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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Weather at its worst. Mixenden

After a total washout this morning I was hoping for a decent tea time session but this did,nt happen either. By 1430 hrs the fog had returned along with heavy drizzle on a NW 4 , this always happens when the temperatures rises at this time of year.
                                                                    To dodge below the cloud base I headed for Mixenden which was just on the lower edge of the cloud base but heavy drizzle and a sky as black as night.
For my rig today I took the 300 mm on the Canon 7d with a 2x converter in my pocket leaving Big Bertha at home in the conditions but I was only fooling myself as the light was,nt even good enough to get decent shots with the smaller lens.
                                                               The reservoir held around 50 small gulls on the east banking, these mainly being Black Headeds, along with 1 Cormorant amongst them on the banking with another diving on the water. A single f Goldeneye was way across in the NW corner with 2pr Mallards for company. Around 50 Starling dropped down into the plantation to roost and 2 Blue Tits were in the water side tree on by the boat slipway.
                                                                    Only 4 days before the winter solstice now when we slowly start getting our daylight back, these dark nights are depressing.

Sunday morning blues.

With what looked like a bright start first light with a nice red sky soon followed the saying, Red sky at morning, birders warning, and it was,nt long before the fog piled in over the tops along with some heavy rain.
                 Once again Id to abort Fly Flatts with the fog and still thick ice on the track and once again forced lower down to Ogden which was just below the cloud base with steady rain throughout and very dark conditions.
Once around the perimeter found nothing in the way of passerines other than Robins, Wrens and Blackbirds and the tit flock in its usual area failed to provide anything other than Blue, Great and Coal.
The water held about a dozen small gulls and the usual Mallards along with 1 Canada goose and that was about the size of it. Around 10%  of the water is still frozen in the NW corner whilst walking is treacherous . Hope it takes up for the late afternoon session but at the moment Queensbury is shrouded in thick fog.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Oats Royd.

I,ve just received a phone call to tell me the sad news that the owner of Oats Royd nature reserve John Steele has died suddenly which could threaten the future of this area. John built this reserve up from scratch over many years and it has always been a hot spot for spring migrants even though part of it has been rented off to an angling club.
                                                               Our condolences from all birders that use the area.

The frozen north.

        Nice winter plumage LBB for Ogden.

                               Out to dry
                                    Plenty squabbling in the bread feeding corner
                                                     Scrum down

Driving past Crow Point on the way back from Halifax at 1430 hrs a Great Black Backed gull flew over Ringby Top heading West along with at least 3 Herring gulls.
                                                               Home and shopping unloaded and arrived at Ogden at 1500 hrs with a real skid patch car park. Several cars were stuck just sliding on the sheet ice but managed to get through and parked up after a few nail biting moments.
The weather was very grey with a cool SW>4 but temperatures beginning to rise and the sun even made a brief appearance as it was setting.
                                                                A single LBB gull was the only gull of interest, the rest being Commons and Black Headeds but entertaining to watch the gulls and Mallards in the feeding corner when someone started throwing bread in causing a real commotion.
                                                                 The Dipper was back in the sluice gate  along with a Pied Wagtail whilst a Green Woodpecker was calling from the trees by the Lodge house.
Again a few Herring gulls over >SW at last light with 11 Chaffinch in the car park trees which will hopefully pull in Brambling in the new year.
                                                                       A text this morning from DW reporting 12 Fieldfare dropping into the Partridge field down Old Guy Road this morning, a good sighting with not many winter thrushes showing in the area. Thanks for that Dave.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Ogden on ice.

                                 Male Goosander taking off from the water.

                          Away >NE for the Oxenhope roost

                                           5 Canadas present

                                         Edge of darkness, Big Bill over, Heron.

A much better late afternoon session at Ogden with clear blue frosty skies and a nice sunset on a light >NW4 although walking was treacherous with sheet ice all along the promenade and around the track which is made worse with 2 dogs tethered to your belt and dragging you along.
                                                       As soon as I arrived a drake Goldeneye was leaving the water but unfortunately left fast and low to the >NW shortly followed by a male Goosander which luckily this bird flew a circuit before heading off NE. A pair of Teal were under the NW banking , a favourite spot for them, whilst arond 30 small gulls were on the water along with a few soaring up above.
                                                      Five Canada geese were just offshore from the east bank watch point but left at last light for Mixenden.
                                                                  Back at the car park the flock of mixed Goldfinch  and Chaffinches had risen to around 30 birds but very mobile finally settling in the trees above the top car park . As I was tackling up Herring gulls started coming over very high and >SW with a total of around 40 and as I was ready to roll right on the edge of darkness a Heron came low over the top of the car too close to get it in the frame.
A pleasing three quarters of an hour.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The pilgrimage continues.

A 1500 hrs check on the water at Ogden in rain, sleet and snow driven horizontally over the water on a W>5 but a slight rise in temperature and all on the off chance that something may have appeared on the water. With very little daylight left and a boggy track around the water ,not wanting to bath the dogs, I stuck to the promenade and overflow areas where I could scan both the water and the sky.
                                                                 Around 40 gulls were out on the water, 75% Black Headed and 25% Common with Black Headeds still coming in until last light before heading off to the Oxenhope roost.
A single Cormorant was on the water before circling round and heading off in the usual roost direction of >NE.
                          A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over towards Mixenden along with 4 Greenfinch which are a bit unusual for this venue.
After a quick word with JL it was back to the car park area to check the treetops but with the rain getting heavier now there were no passerines showing.
A good passage of Herring gulls was obvious over the village this morning all >NW along with 2 Great Black Backed.
                                                               A check on Raggalds Flood on the way home found it still well frozen over but there will be a good expanse of water come the thaw.
A report today from Skipton Gordon was interesting with a Green Sandpiper showing well at Long Preston.
Apologies to Vicki J for the late grapevine message of 20 Lapwing over the Piece Hall in Halifax today. The message got delayed coming through for some reason, probably frostbite in my phone.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Back to the winter venue, Ogden.

1500 hrs and a temporary lull in the days rain giving me the last 30 minutes of daylight before a heavy sleet then snow shower passed over just as I was leaving.
                                                      I tend to use Ogden at this time of year, partly because of the early loss of light , being only 5 minutes from home, and partly because this is the time of year when Ogden can produce winter wildfowl and gulls on the water as it did this morning with DJSs Great Black Backed Gull.
                              By the time I arrived most of the gulls had gone off to roost leaving around 30 Black Headed and 15 Commons. One gull was on its own near the far north banking  which put Kittiwake in my mind but studying the distant photos back I home I put it to Black Headed with its plumage well puffed up in the cold or possibly an unwell bird but before I left I checked and it had moved on.
               The Dipper was down in the sluice gate area with plenty Jackdaws down there but no sign of the speckled bird.  The feeders had 8 Robins feeding on the deck along with 5 Dunnock and a few Great Tits whilst around 20 Goldfinch were in the car park trees but no Chaffinch.
                                                              A birder I spoke to on the promenade remarked on an area of the west bank where there were lots of broken pieces of pine cones on the track and wondered if they could have been caused with Crossbills which is possible but I think more likely Squirrels.
                                                                   Todays rain has finally shifted most of the snow up here on the tops so hopefully Fly Flatts will be back in action by Sunday morning.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A milder session at Ogden but less birds.

                                    Sparrowhawk high overhead.

1500 hrs at Ogden found it milder at 1 deg opposed to yesterdays minus 1 but the W>4 raised the chill factor and still no sign of a thaw.
                                                          The usual 2nd winter Herring gull was out on the water along with around 50 small gulls, mainly BHGs, other than that the water was void of birds, apart from the Mallards of course. Light was fading fast as I found out when a Sparrowhawk flew high overhead and I quickly snapped it on settings I,d used 10 minutes earlier and now it was completely under exposed.
            Only time now to walk to passerine alley and back with just 1 Jay, 5 Blackbirds and several Robins with 6 Robins under the feeders. No sign of the Moorhen tonight but the Grey Wagtail was down by the sluice gate.
                                      Again several Goldfinch in to roost and an encouraging 8 Chaffinch in the car park trees.
A birder that watches my blog, whom I bumped into on the promenade quizzed me about some areas I mention on the blog with strange sounding and often made up names ,such as passerine alley etc.
If anyone wants any info on things of this nature please dont hesitate to either e mail, text me or use the comment box and I,ll be only too happy to help.
No word from the vets about the BH gull as yet but Lauren is going to let me know the outcome.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Ogden at tea time and a bird in a box!

 Always good to see Grey Wagtails

        The Moorhen was a little braver today

           Up to 5 active Bullfinch in the glare of the sun through
            the trees.

1500 hrs and back to Ogden, this being the nearest venue with the most time to watch caused by the early lack of light.
An icy cold minus 1 deg but bright blue skies with the sun already below the tree tops and heavy freezing on the north of the water.
                                       The Moorhen had ventured into the duck feeding corner for some easy food along with a Grey Wagtail which usually sticks to the sluice gate area.
Out on the water were around 50 small gulls and 3 Herrings whilst at least 5 Bullfinch were active through passerine alley.
A female Teal flushed from the waters edge by the west bank watch point and headed straight across to the east banking.
                             Plenty Goldfinch in to roost this evening but no Chaffinch.

Bird in a box.
                       A young lady ( Lauren ) rang me this morning from Illingworth saying she had found a racing pigeon near the Keighley Rd which seemed to have injured legs. The bird had a leg ring so I rang Dave, a customer that races pigeons and he gave me the number for the British Racing Pigeon Society who would supply the owners contacts.
                                                                            Lauren rang them but the bird was unregistered so she brought it in a box to the garage for Dave to pick up and attend to it,
Imagine my surprise when I opened the box to find this :-

 Thats no racing pigeon, thats a Black Headed Gull.
 Number Green J9M4  right leg
Silver metal ring 6233828 Stavenger N Norway, left leg.

  Needless to say, Dave would,nt take it to his pigeon loft.

Another call to Lauren who had contacted Hirds vets who said if possible they would treat it, this service is free for wild birds etc, so its in their hands now. To me the outlook is grim as its legs appear to be broken, possibly being frozen to the ground overnight and struggling to get free in the morning ?  Thanks to Lauren for her concern who just needs to brush up on her bird I.D.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Ogden phase 2, last light

                                            1st winter Common gull
           Moorhen creeping through the undergrowth
                                    1st winter bird.
         Not a common species for Ogden

1430 hrs and a visit to Redcar Tarn was aborted due to fog over the hills and snow falling with threatening looking skies so again back to Ogden.
                                                           On arrival the snow was falling heavy on an increasing E>4 so I planned a quick check of the water then home before the roads got bad but fortunately the snow eased to a steady dusting throughout so managed a full session.
                                                         As I was walking down the hill by the info centre 2 Goldeneye were flying low over the promenade towards Mixenden but, as with the Shelduck this morning, I could,nt say whether they had come off the water or not..
A walk on the east bank as far as the watch point and back produced little in the way of passerines other than the usual stuff so I concentrated on the south end.
                                                           An unusual find for here was a first year Moorhen skulking under the SE banking before later taking to the water. Ive had several one off sightings for most months of the year of a single Moorhen but always very elusive,
                                                        A good count of Common gulls were on the water with 27 in amongst around 40 BHGs and a single adult Herring gull whilst 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers flew into trees near the north end of the car park.
Good news as I got back to the car when 7 Chaffinch dropped into their usual pre roost tree at the side of the car park so there may be a chance of Brambling yet.

Ogden first light.

                                       A snowy west bank

                                    Very little visibility over the water
                                    Frozen water , north end
                                           From the watch point
                                               These two enjoyed it
                                         Passerine alley.
                                  Around 30 BH gulls
                                     The sluice gate area
  Good count of Mallards for the winter.

With thick fog and bad road conditions Ogden was the only local option this morning so arrived at a late 0830hrs waiting for the daylight . A thick mist was hanging over the area so only half way out on the water was visible but satisfied that nothing was out there after a full walk around the perimeter.
                                                              A lucky break when Pippa started growling and as I looked up at the Squirrel that had caught her eye in passerine alley 5 Shelduck flew silently over >NE and disappeared over the trees in seconds. But for Pippa and the Squirrel I,d have missed them completely. I dont think they had come off the water as the wind was calm other than a slight E>3 so I would probably have heard them lift off.
                                                             Checking out the Tit flock found on the west bank it comprised of Blue,Great, Coal but no Long Tailed. Also present were 4 Goldcrest amongst them.
Looks like a year without Siskin, Redpoll , Brambling and Chaffinch flock with no banking of weeds to invite them in.
A good count of 18 Robins around the water, some resident birds very tame whilst several timid continental jobs. A good show of Blackbirds, again possibly continentals, along with Mistle thrush and plenty Magpies.
                             A count of around 160 Mallard around the feeding corner all in for easy food for winter whilst the seed feeders were busy with the usual species.
                                                              All in all a good morning and the frozen snow meant I didnt need to wash the mud off the dogs as I got home.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Snow disrupts birding.

           A snow and icy walk to work this morning
              Grit wagons are obsolete in Queensbury
                                         The icy route into Colditz.

A day of freezing temperatures and snow showers with no sign of a thaw.
                                                         Late afternoon and getting ready for my daily birding fix when the snow started coming down in flakes the size of half crowns quickly covering the roads and putting a stop to me driving anywhere. Plan " B " was harness up the team and walk through the snow covered fields to Old Guy Road although I had to carry the pup most of the way as the snow was deeper than him.
                          It was getting near last light and the fog was now creeping in so most of the gulls had left the fields and headed to roost leaving just a few Commons and Black Headeds which soon followed suit and moved on.
All quiet down Old Guy Rd and on the cricket field other than a few Corvids and 1 Pied Wagtail but as I got lower down the road 6 Snipe flew low over me and dropped down into DWs Partridge field not to be seen again. Obviously a roosting area for them.
                              If the forecasters are right about tomorrow, which will be unusual for them, its not looking good for the morning session but we,ll see what happens when we open the curtains in the morning but I,ll be up early and raring to go if at all possible. As my old Grandmother used to say,
" Thas plenty time for liggin i bed when thas deard ".