Wednesday, June 30, 2010

30th June

1 Tree Pipit singing at Blake Dean this evening, not much else at Walshaw Dean, 1 siskin, 5 oystercatchers, 2 kestrels, 7 mistle thrush, 2 sand martins and 1 curlew was about it. The road through Hebden Bridge is still a nightmare so beware!

Hardcastle Crags

BTO Atlas survey today in tetrad SD92Z
No exceptional highlights as the area was fairly quiet now with very little bird song
Green Woodpecker - nest with 2+ young ready for fledging (they look quite reptilian), Sparrowhawk, Grey Heron and Kestrel all feeding young
3 Nuthatch
1 Siskin
1 Chiff-chaff
4 Blackcap
1 Treecreeper
Only 3 House Martins!

Heads Up for Little Egret

A Little Egret was reported as being at Ringstone for three hours this morning before flying off. Report came via the grapevine from Tony Martin. The bird could turn up anywhere so keep your eyes open.

Green Withens, Rishworth Moor and Blackstone Edge

On a scorching day on the moors I saw: plenty of meadow pipits, a few skylarks, a couple of common sandpipers in the vicinity of Green Withens Res', a wheatear on the little building by Sam Hill, two curlews around Rishworth Moor and best of all a grasshopper warbler reeling and showing well by the drain just south of Dog Hill.
It was pretty good for insects too, with my first common hawker of the year and a broad-bodied chaser (not a species I usually associate with acid upland water bodies) by the aforementioned drain. A red admiral crossed the moor near Dog Hill and there were hundreds of small heaths about.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Not a bird but .......

I know quite a few of you are into Butterflies & wondered if my sightings of Common Blue on Saturday might be of interest to anyone?

Local bird info

Since the creation of the Halifax Birdwatchers Club in 1990 local birders have produced mountain of information on local birds, their numbers and distribution, thanks to the efforts of Nick Dawtrey (amongst a few others) this information has been summarised annually in a published report with the more recent information collated on a database. Whilst this mass of data provides vital information on populations etc it hasn't until recently been used for direct conservation work. The Calderdale Bird Conservation Group is often contacted with requests for information on certain areas or sites that are (or may be) under threat from development or change, however the CBCG do not own the local records, these are the property of the Birdwatchers Club and as such it is the Club that should be deciding if this info is made available. With this in mind there is a plan to hold a meeting with representatives of West Yorkshire Ecology who are the local ecological records centre for West Yorkshire, see ( WYE would very much like to include the Club's records in their database. At the meeting they will give full details of why they want information, what conservation value this will have and how it will be used etc. Obviously a decision as to whether this data is passed on must be made by those that provided it so I would invite anyone with an interest to attend. The meeting is planned for Tuesday 20th July at the offices of Calderdale Countryside Services (above the Library) in Mytholmroyd with a 7-15pm start.

Nick Carter

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A walk in the sun

As I spent most of last week catching up on jobs in the house and only managed a few short walks locally I thought I'd stretch the old (physically and metaphorically) legs this morning and get out and about. The walk from home to the Pike, along the ridge and across to the trig point, over to Whiteholme, then Light Hazzles, Gaddings, Langfield Edge and back home was a joy.

There weren't any special birds around but there were dozens of Mipits and Skylarks filling the skies on the way round. One Mipit had its beak stuffed with goodies and I hope there's more than one chick waiting in the nest to receive such a load.

Several Common Sandpipers were enjoying the very low water levels at the reservoirs and dam, along with a Redshank, 2 Little Ringed Plovers and 2 Dunlin. One of the Dunlin approached close enough for a decent portrait.

I thought the sun and the warmth would coax at least one common lizard into view for me, but no such luck. Never mind though, there's always tomorrow.

A singing male Stonechat accompanied by a juvenile below Langfield Edge was a pleasing sight as they are very few and far between this year following the tough winter. A single Reed Bunting was singing further down towards Lee Dam. I heard a short burst of song from a Curlew early on in the walk but never saw or heard one from then onwards. They have probably done the with the business of breeding and are now moving off to pastures new.

Some friends at Elland Gravel Pits(Cromwell Bottom)

It was good to meet with friends old and new the other night at EGP(CB).A real good turnout with some positive feedback from the meeting.Reed warblers(2)Reed Buntings,Brown China mark ,made for a pleasant evening stroll......

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Common Lizard on Calderdale border, 23rd June 2010

I know it's not a bird posting, but I thought some folks would be interested in a sighting of a common lizard I had yesterday on the Calderdale border. It was actually in Lancs (Milnrow), by a few yards, on Axletree Edge (where the dotterel were last year). Close by is Wicken Clough (wholly in Calderdale) where someone told me they have been seen in the past.

Regards, Chris

Green woodpecker

I came across a green woodpecker nest in Jumble Hole yesterday, with at least 2 fully grown young making a huge racket. I managed to get a discreet photo without disturbing them, but I'm having difficulties uploading it, so I'll add it later.

Also heard nuthatch, plus a glimpse of a spotted flycatcher, which could indicate they are back here breeding.

A buzzard sp. (probable common) with missing tail feathers drifted over east last week, at times making it look as though it had a forked tail! (grainy photo)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Early morning

Had a few hours out before work this morning, fledglings everywhere. Huge number of mipit must have just leapt in the last couple of days with plenty of carrion crow, rook, linnet & skylark. A single wheatear up the hill from Baitings reservoir being the highlight of these.

Elsewhere a Gropper was reeling between Scammonden and Dean Head, a sparrowhawk was giving the area a good going over and a hare was on the road above Dean Head.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tawny Tragedy

Out with Nick D on Sunday evening, we took a walk up Blake Dean where we came across a Tawny Owl apparently asleep on a dry stone wall. So asleep in fact that Nick had passed within 2 metres of the bird. Whilst I quietly rigged my video camera, Nick started to take some photos.

This shouldn't happen, Tawny Owls don't just nod off and allow you to get this close. Then Nick says "It's dead, it's been shot. Someone's stuck it on the wall." "No, it's not," I replied, "I just saw it move". "No, it's dead. It's covered in flies, look." at which point he clapped his hands and the bird showed no response to the noises that we were making. As I approached the bird, it suddenly sprang to life. It tried to fly but struggled to get airborn and fell through a gap in the wire fence, disappearing into the ravine below. Nick clambered onto the wall to see if he could see anything, but it was clear that we were going to need some assistance in rescuing the bird.

This is a dead zone for mobile phones so we drove away to a site where we could get a signal. As the birds injuries suggested that it may have been shot, we reported the incident to the police who then passed us on to the RSPCA. They said that they would send a field officer if one was available.

In the interim, we recruited some help from Andy H, and returned to the site with torches. Sadly we were not able to find the bird that evening.

Monday, I took the day off work and returned to the site with Tim W. In a 4 hour search, we managed to find two dead Tawny chicks, some droppings and a pellet...but no injured adult. One of the chicks looked like it had died recently but had no visible trauma signs. The other chick had been eaten away, only legs and wings remaining. After collecting these remains we headed back to the cars.

As look would have it, we heard Blackbirds and Wrens making a din in the bottom of the ravine further down stream. Looking over the wall, Tim spotted the bird perched on a fallen tree trunk. The bird was covered in flies and in a very sorry condition, so Tim went down into the ravine and recovered the bird. It was then taken to a vets where it was examined but, sadly, had to be euthanised.

X-rays were taken to ascertain the cause of the trauma. No pellets could be found, and the nature of the birds injuries suggest that it had flown into a wire fence or power cable.

It's difficult to say how long it had been in this condition, but one has to assume quite some time, with the chicks probably starving in the interim. There was no sign, or sound, of any other adult in the area.

A big thank you to all involved. Whilst we may not have been able to save this bird, at least it's suffering was curtailed.
We felt that it was also important to get a proper diagnosis and X-rays to rule out any possibility of foul play or human interference.

Photos - Nick D

Around and About Sunday

Sunday at Bradley Hall Farm area
Swallows have fledged and are busy getting fed by mum and dad, a few Whitethroats, Greenfinch and Goldfinch singing. 2 x Yellowhammers singing. Blackbird singing from the telegraph pole as usual, Great tit family out and about. Kite (presumed Red) high over. Kestrel hovering by canal. Roses are blooming in the hedgerow, attracting many insects for all those newly fledged youngsters that are kicking about. A few Swifts and plenty of House Martins kicking about.

Ancor Pitt Lock
A few Mallard, one with a couple of young. 1 Moorhen

Elland - Brookfoot Lake
Plenty of Blue Tits and Long Tailed Tits. Jackdaws have already vacated their nest sites.

Lots of activity at the House Martin colony. I would be interested to know of any other colonies in the area.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cromwell Bottom meeting

I must send my apologies for tomorrows meeting at EGP, I will not be able to attend due to work commitments.
If someone can post a brief resume of the meeting to the Group it would be most appreciated.

Luddenden Dean (yesterday)

Very quiet in the upper dean yesterday afternoon. Checked out the traditional locations for Pied Flycatcher, Tree Pipit and Redstart without success.
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1 juvenile
4 Willow Warblers
1 Blackcap
1 Sparrowhawk raiding a Blackbirds nest
1 Kestrel
2 L B B Gulls >N
Lots of young Meadow Pipits along Castle Carr Road

Sunday, June 20, 2010

If You Go Down To The Woods Today......... won't see these little furry chappies because these clips were shot about a month ago at an undisclosed site. Sadly, it does appear that certain owls, in certain areas, are still the subjects of out-dated Victorian persecution. These, thankfully, were not amongst their number.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Undisclosed sites

2 pairs of Whinchats reported feeding young today with another male at another site - encouraging signs!

Upland area

can you spot any, i saw definitely 3 chicks maybe 4 they just dont stay still

only one red shank chick out of two

taken today they have just finished thier tea that mum and dad cought

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Red Kite

Well done to the 2 observers for the 2 reports from yesterday of sightings in different areas of Calderdale - 1 around 13.45 over Mixenden >N (NK) and another, or the same bird over Heptonstall mobbed by Jackdaws around 14.30 (WGD)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cromwell Bottom

Further to an earlier post with regard to the Local Nature Reserve at Cromwell Bottom and a request from Hugh Firman for more local naturalists to get involved in its future there is to be an opportunity to join the staff from Calderdale Council's Countryside Service for an evening of discussion over the key issues the Reserve faces. The evening walk will include a look at the access issues, habitat management and discuss plans to help this Local Nature Reserve improve and develop towards its potential. The meeting will be held on site on 22nd June meeting at the Fisherman's Car Park (behind Cromwell House) at 7pm.

This is an opportunity for local naturalists to have an involvement in the area and hopefully influence the decisions that are taken re habitat management etc. an area which it has to be said has received its share of criticism in the past.


At a recent CBCG meeting the subject of the apparent decline in Kestrel numbers was brought up, several people commented that they hadn't seen Kestrels in any number this year and certainly less commonly than in previous years. It would be interesting to hear if this is the case with other local birders, any Kestrel records people want to pass to Nick Dawtrey (HBC Recorder) would be most welcome.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Only got 3 more shots.

Wheatley Valley

Not been able to find any sign of the Wood Warbler since last Thursday morning.
Yesterday - 5 newly fledged Whitethroat chicks nearby with both parents

Friday, June 11, 2010

Goosander Update

Caught up with both broods this week and pleased to say both are doing well see photos. The larger brood is down to 16 but I caught 1 lone chick on its own calling for its parent a good 2km away downstream so as of this morning we still have 24 young goosanders. A male G/S/Woodpecker was feeding 2 newly fledged young in the car park feeding station at back of Cromwell House,also on the river 3 juv Grey Wagtails and 4 juv Pied Wagtails and photo of newly fledged Reed Warbler and Female Mandarin.
As a matter of interest I cover 4km of river and the same of canal and apart from C/Goose goslings and Mallard there are no Moorhen or Coot chicks to be found on 8km of waterway.
The Reedbed Lagoon holds 3 Little Grebe,2moorhen and 3 Coot chicks an apalling yield for this amount of open water any thoughts. No young on the fishing Lake or the Ski Lake.

The next generation!

Check out the blog of our youngest local birder Dishfish, always a good read, some great shots and especially good to see we have such a keen youngster in our area!

Go to

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Eagle Owls Filmed Attacking Harriers

Chiffchaff with Deformed Bill

The Chiffchaff video that I posted on You Tube had a clip of a bird with, what looked like a deformed bill, ( ) or possibly a thorn sticking to the bill base. A recent reply from a Portugese birder suggests that these are gummed up feathers due to the bird feeding on nectar. The phenomenon has been observed in Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps feeding on Eucalyptus nectar. The Chiffchaff in question was filmed at EGP, I suspect, within days of it arriving here. Had this bird been feeding up on nectar prior to arriving here? SB reported tits feeding on Plum blossom Nectar recently, so this behaviour seems to be not that unusual.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Langfield and Gaddings Dam

Went to Langfield looking for Stonechat this morning. There were none, but I did come across a pair of adult Wheatears with 2 fledglings.

At Gaddings there were a few waders, not as many as Cold Edge of course, but 2 Redshanks, 3 Dunlin and 2 Common Sandpipers were a treat in the wind and rain. Also 9 Swifts over the dam and a pair of Mallards with 3 large ducklings.
On the way home I stopped off at Lee Dam to see if the 2 Little Grebes are still there, and they are.

Wheatley Valley

Wood Warbler still singing there this morning.

Cold Edge


7 waders sp. this morning - 2 Oystercatchers, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Dunlin, 2 Redshank, 2 Snipe, 6 Lapwings, 4 Curlew

Monday, June 07, 2010

Wood Warbler

Called in at Shroggs Road landfill site to see if I could see the Wood Warbler and eventually found it OK. When I first heard it, it was singing its "spinning coin" song, then after a few minutes it changed to the repeated, descending tiu tiu tiu tiu song for about a minute, then back again to the spinning coin routine.

Also Whitethroat, Blackcap and Willow Warblers present.

Great crested grebe

message from Tim Edge - Report of (Great) Crested Grebe on Hebble Brook below Dodgeholme Drive Mixenden morning of 26th May.

Scope - advice required

A friend of mine wants to spend about £150 on a spotting scope for his wife (no inappropraite comments please!). Any pointers, advice? He has seen a Selestron for £140 but given me no other details - worth a closer look?



Hobby over Halifax ?

A large swift shaped bird flew NW over King Cross St at 9.25 am today.

Only saw in silhouette but guessing a hobby.

Definitely not pigeon, crow or other raptor.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Cold Edge

Ringed Plover and Curlew this afternoon

6th June Roils Head

Had a short walk up to Roils Head this PM and had a male Blackcap singing (only the third one Ive ever had at this site). Also Willow Warblers carrying food and 3 Bullfinches present.

Wheatley Valley

Wood warbler still there singing and showing well at 7am just past the Dorlux factory
1 Green Woodpecker
1 Stock Dove >S
Also present Whitethroats, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Chiff-chaff and Willow Warbler all nearer the Brackenbed side of the landfill site

Saturday, June 05, 2010

5th June

Returned to Shroggs Road to try for the Wood Warbler again. Singing on arrival and showing well but very difficult to get a good photo.

Moved on to Cold Edge and had the first young Meadow Pipits of the year.

Water level still nice and low, 3 Dunlin, 2 Common Sands, Curlew, Lapwing. 4 male Reed Buntings, 1 carrying food, 1 carrying nest material and the other 2 singing. Also a Goosander present.

Friday, June 04, 2010

London Road 3 June

Walked on London Road looking for the possible Grasshopper Warbler that was reported by Sandra's son previously. No sighting but did hear lots of grasshoppers in the juncus. I see Dave S had Gropper over at Withens Clough yesterday so maybe the bird has flown the short distance from London Road over the hill to Withens Clough.

I did see something on London Road that had me reaching for the Collins.

Sorry about the fence post getting in the way, but it turned out to be a female Reed Bunting, and according to the guide... "A few (adult summer females) acquire more male-like head pattern". At least that's what I think it is. Any other thoughts?

Broadhead Clough

Walked through Broadhead Clough with Andy Huyton this morning looking for Redstart and Flycatchers. Grand sunny morning but only one target species seen, despite the habitat looking ideal.
Willow Warbler - 7
Blackcap - 3
Chiff Chaff - 2
Spotted Flycatcher
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker
Jay -2
Skylark and Curlew at the top of the clough by Erringden Moor
Grey Wagtail on Cragg Brook

4th June PM

My brother gave me a lift up to his gaff, so had a couple of hours birding nearby. 4 Ravens up together, 2 Buzzards, 1 Kestrel and a Cuckoo which perched in a tree 100yrds away. Once again my camera settings were all wrong but managed these two shots. Got my scope on the bird to try and get a digi scope shot but the bird flew off before I could get the small camera out.

3rd June a scarce bird in Calderdale

Out and about with SC. First stop Cold Edge-4 Redshank, 1 Dunlin, 1 Common Sandpiper, a few Curlew and Lapwings. Next went to see Dave's Wood Warbler, had just 5minites to see it and get some poor photos. The problem with a small greenish bird amongst a lot of green leaves is that the auto focus on the camera has difficulty picking the bird out and so most shots come out blurred. Wood Warbler is now a scarce sight in Calderdale, there have been no sightings this year so far from Hardcastle Crags a former strong hold.

Moved on to Withens Clough- 2 Cuckoos, 1 Kestrel, Redpoll, Green Woodpecker, Red Grouse and 5 Ravens. Finished off at Sunderland Pasture- Tawney Owl, 3 Song Thrush, 4 Redpoll, Reed Bunting, 1 Woodcock roding and a Grasshopper Warbler reeling on the way back down.

Wheatley Valley

1 Wood Warbler singing again this morning at the same site as yesterday

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Upland sites

also found two nest sites for these little birds

there was two red shank chicks running about i could not get them together

came across a pair of these trying to get me away from nest i left them to it

Broadhead Clough/Withens Clough

1 Spotted Flycatcher
3 Tree Pipits
1 Cuckoo

Wheatley Valley

1 Wood Warbler singing away this morning just after 9 am on the old landfill site up Shroggs Road in the first bit of shrubbery (willow/birch/alder etc) on the left just past B&Q and Dorlux.
SB confirmed it was still there at 12.35 and later on NCD took some photos so hopefully there will be some to post on the blog later on.

Also on the landfill site nearer Brackenbed a good number of warblers singing;
3 Whitethroat
1 Garden Warbler
c4 Blackcap
c4 Willow Warbler
2 Chiff-chaff

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Cold Edge and Fly Flats

Twite at Fly Flats
An interesting rock covered with a pattern of lichen(?)

Some fantastic clouds this afternoon at Dean Head
This morning - sorry I mssed you Niall (was that you at Fly Flats later on in the afternoon?)
8 wader sp.. coming in to bathe then off on to the moor
1 drake Teal
8 B H Gulls through >NW

Fly Flats
2 Oystercatchers
2 Common Sandpipers
1 Twite near the feeding station (rings - yellow over blue over pink on left leg)

Dean Head
2 Spotted Flycatchers
1 Red-legged Partridge heard

ID help please

I'm asking this question on behalf of my son who was out yesterday on the moor edge in Calderdale. He said "we heard a very loud continuous cricket sound coming out of a spongy reed bed". Not like anything they'd heard until earlier this evening when Simon King was listening to a churring nightjar! He said they discounted any type of warbler, lark or pipit. They eventually left with the sound still going on. Not a frog either.

Anyone any ideas?



Just had an email from Sean Johnston he apologies for not texting the news but his phone is knackered.

"Had Yellowhammer singing from adjacent Hawthorn, Pinfold(Penfold) next to Ringstone"

This evening!!!!!!!

Couple of Sites with Jeff Cox this pm

First of all has anybody ever looked up the valley (up crag road) which contains Spring Wood??

If not or even possibly if you have Jeff Cox and myself are to take a look later this week, would be good to know if anyone has tried it before.

Now on to today's sightings (exact sites omitted email for details):-

No sign of any Merlin which had been the main target bird.

The good news, 4 Common Sandpiper, 5 Tufted Duck, 6 Adult Greylag with 2 Young, 2 Oystercatcher with young, 1 Male Ring Ouzel going into nestsite, lots of Willow Warbler singing,
Tree pipit.

Cuckoo calling, very brief but possible Wood Warbler singing, Great Spotted Woodpecker at nest, Treecreeper and Nuthatch.

Only Raptor seen Kestrel male and 1 Little Owl.

In addition the other evening I had a Woodcock roding right over the house, does anyone know how large an area they patrol? I have seen them several times over the crags (only 2 fields away) but never over the house before!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Goosander photos

2 shots taken this morning and the last photo I took of the big brood on 27/05/2010


Saw a female with young in the distance Mon am and this morning found her close up with 7 young and these look about 4/5 days old, hope to post a photo later. A great 2010 for Calderdale Goosanders.


Cuckoo there yesterday evening from PJWS

Although Cuckoo numbers are still down on previous years, this year seems to have been a little bit better - although this could be down to the decent weather conditions this year to hear them!

BTO comments - Cuckoo was moved from the amber to the red list of UK Birds of Conservation Concern in 2009, in recognition of its continuing long-term population decline