Planet" Radio 4 last Tuesday 15.00, a listener asked about a hen that died after eating one maggot from a rat which had been poisoned by Difenacoum. The expert thought it unlikely to be the cause, as it would have had to have a larger dose, and even then it would have died from haemorrhaging, which is not a fast death. It had been tested on poultry, and only half of the sample died. The other half recovered. It had also been tested on owls ( I suppose because they are likely to eat dying rodents,) and they did get sick, but all recovered in the test.

But then, and this is what I thought was apposite to our bird populations, he said that farmers routinely dose their stock with insecticide, which passes through them and so effectively are spreading insecticidal dung.

If all the sheep on the moors are dosed, it's no wonder we have far fewer Whinchats, Ring Ouzels, Cuckoos and Wheatears than we used to have. It seems the farmers are killing the insects via their stock.

I know organic meat is more expensive, but the more people demand it, the cheaper it should become.

Ringstone to Sowerby Bridge

Wednesday pm, sunny with occasional blizzards.

Ringstone Resr, from the road
Numerous starling, lapwing, carrion crow (30+ each)
400+ common and blackheaded gulls. About 50/50; (arrived in mixed flocks of up to 20, performed amazing aerial display with lapwings and starlings, then left en masse.)
2 goosander, pair
1 greenfinch
pheasant (heard)


2 goldfinch

Norland moor and town
Stonechat, m
2 Mistle thrush
Kestrel, m
pheasant, (heard)
20+ rooks

Sowerby Bridge
LTTit, blue tit, great tit, blackbird, robin, dunnock, mallard, canada goose.

Fly Flats/Withens Gap/Cold Edge

Fly Flats;
3 Golden Plover
3 Stonechats (1 male 2 females)
20 Canada Geese and 1 Greylag
c12 Red Grouse

Withens Gap; (Withens Head Farm)
15 Golden Plover (1 northern form)
5 Lapwings
2 Stonechats (pair)

Cold Edge;
1 pair Goldeneye
25 Canadas and 2 Greylags

No Skylarks or Meadow Pipits

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Cromwell Bottom area pm

13 Mallard
2 Moorhen
Little Grebe
Goosander - female
plus 2 Bullfinch and GSWoodpecker by car park
Little Grebe - nest prospecting, hopefully
2 C00t
4 Cormorant
2 Goldeneye
3 Goosanders, including 2 mating

Nestbox Survey/Clearing

As discussed at the last meeting we are having a work party this Sunday 8th March, meeting at 9am at Hardcastle Crags Car Park.

The purpose of the work is to survey/clean out/bag any old nests from the nestboxes in the Crags.

With over 40 boxes to clear we need as many hands as possible equipped with ladders/plastic bags/rubber gloves(to avoid flea bites)/recording equipment ie:- sticky labels for the bags/cordless screwdrivers/claw hammers/manual screwdrivers.

Please add your name to the comment list - NB If you can't make it for 9 but want to be involved please let me know as mobile signal is poor so we need to arrange to meet in advance.

Please use the top car park if you are not a member, if you are bringing a car if you let me have your reg number I'll see what I can do re arranging free parking for the cars we won't be using to drive to the sites.

Any queries please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Cheers Andy

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Rookery Survey 2009

Great response so far - well done for committing to the survey in March/April this year!

The 1964 list (number of nests in brackets) is more or less all covered now except for;
Hebden Bridge area -Hawksclough (16) , Albert Street (10) , Mytholm Church area (27).
The only other area from 1964 is the Luddenden Foot to Boulderclough area (49)
Please let me know, or post on the blog if you can take any of these on.

There are also some other general areas where we have no previous records of rookeries. We could do with some careful checks and counts of 'active nests' of these areas as below. Again please let me know if you can take any of these on.

Cragg Vale
Hebden Bridge to Midgeholme, Crimsworth Dean and Hardcastle Crags
Hebden Bridge towards Todmorden
Colden Valley from Hebden Bridge
Shibden Valley - upstream from Shibden Park
Brighouse/Clifton (east of Brookfoot as far as Kirklees Hall/ Cooper Bridge)

BTO advise that if colonies are 100m apart then we should class them as seperate colonies.
Many thank's everyone.

Ogden/Cold Edge

1 G C Grebe there today in full breeding plumage
1 drake Goldeneye (and Barnacle Goose still there)
2 Grey Partridge and 2 Lapwings by the golf course
1 female Sparrowhawk at Stodfold

Cold Edge
2 drakes and 1 f Goldeneye
2 Oystercatchers
30 Canada Geese and 6 Greylags
1 Skylark over
1 Curlew over
1 Meadow Pipit

Colden / Blackshaw Head

Numbers of gathering fieldfare now 220+. All feeding in one field between Colden and Blackshaw Head.

Monday, March 02, 2009

back again

incredibly large numbers of redwings on manor heath yesterday
amongst them were song thrushes

2 feildfares on the pylons above my house

Colden - 9:00am

In the fields ajoining Colden School:

- 26 curlew whirling around in one pack
- 150+ fieldfare battling against the wind

Sowerby Bridge, unidentified raptor

Milner Royd, river bridge near the tip & allotments, at dusk on Sunday.

15-16 inches, long and sleek, shiny blue/black back and tail, red on bib or chest, brown/orange or red legs. Face not visible.

Perching on a log, watching river, allowed me to get quite close (6m?) then swooped fast and low to river and took something from the surface, making a splash.

I’m not too good on raptors and it was getting dark. Definitely not kestrel or peregrine. Any ideas please?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

I had an interesting day at Jerusalem Farm yesterday filming Mick Chatham of Calderdale Countryside Services training volunteers in the art of hedge-laying. Yes, we do have hedges in Calderdale although many have become neglected over the years. With proper, sensitive management we can improve what we have, making them more suitable for wildlife. The finnished video should appear later this week on TheBaldIbis channel as the first of many about conservation in Calderdale. Thanks to Mick, Eddie, Chris and the Friends of Calderdale Countryside. The channel is available at http://www.youtube.com/TheBaldIbis

Sowerby Crow Hill and Blackwood Common c10.30-12.30

4 skylarks
5 lapwings
c 25 fieldfares
1 snipe being pursued by a raptor, possibly a merlin
Plus the usual corvids, tits and finches.

Also, 1 brown hare and 4 rescued greyhounds; not in the same field.

Good to be out.