Thursday, 23 January 2014


So I finished a 40 min session of revision at around 11.45 and turned around to find a beautiful male sparrowhawk sat on in the tree outside my room preening itself. I could not believe my eyes. I made for the camera to get some shots and it did not even flinch. In fact after a few minuets of me taking photos of it in the tree it flew down and landed on the flat roof below my window and started to paddle for about 10 minuets. There are no words for a chance experience like this. I was able to see it clumsily waddle through the water, have a poo and drink all from my bedroom window, less than 5 meters away from me. Absolutely incredible! The only downside is that because my photos were taken through my window they have not come out as well as I would have liked, but that is only a minor issue...


Monday, 20 January 2014

Broomhead Reservoir

The day had come...
After a whole month being at home, watching and waiting on the two barred Crossbills, I myself could finally go and see them. Of course I could have gone to see them before Christmas, but the reser seemed further away than it actually was so diddnt bother. Then over Christmas I realised it was much closer, but had to endure the wait to see if they would still be around for me.
  I tried to set off as early as possible to try and get the Iceland gull before it left the roost, but it had gone when I arrived, which was about 9.00. I had caught two buses to get there and now had a trek to actually get to Broomhead.
  There was a very thick frost the night before so everything was very still and cold for my walk, but the sky was blue and there were birds about as I arrived, which made things look very promising indeed
  The first reser on the way up had quiet a few things on it, Cormorant, Great Crested Grebe, Mallards, Moorhens and the like, and the woods around had a few things around; mixed tit flock, robins, pheasants and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over which was nice to see.
-Broomhead Reservoir

  Moving on up I made it to the edge of Broomhead reser. Everything was very still and the only birds on the reser were a pair of cormorants and a pair of goosander. I continued wandering round the area where the crossbills were meant to be but had no luck. However I did bump into a few other birders and they told me of the birds' favorite haunts.
  I had no luck though, with only a brief glimpse and call from a common crossbill my only lead. After a while though some other birders managed to track down a large flock of around 50 common crossbills. No two barreds though. But I have only ever seen common crossbills once before so I was well choughed by this point. There was also a lovely male siskin with them, and a female bullfinch nearby.
  Sadly they flew off before I got the camera out for some record shots. The next hour was spent wandering round looking for where they had gone, for even though there were no two barred in there, it seemed the best chance off finding them. I also wanted a record shot of a common crossbill.
  At 12 o'clock I returned to the spot where they were meant to be and after a quick look spotted a small group of crossbills feeding in silence in the larches. My bins are rubbish and I could not catch them with the scope so I had no idea if there were any two barreds or not due to the sun  being behind them.
  However, another birder came up after about 5 mins, and after a few mins looking he confirmed that there were indeed two barred crossbills in the group, and then managed to find one in the scope. After a while they came down a little and I was able to get a decent view, even without the bins. Within the flock there were 4 males and 3 females, or so I was told, as I could not really get to grips with them due to the silhouettes and poor bins. I did manage some shots, but they were very poor, enough though to put in this blog for my retirement to look back on...

-Two Barred Crossbills

  I spent about half an hour watching them feed before some dog came and scared them off. Its not nice when it ends like that, but I decided it was probably a good sign to get heading back, as I still had revision to be getting on with and that would not wait. Its my intention to get back up once my exams are finished, so hopefully they will stick around. Watch this space!
  So, a review. What can I say, its the first time I have properly seen common Crossbill and the first time ever for two barred, now the 4th rarest bird I have ever seen. I eventually got some great views though they were sadly cut short, but they were well worth the trek and bus fare. Hopefully I will be able to get back at some point

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Ladybower Reservoir

  So yesterday ended my month stay at home and the return to my uni accommodation, where I would be welcomed by exams and continued revision. However, on the way back, instead of going straight there we decided to make a detour into the peak district for a walk and a meal.
  For the walk we went to Ladybower reservoir, though it was packed it being a Sunday and all. There was not really much going on except at the feeding station at the visitor center. Here there were large flocks of coal tits, chaffinches, great and blue tits but also about 7 rather bold siskins in striking plumage all at one feeder. They were great to watch because I could get so close to them.

  But aside from them there was not much else going on. Except while we were driving to the reser we drove over the moors and I spotted 2 red grouse, so I can safely add them to my year-list now.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Soil Hell

The weather has picked up recently, now that I have started revision for my January exams. I did however decided to get some fresh air and  birding by making the short trek to soil hill for a little while. The top was completely dead! Sometimes I have written 'there were no birds' for hyperbole, because it sounds more committed that way, when actually there are some crows or gulls overhead.
  Today there was nothing, as in actually nothing. I was gutted. On the way up however I had a little more luck with some feildfares and redwings in the field behind our house, the first time we have recorded redwings there I recall. On the way down I rounded a corner and spooked a female sparrowhawk of a gatepost, but it came back round before flying off so I got some good views of her, my first this year.
  So overall it was not that bad, but there was a disappointing lack of birds.

Monday, 6 January 2014

A Continuation

So after I had finished dipping on the scaup I moved into phase 2 of my day, that of the Great Northern Diver at Sandy Lane GP in Mirfield. This involved more trekking than my mornings birding but fortunately it was worth it.
  I arrived at the site, looked over the wall and thought to myself 'where could it be in these lakes'. The answer was right in front of me, it was sat in the middle of the lake, looking completely uncaring. I spent a good hour watching it before the weather really turned. I was able to get some incredible views of it through the scope, and often there was not need for the scope you could see it so clearly. It was well worth the extortionate bus fares for sure.

  There were other birds at the site:
-1 Grey Wagtail
-1 GC Grebe
-2 Mute Swans
-Tufted Ducks
-Canada Geese
-Black Headed Gulls
-1 Grey Heron

The GND was more than ample compensation for dipping on the scaup. It looked stunning in its adult plumage and it was great to be able to watch it hunting in the lake. I was worried it would not be there, since I had failed to check for updates the day before, but I had no need to, which is just as well, all things considered...

Elland GP

-Bullfinch Males
So, I headed down to Elland GP this morning with the intention of finally getting a scaup. Did it turn out that way? Ahaha, No! Once more I was eluded by this mysterious duck! Fortunately I was not alone in my dipping, which is comforting, as usually someone else will see it, or it will reappear once I left.
  However, dwelling on the unseen is a waste of time, so lets dwell on the seen. It was a lovely, but blustery day. First I went to the feeding station to see what was about:
-At least 7 bullfinches, but probably more. Stunning birds, great to see them so close
-1 GS Woodpecker, my first of the year
-3 LT Tits, also my first of the year
-Blue tits
-Great tits
-Coal tits
I then spent about an hour running around the ski lake trying to find a scaup but to no avail. Sadly I failed to find it. However, there were plenty of other birds on this wander:
-6 Tufted Duck
-5 Cormorants
-3 Goosander
-1 Little Grebe
-Black Headed and Common Gulls
-Coots and a moorhen
So that ended my little scaup quest, failed, but plenty of other nice things seen!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Soil Hill - Again

This is my first trip up to the hill since I got back. Oh how I have not missed it. Surprise, surprise today's trip produced a grand total of no birds, at all. On the way up though I had a bit more success, including a large flock of fieldfares, my first of the year, and a male blackcap which I am thinking is probably the same one that we have had in the garden. It was with a mixed flock, consisting of wrens, blackbirds, dunnocks, blue tits, great tits and robins

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Bolton Abbey




Nice weather for a change meant that today we were going to Bolton Abbey for a walk. It was a lovely day too as it turned out with some great birds seen to get this years list off and rolling.
Initially we started slowly but by the end of the first section of the walk I had managed:
Blue Tit
Coal Tit
Great Tit
Feral Pigeon
Grey Heron
Carrion Crow
And the 2 finest specimens: Bullfinch and Mistle thrush
On the way back there was much less birdlife than on the way there, but still some great stuff to be had. Adding to the above list I managed
Common Buzzard
Pied Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
So overall a very good and productive day.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Wycolle-New Years Day

Its been a while since I last left the house due to the atrocities of the weather. However, today we went as a family to Wycolle for a walk. The weather was truly horrendous. Horizontal rain did not make for ideal conditions, and as such the wildlife total was small. Birds included Wren, Pheasant, Mallard, Blackbird and blue tit, and a rabbit for the mammals. I think enough has been said here...

Return of the garden blackcap

So I was just loitering in the living room prior to us leaving for our new years walk at Wycolle when I spotted on the bus right outside the window the lovely male blackcap. But this time I had the camera. His stay was again short but I did manage to get some record shots to add to the gardens bird portfolio. Its very exciting having such an unusual bird in the garden. Photos to follow