December Sightings

December 2016
A “waxwing winter” was confirmed with the report of a flock of up to 65 birds at Keighley Golf Course in the early part of the month. There was another similar flock of 80 in Morrison’s car park in Guiseley during the Christmas period. Smaller single-figure flocks were seen at Ilkley station and Sandbeds, Riddlesden at the end of the month. Other interesting seasonal visitors included a Lapland Bunting flying over Soil Hill (14th) and a suspected Snow Bunting in the same area (11th).
A flock of 30 Siskin was watched at Stockbridge NR and Stonechats were found at Soil Hill, Fly Flats, Whetstone Gate and a single female was on Baildon Golf Course. Near here, at Dobrudden Farm, a small number of Tree Sparrows had been attracted to the profusion of feeders.

The passage of Pink-footed Geese was reported with three significant skeins. The first seen from Queensbury contained 108 birds (12th) and the next, one of 200, moved west over Soil Hill two days later. The final skein was watched from Stockbridge NR as between 80 to 100 flew west along the Aire Valley on the 29th.

Little Egrets continued to visit the area with four reported: at Caldene Fields (6th), along the canal at Silsden, at Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits (4th) and at Leeshaw Reservoir (18th).

A flock of about 30 Golden Plovers was occasionally seen on Baildon Moor, but another much larger one of 200 flew over B&Q at Thornbury (10th). In the same area, there was a roost on the roof of B&M Bargains which contained 30 ‘goldies’ and 50 Lapwing. A roost of gulls at Thornton Moor Reservoir reached 4,000 during the month.

Over 60 Wigeon were seen at Knotford Nook with another 24 at nearby Otley Wetland (10th). A week later, 12 more had appeared at Silsden Reservoir. During the same period Goldeneye numbers had reached 15 at Knotford and nine were at Otley Wetland with seven at each of TMR and Silsden Reservoir. A pair of Gadwall, the first ever recorded at Toads Hole Beck (28th) and a single female Pochard at Yeadon Tarn were the most notable records.

On Christmas Day, up nine Red Kites were seen from Denton Moor and earlier in the month a single Kite was seen drifting towards the City Centre. 
Waxwing feeding on pink berries. Yeadon 2016
photo: M. Bloomfield.
December 2015   
It was the wettest and the mildest December on record with flooded valleys, soggy farmland and moorland. At Stockbridge, there had never been so much water with both islands awash, the fences submerged and the feeder, next to the willows, was completely out of view. On Boxing Day the River Aire looked more like the River Trent. The road at Stockbridge was closed due to flooding and just eight Goosanders were sitting out the torrent on our devastated reserve.

The watery meadows at Cononley attracted 120 Wigeon, 25 Tufted Duck and 350 Lapwings at the beginning of the month. The nine intrepid members who braved the atrocious conditions on the planned walk saw 12 Great Crested Grebes on Yeadon Tarn as well as a single Pochard and a female Goldeneye. Whilst at Otley Wetland a Woodcock flew across the fields towards cover.

Short-eared Owls were again evident with five hunting over the Whetstone Allotment (2nd) with another seen a few days later (7th) and there was a further sighting, a bird reported at Fly Flatts. Birders watching at Bradup on the 21st saw two Spoonbills fly over Whetstone Gate, this was only the third record and the fourth ever sighting of these graceful birds in the BOG area.

Pairs of Ravens were reported at Whetstone Gate (7th) and at Fewston Reservoir (18th). A skein of 80 Pink-footed Geese flew towards Silsden (7th) and a roost of 13 Grey Herons was present in Shipley Glen (7th).

In Bradford City Centre a Peregrine was calling in flight and upsetting the local pigeons (16th) and the following day another one flashed over Stockbridge.

The feeders in a Riddlesden garden attracted a flock of 20 Siskins along with five Bullfinch and six Lesser Redpoll (15th) whilst a male Blackcap visited a Bingley Garden (16th). At Stockbridge Siskins were feeding on alders and a Kingfisher made regular visits whilst a Kestrel had taken a liking to the nestbox. At Cony Warren, 50 Fieldfare were feeding and a flock of 31 Red-legged Partridge awaited their fate! During this exceptionally mild month Mistle Thrushes could be heard singing across the area. The year drew to a close on an encouraging note when eight Twite were seen at Redcar Tarn (20th).
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