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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Ringby Top

A better afternoon when I attacked Ringby Top 1400-1515 hrs with a mild WNW> 5 and a mixture of grey skies and sunshine.
The area was heaving with birds but nothing out of the ordinary though enough to keep me active checking through them. A flock of around 30 Meadow Pipits were in a field near the summit but a good check through them failed to get me a Bunt or Lark. One of the Mipits stood out with a very bright supercillium but everything else on it checked out to be just a Mipit.
                                                                     Around 100 Common gulls were moving around the fields and gliding over the ridge along with the usual high number of Corvids whilst a steady westward movement of Herring gulls was apparent. Otherwise it was down to decent flocks of Starling and Fieldfare also feeding in the fields. A check of the quarry failed to find a winter Linnet flock but a good mixed flock of Green and Goldfinch were in trees by the Swalesmoor swimming baths.
                                                                  Another kerb crawl through Moorclose on the way home failed to produce the Waxwings and a text from CK who had given the area a good coat of looking at today found the same although he got a bonus with a Sparrowhawk. Thanks for the text Chris.
A report from blog watcher Adrian Barber reported 5 Waxwings in Tescos car park, Canal Rd Bradford today.  Thanks for that Adrian. By 1600hrs tonight the numbers had risen to 70, Keith Moir.

Ogden/ Mixenden etc.

            Mixenden Goldeneye, 1m  3f.
  Very flighty keeping at distance
 Too dark and wet for big lens, all taken at 300mm.

A very dark, windy and wet morning on arrival at Ogden 0815 hrs with treacherous walking where the rain had washed the snow off leaving shot ice.
A check of the water for Goldeneye found just the usual small gulls and Mallards and being so dull it was pointless looking for passerines so off to Mixenden.
                                                                               Mixenden was slightly lighter but grey with heavy rain throughout on a stiff WNW>5 though some shelter could be found on the west shoreline.
1 male and 3 female Goldeneye were present on the water along with 9 Mallard but the Gt Crested Grebe had moved on since yesterday.   The Goldeneye were very flighty always keeping to the opposite side of the water even when I was stood in the trees on the west shore.
A small flock of 5 Goldcrest were in trees on the waters edge along with 2 Wrens and a Robin.
                                                                               Around 20 Common and 30 Black Headed gulls were on the water whilst 1 LBB dropped in briefly and 5 Herring gulls headed >SW overhead.
                                                                                 Raggalds Flood was still frozen over whilst around 40 Lapwings were on the hillside field above the Raggalds and 18 Common gulls were on the cricket pitch down Old Guy Road.  No sign of the Moorclose Waxwings as I drove through on the way home. Getting some strange looks from residents now with so many drive throughs, they think Im a kerb crawler.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

An odd sort of day.

My plans for my late afternoon session today were Mixenden for the 3 Goldeneye then call at Soil Hill to get some seed down now that a thaw and rain are expected.
That was until DJS text me saying the Goldeneye had just left Mixenden and heading towards Ogden.
I suspected that if they were staying local they would go on to Oxenhope rather than Ogden but, despite the thoughts of it being busy, I,d give it a try.
                                                                    As I got to the bottom of Ned Hill the road was packed with cars meaning that Ogden was overloaded and peering through the bins traffic was grid locked at Ogden Lane. A quick 3 point turn and back to Soil Hill with 2 good bags of Nyjer which will hopefully bring things back with a thaw and rain due at some point tomorrow. My 5 feeding areas now well topped up it was back to the car  without seeing 1 species, as expected, even the sky was empty, then off to Moorclose road to try to catch up to yesterdays Waxwings.
                                                                  A text from a blog watcher ,Danny, this morning that lives in the area reported saying that he had 6 Waxwings in his garden at Stonehouse Drive which is just behind yesterdays sighting spot but despite a search by NK and DW nothing was found.
As I drove on Moorclose Road at 1530 hrs the Waxwings were present right on the junction with Stonehouse Drive along with around 30 Starling but were dropping down into back gardens and out of sight. No berry trees are showing so they must be feeding off garden Cotoneasters which can make them difficult to spot.
Looking like a morning of higher temperatures and showers tomorrow but at least it will shift the snow.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday 13th but lucky for Queensbury. Waxwings.

           Bit of a sparse looking berry tree
              House Sparrow getting in on the act.

                  Still Christmas in Queensbury

On the way back from a Brighouse shopping spree I received a text from DJS reporting 2 Waxwings
seen by a relation of his in Queensbury 2 minutes away from my house round Moorclose Road.
A detour to the address given failed to find anything but just around the corner a few doors away 6 Waxwings flew over the road settling in a pine tree above a garden with a nearly bare berry bush.
A great find for local Waxwings although slightly embarrassing when a birder from Lee Mount has to inform me of birds 2 minutes from my house.  Many thanks for the call Dave.
                                                                A quick call to NK to inform DW who also lives a few minutes away ,then another visit to the site on my way to Ogden . On arrival the birds were still present with DW snapping away merrily, see his high quality pics on NKs blog. Unfortunately the home owner whos tree they were in arrived home slamming his car door and flushing the birds which moved back towards their earlier location with DW hot on their heels and I left for Ogden.
                                                                       The sun was still up as I went on Perseverance road but with plenty snow lying it was pointless hoping for something on Soil Hill so on to Ogden for a flying visit. No sign of yesterdays Little Grebe but the water was very rough which made viewing poor,
otherwise it was just down to the usual small gulls and Mallards and still no sign of Goldeneye.
                                                                  The trees by the car park held around 30 Goldfinch with a few Chaffinch in amongst.
Hopefully with Waxwings now searching the gardens there,s a chance for my half cut apples stuck on the trees in my garden to tempt some down.
Passing Lane Head Brighouse today the berry trees were stripped bare although there,s a garden nearby on the roadside with a hedge full of berries that has attracted them in previous years.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Testing the waters., Ogden/Mixenden/ Cold Edge/Fly Flatts/Raggalds Flood.

            Plenty snow for Queensbury.  Foxhill Park

                                   Pippa enjoying the snow
                                                         one for Vicki
                                                           The team
                                    Mixenden in the snow

                                                      Time to move
                                   Mixy in between snow showers
                                               Distant Gt Crested Grebe on Mixy
                          Collared Dove, Cold Edge Dam
                   Cold Edge Chaffinch and Goldfinch flock

With an afternoon free but hampered with the snow I though it was a good time to check some local waters after the gales for Grebes, Divers and Kittiwakes or any other wildfowl come to that.
                                                              Ogden was the first port of call where I just had time to sift through the gulls and spot a Little Grebe at the north end from the prom before a snow blizzard appeared from the west blanking out the area, time to move on.
                                                               Next stop Mixenden reservoir where again I checked out the gulls out on the water along with a Gt Crested Grebe but no sign of DJSs Goldeneye which I believe has been in the area a while now. Again the snow appeared thick and fast so away again to the next location, Fly Flatts.  Strangely Fly Flatts ,being in the most exposed area remained dry although the road up there was a bit exciting, especially when you,re looking for birds and not watching where you are going.
                                                               After a disappointing visit here and running out of time I thought I may as well call at Cold Edge Dams to check out the geese in the fields, except there was,nt any and nothing on the dams.  A good flock of Chaffinch and Goldfinch were down the lane possibly visiting a garden feeder which was out of sight.
                                                                       Raggalds Flood was frozen over whilst the Lapwing flock were in the Raggalds field at the top of the Bonnet.

82 Mallard
c  120 small gulls   80 % Black Headed
1 Little Grebe
1 Kingfisher

c50 Small gulls  70% Commons
1 Gt Crested Grebe
3 Mallard
1 Herring gull >SW

Fly Flatts
5 Mallard
c20 Carrion Crow

Cold Edge Dams
10 Chaffinch
4 Goldfinch
2 Collared Doves
3 BH gulls

Raggalds Flood
2 Lapwing
4 Common gull

Raggalds field
73 Lapwing
1 Pied Wagtail

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Tha she blows !! Ogden/ Soil Hill pm.

                            Riding the waves at Ogden

                                                 High seas

                                   White Horses across the water

Overnight severe gales causing quite a bit of damage up here in Queensbury but easing, first to gale force and down to near gale by last light although it did,nt feel like it when I was out on the hut roof repairing the felting that had been ripped off during the night.
A large mature tree in Foxhill Park had been uprooted and was half way across the Brighouse /Denholme road. The tree had been there for ever and one I used to climb as a lad many moons ago but with the ground being so waterlogged and the westerly wind up to storm force 10 down it came.
If anyone is short of a wheelie bin there are hundreds scattered around the village.
                                                            1430 hrs and a Kittiwake check at Ogden where the water was like the north sea with a high swell and white horse breakers which did,nt seem to bother the gulls.
Plenty photos taken of around 100 small gulls and studied back home on the computer but nothing other than Common and Black Headed.
All the Mallard were lined up under the north banking out of the wind whilst the Kingfisher was down by the sluice gate.
                                                         On the way back I dropped another hugging of Nyjer seed off at my 3 feeding points on Soil Hill in case the  predicted snow stops the job but far too windy for anything to show other than a flock of around 100 Starling in the mast field along with a few Fieldfare. This coincided with a large flock of around 150 Starling at the top of Taylor lane, around 100 on Syke lane and near on 200 on the Pit lane pitches.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Second soaking of the week and its only Tuesday.

With some parole due mid afternoon I decided to give the hill a break and visit Ogden, or that was until DJS text me to say he had done Ogden and it was very quiet, looks like its back to Soil Hill again.  By the time I was free at 1430 hrs the mist had dropped shrouding the hill in fog so back to plan A , Ogden.
The weather was worsening by the minute with horizontal drizzle piling across the water on a strengthening WNW>5 and mist above the tree tops with the drizzle finally giving way to heavy rain, lovely.
A check on the sluice gate for the Kingfisher didnt produce but a second check after a circuit of the water found it way down in the bottom on a pipe and barely visible in the conditions.
                                                                A clockwise walk round the perimeter found the usual Blackbirds, Robins, Wrens and Dunnocks with just 2 Goldcrest and 1 pair of Bullfinch but there had been plenty disturbance with the quad bike ploughing the track up to a boggy mess to put old Christmas trees around the edges. Seems a shame to me that they were chopped down in the first place for the sake of two weeks then dumped. You can,t beat our plastic one which I stick back in the box until next year, Scrooge ! who, me ?
                                                             The water held around 100 small gulls,80% BHG and 20% Commons along with one LBB gull, most of which ended up squabbling over a loaf of brown bread thrown in by a bread lobber. Mallards counted at 78 which is low but several seem to head off towards Mixenden to roost. All todays Mallards were seeking shelter at the northern end of the water.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Soil Hill is bouncing back

  Newcomer to the hill. Putting this as female Reed Bunt
           or early winter male.
            Male Reed Bunt in late winter plumage

                        Fieldfare and Starling mix


1430 hrs on Soil Hill was wet to say the least. I arrived just at the same time as a torrential rain, hail, sleet and snow shower which lasted 15 minutes which was ample time to give me a reet good soaking. After that the sun appeared on a fresh W>5 until the next shower hit.
Despite that the birding was good with a new arrival to the seed making 3 Reed Buntings present now, the newcomer being a female or early winter plumaged male but I have,nt got enough on it as yet as the 3 were very mobile.
                                                 Two Skylarks were present along with 3 Meadow Pipits whilst 5 Fieldfare moved around with a dozen Starling.
A Common Snipe flushed from the west summit and a cock Pheasant scared the living daylights out of me letting me nearly stand on it before it screamed up out of the long grass.
                                                   No repeat of yesterdays Snow Bunting , which incidentally, to save confusion, was a definite and not a possible as reported on D Brothertons blog yesterday, but with Reed buntings being drawn in to the Nyjer there,s every chance of a repeat, especially as the winter weather moves in later in the week.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Snow Bunting for Soil Hill

This was Ogden this a.m.

                                    Fog creeping in
                                       Blank out from the promenade

Thick fog in Queensbury this a.m. but on arrival at Ogden it was surprisingly clear and calm being just below the cloud base but within 15 minutes the fog came in thick and fast cutting visibility down to a few yards so the watch had to be aborted.
Luckily through the day the wind increased to W>4 clearing the fog leaving a decent afternoon with the mist hanging on the horizons.
1430 hrs and up to Soil Hill in pleasant conditions and about 10 miles visibility.
Doing my usual circuit a Reed Bunting was my first bird on the nyjer seed on the east summit then as I got to my 3rd feeding area a small bird dashed between two tufts of grass making me believe it would be the second Reed Bunting which is usually in the area.
                                                                  The first rule of birding is never take anything for granted which I broke by lifting my bins to find a Snow Bunting. If only I,d have lifted my camera instead I would have got a shot at it and no second chance with this bird. It immediately flushed gaining height heading >NW but then started to turn making me think it was doing a circuit to return to the area but instead it continued to head off >W gaining height all the time and flying high over the head of Dan Branch who was on the west summit. As I watched it flying towards the Causeway Foot col a second bird joined it but by now it was too great a distance to i.d. the second bird but they flew together over the col and towards the wind farm. Snow Buntings are usually more confining and stay in the area but this, or these, were well on their way.
After the excitement of this I went on to get the usual 2 Stock Doves plus 3 Meadow Pipit, 1 Skylark, 1 Kestrel on the mast, 110 Lapwing >W and 4 Herring gull >SW as well as a variety of LBB and small gulls heading for the Oxenhope roost.
At least this proves that Snow Buntings are about and the hill still has the attraction to pull them in.

                                                          Kestrel on the mast

                                                Meadow Pipit
                                                     Herring gulls
                                                Skulking Mipit

                                                            Herring gulls
                                                    Lapwings >W