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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Good news on the Caspian then another stonker at Fly Flatts

Got the thumbs up today on the Caspian gull from gull expert Mick Cunningham who sent a lengthy explicit reply on the bird but had a slight issue with bill length and head shape possibly moving it towards Caspian/Herring hybrid but after checking more pics he put that down to the angle of the photos in flight so a new bird for Calderdale. Thanks to Mick Cunningham , Nick Dawtrey and David Crawshaw for their expertise  and everyone else involved.
                                                           With that sorted we can move on to todays highlight again at Fly Flatts and again a first for Calderdale.
                                                         1430 hrs and on arrival  it was one of those days where the conditions were ideal with a smell of birds as soon as I got out of the car.
100% light grey sky with slight dampness carried on a SE>4-5 and decent visibility.
Walking along the west bank I started with a few Red Grouse and the 2 Barnacles on the water but soon the sky started to liven up with Herring gulls moving over very high and >SW whilst Cormorants were moving dead opposite heading very high and >NE.
By the end of the watch I ,d had 25 Herrings and 11 Cormorant along with several Mipits >SW and a Bunting sp. that I had to let go as it was in silhouette and distant with no call but it looked like it could have been interesting.
                                           By now I was at the NW corner of the water checking for Snow Bunts in the conduit and as I scanned to the SW for any more Cormorants what I thought was a Little Egret was heading towards me but fairly high heading >NE. As it got closer it got bigger and bigger and as I was blasting away with Big Bertha I could see its long black legs through the lens. The bristles on the back of my neck stood up as I realized it was Great Egret.
                                                         With Caspian gull Monday and Great Egret Wednesday I expected wakening up anytime to go to work and it was all a dream. Boy am I in for a big downer when this stretch of luck runs out and Im back to looking at empty skies.
                                                    Its ironic that this is my hat trick with firsts for Calderdale, the first one being Little Egret, then Caspian and finishing with Great Egret. Only Cattle Egret to get now, better start checking the fields.

                         It dont get better than this.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Yesterdays Caspian Gull , a Wigeon for Raggalds Flood and back to Fly Flatts.

  The Caspian came in low over the water. Note hooked bill

 Then gained height rapidly heading SW down the valley
 Photos not the best as no time to use tripod so hand held
 in a gale force wind.

 This bird is now down on my records as a first winter
Caspian gull. Note milky white under wings, slender bill
and bullet hole eye.

 Several e mails, texts and comments in agreement, none against.

A cracking bird and surprisingly a first for Calderdale even though there have been several sightings in Bradford area just over the ridge.
Many thanks to all those who took the interest to contact me on this bird.

 A pit stop at Raggalds Flood to get JLs Wigeon
 This is probably the same female that has been around Ogden
and Fly Flatts the last couple of weeks.

      A nice find John, well spotted.
 A few Mipits sheltering at Fly Flatts
            1 of 3 distant Stonechat.

A quick stop off at Raggalds Flood 1500 hrs to snap JLs Wigeon then on to Fly Flatts again
                                                        Fly Flatts was not a nice place to be today with dark black clouds and an icy cold W>6 to near gale force 7 which made it feel worse than yesterdays gale foce but warm SW >7 gusting 8.
A strange thing this birding, its taken me 50 years to get a Fly Flatts Caspian gull then I went expecting another today, in my dreams. Very little about with a pair of Tufted on the water, several Mipits blogging, 3 distant Stonechats, 1 Peregrine low over the moor and 3 Kestrels up hovering.
                                                              The last 30 minutes spent sky watching provided nothing other than Jackdaws and Carrion Crows. Hopefully tomorrows promised Easterlies will bring in the winter thrush rush.

Monday, October 16, 2017

An interesting day.

          Skein of 44 Pinkies over Foxhill, Queensbury midday.

                  Did anybody see the sun 1330 hrs

                 These shots taken in Brighouse, wierd

                              Plastic sails and men of steel.
                Wild water, Fly Flatts
                         A North sea swell

                                       White horses
   The only gull present which looked a bit of an odd ball to me.
         It had a brilliant white head and jet black bill

           Something looked odd about it. To be investigated further

                                  Storm clouds to the west

The first light sky this morning looked like a vis miggers dream but 30 minutes later the fog rolled in up here in the gods remaining until after midday. One bright moment was HC reporting a Snow Bunting and Fieldfares over his Oxenhope watch point.
                                                                                   After lunch a dog walk up Foxhill park proved interesting with the fog just starting to lift. As I got in the park I immediately heard Pinkies but could see nothing in the low cloud base. Out with the bridge camera ready but thinking Id no chance as I suspected them going west. Then it all went wrong.! I have Pippa on a long training lead as she likes to run after a ball. As I was still trying to pick up the geese I kicked the ball and off she sped but I had,nt unravelled all the lead so she ran out of rope which jerked my hands flying the camera up in the air and landing in the long wet grass. Of course you know what happened next, thats right, 44 Pinkies over my head just in the edge of the cloud base. I grabbed the camera, quickly wiped the water off the lens on my sleeve and just managed to get a couple of snaps.
                                                       Next off was a shopping trip to Brighouse with an amazing red ball sun burning through the fog eventually turning yellow.
Out with the camera again to get some shots of this unusual sight. This was on the main street in Brighouse so everyone started looking up to see what I was taking and when I looked around about 20 people had their phones out taking the red ball, funny how people dont notice things like this.
How embarrassing Lynda said!.
                                                 Late afternoon and up to Fly Flatts with clear skies and a strong SW>6
increasing to near gale force > 7 gusting >8 with very little bird life but fascinating to watch the water and the hardy windsurfers nearly breaking the sound barrier as they sped across the waves and no brakes either.
Several Mipits were along the west banking where I was hoping for a Snow Bunting or Shorelark, both of which I,ve had before here but many years ago.
                                                  Otherwise it was just 3 Kestrels, 4 Red Grouse and a single LBB gull over the water which I was,nt happy with as it just did,nt look right somehow with a bright white narrowish face and very dark bill. Probably just me expecting something better in the conditions but something I,ll be looking into.
                                             If you,re still awake thanks for reading this long and odd blog to the end.